The presidential candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the 2019 general election, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, is a development economist, a former official of the African Development Bank Group and one-time Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). In this interview with WALE ELEGBEDE, he shares his experience on the polls as well as speaks on other national issues
You contested the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and your party polled 97,874 votes to come fourth in the election. What was the experience like?
Well, going by what the Independent National Electoral Committee (INEC) published, we came fourth in the presidential election. But if you realise that in my own region of Southern Kaduna, which is my political base, I was awarded zero votes should tell you something. I am very popular with the youths of Southern Kaduna and the fact that I was awarded zero votes should tell you that something was totally amiss.
If my votes were actually counted on my own home turf I would have emerged at least as number three, not four. We were short of funds and could not launch a serious national campaign. All the funds that we were promised by our sponsors did not materialise. I did not steal public funds, which I stashed somewhere with which to bribe the electorate. So, we were hamstrung. The fact that we got so far despite the challenges is a sign of hope in dark times.
In your assessment, how did INEC fare in the elections, especially with the outrage that trailed the one-week postponement of the presidential election?
I am sorry to say that INEC fared very poorly. This is probably the worst elections we have had in living memory. In the first place, millions were technically disenfranchised by just not being registered to vote. There were egregious anomalies in the registration process. Some regions were favoured over others. There were regions were INEC officials took the registration machines into peoples’ homes to get them registered. In the areas that were not favoured, on the other hand, people even resorted to bribing INEC officials in the hope of getting registered.
I personally witnessed expectant mothers waiting in the sun from dawn to dusk, under inclement weather, just in the hope of getting registered. Most were never registered. There is also the old trick of bringing voting materials deliberately late in areas that are not favoured. No one can convince me that INEC was an impartial arbiter. They were not.
With the experience garnered before, during and after the elections, what are the issues that you think should be addressed by INEC and the Electoral Act before the 2023 elections?
First of all, we must pass a new legislation to remove the power to appoint INEC Chairman from the executive. It should be a decision of the National Council of States. There was a constitutional convention that the chairman ought to come from the area other than that of the incumbent president. This was contravened in the current case. In addition, we must revise the Electoral Act to ensure that voting could be done electronically instead of the current expensive and wasteful approach. Registration of voters should be a year-round process, as obtains in all civilised democracies. It should be a right, not a privilege. There should also be stiffer penalties for the use of money during elections.
There are reports that the leadership of your party may expel you from the party. What is your take on the supposed crisis between you and some leaders of the party?
I am hearing this news from you. I am not aware of any crisis in the ADC and I do not have any problem with anybody as far as I am concerned. We were dragged into the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP). I was told of the existence of that possibility even before I went into the primaries. But I was promised that the process would take a democratic, open and accountable form. It is a moot point of this was the case. Whatever it was, I ended up being literally a lame-duck candidate. It is not my style to heap abuses on colleagues. I believe in collegiality and I will never knowingly cast aspersions on a political party that brought me into limelight politically.
During the electioneering period, we were also massively constrained financially. It was not the party’s fault. I am not blaming anyone. Maybe I should have done more rigorous homework before plunging into the political arena. Maybe, now that the elections have come and gone, this is the time for stock-taking and deep introspection. I have taken time off to pray and meditate on the meaning of what has transpired.
What is your take on the nomination of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for a second term by the President? Do you think it was deserved?
I congratulate Mr. Godwin Emefiele on his appointment for a second term. The work of central banking is a serious business. The prospects for the economy depend largely on the decisions that are made by the apex bank. It is the prerogative of the President to hire and fire. He must have determined that the incumbent has done enough to merit a reappointment. It is not for us to second-guess that decision. We wish him well. Like other economists, I worry about the multiple exchange rates, which open doors for corruption and rent-seeking behaviour.
I worry that CBN may be falling from its traditionally high standards. I also worry that we might have veered too much from the straight and narrow path and from the Old Religion of the core business. The mandate of the CBN is clear; fighting inflation and guaranteeing price stability; security the integrity and stability of our legal tender currency; safeguarding financial system stability; serving as adviser to government; and ensuring a safe and efficient payments system.
In our day and age, there is talk of a Dual Mandate anchored on promotion of employment and growth, which remains critical issues for Nigeria. In addition, the best central banks in the emerging economies understand that they also have a developmental role. That can only happen when we have an apex bank that is anchored on the traditions of excellence and professionalism. We need to reinforce policy credibility by ensuring that the apex bank is not captured by vested interests, whether banking or political.
Achieving all this will require uncommon leadership, vision and patriotism. We also need to think outside the box, for example, developing a long-term strategy to make the naira a semi-convertible international trading currency. We need to also assist in steering our economy away from over-dependence on oil. We need to diversify the economy and prepare for a post-oil world economy. As patriots, our duty is to support the CBN governor with good ideas, so that we can make progress as a country.
Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari, recently said Nigeria might enter into recession again. Do you think he is right?
I am not aware that Governor Yari is an economist. I think he has enough on his plate than to worry about the economy going back into recession. But he has a point. Ours is a rather fragile recovery. If we do not build enough momentum, we could see the economy slipping back into recession. In his home state of Zamfara, we are seeing a gruesome level of violence that is unprecedented. It is taking a heavy toll on rural communities, especially on the peasant agrarian economy.
Other places such as Birnin Gwari and Southern Kaduna are experiencing the same carnage. If the phenomenon of rural banditry spreads it could have a heavy deleterious impact on agriculture, which is the mainstay for the bulk of our population. It could easily undermine the prospects for recovery and growth. There is also the problem of geopolitical uncertainty. A lot of the political elites have taken it upon themselves to heat up the polity in some guises. It has led to capital flight and rendered the capital markets rather comatose.
When you combine that with indecision and prevarication on the part of the government, then you have a recipe for economic disaster. We therefore must buckle up. The first duty of government since Aristotle and Thomas Jefferson is to keep the common peace and to enforce security for life and property. We must also put in place focused and comprehensive policies to spur growth and ensure long-term economic prosperity in an atmosphere of peace and social justice.
There have been reports of a plot to overthrow the government by some elements in the military. What is your take on that?
I have never heard of anything like that. May be you can tell me where you got your information from. I hope you are not waking up from a very bad dream. Please perish the thought. It would be an unspeakable disaster – a retrogressive doom for our young democracy.
How can the monetization of our politics be reduced to the barest minimum and are you also broke after the election like some of your colleagues, who were in the race?
Let’s be realistic; politics everywhere is an expensive proposition. In the United States, it runs into billions of dollars. Same goes for other mature democracies such as Britain, France and Germany. But what happens in those mature democracies is that there are clear rules. I do not think the resort to direct bribing of electorate as happens in Nigeria, where “stomach infrastructure” has become the norm. The monetisation process starts at the primaries, where a lot of money changes hands.
People haggle over how much candidates are to pay them. Some delegates openly told me to my face that I would not get their votes because I did not pay enough. They kept to their word. But there is also an encouraging sign. Some of my highest votes came from Ogun, Osun and Oyo states. The voters there are matured enough to look at the ideas, programmes and principles of a candidate rather than how much he is able to cough out.
There are posters to printed, TV and radio jingles, tee-shirts and other paraphernalia. There are also so-called “party agents” that must be paid. Electioneering campaigns are not for the fainthearted. There are also all sorts of political jobbers and free-riders. They will turn up at the wee hours asking for hotel accommodation or air tickets back to their destination. You do what you can and leave the rest to God. Some will be openly abusive. You need grace to answer them gently, so that you do not make enemies for life.
I took account of financial costs before throwing my hat into the ring. As a good economist, I try to manage my finances carefully. I am a father, a husband and a family man. I have to be responsible for the upkeep of my family. I have never believed in borrowing from a bank or selling my properties to do politics. By the grace of God, I am financially comfortable. I find that most politicians are not financially prudent individuals. Some of them are incredibly irresponsible.
They live from hand to mouth. They go for quick bucks. They will do anything, including selling their mothers for easy money. They are like the proverbial harlot. That’s why you can buy them so cheaply. For myself, I live a simple life. I live within my own means. Whatever I earn, I try to invest it wisely. I keep my politics away from my family life. And I try to live by what the Holy Bible teaches and what the Holy Spirit convinces me of.
Do you think the demand that the National Assembly should cut their salaries and allowances is in good faith, especially with the reported N4.68 billion to 469 members as a welcome package?
Last year, when I had an opportunity to speak to parliamentarians on the budget, I said it openly that they owe us a duty to be transparent about all their emoluments. If we believe parliament to be spring of good governance and the rule of law, then charity must begin at home. I told them I do not begrudge anyone how much he or she earns. What matters is that they come clean about it.
I start from the premise that we do not have to pay our legislators a pauper’s wage. But at the same time, it should not be an avenue to make anyone a billionaire. A major issue that requires legislative revision is the clause regarding the role of the National Assembly in the appropriation process. It has led to a perverse situation whereby the legislators can unilaterally increase the budget for whatever reasons. In most democracies, parliaments can reduce the budget, of course. But I do not think the spirit of the constitution is for them to increase the budget, especially where it favours them directly.
The recent appropriation of N4.68 billion that you refer to is a case in point. When you break it, it amounts to about N40 million that each of those 486 legislators can take home by way of severance pay. In all civilised societies, it is bad form in public administration for anyone to decide how much they ought to pay themselves. In our own case, the law requires the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission to assess whatever amount are payable to the National Assembly as emoluments.
In the matter of severance pay, there ought to have been recourse to a determination by the same commission. We therefore need to put in a new legislation requiring that nobody, not even legislators, should be in a position to determine any financial allocation to which they are direct beneficiaries. As to the total package for all our legislators, we ought to understand that we are not a rich country. As a matter of fact, in per capita terms, we are among the poorest countries in the world.
An average senator in the United States takes home US$174,000 per annum. In naira terms, this amounts to N6,264,000 (at a market exchange rate of about N360 to 1US$). By contrast, we are told, the typical Nigerian senator takes home N13.5 million monthly. So, a senator in a poor country like ours with a per capita income of US$2,000 takes home in a month double what an American senator, whose country has a per capita income of US$62,606, takes home in an entire year.
We must have a national debate on the matter. We, as a country must therefore debate in all honesty and transparency based on the dictates of prudence and sound public financial management what we can truly afford to pay our legislators as emoluments.
What do you think about calls for the pruning down of political parties in the country given the experiences from 2019 election?
In principle, I think it is an idea well worth considering. But let’s be clear about one thing: The multiplication of political parties has largely been because of the oligarchic nature of the bigger parties, particularly the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC). They have been hijacked by moneybags and godfathers. They have never pretended to any form of internal democracy. Nigerians, particularly the youth, have grown very sick and tired of them.
If you asked most Nigerian youths, they would confess to you that they are looking for their New Jerusalem outside the borders of the two big parties. Our political process has been stalemated by two Siamese Twins that have nothing new to offer Nigerians. You will of course mention the CUPP which has a standing arrangement with the PDP. The way the arrangement has operated so far is that the smaller parties are seen as junior partners rather than equal stakeholders.
However, I do not believe party mergers should be imposed from above. They have to evolve through an organic process of vertical and horizontal integration. They must also have a harmony in terms of ideologies and worldviews. As far as I know, we do not need more than three political parties at this time in our country, one on the left, one on the right and the third on the centre of the ideological spectrum.
Bayelsa Decides: 10,063 ad hoc personnel for Bayelsa guber poll
he Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it plans to use 10,063 ad hoc staff for the November 16 Bayelsa State governorship election.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for the state, Pastor Monday Tom, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a roundtable on INEC’s preparedness for the election organised by The Electoral Institute, the research arm of the commission.
“We require a total of 10,063 ad hoc personnel made up of collation and returning officers and others and we have sourced all the required number.
“Movement of non-sensitive materials to Registration Area Centres (RAC) Super RACs is to take place from November 11 to 13 and the police have assured of adequate security for the materials,” he said.
Tom said that political parties have been communicated to notify INEC of their activities and to submit list of their agents to the commission.
He said the Bayelsa election is unique because 75 per cent of the state is on water, adding that youths in the state are also vulnerable to violence due to drug influence.
He assured that the commission is working with stakeholders to guarantee credible, free and fair election in the state.
TEI Board Chairman, Mr. Adedeji Soyebi, said efforts are being made to strategically reposition INEC and strengthen its capability to deliver successful election in Bayelsa State, leveraging on lessons from the 2019 general election.
Soyebi said the state election would be approached differently due to its terrain, adding that the commission would work closely with transportation providers, especially boats and canoe owners for successful transportation.
Executive Director, Family Welfare Foundation and member of the Bayelsa NGOs Forum, Mr. Torki Dauseye, said though INEC is prepared in terms of getting electoral materials and logistics ready, deployment might be challenged.
Dauseye said in terms of deploying electoral materials and personnel to electoral wards and polling units, INEC’s level of preparation is yet to be ascertained.
This, he said was because Bayelsa is unique in terms of geographical layout, making communication and transportation very difficult for ad-hoc personnel on election duty as they take real and serious risks.
His words: “The state is 75 per cent riverside with a poorly developed transportation system in windy creeks and rivers make transportation difficult, due to this difficulty in movement, it has always been difficult for INEC to start elections by 8.am as directed by guidelines.
“In many cases, electoral officers find it difficult to see boats to hire on election days. Due to the serious security challenges been faced in some parts of the state, boats are made to navigate through longer routes. This makes it more expensive both in terms of logistics and fuelling.’’
PDP warns Oshiomhole against truncating Bayelsa’s peace
he Bayelsa State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Senator Douye Diri Campaign Organisation has warned the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against acts capable of truncating the peace in the state.
Chairman of Bayelsa State PDP, Hon. Moses Cleopas, gave the warning, while reacting to claims by the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, of attempt to rig the November 16 governorship election and cause violence during the exercise.
Cleopas said the intent and activities of the APC has been discovered and if not nipped in the bud would truncate the already existing peace in the state.
He further said that it is unfortunate that the APC national chairman could condescend to the point of encouraging violent activities before and during the elections in the state because of his ambitious intent to deliver their governorship candidate at all costs.
The Bayelsa PDP chairman insisted that his party will continuously stand for truth, peace and always preach against electoral violence by exposing the illicit activities of the APC.
APC alleges plot by Dickson to sell state-owned oil field
he All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the governor of Bayelsa State, Serieka Dickson, of planning to sell the state-owned oil field, OML 46.
APC’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, who made the accusation, called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the governor.
The allegation is coming few days after APC accused the governor of illegally withdrawing and diverting N17.5 billion from accounts belonging to the state government to prosecute the November 16 Bayelsa State governorship election.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, the APC deputy spokesman alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government in Bayelsa is planning to sell the oil field to fund the forthcoming governorship election.
“Our law enforcement and anti-graft agencies cannot fold its arms while the state is being robbed to enrich the pockets of a few people and fund the election of the PDP in the state.
“The EFCC and NFIU must take immediate action before outgoing Governor Dickson and his cronies bankrupt the state and sell our resources to themselves.
“Atala-OML 46, which was awarded to Bayelsa state by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), a subsidiary of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in 2003 is managed by the Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL). Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited (HONL) and Century Exploration and Production Limited (CEPL) are technical and financial services providers.”
Details of the planned sale of oil field, according to the APC chieftain are contained in a September 5, 2019 leaked letter by the Secretary/Legal Adviser of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL).
Lagos PDP: Defection depletes opposition party
The rate at which prominent members of the Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are dumping the party for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has made many to wonder if Lagos State is heading towards a one-party state, ADEWALE AJAYI reports
he Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was perceived to be the credible alternative to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. But, the rate at which members of the main opposition party in the “Centre of Excellence,” are defecting to the ruling party has continued to deplete not only the membership of the PDP, but its strength.
APC being an offshoot of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress (AC) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has been running affairs of the state in the last 20 years and Lagosians, who are dissatisfied with the APC administration in the state had looked up to the PDP to take over from the ruling party.
At every election, the expectation of those who want a change of guard in the state is always high, but irrespective of their optimism, such hopes are always dashed.
Perhaps, the only times the PDP made serious moves of taking over the state were in 2003, when late Engr. Funsho Williams was its governorship candidate and 2015, when Mr. Jimi Agbaje was its standard bearer.
Despite losing Lagos again to APC during the 2015 elections, the PDP made unprecedented incursions into governance in the state by producing eight House of Assembly members. The party also won five House of Representatives seats.
With the good outing, there was an impression that the party would improve on its performance in subsequence elections, but the result of the 2019 general election has proved political pundits wrong. Not only was the performance of the opposition party abysmally in the governorship poll, it also lost all the seats it earlier won in the Lagos State House of Assembly, while retaining only three House of Representatives seats.
The outcome of the 2019 general election jolted those who looked up to the party to free them from what they described as “harsh policies” of the APC government.
And rather than leaders of the party to subject themselves to critical analysis of what went wrong, they were engrossed in apportioning blames, accusing their governorship candidate, Agbaje of sidelining them in the preparation for the election.
This, according to them, led to the huge loss the PDP suffered in the last general elections. Agbaje was also accused of failing to disburse funds given to him to prosecute the election.
Since the conclusion of the 2019 election, things have continued to go bad for the party and the centre seems not to be holding anymore for Lagos PDP. Some of its prominent members have decided to jump ship on the premise that the way the party is composed; it has become impossible for them to actualise their political ambition through it.
First to leave was a former Minister for Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, along with his son Moyo, who was the PDP House of Assembly candidate for Kosofe I State Constituency during the 2019 polls.
Giving reasons for dumping the PDP, Ogunlewe said the party’s wing was rudderless and that it had been perpetually enmeshed in crisis. According to him, he saw no future in the PDP and that nobody should expect a politician of his stature to stay in a house, where some leaders were only after their selfish interests.
He added that issues arising from the governorship election exposed the fact that some people were only after money and not the progress of the PDP in Lagos State.
Though, he was condemned for leaving the party, having benefitted a ministerial position, many had expected that he would remain in the party and fix the problem militating against the party progress.
Speaking on Ogunlewe’s defection, a former Publicity Secretary of Lagos PDP, Chief Willie Akinlude said: “I don’t know what informed his decision to dump the PDP after he has been made a grade one minister. It was unpalatable news. Instead of dumping the party, he should have remained in the party to be part of those who will build the party, but he decided to leave the party.
“He can never be given a position in APC. They will just use the decampees and dump them. That is what has been happening; some are even regretting dumping their former parties.”
Another notable member of the party and its House of Representatives candidate for Lagos Mainland Federal Constituency in the 2019 elections, Hon Tajudeen Agoro, also dumped the party, hinging his reason on the fact that Lagos PDP has become a useless political vehicle to realise his dreams and aspirations.
Agoro, who expressed strong belief in what he termed “Lagos dream,” condemned the approach of PDP to politics, saying: “The way the PDP is going about its activities in Lagos, there is no way you can add value to people in Lagos. I have been in it, I have seen it all. I need to move forward because I want to be part of adding value to Lagos State.”
Speaking during the defection of Agoro and his followers to APC at a ceremony held at the party’s secretariats on Acme Road, Ikeja, Lagos APC Vice Chairman (Central), Hon. Hakeem Bamgbala, said Agoro and the team he led in Lagos Mainland remain a very strong factor to be reckoned with.
Another member of the party, Hon. Ola Animashaun, who was its House of Representatives candidate for Ikorodu in 2015, equally dumped the party. But, refused to team up with other political parties.
Reacting to the development, a chieftain of the party, Engr. Deji Doherty, said those quitting the PDP are moles planted in the party. According to him, some of them chose to leave because their activities in the party are being investigated, so they decided to leave before their shady deals are exposed to members of the party which may lead to them being humiliated.
Lagos PDP Publicity Secretary, Taofiq Gani, who also spoke on the gale of defections, said everyone has reason for taking a decision, but whether it would be regrettable or not is left for the individual.
His words: “As a party, we are not happy that we are losing members, especially, those who have made names in the polity. However, we cannot force them down. The Lagos PDP is facing its hardest period. The decampment is unfortunately worsening the situation, but I can tell you that the PDP will soon settle its issues and move on. Unfortunately for the recent decampees into APC, they have made very weak judgements.
“We concede that APC has individuals who will always win elections, even if not as APC members, however the APC has become so unfashionable to lagosians. This government of Babjide Sanwo-Olu has nailed the coffin of likeable perception about the Lagos APC. It is thus laughable that such a party is where anyone will decamp to. We challenge these persons to come boldly and lay open the offence committed against them by the PDP.
“We are ready to accept blame and apologise. The truth is that many of these persons are laying credence to rumours that they were never sincere members of Lagos PDP. That they only acted moles, ‘stole’ away the chances of the PDP and now hurriedly joining the APC, their paymaster.
“We advise them to mind their utterances against the Lagos PDP as any falsehood against the image of the party would be met with equal exposé of these characters. We have a lot of plans to improve the image of the PDP in Lagos State, especially ahead of coming polls. We cannot open up now, but such will be felt soon.
“For the members of the party still loyal, we commend and appreciate them. They should remain steadfast. Victory is around the corner for us. We promise to rejig to their satisfaction.”
No doubt, it is expedient for PDP to put its house in order, so there is the need to set up a reconciliation committee to assuage all aggrieved members and reposition the party for future challenges because the way things are, it is the only political party that has the capability to challenge the APC and it will be unfair if it allows the state to become a one-party state, which may shatter the hope of the electorate looking for change of status quo in Lagos State.
Kogi Decides: Stop giving loans to Bello, PDP tells banks
he Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has advised commercial banks in the country to be circumspect in giving loans or any form of credit to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
This, the party said, was because the state is not willing to bear any responsibility for such facilities if the governor fails to win re-election.
PDP in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Governor Bello will not win the November 16 governorship election, adding that there is consensus by the people Kogi State to vote its candidate, Engr. Musa Wada, as the next governor.
The PDP accused the Kogi State government of misleading commercial banks into granting it huge loans under certain hazy items and conditions, after which the money would be allegedly frittered by leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and cronies of the administration.
The statement read in part: “Our party wants the nation to note that the people of Kogi State can no longer accept any further mortgaging of the future of the state by Yahaya Bello, whose administration has gone down as the most profligate in the history of our nation and which cannot account for over N700 billion of Kogi funds released to him in the last four years.
“Anybody or organisation in league with Yahaya Bello is directly supporting the torturing and impoverishing of the people of Kogi State by the Bello administration, which has manifested so much insensitivity in owing workers as much as 36 months’ salary arrears.”
Warning that the people of Kogi State are not ready to inherit any financial liabilities, PDP assured of its commitment to running “a prudent, transparent and productive administration where the welfare and economic empowerment of the people is overriding; where salaries are paid promptly, where infrastructure development in critical sectors take center stage and where accountability is the watchword.”
The party added: “In this regard, the PDP urges all financial watch organisations to join the people of Kogi State in monitoring all monetary activities of the Bello administration as well as all inflows into the state coffers, particularly, the N10.06 billion federal refund, which the PDP insists, must be declared and directly channeled for the payment of salaries so as not to allow the ring of APC leaders achieve their plot of diverting and stealing the money for their selfish purposes.”
Why S’West deserves 2023 presidency, by Adetoyinbo
Chief Yemi Adetoyinbo is a former National Publicity Secretary of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) and now All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain. In this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, he speaks on the APC-led administration, insecurity and the 2023 presidency, among others
Nigeria recently celebrated her 59th Independence Anniversary. Do you think the nation has made progress vis-a-vis the present state of the nation?
Nigeria is yet to make any meaningful progress as expected in all spheres of life. The current bureaucracy, huge recurrent expenditures and our policy trust on our yearly budgetary rituals, year-in-year out had a hiatus of unstructured system, with duplicity of functions; complementary and composite functions by similar parastatals or government departments such that we could not have future rolling plans, but continued accumulation of salaries backlog across the country, not marched with productivity level.
We could have been able to manage an effective civil service and capital yearly estimates would have been in place to raise infrastructures, provide jobs for our teeming youths and social security, planned economies of scale, national planning, good transportation network, education standards and institutions restored. The bane of political will and leadership was a major drawback.
We need a determined leadership that will completely overhaul the nation’s psyche in all sectors of our national life. Apart from the oil wealth, which is our main source of income, agricultural sector has been neglected, and how do you explain a situation government’s macro credit loans and fertilizers, will end in the hands of politicians instead of the real farmers, Today, poverty abounds everywhere and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rates us low in Internal Revenue Generation (IGR) as Nigeria replaces India as the poverty capital of the world, and inflation is now 11.42 per cent as against 11.02 per cent.
How would you assess the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration and will you say the administration has delivered on its campaign promises?
President Buhari and the APC promised to fight corruption to zero tolerance, ensure a steady economy as well as to tackle security challenges headlong. After almost five years in the saddle, assessment of the President and his APC administration had been a fairy tale. To be sincere, the incumbent government had achieved much in the anti-corruption crusade, as it is no longer business as usual for corrupt public officials.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has prosecuted so many corruption cases, even though they lost some cases in courts. Some had argued that the anti-graft war was mostly against opposition members, but that cannot be looking at the cases of some APC chieftains. Even though some accused the administration of keeping some potential exposed corrupt men in government, the President had asked for proof and names and we are waiting and watching.
On the economy, the foreign reserves rising to over $46 billion from around $25 billion in 2015, but the economy had suffered largely from poor oil revenues and average receipts from non-oil sectors. Even though the exit from economic recession, coupled with the reported 25 per cent growth recorded in the last few months as a result of increased agricultural outputs and oil revenue, we are still in a high rate of poverty as headquarters of world poverty.
Forex restrictions by the Central Bank and recent boarder closures, would not attract international investors, while the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had not matched the Net National Product (NNP). with rising unemployment, hunger, high prices of goods, low purchasing power of Nigerians, rise in local and foreign food items, due to security challenges and failed economic policies, like SEEDS, NEEDS, Vision 2020. The recent Economic Team of the President led by Prof. Doyin Salami, with the likes of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, among others should urgently chart a new way for a new economic regime, as nobody gives the economy any pass mark.
The final agreement on minimum wage has relativity added a renewed hope for workers even though mere wage, not a living wage in the face of rise in inflation, prices of goods and services, seven per cent increase in VAT, which more burden for the already comatose and downsizing industrial/banking sectors. The N10.33 trillion 2020 Budget is not enough to put smiles back on the faces of Nigerians as the N125 billion and N100 billion allocated to the National Assembly and Judiciary is a mockery of other arms of government, while allocation to defence and agricultural sectors are grossly underwhelming for a country with huge population, without commensurate productivity levels in terms of energy supply, personnel human capital development, micro and macro credits support for the capital market operators and commanding heights of the economy, wrong privatization schemes and collapsed infrastructural deficits.
Would you say that the APC government has met expectations on the growing security challenges?
On the security challenges, it is not yet Uhuru as the last two years security challenges in the country had been unprecedented with huge casualties of even security personnel and associated killings by herdsmen, bandits, gunmen, ethnic militias, kidnappers and Boko Haram insurgents, not yet completely defeated. The second term of the President and his budget speech of October 8 and the Independence Anniversary speech of October 1, are readiness to combat security upsurge and rising crimes in the country.
On the totality, the groaning and grimacing of average Nigerians points to an era of hard times, not caused by the President or the present APC administration, but how to managed the backlog of woes and maladministration of the previous administrations and the rots of the moment as the country lacks honest and transparent leaders like the incumbent President. Some of whose lieutenants are politically corrupt persons in government.
Almost three years to next general election, campaigns for the 2023 presidency have started. What is your take on that?
With clear three years to the next general election, l can confirm that campaigns for 2023 presidential race have commenced. That is coming too early, but any serious contender knows the race started immediately after the last presidential election.
What is your view on the battle for the 2023 presidency between the North and South? And which of the zones do you think should produce the next president?
After the completion of President Buhari’s two terms of eight years, unarguably the presidency should go back to the South, which comprised of three zones – South-West, South-East and South-South. Political permutations and calculations are that Olusegun Obasanjo from South-West had it for eight years; Goodluck Jonathan from the South-South had it for six years, leaving only the South-East yet to have it since the zoning arrangement started in 1999.
But irrespective of the political calculations, the zone to produce the next president will depend on the zoning arrangements of the two dominant political parties – APC and PDP. For APC, the pendulum favours the South-West because of its overwhelming support for President Buhari. APC since 2015 controls five of the six South-West states and it is time to pay back, which puts the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his godson, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, next line as far as the ticket is concerned.
For the South-East, they had the PDP whom they voted overwhelming in the last general election and the party controls the entire South-East and South-South, with the exception of Anambra and Edo states being governed by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and APC respectively. So, it is a paradox for APC to zone its ticket to the South-East. The zone’s best bet is the ticket of PDP for another all Southern presidential candidates of the two main political parties akin to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of PDP and Chief Olu Falae of All Peoples Party (APP) in 1999 presidential poll.
However, it is arguably the Northern PDP presidential hawks might not be disposed to giving the party’s ticket to the South, be it South-East or South-South, not to talk of the South-West. So, the battle for the 2023 presidential ticket is going to be interesting among the political parties.
Do you see South-West realising the 2023 presidency ambition?
South-West are well poised and well positioned to realise the 2023 presidential ambition only and realistically through the APC. It had all along established, worked for and fully entrenched in the region for President Buhari to return favour with his Northern massive unbridled huge cult-followership votes coupled with Tinubu’s popularity and followership across the country.
Tinubu has the war chest and the largest political structure in the land. The 2023 presidential race might have the incumbent Vice President Osinbajo trailing Tinubu if he is interested. But, I believe that the coming together of the duo for a common purpose will be better for the South-West zone on the quest for the APC ticket and the presidency come 2023.
Who will be the likely contenders if APC zones its presidential ticket to the South-West?
The surest bet is Tinubu. He is co-founder of the APC and he assisted Buhari to realised his ambition in 2015 with the merger of the legacy parties. He has a vast war chest, political and social networks and followers across the country. Vice President Osinbajo, a former Attorney- General Lagos State and Grade A intellectual, highly respected Pastor and Christian, is also a good candidate. Others are Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; former Ogun State governor, Senator lbikunle Amosun; former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, among others. The South-West equally boasts of business moguls who can give anybody a run for their money in the presidential race come 2023.
Reps: Backlog of cases worries lawmakers
Philip Nyam reports on the recent lamentation by the House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary over the high number of pending cases in Nigerian courts
week ago, the House of Representatives said the Nigerian judiciary must be reformed to address the slow pace of justice delivery and clear backlog of pending cases.
Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Hon. Offiong Akpan Luke (PDP, Akwa Ibom), who disclosed this at the opening of the inaugural meeting of the committee noted that “there are a lot of reforms to be carried in the judiciary.”
He lamented that the “slow pace of justice delivery and the backlog of matters is a cause for concern. Some matters spend a minimum lifespan of 10 years before their final adjudication at the apex court- Supreme Court.
“Part of this problem is that our legal system allows all matters to travel to the Supreme Court without limit. Not all matters should merit the attention of the apex court.”
According to Luke, in developed democracies like the United States “only constitutional and important matters reach the Supreme Court. General matters are handled by trial and appellate courts based on the precedents set by the Supreme Court. We will have to reconsider our laws to ensure that we do not overburden the Supreme Court, hence slowing down the pace of justice.”
He further noted: “We need to continually advocate and protect the independence of our judiciary so that our judges will be bold and firm to dispense justice without fear and favour. By our laws, our judges are not allowed to speak freely. We hold our judiciary, and by extension, the people, a duty to speak up for the welfare of the judiciary.
“There are lots of reforms to be carried in the judiciary. The committee, in synergy with relevant bodies and stakeholders like the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Ministry of Justice, the judiciary itself, civil society organisations, proposes to invigorate the judiciary for effective performance and quick, efficient justice delivery to the common man. It is my desire to work with every member of the committee in repositioning the judiciary and addressing the challenges confronting it.
“In the coming days, the committee will develop a work plan that aligns with the House Legislative Agenda recently unveiled by the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, which will operate as a guide for the Committee.
“Cognizant of the all-important role of the judiciary, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 in section 6, established the judiciary, made it independent and conferred the courts with judicial powers.
“The power so conferred extends, inter alia, to all matters between persons and government, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person.”
State of federal courts
The concern expressed by the House of Representatives had earlier been raised by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu-Kafarati, who while delivering his speech at the special court session to mark the commencement of the Federal High Court’s 2018/2019 legal year a few months ago, said there were 191,766 cases pending before the court across all its divisions.
It is a known fact that the volume of cases filed before the court in an election year like 2019 and the preceding year usually rise astronomically given the inter-party electoral disputes. Facts have shown that that the number of cases filed within the legal year, which started in September 2018, would be collated at the end of the legal year, which is July.
But it is clear that the number of cases filed in the court in the current legal year (the 2018/2019), which is an election year is double of what was obtained in the previous year. According to reports, the number of cases pending before the courts is over 200,000.
In the 2017/2018 legal year, 17,076 new cases were filed before the Federal High Court across its various divisions in the country. The then Chief Judge, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati, had disclosed then that although 15,076 cases were disposed of during the previous year, at the beginning of the new 2018/2019 legal year, 191,766 cases were still pending in the court.
Also speaking during the special court session to mark the commencement of the Supreme Court’s 2018/2019 new legal year and the swearing-in of the 30 newly-appointed Senior Advocates of Nigeria in Abuja on September 24, 2018, the CJN, acknowledged that there was an “increasing volume of cases” being filed before the court. Acknowledging the huge volume of cases judges were consistently inundated with, both the CJN and Justice Abdu-Kafarati lauded their colleagues for a job well done in the last legal year.
The CJN said the Supreme Court, during the 2017/2018 legal year, “considered” a total of 1,097 criminal and civil motions as well as 438 criminal and civil appeals. According to him, a total 297 judgments were delivered by the apex court during the period.
Unfortunately, in spite of high number of cases pending before the courts, the number of judges is set to drop to 79, given that at least three of them will retire before the end of the year in accordance with the mandatory retirement age of 65 for Federal High Court judges.
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court Act stipulates that there shall be a maximum of 100 judges at a time, which implies that there is a deficit of 18 judges as there are 82 judges on the court’s bench currently.
For example, reports indicate that in November 2015, 30 judges were appointed to the court’s bench, which increased the number of judges from 55 to 85. The second round of appointments saw additional nine judges joining the bench in June 2018 to replace a number of judges that left the bench between 2015 and 2018.
Therefore, considering the unpleasant consequences of the backlog of cases and shortage of judges as compared to the rising cases pending before the court, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), called for an audit to understand the remote causes of the backlog in order to determine, among others, if more judges or reshuffling of judges would be required.
Usoro advocated the use of technology for case management and efficient administration of justice.
He said: “First, deploy pervasive technology for case management and efficient administration of justice. Technology includes, but is not limited to recording systems for taking evidence. Cases would be handled and disposed of faster and efficiently with technology deployment.”
Similarly, other senior lawyers had at different times made case for the appointment of more judges so as to reduce the backlog of these cases.
Mr. Sebastine Hon (SAN), advocated for the appointment of more judges and building of more structures, but added that fundamentally the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court needed to be pruned.
He said: “Fundamentally, the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court was expanded in 1991 and 1993 specifically by Decree 107 of 1993 leading to the overbearing jurisdiction of the court.
“In addition, the Electoral Act has also imbued the Federal High Court with jurisdiction over pre-election matters. So you can see that there are many matters the Federal High Court is dealing with.
“I am being honest and realistic; it is difficult for the judges to cope with matters that have to do with exclusive jurisdiction over matters that have to do with the Federal Government and its agencies as well as with maritime matters, insurance matters and others. So, they should either prune the jurisdiction of the court or go back to the pre-1993 era.
“I suggest that they should appoint more judges and more judicial divisions should be created. Even if they are going to locate the divisions in the state capitals, as it is always the practice, they should construct more structures to accommodate the new judges.”
In the same vein, a former President of the NBA, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), and a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), have respectively lamented that the delay in justice delivery occasioned by the congestion of cases in courts could make Nigerians and litigants lose hope in the judiciary.
Agbakoba said beyond appointing more judges, there was a need for a radical review of the way the courts work, which he said is “manual and completely outdated.”
He added: “I’m not sure that appointing 80 more judges would begin to resolve the problems. The first point of call is to ask what kind of operating model is the court using.
“If a judge is handling 60 cases a year because he’s writing manually; he’s in a court that has no power supply most of the time and he has no staff except one inefficient registrar. If you now give him a properly trained registrar, if you increase his pay and make new rules that would make him do his work better, you find that as you empower him, he can do twice of what he’s doing now.
“The other thing is bringing in more judges and they have to be the best. When judges are appointed without being the best from the bar, it is also part of the delay because they won’t know what to do. So, appointing more judges is not the only solution.”
According to Agbakoba, the court process should be optimised to work every hour, including the financial system of the courts, which he said causes about 20 per cent of the delay.
On the way out, he said the judiciary could on its own initiate the needed change as they had been empowered to make rules for how courts would operate.
“The judiciary doesn’t need the executive to fulfill a comprehensive reform agenda because the heads of courts have power to make rules for the expeditious working of the courts. So, a CJN can turn things around,” he said.
With this situation, there is no doubt that the House of Representatives will have to work extra hard to bring the required reforms to the nation’s judiciary.
Lyon’s kinsmen endorse Diri
bout 8,000 kinsmen of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State, Chief David Lyon, have declared support for the candidate of the People Democratic Party, Senator Douye Diri.
A statement by the Director of Media and Publicity of the Senator Douye Diri Campaign Organisation, Dr. Jonathan Obuebite, stated that the Southern Ijaw people took the decision at Amassoma.
Amassoma, the home town of the first civilian Governor of Bayelsa state, Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha, is the largest community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
The people displayed placards with inscriptions ‘Amassoma is for PDP’ Amassoma is PDP’ ‘Say no to APC’ APC responsible for the untimely death of our brother, Chief Alamieyeseigha.’
The crowd said the PDP administration has impacted positively on the people of not only Amassoma community, but the entire Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state and deserved to be supported.
The Vice Chairman of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Pastor Perkins Ogede, warned the APC against dropping the name of late Chief Alamieyeseigha in its desperation for political undue political advantage as Chief Alamieyeseigha never believed in the political ideology of the APC.
I will open up roads in Southern Ijaw if elected – Diri
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for the Bayelsa governorship election, Senator Diri on Tuesday promised to open up most of the communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government by creating more roads for economic development if elected.
Speaking at Amassoma, the country home of late Diepreye Alamieuegha during the campaign flag off of the party, the Senator stated that if elected, he would build on the gains of the present administration in the state.
Earlier, the party had declared that the first executive governor of the state, late Diepreye Alameiseigha never believed in the All Progressives Congress (APC) because according to the PDP, APC lacked proper political ideals.
The Vice Chairman of the Southern Ijaw Local Government Council, Pastor Perkins on Ogede, while speaking during the governorship campaign warned that the APC should stop using the name of the late Alameiseigha to curry political gains in the state, insisting that he never believed in the party.
According to Parkinson Ogede: “The APC should stop using the name of the late Alameiseigha to curry for political favour.
Everything in Amassoma, the Alameiseigha home town, was provided by the PDP. No other party brought a bucket of water to Ammassoma. It is a shame and betrayal for APC to make wrong and deceitful claims.”
Ekiti: Fayemi walks his second term talk
Adewumi Ademiju writes on the one year anniversary of the Kayode Fayemi-led administration in Ekiti State, which is not only rewriting the history of second term of governors, but has set the ball rolling to reposition the state
The second coming of Dr. Kayode Fayemi as Ekiti State governor, to some people was like a magic, considering the most humiliating defeat he experienced from his predecessor, Mr Ayodele Fayose in 2014.
Fayemi on July 14 2018, won a keenly contested election in Ekiti State as he defeated the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Kolapo Olusola, who was then deputy governor of the state, with 19,028 votes.
Fayemi, who contested the election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), polled 197,459, while Olusola scored 178,023 votes.
Consequently, Fayemi, who first served as governor of Ekiti State between 2010 and 2014, was sworn-in as the sixth democratically elected governor of the state on October 16 2018, making it his second term.
Expectedly, his inauguration was trailed by comments, reactions and counter-reactions, especially from some members of a school of thought that argued that second terms of most state governors are always full of shambles.
But, on assumption of office, Fayemi immediately sets the ball rolling with full determination of setting a standard for the people of Ekiti State.
He speedily rolled out a Five-point agenda, which according to him will enable his people to reclaim their land and restore their value. The agenda not only serves as Fayemi’s roadmap to restore Ekiti values, but stands as the pillar of his administration.
The Five-point agenda focuses on governance, agriculture and rural development, social investments, knowledge economy, infrastructure and industrial development.
Though the people of Ekiti State attested to prompt delivery of dividends of democracy during Fayemi’s first tenure, but that did not prevent some from expressing pessimism over his second coming given the attitude of most Nigerian politicians.
However, Fayemi’s leadership style has not only changed this pessimism, but has also proved such notion lacking iota of truth.
In his one year anniversary address to the people of Ekiti, Fayemi stated that “since we came on board, despite the economic challenges, our administration has, to some extent, fulfilled most of our promises. We have also offset part of the arrears and debts owed by the past administration.”
He further said: “We have so far defrayed a total sum of N31.1 billion in salary, pension, gratuity and subvention arrears, and contractual claims and obligations, which represent about 26 per cent of the total inherited debt.
“We have been consistent with the payment of salaries and pensions of our workers. It is a violation of fundamental human rights for people to labour in vain.”
The theme of the first year anniversary of Governor Fayemi was tagged: Walking the talk, restoring value, enhancing potential.”
The Five-point agenda drive of Fayemi’s administration is targeted at redefining politics in such a way that the interest of the masses would be catered for.
Against this backdrop, the governor took education as one of the main priority to set standard for a significant change and youth development.
The immediate past administration of former Governor Ayodele Fayose introduced payment of education tax in all private and public schools across the state for primary and secondary levels. School children were mandated to pay N500 and N1,000 per term, but Fayemi abolished the policy immediately he assumed office.
Fayemi also directed heads of public primary and secondary schools, who had collected unauthorized levies at the beginning of the 2018/2019 academic year to return the fees.
With the aim of preventing illegality in schools as well as encouraging enrolment, the governor also signed an executive order banning various fees collected by some principals, head teachers and other officials.
He equally took measures to improve on teachers’ welfare as he approved N200 million for car and housing loans for teachers in public schools in the state to boost their morale, a step, which the state chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr. Samuel Olugbesan, described as “the beginning of a new dawn in the education sector.”
The governor also assured the commitment of his administration to pay for West African Examination Council (WAEC) fees of final year students of secondary schools in Ekiti to assist parents as well as motivate the students.
Among other reforms done in the education sector in the state within Fayemi’s 100 days in office is payment of core Subjects Allowance to public school teachers teaching Mathematics, English Language, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, while Rural Teachers Allowance is paid to teachers, who offered to serve in rural communities.
Also on his assumption of office, the Ekiti State governor expressed his commitment to address all forms of imbalances and decadence in the state’s tertiary institutions for effective service delivery. To this effect, he set up visitation panels to look into these institutions.
Under his administration, the school feeding programme was commissioned in Ekiti State by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on May 7, 2019 and 950 primary schools were captured on the programme.
The state government gave assurance that more schools would be enlisted on the programme to attract more pupils as beneficiaries.
Though the government expressed its commitment to address challenges of school vendors with irregular details for the smooth running of the programme, yet with the determination of the Fayemi administration to boost school enrollment, total pupils being fed in the state has increased to 85,000 from the earlier 15,000. This attests to the free education policy of the administration.
Fayemi stated: “It is now compulsory for all children of school age to be enrolled in schools and any parent who disobey this executive order will be held accountable.”
A College of Agriculture is about to commence academic activities in the state, while the governor has declared the intention of his administration in prioritizing technical and vocational education.
Fayemi having sought for assistance from World Bank and the state, received $3 million aid under the bank’s Innovation and Development Effectiveness for Acquisition of Skills (IDEAS) programme.
World Bank’s Senior Education Specialist, Dr Tunde Adekola, said the programme is aimed at ‘’skill acquisition for youth employability and empowerment and will provide training and certification for middle level manpower.”
Governor Fayemi, who faulted the belief in some quarters that technical education is meant for dropouts, said there is need for ’’psychological orientation,” so that ‘’people will know that not going to the university does not mean one is a failure.”
The governor has also extended gesture of benevolence to Ekiti indigenes, who demonstrate intellectual capabilities in their studies and made Ekiti proud.
One of the beneficiaries is 24-year old Usin Ekiti born graduate of Medicine at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Dr. Aarinola Olaiya, who emerged the overall best graduating students, with distinction in 11courses, breaking the institution’s 28 years old record.
Fayemi said: ‘’Aarinola has demonstrated the core values of hard work and excellence for which Ekiti people are known,” adding that Aarinola would be given all the supports she desires to attain greater heights.
Fayemi’s administration still moved further by increasing the budget of payment of gratuity from the monthly N10 million by the immediate past administration to N100 million.
The governor declared that Ekiti people still remain his greatest asset, with a promise to continue to invest heavily in education, healthcare and human capital development.
To tackle unemployment in the state, Fayemi has targeted entrepreneurship development as panacea to the challenge and other various challenges facing the country on human development.
The governor at the opening session of the first Ekiti State Entrepreneurship Week, in Ado-Ekiti, said his administration has started implementing policies that will not just support education for the sake of holding certificates, but equip holders of certificates to be capable of applying the knowledge gained to proffer solutions to numerous problems confronting the state and Nigeria in general.
He noted that the nation’s academic framework had for long produced job seekers without any conscious attention to produce those who will create jobs. He said rather than follow the trend, his administration will encourage an education system that promotes a harmonious relationship between the school system and the industries.
The governor declared the readiness of his administration to invest on no fewer than 2,000 young entrepreneurs, drawn from different fields and vocations.
While restating the importance of entrepreneurship to the restoration agenda of his government, Governor Fayemi said his administration has an unrelenting quest at getting the private sector to take the driving seat in the economic development of the state in order to have a diversified economy, decrease dependence on “insufficient allocations from the federation account, increase IGR and move towards a knowledge based economy.”
The governor urged stakeholders to continue to support youth empowerment programmes that will enhance the potential of “our teeming youth and equally flood our society with more job creators and less job seekers.”
The State Commissioner for Information and Value Orientation, Mr. Muyiwa Olumilua at a press conference analysing the activities of the government so far expressed the readiness of Fayemi”s administration to build an airport facility as part of efforts to attract investors to Ekiti and make the state an economic hub in all facets.
Although in 2015, the immediate past administration of Fayose began the airport project along Ado-Ijan road with a projection of about N3.5 billion, it was halted due to a suit filed by those whose farms were destroyed and were allegedly not paid adequate compensation by government.
Olumilua said the Airport project is accorded priority “because it will ensure that Ekiti becomes the hub of the service and knowledge industry in Nigeria, leading agricultural hub, and also improve access and connectivity for business and recreational travelers.”
He added that the government has reached the final stage of discussions to attract over $100 million required for the construction of Ekiti Knowledge Zone, Special Agriculture Processing Zone, Ado-Akure Road, and Ekiti Airport in the state.
Olumilua disclosed that the government has entered into partnership with Promasidor Company for the investment of $5m to revamp the moribund Ikun Dairy Farm located at Ikun Ekiti, Moba Local government area of the state.
The Commissioner said the state will also scout for investors to drive the Ikogosi Warm Spring and Resort, Fountain Hotels, and Ire Clay Bricks Limited and make them operate in full capacities to create revenues and jobs.
He said the Shareholder Agreement for the new company to be formed to manage the Dairy farm will retain Promisador as the core investor, while the state will retain a minority interest, through its investment company, Fountain Holdings.
“This will attract a new investment of $5 million into Ikun Dairy Farm, which will be used to buy equipment, provide the appropriate herd of cattle, and develop an outgrower scheme for providing feed for the cattle.
“When the farm is fully operational, it will create hundreds of jobs directly, and indirectly and also improve the economy of the host community, surrounding communities, and Ekiti State at large”, he said.
Olumilua expressed the readiness of Fayemi led administration to offset the N57 billion owed by the last administration , being accumulation of oustading salaries of workers, pension, gratuities and other emoluments.
“Governor Fayemi has ensured regular payments of salaries since he came last year October. Before the advent of this administration, workers and our people were owed salaries for reasons known to them and all they were getting is a sachet of rice and between N200 and N500 under the stomach infrastructure scheme. We have been able to change the narratives.
“Before we came, all major business owners and development partners had fled Ekiti. The only visible people doing businesses in Ekiti are the Yahoo boys. But we are gradually returning the trust and reclaiming our glory back.”
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