Jones Onwuasoanya is the immediate past state Publicity Secretary of the APC in Imo state. He resigned his position last Tuesday and dumped the APC for the Action Alliance (AA). In this interview with STEVE UZOECHI in Owerri, he shares his regrets in the APC and how AA will emerge the ruling party in 2019. Excerpts:
We understand you are now in Action Alliance, any truth in that?
Yes, it is already in the public space that I am now a member of the Action Alliance (AA). I made the move alongside a lot of great and loyal men and of course you know we were constrained to leave the APC.
Why did you leave the APC?
Well, after a careful and sober review of events within our political party, especially, in the last two months, I have come to the conscientious conclusion that our party, which before now was touted as the beacon of integrity, democracy and fairness, has dangerously veered off from its own constitution, philosophies and ideological inspirations. Our party has ceased to, in my own considered opinion, be a political party, but a cult, where some well positioned members have formed themselves into a cabal of capons, with a dangerous end in mind for our dear country and its fledgling democracy.
In the past three months, the national chairman of our party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has left no one in doubt that he was not, from the onset, prepared for the task of serving the interest of members of our party and upholding the provisions of our sacred constitution, but to institute a most dangerous brand of feudalistic idealism and corrupted form of communism, where the whims of a few override the interest of the majority. He has shown a most gruesome disdain for party members, rule of law and democratic norms, preferring instead to serve the interest of a cabal and advance the ambitions of a Lagos Mafia, while promoting and safeguarding his own personal interests and those of few other power hawkers.
How come you did not notice all these flaws all the while you were spokesman for the APC in Imo?
I was always pricked in my conscience anytime I signed off as the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, remembering that this is a party that has woefully failed to manage its internal electoral processes in a manner that may raise hope for our democracy. Conversely, this party has exhibited a most reckless rapaciousness against our democracy and a careless disregard for the sanctity of the ballot. I came to a point where I could no longer muster the moral verve to market a political party that has left no one in doubt, that its 2019 electoral plans are wholly centered on manipulation of the electoral processes and imposition of unpopular candidates on the people with the full cooperation of the electoral umpire and maybe, security agencies. I chose to distance myself from the well orchestrated plan to institute a most ridiculous form of incompetent hegemony in Imo State and other parts of Nigeria.
I felt like a cheap slave anytime I identify as the chief marketer of a political party which has shown itself as not deserving of the loyalty of its members. A political party that robs its genuine members of their nomination tickets and offers same tickets to individuals who are not members of the party is not worthy of the continued membership of free and conscientious citizens.
Don’t you think it’s unlikely that a party would offer its tickets to non-members?
If you know the APC like I know it then you will understand that nothing is unlikely with these folks. At a point I had felt ashamed that the national chairman of my party was yet to reasonably refute allegations that he (allegedly) collected more than N20 billion in bribe money in order to sell off party tickets to some individuals who could afford to pay for it in dollars, yet walks on with shameless swagger, accentuating the belief that the anti-graft war, which is the loudest selling point of our party, is selective.
It is depressing serving a party that has failed to abide by its own laws, and whose national chairman and an illegally appointed National Publicity Secretary would come out in the open to denigrate governors elected on its platform and openly declare war on those party members who have chosen the path of civility by approaching the courts for a redress. I do not also want to be on the wrong side of history by remaining a spokesperson for a party which by all intents and purposes seems hell-bent on scuttling our hard-earned democracy.
Did you resign because of the rumoured plot to dissolve the APC executive in Imo?
That is part of the issues that led to my quitting Imo APC. Reports are already rife in the media that the national chairman of our party has concluded plans to illegally dissolve the duly constituted leadership of the party in the state, with some of those reports claiming that a huge sum of money has been paid by some elements to procure this dissolution. I do not want to give this group the benefit of announcing the dissolution of the party executive before I quit.
I am scared of continuing in a party which has shown a clear inability to promote and protect the people oriented policies and programmes of its national leader, the President and Commander-in-Chief, but has chosen instead, to sabotage the efforts of Mr. President in ridding Nigeria of corruption and engineering a better life for all Nigerians. The cabal within the party seems to be more interested in hijacking the presidency and charting a course, different from the integrity and patriotism driven agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari. The wife of the President herself also said as much. This rot is common knowledge and the pretence cannot go on forever. If a party cannot protect its national leader, there is no guarantee that it will not destroy lower cadre leaders like me and even you.
This is why I have ceased to identify or function as the state Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Imo State, till such a time that at least, some of the ills have been corrected by this party. I shall devote my efforts and talents, in the meantime, to pursuing those ideals that are in consonance with the progressive ideologies upon which this party was founded, but from which its present leaders, especially, the national chairman have drifted away. I shall also, in private or official capacity lend my efforts to supporting those candidates that have stuck to and Nigeria forward, whether they are in our party or in any other political parties.
Would the candidates you talked about include Uche Nwosu?
I will say yes; Uche Nwosu is the representation of all that is democratic, all that is humane, all that is objective and all that is people-friendly. Nwosu is a stickler for law and order, a man that believes in laid down processes and values people way and above structures and personal accolades. He is the generation of leaders we need to enthrone in government if we must rewrite the ugly narratives of this country.
Wouldn’t electing Nwosu as governor of Imo state be a tall order?
I really wouldn’t think so. The APC ticket is too tainted that Imo people, as an enlightened populace, will not vote for it. Imo people feel that the APC took them for granted and as well insulted their sensibilities in the manner they brought us to a sorry pass where Imo people were evidently turned off by APC. With the AA, it is easier. There are no controversies, Imo people understand why we are here and they will vote for us, based on our performances and promises. It will be easier to sell AA to the people, because AA has not been in power at any level before now, so Imo people do not associate the party with anything negative.
The position of the party on the ballot paper will also make it easier to sell it to the masses. The party logo is the number two on the ballot paper. Its logo is also easy to identify, a dove upon a star.
After 7 years of APC, how do you intend to market AA in three months?
Uche Nwosu is a sure selling brand. He is like a culture among the ordinary people of Imo State. The youth love him because he is one of them, they can easily identify with him, because he has shown them love and given them a sense of belonging. He has made them understand that the youth can indeed be drivers of their destinies. He has helped a number of these youths make important headways in their professions, businesses and education. Those are some of the reasons why it will be impossible to separate Ugwumba Uche Nwosu from the youth, no matter the party he goes to.
For our mothers and all women, they see Uche Nwosu as that kind-hearted and respectful young man who takes care of their children. Nwosu has also made enormous humanitarian inputs in the lives of our women; hence, they see him as one of their own. They don’t see him as a politician, but as their son and their friend. They see him as one of their own.
For civil servants, Uche Nwosu is that young man who as Commissioner for Lands, would make sure that every staff of the Ministry of Lands got a Christmas gift from him. He also rewarded best employee of the ministry, helped a lot of civil servants to solve their personal problems, including those who wanted to further their education. And for some of them who had pressing health issues, he didn’t look the other way. He was that young man who as Chief of Staff intervened to save about 3000 LGA workers from being sacked. Civil servants know that an Uche Nwosu governorship will improve their welfare. So, with Uche Nwosu on the ballot, 50 per cent of the job is done for the party.
2020 guber: Edo APC and the search for a common front
Ahead of the 2020 gubernatorial election in Edo State, CAJETAN MMUTA reports that the political terrain in the Heartbeat of the Nation had been so much troubled leaving almost everybody in the whirlwind of uncertainties.
It is not in doubt that the witty battle engaged by Governor Godwin Obaseki against his estranged political godfather, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, for the soul of the party and the state ahead of the 2020 governorship election has left the party members and the state with frazzling experiences.
The two ‘warriors’ have had measured appraisal of mastery of how much weaponry, funds, contacts and connections, strategies and other logistics to expend as time and tide allow them to continue or retreat from the raging political gimmick, which has drawn so much focus, criticisms, confusion and fanfare.
Unfolding events at the popular Anthony Enahoro legislative chambers and elsewhere within the last two months have brought many to ungodly poise, with lots of curiosity and questions about what may have indeed prompted the seeming rumble between the gladiators. Many had expected that either or both gladiators should be raising false alarm if they believe that there was no lion off the cage to force many to run for their lives.
Sadly, the state has been given a steep and deep bloody scratch and no doubt it may take decades to heal. Not a few were recently jolted to their marrow to hear and read what Oshiomhole said, that the media and other interested bodies were behind the quakes and shakes that have left many in fussy guess over the frosty relationship between him and Obaseki. The propriety or otherwise of the inauguration of nine out of the 24 members of the Edo State House of Assembly by the Clerk of the House, Alhaji Yahaya Omogbai, has remained contentious.
The outcome, criticisms, commendations, pretenses, denials, neutrality, bravado and condemnations have brought all the leaders, elders and other stakeholders to a rough edge. While people of the state keep groping in the dark over the brouhaha, the dramatis personae are presumably seeing themselves off with mimicked smiles about what is believed to be swords sheathing in the guise of reconciliation. Reconciliatory efforts The recent peace meeting in Iyahmo in Etsako West Local Government Area of the state on Sallah Day between Oshiomhole and his political son and successor, Obaseki, was a clear but brief attention shift from the tautly ring of still pending rage and rough political tackles ahead and a smokescreen in the long search for an elusive peace by both parties and the stakeholders. Already, sleep had been murdered.
This is so because it is rife that behind the cotton lie the obvious that both sides are armed to the teeth with stiff and steel political daggers hounding for possible scapegoats. While that final time comes having reneged in all fronts to yield to the voices of reason and peace; the day, month and year of the chameleonic adder of death nail is near and no prophesy can stop the warring parties. Interestingly, from all indications, the sword of Damocles is swirling dangerously and irretrievably for its deadly cut of pounds of flesh.
Few weeks back, strong indications emerged of how powerful forces in the Presidency and influential traditional institution, politicians and business mogul waded in to resolve the feud. Findings by Saturday Telegraph revealed that Obaseki in company with his deputy, Hon. Philip Shaibu; the Chief of Staff, Mr. Taiwo Akerele; the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Ogie Osarodion; and some other members of the State Executive Council had visited Iyamho’s country home of Oshiomhole to felicitate with him as part of activities marking this year’s Sallah celebration by the Muslim community.
This annual rite had been seen by many as a reconciliatory move in many circles and an attempt by the state’s helmsman and his aides to beg Oshiomhole to soft pedal. Oshiomhole during the said visit had told the world that Obaseki is his brother and that he had no problems with him. Obaseki on his part had also echoed the same. Oshiomhole had said: “From time to time, we have always been meeting. It is not an unusual visit, the meeting afforded me the opportunity to meet with my brother and with people I have worked with”, adding that it was unfortunate that the media enjoy creating factions for their own gain. On his part, Obaseki said there is nothing unusual about the meeting, noting that it is Sallah Day.
“We have just finished celebrating with former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, in Benin City and we decided to come here (Iyamho) to celebrate Sallah with my predecessor”, he said, urging those who think there is a rift between the duo to perish the thought. Chairman of APC in the state, Anselm Ojeua, told our correspondent that, “those people saying there is no peace between the governor and APC national chairman are not honest. They met and have said they have nothing against each other.
“My position had been that there is no problem between them. Those who think that they have problem with the governor because he is not bringing money to share felt if they create the problem it will capitulate; it is the third party that is causing the problem”.
He urged Edo people to remain calm as they expected more dividends of democracy from the present government under Obaseki. Waiting on Mr. President The question, therefore, is; on whose account is the lingering crisis in the hallowed chamber of the state Assembly? Insider sources close to the Oshiomhole group of 12 members-elect, who are still holed in Abuja told Saturday Telegraph that all the hue and cry about reconciliation was a ruse as both actors “bid themselves bye after the Iyamho visit” and that, “nothing was ever discussed”. According to one of the credible sources, the members-elect are waiting for the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari on the matter.
“President Buhari had during the screening of new ministers promised to wade into the crises in Bauchi and Edo states. He has also asked the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation to look into the cases in both states. From the 21st of August we shall know the final stand. So, there was nothing like reconciliation; it was a mere visit. The peaceful reconciliation should be left for them. We are waiting for the direct intervention of President Buhari”, the source said. Previously, it was gathered that the timely intervention and pressures mounted on the governor by the Presidency, the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the Oba of Benin, Omo N’ Oba Nedo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare 11, the Ogidigan and other eminent personalities may have forced the governor to take the latest plunge. Sources close to the feuding parties disclosed that the deputy governor had earlier visited the APC national chairman during which he tried to appeal to Oshiomhole to soft pedal on the political impasse between him and Obaseki as well as other key actors in Edo State APC.
This newspaper gathered that the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kari, has personally expressed his displeasure over the seeming soured relationship between Obaseki and Oshiomhole. He was said to have insisted on the need for the governor to take necessary steps to settle with his predecessor. Besides, President Buhari was also said to have seriously frowned at the manner the state government is handling the Edo crisis, particularly as it regards legal issues against the ruling party and apparent disregard of various directives for Obaseki to issue fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the 24 members House of Assembly. Dangote, on his part, was said to have, alongside Deputy National Chairman (South) of the APC and one of the new ministers, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, personally pleaded with Oshiomhole and Obaseki to sheathe their swords in the interest of the state.
At a meeting held earlier at the Abuja residence of the Africa’s richest man, with Adebayo, Oshiomhole and Obaseki in attendance, it was gathered that Dangote and Adebayo, particularly prevailed on Oshiomhole to allow Obaseki visit him during the Sallah holiday, during which both parties in the impasse would click glasses amid talks and bid bye to the over two months old disagreement.
Although this was not to be as this paper learnt that the encounter was merely a cheery one with no serious issue discussed as both the host and his guests had their banter in the open sitting room, it was clear then that the presumed talks for peace between Oshiomhole, Obaseki, Shaibu (Deputy governor), Chief of Staff and the SSG, Osarodion Ogie, among others, did not hold as expected. Sources close to the APC in the state said issues over the running of affairs of the state were identified as the major cause of the problem between Oshiomhole and Obaseki. Also pointed out was the way some key political aides believed to be loyal to Oshiomhole were booted out of office by the governor.
How far the Sallah visit will smoothen glaring rough edges for the governor ahead of the eventful year 2020 gubernatorial race in the state and possibly enthrone lasting peace remains a mirage. There is mutual suspicions among the gladiators. This is as questions are being asked as to what would happen to all the aggrieved parties. In addition, the hanging fates of the 12 memberselect who are presently holed in Abuja following alleged threat to their lives since the onset of the crisis remain a puzzle too. Sadly too, the National Executive Council (NEC) of the APC is also said to be highly embarrassed and unhappy about the situation in Edo state.
At the moment, it is not clear how the matters in court would be resolved. There are three cases in court; one each in Benin, Port Harcourt and Abuja. But unbent as ever, Obaseki is not bulging into all the seeming threats from any quarters including that of the national leadership of the ruling party and Ad hoc committees set up by both chambers of the National Assembly, although one is yet to witness a frightening muscle flexing as the senate and House of Representatives are both on recess and will soon resume to revisit the Edo imbroglio. Also, the Presidency and office of the AGF may soon take decisive actions aimed at bringing all the parties together in the affected states where political crises are taking tolls.
Fears over the battle ahead
In another development, amid the festering stalemate over the barrage of orders from various quarters, there is still uneasy calm and uncertainty. The state government appears set for the worst. It had tagged the recent Senate resolution on Edo Assembly as unconstitutional and a flagrant disregard for principles of separation of powers. It also warned that the said resolution could spark fire that would set the state ablaze.
A chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Don Obaseki, in his view, urged the state government not to allow miscreants or motor-park touts to feed fat on the resources of the state. A statement issued earlier by the state government described as unconstitutional and a flagrant disregard for the principle of separation of powers, the resolution of the Senate directing Obaseki to issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the state House of Assembly.
In the statement signed by the SSG, the state government declared that the “illegality will not stand” and advised those it referred to as “powerful persons” not to set the state ablaze, “merely to satisfy their thirst for power and control.
The Senate in a step that was not totally unexpected, directed the governor to issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly, and ordering a fresh inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly. “As earlier mentioned, this move was not unexpected in the light of the enormous political pressure, which had been brought to bear on the officers and members of the distinguished Senate by the highly placed and powerful persons who intend to foist their will and choices on the good people of Edo State.
“This is borne out by the recorded statements made by one Seid Oshiomhole (a member-elect and younger brother of the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole) wherein he boasted that both the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had been instructed on what to do in this matter. Ogie also noted that the Senate failed to take cognizance of the existence of a valid injunction in Suit No FHC/B/OS/70/2019 wherein the Federal High Court restrained various parties from interfering in any manner with the activities of the Edo State House of Assembly.
“The Edo State Government is further aware that in suit No. FHC/ABJ/ CS/815/2019, wherein the Clerk and the National Assembly are defendants before the Federal High Court in Abuja, the National Assembly and the Clerk have not only been duly served with the processes but have entered appearance in the matter.
“It is unfortunate that the distinguished Senate would act in flagrant breach of these various court orders and purport to come to factual and legal conclusions concerning a matter in which the parties are already before the courts and therefore subjudice. “We are also concerned that the members of the distinguished Senate appear to have very scant regard for the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution, which is manifested by their taking over the functions of the judiciary in dispute resolution and giving directives to a governor of a state who is certainly not subject to the supervision of the National Assembly.
“The Edo State Government maintains that there is nowhere in the constitution particularly Section 11(4), which enables the National Assembly to “take over” any House of Assembly or in this respect, the Edo State House of Assembly.” The SSG added that: “It must be further observed that it has always been the contention of the Edo State Government that the power to issue a proclamation for the inauguration of a House of Assembly as set out in Section 105(3) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was duly and completely complied with and it is not within the power of the governor to recall same once issued or to perform the same act multiple times. Once the governor issues a proclamation letter, his job is done. “It is the duty of the Clerk of the House of Assembly to inaugurate the House of Assembly and he has since performed that task. He has further approached a court of law to seek a validation of his actions.
The pronouncements of the distinguished Senate on the subject (with respect) is clearly misconceived and will amount to interference in the role of the courts, which may in fact constitute contempt with which the governor would not wish to be associated.
“The Government of Edo State firmly believes that our state is not a colony or a vassal of any person or persons exercising power in Abuja and we shall take all necessary steps within the ambit of the law to defend and validate our position and actions on this matter. “We call on all persons of goodwill to call the powerful wielders of ‘power and authority’ in Abuja and elsewhere to refrain from acts, which are clearly unconstitutional, undemocratic and a flagrant disrespect for the principle of due process and separation of powers.
“These powerful persons should not be allowed to set our state ablaze merely to satisfy their thirst for power and control. As we have always maintained on this subject: – This illegality will not stand!!!”. As the fire keeps glowing amid chest beating and bragging, all eyes are watching to see how best the entire crisis and the clash of interests will come to an end.
APC Caretaker C’tee takes over party secretariat in Ogun
The Caretaker Committee of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Ogun, on Friday, took over the party secretariat in Abeokuta.
The committee led by its chairman, Chief Yemi Sanusi and other executives, party chieftains and security operatives, arrived the secretariat around 10.am, and headed straight to the offices within the complex.
Addressing newsmen after inspecting the facilities, Sanusi, explained that his members were at the secretariat to assess its condition, adding that the committee would swing into action immediately.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that prior to the takeover on Friday; the APC secretariat had been under the control of the sacked state executive led by Chief Derin Adebiyi.
Sanusi told journalist that “the authentic caretaker exco put in place by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party has legally taken over the party structure”.
He expressed displeasure over the present condition of the secretariat, but assured that the committee would give the secretariat a facelift in preparation for the forthcoming local government elections in the state.
According to him, the takeover was in order as the party was expected to swing into action after the general election and inauguration of a new government in the state.
But in a swift reaction on Friday evening, Adebiyi said the takeover of the secretariat by Sanusi-led caretaker committee was “a forceful invasion and illegal occupation by loyalists of Governor Dapo Abiodun”.
He accused the committee members of storming the party secretariat in a “warlike manner”, accompanied by fierce looking security operatives.
“It is a forceful invasion by the loyalists of Ogun governor. They illegally occupied our secretariat.
“They stormed the offices, drove away our staff and locked the place up. The action is condemnable,” Adebiyi said.
He explained that the matter of the dissolution of his exco was currently before an Abuja High Court, wondering why the caretaker committee could not wait for the outcome of the case.
Adebiyi, who insisted that his exco was a product of a state congress held on May 2018, declared he and his members would explore all legal means to reclaim the party secretariat.
“We are products of the Congress on May 19, 2018. We are not engaging them like touts; the next court hearing is in October.
“They should have waited. We paid the rent of the secretariat. The caretaker committee has been conducting their businesses in Osoba’s house.
“We are no novice, we have refused to take laws into our hand, but we will explore all legal means to reclaim the party secretariat,” Adebiyi declared.
He, however, accused the national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole of backing the “illegal caretaker committee” in Ogun and also causing crisis in the party as a whole.
“Oshiomhole is backing this illegal caretaker committee; he has caused serious damages to the party at the national level. Mark my word, Oshiomhole will leave his position with ignominy,” he added.
Supremacy battle: Ortom, Akume resume war of words
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and his estranged political godfather, Senator George Akume have again been embroiled in a battle for supremacy with the two politicians exchanging unpleasant words to each other.
The recent trouble started at the reception organised in honour of the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Akume, where he (Akume) fired a diatribe at Ortom saying he singlehandedly made him (Ortom) governor in 2015 and not the Holy Spirit as the governor often claims.
The utterances of the Minister, who was at the at the reception with the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 polls, Emmanuel Jime, however, did not go down well with Ortom who insisted he was enthroned “by the Holy Spirit and not Akume”.
According to the Minister: “I made Ortom governor; not the Holy Spirit”, Akume boasted at the reception.
But in a furious reaction, Governor Ortom said this is not the first time the former governor would make what he called “such a blasphemous statement against his person”.
“He had made a similar claim during the valedictory session of the 8th Senate,” Ortom said.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase, described the utterances by Akume as “unfortunate”.
Bello’s second term’ll be a disaster for Kogi people – Audu
Alhaji Mohammed Audu is the son of a former governor of Kogi State, late Prince Abubakar Audu and a governorship aspirant in the forthcoming election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC)). In this interview, he speaks on his bid to resuscitate his father’s political structure and his chances in the poll. Johnchuks Onuanyim reports
How has the campaign for the Kogi State governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) been?
The campaign has been very interesting. I have been witnessing campaigns in Kogi State since 1998 and I have been around during all those campaigns. The atmosphere has not been as depressing as it is now because Kogites have been left in a very hopeless state. Their economy is in shambles and the people have no money to sustain themselves. So, they are not even energetic. The only source of energy is when we appear for campaigns; they get some kind of relief. What they keep telling us is please take us out of this situation.
So, the campaigns have been very interesting because at the point of campaigns, we are very sure of victory. The people already knew who they don’t want and who they want and the reasons are very obvious. I don’t know if anybody anywhere can manipulate any election and think he is going to go away with it in Kogi. If you manipulate Kogi election, you will have blood on your hands because of the people who have died of untold hardship.
Do you mean manipulation of the APC governorship primary or the main election, and what are factors that will determine the outcome of the main election?
When I talk about manipulation, I am sure that you know that everything Governor Yahaya Bello does, he manipulates. He would want to manipulate the primary election; he would want to manipulate the general election. That is what I mean and no one will get away with manipulation of the process. However, I am happy that the party is giving considerations to the various modes of primaries. We know that once the party fulfills its promise to carry out a transparent, free and fair process of selecting a candidate, I can assure you that the outcome of the November election will be very swift and decisive.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) knows that they don’t stand a chance and I can promise you that by 12 midday on election day, the PDP would have already known its fate and APC would also have known its fate as well. Anything to the contrary will be a dream. If the people are not happy with the process, we would have given the opposition the advantage. That is all they are praying for; to use APC against APC because that is the only way they stand a chance at victory. Otherwise, if the APC is together, it will be unbeatable.
Would you consider decamping to another party if Governor Bello wins the APC primary?
What I have told you is that if a peoples’ oriented process is allowed, all of us will support it without questions. But, what we know and we are telling you from Kogi State is that a peoples’ oriented process, a free and fair process will definitely not produce Bello. These are no rumours. Go every local government area in the state and ask their opinion. If you think that Yahaya Bello stands a chance, go to Kogi and ask the people what they want. It is not about paid job of appearing on television and saying different kind of things.
Ask the civil servants, ask the pensioners, ask family men, ask children in school whether any system is working in Kogi State. If we have another four years of this, there will be no state because everybody would have died of conditions that are very bad because they are suffering. I can assure you that no right thinking Kogi man wishes in his wildest dream to have Bello return as governor, no matter the circumstance. If you see Bello come back, he would have forced himself on the people.
There is more than one person vying for the APC governorship ticket in your family. Is that not a sign of division right from home?
I don’t agree with you. When you go into a family and everybody is a lawyer, why don’t you say it is a sign of division? I can tell you something. We all have our different ways of going about our aspirations. My brother is a younger person, who feels that he can use the energy of a young man to orchestrate a mass movement and ensure that Bello is removed. I have my own experience and I want to ensure that Bello is removed. There is another one of us who wants to ensure that Bello is removed. The uniting factor here is that we all want to remove Bello. I dont think you should look at it as disunity. We are not fighting or quarrelling, but agreed on one thing, which is that Bello must go.
You spoke about a transparent process of primary and the party has opted for the indirect mode. Do you think that the process will be transparent?
First, I must tell you that I am a loyal party man and whatever my party adopts, I will support. Now, in this particular instance, not only do I support my party, I am indifferent with any process that you bring, whether direct or indirect. The bottom line is that the sentiments that I have expressed tells you that head or tail, we will win and they will lose. Whichever way you turn the coin, we win. But there is a snag and I have said this over and over again.
My heart is with our party men in Zamfara State. After having sleepless nights campaigning, spending a lot of resources, doing so much for the victory of the party, one party will be locking around the corner, waiting for you to make mistake and capitalise on it and at the end of the day, you lose everything that you have worked for. This is what I am particularly worried about. We might go through the indirect primary, defeat Bello, but the case between the two executives may be such that if it favours one, it might nullify everything that we have done.
The fact is that we are not willing to take the risk of finding out who is right and who is wrong. This is the issue we have with using a particular set of executive to conduct the primary. The best thing to do to deepen internal democracy in Nigeria is to follow what President Muhammadu Buhari has done. He said that in other to avoid any controversy of his nomination, allow a direct primary process, where every card carrying member of the party will come forward to decide, who their candidate should be. It went without rancour and sentiments and he emerged.
Kogi is a state with different tribes, different religious calling and different beliefs. But all of them are united in one course and that is the course for good governance. They are happy to be given an opportunity. It will be an internal party referendum, which means that if you carry out that process successfully, whoever wins is as good as winning the main election because the followership of the APC far outweighs the followership of other parties put together. So, it will be an election before an election and I think it is a fantastic opportunity for the ruling party to show its strength.
Are you confident that the leadership of the party at the national level will be able to conduct a primary that will be acceptable to all the aspirants?
I do believe so because there is no election process that goes without rancour. A general election in 36 states has just taken place and it is only in a few places that you have complaints of manipulations. I believe that the leadership of our party will be able to do a good job and conduct a free and fair primary.
There are reports that delegates for the primary are being intimidated, while some are being arrested or kidnapped. Have you heard any such complaints from your supporters?
I will simply tell you something. I told you earlier that if Bello returns, he would have forced himself on the people and those are the traits.
There are rumours that a private army is being raised ahead of the polls…
I have heard that, but for me, it is not a far because I have been involved in this process before. This is not the first time I am hearing this. In any case, Kogi people have realised something; if you fear, you die. If you make the mistake of saying that you are afraid of the men in uniform, who are fake; you will still die because in the last four years, a lot of people have died. They people would rather die exercising their franchise than to wait for another four years and suffer before they die.
So, I dont think that anybody in any uniform will be able to scare anybody. I can tell you that our supporters are resolute. We will not allow any puppet master or puppet to come and scare people with dane or toy guns. As far as democracy is concerned, the power of the thumb is stronger and bigger than even the power of a fighter jet and this is what we are going to exhibit on August 29.
Politics is a game of number and Kogi East, where you come from has the number to swing votes. Assuming the ticket goes to Bello, are we likely going to see the 1992 scenario that brought your late father to power?
You are talking of the scenario between my father and Architect Olorunfemi. While you think it was tribal sentiments, it was not, but party and manifesto. Our people in the opposing party at that time, which was the Social Democratic Party (SDP), felt that the process of selecting their candidate was faulty and that their internal democracy model was bad and that led to a revolt. My father did not benefit from any kind of tribal patronage. The same scenario is about to replay itself. It is not tribal, but saying that if you do not have a proper selection process, the people tend to revolt. That is all that is at stake notwithstanding tribe. I can tell you that if Yahaya Bello had done very well as governor of Kogi State, APC would not have had two aspirants because it would be unnecessary as nobody changes a winning team. In this case, he has performed very poorly.
We heard that money is already exchanging hands to seek favour. Are you aware of that as well as the claim that some aspirants are sponsoring others to seek better mileage?
I just picked my form on Thursday last week, so I could not have sponsored somebody who will pick his form before me. So, I don’t know about sponsorship of anybody. Secondly, I think the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) is populated by men of integrity and I have not heard about money exchanging hands. What people are saying about their dissatisfaction with the mode of primary is not the fault of the NWC.
It is the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, which comprises governors and everybody else that asked states to adopt mode of primaries that their stakeholders opt for and this is what most of the states have done. But, in the case of Kogi State, it is factionalised and that is our argument. So, I don’t think this has to do with money exchanging hands or not. It was something that some people felt was done in error and I believe they are trying to correct it now.
Outside Governor Bello, what are your chances against other aspirants, especially people like Admiral Usman Jibrin (rtd).
I think Jibrin just joined politics three months ago and he is learning on the job. But as far as I am concerned, I wouldn’t go that far to worry about him when there is a governor with state resources at his disposal. Admiral Jibrin showed himself maybe in preparation for 2023. I have a great deal of respect for all the aspirants, but for this time, it is a game of popularity and structure. In the whole state, I am the only one with a grassroots movement; I am the only one with a full party structure that has been sidelined. I am the only one with a political structure called the Audu Political Family. If you know any person that has a political structure like that, please indicate.
Do you still think that the Audu family is united?
Have you heard that they are supporting anybody? Have they made any statement? But later, they will be making a statement.
Revelations as Reps probe dearth of Eastern, Southern ports
The House of Representatives is currently investigating the failure of the Federal Government to maximize potentials of five eastern and southern ports. PHILIP NYAM reports the proceedings
About a week ago, the House of Representatives commenced investigations into the reasons responsible for the inability of the five Eastern and Southern ports of Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onne and Onitsha inland complexes to optimally utilise their facilities. The probe was consequent upon a resolution of House on July 18, 2019, wherein it constituted an ad hoc committee led by chairman of the committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub (APC, Adamawa). Following the submissions made by some of the stakeholders who appeared before the committee, it consequently summoned the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engr. Mele Kolo Kyari; the Director-General of the Department of the State Service (DSS), Mallam Yusuf Bichi; the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele; the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col HameedAli (rtd) and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas.
While testifying before the committee, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari attributed the non performance of these ports to the activities of sea pirates, kidnappers and armed robbers. He said these crimes coupled with multiple taxes imposed even by states and local governments were chasing away potential operators at the ports. “Piracy, kidnapping, armed robbery are responsible for the non utilisation of the ports”, he stated.
According to Zakari, “lack of synergy and cooperation among the government agencies operating at the ports is also affecting the smooth running of these ports. NIMASA (Nigerian Maritime Administration Safety Agency), NPA (Nigerian Port Authority), the Navy and freight forwarders are not working together.” He added that “There is no cooperation and we are one government and I don’t see why there should be conflict among these agencies. We need legislative support and backing of the National Assembly.”
Collaborating with the submission of the ministry, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas agreed insecurity was a major factor militating against the ports but added that the Navy was working round the clock to apprehend all criminal activities. Represented by the Director of Training, Rear Admiral Abraham Adaji, the Chief of Naval Staff also lamented that the channels of the Eastern ports were arrow and unmarked and this affects the operations. “Our channels are very narrow and largely unmarked. The surface of the underwater is very small,” he stated.
He said the problem poor infrastructure and evacuation of good was also responsible for the optimal performance of the ports, adding that the roads linking the ports were in deplorable shape.
Similarly, the Managing Director of NPA, Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman also agreed that insecurity and poor infrastructure was being responsible for the problem. Represented by Prof. Idris Abubakar, the NPA boss said she has drawn the attention of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to deplorable state of the roads linking the ports.
Similarly, NIMASA noted that the issue of insecurity was seriously weighing in on the operations of the concerned ports. Represented by the Capt. Sunday Umoren, the Director-General of NIMASA, Hon. Dakuku Peterside also noted that there was absolute need for all the agencies to work together in the interest of the nation.
While declaring the public hearing open, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said both the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports complex in Lagos were “overwhelmed and attained breaking points.” He charged the ad hoc committee to “redeliver” a policy framework and make substantive proposals for legislative and executive action to drive the increased utilisation at these ports for the socio-economic benefit of the Nigerians people.
Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Deputy House Leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason lamented that the Nigerian maritime sector regrettably remains one of the great untapped economic reserves stressing that “operating and maintaining efficient and functional ports in the country will help to develop the economic potential of the communities where these ports are located, and even farther afield.”
He explained that “This ad hoc committee has been constituted with a very specific mandate to investigate the reasons why these ports are not being used to maximum effect especially at this time when the Apapa and Tin Can Ports are so overwhelmed and are verily at their breaking points. Following from that, it is the responsibility of this Committee to deliver a policy framework and make substantive proposals for legislative and executive action to drive the increased utilisation at these ports for the socio-economic benefit of the Nigerian people.
According to him, “The Nigerian maritime sector regrettably remains one of our great untapped economic reserves. Operating and maintaining efficient and functional ports in the country will help to develop the economic potential of the communities where these ports are located, and even farther afield. Also, as importantly, getting these ports working at capacity says to the world; to potential investors and trading partners that we are open and ready for business.
Gbajabiamila allayed fears of stakeholders that the exercise was not a witch hunt but was geared towards finding a lasting solution to the problems militating against the full operations of the ports.
“There is no punitive agenda behind the appointment and mandate of this Committee. That is not to say that if in the course of this committee’s activities, malfeasance or corruption is identified, we would ignore it or overlook it. To do that will be an unconscionable betrayal of the trust of the Nigerian people. Nonetheless, our priority is to get these ports working at their absolute best, creating jobs, facilitating trade, attracting investment and contributing to the steady growth of our country’s GDP.”
The speaker therefore invited all “the Nigerian people and stakeholders in the industry to assist the Committee in the execution of this urgent national assignment. It is from the collation and analysis of your various ideas and contributions, perspectives and expertise that the Committee will be able to make the right recommendations, and guide this House of Representatives in our efforts to support the full utilisation of these very important national assets and the actualisation of the very high ambitions we hold for our national economy.”
In his welcome address, chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon Yusuf Buba Yakub, said the committee is out to query and determine why some of the ports have been operating below expected capacity. He said the committee was also interested in unraveling why the port situation has remained unpleasant in spite of the many efforts of government over the years at making the Nigerian ports virile. Such efforts he noted to be by way of building more port complexes, granting more concessions, including encouraging active involvement of the private sector in some aspects of operations in the maritime sector.
“This exercise is organised to query and to determine why some of our port complexes have continued to operate below their setting-up capacities. It also seeks to question why, in spite of the many efforts of government over the years, which have come by way of building more port complexes, concessioning and the complete involvement of the private sector in some aspects of operations in our nation’s maritime sub-sector, the congestion in the Lagos port complexes in Apapa and Tin can Island still persists.
“What this means is that about five inland port complexes in Warri, Calabar, Onitsha, Port Harcourt and Onne have all failed to provide alternative or even consummate services to aid decongestion of two Lagos Ports Complexes,” he regretted.
The chairman noted that it is utmost belief of the committee that if the House would succeed, all stakeholders needed to make inputs and proffer solutions “to what has not only become a dangerous reality of everyday life in the commercial capital city of Lagos, but has also become a national embarrassment for international visitors and users of Lagos port complexes.”
He queried, “or how else does one describe a situation that has defied the efforts of a state like Lagos and has the capacity to lock down the commercial city completely, while encouraging the activities of criminal elements and touts and compelling, ultimately, the attention of the nation’s president, who had responded by setting up a presidential task team”
With the expected appearance of the management team of the NNPC, CBN, DSS, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Customs Service this week, perhaps a solution to the intractable traffic grid lock in Apapa and Tin can Island may be in the offing.
Bayelsa: Intrigues as PDP aspirants battle for Dickson’s seat
Pauline Onyibe reports on the intriguing battle within the Bayelsa State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over who flies the party’s flag in the forthcoming November 16 governorship election in the state
It is another election year in Bayelsa State after the 2015 governorship poll that was a keen contest between the incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson and a former governor of the state, Chief Timipre Sylva.
The poll, held on December 5, 2015 was the second test of might between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), after the March/April 2015 general elections. The first was the November governorship poll in Kogi State.
While the 2015 election is now history, it will amount to political gamble for any of the parties to rely on the variables that shaped it going into the forthcoming governorship contest given that politics remains dynamic.
For instance, the APC seized the opportunity of the 2019 general elections to make inroad into Bayelsa State that was hitherto under PDP’s grip. The ruling party at the centre was able to win a senatorial seat, two House of Representatives seats and four seats in the state House of Assembly.
Again, the fact that whichever way the pendulum swings in the forthcoming November 16 poll in the state will further strengthen the confidence of the two leading parties ahead of the 2023 general elections, will see both sides deploying all they could to either consolidate on what they have or extend frontiers.
Governor Dickson, who recently reasoned along this line, while speaking at a forum in Yenagoa, acknowledged that the battle for his successor is going to be a defining moment for the state.
His words: “The last governorship election is still fresh in the memories of Bayelsans. It was more than an election, it was a war. The 2019 governorship may not be any different. The stakes are high as some persons are desperate to capture the state regardless of how unpopular they are among the people.
“In their desperate bid to launch a deadly come back, they have begun to gradually disrupt security architecture in the state. This they have done by using their privileged positions against the people. In 2019, they are expected to be more daring, but as always, Bayelsans know them and in line with true Ijaw spirit, the people are ready to repel every attempt to circumvent their will.”
Though there may be justification for governor’s fears of reoccurrence of violence given the build-up to the poll, the question many political analysts and observers in the state have asked, is: Has the PDP presumed to be an Ijaw party done well in the state to deserve to be re-elected?
While the question can be answered by the people of the state, the belief in some quarters is that it is has been a mixed grill for Bayelsans in the second term of the Dickson’s restoration government. This, analysts say, if not properly handled may hamper the chances of PDP returning to the Creek Haven as Bayelsa government house is known.
At the moment, some notable political gladiators in the state, especially those of PDP extraction, have already picked expression of interest forms at the cost of about N26 million, despite the seeming division in the party.
The PDP in Bayelsa State has two camps; that of former President Goodluck Jonathan and that of Governor Dickson. While the former president seems to be supporting some aspirants, the governor has his own people. Though the party’s spokesman in the state, John Macbere, at a time said there is no truth in that, the fragmentation seems to be playing out now as the Dickson’s camp through the office of the Special Adviser to the governor on Political Affairs, Fyneman Wilson, recently mentioned some names being supported by the Restoration Government.
They are Kemela Okara, the current Secretary to the State Government, who is from Bayelsa Central and a son of Ekpetiama kingdom, where Arch. Reuben Okoya and Keniebi Okoko (also aspirants) are from. Another personality is the Chief of Staff, Government House, Talford Ongolo, who is from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in Bayelsa Central.
Outside the governor’s camp are the likes of Douye Diri, the senator representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District and a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe who has already obtained the form to contest the PDP governorship primary election.
Wilson’s dropping of the names was on the heels of the fasting and prayers organised by the Restoration Government to choose the next governor of the state. But, some people are tempted to think that Dickson is technically trying to dislodge some those who have already obtained forms for the PDP primary election as he had repeatedly said that people cannot be outside watching, while others are busy making the party attractive only for them to come and pick tickets to become governor.
Dickson even at the last day of the fasting and prayers said the people of the state will not elect an ungodly person as their next governor. According to him, the state will never again experience governance by cult elements as well as crude and brutal human beings, whose aim is bloodletting, killings and violence.
He also restated his call to the people of the state to resist cultists who could use the temptation of political offices to lure the youth to dangerous practices.
His words: “Let me remind us of some of the very powerful pronouncements that our men of God and fathers of our faith have led us to declare for the past seven years and still counting. One of the most important is that only a man after God’s heart, not a man who is not destined by God, who wants to take it by violence, no such person shall ascend the position of governor. Not one who does not subscribe, understand, submit to the authority and divine mandate of God over our lives shall ascend the seat of governor.”
Governor Dickson said that the essence of the three-day programme was to seek God’s guidance and control of the transition process to reveal his successor. He added that the governorship seat of the state had been handed over to God, which will make it impossible for cultist or anyone involved in occultic practices to occupy the position.
Kogi guber: Uzodinma committee screen 16 APC aspirants
No fewer than 16 All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirants in Kogi State, were on Thursday screened by the Senator Hope Uzodinma-led screening committee ahead of the August 29 primary election in the state.
Among those screened so far include the state Governor, Akhaji Yahaya Bello, Alhaji Sani Lulu, Dr. Saidu Mohammed, General Patrick Akpa, Prince Mustapha Audu, Vice Admiral Jibril Usman, Mr. Tunde Irukera, Prince Yahaya Audu and Mr. Yakubu Mohammed.
Others are: Mallam Bashir Gegu, Hajia Hadiza Ibrahim, Hon. Blessing Ekele, Prince Mohammed Abubakar Audu, Hon. Hassan Baiwa and Engr. Abubakar Mohammed.
Addressing the aspirants before the commencement of the screening at the state Secretariat if the party in the state capital, Lokoja, Chief Hope Uzodinma, assured of a level playing ground for all the contestants.
He said the committee was in the state to interact with the aspirants, especially as regards their qualification to lead the state in the next political dispensation.
He assured that they would carry out a thorough job, so as to avoid a repeat of what happened in Taraba State in the last governorship poll, where the candidate of the APC had issues.
Uzodinma therefore enjoined the aspirants to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship, so as to ensure the retention of the state by the APC in the coming governorship election.
Ministers take charge, unveil agenda
The 43 new ministers, who were sworn-in by President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, have taken charge of their respective ministries, with some of them expressing optimism on delivering on their mandates.
Among the new ministers, who reported at their duty posts immediately after they were sworn-in include Godswill Akpabio (Niger Delta), Zainab Ahmed (Finance), Lai Mohammed (Information and Culture), Ogbonnaya Onu (Science and Technology), Suleiman Adamu (Water Resources), Sunday Dare (Youth and Sports Development) and Sabo Nanono (Agriculture).
Others are Adamu Adamu (Education), Emeka Nwajiuba (Minister of State for Eductaion), Timipre Sylva (Minister of State for Petroleum), Paulen Tallen (Women Affairs), Muhammed Abubakar (Environment), Hadi Sirika (Aviation), Clement Agba (Budget and National Planning) and Niyi Adebayo (Industry, Trade and Investment).
Education: Excitement as Adamu, Nwajiuba resume
At the Ministry of Education, it was excitement, following the reappointment of Mallam Adamu. Members of staff, who were clustered around television sets, jumped and screamed with joy when President Muhammadu Buhari mentioned Adamu’s portfolio.
Adamu resumed after his inauguration with the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajuiba at about 2:45pm. The duo were received by the excited staff led by the Permanent Secretary, Sonny Echono and some directors in the ministry.
Adamu who applauded Echono and directors of the ministry for their support during his first stint in office, noted that he and the former Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, had worked hard to put together the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP 2016-2019) to the point of implementation before their tenure ended on May 2019.
Adamu noted that Nwajiuba who until his appointment as minister was Chairman, Board of the Tertiary Education Trustfund (TETFund), had abandoned his doctorate programme to serve in the cabinet of President Buhari as minister.
Nwajiuba, who also spoke, said he was at home at the ministry. “I am comfortable that I do not have to go to another ministry, but here with my elder brother at the Ministry of Education, so that I can be tutored and well directed.”
Industry, Trade and Investment: Adebayo, Katagum tasks staff on commitment
At the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the minister, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and his Minister of State counterpart, Mariam Katagum, pledged to work as partners in order to realize President Buhari administration’s Next Level agenda.
Adebayo, who particularly tasked staff of the ministry to be committed to their duties, said: “We are in the ministry to achieve result and we will work out work plan to move the ministry forward in terms of economic growth and job creation.”
Earlier, Katagum commended President Buhari for finding them worthy for the appointment and promised to work vigorously to achieve her mandate.
Budget and National Planning: Agba sets target for 2020 budget
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba, who also assumed duty, yesterday, said getting 2020 fiscal budget ready before the National Assembly next month (September) is his top priority.
To realise his dream, he called for the cooperation of the ministry’s staff, pleading that they all join forces with him in realising the target.
He said: “Meetings are already scheduled. It is quite understandable reading the mood of Mr. President. He had made it very clear to us. There is a whole lot of work to be done and he needs the budget to be before the National Assembly in September.
“That means for this ministry, in particular, we do have a lot of work to do. And I can say that we have a lot of capable hands to do the work. The only way we can succeed is for us to work together. I believe in the power of team. For me, the word ‘team’ means together everybody achieves much.”
Women Affairs: Tallen promises better days ahead for women
Newly-appointed Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Paulen Tallen, has assured of moving the ministry to the next level, saying that President Buhari has reasons for sending her to the ministry.
Tallen, who gave the assurance at the ministry’s headquarters, noted that President Buhari is aware of complains by women of not being carried along by his administration. She, however, stated that the President has better plans for women and all citizens.
“This is a holistic ministry as the woman takes care of the home, children and husband. I’m giving you all a charge that things will be done different henceforth, but we must set out targets and work towards achieving them. We must make history and make indelible marks on the sands of history.
“You have severally bombarded Mr. President about the role women played in his political career. He is not unmindful of that and I want to assure you that he has a very good reason of sending me to this ministry,” she said.
Petroleum Resources: Sylva promises to move ministry forward
Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, who also resumed work yesterday, pledged to work with experts at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), departments and agencies under the Ministry to move the sector forward
Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan and other heads of parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, received the minister on his assumption of office.
Other heads of agencies present to receive the minister, who was accompanied by his wife, were Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Training Development Fund (PTDF), Dr. Bello Aliyu Gusau and Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), Alhaji Ahmed Bobboi.
Niger Delta Affairs: Akpabio assures on laudable programmes
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, assured the readiness and determination of the ministry under his leadership to bring to fruition, the dreams of President Buhari for the people of the Niger Delta.
Akpabio who stated this during a meeting with the management of the ministry, shortly after his inauguration, specifically thanked the President for deeming he and Barr. Festus Keyamo fit to be part of the Next Level agenda of his administration.
“Let me, on behalf of my brother Mr. Keyamo and the people of Niger Delta region, thank Mr. President for the confidence reposed in us to deliver on his laudable programmes for the people of the region. Mr. President by this appointment has handed over the destiny of our people into our hands and by the special grace of God we will not fail.
“We have a very big task before us. The task is not insurmountable and we will surely deliver. We will put in our best to make you and Nigerians proud,” he stressed.
Finance: Ahmed says expansion of portfolio double task
The fusion of Budget and National planning as part of the Ministry Finance has doubled the task of ministry, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning stated yesterday on assumption of duty.
She said the expansion of the portfolio to include budget and national planning was attestation of a good work by entire members of the ministry, who toiled hard to save the nation from slip into fiscal crisis.
“The President has just doubled our assignment. We got this assignment because of the quality of work that we have produced. Ministry of finance has one of the best cerebral civil servants that we have today.
“That we have been re-matched with the ministry of budget and national planning, is also a very weighty responsibility that has been given to us. As you know our nation is facing a near fiscal crisis, and it is up to us to make sure that it is arrested and ensure that we don’t slip into a crisis.”
“We have been growing in eight consecutive quarters, but it is a growth that is still fragile. Our revenues have grown, but they are still 55 per cent from what we have budgeted. We still have to pay salaries and other statutory obligations. We have to pay debts and we also need to operate on a day-to-day basis, and we need to do capital projects for the sustained growth of our economy,” she said.
Information and Culture: Mohammed calls for cooperation among staff
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has charged staff of the ministry to cooperate and work together to achieve greater things.
Mohammed gave the charge during his maiden meeting with staff of the ministry on assumption shortly after his inauguration by President Buhari.
His words: “First of all, we need to give thanks and gratitude to Almighty Allah that made it possible for me to be re-appointed and also posted back to this ministry.
“My charge to all of us is to collaborate, redouble our efforts and work together so that we can justify the confidence that the President has reposed in us. We need to cooperate and work hard.
“Our goal is to leave a lasting legacy at the ministry. At the retreat, the President reiterated the need for ministers to work amicably with their permanent secretaries and chief executive officers of all the parastatals,” he said.
Science and Technology: Onu directs workers to begin 2020 budget preparation
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, has directed workers in the ministry to begin the 2020 budget preparation, to attain January- December budgetary cycle.
Onu, who gave the directive at a meeting with the permanent secretary, Ddirectors and heads of parastatals and agencies under the ministry, also charged the workers to align with the vision of the Federal Government to return budget to normal cycle.
Onu who occupied the same position in the immediate past administration said the President expected them to put into proper use, any money allocated to the ministry. “We must work together as a team to achieve our mandate,’’ he said
The minister pledged to operate open door policy and urged the workers to work with the newly inaugurated Minister of State, Mohammed Abdullahi.
Also speaking, Abdullahi called for the support from the workers to advance the development of science and technology in the country. He said he was assigned to work with Onu to achieve the transformation agenda of the government.
Water Resources: Adamu pledges to reposition ministry’s roadmap
Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, has pledged to re-position the ministry’s roadmap, geared towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) six for quality water and sanitation in the country.
Adamu gave the pledge when addressing member of staff as he resumed office at the ministry. He said repositioning was critical as the roadmap was expected to give direction to water quality in the country.
“I want to assure you that I will put the Federal Ministry of Water Resources back on the roadmap. We are going to reposition the ministry on the roadmap through our collective efforts.
”I am result oriented and I just want to see results, so I will urge you all to put more efforts in your duties. I also want to assure you that every department in the ministry will be given a fair hearing. I will maintain an open door policy,” he said.
Environment: Abubakar assures good working relations
Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abubakar, yesterday, assured Nigerians and staff of the ministry of good working relations and effective protection of the nation’s environment.
Abubakar gave the assurance while addressing staff of the ministry as he assumed duty. He said that environment generally was a sensitive area because it was all about people and their behaviours, adding that it must be protected to prevent spreading of diseases.
“Most people don’t know the importance of environment, I want to let them know that everything about environment is about people and when the environment is not healthy, nothing else is healthy.
“I know much about the ministry even before the name was changed; I already have good relationship with the ministry. So, we should all know and believe that everything about environment is life and that particular life must be protected,’’ he said.
He also welcomed Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, who was also appointed as a Minister of State for the ministry. He said that the Ikeazor had been a committed person, adding that cordial working relationship would help the ministry achieve it mandates and objectives.
Ikeazor, while appreciating the minister and the staff, she said that she would put all her best to achieve the goals of the ministry. She said that she would ensure that all the agencies and departments of the ministry would bring out the best for the betterment of the ministry and the country at large.
Aviation: Sirika promises to tackle emerging challenges
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has promised to work with aviation unions to advance the sector and position it to meet emerging challenges. .
The minister commended the unions and staff for welcoming him warmly into office, declaring their support and solidarity as “amazing.”
“I promise that there will be good understanding between you and me to drive the activities 0f our industry towards enhancing national development. I will do everything possible to make the ministry grow up.
“This task, I think, is for you as well; not for me alone. It is for all of us. We will continue to hold stakeholders meetings with the unions, staff and the management. We will make what you are doing better. The roadmap is there; we will make things better including your welfare,” Sirika said.
Agriculture: Nanono warns against indiscipline
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, has warned that he will not tolerate indiscipline and lackadaisical attitude to work as a minister.
While directing all staff to be on their toes working, he said: “I have worked in the public and private sectors and I know how people work in the two sectors.”
He that he would hit the ground running in the discharge of his duties to ensure that agriculture took its pride of place because it was critical to internal security.
He noted that agriculture was one of the most critical sectors in the country and that given the necessary attention; it would help solve many of the nation’s challenges.
“For a number of reasons, people tend to downplay agriculture because they do not know its importance to national development,’’ he said.
Interior: Aregbesola says knowledge of ministry is newspaper based
The newly-inaugurated Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has said that his knowledge of the ministry does not transcend newspapers materials.
The former governor of Osun State was quoted as confiding this in top officials of the ministry shortly after his swearing-in by President Buhari.
Accordingly, Aregbesola was said to have directed the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Georgina Ekeoma, to oversee affairs, pending his assumption of office on Monday, August 26.
“My relationship with the ministry is distant. What I know about the ministry is what I read in the newspapers. I will come to take over on Monday. I give the Permanent Secretary the grace to run the ministry till then. We will be ready by Monday to take on the huge assignment. I promise you a realistic, reasonable and commendable leadership,” Aregbesola said.
APC to ministers: Consolidate on progress made so far
The National Leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has charged the newly appointed ministers to consolidate on the progress made so far by the Federal Government.
The 43 ministers appointed by President Muhammad Buhari were yesterday inaugurated and assigned portfolios at the Aso Villa.
The party, which commended the Buhari on the appointment of the ministers said it notes with utmost satisfaction the painstaking efforts the President made in picking them, their speedy screening and confirmation by the Senate, in addition to the rigorous induction of the new appointees towards acquainting them to the onerous task of assisting government to fulfill his promises of repositioning the economy, ensuring security of lives and property and fighting corruption.
In a statement issued by APC’S National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party said: “While the APC-led administration has recorded remarkable milestones in these three areas, we align with the position of the President that there is more work to be done.
“There are challenges to build on the foundations that have been laid in the last four years. To state a few, the APC-led government has an urgent task to lift Nigerians out of poverty, secure lives and property, grow our economy, build infrastructure, bring back discipline to our private and public conducts and mobilize Nigerians through personal examples towards evolving a Nigeria we all can be proud of.”
Why APC should control Bauchi Assembly, by Sabo
Comrade Mohammed Sabo is a former Senior Special Assistant to the immediate past governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar. In this interview, the ex-House of Representatives candidate in the 2019 election, speaks on the state of the nation, the Bauchi State House of Assembly crisis and the defeat of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. ALI GARBA reports
What is your take on the appointment of two ministers from Bauchi State by President Muhammadu Buhari?
The move is well commended and the people of Bauchi State appreciate the President for that. The truth is that President Buhari has been so magnanimous to Bauchi State and the North-East as well and this is taking into cognisance the key appointments he has given to the North-East and Bauchi State as well. From North-East, we have two service chiefs, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), TetFund Secretary, Chairman Niger-Delta Holding Company and others.
President Buhari has given our illustrious sons and daughters, who have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers opportunities to serve the country. They include Mallam Adamu Adamu, a chartered accountant and an accomplished journalist as well as Hajiya Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, a proven administrator, who has distinguished herself in both her local and international career. Their pedigree is why we have so many expectations from them to unite the state and uphold the good virtues they have internalised all along. We expect them to work assiduously with President Buhari in taking the country to the next level.
But some people in Bauchi are complaining that the two ministers are from the same zone and local government area?
That is to tell you that the country is growing. We are moving democratically and heading towards development because the fact of the matter is that they are from Bauchi and nobody will dispute that both did not merited their nomination. Bauchi State belongs to all of us. I am from Bauchi South Senatorial district and if we are to take the statistics of appointments given to Bauchi South and Bauchi Emirate, then the other two senatorial districts would have protested.
We should take into consideration that INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu is from Bauchi South from Bauchi Emirate; TetFund Secretary, Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro is from Bauchi South in Bogoro Local Government Area; Customs boss, Hamid Ali is from Dass from Bauchi South; Chairman Social Investment Programme, Manir is from Bauchi Local Government in Bauchi South; Chairman, National Commission for Colleges of Education, Prof. Ali is from Alkaleri Local Government Area in Bauchi Emirate. For long it has been like that. If you also look at our political history, we have produced four governors from 1999 to date. Ahmed Adamu Mu’azu, Bauchi South and Bauchi Emirate; Isa Yuguda, Bauchi South and Bauchi Emirate; Mohammed Abubakar is from Bauchi Local Government Area in Bauchi South and so also Senator Bala Mohammed from Alkaleri Local Government Area in Bauchi Emirate of Bauchi South.
But this people were very magnanimous and they did not complain, You should know that our people also look for the appointment but God in his own way gave appointment to this people and that is why we have to rally round to support them to ensure that they support the President to take the country to the next level by using their office to further unite us as one people, one state and working in the best interest of our state. So there is nothing wrong in that. We have applauded the President. We should go beyond looking at people from their own local government, region or senatorial district, but we should look at the people best on their merit and what they can offer for the best of our people and the best of the nation.
Adamu Adamu served for four years during the first term of President Buhari as Minister of Education. What are your expectations from him in his second tenure as minister?
I have said it in many fora that Adamu Adamu as a human being may have made mistakes, but you can see unity in the state as our three senators supported Mallam Adamu and Ambassador Katagum. Our members of House of Representatives also supported them and we were unanimous; even our leader, former Governor Abubaka, supported them to ensure that they scale through. So, what we are expecting from Adamu Adamu is that he should take the fatherly role now and he should unite Bauchi State irrespective of political affiliation or regional inclination. Bauchi State is one and we should unanimously work towards development of Bauchi State. I know he is a humble person and God fearing; he has not disappointed the President, so he will not disappoint the people of Bauchi State in his second coming.
What is your take on the Bauchi State House of Assembly leadership crisis?
We have submitted our memorandum to the committee and the position of the party and stakeholders are very clear, but one thing you see in politics is a spirit of give and take. Sometimes you would take a very hard decision, but after consultation and some alignment, you begin to take a compromise position and I think the overall interest of all of us is Bauchi State. Now that critical stakeholders, traditional and religious leaders have involved themselves in this issue, we believe they would be able to resolve it. We are happy that they would come down to the table and do the needful.
We are saying that the deputy speaker belongs to All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is the minority, should allow us to produce the deputy speaker because the speaker is from APC, irrespective of whether he is totally APC. He won election under the APC, so we have to give him that benefit of doubt. We are very critical to the supremacy of the party and the deputy speaker should be from APC family because PDP succeeded in having eight members of the state Assembly out of 31 members of the Assembly. We have the majority – 22 members; so nobody on earth, if we are to play politics, would deprive APC from having the speaker and the deputy speaker and I think we are working towards that amicably to see that the issue is resolve and then we work in the best interest of the state.
Don’t you see that affecting governance in the state as the governor is a member of the PDP?
The constitution of Nigeria is very clear. There are three arms of government; executive, legislative and judiciary. So, everybody should be allowed to play within the ambit of the law. If this is allowed, then the state belongs to all of us. The executive is a different arm; they should find a way for working harmoniously for the development of the state.
What is your take on the recent call for revolution over the state of the nation?
That is unacceptable at a time when the President is working to unite the country; when the President working to combat insecurity; when the President is working to curtail kidnapping and banditry. Whoever is talking of revolution is a mediocre. If you are bringing radical changes, then you have to contest election. Nobody can doubt that our democracy has been deepened, APC lost Zamfara to the PDP in court; that has never happened in the history of democratic experienced in this country.
The President is working round the clock to ensure that he carries all and sundry along for the unity and progress of the country. Therefore, the call for revolution is deceptive one to cause unnecessary tension. If you look at even the reactions of majority of Nigerians, they are totally against Omoyele Sowore’s action. So, we are not in support of what he has done, knowing fully that he is a partisan person, a presidential candidate. He should have channeled his grievances through the legitimate way as Atiku Abubakar is pursuing his case through the legitimate way. If you are causing chaos to the country nobody would supported that at this critical time.
APC lost Bauchi State to the PDP during the last governorship election. Is there any plan or move by your party to unseat the governor?
We are in court. We are pursuing our legitimate case in court and we are hopeful. I said it and let me re-echo it again that by the grace of Almighty God, APC is going to be victorious in court and when this happens, it means that the flag bearer of the party, who is our leader, Mohammed Abubakar will come back as a governor. As an individual, he must have made some mistakes, but his return will allow him to correct the mistakes.
Secondly, that would even give the opportunity of APC to further consolidate on the good things that the APC government started. While we are in court, we ensure that our people work with the government. I call him a transition governor because he is subject to the verdict of the court. By the time we are done, then will now look at the way forward for the state.
What are your expectations from the Bala Mohammed administration though you are from the other side of the divide?
I think I am not in a better position to answer your question. First, his victory is been challenged in court, so you should wait until when the case is over. But now, we will pray that there should be peace; let there be peaceful co-existence, let there be separation of power, let us work in unity because that is our concern. One area our former governor was outstanding was the issue of security of lives and property of the good people of Bauchi State. Let this government emulate same and work with the diverse interest groups for the unity and progress of Bauchi State.
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