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It’ll be unfair to deny South-East of Deputy Senate President – Kalu

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It’ll be unfair to deny South-East of Deputy Senate President – Kalu

Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu is former governor of Abia State and among Senators-elect of the 9th National Assembly billed for inauguration tomorrow. In this interview with Channels Television, he speaks on the jostle for the leadership in the 9th National Assembly, among other issues. Temitope Ogunbanke monitored the conversation

 

 

 

 

We have seen several perspectives on the leadership of the 9th National Assembly and it has been on for a while. And you said if it is not handled properly, you will contest for the position of Senate President. But you then spoke much later, saying that all was well. What is the current position now? Has the right thing been done?

 

We are in the process of doing the right thing and the South-East would be given space in the scheme of things. I have already endorsed publicly Senator Ahmed Lawan, which you know and I stand by that endorsement. I am now asking that the South-East should be given the Deputy Senate President.

 

Has that been given? There is high level discussion going on and I am sure they will do that and bi-partisan, it would be an issue on the floor of the House because the senators remain the 109 senators.

 

There was an interview granted by the Presidential Adviser of Legislative Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang in which he was quoted to have said that Lawan will emerge as Senate President; Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker and that the position of Deputy Senate president will go to the South-South and he was referring to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege?

 

I didn’t see that report. But, Ita Enang is not one of the 109 senators, who are going to vote on Tuesday (today). The 109 senators are the only ones, who have the right to say who will be what. Whatever is done outside the Senate Chamber is not workable. And most presidential aides have been telling lies in the name of President Muhammadu Buhari. I personally asked the President last Monday, when I visited him to tell me if he has endorsed anybody for the position of Deputy Senate President. Knowing President Buhari for who he is; I have known him for 32 years; he is a man who doesn’t do double talking. I have seen leaders who double-talk. I looked at his face and said ‘Mr. President, please tell me in one word,’ but he was very busy that day and they just scheduled me to briefly see him. I said ‘in one word sir, did you endorsed anybody for Deputy Senate President because the day you addressed us, you told us it is only Lawan and Femi that you have endorsed.’ He said he did not endorse anybody for Deputy Senate President. So, I told him that I am going down to announce that I will run on the floor of the House and he didn’t ask me not to run.

 

How far do you think you can go?

 

Very far with the help of my colleagues and bi-partisan attitude! It is going to be bi-partisan. In the Senate, 109 of us should not know any party. We should not be interested in any party. We are senators of Federal Republic of Nigeria from the day we take oath of office. Once you are inside the Senate Chamber, you don’t know All Progressives Congress (APC) or Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); what you know is that you are senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Are you saying that there is no party supremacy at that point?

 

Inside the Red Chamber, party supremacy would be very little because the chairman, secretary, organising secretary and national auditor of the party are not going to be inside the Senate.

 

Even though you are a first term senator?

 

No, I am not a first term senator. Actually, one of my colleagues to be, Senator Jibrin Barau, jokingly said that I would be the oldest member in the National Assembly. That was because myself and Alhassan Doguwa, the Minority Whip, were in the National Assembly in the Third Assembly in 1991. So, I am a returning member of the National Assembly.

 

Let’s reverse trends of things to 2015. At that point when we were going to have the Senate President and also the Speaker of the House of Representatives, it didn’t quite go the way the party expected it to go. What guarantees that this time around, it might even work in favour of what the party wants?

 

The party has worked so hard for it to work. For me, the APC, PDP and YPP agreed that we should have a common candidate and that common candidate for now is Lawan. We have gone very far, I can tell you that. All of us in APC for now have agreed that whether Lawan is bad, good, evil or anything, we are going to follow him. Not following him without minding the rules of the law. We are not going to be switched to anybody. I am a personal friend of the President and he will not ask me to go against the law as a lawmaker.

 

But, there would be APC and PDP on the day of voting. How prepared are you because things may not work the way you make it sound easy?

 

There is no PDP or APC on the floor of the Red Chamber. After all, who is PDP, who is APC? Was I not in the PDP before? The political party is just a vehicle that carries us inside the Senate Chamber and when we get to the Senate Chamber, we become Nigerians who want to make laws for Nigerian people.

 

So, what you are saying for now is that members are supporting Lawan?

 

I don’t see any change in Lawan. Lawan is very experienced and focused. If it is a normal democracy, he is also entitled to be there because he is a very long serving senator. In our party now, there should be no contest against Lawan because he is already the Majority Leader. To be honest with you, I don’t see anybody questioning the ability of Lawan.

 

Even with Senator Ali Ndume, who is also from the North in the race?

 

Ndume is my friend and brother; he is like my younger brother. He is competent, but Lawan has been endorsed by the presidency, Progressives Governors Forum and party caucus, and the party is supreme.

 

You said the other time that on the floor of the Senate, party divide is not important…

 

Yes, because there is no national chairman of a party to whip me at the back on the floor of the House. There is not going to be national auditor and national secretary of the party to remind me that I am a member of APC. Once I am inside the Red Chamber, I become a Nigerian.

 

Are you sure that is also the position of the PDP or any other party …

 

If they are reasonable enough, the interest of the country must come first before party. If they are reasonable enough, they fought in 2015, the strategy was very wrong; some people went for a meeting and some people voted; it is not going to happen again. All of us will be there; one man to one man, one woman, one vote. We are going to face each other and tell ourselves the truth.

 

But the PDP has a very vocal about the fact that it could cause an upset…

 

I don’t see that happening because I am telling you in confidence that we already have 58 members of the APC. I was the 56th member that signed for Lawan and I don’t see any upset; I must be honest with you. But what we are just begging the PDP is that we want one Senate. We don’t want a divided Senate. We want Nigerians to enjoy democracy. We want to come up with ideas that will revive our economy than fighting.

 

But the chairman of your party seems not  to share the same view. He said APC has gotten the majority and don’t need PDP. In fact, he said they will not occupy any committee chairmanship position…

 

That is the position of the chairman. Possibly it is not the position of the party because the chairman is just a member of the party; he is just first among equals. We still need to have endorsement from our National Working Committee and National Executive Committee of the party; that is when it becomes a law.

 

Could it be also his own view, when he said aggrieved members of APC can go to PDP?

Were you there when the chairman said so? You journalists sometimes put people on the spot. I am sure you brought me here this morning to make me a sacrificial lamb, but I am not going to allow that.

 

We are just asking a simple question

I am giving you simple answer. Once you are inside the Red Chamber, people shave party lines; they discuss among themselves. The legislator will do what is appropriate for the nation. But you just told us not long ago that the President has endorsed Senator Lawan and Hon. Gbajabiamila for leadership positions in the National Assembly. Is he not aware that when they get on the floor, things will change? The President didn’t say it is either you do it or I kill you. You know President Buhari is very calm; he appeals to all the senators. I asked him a simple question. I am not trying to reveal what I discussed with the President; I am just trying to give you example of what I asked him. If the President has told me that I should not run for the position of Deputy Senate President, I will not run because he is the leader of the party, assisted by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. So, if the leader of the party calls me and say, no you cannot run for this office, I will drop the ambition, but they would have equity to the South- Eastern part of Nigeria; they would have denied them fairness and our diversity will be in question. I am not running because I need an office; that office is not going to make any change in my life, but I am running because for fairness and equity, the South-East must have somebody in the hierarchy. Let me be honest with you, there are seven positions of the Federal Government; the President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker and the chairman of the ruling party. So, how do you want out of this seven, nothing will come to the South-East? It is just what I am asking for; fairness. You people know my history; I have always been on the side of the people; from students’ union politics in University of Maiduguri till today; I have always maintained let us be fair and I believe in that.

 

But the position has not been officially zoned to South-East…

 

But you read Vanguard Newspaper

 

Vanguard was talking about South-South; Senator Ovie Omo-Agege by Senator Ita Enang…

 

Ita Enang is talking as a private man. In fact, I am sure he is speaking for himself; he is not speaking for the party. And let me be honest with you, even if the party asks me not to run, I will run on the floor of the House because to be honest with you, this is one position I have to fight for because you cannot leave the South-East behind.

 

Do you necessarily have to be the person from the South-East?

 

No! But if the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives is given to the South-East today, I will not run for the position of Deputy Senate President any longer because that is more superior to Deputy Senate President. If you give the post of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the South-East today although I have endorsed Gbajabiamila for the position, I will drop. I am only asking for a fair and free democratic process of the Senate.

 

Some people would say that often time when leaders talk about zoning; they only use zoning for their personal interest. How would you respond to those who would say this is not really about zoning but about you becoming Deputy Senate President?

 

What is wrong with me becoming the Deputy Senate President? I have been member of the legislature and I have been a two-term governor. Whether it is personal or for the interest of our people, it represents the interest of our people. I am not shy in saying what I want and what should be done rightly. I have told you that if they give any other position that is as good as the Speaker of the House of Representatives to South-East, I will drop today. That is the issue.

 

What exactly do your people stand to benefit if you become Deputy Senate President?

 

Those people getting it, what do they stand to benefit?

 

What exactly do your people stand to benefit if you get the position as Deputy Senate President that they will not get, with you being a member of the Senate?

 

What you are saying is that there is going to be caucus meeting and the South-East will not have a member of that caucus. I am not fighting this for personal interest. What I am looking for in life is limited. I have retired as a man. I am trying to make sure that we help Mr. President build the country the way it is supposed to be. But, if you call it personal interest, why not and what is wrong with that? Am I not a human being? Those who are occupying the position, are they better than me? Is it because I am Igbo? I won’t take that from anybody. The issue now is that the South-East needs to be in the power bloc of Nigeria.

 

Why is that important?

 

It is important. Why are others there? When they discuss, who is going to take back the message back to the South-East? Who is going to build the party? After Buhari today, no other individual in the party can bring 10 to 12 million votes. You need to build APC in the South-East and you need the leadership to build it. You are not going to build it as individuals.

 

So, is it then a question of politics or governance for you?

 

It is going to be both governance and politics because they go together. If there is no governance, there won’t be politics and if there is no politics, there won’t be governance. I

 

think that is usually one of the problems that people have because there is a lot of politicizing of governance …

 

No, you have made six regions. You have seven meats in a soup and you want every region to take without the South- East taking. I don’t agree with you.

 

Does that mean that the South-East is in anyway disenfranchised or opted out?

 

Of course, it looks so because in 2015, you said we have no senator; now we have senators and we have members of the House of Representatives, and somebody is still telling me that South-East did not vote for APC. That person must not be thinking right. In my state (Abia) in 2015, the APC got three per cent of votes in the national elections, but in the 2019 elections, APC had 29.5 per cent; it is an improvement. In Ebonyi State, APC also performed well. So, from 29 per cent, if APC is going to do another election in four years, we will be increasing. So, we need this position and office to give service to Nigerian people and to also protect the people from South-East.

 

If all of these are geared towards having inclusiveness and having the sastern part of the country in running of affairs in this country, what then would you say is the path, especially now that we have Boss Mustapha at some point promising the East of the presidency in 2023?

 

Let us leave presidency in 2023, let us do what is needful now.

 

Is the present going to reflect what will happen in 2023?

 

Let me tell you, there is no time that is better than now. Now is the time, let us start today before we start to talk about tomorrow. Let us start today in putting ourselves properly where we are supposed to be.

 

Some will argue that the promise made by Mustapha represents the importance of having the Igbo to be part of the nation building and having good top leadership positions. Can the Igbo work in such unison, so that you will have the presidency in 2023?

 

Let’s leave the presidency in 2023. Leave us with one position; that is what I am telling you. Leave about the future. Who told you I will be alive till then? Who told you about people talking about 2023 would be alive till then? Let us talk about today. There is no time better than now and now is the time.

 

You spoke to the President and he talked about Lawan being the Senate President and Gbajabiamila as Speaker and didn’t talk about other positions…

 

He said he has asked the party to go and share equally the other positions to reflect the country’s diversity.

 

So if they are hesitant and that hasn’t been done till now; doesn’t that suggest they are taking their time to play politics?

 

It is the senators who would vote. People will nominate me and people will nominate other candidates and whoever wins will become the Deputy Senate President. If I win they should be able to congratulate me and if another person wins, I will stand up and congratulate him. That is what constitutional democracy is all about. It is not about fighting.

 

So, if it doesn’t come to the South-East, there is no problem…

 

As long as it is voted for on the floor of the House; there would be no problem. If the whole of Nigeria will reject the South-East, by saying we are no longer part of the nation, I mean it is okay. It is one of those things.

 

How will you receive that and how should that be redressed?

 

I will continue to be a lawmaker. First of all, my constituency voted for me to be a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not senator of Abia North. If I don’t win, I will congratulate the winner. But I will campaign bi-partisanly to all the parties to be included.

 

You insist that if the party says it is zoning the position to South-South, you will contest

 

The party should be reasonable enough to zone it to the South-East. The party is already in crisis, so it should not break further. I am not threatening anybody but the leadership should not break the party further.

 

What crisis are you talking about?

 

The party lost seven states in the recent election, so it is a crisis. PDP didn’t win us anywhere; it is just the crisis inside the party. So, if the party is already in crisis, it should be able to do what is reasonably right in the eyes of man and in the eyes of God.

 

Senator Ndume has said several times that the party did not zone the Senate presidency and that nobody has called him to ask him to step down and he has the telephone numbers of all the senators; he is being speaking with all of them and nobody has asked him to step down unlike 2015…

 

We have no problems with that. We will see him at the floor of the Senate. He is our brother and friend. He is a Maiduguri man like me; there is nothing about that.

 

But if the President said he prefers Senator Lawan, why the dissent…

 

Senator Ndume to be honest with you was at the meeting. I was with him; although he disagreed. He showed his disagreement instantly.

 

So, that means he cannot be under estimated?

 

I don’t know what he is planning. But what I am saying is that he cannot say nobody told him; he was there when the national chairman said it. He was there when the President concluded his speech and he came out immediately to say ‘no I don’t agree.’

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Politics

Why I appoint persons with disability to run Commission –Lalong

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Why I appoint persons with disability to run Commission –Lalong

G

overnor Simon Lalong of Plateau State says his original idea of setting up Disability Rights Commission informed his decision to appoint physically challenged persons to run the commission.

Lalong made this known when he met with a World Bank Technical Team on Disability Inclusion. The governor further said that misapplication of the state Disability Rights Act by able bodied persons compelled him to sack them from the commission meant to cater for the needs of persons with disabilities.

 

 

“The same law which was passed when I was speaker of Plateau House of Assembly, was misapplied when persons without disability were in charge of the commission.

“I said `no’, that was not my idea, the idea was that when we set up a commission like this, we should show the world that such commissions can be managed by persons with disabilities.

“I removed those people who were able and I told them to go to where there is no disability and leave this one for people that are disabled. I replaced them with people with disabilities because they have capable hands that can manage the commission,” he explained.

The governor stated that since the commission was taken over by persons with disabilities, the commission has been doing very well and in deference  to their  specific disability.

 

 

Lalong assured that looking at performance of physically challenged persons in his last administration, he would appoint more of them in the next cabinet he was about to constitute.

According to him, those that were dissolved at the end of his first tenure would be reappointed.

 

 

The governor pledged to continue to support people with disabilities to fulfil their God-given missions.

He said that his passion to support the disabled persons  was ignited during his days at the Ahmad Bello University (ABU), Zaria when a blind orthopedic surgeon who grew up  in Plateau treated a student with multiple fractures.

“Since then, I resolved that I will support people with disabilities to achieve their potential,” he said.

 

 

Ms Vera Vemuru, Leader, World Bank Technical Team on Disability Development, said that they were in Plateau to interact with persons with disabilities and relevant government agencies on disability inclusion.

Vemuru  lauded Lalong’s overwhelming support for people with disabilities and urged him to sustain the tempo.

 

 

“I appreciate your passion and what you have achieved from the policy to create the commission.

“From our interaction with members of the commission, each one of them is very passionate and more committed to the course. From my many years on disability inclusion, I  have seen the vision, the key plans and execution under your leadership is going on very well,” she said.

Mr Michael Elesami, a member of the team, said that Plateau is the only state in Africa that appointed up to four persons to key positions by an administration.

Elesami urged the governor to pay attention to gender-based violence while addressing the needs of persons with disabilities.

 

 

My James Lalu, Chairman, Plateau Disability Rights Commission, thanked Lalong for his love and support for people with disabilities.

Lalu, who is auditory (hearing) impaired, also thanked the World Bank team for the visit which he said was aimed at improving the well-being of the persons with disabilities in Plateau.

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Politics

Your sun will rise again

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Your sun will rise again

Babs: I am tired of life. I am tired of everything. In fact, I feel like taking my own life. Depression and frustration are the food I now eat on a daily a daily basis. Suicidal thoughts are not far from me…

Kunle: Hmmmmm!

 

Babs: It’s been four years since I lost my job, I mean four whole years. I don beg beg beg, toh beg gan don tire me sef. Friends have neglected me; family members are no longer looking at my end. No one wants to identify with me anymore.

 

Kunle: Hmmmmmm!

 

Babs: Kunle, tell me, what is the essence of my being alive? Why am I still living sef? Sincerely, I think I would rather prefer to die than to keep living with this shame. I am tired. I am sincerely tired of life.

Kunle: Hmmmmm

 

Babs: The other day, I told Richard to lend me 2k. Instead of him to tell me he doesn’t have, he began to tell me the stories of my life – how I need to seek spiritual help, how I need to go beg the people I’ve offended and ask for forgiveness. Sincerely, the things he told me that day made me regretted ever going to meet him to lend me money. At the end, he asked me to check back in two months’ time – for 2k ooo. I wished the ground would open up and swallow me.

Kunle:Hmmmmmm!

 

Babs:Me of all people. I, who used to give out bags of rice to families; I, who used to pay other children’s school fees. I, who used to help people pay for other’s accommodation…So why me? Why me Kunle?

Kunle: Babs, sincerely, I understood all you’ve said but can I ask you some questions?

Babs: Go ahead

 

Kunle: How is your present situation different from mine some few years back? Can you remember how I lost everything aside my life? I mean how I moved from having almost everything to having nothing – from job, money, accommodation, assets, then, family, all gone before one could say ‘jack…’. I’m glad we’re alive during this period. If we were to do some comparisons between my situation then and yours, now, whose case is more miserable?

 

Babs: Hmmmmm!

Kunle: Babs, if I could survive then, then, you will definitely survive this too. In life, there comes a time where all seems dark. A time when there’s a sudden stoppage to almost everything good around you. A time when you can’t explain why and how you got into an unpleasant situation you found yourself. There comes a point when people blame you for the calamity that has befallen you, and everyone wants to assume the role of a teacher and instructor in your life.

This time, you might experience total rejection and an unexplainable betrayal from people you trusted most and many more.

 

Now, note, this is the logic – this is when you decide to join either the league of people who scaled through fire in life or the league of failure.

 

The only time the game is over is when you give up. But as long as you are still in, irrespective of how life has messed you up or how you’ve been knocked down by circumstances, once you make up your mind not to throw in the towel, it is just a matter of time, the tide will definitely change for good.

 

Two things I did then, let me share with you today:

 

1.   I believed I would make it: I never gave up on myself even when everything else said otherwise. My belief was so strong that failure wasn’t an option. I was already down, so my next option was to go UP.

2.   My words changed: Rather than keep complaining, I started saying positive words. I later discovered that you can change things through your words; and this has worked for me.

 

3.   Make moves: Don’t just sit, take action, and don’t get tired trying. It is better to die trying than to die doing nothing.

Babs, you sure know that though I am not where I want to be, but I am definitely not where I used to be. Today, I can boldly say my sun is shining again. I had since recovered all I lost and even gone farther than the great heights I had attained

Dear reader, particularly those in a messy situation now; one charge for you – GIVING UP SHOULDN’T BE IN YOUR AGENDA. Irrespective of how messy the situation is, your mess will soon become a great message. Your sun will shine again.

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Politics

Oyo and Makinde’s rebuilding efforts

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Oyo and Makinde’s rebuilding efforts

 

F

rom the actions and speeches of Governor Seyi Makinde since he assumed office on May 29 as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) helmsman of the 43-year-old Pace Setter State of Oyo, people’s assessment of him is that of a man that has idiomatically come to cleanse the Augean Stable.

The business mogul has inherited a lot of liabilities both financial, social, economic, and otherwise from his predecessor such that discoveries which are being unearthed on daily basis have put the two Ibadan political gladiators on edge in terms of relationship.

Poised to see that he achieves his electoral promises of alleviating the masses’ suffering and depart from the culture of empty promises that many of his predecessors were notorious for, Makinde has within the 100 days of his administration, taken several intervention giant strides in the pursuit of rehabilitation and correction of the identified patent and latent dysfunctions bedeviling the smooth-running of his administration.

 

Among the contending issues Makinde has been unknotting are some questionable contract awards executed in the twilight of the past administration; the issue of official vehicles that were carted away by the ex-governor, his wife and some of his aides; the controversial issue of 48 High Chiefs and Baales, who were elevated and installed as Obas in Ibadan against the consenting approval of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogunguniso 1; among others.

Some of these contending issues are still rupturing the political atmosphere of the state, chief among them, the Ibadan obaship which is still in the court and causing an unsavoury furore between the obas led by the Otun Olubadan, Oba Lekan Balogun (next in position to the Olubadan) and the monarch himself.

 

To ensure a lasting solution is found to the traditional imbroglio, Governor Makinde has even waded in through the Appeal Court to see that an out-of-court settlement is introduced to allow for peace in the city.

 

In his strive to reposition the ailing infrastructural and economic architecture of the administration and create conducive environment for businesses within, the state has planned to restore the glory of Bola Ige International Business Complex, Gbagi, Ibadan.

The market, it was said would be returned to its original international standard as provided in its master plan. The market according to assessment by the government is currently in a state of disrepair owing to organisational deficit.

 

The plan to restore the market was contained in a communique issued after a stakeholders’ meeting held recently at the market between the market leaders and the task force committee set up by the governor to restructure the business complex.

The Chairman of the task force committee, Sanitarian Olusoji Oyewole in his briefing, assured the market men and women that the state government remained committed to providing them the basic facilities that would promote the economic activities in the market.

His words: “The Oyo State Government under the leadership of Engineer Seyi Makinde has deemed it fit to ensure that Bola Ige International Business Complex regains its lost age-long status as a major hub of wholesale textile materials, servicing both neighboring, far and distant states in Nigeria,” he said.

 

Harping on the intention of the administration in setting up the task force, Oyewole said “It is not to witch-hunt anyone in the market but rather towards seeking their cooperation and support for proper waste dumping of refuse, hygienic toilet facilities, large number of parking lots for convenience and easy access to the market, as well as, considerable open spaces in construction of approved buildings.”

He, however, urged the market community to keep to the environmental laws and town planning regulations of the state, noting that the market stood to benefit if commercial activities were carried out in clean and serene environment.

 

In his remarks, the representative of the elders’ forum in the market, Chief Adebayo, expressed appreciation to the state government and further pledged support of the market community towards the actualisation of restoring the market to international standard.

 

Another sector of the state which needs urgent intervention, and which has brought migraine for the Makinde government is the management of some vital ministries, among them the Ministry of Information. Paucity of equipment is the bane of its operation.

Conducting a tour of the ministry last week, the Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun, lamented the deplorable condition of the Cultural Centre in the state, disclosing that his ministry has no single digital camera to work with.

He described the condition of the ministry as pathetic, disturbing, and disappointing. To his assessment, the state printing press was still using old technology which was last operated over 20 years ago.

Olatunbosun, who reeled out his modern programmes to drive information in the state and reverse the deplorable state, however, said he was very happy that the governor had people with latest experience in all the sectors of economy in his cabinet.

“We have toured the agencies in our ministry but I can tell you that the condition is pathetic, disturbing, and disappointing. Nothing on ground to work with. As big as this ministry is, there is no single camera to work with. We have editing and television studios but there is nothing in those places. I was told that politicians went with some of the equipment they used during the 2015 general elections.

 

“As I am talking to you, the Commissioner does not have an official vehicle. On our cultural section, I can tell you that our Cultural Centre which is the hub of the culture department is in dilapidated condition. In fact, it is a death trap. It was neglected for the past ten years.

“I think it is a deliberate attempt to neglect our culture. This kind of edifice (Cultural Centre) is in three locations in Nigeria. While other state governments are managing their own, the Oyo State government neglected its own for many years.

“They used to have two generating sets in that place before now but politicians took the two away in a single day. They claimed that government wanted to use it and up till today, they didn’t return it. After that, we went to the state press centre, but do you know that they are still using Lord Lugard technology there?  The last time they printed in our press was four years ago. But we will resuscitate the ministry,” he nevertheless assured.

 

 

On what to do to improve the ministry, he said he had a blue print to reposition the ministry, and that he would ensure the governor enjoyed a good relationship with the people.

In the judicial sector, the helmsman said the state was set to introduce parole system for rehabilitation of prisoners as a way of decongesting it and allow for quicker dispensation of justice and sanitisation of the society.

The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo disclosed this during an interactive session with journalists, shortly after an inaugural meeting with the management and staff of the ministry in Ibadan.

The Commissioner stated  that there was need to create a viable platform for proper rehabilitation of prisoners who were released through prerogative of mercy for them to become a better person.

 

His words: “We are going to come up with policies that the judiciary will focus on. For instance, non-custodial sentences policy and parole system for prisoners rehabilitation. An effective parole system will be introduced so that prisoners that were given prerogative of mercy do not go back to prison. This will be done in conjunction with the religious leaders, civil society and charity organisations.”

Before his assumption of office, payment of workers’ salaries was a cause for concern as no one could determine when within or outside the month, the salary would be paid. The welfarist governor promised to be paying workers’ salaries timely and they would be receiving it on the 25th of every month. This promise has continued unbroken, to the delight and admiration of the entire people of the state. Testifying, many workers said they can now plan their finances since they ow when credit alert will sound on their mobile phones.

Many parents, who no longer pay tuition fees, however, small that the N3,000 is, have heaved a sigh of relief as the enrolment of many hitherto out-of-school children has been increasing both at the primary and secondary schools.

 

Aside from donating his salary to the Pension Fund scheme to alleviate the suffering of pensioners whose pension and gratuities were not paid for several months by the past administration, Makinde, who is committed to improving the education sector, recently announced payment of N500,000 bursary to each of the 120 students of the Law School who are Oyo State indigenes. The N60m million it will cost has won the governor another garland.

 

Attention of the governor has, however, been drawn to a perceived injustice smuggled into the process by some people who excluded a horde of qualified students, many who had even been processing the bursary before Senator Abiola Ajimobi left the office. The original list of those students sent to the Abuja headquarters of the Law School was allegedly sidelined while the list presented to the governor contained almost only names of Law graduates of the Lead City University, Ibadan.

In their series of consultations and visits to officials of the state government, the Oyo State Indigene representatives from the six Law Schools in the country have continued to seek Governor Makinde’s understanding that his show of magnanimity should not be lopsided, but extended to all the qualified Oyo State indigenes in the Law School.

 

Many among such laudable plans are still being churned out by the government which is genuinely committed to making life more meaningful and worthy of living by the residents of the state. Should the humane trend continue, the orientation of the electorate is sure to change towards the right way to vote in the future.

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IPOB’s assault on Ekweremadu is an assault on Ndigbo –Okoye

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IPOB’s assault on Ekweremadu is an assault on Ndigbo –Okoye

Chief Pius Okoye is the National President of the Igboezue International Nigeria and Diaspora, an Igbo socio cultural organisation spread across the country and beyond. In this interview with OKEGWO KENECHUKWU, he speaks on the state of the nation, RUGA settlement, herdsmen killings and the recent attack on former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu by IPOB members

 

 

What is your take on the state of our nation today?

My take is very simple: the Nigeria nation is already at a crossroad and the only solution strongly canvassed by Nigerians in the country and in Diaspora is restructuring. It is our strong view and contention that the leadership of the country lacks the capacity to sustain the peace and unity of the nation without embracing true federation. So the answer is restructuring and nothing else.

 

 

The South-East governments recently agreed on the establishment of forest guards as part of security measures to checkmate the excesses of herdsmen in the zone. What is the view of Igboezue on this?

 

 

Well, it is a welcome development if actualised with concrete ideas but it must be backed by law. However, Ndigbo should also think beyond that, and make sure they are ready at any point in time to defend themselves. The issue of herdsmen attack will no longer be tolerated anymore.

 

We have had enough of bloodshed of innocent citizens.  Igboezue as a cultural organisation condemned in its entirety the killings of the Enugu Catholic priests, lecturers, raping of our women and so on. I am therefore, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently set up a powerful panel of inquiry to unravel the recent killing in the zone. Members of the National Assembly from the zone should not have any excuse not to do so, if the Federal Government fails to address the menace of these herdsmen terrorising our communities. They should wake up from their slumber and address this ugly development immediately with the Federal Government.

 

 

Controversies have continued to trail the recent arrest and detention of the #Revolution Now, arrowhead, Mr. Omoyele Sowore. Do you think such a protest will solve Nigeria’s problems?

 

 

Well, in an organised society, peaceful protest is allowed everywhere in the world. It is a peaceful way of expression of anger. I think what was wrong is the entire thing is the name #Revolution Now. And as a politician who expressed interest to contest election into the office of the President, the All Progressives Congress government would always see it as an attempt to overthrow the government in power.

 

 

However, what we condemn out rightly is the arrest and detention of Sowore. He is a Nigerian and has his fundamental right to peaceful protest.

 

 

What is your stance on the unfortunate incident of the recent killing of three police officers in Taraba State by soldiers?

 

 

I am sad. My heart bleeds. This nation is sitting on a keg of gunpowder and it might soon explode. The entire thing is like a set up. Nigerian Army authorities should not fail to tell Nigerians the truth. Nigerians demand justice in this incident. The perpetrators and the kidnap kingpin must all face the full weight of the law otherwise Nigerians should see it as a conspiracy. I will, however, love to advise the police to resort to dialogue during these trying time rather than confrontation.

 

 

The 2nd Nigeria Bridge project has been criticized as being politicised. Do you think this administration is capable of completing the project as promised?

 

 

Let me use this opportunity to thank the present administration for the massive work going on at the 2nd Nigeria Bridge project. This is one federal project in the South East geopolitical zone that has been politicized by the past leadership of this country. The Igboezu International Nigeria would ever remain grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari for this singular project especially if it is completed. He is also working on the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and in fact according to reports one of the service lanes of the project is even nearing completion.

 

Last weekend, the former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, was attacked by the IPOB in Germany. How does your organisation see this action of IPOB?

 

The Igboezue International Nigeria and Diaspora condemned the attack on the former Deputy Senate President by members of IPOB. For us it is misplaced aggression. The embarrassment is not only on the person of the former Deputy Senate President but also on Ndigbo. It is totally unacceptable and IPOB must apologise to Ndigbo, Ekweremadu and other governors mentioned otherwise Ndigbo will see it as being politically motivated.

 

 

We don’t want the IPOB to be associated with such act of brigandage. We believe that members of the IPOB are responsible people and should be properly guided by their acts and utterances against Igbo and other stakeholders in their Biafra struggle.

 

 

We advise members of IPOB to avoid any acts of violence in order not to betray the confidence and reputation it has built up over the years as a non-violent organisation before the international community.  This is because IPOB cannot actualize their dream of self-determination by engaging in acts capable of jeopardizing their Biafran Project. They should sheath their swords and close ranks with the Igbo leaders and other stakeholders to champion their cause effectively.

 

 

From the alleged IPOB threat, notable Igbo leaders and governors are no longer safe. What is Igboezue’s view on this?

 

 

Any house that is divided will definitely fall. The leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the South-East governors are the leaders of Ndigbo and any assault on them is an assault on the entire Igbo race. There must be synergy and mutual relationship between the IPOB and Igbo leaders at all time. 

 

 

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Buhari should fix economy, address insecurity, says Teriba

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Buhari should fix economy, address insecurity, says Teriba

 

C

hief Executive Officer, Economic Outlook, Dr. Ayo Teriba, and other prominent Nigerians have tasked President Muhammadu Buhari’s new cabinet to, as a matter of urgency, address security, grow the economy and shore up revenue base as catalysts for national development.

 

 

In the ministerial list released last week, former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, Dr. Chris Ngige, Geofrey Onyeama, Rotimi Amaechi, Lai Mohammed, Zainab Adamu, Adamu Adamu  were returned as Works and Housing; Labour, Foreign Affairs; Transport; Finance; Budget and Planning and Education respectively.

 

 

All 43 ministers had spent the preceding two days agreeing to and prioritizing the key strategic initiatives required to drive accelerated economic growth in our country as well as the critical enablers required for seamless execution and agreed on the appropriate key performance indicators and measures of success for each initiative. 

 

 

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s honest disclosure of his ignorance of his duties on assumption of office immaterial, the respondents said it is definitely time for the newly inaugurated cabinet to hit the ground running, coming about three months after being sworn and given the barrage if developmental issues on ground.

 

 

They said in so far as ministers have leading roles to play in framing issues within their policy domain and developing, implementing and tracking policies and in communicating the impacts and results with the responsibility to take ownership over the success of these initiatives and  will be ultimately responsible, it goes without saying that the expectations are very high.

 

 

Teriba said even though this government came into office in 2015 with gigantic programmes and policies, the idea of funding such programmes through borrowing was clearly unsustainable and “such fiscal hurdle should be scaled if the second term is going to be different from the first one. They must say more and do more in finding revenue not just announcing plans, programmes and welfare.”

 

 

Teriba, who referred to one of his recent interviews, said: “The Nigerian economy, whether you are looking at it from growth, stability or liquidity, presents a situation in which the key variables of interest tend to be up today and down tomorrow and then back the day after because of dependence on oil revenue which has been unstable.

 

 

“One defining attribute of the Nigerian economy is cyclical swings in growth, stability and in liquidity. The second is structural shift. Key measures of production are shifting in undesirable directions, as worrying pattern are emerging in both production and spending. Gross Domestic Product today is almost 2/3 of services which has shot striking an undesirable structural shift. Agriculture and industry are declining fraction of the GDP, and this desire urgent attention.

 

 

“The Nigerian economy has had to grapple with some policy hurdles over the last years since 2015. While fiscal policies expresses government’s good intentions, investment as well as government spending are as large as consumption. Today consumption has surged as high as 70 per cent and were are steadily declining investing and government spending. Monetary policy has been weak if not more debilitatingly weak that fiscal policy.

 

 

“Across all tiers of government, investment is witnessing steady decline. The solution?  Government should make agriculture and industries more competitive and spend more on energy infrastructure and transportation.”    

 

 

Observers said insecurity still remains a major problem as Boko Haram is still rampaging the North-East even as kidnapping and attacks by Fulani herdsmen and other criminals threaten agricultural production and indeed investments.

 

 

The government has been making investment in road and rail infrastructure and completing inherited projects, decayed infrastructure in which many roads in the country are still either impassable or are death traps,  a dwindling economy that is dependent largely on oil revenues and imports with accompanying unemployment rate.

 

 

The stated that the gratifying news is that the government seemed focused on diversifying the economy from oil towards agriculture and industrialization, thousands of industries in many parts of the country remained closed,

 

It is also interesting that the ministers and experts at the retreat which preceded the allocation of potfolios  discussed solutions relating to addressing insecurity, macroeconomic stability, agriculture and food security, energy security for petroleum products and electricity, transportation and critical infrastructure, industrialization and SME development; human capital development, social inclusion, anti-corruption, housing financing and consumer credit.

 

 

Just as some experts have suggested that a strong bureaucracy was needed to co-ordinate government policies, plans and programmes for success as suggested by Dr. Amadi of the University of Abuja, it was not baffling too that President Buhari had directed all ministers to pass their memos through the office of his Chief of Staff, even as they take effective control of their respective ministries and fulfill their core mandates.

 

 

The president said: “In terms of coordination, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channeled through the Chief of Staff, while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. I would like to thank the Office of the SGF for coordinating this successful Presidential Retreat.

 

 

“Once again, the challenges that lie ahead of us as a country are significant. But I have no doubt in your individual capacities and our collective patriotic commitment to deliver a better Nigeria for us, our children and a brighter future for all.”

 

 

Some of the core plans were to “consolidate and accelerate on the agricultural agenda to achieve full food sufficiency Increase revenue, implement measures to reduce leakages and drive cost optimization and ensure effective coordination between monetary and fiscal policy.”

Others are to “invest in human capital development with strong focus on early education and health insurance Facilitate investment in oil and gas sector by ensuring speedy passage of the   Petroleum Industry Bill and Deep Offshore Oil and Exploration and Production Bill Resolve the liquidity challenge in power sector and facilitate private sector investment.”

Nigerians want to see how the various arms of government such as state government, national assembly work effectively to actualize the plans and make major high impact initiatives such as provision of large scale land for agriculture and food security, passage of critical legislations.

But beyond this is more work alone but time to turn our words into actions – to take everything that we have learned, all the strategies and approaches that we have discussed, and go execute our priorities. This work begins now.

President Buhari reiterated that the Federal Government is committed to delivering on and implementing all agreed initiatives within the stipulated timelines, but that to ensure effective implementation, the initiatives will be cascaded to the relevant ministries, whose ministers will champion the responsibility for driving implementation and execution.

Perhaps more anticipatory was what Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), described as “the looming demographic potential of our country, which by average estimates, our population is close to 200 million today. By 2050, UN estimates put Nigeria third globally behind only India and China with our projected population at 411 million.

“This is a frightening prospect but only if we sit idly by and expect handouts from so-called development partners. The solution to our problems lies within us. …in our first term we identified three salient areas for close attention and action, namely to secure the country, to improve the economy and to fight corruption.”

The main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), has said last week it was not surprised that the President had no clear-cut blueprint to rescue the nation from the economic, security and social quagmires which his administration had plunged our nation into in the last four years.

In a statmenht signed by its Publicty Secretary, Kola Ologbodiya, it said: “Of course, Mr. President had on several occasions demonstrated a lack of required capacity to lead a nation as complex as Nigeria, especially at these trying times.

“At a ceremony where Nigerians had expected the forceful articulation of a progressive policy thrust, Mr. President bored the nation with an empty and directionless script that only evoked more despondency in our nation. Instead of helping President Buhari to offer hope, his handlers were more interested on photo-ups and refreshments, away from serious business of governance.”

Former Presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party, Chief Martins Onovo, however, said Buhari’s government lacked legitimacy and has not done well in running the affairs of the nation in the past five years when Nigeria’s fortunes took a dive for the worse.

“He has a case pending in the court. Did he win the 2019 election? No. So his government lacks legitimacy and I won’t be among those setting agenda for him. He knows he did not win an election. He should go and finish his case in court. Look at the matter. The Independent National Electoral Commission which declared him winner listed 83 witnesses but could not call one. What does that mean other than admission of error?”

He also wondered why the President’s certificate remains an issue after five years in office, but when reminded that the case was still in court, he said he was sure the court will do justice, lamenting though that the performance of his government has been catastrophic.

“His performance has been the most catastrophic since independence. Look at the indices. In terms of the economy, Nigeria rose to become the poverty capital of the whole world, look at unemployment rate and insecurity. Nigeria under his watch has become the third most terrorized country in the whole world.

“His anti-corruption war is a hoax. His cabinet is full of people with pending criminal cases in court, yet he went ahead to inaugurate them. He was at the National Assembly and misinformed the people that hundreds roads have been fixed in the South-East, even when he knew this was untrue. This was greeted with a shout of disapproval from the National Assembly. Yet you media people have failed to investigate that because he has an elaborate propaganda machinery.”

 

 

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What Buhari’s retreat for ministers failed to address

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What Buhari’s retreat for ministers failed to address

S

ome salient essentials of a retreat are that it provides one with the opportunity to learn new things, familiarize deeply with others, refresh on existing knowledge, and develop a new perspective about life and issues.

Organisers of the recent Presidential R etreat for ministers now sworn-in by President Muhammadu Buhari for his second term, may have also had clear set objectives when they put together the two-day event at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Those coming into the cabinet need to understand the policy direction of the government in the next four years.

 

 

In the views of the Secretary the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, participants during the retreat succeeded in laying a critical foundation needed to accomplish significant targets set by the government in the second term.

Nigerians indeed waited for two months for appointments of the ministers, with fears that prolong delays could again, snowball into an economic crisis for the country. When the President finally sent the list of ministerial nominees to the Senate for confirmation, it received mix reactions.

First, was condemnation for failure on the part of the President to dispatch the list without assigning portfolios for each of the ministerial nominees, to aide members of the red chamber in the screening process, at least, in avoiding square pegs in round holes. It was, however, not a hindrance, as the lawmakers cleared all 43 ministerial nominees who have since assumed duty.

 

 

Many people have always argued that for the country to make significant progress, competence and not sentiment must be the yardstick for the appointment of individuals into public office. It is on this basis too that critics have since described the composition of the Buhari’s second term cabinet as political patronage.

 

One can vividly recall how the President assured that only those tested and capable of delivering on assigned mandates would make the ministerial list. In his first meeting with the leadership of the 9th National Assembly at the presidential villa, Buhari said, “I worked with them (returning ministers) for three and a half years at least – meeting twice or two weeks in a month. So I know them. But, this time around, I’m going to be quiet me – me in the sense that I will pick people I personally know.”

Apart from the old ministers that have retained their previous portfolios, one of the best appointments made by the President in the new arrangement is for the ministry of communication. He assigned the portfolio to a Professor of Computer Information System and former Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), who has vast experience in the sector.

 

 

Among the greenhorn ministers, whose assigned portfolio also fit their educational background, is Clement Ikanade Agba from Edo State and Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), from Kano State. While Agba who holds a degree in Economics and a Masters in Business Administration with vast experience in a related field has been appointed minister of State Budget and National Planning, General Magashi is the Minister of Defence.

 

 

The fact remains that most of the new ministers are stepping in with complete naivety regarding the intricacies in the sectors they are required to manage. Imagine the comments by the former governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola who has since admitted that he knows nothing about the interior ministry yet; he is appointed as the minister. “I don’t really know much about the operations or policies of the ministry apart from stories about the ministry on the pages of newspapers. My relationship with the ministry is distant. What I know about the ministry is what I read in the newspapers,” Aregbesola told ministry staff on his first day in office.

 

 

Given the current insecurity crisis in the country including; banditry, kidnapping, insurgency in the northeast, and the Fulani herdsmen/farmers conflict, it becomes worrisome to  comprehend how someone without the requisite knowledge of a ministry, which mandate is to foster the maintenance of internal security and citizenship integrity for the promotion of good governance could be deployed there.

 

 

Aregbesola’s confession, only confirms some of the issues which the two-day ministerial retreat in Aso Rock failed to address. Firstly, there was no point for President Buhari to have kept secret his decision to unbundle some of the existing ministries until the day of inauguration.

 

 

It was also sad listening to the SGF during the inauguration that he would be sending out ministerial mandates, to all the ministers for review within two weeks, a document that will be used for tracking of their performances. The statement sounds like a contradiction of Buhari’s comment, revealing that the retreat agreed on appropriate KPIs and deliverables to be achieved in the road map on government priorities from 2019 to 2023. Also approved was key sector performance indicators (KPIs), and measurement of success for each initiative across the respective ministries departments and agencies (MDAs) of the government.

 

 

People expect that the documents earlier distributed to the ministers before the retreat by the SGF should have spelled out, the mandates of the respective ministries, in line with the roadmap for deliberations at the retreat. It appears that the retreat only took broad approach in discussing the administration’s policy direction and not specific action plans as most of the new ministers will now spend part of the next four years learning the robes.

 

 

With Buhari’s present ambitious plan to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty, and speed up execution of people-oriented projects in order to change the existing poor infrastructure narrative, the ministers must know that they have no time to waste. After all, their principal and Commander-In-Chief believe strongly that the government has no option but to deliver in the second term.

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Politicians, govt agencies should be held accountable, says Ambaoiwei

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Politicians, govt agencies should be held accountable, says Ambaoiwei

F

ormer Acting National President of the Ijaw National Congress, (INC), Chief Charles Ambaiowei has said politicians and government agencies should be held accountable to the people for the manner they deploy and utilise funds put in their trust if the nation must develop.

 

 

Ambaiowei, who is the Bayelsa State Chairman of the committee Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), projects sited in the state also called on the Commission to be more transparent in the execution of its developmental projects in the affected states and stop what he described as current bureaucracy that is inimical to success.

 

 

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, he lamented the near opaque manner the agency is discharging its duties, stating that all efforts to get it to furnish his committee with locations of the over 893 projects it claimed to be executing in Bayelsa State which has now been supposedly  increased to over 1,333,  have been fruitless.

 

 

“Under the leadership of the last NDDC Chairman, Mr. Nsima Ekere, who left to contest governorship election in Akwa Ibom on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), the Commission promised to release the information and even set up an inter-ministerial committee under the Project Monitoring Services Director to compile all the information and give to the Bayelsa State government’s team. We have been on this for the last two years yet they have not supplied us any of such.

 

 

“Even though we have supplied them with our own questionnaire template with which we are seeking the information, we have even moved further to make the Attorney-General of the state to write them officially that if they failed give us the information as promised, we will resort to the provision so the Freedom of Information Act, but it was as if we are pouring water on the feather of a fowl. Nothing has been done,”  Ambaiowei said.

 

 

He added: “Currently there is an Acting Managing Director whom the committee has made recourse to, and don’t forget he has been there, representing Bayelsa State on the Commission, but we have gone back to him that we have 893 projects you have cited in Bayelsa and promised to provide us with information about their locations and the stage of work, but up till now, we are yet to get anything from them.

 

“Since April 2018 when I made the preliminary report and he directed the Executive Director Project Monitoring Service to provide the information, till this minute, we have not been able to interact with him despite several visits there. Even when we managed to enter his office, he was not there, neither could we trace our letters to their office. The bureaucracy is frustrating and it seems they are aware of the intended outcome, hence the current rigmarole.”

 

 

He lamented that recent disclosure by the new NDDC Acting Chairman during a visit to Governor Seriake Dickson that NDDC now has 1,333 projects in Bayelsa State, did not even help matters, because the state has been unable to ascertain such.

Ambaiowei, an engineer and former Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure in Bayelsa State during the tenure of then Governor Goodluck Jonathan, said the if all measures failed, the state may resort to legally activating some social methods of sealing off the NDDC Directorate Office in the state until the commission responded to the demands of the committee, “because there is a world of difference between NDDC allocating projects and executing them, verifying these projects is vital.”

 

 

He added that with the NDDC now run by the APC government but Bayelsa is controlled by a PDP government, it would pay the former better to work with the Bayelsa State Government’s Project verification efforts to provide update on the projects as a way of endearing themselves to the electorate in the state.

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2020 guber: Edo APC and the search for a common front

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2020 guber: Edo APC and the search for a common front

Ahead of the 2020 gubernatorial election in Edo State, CAJETAN MMUTA reports that the political terrain in the Heartbeat of the Nation had been so much troubled leaving almost everybody in the whirlwind of uncertainties.

 

 

It is not in doubt that the witty battle engaged by Governor Godwin Obaseki against his estranged political godfather, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, for the soul of the party and the state ahead of the 2020 governorship election has left the party members and the state with frazzling experiences.

The two ‘warriors’ have had measured appraisal of mastery of how much weaponry, funds, contacts and connections, strategies and other logistics to expend as time and tide allow them to continue or retreat from the raging political gimmick, which has drawn so much focus, criticisms, confusion and fanfare.

Unfolding events at the popular Anthony Enahoro legislative chambers and elsewhere within the last two months have brought many to ungodly poise, with lots of curiosity and questions about what may have indeed prompted the seeming rumble between the gladiators. Many had expected that either or both gladiators should be raising false alarm if they believe that there was no lion off the cage to force many to run for their lives.

Sadly, the state has been given a steep and deep bloody scratch and no doubt it may take decades to heal. Not a few were recently jolted to their marrow to hear and read what Oshiomhole said, that the media and other interested bodies were behind the quakes and shakes that have left many in fussy guess over the frosty relationship between him and Obaseki. The propriety or otherwise of the inauguration of nine out of the 24 members of the Edo State House of Assembly by the Clerk of the House, Alhaji Yahaya Omogbai, has remained contentious.

The outcome, criticisms, commendations, pretenses, denials, neutrality, bravado and condemnations have brought all the leaders, elders and other stakeholders to a rough edge. While people of the state keep groping in the dark over the brouhaha, the dramatis personae are presumably seeing themselves off with mimicked smiles about what is believed to be swords sheathing in the guise of reconciliation. Reconciliatory efforts The recent peace meeting in Iyahmo in Etsako West Local Government Area of the state on Sallah Day between Oshiomhole and his political son and successor, Obaseki, was a clear but brief attention shift from the tautly ring of still pending rage and rough political tackles ahead and a smokescreen in the long search for an elusive peace by both parties and the stakeholders. Already, sleep had been murdered.

This is so because it is rife that behind the cotton lie the obvious that both sides are armed to the teeth with stiff and steel political daggers hounding for possible scapegoats. While that final time comes having reneged in all fronts to yield to the voices of reason and peace; the day, month and year of the chameleonic adder of death nail is near and no prophesy can stop the warring parties. Interestingly, from all indications, the sword of Damocles is swirling dangerously and irretrievably for its deadly cut of pounds of flesh.

Few weeks back, strong indications emerged of how powerful forces in the Presidency and influential traditional institution, politicians and business mogul waded in to resolve the feud. Findings by Saturday Telegraph revealed that Obaseki in company with his deputy, Hon. Philip Shaibu; the Chief of Staff, Mr. Taiwo Akerele; the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Ogie Osarodion; and some other members of the State Executive Council had visited Iyamho’s country home of Oshiomhole to felicitate with him as part of activities marking this year’s Sallah celebration by the Muslim community.

This annual rite had been seen by many as a reconciliatory move in many circles and an attempt by the state’s helmsman and his aides to beg Oshiomhole to soft pedal. Oshiomhole during the said visit had told the world that Obaseki is his brother and that he had no problems with him. Obaseki on his part had also echoed the same. Oshiomhole had said: “From time to time, we have always been meeting. It is not an unusual visit, the meeting afforded me the opportunity to meet with my brother and with people I have worked with”, adding that it was unfortunate that the media enjoy creating factions for their own gain. On his part, Obaseki said there is nothing unusual about the meeting, noting that it is Sallah Day.

“We have just finished celebrating with former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, in Benin City and we decided to come here (Iyamho) to celebrate Sallah with my predecessor”, he said, urging those who think there is a rift between the duo to perish the thought. Chairman of APC in the state, Anselm Ojeua, told our correspondent that, “those people saying there is no peace between the governor and APC national chairman are not honest. They met and have said they have nothing against each other.

“My position had been that there is no problem between them. Those who think that they have problem with the governor because he is not bringing money to share felt if they create the problem it will capitulate; it is the third party that is causing the problem”.

He urged Edo people to remain calm as they expected more dividends of democracy from the present government under Obaseki. Waiting on Mr. President The question, therefore, is; on whose account is the lingering crisis in the hallowed chamber of the state Assembly? Insider sources close to the Oshiomhole group of 12 members-elect, who are still holed in Abuja told Saturday Telegraph that all the hue and cry about reconciliation was a ruse as both actors “bid themselves bye after the Iyamho visit” and that, “nothing was ever discussed”. According to one of the credible sources, the members-elect are waiting for the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari on the matter.

“President Buhari had during the screening of new ministers promised to wade into the crises in Bauchi and Edo states. He has also asked the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation to look into the cases in both states. From the 21st of August we shall know the final stand. So, there was nothing like reconciliation; it was a mere visit. The peaceful reconciliation should be left for them. We are waiting for the direct intervention of President Buhari”, the source said. Previously, it was gathered that the timely intervention and pressures mounted on the governor by the Presidency, the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the Oba of Benin, Omo N’ Oba Nedo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare 11, the Ogidigan and other eminent personalities may have forced the governor to take the latest plunge. Sources close to the feuding parties disclosed that the deputy governor had earlier visited the APC national chairman during which he tried to appeal to Oshiomhole to soft pedal on the political impasse between him and Obaseki as well as other key actors in Edo State APC.

This newspaper gathered that the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kari, has personally expressed his displeasure over the seeming soured relationship between Obaseki and Oshiomhole. He was said to have insisted on the need for the governor to take necessary steps to settle with his predecessor. Besides, President Buhari was also said to have seriously frowned at the manner the state government is handling the Edo crisis, particularly as it regards legal issues against the ruling party and apparent disregard of various directives for Obaseki to issue fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the 24 members House of Assembly. Dangote, on his part, was said to have, alongside Deputy National Chairman (South) of the APC and one of the new ministers, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, personally pleaded with Oshiomhole and Obaseki to sheathe their swords in the interest of the state.

At a meeting held earlier at the Abuja residence of the Africa’s richest man, with Adebayo, Oshiomhole and Obaseki in attendance, it was gathered that Dangote and Adebayo, particularly prevailed on Oshiomhole to allow Obaseki visit him during the Sallah holiday, during which both parties in the impasse would click glasses amid talks and bid bye to the over two months old disagreement.

Although this was not to be as this paper learnt that the encounter was merely a cheery one with no serious issue discussed as both the host and his guests had their banter in the open sitting room, it was clear then that the presumed talks for peace between Oshiomhole, Obaseki, Shaibu (Deputy governor), Chief of Staff and the SSG, Osarodion Ogie, among others, did not hold as expected. Sources close to the APC in the state said issues over the running of affairs of the state were identified as the major cause of the problem between Oshiomhole and Obaseki. Also pointed out was the way some key political aides believed to be loyal to Oshiomhole were booted out of office by the governor.

 

More puzzles

How far the Sallah visit will smoothen glaring rough edges for the governor ahead of the eventful year 2020 gubernatorial race in the state and possibly enthrone lasting peace remains a mirage. There is mutual suspicions among the gladiators. This is as questions are being asked as to what would happen to all the aggrieved parties. In addition, the hanging fates of the 12 memberselect who are presently holed in Abuja following alleged threat to their lives since the onset of the crisis remain a puzzle too. Sadly too, the National Executive Council (NEC) of the APC is also said to be highly embarrassed and unhappy about the situation in Edo state.

At the moment, it is not clear how the matters in court would be resolved. There are three cases in court; one each in Benin, Port Harcourt and Abuja. But unbent as ever, Obaseki is not bulging into all the seeming threats from any quarters including that of the national leadership of the ruling party and Ad hoc committees set up by both chambers of the National Assembly, although one is yet to witness a frightening muscle flexing as the senate and House of Representatives are both on recess and will soon resume to revisit the Edo imbroglio. Also, the Presidency and office of the AGF may soon take decisive actions aimed at bringing all the parties together in the affected states where political crises are taking tolls.

Fears over the battle ahead

In another development, amid the festering stalemate over the barrage of orders from various quarters, there is still uneasy calm and uncertainty. The state government appears set for the worst. It had tagged the recent Senate resolution on Edo Assembly as unconstitutional and a flagrant disregard for principles of separation of powers. It also warned that the said resolution could spark fire that would set the state  ablaze.

A chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Don Obaseki, in his view, urged the state government not to allow miscreants or motor-park touts to feed fat on the resources of the state. A statement issued earlier by the state government described as unconstitutional and a flagrant disregard for the principle of separation of powers, the resolution of the Senate directing Obaseki to issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the state House of Assembly.

In the statement signed by the SSG, the state government declared that the “illegality will not stand” and advised those it referred to as “powerful persons” not to set the state ablaze, “merely to satisfy their thirst for power and control.

The Senate in a step that was not totally unexpected, directed the governor to issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly, and ordering a fresh inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly. “As earlier mentioned, this move was not unexpected in the light of the enormous political pressure, which had been brought to bear on the officers and members of the distinguished Senate by the highly placed and powerful persons who intend to foist their will and choices on the good people of Edo State.

“This is borne out by the recorded statements made by one Seid Oshiomhole (a member-elect and younger brother of the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole) wherein he boasted that both the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had been instructed on what to do in this matter. Ogie also noted that the Senate failed to take cognizance of the existence of a valid injunction in Suit No FHC/B/OS/70/2019 wherein the Federal High Court restrained various parties from interfering in any manner with the activities of the Edo State House of Assembly.

 

“The Edo State Government is further aware that in suit No. FHC/ABJ/ CS/815/2019, wherein the Clerk and the National Assembly are defendants before the Federal High Court in Abuja, the National Assembly and the Clerk have not only been duly served with the processes but have entered appearance in the matter.

“It is unfortunate that the distinguished Senate would act in flagrant breach of these various court orders and purport to come to factual and legal conclusions concerning a matter in which the parties are already before the courts and therefore subjudice. “We are also concerned that the members of the distinguished Senate appear to have very scant regard for the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution, which is manifested by their taking over the functions of the judiciary in dispute resolution and giving directives to a governor of a state who is certainly not subject to the supervision of the National Assembly.

“The Edo State Government maintains that there is nowhere in the constitution particularly Section 11(4), which enables the National Assembly to “take over” any House of Assembly or in this respect, the Edo State House of Assembly.” The SSG added that: “It must be further observed that it has always been the contention of the Edo State Government that the power to issue a proclamation for the inauguration of a House of Assembly as set out in Section 105(3) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was duly and completely complied with and it is not within the power of the governor to recall same once issued or to perform the same act multiple times. Once the governor issues a proclamation letter, his job is done. “It is the duty of the Clerk of the House of Assembly to inaugurate the House of Assembly and he has since performed that task. He has further approached a court of law to seek a validation of his actions.

The pronouncements of the distinguished Senate on the subject (with respect) is clearly misconceived and will amount to interference in the role of the courts, which may in fact constitute contempt with which the governor would not wish to be associated.

“The Government of Edo State firmly believes that our state is not a colony or a vassal of any person or persons exercising power in Abuja and we shall take all necessary steps within the ambit of the law to defend and validate our position and actions on this matter. “We call on all persons of goodwill to call the powerful wielders of ‘power and authority’ in Abuja and elsewhere to refrain from acts, which are clearly unconstitutional, undemocratic and a flagrant disrespect for the principle of due process and separation of powers.

“These powerful persons should not be allowed to set our state ablaze merely to satisfy their thirst for power and control. As we have always maintained on this subject: – This illegality will not stand!!!”. As the fire keeps glowing amid chest beating and bragging, all eyes are watching to see how best the entire crisis and the clash of interests will come to an end.

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APC Caretaker C’tee takes over party secretariat in Ogun

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APC Caretaker C’tee takes over party secretariat in Ogun

The Caretaker Committee of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Ogun, on Friday, took over the party secretariat in Abeokuta.

The committee led by its chairman, Chief Yemi Sanusi and other executives, party chieftains and security operatives, arrived the secretariat around 10.am, and headed straight to the offices within the complex.

Addressing newsmen after inspecting the facilities, Sanusi, explained that his members were at the secretariat to assess its condition, adding that the committee would swing into action immediately.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that prior to the takeover on Friday; the APC secretariat had been under the control of the sacked state executive led by Chief Derin Adebiyi.

Sanusi told journalist that “the authentic caretaker exco put in place by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party has legally taken over the party structure”.

He expressed displeasure over the present condition of the secretariat, but assured that the committee would give the secretariat a facelift in preparation for the forthcoming local government elections in the state.

According to him, the takeover was in order as the party was expected to swing into action after the general election and inauguration of a new government in the state.

But in a swift reaction on Friday evening, Adebiyi said the takeover of the secretariat by Sanusi-led caretaker committee was “a forceful invasion and illegal occupation by loyalists of Governor Dapo Abiodun”.

He accused the committee members of storming the party secretariat in a “warlike manner”, accompanied by fierce looking security operatives.

“It is a forceful invasion by the loyalists of Ogun governor. They illegally occupied our secretariat.

“They stormed the offices, drove away our staff and locked the place up. The action is condemnable,” Adebiyi said.

He explained that the matter of the dissolution of his exco was currently before an Abuja High Court, wondering why the caretaker committee could not wait for the outcome of the case.

Adebiyi, who insisted that his exco was a product of a state congress held on May 2018, declared he and his members would explore all legal means to reclaim the party secretariat.

“We are products of the Congress on May 19, 2018. We are not engaging them like touts; the next court hearing is in October.

“They should have waited. We paid the rent of the secretariat. The caretaker committee has been conducting their businesses in Osoba’s house.

“We are no novice, we have refused to take laws into our hand, but we will explore all legal means to reclaim the party secretariat,” Adebiyi declared.

He, however, accused the national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole of backing the “illegal caretaker committee” in Ogun and also causing crisis in the party as a whole.

“Oshiomhole is backing this illegal caretaker committee; he has caused serious damages to the party at the national level. Mark my word, Oshiomhole will leave his position with ignominy,” he added.

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Supremacy battle: Ortom, Akume resume war of words

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Supremacy battle: Ortom, Akume resume war of words

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and his estranged political godfather, Senator George Akume have again been embroiled in a battle for supremacy with the two politicians exchanging unpleasant words to each other.

The recent trouble started at the reception organised in honour of the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Akume, where he (Akume) fired a diatribe at Ortom saying he singlehandedly made him (Ortom) governor in 2015 and not the Holy Spirit as the governor often claims.

The utterances of the Minister, who was at the at the reception with the governorship candidate of the All  Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 polls, Emmanuel Jime, however, did not go down well with Ortom who insisted he was enthroned “by the Holy Spirit and not Akume”.

According to the Minister: “I made Ortom governor; not the Holy Spirit”, Akume boasted at the reception.

But in a furious reaction, Governor Ortom said this is not the first time the former governor would make what he called “such a blasphemous statement against his person”.

“He had made a similar claim during the valedictory session of the 8th Senate,” Ortom said.

The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase, described the utterances by Akume as “unfortunate”.

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