This year’s recall of an uplifting day in the year 1993 comes up against a background of its most shameful disavowal: the 2019 elections – still under judicial contestation – an event that would be more accurately described as an exercise in body count rather than ballot count. The elections however merely reflected a pattern of savagery and abandonment of human sensibilities that have eaten away the sheerest sense of community in the nation. I have already described it as the final descent into the abyss of human degradation. The recent call – no matter how suspect the motivation — for what amounts to a national discourse on future directions was nothing new.
The NIGERIA MOURNS movement, for instance, is only another expression of the same desperation. Input from someone who has exercised control over the nation’s affairs for a total of close to a dozen years, with shared responsibility for the very predicament in which the nation finds itself, reinforces the general anxieties that have become palpable in every corner of the nation — across class, political partisanship, religion and ethnicity. I wish to take the notion of a national ‘indaba’ even further, and urge a non-partisan, broad-based government.
The now undeniable social crisis is beyond the capacity of any government built on accustomed partisan loyalties and regimented thought processes, with their debilitating baggage of sectarian interests. I am aware that such a call is unlikely to be heeded, but let it be made anyway, and let it stand to trouble those who discard any opportunity to turn a radical page in a nation’s history. As if the crisis were not sufficient in itself, we are constantly distracted by crude attempts to distort the role of the past in a nation’s unraveling.
So, let us first address Democracy Day itself, since we know that those same nihilist voices, even before the annunciation, were already primed to degrade it, ridicule what should be a potent signpost for future generations. Such voices even make desperate efforts to annul its very history, no different from the original act of annulling an event that was universally acknowledged as the fairest, the most orderly and peaceful elections ever conducted in Nigerian history, a chastening contrast to this recent of 2019.
June 1993 recorded – just some quick reminders – an election in which the loser readily conceded defeat, having watched himself outclassed in his own state, his local government, his ward, and probably at his very polling booth. He was however prevailed upon to change his mind, thus smoothening the path for official military annulment, with dire consequences that continue to plague the nation even till today. Several of the players – directly, and supportive — in that inglorious history remain stubbornly in denial, but let no one attempt to shunt aside or obscure its potential for public re-orientation.
It is now a near quarter of a century since that watershed, and a Restoration, albeit symbolic, has been promulgated – Welcome Democracy Day! Is there any value left to it? And is its formal, official recognition doomed to be nothing more than an exercise in superfluity?
For all those who were actively involved, no matter how tangentially, in the events that flowed from the annulment of June 12, 1993 – largely of blood and lamentations — the restoration of that date to a slot among the milestones of nation building will evoke, side by side with a sense of elation, a mood of sobriety and reflection, especially when one recollects how many productive projects were derailed, how many lives destroyed, how many underwent torture and remain traumatized by that experience, how many paid the supreme price.
Many have witnessed death at close quarters, survived, but remain severely damaged. I shall leave others to comment on how little appears to have been learnt from that monstrosity of democratic subversion. What is undeniable is that the wiles of opportunists, cynics, saboteurs and beneficiaries from the sacrifices of others, continue to haunt the nation. Hopefully also, it does haunt them spasmodically, those who thought to bury the message of that date and its faithful evocations.
Amnesia, the much-craved refuge of the battle weary, the ravaged psyche, or simply weak-minded, is not always to be despised. Where deliberately cultivated, even propagated however, it amounts to further cruelty against the violated. Forgiveness is a different matter. In most theologies, and even for non-believers, it is ranked among the loftiest attributes of humanity.
For those of us who confess our inadequacy in that respect, we can only implore those who violate, contribute to, or profit from the mutilation of the very humanity of others, not to aggravate our mortal weakness by continuation of their past perfidy in any form. The orphan cries are still with us, so are the scars and trauma of survivors. Many remain impaired – physically and psychologically – for life.
I shall not participate in this year’s June 12 celebrations – from choice. It is part of my training exercises for withdrawing from public space, a resolution that I first half seriously injected into encounters over five years ago. That absence applies, not to the official celebration alone – of which I have never been a part anyway – but to the annual ritual by civic groups, a ritual of both tribute and defiance that has been unflaggingly observed till now.
However, regarding the earlier Abuja ceremony that signaled the state’s reversion to June 12 as the most truthful expression of a people’s democratic will, I did attend, even at the cost of breaking a journey on the way to Brazil. That event, for some of us, represented closure – at least substantially. It was a reunion of sorts, a cauterization of many internal, invisible, and yet suppurating wounds, and private thanksgiving – for some of us – that the only route that appeared left for the recovery of a people’s dignity was abruptly, and ‘providentially’ closed by the timely demise of a singular human perversion. The nation was saved the anguish of the unknown. That sense of relief, on its own, is worth celebrating. The anonymous ones who acted on behalf of ‘providence’ remain unacknowledged, but we still owe them our gratitude.
One unforgettable extract from those dark days was the ease with which a people, accustomed to freedom as a natural bequest of humanity, can be thrown into a twentieth century enslavement, forced to endure a regimen of unprecedented brutality in the exercise of power. A nation of over a hundred and a half million slid into a condition of – not merely apathy and indifference, but servility, unctuousness, sustained by rationalization of – there is no other word for it – evil! Sheer evil. Fear reigned supreme. Whispers substituted for voice, even in homes. It is liberation from that miasma of civic subjugation that underpins the symbolism of a Democracy Day, very different in quality from, for instance, the euphoria – where it exists – of a day of National Independence.
Now why does one find it necessary to state what, in good faith, should be obvious? The answer is painful: that occasion also served as a trigger for raking up embers of divisive history, for tarnishing memories and belittling even the meagre harvest of a watershed in history. Don’t we all know it? Everything in this nation is fodder for controversy, often of the most pointless, mindless, simply adversarial kind – such has been this formal restoration of June 12th 1993 to its rightful place on the podium of Nigerian history.
Let us address some brutal truths. One comment regarding this formalization especially rankles, since its accompanying train of remarks indicated that it was not a mere aberrant individual, but revelation of group sentiment. It was sent to me through the usual internet link and was, undisguisedly – a mock lament, a condescending swipe at the Yoruba race – yes, directly indicted – for being so naive as to have fallen for an obvious vote gathering ploy. The conveyed message reminded me of the movement initiated by Charley Boy – Your mummu done do! – who, together with his fellow protesters, was severely mauled in Abuja by an incited mob.
At least Charley Boy refused to go down as nothing more than an internet slob, berating everyone around but swallowing the bile of daily discontent. He embarked on remedial action – one that was manifested in the true spirit of June 12th.
There are several observations on that ‘social media’ posting, plus the predictable, bandwagon comments, often pre-arranged. It is necessary, indeed mandatory, to clean up this template of the past before proceeding. First, I was not aware that the Yoruba, acting as ethnic entity, ever made a statement that promised to reward the government with their votes in return for this alleged June 12th bribe.
The serious, problematic bribe – the Minimum Wage concession – of course receives the scantiest of attention – beyond solidarity calls and insistence on implementation. Never mind that, North to South, East to West, numerous tiers of government are scrambling to find ways and means of ‘settling’ an agreement directed from the centre, with no corresponding consultation with states. From latest reports, even the Centre is taking to the sale of state assets – at disadvantaged prices – to fulfill a voter catchment commitment. This is the kind of consequential ‘bribe’, one would have thought, that merits critical attention. No matter, let us return to the monumental, non-material bribe. What does it consist of?
A wrong had long festered, no matter how invisibly. Restoration was made. The faithful of June 12 embraced the gesture, pronounced their appreciation at the ceremony, several even with barbed qualifiers. After all, others before had had the opportunity, but chose to ignore, even deride the very notion of recognition, even if through symbolic gestures. If a few in that Abuja assemblage got carried away – and some did, both Yoruba and non-Yoruba alike – heaped fulsome praises on the government, far beyond its deserving in my view, I found it unconscionable to seize the occasion as an opportunity to jeer at, and vilify an entire people. I have asked myself over and over again: to what end? Who profits from this?
Next, I found it equally lamentable that anyone should attempt to reduce the June 12 struggle to that of an ethnic project. It is a depressing travesty of the realities, a denial of the existence of a nation’s collective sense of justice and its tenacity in pursuit of that objective. No one denies that the immediate family of a victim of robbery feels the pangs of dispossession more keenly than others. The truth however remains that the entirety of the compound itself was violated, arrogantly and contemptuously dispossessed.
In this case, its very aspiration to a unified identity was simply ground underfoot, compelling a return to the starting block, and even several milestones behind! Disenfranchisement is the ultimate stigma for any free people.
There shouldn’t be room for bigots in Buhari next cabinet – Ikponmwen
A former Provost Marshal of the Nigeria Army and elder statesman, Brigadier General Idada Ikponmwen (rtd), in this interview with CAJETAN MMUTA speaks on the security challenges confronting the country, implications of the recently suspended Federal Government’s RUGA scheme and the raging crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly, among other issues
What is your take on the raging crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly?
The issue is definitely a problem for Edo State now and by extension the rest of Nigeria because what happens in states like Edo, the Heart Beat of the Nation is not unlikely to boomerang and spiral to other states of the country. It is too late in time not to admit that there is an imbroglio in the affairs of the Edo State House of Assembly vis-à-vis the executive arm of government. To me, this is something ought not to have happened.
It is a sad development for not only Edo State but indeed for the nation as its ruling party (All Progressives Congress, APC) appears not to be in charge of affairs in a front line state like Nigeria and indeed it shouldn’t be so anywhere in this country. Nobody expects it to happen when there is party philosophy, party discipline and where there is commitment to the wellbeing of the state.
The problem to my mind started when we have a House of Assembly that was entirely made up of one party, 24 over 24 APC members. I don’t know how you people saw it, but I saw it as a danger to democracy. How it happened is not the issue for discussion now, but the truth is that it is a dangerous development to democracy. It is dangerous because when a state puts all its eggs in one basket, a lot of damage may happen within a twinkle of an eye. It can work to the disadvantage of anybody.
A different thing is if the House was constituted of different parties, it would have been difficult for this kind of situation to arise. Now, some people think and of course it depends on what side of the divide the people talking or writing belong; some say Governor Godwin Obaseki is an ingrate, he is fighting the man who made him governor, others say Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is overbearing; he wants to dictate the tune in a state that he has left its government house and when he is supposed to be concerned with the affairs of the nation and how to run the party well.
I believe that when you start a dangerous trend, you expect a retaliatory measure that will want to contain the dangerous trend. I do not find it easy to blame Governor Obaseki in the light of what I have come to like so far. The belief is right that the state Assembly was being set to impeach the governor by the majority of members of the House who are loyal to APC National Chairman as against the few who said that it should not be so.
So, take it or leave it, this kind of thing was bound to happen if all were alright that you made a proclamation for the convening of the House of Assembly and thereby set the stage for swearing them in; it may be regular, it may not be more regular if the timing for this swearing in is odd. But having said so, it appears that in this country, especially, among our politicians, it is an issue of survival of the fittest and it is also the issue of use all you can to preserve yourself and the system you think you come from.
So, this is what has happened, it is sad and unholy development. I don’t intend to castigate anybody. The people are the best judge. You can deceive a few people sometimes, and all the people at times, but not every people at every time. Edo people know where the main problem is, I will not like to be bias in my reaction by taking a stand on who is wrong or not.
Some people may be confused, when you say Edo people know where the main problem is…
The main issue is that the development should not have happened. The party ought to have conducted itself better in a more credible way to prevent this type of ugly situation. That there is a problem is no more in doubt. The national chairman of the party said what happened in Edo State was shameful; I am ashamed of what happened in Edo State and Bauchi State on one hand and there goes the governor on the other hand that the national chairman did not reach out to all the parties involved before reaching a conclusion and therefore his views were biased and did not give proper value to the concept of fair hearing.
So, obviously, there is a problem; a clash between two important personalities of the same party and I think that ought not to have happened in a place where the interest of the people is foremost; in a place where the party is supposed to represent the best in terms of governance, attitude and wellbeing of the people.
There have been criticisms from various quarters over President Muhammadu’s delay in constituting his cabinet. What agenda do you have for the administration and the kind of ministers you think he should choose to effectively help run the country this time?
I will say that we have a very difficult situation in our hands in this country right now, which needs the prayers of all well-meaning people, so that it won’t continue. In fact, to find solution to all the ailments that are bedeviling this country without much ado, there is no need to start procrastinating. The answer must be now; we must start now to address the nation’s problems arising from whatever direction and a sitting government must be seen to be serious and resolute to ensure the wellbeing of the people.
We have gone past the time when rules were by rhetoric. No government is worth its taste if it cannot provide for the wellbeing safety and security, progress and development of its people. The challenges before President Buhari and the government he is going to put in place are gargantuan, so Nigerians want to see action. Nigerians want to see that there is a serious turn around. But if by way of preliminary, I want to say that it is unfortunate that not a few Nigerians believe that the process that brought President Buhari to power fell far below the standard expected of any genuine democracy.
Too many people have said it; international organisations have said it; observers have said it even as government continues to question that, insisting that the election was the best. Buhari is one of the best things to happen in Nigeria. If it is Buhari that will take Nigeria forward, let us have it. If it is the other way round, let us watch it. Having said that, the delay so far, two months as it is now may appear very short period and very insignificant and unfortunately this delay definitely reminds Nigerians and the world at large of the six months delay that was witnessed in the first six months administration of the same President. This is all the more reason why this administration would have done everything to hit the ground running.
One would have expected that as a way of curing the mistakes that were made in the first tenure, the government would have as soon as inauguration took place made effort to ensure that new ministers were brought in and approved by the Senate. I am not unaware that even the process of swearing in ministers takes some time. The President has to write to the National Assembly and to seek approval for the list of proposed ministers.
Having said that, I think Nigerians expect a speedy and definitive action in terms of the choice of having proper cabinet ministers in place because there is really no government if there are no cabinet ministers in place to help run the affairs of government. This idea of Permanent Secretaries carrying on as ministers and holding on for a long time is far from the idea. I will also say that Nigerians are getting increasingly impatient even as the no nonsense image of the President, which was one of the reasons most people went for him in 2015 seems to be fading out, and this fading out is more so, when the basis of the 2015 campaign appears to have fizzled out almost completely.
The promise to revitalise the economy, the assurance to engage on proper fight against corruption and the promise that security was going to get completely overhauled with a view to assuring Nigerians of their safety in every aspect; all of these appear to have faded no matter what people may say.
Majority of people have not seen that these plank upon which the campaign was staged have been able to succeed. So, it is against this background that one must warn that what Nigeria needs now is cabinet ministers that know their onus. This is no longer time for mediocrity or ethnic and religious bigots, who see the nation only from the pedestal of their own unguarded selfish interests.
The President must demonstrate that ministerial appointment is not opportunity for settling the boys. It must be for people who will be useful to the President. There must be square pegs in square holes. Many Nigerians know those ministers who have been misfits in their ministries.
The President is a man who reaches everybody, have access to everybody and I believe that any well-meaning President must be able to pick the right people for the right job.
What is your take on Federal Government’s sudden suspension of the RUGA Scheme for resettling of cattle herders in the country in view of the argument that he wants to give land to the Fulani of his ethnic extraction?
I think this is one area where the President must be extremely very careful. Even the devil does not know how to control a man’s mind.
We cannot and I emphasise, we cannot achieve a declared good intention through an illegal measure. Procedure is very important in anything. We are running a constitutional government in Nigeria and constitutional government means that the constitution is the basic law.
Any law that is inconsistent with the constitution is bound to be null and void and of no consequence. Therefore, any policy of government derives its legitimacy from the constitution and all laws must be justifiable in the life of the constitution.
The problem between the herdsmen and farmers should not be resolved by resort to sentiments. The law must take its course. Government must think and come to the best measure to ensure that this crisis between farmers and herdsmen is resolved and you are not going to solve it by illegal means. You are not going to solve it by resorting to uncivilized method and approach.
The whole civilized world today has come to realize that ranching is the answer to animal husbandry. Farming in animal is as good a business as any other business and government must not express either implied or expressly preference for one business over the other.
The right thing to do in a modern world is to encourage those who want to deal with animals to put them in one place. We call them ranches and from there it saves a lot of problems; to the animals, to the environment and saves people from hazards and diseases. I read something some few weeks ago by Ghanaian President who said wherever you see any cow slaughter it for barbecue.
He said Ghana is not Nigeria. We have become a laughing stock. The long and short of the story is that we must use legal, constitutional and civilized method to find solution to the problem between herdsmen and farmers. No shortcut; whether you call it RUGA or cattle colony, it is all the same ten and pence.
No civilized person wants to hear this type of uncivilized approach in solving problem in the nation.
As a retired Army General, what can you make out of the worsening security situation across some states in the country?
The security decision in this country is disgusting and points to a serious danger. I do not mean to say that nobody is working, I can tell you that some of the security heads that I know mean well; they are hardworking, but the situation is beyond them in more ways than one.
The institutional decay is beyond them. I have been shouting and I mean it for over 15 years that there is no way the Nigerian government or the security apparatus can deliver on security unless there is a serious overhaul in the security architecture of this country. I have said consistently that there is so much overlap, so much duplication in the responsibilities and duties of various organs of security.
I have said continuously that we have to move away from this broad talk about security and begin to identify what is defence, what is intelligence and what is law enforcement. You cannot give law enforcement work to a defence institution, or give defence responsibility to law enforcement agencies like Immigration, Prisons or Fire Service. What we are operating now is essentially what we inherited from the military.
The Security Act that we are operating is a replica of what we inherited from General Ibrahim Babangida.
I have always said that w e have a National Security Adviser who has virtually no power. Can we compare that to the Home Security Office in America, which has a very powerful structure? What is Security Adviser in Nigeria?
Just a slight reference was made of him in the Security Act.
Nobody gives him that power of being in anyway equitable to a cabinet minister and yet we expect him to be able to coordinate the affairs and activities of very serious high ranking officials like Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Naval Staff. We are yet also to draw a clear responsibility for the Chief of Defence Staff.
Does he have powers over the other service chiefs? In fact, have we not reached a level where even the service chiefs cannot be seen as the ones commanding?
In some places, services chiefs are mere advisers to the president. The men who command are men of staff organised forces. You have commanders in North Africa, West African commands.
The Chief of Army Staff or Chief of Naval Staff cannot be effective commanders of their various units. We need to bring in these changes so that their jobs can properly be assessed. There will be fewer conflicts between the security services by removing overlapping responsibilities and duplications because everybody will know where his own role starts and where it stops. If we don’t, we will continue to have unwarranted and dangerous rivalry between the security services in this country.
There is this threat by the National Assembly that if the Edo State House of Assembly is not properly constituted, it might take over the House. What is your view on that?
Well, the constitution provides that when the state House of Assembly cannot function properly, the National Assembly takes over the role. I will re-emphasise what I said before. There is expectation and it is legal and constitutional expectation that all those who won election into the House are properly sworn-in.
So, when it becomes a matter of some being sworn-in, others not being sworn in, there is definitely a problem and nobody can run away from that. But, like I asked before; what led to that? It is a matter of survival. The question again is:
Can two wrongs make a right? The answer is no. So, I make bold to say that APC has a problem in Edo State as far as this matter is concerned and it is squarely and properly APC’s problem and the APC is the ruling party. The party has been indicted in this matter and the government which is a product of this same party stands indicted.
The problem is so serious that even the Oba of Benin, our traditional ruler has to go to Abuja to plead with the President to intervene.
Why can’t the leadership run the affairs in a way that accords common sense; the way that is in line with the expectation and the letters and spirit of the constitution? This is another way of questioning our preparedness for democracy. We have adopted the democratic norms in line with the rest of the world; it is a shame if we cannot practice democracy in the way the rest of the world expects us.
Abiodun vs Amosun: An endless battle of wits
- Abiodun, Amosun: Friends as foes
Kunle Olayeni reports on the unending battle of wits between Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, which ensued immediately after the latter failed in his bid to have his anointed candidate as his successor
Like other states of the federation where new governors and their predecessors are at one another’s throats, the political situation in Ogun State is not any different.
Since taking power after a keenly contested gubernatorial election, Prince Dapo Abiodun has been at daggers drawn with the immediate past governor of the Gateway State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Although Abiodun and Amosun belong to same political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and have been friends for some 20 years back, political differences have inevitably pitted them against each other. Their feud, which polarized the ruling party in the state, became a major worrisome scenario before the 2019 elections were eventually won and lost.
Abiodun emerged the APC gubernatorial candidate against Amosun’s choice. He ran for the governorship amidst stiff opposition from his predecessor, who supported the Allied People’s Movement (APM) standard bearer, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade.
The APC candidate is widely believed to have been backed by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; National Leader of the APC and a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as well as former governors of Ogun State – Chief Olusegun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel, an alliance which dealt a big blow to the then incumbent governor’s succession plans.
Hitherto, Abiodun and Amosun were on the same political page. In 2015 when Amosun was seeking re-election as governor, Abiodun was the party’s senatorial candidate for Ogun East. He, however, lost to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Buruji Kashamu.
In the run-up to 2019 elections, Abiodun had thought of contesting for Senate again, but some power brokers in the state tipped him for the governorship. This gubernatorial ambition eventually severed his relationship with Amosun, his one-time ally.
Abiodun sprang a surprise, when he threw his hat into the ring and won the APC gubernatorial ticket. Against all odds, he defeated Amosun’s protégé – Akinlade – in a disputed governorship primary election, which set the Ogun APC on a roller coaster with attendant reverberations on the polity.
Unfazed by the circumstances of his emergence, Abiodun consolidated on his chances to succeed Amosun and he rallied the support of Osoba and the formidable political structure of a former gubernatorial aspirant, Senator Solomon Adeola (aka Yayi), while galvanizing “Ijebu Agenda” and the resolve by the people of Ogun East Senatorial District to have the governorship position in their kitty.
Akinlade, on his part, rejected the emergence of Abiodun, describing the process as a sham and conspiracy against the wish of the people. Buoyed by the support from Amosun, the former federal lawmaker and other loyalists defected to APM in pursuit of their ambitions.
After the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared him winner of the March 9 governorship poll, Abiodun further faced hostility from Amosun’s camp to the extent that the no love lost constrained the transition period.
As he was preparing to hand over the baton of governance, Amosun allegedly engaged in a gale of “last minute” appointments and transactions, stoking further tension between the political divides.
Abiodun’s supporters believe the decisions taken at the twilight of the immediate past administration were ploy to unnecessarily balloon the state’s wage bill and deliberately put in place financial landmines and booby traps for the new administration.
But, Amosun insisted that his decisions were taken in good faith and in the interest of the state. His camp maintained that the business of governance cannot be halted on account of transition.
The explanation, notwithstanding, the party would have none of Amosun’s excuses. It warned that all loans, overdraft and financial obligations that did not follow due process, including the approval of the state House of Assembly, would not be honoured by Abiodun upon assumption of office.
Spokesman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Tunde Oladunjoye, who stated that Abiodun will review all the last minute appointments and contracts carried out by Amosun, said it was morally unacceptable for a governor, at the twilight of his government, to be embarking on mass appointments and committing the incoming administration to unsustainable financial obligations.
Appointments of monarchs, workers
In an unprecedented move, Amosun upgraded and installed 75 traditional rulers. Previously in the status of village chiefs, the monarchs were elevated as Coronet Obas.
Amosun justified his decision, saying it was part of efforts to enhance grassroots development and sustainability of the developmental strides witnessed in the state.
Though he admitted that it was a means of showing appreciation to the traditional institution for being a part of his success story, Amosun pointed out that all the appointments followed due process and recommendations from their prescribed authorities.
According to him, the state has witnessed tremendous growth and development in the last eight years and traditional institutions played prominent roles in achieving it by ensuring that peace and stability reigned in their domains.
Until the upgrade of the monarchs, the state reportedly had a total of 245 traditional rulers, including the paramount rulers in the four divisions of the state.
Amosun also defended his administration’s recruitment into the civil service, saying it followed due process. No fewer than 1,000 workers were employed at the twilight of his government.
According to him, the recruitment was carried out via the Public Service Entry Examination conducted by the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) early last year.
“The newly recruited staff is not a kangaroo recruitment…the procedures were followed; not that Amosun just woke up one day and said because I am leaving, I will bring in more people,” he stated.
But as soon as Abiodun took charge, the House of Assembly voided all appointments, employments and financial agreements carried out by the Amosun administration, especially from February 1 to May 28, 2019.
Using the instrumentality of the legislature, the new administration also suspended the traditional rulers, who were recently appointed and went on to constitute a committee headed by the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, to review the appointments.
Majority of the elected and appointed officials across the local government areas were loyal to Amosun. To clean the Augean’s table at the grassroots, Abiodun tactically sacked the council functionaries via the fiat of the House of Assembly.
Based on allegations of gross misconduct and misappropriation of public funds levelled against them, the House suspended all political functionaries in the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas to allow investigation into allegations. The lawmakers directed the affected office holders to hand over to the Head of Local Government Administration in their respective councils.
But, the decision immediately provoked agitation by the council functionaries who insisted that the manner of their sacking contravened the extant provisions of the law.
Though some of the council helmsmen approved of the state government’s action having pledged loyalty and allegiance to Abiodun, those who felt aggrieved had gone to the court to seek redress.
The tenure of the council chairmen and councillors is expected to lapse in October this year, having come to power in an election conducted by the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC) in 2016.
Not long into the new administration, the bubble burst over some deals between Abiodun and Amosun. Of note was the purchase of arms and ammunition procured by the immediate past government, which has generated “bad press” lately.
An online news portal had reported that Amosun imported without appropriate permits, 1,000 AK47 assault rifles, four million rounds of ammunition and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) during his tenure.
The arms and ammunition were reportedly handed over to the state Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, on May 28 at the Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, before Amosun left office.
As the “scandal” became the talk of the town, Amosun named Abiodun as the main supplier of the some of the security assets, especially the armoured personnel carriers. He insisted that extant approvals, regulations and protocols were observed and complied with in the procurement of the arms and ammunition.
Amosun explained that the handing over was done openly in the full glare of the public and the media to ensure accountability, guarantee transparency and judicious use of the assets.
While insisting that the need to improve poor security situation at the time he took over government informed the decision to purchase the ammunition, Amosun also disclosed that the importation of the weapons was authorized by the presidency, then under ex-president Goodluck Jonathan.
He, however, declared that contrary to what was reported in the media, no AK 47 rifle was handed over to the police.
“The suggestion that the security assets were quickly handed over to the Police in order that the new administration will not know about it is laughable because the current Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, was the main supplier of some of the assets in question, notably, the Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs),” he stated.
But, Abiodun swiftly responded, saying his predecessor’s comments were part of the grand plot to smear his name.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, stated that he never defaulted in supplying the security merchandise according to the terms of the contract. He urged the police to sort out the shortfalls in the ammunition handed over with Amosun.
He said: “What’s the motivation for bringing the Governor’s name into the arms scandal? I consider it distracting or part of the grand plot to smear H.E. Dapo Abiodun.
“He claimed he handed over arms to the Police, not Governor Abiodun. The police CP should give the details and sort the shortfalls out with him. It’s a security matter. The agencies on arms purchase should wade in and connect the dots.”
Since the governor publicly responded, and the Presidency as well as police hierarchy said nothing was amiss, the arms scandal seems to have been rested.
State finances and empty treasury claim
Another sore point between the two gladiators is Abiodun’s claim that he inherited an empty treasury from Amosun.
The governor, at a recent stakeholders meeting in Abeokuta, said the parlous financial situation of the state forced him to borrow funds from commercial banks to pay workers’ salaries on assumption of office.
He explained that since money were not left in the state coffers by his predecessor, he had to approach banks for credit facility and all obliged him to pay salaries two days after his inauguration. He got N7 billion to pay the state wage bill for the month of May.
The governor, however, said his administration was not interested in dwelling on how his predecessor ran the state, saying his preoccupation now was to provide focused and qualitative governance, while creating the enabling environment for public and private sectors to thrive.
But, the APM immediately rose in defence of Amosun, saying the former governor did not leave an empty treasury. The party declared that Abiodun’s claim that he inherited an empty treasury was a concoction of lies and clear evidence of his lack of preparedness for governance.
The party’s Acting Publicity Secretary in the state, Olumide Balogun, while faulting the governor, said in a statement that the “phantom loan” claim could be anticipatory looting of the state. According to him, the party’s findings revealed that the state received over N5billion from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting for May.
Balogun argued that the state’s share from and what Amosun left in the treasury for the new government were more than enough to cover workers’ salaries. He said if the governor had borrowed N7 billion to pay salaries for May alone, only God knows how much he would have to borrow in the next three months.
Unmoved by the APM defence, the Abiodun-led administration fired back at Amosun, accusing him of allegedly inflating the monthly wage bill of the state during his tenure. The governor, who claimed that his predecessor inflated the wage bill by N2.5 billion, said Amosun’s deceit had been exposed since he took over the reins of government.
He wondered why the APM refused to comment on the inflated wage bill of Amosun, who had consistently claimed that his administration expended N9 billion on wages monthly. He, therefore, challenged the former governor to reveal where he kept the over N2.5 billion inflated monthly for the 96 months that he governed the state.
“Ogun State people are wiser than the years of locust, when salaries were delayed, denied and deducted. Ogun workers know their friends,” he stated.
While Abiodun and Amosun continued their battle on the political and judicial turfs, the two gladiators are also locked in another tactical tussle over President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet. Specifically, the governor and his predecessor are desperately lobbying and engaging in high wire maneuvering over who picks the ministerial position to be allotted to the state by the President.
Abiodun is said to be interested in securing the ministerial slot to solidify and stabilize his administration politically. On the other hand, Amosun, who is seen as one of Buhari’s henchmen in the South West, wants the minister appointed from his associates to further boost his rating and reward
Though some names from both camps have been touted as likely to be appointed as ministers, findings showed that the President is keeping the details close to his chest as he embarks on wider consultation on his “Next Level” cabinet.
As the waiting for the ministerial list continues, analysts opined that wherever the pendulum swings to will open another chapter in the battle of wits between Abiodun and Amosun.
INEC, 2019 election and server debacle
The legal fireworks in the petition filed by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his party against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last February 23 general election before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja is getting more intense by the day .
After the said election, Atiku and PDP had through their team of lawyers headed by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, (SAN) filed a joint petition challenging massive irregularity in the conduct of the election. It was the contention of the petitioners that they won the election, based on the results transmitted to the INEC server electronically.
The electoral body, however, denied the using of server for the election even as the petitioners had indicated in their petition to call 400 witnesses to testify against the election.
However, so far, the petitioners have been able to call about 36 witnesses. The Petitioners’ Witness 2, Peter Uzioma Obi last Monday while giving evidence confirmed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) transmitted the result of the February 23 presidential election electronically.
Obi, however, told the tribunal that it will be wrong to say the results of the presidential election were not transmitted electronically. He told the tribunal that he functioned as Registration Area Technician at a ward level in Rivers State during the election and stated that the Independent National Electoral Commission trained him and others to transmit the results of the poll.
“You are not supposed to transmit results because you are not a presiding officer,” INEC counsel asked, to which Obi said: “You are wrong Sir. INEC trained us to transmit results. I was not a presiding officer. I was not a polling agent. I was a registration area technician appointed by INEC. I was trained by INEC.”
Being cross-examined by Buhari’s Counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Obi said he was not aware of the guidelines used by the INEC for the presidential election, but noted that there was a specific guidelines booklet issued for his roles as a RATECH. “I was a RATECH in charge of the use of card reader,” he said.
Under cross examination by APC’s counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Obi said the lawyer was not entirely correct to say that it was the duty of the Presiding Officer “to do accreditation, verification authentication, and collation at the Poling Units.”
“You are not entirely correct Sir, because we were told at the training that the Assistant Polling Officer 1, was in charge of accreditation. I did not serve as APO1 and I did not serve as the Presiding Officer,” he stated.
Similarly, Petitioners Witness 5, Mohammed Tata who served as an agent of PDP in Jigawa State alleged before the tribunal that he was compelled under duress to sign result of the presidential election in his polling unit.
The witness equally told the tribunal that he was threatened to either sign a copy of the result or have his name removed as a beneficiary in the N-Power scheme. Under cross examination by INEC counsel, Usman, Tata said: “I was harassed and intimidated to sign the result sheet under duress. I was told that if I refuse to sign, my name will be removed from the N-Power Program.”
When asked if he was dissatisfied that President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC scored over 700 votes in his polling unit, the witness said: “There was no score because there was no election.
“I am a Muslim. I believe in destiny and what God decides will happen. Whether PDP wins or the APC does, I don’t have a problem with that. All I want is that I need justice in my country. I don’t care whether my party won or lost, but I am not happy about what happened.”
Furthermore, Petitioners Witness 1, Buba Galadima, who is a former ally of Buhari, told the Tribunal that he fell out with the President because of injustice in his administration and not because he was not appointed a minister.
In addition to injustice, Galadima said that lack of inclusiveness and failure of the administration to secure Nigeria, also added to why he left the camp of the President. Galadima made the submissions under cross-examination, after he had adopted his statement on oath.
Olanipekun: “You fell out with the 2nd respondent (Buhari) because he did not make you a minister in 2015.”
Galadima: “No. You should know that I fought all the previous governments since 1999 because of injustice.We made good promises to Nigerians, including justice, inclusiveness, and to secure the country, which he has failed to do. It has always being part of my characteristics to fight injustice. I supported Buhari in the 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 election cycles until the 2019 election.”
However, while being cross-examined by Fagbemi, Galadima said he was aware that there was no registered party called the Reformed APC, but maintained that he was still the chairman of the group.
Petitioners Witness 8 on Tuesday, however, told the tribunal that the PDP’s Atiku Abubakar won the said election in Katsina State. The witness, who is the State Chairman of the PDP in Katsina, Salisu Maijigiri, said that Atiku defeated President Muhammadu Buhari, in the state.
Maijigiri told the tribunal that he served as the party’s collation agent in the state for the presidential election in Katsina State. Under cross-examination, by respondents’ counsel, Maijigiri said contrary to the results declared by the INEC, the results collated by his party in the state showed that APC polled 872,000 while PDP scored 905,000.
Meanwhile, the results INEC declared for the state, showed that PDP polled 160,203 votes while the APC polled 1,505,633. But contradicting INEC’s results, Maijigiri said: ”We (PDP) are the one who won the election not APC. APC scored 872,000 and PDP scored, 905,000. These are our own results, we collated in our state not the ones from the server.”
Petitioners Witness 17, Uchena Umeh said in his own testimony to the Tribunal that as an Assistant Presiding Officer 1 during the last presidential election in Gwarinpa, Abuja, he transmitted the results of the poll to INEC’s server.
Under cross-examination by Buhari’s counsel, Abubakar Mahmud (SAN), Umeh said he was on the day before the election given the code with which he will use transmit the results of the poll at his polling unit to INEC server.
He said: “In the course of the training, they told us there was an INEC server. A code was given to us and they told us that only APO I should know the code.”
In furtherance of the hearing, Prosecution Witness 23 told the tribunal that all the result sheets in Borno State was mutilated to favour Buhari and his party. The witness. who was collation agent for the PDP, Nicholas Msheliza, added that virtually all the result sheets from the various local governments in the state were mutilated.
He equally stated that there was zero accreditation of voters in over 200 polling units out of the 3,933 statutory polling units in the state. He further told the tribunal that there were a total of 5,078 voting points, including the polling units. Msheliza also said the total votes of 911, 786 declared by INEC was well over the accredited voters across the state.
However, Prosecution Witness 21, Jafaru Usman, who served as the PDP local government collation agent for Zaria, Kaduna State, in witness told the Tribunal that results in his area were rigged in favour of the APC. But the witness, who is a lawyer, said he signed the Form EC8C, the local government area result sheets, not as authentication of what was contained in it but as a mere witness.
Under cross-examination, Usman said the polling unit results contained in Forms EC8A ought to be transmitted to the ward result sheets, Forms EC8B, and then transmitted to Form EC8C, which is the local government result sheet, but that was not the case in his area.
“The correct results were not transmitted,” Usman said. But when asked if he signed the Form EC8C, he said: “I signed in line with the provision of the Electoral Act. I signed it but I did not authenticate what was contained in it. I only signed as a witness in line with the Electoral Act. What I signed was not a contract. All those who were in attendance were required to sign in line with Electoral Act.”
Asked if any of those who perpetrated the rigging were convicted in court, he said: “I made complaints, they did nothing.”
Prosecution Witness 24, John Makama, who served as the PDP collation agent in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State in his own testimony said the results of the poll in the stronghold of his party were cancelled by INEC officials.
He alleged in his evidence-in-chief that the election in the area was marred by illegal cancellation of votes. Under cross-examination by the respondents’ counsel, Makama said the results were cancelled in his presence at the local government collation centre by the INEC’s local government collation officer and not at the polling units where the election took place.
He said of the 11 wards in Sanga Local Government Area, the APC was only strong in three. Still under cross examination, Makama could not find an answer when told that cancellation of results in the council area was not part of the case presented by the petitioners in their petition.
Meanwhile, one of the twist, in the case was an attack on the petitioners’ witnesses by unknown gun-men on their way to Abuja from Zamfara State. The witnesses were billed to testify in the ongoing hearing of the petition jointly filed by Atiku and PDP against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In his own evidence, Olufemi Ogunride, who was ad-hoc staff of INEC during the election confirmed to the tribunal that he along with other Assistant Presiding Officers transmitted election results into the server of INEC using the smart card reader.
The witness told the tribunal that two hours to the election, Assistant Presiding Officers were assembled and trained by a consultant to INEC on how to transmit election results into the INEC server with the smart card reader.
Ogunride, who said that he received his own training on how to transmit election results to server in Abuja, admitted that he personally transmitted results provided by the Presiding Officers into INEC’s server.
Cross examined by counsel to APC, Dr Muiz Banire (SAN), the witness confirmed that INEC guidelines and regulations were released to him and others. In his own evidence, Peter Sabo from Yobe State told the tribunal that both Buhari and APC used the security challenges in the state to perpetrate election fraud.
The witness alleged that voters were mobilised to selected areas to cast their votes instead of their polling units and under the guise by APC of securing their lives. Sabo further alleged that PDP agents were chased away at the selected voting points after which ballot papers were freely handed over to APC agents to cast unlawful votes.
He said that he refused to sign result sheet because the ballot papers used for the purported election were for APC only without a single void votes. Sabo further testified that out of anger he wrote a petition to the DSS, Police and civil defense but that up till now nothing had been done.
In his own evidence Hassan Maisarafa, who named some state government officials that perpetrated alleged election fraud, claimed that voters in Yobe were bought over with huge sums to sway them to the side of the APC.
However, when hearing resumed last Monday, the petitioners played a video recording at the Tribunal where a Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini admitted that the electoral body would transmit election results with the use of smart card reader to the INEC central server.
The Petitioners had tendered the 48 video recordings through their PW 40, who was also one of their star witness, Segun Showumi, one of the media aides to the PDP presidential candidate.
The videos played, however, showed Mr. Mike Iginni, granted on Sunday Politics programme of Channels Television when he said the results of the election would be transmitted to INEC’s server.
Another one showed Army officials, on Channels TV, denying Buhari’s claim that his West African School Certificate was with the Army. The third one showed INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Channels TV, meeting with members of Computer Professionals and Practitioners in Nigeria, and expressing hope that electronic transmission would be deployed for the 2019 general election.
On the contrary, President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC tendered a video before the Tribunal to counter the claims of the Petitioners that INEC transmitted election result to an electronic server. The video which was Channels Television recording of INEC’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu admitted by the presidential tribunal, however, discredited the allegation that results of the February 23 general election were transmitted to the commission’s central server.
A day after that, the Tribunal ordered Prof Mamud Yakubu and the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Zamfara State to appear before it to clarify some issues in the ongoing petition filed the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar and his party challenging the election .
The duo had been earlier subpoenaed by the Tribunal for presentation of some documents but refused to honour the summon. However, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba, issued the order following complaints by the Petitioners that their petition against the election of President Buhari was been sabotaged by the INEC Chief following his refusal to appear before the Tribunal to tender some unnamed documents.
Atiku through his counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) had complained to the Tribunal that Yakubu and INEC Commissioner in Zamfara have been frustrating him in the 10 days hearing notice given to him by the Tribunal to substantiate his allegations and claims in his petition jointly filed with the PDP.
Responding, counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), told the tribunal that he was not aware of the subpoena on Yakubu but that of the Zamfara REC has been complied with, adding that they are waiting for the petitioners to pay the normal fee and collect the said documents.
But in a short ruling, Presiding Justice of the five-man panel, held that orders of court are sacrosanct and must be obeyed. However, Yakubu failed to appear before the Tribunal on Thursday as summoned, but sent a letter to the Tribunal along the said subpoenaed documents.
Uche, while commending Usman for the efforts, however, requested for a copy of the letter to enable him ascertain if the documents were complete and same as the ones requested for.
The Tribunal had consequently adjourned till July 29 for the respondents to open defense.
Meanwhile, in his testimony, Petitioners’ Witness 62, Osita Chidoka, who served as PDP collation agent at the National Collation Centre for the February 23, 2019 presidential election, told the Tribunal that he had never seen INEC server.
He, however, added that Yakubu, consistently told them about the server and also acknowledged its existence during the collation of the presidential election. Under cross examination by INEC counsel, Yunus Ustaz (SAN), the witness said that: “I have not seen the server but INEC consistently told us of the server and the INEC Chairman at the national collation of results of the election acknowledged the existence of the server.”
He further admitted that he was not born as at 1947 when President Buhari was born and to that effect he could not biologically state categorically the age of the President. There was, however, a mild drama when counsel to Buhari, Chief Olanipekun (SAN) accused Petitioners’ Witness 60, Joseph Gbenga, of issuing a report which conflicted with the claim of the petitioners in their petition challenging the outcome of the election.
Olanipekun said the witness in his report awarded a margin of victory which the petitioners never claimed in their petition.
He added that while the petitioners conceded defeat in Katsina State, the witness in his report of analysis of the results gave victory to the petitioners. The witness who is an Industrial Chemistry graduate from the University of Ilorin, who described himself as a Database Analyst and Designer, under cross-examination by the respondents’ lawyers, said he was engaged by the petitioners to analyse the results of the presidential poll in 11 out of the 36 states of the federation.
The witness said he was not aware the petitioners conceded defeat in eight out of the 11 states which their presidential election results he analysed in his report. He equally added that he was unmindful of who won or lost in the 11 states, in order to be able to do a professional and unbiased job.
He said he had not gone through the pleadings contained in the petitioners’ petition. Olanipekun also asked: “But are you aware that you have given them a margin of win in 11 states that is more than what they are claiming in the 36 states excluding the FCT?”
Responding, the witness said: “I am not aware. I worked on documents provided for me.” Asked, again, he said he was not aware that the petitioners conceded defeat in Katsina State.
But by your analysis you gave them victory,” Buhari’s counsel said.
Asked, the witness said he had been receiving trainings in data analysis but had not been certified. He, however, said he had previously been engaged by the World Health Organisations (WHHO), among other organisations.
He confirmed that he was engaged to do analysis of results of the election in Yobe State and that was the first he ever took up in respect of elections before his engagement for the presidential election.
Answering questions from the APC counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the witness said the job he did was not something any literate person could do as suggested by the lawyer. The witness also said he was aware that hacking of websites was a global phenomenon.
Earlier, the Petitioners told the tribunal that they had 1,353 additional result sheets to tender before the tribunal. Uche (SAN) added that the result sheets include the polling unit results (form EC8A) and results from ward collation centres (form EC8B). As the petitioner closed the case Friday, the show seems set for the defendants to open their defence in the next adjournment.
I was a bicycle repairer, bus conductor –Rep Lawal
Hon. Kolawole Lawal represents Egbado South/Ipokia Federal Constituency of Ogun State and is the only member of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), in the House of Representatives. In this interview with PHILIP NYAM, he speaks on the minority leadership crisis and other issues
The composition of the minority leadership in the House created some crisis leading to the suspension of Hon. Ndidi Elumelu and other lawmakers by the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). What really happened?
The issue of the minority leadership of the 9th House is a collective decision. Order 8 (4) of the House Standing Rules and Section 6 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended has given us the powers to choose our leaders from within ourselves.
In other words, the majority party members are required to pick their principal officers among themselves and we the minority parties are also required to pick our minority leader, deputy minority leader, minority whip and deputy minority whip among ourselves in the House of Representatives.
The Rule does not in any way confer on any political party the right or powers to choose leaders for us. I am not a member of the PDP, but I belong to the minority caucus; I am of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and I am the only lawmaker on the platform of the party nationwide. But by virtue of that provision, I have the right to be part of the decision of who holds any of the minority positions in the House.
The question now is, was I contacted by the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus before sending a letter to the Speaker nominating Hon. Kinsley Chinda as Minority Leader? Did he contact me as a member of the minority? Did he contact me as a person? No such thing took place. But we sat as a group of all minority parties, including majority of the members of PDP and we elected Hon. Ndudi Elumelu as our leader; Hon. Toby Okechukwu as our Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Gideon Gwanias Minority Whip and Hon. Adesegun Adekoya as Deputy Minority Whip.
So, if the PDP is bringing any other leaders, they are on their own because we the minorities in the House have chosen our leaders in line with the law.
But Hon. Chinda had alleged that he was initially chosen at the two meetings held by the minority parties before the Elumelu group went and connived with the House leadership to adopt a different leader. Did you attend any meeting with Chinda?
Let me make it clear that I did not attend any meeting with the Chinda group. Yes, there was a meeting organised by the Hon. Chinda group but I was not invited and I did not attend. Maybe, because I belong to a micro minority party, nobody cared to reckon with me to even invite me to a meeting of the minority parties. I understand that those who attended that meeting signed an attendance register and the attendance was eventually changed to endorsement. But I was not there, so I did not sign anything. So, if the attendance at that meeting now turned into endorsement, I am not part of that endorsement because I did not attend the meeting.
Different forms of killings across the country: either by Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers it is a major source of worry to not a few Nigerians. In fact, the killing of Mrs. Foluke Olakunrin, daughter of the Afenifere leader has sparked so much anger in the country. What is your take on this unfortunate development?
It is unfortunate that we are having these crisis and killings in Nigeria. We have never had it so bad. I will say we have to condemn the kidnappings and all the killings going on in the country. But having said that, let me point out that you cannot give what you do not have.
Therefore, we cannot be doing the same thing and expect to get a different result. We need to review our security strategy because the one we have adopted in the last five years seems not to be working and that is why we are where we are today. The government needs to review its security architecture, change it and adopt a new method. If the other method does not work, we change it again until we start seeing results. We need to invite security experts.
In the case of Mrs. FolukeOlakunrin, we hear it was stray bullets, but whether is stray bullet or not, there was shooting and she died. I wish Pa Reuben Fasoranti well and pray God to grant him the strength to bear the loss of his daughter. But our security network must be overhauled because we are not getting positive results now. The service chiefs need to change their tactics. We all know that when we have new leaders in place, there is always enthusiasm on their part to at least impress. So, if the current service chiefs cannot deliver, the government should change them and bring in new set.
You said you belong to a micro minority party. How do you intend to survive in the parliament? Do you intend to defect to any of the bigger parties as it is always the case with members who find themselves in small parties?
In fact, I am the only APM lawmaker in the whole country. But for me I have my party and leaders and whatever they ask me to do I will do.
Secondly, I strongly believe in God and there is nothing I want from Him that I do not get. My Quran, Chapter 3 verse 26 is my guide. So, God will direct me on what to do, but for now I am just settling down. The party that brought me here is APM and I remain a member of APM.
How were you able to get elected to the House under a relatively new party like the APM?
Look, I have come a long way. I worked with Mobil for 20 years and resigned voluntarily in 2010 to contest for the governor of Ogun State. And when I came everybody in the state knew that KLM has arrived. Since then I have been consistent. When I contested I had no problem winning because of the support I got from our gubernatorial flagbearer, Hon. Abdulkareem Akinlade and my own governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. I thank God almighty and I thank these leaders too for the roles they played.
Last week, members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shi’ites invaded the National Assembly protesting the continued detention of their leader, Sheik El-Zakzakky, and the following the day the House passed a resolution urging the Federal Government to dialogue with the group. Do you think this is the best way to resolve this imbroglio?
I am a member of the House of Representatives and I was present when the decision was taken, so I am part of the resolution. But as a nation we should not choose which court order to obey and which to disobey. In other words, the rule of law should be sacrosanct. But if there is any reason that we should do things differently, people should be made to know. If there is intelligence report that we are not aware of, we should also be told.
As a first timer in the House of Representatives, what plans do you have for your constituents?
I have an agenda called AHEAD, which means Agriculture, Health, Education, Accountability and Development. Agriculture; you know we are predominantly agrarian in nature and I have over 2000 hectares of land that I am developing. So, I intend to encourage and support my people to engage in large scale farming. As we speak, I am already talking with some people and making arrangements on how to get tractors and other farm implements.
On health, we are looking at the state of all the primary healthcare centres in the constituency.
On education, it is an area that I am so passionate about because without education I would not have been here. I started off as a bicycle repairer; before I went to secondary school. And I learnt the trade for eight years. Later, I became a bus conductor and then Danfo driver, before I went to school. So, I like education and I want my people to be well educated. I am presently studying law and I hope to do a programme with the National Institute for Democratic and Legislative Studies before I leave the National Assembly.
So, I will ensure our schools are refurbished and we build more schools to educate our children to become better individuals in life.
Then Accountability; I will be having regular town hall meetings with my people so that my constituents would know everything I am doing.
Then Development; we will work towards having infrastructure; we make sure our roads are graded and motorable.
Herdsmen attacks threatening food security, says Rev. Ogu
Apostle Eugene Ogu is the founder of the Abundant Live Evangel Mission, (ALEM) and former Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, (PFN), Rivers and Bayelsa states chapter. In this interview with EMMANUEL MASHA, he speaks on insecurity in the country and killings by Boko Haram sect, the Fulani herdsmen and other issues
Nigeria at the moment appears to be on the precipice following the palpable tension created by the rural grazing area, RUGA, policy of the Federal Government, what in your opinion is the effect of this to the peaceful co-existence of the nation?
I want to say that Nigeria has come to a point where the truth must be told or the truth itself will tell itself. We must tell the truth or the truth will tell us the truth. Every government and leadership owes its people the truth. That truth constitutes a direction that guides the flow of the people whether politically, religiously or otherwise. Nigeria has been living in a fool’s Paradise over the years where various leaders come and tell us what they want us to believe. We believed them only to later discover that the actions of the leaders are towards a different game from what they wanted us to believe. The issue of Boko Haram right from the arrest of their former leader (Mohammed Yusuf) and the sudden disappearance of that same leader brought a question of trust on the government.
What is the government truly up to? First and foremost, we had a man who was in the position to tell us so much about Boko Haram and its formation, about its intention and about his sponsors. We had a man who ought to have given us the evidence through which the developed countries would have used in a way that it would have saved us from what we are into today. But within the same security agencies, that man was mysteriously killed.
The same government that arrested him was the same government in which he was killed. Killing him means that he died with all the information that would have helped Nigeria to forestall all that is happening today. You can see that we have a government that cannot investigate the high profile killings in this country. Chief Bola Ige under the watchful eyes of the security agencies was killed and up till today nobody has been indicted for that. Marshal Harry was killed, no investigation. All of these happened in a country that invests so much in security.
The question is, is it true that the Nigerian security agencies cannot find out who these killers are? Whether they are Boko Haram or cattle herdsmen, we don’t know. In Dogo Naawa, for instance, 362 persons were killed in one day in March 2010. In Miango, 37 and later 72 persons were killed in Bassa Local Government. Go to Benue, Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba states and many other places, people are being killed without anybody asking questions. Is it true that the security agencies that billions of naira was invested in both at state and national levels are sincere that they cannot find out who these people are!
We have come to a point where we must tell the truth or the people will tell us the truth. So, having been deeply involved in the sense that social burden of the people of this country in their thousands has come to my shoulders to do something to uplift then lives of the needy. Go to Benue, Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, to Nassarawa, Kaduna, mention it, you will see children going to school because I am alive. I built a secondary school in Dogo Naawa in 2010 that is free. I pay the teachers up till date. I am not a government employee. Government does not do anything for me. I am a citizen of this country who is concerned about the goings-on in this country. How can a government that was supposed to protect its people now by its body language and actions allow people to insinuate certain things?
What do you make of government’s response?
The governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El- Rufai, once said that they paid money to some people so that they don’t come and kill and invade Nigeria. He said it. Who did they pay the money to?
First, they said they were Libyans, later on they said they were Malians. How did they know these people were Libyans if they did not see them? How did they give them the money?
Now, the Federal Government is determined to bring RUGA for these same people to settle. Does the government think that for killing Nigerians, you will appease the people? What part of the constitution that backs government action allows us to be killed and then give these killers a settlement?
Go to the market now, before the President Muhammadu Buhari regime, in the month of March new yam has come out. In April, May, you will see new yam everywhere. This is July and new yam is yet to come out, why? It is because those who used to go to farm are no longer going to farm for fear of being killed by herdsmen… Here, we allow our farmers in the North, in the East and the West to come under threat. This is the worst warfare.
Go to the Bible and see the history. What this implies is that, you are gradually turning young people to criminals, kidnappers, prostitutes and all forms of social vices and crimes. This is the effect of the herdsmen not allowing the farmers to access their farms. These people come to Rivers State and all the Niger Delta states with their cattle even in Abuja in a broad day light embarrassing the people with their cows. This shows that Nigeria is a cattle farm.
Are you satisfied with the responses of the southern governors so far?
I have heard the South-West governors saying they don’t have land for RUGA. South-East governors have said they don’t have land for RUGA. It is only governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State that said I don’t have. This is not an “I” thing. The South-South governors should also say that they don’t have land for Ruga. Benue, Taraba and other states up North have said they don’t want it. In most states, they don’t want it. Nigerians are watching as things unfold. You can take our oil money in billions and invest in cattle colony for them in the North; we will collect it back when the time comes.
The Federal Government should take off its hands from private businesses. You don’t invest billions of public funds in private business because tomorrow a South-East person, South-West, South-South person will be there. You are telling people that anybody who becomes president should fend for his family first. From your kitchen cabinet to the military and security agencies appointments are one sided. You are building a structure on false foundation and it will fall. Buhari should not destroy the image we used to know he had. One day he will not be in that office and the truth will be told. How can a government allow people to herd their cattle into somebody’s farm?
President Buhari should tell the police to arrest those people who are killing farmers and innocent Nigerians. There is nothing like communal clash in Nigeria. What we are having now is terrorist invasion. You call them bandits…
Bandits used to break into people’s houses and steal things. It is only under Buhari that bandits are now killing and maiming people. These bandits have done worse than Boko Haram. But if it was IPOB, you will brand them terrorists and you sent the military to destroy their place and kill them.
There has been this out cry for restructuring of Nigeria, do you subscribe to that agitation?
The question is, why are Nigerians asking for restructuring? It is because we think that corruption is only when people steal money. Corruption is when you corrupt a genuine process that should show an equitable flow of the process for everybody but you corrupt it. It is not just stealing money.
Restructuring is because we have seen that everything about Buhari government is lopsided. We have a government where three or more persons dictate who becomes what in this country. This is not supposed to be so. This is a country of about 200 million people with different tribes of equal stake. So, no cabal should be seen dictating things for other tribes in this country.
It is sad that just two or three persons are just there in this government deciding the fate and destiny of this country. It is bad. Aba is one city where all the spare parts are being manufactured. Today, if you want to go to Aba, you must pass through Etche and that road has been bad for so long.
Which major road do we have in South-South? Look at the East West Road. The way former President Goodluck Jonathan left it, that is how it is today. Go to the North, they are using Julius Berger to construct roads everywhere there. What is wrong with the South-South region that produces all the money you are using to develop and beautify the North!
We have seen quite a number of church pastors being accused of rape or one form of sex crime or the other. Is this not corruption too?
I totally disagree with you on that. That argument has no basis whatsoever. What is happening now is an orchestrated plan by agents of the Devil to destroy the body of Christ and I can tell you that they have failed. If not for the church, this country would have completely gone down.
The church is like a candle on the mountain. It takes a beast to rape somebody. The Pastor of COZA said he did not do it. And I want to say to him, my friend go back and pastor your church. As far as I am concerned, that was just a satanic plan to push COZA out of where they are. If you have gone to where COZA is, it is located at where elites live. A plot of land there is between N200 to N300million. The Devil will not be happy to see that church there. When they have a programme, you cannot pass through that road because of heavy traffic.
The presidential election tribunal is current ongoing. What is your expectation from that tribunal?
In Nigeria now, anything you see, you take. I’m just praying that God should see us through at this point in time. Are those people in the tribunal not Nigerians? I don’t have confidence in these people. A criminal who defrauded me went to court and the court was playing games with me. Come today, come tomorrow until the judge retired.
One day, the truth that has been hidden in this country would be told. We have been covering a lot of things. That is why we cannot prosper as a country. It is only in Nigeria that you can hear that animals swallow money. The world is watching and laughing at us. Shame. If God has helped you to stand firm where you are, don’t let anybody to push you down.
RUGA: X-raying the 30-day ultimatum to govs, Buhari
Politicians, particularly in Africa today, continue to face hard times in seeking common grounds, making compromises and balancing self-interest in leadership towards achieving democratic progress. The call by the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, in her last address as she prepares to quit office, on leaders around the world, to strive in addressing the genuine concerns that citizens hold, without absolutism becomes very apt.
For too long, both leaders and the led in Nigeria have allowed sentiments to overshadow debates on critical national issues of development. Quite painfully, our choice of leaders to date at federal, states, and local levels is hinged on religion and region rather than competence, which compounds the problem. It didn’t start today. We laid this faulty foundation right at the beginning of the current democracy in 1999, when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was presented to Nigerians. This is without prejudice to the experiences in the days of the military junta.
Former President Obasanjo did not emerge on the strength of his competence but based on sentiments, primarily, to assuage the ill-feelings of the South-West region who had lost an earlier opportunity of producing Nigeria’s leadership in MKO Abiola. He was seen more as a stabilising factor.
Although Obasanjo appeared detribalized in his leadership style, the South-West saw the eight years of his government as their time. Any criticism of the Obasanjo administration with or without merit, from persons other than the Yorubas was deemed to be subjective. It is a typical aberration that has permeated through the periods of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and now President Muhammadu Buhari.
I remember with nostalgia, listening to President Buhari at the popular Eagle Square in Abuja on 29th May 2015 when he delivered an inaugural speech shortly after taking the oath of office and allegiance. ”I belong to everybody and belong to nobody, ” he said. This singular statement assuaged the fears of many Nigerians who had earlier expressed concerns of ’religious and ethnic bigotry’ as allegedly being part of his personality in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
Two weeks ago, a coalition of northern groups (CNGs) issued a 30-day ultimatum to the federal government and governors who are opposed to the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan also called RUGA across the country. The group warned the governors to reverse their decisions immediately to give peace a chance.
Spokesman of the coalition, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman at a press conference in fact, placed President Buhari specifically on notice to stop the resistance from the governors which his group described as outright madness. The statement by the coalition on 4th July 2019, reminds one of a similar group also referred to as CNG two years ago in Kaduna, which gave an ultimatum to Igbos residing in the North to vacate the region. For the prompt condemnation of the group by the Federal Government under Professor Yemi Osinbajo then as acting President, the situation was brought under total control. It was at the height of the agitations by members of the Indegenous People of Biafara (IPOB).
Southern leaders have been threatening fire and brimstone over the suspension of RUGA since the fresh ultimatum to both the governors and the President was issued. No one at the moment knows the intent of the latest ultimatum. As far as political commentators are concerns, it is a treasonable action against the state.
Despite failing to state clearly what action they would take if the governors do not reverse their positions on the suspended policy, an act which stokes hatred among Nigeria’s nationalities is a serious offence that should never be treated with kid gloves. Surprisingly however, neither did the Federal Government nor the presidency condemn the said ultimatum by the coalition until two weeks after, when they were backed by the Northern Elders Forumn (NEF). Maybe, President Buhari did not consider the CNGs seriously as to warrant a presidential response.
How can an issue raised by the CNGs that a major tribe in Nigeria ’Fulani’ are today being singled out for profiling and denied access to ordinary grazing lands and the right to thoroughfare in the South not be taken seriously by the government? Again, the coalition insists that Fulani are being hunted, expelled or slaughtered while southerners are comfortably hosted in northern cities and towns.
Considering how weighty the concerns of the coalition are and the fact that they have called on these group of northerners to quite the south, rather than wave it with the back of the hands, the government ought to have demanded the arrest of those behind such calls. It is hate speech.
As it stands currently, the ultimatum days by the CNGs are still counting. No one knows what will follow next. By encouraging Fulani to remain wherever they are, without first, condemning the actions of the two groups, President Buhari may be giving credence to allegations that he is only building confidence in his kinsmen as a Fulani man himself while ignoring the real issues. Inclusion of sentiments in handling the crisis also compounds the problem rather than address it.
Mr. President remains the leader of all Nigerians, he should never be seen to showing partiality in the discharge of his functions. The presidency also needs to accept objective criticism from well meaning citizens as their modest contribution to enriching the polity.
In pushing for the unity of the country also, the government should adopt the idea of Vice President Osinbajo that all hate speech in the country be treated as terrorism. Any silence from our leaders at this critical time of insecurity will definitely be a grave disservice to the country, its peace and its future.
This week’s Aso Rock guests
President Muhammadu Buhari’s first guest in the week was the Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege. The lawmaker after a closed door meeting with the President announced the parliament’s support to a call by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for the deployment of military personnel on major high ways across the country to fight insecurity. Omo-Agege explained that the upper legislative chamber would buy into the idea in view of the “exigencies of the moment.”
The President on Tuesday also played host to the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) led by the President, Dr Francis Adedayo Faduyile. NMA had come to make a case for National Health Insurance Scheme to be made compulsory for all Nigerians, including those in the informal sector. In their view, some special treatments, like cancer, will require funds that might be beyond the reach of many. Same day, the President met with the leadership of Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) who raised concerns with Buhari on multi-taxation challenges facing businesses in Nigeria. In their opinion, if this not addressed, the country may face difficulty with the recently signed AfCFTA.
Other prominent guests of the President within the week were the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi. Both leaders engaged President Buhari on issues relating to security of the national and other matters of national development.
The Daniel’s grace
For many who are familiar with the Bible, the name and story about Daniel won’t be too strange to them I’m sure. And for many of us who did Christian Religion Studies (CRK) in our secondary schools, we feel in love with the man Daniel because of the lion’s den part of his story.
How would a man be thrown into a lion’s den and not be eaten up? That must be a Superman
I remember vividly, it was after one of such classes in my secondary school days that I was overwhelmed with this man, Daniel’s story and I decided to start bearing that name as my middle name.
My recent studies about him made me discovered greater revelations about him.
Daniel won every war he was confronted with; he survived every attack directed at him and finally, he excelled beyond imagination, even in the presence of his enemies.
So what is the Daniel’s Grace? You may want to ask. In chapter 2 of the book of Daniel, the king had a dream but couldn’t remember what the dream was all about. He needed someone who would tell and interpret his dream.
How would you interpret a dream you don’t know?
Magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers were all summoned to the palace to tell and interpret the dream.
Many of these persons were left dumbfounded, as no one knew the dream talk more interpreting it. Long story short, Daniel pleaded for patience with the king; and with time, God Almighty revealed the dream and its meaning to him.
Now, this is the main thing, the moment Daniel began to achieve results, most people around him began to hate and envy him. Instead of them to ask him for the secrets, they began to devise means to bring him down; and this played out in chapter 6 of same book of Daniel.
The moment you begin to achieve some level of results, some persons would no longer be comfortable around you. An average mind prefers an average or low life. Once you begin to aim for uncommon feats, expect to lose some close friends.
Sometime, some persons just hate you for no reason. Ask them what your offence is, they can’t lay hand on any tangible thing. Check the root, it is envy, bitterness, hatred and unnecessary rivalry.
These magicians, enchanters and others whom I call “The Cabal” of the government then, knew that Daniel loved God so much. So they needed to come up with a policy which would make Daniel go against the things of God. They came up with one and cunningly passed it to the king to sign. The king signed without knowing the grand plans – which was to destroy Daniel.
In summary, Daniel was found guilty based on the law signed by the king, which could not be reversed. And what was Daniel’s offence, you may want to ask?. He prayed to his God three times daily; and for this reason, he was thrown into the lion’s den. You know the rest of the story…
Because of the grace upon his life, instead of the lion to devour him, they began to play with him and treated him well. That is what I call GRACE.
I pray that same grace will locate you. What was meant to destroy you will be the source of your elevation. Someone reading this now, like Daniel, your enemies thought it’s all over for you based on the present situation you’ve found yourself. But guess what, they didn’t know you are a seed. Your comeback will shock them. Your present situation won’t consume you. May grace locate you.
Lastly, everyone who was part of that plans to destroy Daniel were used as exchange for Daniel’s position in the lion’s den. They and their families took his place, and of course, they were devoured.
The same pit they dug for you will be what would destroy your enemies. Instead of you going down, you will go forward and upward. What was meant to consume you will announce you. And those who felt it’s all over for you will never recover from the coma they will go into as a result of the great things they’ll hear about you.
I see you rising. Receive the Daniel’s grace.
Have a blessed week.
PDP denies own ‘candidate’ at Reps Election Tribunal
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has admitted that her candidate’s name was never published ahead the 2019 poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the February 2019 general election for the Njikoka/Anaocha/Dunukofia Federal Constituency seat of Anambra State.
This clarification was dropped before the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal One sitting in Awka by Mr. Ntiham Niam – a top administrative officer at the PDP headquarters while giving evidence as a defence witness in a petition by the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)-Chief Dozie Nwankwo.
He is challenging the declaration of PDP’s Valentine Ayika as winner of the instead of himself. Nwankwo said Ayika was never a candidate of any political party when he was cross-examined by the lead prosecution counsel Dr. Kayode Fatoke.
Ayika in his evidence-in-chief while reading out the copy of PDP National Assembly Primaries Appeal Panel’s report stated that it the primary contest was won fair and square by Dr. Richard Egenti for the Federal Constituency, not himself.
According to the panel, that at the end of the primary election when the committee that organised and supervised it has concluded counting and recording proceedings and was about to announce Egenti as winner, “ alleging that one of the candidates connived with the Returning Officer and ran away with the result.
He also said that the PDP Appeal panel recommended that Egenti’s name be restored and forwarded to INEC, but that was curiously not done, lead to a battery of law suits, even up to Supreme Court.
Ayika admitted that his name was not listed in the Supreme Court judgment which he has been laying claim to because he was not joined in the suit.
While being cross-examined by the INEC counsel, Mr. E.E. Udeh, who earlier claimed his name was published by INEC as a candidate, admitted he got to know his name wasn’t in the list used for the election only on the actual day of the election.
With the conclusion of presentation of witnesses with Ayika as star defense witness, the proceedings wounded up while the respondent was given up to July 25,2019 to file final defense address, while the prosecution will follow on Aug 1,2019. Adoption/argument of final addresses was fixed for Aug 3,2019.
We stopped fulanisation of the South in the First Republic, we’ll do it again –Amaechi
Chief Mbazulike Amaechi was a Minister of Aviation during the First Republic. He spoke with KENNETH OFOMA on the spate of insecurity in the country amidst the RUGA controversy. Excerpts…
What is your take on the recent killing of the daughter of the Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti?
I am very concerned about the statement by the Commissioner of Police, that she was not killed by Fulani herdsmen, but by other kidnappers and armed robbers, when the police had not even started investigation. I have been telling people; this Fulani thing is sponsored by some people in government, it is part of an agenda; fulanisation of Nigeria. I have been saying it, they started this thing at the time of Uthman Danfodio, it stopped at Lafia. Again, in 1962, some people wanted to extend the fulanisation agenda to Benue and from Benue to Nsukka, Cross River and Ogoja area. But because we were in government, we stopped it, and particularly with the help of the then Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, who did not support the Sardauna’s programme.
The thing stopped. Now, there is a Fulani man who fanatically believe in the resuscitation of Uthman Danfodio’s conquest, and he wants to extend the whole thing, using some minions in the South. The government of Nigeria is responsible for what is happening and they will be held responsible if they break up this country.
They are moving towards breaking up this federation.
But the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, also said the Fulanis should not be stigmatised for the killing. Don’t you agree with him?
Who is taking Tinubu seriously?
Apart from being a governor in Lagos State, what is Tinubu in Nigeria? Nobody should take Tinubu serious at all.
Your friend and contemporary, Tanko Yakassai, was quoted to have said that Ndigbo should support the RUGA settlement or forget 2023 Igbo presidency. How do you see that?
The Igbos should first of all get ready to fight for presidency in 2023.
Are they seriously working towards it?
They should start first of all now to organise and mobilise; I have asked them to come to me, they don’t want to listen.
Each person is pursuing his own life; presidency cannot just come to them because they said we want to be president. You have to organise, you have to work, you have to strategise, you have to mobilise and they are not doing that.
But should the Igbo support RUGA settlement in the South East even when they don’t have land for it?
Of course it cannot be. The Fulani RUGA cannot work. Our governors are playing hide and seek game but if they fail to oppose it, the people of Igboland will fight to protect their territory.
We have done it before and we stand to do it again.
Since the suspension of the RUGA programme, some northern groups, youths and elders have taken up the fight, issuing threats, ultimatum and quit notices. Aren’t you worried about this development?
It is for the Nigerian people to decide. By their action, they are provoking action.
They are provoking a rebellion in the country and the rebellion or revolution might come. Nobody wants it, I don’t want it; I fought for the freedom of this country, for the unity of this country. I believed in a party that had the slogan of one Nigeria, we never wavered, I believe in that. But not in a one Nigeria where I will be a slave.
So, what they are doing now, they are already telling the people of Southern Nigeria that its either they accept the position of slavery or whatever happens, let it happen.
That is the policy now. That the people of Southern Nigeria, including the Middle-belt area, the Christian areas of Nigeria should accept the position of slavery or colony in this country, but it will never happen!
Baylesa guber: Intrigues as PDP ticket tears Dickson’s group apart
PAULINE ONYIBE writes that the coming Bayelsa governorship election has put so much unrest in the Seriake Dickson camp and that some PDP bigwigs seems not to be on the same page as far as the choice of who succeeds Dickson is concerned.
Since the last governorship election in Bayelsa State in 2015 which brought the incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson back to Creek Haven, plans had been on to pick someone who succeeds him as the restoration government rounds off. Political pundits have analysed that the incumbent governor wants to pick his successor by all means to indirectly continue having a voice after his tenure but other powers that be are blocking that. They believe that he has not done so well to bring in a successor.
Ofcourse that has created a very big space in the PDP family as the ticket to Creek Haven is now being sought by every Tom, Dick and Harry, something that had never happened in the history of Bayelsa politics.
Already so many persons from the restoration government had purchased nomination forms including the Deputy Governor, Gboribiogha John Jonah, a decision Bayelsans believe must have created a negative impact in the government. Others that have also purchased the form include Ambassador Boladei Igali, Barrister Kemela Okara, Chief Benson Agadaga, Honourable Konbowei Benson, the immediate speaker of the state House of Assembly from Southern Ijaw local government.
Others are Senator Douye Diri, Talford Ongolo, the chief of staff to the governor, Dr. Franklin Erepamo Osaisai, Fred Agbedi, Reuben Okoya, Pastor Kenebi Okoko, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe and Joshua Maciver. Yet others are on the way as it has been alleged that the person the sitting governor wants to hand over to is yet to pick the form in the person of Dr Nimibofa Ayawei the chairman of Bayelsa State board of internal revenue, who is from Southern Ijaw and a cousin to Dr. Ereepamu Osaisai.
Also in the race is Kemela Okara the current Secretary to the State Government, who incidentally is from Bayelsa central and a son of Ekpetiama kingdom where Architect Reuben Okoya and Keniebi Okoko hail from.
Another person is Talford Ongolo the Chief of Staff Government House also from Bayelsa Central Southern Ijaw local government who is adjudged by many as not well known and might had been put in the race to dislodge those from that axis. Then comes Douye Diri an incumbent senator representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District at the 9th National Assembly who also is from central from the same local government with Timi Alaibe who has already bought form. PDP in the state as we know has two camps; that of Jonathan and that of Dickson.
While the former president seems to be supporting some aspirants, the governor has his own people that he is supporting. Of course, the APC had earlier opined that the PDP was in disarray but the umbrella party had refuted the allegation saying the party was in order until the recent intrigues that exposed and confirmed the allegation.
The restoration government through the office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Affairs, Fyneman Wilson, had recently mentioned some names that are being supported by the restoration government.
All these are happening after the conclusion of praying and fasting organised by the restoration government to choose the next governor of the state.
This, according to some people is an attempt by Dickson, technically trying to dislodge men that have already bought forms as he had repeatedly said that people cannot be outside watching while others are busy making the party attractive only for them to come and pick tickets to become governor. In less than a month, the national secretariat of the PDP has raked in about N364m from the sale of forms, in a state where there had been cry of hunger and poverty.
However, the Special Adviser on Political Matters to the Governor, Fyneman Wilson, described the increasing governorship aspirants on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as healthy process to filter the best from the pool.
He told journalists in Yenagoa that every member of the party who has the requisite qualification is entitled to contest that election, stating that the party has no preferred candidate in the upcoming election. He said that it is in Dickson’s interest to have as many persons that are willing to contest the election and that they must not be intimidated by others who claim to have been anointed.
He denied rumours making the rounds that the restoration government and the PDP has banned people who recently decamped from opposition parties from contesting the election.
But a staunch PDP member of the restoration government and Dickson’s representative in Southern Ijaw Local Government, Chief Frank Dogood Bekebo, lamented the nature and manner in which Dickson wants to bring up his successor. Bekebo advised Dickson to be weary of those he called the enemies of the party whom he said the governor has anointed to take over from him both at the local government and state levels.
Speaking with Saturday Telegraph, Bekebo advised the governor to remember those that worked for him during his last governorship election instead of trying to anoint those that didn’t work for him. He knocked the governor and the party for denying him the opportunity to test his strength during the forthcoming local government election disclosing that instead of the party to make the buying of the form open, they sold the forms to only one candidate from each of the local governments.
He therefore wondered why the PDP now made the picking of the governorship form open for every body adding that they should have also made the local government form open too. In his words, he said: “The government that we supported betrayed my right by appointing people that did not even bring one vote and made them to be flag bearers of the party.
We are the people that worked for Dickson to make him governor. When came on board, people were afraid of the governor at that time and we came up and worked for him and places that did not even bring one vote, those are the areas the governor is looking unto. “But we that went and faced the guns, today we are not being carried along. That is not good. First tenure, we worked for him, the second tenure, ward 15 brought the second highest votes in the whole of Bayelsa and I was the ward coordinator. Nothing to show for it. “People that he appointed as commissioners and caretaker chairmen didn’t even bring one vote for him.
And if they had killed us that time, our families would have lost us. I wanted to contest for local government election as chairman and to my greatest surprise, I was denied the privilege to buy form
. If they had been stopping people from buying forms in the past, would he have been the governor. It is my right. “I even pity the former speaker, some hoodlums wanted to kill him and he ran to my place and those places did not even bring votes.
some hoodlums wanted to kill him and he ran to my place and those places did not even bring votes. Let him go to his records; how many wards brought votes in his second tenure and people that betrayed Mr Speaker during House of Reps election, those are the people that want to contest election.
“Then they expect us to come and work for the party. How can we work for the party? If you want to consider somebody, if he wants to do the real thing, the first person the governor should consider is kombowei, but today we have not seen anything even among the three persons he selected, his name was not there. “Upon all he did to kombowei and his group, today they don’t have anything to say.
A serving speaker cannot even install a local government chairman in his own local government. He does not even have one person in the cabinet. That is not the way politics is played. If somebody worked for you, you have to consider those people. “And even him too, they betrayed him in is election and the assembly election. If not because of him, the assembly member would not have won.
He brought almost 8,000 votes. Even Douye Diri failed in Kolokuma Opokuma in his own place. He failed in Yenagoa local government, then speaker begged that he can’t disappoint his governor and Douye Diri became the flag bearer. He is in the Senate but Mr speaker’s own, they betrayed him. It is now that he is going to court. If I were him, I will leave this case for the party.
“When army came to Ogbimbiri, governor was talking to me, after the election. Governor’s Rep that he gave to me, am I really representing the governor, governor’s Rep is only in salary and the salary too is not encouraging. That is not the way to do things. “He supposed to consider those that fought for him. If we were killed at that time, the governor would not have come out to do anything for us. It is not good. Let him try to consider those people that fought for him. Not the people that betrayed the party. Those people that are contesting election now those people betrayed the party and it is not fair.
“At that time if you go Southern Ijaw constituency four, you can hold on to Kombowei and you can hold on to Frank Dogood Bekebo. We were putting heads. Which other person in Southern Ijaw that will come and boast that he brought votes in constituency 4 today we have seen thousands of people. “We are the giant of Southern Ijaw where were they when we brought these votes. We went to the lion’s zone. We frustrated all our business because of this party my businesses have been frustrated nobody helped me. Im a friend to David lion but because of party issue we are no longer close. I have now seen that if you listen to this party (PDP) your family will suffer. Now we have served him for eight years we that brought the votes what did we achieve
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