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Baylesa guber: Intrigues as PDP ticket tears Dickson’s group apart

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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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Politics

Buhari has not protected North’s interest – Shettima

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Buhari has not protected North’s interest  – Shettima

Alhaji Yerima Shettima is the President of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF) and Convener of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG). In this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, he speaks on call for revolution in Nigeria, insecurity and the 2023 presidency, among other issues

 

 

What is your take on the call for revolution in Nigeria?

 

 

At the level of the Coalition of Northern Groups, which I am the Convener, we made our position very clear in a statement we issued through our spokesman that we are not going to participate in the revolution protest. We made our decision know even before the arrest of the convener of the protest, Omoyele Sowore. Forty eight hours before then, our attention was drawn to the issue of revolution mass protest and we felt strongly that as stakeholders in the Northern part of the country, we ought to have been adequately informed about any national protest. If you want to embark on a national protest, you can’t put us off. If they had made it all inclusive, perhaps, we would have advised the organisers that rather than tag it revolution, why don’t make it a national protest? All the demands by those calling for the protest are very clear and they are truth.

 

 

There are failures on the path of government because certain things are not done right and those things have to be done right. It is within the law and fundamental rights of the people to come out en masse and speak with one voice that this government must do things right. It is clearly a national struggle, but when you tag it revolution and say it is not going to be violent, it may not probably mean what you are saying, but that may not be to others, who will join you because when you call it a revolution protest, of course you expect every tom, dick and harry to be part of it. Some will come with good intentions and some without good intentions. They will use that to unleash terror on innocent Nigerians, disrupt peace.

 

 

No sitting government will fold its hands and look at you when you tell it that you want to topple it with through revolution. I am not saying that was the intent of the organisers of the protest, but I think somewhere, there was a missing link about what Sowore said. So, I want to use this medium to call for Sowore’s release. We can still work together to build the country. We believe he has the passion.

Do you think revolution is the way out of the nation’s problems?

 

 

It is not at this dicey moment. For some of us who strongly believe in Nigeria, revolution is not an answer. We have not even gotten to that point yet. We can’t completely rule out that nothing is working in the country and we cannot say because certain things are not working anarchy should be the answer. Certainly not! In as much as there are shortcomings and one problem or the other, I believe strongly that if we can come to a round table to discuss the issues amicably and marshal ways out, it will give us much edge and advantage than calling out people given the frustration of poverty and hunger in the land.

 

 

The possibility of the country even breaking-up at this particular time is obvious, so we cannot give room for people, whether locally or internationally that do not mean well to take advantage of the present state of the country. We must be seen to be talking as nationalists and working together for the progress of the country.

 

 

You talked about a roundtable discussion, but nothing seems to have come out of the past major conferences…

 

 

I can talk more on the Pro-national Conference Organisation (PRONACO) because I participated in the conference, which took place between 2004 and 2005. I was a Youth Director of PRONACO under the leadership of Anthony Enahoro and the likes of Wole Soyinka, Beko Ransome-Kuti. There was also the Olusegun Obasanjo-led government’s National Political Reforms Conference (NPRC), which was out of mischief, side-by-side the PRONACO Conference and we almost rounded off the conference at the same time.

 

 

We came together to demand for national questions that deserved an answer at that time. We did our best and we were able to come up with a draft constitution. At that time, Obasanjo was so hard to our people with all sorts of blackmail and intimidation. Some of our colleagues were arrested, but we did not in any way feel frustrated; we still went ahead with the conference peacefully without any problem. So, you would have expected that Obasanjo, who fought to even frustrate it won’t have a second thought about that draft constitution.

 

 

Talking about the National Conference organised in 2014 by Goodluck Jonathan, of course you will also agree with me that that the conference was not properly organised because consultations were not done properly and that is one thing about the government. Each time they come up with the idea of conference, they will not allow the main people to decide on who will represent them; they will select people they are comfortable with to come forward to discuss issues and most of those who will come forward end up doing the same bidding of government all over.

 

 

Some of them might not even come with a proper agenda of their people as they are not even in touch with them. What government should do is to give them the number of people you want them to put forward for the conference regionally and let them look for their best 11 and send it forward.

 

 

But many Nigerians believe that those who attended the 2014 conference were Nigeria’s best?

 

 

I don’t understand how they were best Nigerians. Are you not one of Nigeria’s best? I am good in my own capacity and right. What do you mean by best Nigerians when those of us who stood to fight against military dictatorship during the dark days and advocated for democracy were not part of the conference? If you don’t consider those who made sacrifices for us to get to where we are today, how can you bring people who are just seated in their comfort zones and who did not even get in touch with the common man out there to know what their interests are?

 

 

Who are the Nigerians? It is common men who are Nigerians. You don’t come forward to discuss what really bothers them and speak long grammar without providing solution to what affect them. The conference was just an opportunity for some of those who attended to leave their family and go to Abuja and come back to say they have discussed about national issues. Is that the kind of conference we want? Within a community you must have a champion, so let the champion come forward.

 

 

So, I don’t believe that the best brains attended the 2014 conference. Wide consultation was not made and even before the conference, I issued a statement through which I advised the government of the day not to gather those characters in Abuja to discuss issues without proper consultation. Let the government allow people to decide who represents them? So, the 2014 confab was purely a team of people who wanted to probably campaign for Jonathan to come back for a second term.

 

Why did you say so?

 

 

A lot of characters were at the conference for a mission.

 

What killed Obasanjo’s conference completely was the Third Term Agenda. The case of Jonathan was to form a team and select individuals, who at the end of the day, he easily negotiated with about his coming back for a second term. But, some of us stood our ground that it was not the conference we wanted. And even when they went, we said with the characters that attended the national conference, its report will not see the light of the day.

 

We said it and we stood our ground.

 

Do you agree with those blaming President Muhammadu Buhari for not implementing the recommendations of that conference?

 

The conference was not initiated by him. If Jonathan could not initiate the process to implement it, then who is Buhari to do that? There were certain misgivings and some of us felt that that the conference was not properly done and same sentiments got across that proper consultation were not made. Most of those who you see t o d ay talking about t h e conference; insisting that the r e p o r t s h o u l d be implemented were those who participated in it. Go out and look at those who did not participate; they are more in numbers.

 

Were they consulted?

 

Were they contacted? Does the decision of those leaders who attended the conference really reflect what their people wanted them to bring to the table?

 

But some of the recommendations provided answers to Nigeria’s problem… I don’t know about that. I cannot just praise what I am not privy to. I don’t think it is right for me to just come in without making input or without somebody contacting and discussing with me on an agenda. It is not right. Definitely you are in support of Buhari not implementing the recommendations? He shouldn’t have. I never believed in that conference from onset and I couldn’t have believed in it now.

 

This should serve as deterrent that next time if government is calling for a conference, it must ensure that it goes down to people and have consultation with them and not selectingf people who will come with a particular idea or agenda. You need to sit with stakeholders from the region where you come from for you to have a clear idea and blueprint of what you are going to say as a representative of your people at a conference. At present no part of Nigeria seems to be safe. What is your take on the security challenges the country is facing? It is terrible. This is not what Nigerians envisaged; this is not what we expected and I am sure everybody is worried.

 

That is why some of us feel it is fragile for any counter approach to the issue and that we must be very strategic. We must begin to think positively and we must ensure that at this level, irrespective of where anybody comes from, we must begin to come together and discuss how to take the country higher because the only reason why we are talking is because there is a country called Nigeria.

 

The moment the country disintegrates, nobody stands to listen to anybody. If you look at example of what is happening in Libya, Southern Sudan, Somalia and other parts of Africa, it gives us reasons to get worried because none of them had gone through what we are going through and survived it.

 

We can’t afford to go through what those countries went through because Nigeria’s case would be worse because those countries are even small compared to population of Nigeria. Some of us know the implication of these things, so we must approach the issue systematically and strategically with the love of the country in our minds without any interior motive.

 

That is why some of us are of the view that we must begin to think about building a pan-Nigeria movement.

 

So far, I am getting in touch with organisations of ethnic nationalities such as Ohanaeze Youth Council, Ijaw Youth Council, Yoruba Youth Council and so on. We have started to talk at that level; consultations are ongoing and we will bring other ethnic nationalities whether minority or majority. We will come together and discuss the faith of this country, so that all of us can disagree to agree.

 

As a Northern, how do you feel about Fulani herdsmen being blamed for some of the attacks, killing and kidnappings in different parts of Nigeria?

 

There is nothing like herdsmen, you can talk about criminals. If you say herdsmen, every tribe is involved. If you have armed robbers who are unleashing terror on innocent Nigerians, talk about it. We should not continue to stigmatize a particular tribe as being herdsmen. When you say herdsmen, the common belief is that it is only Fulani that are herdsmen, but there are Igbo and Yoruba herdsmen.

 

Do we now say all of them are criminals? I right! There are criminals in the midst of these tribes, who are involved in robbery and kidnapping. You can’t say it is only the Fulani man who goes about his lawful business of rearing cows. Where does he keep the cows and bring out guns to begin to kidnap and kill people?

 

The issue of insecurity must not be left alone to the government. All of us must be willing to tackle it.

 

We must also gather our intelligence report and where we feel certain things are not right, we should call the attention of agents who are saddled with the responsibility of security to ensure that certain things are done very well. That is how it is done elsewhere.

 

Security is not left alone to the Army, Police or Department of State Services (DSS) or any other paramilitary agency. All we need to do as Nigerians and communities is that we must be seen to be up and doing to support the efforts of the security agencies and encourage them to do more.

 

 

President Buhari is expected to swearin new ministers on Wednesday. What are your expectations from them? He has made the selection; swearing- in is just to assign portfolios to them and induct them to begin to work.

 

So, we expect some of them whom we have worked with at one point or the other and we know their capacities, to perform. I am talking about the likes of Festus Keyamo, whom I have known from the trenches; Emeka Nwajuiba, somebody I have known long before he became a lawmaker and is a young man like us; Uche Ogah from Abia State who contested for the governorship. These are young vibrant people and who you can say at least this is what they have achieved in their life.

 

There are also people among the ministers-designate who we have seen their antecedent and failure at different levels, having served in government in one capacity or the other.

 

It is either they have corrupt issues hanging on their necks or one trouble or the other. But those I mentioned earlier are fresh; let us give them benefit of doubt and see how far they can go.

 

 

Some Nigerians seem not to be comfortable with inclusion of those they described as recycled politicians, especially former governors in the cabinet. What is your position on that?

 

That is why we have problems with the present government.

 

Where we have thousands of people who are well versed and intelligent; we expect that professionals and technocrats must come on board in appointment of ministers.

 

 

Considering where we find ourselves today, we need people who have ideas about how to move the country forward. At least, let us see fresh air of hope, even if they cannot do everything because the problems of this country cannot be completely solved by one government within eight years.

 

We expect that at this level, people should do their own bit and allow others to come and also complement what they have done by continuing from where they stopped. So, for me, let us not be in hurry to conclude.

 

We expect them to perform, but only time will determine whether they are willing to do it or not.

 

Considering the antecedents of some of the incoming ministers, who once served as governors, ministers and member of the National Assembly, do you see them performing?

 

All of them failed and that is why my attention is not even going to the old brigades, who failed as governors.

 

Tell me one of them who did well as a governor?

 

So, I don’t want to think that those selected are better than even the previous ones. I am bothered about those few ones I mentioned. Let them do what they would be remembered for because they still have long way to go.

 

What is your advice to President Buhari?

 

He should remember that this is his last lap and that he has come to the end of it. He must do something that he would be remembered for on the positive side of history. He knows what is right and those around him must also consider the fact that it is not about Buhari; it is about all of them; though at the end of the day, he is going to take the cross on his head.

 

They must be up doing. I thank God that some of them have admitted truly that they didn’t perform up to expectation in the last administration.

 

Now that a lot of them are back, they should ensure that they retrace their steps and do the right thing, so that they would also be remembered on the positive side of history. Do you think President Buhari as a northerner has really protected the interest of the North? No, he did not because you cannot pinpoint one thing by this government that was done in the interest of the North.

 

Rather, it has purely been a South-West issue. And that is why we are more worried over even the clamour for the South- West to come up with a candidate that will at the end of the day take over from the President come 2023.

 

Why did you think so? Because we demand for justice; we feel that the North has not gotten justice. We feel that some people only put Buhari there just because they want to tactically take every strategic place.

 

Buhari cannot be president and be ministers at the same time or be directors and head of agencies or parastatals. He is only a president and he only gives instructions and believe that people are working, but he is been blindfolded by people who only allow him to hear what they want him to hea. He doesn’t get to know what exactly is going on and they are under him, running the entire country in the best interest of the South-West.

 

The North has been marginalised. Today, we are face with the issue of insecurity and one struggle or the other. We have issues of banditry, kidnapping, Boko Haram and robbery, among others in the North.

 

The South-East is also been marginalized; the South-South too is being marginalised. The only people who are now enjoying now are the South- West. But South-West too is currently battling with problems of insecurity, kidnapping, herdsmen attacks and other challenges? There own is just a child’s play though I am worried about it because that small thing that we think is small is what suddenly became a monster. I am worried; it is a bad signal. But definitely, the South-West today is the safest place in Nigeria despite all.

 

How is South-West a safest place when people are being kidnapped and killed?

 

I tell you it is the safest the way it is today.

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Politics

2023 presidency and zoning conundrum

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2023 presidency and zoning conundrum

2023: Politicians rekindle zoning debate

 

Nigeria’s political landscape is already agog with permutations for the 2023 general election as to which zone will occupy the coveted seat of president, Felix Nwaneri reports

 

With over three years to the next general elections, political manoeuvrings have started in several quarters across the various geopolitical zones and power blocs over the 2023 presidency even as President Muhammadu Buhari, who was re-elected for a second term during the February/March general election and was sworn-in on May 29, is barely three months in office.

 

Ordinarily, the scheming would not have commenced at the moment if not for the fact that President Buhari will not be taking another shot at the number one position given that he is on his last tenure. The 1999 Constitution (as amended), in paragraphs 137 (b), states that “a person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections.”

 

Buhari was first elected as president in 2015, when he defeated an incumbent – Goodluck Jonathan – and was re-elected in the last presidential election. Having been sworn-in as president two times, he is expected to bow out on May 29, 2023 after serving out the constitutionally allowed two terms.

 

 

Already, the President has given a hint about his retirement plan. He said he will retire to Daura – his home town – after he completes his second term in 2023. “This is my second and final term, at the end of which I will, God willing, go to Daura and settle down,” he revealed during a meeting with some traditional rulers from across the country at the presidential villa in March.

 

 

But, more than three years ahead of the poll that will see the emergence of Buhari’s successor, it is reminiscent of politics of yester-years as some political spin doctors have started flying the kite over where power should shift to and possibly, who the heir should be.

 

 

Though some zones and even names are being touted at the moment, an early move to the 2023 presidency race was noticed during the campaigns for the 2019 elections though many viewed it then as a mere ethnic card being played by some people to secure bulk votes from their region.

 

 

May be, consciously or subconsciously, it was the then Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who blew the lid of the 2023 plot, when  he urged the people of South-West to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 elections to guarantee a return of power to the zone after his second term.

 

 

The former governor of Lagos State, who spoke at a special Town Hall Meeting on infrastructure organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Orientation Agency, said besides the massive investments by the Buhari administration on infrastructure across the country and in South-West in particular, the zone will benefit more politically by voting for Buhari.

 

 

“Do you know that power is rotating to the South-West after the completion of Buhari’s tenure if you vote for him in 2019? Your child cannot surrender her waist for an edifying bead and you will use the bead to decorate another child’s waist. A vote for Buhari in 2019 means a return of power to the South-West in 2023. I am sure you will vote wisely,” Fashola told his audience in Yoruba language.

 

 

While many took Fashola’s pronouncement with a pinch of salt, it became a subject of national discourse, when Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo reiterated the position at the eve of the elections.

 

 

The Vice-President, who is also from the South-West as Fashola, spoke during a house-to-house campaign in Oyo town, Oyo State. He said the success of President Buhari and the APC in the 2019 elections is the only way the zone can secure the presidency in 2023.

 

 

Noting that the 2019 presidential election matters to the Yoruba people, because the region has a larger interest in 2023, Osinbajo declared: “The 2019 general election is our own. We are not looking at the 2019, but 2023. If we get it in 2019, Yoruba will get it in 2023. If we don’t get it in 2019, we may not get it in 2023 and it may take a very long time to get it. We need to look at tomorrow and not because of today. What we are doing now is for tomorrow and not for today.”

 

 

Before Fashola and Osinbajo’s advice to their kinsmen, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, had told the people of South-East, who have been clamouring for the presidency that they will have a better chance of producing a president in 2023 if they support the second term ambition of President Buhari.   

 

 

“Preach it to the other South-East states that the shortest way to Igbo presidency is to support Buhari in 2019,” Mustapha told a delegation of the Ebonyi State chapter of the APC, who visited his office then.

 

 

He also reiterated that President Buhari will hand over the baton of leadership to an Igbo by the time he is through with his second term in office in 2023, while speaking at the inauguration of the South-East chapter of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC) in Abia State.

 

 

No doubt, the 2019 polls that was characterised by ethnic sentiments pitted some political leaders in the South-West and their South-East counterparts, but the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation then said there was nothing fraudulent, dubious or contradictory about the promises made by Buhari and Osinbajo to the two zones.

 

 

Then spokesman for the organisation, Barr. Festus Keyamo (now a ministerial nominee), who made the clarification, said: “Go back and listen carefully to what they said at each occasion. Nobody is promising anybody anything definite. They are simply telling both regions very simply that they stand a chance. They may, depending on how they work.

 

 

“Some people are just rushing to town to make comments without understanding the context in which these promises were made. All of them, including Fashola, are saying one thing: Vote for Buhari for you to produce the next president in 2023. What it means is that they should work hard.

 

 

“No party will zone its presidential ticket to a region that does not like it. Did anybody use that word ‘definitely’ that we are giving you the presidency? They are simply saying, if you work hard, you stand a chance if you deliver the votes. It is conditional, that is why they are begging them. The context in which all of them are saying this is that whichever region worked hard and delivers the votes would produce the next President. That is the truth of the matter.”

 

 

Keyamo added that since the presidency will shift to the South after Buhari’s tenure, it was only wise and logical that the zones in the region should work hard to benefit from the power shift.

 

 

Like Keyamo pointed out, power is expected to shift to the South in 2023 given the zoning deal between the country’s two political divides – North and South, which took effect with the country’s return to civil rule in 1999, but the battle for the 2023 presidency may go beyond the South-West and South-East if emerging developments in the polity are anything to go by.

 

The belief that the 2023 presidency would be a southern affair with odds favouring the South-East, which is yet to occupy the country’s number one position since 1999, may end up as one of those political permutations that never materialised as the signs are clear that North might join the fray.

 

The euphoria in the North over Buhari’s re-election in February was yet to go down, when some Northern political leaders started canvassing the need for their region to hold on to power beyond 2023. The present democratic dispensation is years old and the power rotation arrangement, though not constitutional, has seen the South had the presidency for 13 years through Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (South-West, 1999-2007) and Jonathan (South-South, 2010-2015), while the North would have been in power for 11 years by the time Buhari completes his second term in 2023.

 

The plot, which started like a pun, when the national president of Arewa Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, said in a media interview that there was no going back for the North’s bid for the 2023 presidency, has fast gained ground among political elites from the region. His words: “We are considering supporting a northern presidency in 2023, and you better believe it because it is not just my personal opinion.

 

The North has not benefitted anything from Buhari’s presidency because many northern states are still impoverished and under developed. The rate of poverty in the North has become worse than it was in 2015. We cannot beat our chest and say this government has favoured the North. The first four years of Buhari was a waste and we cannot expect any magic to happen in his second tenure; it is not possible.”

 

Shettima had premised his position on two grounds – the need for North to have another four years to catch up with the South’s 14-year presidency and to make up for the region’s inability to benefit from the Buhari administration, which he said has so favoured the South, particularly the South-West, but some say his line of thought might have been spurred by North’s voting strength in the last elections.

 

 

Second Republic lawmaker, Junaid Mohammed, who also expressed similar thought, advised southern politicians jostling to take over from Buhari to have a rethink as the North could still vie for the presidency in 2023. Mohammed had in the interview said: “This idea of zoning and rotation has been a tragedy for Nigeria because it can deprive Nigeria of getting a better leader. That being the case, whosoever wants to claim it, let him go.

 

“Look at what the Afenifere said that next time it would be a Yoruba person. Their understanding of rotation is between the North and the South-West, or North-West and the South-West.

 

 

That cannot be.

 

The contradiction, which they invented about zoning and rotation, has collapsed and now they are looking for lies to tell to deceive us. “Otherwise, how can you say that we now have a president who is from the North-West and his vice, who is from South-West, and that next time it will be the turn of the South-West to produce the president of this country? What are we talking about? I don’t want to hear about this equity and justice, that is sheer nonsense. “We keep on making this mistake of agitation of ‘it is our turn’ over and over again. After all, somebody says the classical definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.”

 

On the clamour by the Igbo that 2023 should be their turn to produce the president, Mohammed suggested that the region had lost the chance and should forget it. “The people, who abused this equity and justice, are the people from the South-East because whatever we are talking about, in a democracy you cannot circumvent voting figures.

 

You can say it is time for my people. We will not vote for you and let’s see what happens. I said it in one of my statements, look at the way the people of the South-East voted during the last election; they have a humongous collection of votes and they all voted for Atiku Abubakar, and they expect somebody to come from his own area to vote for them.”

“Democracy is a question of give and take; you vote for me and I vote for you, that was what Michael Okpara used to say. You don’t vote for me and maybe you think that by abusing me on the pages of newspapers that I will vote for you. I will not,’” he said.

While many analysts and even political leaders, especially those from the South have dismissed Shettima and Mohammed’s submissions on the ground that the duo do not speak for the North, discerning political minds are of the view that only political neophytes would wish away such proposition given the peculiarity of politics.

This is even as more and more opinion leaders in the region seem to be buying into the “North must retain power” plot. Just recently, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, in an apparent support to the plot, said it is not sacrosanct that Buhari’s successor must emerge from the South as every part of Nigeria can produce a competent president. “Being a cosmopolitan man, I know Igbos not less than 10, who can successfully run this country; I know Yorubas that can do, I know Ijaws that can do, I know Hausas that can do, I know even Kilba.

 

 

Hey myself, my friend, I can be president of this country. I consider myself quite competent to do so from a small tribe of 300,000 people.

 

 

There are so many such tribes that can produce good, competent leaders all over Nigeria,” he said. While pundits view the postulations by some the Northern political leaders as subtle political moves aimed at discarding the zoning arrangement, which undoubtedly favours the South in 2023, Mohammed, in a twist recently, said he will throw his weight behind the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, if he decides to contest the presidency in 2023.

 

The Second Republic lawmaker said he will rather have Tinubu to succeed Buhari than anyone from the South-East. “If Tinubu wants to be the president of Nigeria and he asks for my advice, I will say go ahead because I will rather have Tinubu as president than have some of the people in the South- East who are ambitious and want to blackmail Nigeria into ceding power to them. “I know that no matter what happens, even if Tinubu were to be drunk, he will be a better President than Goodluck Jonathan. I also know that he is better than Governor Kayode Fayemi, who is also nursing presidential ambition,” he said.

 

No doubt, Mohammed is entitled to his views as well as has the right to support whoever he wishes, however the power shift debate assumed a fresh twist recently, when the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai made a case for the abandonment of zoning arrangement, not only for the Office of President, but for other political offices as currently obtainable in the country. According to him, the arrangement needed to be de-emphasised and ultimately abandoned in favour of competence as Nigeria cannot afford to continue on zoning of political offices on the basis of regions.

 

In a prologue titled, “Defeating a Determined Incumbent – The Nigerian Experience,” which he contributed to a book: “Power of Possibilities and Politics of Change in Nigeria,” written by the Director-General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukman, el-Rufai, described zoning of political offices as a barrier to political equality. “Even with our success in the 2015 elections, there is room for improvement.

 

Barriers to political equality, such as our seemingly entrenched though informal rule for zoning candidacies according to regions of origin, need to be de-emphasised and ultimately abandoned in favour of an emphasis on qualification, competence and character,” he wrote.

 

Many would have ignored the Kaduna State governor, however, his political standing as well as closeness to President Buhari and other powers that be up North, explains the flaks that have trailed his call from both the South and North.

 

For instance, a kinsman and known critic of the governor, Senator Shehu Sani, who said it would be unfair to deny the South-West the presidency in 2023, urged President Buhari to caution politicians of northern extraction against contesting the next presidential poll. Noting that it would be unfair for the North to hold on to power beyond 2023, he said: “It will be a serious threat to the future and peace of the country if the Northern Region continues to dominate the leadership of the nation because of its numerical strength.

 

“The President should caution those from the North eyeing that position. Power needs to rotate to other regions. The South-West worked tirelessly to remove the PDP from office and helped to bring Nigeria to where it is today and deserves support from the North come 2023. If federal character is applied on appointments and other areas, it should also be applicable in the political space.”

 

 

A former governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, who also cautioned against calls for an end to rotational presidency, however, differed slightly from Sani’s position. He maintained that nobody should canvass an end to power shift until the South-East and the North-East zones had produced president.

 

His words: “Calling for an end to the zoning arrangement now will not bring peace to Nigeria. We have to complete the zoning system. That was the agreement at the earlier constitutional conference. All the major ethnic groups must produce the President before we would all agree that zoning has ended. “Canvassing the abolition of rotational presidency at this point is not in the interest of the country.

 

It will not bring about unity. Anybody that is saying that the zoning arrangement for the presidency of Nigeria should be abolished now is trying to cause civil and constitutional crisis which is not good for the society.

 

“We should manage the crises at hand carefully in this country without causing further havoc. Currently, the unity of the country is under threat with the insecurity of lives and property across Nigeria.

 

So, Governor el- Rufai should know that the South-East and North-East must produce president before his call for the abolition of rotational presidency could be considered and adopted. “Once the two zones have produced the President of Nigeria, then the position could be free for all. We have started the current zoning arrangement and we can’t change the rules in the middle of the game.”

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No police, army can stop anger against injustice in Nigeria –Rev. Gado

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No police,  army can stop anger against injustice in Nigeria –Rev. Gado

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Gado is a prominent Christian leader in Northern Nigeria. He was also a governorship aspirant in Gombe State during the 2019 generation elections. He takes a swipe at the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari while X-raying current challenges in Nigeria, in this interview with Tai Anyanwu

 

 

 

How do you feel about the state of the nation’s security?

 

 

The poem by W.B Yates “The Second Coming” describes how I feel about the state of the nation’s security. It says “turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall  apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence, is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity’’.

 

 

Late Professor Chinua Achebe used part of this poem to title one of his famous books Thing Fall Apart to describe the impact western culture had on the community life. The coming of Buhari has had an adverse effect on the security agencies of this country. The morale in the Army, the Police and DSS, and so on. is at its lowest ebb. The rank and file are doing their best with the antiquated arms and ammunition. His priority is on fulanization and Islamization. Look at how much he earmarked for the Fulani Radio Station and RUGA, see who he had or has for ministerial positions, National Security Adviser, and the Judiciary?

 

 

Who and who is being promoted, who is being appointed and who gets the contract and who and who is being prosecuted or not prosecuted?

 

 

The intention is clear, disarm the people and arm the herdsmen and the bandits so that the communities can easily be dislodged and taken over.

 

 

What is your take on the issue of Fulanisation and Islamization of Nigeria?

 

 

Fulanization and Islamization has been an open secret in Nigeria. Some of us have been shouting since college days. I am glad and thankful to OBJ for shining the spotlight on it even though OBJ and some of his powerful colleagues help Buhari get into office in spite of Buhari’s open confession for the implementation and expansion of the Sharia.

 

 

I am surprised though, at the reaction of Nigerians to the Fulanization and Islamization agenda of President Buhari. Fulanization and Islamization is alive and well. It has been going on before independence, at independence and after independence. Fulanization and Islamization is a done deal and we all are to blame for it from our military, political, community, religious traditional leaders and the electorate. Barely two weeks after our Independence, the Patriot Newspaper quoted Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna of Sokoto as saying “The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our grand-father Uthman Danfodio. We must ruthlessly prevent the change of power. We use the minorities of the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to rule over their future”.

Sardauna of Sokoto provided the blue print that has been meticulously and judiciously followed without a single error. At about the same the West African Student Union based in the UK wrote a letter to the conference of Northern chiefs asking them to support the constitutional evolution of Nigeria into an independent nation. In reply to this letter the Chiefs declared that “holding the country together is not possible except by means of the religion of the Prophet. If they want unity let them follow our religion.”

 

 

Under General Yakubu Gowon’s administration missionary schools were forcefully taken over while in many instances their names were changed to Islamic names. In 1990 all members of the Armed Forces Ruling Council were Muslims except for General Ike Nwachuku an Igbo whose mother was a Fulani Muslim. Also in 1997 all commissioners of police during Abacha’s government were Muslims. General IBB surreptitiously registered Nigeria as a member of the Organisation of Islamic Conference which up till today has not been changed.

 

 

When Rear Admiral Ebitu Ukiwe the then second in command told the world that he only heard of it in the media like everybody else. He was promptly removed and forcefully retired from the Navy. The same IBB hosted the first Islam in Africa Conference in Abuja and he donated funds from the Federal Government of Nigeria for operations including the vision of transforming Nigeria to an Islamic State and enthroning the Sultan of Sokoto as its “Supreme ruler”

 

 

I wished General OBJ, who raised the alarm did so in his second coming because between 1999-2007 the Sharia Code of the Islam law was re-introduced in the North in an expanded version, Islamic Police (Hisbah) was introduced. Christian girls were abducted, forcefully converted and forced into marriage. Buhari has never hidden his desire to fully introduce the Sharia. In 2001 or so he called for the introduction of “total” Islamic law. He said “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria. God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country”. If he said that while seeking for office, we would be foolish or naïve to think that he will not fulanize and Islamize Nigeria in office. Just look at his appointments in his first four years and the current list of ministers. Among the ministers waiting to be assigned portfolios is one who years ago led a riot in a higher institution against the Christian body in the school (Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS). The leader was killed and some Christian students expelled simple for trying propagate their faith.

 

 

Some ethnic groups have resorted to self-help to tackle the issue of insecurity. What is the import?

 

 

That means these ethnic groups no longer trust the government to protect them. It is a vote of no confidence and a serious disappointment in the administration. It’s like the days before the civil war broke out in 1966. Loss of trust led to people taking the law into their hands. Before the coming of the colonial government ethnic groups had their own defensive mechanism in place and it worked. They relinquished that because the colonial government protected them from physical attack that could come from another ethnic group.

 

 

Now that it seems the centre is failing to hold, ethnic groups have to fall back to what they knew best. If they fail, they have nobody to blame but themselves. That has been the call from well-meaning leaders of the country that communities should protect themselves. The number and places of attacks are too many for the securities to handle considering the fact that they provide security at political rallies, for governors, Senators, House of Reps, Ministers and commissioners and since more police are busy protecting government functionaries the people are left to source for their own security.

 

 

Besides that, there is a serious allegation that the army is colluding with the Boko Haram or the herdsmen and bandits. Wow, when the protector becomes a predator it is every community for itself and God for us all.

 

 

Buhari is slamming those who are critical of his government, accusing them of not being patriotic. What is you take on that?

 

 

My first take is that he should thank and commend them just as he did when he was sick and Nigerians prayed for him. The same people who prayed for him and wished him well when he was sick are some of the people criticizing his government.

 

 

My second take is that I am not surprised at all because that is what we should expect from a Sharia based administration. It is absolutist and fascist in nature. 34 years ago, August 1985, Buhari’s government was toppled in a coup by IBB. I remember that coup very well. I can tell you where I was and what I was doing. In his inaugural address to the nation, IBB said that one of the reasons they staged that coup was because Buhari was too rigid and uncompromising in his attitudes to issues of national significance and that his government arrogated to itself the knowledge of the problems and solutions of Nigeria.

 

 

To call critics unpatriotic instead of inviting them for a dialogue seems to suggest that Buhari has answer: I feel dehumanized, lied to, cheated and taken for granted. My dignity as a human being created in the image of God has not been treated with dignity especially when you factor the fact that these politicians and governments come in the name of God or claim to fear God. In the north alone we have over 13 million children who are rooming the streets and preyed upon by Boko Haran and herdsmen yet we have the richest man in Africa from the north and since Independence almost 60 years ago Nigeria has been mainly ruled by people from that area:- Tafawa Balewa, General Gowon, General Murtala, General IBB, General Sani Abacha, General Abdulsalam, General Buhari 1983-85, Musa Yar’Adua and now Buhari again; and 13 million children are out of school, why won’t people feel disenchanted? I have said it and I say it again the problem of Nigeria is failed leadership as we are currently witnessing.

 

 

The bill seeking to transfer control of water banks to the Federal Government has been resubmitted for consideration by the legislatures. Do you see any hidden motive in the executive bill?

 

Everything Buhari introduces now is suspect even when it is good intention. The government should stay away from taking any land or water ways until the country is restructured. You know when you lose trust and integrity, it is hard to regain it back. I pray he recovers. The quickest way to recovery is restructuring. If he does then and only then would he regain some of his cult-like figure

 

 

What is your opinion about the feud between soldiers and the police over the killing of the policemen on the trail of a notorious kidnapper, by soldiers?

 

First, I empathize with the families of the dead police officers.

 

 

Their good testimonies will follow them. Nigerians are grateful to you and we pray that God through Nigerians and fellow human beings arewill not forget their families.

 

 

On the feud between the army and the police, it is rather unfortunate. I read in the print media that the Captain who gave the orders that killed the police officers communicated with the alleged kidnapper 191 times or so. You see that is what happens when there is no king as in the days of Israel everybody did what is right in their own eyes. President Buhari is quoted as saying only the army, the police, the NYSC and DSS, is keeping Nigeria united so when two of the four units that is keeping Nigeria unified are at logger heads then Nigeria is in deep trouble. As I said earlier the morale in the army and the Police is at its lowest (unfair promotions, issues related to payment of salaries and allowances, inadequate equipment, injustice) and now you add feuding within and between the army and police spells doom. I pray justice and equity will prevail. Bad things happen to all of us the difference is in how we address it. Justice and equity must not only be done must be seen have been done. This is called the rule of law.

 

 

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Onucheyo: Nigerian has grown beyond RUGA

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Onucheyo: Nigerian has grown beyond RUGA

The RUGA Policy of the Federal Government has generated uproar across the nation prompting threats of violence from a number of different groups. In this interview, Dr Emmanuel Onucheyo, a veterinary doctor and a specialist in livestock production, tells ONWUKA NZESHI that the controversy was unnecessary as Nigeria had advanced beyond policies like RUGA having embraced cattle ranching many years ago.

 

 

What is your view on RUGA, a recent policy of the Federal Government that has generated so much controversy in recent weeks?

 

 

Well, my understanding of the policy so far is that the government is eager to establish some kind of agricultural transformation and they are looking at both crops and livestock, particularly cattle. For me as a professional in animal husbandry, if you look at what we had done before, I do not see any reason why we should be having all these controversies. We have come a long way.

 

 

The British colonial authorities tried to work on our livestock sector by establishing things like grazing reserves and grazing routes and we actually went through some transformation to the extent that the government introduced ranching which is the modern system for rearing cattle. I thought that having gone that far, we had actually gotten a technical solution to the old system of nomadic pastoralism.

 

 

As a young person, even as a young graduate, I used to work on a cattle ranch. This country had reached a situation where there was no longer any need to be going about with animals on the streets or along the roads, looking for grasses and water.

 

 

We had also moved beyond where you find some people pursuing a cow on the streets because they want to take it to the abattoir to be slaughtered for the beef market.

 

 

Increased population and urbanisation has made things like grazing routes, grazing reserves, cattle colony or RUGA really problematic. I’m sure that the British themselves didn’t want to get into the complications of land use issues, hence they went for the easy solution of grazing reserves and grazing routes.

 

 

Modernity and population explosion has made such policies archaic and untenable in the 21st century.

 

 

How did this technical solution you spoke about work?

 

 

 

Cattle breeding was supposed to be in the far North; cattle fattening was supposed to be in the Middle Belt where you keep the animals for a short while not exceeding three months. The cows were supposed to be kept in ranches and later slaughtered and moved as beef to the markets across the country.

 

 

The ranching option came up because there was need to phase out the nomadic system of cattle rearing.

 

 

Even as a fresh graduate, my first job was on a small ranch in Kaduna. We used to call it Kawo Cattle Farm. It was situated around where you now have the Kaduna International Trade Fair.

 

 

When I started work there, it was during the drought and we were buying pregnant cows from the cattle breeders and rehabilitating them in the ranch to save the calves when they are delivered.

 

 

When I came back from my post graduate programme, I was hired to go to the Mokwa Ranch in Niger State. The ranch was located on 7, 000 hectares of land. It had all the facilities. The Germans ran it as a pilot project of the National Livestock Production Company. There was also another project in Manchock, Kaduna. I was looking after the two projects which also included a piggery in Minna.

 

There was also the Bauchi Meat Factory and to serve that meat factory, you had the Galambi Ranch which was also located in Bauchi.

 

 

The Audu Bako regime set up an abattoir in Kano and the cattle were supposed to come from the Bunkuri Ranch in Kano. There was also a trail ranch at Umuahia in the South East and another at Fashola in the South West. These were small holdings to warehouse cattle brought down to be slaughtered and pushed into the beef market in the South.

 

 

In the case of Mokwa, it was a two in one location. It was actually called Mokwa Cattle Ranch and Abattoir because we had modern facilities to slaughter a hundred animals per day in order to produce quality beef for the Nigerian market.

 

 

What do you mean by quality beef?

 

 

I have had the opportunity to travel to other countries like Argentina where they have ranches and export beef to Europe. When we say quality beef, we mean beef coming from well-fed and healthy cows. You would have provided them with the right pasture; they are fatter and have better meat quality.

 

 

You allow them to rest in the evening before taking them to the abattoir to be slaughtered in the morning. It’s not these ones that you force to trek thousands of kilometres in search of food and water. You know our normal meat here is strong and you always need tooth pick after eating it.

 

 

 

The meat from Mokwa was soft because they were well fed and rested before slaughtering. Mokwa was on the railway so we could easily bring in spent grains from the breweries and molasses from Bacita Sugar Company. These feeds made the beef very tender, juicy and tasty. People were rushing for Mokwa Beef at Kingsway Stores in those days.

 

 

If you came to Mokwa at that time, all the 3000 animals would be bulls; no females because you were not expected to be breeding cattle there.

 

 

Were these nomadic Fulani herdsmen part of this process of modernisation of livestock farming?

 

 

They were not part of the process directly because we dealt with major cattle owners located mainly in the cattle markets of Maiduguri, Mubi and other places in the far North. But the government at that time set up the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) in Zaria to reach out to the nomadic herders and encourage them to adopt modern methods of animal husbandry.

 

 

There were ingredients in the NAPRI mandate to support these herders who were mainly of the Fulani ethnic stock. For instance, NAPRI had a Pasture Research and Development Department to produce improved grasses for them. The institute also had a mandate to introduce improved breed of cattle to these nomadic herders. The idea was that instead of these herders carrying a hundred animals to achieve their business targets, with improved breeds of cattle, they may not carry more than fifty animals to achieve the same goal.

 

 

In other words with less number of animal, the productivity will even be higher when they introduce improved breeds into their herds.

 

 

Where is NAPRI now? Is it still in existence?

 

 

It is still in existence. It has the technical solution to the challenges we are facing today.

 

 

I am sure that NAPRI has done a lot of research over these years and what we ought to have been doing at this time is making their research findings available to these herders and encouraging them to adopt the innovations and improvements required in modern livestock farming.

 

 

Perhaps, our policy makers have chosen to ignore the technical solution and have decided to play politics with this issue.

 

 

 

 

Are the pilot ranches which you mentioned earlier still in existence?

 

 

I can say for Mokwa Ranch because I’ve worked around the area in recent years; that facility is dead completely. Even Manchok Ranch is also dead.

 

 

The sad story is that all those facilities, built at huge cost, are no more. In the 1970s while I was there, Mokwa was like the headquarters of agriculture in Northern Nigeria. You had the 7,000-hectare Cattle Ranch and Abattoir and you had the National Grains Production Company, a 4,000 hectare facility producing grains.

 

 

There was also the Institute of Agricultural Research (Station) owned by ABU National Cereal Research Institute (Farm) and Savannah Forestry Station. Sadly, all these projects are no longer there.

 

 

 

Why did Nigeria abandon these facilities and allowed the projects to rot away?

 

 

I can’t really tell but I think that changes in government policy on agriculture over the years must have led us to this sorry path. I told you that I was an employee of the National Livestock Production Company and to show you that ranching was a policy then, we had subsidiaries of that company.

 

 

One of the subsidiaries was the Nigerian Ranches Limited and their business was to set up ranches.

 

 

Then there was Nigerian Diaries Limited, a subsidiary of Nigeria Livestock Production Company. I believe that if the policy on ranching had been sustained through these years, we would not have fallen into this so called farmer/herder conflict which is threatening to consume the entire country.

 

 

 

If you were to meet with our policy makers who are promoting the RUGA policy, what would you tell them?

 

 

The thing is that we can’t run away from resettling the nomads. We cannot run away from it. But, resettling them where? I think that is the question that our policy makers have not been able to provide a   satisfactory answer to. Resetting them, where? If you are going to resettle them, you should resettle them where the environment is conducive even for the kind of agriculture that they practice.

 

 

If you want to embark on large scale maize production, do you go to the South? Is that the best place for such a crop? It is the same question we should be asking the policy makers who are pushing that grazing reserves, cattle colonies and RUGA should be taken to the South. Is the South the best place for the cattle?

 

 

Of course we are talking of increased agricultural activities in Nigeria but there are particular zones and places suitable for various agricultural activities. Our policy makers ought to look at the appropriate place for cattle. If you ask me, that scheme that was in place in the 70s where cattle breeding took place in the far North is still applicable because if you go to the far North, you have large expanse of land and numerous dams.

 

 

All you need to do is to utilize these dams by deploying them for irrigation of the land and planting improved varieties of grasses to feed the cattle in their natural habitat.

 

 

NAPRI has developed these improved varieties of grasses and what is left is for the cattle herders to embrace innovations instead of sticking to this old practice of nomadic cattle rearing.

 

 

Besides, if we really keep the cattle in their natural environment, we will not only prevent this perennial conflict between herders and farmers but the people in the far north will benefit from the process.

 

 

For example, if the herders embrace ranching it will create more business opportunities in the North because these ranches and abattoirs will employ hands to make the system work. The hides and skin business which is the foundation of the leather industry will bounce back. You will also have the blood meal and bone meal factories there and these will generate employment for the local people.

 

 

Around 2009, I was the Lead Consultant to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and we were investigating the cause of the food crisis at that time. We toured several agricultural infrastructures in this country. We were looking at the land, dams and silos. I remember at our last port of call in one of the far northern states where the Commissioner for Agriculture was escorting us and we were discussing. I told him that I know that the economy of their state is agrarian but from your own point of view: Is it crop or livestock? He said livestock. Then I asked him, you have the dams and large expanse of land, why are you not tapping into your area of your comparative advantage? Draw the water to the open land, plant your grasses and graze your cattle. You don’t even have to come to the Middle Belt to look for grass because you can grow your grass and feed your cattle, fatten them, slaughter them and retain all these job opportunities there.

 

 

If the governments of these far northern states are concerned about their local economy and want to create employment opportunities and generate revenue for their states, they should encourage their people to establish ranches in those states.

 

 

The beauty of it is that they can now become major producers and suppliers of beef to the rest parts of Nigeria. Right now, the way things are scattered we don’t know what each state is contributing to the national treasury.

 

 

Ordinarily, states such as Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Katsina, Sokoto and Kano ought to be leaders in cattle breeding and beef production but they have not risen to the occasion.

 

 

Don’t you think that the oil boom and Nigeria’s over dependence on petro-dollars is responsible for the reluctance of these states to look inwards?

 

 

You know, when people blame it on oil, quite frankly, I think it is more than that. I have been to over 30 countries including Malaysia looking at agricultural projects and practices. Malaysia is in a rain forest region and they decided to utilise their forests for oil palm trees and rubber. They pursued the policy of agro-forestry. It is not as if they do not eat beef but they decided to concentrate on their area of comparative advantage.

 

 

Don’t we have oil palm trees here? Where are all our oil palm and rubber plantations? They are in the South East and South South regions and now we want to push our cattle there instead of making the North conducive for the cattle.

 

 

The West is known for cocoa and we want to send them cattle and set up RUGA settlements there.

 

 

Let the various states in Nigeria identify their specific areas of competence and comparative advantage and develop their productive capacities in such areas. By so doing, they will be creating jobs and contributing their quota to the national treasury.

 

 

Some states in Nigeria have their local economies anchored on crop farming. We know that states such as Benue, Plateau and Taraba produce most of the food that we eat because the people there are mainly crop farmers.

When you now insist on grazing cattle on their farms, you are disrupting food production as well as the cultural and economic activities of the people

 

 

What’s your final word on the RUGA controversy?

 

 

I maintain that there was a technical solution. We should go back to the ranching policy and end this conflict for good. I know ranching requires infrastructure and that is where the governments in those states where cattle rearing is a way of life should step in and make a difference by providing these facilities.

 

 

The primary facility is large expanse of land and where else do we have more land in abundance than in the far North? Water is the second most important resource and there are a lot of dams that successive governments have built in the far northern states. They should be put to use.

 

 

The moment you start pushing cattle down to the Middle Belt and Southern regions as we are doing now, you create suspicion and avoidable conflict. Land is a very sensitive issue across Nigeria. Even among people from the same community, village or kindred. There have been generational wars over land and we can’t afford to do things that would worsen the situation.

 

 

In countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa, we all know of the land disputes there. Why do we want to dabble into sensitive issues like land when we know the implications? Why do we want to set Nigeria on fire? We can still coexist as a heterogeneous country without necessarily disrupting the economy and culture of our neighbours.

 

 

It worries me that the various sections of our country are engaged in a heated argument about RUGA and cattle colony while the entire agricultural sector is suffering.

 

 

Nigeria has just signed on to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) but where are the agricultural products we have to offer the rest of Africa? We can’t export our yams or beef because we are not producing them and packaging them in a way that they can be marketable. We have neglected the real issues that can improve our agriculture and we are beating about the bush and fighting ourselves.

 

 

Nature has given us our own areas of comparative advantage but we have failed to seize the opportunities available in our country.

 

 

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The people rejected Okorocha, family before elections –Imo PDP spokesman

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The people rejected Okorocha, family before elections –Imo PDP spokesman

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Spokesman in Imo State, Chief Damian Oparah is a journalist by training and a well known voice in the state. In this interview with STEVE UZOECHI in Owerri, he tells the story of events that led up to the victory of the PDP in Imo state in the last general election

 

After three years in office, what would you consider your achievements?

 

 

Well, in 2016 we had problems with the formation of the of the PDP state executives. We couldn’t hold our Congress when others were holding theirs. We held ours about two months later, precisely, on the 8th of August, 2016 and like you know, today marks my three years as the spokesman of this party.

 

 

In 2016 when we came on board, it was a big fight between the Makarfi and Sheriff factions of the PDP. And in Imo State, we had just lost a painful election the previous year. In that election, PDP had no reason to lose. We won the three senatorial seats and eight federal seats out of 10 and lost the governorship due to internal crisis and bad image of the party. By that time, the image of the party was thoroughly battered and at its lowest ebb. The morale of our members was also low and members were leaving the party in droves.

 

 

When we came on board, the first thing we did was to diligently clean up the party’s image working from inside out. We took charge of our image-making machinery and took steps to set up functional structures across the state to enhance the dissemination of the party’s image-building publications. And we were intentional about these.

 

 

With that we were able to clean up the mess that was left behind after the 2015 governorship election.

 

 

We didn’t stop there. The case of Makarfi and Sheriff created a very big gulf in the party between the Senator Hope Uzodinma faction and the Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha faction. While we were trying to build the image of the party, they were heating up the system. It was a challenge. Instead of putting the opposing APC governor in check, we were busy trying to manage the crises being created by the in-fighting in the party.

 

 

It was a double barrel problem for me. At a point I had to battle with the very recalcitrant group from the Sheriff faction who were bent on destroying the party on one hand and on the other hand contend with the incumbent APC governor who had vowed to run PDP out of town. It was in the heat of these crises that we discovered the then APC governor was paying the other PDP faction to destroy our party.

 

 

If anybody was in doubt, it was erased when we assumed work at the party’s secretariat. In the drawer of the then secretary of the party, Chief George Egu, we saw over 1000 APC membership cards. It was a shocking revelation to all of us because we didn’t know that the sabotage ran that deep.

 

 

I can tell you without mincing words that the victory of the PDP in Imo today was achieved the day the Sheriff faction of the PDP in Imo State was uprooted.

What led to the poor image of the party in 2015?

 

 

Internal sabotage. Having lost the 2015 election which we were supposed to have won, the image of the party took a nose-dive. We clearly won the 2015 election and from one angle, we were sabotaged and having lost the election or having been out of power for four years, the morale of became low and some people even wrote the party off. I remember this present governor was the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives then and to some extent, we enjoyed some influence associated with the status of our candidate. Yet we couldn’t make it in 2015. Our party became the subject ridicule and the butt of every rude joke.

 

 

So, we became more occupied in building a new image for the party and we got it right to such an extent where the party became the darling of the state.

 

 

The ruling APC realised they were speedily loosing grip in Imo State and then deployed the Ali Modu Sheriff group in the state to unleash the most sadistic assault on our party.

 

 

They  were well funded and given the impetus to criticize us as not being the authentic PDP. They even seized and took over our Secretariat and properties with brute force, happily creating image problems for the PDP at every opportunity. But we never missed an opportunity to place the records straight for Imo people. As such Imo people knew the whole truth and lined up firmly behind us in solidarity.

 

 

They repeatedly petitioned the Police alleging we were illegally parading as the authentic PDP and as always, we went back to the police to correct the false impression. There was no prank in the book they did not employ to undermine the PDP in Imo state.

 

 

These continued until we conducted our Congress in Port Harcourt and Sheriff was eased out of the party and Makarfi took over and the legal battle began. Their intention for going to court was obviously to discredit the PDP and portray the PDP as a party in crisis. In all and at all times, we never left the Imo public at the mercy of their vile speculations. And we always assured the people that we had the capacity to unseat then Governor Rochas Okorocha and reclaim the state.

 

 

Whatever happened then, we were always a step ahead of them. One of such masterstrokes we posted was when Uche Secondus came here to campaign to become the National Chairman of the party. Our state chairman, Barr. Charles Ezekwem told everyone that Imo PDP would adopt Secondus and Secondus was accompanied to Imo by the present governor of Imo state, Emeka Ihedioha, who we perceived as one of our own backing Secondus.

Immediately we published it that Imo PDP has endorsed Secondus as the National Chairman, all hell was let loose as I was hit by a barrage of calls coming from the other faction mainly questioning why the party took such position.

 

 

When Secondus won, it became a smooth sail for all of us. The Sherrif faction led by Nnamdi Anyaehie as State Chairman was promptly dissolved thereby paving the way for us to take full charge of our party.

 

 

There was nothing Sheriff’s men in Imo didn’t do to damage the image of the party but we were equal to the task. We matched them by creating radio programmes, addressing press conferences as the issues arise and disseminating well crafted press releases.

 

 

So, we were able to convince the people to key into the vision of the rebranded PDP. We were able to appeal to their conscience and were able to market the party and consequently, we were able to bring this government into place.

 

 

So, having rebranded the party, we were able to get the party to be number one in the lists of political parties in the state to the extent that despite the presence of such political heavyweights like Senator Hope Uzodinma, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, the incumbent governor’s in-law that were on ground or Ikedi Ohakim the former governor in other parties, we were able to win the election. This is not minding the fact that we did not control the security agents; have truckloads of money like Okorocha boasted nor had the clout to influence INEC. Rochas Okorocha boasted with all those but Imo people wanted PDP and eventually had their way.

 

 

Now, to what do you owe this success?

 

 

To me, it has been all about the PDP and the cleaning of its image and the resultant victory of the party at the polls. Recall that it was bad image that made us lose in 2011 under Ikedi Ohakim when they said he flogged a priest. It was a lie but the people believed it and it destroyed our image because that scandal was poorly managed. It was the same poor image that made us lose again to Rochas Okorocha in 2015 when Ihedioha was on the verge of winning.

 

 

Are you already resting on your oars?

 

 

Having come this far with proper image management of the party, the party is no longer seen as housing fraudsters but one that can now win election on the strength of its character and the credibility of its members

 

 

However, our structure is still intact. Then we had engaged 305 members for our social media team with each reporting to the activities of the party in every ward. The members actually grew from 10 to 305. I nurtured them and ensured that they were participating in workshops and seminars. In the seminars, we warned them sternly not to post lies.

 

 

What we are planning to do is very simple. We know a lot of people are angling for appointment but the most important thing is that the government activities should be properly reported in the media and that is what we are doing.

 

 

Your party Secretariat looks deserted. seems you havent been holding party meetings

 

 

Not at all, we have been holding meetings such as the state working committee meetings and state executive council meetings. What is happening is that when we have state functions, it is done in government house and the party joins them there.

 

 

Are you not worried that the crowd of politicians flocking around government may scandalize your government?

Let me tell you one thing, the governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and his deputy, Hon. Gerald Irona are thorough-bred politicians. Let’s start with Irona. He was a two term councillor for Oguta. He was also  the  executive chairman of Oguta Local Government Area and House of Assembly member representing Oguta State Constituency. He also went to the House of Representatives before becoming the Deputy Governor. So, he has seen it all. The story is the same for the governor. They know when to butter political bread and know those that are fair weather or food-is-ready politicians. They equally know those that brought them victory. So, from the appointments that have made, you can see that it is just a few outsiders. The rest have been with us and know the vision of the governor. Importantly, these men will not compromise competence and credibility for anything.

 

 

In the three years that you have worked as the Publicity Secretary of the party, what have been the challenge so far?

 

 

Some of the challenges I encountered as the Publicity Secretary of the party was the behavior of some members of the party which we were able to sort out. Another was finance to some extent and many others bordered on the dangers of engaging a ruthless government in power as was the case in the last administration.

 

 

In fact, when I was elected into this position, I was several reminded that the outgone governor would send people after me if we published what he was not comfortable with. But I replied by saying that I am a former police officer and that no such threats would move me. We quickly organised ourselves and dished out things that even the then governor and his handlers found difficult to disprove. The reason was that we told them the truth and our people in the new media were instructed not to post any picture that did not portray the true reality on ground. That was why Okorocha’s media team could not refute anything we published about their government.

 

 

The opposition is confident that the governorship election will be cancelled at the tribunal. What do you say?

 

 

When they say Uche Nwosu, Hope Uzodinma or Araraume is coming to take over, they should know that election is over and nothing will cancel it. Let’s look at Uche Nwosu, he was sitting on billions of Naira of Imo allocations and yet could not win the election. You had the money, you had the security, you had the INEC and could not win because the masses said you are unfit to rule. Is it now that they are no longer in power that he would return to government house? Even if there is such a situation where a rerun is called, the Imo people that rejected him are not all dead, they would still reject him again. Imo people rejected Rochas even before the election. That was what gave us victory. Again, having balkanized the APC, with Hope Uzodinmagoing to APC, Ifeanyi Araraume to APGA and himself going to AA, it became so easy for the people to choose and elect us. With the massive outcry from Imo people that our stolen properties and assets be recovered, how can Rochas Okorocha and family face the people again? Look at the revelations of Zigreat company that got all the contracts in that administration. How can they return? Is Uche Nwosu coming back to continue from where his father in-law left local government funds; is he coming back to continue to mess with our roads that they destroyed in the name of constructing them? They left Imo State in penury. They even demolished  all village markets and took over the shops in the name of remodeling them.

 

 

So, the ‘Uche Nwosu is coming back’ slang that some people still use is simply to get extract some of our money they stole from them. I can assure you that Uche Nwosu will never come back to government house either by election or any other means.

 

 

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2019 poll: Anxiety as Buhari, Atiku make final submissions

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2019 poll: Anxiety as Buhari, Atiku make final submissions

The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal is set to deliver judgement in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, challenging the election of President Muhammadu Buhari, on August 21. ONYEKACHI EZE reviews the proceedings of the tribunal

 

The stage is now set for the adoption of final written addresses of both the petitioners and defence counsels in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, challenging the election of President Muhammadu Buhari for second term in office.

 

 

Early last week, jitters seemed to have gone down the spines of the petitioners and defendants ahead of the August 21 date. For instance, President Buhari and the APC had asked the tribunal to expunge the 28,428 result sheets of election in 10 states presented by Atiku and the PDP before the tribunal. They want the tribunal to reject the testimony of the petitioners’ 40th, 59th and 60th witnesses.

 

 

Atiku’s spokesperson, Mr. Segun Showunmi, was the 40th witness; David Njorga from Kenya, who was described by the petitioners as their “expert witness,” was the PW 59; while Joseph Gbenga, a data analyst was the PW 60.

 

Buhari and his party also asked the tribunal to reject a separate set of 33 documents, which included the Certified True Copies of Form CF001 (personal particulars) submitted by Buhari to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the presidential candidate of his party, other INEC documents and some newspaper reports.

 

Among the 28,428 documents, whose admissibility was being challenged by Buhari and the APC, are 28,395 certified true copies of polling unit, local government, ward and state result sheets of 10 states. The states are Yobe (1,732 result sheets), Kebbi (2,106), Borno (3,472), Kano (5,806), Bauchi  (3,599), Katsina (3,378), Jigawa (3,162), Kaduna (3,335A), Zamfara (eight) and Niger (1,797).

 

The Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-man tribunal had given the respondents in the petition, President Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), up till August 5 to file and serve their written addresses to the petitioners, while the PDP and Atiku would respond within seven days of the receipt of the respondents addresses. Wednesday, August 21 was set aside by the tribunal for the adoption of the addresses.

 

It was interesting the three weeks the petitioners and respondents presented their case before the tribunal.

 

Lead Counsel to the petitioners, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), before he closed their case on July 19, presented 62 out of 400 witnesses he listed. The defendants, however, dramatically, closed their case after three days of the over six days allotted to them to present their case.

 

 

While INEC and APC declined to call any witnesses, President Buhari called only seven witnesses before resting his case. The tribunal chairman, Justice Garba had no option than to call on the counsel to the case to present their written addresses while August 21 was set aside for the final adoption. The tribunal might as well, on that date, reserve judgement on the matter.

 

Going by the Electoral Act, the tribunal must deliver judgement in the case within 180 days (or six months) from the date of filing of the petition. Atiku and PDP filed the petition on March 18. This means that the judgement is expected on or before the middle of next month.

 

PDP and Atiku, in their 141-page petition, are seeking for the nullification of President Buhari’s election on five grounds. These are that:  (1) The second respondent (Buhari) was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election; (2) The election of the  second respondent is invalid by reason of corrupt practices; (3) The election of the second respondent is invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended); (4) The second respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election; and (5) The second respondent submitted to the first respondent (INEC)) an affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election.

 

 

Among the witnesses called by the PDP and its candidate were the National Collation Officer, Osita Chidoka, an Information and Communication (ICT) expert from Kenya, David Ayu Nyngo Njoga as well as some of party’s agents at collation centres.

 

 

President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, General Paul Tarfa (rtd) who enlisted the same year with him in the military, and Malam Suleiman Mai-adua, the president’s classmate at Katsina Provincial Secondary School, were some of the witnesses who testified for him.

 

 

Two major issues were strongly advanced during three-week trail: the alleged transmission of the result of the presidential election by INEC through its server; and President Buhari’s qualification for the election.

 

 

When they opened their case on July 4, PDP and its candidate presented a total of 5, 197 exhibits from Niger and Yobe States. These were mainly result sheets from polling units, wards and local government areas. Atiku had insisted that the results of the election were transmitted through a dedicated server by INEC, a claim, which the commission denied.

 

 

Njogu told the tribunal that he got the results of the 2019 presidential election from a server operated by INEC, which he claimed, was provided by an unnamed official of the commission. He added that he later analysed the report through a third party website, www.factdontlieng.com.

 

 

The witness went further to provide the tribunal with the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the server and other backend login details, adding that his analysis of the content of the server showed that Atiku beat Buhari by over 1.8 million votes.

 

 

PDP National Collation Officer, Osita  Chidoka who was the petitioners’ star witness, told the tribunal that N27 billion out of N240 billion INEC budget for the last general election was for electronic transmission of results, and wondered why the commission could claim not to have transmitted the results electronically.

 

 

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.

 

 

Another video also 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.

 

 

Nicholas Msheliza, a presidential collation agent for PDP in Borno State, told the tribunal that virtually all the result sheets from the various local governments in the state were mutilated. He alleged that there was no accreditation of voters in over 200 polling units out of the 3,933 statutory polling units in the state.

 

 

He said: “Virtually all the results sheets that were brought to the state collation centre were mutilated. There was virtually no result sheet that was tendered at the state collation centre that did not have calculation error, and I did reject most of them.

 

 

“The Returning Officer of the first respondent (INEC), would always ask the local government collation officers to go outside the collation centre to reconcile figures, add them up and when they tallied, they should back to present them.” Msheliza who was the 23rd witness of the petitioners, said that the over 911, 786 declared by the INEC in the election was well over the accredited voters across the state.

 

 

Another witness also from Borno State, Kalid Kubu, told the tribunal that there were about five bomb explosions in his home town, Kalgamari while vote counting was going on, which dispersed everyone.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, who testified for him, said he personally collected his Cambridge documents on July 18 this year. “I can confirm that I was the one that collected and signed the Cambridge University West Africa Examination Certificate on behalf of the president on July 18, 2019,” he stated. The Chief of Staff, however, admitted that no certificate was listed on President Buhari’s curriculum vitae, and that the documents from the Cambridge were “assessments.”

 

 

General Paul Tarfa (rtd), who enlisted at the same time with President Buhari into the military on April 16, 1962, described him as a brilliant student who always passed his exams in flying colours. He, however, denied that they were told to submit their certificate by Army authorities at the time of enlistment into the military.

 

 

Another witness, Malam Suleiman Mai-adua, who was Buhari’s classmate in Katsina Provincial Secondary School, came with a group photograph of class six set of 1961, to prove that the president graduated from Cambridge University West African Examination that year.

 

 

This case, nevertheless, is historical in Nigeria’s constitutional democracy. Though there were some presidential election petitions before it, it was the first to witness such high number of exhibits and witnesses, and has attracted interest of many Nigerians.

 

 

Foremost constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze said Nigerians expect the tribunal to rise to the challenge. He decried what he said Justice Kishna Iyer of the Indian Supreme Court referred to as “the tyranny of procedure, the horror of the doctrine of precedent, with its stifling and deadening insistence on uniformity, and the booby traps of pleadings.”

 

 

In his letter to the tribunal, Professor Nwabueze noted that generality of Nigerians believed that something was wrong in the conduct of the 2019 general elections, and expressed happiness that an election tribunal has be constituted to “out the truth about what happened.

 

 

“The Tribunal/Court owes it as a duty to the country to do so, as the discovery of the truth will help to set us free from the scourge of electoral malpractices.”

 

 

He said the previous election petitions decided by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, said that “election petitions are suis generis proceedings, established, not for the purpose of adjudicating disputes arising in dealings or transactions between individual persons, but for the purpose of enabling the political community to choose, in free and fair election, persons to manage public affairs on its behalf and for the benefit of all its members, which makes largely inappropriate the technicalities of law of pleadings and evidence applicable in ordinary case; it is suis generis, to which the technicalities of the law of pleadings and evidence may not be appropriate.”

 

 

Last week, Buhari and the APC prayers, urged the tribunal not to act on the 28,000 documents, contained in their separate objections to the admissibility of the petitioners’ documents earlier admitted conditionally as exhibits by the tribunal. In particular, APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), urged the tribunal to “expunge” the documents from the record of proceedings on the grounds that they were “wrongly admitted in evidence” when they “are legally inadmissible.

 

 

Also, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) faulted the evidence of the witnesses which he argued emerged “in express violation of a subsisting order of court, same germinates in stark abuse of the process of this honourable court.”

 

 

Meanwhile, PDP’s Deputy National Chairman, South, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, believes that in the weight of evidence, Atiku Abubakar “will reclaim his mandate and come victorious at the presidential tribunal.”

 

 

In a recent interview with Sunday Telegraph before the commencement of the case in court, he said the evidence presented at the trials along with the exhibits pointed in this direction.

 

 

“We have assembled our evidence, ward by ward, local government by local government and there are 774 local governments in Nigeria, and we have the facts on how they manipulated the results. For example, how do you explain a situation in Kano whereby a particular party scored eighty something thousands in the presidential election and the same party scored over one million votes in the governorship election two weeks after?  How do you explain that, especially when you remember that it is the party they vote for and not an individual?

 

 

“From our own calculations, Atiku Abubakar won that election by 1.8 million votes, as against what they declared, but the fact is that nobody can hide behind one finger. Already they are jittery; you may not know but he who knows it feels it- that they will likely lose at the court and they are going to lose by the grace of God… The worse scenario that will happen is to call for repeat of the election, and we are not praying for that, rather we are praying that victory would be given to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar,” he said.

 

Issues for determination

Extract from the PDP and Atiku’s final written address at the Presidential Tribunal in reply to the second respondent, (Muhammadu Buhari)’s final written address as obtained by Sunday Telegraph reads:

 

 

In paragraph 1.2 of the 2nd Respondent’s reply, with respect, he made a bane and baseless allegation that the petition is based on “assumptions, speculations and conjectures” but failed to demonstrate same.

 

 

*It is also rather instructive that the 2nd Respondent who called seven witnesses, RW1 – RW7, abruptly closed his case in a vainglorious effort to stop the grave but irredeemable damage to his case by his witnesses under cross examination. That was like bolting the stable after the horse had clearly galloped out of it.

 

 

The issues

 

 

1. Whether the 2nd Respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the election.

 

 

2. Whether the 2nd Respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) submitted to the 1st Respondent (INEC) affidavits containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election.

 

 

3. Whether from the pleadings and evidence led it was established that the 2nd Respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) was elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.

 

 

4. Whether the Presidential election conducted by the 1st Respondent (INEC) on the 23rd February 2019 was invalid by reasons of corrupt practices.

 

5. Whether the presidential election conducted by the 1st Respondent (INEC) on the 23rd February 2019 was invalid by reasons of non compliance with the electoral act 2010 (as amended) and the electoral guidelines 2019 and the manuals issued for the conduct of the elections.

 

 

Argument in support  of 1 and 2

 

 

The case is that the 2nd Respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) does not possess the certificates relating to qualifications, which he claimed in his form Cf001  That Buhari had listed his educational credentials in proof of his qualification to contest the election in the said form, which he then submitted to the 1st Respondent (INEC)

 

 

*The qualifications claimed by the 2nd Respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) were: (a) First Leaving Certificate; (b) West African School Certificate (WASC); and Officer Cadet (Whatever that means). None of the alleged certificates was attached to exhibit P1*

 

 

*The Petitioners submit that the 2nd Respondent was not qualified to contest the presidential election because the 2nd Respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) failed to satisfy the mandatory requirements of section 131 (d) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which provides that: a person shall be qualified for election into the office of President if;*

 

 

*”(d) he has been educated up to at least school certificate and its equivalent”*

 

 

The make the requirements clearer,  Section 318 (1) of the constitution defines school certificates or its equivalent to mean:

 

(a)…A secondary school certified or its equivalent, a Grade II teachers certificate, the City and Guide Certificate or

 

 

(b) Educated up to secondary school certificate level; or

 

 

(c) Primary six school leaving certificate or its equivalent and –

 

 

(I) Service in a public or private sector in the federation in any capacity acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for a minimum of ten years and

 

 

(II) Attendance at courses and training in such institutions as may be acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)for period totaling up to a minimum of one year and

 

 

(III) the ability to write, read, understand and communicate in English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission; and

 

 

(d) Any other qualification acceptable by the Independent National Electoral Commission

 

 

*We therefore submit that to be qualified, the 2nd Respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) must produce his primary school certificate or West African School Certificate (WASC) or Officer Cadet, since those were the certificates he claimed in his form CF001 Exhibit P1*

 

 

*We submit that a candidate must choose the qualification or qualifications he wishes to rely on at the time of swearing to or submitting his form CF001. The 2nd Respondent duly exercised that choice and must swim or sink with his choice*

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Why Anambra South should produce next governor –Emecheta

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Why Anambra South should produce next governor –Emecheta

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chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State, Chief Jude Emecheta, has defended the agitation for Anambra South Senatorial District to produce the next governor of the state in 2021.

 

 

Emecheta, who spoke in Awka on Friday, said that it was morally right to allow the South take its turn in 2021, while noting that APGA has scored its first victory in the election by ceding its ticket to candidates in the zone and applauded the leadership for the decision.

 

 

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Emecheta, who is the National President of Willie Obiano Support Group, argued that Anambra Central has produced the governor for 11 years, while Anambra North would be completing eight years in 2021.

 

 

He said that Anambra South only produced Dr. Chinwoke Mbarinuju, who was governor for four years, plus the two years of Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, noting that, though zoning was not constitutional, it remained a moral agreement, which all the political zones and stakeholders must respect for equity, fairness and political peace to reign in the state.

 

 

“Anambra South governorship ticket is not under threat. APGA has committed to giving its ticket to a candidate from the zone, and we are fully ready for the battle in 2021. By the end of this administration, Anambra North would have completed eight years and Anambra Central cannot come out now, having produced governors for 11 years.

 

 

“It will not be politically wise for them to do that. We should not do things that will bring political bitterness in Anambra. These are the kind of things that lead to political rancour. In Anambra, there is some form of moral agreement,” he said.

 

 

Emecheta said that there was no need asking other political parties to consider Anambra South, adding that they ought to know the danger in fielding candidates from outside the zone.

 

 

“There is no need to warn anybody or any party, even in Nigeria, it is not written anywhere that power should rotate between North and South, it is a moral thing, so it is in Anambra. People are allowed to daydream, they are allowed to test the waters by making all manner of insinuations that it should be an open contest.

 

 

“Here in Anambra, rotation or zoning is beyond party, it a general thing, it is for zoning that governorship shifted to north in 2017. Central has done full tenure of eight years and another three years, North has done full tenure of eight years but South had only four years with Mbadinuju and two years of Ezeife.

 

 

“By 2021 we will be going into governorship election and we cannot do that successfully by fighting among ourselves, we have to be united,” the APGA chieftain said.

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Politics

Your Environment Matters

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Your Environment Matters

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our next 5 years will be determined by the books you read and the association you keep. The kind of people you surround yourself with and the environment you’ve created for yourself are predictions of your future. You can’t be aspiring to be very great while surrounding yourself with mediocre. You can’t be aspiring to become an eagle while surrounding yourself with chickens. You can’t be aspiring to have multiple streams of income and you have not read one book on finance. You can’t be expecting business expansion when you haven’t attended any seminar or workshop on business growth. Your environment determines your output. What kind of people have you surrounded yourself with?

 

 

As important as the soil to plant, so also the people we surround ourselves with and the environment we’ve created for ourselves – they determine our outputs.

 

 

Have you asked yourself some vital questions, such as: Who am I? What am I up to? What are my dreams and aspirations? Why was I created by God? Where exactly am I presently in the journey of my life? Or where am I in the map of my destination (if any)? Now, who am I friends? Who are my mentors? Who are the pictures of my future? What kind of people have I surrounded myself with?

 

 

These and many more crucial questions are important, friends. Your answers to these and more will speak a lot about you.

 

 

Life is more than wake up in the morning, eat, sleep, go to school, graduate, marry, have kids, grow old and die. There is more to you than you could imagine..

 

 

You were created for a purpose, to solve a particular problem; and until you discover that, you might as well be likened to one who’s on a journey without a known destination.

 

 

Discover why you are here. Garner every arsenals needed towards becoming who you were created to be. However, a major factor that will determine if the dreams will be achieved or not is the environment you’ve created for yourself.

 

 

YOU WERE CREATED FOR A PURPOSE.

 

 

Everything – living and nonliving were created to solve problem. The phone, laptop or computer system you are using to read this at the moment is solving a problem. The cloth you are putting on is solving a problem. The shoes you are wearing are solving problem. The AC or fan in your living room, the tv set, table and chairs and everything around you are solving one problem or the other.

 

 

Have you discovered the problem you were created to solve? Until you do, your existence could just be to add to the population on earth – And this, is not God’s plans for you. You are here for reason. Discover it. Pursue it. Become it.

 

 

Whatever you’ve seen or pictured yourself doing repeatedly is a clue to why you are here. The problem you always feel like solving is a clue to why you are here. The problem that get you angry is a pointer to why God created you.

 

 

Once you discover the reason you are here, then get people along that line, align with them, learn from them, so as to become who you want to be.

 

 

Someone has embarked on the journey you want to embark on. Someone has done or presently doing that business you dream of operating. Someone has been to where you want to go. Find them and learn from them.

 

 

You can’t be going to Abuja and at the same time following someone going to Maiduguri. You can’t be aiming to win a 3,000 meters race and you are rehearsing with people who are going for a 300-meter competition. Any correlation?   

 

 

This year, don’t be apologetic in getting yourself into the right environment. Don’t be apologetic finding people of like minds who are going same route with you. Don’t be ashamed to cut off friends who are not helping or adding to your value positively.

 

 

Stay away from negative minded persons. Stay away from gossips and backbiters. Stay away from people who do not see or say good about others. Stay away from people who have been possessed with the “pull-him-down” spirit. Stay away from anyone who’s not adding to you positively. Remember, you environment matters.

 

 

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APC will regain victory in Benue, says Rep Dyegh

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APC will regain victory in Benue, says Rep Dyegh

Hon. John Dyegh represents Gboko/Tarka Federal Constituency of Benue State and is Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights. He was in the race for speakership of the 9th House but withdrew at the last minute. In this interview with PHILIP NYAM, he speaks on the ministers-designate, the last election in Benue State and a host of issues.

 

You were in the contest for the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives and at some point people believed you will vie for Deputy Speaker. What happened to your ambition?

 

 

It is quite true I was in the race for the position of Speaker, which you and I know that I have the right to contest and of course, I do possess the requisite experience and competence to lead the 9th House of Representatives having been in the Green Chamber for eight years.

 

 

My decision to contest for Speaker was, however, not for selfish reasons; it was an attempt to offer myself for higher service for my constituents and Nigeria at large. I was offering myself, my competence, my experience, my time and talents and indeed my readiness to make sacrifices for the good of every Nigerian. So, it was not for pecuniary interest.

 

 

You are also aware that along the line, my party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in its wisdom decided to zone the position of Speaker to the South-West and gave the Deputy Speaker to North Central. And I want you to know that as I have always said, I am a loyal party man, who believes in the supremacy of the party; I am a team player who strongly believes in the cooperation of party members and unity of purpose.

 

 

Yes, I would have contested for the position of Deputy Speaker, which was for the North Central, but I had to defer to the persuasion and plea from party leaders and elders to drop my ambition so that the wish of the party would prevail. So, I withdrew in respect to the directive of the party.

 

 

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila released the names of committee chairmen and deputies before the House proceeded on recess; and many of the experienced lawmakers were not considered. Some analysts also expressed shock that some of the ranking members were not given juicy committees. How comfortable are you with the development?

 

 

First of all, I would say a legislator has three primary functions: that of representation, lawmaking and oversight. So, one necessarily does not have to be a committee chairman to function. But I think why lawmakers seek for committee leadership is for them to be in a vantage position to attract development to their constituency and also assist their constituents in terms of employment and so on.

 

 

So, when people talk about juicy committees, I really do not understand. May be some would want to get what you called juicy committees for other reasons, but to me, I am not in the House to make money. I contested election to come and serve the people. This is my ninth year in the House of Representatives and for eight years, I never headed any committee, but I was able to work for my constituents. Now, the appointment of committee chairmen is at the pleasure of the selection committee, which is headed by the Speaker. So, if in the wisdom of the Speaker and his team decided to make appointments, I do not have any problem with it.

 

 

However, we must not lose sight of experience in the parliament, it is also very important. Although, we have only 105 committees that are to be shared amongst 350 members, that is when you take out the ten principal officers; so certainly the committees will not go round. But I can only speak for myself.

 

 

Again, some analysts expected that people like you and Hon. Umar Bago should have gotten bigger committees…

 

 

Well, the Speaker has made me chairman of the Committee on Human Rights and I am not complaining. Like I said, I am here for service and I see human rights committee as another avenue for me to speak for my constituents and the people of Nigeria. There are a lot of human rights issues around us. Take for instance, Benue State where thousands of people have been  killed and left many more displaced and thousands of them are in internally displaced camps living under very inhuman conditions. For me, working for these hapless Nigerians is more dignifying than going to lobby for a committee with the intent of lining my pocket.

 

 

Look at the case of states in the North-East: Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and in the North-West, Zamfara State where so many people have been killed and the surviving victims are also in IDP camps wallowing in abject poverty. There are also disturbing issues of human trafficking and modern slavery; there are issues illegal migration of Nigerians dying in the desert. In fact a whole lot of issues- suspects who are allegedly maltreated by security agencies; suspects who are rotting away in detention awaiting trial for dozens of years.

 

 

 

I will be happy if I can make an impact in the lives of these people who are suffering, some for not fault of theirs, but for the evil being perpetrated against them for reasons we cannot comprehend. And I cannot speak for Hon. Bago; I don’t even know the committee he is chairing.

 

 

What is the relationship between you and Speaker Gbajabiamila and in fact the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ahmed Idris?

 

 

Oh, very cordial. I do not have any problem with any of them. I have a lot of respect for both of them and we have had a great working relationship and we will continue to work together for the benefit of the House and Nigerians.

 

 

President Buhari’s ministerial list has generated a lot of criticism from a cross section of Nigerians,  that it is made up of recycled politicians who have nothing fresh to offer the nation…

 

 

I think Nigerians have the right to assess the quality of ministers nominated by their President to serve the nation. So, for me, when they raise issues about particular nominees, they may have reasons for their actions. But we must also recognise that the constitution has empowered Mr. President to choose his ministers and he does that based on who he feels will be able to deliver on his agenda.

 

 

President Buhari promised us Next Level and if the people he has chosen are the ones he believes can help him attains that Next Level, we should give them a chance before criticising.

 

 

I would like to speak about the minister from my state, Distinguished Senator George Akume. Senator Akume is by every standard fit to be a minister of the Federal Republic and I do not think there is any other person more deserving of that nomination from Benue than him. This is a man who had a meritorious career in the civil service and rose to the peak as Permanent Secretary. He served as governor for eight years and served as a senator for 12 years; four of which he was Senate Minority Leader. He is a grassroots politician and a leader who is loved by his people and has in fact touched the lives of many. So, I believe his nomination could not have come at a better time than now.

 

 

Apart from him, there are equally other distinguished Nigerians who have excelled in different fields and previous national and even international assignments that have been nominated by the President. Perhaps, people have issues with one or two of the nominees and that is natural; but I think the president has the final say and most especially if they had been screened and confirmed by the senate, we should give them a chance.

 

 

Talking about screening and confirmation, many Nigerians picked holes in the ‘bow and go’ process adopted by the senate in screening most of the nominees. Don’t you think the Senate should have subjected the nominees to a rigorous screening?

 

 

Well, I am not the spokesperson for the senate, but like I earlier said, Nigerians have the right to question their representatives, when they feel certain things are not going the way they expect. I know some Nigerians would have wanted a situation where all the ministers would be subjected to a question and answer session, but the Senate felt otherwise. The Senate has its own rules and standing orders; but it is also traditional to parliaments all over the world to allow ‘their own’ to take a bow. So, the practice of bow and go is not peculiar to Nigerian parliament.

 

 

Again, I would like to make reference to the nominee from Benue State, Distinguished Senator Akume. He was one of those who were asked to take a bow and go. For such a highly experienced leader, we do not necessarily expect that he be put to test again. He is eminently qualified and has proven time and again that he is capable and can fit in perfectly in the Next Level agenda of the President. He has been a loyal and hardworking member of the APC; he was there from the beginning and understands the party’s manifesto as well as Mr. President’s philosophy of leadership. I believe he is an asset to this administration.

 

 

The DSS finally obeyed court ruling permitting leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky to travel for medical attention. What’s your take on this?

 

 

It is a welcome development and I believe that with the DSS’ compliance with the court order, the restiveness, we have had in the past would have been put to rest. The protest from Shi’ite members would cease and the tension generated by their activities will end too. It means the government is conscious of her responsibility as regards respect to the rule of law.

 

 

As a human rights committee, we will be working round the clock to ensure that the right of no Nigerian is being trampled upon. We must respect human dignity and fundamental rights of every Nigerian irrespective of their social, religious or ethnic inclination. At the same time, we will be engaging the people on the need for them to always respect the laws of the land and endeavour to act within the ambit of the law at all times.

 

 

There is general insecurity in the land and everybody seems too scared. What do you think the government should do to bring   sanity to the nation again?

 

 

The level of insecurity is actually disturbing; killings by bandits, kidnapping by armed robbers and even inter-tribal clashes. It is really scaring and I believe every Nigerian is concerned. I believe the security agencies and the government is doing their best to nip this terrible situation in the bud. I will advise the government not to rest on its oars. The government should also review its security tactics and approach; inject new blood where it is desirable and seek alternative strategies. There is too much of blood spilling in the country. These are indeed trying times for the nation and I do not think anybody envisaged that we may be in this state today. But like they say nobody knows tomorrow and the problem is now with us; we have to face it squarely. I think we should eschew divisive politics at this time and work as one. All hands must be on deck so that we can overcome this problem as a nation. Nigeria is a great nation and we must all work to maintain that status. President cannot do it alone; he needs the input of other stakeholders across party lines.

 

 

Your party, the APC seems to have lost steam in Benue State during the last general election; can it bounce back at all?

 

 

I don’t think I will agree with you that the APC lost steam in the last general elections. Certain factors fueled a lot of blackmail, couple with electoral irregularities including rigging and vote buying. But we did our best and most of our people who lost are in the tribunals, which hopefully we believe we will be able to reclaim the positions that were fraudulently taken away from us to other political parties.

 

 

I want to say that Benue is an APC state any day any time. We have a track record of high performance and that stands us out from other political parties. We are very confident that the courts will give us justice at the end of the day, so that we can continue with the good work we have been doing in the state.

 

 

The Federal Government is being criticised over the arrest of former presidential candidate and the convener of #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore. What is your take on this issue?

 

 

Well, this issue is before the court and the security agencies are still investigating so I will not want to comment on it. But I want to say that every Nigerian is entitled to the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of speech and the right to protest, but these rights, however must be expressed within the ambit of the law. So, it is for the courts to determine if that was done in this instant. I will also advise the security agencies to always adhere strictly to the rule of law in dealing with the people.

 

 

 

 

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Aspirant identifies six core areas of concern in Bayelsa

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governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Bayelsa gubernatorial election, Mr.  Keniebi Dotun Okoko, has identified six core areas including massive investment and security as his primary concerns if elected into office.

 

Rolling our his programmes recently, the Economics and Political Science who led a strong consortium to win the bid for privatization of the National Integrated Power Plant in Gbarain in Yenagoa Local Government, said the redemption core six focus areas are security, education, health, economic growth, Urbanization and development.

 

 

Okoko, a young popular entrepreneur and industrialist who handled a multi-million naira investment on oil and gas called KDI group, said without security, investment would be a ruse in the state created 23 years ago, lamenting that up till now it is yet crying for development.

 

 

He said that looking at the security situation in the state today it is not yet Uhuru for the residents but he promised to improve on the security situation of the state if given the opportunity, arguing  that no society can prosper in an insecure and unsafe environment.

 

 

He said: “We will create new security architecture that is people-centered and constructed on the basis of promoting state, human and societal security; ensure oversight and accountability of all security apparatus in the state; support a strong human rights approach to build partnerships and create trust amongst citizens and corporate bodies.

 

 

“Strengthen the rule of law throughout the State, ensuring the pillars of criminal justice system function effectively, and that citizens have a functioning and reliable justice system. Improve coordination of the security agencies, safety and security are achieved as a result of many different agencies, institutions and actors working together, poor coordination, or a failure to consider all elements contributing to our society to ineffectiveness, inefficiency, as well as increasing insecurity.”

 

 

On communications, he said strategic communication programmes will be devised to support the implement of our security policy. These, he said, will include but not limited to developing partnerships and establishing local bodies/councils where citizens can voice their concerns, question the police and other agencies, and give feedback on the performance of the police and other protective agencies.

 

 

On education, the philanthropist said the value of education to the prosperity of any society is well known, “significant investment have been made in the area of education especially in the area of infrastructure and establishment of learning institutions., however, there is still more to do to reflect the contemporary times and prepare our citizens for the future of work and gain global reputation as innovation, strategic and deliberate investments will be made to improve the knowledge, skills and attitudes of all Bayelsans and ensure they become life-long learners.

 

Okoko said he will make a historic investment each year in high quality education for all by increasing the education budget by at least 20 per cent and also carry out a review and upgrade the standards to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education in the State. Increase the supply of qualified and well-paid teacher. Emphasize on a reading culture by decentralizing the state library system, renovate, equip and transform the Bayelsa State Library to on e-Library.

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