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2020 Budget’ll sustain growth, create jobs – Buhari

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2020 Budget’ll sustain growth, create jobs – Buhari

CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY

Our fiscal reforms shall introduce new performance management frameworks to regulate the cost to revenue ratios for Government Owned Enterprises, which shall come under significant scrutiny. We will reward exceptional revenue and cost management performance, while severe consequences will attend failures to achieve agreed revenue targets.

We shall also sustain our efforts in managing personnel costs. Accordingly, I have directed the stoppage of the salary of any Federal Government staff that is not captured on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) platform by the end of October 2019. All agencies must obtain the necessary approvals before embarking on any fresh recruitment and any contraventions of these directives shall attract severe sanctions.

Overhead costs are projected at N426.6 billion in 2020. Additional provisions were made only for the newly created ministries. I am confident that the benefits of these new ministries as it relates to efficient and effective service delivery to our citizens significantly outweighs their budgeted costs.

That said, the respective Heads of MDAs must ensure strict adherence to government regulations regarding expenditure control measures. The proliferation of Zonal, State and Liaison Offices by Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (‘MDAs’), with attendant avoidable increase in public expenditure, will no longer be tolerated.

Capital expenditure

As I mentioned earlier, investing in critical infrastructure is a key component of our fiscal strategy under the 2020 Budget Proposals. Accordingly, an aggregate sum of N2.46 trillion (inclusive of N318.06 billion in statutory transfers) is proposed for capital projects in 2020.

Although the 2020 capital budget is N721.33 billion (or 23 percent) lower than the 2019 budget provision of N3.18 trillion, it is still higher than the actual and projected capital expenditure outturns for both the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, respectively. However, at 24 percent of aggregate projected expenditure, the 2020 provision falls significantly short of the 30 percent target in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.

The main emphasis will be the completion of as many ongoing projects as possible, rather than commencing new ones. MDAs have not been allowed to admit new projects into their capital budget for 2020, unless adequate provision has been made for the completion of all ongoing projects.

Accordingly, we have rolled over capital projects that are not likely to be fully funded by the end of 2019 into the 2020 Budget. We are aware that the National Assembly shares our view that these projects should be prioritised and given adequate funding in the 2020 Appropriation Act.

Therefore, I will once again commend the 9th National Assembly’s firm commitment to stop the unnecessary cycle of delayed annual budgets. I am confident that with our renewed partnership, the deliberations on the 2020 Budget shall be completed before the end of 2019 so that the Appropriation Act will come into effect by the 1st of January.

Some of the key capital spending allocations in the 2020 Budget include Works and Housing: N262 billion; Power: N127 billion; Transportation: N123 billion; Universal Basic Education Commission: N112 billion; Defence: N100 billion; Zonal Intervention Projects: N100 billion; Agriculture and Rural Development: N83 billion; Water Resources: N82 billion; Niger Delta Development Commission: N81 billion; Education: N48 billion; Health: N46 billion; Industry, Trade and Investment: N40 billion; North East Development Commission: N38 billion; Interior: N35 billion; Social Investment Programmes: N30 billion; Federal Capital Territory: N28 billion; and Niger Delta Affairs Ministry: N24 billion.

Although Government’s actual spending has reduced, our plans to leverage private sector funding through our tax credit schemes will ensure our capital programmes are sustained.

For example, we launched the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, pursuant to which I have approved the construction and rehabilitation of 19 Nigerian roads and bridges of 794.4km across 11 States. Indeed, the Scheme has attracted private investment of over N205 billion and the first set of tax credits are being processed by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

As I mentioned during my Independence Day Speech, under the Presidential Power Initiative, we will modernise the National Grid in three phases; starting from five Gigawatts to seven Gigawatts, then to 11 Gigawatts by 2023, and finally 25 Gigawatts afterwards in collaboration with the German Government and Siemens.

Budget deficit

Budget deficit is projected to be N2.18 trillion in 2020. This includes drawdowns on project-tied loans and the related capital expenditure.

This represents 1.52 percent of estimated GDP, well below the three per cent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007, and in line with the ERGP target of 1.96 per cent.

The deficit will be financed by new foreign and domestic borrowings, Privatization Proceeds, signature bonuses and drawdowns on the loans secured for specific development projects.

Debt service

Nigeria remains committed to meeting its debt service obligations. Accordingly, we provided the sum of N2.45 trillion for debt service. Of this amount, 71 percent is to service domestic debt which accounts for about 68 percent of the total debt. The sum of N296 billion is provided for the Sinking Fund to retire maturing bonds issued to local contractors.

I am confident that our aggressive and re-energised revenue drive will maintain debt-revenue ratio at acceptable and manageable levels. We will also continue to be innovative in our borrowings by using instruments such as Sukuk, Green Bonds and Diaspora Bonds.

Social Investment Programme

Our government remains committed to ensuring the equitable sharing of economic prosperity. Our focus on inclusive growth and shared prosperity underscores our keen interest in catering for the poor and most vulnerable. Accordingly, we are revamping and improving the implementation of the National Social Investment Programme through the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The National Social Investment Programme is already creating jobs and economic opportunity for local farmers and cooks, providing funding to artisans, traders, youths, and supporting small businesses with business education and mentoring.

The provision of N65 billion for the Presidential Amnesty Programme has been retained in the 2020 Budget. Furthermore, to fast track the rebuilding efforts in the North East region, a provision of N37.83 billion has been made for the North East Development Commission.

Other strategic priorities in 2020

The 2020 Budget is expected to accelerate the pace of our economic recovery, promote economic diversification, enhance competitiveness and ensure social inclusion. We are optimistic of attaining higher and more inclusive GDP growth in order to achieve our objective of massive job creation and lifting many of our citizens out of poverty.

The efficiency of port operations will also be enhanced by implementing a single customs window, speeding up vessel and cargo handling and issuing more licenses to build modern terminals in existing ports, especially outside Lagos.

Furthermore, completing the reforms to the governance and fiscal terms of the Petroleum Industry will provide certainty and attract further investments into the sector. A consequence of this will be increase in jobs and in government’s take. I therefore seek your support in passing into law two Petroleum Industry Executive Bills I will be forwarding to you shortly.

In addition, we need to quickly review the fiscal terms for deep offshore oil fields to reflect the current realities and for more revenue to accrue to the government. The Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Bill 2018, was submitted to the 8th National Assembly in June 2018 but was unfortunately not passed into law.

I will be re-forwarding the Bill to this Assembly very shortly and therefore urge you to pass it. We estimate that this effort can generate at least 500 million US dollars additional revenue for the Federal Government in 2020, and over one billion dollars from 2021.

Whilst the Budget is our principal fiscal tool to achieve these socio-economic development targets, we remain committed to prudently planning for our future economic prosperity. In this regard, I have directed the reconstituted Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to commence preparations towards the development of successor medium – and long-term economic development plans, particularly as the Nigeria Vision 20-2020 and the ERGP expire next year.

Conclusion

Mr. Senate President, Mr. Speaker, Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, this speech would be incomplete without, once again, commending the patriotic resolve of the 9th National Assembly to collaborate with the Executive in the effort to deliver inclusive growth and enhance the welfare our people. I assure you of the strong commitment of the Executive to deepen the relationship with the National Assembly.

As you review the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), as well as the 2020 Budget estimates, we believe that the legislative process will be quick, so as to restore the country to the January-December financial year.

It is with great pleasure therefore, that I lay before this Distinguished Joint Session of the National Assembly, the 2020 Budget Proposals of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

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Politics

Election petitions: Govs scale tribunals’ hurdle

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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)

 

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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.

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Utazi: Mushroom political parties should be given the boot

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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.

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APC chieftains battling for Akeredolu’s job

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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

 

 

A

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.

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PDP is ready to regain Ondo State, says Ebiseni

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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.

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Gov Emmanuel runs a youth-friendly government, says Ikim

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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.

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Kogi guber: ‘Only GYB can defeat GYB’ on Nov 16 – APC Campaign Council

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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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Civil war: No victor, no vanquished policy, a ruse –Mbazulike Amaechi

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Civil war: No victor, no vanquished policy, a ruse –Mbazulike Amaechi

‘Govt banned History to block the truth about Nigeria’

Chief Mbazulike Amaechi was a Minister of Aviation in the First Republic. He spoke with        OKEY MADUFORO on the state of the nation and the civil war, among other issues: Excerpts.

 

Do you subscribe to the call for the South East to produce the next president of Nigeria?

 

 

It is long over due at this point, but some people are looking at the idea of the presidency not going to the South East and I ask; are Igbos not Nigerians any more? The South-South had its own turn and the South West and the North had been in power, so what is wrong in the South East being in power? We, the Igbos have contributed greatly to the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria. We are the most detribalised group in the whole nation. We believe in equity, fairness and equality more than other Nigerians.

 

 

But I must submit that the Igbos should be more focused and pursue this to its logical conclusion. Some people say it is too early but other geopolitical zones have stared meeting and strategising. We are only paying hip service to the project and that is not what we need. Our people should begin to indicate interest in whichever political party they belong and they should show that seriousness and contest vigorously for the presidential ticket of those political parties. It is not going to be easy but we must get other parts of the country to see reasons as to why the South East should produce the next president of Nigeria.

 

 

We have just celebrated 59 years of independence. Are you happy that we keep telling the same old story?

 

 

I worry as much as an old man should. A situation that cannot be helped should be endured. I have found out that what people are pursuing now are not the things we fought for. These are not the programmes that we had in mind while fighting for independence. We have done our own bit in our own time; let them keep doing what they are doing now. 

 

A subject like History was stopped in our schools. The then government said History should not be taught in schools; this is simply because soldiers were in power for 38 years and they do not want a true history of the country to be told. So, they abolished History in schools. Yet, when a civilian came into power, an academic, it did not occur to him to force the reintroduction of History, so people have no pride.

 

 

When people like us come out to talk the young ones will say who are these foolish old men? Because they were not taught about the history of this country and they do not know anybody or anything about those that fought for the independence of Nigeria. In fact, Nigeria has forgotten people like us and I do not know how many of us are still alive, strong and healthy enough in this country.

Do you think the policy of ‘No Victor No Vanquished’ has solved any problem after the civil war?

 

 

The policy has not been implemented, how much more solving any problem. You said ‘no victor no vanquished’, yet, you took away the wealth of Ndigbo and said that all the money belonging to Ndigbo during the war were cancelled and valueless. Igbo adults were given 20 pounds each, that is N40,000 to start a life. Everybody who was an adult that is rich now started with N40, 000 after the war and you said ‘no victor no vanquished’. Egbema, which was part of Oguta in Imo State, Andoni which is part of Ogbaru division are oil-producing areas and you excised them to Rivers State because they do not want any part of Igboland to benefit from the oil production revenue.

 

 

Another one is that you said there would be no more generation of electricity in Igboland and so the Oji River Power Station which was built to use coal to generate electricity was closed down and that led to the closure of Enugu coal mines, sending about 10, 000 workers into the unemployment market. Then, AFAN power station, one of the biggest power stations in the country, which was part of Aba division, was taken away and merged with Rivers State. That is what Nigeria has done to Ndigbos but they tell you: ‘no victor no vanquished’.

 

 

In political appointments as well as promotions and developments, the Igbos were discriminated against, this continued and former President Olusegun Obasanjo inaugurated the Oputa Commission of Enquiry and the late Justice Oputa and his team went into these atrocities. Oputa made several recommendations for compensations to Ndigbo but Obasanjo refused to implement any of them. The Oputa Panel report is now gathering dust in the refuse bin of the Federal Government. Even now, the present government is still carrying on the discrimination against Ndigbo.

 

 

There was a demand for reparation to the Igbos of the South East over the Civil War atrocities. What happened to the idea?

 

 

I was the Chairman of the Reparation Committee of the Ohaneze Ndigbo and my committee had started before the issue became an agenda at the National Conference. My committee went into research to find out what injustices and atrocities had been committed against Ndigbo in Nigeria, not just only during the Civil War but also before and after the Civil War.

 

 

The serious and massive killings of Ndigbo started in 1953. Tony Enahoro moved a motion in the House of Representatives asking for the independence of Nigeria and northern members of the then House of Representatives under the leadership of the Saduana of Sokoto vehemently opposed the motion and even threatened to break the North away from the country.

 

 

The NCNC, the NEP and the Action Group aligned to demand self-government for Nigeria, so the NPC under the leadership of Saduana of Sokoto broke away and left the conference. After that Chief S. Ladoke Akintola went to Kano to deliver a lecture on the need for independence and in the course of the lecture, he probably said something the Northerners did not like and so it broke into a fight, a serious riot. They did not kill Akintola but they pounced on the Igbo and over 300 Igbos were killed. But the colonial government only admitted that 27 people were killed and 227 wounded. Yet, there was no action, no compensation for the Igbo. Then in 1966, the military unpatriotically struck and took over the government of the country in a treasonable coup d’état killing the Prime Minister.

 

 

Wasn’t that the coup the Igbo soldiers were accused of?

 

 

Officers with the rank of Major in the military took this action, they were not just Igbos, because there were Yorubas and Hausas involved; but again, the whole evil was visited on Ndigbo. There were massive killings of Ndigbo in the North and the West; particularly in Ibadan and Ikeja cantonments. Eventually, Nigeria imposed a civil war on Biafra. And the Igbo said if you did not want us in this country, allow us to go away and in the process of going away, the military government of that time declared war on Biafra and fought a war of many weapons, which included all weapons of war; diplomatic weapon, economic weapon and that of starvation. They use economic blockage against Ndigbo, against any contact with the outside world. There were massive killings of Ndigbo in churches, markets and other places. All these cost Ndigbo nearly two million lives.

 

 

Before then, when the riots were organised in the North, we published details in a book, where the Igbo were killed in railways in Kaduna, Kano and at the Kano Airport, where they were assembled to be flown   back to the East, they were slaughtered. At the railway stations, they were asked to assemble so that they will be taken to the South East and they were all killed; men, women and children. After the war, everyone who fought and are victorious were to go back to pay war reparation and war rehabilitation. This also happened after the World War II, when American government went to Germany to affect a marshal plan. So in the case of Nigeria, Biafra was forced back to the country and Gowon said that he was declaring a policy of ‘no victor no vanquished’ but since then, the punishment against the Igbos have continued. The Igbo said that we are going to demand reparation for all these atrocities on our people and that is the committee of which I was the chairman. Igbo delegates at the National Conference wanted the memorandum that we had written and we gave it to them, they presented it at the conference, so that is where we are.

 

 

Recently the Fulani herdsmen mooted the idea of forming their own vigilante groups in the South. What do you think this portends?

 

 

Our people display so much ignorance and naivety about the insecurity in the country. They feel that all is well and that the entire situation is a northern affair. They are yet to appreciate the fact that there is an evil plot to takeover Nigeria and the South East is not left out of this plot.

 

 

 

Call it Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen or having a vigilante from the North; they are all plans by the Fulani fundamentalists to take over Nigeria. When Obasanjo was raising the alarm, some people felt that he was trying to overheat the polity and they called it a mere political talk. This is a plot that started in 1840; and that is what is happening now in the North East part of Nigeria.

 

 

This is a plot that the Borno section of the North resisted in 1840. This conquest by them only met its end in Kwara State and had it been that they succeeded, we would have been telling a different story now. As it stands now, if they conquer Enugu, Umuahia, Abalahki or Aguleri, we shall have Emirs in those places and our people do not understand that. The Boko Haram and killer herdsmen are all related organisations aimed and positioned to conquer Nigeria. The people of Nigeria should have the foresight of understanding what is about to happen and endeavour to stop it before it gets out of hand and that is if it is not getting out of hand already.

 

 

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God ministered to me to lead Bayelsans –UPN candidate

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God ministered to me to lead Bayelsans –UPN candidate

‘I campaign more in villages to woo voters’

35-year-old Samuel Adaga is the governorship candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) for the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State. He spoke with PAULINE ONYIBE on sundry issues. Excerpts…

 

At 35, aren’t you too young to govern? Who is your mentor or godfather?

 

 

God is my mentor, and I don’t have any godfather. It is God that ministered to me to come and lead His people.  I have come to takeover the land and lead my people. At my age, I believe that I am capable of governing Bayelsa State and change it for the better. I have a slogan, which is, ‘I do the work, while you do the ‘chopping’. I have a blueprint on how I will govern the state, which I have divided into four stages. I want to make sure that within my two months stay in office, I will re-intestate the civil servants that were sacked without any reason. After that, I will connect water to all houses. Water will be connected to all the streets in Baylesa. I will look at the electricity situation so that Bayelsans will have constant electricity. I will make sure that PHED is distributing. I will also make sure that the Imiringi Gas Turbine is refurbished to ensure that all the local governments in Bayelsa have electricity. I will also generate light.

 

 

How do you intend to achieve all these?

 

 

If you look at Imiringi gas plant, they use gas to generate that electricity and in Bayelsa, there is so much gas. So, in each of the local governments, like Southern Ijaw, I will build gas plants just like the one at Imiringi to power Southern Ijaw.  I will go to Ekeremor and give power before proceeding to other local governments. You know that Bayelsa is full of oil and gas and we have everything to ensure that we have electricity in Bayelsa. These will be my focus for one year.

 

 

 

In my second year in office, I will go on pure development; I will build 8000 houses for civil servants, which will be given to all the local governments. There will be 1000 houses in each of the local government and these houses will be occupied by civil servants from level seven up wards. Commissioners will not go into those houses because we heard that any time government build houses, the commissioners and House of Assembly members will take over those houses. This time around, it won’t be so in my government. I want to make sure that the civil servants benefit very well in my government. 

 

 

 

In the same second year of my government, I will go into road constructions. When the houses are going on, road constructions will also be going on. I will look at the areas that lack roads. When you talk about Southern Ijaw, there is a bridge constructed by former President Goodluck Jonathan when he was the governor of the state, the Ekoli  Bridge. So, that particular bridge is supposed to be a road that will connect Southern Ijaw.  I am going to make sure that I link that road to Southern Ijaw. 

 

 

 

Let us go into the third year.

 

 

In the third year, there will be an empowerment. I will make sure that there is a capacity building to ensure that the youth of the state will be abreast of what is happening in the oil and gas sector.

 

 

Why limit that to the youth?

 

When you look at the youth, you will find out that they are lagging behind in that area. So, I will make sure that I train Bayelsa youths on skill acquisition. While the trainings are going on, I will also make sure that industries are established. Of course, Bayelsa doesn’t have huge sources of revenue, but I will make sure that three industries are brought into Bayelsa. When you look at the ceramics industry, you know we have abundance of sand and we have gravel that can generate those plates and other products. We have the raw materials in abundance. We will make sure that we export those products.

 

 

Also in Southern Ijaw and Ogbia in those days, they used to produce rice. If I can maintain those areas, we will enjoy. I will make sure that we export rice to all neighbouring countries. In my fourth year, the road construction and development in Bayelsa will be my focus. There won’t be much insecurity in the state when I’m able to factor these youths in by making them to know that this is their land and they need to benefit. The crime rate will reduce. They will enjoy throughout my government and there will be ‘Bayelsa Youth Empowerment’ programme, in which there must be youths to be trained every month.

 

 

All these plans seem to be laudable but how do you intend to generate your funds in view of the dwindling federal allocation?

 

I am not going to depend on the federal allocation alone.  In my first year, the little money that will come into the state, that is what I will use, and after that, I don’t think I will still depend on money that will come from the federal purse. I will be generating funds from the industries that we would have already put on ground in the first year.

 

At 35, youths in your age are still being used as polical thugs because of lack of jobs. How will you eradicate that?

 

I have worked in the oil and gas sector for so long. I am a pipe fitter and those youths that lack this particular skills, I will train them, I have worked in Daewood Nigeria, I have worked in Saipem and I worked in Shell facility at Gbarain. We were the people that built that plant in 2008. When I look at the youth I feel bad, that was why I said that I will initiate an empowerment programme to factor the youths in, so that they will not go out and begin to cause problems.

 

My government will train and empower them and I will set up a team to monitor their businesses once they are empowered. Once we start, we will train 1, 000 youths every month and empower them. That will happen six months in a year. We will be training 6, 000 youths per year, and in my four years in office, I would have trained 24, 000 youths.  I will target those youths that disturb the society.

What do you have for women?

 

There will be a package that will be for women. And this particular package will be for those women that really need help and not for the civil servants. I will set up a team to go and locate them. There will be a form where you will fill whatever they want do. They will be empowered. There will be Bayelsa empowerment programme so that the youth and the women can be co -opted and be empowered.

Do you have any plan for education and the health sector?

 

      First of all, I appreciate Governor Seriake Dickson for taking a bold step towards the sector if you look at it, it is just centered in the metropolis. It didn’t extend to the rural areas. So, what I will do is to send my team to the rural areas so that the whole thing will be well organised. I will make sure that I call all the House of Assembly members so that they will get enough information concerning that. They are the people that supposed to get to the grass roots. They will take this message to the rural communities so that any school that needs teachers or maintenance can be identified and the appropriate things done.

 

 

It is said that health is wealth.  I will make sure that I create an enabling environment so that women can get access to free treatment and drugs. And all the bills will be taken care of by the state government. I will also build more health centres and bring in experts.

 

With the money politics being played, can you match your co-contestants with the deep pockets?

 

 

I will advise my followers if the money comes, let them collect it because the money belongs to all of us. But, I don’t have money to give but I have all the qualities to render to them when I become the governor. So, if they give them money, they should take it and vote for me because they know that I’m the right person. The money they are spending belongs to us. So, it is an opportunity for them to take the money and vote for me. If I give you money and you collect it that means you are selling your right to me and you don’t have any right to  ask me question if I don’t develop the state because I have already paid you off with N10,000 or N20,000. 

 

 

People are crying for development but the man has paid you off, so what are you lamenting for? During the November 16 election, I will advise the voters to collect their money and still vote for me.

 

 

There was so much violence during the 2015 governorship election. Aren’t you afraid that same thing will happen on November 16?

 

 

I want to tell those youths that the politicians always use to cause violence to leave violence alone, it will not help. The money they are giving to you to kill, you are killing your own brothers. We are all brothers, just know that somebody like me is coming. So what you will do is to stay cool. You have your PVC, go and vote for me so that at the end of the day, you will benefit. The moment you pick gun and at the end of the day, they give you N100, 000, immediately he comes in, he will forget you.

 

 

Their children are abroad. Can they call their children to carry arms? The answer is no. You have to be careful. When they offer you money to commit electoral violence, tell them that you can’t do it. This is election period and we need to elect the rightful leaders so that we will not complain tomorrow. The youth should stay away from violence because it will not help, rather, if you have your PVC, go out and vote for me.

How do you intend to tackle insecurity in the state?

 

 

I know that it is because of hunger that makes these youths to be doing what they are not supposed to do. That is why my government will make people to feed very well.

There will be a programme that will bring these youths out and they will be empowered. I will train them and those that have skills will get empowerment packages to start up something. Those that want to be trained will be trained. Those that want to do business, I will still make sure that I empower them but I will monitor all those activities. For those that want to further their education, there will be scholarship that will take care of that.

 

Do you see the rancuor in PDP and APC as an advantage?

 

 

Their fight will create a kind of privilege for me to get to Creek Haven. Let them continue to fight. As they are fighting, they are giving me the opportunity not to even struggle to get to Creek Haven.

 

 

Smaller parties don’t like to campaign but they want to win. How are you carrying on with your campaigns?

 

My strategy is that I’m only    going to those people that can vote for me. I don’t need to gather a crowd. I go from village to village because those are the people that have PVC. That was why I said that the money they have, they keep gathering crowd. Those crowds they are gathering, do they have PVC to vote? Those people that have PVC to vote are in the villages. That is why in my own campaign, I’m going to villages. I talk to them one on one.  And at the end of the day, they will vote for me.

 

 

So their gathering is meaningless to me, let them be making a noise. As they are making their noise, I’m going underground doing my own campaign. That is why I have the belief that at the end of the day INEC will announce me as the winner because I have been ordained by God and His angels will come down to vote, the grasses will vote, the trees will vote for  me and at the end of the day, INEC will announce me the winner.

 

 

If there are discrepancies at the end of day, will you head to court?

 

 

I always think positive and I am not seeing myself losing this election. Mine is to make sure that I do the right thing and I win because God has already positioned me to lead his people. So it is God’s decision that will come to pass. The INEC that will be there it is God that will put him there to announce me as the winner. If they change ballot boxes as if they changing the numbers, it will be for my good. So I have no fear.

 

 

 

 

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Politics

Clerics should speak more on corruption –Eholor

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Clerics should speak more on corruption –Eholor

 

Human rights activist, Patrick Eholor, is one person that is known to be outspoken when it comes to matters of  national interest. In this interview with OJIEVA EHIOSUN, he talked about the state of the nation; Nigeria at 59 and the failure of the government to meet the demands of the common man, among other issues. Excerpts:

 

 

The nation has just marked 59 years of independence. What are your views?

 

 

Nigeria is a blessed land with beautiful people, a land of milk and honey but unfortunately, we have had many people who referred to themselves as leaders instead of bosses. A leader is someone who champions the affairs of his people. He is somebody who sleeps over issues while bosses say ‘my way or no other way’. If you are 59 years of age and you do not have children or a family then you have to rethink. I still have the hope that Nigeria would be great if we can do more now. It is either now or never, the moment we exceed 60 years, it will be rest in peace for Nigeria.

 

 

Are you implying that the future is bleak?

 

 

What we need to do is to be honest; to say it as it is. Some of us do not have the guts to say it as it is. Some of us feel that when we elect people into various positions, we have crowned them to be kings. They are not kings. God favoured them and they were elected.

 

 

How do you see Governor Godwin Obaseki’s second term bid?

 

 

We have an unfortunate situation in Edo State especially as it relates to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. As a former governor of the state and now National Chairman of the APC, he has a rich pedigree. During the 2016 governorship campaign, he worked for his successor, Obaseki. Unfortunately, Obaseki does not understand that politics is not about personalising issues. It is not about enmity.  If you are born to lead you must carry people along. Obaseki insulted everybody in APC. He described leaders of the party as vagabonds, thieves and nonentities.

 

 

Even as bad as it is in America today, Donald Trump reaches out to the far right who are racists because he wants to be popular, he wants to remain relevant. Obaseki thinks he knows it all. He will force us to pay taxes while he brings other people from neighbouring states to do our jobs. He is transferring our wealth to other states. The party caucus has vowed that he is not returning for a second tenure in 2020. Those who are saying that he must have a second tenure are deceiving themselves.

 

 

Is it the party caucus that will determine for the people, who to vote for?

 

 

He has nothing to show as achievements in his first tenure. He is allegedly using substandard materials to construct our roads. The roads that he is constructing do not last a month even though he was getting some credits for the things that are not his achievements. Obaseki worked with Oshiomhole as economic team manager.

 

 

What is your take on the recent address of President Muhammadu Buhari at the United Nations

 

 

If you have children, they will not look like others, rather they will look like you because you are their biological father. So, most of the youth that President Buhari described as lazy youths are taking a cue from our leaders. He disgraced the nation recently at the United Nations (UN). We discourage cheating in examination. We want our children to learn by using their brains and not by copying. He gave a speech, unfortunately for him when he was asked a very simple question on the killings and instability in Nigeria, he started talking about climate change. That’s disgraceful.

 

 

May the souls of our past leaders: – Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Anthony Enahoro, Nnamdi Azikiwe, rest in peace. They were all eloquent people. We cannot because of nepotism, favouritism and ethnicity favour undesirable elements. Enough is enough! I was ashamed to call myself a Nigerian, listening to the address of President Buhari at the UN.

 

 

Why did you criticise Charles Idahosa in your recent interview?

 

 

He has lost his political relevance in Edo State. We have many failures in Edo that the young ones try to emulate. We have a Charles Idahosa who is no longer relevant in the political game in Edo. He has been moving from one political party to the other. He described Comrade Adams Oshiomhole with the most derogatory term when he was asked to become his (Oshiomhole’s) deputy as he was canvassing for votes. He later took an appointment as an aide to Oshiomhole. Today, he is claiming to be a leader of Uhunmwode . This is a man who has no factory and has never impacted on anybody. We don’t want leaders who are unemployed and just benefit from the patrimony of Edo State.

 

 

People like Charles Idahosa are some of the problems that we have in Edo State politics. So, the youth have risen to say that they want to retire them because you cannot be a youth at the age of 40 years. These are people who have lived their lives and want to live the lives of their children.

 

 

What is your advise on the spate of insecurity in the land?

 

 

Insecurity will stop if there are gainful employments for youths. You cannot blame the youth, they follow the precedent you set for them. We need to talk to the clergymen to come out with what we call social enlightenment. Voters are insignificant in comparison to what we have in most churches. Clergymen must insist on exposing and disgracing those who loot our treasury. When that is done they (the looters) will know that leaving a legacy is much better than looting the treasury. Most of the rich men we have in Nigeria cannot be showcased in Forbes Magazine because their wealth is questionable.

 

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Politics

Bayelsa guber: Court orders substituted service on APC candidate

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Bayelsa guber: Court orders substituted service on APC candidate

Onyekachi Eze, ABUJA

An Abuja Federal High Court has ordered a substituted service on the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in November 16 election in Bayelsa State, Chief David Lyon and his running mate Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.

Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo have been evading court service, forcing the petitioner, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to apply to the court for a substituted service.

The request was granted at the sitting of the court on October 2, which also ordered that all other processes be given substituted services.

The PDP had accused the APC running mate, Senator Degi of providing false information in the form he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the election.

In the court summon, the party alleged that while the primary school certificate of the senator bears Degi Biobara, his secondary school is bearing Adegi Biobarakumo while his university certificate bears Degi Biobarakuma and MBA certificate, Degi Biobarakuma Wangaha.

The party is therefore asking the court to determine the identity of the person(s) in these school results.

PDP is also accusing the APC gubernatorial running mate of declaring a false affidavit in the regularization of names for the Senate, arguing that an affidavit does not suffice to correct errors in names as this would need an advert on the newspapers where the names would be published and errors highlighted for notice of the general public.

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