peaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has assured that the current assembly will break barriers hindering passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to facilitate the reform of the oil sector.
Gbajabiamila gave the assurance yesterday in his welcome address at the resumed plenary of the House after a 53-day recess.
He said: “I fully expect that in this session, the House of Representatives will consider important legislation such as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). I believe that we in this 9th Assembly are ideally suited to surmount the obstacles that have mitigated against passage of this essential reform legislation which is important if we are to properly address the structural, operational and policy challenges and inefficiencies in the Nigerian petroleum industry and position the industry to best serve the interests of all the Nigerian people.
“In addition to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), we will see the reintroduction of the bill prohibiting estimated billing in the power industry, intended to put a permanent end to the wastefulness and unfairness created by an unreliable and arbitrary system that imposes unforeseen costs on individuals.”
Speaking further on bills, the speaker noted that “before we adjourned the House on 25th July, 2019, a significant amount of work had already started. We had begun legislative action through the consideration of 13 bills including Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill 2019, Physically Challenged (Empowerment) Bill 2019 and Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill 2019.
“We had also at that time received and debated 57 motions on a range of issues including the non-remittance of contribution into the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) by the federal, state, local governments and some public and private organisations and businesses alike, the Education Bank Bill, designed to ensure that no child in this 21st Century is unable to get a quality tertiary education in Nigeria due to a lack of means and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Bill, which will serve to broaden the Local Content Act and ensure the original intent of the Act is made real in the lives of our people.
“As part of efforts by the House to gain firsthand knowledge of what is happening in those parts of our country where banditry, insurgency and communal clashes have laid waste to towns and villages, displacing thousands of our fellow citizens, I recently led delegations of the House to Borno, Zamfara and Katsina states.
“On these occasions, we met with community leaders and government officials, we visited the internally displaced persons, and we heard their stories and considered their perspectives. The stories we heard were as much about faith in the promise of tomorrow and hope that with a little help, these people who have lost so much can rebuild their world again.
“It falls to us to make sure that the stories of these our fellow citizens are not forgotten and that the hopes expressed in those stories guide the actions we choose to take and policies we choose to pursue, as we act to achieve the restoration of lasting peace and sustainable development in those communities and across the nation.
“I am also pleased to note that the standing and ad hoc committees of the House of Representatives constituted before the recess have hit the ground running. We will shortly receive and consider the committee’s report on the floor of the House and take whatever action is required to ensure that these vital national assets are put to more effective use.
“Over the course of the recess, we convened two National Roundtable Discussions on reform of the budget process and on recovered assets. These roundtable sessions were intended to take a critical look at issues relating to the development, enactment, funding, implementation and evaluation of the national budget.
“It also allowed us to begin to prepare the ground for the 2020 Appropriations Bill which we expect will shortly be presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
On the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa, the speaker commended a member of the country’s parliament, Julius Malema, for being one of the few that spoke openly against the dastard act.
His words: “I invite the House to at this time join me in commending the actions of Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and a respected voice in the politics of that nation, who openly and without equivocation, condemned the attacks and directed his organisation to provide aid and protection to our citizens facing harm. He has since then, never relented in calling out the failures of the government that allowed the attacks to occur and to continue.
“In a similar fashion, Sir Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace Airlines provided his organisation’s services without charge, to repatriate those Nigerians who were willing to return home to escape the carnage that had been visited upon them. He acted without consideration of cost, of tribe or personal interest. He acted in the best traditions of patriotism and love of country. Our country owes these men a debt of gratitude.
“The leadership of the House had cause to convene to address the most unfortunate events of xenophobic attacks against Nigerian citizens in the Republic of South Africa.
“The scale of these attacks, the cost in lives and property and the appearance of involvement by state actors in the worst of the attacks were some of the issues we deliberated on, after which the entire leadership of the House, in an unusual occurrence, released a joint statement articulating in clear terms the feelings of the Nigerian people on the unfortunate events and demanding action from the South African government.
2020 Budget: Senate works towards early passage
CHUKWU DAVID reports how the 2020 Appropriation Bill, which was laid before the joint session of the National Assembly, last week by President Muhammadu Buhari, was dissected in the Senate, with commendations and criticisms characterizing the debate
The resolution of the current National Assembly to cooperate and collaborate with the executive arm of government with the ultimate goal of delivering good governance and dividends of democracy to the people has so far been demonstrated since the inauguration of the apex Assembly on June 11.
For instance, executive communications from President Muhammadu Buhari have been treated with dispatch, with little or no encumbrances from members of the parliament.
The most recent experience was the parliamentarians’ expeditious treatment of the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), forwarded to them by President Buhari for approval, preparatory to the laying of the 2020 budget estimates.
The President forwarded the MTEF/FSP on September 25 and one week after, precisely on Thursday October 3, the Senate considered and passed the report of the Joint Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Finance and National Planning on the document.
This kind of expeditious passage is actually rare, as it was not the practice in the immediate past Assembly given its acrimonious relationship with the executive, particularly the presidency.
Considering the report of the joint committee, the Senate made 16 recommendations to the executive, bordering on projections and proposals for the 2020 budget estimates.
For instance, the Senate in its recommendations proposed N10.729 trillion as total estimated Federal Government’s expenditure.
However, on Tuesday October 8, President Buhari, presented a budget of N10.33 trillion estimates for the 2020 fiscal year to the apex Assembly. According to allocations to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the trio of ministries of Works and Housing Power and Transportation got the lion share.
With exceptional zeal to pass the 2020 budget with unusual dispatch, the Senate immediately swung into action, by commencing debate on the general principles of the bill barely 24 hours after it was laid by the President.
The Senate debated the bill on Wednesday and Thursday last week, and will conclude the debate today.
Interestingly, the debate elicited vehement criticisms from the senators across party lines. It also attracted commendations from others, mostly those of the APC extraction.
This led to a sharp division among senators over the workability or otherwise of various projections made in the budget.
Senators expressed different views during the debate on the general principles of the bill, with many of them saying that the various indices used in articulating the document were not realistic.
The most striking experience during the debate was that the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, who opened the floor and led the debate, was very critical of the budget proposal, contrary to expectations that he might just shower praises on the document.
He said that the budget, with its proposals and projections, cannot move the country out of the economic quagmire it has found itself in the last 30 years. According to him, the capital budget of N2.14 trillion was too small to carry the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about two per cent.
His words: “The injection of this amount is a mere drop in the ocean and is incapable of stimulating the economy to higher growth, wealth creation and employment generation.
“An economic growth rate of 2.93 per cent for a population of nearly 200 million is only marginally above population growth rate at 2.6 per cent, annually. The country’s dependence on crude oil exports does not present a bright scenario for Nigeria’s healthy growth.”
After this foundation laid by the majority leader, other senators who spoke, pointed out one inadequacy or the other in the document, warning that the proposals should be thoroughly scrutinised and adjusted to make it implementable and impactful on Nigerians.
Contributing, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said that based on the projections and various indices used in the document, the budget is not sustainable.
His words: “The fact is that this is not a sustainable budget, the fact also tells us that if we need a change, we must be able to look at the critical fundamentals of this budget speech and make adjustments.”
Abaribe expressed serious concern that government had proposed series of taxes in order to raise money to fund the budget. “I want to suggest a name to those who wrote this that this is nothing but a budget of taxation,” he said.
However, in a comic gesticulation, Abaribe said: “Not having any choice, I will second the budget presentation by the Senate Leader, having taken into consideration my own submission of the budget of taxation.”
Also, contributing, Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue North East), said the budget is very ambitious as it intends to address the infrastructural deficit.
He said that the economy had contracted to a level that the Senate had to critically address some critical issues in the economy, while expressing reservations over the intention of government to use taxation as a major source of revenue.
“Along with the appropriation submitted by the President, was a financial bill and that bill has five thematic areas. I am worried about the area that talks about revenue. I am worried about that because Value Added Tax (VAT) that has been moved from five to 7.5 per cent is one of the sources that we tend to raise revenue from to finance critical areas of education and the health sector.”
He explained that most small business enterprises would be unable to address the issue of 7.5 per cent VAT as “7.5 per cent VAT is on the high side and has exempted mostly food items.”
However, the Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Jibril Barau, said that sectoral allocation of N262 billion to Works and N127 billion to Housing and Power, showed that government was serious in providing the necessary infrastructure to drive and sustain the economy. He added that government is serious to actualise its long term objective of diversifying the economy.
Senator Adamu Aliero, however, explained that VAT was increased to intervene in critical projects and that 85 per cent of funds realised would be shared among the three tiers of government.
He further said that the increment in VAT will not affect the poor, advising that the Social Investment Programme (SIP) should be all inclusive because the poverty level remains high in the country.
Senator Ibrahim Gobir, lamented that funds for debt servicing debt as well as borrowings will deal devastating blow on the budget, advising that the National Assembly must do something to reverse the trend.
Senator Kabiru Gaya, in his contribution, said that oil production projection should be increased from $57 to $60, so that the balance could be channeled into agriculture and the North East Development Commission.
Many other senators, who contributed expressed pessimism over the budget’s ability to achieve the desired results, while others commended President Buhari and his team for doing a good job.
Presidency has become instrument for sectional aggrandizement – Nwodo
Chief John Nwodo, a former Minister of Information, is the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. In this interview on Channels Television, monitored by TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, he speaks on the state of the nation and other issues
Former Senate Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu was recently attacked in Germany by those identified as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and that generated lots of issues. As Igbo leader, don’t you see the incident as spill out of the dynamics of what is going on currently within the group?
I don’t think so in regard to the last part of your question. The act in itself is condemnable; it is unIgbo; t is uncivilized and the early those tendencies are stopped, the better for all of us. In Igbo culture, it is sacrilege and unheard of for a young man to attack someone old enough to be his father. Secondly, for somebody in a leadership position like Senator Ekweremadu, there is some honour and respectability that goes with it. To attack him in a foreign country; attempt to tear his cloths; that itself, is assault. In any interpretation of criminal law, it is wrong. It is justiceable, you can take somebody to court for it. Can you imagine a father taking his son to court for criminal offence of assault? This is only an indication that there is no dialogue between father and son any more.
I was intended to be in Germany with Ekweremadu, but my visa came two days after the attack. I persuaded Ekweremadu to go because all the disparate Igbo organisations in Germany were coming together in an Igbo Day and they wanted to use the opportunity to dramatise some of the Igbo culture. But the essence was to reconcile them to become one. And I said to Ekweremadu that ‘if I can’t go, you too can help me to reconcile them.’ Everybody wanted to be president of an Igbo organisation and in the end there were eight Igbo organisations, none of which were ready to bow for one another. Ekweremadu was going there not as a guest speaker, but as a father to unite them. He never expected the attack, so he didn’t take any retinue of personal security because he was going to meet his brethren and this happened to him. Supposing he had some personal security, there would have been a fracas of inestimable proportion.
But what does this portray of us to the outside world. First, we are a people, who do not respect our culture. For IPOB as an organisation of young men, who are saying we cannot exist in a federation where we have injustice in terms of the kind of indiscrimination and marginalisation that our people are facing and we want a country of our own; reenacting what we did at their age when we fought for Biafra, they were proscribed and declared as a terrorist organization, but we said this is a wrong decision and we defended them in every international fora.
For them to turn an international forum into a display of terrorism; it completely nullifies our defence and makes us look like as if we don’t really know our children. But those who did that in Germany are a minority of IPOB members. It cannot be said that all members of IPOB are terrorist because they did that. However, the encouragement to them by the rest of IPOB leadership gives a vicarious liability for such a senseless act. It is much regrettable.
One of the things that have become a problem is what to do with herdsmen, who traditionally have travail the country and have done so without conflict up until recently. In trying to address this problem, which prominently in the Middle Belt has actually become more than a security challenge and it has spread to other parts of the country. But it is assumed that it has also a taken North and South divide…
To be honest with you, I put the blame squarely on the President of Nigeria and the people of Nigeria.
Why do you say so?
The President of Nigeria has allowed a crisis to slow down on something he has every authority to address because of his biases. Secondly, the people of Nigeria have embraced democracy without embracing the culture of democracy. We don’t speak to government, we don’t hold the government accountable and so anybody who is in government is like a superior Nigerian. If it is a local government chairman, he can do whatever he likes. He doesn’t need to account to you how he spends the local government’s money. If he is a governor, he can do what he likes. If he is a president, it is a higher form of what you like.
When I was child, herdsmen were in my part of the country. They never carried weapons; they carried sticks. They never invaded people’s farms; they went to graze in fields. In fact, the Eastern Nigeria Government established a cattle ranch in Obudu, where we grew our local cows. There was no conflict of this nature. As I grew up in Enugu, I saw a lot of Hausa and Fulani, who lived in Enugu Municipal. The election for Mayor of Enugu was between a Fulani man from Kastina and an Igbo man and Zik (Nnamdi Azikiwe) campaigned for the Fulani man and he won the election in Enugu just like I did in Ibadan.
But what we now have is jihad. People come from all kind of places and they invade our country. Our boarders are porous. If you have ever been to any of the boarder lines in Kastina and Sokoto, you find out that you don’t need a passport to enter Nigeria. How can a law say the state government is in custody of land and the state Assembly in our constitution in Benue State makes a law saying you can’t establish this kind of thing you want except it is regulated in a ranch and some people say no to that?
How can the governor of Ebonyi State say you can’t move cattle in his state except by vehicular movement; you don’t do it by land because you ravage our farms and a Miyetti Allah chiefd tells him that he can’t do and nobody arrests him? He is free to do so, but if IPOB says this is not a fair country, you arrest all of them and declare them a terrorist organisation. Something is wrong; fundamentally wrong. This is political and if it is not handled well, it has the incendiary capacity to destroy the foundations of our democracy and our federation, and God forbid that it should happen.
Giving the background you have given and the position you have taken, was it therefore a political miscalculation in 2015 and 2019 for the South-East not to go in the direction of those who eventually won?
There is something that is fundamentally wrong in our politics. In politics, freedom of choice of who you support in an election is a function of how much his manifesto represents your popular views and it has nothing to do with your reception of the benefits of governance. The constitution requires every public functionary to exercise authority without fear or favour, discrimination, ill-will or affection. If it is found out that the President as he openly said in London, is acting out his words and giving government amenities according to how he was voted for, it is an impeachable offence; it is a dereliction of our constitution and his oath of office.
When I was in the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) with Shehu Shagari, he lost in the East in his first election as president, but we had a meeting of the party and one
Idris, who was Deputy Speaker from Niger State got up and said that the Igbo have gotten more positions in government than they deserved because they didn’t vote for NPN. He said that out of 10 advisers of the president, six were Igbo, which was true.
But Chuba Okadigbo and I got up and we insisted that he should withdraw the statement because it was a fundamental derogation to our constitution and he did. Chief Adisa Akinloye as national chairman of the party also insisted that he must withdraw it and he did. The issue is that at the end of an election, whoever won has no opposition any more. And you know that by his policies, Shehu Shagari turned round and won the South-East given the way he embraced them even after they had voted against him.
This is politics; you must have my interest in your manifesto. If you don’t have it, I have no business with you. In the last election, which I can speak of, the preponderance of opinion in Igbo land was that we must have restructuring and we can only support anyone who is prepared to return Nigeria to what it was at independence. It was a non-negotiable platform and as President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, I risked my personal security for not dancing along the tune of the Igbo. That was their popular wish and it was my responsibility to voice it out.
This position was arrived at after several consultative meetings with our people and their voting proved this. I didn’t force each one to do so. They wanted their destiny in their own hands and you also saw that in the Middle Belt. The West was divided dramatically into two on this and I believe that the division was because of the fact that the West had the vice presidency of Nigeria and on the ticket of the ruling party, otherwise the broad spectrum of the Yoruba wanted restructuring.
The South-South was clearly for restructuring in their voting pattern. So, I have no regret that the Igbo went the way they did. It was a function of their political desire to have Nigeria restructured and to feel like equal citizens in their own country.
The 2019 elections have come and gone and people are now looking forward to the 2023 elections. The belief is that power should come to the South and South-East should be allowed to produce the president in 2023 since South-West and South-South have already produced president in the present Fourth Republic. What are your thoughts on that?
First of all, the presidency has been made too important by the amount of power the constitution has invested on the president and the Federal Government. That is why the presidency is an instrument for sectional aggrandizement, which in turn, explains so much battle for everyone to get it. It is like sharing a national cake rather than baking a national cake. The presidency should bake the national cake but it is an instrument for sharing the national cake. So, I don’t share the concept of those who talk about power sharing.
Why don’t you believe in it?
I don’t share it because what is important for me is that we should have restructuring of Nigeria revisited.
But it has been a long life dream of many generations of south easterners…
I am coming to that. You must understand the fundamental error in this feeling that every part of the country must get a share of the national cake because the presidency is an instrument for sharing of national cake rather than baking the national cake. When we had post-independence government, the premiers were more powerful than the Prime Minister. The leader of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) refused to come to Lagos to become Prime Minister because the power of wealth creation rested in the regions. So, this craze for presidency and zoning is a negation to building a virile economy and a united country.
Having said so, for me, the question of the president coming to the South-East and giving the people a sense of belonging that they are part of Nigeria is fine. But the issue is not a matter of zoning of the presidency; the issue is finding a right material for president. Often, there is no scrutiny of these candidates and the parties have developed some kind of sovereignty that is greater than the voters by limiting the option of candidates to who the godfathers in the party want. In the end, the country does not have the opportunity to choose the best person who can breed life into national economy.
When you talk about the best person, are you talking in terms of the best person nationally or the best person in the South-East?
Nationally! Don’t forget that if you zone the presidency to the South-East, the nomination would be done by the respective parties to choose who among their members from the South-East they would want to be president. The recruitment process is not objective; its subjectivity overweighs its objectivity. We don’t really get the best candidate for that position. Secondly, I think it would be wrong to say that when it is the turn of the South-East, the zone would be imbrued with so much internal division and they would be unable to agree.
As I have said to you, it is not the South-East that would bring somebody, it is the parties that will choose and the parties are made up of people from across the country. It is going to be president of Nigeria chosen by Nigerians. So, they would be chosen by members of the party from a particular area. It is not only the Igbo who are going to bring out the president. However, even if the Igbo have to have a choice in recommending who they want, I think the Igbo have the capacity to agree on sensitive issues.
What is the position of the South-East going into this calculation? Do you believe that natural justice will tend to present the zone with an opportunity to get the presidency in 2023?
To be honest with you, my training and upbringing does not allow me to dance to this tune of zoning in terms of choosing people and that kind of thing. What I want for the South-East if you ask for my personal opinion and what I think most people in South-East want, is that we should be allowed to develop our place at our own pace. Let us have a restructured Nigeria in which every area will develop at its own pace and the questions of who becomes the president would become less attractive.
I hate this idea of donating the presidency to a particular section just to assuage their feelings and rather than bake the cake, we share the cake. Naturally, every south easterner will like the president of Nigeria to come from the South-East, but the leadership recruitment process in Nigeria has to be rejigged. The parties have become anointing stations with no democratic credentials for making the best of decisions. So, they might not present bright minds for the position.
Look at the former Deputy Governor of Central Bank, Prof. Kinsley Moghalu, who came out to run for presidency. He was easily the most educated of the presidential candidates. His experience in micro-economics management was unassailable, but it was impossible given the influence of leading political parties in our country for him to make a major showing. People were voting for their parties rather than voting for individuals. So, we have to go through a rejig of our entire political process.
Even though it will be in the benefit of the South-East to have the next president come from there and it will assuage their feelings on marginalization, a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, with a jaundiced constitution, will still remain ineffective and unsatisfactory to the people of the South-East.
In clear terms, what exactly is this restructuring?
It is very simple. It is devolution of powers. There is no reason on earth why you should have primary education administered by the Federal Government. There is no reason why you should have mineral resources in every part of Nigeria, whether it is gold in Zamfara or tin in Plateau, administered by the Federal Government without recourse to the state governments that are there. The states should have complete control of all natural resources.
We had a revenue formula by which a percentage was given to the Federal Government. We recognised it under the military regime in the Land Use Act in which states government were made owners of the land. How can you be owner of a land and you are not the owner of mineral resources in the land? It doesn’t make sense to me. So, the whole essence of restructuring is, go back to your places and have sovereignty over your mineral resources, have sovereignty over your domestic security.
All federal laws would be enforced by federal police and all local laws would be enforced by state or regional police. It is as simple as that. This will unleash tremendous energy in areas that have been neglected in our country such as agriculture, education, health and social services, which are the basis for development. Do you realise that the rate of growth of Nigeria under a restructured Nigeria after independence was faster than the rate of growth now. The tendency all over the world is micro-management. When the management is too far from the people, it makes it impossible for them to be efficient. So, we need to go back.
2023 presidency divide North, South
Onyekachi Eze reports on the festering war of attrition between political leaders of northern and southern extractions over where the next president of Nigeria will come from
Though the next presidential election is about three years and four months away, the debate on where the next president would come from has taken the centre stage. Interestingly, this has pitched the North against South, with leaders of both regions in vociferous attacks on each other.
Chief Edwin Clark, National Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), appears to be leading southern agitators, while former Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. Ango Abdullahi is one of the vocal voices from the North.
Out of 15 civilian and military leaders that ruled Nigeria since independence, 10, including the incumbent, are from the North while five are from the South.
It was to correct this imbalance that led the 1994 Constitutional Conference to adopt rotational presidency. This is supposed to be between the North and the South. But this is not yet a constitutional provision.
Rotational presidency became operational when Nigeria returned to civil democracy in 1999. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which won the presidency in 1999, adopted rotational presidency as a “gentleman agreement,” though the party abused the policy in 2015, when it failed to field a northern candidate at the expiration of President Goodluck Jonathan presidency.
Clark said this much, when he argued that one of the reasons Nigerians voted against the PDP in 2015 was because it abandoned the rotation of the presidency between North and South.
Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary of Yoruba socio-cultural group Afenifere, also noted: “We were all here in 2014-15, when politicians from the North almost brought heaven down on earth over ‘its own turn.’”
The 1994 Constitutional Conference divided the country into six geopolitical zones – South-East, South-South, South-West, North-West, North-East and North Central. Apart from the rotation between North and South, the presidency is also expected to rotate among the six geopolitical zones.
Since 1999, three geopolitical zones – South-West, North-West and South-South, have produced the president, while four of the zones – North-East, South-South, South-West and North-West have produced the vice president.
The South-East and North Central have neither produced the president or vice president of Nigeria since the return of civil rule. The North-West has produced the president twice, as well as vice president, since 1999.
Clark, who is from South-South, however is supporting the South-East to produce the next president after President Muhammadu Buhari.
His words: “Now after it (the presidency) has been zoned to the North, after eight years, it will come to the South and I am surprised … at people wanting to become president of Nigeria from a certain southern area, when the whole of the East, which is a very vital part of this country is yet produce a president.
“No matter whatever anybody says, the South-East is a very important part of this country before and after independence, you cannot push them aside. You just cannot. They must be considered in any rotational matter about the presidency for 2023. It is funny somebody just coming out, saying that rotation is abolished, that it does not exist because one competent or intelligent fellow is needed.
“Competent leaders abound everywhere among the different zones in Nigeria, so nobody should underrate any area of this country. The moment you are treating a certain area of this country as inferior people, as second class people, as people who are not equal to the others, then there is no peace, there is no country,” Clark argued.
Unlike PDP, many believe that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has not yet seen the whole country as its constituency. The party believes it is accepted only in the North and South-West. That is why it excludes the South-East and South-South in its appointments and development projects.
The party hinged its calculation for the 2023 presidency between the North and South-West, but not with South-East because the region does not vote for APC during the election.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said South East has no claim for presidency in 2023 because they did not vote for APC in 2019 presidential election.
“I don’t know what they will do now for voting against the APC. For refusing to support the APC, they cannot come to the table to demand the presidency slot.
“For people like us in the APC, if the Igbo had come and voted Buhari, they would boldly tell Mr. President and the National Chairman of the party that presidency should go the South East since the South-South; South West and North West have produced president. What argument would the South East come up with now to convince anybody that they deserve the slot for 2023 president?” Amaechi asked.
But the vice presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 election, Peter Obi, said Amaechi was not the right person to judge PDP because APC performed woefully in Rivers State, where he comes from.
“He (Amaechi) is not in any position to make such statements because even he that is in APC; he did not contribute anything to the success of that election. He did not even achieve anything in his own state. Those of us from the South-East, who are in the PDP contributed to the success of our party.
“For example, PDP in my state got 95 per cent. They (APC) didn’t even get 25 per cent in Rivers State. So, he is not competent to speak on the presidency in 2023,” Obi stated.
If electoral performance is anything to go by, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had no reason seeking second term in office on the platform of PDP in 2003. Obasanjo lost even his ward to the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999, but went ahead to win the presidency. He was, however, able to reverse this in the 2003 general election.
As it is, APC may be looking towards South-West for its presidential candidate in 2023. This is the only region in the South where the party has strong presence. Out of the six states in the region, APC is in control of five.
Elder statesman, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) said the South West region is well positioned to produce President Buhari’s successor in 2023.
He hinged his argument on the fact that since 1999, presidency goes to any region where two of the three major tribes – Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa/Fulani – formed an alliance.
“The problem in Nigeria is that the politician has created for themselves a situation where if two of them gather against the third one, they will want political power to be rotating among themselves.
“There are three major tribes – the Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa. Where two of these major tribes gang up, that is where the power is going.
“In 1999, Obasanjo wasn’t sponsored by the Yoruba, even though he was a Yoruba man; the Yoruba rejected him, and sponsored Olu Falae. But northerners and the Igbo voted for him; the Yoruba never voted for him and he still won because the Northern Hausa and the Eastern Igbo decided to support him.
“In 2003, Obasanjo came for the second term; again, he was not sponsored by the Yoruba; the Yoruba put up another candidate, but still he won.
“In 2007, Yar’Adua was not supported by the Yoruba, but the Igbo supported the North and he won.
“In 2011, Jonathan came in, he’s not a northerner, but he was supported by the North and the Igbo, and he won. Having realised that power is between two of these sects, the Yoruba and the Hausa merged in 2015 and they produced Buhari.
“In 2023, if the Igbo don’t find themselves holding onto the Yoruba as friends or the Hausa as friends and allow the Hausa and the Yoruba to hold themselves together as in 2015, then that ticket will produce the president.
“That means the Yoruba will produce the president and the North will produce the vice president because that is the reality of the number. Politics is in number.
“Since the demise of Zik, the Igbo had never had a leader and that is the fault of the Igbo race today. If tomorrow, the Igbo bring out a young vibrant Igbo leader who can now find his way either to go with the northern Hausa and form alliance or the Yoruba and form alliance, then the hope of an Igbo president in Nigeria will come up,” Clarke maintained.
But the North said it is not yet done with the presidency. Some elements in the region said it has not yet done with the number one position because the North has been shortchanged in key positions of government.
Coalition of Northern Groups (CNGs), blamed the contest over where the next president would come from on the elite, whom it said is a way to manipulate the people.
Leader of the group, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, argued that presidency does not guarantee development to the region where it is zoned to.
“This is because northerners have held power for most of Nigeria’s existence. Why are we the most backward then? The South-East has just held power just nominally during the First Republic, but why then are they the most developed?
“So, all this noise about where the president comes from is just an elitist way of manipulating our thinking. Don’t we have governors from our localities? What are they doing for us? We even have local government chairmen. Are they working for us?” he asked.
The group however wants a renegotiation of the current political alliance between the North and South-West, which it claimed was becoming unhealthy for the North.
Instead, it called for realignment between the North, South-East and South-South, which he described as the region’s “traditional political friends.”
CNGs said: “What needs to be done by the North is not to insist that power must remain in the region which in any case, does not even serve the interest of the larger population of northerners.
“What is important at this point is for the northern political leadership to renegotiate its current alliance with the South-West which has never been North’s political ally.
“The alliance is already turning out to be unhealthy. We are already calling on the northern elders and leaders to review the region’s position by realigning with our traditional political friends which are the South-East and South-South.
“What is happening to us in the North now, are we happy that we have a Northerner as a president? We are not getting anything. So, the North will be better off with a Southern president who would provide services to everybody.
“It is the elite who have not allowed us to think Nigeria by making us think in terms of ethnicity and religion so that they can control us.”
Senatorial election: Ajimobi’s appeal against Balogun fixed for Thursday
Following former Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s appeal against the judgment of the National Assembly Election Petition that declared Dr. Kola Balogun as the winner of the Oyo South senatorial election on September 10, 2019, the Appeal Court sitting in Ibadan will on Thursday determine the matter.
Ajimobi contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while Balogun vied on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The APC had gone to the tribunal to challenge the victory of Balogun in eight out of the nine local government areas in the senatorial district. Balogun had polled 105,720 votes to defeat Ajimobi who garnered 92,218 votes, but the APC was not satisfied.
The three-man panel of the tribunal, chaired by Justice Anthony Akpovi, with Justice Sambo Daka and Justice Chinyere Ani as members, had unanimously upheld Balogun’s victory.
The lead judgment, read by Akpovi, said that most of the witnesses called by the petitioner to tender the results of polling units were ward collation agents and not the proper persons to tender the results.
The tribunal Chairman said that the testimonies of the ward collation agents could not be accorded any probative value because they were not the makers of the documents tendered.
Election petitions: Govs scale tribunals’ hurdle
Tribunals affirm Ganduje, Wike, Umahi, Okowa, Sanwo-Olu, Tambuwal, others’ elections
Governors, opponents head to Appeal Court
FELIX NWANERI reports on the judgements of the various governorship election petition tribunals in the states where gubernatorial elections held during the 2019 general election, which have mainly seen the affirmation of those declared winners by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
t has been torrent of judgements from the various Governorship Elections Petition Tribunal entertaining suits, challenging some of the outcomes of the March 9 gubernatorial election held in 29 out of the country’s 36 states.
The states are Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi, Delta, Enugu, Taraba, Abia, Imo, Oyo, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Sokoto, Rivers, Lagos, Ogun, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Jigawa, Zamfara, Borno, Katsina, Yobe, Nasarawa, Kano, Kwara and Gombe.
The governorship elections did not hold in seven states – Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Osun and Ekiti as a result of the interregnum by the courts.
While the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), won in Lagos, Ogun, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Jigawa, Zamfara, Borno, Katsina, Yobe, Nasarawa, Kano, Kwara and Gombe states; the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) The states won in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi, Delta, Enugu, Taraba, Abia, Imo, Oyo, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Sokoto and Rivers states.
As expected after elections, the victors celebrated their victory and were inaugurated, while the losers cried foul and headed to the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in their respective states to seek justice.
But, after interesting legal battles at the various tribunals, the judgements so far have only affirmed the results as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as none of the results of the governorship elections has been upturned by the court of first instance.
However, it is not yet over as the petitioners still have two more legs to go. Already, a majority of them have vowed to challenge the respective judgements of the various tribunals at the Court of Appeal.
Unlike before, the cases would have ended at the Court or Appeal, but for the amendment to the Constitution and Electoral Act, which paved the way for the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter on petitions over governorship elections.
According to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), governorship election cases traverse a journey of three steps. They start at the tribunals, from where they move to Court of Appeal and terminate at the Supreme Court.
Kaduna: Ashiru fails to prove claims against el-Rufai
It was victory for Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasri el-Rufai as the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Kaduna affirmed him as the duly elected governor of the state.
INEC had declared el-Rufai, who contested the election on the platform of the APC as the winner of the March 9 election, but the his main challenger and the candidate of the PDP, Isa Ashiru, headed to the tribunal on the ground that the poll was characterised by irregularities.
But, delivering judgement on Ashiru’s petition, chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Ibrahim Bako, said the petitioner was unable to prove his allegations of massive rigging and other electoral irregularities.
Consequently, the tribunal struck out the petition for lack of substantial evidence.
The petitioner, had in his final written address on August 19, asked the tribunal to cancel 515,951 votes, which he alleged were unlawfully added to the total votes cast during the election.
He called 135 witnesses out of the 685 he mentioned in the petition to prove alleged massive rigging, ballot stuffing and other irregularities during the election.
But, Justice Bako said the signatures of most of the 135 witnesses the petitioners presented in their written statements as deposed before the tribunal did not match with the specimens taken when they testified in court.
He also said that some of the names of the witnesses did not match with the names on the voters’ cards, which they presented before the tribunal.
While el-Rufai welcomed the affirmation of his re-election and called on all residents of the state to join hands in progressive endeavours for peace and development of the state, Kaduna State chairman of the PDP, Hassan Hyat, said the party executive would meet with the counsel and take a decision on the next line of action.
According to him, the tribunal’s decision was the first stage of the petition as the party will soon come out with a position.
Ogun: Akinlade’s petition against Abiodun ‘destined’ to fail
In Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun also had his election affirmed by the Governorship Election Petition sitting in Abeokuta.
The tribunal, which dismissed the suit by the governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Adekunle Akinlade, said the petition was destined to fail.
“The petition is destined to fail, it failed and is hereby dismissed,” the chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Yusuf Halilu, stated.
Akinlade had prayed the tribunal to disqualify Abiodun on grounds of submitting false academic qualification, but Justice Halilu held that the suit was stuck out because the case had been laid to rest by the Court of Appeal.
Adding that petitioner would not be allowed to resurrect or open same matter at the tribunal since the appellate court had deemed it “statue barred,” the judge also noted that the petitioner filed the application outside the window of time allowed.
Kano: Ganduje triumphs as Yusuf’s petition fails
It was relief for Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, who fought the
political battle of his life to return to power as the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Kano dismissed the petition that challenged his victory.
Ganduje, who contested the poll on the platform of the APC was declared winner by INEC after a supplementary poll on March 23, but Abba Yusuf of the PDP and his party filed a petition against the governor, his party and the electoral commission (INEC) to challenge the poll’s outcome.
Whereas Yusuf prayed the tribunal to set aside the election on the ground that it was fraught with irregularities, Ganduje insisted that the petitioners failed to prove that the election was rigged.
In its judgement, the tribunal, headed by Justice Halima Shamaki, not only upheld Ganduje’s election, but dismissed Yusuf’s petition. The three judges on the tribunal unanimously adopted the judgement.
Justice Shamaki said INEC was right both in declaring the March 9 election as inconclusive and in declaring Ganduje the winner of the re-run election.
According to her, declaring an election as inconclusive, where there are lawful reasons, is constitutional.
She further held that the petitioners’ claim that electoral rules and guidelines were not complied with in an election they claimed to have won the majority of lawful votes is a paradox. “It’s like trying to mix oil and water,” the judge said.
She added that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations of corrupt practices and non-compliance by the respondents beyond reasonable doubt.
Her words: “The carbonised copies of documentary evidence tendered by the petitioners were mostly unstamped, some are unsigned, others contained re-written data, hence amounted to documentary hearsay and therefore inadmissible.
“We shall not go into details in the petition. He who asserts must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Respondents are not bound to prove. In civil cases, the burden to prove lies on the plaintiff. Where the plaintiff fails to prove his case, the case must fail. As such, the petition is hereby dismissed.”
The state chapter chairman of the PDP, Rabi’u Suleiman-Bichi, in his reaction to the judgement, said they will study it and decide on the next line of action.
Ganduje, on his part, described the judgement as another round of victory. “When the election was held, we won, but the opposition PDP decided to challenge our victory at the election tribunal. It is clear to all now that our victory is genuine as confirmed by the tribunal.”
Rivers: Wike trounces AAC, ADP candidates
For Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, it was double victory at the tribunal, following the dismissal of the petition filed by the governorship candidates of African Action Congress (AAC) and Action Democratic Party (ADP), Biokpomabo Awara and Victor Fingesi, respectively.
Both candidates sought the nullification of the poll that produced Wike of the PDP as governor of the oil-rich state.
In separate judgements on the matter, the tribunal said Wike was duly elected and that INEC was right in announcing him winner of the poll. The tribunal added that both petitioners failed to prove their claim that the election was marred by violence and irregularities.
Justice K. B. Olawoyin, who delivered judgement on AAC’s petition, declared that Wike won in 19 of the 21 local government areas where elections held, while the petitioner won in two local government areas.
He further held that Awara failed to provide evidence on his claim violence, adding that what was suspended was the collation of results for six local government areas and not the entire election as the petitioner claimed.
According to the judge, as at the time of the suspension of collation, INEC had concluded collation of results in 17 local government areas. He stated that by participating in the collation process, the petitioner had waived his right to complain.
He also ruled that the results tendered by the petitioner, while giving evidence were inadmissible and, therefore, expunged from the records.
The petition by the ADP candidate – Fingesi – was also dismissed as the chairman of the tribunal, Justice K.A. Orjiako, in a unanimous judgement, described the petition as an adventure to discover the non-existent.
According to judge, Fingesi lacked the locus standi to file the petition. He held that inconsistent facts contained in the petition filed by the ADP governorship candidate made it incompetent.
The tribunal said the petitioner wrote that he was challenging the election of the first petitioner. It said an election petition must challenge the person returned as winner and not the petitioner.
“We hold firmly that the petitioner has failed woefully in proving his allegations. The petition lacks merit and is hereby dismissed,” the judge said.
While counsel to the ADP candidate, Dolapo-Tella Attoni, said he will consult his client on the next line of action as there many grounds of appeal against the judgement, Awara’s counsel, Henry Bello, emphatically said his client will appeal the judgement.
But, Wike, in his reaction, said all PDP candidates in the state during the 2019 general election had virtually no opponents. “It is so painful that someone could say that no election held in Rivers State. There was nobody who ran the election against us,” he said.
Imo: Ihedioha scales APC, AA, APGA’s hurdle
It was a hat trick for Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State as the state’s Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Abuja affirmed his election.
The trio of Hope Uzodinma (APC), Uche Nwosu (Action Alliance – AA) and Ifeanyi Araraume (All Progressives Grand Alliance – APGA) had asked the tribunal to nullify the election of Ihedioha (PDP) on the ground that he was unlawfully declared as the governor of Imo state by INEC.
According to the petitioners, the March 9, governorship election, through which Ihedioha emerged was marred by irregularities. But, the tribunal held that the three petitions lacked merit.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mallami Umar-Dogondagi, in his judgement, dismissed the petition by Nwosu of AA for incompetence.
In a unanimous decision, the three-member panel also struck out the petition by the APC and APGA candidates, Uzodinma and Araraume, respectively
The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them by the law.
Benue: Jime’s petition against Ortom dismissed
Another governor, who had his election upheld, is Samuel Ortom of Benue State. The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Makurdi, ruled that he was duly elected governor of the state.
The three-member tribunal headed by Justice Henry Olusiyi, dismissed the petition by the candidate of the APC, Emmanuel Jime and his party for lack of merit and declared Ortom of the PDP as winner of the poll.
Jime had claimed that the election was marred with irregularities, over-voting and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act and prayed the court to declare him winner on the ground that he scored majority of lawful votes cast with a margin of 2,224 votes or nullify Ortom’s election and order the conduct of a fresh election in the state.
The APC governorship candidate challenged the results declared in Buruku, Gboko, Guma, Gwer East, Gwer West, Konshisha, Kwande, Logo, Ukum, Ushongo and Vandeikya localgovernment areas of the state.
During the hearing, the petitioner called 59 witnesses, who testified that they witnessed irregularities, over voting and other electoral malpractices perpetrated by the PDP and INEC.
Jime, on his part, tendered over 1,100 electoral documents, including forms EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D, EC8E, voters register and card reader reports. He also tendered 2019 manual and guidelines for electoral officials in 384 Polling Units across 11 local government areas in contention.
However, Ortom, INEC and PDP asked the tribunal to strike out the petition in its entirety for lacking in merit.
But, Justice Olusiyi faulted the testimonies of the petitioner’s witnesses. According to him, none of them substantiated their claims of over voting and other irregularities alleged.
The judge further said that the petitioner failed to link the documents tendered in evidence to the petition. According to him, the petitioner dumped the documents on the tribunal.
He also said that until the National Assembly amends the constitution, the voters’ register remains the only document that can ascertain the number of registered voters and not the smart card readers.
Bauchi: Mohammed floors Abubakar a second time
It was another victory for Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, who unseated Mohammed Abubakar as governor of the north eastern state in the general elections as the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal upheld his election.
Mohammed was the candidate of the PDP in the election, while Abubakar, the then incumbent governor of the state, was the standard bearer of the APC.
Abubakar and his party had filed a petition against Mohammed, PDP and INEC to challenge the governor’s victory in the March 23 supplementary election in the state.
The petitioners alleged widespread irregularities in 336 polling units in Tafawa Balewa, Bogoro and Bauchi local government areas of the state. Consequently, they urged the tribunal to nullify the election held in polling units in the councils and declare Abubakar as winner of the election, having scored the highest valid votes, or in the alternative, order the conduct of a fresh election in the affected areas. However, Mohammed and his party urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that it lacked merit The tribunal answered the governor’s prayer as it dismissed the petition on the ground that Mohammed was duly elected with majority votes. Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Salihu Shuaibu, who read the unanimous judgement of the three-man panel, said INEC was right both in declaring the March 9 election as inconclusive and in declaring Mohammed the winner of the re-run election that was held thereafter. He added that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act by the respondents.
“We shall not go into details in the petition; he who asserts must prove beyond all reasonable doubts,” he said. Delta: Ogboru fails to stop Okowa For Chief Great Ogboru, who made several attempts to govern oil-rich Delta State, what he could not get through the ballot in the March 9 governorship election also failed at the tribunal.
The businessman turned politician, who who was the candidate of the APC in the election, had approached the Delta State Governorship Petition Tribunal that sat in Asaba, possibly to turn the table against Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the PDP. But his hope was dashed as the tribunal affirmed the re-election of Governor Okowa. Chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Suleiman Belgore, described the petition filed by Ogboru and his party as “opportunistic and gold digging.”
The judge also held that the petitioner failed to prove that Okowa was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast during the election and consequently dismissed the petition in its entirety. Akwa Ibom: Emmanuel dusts Ekere After a grueling poll in which he brushed opposition’s threat to return to power, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State also scaled another hurdle at the tribunal.
The governor was elected for a second term in office on the platform of the PDP, after defeating his APC rival, Nsima Ekere of APC and others. But, the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), who alleged irregularities during the election, approached the tribunal to nullify the process. His petition was however dismissed by the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal that sat in Uyo. In a unanimous decision, the tribunal said the petition lacked merit. Emmanuel, who commended the judgement and dedicated his victory to God and the people the state, called on the opposition in Akwa Ibom to join him in developing the state.
According to him, the time has come for the people to come together and move the state forward as the ‘Completion Agenda’ was an Akwa Ibom Agenda. Taraba: Danladi’s petition against Ishaku hit the rocks Taraba State governor, Darius Ishaku, who won the March 9 election on the platform of the PDP, equally triumphed at the tribunal as the petition against his victory by his APC counterpart, Sani Danladi, was dismissed.
The Governorship Election Tribunal, headed by Justice M.O. Adewara, which affirmed Ishaku’s election, held that the petitioner failed to prove his claim that the election was marred with irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act. Justice Adewara, who read the lead judgement, held that Danladi was not qualified to contest the 2019 election.
He also noted that the affirmation of the judgement by the Supreme Court implied that the APC had no valid candidate in the election. Katsina: Lado’s bid to upturn Masari’s victory fails In a split decision of two to one, the Katsina State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Abuja, held that the candidate of the PDP, Senator Yakubu Lado, failed to prove his allegation of substantial non-compliance to the Electoral Act in the conduct of the poll that saw the re-election of Governor Aminu Masari.
However, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Alli Jos, in a dissenting judgement, allowed the petition and ordered a fresh election in the state. His dissenting judgement was read by another member of the panel. Lado, who contested the election on the platform of the PDP, had asked the tribunal to overturn the declaration of Governor Masari of the APC.
He predicated his petition on the grounds that Masari falsified his age and academic qualifications in the affidavit submitted alongside his INEC nomination form. But, the tribunal in its final analysis held that evidence of witnesses and some others is of no probative value since they confirmed that they gave their statements in Hausa language, whereas the Hausa versions were not before the tribunal. Abia: Otti fails to prove claims against Ikpeazu’s victory The gale of affirmation of election of governors continued in Abia State, where the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Umuahia dismissed the petition, which challenged the election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr Alex Otti, had approached the tribunal to nullify the declaration of PDP’s Ikpeazu as winner of the March 9 election. Otti, who came third in the poll, alleged that Ikpeazu did not win majority of lawful votes cast during the election. He therefore prayed the tribunal to declare the election invalid by reasons of criminal practices, nonsubstantial compliance with the electoral guidelines, and over voting in 788 polling units. But, the tribunal’s chairman, Justice Lekan Ogumonye, who read the unanimous judgement of the threeman panel, dismissed Otti’s petition over his inability to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubts.
The tribunal held that the 65 polling units agents, who appeared as witnesses for the petitioners, could not give sufficient evidences to prove allegations of over voting in 788 polling units. It further held that if even there were some infractions in said polling units, they were not substantial to invalidate the entire election. Nasarawa: Sule triumphs over Ombugadu Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Sule, equally had his election affirmed by the tribunal as the petition filed by the candidate of the PDP, David Ombugadu, was dismissed due to lack of merit. Ombugadu, a former member of the House of Representatives, had challenged the outcome of the election on account of alleged unlawful declaration of Sule as winner of the poll. The PDP candidate also claimed that the poll did not comply with provisions of the Electoral Act 2010.
He further claimed intimidation of voters and unlawful cancellation of votes during the election. Delivering judgement on his petition, Justice Abba Mohammed, who chaired the tribunal, held that the petitioner failed to prove his allegations.
The judge also held that Ombugadu failed to prove how collation of results was disrupted. “The burden of prove lay with the petitioner and he has failed to prove the allegations. The petitioner has failed to produce two sets of results –original and fake – to prove that the outcome was falsified in favour of APC candidate. “Hence he failed to prove that, we therefore, uphold the result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).”
Justice Mohammed averred. Sokoto: Aliyu fails to stop Tambuwal Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, also had his election upheld by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal for the state that sat in Abuja.
The three man tribunal dismissed the petition of the APC and its governorship candidate, Ahmed Aliyu, for lacking in merit. Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Abbas Bawale, in his judgement, said the petitioners failed to establish their claims of the poll’s non-compliance with the Electoral Act and over voting. Bawale also said the evidences of the petitioners’ witnesses amounted to hearsay, and as a result, could not prove any of the allegations.
had asked the tribunal to upturn the declaration of Tambuwal, who contested the election on the platform of the PDP on the ground that the exercise was marred by irregularities. The Sokoto State governorship election which held on March 9 was declared inconclusive following cancellation of 75,403 votes which were higher than the 3,413 margin between the leading candidates.
However, Tambuwal won the March 23 supplementary, with a slim margin of 342 votes. Cross River: Ayade knocks out Owan-Enoh It was also victory for Governor Ben Ayade as the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Cross River State upheld his election. PDP’s Ayade had his victory at the poll challenged by the candidate of the APC, Senator John Owan-Enoh on the ground that he was wrongfully excluded from participating in the election. In his ruling on the petition, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Josiah Majebi, said that the first and second grounds of the petition were irreconcilable and mutually exclusive. He said that in the first place, the petitioner failed to seek redress within the legally specified 14 days allowed for complaints.
The tribunal strongly disagreed with the petitioner that he was wrongfully excluded by the second respondent, INEC, stressing that much of the grievances expressed in the petition were pre-election matters, which the tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain. “Any disputes within a given political party which stands election before actual election such as nomination or withdrawal or exclusion are pre-election issues. Our mandates don’t cover them. Therefore, such are ineffective grounds. We therefore strike them and such others out for incompetence,” the judge held. He also held that there were multiplicity of litigations by interested parties of the APC regarding the governorship election, which according to him, complicated the petition.
The judge said after carefully consideration of the applications, written addresses and counter responses by the respondents, the tribunal came to the conclusion that many views of the petitioner did not only lacked merit, but amounted to gross abuse of court processes. He maintained that the petition is academic, hypothetical and frivolous, adding that “the petitioner’s allegation that he was excluded from the election yet he scored valid votes of 131,161 takes his petition contradictory.” Plateau: Useni vows to fight on after losing to Lalong Plateau state was not left out in the affirmation of election of sitting governors as the state’s Governorship Election Petition Tribunal upheld Governor Simon Lalong’s victory in the gubernatorial poll. Lalong, who was the candidate of the APC in the election, had his victory challenged by Senator Jeremiah Useni of the PDP.
The latter had prayed the tribunal to declare him winner of the election on the grounds of disparity in the names supplied by Governor Lalong in Form CF001 and irregularities during the conduct of the poll. However, Justice Halima Salami, who led the tribunal, held that the petitioner did not adequately prove his case. She further held that Useni failed to prove his allegation of electoral irregularities bothering on falsifications of results and over-voting. While Lalong, through his counsel, Pius Akuboh (SAN), commended the tribunal for the verdict, Useni, through his counsel, Edward Pwajok (SAN), said he will appeal against the judgement.
”There are many bus stops in judiciary and we will challenge the verdict in a higher court. The tribunal has done its work, but it is long journey. Thank God there are higher levels as the judgement itself has already formulated many grounds for appeal,” he said.
Kwara: Abdulrazaq floors Atunwa again It was another victory for the APC governorship candidate in Kwara State in the March 9 election, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq over his PDP counterpart, Razak Atunwa. Abdulrazaq emerged tops in the election by a landslide, but Atunwa prayed the tribunal to sack the governor on the ground of certificate forgery.
The PDP candidate particularly challenged the authenticity of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) result presented by Governor Abdulrazaq as well as his competence to contest the poll. But, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Bassey Effiong, in his judgement, said all documents and certificates presented by the respondent during the election were not forged. According to the judge, Governor Abdulrazaq did not violate the provisions of Sections 177 of the Constitution based on the certificates he presented to contest the election.
He held that the word “Rahaman” was valid and that the assertion that the name written on the certificates did not start with “Abdul” is not a strong argument.
He maintained the petitioner was not able to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt as enshrined in Sections 35(5)(6) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). Reacting to the judgement, the governor described it as triumph of truth over falsehood and a sweet victory for Kwarans. His words: “This judgement affirms the truism that never will falsehood triumph over truth nor evil over good till the end of time no matter the efforts or public grandstanding of the purveyors of such falsehood.” Lagos: Sanwo-Olu’s victory affirmed as Awamaridi fails to prove claims Another governor, who had his election upheld by the tribunal, is Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.
The Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, headed by Justice T. T Asua, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its candidate, Ifagbemi Awamaridi, The tribunal held that its earlier decision to dismiss the petition, which was later appealed by the petitioners’, was still valid because the petition was not filed according to the laws governing the electoral laws. The tribunal further described the petition as a “futile and wasteful exercise.” It also ruled that the petitioners could not prove their allegations of mental incompetence against Sanwo- Olu as well as their allegations of election malpractices against the governor and his party – APC.
Oyo: Adelabu fails to nullify Makinde’s election The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Ibadan, Oyo State, also upheld the election of Seyi Makinde. Makinde contested the election on the platform of the PDP, but his APC counterpart, Adebayo Adelabu, who felt dissatisfied with the outcome of the poll, approached the tribunal, seeking the nullification of the election. But, in a unanimous judgement by Justice Sirajo Muhammed, the threemember tribunal said the petitioner failed to prove allegations of corrupt practices, over-voting, improper accreditation, inaccurate ballot counting and non-compliance with the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended).
Niger: Nasko’s bid to stop Bello flops Niger State was also not left out in the affirmation trend as the state’s Governorship Election Petition Tribunal upheld Governor Sani Bello’s election. Bello was the standard bearer of the APC in the election, but his PDP counterpart Umar Nasko, alleged forgery and falsification of documents against the governor.
However, Nasko’s petition hit the rocks as the tribunal ruled the he failed produce necessary authority to authenticate the documents being alleged to be false. On the allegation that the election was marred with intimidation, violence, vote-buying among other acts of irregularities, the tribunal held that the petition was bereft of pieces of evidence hence Nasko’s failure to prove his case. Chairman of the tribunal, Justice John Igboji said: “We have come to the inevitable conclusion that the petitioner failed to establish his case as there is no shred of cogent evidence in proof of the allegation as required by relevant laws.
“In the circumstance we accordingly hold that the petitioner is not entitled to any relief sought, his petition being bereft of any merit and the petition is hereby dismissed for lack of merit.” Ebonyi: Easy victory for Umahi over Agha The story was the same in Ebonyi State, where the Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Abakaliki, the capital, upheld the election of Governor David Umahi of the PDP. Umahi’s victory at the poll was challenged by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), Chief Ajah Agha, on the ground of unlawful exclusion of his name from the ballot paper.
Delivering judgement on the matter, Justice A.B Abdukarim, who headed the three-man tribunal, dismissed the petition for lacking in merit. “PDM did not submit the name of its candidate to INEC when it was supposed to do so. Your party sent the name three days after closure of submission according to finding. “Also your party did not organise primaries as to produce a candidate according to INECs guideline, therefore, your petition lacks merit,” he stated.
Adamawa: Another triumph for Fintiri over Bindow It was also victory for Governor Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal. Fintiri of the PDP had unseated Jibrila Bindow of the APC, but the latter filed a petition at the tribunal, seeking nullification of the governorship election. But, Justice Adediran Adebara, who read the judgement of the tribunal, dismissed the petition on two grounds, thereby affirming the victory of Governor Fintiri. The judge held that the petitioner failed to provide substantial evidence to prove allegations of overvoting and non-compliance to the electoral law in the conduct of the election.
Utazi: Mushroom political parties should be given the boot
Senator Chukwuka Utazi, who is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and represents Enugu North Senatorial District, is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases. In this interview with CHUKWU DAVID he speaks on some national issues, especially the health sector and how it can be turned around
As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Primary Healthcare and Communicable Diseases, what is your impression about the state of the nation’s primary healthcare system?
The state of the primary healthcare in Nigeria is the state of all the challenges facing this country. It is not different from any of the challenges facing us. Most things are not working. Most communities, far flung communities that are in the rural areas do not have the deserved attention that they should have in terms of provision of health facilities to them. You see, the universal health coverage is still a mirage, a far cry from the intended goal of making sure that wherever you are located, you have access to medicare. And the way we manage our system as represented in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) has its own problems. The local government areas are supposed to be within the domains of the state and the local governments but the Federal Government is also handling this job there. I have my issue if we want to talk about constitutional amendment. It’s an area that is attracting my attention. The issue of primary healthcare is the same issue you have with the universal basic education, where the primary schools are in the local government areas, and those local governments are within the states, and the Federal Government is also having interventions there.
This practice has its serious challenges. Anybody who is planning and staying at the Federal Government level, no matter how detailed he is, cannot get it right from Abuja to the far corners of the country. So, the states and the local government areas where they are should be in a better position to do many things; and that is why after my briefing here, there are so many uncompleted primary healthcare projects being done by the federal government. They came here and gave me all the stories, and I asked them to go back and do a compilation, giving the full details state by state so that we know about them and not just come here and be speaking about them based on estimation. I want the actual facts and figures. So, I am still waiting for the primary healthcare office to furnish the committee with facts and figures.
You appear to be saying that the Federal Government is meddling in the management of the primary healthcare. Is the sector not in the concurrent list in the Constitution?
It is a concurrent legislation; the Federal Government has access, the state government has access. But the issue is that between these interventions coming from the state and the Federal Government and the local government area, there is a big problem. Our people say that a jointly owned goat most of the time goes hungry. So, when the Federal Government is involved; the state is involved and the local government is involved; the tendency is that negligence will be there. So if we want to look at the constitutional amendment, we have to situate it within the area where it is, and such monies should be given to them directly. But that is that at that level. Now, for us here, part of the duty is that we are making effort with the Executive Director and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, who is working very hard and hand in glove with his team. He is very conscious, very hardworking and dedicated to his duty.
We just returned from a meeting we had in the Royal College of Physicians at St. Andrews, London, where we faced the World Health Organizations Independent Monitoring Board, composed of donor agencies that are concerned with the eradication of polio in the continent of Africa and especially as it concerns Nigeria. We discussed these issues under the primary healthcare and what are the interventions we are expecting from these donor agencies that have been helping us one way or the other. We gave them our report that for the past two years, we don’t have record of outbreak of polio in the country, and they are very happy about that. But that is just one of their problems. We still want the donor agencies to help and come to our aid in other areas we are having health challenges. It is a serious issue that people in the rural areas are not having the attention they should have. This is why you see people in the villages dying as a result of diseases that will cost them N5,000, N1,000.
You build health centres in the villages and no doctor wants to go there because there is no electricity. He can’t send his children to attend primary school in such areas. There is lack of infrastructure in all parts of the country. How many times do you have electricity in the cities in a day talk less of people who are rural areas, who resort to lanterns as a source of light? No qualified nurse wants to live there. You just manage with small health personnel such as auxiliary nurses or health officers that attended school of health technology in the states. But those who have B.Sc in Nursing will not be found there because nobody wants to live in the village. This is a very big challenge. In the northern states that we have challenge in the IDPs, the story is worse because if you go there and see the way the people are clustered in the area under the elements, rainfall and the scorching heat of the sun, and having continual makeshift accommodation, you will pity them. They don’t have clean source of water; there is open deification, and rainfall washes this to the streams where they fetch their drinking water. This is why there is outbreak of diseases here and there. This is the problem that is facing the primary healthcare in the country. But the most important thing is that the government is also working hard to address the issues. The one per cent basic healthcare provision fund which is as a result of understanding between the Executive and the Legislature, following the Health Act of 2014, has come to rescue because over the years nobody has done that.
But now we have agreed that one per cent of Consolidated Revenue of the Federation is allocated to health in our annual budget. We did it last time; we are expecting that it should continue. One per cent is still a far cry but it is better than nothing. We have issues with donor agencies, that the one per cent is in the Service Wide Vote. It should rather be statutory so that during the budget making, it should be part of the budget of the health. Donor agencies prefer it to be in the budget so that it becomes statutory, and not at the whims and caprices of anybody who is there. But the most important thing is the political will because if you make it statutory and there is no political will to release it, it still amounts to nothing. But we have seen that the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that the primary healthcare receives the attention it deserves.
Are you of the view that the Primary Healthcare should be left for the state and the local government?
For me, if you want things to be done effectively, I am of the opinion that constitutional amendment is very important in that respect because when you stay very far away and do things for people in the rural area, most of the time you don’t get the whole attention it deserves.
Do you intend to come up with a bill to amend the Constitution in this regard?
Yes, it is a team work. In the National Assembly here, we have five committee chairmen on health. In the House of Representatives we have three of them; in the Senate, we have Health and the Primary healthcare committees. So, by the time we sit and look at this issue and discuss with people who are concerned, we will come to agreement one way or another on the way they want it. But for me, I believe that constitutional amendment is the way to go because most of the Federal Government interventions in states, most of the time is not the same as the people who are concerned doing it. The reason is that the person who is coming to the rural area from far distance to do the work will not have a sense of ownership, and will therefore do things anyhow and go away. But if the person is from the state or a local government area, it will be easy to grab the person and ensure that he works for the people. Constitutional amendment will ensure that more responsibilities are concentrated in the rural area. The intervention the Federal Government will be doing will still be there but more will be with the states and local government areas so that things can work well for us.
What is your take on Medical tourism? Is it something that can be tackled through legislation, to prohibit people from seeking medical solution abroad?
Well, the medical tourism will be there for a long time to come because anybody who has his money, you cannot tell him how to spend his money. Most of them who are going on health tourism, you don’t even know where they are going. If the person is going on vacation and from vacation he goes to hospital, how do you get to know that? The critical ones you know are the ones that are going on referral, and what is their percentage to those going out on their own under various reasons? So, you can’t effectively stop medical tourism by law. But the rate of medical tourism is not a good commentary for the country. Ironically, most of the physicians you are going to meet over there are Nigerian doctors. So, the question should be, why are these Nigerian doctors trained in Nigeria moving to other countries and providing effective medical services? The issue is that they complain that they are not taken good care of here in Nigeria. You don’t have equipment. Most of the hospitals are mere consulting clinics. Then the next thing is to pay them well. If you must get a doctor to be busy working round the clock, you must pay him sufficiently to solve his problems. He must have enough to take care of himself and his children and other dependants.
They prefer to go abroad because they pay better, and then people suffer here. And this brain drain is a continuous thing in this country. People are moving every day, and some countries like Canada are even making things easy for them to come because they have already devised their own means of selecting the type of people they want to give them visas to come and live in the place. It is no longer the open lottery where you go and come; it is a selective lottery now. They want specialists in different fields of endeavour. They go there and serve their country and get well paid. So, it’s a serious issue that Nigeria has to confront.
The lack of equipment in Nigerian hospitals, would you attribute it to lack of funds of negligence on the part of government?
Well, for me, I don’t think that it is lack of funds or negligence. I feel that it’s all about commitment. The leadership has to show commitment because what is good for goose is good for the gander. The leadership of the country, of the states must know that these people who are in the rural areas are also children of the same God, and they worship and adore. And if you don’t take care of these people, one day, you will give account of your stewardship, maybe not here, it may be hereafter. You see, that is life expectancy overseas is better than here because they take adequate care of themselves to make sure that everybody has a medical history and wherever you go, your medical history goes with you. It’s a question of pressing the Internet and everything about your health is produced.
That is why before somebody administers drugs on you he will be sure of what he is doing; almost 95 per cent sure of what he is doing. In Nigeria here, who has any medical records? We don’t have medical history here. You move anywhere, you open new register. This is no longer tenable in many parts of the world; most parts of the world are developed. Here in Nigeria, you tell somebody about how you are feeling and the person starts administering drugs on you and before you know it the person is dead. Somebody drives himself to a hospital and in the next few hours they start calling that the person is dead. Why? Because they administered drugs that didn’t work well with the system. So, we really need these health problems challenging this country the attention it deserves. It begins with getting the requisite medical equipment in our hospitals; even if cannot get all of them, let’s get most of them, especially the diagnostic equipment. Even if it can’t be in all the states, let’s put them in geopolitical zones and make them centres of excellence so that if you have a major health challenge, you can go for referral. Let’s make the teaching hospitals we have in the geopolitical zone to have all the equipment you can get anywhere in the world, not just the ones we have in National Hospital in the FCT. If you go to South-East, you can choose UNTH, in South West, pick Ibadan or Lagos, choose in Kaduna or Kano. Equip them well and let people have access to these hospitals. Health is very costly but we shouldn’t run away from it because your health is your wealth.
Can we say that Nigerian politicians and political parties operate without political ideologies?
You see, everything is in a state of flux. Everything in Nigerian and the Third World countries is a state of becoming. And that’s a sorry situation. Since independence, you can check all the political parties we have had, from the NCNC, Action Group and others. Today, we have moved to PDP and APC, which is an amalgam of people from different backgrounds and others, and then other parties that go for elections in order to collect money from INEC. Their interest is the money that INEC will give them to mobilise them to do their campaign, not for winning elections. I call them portfolio political parties. You know Babangida brought the two-party system after the thirteen political associations he abolished but people criticised it, saying that he was infringing on freedom of association and all that. Yes, now that we have the freedom, where has the freedom landed us? If we had stuck with the two-party system of the SDP and NRC, by now we would have gone far.
Are you now canvassing for two-party system; is it better than multi-party system?
Of course, is it not what we are practicing today, how many parties are we doing in Nigeria here? We have all these small mushroom things but it is still the PDP and the APC that are in the main with the other small parties that don’t have influence in areas, just controlling one state or the other. So, it still boils down to the fact that it is a two-party thing.
So, we are also looking at the amendment of the INEC Act. That’s why we are in a haste to return the budget circle from the present practice to January to December. Once we finish with the budget, we will have the opportunity to get into other issues. Then the next thing is how do you look at the INEC Act, with a view to bringing fresh ideas into it. I am of the opinion that two-party system should be encouraged with opportunity for independent candidate. If you say that you are too important, that you don’t want to fit into the two parties, and that you can do it yourself, go and do it and let us see. We can say that, after registering the parties, the first election we do, a representation in the parliament will determine whether a party will still remain registered. If a party does not have representation at councillorship, state house of assembly, chairmanship election in the local government areas, and all that, we will weed it away; and it is the law that will be doing the weeding. You don’t just go to the INEC and collect money for mobilisation of people. Everybody is look to INEC to give them the money even without winning any single election. We see them in Abuja here.
The political parties are in the booths of the vehicle of the owners or in the hotel rooms of the owners. Any hotel they lodge today, that becomes the secretariat of the party for that one week or two. So, Nigeria has to move from one direction to another. Let all of us agree to have two parties. When we have two, we will then be thinking of ideologies. You can now say that this party is known for this; that the ideology that guides our operations in education is this; in agriculture is this, in commerce is this and so on. Then the other party will say that their own ideology in these areas is this. So, by the time you look at this, you know where you belong. It will help the political culture of the country than what we have now.
Do you support parliamentary system for any reason or merging some parastatals to reduce cost of governance?
You see, the truth is that merging parastatals is purely executive function. If the Presidency says it is going to have 36 ministries, so be it. You don’t force executive to do it because the party has won election and it decides the way it goes about governance. If they say they want to have 600 ministries, so be it. In the Senate, we have 69 committees to oversee the other arms of government. In the House of Representatives they have more to oversee the executive and others. You don’t go and force some of these things on people. The executive will decide. You don’t put everything into legislation. If you go to some states, they have reduced their commissioners; not more than 12 as the case may be. It depends on the way they want it.
On the issue of going to parliamentary or presidential system, it is neither here nor there. Any one you choose has its own costs. There is none of them you will do and it is for free. There is nothing you want to do in government that is cheap. It depends on the people who are doing that. If you go to parliamentary system and the mindset of people who are in government is not geared towards being frugal with the resources of the state, you still have your problem there. The same thing is applicable to presidential system. You are not going to get people from the moon to run the parliamentary or presidential; it’s the same Nigerians. So, what we should be preaching is how to make sure that the right kind of people are out in place. This is fundamental to everything that is being done.
From the Greek mythology and their politics where we started the city states and all the issues about citizenship and all that, they laid the foundation, and we learn from there. They were always talking about getting the people. When you go to the Plato Republic, that’s where they were advancing this issue of philosopher King; people who are hybrid, well educated and well informed that can take over their job and do it better than the others.
They categorized people according to their intelligence, capacities and capabilities. For us here also, it our duty to determine who and who should be in what positions of authority to drive the system effectively. If we don’t get it right in getting the right kind of people, we will always fail. That is why trump can afford to be vulgar to say that we Africans are shit hole nations. This is because the right people are not there in government. People who shouldn’t have anything to do in government are in government. So, the issue is not whether it is parliamentary or presidential, the issue is to get the right people to be in government. Once we are able to do this, we will get it right, and the system will work for everybody. That’s why things are working in civilised democracies because everybody is a check on the other. It doesn’t mean that criminals are not there but the system has provided a check. So, we have to prepare to make sacrifices if we must get it right.
APC chieftains battling for Akeredolu’s job
Though the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the ruling party in Ondo State with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in the saddle, ADEWALE MOMOH, writes that the number of aspirants for the party’s guber ticket makes the contest very intriguing ahead of the 2020 poll
s politicians in Ondo State wait anxiously for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to reel out the timetable for the state’s governorship election scheduled to come up next year, the political steam is already in its stead going by the intrigues currently playing out.
With the present permutations in the state, the race to the Alagbaka Government House is no doubt a two-horse race between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But some political analysts in the state are of the dissenting view as they argue that a third force might spring a surprise just as it was witnessed with Olusegun Mimiko’s Labour Party (LP) in 2009.
As the political furnace continues to radiate heat across the state, the APC’s burning ore towards next year’s election appears to be the brightest if the ‘per second’ happenings within the party are anything to go by.
According to fillers, the state’s incumbent governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who is of the APC will vie for second term, as he has set machinery in motion towards securing the party’s ticket.
Akeredolu’s move might not be achieved on a platter of gold going by the internal crisis that has continued to bedevil the party since its primary that saw to the emergence of Akeredolu as the party’s standard-bearer in 2016.
Another significant issue that might be a stumbling block to Akeredolu’s ambition is the political sagacity of some chieftains of the party who have thrown in their hats to wrestle the APC’s ticket with him.
As regards the APC crisis, some APC faithful in the state are still of the opinion that the lack of political acumen of Akeredolu is one of the reasons why the party has continued to witness unnecessary crises which they said were caused by the governor.
According to them, after emerging as the standard-bearer in 2016 with his subsequent victory at the polls, he ought to have immediately initiated a reconciliatory mechanism among the then aggrieved aspirants as well as party members who didn’t key into his aspiration.
While stressing that the move which has shown him as not been a party-man enormously polarised the party coupled with the initial strategy he employed to only appoint and relate only with the ‘Aketi Team’ into his cabinet.
They maintained that what has been his Akeredolu and the APC in the state has been the maturity of the party’s chairman, Engr. Ade Adetimehin who has been employing various diplomatic means at mending the shredded ties of the party.
Though, with the war chest at the beck and call of Akeredolu for the prosecution of the election, he is now leaving no stone unturned to ensuring that the already battered party in the state is not further fragmented, this he has been able to minimally achieved by deploying various means of getting the backings of both the Abuja cabals and the Lagos State top shots of the APC.
According to a source within the party, Akeredolu is yet to sway the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to his side despite the meeting held with the latter recently in Akure of the protracted crises of the party.
However, despite the wrangling of the APC in the state, Akeredolu seems to be likable by most residents of the state particularly among the civil servants as he has been lauded for the prompt payments of salaries as well with the clearance of their backlog of salaries owed by the erstwhile Mimiko-led administration in the state.
Also, the various infrastructural projects executed by Akeredolu across the state have also helped stabilize his initial ebbing rating ahead of the election which he has been accused by some opposition political actors in the state of engaging in political gimmick all in the bid to sway potential voters coupled with the recent N50 billion bond request he was granted by the Ondo State House of Assembly.
However, what might be the albatross around the neck of Akeredolu towards securing the party’s ticket is that most of those who are also interested in the ticket were some prominent members of the APC in the state with whom he wrestled the ticket with in 2016 with most of who have severed ties with.
Among those eyeing the ticket with Akeredolu is the federal lawmaker representing Ondo North Senatorial District, Prof. Ajayi Boroffice. Senator Boroffice who is yet to declare his intention as regards the Ondo 2020 contest is said to be weighing the option of contesting the ticket with Akeredolu whom he has been having fractured political ties with.
Boroffice, who had been elected into the Senate for a third term on the platform of the APC, is still being waited for to formally disclose his intention as regards his political lining towards the 2020 poll.
Also, there are indications that the South-West Coordinator of the 2019 Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign Organisation, Chief Olusola Oke may contest the 2020 governorship election in the state. Oke with the tag of grassroots politician who hails from Ilaje Local Government was said to have lobbied for a ministerial appointment which he allegedly lost out to Senator Tayo Alasoadura. He was said to had had sought for a slot on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which he also lost out to Gbenga Edema, the current Chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC)
According to a source within Oke’s political group, the AD candidate who also contested the APC ticket with Akeredolu in 2012 is weighing the options of contesting on a relatively new platform to achieve his political ambition.
The source said the platform would be unveiled soon after the plans might have received the blessing of some political godfathers of Oke in order to begin preparations in earnest to prevent what happened in 2016 after pulling out of the APC to AD before returning to the APC after the victory of Akeredolu.
Also, notable among those ready to slug it out with Akeredolu is the immediate past chairman of APC in the state, Isaac Kekemeke. He is from Ese-Odo Local Government who has set the ball rolling regarding his ambition to dislodge Akeredolu from power with his ‘Lekeleke’ slogan is a former Commissioner for Works in the state. He has also served as Secretary to the State Government.
Kekemeke and Akeredolu fell apart in the build-up and after the APC primary of 2016 after the alleged backing of the one the aspirants by the former.
Meanwhile, political analysts in the state have warned against writing off Kekemeke as they stressed that with his political acumen he might spring a surprise.
Another strong APC chieftain from the state who is set to wrestle power with Akeredolu is the Executive Director of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), Engineer Ife Oyedele.
The NDPHC Director before the appointment of Alasoadura was highly positioned and favoured as the right man for the ministerial job, considering his closeness to President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Oyedele, was a strong member of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) before the birth of APC after the merger of political parties but lost out in the struggle to make the ministerial list
Oyedele, who hails from Okitipupa Local Government Area, was said to have played a crucial role in the merger of the legacy parties that transformed to APC in 2013 and was said to be groomed and nurtured to take over the mantle of leadership in the state in 2020 from Akeredolu.
It was learnt that a group of Abuja politicians sought the ministerial job for him so that he would be well-placed to displace Akeredolu in the 2020 election but lost out in the race. It was not too certain if he is still interested in the race.
Also interested in Akeredolu’s job is the former Information Commissioner in the state, Mr. Banji Ayiloge. Ayiloge, who was Akeredolu’s campaign Director-General in 2012 during the ACN era, recently surged into the political calculation of the state following his criticism of Akeredolu’s style of governance and projects which he described as comical.
Ayiloge, who also has made known his interest in the party’s ticket, has expressed readiness to turn around the state if given the opportunity to rule the state.
Faulting Akeredolu on road construction, Ayiloge, a native of Ijare in Ifedore Local Government, said it might take the state a decade to recover from its state of underdevelopment if Akeredolu is allowed to win the second term and said: “This is an administration that always describes two kilometre road rehabilitated as if it is a 10 kilometres of newly constructed road.
“The road ’construction’ on the street leading to my father’s house at Ijare, actually buttresses my point that roads are resurfaced and asphalt plastered on dirty roads without foundation. I want people to come to Odo-Oja, Ijare, this time next year and you will witness that the asphalt has been washed away by rain.”
With the gladiators set to slug it out, it is believed among political analysts that if the internal wrangling of the APC is not quenched, it might spell doom for the party if it decides to approach the 2020 election with a divided house irrespective of who wins the party’s ticket.
PDP is ready to regain Ondo State, says Ebiseni
Chief Sola Ebiseni, a former local government chairman and one time Commissioner in Ondo State is one of the governorship aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) in the 2020 election. He addresses the chances of the party in the state as well as the current security problem in the country. BIYI ADEGOROYE
How prepared is your party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the governorship election in Ondo State come 2020?
The party is most prepared to reclaim the state. The results of the last elections are pointers to the fact that the PDP is still the preferred party in the state. History seems to be repeating itself. The factors that made the PDP lose the state to the APC now stare the APC in the face. We lost the state in the first place because we took the people for granted. The political structure of our is so balanced, interdependent that the trend is readily determinable at any given time. We won the presidential election with the widest margin comparatively in the South-West, we got two of the three Senate seats and three of the nine Federal Constituencies. The APC had four while the ADC and SDP won one each.
Is this sufficient for your party’s confidence?
It follows a pattern and bespeaks our political culture here. For instance, if you look closely, those who won on the ticket of the APC did so mostly on their own and not on the strength of the party. I was the Chief Collation Agent and Returning Officer of the PDP in the elections. The figures showed that even in Owo/Ose Federal Constituency, the home base of the incumbent Governor, the APC lost Ose and won narrowly in Owo and with unmitigated violence. The Odigbo/Ileoluji/Oke-Igbo Federal constituency was credited to the APC with only a margin of 167 votes after much violence-induced manipulations which took place even up to the Collation Centre.
As a lawyer, you would agree that your party wasn’t able to prove such allegations at the Election Tribunals…
That’s a completely different terrain which, as a lawyer, like you said, I am not prepared to venture into here but suffice it to say that the legal technicalities and burdens on the way of a claimant are such that electoral cheats would often have their ways. For instance, but for the respite at the Court of Appeal, did you not hear that the Tribunal in Ondo State declared a Nigerian citizen by birth, ineligible to contest an election simply because he was said to have acquired the citizenship of another country? The point is that it is better to sanitize the electoral system than seek to take such political issues to the courts. It is not their turf.
The Chairman of your party in the state recently announced that about 17 aspirants have shown interest in the ticket of the party. Will this not cause another crisis in the party, considering the peace in the PDP now?
The large number of aspirants is in tandem with the state’s emerging political culture. The APC had more than that number the last time, with about eight from Owo Local Government alone which produced the candidate that eventually became governor. As rightly observed by you, the party is peaceful and cohesive notwithstanding that we just had major elections. The secret, in my view, is that the State Executive was open and largely fair to all aspirants. For instance, I sought but lost the Senatorial ticket not because I observed any hanky panky or favour from the executive but mainly on the ground that the leaders said the zoning arrangement did not favour my local government.
After the primary, I still accepted to be the Chief Servant of the party when I was appointed the Chief Collation Agent and Supervisor of all our agents across the state who performed wonderfully and selflessly sleeping at the CBN and INEC offices across the State keeping vigil on the electoral materials. The State Deputy Chairman lost in the same primary conducted by his own executive. Tokunbo Modupe, one of the closest friends of the State Chairman, lost the northern senatorial ticket and yet joined other leaders to deliver Ose Local Government, the backyard of the Governor, to the PDP. I can go on and on. Experience has shown that success by a political party in an election is directly proportional to the justice of its internal democracy.
You’re one of the aspirants for the ticket of the party, what do you think gives you an edge over other contenders for the ticket.
It would be quite immodest of me to embark on self assessment in comparison with my other colleagues. My credentials are in the public domain in the state, having been involved in its politics for about three decades. As a young man, just three years after my Youth Service, I was elected in 1990 as Chairman of the old Ilaje/Ese Odo Local Government comprising the Ilaje and Ijaw with different languages and cultures and my tenure is still the parameter of assessment of performance in the areas which have now been split into two local governments.
I have served the state in several other capacities which include the Chairman of the State Law Commission which successfully reviewed and updated obsolete laws some of which were inherited from the Western region. I have served three times as a commissioner. I have served both as leader and member of the Ondo State delegations to several national and international conferences particularly on the development of vast mineral resources in the state and on resolution of our interstate boundary disputes. I was also a delegate of the South-West at the 2014 National Conference. I have twice presented myself for the governorship of the state. I know the state, her people, history, culture and geography. In all my years of service, I have never been found wanting.
What will you say are your achievements in those positions?
Well, as chairman of local government, I was directly in charge and could say that our achievements are in the areas of infrastructural development in education, health, water transportation, galvanised youths in politics and successfully campaigned for the recognition of our State as oil producing. In other positions, I was part of the success stories of the Adebayo Adefarati and Olusegun Mimiko administrations whose achievements are indelible and too numerous to articulate here.
Talking about Governor Mimiko, you resigned from his government. What’s your relationship with him now?
Well, I resigned when I had made known my intention to run for governorship, even well ahead of the time stipulated by law, because it is the most decent and civilised thing to do. As a democrat, when it may be construed that you may be using your public platform, either in government or as an officer of the party, for undue advantage in your personal political aspirations, you should resign especially because you can’t decently want to be seen as a Referee in a game in which you are a player. As for relationship, the former governor remains my boss and our relationship is very warm. In my political career so far, I served longest under his administration through which I earned most of the positions I just enumerated and more.
Specifically, do you support that the governorship should be zoned to the South?
We are still saying the same thing. The South does not need to specially request for zoning like a weeping region and heat the polity unnecessarily. No party ever has the courage to officially zone any position. Zoning is in the heart of the electorate which unmistakably rewards or punish political parties accordingly. It has nothing to do with whether I support it or not because I have seen it happen. I first nursed gubernatorial ambition in 2006, the party, DPA, said I couldn’t succeed Governor Agagu who was from the South like me and made me running mate to Architect Agbesua from Akure in the Central where the people felt should then produce the governor. Eventually the view of the people prevailed and Dr. Mimiko from Ondo also in the Central won even with a toddler Labour Party then. In 2016, our party, PDP took its decision and notwithstanding our incumbency, an unknown new contraption called APC, but which acted in tandem with the people had its way. In democracy, the people can do no wrong.
But how sincere are politicians about zoning?
I didn’t mention politician, I said the people. Of course, politicians will say what will give them an edge. The fact that zoning sentiments may favour you does not relieve you from satisfying the electorate about your credentials. I have twice presented myself for the governorship of the state. I know the state, her people, history, culture and geography. I seek to serve the people. I am not a reluctant candidate.
How would you assess the present APC administration in the state?
Again, I return to the people who are the best assessors. The assessment report handed to the APC in this state in the last elections, showed the party’s bad performance and it is not improving. We have been permanently relegated to the junior status in the federal cabinet. Our position as the Managing Director of NDDC has been illegally given to another state. The government appears helpless and clueless about insecurity in our state particularly the wanton killing of the daughter of the leader of the Yoruba, Pa Fasoranti.
Talking about insecurity, what’s your solution to this problem?
The essence of the nation state and its social contract with its people is security of life and property. There may not be an exhaustive suggestion to the issue but there seems to be now a national consensus that we cannot claim to be a federation and adopt a unitary security structure. There’s no super cop without intelligence or requisite knowledge of the people and territory. This is the sense in the call by well meaning Nigerians across ethnic and political divides for state police. The need is further buttressed by the fact that even the Nigerian armed forces are helpless without the Civilian JTF of Kanuri boys and local hunters in the war against Boko Haram.
Gov Emmanuel runs a youth-friendly government, says Ikim
Prince Akpan Ikim is a vibrant youth leader and Board Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Waste Management and Environmental Protection Agency. He speaks on the challenging activities of his Agency in this interview with TONY ANICHEBE
Since your assumption of duties, you must have recorded some milestones. However, not without challenges, can we know how you are confronting them?
I want to start by expressing deep gratitude to Governor Udom Emmanuel for giving us the opportunity to serve. We are a 10-member committee serving on the board of the agency which was created by law. When we were inaugurated on September 5, 2018, nothing was on ground, the budget was at zero level but we have received tremendous support from the governor and raised the agency from ground zero to where we are today. We never had tools to work with but by the grace of God and magnanimity of the governor, today we have the dumpsters, convertors and swing arm trucks.
I made it clear to people that when you are appointed to government, show capacity to handle such office and you will receive support. Even the Bible says ‘seek you first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and every other thing will be added unto you.’ Building trust involves, building one with the public and secondly with government, your employer. Today we have some good equipment to work with but our major challenge is indiscriminate dumping of refuse, lack of adherence to the environmental standards etc. Sincerely speaking, the job of keeping Akwa Ibom clean is not just that of the board but every member of the public. Environmental hazard does not recognise the rich or the poor and does not know party men. If we all collaborate in this regard, Akwa Ibom State will be cleaner safer and more habitable for all of us.
We have seen some level of sanity in the city especially around Plaza down to Ikot Ekpene Road by Eka Street with the disappearance of street trading. How did you remove this ugly menace?
The menace did not just disappear but took us a whole lot of effort. We went on air to give them 21 days ultimatum; gave them 14 days and later seven days ultimatum to vacate the place. This is because this government has a humane heart because by law street trading is an offence but since that is their source of livelihood, the first thing we did was to look for an alternative for them that is why we had engagement with the management of the Plaza to engage all those doing illegal trading around Plaza by Ikot Ekpene Road, Aka and Abak Roads to have a shed within the Plaza and today there is a Plaza market within the Plaza. The traders operating around Eka Street, Udi Street and around the surroundings of Ikot Ekpene Road by University of Uyo, we urged them to move into UNIUYO market.
However, we found out that people often resist change especially against things they have done over a long period of time. Unfortunately the ugly side of illegal street trading is the massive wastes it generates which are often dumped inside the drainages. And when you hear that Akwa Ibom is always flooded, it’s basically because of human activities. Most waste generated by illegal street trading ends up in the drainages believing that it will be washed away by rain water but the refuse ends up blocking drainages and the resultant effects is massive flooding in the city.
We also brought our enforcement team to clear the illegal traders off the streets and sometimes we use minimal force to move them off the streets to give the city better aesthetics. The Ibom Plaza from inception was conceived to be like a tourist site for relaxation and side seeing but today it is something else and we are not relenting on the enforcement of the order on illegal street trading.
Who are the ones doing the enforcements for the Agency, a task force team or the uniform vigilantes seen around the city?
Yes we have two sets of enforcement teams one is the vigilante and the other one is the main enforcement team. The vigilantes just returned from training in Police College on basic intelligence gathering and counter terrorism. They are back now and more proactive to serve the state.
Looking at waste management, before now we are talking about converting waste to wealth. How far have you gone in achieving this goal of turning waste into money spinning ventures?
We have several companies that have shown interest in this waste to wealth projects and the first one is P & A Solutions. The P & A Solutions will turn waste into wealth, we have another company called OBASA, who hope to turn waste into energy and the last company is ABEDA, they are here to turn waste into fertilizers. The P & A Solution have resolved to come in by first week of October and when they launch out we will have more job opportunities for our youths. There will also be influx of other small companies and by the time it is fully operation, it will help turn around the economy of the state.
Considering the volume of waste generated daily in Akwa Ibom can you project what the state stands to gain embarking in these projects?
Good, with P & A Solutions, Akwa Ibom State will stand to gain not less than $65 million that is the projection because it will create multiple jobs with its multiplier effects on the state economy.
Will the amount be yearly or over a period of time?
No it will be over a period of time because this is a Public Private Partnership arrangement which be beneficial to all.
Your efforts at stopping indiscriminate dumping of refuse is yielding positive results in some vital areas around the capital city but the dumpsters and receptacles appear inadequate, are we still expecting more to be distributed?
Yes, we still have some under production but I want to say that the issue of waste management should not be left to the government alone. Other companies, banks and major firms should also assist the government in terms of procurement of machines dumpsters and receptacles. Anything that affects the government or the state also affects them. Government procured dumpsters and receptacles we are using today but they are not enough yet.
Therefore, individuals, 10Cs and other companies must intervene in this regard. We are planning a massive waste management dialogue in which we hope to discuss extensively with these firms and others on how they can partner with the government in procuring those things.
Kogi guber: ‘Only GYB can defeat GYB’ on Nov 16 – APC Campaign Council
The Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said the array of personalities in the campaign council and the swell of support across Kogi State can only mean it is only Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB) that defeats himself in the November 16 governorship election.
In a statement by the Chairman of Media and Publicity of the Campaigns, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, the Campaign Council said GYB will shatter all records in the election.
“From East to the Central and West, the groundswell of support across the state has demoralized the opposition PDP ahead of the election. The state has never been this united behind a governorship candidate.
“The Senator Smart Adeyemi-led Campaign Council is made up of the movers and shakers of the politics of Kogi. With the arrival of Hon. James Abiodun Faleke and aspirants who contested with the governor has shown that APC will win the coming governorship election massively.
“It is a bad time for the PDP and we sincerely sympathize with the main opposition party. They have lost their leaders to the APC; they have lost thousands of their members to the APC and also recently lost their only Senator from the state. He will soon be replaced with a competent Senator in person of Senator Smart Adeyemi.
“No matter their grandstanding, we know they are in a big crisis. They are imploding and exploding. We won’t allow them to dictate the direction of our campaign as we are poised to campaign with the giant strides of the GYB administration.
“Our candidate has united the state, provided more educational facilities, revamped our health institutions and built the second largest Rice Mill in the state and many infrastructural facilities like roads and many others.
“We urge our supporters to make peace the fulcrum of our campaign as the governor abhors violence. We also urge our opponents to sign up to our Peaceful Election Initiative”.
Fanwo said the governor has made his campaign easy with his landmark achievements; insisting that the giant strides of the governor are enough to win him re-election.
He thanked the people of the state for standing resolutely with their leader and governor; assuring them that the governor will not disappoint them.
“The reality in Kogi State is on the faces of the enthusiastic women, youth and men who are determined to re-elect the governor. We thank the Guild of Investigative Journalists for the unbiased report that has given impressive commendation to the state government. We are not perfect but posterity will be kind to our governor for his legacies as the best governor ever in the history of Kogi State,” he said.
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