Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, speaks on 21-year remembrance of the late winner of the June 12, 1999 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, and insecurity across the country, among other issues. TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports
Twenty-one years after MKO Abiola
This occasion (21 years remembrance of MKO Abiola) is remarkable and unique because this is the first gathering after the official recognition of truth. I agree about not placing so much emphasis on the past, but I want us to simultaneously recognise the fact that the past is always reverse. We cannot escape the past. All we can do is ameliorate the bitter memory, the divisive memory of the past and confront the challenges of the present, which of course often arises from the past. So, you cannot really escape the past.
We cannot escape the fact that for instance there had been other martyrs whose disappearances have never been explained. We remember people like Bola Ige, a former Attorney-General of the Federation, who was on his way designated to occupy one of the most prestigious positions in the United Nations, but he was cut down and till today, nobody can give us a precise answer. So, it is not a question of wanting to exhume the past; it is simply time to extortive the negative hole of the past honour and we can only do this by exhuming the truth no matter how old the truth is.
The truth is imperishable. It only takes some time, long while to really curry our way to the core of that essence for me dignifies humanity.
MKO means so many things to so many people. But there is one thing nobody will take away. I think on this, we are united that he belongs to that galaxy of stellar leaders, who at the critical moment said no. Nelson Mandela was one of them. Leah Sharibu is another one; another young exemplar. When MKO Abiola was given conditional release, he said no. That is a precious lesson from MKO Abiola.
Respect for the rule of law
You have heard about security, obeying the law, which is one thing that equalises all of us. This government, this president (Muhammadu Buhari) must be told that he cannot pick and choose what laws he obeys. Otherwise he is setting an example for all of us. There is no exemption or something special about been given the honour and the responsibility of running a nation. On the other hand, the responsibility is heavier; you must set an example and so we are calling on this government, this president, once again, yet again, obey the dictate of the law or you are setting in motion an unworkable process of total anarchy.
It is this kind of refusal to obey the law that makes a sector of the populace thinks that they are above the law. And the way they express this sense of immunity is through impunity. Having some part of the population saying that all men are created equal, but some are more equal than others is an unacceptable thing in social belonging. We all have so memories and like I said earlier, one of this days before too long we will gather and just exchange memories. Some of them are hilarious and as you know, MKO was a great man of humour. We must not allow this dimension to be missing in our life.
Insecurity and attacks by herdsmen
We have a lot of work to do. We have responsibility. We have issues of education, unemployed; you pick up papers this day; almajiri. There are almajiris everywhere. Only some are so specially designated. I count among the almajiris the children without the opportunity of education, the youth without the opportunity of job. And then we know that from what is being done, quite commendable towards restoring the humongous amount which have left this nation illegally and which have prevented the development of this young people that we are talking about. So, as I keep saying, let nobody poopoo the battle against corruption, for instance, despite the glaring failure and inequitable dealing of even the promoters of the anti-corruption war.
This piece of paper, which I have in my hand, is the present, which I have brought for our late leader. It is a communiqué issued by the Ooni of Ife and myself just three nights ago, when he visited me in my Ijegba in Abeokuta to discuss the issues, which plague this country at the moment, most especially the attempt by certain purely commercial sectors to colonise the rest of this nation; it is a very serious dangerous issues. Just when we think we are dealing and getting to terms with Boko Haram, then come these nomadic herdsmen armed with AK47 rifles. And certainly or gradually, the kind of harmonious relationship which existed between various productive arms of the nation begin to disappear and we found ourselves being threatened on a daily basis, our people being raped and other productive arms like farmers being driven out of their homes.
These are critical issues. They simply remind some of us who have been boasting that by year so and so, we are going to retire. I have been fond of saying that anybody who calls me out like today for any demonstration, I will only come if you provide me a wheelchair, air condition and with small a refrigerator, where I can refresh myself and really for once try and be my age. But all the problems keep coming up, waking us up from our self-assigned slumber and we will like to reduce the handicap as much as possible to this generation that I see all around us.
Abiola’s remembrance after declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day
It is special because this is the first meeting, gathering in his honour and memory after his formal recognition by the state; by the formal organ of the nation that he was indeed duly elected and he is a past president of this nation and all everyone is waiting for now is the formal annunciation and actualization through the symbolic presence of his photograph among other presidents that he was past president, even though he was never sworn into office.
Youths and nation building
Sometimes I refer to this generation of youths in which one places so much hope, as a ‘gaseous’ generation because they are so full of gas. But when it comes to action, you are astonished because they keep calling out names like where is Wole Soyinka? Where is Joe Okei-Odumakin? Where is Femi Falana? They keep churning out the same names, same expectations, they do not organise themselves for action. This is what we had hoped to happen in the last elections, when we called the public to jettison the two major political parties and for the youth to recognise that they actually have a powerful bloc vote and they should exercise it in a progressive way.
Well, it didn’t work the first time, it is a new concept to them, so nobody should place so much expectations. But one hopes that in advance, 2023, the youths should begin to organise themselves, they must not wait till the last minute. They should begin right now in manifesting their expectations and the possibility of the realisation of their expectations of taking up leadership positions.
NASS has no business in Edo Assembly crisis – Ojezua
Edo State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Barr. Anselm Ojezua, believes that what is presently playing out in the state is propelled by politics, but insists that it would be resolved politically. In this interview, he speaks on the impasse in the state and House of Assembly, the intervention by the National Assembly. Wale Elegbede reports
What is the real story behind the crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly?
It seems to me to be more of a question on how well are we managing our success in Edo State. As you know, this is the first time that we have recorded an absolute victory in the sense that all the seats in the state Assembly are for the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). It has never happened before. With that as a background, whatever you see happening now will look more like a paradox. It is true that we are having issues in relation to the leadership of the House, but it does not amount to crisis because Edo State is functioning, even the House of Assembly is functioning.
We have a leadership in place, they are working. To that extent, there is no crisis. So, what we have is that the House has been inaugurated, leadership has emerged, some members are not happy with it and they are taking steps they feel is necessary to change what they cannot have. Some have gone to Abuja, they have been to court and as you can see, they have also gone to the National Assembly. All that put together is to stimulate the prospect of a crisis, but in Edo State, there is no crisis.
If they’ve gone to court, we subscribe to that because that is what the law says that should there be any disagreement that they can’t resolve on their own, they can seek redress. They shouldn’t resort to self-help. Thankfully, all the parties are in court. So, we await the court’s decision, but as a party, we are also taking steps to seek reconciliation for our members in the House. If you recall, when the House was inaugurated there were nine members, but today they are 12.
There is a prospect that the number will increase. I think what has actually been an impediment to a peaceful political resolution is the intervention of the National Assembly. If their intention is to come and help us in Edo, I think they have somewhat compounded our problem.
How do you mean?
The threat that they will come and take over our state Assembly is being seen by the ordinary man on the street as an alien invasion of our state as if Edo State is a colony of some people in Abuja. That is the impression and we are having a hard time convincing them.
But some people believe that what is happening is like the hand of Esau, but voice of Jacob. Those in this school of thought aver that given the cordiality between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, this shouldn’t be happening?
I agree with you that what is happening now should not happen. I think both of them have the responsibility to do the right thing.
Can you clarify insinuations that the APC National Chairman actually wanted to foist leadership on the Assembly?
I don’t have that information and I can’t say that I share a similar view. But you know when things like this are happening people are bound to speculate; it gives room for speculation. So, unwittingly, we may have opened ourselves to all sorts.
What steps are you taking to co-opt the 12 lawmakers-elect who are yet to be inaugurated?
We have been working with leaders of our party in the various parts of the state, particularly leaders of the concerned lawmakers that you mentioned. Don’t forget, I said that we were recording some progress; three other members have been sworn-in to take the number to 12. Let me say this; the day the member representing Owan Federal Constituency, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, moved his motion on the floor of the House of Representatives, two of those 12 lawmakers-elect were actually at the airport waiting to come to Benin to be sworn-in, when they were informed to return because the National Assembly is coming to take over the state Assembly.
So, they went back. For me, that was minus rather than a plus in terms of National Assembly intervention. So, I believe that when their interventions dissipate, we will continue the process of reconciliation that we have started.
Are you saying that the reconciliation process won’t continue until the House of Representatives is completely off the picture?
You see, we don’t even believe that the National Assembly has any business in this matter. We don’t even believe that it is right for them to take steps. But you know that we are obliged to be polite to them when they came calling for very obvious reasons. So, we made all the facts known because if we had rebuffed them, the tendency would have been to believe that we have something to hide. They have come and they have all the facts.
What are the facts? That the seventh Edo State House of Assembly was inaugurated, that a leadership is in place and that they are actually functioning and that the matter is in court. With all that knowledge, what we expect them to report and to recommend is that in the light of all these facts, they should adopt a political solution and also watch the judicial pronouncement.
They didn’t do that and they could not even wait for the National Assembly process to be completed before they went to town. Therefore, they may have justified speculations in town arising from an audio where one of the members-elect was boasting that the matter has been resolved and that the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives have been told what to do. And three days after, they did what the boy said, though prematurely of their own processes.
That, to me, has compounded our problem rather than helping to resolve it. That was why I said when their energy is dissipated, we will continue our reconciliation. We were on course before this. This thing you are seeing would be resolved. This is not the first time we are having issues in Edo State House of Assembly. If the need arises, we will do anything we have to do to protect our independence in the state.
What is the truth behind the abduction claim by one of the lawmakers?
Politics sometimes elicit drama and this is one case of that nature. If a man is kidnapped and he is released, the next thing to do is to go to the police and make a statement and seek to prosecute his abductors, especially when they are known. All that is part of the drama, but what I have told you is that 12 out of 24 have been inaugurated. There are another 12, who are yet to be inaugurated, but as a party, we are working to see that everybody is complete as a family.
How is it that the party is in such crisis, when it has no opposition in the state Assembly?
One thing that is significant and for which I am particularly grateful is that since I made my statement several weeks ago, nobody has come out to say it is not true. Whether they agree or not, it is a different kettle of fish. You know that in politics, you don’t seek 100 per cent, you seek a consensus and it is measured in terms of majority. So, in those meetings that I alluded to, there was a consensus and everybody signed it.
The aggrieved lawmakers decided to go against the position of the party and we feel it should neither be tolerated nor condoned in the interest of the party because when you keep a First Aid Box, you don’t know who you are keeping it for.
Will the erring lawmakers be sanctioned by the party?
You know the first thing we need to do is to put peace in place and reckon within the ranks of the party. I don’t think sanction will be the first thing. As a matter of fact, it will be the last step after we have exhausted all avenues for reconciliation. The good news is that the House has been inaugurated; they formed a quorum within their decisions.
The constitution makes provision for a 24-member Edo State Assembly, but at the moment we have 12, so when you want to calculate a quorum, you are calculating it on the basis of 12. That is the peculiar nature of parliament. As far as we are concerned, there is no problem in Edo State Assembly unless a court of law, properly constituted makes a pronouncement to the contrary.
What would be your message to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC and the leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari?
I would rather not send a message to them through this medium. I have made my position clear. I honestly do not think they need to get involved in this. For some of them who have gotten involved, their involvement has not been helpful. So, I think it is time for them to let go and allow us to handle the issue at home.
What is your message to the people of Edo State?
My message to them is to continue to live in peace; they should not be worried about the so-called threat of an invasion. There would be no invasion against the people of Edo. Our state remains a sovereign part of Nigeria; we are a federating partner, we are not anybody’s houseboy. Edo State is not a colony of the National Assembly or anybody’s entity. They shouldn’t worry at all. All these things playing out are politics and would be resolved politically.
Failure of leadership responsible for opposition against Buhari – Ogbonnia
Dr. SKC Ogbonnia is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a presidential aspirant of the party during the 2019 elections. He speaks, in this interview with FELIX NWANERI, on the controversies and suspicion that have trailed the RUGA policy of the Buhari administration, among other issues
What is your take on the RUGA policy, which the Federal Government was forced to suspend given the controversies that trailed it?
President Muhammadu Buhari is not only giving Nigeria a bad name with his handling of the herdsmen crisis, the good people of Fulani should also understand that the President might have equally damaged their brand around the world. As I noted in a recent piece that I entitled ‘Second term: A leadership lesson Buhari must learn,’ the style of a leader is vitally essential in governance. I maintain that Buhari’s style is a leadership miasma, offensive enough to turn his friends into foes.
This explains why a president who was re-elected barely five months ago has already lost his voice with the generality of the Nigerian people. Therefore, even if his RUGA policy is the sole panacea to all the Nigerian problems, the people are bound to view it with stifling suspicion. This goes without saying that, while RUGA definitely does not represent the best model to address the growing herdsmen crisis, the main problem is more about the messenger than the message itself.
What informs that position?
In fact, I have wondered lately, if Muhammadu Buhari is truly Fulani. Having grown up in Kano, I have come across millions of Fulani and worked with thousands of them in key Northern states. I have also maintained close friendships with many of the people and interacted with many more in the course of my presidential campaign. When I think of the Fulani, I think of good people, overall. Remember the calibers of Emir Ado Bayero, Emir Shehu Idris, Shehu Shagari, Abubakar Rimi, Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, Aliko Dangote, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Yar’Aduas, the Dantatas, Shehu Sani; and one of my childhood idols, Yusuf Bala Usman, to name just a few. They are known to be amiable, meek, bridge-builders, intelligent, trustworthy, sagacious, and shrewd.
But, some people will argue that the President has exhibited these qualities you’ve listed…
Buhari, as civilian president, has been more or less a stone-cold zombie. I don’t want to to be quoted out of context; zombie, according to Cambridge Dictionary, refers to ‘someone who moves around as if unconscious and being controlled by someone else.’ Yes, unlike a true Fulani, Buhari does not even have control of his presidency let alone a complicated policy like RUGA. Those currently steering him around are textbook sycophants, who are merely exploiting the situation for their selfish interests. Unfortunately, different efforts to wake up the President have been met with silent treatment.
How did Nigeria get to this crossroads given the picture you have painted?
The people should rather ponder some begging questions. Given that Nigeria has co-existed with the herdsmen for ages, why all of a sudden the issue of Fulani herdsmen is threatening the fabric of national existence? How and why did the herdsmen terrorism escalate under Buhari to the extent that the Fulani brand is becoming a taboo around the world? How come Northern Nigeria is more divided under Buhari than at any other time in Nigeria’s history? Why and how did the threat of secessions exacerbate under Buhari’s civilian regime?
Not done, how would the Fulani feel, if either then President Olusegun Obasanjo or President Goodluck Jonathan folded their hands while bandits identified as Yoruba or Ijaw were massacring the Fulani with AK 47? How would the Fulani feel, if their people were met with political persecution after the 2011 elections, when the North-West zone expressed their democratic rights to vote overwhelmingly for their native son, Buhari, instead President Goodluck Jonathan?
The answer is simple. No section of Nigeria deserves to be subjected to hostility or oppression because of their tribal, religious, or political orientations. The current herdsmen crisis has roots in Buhari’s dictatorial, divisive, arrogant, and unrepentant style of leadership.
That sounds a harsh judgement on the person of the President…
Let’s go back to the RUGA palaver. One did not have to assume a clairvoyant authority to discern that the policy was bound to be dead-on-arrival. Good leaders gauge the mood in the country before rolling out controversial policies. First of all, the programme was poorly communicated and widely sensationalized and believed to solely benefit Buhari’s people at the expense of other regions. Moreover, the President ought to have recognized how he is perceived in notable parts of the country to even contemplate a national policy like RUGA without wide consultations.
Start with the Middle Belt, the epicenter of herdsmen terrorism. Despite the fact the people were being slaughtered for months by herdsmen with sophisticated weapons, Buhari maintained stoic silence. Only a nefarious enemy of Nigeria would have remained indifferent to such wanton loss of human lives. Only an insensitive leader would believe that such neglected people would welcome a policy like RUGA with open arms.
Combine the irony with the reality that Buhari further divided the country upon assumption of office in 2015 when he declared political vendetta against zones or regions that voted overwhelmingly for the opposition. He followed by introducing the most unpatriotic patronage model ever seen in the country, whereby political appointments are based purely on voting patterns. The target, of course, were the people of the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria.
But the President has repeatedly claimed that has he has been fair to all…
The ground zero of Buhari’s offensive were the South-East and South-South zones. The sole reason for the utter disdain is that the people voted en masse for their native son, Goodluck Jonathan just as the people of North-West voted for their own native son, the same Buhari, in 2011. Today, the entire nine states of the Eastern Region – a full leg of the tripod by which the country is supposed to stand – is totally excluded from the upper echelon of Buhari’s sphere of influence, including the executive branch, the legislature, the judiciary, and the ruling party itself.
Today, the region has been reduced to merely good for natural resources and national taxation, but unworthy to sit at the national table of power. Their crime this time around is the freewill of majority of their people to vote for another Fulani man in Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 presidential election, instead of Buhari himself. Never in the history of the post-war democratic Nigeria has an entire region been treated with such degree of disdain and political persecution.
Once re-elected, Buhari quickly explored a strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ through the Western Region. But the Yoruba intelligentsia refused to buy the strident gambit. Instead, they have remained aligned with the entire South along with the Middle Belt to form the confluence of the current opposition turbulence thickening around Buhari’s regime.
Don’t you envisage danger as the suspicion persists even with the suspension of the RUGA programme?
With the apparent rejection of the RUGA policy, there are already some dog whistles by some Northern elements to widen the anger of defeat to a war between the North and South or a war between the core North against the Middle Belt together with the entire South. More commonly, given the nature of politics in Buhari’s second term, especially with respect to 2023 presidency, one would not be surprised, if somehow, some schemers, including some southern wannabes within the ruling party, employ a satanic strategy to narrow any hostility as a typical conflict between the Fulani versus the East, particularly the Igbo.
But the Fulani masses must not fight the Buhari’s war. Neither the South nor the Middle Belt has a case against the Fulani as people. After all, Nigeria had co-existed peacefully under past Fulani leaders. Similarly, the people of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt must equally sheathe their swords. The main problem is neither the Fulani people nor the poor and unwary herdsmen; most of who do not even own the cows nor can afford AK 47s. The common enemy is the President of the country, who emboldened the herdsmen by appearing to condone their terrorist activities. Simply put, the growing opposition to Buhari’s regime lies squarely on gross failure in leadership; his failure to secure the lives and property of the Nigerian people and his failure to be president for all Nigerians.
In all these, what is the way out?
There is an urgent need to develop a national policy for the management of the Nigerian livestock assets for the greater good, and the model is not rocket science. But it may not be tenable under the current situation where the president not only acts like sectional leader but also acts like he does not care. The way forward, therefore, is for Muhammadu Buhari to demonstrate true leadership.
Instead of viewing every critic as an enemy, instead of fanning embers of discord in every front, the President should listen – atone, make amends, communicate, and begin to lead a just, accountable, equitable, and human government. Though his response to the recent murder of Funke Olakunrin – the daughter of a prominent Yoruba leader by suspected terrorists – is timely and noteworthy, President Buhari might as well understand that every Nigerian life matters.
Nigerians must be wary of agents of destabilisation – Dansudu
Alhaji Ado Shuaibu Dansudu is the National President of Arewa United Consultative Forum and National Vice Chairman of Arewa Youth Development Association. In this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, he speaks on the Muhammadu Buhari administration and the security challenges in Nigeria, especially the recent killings in South-West
What is your take on the level of insecurity in different parts of Nigeria, especially the recent attacks and killings in the South-West geo-political zone?
My view is that the South-West is not different from other geo-political zones of Nigeria. The South-West is part of Nigeria and the issue of insecurity in the country is currently a big challenge to everybody. It is a challenge to the government and Nigerians in general. So, I disagree with people who are attributing the various killings to Fulani herdsmen. I see those behind the killings as terrorists, but I am against those saying Fulani herdsmen are behind the attacks. If you look at what is happening in Nigeria, especially as regards to insecurity, Northerners have suffered more than the rest of the country. So, why should people be saying that the Hausa/Fulani are behind it?
The Hausa/Fulani people, who are alleged to be behind the attacks, have suffered more than other regions in the country in term of killings, kidnapping, banditry and other insecurity issues in the country. Why I will not categorically believe it is Fulani herdsmen that are behind the attacks is because some Fulani have equally been kidnapped and they have to sell their cows to pay their abductors to secure their release. Some of them have also been killed. So, I believe criminality is not restricted to a particular tribe or religious faith.
Are you saying that some of the attacks and killings in South-West were not carried out by Fulani herdsmen as claimed by eye witnesses?
There might be Fulani among them but not all of them are Fulani. My own definition of Fulani herdsmen are those going about with their cows. If you follow news, you will even hear that herdsmen face several robbery and attacks and at times hundreds of their cows are stolen. Can hyena eat itself? It is not possible. What I can categorically believe is that majority of the terrorists are Fulani, but not herdsmen, to be realistic.
If you agree that majority of them are Fulani, what do you think is the reason for the attacks?
The attacks are not being carried out by the Fulani alone. There was a time we had meeting with Aare Gani Adams (the leader of Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC); he invited me for one gathering and he himself said there are criminals within the Fulani and Yoruba in South-West, who are carrying out the attacks because the Fulani alone cannot do that job. It must be in collaboration with citizens or indigenes of the areas where they are carrying out the attacks. How will Fulani know the secret of the forest where they are taking people to after they kidnap them? How would they know someone is rich or not? How would they know who to kidnap and how would they trace someone from a city or town to the area where the kidnappers carry out an attack must be as a result of informants.
There was a man I watched his video, who said there are Yoruba among the kidnappers. According to him, when he was in captivity, some Yoruba will come and he will hear them speak Yoruba or English and translate it to the kidnappers. He said that if those who are kidnapped don’t have money, they will kill them and the people who want to buy the human parts are there waiting. He said if someone who was kidnapped doesn’t have money to pay for his or her ransom; they will kill him and sell his parts to the people who usually buy human parts. The man confirmed that those buying the parts are Yoruba.
What are Northern leaders and groups doing to address this issue, especially the current trend that has seen the Fulani attacking Southerners in their areas?
We are trying our best and working with the security agencies to ensure that they put everything in control. I am not against groups from Yoruba like OPC working hand in hand to ensure that they address the situation. But my appeal is that innocent people should not be affected. Because if care is not taken due to enmity, misunderstanding or differences, people may be alleged to be culprits and acting based on speculation may lead to shedding of innocent blood.
Considering the rate of insecurity in different parts of the country, don’t you think it is high time for all Nigerians to join hands together to address the menace?
Of course! At this period, Nigerians should join hands to fight the insecurity and bring all the criminals to book. But the problem we have has to do with some people who are in opposition or those who are not patriotic. They are the once spreading rumour through the social and mainstream media; spreading false information and lies, deceiving people. Those doing this are doing so because of selfish interest. Some people are using tribe, religion and many things to make sure that they destabilise the peace of this country. And some people, because President Muhammadu Buhari is a Fulani man, are seriously alleging Fulani herdsmen to be the brain behind insecurity across the country.
My belief is that it might be possible that some Fulani herdsman joined them, but they are not real owners of the cows. You cannot be controlling millions of cows and you will leave them to go and join terrorists. Is it possible? It cannot be possible. I want to also use this medium to send my condolence to the Leader of Afenifere, Papa Reuben Fasoraunti, for the loss of his daughter (Mrs. Funke Olakunrin). Even the Commissioner of Police has confirmed that those who killed that lady were armed robbers and we know it is happening everywhere. They are armed robbers and we are waiting now to see the efforts which the security agencies will do to fish those people out.
Why do you think people are attaching ethnic and religious sentoiments to insecurity issues in Nigeria?
Those doing that are enemies of Nigeria. Some people will not achieve their goals if there is no violence. Looking at the issue of kidnapping, we should ask ourselves about where it started from. Some people want to distabilise the country. What we are supposed to do as Nigerians is to come together to tackle the security problem. There is no difference between North-East and South-East; neither is any difference between North-West and South-West or between North-Central and South-South. There is no difference between the North and South. If we can join hands, it will be good for all of us.
For many years, we have been having kidnapping and armed robbery and we know where it started from and how people suffered in their hands. The Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba suffered in their hands, but we did not attribute such criminalities to a particular tribe; we only looked at those behind them as criminals. So, why are they now alleging Fulani, especially those going about with their cows inside the forest? How can those ones be behind killings and kidnapping of people? The problem we have is that there are some armed robbers who have ganged up to steal Fulani cows or kill Fulani cows. So, the fear is that maybe the Fulani will retaliate and that is why they are alleging the Fulani to be behind the attacks and killings in them South-West and asking them to go.
The umbrella body of Fulani herdsmen in the country, Miyetti Allah, is also not doing enough because of the factions among them. I will call on them to cooperate and when they cooperate, they should relate with eminent people and associations, who will assist them to enlighten Nigerians and to advise them on the way out of this particular situation.
Do you think President Muhammadu Buhari is doing enough to address the security challenges in Nigeria?
Everybody knows who President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are. We know they are not stealing our money. We know they are not thieves and they are not looting our money. They are straightforward and good people, but the people surrounding them are the problem. They have to do something about that. They have to start listening to peoples’ complaints. Nigerians are complaining and people in government must listen to the people.
President Buhari will soon announce his cabinet members, what are your expectations?
I will advise to President Buhari to take advice. If people advise him, he should take it and also look at people who are giving him advice. President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo should study those around them for them to notice and see things going on in the country. The President should listen to people to get good ministers; those who love the country and will promote peace and unity of the country; those who will love the masses and make life better for them. Those are the kind of people that should be appointed as ministers and not anyhow persons.
It is the masses who voted for President Buhari and they see this government as their own government. We agree categorically that it is their government, but in terms of appointments, the President should not appoint those who are very far from the masses and those who will not carry the masses along. We need ministers with good character and who are closer to the people.
Youths to Reps, APC: Steer clear of Edo Assembly
Agroup, under the auspices of the Edo Youth Vanguard, has warned the House of Representatives and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to either be impartial in its intervention in the impasse in the state House of Assembly or incur the wrath of the youth.
The group in a statement issued yesterday in Benin, the Edo State capital by its president, Nosakhare Oseghale, questioned what it described as the lower legislative arm’s ill-conceived recent directive for Governor Godwin Obaseki to issue a new proclamation to the Assembly for proper constitution, while directing the Inspector General of Police and the Director-General of the Department of State Service (DSS) to shut down the Assembly and provide adequate security to allay further fears of intimidation and threat as alleged by some members-elect.
The statement read in part: “We are surprised and shocked that the House of Representatives seems to have abdicated its primary responsibility to represent the common and collective interests of the citizens through the enactment of laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation among other equally important legislative duties.
“In a democracy, as practiced in Nigeria, the legislature exists as an independent institution which deepens democracy and ultimately strengthens the polity. Shirking or abdicating these all-important responsibilities on the altar of parochial and partisan and political interests imperils democracy and that comes with devastating consequences.
“This is why the stance of the House of Representatives on the Edo State House of Assembly issue raises not only eyebrows, it calls for deeper scrutiny into what inspired the misguided decision. Who are their sponsors? Are they acting in our interest or the interest of their paymasters?”
The EYV averred that Edo youths are not docile, adding: “We have just decided to maintain the peace and order in the state as encouraged and entrenched by Governor Obaseki, but we are privy to the shenanigans of selfish and mindless Abuja political merchants and we shall not allow them to dictate to us who the leaders of our House of Assembly should be.
“Since when did the national party start interfering in the composition of the leadership of a state House of Assembly if not that there is a particular interest that needs to be served?”
The youth group claimed that it was ironic that the House of Representatives acted in the manner it did given that constitutionally, to make such order or any whatsoever on a state House of Assembly, there should be a joint resolution with the Senate and until such, any directive is an exercise in illegality.
The group also pointed out that apart from the illegality, what the House of Representatives has done is subjudice given that the parties involved in the crisis are aware that there are three legal suits on the matter, while there’s a Federal High Court injunction in respect of one of the issues raised.
According to the group, the Clerk of the House of Assembly instituted a case before the Federal High Court, which has as defendants, the National Working Committee of the APC, the Inspector General of Police and Department of State Services in which an injunction restraining the defendants was granted, but which the House of Representatives failed to appeal before issuing its directive.
“Why didn’t the House of Reps committee take steps to vacate the order before unilaterally issuing a directive,” the group queried.
Reacting to allegations that the crisis may have been stoked by the immediate past governor and incumbent National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the group said it was not oblivious to the rumour, saying: “Is it not ironic that in a state where we have one party ruling, and that has all the 24 seats in the House of Assembly, we have this kind of a crisis?”
The group stated further that it is conscious of the fact that Governor Obaseki has given his predecessor all the respect and loyalty due him as “Oshiomhole’s interests are Obaseki’s interests except he has found new interests that are against the people of the state.”
It added: “The structure Oshiomhole put down in the state is still there, and we are also aware that nobody from the NWC of the party has called the governor to know what the problem is. So, as far as we are concerned, Governor Obaseki does not have a problem with his friend of over two decades.”
The group affirmed that it decided to raise the alarm to forestall a situation that can potentially set the state on fire and to avoid the Zamfara experience where all elected officials were sacked by the Supreme Court.
“Let it be clear that we have a performing governor, who is widely loved by Edo State indigenes at home and abroad because of his sterling achievements in office. That he has refused to share the state’s money to political leaders should not make him a sacrificial lamb. If it is a war the party or any other meddlesome group wants, we are ready for them,” the group said.
PDP, govs commend S/Court’s refusal to reverse self on Zamfara
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governors have commended the Supreme Court justices for refusing to succumb to the pressure by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to reverse its judgment, voiding the participation of the APC and its candidates in Zamfara State in the last general elections.
PDP, in a statement Monday by it’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the apex court has once again saved the nation from constitutional crisis.
The party described the APC’s application to the Supreme Court as “blasphemous, a blackmail as well as a measured landmine set by APC leaders in their desperation to ambush and destroy the integrity of the apex court.”
It added that the motive was to foist a totalitarian order on the polity.
“It is also instructive to note that by asking the Supreme Court to embark on a journey to nowhere, the APC clearly sought to subvert our democratic system and surreptitiously force on Nigerians, a system that is completely alien to our constitutional democracy and outside the confines and dictates of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“APC’s demand is a direct threat to our democracy, peace and stability of our nation and shows its unwillingness, as a party, to abide by the rule of law.
“It also exposes APC’s penchant for sowing crisis in our nation; a situation that should be condemned by all,” PDP stated.
Also the PDP Governors’ Forum said the judgement has stopped the sinister plan of the APC against people of Zamfara State.
There shouldn’t be room for bigots in Buhari next cabinet – Ikponmwen
A former Provost Marshal of the Nigeria Army and elder statesman, Brigadier General Idada Ikponmwen (rtd), in this interview with CAJETAN MMUTA speaks on the security challenges confronting the country, implications of the recently suspended Federal Government’s RUGA scheme and the raging crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly, among other issues
What is your take on the raging crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly?
The issue is definitely a problem for Edo State now and by extension the rest of Nigeria because what happens in states like Edo, the Heart Beat of the Nation is not unlikely to boomerang and spiral to other states of the country. It is too late in time not to admit that there is an imbroglio in the affairs of the Edo State House of Assembly vis-à-vis the executive arm of government. To me, this is something ought not to have happened.
It is a sad development for not only Edo State but indeed for the nation as its ruling party (All Progressives Congress, APC) appears not to be in charge of affairs in a front line state like Nigeria and indeed it shouldn’t be so anywhere in this country. Nobody expects it to happen when there is party philosophy, party discipline and where there is commitment to the wellbeing of the state.
The problem to my mind started when we have a House of Assembly that was entirely made up of one party, 24 over 24 APC members. I don’t know how you people saw it, but I saw it as a danger to democracy. How it happened is not the issue for discussion now, but the truth is that it is a dangerous development to democracy. It is dangerous because when a state puts all its eggs in one basket, a lot of damage may happen within a twinkle of an eye. It can work to the disadvantage of anybody.
A different thing is if the House was constituted of different parties, it would have been difficult for this kind of situation to arise. Now, some people think and of course it depends on what side of the divide the people talking or writing belong; some say Governor Godwin Obaseki is an ingrate, he is fighting the man who made him governor, others say Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is overbearing; he wants to dictate the tune in a state that he has left its government house and when he is supposed to be concerned with the affairs of the nation and how to run the party well.
I believe that when you start a dangerous trend, you expect a retaliatory measure that will want to contain the dangerous trend. I do not find it easy to blame Governor Obaseki in the light of what I have come to like so far. The belief is right that the state Assembly was being set to impeach the governor by the majority of members of the House who are loyal to APC National Chairman as against the few who said that it should not be so.
So, take it or leave it, this kind of thing was bound to happen if all were alright that you made a proclamation for the convening of the House of Assembly and thereby set the stage for swearing them in; it may be regular, it may not be more regular if the timing for this swearing in is odd. But having said so, it appears that in this country, especially, among our politicians, it is an issue of survival of the fittest and it is also the issue of use all you can to preserve yourself and the system you think you come from.
So, this is what has happened, it is sad and unholy development. I don’t intend to castigate anybody. The people are the best judge. You can deceive a few people sometimes, and all the people at times, but not every people at every time. Edo people know where the main problem is, I will not like to be bias in my reaction by taking a stand on who is wrong or not.
Some people may be confused, when you say Edo people know where the main problem is…
The main issue is that the development should not have happened. The party ought to have conducted itself better in a more credible way to prevent this type of ugly situation. That there is a problem is no more in doubt. The national chairman of the party said what happened in Edo State was shameful; I am ashamed of what happened in Edo State and Bauchi State on one hand and there goes the governor on the other hand that the national chairman did not reach out to all the parties involved before reaching a conclusion and therefore his views were biased and did not give proper value to the concept of fair hearing.
So, obviously, there is a problem; a clash between two important personalities of the same party and I think that ought not to have happened in a place where the interest of the people is foremost; in a place where the party is supposed to represent the best in terms of governance, attitude and wellbeing of the people.
There have been criticisms from various quarters over President Muhammadu’s delay in constituting his cabinet. What agenda do you have for the administration and the kind of ministers you think he should choose to effectively help run the country this time?
I will say that we have a very difficult situation in our hands in this country right now, which needs the prayers of all well-meaning people, so that it won’t continue. In fact, to find solution to all the ailments that are bedeviling this country without much ado, there is no need to start procrastinating. The answer must be now; we must start now to address the nation’s problems arising from whatever direction and a sitting government must be seen to be serious and resolute to ensure the wellbeing of the people.
We have gone past the time when rules were by rhetoric. No government is worth its taste if it cannot provide for the wellbeing safety and security, progress and development of its people. The challenges before President Buhari and the government he is going to put in place are gargantuan, so Nigerians want to see action. Nigerians want to see that there is a serious turn around. But if by way of preliminary, I want to say that it is unfortunate that not a few Nigerians believe that the process that brought President Buhari to power fell far below the standard expected of any genuine democracy.
Too many people have said it; international organisations have said it; observers have said it even as government continues to question that, insisting that the election was the best. Buhari is one of the best things to happen in Nigeria. If it is Buhari that will take Nigeria forward, let us have it. If it is the other way round, let us watch it. Having said that, the delay so far, two months as it is now may appear very short period and very insignificant and unfortunately this delay definitely reminds Nigerians and the world at large of the six months delay that was witnessed in the first six months administration of the same President. This is all the more reason why this administration would have done everything to hit the ground running.
One would have expected that as a way of curing the mistakes that were made in the first tenure, the government would have as soon as inauguration took place made effort to ensure that new ministers were brought in and approved by the Senate. I am not unaware that even the process of swearing in ministers takes some time. The President has to write to the National Assembly and to seek approval for the list of proposed ministers.
Having said that, I think Nigerians expect a speedy and definitive action in terms of the choice of having proper cabinet ministers in place because there is really no government if there are no cabinet ministers in place to help run the affairs of government. This idea of Permanent Secretaries carrying on as ministers and holding on for a long time is far from the idea. I will also say that Nigerians are getting increasingly impatient even as the no nonsense image of the President, which was one of the reasons most people went for him in 2015 seems to be fading out, and this fading out is more so, when the basis of the 2015 campaign appears to have fizzled out almost completely.
The promise to revitalise the economy, the assurance to engage on proper fight against corruption and the promise that security was going to get completely overhauled with a view to assuring Nigerians of their safety in every aspect; all of these appear to have faded no matter what people may say.
Majority of people have not seen that these plank upon which the campaign was staged have been able to succeed. So, it is against this background that one must warn that what Nigeria needs now is cabinet ministers that know their onus. This is no longer time for mediocrity or ethnic and religious bigots, who see the nation only from the pedestal of their own unguarded selfish interests.
The President must demonstrate that ministerial appointment is not opportunity for settling the boys. It must be for people who will be useful to the President. There must be square pegs in square holes. Many Nigerians know those ministers who have been misfits in their ministries.
The President is a man who reaches everybody, have access to everybody and I believe that any well-meaning President must be able to pick the right people for the right job.
What is your take on Federal Government’s sudden suspension of the RUGA Scheme for resettling of cattle herders in the country in view of the argument that he wants to give land to the Fulani of his ethnic extraction?
I think this is one area where the President must be extremely very careful. Even the devil does not know how to control a man’s mind.
We cannot and I emphasise, we cannot achieve a declared good intention through an illegal measure. Procedure is very important in anything. We are running a constitutional government in Nigeria and constitutional government means that the constitution is the basic law.
Any law that is inconsistent with the constitution is bound to be null and void and of no consequence. Therefore, any policy of government derives its legitimacy from the constitution and all laws must be justifiable in the life of the constitution.
The problem between the herdsmen and farmers should not be resolved by resort to sentiments. The law must take its course. Government must think and come to the best measure to ensure that this crisis between farmers and herdsmen is resolved and you are not going to solve it by illegal means. You are not going to solve it by resorting to uncivilized method and approach.
The whole civilized world today has come to realize that ranching is the answer to animal husbandry. Farming in animal is as good a business as any other business and government must not express either implied or expressly preference for one business over the other.
The right thing to do in a modern world is to encourage those who want to deal with animals to put them in one place. We call them ranches and from there it saves a lot of problems; to the animals, to the environment and saves people from hazards and diseases. I read something some few weeks ago by Ghanaian President who said wherever you see any cow slaughter it for barbecue.
He said Ghana is not Nigeria. We have become a laughing stock. The long and short of the story is that we must use legal, constitutional and civilized method to find solution to the problem between herdsmen and farmers. No shortcut; whether you call it RUGA or cattle colony, it is all the same ten and pence.
No civilized person wants to hear this type of uncivilized approach in solving problem in the nation.
As a retired Army General, what can you make out of the worsening security situation across some states in the country?
The security decision in this country is disgusting and points to a serious danger. I do not mean to say that nobody is working, I can tell you that some of the security heads that I know mean well; they are hardworking, but the situation is beyond them in more ways than one.
The institutional decay is beyond them. I have been shouting and I mean it for over 15 years that there is no way the Nigerian government or the security apparatus can deliver on security unless there is a serious overhaul in the security architecture of this country. I have said consistently that there is so much overlap, so much duplication in the responsibilities and duties of various organs of security.
I have said continuously that we have to move away from this broad talk about security and begin to identify what is defence, what is intelligence and what is law enforcement. You cannot give law enforcement work to a defence institution, or give defence responsibility to law enforcement agencies like Immigration, Prisons or Fire Service. What we are operating now is essentially what we inherited from the military.
The Security Act that we are operating is a replica of what we inherited from General Ibrahim Babangida.
I have always said that w e have a National Security Adviser who has virtually no power. Can we compare that to the Home Security Office in America, which has a very powerful structure? What is Security Adviser in Nigeria?
Just a slight reference was made of him in the Security Act.
Nobody gives him that power of being in anyway equitable to a cabinet minister and yet we expect him to be able to coordinate the affairs and activities of very serious high ranking officials like Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Naval Staff. We are yet also to draw a clear responsibility for the Chief of Defence Staff.
Does he have powers over the other service chiefs? In fact, have we not reached a level where even the service chiefs cannot be seen as the ones commanding?
In some places, services chiefs are mere advisers to the president. The men who command are men of staff organised forces. You have commanders in North Africa, West African commands.
The Chief of Army Staff or Chief of Naval Staff cannot be effective commanders of their various units. We need to bring in these changes so that their jobs can properly be assessed. There will be fewer conflicts between the security services by removing overlapping responsibilities and duplications because everybody will know where his own role starts and where it stops. If we don’t, we will continue to have unwarranted and dangerous rivalry between the security services in this country.
There is this threat by the National Assembly that if the Edo State House of Assembly is not properly constituted, it might take over the House. What is your view on that?
Well, the constitution provides that when the state House of Assembly cannot function properly, the National Assembly takes over the role. I will re-emphasise what I said before. There is expectation and it is legal and constitutional expectation that all those who won election into the House are properly sworn-in.
So, when it becomes a matter of some being sworn-in, others not being sworn in, there is definitely a problem and nobody can run away from that. But, like I asked before; what led to that? It is a matter of survival. The question again is:
Can two wrongs make a right? The answer is no. So, I make bold to say that APC has a problem in Edo State as far as this matter is concerned and it is squarely and properly APC’s problem and the APC is the ruling party. The party has been indicted in this matter and the government which is a product of this same party stands indicted.
The problem is so serious that even the Oba of Benin, our traditional ruler has to go to Abuja to plead with the President to intervene.
Why can’t the leadership run the affairs in a way that accords common sense; the way that is in line with the expectation and the letters and spirit of the constitution? This is another way of questioning our preparedness for democracy. We have adopted the democratic norms in line with the rest of the world; it is a shame if we cannot practice democracy in the way the rest of the world expects us.
Abiodun vs Amosun: An endless battle of wits
- Abiodun, Amosun: Friends as foes
Kunle Olayeni reports on the unending battle of wits between Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, which ensued immediately after the latter failed in his bid to have his anointed candidate as his successor
Like other states of the federation where new governors and their predecessors are at one another’s throats, the political situation in Ogun State is not any different.
Since taking power after a keenly contested gubernatorial election, Prince Dapo Abiodun has been at daggers drawn with the immediate past governor of the Gateway State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Although Abiodun and Amosun belong to same political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and have been friends for some 20 years back, political differences have inevitably pitted them against each other. Their feud, which polarized the ruling party in the state, became a major worrisome scenario before the 2019 elections were eventually won and lost.
Abiodun emerged the APC gubernatorial candidate against Amosun’s choice. He ran for the governorship amidst stiff opposition from his predecessor, who supported the Allied People’s Movement (APM) standard bearer, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade.
The APC candidate is widely believed to have been backed by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; National Leader of the APC and a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as well as former governors of Ogun State – Chief Olusegun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel, an alliance which dealt a big blow to the then incumbent governor’s succession plans.
Hitherto, Abiodun and Amosun were on the same political page. In 2015 when Amosun was seeking re-election as governor, Abiodun was the party’s senatorial candidate for Ogun East. He, however, lost to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Buruji Kashamu.
In the run-up to 2019 elections, Abiodun had thought of contesting for Senate again, but some power brokers in the state tipped him for the governorship. This gubernatorial ambition eventually severed his relationship with Amosun, his one-time ally.
Abiodun sprang a surprise, when he threw his hat into the ring and won the APC gubernatorial ticket. Against all odds, he defeated Amosun’s protégé – Akinlade – in a disputed governorship primary election, which set the Ogun APC on a roller coaster with attendant reverberations on the polity.
Unfazed by the circumstances of his emergence, Abiodun consolidated on his chances to succeed Amosun and he rallied the support of Osoba and the formidable political structure of a former gubernatorial aspirant, Senator Solomon Adeola (aka Yayi), while galvanizing “Ijebu Agenda” and the resolve by the people of Ogun East Senatorial District to have the governorship position in their kitty.
Akinlade, on his part, rejected the emergence of Abiodun, describing the process as a sham and conspiracy against the wish of the people. Buoyed by the support from Amosun, the former federal lawmaker and other loyalists defected to APM in pursuit of their ambitions.
After the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared him winner of the March 9 governorship poll, Abiodun further faced hostility from Amosun’s camp to the extent that the no love lost constrained the transition period.
As he was preparing to hand over the baton of governance, Amosun allegedly engaged in a gale of “last minute” appointments and transactions, stoking further tension between the political divides.
Abiodun’s supporters believe the decisions taken at the twilight of the immediate past administration were ploy to unnecessarily balloon the state’s wage bill and deliberately put in place financial landmines and booby traps for the new administration.
But, Amosun insisted that his decisions were taken in good faith and in the interest of the state. His camp maintained that the business of governance cannot be halted on account of transition.
The explanation, notwithstanding, the party would have none of Amosun’s excuses. It warned that all loans, overdraft and financial obligations that did not follow due process, including the approval of the state House of Assembly, would not be honoured by Abiodun upon assumption of office.
Spokesman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Tunde Oladunjoye, who stated that Abiodun will review all the last minute appointments and contracts carried out by Amosun, said it was morally unacceptable for a governor, at the twilight of his government, to be embarking on mass appointments and committing the incoming administration to unsustainable financial obligations.
Appointments of monarchs, workers
In an unprecedented move, Amosun upgraded and installed 75 traditional rulers. Previously in the status of village chiefs, the monarchs were elevated as Coronet Obas.
Amosun justified his decision, saying it was part of efforts to enhance grassroots development and sustainability of the developmental strides witnessed in the state.
Though he admitted that it was a means of showing appreciation to the traditional institution for being a part of his success story, Amosun pointed out that all the appointments followed due process and recommendations from their prescribed authorities.
According to him, the state has witnessed tremendous growth and development in the last eight years and traditional institutions played prominent roles in achieving it by ensuring that peace and stability reigned in their domains.
Until the upgrade of the monarchs, the state reportedly had a total of 245 traditional rulers, including the paramount rulers in the four divisions of the state.
Amosun also defended his administration’s recruitment into the civil service, saying it followed due process. No fewer than 1,000 workers were employed at the twilight of his government.
According to him, the recruitment was carried out via the Public Service Entry Examination conducted by the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) early last year.
“The newly recruited staff is not a kangaroo recruitment…the procedures were followed; not that Amosun just woke up one day and said because I am leaving, I will bring in more people,” he stated.
But as soon as Abiodun took charge, the House of Assembly voided all appointments, employments and financial agreements carried out by the Amosun administration, especially from February 1 to May 28, 2019.
Using the instrumentality of the legislature, the new administration also suspended the traditional rulers, who were recently appointed and went on to constitute a committee headed by the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, to review the appointments.
Majority of the elected and appointed officials across the local government areas were loyal to Amosun. To clean the Augean’s table at the grassroots, Abiodun tactically sacked the council functionaries via the fiat of the House of Assembly.
Based on allegations of gross misconduct and misappropriation of public funds levelled against them, the House suspended all political functionaries in the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas to allow investigation into allegations. The lawmakers directed the affected office holders to hand over to the Head of Local Government Administration in their respective councils.
But, the decision immediately provoked agitation by the council functionaries who insisted that the manner of their sacking contravened the extant provisions of the law.
Though some of the council helmsmen approved of the state government’s action having pledged loyalty and allegiance to Abiodun, those who felt aggrieved had gone to the court to seek redress.
The tenure of the council chairmen and councillors is expected to lapse in October this year, having come to power in an election conducted by the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC) in 2016.
Not long into the new administration, the bubble burst over some deals between Abiodun and Amosun. Of note was the purchase of arms and ammunition procured by the immediate past government, which has generated “bad press” lately.
An online news portal had reported that Amosun imported without appropriate permits, 1,000 AK47 assault rifles, four million rounds of ammunition and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) during his tenure.
The arms and ammunition were reportedly handed over to the state Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, on May 28 at the Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, before Amosun left office.
As the “scandal” became the talk of the town, Amosun named Abiodun as the main supplier of the some of the security assets, especially the armoured personnel carriers. He insisted that extant approvals, regulations and protocols were observed and complied with in the procurement of the arms and ammunition.
Amosun explained that the handing over was done openly in the full glare of the public and the media to ensure accountability, guarantee transparency and judicious use of the assets.
While insisting that the need to improve poor security situation at the time he took over government informed the decision to purchase the ammunition, Amosun also disclosed that the importation of the weapons was authorized by the presidency, then under ex-president Goodluck Jonathan.
He, however, declared that contrary to what was reported in the media, no AK 47 rifle was handed over to the police.
“The suggestion that the security assets were quickly handed over to the Police in order that the new administration will not know about it is laughable because the current Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, was the main supplier of some of the assets in question, notably, the Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs),” he stated.
But, Abiodun swiftly responded, saying his predecessor’s comments were part of the grand plot to smear his name.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, stated that he never defaulted in supplying the security merchandise according to the terms of the contract. He urged the police to sort out the shortfalls in the ammunition handed over with Amosun.
He said: “What’s the motivation for bringing the Governor’s name into the arms scandal? I consider it distracting or part of the grand plot to smear H.E. Dapo Abiodun.
“He claimed he handed over arms to the Police, not Governor Abiodun. The police CP should give the details and sort the shortfalls out with him. It’s a security matter. The agencies on arms purchase should wade in and connect the dots.”
Since the governor publicly responded, and the Presidency as well as police hierarchy said nothing was amiss, the arms scandal seems to have been rested.
State finances and empty treasury claim
Another sore point between the two gladiators is Abiodun’s claim that he inherited an empty treasury from Amosun.
The governor, at a recent stakeholders meeting in Abeokuta, said the parlous financial situation of the state forced him to borrow funds from commercial banks to pay workers’ salaries on assumption of office.
He explained that since money were not left in the state coffers by his predecessor, he had to approach banks for credit facility and all obliged him to pay salaries two days after his inauguration. He got N7 billion to pay the state wage bill for the month of May.
The governor, however, said his administration was not interested in dwelling on how his predecessor ran the state, saying his preoccupation now was to provide focused and qualitative governance, while creating the enabling environment for public and private sectors to thrive.
But, the APM immediately rose in defence of Amosun, saying the former governor did not leave an empty treasury. The party declared that Abiodun’s claim that he inherited an empty treasury was a concoction of lies and clear evidence of his lack of preparedness for governance.
The party’s Acting Publicity Secretary in the state, Olumide Balogun, while faulting the governor, said in a statement that the “phantom loan” claim could be anticipatory looting of the state. According to him, the party’s findings revealed that the state received over N5billion from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting for May.
Balogun argued that the state’s share from and what Amosun left in the treasury for the new government were more than enough to cover workers’ salaries. He said if the governor had borrowed N7 billion to pay salaries for May alone, only God knows how much he would have to borrow in the next three months.
Unmoved by the APM defence, the Abiodun-led administration fired back at Amosun, accusing him of allegedly inflating the monthly wage bill of the state during his tenure. The governor, who claimed that his predecessor inflated the wage bill by N2.5 billion, said Amosun’s deceit had been exposed since he took over the reins of government.
He wondered why the APM refused to comment on the inflated wage bill of Amosun, who had consistently claimed that his administration expended N9 billion on wages monthly. He, therefore, challenged the former governor to reveal where he kept the over N2.5 billion inflated monthly for the 96 months that he governed the state.
“Ogun State people are wiser than the years of locust, when salaries were delayed, denied and deducted. Ogun workers know their friends,” he stated.
While Abiodun and Amosun continued their battle on the political and judicial turfs, the two gladiators are also locked in another tactical tussle over President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet. Specifically, the governor and his predecessor are desperately lobbying and engaging in high wire maneuvering over who picks the ministerial position to be allotted to the state by the President.
Abiodun is said to be interested in securing the ministerial slot to solidify and stabilize his administration politically. On the other hand, Amosun, who is seen as one of Buhari’s henchmen in the South West, wants the minister appointed from his associates to further boost his rating and reward
Though some names from both camps have been touted as likely to be appointed as ministers, findings showed that the President is keeping the details close to his chest as he embarks on wider consultation on his “Next Level” cabinet.
As the waiting for the ministerial list continues, analysts opined that wherever the pendulum swings to will open another chapter in the battle of wits between Abiodun and Amosun.
INEC, 2019 election and server debacle
The legal fireworks in the petition filed by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his party against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last February 23 general election before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja is getting more intense by the day .
After the said election, Atiku and PDP had through their team of lawyers headed by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, (SAN) filed a joint petition challenging massive irregularity in the conduct of the election. It was the contention of the petitioners that they won the election, based on the results transmitted to the INEC server electronically.
The electoral body, however, denied the using of server for the election even as the petitioners had indicated in their petition to call 400 witnesses to testify against the election.
However, so far, the petitioners have been able to call about 36 witnesses. The Petitioners’ Witness 2, Peter Uzioma Obi last Monday while giving evidence confirmed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) transmitted the result of the February 23 presidential election electronically.
Obi, however, told the tribunal that it will be wrong to say the results of the presidential election were not transmitted electronically. He told the tribunal that he functioned as Registration Area Technician at a ward level in Rivers State during the election and stated that the Independent National Electoral Commission trained him and others to transmit the results of the poll.
“You are not supposed to transmit results because you are not a presiding officer,” INEC counsel asked, to which Obi said: “You are wrong Sir. INEC trained us to transmit results. I was not a presiding officer. I was not a polling agent. I was a registration area technician appointed by INEC. I was trained by INEC.”
Being cross-examined by Buhari’s Counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Obi said he was not aware of the guidelines used by the INEC for the presidential election, but noted that there was a specific guidelines booklet issued for his roles as a RATECH. “I was a RATECH in charge of the use of card reader,” he said.
Under cross examination by APC’s counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Obi said the lawyer was not entirely correct to say that it was the duty of the Presiding Officer “to do accreditation, verification authentication, and collation at the Poling Units.”
“You are not entirely correct Sir, because we were told at the training that the Assistant Polling Officer 1, was in charge of accreditation. I did not serve as APO1 and I did not serve as the Presiding Officer,” he stated.
Similarly, Petitioners Witness 5, Mohammed Tata who served as an agent of PDP in Jigawa State alleged before the tribunal that he was compelled under duress to sign result of the presidential election in his polling unit.
The witness equally told the tribunal that he was threatened to either sign a copy of the result or have his name removed as a beneficiary in the N-Power scheme. Under cross examination by INEC counsel, Usman, Tata said: “I was harassed and intimidated to sign the result sheet under duress. I was told that if I refuse to sign, my name will be removed from the N-Power Program.”
When asked if he was dissatisfied that President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC scored over 700 votes in his polling unit, the witness said: “There was no score because there was no election.
“I am a Muslim. I believe in destiny and what God decides will happen. Whether PDP wins or the APC does, I don’t have a problem with that. All I want is that I need justice in my country. I don’t care whether my party won or lost, but I am not happy about what happened.”
Furthermore, Petitioners Witness 1, Buba Galadima, who is a former ally of Buhari, told the Tribunal that he fell out with the President because of injustice in his administration and not because he was not appointed a minister.
In addition to injustice, Galadima said that lack of inclusiveness and failure of the administration to secure Nigeria, also added to why he left the camp of the President. Galadima made the submissions under cross-examination, after he had adopted his statement on oath.
Olanipekun: “You fell out with the 2nd respondent (Buhari) because he did not make you a minister in 2015.”
Galadima: “No. You should know that I fought all the previous governments since 1999 because of injustice.We made good promises to Nigerians, including justice, inclusiveness, and to secure the country, which he has failed to do. It has always being part of my characteristics to fight injustice. I supported Buhari in the 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 election cycles until the 2019 election.”
However, while being cross-examined by Fagbemi, Galadima said he was aware that there was no registered party called the Reformed APC, but maintained that he was still the chairman of the group.
Petitioners Witness 8 on Tuesday, however, told the tribunal that the PDP’s Atiku Abubakar won the said election in Katsina State. The witness, who is the State Chairman of the PDP in Katsina, Salisu Maijigiri, said that Atiku defeated President Muhammadu Buhari, in the state.
Maijigiri told the tribunal that he served as the party’s collation agent in the state for the presidential election in Katsina State. Under cross-examination, by respondents’ counsel, Maijigiri said contrary to the results declared by the INEC, the results collated by his party in the state showed that APC polled 872,000 while PDP scored 905,000.
Meanwhile, the results INEC declared for the state, showed that PDP polled 160,203 votes while the APC polled 1,505,633. But contradicting INEC’s results, Maijigiri said: ”We (PDP) are the one who won the election not APC. APC scored 872,000 and PDP scored, 905,000. These are our own results, we collated in our state not the ones from the server.”
Petitioners Witness 17, Uchena Umeh said in his own testimony to the Tribunal that as an Assistant Presiding Officer 1 during the last presidential election in Gwarinpa, Abuja, he transmitted the results of the poll to INEC’s server.
Under cross-examination by Buhari’s counsel, Abubakar Mahmud (SAN), Umeh said he was on the day before the election given the code with which he will use transmit the results of the poll at his polling unit to INEC server.
He said: “In the course of the training, they told us there was an INEC server. A code was given to us and they told us that only APO I should know the code.”
In furtherance of the hearing, Prosecution Witness 23 told the tribunal that all the result sheets in Borno State was mutilated to favour Buhari and his party. The witness. who was collation agent for the PDP, Nicholas Msheliza, added that virtually all the result sheets from the various local governments in the state were mutilated.
He equally stated that there was zero accreditation of voters in over 200 polling units out of the 3,933 statutory polling units in the state. He further told the tribunal that there were a total of 5,078 voting points, including the polling units. Msheliza also said the total votes of 911, 786 declared by INEC was well over the accredited voters across the state.
However, Prosecution Witness 21, Jafaru Usman, who served as the PDP local government collation agent for Zaria, Kaduna State, in witness told the Tribunal that results in his area were rigged in favour of the APC. But the witness, who is a lawyer, said he signed the Form EC8C, the local government area result sheets, not as authentication of what was contained in it but as a mere witness.
Under cross-examination, Usman said the polling unit results contained in Forms EC8A ought to be transmitted to the ward result sheets, Forms EC8B, and then transmitted to Form EC8C, which is the local government result sheet, but that was not the case in his area.
“The correct results were not transmitted,” Usman said. But when asked if he signed the Form EC8C, he said: “I signed in line with the provision of the Electoral Act. I signed it but I did not authenticate what was contained in it. I only signed as a witness in line with the Electoral Act. What I signed was not a contract. All those who were in attendance were required to sign in line with Electoral Act.”
Asked if any of those who perpetrated the rigging were convicted in court, he said: “I made complaints, they did nothing.”
Prosecution Witness 24, John Makama, who served as the PDP collation agent in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State in his own testimony said the results of the poll in the stronghold of his party were cancelled by INEC officials.
He alleged in his evidence-in-chief that the election in the area was marred by illegal cancellation of votes. Under cross-examination by the respondents’ counsel, Makama said the results were cancelled in his presence at the local government collation centre by the INEC’s local government collation officer and not at the polling units where the election took place.
He said of the 11 wards in Sanga Local Government Area, the APC was only strong in three. Still under cross examination, Makama could not find an answer when told that cancellation of results in the council area was not part of the case presented by the petitioners in their petition.
Meanwhile, one of the twist, in the case was an attack on the petitioners’ witnesses by unknown gun-men on their way to Abuja from Zamfara State. The witnesses were billed to testify in the ongoing hearing of the petition jointly filed by Atiku and PDP against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In his own evidence, Olufemi Ogunride, who was ad-hoc staff of INEC during the election confirmed to the tribunal that he along with other Assistant Presiding Officers transmitted election results into the server of INEC using the smart card reader.
The witness told the tribunal that two hours to the election, Assistant Presiding Officers were assembled and trained by a consultant to INEC on how to transmit election results into the INEC server with the smart card reader.
Ogunride, who said that he received his own training on how to transmit election results to server in Abuja, admitted that he personally transmitted results provided by the Presiding Officers into INEC’s server.
Cross examined by counsel to APC, Dr Muiz Banire (SAN), the witness confirmed that INEC guidelines and regulations were released to him and others. In his own evidence, Peter Sabo from Yobe State told the tribunal that both Buhari and APC used the security challenges in the state to perpetrate election fraud.
The witness alleged that voters were mobilised to selected areas to cast their votes instead of their polling units and under the guise by APC of securing their lives. Sabo further alleged that PDP agents were chased away at the selected voting points after which ballot papers were freely handed over to APC agents to cast unlawful votes.
He said that he refused to sign result sheet because the ballot papers used for the purported election were for APC only without a single void votes. Sabo further testified that out of anger he wrote a petition to the DSS, Police and civil defense but that up till now nothing had been done.
In his own evidence Hassan Maisarafa, who named some state government officials that perpetrated alleged election fraud, claimed that voters in Yobe were bought over with huge sums to sway them to the side of the APC.
However, when hearing resumed last Monday, the petitioners played a video recording at the Tribunal where a Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini admitted that the electoral body would transmit election results with the use of smart card reader to the INEC central server.
The Petitioners had tendered the 48 video recordings through their PW 40, who was also one of their star witness, Segun Showumi, one of the media aides to the PDP presidential candidate.
The videos played, however, showed Mr. Mike Iginni, granted on Sunday Politics programme of Channels Television when he said the results of the election would be transmitted to INEC’s server.
Another one showed Army officials, on Channels TV, denying Buhari’s claim that his West African School Certificate was with the Army. The third one showed INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Channels TV, meeting with members of Computer Professionals and Practitioners in Nigeria, and expressing hope that electronic transmission would be deployed for the 2019 general election.
On the contrary, President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC tendered a video before the Tribunal to counter the claims of the Petitioners that INEC transmitted election result to an electronic server. The video which was Channels Television recording of INEC’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu admitted by the presidential tribunal, however, discredited the allegation that results of the February 23 general election were transmitted to the commission’s central server.
A day after that, the Tribunal ordered Prof Mamud Yakubu and the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Zamfara State to appear before it to clarify some issues in the ongoing petition filed the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar and his party challenging the election .
The duo had been earlier subpoenaed by the Tribunal for presentation of some documents but refused to honour the summon. However, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba, issued the order following complaints by the Petitioners that their petition against the election of President Buhari was been sabotaged by the INEC Chief following his refusal to appear before the Tribunal to tender some unnamed documents.
Atiku through his counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) had complained to the Tribunal that Yakubu and INEC Commissioner in Zamfara have been frustrating him in the 10 days hearing notice given to him by the Tribunal to substantiate his allegations and claims in his petition jointly filed with the PDP.
Responding, counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), told the tribunal that he was not aware of the subpoena on Yakubu but that of the Zamfara REC has been complied with, adding that they are waiting for the petitioners to pay the normal fee and collect the said documents.
But in a short ruling, Presiding Justice of the five-man panel, held that orders of court are sacrosanct and must be obeyed. However, Yakubu failed to appear before the Tribunal on Thursday as summoned, but sent a letter to the Tribunal along the said subpoenaed documents.
Uche, while commending Usman for the efforts, however, requested for a copy of the letter to enable him ascertain if the documents were complete and same as the ones requested for.
The Tribunal had consequently adjourned till July 29 for the respondents to open defense.
Meanwhile, in his testimony, Petitioners’ Witness 62, Osita Chidoka, who served as PDP collation agent at the National Collation Centre for the February 23, 2019 presidential election, told the Tribunal that he had never seen INEC server.
He, however, added that Yakubu, consistently told them about the server and also acknowledged its existence during the collation of the presidential election. Under cross examination by INEC counsel, Yunus Ustaz (SAN), the witness said that: “I have not seen the server but INEC consistently told us of the server and the INEC Chairman at the national collation of results of the election acknowledged the existence of the server.”
He further admitted that he was not born as at 1947 when President Buhari was born and to that effect he could not biologically state categorically the age of the President. There was, however, a mild drama when counsel to Buhari, Chief Olanipekun (SAN) accused Petitioners’ Witness 60, Joseph Gbenga, of issuing a report which conflicted with the claim of the petitioners in their petition challenging the outcome of the election.
Olanipekun said the witness in his report awarded a margin of victory which the petitioners never claimed in their petition.
He added that while the petitioners conceded defeat in Katsina State, the witness in his report of analysis of the results gave victory to the petitioners. The witness who is an Industrial Chemistry graduate from the University of Ilorin, who described himself as a Database Analyst and Designer, under cross-examination by the respondents’ lawyers, said he was engaged by the petitioners to analyse the results of the presidential poll in 11 out of the 36 states of the federation.
The witness said he was not aware the petitioners conceded defeat in eight out of the 11 states which their presidential election results he analysed in his report. He equally added that he was unmindful of who won or lost in the 11 states, in order to be able to do a professional and unbiased job.
He said he had not gone through the pleadings contained in the petitioners’ petition. Olanipekun also asked: “But are you aware that you have given them a margin of win in 11 states that is more than what they are claiming in the 36 states excluding the FCT?”
Responding, the witness said: “I am not aware. I worked on documents provided for me.” Asked, again, he said he was not aware that the petitioners conceded defeat in Katsina State.
But by your analysis you gave them victory,” Buhari’s counsel said.
Asked, the witness said he had been receiving trainings in data analysis but had not been certified. He, however, said he had previously been engaged by the World Health Organisations (WHHO), among other organisations.
He confirmed that he was engaged to do analysis of results of the election in Yobe State and that was the first he ever took up in respect of elections before his engagement for the presidential election.
Answering questions from the APC counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the witness said the job he did was not something any literate person could do as suggested by the lawyer. The witness also said he was aware that hacking of websites was a global phenomenon.
Earlier, the Petitioners told the tribunal that they had 1,353 additional result sheets to tender before the tribunal. Uche (SAN) added that the result sheets include the polling unit results (form EC8A) and results from ward collation centres (form EC8B). As the petitioner closed the case Friday, the show seems set for the defendants to open their defence in the next adjournment.
I was a bicycle repairer, bus conductor –Rep Lawal
Hon. Kolawole Lawal represents Egbado South/Ipokia Federal Constituency of Ogun State and is the only member of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), in the House of Representatives. In this interview with PHILIP NYAM, he speaks on the minority leadership crisis and other issues
The composition of the minority leadership in the House created some crisis leading to the suspension of Hon. Ndidi Elumelu and other lawmakers by the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). What really happened?
The issue of the minority leadership of the 9th House is a collective decision. Order 8 (4) of the House Standing Rules and Section 6 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended has given us the powers to choose our leaders from within ourselves.
In other words, the majority party members are required to pick their principal officers among themselves and we the minority parties are also required to pick our minority leader, deputy minority leader, minority whip and deputy minority whip among ourselves in the House of Representatives.
The Rule does not in any way confer on any political party the right or powers to choose leaders for us. I am not a member of the PDP, but I belong to the minority caucus; I am of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and I am the only lawmaker on the platform of the party nationwide. But by virtue of that provision, I have the right to be part of the decision of who holds any of the minority positions in the House.
The question now is, was I contacted by the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus before sending a letter to the Speaker nominating Hon. Kinsley Chinda as Minority Leader? Did he contact me as a member of the minority? Did he contact me as a person? No such thing took place. But we sat as a group of all minority parties, including majority of the members of PDP and we elected Hon. Ndudi Elumelu as our leader; Hon. Toby Okechukwu as our Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Gideon Gwanias Minority Whip and Hon. Adesegun Adekoya as Deputy Minority Whip.
So, if the PDP is bringing any other leaders, they are on their own because we the minorities in the House have chosen our leaders in line with the law.
But Hon. Chinda had alleged that he was initially chosen at the two meetings held by the minority parties before the Elumelu group went and connived with the House leadership to adopt a different leader. Did you attend any meeting with Chinda?
Let me make it clear that I did not attend any meeting with the Chinda group. Yes, there was a meeting organised by the Hon. Chinda group but I was not invited and I did not attend. Maybe, because I belong to a micro minority party, nobody cared to reckon with me to even invite me to a meeting of the minority parties. I understand that those who attended that meeting signed an attendance register and the attendance was eventually changed to endorsement. But I was not there, so I did not sign anything. So, if the attendance at that meeting now turned into endorsement, I am not part of that endorsement because I did not attend the meeting.
Different forms of killings across the country: either by Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers it is a major source of worry to not a few Nigerians. In fact, the killing of Mrs. Foluke Olakunrin, daughter of the Afenifere leader has sparked so much anger in the country. What is your take on this unfortunate development?
It is unfortunate that we are having these crisis and killings in Nigeria. We have never had it so bad. I will say we have to condemn the kidnappings and all the killings going on in the country. But having said that, let me point out that you cannot give what you do not have.
Therefore, we cannot be doing the same thing and expect to get a different result. We need to review our security strategy because the one we have adopted in the last five years seems not to be working and that is why we are where we are today. The government needs to review its security architecture, change it and adopt a new method. If the other method does not work, we change it again until we start seeing results. We need to invite security experts.
In the case of Mrs. FolukeOlakunrin, we hear it was stray bullets, but whether is stray bullet or not, there was shooting and she died. I wish Pa Reuben Fasoranti well and pray God to grant him the strength to bear the loss of his daughter. But our security network must be overhauled because we are not getting positive results now. The service chiefs need to change their tactics. We all know that when we have new leaders in place, there is always enthusiasm on their part to at least impress. So, if the current service chiefs cannot deliver, the government should change them and bring in new set.
You said you belong to a micro minority party. How do you intend to survive in the parliament? Do you intend to defect to any of the bigger parties as it is always the case with members who find themselves in small parties?
In fact, I am the only APM lawmaker in the whole country. But for me I have my party and leaders and whatever they ask me to do I will do.
Secondly, I strongly believe in God and there is nothing I want from Him that I do not get. My Quran, Chapter 3 verse 26 is my guide. So, God will direct me on what to do, but for now I am just settling down. The party that brought me here is APM and I remain a member of APM.
How were you able to get elected to the House under a relatively new party like the APM?
Look, I have come a long way. I worked with Mobil for 20 years and resigned voluntarily in 2010 to contest for the governor of Ogun State. And when I came everybody in the state knew that KLM has arrived. Since then I have been consistent. When I contested I had no problem winning because of the support I got from our gubernatorial flagbearer, Hon. Abdulkareem Akinlade and my own governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. I thank God almighty and I thank these leaders too for the roles they played.
Last week, members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shi’ites invaded the National Assembly protesting the continued detention of their leader, Sheik El-Zakzakky, and the following the day the House passed a resolution urging the Federal Government to dialogue with the group. Do you think this is the best way to resolve this imbroglio?
I am a member of the House of Representatives and I was present when the decision was taken, so I am part of the resolution. But as a nation we should not choose which court order to obey and which to disobey. In other words, the rule of law should be sacrosanct. But if there is any reason that we should do things differently, people should be made to know. If there is intelligence report that we are not aware of, we should also be told.
As a first timer in the House of Representatives, what plans do you have for your constituents?
I have an agenda called AHEAD, which means Agriculture, Health, Education, Accountability and Development. Agriculture; you know we are predominantly agrarian in nature and I have over 2000 hectares of land that I am developing. So, I intend to encourage and support my people to engage in large scale farming. As we speak, I am already talking with some people and making arrangements on how to get tractors and other farm implements.
On health, we are looking at the state of all the primary healthcare centres in the constituency.
On education, it is an area that I am so passionate about because without education I would not have been here. I started off as a bicycle repairer; before I went to secondary school. And I learnt the trade for eight years. Later, I became a bus conductor and then Danfo driver, before I went to school. So, I like education and I want my people to be well educated. I am presently studying law and I hope to do a programme with the National Institute for Democratic and Legislative Studies before I leave the National Assembly.
So, I will ensure our schools are refurbished and we build more schools to educate our children to become better individuals in life.
Then Accountability; I will be having regular town hall meetings with my people so that my constituents would know everything I am doing.
Then Development; we will work towards having infrastructure; we make sure our roads are graded and motorable.
Herdsmen attacks threatening food security, says Rev. Ogu
Apostle Eugene Ogu is the founder of the Abundant Live Evangel Mission, (ALEM) and former Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, (PFN), Rivers and Bayelsa states chapter. In this interview with EMMANUEL MASHA, he speaks on insecurity in the country and killings by Boko Haram sect, the Fulani herdsmen and other issues
Nigeria at the moment appears to be on the precipice following the palpable tension created by the rural grazing area, RUGA, policy of the Federal Government, what in your opinion is the effect of this to the peaceful co-existence of the nation?
I want to say that Nigeria has come to a point where the truth must be told or the truth itself will tell itself. We must tell the truth or the truth will tell us the truth. Every government and leadership owes its people the truth. That truth constitutes a direction that guides the flow of the people whether politically, religiously or otherwise. Nigeria has been living in a fool’s Paradise over the years where various leaders come and tell us what they want us to believe. We believed them only to later discover that the actions of the leaders are towards a different game from what they wanted us to believe. The issue of Boko Haram right from the arrest of their former leader (Mohammed Yusuf) and the sudden disappearance of that same leader brought a question of trust on the government.
What is the government truly up to? First and foremost, we had a man who was in the position to tell us so much about Boko Haram and its formation, about its intention and about his sponsors. We had a man who ought to have given us the evidence through which the developed countries would have used in a way that it would have saved us from what we are into today. But within the same security agencies, that man was mysteriously killed.
The same government that arrested him was the same government in which he was killed. Killing him means that he died with all the information that would have helped Nigeria to forestall all that is happening today. You can see that we have a government that cannot investigate the high profile killings in this country. Chief Bola Ige under the watchful eyes of the security agencies was killed and up till today nobody has been indicted for that. Marshal Harry was killed, no investigation. All of these happened in a country that invests so much in security.
The question is, is it true that the Nigerian security agencies cannot find out who these killers are? Whether they are Boko Haram or cattle herdsmen, we don’t know. In Dogo Naawa, for instance, 362 persons were killed in one day in March 2010. In Miango, 37 and later 72 persons were killed in Bassa Local Government. Go to Benue, Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba states and many other places, people are being killed without anybody asking questions. Is it true that the security agencies that billions of naira was invested in both at state and national levels are sincere that they cannot find out who these people are!
We have come to a point where we must tell the truth or the people will tell us the truth. So, having been deeply involved in the sense that social burden of the people of this country in their thousands has come to my shoulders to do something to uplift then lives of the needy. Go to Benue, Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, to Nassarawa, Kaduna, mention it, you will see children going to school because I am alive. I built a secondary school in Dogo Naawa in 2010 that is free. I pay the teachers up till date. I am not a government employee. Government does not do anything for me. I am a citizen of this country who is concerned about the goings-on in this country. How can a government that was supposed to protect its people now by its body language and actions allow people to insinuate certain things?
What do you make of government’s response?
The governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El- Rufai, once said that they paid money to some people so that they don’t come and kill and invade Nigeria. He said it. Who did they pay the money to?
First, they said they were Libyans, later on they said they were Malians. How did they know these people were Libyans if they did not see them? How did they give them the money?
Now, the Federal Government is determined to bring RUGA for these same people to settle. Does the government think that for killing Nigerians, you will appease the people? What part of the constitution that backs government action allows us to be killed and then give these killers a settlement?
Go to the market now, before the President Muhammadu Buhari regime, in the month of March new yam has come out. In April, May, you will see new yam everywhere. This is July and new yam is yet to come out, why? It is because those who used to go to farm are no longer going to farm for fear of being killed by herdsmen… Here, we allow our farmers in the North, in the East and the West to come under threat. This is the worst warfare.
Go to the Bible and see the history. What this implies is that, you are gradually turning young people to criminals, kidnappers, prostitutes and all forms of social vices and crimes. This is the effect of the herdsmen not allowing the farmers to access their farms. These people come to Rivers State and all the Niger Delta states with their cattle even in Abuja in a broad day light embarrassing the people with their cows. This shows that Nigeria is a cattle farm.
Are you satisfied with the responses of the southern governors so far?
I have heard the South-West governors saying they don’t have land for RUGA. South-East governors have said they don’t have land for RUGA. It is only governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State that said I don’t have. This is not an “I” thing. The South-South governors should also say that they don’t have land for Ruga. Benue, Taraba and other states up North have said they don’t want it. In most states, they don’t want it. Nigerians are watching as things unfold. You can take our oil money in billions and invest in cattle colony for them in the North; we will collect it back when the time comes.
The Federal Government should take off its hands from private businesses. You don’t invest billions of public funds in private business because tomorrow a South-East person, South-West, South-South person will be there. You are telling people that anybody who becomes president should fend for his family first. From your kitchen cabinet to the military and security agencies appointments are one sided. You are building a structure on false foundation and it will fall. Buhari should not destroy the image we used to know he had. One day he will not be in that office and the truth will be told. How can a government allow people to herd their cattle into somebody’s farm?
President Buhari should tell the police to arrest those people who are killing farmers and innocent Nigerians. There is nothing like communal clash in Nigeria. What we are having now is terrorist invasion. You call them bandits…
Bandits used to break into people’s houses and steal things. It is only under Buhari that bandits are now killing and maiming people. These bandits have done worse than Boko Haram. But if it was IPOB, you will brand them terrorists and you sent the military to destroy their place and kill them.
There has been this out cry for restructuring of Nigeria, do you subscribe to that agitation?
The question is, why are Nigerians asking for restructuring? It is because we think that corruption is only when people steal money. Corruption is when you corrupt a genuine process that should show an equitable flow of the process for everybody but you corrupt it. It is not just stealing money.
Restructuring is because we have seen that everything about Buhari government is lopsided. We have a government where three or more persons dictate who becomes what in this country. This is not supposed to be so. This is a country of about 200 million people with different tribes of equal stake. So, no cabal should be seen dictating things for other tribes in this country.
It is sad that just two or three persons are just there in this government deciding the fate and destiny of this country. It is bad. Aba is one city where all the spare parts are being manufactured. Today, if you want to go to Aba, you must pass through Etche and that road has been bad for so long.
Which major road do we have in South-South? Look at the East West Road. The way former President Goodluck Jonathan left it, that is how it is today. Go to the North, they are using Julius Berger to construct roads everywhere there. What is wrong with the South-South region that produces all the money you are using to develop and beautify the North!
We have seen quite a number of church pastors being accused of rape or one form of sex crime or the other. Is this not corruption too?
I totally disagree with you on that. That argument has no basis whatsoever. What is happening now is an orchestrated plan by agents of the Devil to destroy the body of Christ and I can tell you that they have failed. If not for the church, this country would have completely gone down.
The church is like a candle on the mountain. It takes a beast to rape somebody. The Pastor of COZA said he did not do it. And I want to say to him, my friend go back and pastor your church. As far as I am concerned, that was just a satanic plan to push COZA out of where they are. If you have gone to where COZA is, it is located at where elites live. A plot of land there is between N200 to N300million. The Devil will not be happy to see that church there. When they have a programme, you cannot pass through that road because of heavy traffic.
The presidential election tribunal is current ongoing. What is your expectation from that tribunal?
In Nigeria now, anything you see, you take. I’m just praying that God should see us through at this point in time. Are those people in the tribunal not Nigerians? I don’t have confidence in these people. A criminal who defrauded me went to court and the court was playing games with me. Come today, come tomorrow until the judge retired.
One day, the truth that has been hidden in this country would be told. We have been covering a lot of things. That is why we cannot prosper as a country. It is only in Nigeria that you can hear that animals swallow money. The world is watching and laughing at us. Shame. If God has helped you to stand firm where you are, don’t let anybody to push you down.
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Controversy over Miyetti Allah Vigilante group on patrol of Ondo State highways
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Channels TV reporter shot covering Police, Shiites clash in Abuja
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SHI’ITES’ BLOODY PROTEST: DCP, 11 civilians killed as Shi’ites’ protest turns bloody
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Controversy over Miyetti Allah’s vigilante group in Ondo
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Power crisis: NREA to the rescue at OAU
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Shooting in Abuja as Police, Shiites clash