CHUKWU DAVID reports that last Thursday’s Supreme Court judgement, which voided all the votes cast for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State and declared the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winners in all the elective positions in the last general election, has altered the configuration of the 9th Senate as well as sent jitters to the camps of the two major contenders for the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and Ali Ndume
Before Thursday May 23, the results of the March 9, National Assembly elections held across the country had the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) leading in the number of senatorial seats won, followed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
As at Wednesday May 22, which was the day that actually preceded the judgement of the Supreme Court on the Zamfara State political imbroglio, the APC had 65 senators-elect; PDP, 41 and the Young Progressives Party (YPP), had one seat. The results of Imo North and Imo East senatorial districts are yet to be determined because of the controversy that erupted soon after the polls.
For instance, the incumbent senator representing Imo North, Benjamin Uwajumogu of the APC, who was not satisfied with the outcome of the election in his district, approached the court, requesting that the result be voided. The court granted his request and the case is still pending in court.
For Imo West, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had to withdraw the certificate of return it earlier issued to the immediate past governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, after the Returning Officer in the election, alleged that he declared him winner under duress.
With this development, it means that the APC now has 62 senators-elect; PDP, 44 and YPP, one senator-elect. This therefore, means that the 9th Senate currently has a total of 107 senators-elect out of the 109-seat membership, with two seats pending.
Unless the issues around the two senatorial results in Imo State are resolved as quickly as possible, the affected areas may not have representatives during the inauguration of the 9th Senate coming up in less than three weeks’ time.
Meanwhile, in Bauchi State, although the INEC declared APC as winner of the Bauchi South senatorial election, the internal wrangling in the party has made the electoral umpire not to announce any particular candidate as the rightful winner. It is not certain if the matter would be resolved before the inauguration.
The APC recorded its highest result in the North-West geopolitical zone, where it secured 17 out of the 21 senatorial seats, followed by the South-West and the North-East, where it secured 14 senatorial seats each, out of 18 seats each. The ruling party also got 13 seats out of 18 in the North Central.
On the other hand, the PDP got its the highest senatorial positions from the South-South, where it secured 15 out of the 18 senatorial slots in the zone, while also securing 11 out of 15 slots in the South-East.
A breakdown of how the political parties won and lost the senatorial elections on zonal and state levels shows:
In Abia State, two senatorial seats were won by the PDP while one slot was won by the APC.
Enyinnaya Abaribe of the PDP representing Abia South defeated Chris Nkwonta of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to retain his seat, while a former Governor of the State, Theodore Orji, beat Chidi Ajaegbu of APGA to return to the Senate for Abia Central.
In Abia North, another former governor of the state and the candidate of APC, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, emerged winner of the contest as he defeated the incumbent senator, Mao Ohuabunwa of the PDP.
The PDP won two senatorial seats in Anambra State. Senator Stella Oduah of the PDP defeated Emmanuel Chinedu of APGA to retain her seat in Anambra North, while Uche Ekwunife also of the PDP beat Senator Victor Umeh of APGA to emerge winner at the senatorial poll.
Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) won the Anambra South senatorial seat which is presently occupied by Andy Ubah of the APC.
In Ebonyi, the PDP produced all the three senators in the last senatorial election. Two serving senators – Sam Egwu and Obinna Ogba returned for Ebonyi North and Ebonyi Central, respectively, while Michael Ama Nnachi emerged the new senator for Ebonyi South. The incumbent senator, Sonni Ogbuoji, was the APC governorship candidate in the March 9, governorship elections.
The PDP won all the three senatorial slots in the state, with the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu emerging in Enugu West for the fifth time, after defeating Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu of the APC. Senator Chukwuka Utazi beat his opponent, Eugene Odoh of the APC to emerge in Enugu North, while a former governor of the state, Chimaroke Nnamani of the PDP won the Enugu East Senatorial District election. He defeated Prince Lawrence Eze of the APC.
In Imo State, the Imo East Senatorial District election was won by Hon. Onyebuchi Ezenwa of thePDP, who is currently a member of the House of Representatives and Chairman, House Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity. Results of Imo North and Imo West are still pending following accompanying contentions.
APC won two senatorial seats in the state. The Osun Central seat was won by Ajibola Bashiru of the APC, Engr. Adelere Oriolowo also of APC won Osun West, while Osun East was won by Adenigba Fadahunsi of the PDP.
In Oyo State, the APC won two senatorial seats, while the PDP won one slot. Incumbent Senator Abdulfatai Buhari of APC emerged in Oyo North, Teslim Folarin also of APC won in Oyo Central,while Oyo South was won by Lekan Balogun of the PDP, who defeated Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
In Ondo State, two senatorial seats were won by the PDP, while APC won. Incumbent Senator Ajayi Boroffice of APC retained his Ondo North seat, while Ayo Akiyelure of the PDP emerged for Ondo Central. Ondo South was won by Nicholas Tofowomo, also of the PDP.
In Ogun State, APC cleared all the three senatorial seats. Ogun Central was won by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who defeated Mrs. Titi Oseni-Gomez of the African Democratic Party (ADC), Chief Tolu Odebiyi won the Ogun-West seat, while Ogun East was won by Lekan Mustapha.
APC also won all the senatorial seats in the Lagos State, with Senator Oluremi Tinubu emerging for Lagos Central, Bayo Osinowo for Lagos East, while incumbent Senator Olamilekan Adeola emerged for Lagos West.
In Ekiti State, the three senatorial seats were won by the APC. Dayo Adeyeye beat the incumbent, Biodun Olujimi of the PDP in Ekiti South. Opeyemi Bamidele defeated Obafemi Adewale of the PDP for Ekiti Central while Olubunmi Adetunbi beat Duro Faseyi of the PDP in the Ekiti North.
In Edo, the three serving senators were re-elected. PDP won two seats, while APC secured one which is the present status quo. Incumbent Senator Francis Alimikhena of the APC defeated Abubakar Momoh of the PDP for Edo North senatorial district; Matthew Urhoghide of the PDP was returned for Edo South, while Clifford Ordia of the PDP won in Edo Central.
PDP won the three senatorial seats in Akwa Ibom. While the former Deputy Governor, Chris Ekpenyong defeated Senator Godswill Akpabio (APC) for Akwa Ibom West, Senator Bassey Akpan retained his seat in the Akwa Ibomw North East, while Akon Eyakenyi of the PDP defeated incumbent Senator Nelson Effiong (Akwa Ibom South) of the APC.
In Delta State, the three incumbent senators returned, with PDP maintaining its two seats and APC one. Senator James Manager of the PDP won in Delta South, Peter Nwoboshi also of the PDP won in Delta North (but INEC has withdrawn his Certificate of Return and handed it over Ned Nwoko of the same party), while Ovie Omo-Agege of the APC won in Delta Central.
The PDP swept the three senatorial seats in the state. Senator Rose Oko won in the Cross River North; Gershom Bassey won in Cross River South, while Sandy Onor defeated former Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba of the APC to emerge for Cross River Central District.
The PDP cleared the three seats in the state. A former member of the Senate, George Sekibo, won in Rivers East; Betty Apiafi, who is a serving member of the House of Representatives won in Rivers West, while Parry Mpigi won in Rivers South-East.
In Bayelsa State, the PDP won two senatorial districts, while APC won one. Donye Diri won in Bayelsa Central, Lawrence Ewrujakpor won in Rivers West, while Beyelsa East was won by Biobarukuma Degi-Eremenyo of the APC.
The APC won the three senatorial seats in Kwara State. Dr. Yahaya Oloriegbe of the APC defeated the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki (PDP) in Kwara Central; Umar Sadiq defeated Zakari Mohammed also of the PDP in Kwara North, while Lola Ashiru beat Senator Rafiu Ibrahim also of the PDP in Kwara South.
APC won two senatorial districts of Kogi East and Central, while PDP won in Kogi West. Yakubu Oseni won in Central, Jibrin Echocho, Kogi East, while incumbent Senator Dino Melaye won in Kogi West on the platform of the PDP.
APC won the three senatorial positions in Nasarawa State. Nasarawa South was won by the immediate past governor, Tanko Almakura; Nasarawa West was won by the serving senator, Abdullahi Adamu, while Godiya Akwashiki won in Nasarawa North.
In Plateau State, APC won two seats, while PDP won one. Hezekiah Dimka of the APC won in Plateau Central; a former deputy governor of the state, Amb. Longjan Datong, won in Plateau South, while PDP’s Isthfanus Gyang won in Plateau North.
In Benue State, PDP won the three senatorial seats. Former Governor Gabriel Suswam defeated incumbent Senator Barnabas Gemade in Benue North East; a former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, won in Benue South, while Hon Orker Jev, a member of the House of Representatives defeated a former governor and incumbent senator, George Akume, in Benue North West.
The APC swept the three districts in Niger State. Serving Senator Sabi Abdullahi won in Niger North, Sani Musa in Niger East and Bima Enagi in Niger South. They defeated their PDP counterparts at the poll.
The only senatorial slot for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was won by the current Senate Minority Whip, Senator Philip Aduda of the PDP. He defeated Zephaniah Jisalo of the APC, who is a serving member of the House of Representatives.
In Kano, the APC swept the three Senate seats, with incumbent Senators Kabiru Gaya and Barau Jibrin representing Kano South and Kano North respectively, re-elected, while a former governor of the state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, won in Kano Central.
APC won two slots in Kaduna State, while PDP won one. Uba Sani defeated Senator Shehu Sani of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in Kano Central, while Suleiman Abdu Kwari defeated incumbent Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi of the PDP in Kaduna North. In Kaduna South, serving Senator Danjuma Laah of the PDP beat a former deputy governor of the state, Bala Bantex of APC.
The ruling party also cleared the three senatorial seats in Katsina State. Kabir Barkiya won in Katsina Central, Bello Mandiya won in South, while Ahmed Baba-Kaita won in Katsina North.
Following the trend in other north western states, APC also won all the senatorial seats in Jigawa State, with Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia winning in Jigawa North East; Danladi Sankara, Jigawa North West and Muhammed Sabo Naku, Jigawa Central.
APC also cleared the three seats in Sokoto State. Senator Aliyu Wamakko retained his seat in Sokoto North, Ibrahim Gobir got re-elected in Sokoto East, while Abubakar Shehu Tambuwal won in Sokoto South.
Following the Supreme Court judgement of last Thursday, the entire three senatorial seats for Zamfara State were awarded to the PDP, which initially lost in all. This means that the immediate past governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari, who had positioned himself to represent Zamfara West will no longer be in the Red Chamber in the 9th Assembly.
Tijani Yahaya Kaura, who is the incumbent Senator representing Zamfara North will also be missing from the apex legislative Chamber in the next four years, while a former Communications Minister, Ikira Aliyu Bilbis, who was earlier declared for Zamfara Central, will not be a member of the 9th Senate.
In Kebbi, the three serving senators were re-elected on the platform of the APC, with Adamu Aliero, billed to represent Kebbi Central, Bala N’Allah, Kebbi South and Yahaya Abdullahi, North.
The three seats were won by the APC, with incumbent Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central) retaining his seat, while Saidu Alkali and Amos Bunus won in Gombe North and Gombe South respectively as fresh senators-elect.
In Adamawa, PDP won two seats, while APC got one. Ishaku Cliff of PDP defeated incumbent Senator Binta Masi in Adamawa North, while Bino Yero, also of the PDP won in Adamawa South. APC’s Ishatu Dahiru Binani won in Adamawa Central.
APC also cleared all the seats in Borno State. The immediate past governor, Kashim Shettima, won in Borno Central; Ali Ndume retained his Borno South seat. Abubakar Kyari also retained his Borno North seat.
In Bauchi, APC took the three seats. Haliru Jiga won in Bauchi Central, Lawal Yahaya won in Bauchi South, while the court is to determine on the authentic candidate of the party in Bauchi North.
In Taraba State, PDP won two senatorial districts, while APC won one. Incumbent Senator Emmanuel Bwacha won in Taraba South, while another incumbent senator, Shuaibu Isa Lau (PDP) won in Taraba North. Incumbent Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf was reelected in Taraba Central on the platform of the APC.
The three senatorial seats in the state were also cleared by the ruling APC. Immediate past governor of the state, Ibrahim Geidam, won in Yobe East, Ibrahim Bomoi won in Yobe South, while the Leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan retained his Yobe North seat.
Meanwhile, ahead of next month’s inauguration of the 9th Senate, there is anxiety within the ranks of the two major contenders for the Senate presidency, Senators Ahmad Lawan and Ali Ndume, over the unusual calmness in the camps of PDP senators-elect and Senator Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe).
New Telegraph learnt that the Thursday’s Supreme Court judgement, which voided all the votes cast for the APC in Zamfara State, and declared the PDP winner in all the elective positions in the last general elections, has sent jitters to the camps of Lawan and Ndume.
Some senators who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said that the decision of the apex court, which now diminishes the numerical strength of the ruling party in the National Assembly, has further put the camps of the two contenders in a more precarious situation in the pending poll.
On why the silence of the PDP senators-elect is a source of concern to Lawan and Ndume, it was learnt that Lawan’s camp in particular, is worried because of the rumour that the opposition party is backing Goje, who has not made any public statement to confirm whether or not he is contesting for the Senate presidency.
Commenting on how the Supreme Court judgement on Zamfara will affect the election of the leadership of the 9th Senate, sources close to the apex legislative chamber, told our correspondent that politics is a game of number, and that one vote can make a lot of difference, particularly in an election in which simple majority is required for a winner to emerge.
They are of the opinion that the appreciation of PDP’s numerical strength in both chambers of the National Assembly will make a lot of impact in the election of the presiding officers of the apex parliament in the next two weeks.
Docile citizens endanger good governance –Duru
Dr. Chike Walter Duru is a communication, governance and development expert. He is Senior Special Assistant, Media and Communications, Office of the Deputy Governor of Imo State. He is Chairman, Board of Governors, Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria and a member of the National Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), Nigeria. In this interview with newsmen, he speaks on governance in Imo State, transparency in governance, Open Government Partnership, citizens’ participation, among others, STEVE UZOECHI reports
What is Open Government Partnership in Imo all about?
Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multi-stakeholder initiative that focuses on improving government transparency, accountability and responsiveness to citizens through technology and innovations. It was launched in 2011 by eight founding membercountries, following their endorsement of the Open Government Declaration.
The eight countries are: Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, The Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America. Nigeria joined the OGP in July 2016, two months after President Muhammadu Buhari attended the Anti- Corruption Summit organised by the government of the United Kingdom in May, 2016. At the Summit, the Nigerian President reaffirmed his government’s commitment to strengthening anticorruption reforms and bringing integrity to governance through leadership by example. In Imo State, the present administration of Chief Emeka Ihedioha has left no one in doubt, as to his commitment to running an open and transparent government. He has applied to join the OGP.
This is a step in the right direction. The next thing to do is to bring stakeholders together to take it forward. There is need to set up a State Steering Committee, made of state and non-state actors. OGP promotes co-creation. The implication is that there is equal representation and equal rights in decision making. All decisions are taken collectively. There is no chairperson.
What we have are Co-chairs for Civil Society and Government, respectively.
The truth is that if we are able to effectively implement OGP in Imo, it will be a success story. Fit and proper persons, with relevant experiences and capacities should be selected to drive OGP in Imo State. The good thing about OGP is that states are at liberty to choose the commitments that they can implement.
What is the role of citizens in OGP?
Good governance is not possible anywhere, without effective citizens participation.
Public office holders will naturally take the citizens for granted, whenever there is a docile citizenry. The Government holds and manages the common wealth of the people on trust. It is the duty of the citizens to hold those in public positions accountable. If citizens do not take steps to participate in the business of governance, then they have failed in their duties.
When citizens ask relevant questions, taking advantage of existing laws and instruments, those in public offices will naturally sit up, knowing that the people are watching.
When citizens begin to ask questions, public office holders will become more careful and corrupt practices are reduced. In Imo, we have an administration that has shown commitment to transparency principles. It is now for the citizens to play their part.
Holding the government accountable
Apart from the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Act is a very powerful tool for citizens’ participation in governance.
The FOI Act aims to make public records and information more freely available and to protect public records and information, in accordance with the public interest and protection of personal privacy. It enables citizens to hold the government accountable in the event of the misappropriation of public funds or failure to deliver public services. It also seeks to protect serving public officers against any adverse consequences from the unauthorised disclosure of certain kinds of official information, and to establish procedures for the achievement of these purposes.
The Act further regulates conflicts between its provisions and those of other legislation including the Criminal Code, Penal Code or Official Secret Act that prescribe criminal penalties for actions connected to the disclosure of Information. Fortunately, Imo State now has an FOI law. Most developed countries of the world hinged their development on access to information. The effective implementation of the FOI Act will open the governance space; engender transparency and accountability, while enhancing citizens’ participation in governance.
If citizens take advantage of the FOI Act, cases of poor execution of government projects and in some cases, outright abandonment of projects will be checked.
How do you react to the issue of accessible of annual budget?
It baffles me when some state governments deliberately keep the annual budget of their states away from citizens. It is very strange.
A Budget is a law, just like every other law made by the legislature and assented to by the governor or president, as the case may be. It should be available everywhere and people should not go through difficulties in accessing them. Keeping it away from the citizens is criminal. If citizens do not have copies of the annual budget, how then can they monitor budget implementation?
How can they point out issues with the appropriation?
In fact, at every stage of the budget cycle, citizens should participate actively, from inception to implementation. This is one sure way of monitoring government expenditure
. What is your assessment of the present administration in Imo State?
Without mincing words, Governor Emeka Ihedioha has started very well. He is laying a solid foundation for good governance in Imo State. One of the major things conspicuously missing in the last administration of Chief Rochas Okorocha was transparency. The last administration had a culture of corruption and impunity. In fact, former Governor Okorocha presided over Imo’s most corrupt administration, since the creation of the state.
This administration inherited a state on life support and is taking steps to adequately tackle the challenges created by the last administration.
You can see that loopholes and conduit pipes for stealing of state resources have reasonably been blocked. Structures are being put in place to ensure that enduring good governance systems are built – from Treasury Single Account to OGP and many other reforms. What about audit of the civil service? Can you see the number of ghost workers already identified and the savings it will make for the state? What about the pensions verification and payment? It will only take a mischievous person not to recognize the efforts of the present administration, considering where we are coming from in Imo State.
There is also the case of infrastructural deficit…
It is no news that there are no good roads in Imo State. It is a shame that within five months of the exit of the Rochas Okorochaled administration, there are no good roads left anywhere in Imo State. Ihedioha inherited a state with decayed infrastructure and very high debt profile. They almost stole the state to death. I do not envy Governor Ihedioha because he took over from a very unpatriotic administration. However, I am proud to say that the present administration is people-oriented and is committed to addressing the numerous challenges in governance.
What are your experiences while working with Deputy Governor Gerald Irona?
The Deputy Governor of Imo State, Hon. Gerald Irona is a selfless, dependable and responsible leader. He is a grassroots politician, who takes special interest in putting smiles on the faces of people. His commitment to the success of the Rebuild Imo administration is immeasurable. All through his life in public service, he has continued to touch the lives of thousands of people.
The combination of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and Engr. Gerald Irona as Governor and Deputy Governor of Imo State respectively is one of the best things that have happened to the state.
How do you react to the litigations against the victory of Governor Ihedioha?
People should stop wasting their time and resources. Imo people have spoken and it is final.
I expect all those pursuing impossible court declarations to stop forthwith and join hands with Governor Emeka Ihedioha in rebuilding Imo. Also, the Civil Society in Imo must rise to the challenge of mobilising citizens to participate in governance, if the state must move forward.
The Governor and the Deputy Governor cannot be everywhere at the same time. It is the responsibility of citizens to raise flags whenever and wherever things are not going well, with a view to drawing their attention.
The Government must consolidate on the great initiatives. Governor Ihedioha must watch fifth columnists and sycophants, so they don’t derail his administration. Citizens’ engagement should be more frequent. Having round pegs in round holes is the only way to go.
PDP and enemy within
The distrust and mutual suspicion among powerful individuals and various caucuses within the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), which has led to its dwindling fortunes in recent elections is the kernel of this analysis by BIYI ADEGOROYE
That this may not be the best of times for the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), may probably be an understatement, as its fortunes in the recent elections has shown that the once domineering party, which bestrode the political firmament of Nigeria like a colossus for 16 years, is losing areas considered as its stronghold to the All Progressives Congress, (APC), which defeated it in 2015; making it to be in opposition for the first time.
Many of the founding fathers of the PDP, which at inception prided itself as the largest political party in Africa, are dead; few have left for other new parties and the remaining few that are left are taking the back seat in the running of the affairs of the party.
The few founding fathers of the PDP who are still remaining in the party have chosen to take a back seat in the running of the party affairs due to frustration from the younger elements, who believe they have all it take to manage the party. But these elements have forgotten the Yoruba adage which says even though the youth may have more clothes than the elders, he can’t have more rags like the elders.
These elders maintain an arms akimbo posture or what is termed ‘siddon look’ watching the young hawks distort the vision of the founding fathers of the party and pave the way for the declining fortunes of the party in the major electoral contests in the last few years. The PDP was officially formed in August 1998 by eminent Nigerians with diverse background and from across all geo-political zones, prominent among the founders were late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, former Vice President; late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, former governor; late Alhaji Adamu Ciroma; late Chief Tony Anenih and late Chief Solomon Lar, among others.
The coming together of these people, who earlier converged under the umbrella of Group 34, (G-34), was a surprise to many political watchers who believed it was a combination of the progressive elements and the ultra conservatives.
The founding fathers of the party also adopted power rotation as a way of dousing the fear of dominance by one region over others. And with such solid foundation, it was not a surprise that the party dominated and ruled the country continuously for 16 years. At a stage, its leaders were boasting that it would continue to win the presidential election and control the federal structure for 100 years.
But that was not to be as it lost power in 2015 after a faction from it, which styled itself new Peoples Democratic Party, (nPDP), and which also included five of its then serving governors, joined forces with other political parties to form the APC. The recent Kogi and Bayelsa states elections won by the APC exposed the underbelly of the opposition party and opened a can of worms within the PDP family.
The victory of the ruling APC, especially in Bayelsa State, the home state of former and immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan, unsettled the PDP, resulting in series of soul searching meetings, to fathom the reasons the party lost in Kogi and Bayelsa states. But it was clear that with the role played by former President Jonathan and his kinsmen in the Bayelsa election, the PDP house was divided against itself in the election.
The PDP had attributed its defeat in Bayelsa State to the role played by Jonathan, accusing him of anti-party activity and destroying the ladder which he used to climb to the top.
The altercation between the former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sure Lamido and former President Jonathan as to why PDP lost the Bayelsa election, according to discerning observers, is a sign of an open crack within the PDP.
Many believe a party with strong leadership would have resolved whatever differences that were noted between Governor Seriake Dickson and President Jonathan before the election, but the party leadership pretended all was well and believed that Bayelsa State’s Creek House is its to occupy. Political analysts are in agreement that the PDP is presently without a clear leader and that if the situation remains so, the party will remain in the delusion that gripped it due to internal division. A source within the party, who pleaded anonymity, said the leadership challenge facing the party will fester, except something urgent and drastic is done.
Many PDP leaders are said to have openly opposed the leadership style of Uche Secondus, the party’s National Chairman, with many passing vote of no confidence on him. Political observers believe that the role played by Jonathan in the Bayelsa election was just a tip of the iceberg, and they also add that the genesis of PDP crisis is legendary. According to another source within the party, who pleaded anonymity, as long as the party does not have the right person to lead it, it would grope in the dark for long.
“It is significant to have someone who can take decisions and stand by it in order to play its role as opposition,” the source volunteered. The PDP source maintained that the party will witness worse situations than what happened during the Bayelsa and Kogi elections in future election if it fails to put its acts together.
Tracing the genesis of the PDP crisis, it can be argued that it started in 2015 immediately the party lost election at the centre. In 2015 when the former PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, left the party without completing his term, the party was in confusion as to who would complete the term.
Bamanga Tukur was brought in as the substantive chairman, but Tukur’s tenure was crises-ridden and so they needed someone else from the North East. For whatever reason, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and former Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State ensured that they replaced Tukur with Senator Alimodu Sheriff, who they believed could provide money to sustain the party. His tenure was also full of crisis; the PDP National Convention, which was to hold in Port Harcourt ended abruptly.
The Makarfi faction won and Sheriff went to court. The court finally decided in favour of Makarfi who eventually completed the term. But before that happened, Sheriff had tried to pacify Wike and Fayose by promising the duo the Vice President slot separately. The crisis that was brought on PDP by Sheriff and his co-travelers was resolved through the Supreme Court’s pronouncement that Makarfi was the authentic National Chairman of the party.
The seed of crisis, which was gradually germinating was further watered when Makarfi was to hand over to a successor. The zoning method is not new in the party and in the history of the PDP since 1998, the party’s chairmanship had never come to the South-West.
During the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the PDP National Vice Chairman, South-West, was Chief Olabode George, who later rose to become the Deputy National Chairman, South. According to the plan, since Obasanjo was leaving office in 2007, after two consecutive terms as President, it was natural that the then National Vice Chairman, South- West, should step in as National Chairman, but for whatever reason it was changed by him as he emerged the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, (BoT), of the PDP.
Despite stern warnings from founding fathers of the party, the Makarfi-led executive changed the zoning pattern and neglected the fact that it was natural that the zone that had not produced the party chairman, the South-West, should be given the opportunity. So, Wike and Fayose, for selfish reasons, denied the South-West the opportunity. Fayose said it openly that the South -West didn’t need the party chairmanship because of selfish interest.
The zoning method was made so specific, the chairman was not only meant for South- West, but it was micro zoned to Lagos State. At the time Lagos State had no member in the NWC; Ekiti had National Vice Chairman, Osun had National Secretary and Ogun had National Financial Secretary and Lagos had nothing.
It was therefore obvious to discerning minds that the National Chairman of the PDP must come from Lagos State and everybody believed that Bode George had the knowledge of the party and experience and so should be given the job.
In the power play that followed, the party national chairmanship was zoned to the South instead of South- West and to further weaken and polarize the South- West and divide its votes at the national convention, Wike drafted Jimi Agbaje into the national chairmanship race, while Fayose brought in Rasidi Ladoja and in fact paid for his form.
Prof. Taoheed Adedoja from Oyo State joined the race and so was Prof. Tunde Adeniran from Ekiti State. Thus the South-West alone had no fewer than eight candidates. Secondus was given a free reign at the convention, thus putting the South-West virtually out of contention.
People who do not have defined mission, grand plan or selfless interest to ensure that the party comes back to reckoning took over. The emergence of Secondus, the manner of his emergence and the role played by Makarfi, Wike and Fayose led many founding members of the party like Professor Jerry Gana and Professor Adeniran, among others to dump the party. Wike was then planning for the 2019 election.
He assumed it was going to be Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto State governor, who had then returned to the PDP from the APC, who would emerge PDP presidential candidate, with him as his vice presidential candidate. He did not reckon that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar would make a return to the party. Atiku’s return and interest in the PDP presidential ticket changed the game The party went into the 2019 presidential election not as a solid unit, but with a divided house.
Wike and his caucus were not too supportive of the Atiku candidacy. They were looking beyond Atiku and were looking at the 2023 election to perpetuate the same game plan. Presently Fayose is battling corruption cases and immediately the Court of Appeal pronounced that Atiku lost, they congratulated Buhari. And after the Supreme Court judgment, they said let’s go on national rebuilding. Even at that, one cannot see much rigorous opposition.
As far as they are concerned, Atiku’s ambition was dead on arrival. So, they are looking at another game plan for 2023. And sadly for the party, nobody is speaking out Observers believe that the present managers of the party are not only weak, but they can’t be perceived as political juggernauts. They are believed to have subverted the interest of the party for personal interest. On the way forward for the party, political analysts and watchers of political events in the country believe that the PDP, to become relevant, first as a political party and second as an opposition party, it must change its leadership and put politicians with requisite experience, who also have the interest of the party as managers.
They also believe that PDP must bounce back and mend the noticeable cracks within it and start playing the role expected of it as the main opposition party. Whether or not the PDP will be able to do all of these, put its house in order and return to winning ways remains to be seen.
Drama as Kwara Assembly refuses to swear-in lone PDP member
When Hon. AbdulRaheem Agboola, the Peoples Democratic Party’ (PDP) candidate in the 2019 Kwara State House of Assembly election, won his Court of Appeal election case and received his Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) penultimate Thursday, he didn’t envisage that he would be barred from the legislature.
But that was his fate on Tuesday as he was denied entry into the legislative chamber by officials of the Assembly when he went there to resume despite the fact that he was in possession of a duly issued certificate of return. Agboola was locked out of the Assembly on the orders of the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Salihu.
It would be recalled that Agboola defeated AbdulAzeez Elewu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) both at the election petitions tribunal and the appellate court to win the Ilorin South Constituency seat in the Assembly to make him a sole PDP member in the Assembly of 24 members.
Expectedly, members of the PDP in the state had stormed the Assembly to protest alleged refusal of leadership of the House to admit Agboola, who was declared winner of the Ilorin South State Constituency, while Agboola’s lawyer, Oladipupo Aborishade, also engaged members of the House of Assembly on why his client should be denied entry despite the availability of the Certificate of Return.
Speaking with our Correspondent on the incident, Agboola lamented that the House had denied him entry thereby preventing him from representing his constituency since he got his Certificate of Return from INEC last Thursday. He said: “As we all know, Appeal Court is the last destination for the House of Assembly election petition process, and its ruling has declared me winner.
“I started from the tribunal. I have my Certificate of Return from the INEC National Headquarters, Abuja. The INEC in Kwara State only did the official presentation.
“According to the process, I have to come to the House in person to do documentation with the Clerk of the House in order to verify the genuineness of the Certificate and ratify it. This is our third time of coming here. Since last Thursday that the Certificate was issued, they have not attended to us.
“The Speaker, the Clerk and all of them have made themselves not to be available. We have been patient, telling our supporters not to be violent. This is the House we built. I served here between 1999 and 2003. “We got here by 8:00 am today (Tuesday), but the security personnel said the Speaker would address us when he comes. We said there was no need for any address but entry into the House.”
When contacted, the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Culture and Tourism, Hon Awolola Ayokunle, said the House was served “a court summon joining the Speaker and the Clerk to the House in a motion on notice with No. FHC / IL / CS / 157 / 2019, filed at the Federal High Court, Ilorin Judicial Division, holden at Ilorin by Hon. Hassan Abdulazeez Elewu, seeking to restrain the House from swearing in the PDP candidate pending the determination of the case.
“As an arm of government charged with the responsibility of lawmaking, the House cannot but abide by the law. However, the House is restrained from taking further steps in respect of the Certificate of Return issued to the PDP candidate for the Ilorin South constituency seat until the determi- nation of the above said suit scheduled to be moved on Monday, December 16 , 2019.” He assured the public that the House was ready to abide by the rule of law at all times.
Niger and the battle against insecurity
The anguish, pains, tears and frustration have been the situation in various states in the North, South, Eastern and Western parts of the country, as so many people have either been abducted, kidnapped, relocated or killed by the daredevils.
About 1,000 inhabitants of Zazzaga community in Munya Local Government area of Niger State have abandoned their ancestral homes and fled to neighboring communities and states due to the activities of kidnappers who have made life miserable for them in the last one year.
Investigations have it that the entire villages in Zazzaga community have no history of violence and criminal activities as the people, regardless of their religious or ethnic differences have co-existed peacefully for over 50 years now.
Though Zazzaga community is predominantly Gbagy tribe, other tribes like the Hausa, Fulani, few Igbos and Yorubas are among the inhabitants.
In a similar incident, secret cults have been attacking people in higher institutions across the country especially in Port Harcourt, Rivers State where a dreaded cult popularly called ‘Deewell Boys’ have been terrorising residents. Upon investigation, it was reliably gathered that the cult murdered a pastor in Badagry even though his relatives paid ransom for his release by the kidnappers.
The victim who was named Suraju Aderounmu, according to findings was a member of the cult, but had become a pastor of a church ‘Blessed Fountain Ministries, Badagry in Lagos State after he had repented and renounced the cult.
One of his relatives who fled to Minna and pleaded anonymity for fear of being killed told our Correspondent that, “after we paid the ransom, they still kill our brother because according to the note they (cultists) dropped, they claimed he was killed for breaking the cult’s oath.”
Findings have it that the victim, Suraju was a member of the cult group and when he left them in 2017, he went into hiding. “All our family members are very afraid for our lives because this cult people have mounted serious surveillance on us with the plans to deal with us.”
So far, N11.5million have been paid by relatives of those kidnapped to secure their release while five people have been killed by the kidnappers who invade these villages almost on a daily bases.
Our correspondent who visited the community recently gathered that no fewer than six members of the community (four men and two women) are still in the custody of their abductors who demanded N1million each for their release.
The hopeless situation of the community is further compounded by the near absence of security in the area.
The only police out-post established in the area in 2015 before the general election had only two police personnel without a single gun.
This situation has made the kidnappers to always raid the community with impunity because according to testimonies from the District Head, Alhaji Garba Musa and other villagers, the kidnappers sometimes demand for food from them and will settle down and eat before taking their victims away.
A 16 year old JSS11 female student of Junior Secondary School, Zazzaga, Khadijat Saleh whose father, Adamu Saleh was shot dead in her presence before she was taken away, told our correspondent that her duty throughout her 10 days in captivity was to cook for the victims in custody.
“I cook once in a day and the food will remain for people to eat in the evening. Sometime I will cook rice and sometimes I cook tuwo (swallow) and sometimes yam.
We were kept under the tree in the bush not too far from rail line (referring to Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge) because we used to hear the sound of train passing.
“They have everything that someone can use to cook with. I used to go to the bush to look for fire wood but they will tell me that if I run, I will meet another group and that they will rape me and kill me. In the night they will give me blanket to cover myself but the men are left to sleep like that with their hands thigh to the back.”
Also a 65 year old Garba Danjuma who was in their den for ten days, said he sleeps with his two legs tied together and hands also tied to the back. When our Correspondent spoke with the Niger State Police Commissioner, Usman Adamu, he said several efforts are being made to see that the menace is brought under control.
He, however, charged the people to report any person or group of persons caught engaging in any act of lawlessness to security agencies adding that anyone apprehended will face the full wrath of the law.
On many occasions, the state governor, Alhaji Mohammed Bello and security chiefs, led by the Commissioner of Police, Adamu have designed various strategies to address the issue.
The bandits in particular were said to have been flocking into the state from Zamfara, Kaduna and Sokoto states, taking refuge in the Kumaku Forest, a massive land mass, which is the to the North-West and North Central what Sambisa is to the North-East.
The development has made Chairman of the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, and Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar to call for concerted approach to solving the security problem, even as other prominent people have advocated the declaration of state of emergency on security and road in the state.
Governor Bello, whose government has spent more than half a billion naira on the security problem has also urged the security apparatus in the state to adopt community policing method to address the issue, in view of the centrality of security to all aspects of development.
Let Makinde enjoy his electoral victory, PDP tells APC
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West, has appraised various serious issues that concern the party in the region and the nation and urged the All Progressives Congress (APC), to stay off Oyo State and allow Governor Seyi Makinde to carry out the mandate given to him by the people.
The party also condemned the Hate Speech Bill recently introduced in the Senate outrightly, therefore affirmed that any legislation targeted at the fundamental human rights of Nigerians as encapsulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic is draconian and inconsistent with our democratic freedom.
The party stated that without prejudice to the appeal made to the Supreme Court, Makinde won the election in 28 out of the 33 local governments in the state, hence he secured the overwhelming majority and was duly elected.
“The stakeholders resolved that Makinde is one of the best performing governors in the country today and should be encouraged in the interest of national development and justice, even as we urged all hands to be on deck to increase the party’s fortunes in the next elections,” the party’s National Vice Chairman, South-West, Dr. Eddy Olafeso said.
In a communique issued after its stakeholders meeting held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital under the chairmanship of the National Vice Chairman of the party in the region, Dr. Olafeso, the party also said it cannot afford to rest on its oars. The meeting had in attendance, the National Secretary of the party, Senator Umaru Tsauri, Dr. Olafeso, National Vice Chairman, North-East, Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure, Oyo State governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, was represented by his chief of staff, while all chairmen of the party in the region were in attendance.
Other resolutions are: (1) that we take serious view of the judgement of the Federal Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division on the matter of Adebayo Adelabu of APC, challenging the victory of His Excellency, Engineer Seyi Makinde and PDP in the last gubernatorial election in Oyo State.
Hon. Livinus: Nigeria doesn’t need a confrontational National Assembly
Hon (Engr) Makwe Livinus is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing Ohaozara/ Onicha/ Ivo Federal Constituency of Ebonyi State. He addresses a number of critical issues of national interest in this interview with CHUKWU DAVID, including relationship between the Ninth National Assembly and the Executive, Hate Speech Bill, border closure, 2023 Presidency, and the last governorship elections
Where are you coming from, were you in politics before or is this your first outing?
Right from 19999, I would say I have been a participant but I had not actually run for any office but I became a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). By that time, I was already in my private business, owning my own private company after having worked elsewhere in so many other expatriate companies.
Since 1999, I have been supporting candidates that have been running in my state and in my local government, and even up to the national level including the Presidency. I have always worked and supported my party from that time till date. I was in 2011 that I started nursing the ambition of coming to the National Assembly. I never wanted to run for any other office except an office of the National Assembly, either in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. But by the time I started my consultation in 2011, it was too close to the election. So, I did not continue with my ambition, rather I worked for the people the party selected.
Then in 2015, I came in fully, started on time and participated fully until by consensus our party in Abuja, by consensus decided the person who will represent us in the House of Representatives, and I had to support that person. I had to respect the decision of the party at the national level even though I had bought form. I believe I had a good opportunity if I had gone to the field but the party is supreme.
Then, in 2018, I participated and by God’s grace I won and I am here. Before then, I had not really held any political office but Governor David Umahi appointed me member of the Elders Council in Ebonyi State, and that was when he won in 2015, and we obeyed the will of the party and supported every candidate across board. I was also a national delegate in the primaries of the PDP all along till it came to our own turn for national convention; that was the only one I did not follow.
In a democratic setting, the three arms of government are supposed to be independent.
However, there is a general opinion out there that the present National Assembly is a rubber stamp and a puppet of the Executive. What’s your view on this critical public perception?
From what I have seen, observed and participated in, in this Ninth National Assembly, I think that impression is far from the truth because I am part and parcel of the institution now and I am aware of every decision that was taken. I made my own contribution, I had my own views and I know that the only thing that is different is that the Ninth House of Representatives decided not to be so confrontational.
Yes, there is a lot engagement which everybody has been proposing outside the chambers, maybe in the committee meetings and interaction of leadership with different arms of government. For instance, when the insecurity was rising, it was all over the place; when the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, invited the service chiefs, and all of them came and discussions were held. Those discussions could have been held in the chamber and maybe it could have been very turbulent but they were able to address those concerns quickly and more effectively by engaging the Executive constructively. On the issue of the budget, it was also similar engagement and similar in determination.
That you are doing things the Executive sent, for instance, the budget came and we passed it does not mean that you are a rubber stamp. I don’t see what is rubber stamp there because at the end of the day, those budgets had always been passed with a lot of acrimony. But this time, it was passed with a lot of agreement and consensus, and we are looking forward to the President signing it for its implementation. I’m not an advocate of when you want something from the opposition, it’s always fighting. First, present your facts; you should be heard, then you give and they will give, so that it becomes give and take, and you reach a compromise. And when that compromise is reached, I don’t see anything that is rubber stamp there. That is how we have been working so far in all issues that have come to the House, and I don’t see it as being out of the norm.
What is your appraisal of the relationship of previous assemblies with the Executive vis-a-vis the present National Assembly and the executive arm? Is there anything Nigerians stand to gain from the perceived harmony between the two arms in this dispensation?
Yes, definitely. For instance, the budget has been returned to January to December cycle as a very good start. Is that not good for everybody? So, the Executive won’t have any reason now to say that they can’t implement the budget or that there is no funding because they are the people that also estimated the funds that we are now appropriating. So, they have an idea of a good expectation they are going to have, and based on that they allocated funds and the variance we introduced into the budget was not heavy and it was not much and we were all directed towards how the capital projects will impact positively.
In the past, the debate was longer and sometimes it took six months but there had also been times in the past that budgets were passed within two months. It has happened before; I don’t think that we are not the first people to do it. But those periods, assents were withheld until they reached a compromise and then the President signed. But this time around, that determination is there.
Maybe, next year, the Executive may bring it earlier, say in September so that we have more time to discuss but what matters is that, at the end of the day, it boils down to one fact, and that is that the budget is passed. Most of the time, you discover that the National Assembly cannot completely throw away what the Executive has put in the budget, so what is the fighting all about?
Why not engage them in a discussion and reach a compromise, which is exactly what we did this time around?
I am in Appropriation and other committees. You know that what they gave us was not what we gave them back hundred percent. There were areas we made input but we had to engage those agencies and told them reasons for swapping some allocations and projects.
Also, in other issues, we treat them as they come, and the ones that are not good for Nigerians, we tell them that we are not going to pass it or at least most members will speak against it like this hate speech bill; most House members are already gearing for the day it will come to our own place because most of them are against it including myself. When we engage them constructively, I think they will see our reasons when we give good reasons why we accept some bills and throw out some. But what they have brought so far is not that bad and that is why we are flowing with it.
You just mentioned the Hate Speech Bill which is already introduced in the Senate. What is your take on the bill?
Well, my take is that we will wait until it comes to our own chamber. But my personal opinion is that I don’t see it making so much difference because even in Nigeria, we have death sentence for armed robbery but has it stopped robbery; has it stopped kidnapping even in the states that imposed death sentence as punishment for kidnapping?
And if you prohibit the hate speech in Nigeria, are you going to prohibit it abroad because Nigerians live abroad; they will also be expressing their opinions on the social media.
Moreover, there are enough provisions in our laws already, to contain libelous allegations and frivolous statements that cannot be proven. What we need to do first is to go to these aspects of the law and enforce it, instead of categorically bringing out hate speech bill because it will appear as if you want to muzzle the people, and that is the impression that is out there, and we should not be seen to be giving that kind of impression.
The one-time ruling party in this country, the PDP, appears to be gradually sinking into extinction judging from its performances in the February and March, 2019, general elections and the recent elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
Any hope of improvement?
You know that before this year’s general elections, PDP actually lost a lot of ground, and after the elections of February and March this year, we gained more states in terms of the governors. As for the last two elections in Bayelsa and Kogi, we all know what happened in Bayelsa. The big people in the party wanted certain candidate at the state level they didn’t want that candidate, and so that crack in the unity of the party between the federal choice and the state preference is one of the things that cost us Bayelsa; even though there were violence and all kinds of manipulations and rigging there.
But in Kogi, I am not satisfied with the way the election was conducted because my people used to say that if you remove a flea from somebody, you have to show it to the person so that he will see it; otherwise, he will think that you are just pinching him.
So, if you are defeating me it should be seen that you are defeating me clearly and convincingly. There were issues of people wearing police and army uniform and both agencies said that they did not know those people; there were also issues of a lot of killings and shooting including the PDP woman leader, who was burnt alive after the elections. This will show you the kind of carnage.
With that kind of brigandage, I am not sure that if proper election was done in a free and fair manner, in a violence free atmosphere, I believe the PDP would have had a better performance, and they had a better chance of winning the election from the beginning because people were dissatisfied with the current governor. They wanted a change.
Having lost those two states, that doesn’t mean that we are not going to win again in future. We still have governors and National Assembly members; we still have strongholds in the states and across all strata. I believe we have learnt from what has happened and we prepare better, and in 2023, we will improve.
God-fatherism appears to be a serious menace in Nigerian politics, do you want it eliminated?
Well, I don’t really know in what context you are talking of god-fatherism because I also know that there are states that even when their governor brings out a candidate, the candidate will fail the election; and he is a god-father. So, I think that popularity is beginning to play a key role in politics of these days. You have seen the Bayelsa example: the governor brought out a candidate as the god-father in the state, where did it take him to; so you look at popularity. How popular is the candidate you are bringing in, and you can always determine this when you allow the thing to evolve from the grassroots, from the masses, from the voters themselves. If you do god-fatherism and you bring wrong candidates, I think they will fail. In almost all the states in Nigeria now, people are wiser now. So, if you bring a candidate and the opposition brings a better candidate, there will be a war, if there is no manipulation or rigging, there won’t win the election.
How do you see the use of soldiers in the conduct of elections in Nigeria?
That is still a very big challenge. You saw what happened in Rivers State in the February and March elections. Everybody was watching it on the screen. So, all those kinds of things should be eliminated. What I think is that only the police should be allowed to carry out election security duties, and the military can be on the road, manning the security, not having anything to come near where they are voting or collating results. They can stay far be observing things in case there is a breach, and let the police be close to the voting centres because we still really need their presence because a lot is happening in terms of violence, thuggery, ballot snatching and all that. The police should be available to contain that because that is their primary responsibility.
What is your rating for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of the 2019 general elections and other elections that followed thereafter?
I will not score them hundred per cent. They are not the security forces anyway, and they are not the people that made the electoral laws. So, what they can do is limited because if the candidates and the voters are left with only INEC in the field, it will be free and fair election. I don’t think there is any magic they will do for instance to re-write the result at that stage unless the security agencies are involved in carting away the election materials to a dedicated point and preventing people from coming in and then toying with the numbers. I don’t think INEC alone will have that capacity to do that. So, what we need to do is to still look at our electoral laws and see what changes we can make in it in the National Assembly maybe from next year going forward, to address some of these lapses
. Some have said that introducing electronic transmission of election results would help reduce or eliminate rigging. Do you agree to this view and how?
Yes, I think in that direction but they also need to really also to work on the cyber security aspect of it so that there is no external influence or encroachment into the results or data that they have to avoid manipulation.
Once the next work is very secure, that is the best way to run the election because you cannot snatch ballot box, you cannot do multiple double-printing because everything will show; if you vote twice, it will show. So, we should try and adopt it; it will be better for us.
What is the impact of the closure of land borders on your constituents, and what is your take on this seeming stringent decision by the federal government?
The border closure is definitely hurting hard on my constituents in terms of the economy, and I believe that the same thing is applicable to all other sections of the country because it is affecting prices of things in the market.
They say that the cost of everything has doubled since that time. The last time I went home, I wanted them to buy me even battery and other common things like that, and I discovered that the prices of those things have gone up and they say that it is because of the border closure. It is not only the price of rice that is affected because we are even cultivating rice to a point that we are almost becoming selfreliant on rice in Ebonyi, and everybody buys rice from the local producers, which is sweeter, cleaner and better in all aspects because you can’t talk about expired rice as far as the local rice is concerned.
So, in terms of food, we in Ebonyi are still reasonably sufficient but in terms of other things the border closure is affecting their prices. But my opinion in the case of border closure is that you don’t cut off your head because you have headache because that does not stop the headache. It is human beings that we put in those borders.
We have the Custom, Immigration, NDLEA and others. We also have military and police checkpoints near the borders. So, I think that we should work more on our people because even if they get it right with the neighboring countries to do the needful, and our people are still corrupt, yes we will get some income but we will still be losing a lot through this corruption.
So, for me, if the law enforcement agents at the border are doing what they supposed to do, this thing wouldn’t have gotten to this stage. Even now, smuggling is still going on but not at that stage it was going on before. We see all these things on social media and other media platforms, how they put rice in the boot of cars and load in every available space in the car; some put petrol in nylon and put wherever they can. So, what am saying is that this border closure should not continue forever; they should engage the neighboring countries and our security agents at the border.
They should work together and be able to apprehend the smugglers. They have more to do because the people that are moving these things are not ghosts, and they have the intelligence to track them down. So, if they are not compromising, they should be able to do more in arresting these people, and when you arrest, you take the person and make example. That is the only way to stop this thing. Closing the border will not stop it entirely. So, I don’t want the border to remain closed in perpetuity; they should try and reach an agreement with our neighboring countries. When compromise cannot be reached, then they should put people who can ensure compliance on our own side.
They already know what the law is. If our neighboring countries are not ready to cooperate, that doesn’t mean that we should keep the border closed forever because tension is rising. Look at the attack on Nigerian traders in Ghana the other day. We don’t want to see this spread to other countries.
America did not close her border completely; if you are going to America and you carry drug, they will track you and arrest you. We should do the same thing in our borders and prosecute the offenders. So, my take is that they can close the border for one or two more months and if our neighbours are not cooperating, we train our security agents on effective border control, so that they can be more serious and man that place properly. We have the intelligence to track these people but are we honest enough not to compromise ourselves, that’s the main issue.
Many Nigerians are worried that the country’s debt profile is rising uncontrollably in the last four years.
What is your reaction to this?
If you look at it from government’s own point of view, the oil price has dropped; the income is no longer the same and for that reason they need to borrow money to sustain the economy. But then, I don’t quite agree that borrowing is all the solution. We can look inwards and try to develop more agriculture, try to develop more solid minerals mining; we have a lot of these solid minerals here and those can do a lot to improve our economy.
They should also do a lot more in terms of tax compliance; expanding the tax net so that more people come into it and they can collect more taxes. A lot of Nigerians are not paying tax; so they have to do something to make sure these taxes come in. We have to do something to encourage mining and agriculture and more so that we don’t need to spend our foreign currency procuring these same products that are easily available here.
If there is a very critical need to borrow to finance one significant thing or another, it could be done but this general blanket borrowing to finance 30 or 40 projects, I don’t know where it will lead us to because even that amount of money you are borrowing now, before you finish processing that facility, it comes in, it goes to tender, you start execution of the project, inflation has already made that money not to be able to complete the project and it will be abandoned along the line, and what you have spent will be wasted. If it is one or two critical projects, you can borrow and finance it, and you make sure that the projects are completed so that they will begin to impact the economy.
A situation where we are spending 30 to 40 per cent of the budget to pay debt, is not a good economics even though I am not an economist.
The issue of zoning the Presidency has become dicey because it’s like a gentleman agreement which is easily violated. Do you believe in zoning, and do you want it to be a constitutional matter?
What I know is that once something is made to be a constitutional matter, to amend it in future will be a problem.
So, am one of those who want zoning to remain a gentleman agreement but it should also be something that should be encouraged for the sake of national unity. By the state of development Nigeria is now, we have not yet graduated to the level where everybody understands that we are one and where you come from does not really matter because it may be that if there is no zoning, one part of the country will consistently produce the President, and everything he does will be looked at from the point of view that he is favouring his people only. So, that is zoning is important.
And since we have been making it to work in the past to some reasonable extent, we should leave it that way, and not entrench it in the Constitution because it might become difficult to change when we mature politically and democratically to allow free will to prevail no matter where you come from, to allow the best to go. Since I say that I believe in zoning, and since after the civil war, the South-East has not taken a shot at the Presidency, it’s only fair that they should be given a turn this time around in 2023, so that they will have that sense of belonging. After the Civil War, they said no victor no vanquished; that we are all back as one. If it is truly so, then show it in your actions; not when you have commissioners of police up to four, five and six from other places but the South-East has one or none at the federal level; it’s not fair.
There is federal character principle in this country, and I think that should be respected completely, and not to continue to marginalise one zone. So, for the Presidency in 2023, I am one of those appealing to them to give to the South-East in 2023 for the sake equity and for the sake of the unity of the country. They have the power because they have the majority, and they are in control to say we are giving it to South-East or we are giving it to South-East.
So, it’s a matter of decision at the centre. If the two principal parties choose their presidential candidates from the South-East, definitely the President will come from the South- East. It is really the turn of the South-East, and if they truly believe that we are one, they should give it to us.
There is an impression that the Igbos are not usually together when it comes to taking critical political decisions. Don’t you think that this will affect them in the matter of taking a shot at the Presidency?
There is no section that is completely together, even in the North, how many people did they produce as candidates in the past for various positions? So, it’s a matter of contest, and one person will definitely emerge at the end of the day.
There is nowhere it will not be by that contest and it cuts across everywhere you are going to zone it, unless there is a consensus.
Group sets qualities, agenda for next Anambra governor
As the countdown to the search for the successor to the incumbent governor of Anambra state, Willie Obiano kicks off, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) has set out qualities and agenda for him.
The group under the aegis of Dikeorah Mandate Group said their emergence was propelled by the need to ensure that only the best and committed choice would be picked.
Addressing journalists in Awka shortly after their inauguration, the chairman of the group’s Board of Trustees (BoT), a political strategist, finance expert and international aquaculturist, Chief Morris Ebo said the net governor of the state must be visionary leader who possess the clearly spelt out strategies to rebuilt the state.
Ebo, who stated that they were non-political and were committed to a sustained mass sensitisation of Anambra citizens towards choosing a performer as the next governor of the state, added that “our main focus is to drastically reduce the prevailing widespread poverty ratio, unemployment, and to massively empower the youths and women within the 21 councils of the state irrespective of gender, political or religious leaning.”
Taken on specific areas and tools of achieving these objectives, Chief Ebo, said he’s an agriculture and finance expert whose records of solid achievements extended beyond Anambra to Abuja, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Rivers and Edo states.
That he had used his know-how and contacts to teach and empower more than 2000 youths of these states and they are all employers of labour today. He said they would distribute hairdressing/ barbing salon equipments, sewing machines, electric and manual grinders, commuter buses, tricycles, motor-cycles, photocopiers and other such poverty alleviating tools would be given out to deserving citizens to enable them sustain and take care of their families.
Ebo noted that other measures to be employed in the support of the masses include scholarship schemes, skill acquisition schemes, revolving loans, widowhood support/assistance to orphans/bright but indigent students upto university levels, etc.
He said they were mindful of the excruciating hardship being experienced by citizens and were out to render assistance to cushion it while spreading the message of choosing a selfless citizen as the next governor of the state.
That it’s the only way Anambra state would come out of the present misery and directionless leadership. He confirmed that Dikeorah Mandate Group is a conglomeration of selfless philanthropists and that they were still accepting gifts and support from public spirited individuals and institutions. On the choice of name for the group, he said it was chosen about two decades ago and literally means a valiant leader, and that they would soon publish schedule of activities for the Yuletide and New Year.
For peace, justice, Bauchi must return Tafawa Balewa headquarters, create Zaar chiefdom –Galla
Engineer Isuwa Galla is the National President of the Zaar Development Association (ZDA) nationwide. In this interview with ALI GARBA, he spoke on sundry issues. Excerpts…
There are reports that the crisis in Tafawa Balewa is coming from Zaarland. Could you intimate us of these challenges?
Zaarland is part of Tafawa Balewa, but it is not only Záar people that are in Tafawa Balewa. We have the Tapshin, the Sigdawas, the Afizares and all of them share common beliefs. The main issue is the relocation of Tafawa Balewa Local Government headquarters from its constitutional place to Bununu, an action that had been described as unconstitutional by many and we are calling on the Bauchi State Government to revisit the issue. Now, if the problem was due to crisis then as it was alleged, now that normalcy has since returned, the government should have looked into that area and return the local government to its original place.
For the people of Tapshin, Lere and other places, crossing Tafawa Balewa into Bununu is a long distance, even the people in Zwall know that Tafawa Balewa is closer being the centre and in the Nigerian Constitution, Tafawa Balewa is still the headquarters.
So, if the government can make Bununu an LCDA (Local Council Development Area), it would be a plus going forward. If there will be room for the creation of other local government areas in future and Bununu is made a local government, there will be no problem with that. But as it stands now, bringing the headquarters back to Tafawa Balewa will impress so many people. So, we are appealing to the government that since there are no more problems, the local government headquarters should return to its constitutional place.
Aren’t you satisfied with the way Bauchi State resources are shared among the 20 local government areas?
With the coming of this administration, I think each council is now having this sense of belonging, that Bauchi State belongs to all of us. Before now, you will see that in a whole budget, a particular council like Bogoro would be excluded. Even in Tafawa Balewa, some areas would be carved out, they would not have any presence of government throughout the year and that projected year will come and go.
But with this government in place, I believe they are trying their best and I think the future is bright because they try to distribute it equitably. Everybody can testify now that there is a road linking Burga to Alkaleri which will benefit many people. In Sabon Kaura, you can see so many things, people are now feeling the presence of the government unlike before where you see only the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, attracting projects to the community, and nothing from the Bauchi State Government.
Are you implying that your people suffered marginalisation from the past regimes in Bauchi State?
Of course, the marginalisation had been there. We have been marginalised for long. Like I told you, many budget will come and go and you will see nothing. Although the last administration tried in terms of security, but in the area of development, there was nothing. We did not experience any uprising like we did during previous administrations, we thank God we experienced calmness throughout the period of the last administration and we are hoping that such will be sustained during this present administration of Senator Bala Mohammed. In terms of infrastructural development and other things during the last administration, it was just some pockets of them somewhere and I don’t think the government of Bauchi then has tried in that regard.
Which of the problems do you think the government should address first?
The relocation of Tafawa Balewa Local Government headquarters to Bununu needs to be reconsidered by the government of the day. If government is really for the masses like they say, and democracy is the government of the people by the people and for the people, I think what the majority want is that the government should bring back the local government headquarters to Tafawa Balewa, a town which the constitution of the land recognises.
What about the issue of Zaar chiefdom?
You know many people have their rulers and leaders and the Emir of Bauchi is the chairman council of chiefs. So, if given the chiefdom, the Zaar people will celebrate very well because that is what we have been agitating for. That is why, at times, you see people without leaders, without emirs, so many things have gone wrong and some of them that are narrow minded won’t understand.
They reject anything you are bringing to them whether it is good or not, because they have their grievances. So, in the interest of justice and fairness, for lasting development, progress, sense of belonging and to also balance everything, Zaar/Sayawa chiefdom should be actualised.
Are you convinced of total peace in Tafawa Balewa now?
You know, once people hear the name Tafawa Balewa, there is this impression that is registered in their minds, that it is a trouble prone area. But you will discover that those troubles that had happened in the past were externally influenced. It is not that Tafawa Balewa people go out to attack a particular place, no, the problem used to come from different quarters. There were some invaders who used to invade the community, they come and wreck havoc. But with the peace process started by the former Dogara and one Barrister Kefas Magaji are championing now, there will be lasting peace in that area in such a way that we will never witnessed any uprising again.
For quite some time, normalcy has returned but there are some people who are still living with some reservations simply because they are not staying there, so they felt that there is no peace. But I am telling you that everybody there is enjoying that freedom of life, freedom of worship, freedom of association and what have you. Everybody is free to enjoy all these rights in Tafawa Balewa as I speak to you now. Right now, if there is anybody who thinks he can harass you, we can take it up and the law will take its full course. I can assure you that adequate measures have been put in place. We do communicate with our brothers in Bununu, they feed us with information. If there is any problem they will alert us, when we get information we also alert them, we exchange information with one another.
For instance, if there is an issue, let us say cattle rustling or whatever, we wade into it, we call the community leaders, the youth and all the stakeholders, and it is resolved amicably. If you ask any police here or the DPO, they will tell you all these things that I am saying. So, we try not to condone anything in that nature so that we can live peaceful with one another.
As a people, how ready are you for the chiefdom?
Yes, we are ready for it in such a way that any time the government call on us we will sit down and discuss and there won’t be any problem. We are very much ready. This is something we have been agitating for, for a very long time and we promised to be law abiding even in our waiting days.
If you check the Zaar Sayawa people, we are peace-loving and law-abiding people. Going by our population, we deserved to have a leader and that is what we have been agitating for, for quite a very long time and series of commissions and committees were set up by the government. Starting from Shehu Auwal, Babalakin, Justice Oputa and so many others, there have been recommendations for the creation of Sayawa chiefdom in Tafawa Balewa but I see lack of commitment from the part of the government. If a commission that was set up by the government makes recommendations that this thing should be done, and at the point of implementation you implement only 45 percent and abandoned the rest, you see, that alone is also a problem.
If the previous administrations had done the needful and everything is sorted out, I think we wouldn’t have been where we are today. On our part as Zaar community, we have already complied with an Executive Order that we should select one of us to be turbaned as the Gung Zaar, which we did. We call him the Gung Zaar select, we selected him as our community leader pending when everything will take its cause and the government deemed it fit to give him a staff of office. And then, the palace, the escort and many other things would be put in place. But honestly speaking, previous administrations in the state have not been sincere in terms of implementation, they have already approved the chiefdom, the chiefdom has already been created, but they failed to implement it fully. So, we are appealing to the government of the day to look at the issue and do the needful so that this issue will be put to rest once and for all so that we can move ahead to focus on development issues in the area.
Pastor Ize-Iyamu dares all, declares for APC amid tight security in Edo
Deviant as ever, a faction of the Edo State chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Friday at a mega rally held in Benin the state capital received into its fold a former Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2016 election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and thousands of his supporters.
National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshoomhole and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party were conspicuously absent at the rally.
Besides, Edo State government Friday placed a total ban on political rallies, demonstration and processions in the state over rising security concerns occasioned by the spike in protests around Benin metropolis.
The mega rally was shifted and attended by a mammoth crowd of APC leaders, elders, members, support groups who converged on the imposing residence of Pastor Ize-Iyamu at Ugbor Government Reservation Area amid tight security by armed mobile and regular policemen.
The mega rally was initially slated to hold at the Garrick Memorial Secondary School but was later taken to Ize-Iyamu’s house at Ugbor Quarters of the GRA.
This is despite the last minute suspension order by the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu following violent clashes by youths loyal to the National chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshoomhole and those of the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki close to the party secretariat on Airport road in the capital town on Thursday evening.
Members of the APC, who thronged the venue of the rally, were drawn from across the various wards in the 18 local government areas of the state.
Present at the mega rally were the former deputy governor of the state, Dr. Pius Odubu, factional state Chairman of the party, Col. David Imuse (rtd), members of the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), Chief Lucky Imasuen, Rep member Johnson Oghuma and several other chieftains of the party.
APC won’t fail Lagosians – Tobun
Hon. Abiodun Tobun is the Chairman, House Committee on Works and Infrastructure in the Lagos State House of Assembly. He speaks in this interview on the ongoing projects in the state and the relationship between the executive and legislature. Wale Elegbede reports
How would you assess the ongoing roads rehabilitation and construction in Lagos State?
As I told you the other time, the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, is only taking his time to plan because he who fails to plan, plans to fail. He has planned and he has articulated his objectives, which is why he is rolling out programmes and you can see the construction and the rehabilitation projects going on in the state. Prior to his coming on board, there were problems here and there, but he has studied the problems and proffered solutions to them, which is why traffic hold-ups are easing off in the state as most of the roads are now in good shape.
Now, we could see how he is renovating all the schools and recruiting more teachers in the state. We can see what he is doing in the area of security by providing vehicles, motorbikes and helicopters for the security agencies in the state. He has also decided to pay the minimum wage to the civil servants, which he has started. He took his time and like I said, Governor Sanwo-Olu will take his time to do projects that will endear him to the minds of our people and surpass those who were before him.
He is doing this with the support of his deputy, who is a politician and technocrat, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat. I think the duo are going to work for together for the progress of the state. Don’t forget, the parliament, led by Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, will work with them, so that we would not jettison our duty for the people of the state and perform our oversight functions.
In the area of infrastructure and construction of roads, what should Lagosians expect in the 2020 Budget?
I believe that most of the ongoing projects would be completed based on the budget. He would work on the link roads and he would work on urban regeneration. If you look at the quality of the roads, they are not the kind of roads that would be washed away soon. There would be massive construction of roads and there would be ‘operation banish all potholes’ in the state. So, Lagosians should expect the best from this government.
Would the bridge in Agege be completed next year?
I am not the contractor, but the job has commenced, work has started on Agric Road, Ishawo, Agege Pen Cinema Flyover, the Airport Road, another road in Epe, even the ongoing project in Okokomaiko, and the light rail project is being constructed. The government is working on several roads across the state. We will be passing the budget just like the speaker said that it would be a New Year gift to the people of the state. We will pass the budget this year or early next year. By the grace of God, the budget will perform very well and the people of the state will smile.
Some people believe that oversight functions are not done the way they should be done. What is your take on that?
We have been doing our best; we are not working for the executive, we are working for the members of the public. There would be a review of the performance of the executive to see if they have done well. We will not monitor their operations on a daily or weekly basis. It is either we do it quarterly, biannually or yearly. It is a periodic monitoring. We cannot be going to site on a daily basis to monitor the granite on site or what they do. They give us reports, may be quarterly, then we will go and check what they have done. We can carry out integrity test on what they have done.
Our power is to appropriate funds and monitor their jobs. Once we detect anything, we will call them to explain. We cannot investigate a project that has not been implemented. For those who are saying some of these things, they don’t understand the work of the parliament. We don’t go to site with them. We will ask them to explain what they have done. We will ask them if they have done what they ought to do. Our duty is to appropriate funds and monitor the projects that they have done, not the ones they have not done. So, help us educate the people about the workings of the parliament. We monitor them before and after the project has been done not during and we ask them questions.
Do you think that when it comes to infrastructure, the local governments are complementing the state government because at the grassroots level, it seems they are incapacitated by funds?
The people in the local governments are expected to do more for the people because they are the closest to the people. That is why we tell them to do more for the people. There are some good ones amongst them that are doing very well. Among the 12 there must be a Judas, but majority of them are doing well.
For those who are not doing well, we ask them questions, which was why we asked one of them, who has not done well to go and sit down and allow his deputy to take over until he clears himself. They cannot afford not to do well because Lagosians expect a lot from us and our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is ready to do more for the people and make life more meaningful for them. We want to continue to win Lagos and be a party that would be recognised all over the world.
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