OLALEKAN OSIADE reports on how hope for a coalition that could have swayed Nigerians from the two established political parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – was dashed
In the wake of the electioneering campaign, there was much hue and cry on the need for Nigerians to do away with the two major political parties that had governed the country in its 20 years of civil rule, having been in power since the return of democratic rule in 1999.
The reasons for this were not farfetched; Nigerians are not known to be too impatient when tired of a system and in dire need of a change. This was what played out in 2015, when the then opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) uprooted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of power to become the ruling party.
Though the APC had not been in power for long, having been in the saddle for just four years as against the PDP that ruled for 16 years, many Nigerians have been clamouring for a paradigm shift, irrespective of the party in power and the number of years it has spent.
While some were blaming the 16 years rule of the PDP for the woes of the country, others were quick to point accusing fingers at the APC, alleging the broom-symbol party of not living up to the change mantra with which it rode to power.
With allegations of dismal performances by both parties, many were hoodwinked with the notion that the two giant parties are different sides of same coin. This perception forced many Nigerians to seek a fresh option that could take power away from the two giants, hence the need for a third force.
Alliances were hurriedly formed and many big names were flaunted in the hope that justice would be done to the yearnings and aspirations of the people. Expectations were high as to who the presidential candidate of the third force would be, and some established powers were quick to latch on to the situation, given the impression of a new dawn.
Amid the expectations was the visit of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who many had used as the yardstick for a new beginning. It was argued that a third force could put Nigeria in the mould of France, judging by the Macron’s mode of ascension to his country’s presidency.
Using the example of how Macron had raised a third force and pulled out of a federal cabinet to emerge the youngest president of his country, there was renewed hope in the system and the social media went agog, with Nigerians throwing up names of individuals that could perform the magic.
In a twinkle of an eye, alliances and new parties began to emerge, with no less a caliber of person than former President Olusegun Obasanjo leading the first set of coalition under the aegis of Coalition of Nigeria Movement (CNM).
Obasanjo was able to galvanise his loyalists, including a former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola into a formidable union. The group wasted no time in rallying like minds and political parties such as the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
At the inauguration of the CNM, Obasanjo canvassed for a movement that is not necessarily a political party from the outset, but could later take the form of a political party and lead the country out the woods. He particularly promised to be part of the struggle for the rebirth of a new Nigeria.
“We need a coalition for Nigeria, such a movement at this juncture needs not be a political party, but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong. That movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress, a coalition to salvage and redeem our country. You can count me with such a movement,” he said.
Hardly had the Obasanjo coalition took off than another group, the Nigerian Intervention Movement (NIM), led by a former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, appeared on the scene.
Seeing Agbakoba in company with a former governor of the Central Bank, Prof. Charles Soludo; Prof. Pat Utomi, Oby Ezekwesili, Ayo Obe, Col. Abubakar Umar (rtd) and Comrade Isa Aremu, among others, the assurances were high even as Agbakoba had raised the hopes of many after being named the leader of the group that what was seen as the new opposition force.
This led to series of merger talks as political permutations began to change and people began to form alliances, even as INEC continued to register more political parties.
The CNM later announced its fusion with the ADC as a political party on which its members would contest the general elections, assuring that the coalition would rescue Nigeria, not minding the inconveniences and other consequences.
While announcing the collapse of the CNM into the ADC, Oyinlola said: “The current state of despair and despondency in our dear country is an ill wind. The CNM was formed by some of us across the country as a political platform to create a new generation of leaders. A lot of grounds had been covered in achieving the set goals,” Oyinlola said.
With over 90 political parties, hope that had been dashed seemed to be raised and those that had lost faith in the electoral process and earlier resigned to fate, having caught between the proverbial “devil and the deep blue sea,” suddenly reawakened their interests, in the belief that a third force is on the way to redeem the situation.
With the array of political parties and the stalwarts lined up for the coalition, Nigerians had thought that the 2019 elections would be a walkover for the third force. But no sooner had the coalition taken off that the hiccups that may thwart its efforts began to show.
The third force, which could have functioned as a counterbalancing power to neutralize the influence of the established powers; quickly ran into stormy waters, when it seemed that Nigerians were trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. Many of these politicians and technocrats who many had relied upon to do the needful began to sing discordant tunes.
Of note is the tactical approach with which Obasanjo made a U-turn, abandoning his CNM and endorsing his erstwhile deputy and the candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. This was the first indication of the “demise” of the third force.
Soon afterwards, the younger elements refused to work together and failed in presenting a cnsensus candidate between Omoyele Sowore, Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye and Oby Ezekwesili, among others. This hard line posture is the second indication that seemed to show that the latter day politicians have dealt a huge blow to the emerging third force.
Though Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, tried to remedy the situation with his Citizens Forum adoption of Moghalu, it appeared that the action of the octogenarian playwright is too late to do the magic intended as many had been caught in the bug of APC and PDP.
The gale of endorsements trailing the candidature of the two major players, President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, show that many Nigerians have taken solace in the old saying; “if you can’t beat them, join them.”
To add insult to the injury, one of those that were hitherto tipped to lead the third force, Ezekwesili, withdrew from the race citing non-cooperative stance of her party’s leadership though she promised to channel her energy towards the election bid of anyone chosen as the coalition candidate.
In the same vein, another member of the contending forces, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) fell into crisis as the duo of a former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana and a former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, took the battle for the presidential ticket of the party to the court room.
The dust was yet to settle on the court matters when the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the SDP threw its weight behind Buhari’s candidacy, putting a seal on the emergence of the SDP as a strong unit that could midwife the third force.
Earlier, the ADC had joined forces with some other parties to form the CUPP, which adopted Atiku as its consensus candidate. As such, the assumption that NIM, CNM, ADC and SDP would merge as the third force ahead of the presidential has gradually fizzled out.
Just few days to the historic polls, the possibility of any alliance or merger coming up as third force has thinned, and again, just like it happened in 2015, the main contenders for the elections remain PDP and APC.
With the decline of the units that could have made up the third force, and with some of them grappling with various problems, ranging from factionalisation, defections and troubled leadership, not a few pundits are saying that the third force had gone to bed till 2023.
Bayelsa guber: KDI calls for peace during election
*Gives out a toll free number
Pauline Onyibe, Yenagoa
Ahead of the Bayelsa State 2019 governorship election scheduled to hold on November 16, a nongovernmental organisation known as KINPACT DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE (KDI) has called on all the relevant stakeholders involved to work towards maintaining a peaceful atmosphere during the election.
KDI also gave out a toll free number 08000001000 to the public to report any incidence of violence in their immediate communities during the election.
In a press conference at the weekend in Yenagoa, Bukola Idowu, the Executive Director of the organisation, implored the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the political parties, the candidates, youth leaders, security agencies, political gladiators and the civil societies to help in making sure that the process is rancor free.
Idowu said: ”As committed citizens of Nigeria, and Bayelsa, we will like you all to bear in mind that no development is possible in an atmosphere void of peace. We strongly appeal to youths to avoid being used as an instrument to ferment violence in any area of the state.”
KDI said it has deployed about 16 election observers two in each local government for the pre and post- election activities a gesture which he said was made possible by its partners, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).
KDI said in its commitment to deepening democratic processes, it has assessed the electoral risk factors in the eight local governments adding that it has identified early warning signs which could help the relevant stakeholders to deploy appropriate responses to those areas.
The NGO said: “From the survey, it was discovered that 74.3% agreed that elections in Bayelsa State have been marred by violence, 38.50% said they were expecting a peaceful governorship election while 33.78% anticipate a very violent election.”
KDI also revealed that from the survey the possibility of violence is low in Kolokuma/Opokuma, while Sagbama, Yenagoa and Ogbia are somewhat likely to experience violence.
However, the remaining four local governments Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw, Nembe, Brass the survey, according to KDI, have high level of experiencing violence.
FG yet to redeem N10 billion pledge to Benue victims, says Shior
The Executive Secretary of Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Hon. Emmanuel Verrumun in this interview with CEPHAS IORHEMEN, says despite relative peace in the state insurgents and herdsmen occupy the homes of internally displaced persons (IDPs) even as he wants the Federal Government to redeem its N10billion pledge to the state
What is the statutory function of Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) which you head?
The SEMA has the mandate by law of responding and managing to disasters and emergencies that happen in Benue State. So here as the headquarters as the center of the agency you have the governor as the chairman and he alternates with the Deputy Governor as the Deputy chairman and then you have the Executive Secretary for the day-to-day running of the agency. So the mandate of the agency is too manage disasters that are happening in the society. There is also a structure at the local government levels where we have what is called LEMA. Here, we have desk officers and we work together with other stakeholders as well as chairmen of those local government areas, traditional rulers too function effectively.
Again, one of the chief mandates of SEMA is connect the humanitarian actors and partners that coordinate other activities with respect to humanitarian response in the. It also works as to lobby spirited individuals NGOs, Civil Society Organisations and others who are interested in coming to the state to help the government to address humanitarian issues and disasters that occur in the state.
You talked about LEMA but it looks as if not much is been heard of that aspect across the state?
Yes, it’s one of the things I want to do here even though much of LEMA activities are not heard but during my time as the Executive Secretary of SEMA I want to bring them to limelight because they have an important role to play and they are representing us at that level. You will agree with me that the humanitarian response that we give is not limited to the state capital, our people live in communities and these communities fall in local governments so we need to expand our hands to connect with other people to ensure that the response that we provide is more effective.
How has it been managing SEMA since you assume duty as the Executive Secretary of the agency?
Yes, managing an agency of this nature is indeed a herculean task. When you are managing people who are not in trouble, you will agree with me that it is difficult talk more of managing people who are in trouble. But even as it is difficult, two things have happened to ease my work. First, is the Almighty God Himself is with me. Secondly, is the opportunity to work with a governor that is very simple. I work directly under him and report to him directly and that has also helped me to humble myself that I am here to serve people of the state to accept that I am here to change the narrative of this place.
The charge he gave me was to go and sanitise the agency, and whatever I am doing I should invite the media to ensure transparency and accountability and promised to be with me in whatever I am doing. That is why you have not heard of any scandal bordering on diversion of relief materials meant for the displaced persons. This has helped other humanitarians and partners who are working with us.
What are the challenges SEMA under your watch is facing in the state in the cause of carrying out your duties?
Literature has taught me that life has two sides, the good and the bad. The bad side is essentially in two areas, namely in the area of capacity and funding. For SEMA to be more effective in responding to humanitarian issues in the state, there is need for more funding. At the moment, our funding comes from local governments who sent in monthly contributions to help us in the daily running of the agency. Again, when we have projects we write to the governor to approve resources for us to execute them. At the moment that is not enough and usually affects the speed with which we respond to humanitarian issues.
In the area of capacity, there is need for capacity building here. There is need for training beginning with myself. Remember, I was not trained as a humanitarian worker or disaster manager. The only thing that has kept me is my vast knowledge of literature and also my university training. All of that have thought me to be flexible to survive and to be adaptable to whatever situation I find myself and to manage the agency. So it is hoped that when I receive that training and I also receive the relevant equipment to work with here, that will further reposition the agency and we will be able to respond more rapidly and more responsively to humanitarian issues in the state.
In 2012, the state witnessed a lot of humanitarian challenges due to flooding caused by the release of water from the Lagdo Dam from Cameroon. We learnt, this year too that Lagdo Dam waters would be released. How prepared is SEMA to tackle the challenge when it comes?
Even before the rain started in earnest, the Governor of Benue State summoned me and the agency including other line MDAs, Ministries of Water Resources and Information, Benue Rural Water and Sanitation Agency (BERWASSA), Urban Development Board and others to come together and brainstorm and get prepared since flooding has come to be a perennial thing in Benue. And so as a government that is responsive, we don’t have to wait for flood or any other challenge to come before we start to prepare and to respond.
Since then, we formed a committee to activate our contingency plan and swung into action immediately beginning with sensitisation. The aim of the sensitisation is to enlighten people of the state about the flooding that is being expected to remind them that it may occur this raining season also. We have worked with the public on sanitation days to free the gutters by removing the refuse that block the gutters and water channels. We have tried to talk to people to leave their houses that are on water channels. Some people have built these houses without obtaining permission from the Ministry of Lands and Survey. The Urban Development Board on its own plans to demolish some of these structures and free the water channels so that the running water will be able to move freely.
What is the situation with the Internally Displaced Persons, (IDPs) in the state of now?
The situation with the IDPs now in the state is that some of them are in government official camps then there are others who even out-number the strength of the host communities. As much as government is relentless in providing the succor and alleviate their suffering, they have always cried out to the government that there is no place like home. We have done enough to take care of them but they want to return to their homes.
So what is stopping that for now?
What is stopping that for now is simply the fact that some of those places are not safe even up till now. Fulani herdsmen have occupied those places and are grazing with their cattle freely. Like my village in Tse-Orjime in Torkula in Mbadwem council ward, in Guma Local Government, if you go there you will still see Fulani herdsmen. They are there. None of our people have returned back to that place. Some of them are in the IDP Camps; some are with friends or relations in the host communities. So it’s a big problem but recently, the governor directed me to put a plan in place to disengage them.
And you know that as a humanitarian agency, we cannot just disengage the IDPs or close the camp and ask them to go without putting a livelihood plan for them. We need to recapitalise them, we need as a responsive and responsible government to rebuild their homes because if you close the camps now and asked them to go back, where are you asking them to go back to? That’s why it’s difficult for government to ask the IDPs to leave the camps.
In the area of security, I want to use this opportunity to cry out to the President (Muhammadu Buhari) to redeem the N10 billion pledge he promised people of the state when he visited through the Vice President to facilitate the rebuilding of ravaged communities and subsequent return of the displaced persons back home. We are hoping that if part of that money comes and reconstruction of houses for the settlement of IDPs is put in place then Benue State government can now carry out the remaining part of the plan to disengage them, but at the moment, the state government cannot shoulder all of that.
At the peak of the crisis when the camps were opened, government through your office was feeding the IDPs on a daily basis. As we speak now, who takes care of their daily sustenance?
Government has continued to do that through my agency. Food and non-food items are been supplied to them at the various camps. We have distributed such items to Logo Local Government where we have Ugba and Anyiin IDP camps. We have continued with that in Naka in Gwer West Local Government Area; as well as in Gbajimba at Daudu in Guma Local Government Area and many others. We have not limited the interventions only to official camps. Occasionally, we extend that support to the IDPs outside official camps. You have the same situation in Naka, Abagena, Daudu, Gbajimba and other places. We have also been providing clothing and medicare to them. We have received support from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Doctors Without Borders, and the Red Cross, Society. With these support, it has been possible for us to sustain the support we are providing for the IDPs.
How have you gone with the IDP school matter for their children?
Yeah, the IDP school is there. In these official camps mentioned, IDP schools are there and the teachers are drawn from government ministries and agencies. There are teachers from the Ministry of Education from primary school, from SUBEB and then we have quite a number of volunteers who are also providing assistance.
Xenophobia and Nigeria’s foreign policy
Against the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa and sundry activities against the country’s interest in the country, BIYI ADEGOROYE examines Nigeria’s foreign policy, canvassing for a review
stand before you as a fellow African to express my regret and apologise for what has happened in our country,” were the words of Cyril Ramaphosa, South African President, in whose country over 200 Nigerians have been killed in the past four years and over 700 evacuated so far.
Remorseful as that may seem even as it is doubtful whether it represents the perception of South Africans, the news from some parts of Africa about Nigerians is anything but cheery. Africans, especially Nigerians resident in Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal, Pretoria, Ekurhuleni, Tsahwane and Johannesburg Central Business Districts of African residents in their country came under huge attack and their businesses and shops looted.
From housing Hammani Tidjani and other cross-border bandits against Nigeria years ago which predicated the first border closure by the President Olusegun Obasanjo, Benin Republic has now transformed into a haven for smugglers. This daylight smuggling across the Nigerian/Benin Republic border not only threatens Nigeria’s economy but also its security. Hence the current closure by the Nigerian government has practically brought the country’s economy to its knee, compelling the ECOWAS to seek Nigeria’s understanding to re-open it.
If the report from South Africa is atrociously horrendous, the information from Ghana where Nigerians are been harassed for alleged fraud and sundry businesses and news from Burkina Faso are disturbing. Nigeria’s ambassador to Burkina Faso, Ramatu Ahmed, recently lamented that over 10,000 under-age Nigerians have been forced into prostitution in the poor African country.
While migration and free trade across African countries are enshrined in various agreements among African countries, the bulk of the current development has been blamed on Nigeria’s foreign policy over time and observers are calling for a review. But what are the components of Nigeria’s foreign policy from independence?
Nigeria’s Big Brother Role
Among the top priorities of every independent nation in the international political system is the prosecution of its national interests in the international arena. Such interests are often enshrined in its foreign policy forms the foundation of international relations. Whether such interests according to its priorities are political, economic, defence or otherwise, the policy framework becomes a pivot around which all its activities with other states and state actors revolve.
Though subject to periodic review in consonant with emerging trends, interests and international dynamics and exigencies, there is hardly any radical deviating from the core foreign policy objectives.
For instance, America’s foreign policy goals are national security, free and open trade, world peace, democratic government and concern for humanity. However, the most important objective is world peace because they believe it is a way to guarantee national security. To achieve these, the country uses such tools as diplomacy, aid to deserving countries and military force.
Expectedly, Nigeria, a major player in international politics is hardly exempted from this because since 1960 when it formulated its foreign policy. Nigeria’s first and only Prime Minister, Sir. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa announced in what is now known as the Balewa Doctrine, that: “It is the desire of Nigeria to remain on friendly terms with all the nations and participate in the activities of the United Nations Organisations… Nigeria hopes to work with other African countries for the progress of Africa and assist in bringing all African countries to state of independence.”
The nine-point foreign policy objectives which are clearly defined are “the protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria; promotion of the economic and social well-being, and enhancement of image of Nigeria’s image and status in the world stage.” Others are motion of unity a well as total political, economic, social and cultural liberation of our country and Africa, promotion of rights of black people and others under colonial rule; the promotion of international cooperation, conducive to consolidation of world peace and security, mutual respect and friendship among all peoples and states and the promotion of word peace based on principles of freedom, mutual respect and equality of all persons of the world.”
Besides the objectives and in accordance with the existential demands of that period, Balewa said unequivocally that Africa shall be the center-point of Nigeria’s foreign policy. That Afro-centric foreign policy was understandable from needs of that period because the nation was committed to assisting the rest African nation to attain independence from colonial rulers.
That historical reference formed the underpinning of Nigeria’s leadership role in the promotion of and struggle for self-rule democracy, security and economic integration of the continent both at the level of the African Union and the West African sub-region. Nigeria played a major role in the fight for the independence of almost all the Luxophone countries (previously colonized by Portugal) like Angola, where it spend over $1bilion, Zimbabwe, Cape Verde, Mozambique Zambia and finally the war against apartheid in South Africa, even grating asylum at different period to many leaders like Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and Tambo Mbeki.
As part of the periodic review of the foreign policy objectives, the 1999 Constitution added respect for international law and treaty obligations as well as the seeking of settlement of international disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication; and promotion of a just world economic order and ensuring of the social well-being of its citizens to it.
In this regard, at the West African sub-region, Nigeria has been performing the big brother role, being at the forefront of the promotion of democracy and regional security, providing more than half of the ECOMOG soldiers who fought the Liberian Civil War which claimed about 620,000 people including civilians and many soldiers, including two journalists, Nigeria’s Chris Imodibe and Tayo Awotunsi.
Also, Nigeria was on the front role in the stoppage of the 12-year-old Sierra Leonean war, sending in several battalion of soldiers when the leader of the Revolutionary United Front, said to have had the support of the Liberian leader, Charles Taylor which ended in 2002. Also in the picture was Nigerian’s role in the Ivorian Civil War from 2002 and 2004 and later in 2011 following post-election crisis between troops loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo and Alanssane Quattara which recorded an estimated 3000 casualties.
In view the current development, diplomats have argued that Nigeria should review its foreign policy, having supported African nations through the years without any benefits. They argued that America will never intervene or send its troops to any nation without stating from the onset the benefits derivable from there. “Nigeria should add some economic and political gains to any agreement it enters into with any nation from the onset,” said Associate Prof. Segun Bolarinwa of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).
According to him, it is comical that Nigeria spent over $12billion in ending the Liberian and Sierra Leone civil wars, and even lost hundreds of soldiers without gaining anything, politically or economically from there. “This share waste of human and material resources in South Africa, Liberia and Serra Leone should teach us a lesson. At one point, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, the then president of Liberia was almost displaying a measure of ingratitude,” he said.
In his opinion, Nigeria should add some pragmatism and pro-activeness to its foreign policy. “This is what we call reciprocity in international relations, where we return their kind gestures and bad ones at both bilateral and multilateral levels. If we have done that over time, the current insults would not have arisen. We should retaliate attitudes and behaviors towards Nigeria, Nigeria’s interest and Nigeria as whole. The era of big brother is gone for good.”
Head of Department, Politics and International Relations, Lead City University, Ibadan, Associate Prof. Tunde Oseni, however, said Nigeria, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian in Diaspora Commission should be more articulate with our foreign policy objectives. “Our foreign policy has shifted from time to time right from independence when Africa was the centerpiece of our foreign policy to what we had during Obasanjo which centred on New Partnership for African Growth and Development (NEPAD) where South Africa and Nigeria were the dominant advocates of African unity and development. But since then, things have not been clear, rather we had very hazy foreign policy.
“I think with the recent xenophobic crises, Nigeria should be more articulate in terms of what constitute its foreign policy objectives. Nevertheless, I have discovered that Nigeria should apply the norm of reciprocity. That Nigeria should move beyond Father Christmas diplomacy to good brother diplomacy, which is another norm of reciprocity.”
He argued, however, that Nigeria and indeed all African countries should look at “the communality nature of Africa, our colonial history and heritage and why we cannot say that we want to return fire for fire. Of course in the case of those individuals that were repatriated during Jonathan’s administration, we should also remember that Jonathan also repatriated some right from the airport.”
Former Nigerian Ambassador to Belgium, Botswana and the European Union, Prof. Alaba Ogunsanwo, however, called for caution. “Review of Nigeria’s foreign policy is not something that can easily be dealt with like that. Nigeria has to look at its own position vis-à-vis other countries. The question of xenophobic attacks which occur in so many places are not limited to South Africa.
“If you recall in January, 1983, about 100,000 Ghanaians were victims of attacks in Nigeria under the Shehu Shagari government when we blamed them for our economic downturn. The Ghana must go episode, when we were doing it, nobody called it xenophobia. It happens everywhere, even in Europe and it is those at the lowest ebb that are affected. We have in South Africa thousands of professionals – medical doctors, teachers and others doing well without molestation.”
The Octogenarian said as part of solution to the problem, some international relations experts are holding a roundtable discussion titled: “Xenophobia or Afrophobia: Causes, Consequences and Corrections” will be held this week in Ibadan as part of activities marking the 77 birthday.”
Beyond mere economic diplomacy where Nigeria seeks foreign direct investment, the diplomats are also canvassing for cogent moves to protect Nigerian citizens around the world. A Nigeria lecturing at a university in Benin Republic, Damilola Adegboye posited just so.
Asking for Nigeria to rise to the needs of its citizens around the world, he referred to the case of one trending video of a sick destitute Nigerian, Benjamin Olusesan Ojo, from Ilesha, in Osun State, currently stranded in Trinidad and Tobago, where he has sojourned for 12 years. He said such people who sought assistance of Nigerian embassies should be supported to return home.
Ambassador Joe Keshi, Nigeria’s former Charge d’Affairs in The Hague, Netherlands and Consul-General in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States, blamed the xenophobic attacks on ANC’s failure to rebuild the nation after the defeat of apartheid. He said: “We should not neglect our economy as a country. Indeed the earlier we develop this Nigerian economy the better for us to stem this tide of mass migration. Migration is fueled by under-development and we should stop taking back seat in the development of our industries and the entire nation to stem the tide.”
Ortom and the Benue rebirth
In this analysis, BIYI ADEGOROYE looks at the recent political development in Benue State and Governor Samuel Ortom’s strides reminiscent of that of legendary JS Takar, one of the state’s previous leaders
he 2019 governorship election in Benue State marked a watershed in the history of second term election for a sitting governor in the state. The reason is not far-fetched; it is a known fact that no sitting governor in the state wins his second term election on a platter.
Former governors George Akume and Gabriel Suswam readily come to mind when in 2003 and 2011 respectively they both struggled and had bouts with the electorate to secure reelection despite their huge financial war chest at the time.
However the 2019 reelection of Governor Samuel Ortom changed all that narrative about second term elections in the state. It marked the first time a sitting governor curried the favour and support of the ordinary Benue man across political party line despite facing the challenge of backlog of unpaid salaries, pensions and gratuity and the opposition was making a capital out of the issue in a bid to oust the governor.
In 2015 that same issue accounted for the inability of former Governor Gabriel Suswam to win his first senatorial election bid after leaving office that year and his inability to secure the victory of his preferred Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), successor at the time.
The story of Governor Ortom would not have been different but for one masterstroke that crashed every known precedence and altered every known political equation and permutation in the state.
The Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Act of 2017 which was put together by the people of the state themselves and willingly assented to by Governor Ortom was all the vast majority of the people of the state needed to galvanize passionate support base for his political course. The law which the governor did not hesitate to assent to came into being as solution to the protracted herdsmen killings in the state.
However, powerful forces from outside the state and their collaborators within who were bent on not allowing the law see the light of the day and several herdsmen groups and their sponsors moved against the governor hoping to cripple his political carrier after several lives had been lost to rampaging marauding herdsmen who turned several Benue communities to theaters of war all in a bid to take over the Benue valley.
These forces were bent on having the law repealed but the people of the state irrespective of political affiliation stood with the governor despite the killings and supposed threats to his life and those of his family members.
Even when the All Progressives Congress, (APC), moved to deny him the platform to seek reelection and the governor decided to defect from the party, the people of Benue moved in droves with him vowing to sink or swim with him in the face of adversity.
It was from that point that a new Benue was born and the people birthed a new JS Tarka in the person of Governor Ortom to champion the course of the people of the state and indeed the Middle Belt against the alleged oppressive tendencies of the oligarchic of the far north.
The quest to have ranching of cattle as the only recognised mode of animal husbandry, as being championed by the state governor, which today is obviously being adopted across the country as panacea for the ceaseless herdsmen killings in country, saw the people irrespective of political inclination, rallying round the governor who unwittingly became the face of that struggle not only in his state but across the Middle Belt states, and indeed across the country where the menace of herdsmen had become problematic, reminiscent JS Tarka era.
It was also on the strength of that struggle for the safety and security of lives and property of the poor Benue farmer that the people rallied support for the governor and gave him a seamless victory in his second term bid.
That victory came despite the gang up from within and outside the state and the deployment of ‘federal might’ apparently to deny him victory but the might of the prevailed in what pundits adjudged one of the fairest and freest election ever held in the state despite the unnecessary hiccups of declaring the initial poll inconclusive.
His overwhelming victory in that poll with 434,473 votes against the runner up, Mr. Emmanuel Jime of the APC’s 345,155 was all Benue needed to announce to Nigerians and indeed the world the emergence of a new JS Tarka in the political terrain of modern day Nigeria.
For many Benue people, with the kind of massive support the governor enjoys across political party lines in his home state and indeed the Middle Belt zone, which prepared grounds for his resounding victory in his second term bid, a change of political equation has been triggered in the state and the Middle Belt.
According to Convener of the Middle Belt Movement for Justice and Peace, Comrade Joe Bukka, “whether we like it or not Governor Ortom is a leading voice in the Middle Belt and when he speaks the people listen.
“The fact that he stood for the people and didn’t abandon them at the peak of the herdsmen killings stood him out among his colleagues in this part of the country. That was why he enjoyed the massive support he got during the elections and the people came out in their numbers to cast their votes for him to express their love and also pay him back for the sacrifices he made for his people.
“He is now being regarded as the one who has effectively stepped into the shoes of the legendary JS Tarka because despite all intimidation he speaks and defends the cause of his people even at the detriment of his safety and office.
“Like JS Tarka he did not sell out when others were selling out and accusing their people for being responsible for the herdsmen killings across the state including the murder of the two Catholic Priests and 17 worshippers at Mbalon just for political patronage.
“That is leadership at its best and that is the more reason why majority of the stakeholders in Benue and even the Middle Belt zone felt disappointed when we learnt that his victory at the poll is being challenged at the tribunal.”
Continuing Bukka said: “If you recall when I spoke before that election I said Ortom was going to win even if he decided to contest on the platform of an unknown political party because it was obviously that the vast majority of Benue people would use that election to say thank you to the governor.
“Are you not surprised that despite the deployment of federal might which the leaders of the opposition in the state boasted would give them victory and the drafting of three Police Commissioners and one DIG of Police to supervise the election, Ortom and PDP still came out victorious?
“Apart from wining the governorship election PDP also won the three senatorial seats, six House of Representatives seats and 23 State Assembly seats. That was the reward and big thank you the people gave Governor Ortom aside crowning him the new JS Tarka of Benue and Middle Belt zone. So for me, contesting a victory freely given to such a man is like embarking in a mission of self ridicule.”
It’s a new dawn in Kwara, says Bio
Hon. Mohammed Umar Bio represents Baruten/Kaima Federal Constituency of Kwara State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the House of Representatives. In this interview, he speaks on how the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was unseated in the 2019 general elections and other residual issues in his constituency. PHILIP NYAM reports
How will you describe the level of development in your constituency in Kwara State?
In Kwara State, especially in Baruten/Kaima Federal Constituency, we have suffered neglect and infrastructural decay especially roads for a long time. We have horrible and terrible roads in my constituency. We also have the problem of unemployment, and I have assured my constituents that I will do all I can to provide jobs for the unemployed.
A couple of days ago, I went on an assessment tour of roads and started from Oyo State, on the Kiishi-Kaima road and they were in very deplorable condition. I went to Kaima-Bosso road, it was horrible; and this road has never had any government impact since independence. Kaima-New Bussa road is another bad area, even though President Muhammadu Buhari recently awarded a contract for the road but work is yet to commence. I am therefore using this medium to appeal to the Minister of Works and Housing to fast track the construction of the road. These are some of the promises I made to my constituents that made them to elect me.
A legislator has three basic functions: that of lawmaking, representation and oversight, but you have promised jobs to your constituents, how will you create employment?
Let me reduce the discussion to a more understandable way. It is true that as a legislator, I do not have the power of the executive to implement, employ people and all that. But I will have to lobby to get jobs for my people. When the name of a particular place is mentioned, it shows that the community has a son or daughter somewhere. Now that I have been elected to represent my people, I will run to people in places of authority and influence to lobby for my constituents. Even when I was not here (House), I did much for them and now that I am here, I will do more. Even if it means lying down to get what is meant for my people, I will do it; that will not take anything away from me.
Kwara State was for long time controlled by a particular political interest; how was the Otoge Revolution able to take over the state from the PDP?
You see the people of Kwara State decided to graduate from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation. It is difficult to rule out godfatherism in Nigerian politics because one definitely needs pillars to stand on, but the paramount godfather is Almighty God. So, God used the Otoge Revolution to sweep out the rot in the state.
But I want to let you know that the Otoge Revolution did not start in 2019, it has been on for many years but did not gain momentum to be as loud and clear as it was during the 2019 elections. Kwara people advocated for change because they were tired of somebody parading himself as a tin god- that if you do not patronise a particular household, you will not hold any position in the state. It got to a point that we had to stand up and say, what is happening in Kwara cannot continue because it was not right. What was happening in Kwara was not happening in any other state in the country. You had well educated and certified people in the state, but you dare not moot the ambition of contributing your quota unless the powers that be endorse you.
But the Otoge has swept that off the land of Kwara State and now we have true representative of the people. I am representing my people and I see myself as a representative of humanity. Before I contested, I woke up in the midnight and prayed to God, and I told God ‘if I will be in this position and not be of assistance to my people, but instead oppress, let me not get there. But if I will win and be of help to my constituents and humanity, please let me win.’ I told God, I want to do what is right if you give me this opportunity. I am someone that has always stood against injustice. I fear God because when we die, there will be no Yoruba or Igbo language; there will be no Hausa or Nupe language; there will be no English language.
So, whatever wealth we acquire here on earth, when we die and are called to stand before God, the positions and money we amass will amount to nothing. And remember on the day of judgement, your mouth will not talk; you will stand and your score card will be read to you and God will decide your fate. So, why are we being wicked and taking what belongs to others? Why are we denying people their due? When we die, the money, clothes, cars and all properties will have cannot follow us to face judgement. That is why I cherish the National Assembly, because once you step into the chamber, you are representing the entire Nigeria and not just your constituency.
As a member of the APC, what would be your reaction to the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) on the governorship primaries in Kogi State? Do you think the party did the right thing?
Yes, I belong to the ruling party, the APC. We started APC. I have served as a local government council chairman. And our party has always tried to do the right thing. But I am not conversant with what transpired in Kogi State concerning the gubernatorial primaries. I was not there and therefore I cannot comment on it. If you ask me those who contested in the APC gubernatorial primaries, I will say I do not know. But I believe that the leadership of the party must have done justice to all the aspirants.
I think we have done certain things differently. My governor has in the last 100 days achieved a lot. Remember, I earlier told you, we have graduated from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelations. This statement is pregnant with so many things. Today in Kwara, everybody’s voice is heard; it was not so in the past. I told I was a local government chairman in Baruten, which is the largest local government in Kwara and indeed one of the largest in Nigeria.
I know what played out in Kwara then, but it is different today. Democracy is supposed to be for the people and the people of Kwara are now having their way in the state. Unlike in the past, even when members of the legislature from the state either at the state or National Assembly want to raise their hands and make contribution on the floor of the chambers, they had to take tutorials from somewhere first. It is not so now; we are independent. Today, I am taking directives directly from my constituents.
Like I said before, recently I took an assessment tour of the constituency and I can tell you if you saw the rot you will cry out. When you find yourself in a position of authority, do not see yourself as a ruler, let us see ourselves as servants’ as errant boys. In the past, the people of Kwara were loyal to one person and whatever he decided was not questioned. If he just says, this is the person that is going to be minister from the state, it stands.
Today, it is not so. We campaign vigorously for primary elections and nobody was selected by one individual. Members of the party were allowed to choose their candidates. In 2015, they took my nomination form and gave it to somebody else, who would be their stooge. I just told you that a particular road has not been repaired since independence, yet we had governors in the past. People who come from Oyo State, particularly from Iseyin and Kiishi, will know what I am talking about.
Now, we are in the takeoff era in Kwara State. Some of you are in advanced states, but we in Kwara are just at the takeoff stage now because our past leaders failed us. The Kwara government is now open and the people are aware of everything that is going on. I also demonstrated that openness, transparency and accountability as a council chairman and the governor is doing it now in the state. The conception of those of us in government in Kwara today, is to do to our people what is right. Our governor, H.E. AbdulrahmanAbdulrazak rides on motorbike, that is Okada, to go on supervision. There is no airs around him.
As a council chairman, I went to see my governor then and it took four days because he did not want to hear from me since he was not doing the ‘right’ thing. Now, look at his scorecard. He remains the first governor that withdrew from the 2019 elections because he knew he will lose at the primaries. What has happened in Kwara is a lesson to those of us in power today and so we are trying to prioritise our needs. We know there are challenges and expectations are quite high, but the resources are too limited to satisfy every need.
For me, I know employment is what my people need.
Two, infrastructure, such as construction and renovation of classrooms and provision of furniture. Our roads need to be looked at. We are the last local government and we share international boundaries. You must have been hearing of Chikanda, where the border is closed, that is where I come from.
Today in Kwara, God almighty has opened a new chapter; we are telling our people to do what is right and we as leaders are living by example. That is exactly what we promised the people- justice, fair representation and freedom.
Imo Tribunal affirms Ihedioha’s election
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal for Imo sitting in Abuja on Saturday affirmed the election of Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State.
Delivering judgment, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mallami Umar-Dogondagi, dismissed the petition of the candidate of the Action Alliance Party, Mr Uche Nwosu, for incompetence.
In a unanimously decision, the three-member panel, also struck out the petition of the All Progressive Congress (APC), candidate, Sen. Hope Uzodinma.
Three petitions were filed by the governorship candidates of the Action Alliance (AA), All Progressives Congress (APC) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), asking the tribunal to nullify the election of Mr Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on the ground that he was unlawfully declared as the governor of the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The tribunal held that the three petitions challenging the declaration of Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lacked merit.
The petitioners, challenged the emergence of the PDP candidate as winner of the March, 9 governorship election on the grounds that the election was marred by irregularities.
The tribunal held that candidate of the AA, Uche Nwosu, Ifeanyi Ararume of APGA, and Uzodinma of the APC, failed to establish their petitions against governor Ihedioha.
The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them by the law.
Umar-Dogodaji stressed that Sen. Uzodinma of the APC was unable to prove his allegation that wrongful collation of results by INEC led to Ihedioha’s emergence as winner of the governorship election.
Kogi guber and the gladiators in focus
On November 16, Kogi State will be on the nation’s political spotlight, a day when the people of the state will decide who governs them for another four years. MUHAMMAD BASHIR in Lokoja, analysed key governorship candidates that will shape the much-awaited day.
It is obvious that the political activities heralding the November 16th gubernatorial election is gathering heavy storm that may turn positive or otherwise, as many observed that it could change the negative narratives of the nation’s democracy. The major gladiators that could weather the storm, includes the incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello who is seeking re-election for another four years under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Engineer Musa Wada will be running under the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Barrister Natasha Akpoti will be contesting under the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mrs. Justina Dolapo Abanida will fly the African Democratic Congress (ADC), flag and Alhaji Sanni Shaibu Teidi will contest under the Young Democratic Party (YDP). Other candidates cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are, Ibrahim Itodo of ZLP, Idris Abegunde of NNPP, Abu Omogani (UPC), Abdulahi Mohammed (Accord Party), Abdulmalik Mohammed of the HDP, Shaibu and Mr. Dele Bello-Williams of the GDPN. Others are: Umar Zekeri (ABP), Chinga David (YPP), Ndako Tanko (ADP), Mr. Kabir Abdulwasiu (AAC), Mr. Abdulhamid Yusuf (AAP), Mrs Anne Oluwaseun (DPC), Mr. Danjuma Mohammed, (MRDD), Mr. Mohammed Dangana (NCP), Mr. Alonge Methusela, (Mega Party of Nigeria), Mr. Niyi Ejibunu (AGAP), Mr. Abdulrazak Emeje (UDP) and Mr. Godwin Atawodi (DA). The list also include: Mr. Ephraim Medupin (AD), Musa Sadiq (APP), Victor Akubo (UPP), Mrs Harirat Yakubu (LP), Alfa Oboy (JMPP), Atiku Isah (ANP), Ayodele Ajibola, (PRP), Sheik Ibrahim Jibril, (APGA), Samuel Abolarin (ASD), Okpanachi Nichol (KOWA), Rev. Moses Dridu, (PPN), Ikwueje Samuel (PDC), and Mr. Jimoh Yusuf (MAJA), Mr. Orugun Emmanuel of the ANRP, Mrs Grace Adepoju, (MMN), Idris Isah (CAP), Sule Daniel (SNG), Mohammed Aliu (NPC), Noah Abiodun (PPA), Obagaye Raphael (BNPP), Yisuf Dantale (APM), Usman Imam (DP), Victor Akubo (GPN), Ukuwonu Joseph (PPN), Elegbe Amos (PDC), Usman Salifu, (ANDP) and Yusuf Nagari of (APA), are also cleared by the electoral umpire to contest. The incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello, who is from Okene in the Central Senatorial District of Kogi State, is seeking reelection for a second term under the ruling APC.
His emergence as the governor was due to the sudden demise of the party’s candidate in the 2015 gubernatorial election, the late Prince Abubakar Audu. The late Audu along his running mate Hon. James Abiodun Faleke, were already coasting to victory before the inevitable happened, a situation that led to legal conundrum, but eventually ushered in Bello as governor.
The argument was that he was the second runner up during the party’s primary election that produced Audu as candidate. Against every believe that Bello was not going to scale through the party primary election conducted by the Jigawa State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar Badaru, the governor defeated other candidates with a wide margin of votes and was subsequently returned as the APC flagbearer for the November 16 election. Since his emergence as the party’s candidate, things began to favourably fall in line for him. The party at the national level in the efforts to ensure victory, began to reconcile aggrieved members including those who lost at the primaries and those who were disqualified.
Some other factors going well for the governor is the current crises engulfing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) occasioned by the outcome of its primary election. Some top leaders of the PDP who felt aggrieved by the outcome of their party’s primary election are already nursing the ambition of working with the ruling APC, to ensure that the PDP lose the polls.
The Director General of Abubakar Ibrahim Idris Campaign Organisation, and former acting governor of the state, Chief Clarence Olafemi, was said to be on his way out of the party to join the APC, as he was alleged to have visited the governor to discuss his defection to the ruling APC. Saturday Telegraph however learnt that this would not be the first time Olafemi would be dumping a political party for another. As a member of the state House of Assembly under the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD), he became the minority leader of the House, and eventually dumped the party to join the then ruling PDP in the state and federal level. From being the Speaker of the House of Assembly, he subsequently became acting governor of the state in 2007, when the Appeal Court annulled the gubernatorial election over the unlawful exclusion of the then cancidate of the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP), the late Audu. Olafemi later joined the APC in 2014, during the merger of the defunct ACN, ANPP and CPC. The former acting governor later left the party and returned to the PDP to join one of his political associates whose son was contesting for governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, an ex-governor of the state. His recent decission to return to the APC might not be unconnected with the outcome of the primary, which did not favoured the son of his political friend, Ibrahim Idris. Olafemi however said he visited the governor because of impunity in the PDP, noting that PDP has cheated him several times and he cannot continue to stay in the party. He pointed out that he is one of the strong members of PDP in the state, yet the National Working Committee of the party failed to recognise his input and efforts in the party. “I was the running mate to Jubril Issah Echocho in 2015 governorship primary election of the party but we were later replaced by the party and brought in Captain Idris Wada and Yomi Awoniyi as running mate without any reason.
“In 2019 general election, I was one of the senatorial aspirant from Kogi West, I was denied from contesting as the party imposed Senator Dino Melaye who just defected from APC to PDP. “My governorship aspirant in the just concluded primary of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Ibrahim Idris, was denied the ticket of the party by some powers-thatbe in the party and gave victory to Engr. Musa Wada because they hate the former governor. “With all these impunity how do you expect me to continue staying in PDP? I am not the first person to defect from one party to another. President Mohammadu Buhari, and my mentor Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, all decamped from one party to another. I am not going to be the first or the last. “I had a fruitful discussion with Governor Bello and I am very satisfied with the outcome of our meeting”, he said, noting that his defection will follow due process, and that he will do it openly because he has taken a rightful decision.
Governor Bello is currently galvanising many politicians, including PDP topshots, into his fold but one of the challenges that would have steered the governor in the face was the issue of non payment of salary. However, the governor, with the help of the N30 billion bail-out fund by the Federal Government, was able to pay five months salary arrears including payments to former local government appointees. However, the governor has to do more than bringing other members of the party on board, he still needs to reconcile with those who are aggrieved with his emergence as governor.
Hon. James Abiodun Faleke though in Lagos, still control enormous followership in Kogi State especially among the Okun speaking Yorubas in the western senatorial district. Faleke at a recent forum in Abuja, had vowed to work for any candidate produce by the party in the state but not Yahaya Bello and two others. But the governor, who is said to be enjoying the patronage of the party’s national leader and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will have to explore the gesture to bring Faleke into his fold.
Engineer Musa Wada from Dekina Local Government Area in eastern senatorial district of the state, is a younger brother to the former governor Idris Wada. Wada, who is the candidate of the opposition PDP, needs true reconciliation with other aspirants who are aggrieved with the outcome of the PDP primary election, which produced Wada as the candidate. Already, one of the front line aspirant, Abubakar Ibrahim Idris is already in court, challenging Wada’s candidature, arguing that he was supposed to be declared winner of the primary contest. He is also claiming that the missing 247 votes could have given him victory, since the margin between him and the declared winner was not much. Barrister Natasha Akpoti, from Okehi Local Government Area in the Central Senatorial District of the state, was senatorial candidate under the Social Democratic party (SDP). Akpoti lost the seat to Senator Yakubu Hussaini of the APC. The woman legal luminary would have sprang a surprise at the polls by winning the 2019 senatorial election, owing to her doggedness, vocality and tenacity. However, the support and mobilisation put up by the APC became her albatross. She challenged Hussain’s victory at the tribunal and lost. She will be contesting the governorship under the same SDP in the November 16 election. Will her interest for governorship dent the victory of her kinsman, Yahaya Bello? Time shall tell. Alhaji Sanni Shaibu Teidi from Idah Local Government Area in the eastern senatorial district of Kogi State, will be contesting under the Young Democratic Party (YDP). Teidi was a former Accountant General of the state, later became the Federal Director of Account in charge of pension, where he later retired as Federal Director of Pension. Unarguably, the November 16 election will be a keen contest between Governor Bello of the APC and Engineer Musa Wada of the PDP.
Hamzat: The goodman at 55
“Hamzat is a person that exemplifies intelligence, a rare humble man, coupled with uncompromising integrity and love for the lowly. He is somebody no reasonable person would want to offend. This gentle man, though, a politician, will not toy with his integrity”.
That was how Lagos State deputy governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, was described by one of his colleague, Mr. Francisco Abosede, former Commissioner for Physical Planning in Lagos State when the former was the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure.
Truly, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat is a man of uncanny analytical mind, with great disposition for details, who will not do anything haphazardly. Perhaps, because of his training as system engineer, where he got his Doctorate Degree.
One of the greatest attributes that stands Hamzat out is that his relationship with people devoid of what he will gain from you, but rather, the enormous benefits people garner from association with him. No wonder, those that have the opportunity to relate with him rarely wants to depart.
Although, while Hamzat looks at issue dispassionately, he detests hypocrisy. Indeed, mendacious and fickle elements and character assassinators have no place in his heart.
Hamzat doesn’t need a third party to express concern with people. If one is ever found on the wrong side of his sustained principles, he will call you and table the matter, albeit, with his usual coolness!
Hamzat is a shining example in politics of purpose, progressive and sportsmanship, which came to public glare in his swift acceptance of the proposition of the leaders of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to him to drop his gubernatorial ambition in the last general elections and work as a running-mate of his long-term friend and the then candidate of the party, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in order to present a formidable team with necessary political clout that will deliver incontrovertible victory for the party at the polls.
Promptly, and in demonstration of his commitment to public good and interest, Hamzat collapsed his political structure and merged it with Sanwo-Olu’s campaign, a deft political move that heightened the popularity of the party during the campaign and resulted in their eventual electoral success.
It is, therefore, not surprising that this rare show of camaraderie and purposeful synergy has characterised the running of the affairs of Lagos State since the assumption of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as governor of Lagos State and Obafemi Hamzat, as his deputy.
His passion for the development of Lagos State
As the Holy Book says: “Can two work together except they are in agreement”? This saying describes the unique relationship between these adorable friends. The Lagos state THEMES project, which is the bedrock of the policy of this administration is so paramount to both of them that they are never seen afar from each other in an effort to accelerate the attainment of the project, perhaps, except when they went to sleep!.
Little wonder that since May 29, 2019, when they assumed office, the duo have been working on full throttle. It is either one is here doing something and another one is there doing another thing, or the two being together at a time. All to ensure that government activities are seamless and coordinated.
Hamzat, who was named the 2013 Lagos Man of The Year, was born in September 19, 1964 in Lagos, into the family of Late. Oba Mufutau Olatunji Hamzat and Late. Alhaja Kehinde Hamzat who is from Iga Egbe, Lagos state.
The patriarch of the Hamzat family, Late Oba Mufutau Olatunji Hamzat served as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly and as a Commissioner for Transportation in the state (1979 – 1983), before becoming the Vice-Chairman South West of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD).
Hamzat (Jnr.) had his primary education at Odu-Abore Memorial Primary School, Mushin, Lagos State, and his secondary education at Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo State. He graduated from the University of Ibadan, with a degree in Agricultural Engineering in 1986, and a master’s in Agricultural Engineering in 1988. In 1992, he had his PhD in System Process Engineering at Cranefield University, England.
His early political career
In August 2005, Hamzat was appointed Commissioner for Science and Technology during the tenure of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He retained his position when Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola assumed office in 2007. It was during his tenure as Commissioner for Science and Technology that Hamzat enforced the application of modern technology in the state’s ministries, thus changing the face of data and record keeping in Lagos and at the same time eliminating the trend of notorious “ghost workers”-euphemism for financial malpractices by the unscrupulous government officials.
After a successful tenure at the Ministry for Science and Technology, Hamzat was appointed as the Commission for Works and Infrastructure and served for four years between 2011 and 2015. He was later appointed as Special Adviser on Works to the Minister for Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola in 2015.
In September 2018, he resigned that role to contest in the Lagos State gubernatorial elections. And after a long-fought primary, Hamzat emerged as the running mate to Babajide Sanwo-Olu for whom he had stepped down during the primaries. Sanwo-Olu eventually became the party’s nominee and later the Governor-Elect. And both men ran together a campaign that went to different parts of the state.
On March 10, 2019, after the election, Hamzat was declared Deputy Governor-Elect of Lagos State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and received a Certificate of Return from the commission. And since his inauguration as deputy governor of Lagos State, Hamzat has been working round the clock and in accordance with the vision for a greater Lagos, which dominated the Sanwo-Olu-Hamzat campaign during electioneering.
“Lagos is lucky to have this team with clear vision on how to take Centre of Excellence into a greater high”, Chief Tayo Olayemi, an Ikorodu-based community leader said, adding that he was not in doubt that Lagos will continue to excel.
· Alao is Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Office of the Deputy Governor
Kwara Speaker hails tribunal’s judgment
The Speaker, Kwara state House of Assembly, Hon. Salihu Yakubu Danladi has congratulated Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, on his victory at the governorship election tribunal, stressing that it was an expected triumph.
The Speaker, according to a statement signed by his Special Assistant, Media, Ibrahim Sheriff, said: “The victory is not a surprise but it’s only a manifestation of an obvious truth. We were never in doubt of your coming out victorious, owing to the overwhelming support your candidacy and now mandate enjoy.
“It was obvious and glaring to all that the PDP had already resigned to fate knowing full well that they were roundly rejected by Kwarans, but was only relying on a wide goose chase journey.
“Your Excellency Sir, on behalf of the 9th Kwara State House of Assembly, I felicitate with you and charge you to continue discharging your duties as a truly people oriented Governor, while reassuring you of our unwavering support of the legislative towards the revival of our lost glory and setting Kwara on the path to greatness.”
The Speaker, who expressed surprise at how the PDP and its gubernatorial candidate, rather than take up and task the new government on ways to take the state out of the retrogressive status they left it, preferred to muscle strength on such a frivolous and fictitious matter. He therefore advised the opposition party to be issue based and pro people, if they wanted to be taken seriously by the citizenry.
Kaka: PDP took Nigerians for a ride
Senator Gbenga Kaka, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), speaks in this interview with Adewale Ajayi on the state of the nation and recent recent developments in the polity as well as governance in Ogun State
How would you assess 100 days of President Muhammadu Buhari second term viz a vis his promise of taking Nigeria to the next level?
There is always hope till the end of human race, the only thing we can say is when will the hope materialize, is it going to be at the current next level or the other farther next level? So, to help the current administration, the best thing we can do is to contribute our individual quota to help the administration to lead us with wisdom from God. We want the administration to perform because its failure is the failure of everybody and its success is the success of everybody. We are in it together, so we can’t say there is no hope, there must be hope and the hope must be sustained. The only way to sustain the hope is to encourage the government of the day to do the right thing because we want Nigeria to survive.
There are bad eggs, there is no doubt about it, but we should expose them, no matter how highly placed they are. If we don’t expose them, we will also feel the negative impact of their nefarious activities as it was our failure to expose them that led us to where we are today. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took us for a ride for 16 solid years and when we add the four years Buhari has spent, it adds up to 20 years. More than 20 years ago, we had Prof. Wole Soyinka saying that his generation is a wasted generation; I wonder what he will call this generation. This is an alienated generation, so we need to appeal to our leaders, the opposition and the elite should let the country be. They are directly or indirectly contributing to the destruction of the country, deliberately holding down the masses.
How is the political class holding down the masses?
When Chief Obafemi Awolowo introduced free education in 1955, many other regions appreciated it, but they lacked the good will to replicate that. It was after the gains of the free education started manifesting that they started running. Initially, they thought about using quota system and federal character to hold us down. When they realized that things are not going the way they wanted, they decided to adopt Universal Basic Education (UBE). We have since adopted UBE, so that every state will take it as a priority, but many of them don’t meet up with their counterpart funding.
If you look at the economy, the situation is the same. That is why the elite are comfortable with high interest rate of 25 per cent and in some 40 per cent. The same elite use religion to hoodwink the people and make them to become subservient rather than emphasizing the need for them to use their brain in order to make life better, not only for themselves, but for the society.
Insecurity is one of the major problems threatening the peace of the nation and there is the feeling that concrete steps have not been taken by the Federal Government to tackle the issue. How can this problem be addressed?
I will refer to those perpetrating the heinous crimes as criminals. I don’t want to know which ethnic group they belong to. Only those who are looking for escape route, call it one name or the other. Take as an example, it is obvious that over 90 per cent of people from the South-South and South-East are Christians; if there are criminals in those areas, the probability is that you will have a ratio 9/10 of having a Christian as being responsible. It is the same thing if you go to area with preponderance of Muslims.
It is unfortunate that some leaders are misleading the people by saying that what is going on in the country is an attempt to Islamise the nation. Such people needed to be educated. If they are educated, they won’t be saying such things. They are using a different cloak to cover the face of the reality. However, the solution to the problems we have is true federalism.
There are certain things the Federal Government should not saddle itself with beyond the basic one, which is the security of the nation and issues bordering on the arm forces, and probably immigration and some others. Power should be decentralized. Some people are clamouring for community policing, but it will not occur in isolation. There is a bridge between the community and the Federal Government and that bridge is the state. It is well recognized, it is the state that is the federating unit.
The states cannot be by passed, when community policing is being talked about. There must be synchronization and where the power of the community is being over stretched, the state police will come in. If the police at the state level is becoming over bearing, that of the federal will intervene.
What is your position on the RUGA initiative being promoted for cattle rearers? Do you think that will end the faceoff between farmers and the herdsmen?
Act of dishonesty is what is troubling us. Dishonesty in the sense that we always remain in a state of denial of what has been done that is commendable and can be emulated. I talked about free education introduced by Chief Awolowo, we have been dancing round it, we later settle for Universal Basic Education. RUGA was not well defined and badly marketed; that’s why we are having problems. The RUGA they are talking about is not different from the farm settlement that Awolowo did, but it takes the deep to call to the deep.
Does that mean RUGA is not the solution to incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers?
It is not in the sense that there is no livestock production that is exclusive to any particular tribe. As an agriculturist, if the environment in my area is conducive, I will stay within that farming community. It is just the terminology that was not well interpreted. Awolowo did not give it any name than farm settlement. In the body of its establishment, it was highlighted that the purpose is to develop the community into farming activities, providing basic necessities of life, assisting them with produce to go into farming, and their produce to the market and value addition through cottage industry and export where they have excess.
Let anybody come and tell me, that what they are proposing now is better off, but if they are basing it mainly on livestock, livestock is a business, if you must go through ranch system, that is extensive, you must be prepared to acquire large expanse of land, whereby you have your pasture planted with assorted grasses that will satisfy the protein, fiber and carbohydrate need of the animal. Since you are in business, a business of which the product, you will be free to determine the price, the government has lesser business beyond providing the necessary infrastructure.
The composition of the federal cabinet has generated mixed reactions from Nigerians. The President was criticized for picking only politicians and failing to consider technocrats. What is your take on that?
The way our people think is grossly pedestrian. Politics is a vocation, so those people who call themselves technocrats have the option of remaining as technocrats or be in politics as a vocation. If they refuse to partake and other technocrats, who are probably better and socially responsible decide to embrace politics, after going through the rigour and winning election, people will start shouting bring in technocrats. What were they doing when decisions were being taken; what were their contributions?
They want to reap where they did not sow. If truly they are technocrats of goodwill and social responsibility standing, they should have been involved from the scratch in educating the electorate on the best candidate to choose and providing the needed assistance to win elections, giving necessary input into the manifesto and assisting in the implementation strategy.
Anybody can write any policy, but implementation is our major problem. They will stay somewhere, the conception would be done, the ideas would be generated, the election would be won, and when it comes to implementation of the idea, they want to get there and get it done. Can they do it better than those who generated the ideas, it is not possible.
Does it mean that one has to be a politician before one serve ones country?
I am not saying you must be a politician. Technocrats can contribute and assist the politicians, but not necessarily gunning for ministerial or commissionership positions. If they want to be in the executive, let them be involved from the beginning, right from the writing of the constitution of the party. Who is a technocrat? We have medical doctor who are fully involved in politics. We had late Dr Tunji Otegbeye, he operated his hospital in Ebute Metta, Lagos and was involved in agriculture farming activities, when it comes to politics, he was a committed Awoist.
When it comes to community service, he was always available. How do you compare that to somebody, who will remove himself totally from the people he is supposed to serve, who will remove himself from those who drafted an idea he did not help in generating only to jostle to implement it.
But we’ve had technocrats, who did well in the past; the likes of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Akinwunmi Adesina and Oby Ezekwesili, among others…
If you say they did well; did well in what form. If they did well, we won’t have problem, the problem will not keep on lingering, I don’t want to go to issue of personality.
Is the problem with them or those who failed to heed to the advice they gave?
I am telling you many of those people you are talking about, they may have what seems to be good ideas, but which are not workable. Some of the ideas they brought were Utopian. There is no foundation laid for some of those ideas they brought from America and Europe and they are propounding the same theories for us to implement. That is negative.
How would assess governance in Ogun State given the various steps so far taken by Governor Dapo Abiodun? Will you say he is moving in the right direction?
The day is still so young, he has just spent three months and we have 48 months in the first instance. I want to believe that we should give him the room. Just as I talked about Buhari, let him pick those he can work with, but he also must be careful. There is a limit to the use of the so called technocrats. Those who worked for the party must be given opportunity to translate their ideas as he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches most.
The politicians were the ones who made promises to the electorate; they were the ones who campaigned on his behalf and other public office holders. So, they are expectant for themselves and those they made promises to. A technocrat that does not know where you are coming from can’t implement anything. The politicians appealed to the electorate and they should be considered for positions, not people from outside, who will take one or two years to learn and before they stabilize, the tenure is over.
Those of us who know the nooks and crannies of the state know where the shoe pinches. I will advise the governor to think deeply and not allow himself to be hoodwinked by the idea of appointing more technocrats into his cabinet.
Are you saying that the governor is not carrying party members along in what he is doing?
I am saying is that he should carry party members along, he has not done anything wrong for now, but the rumour is rife that he would engage more technocrats in the administration of the state. Are they going to come from the moon or the sun? If they are in the system and they believe in the cause, they ought to have come on board to champion the cause they believe in and not coming when election has been won. If they want to implement something, they must participate in generating it.
How about his Initiative of launching job portals for the unemployed?
It is a very good initiative because we need statistics. You know that these statistics being branded about are arbitrary, we have those who are not employable, not educated, they are entrepreneurs in their own, they are employers of labour, they are working, if they do not supply their profile on the platform, it shows that they are not unemployed.
At every point in time, you will see that they will get the accurate figure of those unemployed and willing to work. Those who are unemployed and not willing to work will be extrapolated. Those who are not ready to work, government will decide what could be done to help them instead of becoming nuisance to the society. But, in implementing the information got government should be honest, if they derail, it will rubbish the effort made.
What do you make of the xenophobic attacks against foreigners in South Africa and its implication on Africa’s unity as well as steps taken by the Federal Government on the development?
Xenophobic attacks will not destroy Africa’s unity. The labour union will say injustice to one is injustice to others. So, it is unfortunate that we have allowed ourselves to be disorganized by the colonialists. The incalculable damage they have done to our psyche is better imagined, but if they have done that damage, the question is, what effort are we making to liberate ourselves, not just through aluta, but through genuine reconstruction of our life. We allowed them to give us education that will bring us back to them, we did not change the curricula, we still tailored everything towards the colonial masters.
We can domesticate whatever thing we perceive to be good from them for our own use; otherwise we make innovation and decide to go entirely local by beginning from the scratch. What is happening now is a psychological repression in South Africa. If you look at it, Ghana has done it before to we Nigerians; Nigeria did it to Ghana; many other have done it and it all shows that they are misplaced aggression in the sense that they don’t properly identify their problem. They have not gone to the root of the problem and they are attacking the symptoms that were prepared by the colonialists.
Before the advent of the colonialism, we had a system of managing our lives, if they call it primordial, we don’t call it primordial; if they call it primitive, we won’t call it primitive. That was our way of life.
How about steps taken by the Federal government on the issue?
I want to commend the Federal Government for its maturity despite the several calls for severance of diplomatic relationship with South Africa. If they are our brothers and sisters, we should find a way of assisting them to resolve their issues.
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