Keniebi Okoko is a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship hopeful in the December 2019 governorship polls in Bayelsa State. He spoke with PAULINE ONYIBE on sundry matters. Excerpts…
What are your impressions on the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections?
Well, I am not omnipotent or omnipresent, I wasn’t everywhere in Nigeria, and in the part where I was in my state, and the elections seemed to go accordingly by the book. But if you want to go by the account and reports in the media and the dailies, there was a lot of complain of irregularities, malpractice and violence. But I cannot attest to what I did not see. I can only attest to what I see and what I saw within my geopolitical zone, in my small enclave, in my small ward, voting went peacefully. The outcome of the election is a different thing. Nigeria is at a time when we need to grow our economy to create more jobs. Nigeria is at a time where we need to try and strengthen our currency, Nigeria is at a time where we need to unify the country and avoid ethnicity and religion. And at this point in time, I am not seeing that coming forth. I am an optimistic person, and I want to believe that President Muhammadu Buhari has good intention to try and unify Nigeria and to try and grow the economy.
Are you among those that believe that Buhari won the election as against those saying the poll was rigged?
As a member of the PDP, I believe that Buhari being the winner of the presidential election, because has gotten his Certificate of Return, is the president, and an incoming president. But Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has a right to seek redress for any grievances he has which he has done through the legal channel. I always believe in the rule of law and I also believe in advocating for all round peace. So we wait to see the outcome of the rule of law. For now I think we should wait for the outcome of the judgment of the Supreme Court.
You were quoted as comparing Bayelsa State with Singapore. How do you mean?
If you go to Singapore, I have been there at least six times, it is more or less a small island surrounded by water. Singapore has no oil, but has refineries. Singapore exports a lot of fish products and Singapore is doing extremely well economically. Bayelsa on the contrary has oil, which is called black gold. Bayelsa has vegetation for rice farming; I can use the Peremabiri Rice Farm as an example. We have a good texture of soil to grow crops. Bayelsa is bigger than Singapore in size and in population if am not mistaken. What is so difficult in developing Bayelsa? That was why I made that comparison. We have more resources.
From the past to the present administration, would you say the governments have utilized the state money well?
This question seems like a trap. But I will answer you. Bayelsa is being developed. Bayelsa is a work in progress, Bayelsa will get there. That’s what I have to answer you.
As someone hoping to lead the state, what do you think is the solution?
I believe that Bayelsa as a whole need to focus on education. Mental poverty is worse than financial poverty. If a mind is not developed and equipped, a man cannot give what he does not have. Our people are not completely exposed to good educational systems. Our people are not well traveled like other tribes. The Ijaw man is determined to succeed, if you give the Ijaw man the right playing ground, he will perform, I can assure you. So I believe that what we should do as a people is to focus on education. Classroom education is one aspect, and outside classroom education is another aspect. Not everybody can experience education in the classroom or to the university level. There is a proverbial saying that all fingers are not equal. But you can balance the gap of the fingers. Creating skill acquisitions with the right personnel to man them give you the opportunity to train the less privileged on the skills that can develop them. For example, if you go to China, you have where they train people on ICT, you have where they train people on brick laying, you have where they train people on every artisan job you can think of. When the Amnesty Program was going on, I was privileged to try to get something for some of the people, so I went to China to look at some of the schools in Wanzu. I was amazed, it was almost like a university of any magnitude, but it was just a skill center. If we have three in the three senatorial districts that are of high class, it will help to reduce the number of children that are not equipped to fend for themselves, or not equipped to face the future. On the other side, classroom education, in the universities today, I don’t know what is happening. You hear stories of lecturers abusing students; you hear stories of excessive selling of handouts. The educational system has gone down the drain. We need to refocus on the educational system, encourage our people with scholarships to go to school. We should sign c o n t r a c t s with the schools that their certificates would be returned based on the fact that students will come and work for four, five years, and then you release them so they put what they have learnt back into the system.
But the state government declared emergency in education, what is your assessment of that?
I think the governor has given it a good try; the intentions are good. I believe that he has genuine intentions for the job, and I believe he has tried his best. My duty as a leader is to try and add to what he has done, to build in any way we can help the government to improve where they have stopped in any capacity we find ourselves with good suggestions, and trying to develop a good road map to drive the Ministry of Education, to push his policies forward and help him, being that I am in the same party with him.
Talking about skill acquisition, are you aware that in Kaiama, some youths and villagers looted the Vocational Training Center?
Something must have triggered it. If a man does not understand the good around him and what it is for, he doesn’t value it. If a man is not part of a project, he cannot value the project. If a community does not understand why something will develop them, over and over again they will do it. That’s mental poverty. What will develop you is what you are killing, that is the mental poverty. Hope is dead in Bayelsa. The young people don’t have hope so they are looking for any means. Give them back hope. Sell leadership through qualities; be transparent, and open to them. Take them through processes of trainings. Mentorship is important. Who is your mentor or who are you mentoring? Who are you looking up to? Why do you wake up in the morning? What is the core reason for your existence? Have someone you look up to. I have someone I look up to everyday. I have three people I look up to, Professor Kimse Okoko, Pastor David Ibiyomie and Bishop (David) Oyedepo. By any standard, these are men to look up to. So I aspire to want to be like them. Who are these young men looking up to? What are we selling to them as leaders and parents? When I was growing up, Prof. Okoko will always tell me, my son a good name is better than riches. My son I don’t have money, but nobody can insult me in Nigeria. He is going to be 80 with diabetes but he is looking younger than people that are in power. He is healthy, strong, vibrant and sometimes driving himself. These are the things we should be asking ourselves if we want to be true; if we are not going to be political about everything. What are we giving the youths, what are we selling to them? I come to the village and young men are chanting ‘Keniebi iwee’ and I say shut up, what’s that nonsense about? I say stop it and don’t vote for me if that is what you will be doing. I asked them; what do you want for your future? You say you want to support me for governor, what am I doing for you? They were quiet because they have nothing else to trade on. With one thousand naira, they started carrying guns and shoot themselves. What are we teaching the young ones? So let’s be true to ourselves. The reason those things were stolen is because they didn’t know the reason and the value those things were there for.
What is your take on the heavy deployment of military personnel for elections?
We are in a country where anything goes. The same people that will sit down and criticize are the same people who will do that thing they condemned. So in every democratic nation, the military man at any point in time is not supposed to be seen by any civilian. His duty post is in the barracks, combat ready to defend the sovereignty of the nation, combat ready to defend the borders of his nation with integrity. The duty of the military is to uphold the dignity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I have not seen it in any civilized democratic nation where you deploy the military for elections, I have not seen. Even in Venezuela that is in a problem now, it is rare to see the military trooping out except in extreme situations that the police cannot handle. Venezuela is 10 million times worse than Nigeria, their currency has zero value, they have no food and they have to cross to Columbia to get food, but I still don’t see the military coming out in full force, you can see pockets of them but more of the police. The police are trained to have interaction with the civilians, to combat and quell unrest. The military is trained to kill, to destroy any adversary of a nation, so who are they going to destroy during the elections, that’s the question. I ask everybody, via your training, what’s your training coming to do on the streets? Are we at war here? There is no war in Port Harcourt, there is no war in Bayelsa, but there is war in Sambisa Forest. I would rather they deploy those soldiers to Sambisa so that our soldiers can deal with the Boko Haram once and for all, because Nigerian soldiers have the capacity and capability to do that.
As an aspirant for the governorship position, what are you bringing on the table?
I’m a graduate of the University of Port Harcourt majoring in Economics after which I proceeded to the renowned Carleton University Ottawa for another degree in Political Science. I am an entrepreneur of no mean repute, growing businesses and shaping industrial platforms. I have demonstrated this entrepreneurial flair by growing several business units and consolidating them into the group structure. I am a leading entrepreneurial figure who takes time to share valuable business knowledge by speaking to groups, economic summits and industrial evolutionary meetings. My flagship company is a multi -faceted company with interests in engineering, construction, marine services and dredging. I owns the KDI Group, which spans the energy, infrastructural, agricultural and real estate sectors. I have attended several management and leadership courses at the Harvard Business School, Boston USA, Wharton Business School, Pennsylvania and CWC Energy Institute, Doha.
The women on Buhari’s ministerial list
Fifty-six days after his inauguration, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, sent the list of 43 nominees to the Senate for screening as ministers. WALE ELEGBEDE profiles the seven incoming cabinet members who are women
During his first term in office in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari started out with six women in his 36-person cabinet. The six women sworn in as ministers were; Khadija Ibrahim (State for Foreign Affairs), Kemi Adeosun (Finance), Aisha Abubakar (State for Industry, Trade and Investment), Zainab Ahmad (State for Budget and National Planning), Amina Mohammed (Environment) and Aisha Alhassan (Women Affairs).
But in 2019, though with a proposed enlarged cabinet number of 43, the president only nominated seven women as members of the Federal Executive Council. This only gave women 16.3 per cent representation in the cabinet. Just like the executive, women also had dwindled fortunes in the legislature in the current 9th Assembly.
In the immediate past National Assembly which has a combined membership of 469 members, it only had in its fold eight female senators and 15 female House of Representatives members.
However, a decline occurred in the current National Assembly as women only have six female senators and 13 female House of Representatives members in the 9th Assembly.
The extant National Gender Policy (NGP) recommended 35 percent affirmative action and sought for a more inclusive representation of women with at least 35 per cent of both elective and appointive public service positions respectively.
Out of the seven nominated ministers by President Buhari, namely, Sharon Ikeazor, Zainab Ahmed, Gbemisola Saraki, Ramatu Tijjani-Aliyu, Sadiya Farouk, Mariam Katagun and Pauline Tallen, only Ahmed was returning as cabinet member after first serving as Minister of State for Budget and subsequently as Minister of Finance in the President’s first term.
Regarded as a thoroughbred professional, 59-year-old Ahmed was appointed Minister of State for Budget and Planning in 2015 and later substantive Minister of Finance in 2018 following the resignation of Kemi Adeosun. She is the daughter of Yahaya Hamza, the foster father of Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state.
She holds a degree in Accounting from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State. She once served as the executive secretary of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
Tallen is a former deputy governor of Plateau State and ex-Minister of State for Science and Technology. The 60-year-old later contested the governorship election in 2011 but lost to Gov- ernor Jonah Jang.
The University of Jos Sociology graduate defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to APC before the 2015 election. She is the first female to be a deputy governor in the northern region. She is a board member of National Agency for Control of Aids (NACA).
Fifty four-year-old Gbemisola is the daughter of Olusola Saraki, former strongman of Kwara politics, and a sibling of Bukola Saraki, President of the 8th Senate. She was elected into the House of Representatives in 1999 to represent Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency, Kwara State in the Green Chamber. She holds a Bachelors degree in Economics from the University of Sussex.
She did her national service at the Nigeria Bank for Commerce and Industry, Lagos. She worked for the Societe Generale Bank (Nigeria) as Head of Money Markets and later as Head of Domiciliary Accounts.
From 1994 to 1999 she was Executive Director of Ashmount Insurance Brokers, Lagos. Gbemisola was elected senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District in 2003.
She held this position till 2011 when she tried to succeed her brother who was governor of Kwara between 2003 and 2011 but she lost despite having the backing of her father. She defected to the APC in 2015 and was believed to have worked against her brother’s re-election at the last general elections.
She hails from Zurmi Local Government of Zamfara State. She was educated at the Federal Government Girls’ College Gusau, Zamfara State and Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State graduating with a Bsc. in Business Administration (Actuarial Science) in 1998, before proceeding to earn her Master’s degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy in 2008 and also her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 2011 from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State. She is the Federal Commissioner of National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.
Farouq served as National Treasurer of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) between 2011 and 2013, and later as Interim National Treasurer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) between 2013 and 2014 before her appointment as Member, APC Presidential Campaign Council where she served in the directorates of election planning and monitoring, field operations and fundraising.
Ikeazor is the Executive Secretary of Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD). In 2011, she was elected the National Women Leader of CPC and emerged APC’s interim National Women Leader after the merger that produced the ruling party.
In 2014, she was appointed to APC Board of Trustees (BoT). Sharon started her primary school education at the St Mary’s Convent School Lagos and went to Queen of the Rosary College Onitsha for her secondary education and the Godolphin School Salisbury England for Higher Studies at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.
She obtained her Bachelor of Law (LL.B Hons.) from the University of Benin and Certificate of Practice from the Nigerian Law School in 1985. Sharon, who hails from Anambra State, runs a prison outreach programme that pays the fines of awaiting trial persons and also undertakes free legal representation for inmates.
Ambassador Katagum from Bauchi State is Nigeria’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a role that she has occupied since June 2009.
A deputy director at the Ministry of Education, she occupied the office of the Secretary-General of the Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO between 2001 and 2009.
The Ahmadu Bello University graduate is also the deputy chairman of the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and member representing Nigeria on the UNESCO executive board.
Katagum holds a Masters in Administration and Planning from the University of Lagos, a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English, a Graduate Certificate in Education at the Ahmadu Bello University, as well as a Certificate in Social Development Policy, Planning and Practice at the University College, London.
She was awarded a UNESCO Fellowship in 1999.
Forty nine-year-old Ramatu Tijjani is the National Women Leader of APC. She is the first female National Vice- Chairman (North-Central zone) of the then leading opposition political party, the All Peoples Party (APP). In 2010, she became the National Woman Leader of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and in June 2014, she became the National Woman Leader of APC.
She attended Federal Government College, Minna and proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University to obtain a degree in Urban and Regional Planning. She also has an M.PA in Public Administration from Nasarawa State University, Keffi and a D.PA in Public Administration, Honoris Causa, from the Commonwealth University, London. She is representing Kogi State in the list.
Ministerial list: More politicians, few technocrats
Felix Nwaneri reports on President Muhammadu Buhari’s 43-man ministerial list that was unveiled yesterday and undoubtedly populated by politicians
The waiting game for the composition of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) seems to be over as President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a list of 43 ministerial nominees to the Senate for the screening and confirmation as ministers.
The President beat his own record as the list came barely two months after his inauguration unlike in his first term, when it took him almost six months to constitute his cabinet. Again, unlike in 2015, when he appointed only 36 ministers – one per state – he has decided to expand the cabinet by giving one slot to each of the six geo-political zone, thereby bringing the total to 43.
The list as read by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan on the floor of the Red Chamber, yesterday, has Uche Oga (Abia), Mohammed Bello (Adamawa), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Chris Ngige (Anambra), Sharon Ikeazor (Anambra), Adamu Adamu (Bauchi), Mariam Katagum (Bauchi), Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa), George Akume (Benue), Mustapha Shehuri (Borno) and Goddy Agba (Cross Rivers).
Others are Festus Keyamo (Delta), Ogbonnaya Onu (Ebonyi), Osagie Enakhire (Edo), Clement Agba (Edo), Adeniyi Adebayo (Ekiti), Geofrey Onyeama (Enugu), Ali Pantami (Gombe), Emeka Nwajuba (Imo), Suleiman Adamu (Jigawa), Zainab Ahmed (Kaduna), Mohammed Mahmoud (Kaduna), Sabo Nanono (Kano), Bashir Magashi (Kano), Hadi Sirika (Katsina) and Abubakar Malami (Kebbi).
The rest are Ramatu Tijani (Kogi), Lai Mohammed (Kwara), Gbemisola Saraki (Kwara), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Olorunimbe Mamora (Lagos), Muhammed Abdullahi (Nasarawa), Zubairu Dada (Niger), Olamilekan Adegbite (Ogun), Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Sunday Dare (Oyo), Pauline Tallen (Plateau), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Muhammadu Dingyadi (Sokoto), Saleh Mamman (Taraba), Abubakar Aliyu (Yobe) and Sadiya Umar Farouk (Zamfara). Among the nominees were 13 immediate past ministers, nine former governors and seven women.
The returning ministers are Chris Ngige, Adamu Adamu, Ogbonnaya Onu, Osagie Enakhire, Geoffrey Onyeama, Zainab Ahmed, Lai Mohammed, Babatunde Fashola, Rotimi Amaechi, Hadi Sirika, Abubakar Malami, Suleiman Adamu and Mohammed Bello.
The former governors are Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Chris Ngige (Anambra), Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa), George Akume (Benue), Ogbonnaya Onu (Abia), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) and Niyi Adebayo (Ekiti).
The seven women, who are expected to make the federal cabinet are Pauline Tallen, Mariam Katagun, Sadiya Farouq, Sharon Ikeazor, Gbemi Saraki, Ramatu Tijani and Zainab Ahmed. Again, the President broke his own record given the seven women on the ministerial nomination list as only six females made the cabinet in 2015.
The six “lucky” women then were Aisha Alhassan (Minister of Women Affairs), Amina Mohammed (Minister of Environment), Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Minister of State for Foreign Affairs), Zainab Ahmed (Minister of State for Budget and National Planning), Kemi Adeosun (Minister of Finance) and Aisha Abubakar (Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment).
As expected, it has been kudos and knocks for Buhari over his choice of those to help him steer the ship of state in the next four years.
While it was commendation for the President in some quarters, especially over the return of some former ministers, who, in the view of some analysts, performed well in the first term, there are others, who believe that the list portrays little or no hope for the nation given that the list is populated by those they described as the “same old politicians, who have been around for a while.”
But, the divergent positions, notwithstanding, the President’s action puts to an end, the jostle among bigwigs of the ruling party for who gets the respective slots for the states.
The President was before yesterday said to have been under pressure from lobbyists, some of those, who went as far as reaching out to his wife, Aisha; his nephew and close associate, Mamman Daura and his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.
New Telegraph had earlier reported that the jostle was more intense in states, where the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is not in charge or where its former governors were among those, who left office on May 29, due to completion of second term or failure to win a second term.
Among the states were Lagos, Oyo, Cross River, Adamawa, Bauchi and Imo. There is also no doubt that the list fails to meet the expectation of Nigerian women, who have hoped that more of their own will make the cabinet this time.
The Goodluck Jonathan administration, it would be recalled, offered the women folk more opportunity in the cabinet as it tried to implement the 35 per cent Affirmation Action.
But, it was hope dashed, when it turned out that women were not accorded such opportunity during Buhari’s first term. Many, however, said then that they were not surprised over the meager slots allocated to women due to the President’s disposition on gender issues.
But, Buhari, who acknowledged the significant role played by women and youths in his re-election for a second term, promised to give them more appointments in his second term. He gave the assurance on March 2, while speaking at the APC Women and Youths Presidential Campaign team dinner to celebrate his re-election. However, the promise came with a caveat.
Only those with integrity and interest of Nigeria would be considered for appointments in the next cabinet.
No doubt, the President is revered as a man of integrity, but analysts, who xrayed his promise then, said it was a matter of time, Nigerians establish whether he would walk his talk in line with the clamour for 35 per cent participation of women in governance across all tiers of government as well as his insistence on that only persons of proven integrity would be considered as ministers.
The questions against these backdrops are: Has the 43-man ministerial list offered more women the opportunity to participate in governance, which many believe will help to strengthen the nation’s democracy?
Did the President walk his talk on integrity, when some of the nominees are politicians, especially former governors, whose stewardship in their respective states are still being questioned? Has the youth been adequately accommodated at a time there is growing trend for younger leaders across the world?
On the issue of women, it would be recalled that the Federal Government, had in Year 2000 adopted a policy called the National Policy of Women to ensure that women have equal opportunity as men to participate in governance.
The policy also seeks to address the imbalance of women representation in the country and attempts to strike a balance. But, like most government’s policies, its implementation has only been on paper as there has been little improvement in women participation in governance since 1999, when Nigeria returned to civil rule except, perhaps, under Jonathan.
Jakande: Garlands for an ‘Action Governor’ at 90
TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE writes on the first executive governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, who clocked 90 yesterday
here is no way the political history of Lagos State would be written without the name of the first executive governor of the state, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande (LKJ) not being written in gold because of his remarkable achievements as the number one citizen of the state during the Second Republic.
His reign in Lagos State between October 1, 1979 and December 31, 1983, remains till date, the most performing administration in the Centre of Excellence as no military administrator or civilian governor before or after him has been able to equal his achievements in terms education, infrastructural development, public transportation and other critical sectors.
As governor, there was hardly any sector that the magical hands of Jakande, who many refer to as ‘Action Governor’ didn’t transform to make Lagos a reference point. He took governance to an unimaginable height in Lagos and till date, many of the populist policies and programmes he implemented still endear him to all and sundry. In fact his achievements have become models for all his successors and this is why politicians, especially party candidates always talk about Jakande and his laudable projects every election year.
As Jakande, who distinguished himself not only in the politics, but in the journalism profession joins the nonagenarian club, drums were rolled out to celebrate the 90 years of the existence of an elder statesman, whose life epitomises “resilience, positive audacity, bravery and a knack for excellence,” as former Governor Achike Udenwa of Imo State described Jakande 15 years ago during his 75th birthday celebration.
Jakande has distinguished himself as a tireless fighter, politician and journalist without any blemish. He is one of the surviving governors elected on the platform of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and disciples of the late sage and Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who have remained steadfast in what their mentor lived and died for.
Born on July 23, 1929 in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island, Jakande attended a Lagos public school at Enu-Owa, Lagos Island and also Bunham Memorial Methodist School, Port Harcourt from 1934 to 1943 before proceeding to King’s College, Lagos in 1943, and later enrolled at Ilesha Grammar School in 1945, where he edited a literary paper called “The Quarterly Mirror.”
In 1949 Jakande began a career in journalism first with the Daily Service and later joined the Nigerian Tribune in 1953. In 1956, young Jakande was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Tribune by Awolowo. After leaving the Tribune in 1975, Jakande established John West Publications and began to publish The Lagos News. As a respected journalists and media manager, Jakande served as the first President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN).
Like his political leader, Awolowo; Jakande who many people referred to as ‘Baba Kekere’ (junior Awolowo) sees public office as an avenue to serve the people and not a means to acquire personal wealth. He ventured into politics prior to the commencement of the Second Republic. He joined UPN and threw his hat into the ring for the governorship of Lagos State.
He took part in the 1979 governorship poll, defeated his main opponents, Adeniran Ogunsanya of Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) and Sultan Ladega Adeniji Adele of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and was subsequently sworn in as the first civilian governor of Lagos State. Bases on his remarkable achievement within his first term of four years, Jakande was re-elected during the 1983 elections, but spent only three months before he was kicked out of office due to the December 31, 1983 coup that produced Major-General Muhammadu Buhari as Head of State.
Though Jakande spent only four years and three months in office as governor of Lagos State, his performance cannot be compared to many governors who spent two-terms of eight years. Today, despite leaving the helms of affairs as governor almost 36 years ago, Jakande’s footprint is still visible in all the nooks and crannies of the state and no governor till date has been able to equal his record in terms of provision of basic social amenities to the populace.
Jakande’s administration was effective, open and implemented the cardinal policies of his party – UPN – with more focus in addressing the needs of both the poor and the rich in the state. To cater for the basic needs of largest population in Lagos State, LKJ introduced housing and educational programmes targeting the poor by building new neighbourhood primary and secondary schools and providing free primary and secondary education.
Before LKJ became governor in 1979, Lagos State ran shifts in its schools. So, to open up public education in the state by accommodating more pupils and students in public schools, the Jakande administration after only one year in office, constructed additional schools to make learning easy and convenient for pupils.
It is of note that within few months in office, he constructed thousands of classrooms and the schools he built were criticised for not being state-of-the art, but they produced thousands of students who are holding their own around the world at the moment. And in his quest to provide qualitative education at the tertiary level, Jakande against all odds established the Lagos State University (LASU) in 1983.
To address housing challenges in the state, Jakande’s government constructed over 30,000 housing units. Some of the housing units built still remains reference points till date. They include low cost estates in Amuwo-Odofin, Ijaiye, Dolphin, Oke-Afa, Ije, Abesan, Iponri, Ipaja, Abule Nla, Epe, Anikantamo, Surulere, Iba, Ikorodu and Badagry.
It is of note that Jakande in his determination to fund some of the projects increased tenement rates and price of plots of land in affluent areas of Victoria Island and Lekki Peninsula and the processing fees for lottery, pools and gaming licenses.
Considering the notion that health is wealth, Jakande as executive governor of Lagos State within his four years in office completed the construction of the General Hospital in Gbagada and Ikorodu and built about 20 health centres within the state to provide medical care for all Lagosians.
It is also of note that as a governor, LKJ also established 23 local government councils which were later disbanded by the military.
Jakande also transformed the state’s transport sector. It is of note that 59 new buses belonging to the Lagos State Transport Corporation were inaugurated on November 29, 1979, with a view to enhancing public transportation in the state.
He made an effort to ease transportation challenges in the state by starting a metroline project to facilitate mass transit. But the project was halted by the Federal Government and till date Lagos State has not been able to have functioning metroline transportation.
It was under the Jakande administration that movement into current Lagos State Secretariat at Alausa, Ikeja, began. The former governor reportedly attached so much urgency to the construction of the secretariat that he was so bent on the relocation plan that he virtually caught everyone unawares when it finally happened.
As a consummate journalist and media manager, he followed the footstep of his leader (Awolowo), who established the first television station in Africa, the defunct Western Nigeria Television Station (now Nigeria Television Authority), by establishing Lagos Television (LTV), which happens to be the first state owned television in Nigeria.
The administration also constructed water works at Agege, Shasha, Somolu, Badagry, Aguda and Apapa, among others to improve water supply and avoid outbreak of water borne epidemics.
As a result of the power change in Nigeria, Jakande after the military take-over in 1983, was charged, prosecuted and convicted of treason, and was later pardoned. During the aborted Third Republic, Jakande also played crucial role in the election of the office holders in the state.
After being freed from the prison, Jakande, based on the recommendation and acceptance of his political group and progressives leaders in South-West, served as Minister of Works under the General Sani Abacha regime.
As Minister of Works, Jakande also repeat the housing magic in Lagos State in different parts of the country by building federal low cost housing in many states. But his decision to serve in the Abacha’s regime earned him some criticism from the members of the Awolowo’s political group and the progressives’ camp in South-West.
His association with the Abacha’s regime handicapped his career in politics at the birth of the Fourth Republic in 1999 as he was not part of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), which was ruling party under the leadership of members of the Awolowo political family, which Jakande once belonged to.
Jakande later pitched his tent with the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and later quit the party to register his own party and became the first National Chairman of the Action Party of Nigeria (APN) when it was formed in November 2006.
One of the remarkable things that made Jakande’s name to be written in gold in the history of Lagos State is that unlike many Nigerian politicians and public office holders who corruptly enriched themselves with public funds, the ‘Action Governor’ didn’t build any monument for himself in the four years that he served.
But his works, however, registered him in the minds of people as they have named all the estates and schools he built after him without signboards.
As Jakande joins the nonagenarian club, he will be remembered as a public servant who used public office to better the life of the populace and provided basic social amenities for the masses.
When Reps deliberated on ACFTA
The House of Representatives recently advised President Muhammadu Buhari to optimize Nigeria’s signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA). PHILIP NYAM reviews the deliberations
Last week, the House of Representatives joined millions of Nigerians in commending President Muhammadu Buhari for finally signing the act ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA).
It would be recalled that the ACFTA was introduced in March 2018. African leaders from 44 African nations gathered at the African Union Summit between March 17 and 21, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, and signed the Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA) treaty to create the world’s largest single market.
The agreement is said to be the largest trade agreement in history since the creation of the World Trade Organisation. Out of 55 African countries, 52 have signed the agreement and 18 have ratified it. Twenty-two countries are required to ratify the agreement for it to come into effect.
Before President Buhari signed the agreement, many Nigerians were agitated at the somewhat reluctance or delay by the government in attending to the issue.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had in June this year urged the government not to hesitate in signing the agreement. He said: “Nigeria had no justifiable reason why it had not signed the agreement as countries like Eritrea, Niger and even Benin that are our neighbours have signed it.”
Many had expected that Nigeria needed to sign the agreement in order to regain its rightful place as the leader of the continent. According to a former Vice President of African Development Bank (ADB) and former director, World Bank Group, Aloysius Uche Ordu, “Nigeria has used its political heft, economic power, and diplomatic and intellectual pedigree to seize the mantle of leadership that changed the course of African history.”
It will be recalled that at the 2019 World Economic Forum, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa were showcased as leaders in the new global context. And on the AFCTA, both made compelling points.
Experts have agreed that with 1.2 billion people in the 55 countries that make up Africa, the benefits of working together are far superior to operating as small, fragmented markets in the new global order.
Again, it is believed that AFCTA will open enormous opportunities for the manufacturing sector and for small, medium, and large businesses. This, they further noted, will boost intra-area trade, create jobs, enhance skills development, and ensure best practices through smart competition among countries.
The House of Representatives at its plenary hailed President Buhari for signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement even as it urged the government to ensure that Nigeria optimises expected benefits from the agreement.
The House also resolved that the committees on special duties and commerce, when constituted will ensure implementation. The resolution followed the adoption of a motion brought by Hon. Segun Odebunmi (APC, Oyo).
Leading debate on the motion, Odebunmi noted that President Buhari, at the extra-ordinary session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of States and Governments in Niamey, Niger Republic on July 7, signed the pact to establish the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA) on behalf of the government and people of Nigeria.
He said that the President, while signing the agreement, stated that the Nigerian government will seek to include terms that will engender the development of policies that will promote African production, among other policies, while reiterating that what Africa needs goes beyond trade policy, but includes a manufacturing agenda as well as attracting investments and combating smuggling.
The lawmaker said he believed that President Buhari deserves commendation for signing the trade agreement with significant caution on the need to prevent excessive prosperity for importing nations along the coasts, while landlocked nations will continue to suffer.
According to him, “Nigeria, as the largest economy in Africa should, in line with the agreement, define various ways to optimize benefits accruable from the pact by ensuring that its exports to other African markets surpass its imports in order for it to have positive effects on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), balance of trade payments and employment generation objectives.
“He also believes that if that is not done, the nation could be turned into a dumping ground for products from other African countries, a development that will be adverse to the nation’s macroeconomic objectives”
Supporting the motion, Hon. Onofiok Luke (PDP, Akwa Ibom) stated that the government should put in place specific developmental measures that will ensure that the Nigerian manufacturing sector is revived, security and power are guaranteed, taxes, tariffs and levies are well structured, while transport and infrastructural development should also be encouraged.
The pact aims to boost intra-African trade by making Africa a single market of 1.2 billion people and a cumulative GDP over $3.4 trillion. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) estimates that the implementation of the agreement could increase intra-African trade by 52 per cent by 2022, compared with trade levels in 2010 and double the share of intra-African trade currently around 13 per cent of Africa’s exports by the start of the next decade.
According to a research paper published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in February 2018, the AFCTA offers many opportunities for sustainable development and economic growth in the African economies. However, not all countries will benefit to the same extent, and the gain of welfare benefits also implicates relevant costs and commitments.
Before now, among the AU member states yet to sign the pact are Nigeria and South Africa. Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Burundi, Eritrea, Benin, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau are other member-countries that did not sign the pact.
Under the AFCTA, governments commit to removing tariffs on 90 per cent of goods produced within the continent. The next step for the governments is to ratify the AFCTA in their countries within the next six months.
With the AFCTA, there will be a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business professionals and investments, accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union.
It will also expand intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation across Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and across Africa.
It is also the position of economic experts that most of the benefits of further trade integration – welfare benefits from lower import prices, production efficiency and increase in outputs, higher value-added jobs and exports and technological specialization, among others will materialize in the long term, while most of the associated costs of adjustment and integration – loss in trade tariff revenue, local SME’s vanishing in front of stronger competition, adjusting unemployment, required investment in infrastructure as well as political and regulatory reforms will be incurred in the short term.
It is also estimated that a full Free Trade Agreement (FTA) eliminating all tariffs in the AFCTA could generate welfare gains of $16.1 billion at the cost of $4.1 billion in trade revenue losses, representing 9.1 per cent of current tariff revenues.
Equally, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment are expected to grow by 0.97 per cent and 1.17 per cent respectively. Intra-African trade growth is estimated at 33 per cent and the continent’s trade deficit is expected to drop by 50.9 per cent.
These anticipated benefits, notwithstanding, how far the nation will fare with the signing of this agreement will depend on the policies it will put in place to maximize the opportunities presented by the AFCTA.
Imo North: We won’t be stampeded, INEC tells Uwajumogu
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has told the senatorial candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) for Imo North in the last general elections, Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu that the commission would not be stampeded into issuing him a certificate of return.
Uwajumogu had led a protest to the INEC headquarters on Monday demanding a certificate of return based on an order by an Abuja Federal High Court.
But a statement on Tuesday by the National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, INEC said though it has been served with court judgment on July 16, it has not taken a decision.
“The said judgement could not undergo the regular processes and procedures of the commission and must wait for the next commission’s meeting.
“The commission will not be stampeded into taking precipitate action or decision that may be detrimental to the electoral process and procedures,” Okoye stated.
He stated that as at July 22, the commission has withdrawn and re-issued 87 certificates of return to different candidates based on court orders.
Akinlade v Abiodun: Tribunal adjourns for final written addresses
The Ogun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal on Tuesday adjourned proceedings till August 19 for the adoption of final written addresses by all parties.
This followed closure of the defence by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the petition challenging the victory of Governor Dapo Abiodun in the March 9 gubernatorial election in the state.
The petition “EPT/OG/GOV/01/19” was filed by the Allied People’s Movement (APM), governorship candidate, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, and his party.
Akinlade had alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was wrong to have declared the APC candidate as winner of the governorship poll.
Abiodun, who is the second respondent, had on Wednesday, last week, through his lead counsel, Prof Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), closed his defence after having called 32 witnesses who gave evidence before the tribunal.
When the hearing resumed yesterday, the counsel to APC, Dr Paul Ananaba (SAN), closed the defence after having called three witnesses who were cross-examined by other lawyers.
NASS has no business in Edo Assembly crisis – Ojezua
Edo State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Barr. Anselm Ojezua, believes that what is presently playing out in the state is propelled by politics, but insists that it would be resolved politically. In this interview, he speaks on the impasse in the state and House of Assembly, the intervention by the National Assembly. Wale Elegbede reports
What is the real story behind the crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly?
It seems to me to be more of a question on how well are we managing our success in Edo State. As you know, this is the first time that we have recorded an absolute victory in the sense that all the seats in the state Assembly are for the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). It has never happened before. With that as a background, whatever you see happening now will look more like a paradox. It is true that we are having issues in relation to the leadership of the House, but it does not amount to crisis because Edo State is functioning, even the House of Assembly is functioning.
We have a leadership in place, they are working. To that extent, there is no crisis. So, what we have is that the House has been inaugurated, leadership has emerged, some members are not happy with it and they are taking steps they feel is necessary to change what they cannot have. Some have gone to Abuja, they have been to court and as you can see, they have also gone to the National Assembly. All that put together is to stimulate the prospect of a crisis, but in Edo State, there is no crisis.
If they’ve gone to court, we subscribe to that because that is what the law says that should there be any disagreement that they can’t resolve on their own, they can seek redress. They shouldn’t resort to self-help. Thankfully, all the parties are in court. So, we await the court’s decision, but as a party, we are also taking steps to seek reconciliation for our members in the House. If you recall, when the House was inaugurated there were nine members, but today they are 12.
There is a prospect that the number will increase. I think what has actually been an impediment to a peaceful political resolution is the intervention of the National Assembly. If their intention is to come and help us in Edo, I think they have somewhat compounded our problem.
How do you mean?
The threat that they will come and take over our state Assembly is being seen by the ordinary man on the street as an alien invasion of our state as if Edo State is a colony of some people in Abuja. That is the impression and we are having a hard time convincing them.
But some people believe that what is happening is like the hand of Esau, but voice of Jacob. Those in this school of thought aver that given the cordiality between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, this shouldn’t be happening?
I agree with you that what is happening now should not happen. I think both of them have the responsibility to do the right thing.
Can you clarify insinuations that the APC National Chairman actually wanted to foist leadership on the Assembly?
I don’t have that information and I can’t say that I share a similar view. But you know when things like this are happening people are bound to speculate; it gives room for speculation. So, unwittingly, we may have opened ourselves to all sorts.
What steps are you taking to co-opt the 12 lawmakers-elect who are yet to be inaugurated?
We have been working with leaders of our party in the various parts of the state, particularly leaders of the concerned lawmakers that you mentioned. Don’t forget, I said that we were recording some progress; three other members have been sworn-in to take the number to 12. Let me say this; the day the member representing Owan Federal Constituency, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, moved his motion on the floor of the House of Representatives, two of those 12 lawmakers-elect were actually at the airport waiting to come to Benin to be sworn-in, when they were informed to return because the National Assembly is coming to take over the state Assembly.
So, they went back. For me, that was minus rather than a plus in terms of National Assembly intervention. So, I believe that when their interventions dissipate, we will continue the process of reconciliation that we have started.
Are you saying that the reconciliation process won’t continue until the House of Representatives is completely off the picture?
You see, we don’t even believe that the National Assembly has any business in this matter. We don’t even believe that it is right for them to take steps. But you know that we are obliged to be polite to them when they came calling for very obvious reasons. So, we made all the facts known because if we had rebuffed them, the tendency would have been to believe that we have something to hide. They have come and they have all the facts.
What are the facts? That the seventh Edo State House of Assembly was inaugurated, that a leadership is in place and that they are actually functioning and that the matter is in court. With all that knowledge, what we expect them to report and to recommend is that in the light of all these facts, they should adopt a political solution and also watch the judicial pronouncement.
They didn’t do that and they could not even wait for the National Assembly process to be completed before they went to town. Therefore, they may have justified speculations in town arising from an audio where one of the members-elect was boasting that the matter has been resolved and that the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives have been told what to do. And three days after, they did what the boy said, though prematurely of their own processes.
That, to me, has compounded our problem rather than helping to resolve it. That was why I said when their energy is dissipated, we will continue our reconciliation. We were on course before this. This thing you are seeing would be resolved. This is not the first time we are having issues in Edo State House of Assembly. If the need arises, we will do anything we have to do to protect our independence in the state.
What is the truth behind the abduction claim by one of the lawmakers?
Politics sometimes elicit drama and this is one case of that nature. If a man is kidnapped and he is released, the next thing to do is to go to the police and make a statement and seek to prosecute his abductors, especially when they are known. All that is part of the drama, but what I have told you is that 12 out of 24 have been inaugurated. There are another 12, who are yet to be inaugurated, but as a party, we are working to see that everybody is complete as a family.
How is it that the party is in such crisis, when it has no opposition in the state Assembly?
One thing that is significant and for which I am particularly grateful is that since I made my statement several weeks ago, nobody has come out to say it is not true. Whether they agree or not, it is a different kettle of fish. You know that in politics, you don’t seek 100 per cent, you seek a consensus and it is measured in terms of majority. So, in those meetings that I alluded to, there was a consensus and everybody signed it.
The aggrieved lawmakers decided to go against the position of the party and we feel it should neither be tolerated nor condoned in the interest of the party because when you keep a First Aid Box, you don’t know who you are keeping it for.
Will the erring lawmakers be sanctioned by the party?
You know the first thing we need to do is to put peace in place and reckon within the ranks of the party. I don’t think sanction will be the first thing. As a matter of fact, it will be the last step after we have exhausted all avenues for reconciliation. The good news is that the House has been inaugurated; they formed a quorum within their decisions.
The constitution makes provision for a 24-member Edo State Assembly, but at the moment we have 12, so when you want to calculate a quorum, you are calculating it on the basis of 12. That is the peculiar nature of parliament. As far as we are concerned, there is no problem in Edo State Assembly unless a court of law, properly constituted makes a pronouncement to the contrary.
What would be your message to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC and the leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari?
I would rather not send a message to them through this medium. I have made my position clear. I honestly do not think they need to get involved in this. For some of them who have gotten involved, their involvement has not been helpful. So, I think it is time for them to let go and allow us to handle the issue at home.
What is your message to the people of Edo State?
My message to them is to continue to live in peace; they should not be worried about the so-called threat of an invasion. There would be no invasion against the people of Edo. Our state remains a sovereign part of Nigeria; we are a federating partner, we are not anybody’s houseboy. Edo State is not a colony of the National Assembly or anybody’s entity. They shouldn’t worry at all. All these things playing out are politics and would be resolved politically.
Failure of leadership responsible for opposition against Buhari – Ogbonnia
Dr. SKC Ogbonnia is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a presidential aspirant of the party during the 2019 elections. He speaks, in this interview with FELIX NWANERI, on the controversies and suspicion that have trailed the RUGA policy of the Buhari administration, among other issues
What is your take on the RUGA policy, which the Federal Government was forced to suspend given the controversies that trailed it?
President Muhammadu Buhari is not only giving Nigeria a bad name with his handling of the herdsmen crisis, the good people of Fulani should also understand that the President might have equally damaged their brand around the world. As I noted in a recent piece that I entitled ‘Second term: A leadership lesson Buhari must learn,’ the style of a leader is vitally essential in governance. I maintain that Buhari’s style is a leadership miasma, offensive enough to turn his friends into foes.
This explains why a president who was re-elected barely five months ago has already lost his voice with the generality of the Nigerian people. Therefore, even if his RUGA policy is the sole panacea to all the Nigerian problems, the people are bound to view it with stifling suspicion. This goes without saying that, while RUGA definitely does not represent the best model to address the growing herdsmen crisis, the main problem is more about the messenger than the message itself.
What informs that position?
In fact, I have wondered lately, if Muhammadu Buhari is truly Fulani. Having grown up in Kano, I have come across millions of Fulani and worked with thousands of them in key Northern states. I have also maintained close friendships with many of the people and interacted with many more in the course of my presidential campaign. When I think of the Fulani, I think of good people, overall. Remember the calibers of Emir Ado Bayero, Emir Shehu Idris, Shehu Shagari, Abubakar Rimi, Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, Aliko Dangote, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Yar’Aduas, the Dantatas, Shehu Sani; and one of my childhood idols, Yusuf Bala Usman, to name just a few. They are known to be amiable, meek, bridge-builders, intelligent, trustworthy, sagacious, and shrewd.
But, some people will argue that the President has exhibited these qualities you’ve listed…
Buhari, as civilian president, has been more or less a stone-cold zombie. I don’t want to to be quoted out of context; zombie, according to Cambridge Dictionary, refers to ‘someone who moves around as if unconscious and being controlled by someone else.’ Yes, unlike a true Fulani, Buhari does not even have control of his presidency let alone a complicated policy like RUGA. Those currently steering him around are textbook sycophants, who are merely exploiting the situation for their selfish interests. Unfortunately, different efforts to wake up the President have been met with silent treatment.
How did Nigeria get to this crossroads given the picture you have painted?
The people should rather ponder some begging questions. Given that Nigeria has co-existed with the herdsmen for ages, why all of a sudden the issue of Fulani herdsmen is threatening the fabric of national existence? How and why did the herdsmen terrorism escalate under Buhari to the extent that the Fulani brand is becoming a taboo around the world? How come Northern Nigeria is more divided under Buhari than at any other time in Nigeria’s history? Why and how did the threat of secessions exacerbate under Buhari’s civilian regime?
Not done, how would the Fulani feel, if either then President Olusegun Obasanjo or President Goodluck Jonathan folded their hands while bandits identified as Yoruba or Ijaw were massacring the Fulani with AK 47? How would the Fulani feel, if their people were met with political persecution after the 2011 elections, when the North-West zone expressed their democratic rights to vote overwhelmingly for their native son, Buhari, instead President Goodluck Jonathan?
The answer is simple. No section of Nigeria deserves to be subjected to hostility or oppression because of their tribal, religious, or political orientations. The current herdsmen crisis has roots in Buhari’s dictatorial, divisive, arrogant, and unrepentant style of leadership.
That sounds a harsh judgement on the person of the President…
Let’s go back to the RUGA palaver. One did not have to assume a clairvoyant authority to discern that the policy was bound to be dead-on-arrival. Good leaders gauge the mood in the country before rolling out controversial policies. First of all, the programme was poorly communicated and widely sensationalized and believed to solely benefit Buhari’s people at the expense of other regions. Moreover, the President ought to have recognized how he is perceived in notable parts of the country to even contemplate a national policy like RUGA without wide consultations.
Start with the Middle Belt, the epicenter of herdsmen terrorism. Despite the fact the people were being slaughtered for months by herdsmen with sophisticated weapons, Buhari maintained stoic silence. Only a nefarious enemy of Nigeria would have remained indifferent to such wanton loss of human lives. Only an insensitive leader would believe that such neglected people would welcome a policy like RUGA with open arms.
Combine the irony with the reality that Buhari further divided the country upon assumption of office in 2015 when he declared political vendetta against zones or regions that voted overwhelmingly for the opposition. He followed by introducing the most unpatriotic patronage model ever seen in the country, whereby political appointments are based purely on voting patterns. The target, of course, were the people of the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria.
But the President has repeatedly claimed that has he has been fair to all…
The ground zero of Buhari’s offensive were the South-East and South-South zones. The sole reason for the utter disdain is that the people voted en masse for their native son, Goodluck Jonathan just as the people of North-West voted for their own native son, the same Buhari, in 2011. Today, the entire nine states of the Eastern Region – a full leg of the tripod by which the country is supposed to stand – is totally excluded from the upper echelon of Buhari’s sphere of influence, including the executive branch, the legislature, the judiciary, and the ruling party itself.
Today, the region has been reduced to merely good for natural resources and national taxation, but unworthy to sit at the national table of power. Their crime this time around is the freewill of majority of their people to vote for another Fulani man in Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 presidential election, instead of Buhari himself. Never in the history of the post-war democratic Nigeria has an entire region been treated with such degree of disdain and political persecution.
Once re-elected, Buhari quickly explored a strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ through the Western Region. But the Yoruba intelligentsia refused to buy the strident gambit. Instead, they have remained aligned with the entire South along with the Middle Belt to form the confluence of the current opposition turbulence thickening around Buhari’s regime.
Don’t you envisage danger as the suspicion persists even with the suspension of the RUGA programme?
With the apparent rejection of the RUGA policy, there are already some dog whistles by some Northern elements to widen the anger of defeat to a war between the North and South or a war between the core North against the Middle Belt together with the entire South. More commonly, given the nature of politics in Buhari’s second term, especially with respect to 2023 presidency, one would not be surprised, if somehow, some schemers, including some southern wannabes within the ruling party, employ a satanic strategy to narrow any hostility as a typical conflict between the Fulani versus the East, particularly the Igbo.
But the Fulani masses must not fight the Buhari’s war. Neither the South nor the Middle Belt has a case against the Fulani as people. After all, Nigeria had co-existed peacefully under past Fulani leaders. Similarly, the people of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt must equally sheathe their swords. The main problem is neither the Fulani people nor the poor and unwary herdsmen; most of who do not even own the cows nor can afford AK 47s. The common enemy is the President of the country, who emboldened the herdsmen by appearing to condone their terrorist activities. Simply put, the growing opposition to Buhari’s regime lies squarely on gross failure in leadership; his failure to secure the lives and property of the Nigerian people and his failure to be president for all Nigerians.
In all these, what is the way out?
There is an urgent need to develop a national policy for the management of the Nigerian livestock assets for the greater good, and the model is not rocket science. But it may not be tenable under the current situation where the president not only acts like sectional leader but also acts like he does not care. The way forward, therefore, is for Muhammadu Buhari to demonstrate true leadership.
Instead of viewing every critic as an enemy, instead of fanning embers of discord in every front, the President should listen – atone, make amends, communicate, and begin to lead a just, accountable, equitable, and human government. Though his response to the recent murder of Funke Olakunrin – the daughter of a prominent Yoruba leader by suspected terrorists – is timely and noteworthy, President Buhari might as well understand that every Nigerian life matters.
Nigerians must be wary of agents of destabilisation – Dansudu
Alhaji Ado Shuaibu Dansudu is the National President of Arewa United Consultative Forum and National Vice Chairman of Arewa Youth Development Association. In this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, he speaks on the Muhammadu Buhari administration and the security challenges in Nigeria, especially the recent killings in South-West
What is your take on the level of insecurity in different parts of Nigeria, especially the recent attacks and killings in the South-West geo-political zone?
My view is that the South-West is not different from other geo-political zones of Nigeria. The South-West is part of Nigeria and the issue of insecurity in the country is currently a big challenge to everybody. It is a challenge to the government and Nigerians in general. So, I disagree with people who are attributing the various killings to Fulani herdsmen. I see those behind the killings as terrorists, but I am against those saying Fulani herdsmen are behind the attacks. If you look at what is happening in Nigeria, especially as regards to insecurity, Northerners have suffered more than the rest of the country. So, why should people be saying that the Hausa/Fulani are behind it?
The Hausa/Fulani people, who are alleged to be behind the attacks, have suffered more than other regions in the country in term of killings, kidnapping, banditry and other insecurity issues in the country. Why I will not categorically believe it is Fulani herdsmen that are behind the attacks is because some Fulani have equally been kidnapped and they have to sell their cows to pay their abductors to secure their release. Some of them have also been killed. So, I believe criminality is not restricted to a particular tribe or religious faith.
Are you saying that some of the attacks and killings in South-West were not carried out by Fulani herdsmen as claimed by eye witnesses?
There might be Fulani among them but not all of them are Fulani. My own definition of Fulani herdsmen are those going about with their cows. If you follow news, you will even hear that herdsmen face several robbery and attacks and at times hundreds of their cows are stolen. Can hyena eat itself? It is not possible. What I can categorically believe is that majority of the terrorists are Fulani, but not herdsmen, to be realistic.
If you agree that majority of them are Fulani, what do you think is the reason for the attacks?
The attacks are not being carried out by the Fulani alone. There was a time we had meeting with Aare Gani Adams (the leader of Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC); he invited me for one gathering and he himself said there are criminals within the Fulani and Yoruba in South-West, who are carrying out the attacks because the Fulani alone cannot do that job. It must be in collaboration with citizens or indigenes of the areas where they are carrying out the attacks. How will Fulani know the secret of the forest where they are taking people to after they kidnap them? How would they know someone is rich or not? How would they know who to kidnap and how would they trace someone from a city or town to the area where the kidnappers carry out an attack must be as a result of informants.
There was a man I watched his video, who said there are Yoruba among the kidnappers. According to him, when he was in captivity, some Yoruba will come and he will hear them speak Yoruba or English and translate it to the kidnappers. He said that if those who are kidnapped don’t have money, they will kill them and the people who want to buy the human parts are there waiting. He said if someone who was kidnapped doesn’t have money to pay for his or her ransom; they will kill him and sell his parts to the people who usually buy human parts. The man confirmed that those buying the parts are Yoruba.
What are Northern leaders and groups doing to address this issue, especially the current trend that has seen the Fulani attacking Southerners in their areas?
We are trying our best and working with the security agencies to ensure that they put everything in control. I am not against groups from Yoruba like OPC working hand in hand to ensure that they address the situation. But my appeal is that innocent people should not be affected. Because if care is not taken due to enmity, misunderstanding or differences, people may be alleged to be culprits and acting based on speculation may lead to shedding of innocent blood.
Considering the rate of insecurity in different parts of the country, don’t you think it is high time for all Nigerians to join hands together to address the menace?
Of course! At this period, Nigerians should join hands to fight the insecurity and bring all the criminals to book. But the problem we have has to do with some people who are in opposition or those who are not patriotic. They are the once spreading rumour through the social and mainstream media; spreading false information and lies, deceiving people. Those doing this are doing so because of selfish interest. Some people are using tribe, religion and many things to make sure that they destabilise the peace of this country. And some people, because President Muhammadu Buhari is a Fulani man, are seriously alleging Fulani herdsmen to be the brain behind insecurity across the country.
My belief is that it might be possible that some Fulani herdsman joined them, but they are not real owners of the cows. You cannot be controlling millions of cows and you will leave them to go and join terrorists. Is it possible? It cannot be possible. I want to also use this medium to send my condolence to the Leader of Afenifere, Papa Reuben Fasoraunti, for the loss of his daughter (Mrs. Funke Olakunrin). Even the Commissioner of Police has confirmed that those who killed that lady were armed robbers and we know it is happening everywhere. They are armed robbers and we are waiting now to see the efforts which the security agencies will do to fish those people out.
Why do you think people are attaching ethnic and religious sentoiments to insecurity issues in Nigeria?
Those doing that are enemies of Nigeria. Some people will not achieve their goals if there is no violence. Looking at the issue of kidnapping, we should ask ourselves about where it started from. Some people want to distabilise the country. What we are supposed to do as Nigerians is to come together to tackle the security problem. There is no difference between North-East and South-East; neither is any difference between North-West and South-West or between North-Central and South-South. There is no difference between the North and South. If we can join hands, it will be good for all of us.
For many years, we have been having kidnapping and armed robbery and we know where it started from and how people suffered in their hands. The Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba suffered in their hands, but we did not attribute such criminalities to a particular tribe; we only looked at those behind them as criminals. So, why are they now alleging Fulani, especially those going about with their cows inside the forest? How can those ones be behind killings and kidnapping of people? The problem we have is that there are some armed robbers who have ganged up to steal Fulani cows or kill Fulani cows. So, the fear is that maybe the Fulani will retaliate and that is why they are alleging the Fulani to be behind the attacks and killings in them South-West and asking them to go.
The umbrella body of Fulani herdsmen in the country, Miyetti Allah, is also not doing enough because of the factions among them. I will call on them to cooperate and when they cooperate, they should relate with eminent people and associations, who will assist them to enlighten Nigerians and to advise them on the way out of this particular situation.
Do you think President Muhammadu Buhari is doing enough to address the security challenges in Nigeria?
Everybody knows who President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are. We know they are not stealing our money. We know they are not thieves and they are not looting our money. They are straightforward and good people, but the people surrounding them are the problem. They have to do something about that. They have to start listening to peoples’ complaints. Nigerians are complaining and people in government must listen to the people.
President Buhari will soon announce his cabinet members, what are your expectations?
I will advise to President Buhari to take advice. If people advise him, he should take it and also look at people who are giving him advice. President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo should study those around them for them to notice and see things going on in the country. The President should listen to people to get good ministers; those who love the country and will promote peace and unity of the country; those who will love the masses and make life better for them. Those are the kind of people that should be appointed as ministers and not anyhow persons.
It is the masses who voted for President Buhari and they see this government as their own government. We agree categorically that it is their government, but in terms of appointments, the President should not appoint those who are very far from the masses and those who will not carry the masses along. We need ministers with good character and who are closer to the people.
Youths to Reps, APC: Steer clear of Edo Assembly
Agroup, under the auspices of the Edo Youth Vanguard, has warned the House of Representatives and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to either be impartial in its intervention in the impasse in the state House of Assembly or incur the wrath of the youth.
The group in a statement issued yesterday in Benin, the Edo State capital by its president, Nosakhare Oseghale, questioned what it described as the lower legislative arm’s ill-conceived recent directive for Governor Godwin Obaseki to issue a new proclamation to the Assembly for proper constitution, while directing the Inspector General of Police and the Director-General of the Department of State Service (DSS) to shut down the Assembly and provide adequate security to allay further fears of intimidation and threat as alleged by some members-elect.
The statement read in part: “We are surprised and shocked that the House of Representatives seems to have abdicated its primary responsibility to represent the common and collective interests of the citizens through the enactment of laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation among other equally important legislative duties.
“In a democracy, as practiced in Nigeria, the legislature exists as an independent institution which deepens democracy and ultimately strengthens the polity. Shirking or abdicating these all-important responsibilities on the altar of parochial and partisan and political interests imperils democracy and that comes with devastating consequences.
“This is why the stance of the House of Representatives on the Edo State House of Assembly issue raises not only eyebrows, it calls for deeper scrutiny into what inspired the misguided decision. Who are their sponsors? Are they acting in our interest or the interest of their paymasters?”
The EYV averred that Edo youths are not docile, adding: “We have just decided to maintain the peace and order in the state as encouraged and entrenched by Governor Obaseki, but we are privy to the shenanigans of selfish and mindless Abuja political merchants and we shall not allow them to dictate to us who the leaders of our House of Assembly should be.
“Since when did the national party start interfering in the composition of the leadership of a state House of Assembly if not that there is a particular interest that needs to be served?”
The youth group claimed that it was ironic that the House of Representatives acted in the manner it did given that constitutionally, to make such order or any whatsoever on a state House of Assembly, there should be a joint resolution with the Senate and until such, any directive is an exercise in illegality.
The group also pointed out that apart from the illegality, what the House of Representatives has done is subjudice given that the parties involved in the crisis are aware that there are three legal suits on the matter, while there’s a Federal High Court injunction in respect of one of the issues raised.
According to the group, the Clerk of the House of Assembly instituted a case before the Federal High Court, which has as defendants, the National Working Committee of the APC, the Inspector General of Police and Department of State Services in which an injunction restraining the defendants was granted, but which the House of Representatives failed to appeal before issuing its directive.
“Why didn’t the House of Reps committee take steps to vacate the order before unilaterally issuing a directive,” the group queried.
Reacting to allegations that the crisis may have been stoked by the immediate past governor and incumbent National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the group said it was not oblivious to the rumour, saying: “Is it not ironic that in a state where we have one party ruling, and that has all the 24 seats in the House of Assembly, we have this kind of a crisis?”
The group stated further that it is conscious of the fact that Governor Obaseki has given his predecessor all the respect and loyalty due him as “Oshiomhole’s interests are Obaseki’s interests except he has found new interests that are against the people of the state.”
It added: “The structure Oshiomhole put down in the state is still there, and we are also aware that nobody from the NWC of the party has called the governor to know what the problem is. So, as far as we are concerned, Governor Obaseki does not have a problem with his friend of over two decades.”
The group affirmed that it decided to raise the alarm to forestall a situation that can potentially set the state on fire and to avoid the Zamfara experience where all elected officials were sacked by the Supreme Court.
“Let it be clear that we have a performing governor, who is widely loved by Edo State indigenes at home and abroad because of his sterling achievements in office. That he has refused to share the state’s money to political leaders should not make him a sacrificial lamb. If it is a war the party or any other meddlesome group wants, we are ready for them,” the group said.
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