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Edo: Obaseki dislodges political bumps ahead of 2020



Edo: Obaseki dislodges political bumps ahead of 2020

As the clock ticks towards next year’s governorship election in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki looks unstoppable in brushing off perceived bumps on the tortuous path ahead of his second term bid, CAJETAN MMUTA reports 




or Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, he does not require any more trumpeters, having tactfully passed through the thick and thin of political training. He had watched his predecessor (now National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, hold sway as governor of the Heart Beat state from 2007 to November 2016.


There is also no doubt that the taciturn Obaseki, by now must have had his feet on the ground, having lately come face to face with the turbulence associated with power, influence and authority. But, determined to etch his name on the sands of time, the governor has since assumption of office kept track aimed at realizing his vision, mission and policy thrusts towards achieving set goals of living up to the promise of his administration to Edo people.



He has vehemently refused to be distracted in all circumstances and to do away with the old order as regards governance. Some analysts are of the opinion that the governor is right in his resolve to toe the right path in line with global best practices and standards and not yield to the whims and caprices of self-styled political demi-gods, part of what has pitched him against his predecessor.



While political war mongers and those opposed to Obaseki’s government keep sharpening their bows and arrows ahead of the epic battle come 2020 in the state, the governor in his undeterred poise has, to the cheery admiration of Edo citizens, enormous projects meant to put smiles on the faces of all residents as his bragging right.



The APC led government in Edo State under Obaseki has, no doubt, carved a niche for itself with visible reforms in all sectors. These are noticeable in massive road construction that cut across the 18 local government areas and three senatorial districts of the state and improvement in the standard of education through e-education that has brought enormous fortunes to teaching and learning through the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo-BEST) programme.



Also, the state, now parades itself as the industrial hub in the South-South with the establishment of industrial parks and Benin-Gelegele Seaport, production center, commendable boost in agriculture, enthronement of harmony in the state’s justice system, effective civil service and many more.



Added to these is the regular payment of workers’ salaries as pensions to retirees. The security architecture of the state has equally improved to guarantee safety and protection of residents at all times while making the state investors friendly as well as for other businesses to thrive.



More so, the regular ritual choruses of “we no go gree, we no go gree” by aggrieved workers, labour unions and market women over minor disputes have not only ceased, but completely disappeared in all the sectors, agencies and parastatals.



The health sector is not left out in this regard with the existence of effective service delivery system and needed facilities in place to meet the health needs of people of the state.



In the governance system, the administration has continued to cut unnecessary costs and expenditure to meet demands, while the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the state and councils has tremendously appreciated.



It is not surprising, therefore, the endless flow of calls and endorsements by various groups, individuals including traditional rulers drawn from across the state for Governor Obaseki to seek re-election for a second term in office.



The people are convinced that Obaseki, as a steward, has judiciously dispensed the little resources that accrue to the state towards delivering on his campaign promises. For the governor, to whom much is given, much is also expected and it must not be business as usual to fritter away what belongs to the people.



Admitted that life is full of battles, but the governor is no longer a small fry in politics and cannot be dismissed by a wave of hands, having garnered the tough and thick skin to weather storms. Added to this is his firm grip on the intricacies of governance, adequate support base and financial muscles to put off likely resistances and match possibly political tuffs or bumps likely to rear their heads on his way to the Dennis Osadebe Avenue Government House Benin City.



With the support of forces like the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie; Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu; Chief of Staff, Hon. Taiwo Akerele; former Political Adviser to Oshiomhole, Mr. Charles Idahosa and some top chiefs of Benin royal palace, among several others, it is strongly believed that the 2020 project for Obaseki is certain.



Unarguably, the battle next year is neither going to be an easy contest nor a child’s play, but Obaseki seems set for those out to scuttle his second term bid. He had in June this year sacked eight commissioners, appointed and inaugurated another eight new ones as replacement.



While many said the move was targeted at Oshiomhole, the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Communication Strategy told New Telegraph that it was “normal and we are not targeting anybody. It did not stem from any bitterness. The government is trying to reposition itself and restructure for better delivery of democratic dividends to the people of Edo state.”



Also, Obaseki, last week showed about 265 Senior Special Assistants (SSAs) and Special Assistants (SAs) drawn from the state’s 192 wards, 18 councils and three senatorial districts the way out and promised to make fresh appointments in 30 days.



A statement by the SSG (Ogie), said: “This development is in line with efforts to reorganise the governance structure to enhance efficiency in service delivery to Edo people. Fresh appointments will be announced within the next 30 days.”



While Ogie added that the state government offers its immense gratitude to the outgoing assistants for their service and assures of continued cordial relations in the years ahead, it was learnt that some of the sacked aides were members of the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) believed to be a strong loyalists of Oshiomhole.



The state chapter of the APC had last week threatened to take decisive and concrete actions against the EPM and its purported members. The party noted that the existence of the alien group is not supported by its constitution.



Chairman of the party in the state, Anselm Ojezua, in a statement warned that the party would not allow the “reckless antics of shameless and selfish individuals to dictate the fortunes of the party.” He further explained that the decision was aimed at preserving and protecting its integrity since the group has refused to desist from associating their nefarious activities with the state APC.



But the leadership of the EPM in a counter reaction described the threat by the APC in the state as an empty one. The group also dared the APC chairman in the state “to do his worst.”



Co-convener of the EPM and former Attorney General of the state, Hon. Henry Idahagbon said: “He (Ojezua), has never won his unit, ward let alone his LGA. He’s a serial failure. We in the EPM dare him to do his worst.”



But, as the dust of suspense over Obaseki’s second term pervades, the governor declared recently that he deserves a second term in office because he has fulfilled most of his promises to Edo people and also needs to consolidate his developmental strides in the state.



He stressed that his administration and cabinet members are focused on mental, not stomach infrastructure. He also emphasized that his second term in office is “not negotiable.”



Obaseki stated this when he played host to members of the Benin Unity League at the government house in Benin. He noted that “no individual can determine who will become governor, nly God and the people can make the decision.”



Speaking further, the governor said his interest to continue in office is for the right reasons.



His words: “I have said it clearly and I told my cabinet members that second term for me is non-negotiable. I am demanding it because I deserve it and I think I have earned it. We need to have it so we can continue what we are doing today.



“I want to assure you that this is a fight in which we will prevail. We will fight and succeed. If anybody thinks I will back out, he must be day-dreaming because it is not my fight; it is a fight for the right purpose. I am not going to back off because I know victory is sure.”



He added that nobody can accuse him of implementing a wrong policy, adding that the accusations had been on him not focusing on stomach infrastructure.



“We earn less today than we did in 2016, when we came into power, so where is the money to waste? We know how much we inherited as debt; we have to service them. Some people sit and say we should focus on stomach infrastructure. I said no, that I will rather focus on mental infrastructure,” he said.



President of the League, Dr. Gregory Osa, in his speech said the visit was to join other Edo sons and daughters to reject the mischief in some quarters aimed at prematurely pulling the governor out of office, describing the move as “borne out of selfish motives.”



Osa added: “You are providing an enabling environment to make Edo an industrial hub. We are particularly interested in your push to develop the Benin River Port and the Benin Airport. You will not only win the battle; you will win the war.”



As it stands, both the state and national leaderships of the APC and their supporters need not be reminded that next year remains most critical and therefore indulgence in any unholy game may spell doom for both the state and the party should caution be thrown to the wind.



Unfortunate as the crisis to control the Anthony Enahoro legislature may seem, the stakeholders in the state must set aside all sentiments and selfish desires and put their house in order, ensure a united front and allow peace to rein, else they may end up licking their wounds from the hard hit of ever ready opposition in the state.



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Weapon proliferation huge threat to democracy, say security experts



Weapon proliferation huge threat to democracy, say security experts



hereas democracy has become a globally accepted form of government with a leadership recruitment system built on candidates’ popularity and people-friendly political manifestoes, indications are rife that this system of government and indeed political stability on the African continent is under threat.


The threat which is currently assuming elephantine dimension is posed by one phenomenon – proliferation of small, medium and light weapons (SMLW) around Nigeria and in African. Millions of these, according to security experts are on the streets and in wrong hands posing great threat to democracy.


Those were the submission of security experts from both public and private sectors and journalists on the issue and they are united on the fact, even as they expressed serious apprehension over its dangerous influence on the political process and political stability on the continent and its 1.2 billion population


Speaking at the Annual Lecture of the Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria, (CRAN), which held in Lagos, they lamented that politicians’ desperation for power has turned elections to battle fields in Nigeria, as the political process becomes a do-or-die affair, and the political elites exacerbated the process by procuring arms for thugs and complement this with inflammatory remarks.

In a lead paper titled “Proliferation of Arms: A Threat to Democracy,” delivered by Chief Dennis Amachree, a retired Deputy Director of State Service (DSS), he saw the phenomenon on the African continent as an offshoot of the Arab Spring of 2011 and thereafter.


Similarly, Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar expressed concern over “the way arms and ammunitions are being imported, smuggled, made and possessed in the country.” He said the police were not unaware of impact of this on the security, economy and the political process in the country.


Quoting the 1997 Report of the United Nations Panel of Government, Amachree defined Small Arms as weapons for personal use, and this category includes revolvers and self-loading pistols, rifles and carbines, assault rifles, sub-machine guns and light machine guns.


While light weapons on the other hand, are designed for attack or defense in combat or hunting. These include light machine guns, hand-held under-barrel and mounted grenade launchers, portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns, recoilless rifles, portable launchers of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and mortars of calibers less than 100mm.


According to him, one of the spectacular events which fuel weapon proliferation occurred on October 21, 2011, a day after the demise of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, when intelligence sources picked up the movement of about 100 Hilux trucks of Gaddafi loyalists crossing the Sahara Desert, toward West Africa. These trucks were reportedly loaded with small arms and light weapons, stolen from the private stockpile in the presidential palace of the former Libyan leader.


“At that time, it was observed that because there was no joint international military cooperation among the West African States, no government made any attempt to intercept the long convoys approaching the region. The convoy dispersed into Cameroun, Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and as far west as Senegal. This situation was not helped by the porous borders that exist along the northern periphery of all West African states.


“A sizeable quantity of the small arms and light weapons were bought by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian who is sometimes referred to as ‘The One-Eyed Nelson’ or ‘the Uncatchable.’ He was a major weapons dealer and later assumed the leadership of Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb.


“Other recipients of these Libyan weapons were Iyad Ag Ghaly, the Tuareg militant leader from Mali and Abu Mohammed al-Shekau, a Kanuri and leader of Boko Haram. These weapons became the game changer in the war against terrorism and insurgency in West Africa. Boko Haram became more daring,” and so commenced the proliferation with its deadly consequences.


At the continental level, despite the Conventions and Protocols on small arms and light weapons in the region, the West African sub-region has been active with one kind of conflict or the other. Liberia, Cote I D’Ivoire, Mali, Nigeria and the Central African Republic have different ongoing conflicts. And as the conflicts progress, so are the new inflows of SALW into the pockets of instability.


Quoting a report, Amachree said out of the estimated eight million small arms and light weapons in circulation in Africa, about 75 per cent, totaling 600 million are in Nigeria, mostly in private hands like former militants, terrorists and opposition political parties who could use such arms to truncate democracy.


Other factors precipitating weapon proliferation especially in Nigeria’s 2,777km of ungoverned land borderlines “with four French speaking countries who depend on us, but care less of our unity and leadership; and a 853km long Atlantic coastline.”


Consequent on this, the weapons fuel the activities of  Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, armed banditry and kidnappings in the North-West, Biafra separatists in the South-East, Delta militants and kidnappings in the South-South, ritual killings, kidnappings and urban crimes in the south-west and cultism in universities across the country. All these security threats are fueled by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

Equally disturbing is the activities of governors who massively purchased firearms to arm non-state actors to obstruct or truncate the democratic process ostensibly in the name of fighting insecurity as noted in the past governments in Zamfara and Ogun states.


Recall that the governor of Zamfara State, Governor Bello Matawale recently said his predecessor should account for the 1,400 rifles he purchased during his tenure, while his counterpart in Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun drew public umbrage on the release of about 2,000 rifles and ammunitions to the police towards the end of his tenure.


A few hours to the end of his  tenure as Ogun State helmsman, Governor Amosun had contacted the State  Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama,  stating that he had thousands of arms and millions of ammunition in store at an armoury in Government House, and that he had decided to hand them over to the police.


A bewildered Makama had raced to Government House with some of his subordinates and found truckloads of arms and ammunition brought out of a nondescript armoury inside the Government House.  It included at least four million rounds of ammunition, 1,000 units of AK47 assault rifles, 1,000 units of bulletproof vests and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC).

The interception of over 2,000 pump action rifles by the Nigerian Customs Service in the few months before the last elections, and bizarre use used of shooting, thuggery and violence in the Kogi State governorship election, which he described as a sham, caught Amachree’s attention.


Threat to democracy


The experts at the event observed that “illegal possession of small arms could engineer the outbreak of conflicts to make the country or state ungovernable; ruling parties, in a bid to hold on to power, could use state-owned arms to threaten and sometimes kill members of the opposition.

“Elements in an opposition party could use illegal arms to overthrow a government, no matter the dangers. Even in non-democratic governments, the series of military coups in Nigeria are an example. Top government officials, including the president could be assassinated to effect a change in the government. Situations like this have played out in countries like the USA and Nigeria.


“During the last elections, there was a chieftain of a political party who was caught on tape, arranging how many AK47s his “boy” will need during the elections. Another politician was threatening fire and brimstones on an opposition party, during a rally. No one of these politicians was cautioned for this act against democracy. Rather, one of them was actually supported with small arms and light weapons by state actors during the elections.

Amachree in particular, noted that “the whole shenanigans of politicians and non-state actors in their quest for power have inadvertently encouraged the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Elections have become a battlefield in Nigeria today, with all the major political parties breathing and threatening fire and brimstones.”


In the same, the Olu Iwo of Iwo, Oba Adewale Akanbi, frowned at the spread of firearms and its impact on criminality, and advocated death penalty for treasury looters, kidnappers, ritualists, cultists, corrupt public officials and politicians to serve as a deterrent to others.


The royal father, while commending the war declared on corruption by President Muhammadu Buhari, observed that punitive measures put in place to stop the corruption train were not enough. “China, a civilized and developed nation, has death penalty for corruption, theft of public funds and official corruption. Nigeria should copy same.”


Oba Akanbi found it so inexplicable that Nigeria, a blessed nation, which according to him is richer than Canada, lacks basic infrastructures, which he traced to corruption

Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, Dr. Bone Efoziem, Managing Director, Strict Guards, lamented that that the massive size of Nigeria borders covering 723, 767 km square posed a great challenge to the security agencies and called for inter-agency cooperation to succeed in the ear on weapon proliferation.


Inspector-General of Police, who was represented at the event, the AIG Zone 2   Command, Iliasu said the police have adopted various strategies including Operation PUFF ADDER over time to combat crime ragging from kidnapping to banditry and weapon proliferation check and other forms of criminality.


To him, the strategies have served as veritable anti-crime machine to dismantle all forms of crimes and criminality, central to which is mopping of all arms and other instruments of criminality. Accordingly, the Zone 2 Command under Iliasu’s watch has created a re-branded PUFF ADDER, hence he enjoined members of the public to be vigilant and give information to the police on any form of perceived crime in their neighborhood. 

Besides commending crime 5 reporters, who he described as repository of daily crime and security activities in the country, Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Akeem Odumosu called for a collaborative efforts in combating crimes and controlling proliferation of weapons.


The gathering of security experts stressed the need for urgent ratification of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, since this will commit member states to controlling the unabated flow of these arms into the region. They also advocated integration of the divergent local legislatures existing among countries that share the same borders in the sub-region.

Of equal importance is their call on political parties to adhere to a code of ethics, fair play in the conduct of their primaries and adopt spirit of sportsmanship, because elections must be won and lost. Political parties must eschew the mentality of winner takes all and loser can go to hell, but adhere to the non-violence agreements signed by leading contenders of the major parties.

African governments were also charged to make placing stricter controls on importation of small arms and light weapons their policy priority, while Nigeria needs to work with conventional arms manufacturers and exporters to strictly control their exports against illegal diversion.

As difficult as this may be, government needs to pay more attention to border security, because though illegal routes will always exist, good border control is imperative. They also called for tougher laws against illegal possession of SALW while a nation-wide mop-up of SALW is carried out nationwide.  Nigerians should strive to achieve national security from the perspective of human security, because if the individual is safe from small arms, the country’s democracy is also secured.

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Dangling sword over fringe parties



Dangling sword over fringe parties

The recent verification exercise of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the headquarters of registered political parties in the country is causing apprehension in the polity. Is it a plan to deregister some of the parties? asks ONYEKACHI EZE


lthough the verification is a routine exercise periodically embarked upon by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as part of its monitoring of the activities of registered political parties in the country, but the ongoing exercise has raised a lot of questions. Is it meant to deregister some of these parties that failed to meet the requirements? Or is it simply to update the commission’s record.

Apart from Benin Republic, Nigeria holds the unenvious record of an African country with the highest number of political parties. This attracted the attention recently, of the United Nations, which said such number could distract the electorate from electing quality leaders.


Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambers, Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, during a courtesy call on the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in Abuja earlier this year, said there is the need to look at the mode of political party registration in the country.


Dr. Chambers said: “In the last elections in Nigeria, many of you will recall that there were 73 presidential candidates. I am not talking about registered political parties but presidential candidates. With the usual Nigerian people, some people even referred to the ballot paper as a tablecloth on account of its length and breadth.


“Of course, that also has its own challenges and for countries in our sub-region, presenting them with such long list of candidates sometimes distracts them from the quality of the process and informed decisions by the electorate.”

Musa Husunu, deputy director in the Election and Party Monitoring (EPM) department of INEC who led a team to the headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last Monday, listed the guidelines for the verification.

The law requires every registered political party to have its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, as well as to maintain offices in at least, two-third of the 36 states of the country.


Husunu explained there should be evidence of the party’s “headquarters in the FCT because it is one of the criteria. A political party must have office in any of the Area Councils in the FCT.

“Second is the five copies of the constitution of the party. Then we also have list of NWC (National Working Committee) members, then membership register, then, book of account.


“The next thing is that we have to go round and ensure that from the Chairman down the ladder, there is physical presence of offices for NWC members.”


Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC,  Senator Kabiru Gaya, revealed plans by the National Assembly to deregister 85 nonperforming political parties before the 2023 general elections.

Gaya, after a meeting with the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, described some of the political parties as figure heads with no relevance or “elected personalities.”


He was quoted to have stated: “Regarding reforms in the Electoral Act, first of all, we are looking at the issue of the number of political parties. Actually, they are too many; we have 91 political parties; and currently, the court has added another party which makes them 92.

“Many are still applying; but there is a criteria constitutionally, that parties should have a kind of qualification or at least requirement before they are registered. Actually, we are going to deregister almost 85 political parties because they are unqualified.


“They don’t even have a counselor or a House of Assembly member; so all those parties should be deregistered. But there is a problem; if you deregister them, they will go through the back door and register again.

“We need to now have tough conditions for registration of political parties whereby we could maintain the number of four or five by God’s grace.”

Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in an article titled, “INEC’ fresh power to deregister political parties,” said not more than 10 of the registered parties would survive if INEC applies strictly the provisions of the constitution for political party de-registration.


According to him, the May 2017 amendment to Section 225 of the 1999 Constitution empowers INEC to deregister any political party on the grounds of “(a) breach of any of the requirements for registration; (b) failure to win at least 25 per cent of votes cast in: (i) One state of the federation in a presidential election; or (ii) one local government of the state in a governorship election; (c) failure to win at least – (i) one ward in the chairmanship election; (ii) one seat in the national or state House of Assembly election; or (iii) one seat in the councillorship election.


“From the foregoing, it is indubitably clear that INEC has been conferred with enormous powers to deregister political parties that fail to meet the fresh constitutional prerequisites. Going by the results of the 2019 general elections, the 91 registered political parties may have been reduced to less than 10 that may have scaled the constitutional hurdle.”

Out of the 89 political parties that fielded candidates in the 2019 general elections, only three won the governorship while less than five of them won seats into the National Assembly. This means that over 85 political parties have no business in the electoral process.


In December 2012, INEC deregistered 28 political parties. The commission said its decision was based on the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).


Section 78 (7)(ii) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended empowers INEC to deregister political parties that fails to win a seat either in the National or state Assembly. None of deregistered parties won any seat in the 2011 general elections.

Fresh Democratic Party (FDP), which was one of the political parties deregistered by INEC, challenged the action of the commission in court. It asked the court to declare section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act, 2010 is unconstitutional, invalid, null and void to the extent that it offends the provisions of section 40 and sections 221-229 of the 1999 Constitution as it violated the provisions of sections 36, 38 and 40, as well as sections 221-222 of the 1999 Constitution, and paragraph 15 of the 3rd schedule (part 10 of the Constitution) among others.


Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, in his judgement, declared the deregistration null and void.

Justice Kolawole said: “The criteria by which the National Assembly delimited deregistration to failure to win seat in state and National Assembly elections appears like nothing but legislative arbitrariness, since INEC has powers to conduct other elections.


“INEC would not have lost anything by issuing the Fresh Democratic Party with a query to enhance the integrity of its decision.”

A Constitutional lawyer, Realwan Okpanachi, agrees with Falana that INEC does not need further amendment to the constitution to deregister political parties. Okpanachi said the position of the law had changed since President Muhammadu Buhari assented the Fourth Alteration, No. 9 Act, 2017, which was enacted in 2017. He said the president’s assent conferred on INEC the power to deregister political parties by the amendment of Section 225 of the 1999 constitution.

“By the said amendment and introduction of Section 225(A), INEC can now deregister political parties on grounds of breach of any requirements for registration,’’ he said.


The requirements, he  listed to include, “Failure to win at least 25 per cent of votes cast in one state of the federation in a presidential election, or one local government of the state in governorship election.


“Failure to win at least one ward in chairmanship election, one seat in the National or State House of Assembly election or one seat in the councillorship election.


“What INEC should be talking about is how to deregister many of the commercialised political parties that have failed to satisfy any of the conditions in Section 225(A) of the constitution,’’ Okpanachi said.

The number of political parties in the country is causing confusion instead of improving the electoral system. During the last presidential elections, the number of invalid votes was put at 1, 289, 607 votes, which was much higher than total number of votes recorded for 71 other parties put together.


Pundits attributed this to the size of the ballot paper. Most of the votes got spoilt during folding of the over-sized ballot paper and attempt to squeeze it inside the voting box.


Again, many illiterate electorate found it difficult differentiating the acronyms of most of the parties. This resulted in double voting.

In 1999 when only two political parties fielded candidates in the presidential election, the number of invalid votes was 431, 611, out of a total of 30, 280, 052 votes cast. It is inconceivable that the nation could record as high as over a million invalid votes 20 years after.


The UN envoy simply spoke the mind of average Nigerians.

A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), Mr. Charles Ambaiowe said  a reduction in the number of political parties in the country is overdue. According to him, there is no point having non-performing parties on the ballot papers all in the name  multi-party system.


“Many of them are hangers-on and appendages of the two major political parties. During elections,  some neither campaign nor field candidates. Rather, they come up to endorse candidate of the major political parties for monetary benefits.

“The system is too weedy such that INEC chairman once said it was cumbersome listing all the parties on a single ballot paper. Ironically some of the political parties who had made no impact in the elections have called for cancelation of election because of the omission of their names on the ballot,” he said.


Sources said the fringe parties have become something akin to private businesses of the chairmen, their wives and children who often manipulate and utilize the funds collected and attend capacity training sponsored local and international agencies.


“The parties have become like private companies while the INEC is something akin to the CAC, who merely registers them, only for the parties to serve the interest of the chairman and his family.


“At one of our quarterly meeting with the INEC, the electoral umpire’s chairman told us that the wife of one of the parties’ chairman is the Woman Leader and his son the National Youth Leader. Hence three members of the executive council are from his family,” the source said.

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When APC govs endorsed Lalong’s achievements



When APC govs endorsed Lalong’s achievements


hen the Progressives Governors’ Forum met recently in Jos, the Plateau State capital, it was an opportunity for Governor Simon Lalong to showcase what he is doing in the state.



The two-day parley, which started with a dinner on Sunday, November 24 and reached a climax on Monday, November 25, was also an avenue for the chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum to show his commitment, vision of providing accountable and responsible leadership to the people of the state.



The parley, which focused on internal security, education and health, gave Governor Lalong an opportunity of discussing some of his efforts through agencies such as the Plateau Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Plateau Health Insurance Scheme, Plateau Disability Rights Commission, Plateau Peace Building Agency, ICT Development Agency as well as Plateau Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency.


To him, infrastructural development is very critical to every state, hence he confronted it headlong. This is why he embarked on massive infrastructural projects going on across the state with many either completed or nearing completion. They include the Secretariat Flyover, Mararaba Jamaa Road as well as the Maiango roads. They are evidence of the governor’s efforts in road construction and urbanization.


Governor Lalong has developed and pursued an efficient economic blueprint in Plateau State. Apart from ensuring regular payment of salaries to civil servants, has made them to give him an new name – Governor Alert.



Speaking as the host during the Progressive Governors, parley Lalong disclosed that his administration has set in motion plans to host an Economic and Investment Summit where the state intends to open up Plateau State to domestic and foreign investors and rebranding the state to it slogan as the Home of Peace and Tourism.


Peace and security are critical to the life of every state, every people. There is remarkable peace in Plateau State and this is made possible by the governor’s excellent security initiatives which ultimately provide a buffer for investments, business activities and good social life.

According to Lalong: “This parley is another endorsement  of the efforts we have put in to restore peace to Plateau State which has seen many people coming back and new ones coming to the nation’s preferred destination.

“We have since come up with a Five-Year Strategic Development Plan which is guiding our next level vision where we are prioritising various projects in education,  health,  agriculture,  mining and tourism which we believe can turn around the economic fortunes of our state if properly harnessed.”


Lalong said his administration in the state has also unified the youths, women, leaders and elders of the state such that political parties in the state today merely exist in the books even as access to better life is no longer determined by political consideration or illogical sentiments.


“For us in Plateau State, there has been growing synergy among all stakeholders including the three arms of government as we continue our Rescue Mission through the three-point policy thrust of Peace, security and good governance, infrastructure development and sustainable economic rebirth “.


Leadership has a lot to do with relationship management and public relations. Good leaders, through their leadership styles, garner support and goodwill from the public, their colleagues and political party. Governor Lalong’s leadership acumen has led to countless endorsements from all sectors of the populace.


No wonder President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha during the parley commended the leadership qualities of Lalong for transforming the state with laudable projects.


According to Buhari, the current administration has remained committed to improving the welfare of all Nigerians.


The President said the decision to focus the parley on four key sectors, namely; transportation, health, education and humanitarian and disaster management were commendable.


Also the Progressive Governors Forum chairman and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu described Lalong as messiah sent to Plateau State to bring peace and develop the state.

All the governors, ministers amongst other officials who attended the parley shower accolades on Governor Simon Lalong for transforming Plateau State.


The governors present included,  Edo, Godwin Obaseki, Kaduna, Nasiru El Rufai, Niger, Abukabar Sani Bello, Kebbi  State, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Jigawa Abubakar Badiru  Ekiti  Kayode Fayemi, while the Governor of Gombe,  Kano and Kogi states were represented by their deputies.


Others were the Minister of Transport Rt. Hon. Rotimi Ameachi and Minister of State for  Education, Hon. Emeka Nwajuba.

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Onuigbo: Nigerians won’t deny that Igbos have capacity to govern the nation



Onuigbo: Nigerians won’t deny that Igbos have capacity to govern the nation

Hon. Samuel Onuigbo represents Ikwunano/Umuahia North/South Federal Constituency of Abia State in the House of Representatives and is the Vice President (Africa) Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE). In this interview with PHILIP NYAM, he speaks on a wide range of climate issues and the contentious agitation for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023



You were recently elected the Vice President (Africa) of an international environmental organisation known as GLOBE. What does the organisation stand for?

GLOBE stands for Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment. What is it? It is an international association of national parliamentarians in well over 99 countries of the world and the aim is for these parliamentarians to take interest in sponsoring bills and also supporting policies of the executive arm that are geared towards the preservation and protection of the environment.



The environment covers ecology, deforestation, agriculture, climate change, petroleum resources etc. All these are supposed to be done in a sensible and sustainable way; in a way that preserves the environment and leaves something for generations yet unborn. So that when you are carrying out your activities to make profit from your business, you also consciously know that you have to preserve the environment and by so doing, your actions are done in such a sensible, sustainable way to avoid taking from the environment and destroying it. So, globally, this association has grown phenomenally, it started with G8 countries asking their legislators to take interest in the environment, knowing that a lot of damages are taking place across the world from those either looking for timber, who cut down trees without replanting same.


Ideas like these gave rise to something like Great Green Wall of the Sahara and Sahel Initiative, which of course came from the African Union (AU). So, an organisation like GLOBE champions bills such as the one I sponsored recently on climate change. You can also sponsor on other aspects of the environment such as agriculture, petroleum and all these are geared towards ensuring that when you are taking from the ground, forest or ocean, you have to do it in a sensible and sustainable manner bearing in mind generations yet unborn.



GLOBE came to Nigeria through the efforts of the former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, in 2012 and the Nigeria chapter came into existence 2013 when the immediate past President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki was Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment. In the 8th National Assembly, the President of GLOBE was Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim while I was the Vice President and today I am the president of GLOBE Nigeria, and the Vice President (Africa) of GLOBE International.



You chaired the House Committee on Climate Change in the 8th Assembly and now you are Vice President of GLOBE. How are you mobilising other lawmakers on issues of environment?

I must say that in my first term in the House of Representatives, I made verifiable achievements both in terms of my cardinal mandate, legislation and facilitation of projects in my constituency. I am looking forward to further making solid contributions in this Assembly like I did in the 8th Assembly by facilitating laudable projects in my constituency.



My re-election, the first time an honourable member was re-elected in my federal constituency, which is an acknowledgment of my towering achievements in my first tenure and what my people did was to say; ‘we are happy for what you did in the development of our constituency’. In that way, to who much is given, much is expected.



So specifically I am going to pursue those things like the climate change bill, which I sponsored in the 8th Assembly. Fortunately it has gone through the second reading and has been referred to the committee of the whole. And what does that hope to achieve? It hopes to bring to the fore those issues that are involved in the bill. For instance, it is proposing the establishment of a National Council on Climate Change to be chaired by Mr. President and that Council will be peopled by so many ministers whose mandates are crosscutting in nature.



Apart from the focal ones as far as climate change is concerned there are others such as agriculture, environment, finance, transportation, education, petroleum, industry, Niger Delta, water resources, mining, etc., that their activities are climate change related. The Council is also expected to have in its composition the National Security Adviser, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), President of ALGON, a representative of the private sector (especially the manufacturing and extractive industries), youths, etc.

This broad representation is important because if you pass a law at the national level without involving all these stakeholders who are expected to enforce it, its implementation becomes very difficult. Some persons asked me why I want the National Security Adviser in the Council and I explained to them that the effects of climate change are far reaching. It is crosscutting. It is not only limited to those component parts of environment like petroleum, deforestation etc. Therefore, those negative impacts, those devastating effects now affect the security of the nation and I can give you a good example; the Boko Haram saga.



The Boko Haram saga was actually made worse by the fact that a place like Lake Chad that provided means of livelihood for well over 40 million people, who depended on it for animal husbandry, fishing and other forms of agriculture eventually found that the lake had shrunk to less than 10 per cent and therefore they could no longer perform those things they used to sustain themselves. What they did was to move into the city where they have no skills to survive. Unfortunately since their skills which are fishing, farming, and animal husbandry have been denied them they quickly became easy tools in the hands of those recruiting hungry but able-bodied youths for Boko Haram insurgency.


Another saga that we have in our hands is the herdsmen/farmers clashes. So, when we had green areas around Lake Chad, around some parts of the North where people were rearing their cattle, they did not bother to push down South or the Middle belt in a violent manner. But today, you see there is no green vegetation in most parts of the North, rather there is desertification and therefore the herdsmen are everywhere looking for pastures for their cattle. So that is why it is important to have someone like the National Security Adviser in the Council to provide advice. I am focused on this bill because of its importance to the nation and I am hopeful that this time around it would be assented to by the president. Once that is done, it would attract investors in renewable energy and other aspects of the economy, while checkmating the devastating effects of climate change. But this cannot happen if there is no governing law on climate change in the country.

The need for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023 has continued to dominate national discourse to the extent that while the South-West is insisting that it would produce the next president, the North is also plotting to retain power beyond 2023. As a lawmaker from the South-East geopolitical zone, what is your take on this?



It is difficult to predict now because the parties as far as I know today are significantly fluid and a lot of the party members have been moving from one party to another. You have pieces of evidence to support my assertion. On the issue of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, it is not out of place to believe that yes we can get a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction if Nigerians in their wisdom look down and say okay.

Well, this country is built on a tripod; forget whatever reconstruction or restructuring that has produced the six geo-political zones of today. You should also remember those who made contributions to the federation gaining independence in 1960. I remember that most of them were of Igbo extraction then. After reviewing these scenarios, you will convince yourself to expect that Nigeria can happily and satisfactorily get a president of Igbo extraction who will fit the bill and who will do extraordinarily well.



You will recall that in the 60s the eastern region was the fastest growing economy in the world. It is documented; it is not a baseless talk. And I also remember that the eastern region was also the first region to build a full-fledged university by first passing a law on May 18, 1955 for the first university to be built and they did not stop there. The 1955 law provided that the Eastern Nigeria Marketing Board should set aside £500,000 annually for the successful development of the university. That long term planning was what led to the successful take-off of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, on October 1, 1960.



It was after that, that other regions followed suit: the Federal Government established the University of Lagos in April 1962, while the Western Region established the Obafemi Awolowo University in 1961, and the Northern Region, Ahmadu Bello University in October 1962, while the law establishing the University of Ibadan as a full-fledged university was signed in December of 1962.



Under the leadership of late Chief Michael Okpara as the Premier of the Eastern Region, an agreement was signed with Sir Kenneth Hutchinson and Mr. C.C Filstead of Conch Methane Services Ltd for the 18,000,000  gas production plant in the then Bonny Province. Then you think about the Obudu Cattle Ranch, the Hotel Presidential in Enugu and Port Harcourt, Trans-Amadi industrial layout in Port Harcourt, Golden Guinea Breweries and Ceramics Industry in Umuahia, Steel Industry Emene, Nigeria Glass Industry and Eastern Michelin Tyre Factory, Port Harcourt, were all built by Okpara. These initiatives came early and I do not think you will find such initiatives from those who lack the capacity and training to be able to exercise leadership up to the presidential level.



It is a known fact that the Nigerian presidency is not won on a platter of gold, that you have to work for it. Now that the South-East is neck deep into the PDP, under which political party is the region going to contest and win the 2023 presidency?



My dear friend, I told you from the outset that the political structure of this country today is fluid. Today you have APC, which is a conglomeration of so many other po   litical parties, the CPC, ACN, ANPP and all that. You would recall that many opposition parties fused together and metamorphosed into APC, which is the ruling party today. Four years prior to that time, if anybody told you that this would happen you wouldn’t have believed. So, when I said this is a fluid political environment, I expect you to speak with caution. The PDP is there now, yes it has survived the test of time having been pushed left, right and center, yet it’s still standing strong. The space is open. You cannot say this is strictly an APC or PDP affair because this is a fluid political environment.


Today, President Muhammadu Buhari has provided leadership for the APC and we must acknowledge that and give him credit. Perhaps you have also heard someone like Senator Rochas Okorocha and others speculating that APC would probably go the way of PDP when President Buhari leaves the stage in 2023.There should not be any fear regarding who is in PDP and who is in APC when it comes to occupying that seat. Again there are no strong ideological differences between these parties. So, if you accept my analysis on this argument then you will then know that there is nothing to worry about.


If Nigerians agree with the contributions of the Igbos from how we got independence to when the Eastern region was the fastest growing economy till now and some other contributions we have been making and then acknowledge that the Igbos have demonstrated good faith and that they truly believe in this nation called Nigeria, they will then acknowledge that the Igbos deserve to lead this country. By the way, who else invests outside of its region more than the Igbos in Nigeria? No other tribe in Nigeria invests in this country outside their own region more than the Igbos. So, the South East can produce a president of Igbo extraction who has the potential to turn things around, reposition this nation, and restore confidence and trust in all Nigerians.


The House of Representatives has in the last few weeks being issuing resolutions on rehabilitation of infrastructure in the South-East. What are you doing in your own way to attract development to your constituency and South-East?


I have been able to facilitate many projects within my federal constituency; so many of them have been completed while some of them are ongoing. I do not intend to look back or stop. So, I want my constituents to really know that I will redouble my efforts to make sure that I continue to serve them well. You know funding constituency projects has been a big problem like the one I did in my place, the government has not been able to fully fund it. It was funded less than 40 per cent and it was abandoned and I had to look for money to complete the reconstruction of our hospital that was built in 1984 but was allowed to decay.



I will continue to facilitate projects that impact on the lives of the people. I will focus on hospitals, schools and training (human capital development). These are the things that I will continue to do and to the glory of God I think I have done things that are verifiable – things that are there for people to see in terms of projects that have been successfully executed. Without being exhaustive, let me mention just a few but impactful projects that I have successfully facilitated in my federal constituency.

When in 2016, the Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene Federal Road which was cut into two in many sections and consequently became impassable, I vigorously pursued the request for urgent palliative work to be done to restore the road. I received support and encouragement from Senator T.A Orji, to actualise that project. Also, I facilitated the erosion control work at Ukwudara, Amachara, Umuopara in Umuahia South LGA; erosion control work at Okwe-Obuohia road in Ikwuano LGA; construction of a block of classrooms at Afo Ugiri Girls Secondary School and a water project at Ohuhu and Avonkwu Ibeku in Umuahia North LGA; a massive skills acquisition centre at Apumiri Ubakala; blocks of classrooms at Umutowe Olokoro and Nsirimo Ubakala; hospital projects at Obuohia Obi-Ibere and Ahiaeke Oloko; electricity projects in all the Local Government Areas. I also facilitated the award of the total reconstruction of the Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene Federal Road.


I am currently working with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on an interchange at the Abia Tower to end the perpetual traffic gridlock and to achieve a proper dualization of the federal road from the Tower to Amawom Oboro in the first phase. There are many more federal projects that I am working on that are at the initial planning stages, including the building of a federal secretariat in Abia State.

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INEC has surrendered independence to hoodlums –Idi Farouk



INEC has surrendered independence to hoodlums –Idi Farouk


The violence that occurred during the recent governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa states, sparked outrage across Nigeria and beyond.  In this interview, a former Director General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Alhaji Idi Farouk tells ONWUKA NZESHI that the electoral umpire and referee of the political contest should be held liable for these bad elections


How would you describe the state of the nation today?


There is poverty. There is a lot of hunger and it seems as if the government is a little bit slow in rectifying all these problems that people have.  There is also insecurity. Although to be fair to the government, I think it is beginning to reduce, but we as Nigerians expect that the reduction is heavier and faster.  But generally speaking, I that I will advise the government to be up and doing in all that it does. We need more security and we need improvements in our welfare as citizens.  Basically, I rate the government a bit too slow on the path of development of our country. 


Indeed, most Nigerians are feeling this pain of hunger in the land. I know this because I have dependants and I am also a dependant in some ways.  I think that the government should look at ways and means of taking us out of this quagmire of poverty and hunger.


Today there are only three classes of people in Nigeria – the very rich, the poor and the very poor.  What used to be known as the middle class who comprised of citizens who are doing averagely well and relatively comfortable, has vanished from the scene. 


What exactly do you want the administration to do that it has not done?


Normally, when an administration is in this kind of situation, people expect it to embark on massive infrastructure development but it appears that the budget is a little bit on the low side in terms of capital expenditure. We need to have an increase in the 2020 budget because when you have a lot of infrastructural development and construction works going on, it has a multiplier effect on the economy. I think that the N250 billion which they said was budgeted for the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing is on the low side and cannot produce the kind of impact that is required to move the economy out of the woods and many Nigerians out of poverty.


The 2019 budget came with a lot of deficit which would require the government borrowing money to fill the gaps.  Are you comfortable with this situation?


I have no problem with the issue of borrowing as long as what is borrowed is channeled appropriately to specific capital projects. I have no problems with borrowing because even in our everyday life, people borrow when they don’t have enough money to fulfill certain family and business obligations.  When you don’t have enough, you can borrow as long as you don’t squander the money on frivolities. So, I don’t join those who think Nigeria should not borrow money to fund our budget. I think we can borrow as long as we ensure the fund is properly utilised. 


Indeed, some experts think that Nigeria is not borrowing enough given our population and the size of our economy. I am not an economist but I know that borrowing is not a bad thing.      

A typical Nigerian man would proudly announce to you that he built his house without borrowing a dime from anybody but he probably should have borrowed and used other people’s money to build the house and use that personal money for another business.   

What’s your view about the recent elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states?


I must say that it was a huge embarrassment because, according to the Police authorities,   the number of policemen assigned to those two elections was over 60,000. I am not talking about the other security operatives from the DSS, Civil Defence and even the military that were deployed to these elections.  Are you telling me that with such number of security personnel deployed to those two states we still witnessed that unprecedented level of violence? 

As far as I am concerned there was no election in Kogi State. Clearly there was no election in Kogi. It was so violent to the extent that even after the so called election, the Woman Leader of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was burnt alive inside her own home. To make matters worse, after many days of the incident, the Police did nothing to investigate the incident and arrest the perpetrators.  It took the intervention of the President a few days ago before the police could act.  This is unacceptable.

Was there really an election in Kogi?  I don’t think there was and I think that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has failed in its responsibility to conduct free, fair and credible elections. 

But INEC has absolved itself and blamed the violence during the election on politicians and security agencies.  How do you react to this position?


Excuse me.  What do they mean by that?  About a month ago, I heard the INEC Chairman, Prof.  Mahmoud Yakubu say that they got a conviction on an individual who committed an electoral offence in Gombe State.  Every election in Nigeria is fraught with a lot of violence and going by what we saw in that last election, some INEC officials are also complicit in the electoral fraud. We saw some of them involved in mass thumb printing of ballot papers and till today, not even one person has been arrested.


The only people that we heard have been arrested are the suspected killers of the PDP Woman Leader in Kogi. But there was shooting all over the place during the so called election. How can the electoral umpire close its eyes to all these things?



You heard the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Abubakar Adamu admitting that there was violence in Kogi but that it was perpetrated by fake policemen or hoodlums in police uniform.  That testimony coming from the top hierarchy of the police is enough reason to cancel the election in the entire state. 


For INEC to absolve itself, it should have cancelled the election.  How can they blame it on the politicians? If you are watching a football match, don’t you see what referees do?  Even when a coach or team manager misbehaves, the referee sends him out of the pitch.  Why INEC is called an electoral umpire if it cannot regulate the activities of the politicians and punish those who run foul of the law?  INEC is the referee of this game yet it didn’t perform well at all. 


You cannot tell me that after all the violence in that election in places  like Okene, Okehi and Adavi local government areas, INEC did not only accept results obtained from, it gave it  to one party and to  the exclusion of the other political parties.  It is not right.  It doesn’t seem right.  Until INEC wakes up to its responsibility, its independence will remain doubtful. As it stands now, INEC’s independence has been taken away from it by political thugs, hooligans, security agencies and the courts. 


INEC claims it has been conducting the elections within the limits of the powers conferred on it by the Electoral Act and the Constitution.  Don’t you think they are constrained by the laws?



I am happy that you used the word “claims” because it is only an excuse they are giving to dodge their responsibilities. INEC is in charge of our elections and that is why they are called the Election Management Body. It is the electoral umpire and if it feels that the election was fraught with violence, it has the powers to cancel the election.  They have done so in very minute cases.


For God’s sake, look at what happened in Kano during the last election, the Deputy Governor of the state and the Chairman of a local government council went into an INEC Collation Centre and tore the result sheets in the full glare of the world. Then INEC said that election was inconclusive     and ordered a rerun.  So they pick and choose what they want to do and that is not good.

What would you have expected INEC to do in Kano? 


I expected them to declare the real results of that election and declare the rightful winner. I also expected them to have ordered the arrest and prosecution of those who tampered with the electoral process.

Do you mean that it is not Abdulahi Ganduje that won that election?


The courts say he has won.  Two courts have ruled that he won, so who am I to say he didn’t win the election? I am not challenging the courts, I’m challenging INEC for not being alive to its responsibilities ab initio.


Nigerians have lamented enough about bad elections,  what can we do to get out of this quagmire? 

Until INEC lives up to the expectations of the citizenry and stops the buck passing we can’t get out of this mess.  They blame police, they blame politicians and they refuse to take responsibility.  The police is not the one conducting the elections, they are only there to provide security.


When the police and other security agencies fail to provide security during an election, what do you expect INEC to do?


Excuse me, INEC’s  responsibility is  to conduct free, fair and credible elections at all times.  Therefore, if the elections are not free and fair but fraught with violence, if INEC officials are kidnapped and released later and they come with results, INEC has a responsibility to cancel such elections and call for another one.  If they have to repeat the elections five times for it to be good, so be it.  I think that is the only message that they can send to the political class to make them sit up. 



INEC should not be blaming the police who are there on its invitation to help in the conduct of the election.  The police are there to arrest ballot box snatchers and other miscreants who may want to disrupt the electoral process.  If the police fails to  do its job there should be appropriate penalties and not mere blame games. Are you telling me that INEC did not see the evidences of a manipulated electoral process?  Are they blind to the facts of what we are seeing during these elections?



Ideally, anywhere there is a gunshot; INEC ought to cancel the election in that place and the election should be repeated. Let us try this measure and see how far we can go but really we cannot continue like this. It is my hope and prayer that the 9th National Assembly passes the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and Mr. President signs it into law.


Beyond cancelling elections in places where violence has taken place, don’t you think that disqualifying candidates who perpetrate violence could be a stronger deterrent? 


I don’t think INEC has the powers to disqualify the candidates who have been duly nominated by their political parties.  But they have the power to cancel elections and they have shown it in several places. They usually declare some election inconclusive and do a rerun.  Is that not how the current Governor of Kogi State emerged?  After the death of Abubakar Audu, INEC declared the election inconclusive and ordered a rerun in some locations before they declared a winner.

If INEC could do that, I expect it to take more decisive decisions in order to  assert its independence.  It has to prove that it has capacity to be independent. As I speak with you now, it’s like the courts are doing more than INEC is  in our electoral process.

What about this feeling in INEC that its hands are tied by the laws?


Excuse me.  We have enough laws for INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections.  I believe they know what to do and have enough powers under the laws to give us credible elections.  Are they not the ones that came up with the phenomenon of inconclusive?  There was inconclusive in Osun, there was inconclusive in Kano and there was also inconclusive in Kogi even before this last election.  What laws were they using?  Yes, they require getting the smart card reader as part of the law, but I insist that they have enough laws to conduct free and fair elections because they have the power to stop an election and they have the power to determine when the election would take place.  Even when they have fixed a date, they have the power to postpone an election. So what other powers do they require before they give us credible elections. 


There are clamours for the amendment of the Electoral Act, do you think this would help INEC? 

That the Electoral Act has not been amended again does not remove any powers from INEC. Under the existing laws, INEC has the powers to conduct a proper election and they have been exercising those powers.

Why then are we not having credible elections?  Is it a case of compromise?


I don’t want to call it compromise, but it seems to me that a lot of water has gone under the bridge.


What do you think about the role of the Police, Army and other security agencies are playing in our elections?


Look, I really don’t understand.  Honestly, I really can’t understand why for one election, you will have 35,000 policemen in one state and yet you find political thugs running riot all over the same state.  First, I don’t know how you will convey 35,000 policemen to a state and citizens would not seen the convoys as they move into the state.  Then to say that in spite of their presence, people are being killed, people are being maimed and ballot boxes are being snatched. It’s an indictment on the police authorities.  Their performance itself has indicted them, nobody else has indicted them. 


As for the Nigeria Army, I really don’t know their role in these elections.  They shouldn’t even be part of our elections.  I want to believe that soldiers are citizens and if they are registered, they should also be voting in their respective polling units during elections. The less we see of them in our elections, the better. They have bigger things to do. 

What do you think about the Social Media bill? 


Can it be regulated? Why do we need to waste time and energy to what we know we cannot do?  Even the various problems we have with other aspects of our lives we have not been able to resolve them.  How can we regulate something that is not really in our hands? Are we the ones managing the internet?  Really, let us apply our energy and resources to things that will be more meaningful to citizens instead of dissipating energy on hate speech and social media. As long as we don’t own the technology running the internet and we don’t manage what goes on there, I think we are wasting our time.

Moreover, we also have the Cybercrime Act which seeks to do some regulation of what we do on the cyberspace.

Some critics are of the view that these controversial bills are programmed to silence Nigerians and pave way for a third term agenda for President Buhari. Do you share this view? 

First of all, Mr. President, himself has said he has no intention to seek a third term because our Constitution does not allow it.  I saw him. I heard him. So where is this third term coming from?  He said that he will go by the Constitution and I don’t disbelieve him. 


Don’t you think that given the character of the current National Assembly, there is a possibility that some of these laws and plots could succeed? 


I agree that the National Assembly to advance large extent is working closely with the Executive but even the budget that is before them, you can see that it is not the way that Mr. President  submitted it to them that they will pass it. There has to be some changes.  So, it is healthy for the nation that the Presidency and the Legislature are working together.  As a matter of fact, they should work together. They are not supposed to be at loggerheads but that does not mean that everything Mr. President brings will be passed and every law they pass would be signed into law by Mr. President.  The Executive and the Legislature should work in harmony because they are supposed to complement each other. 


As part of the budget process, the MDAs have been going to the National Assembly to defend their budgets before the lawmakers. What does that mean?   It means that there would be situations where some MDAs  might say the money allocated to them is not enough to carry out their functions and if the lawmakers buy that argument they will increase such a budget. So it is not the way the budget was when Mr President submitted it that the National Assembly will pass it.  So I think the relationship between both arms is healthy.  The shouldn’t be at daggers drawn before we know they are working. 


Where do you think our President should come from on 2023?


The President must be a Nigerian. I am not interested in that argument of where he comes from.  He could be a Nigerian of Igbo extraction, a Nigerian of Yoruba extraction, a Nigerian of Hausa extraction or a Nigerian of Kanuri extraction.  But let us talk about politics properly. I heard that about 60 political parties came together to condemn the violence that marred the last governorship polls. Let us hope and pray that they become one political party so that we have fewer number of political parties to make the political space more manageable.  But let us look at the scenario very well.  Every party has its area of strength and I want to assure you that no party will go outside its area of strength to present its candidate for the Presidency. 

Is there really clear cut  areas of strength for our major political parties today?


Surely. They have areas of strength. Look at how the votings were done during the last election.  Check out the voting pattern and you will understand what I am talking about. No party worth its salt will go out of its area of strength to present a candidate because it is a competition and there is no party, particularly the two big parties.  There is a representation of every Nigerian in each of these parties.  This means that in the APC you have the Kanuri, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Nupe and all other tribes inside the party.  So in choosing a candidate, the party will go to the area where it is popular.  The reason is that APC will be fighting it out against the PDP and this is why they usually wait for the other party to present its candidate  during the primaries.  Each of them would wait for the other to present its candidate first so that they know from which area he was picked.


So my take on this is that in 2023, 2027, 2031 and so on, we need a Nigerian that has foresight,  intellect and can take us out of the woods.



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Huge protests ahead of poll as Algeria holds first televised presidential debate



Huge protests ahead of poll as Algeria holds first televised presidential debate

A vast crowd rallied in Algiers on the final Friday before a contentious presidential election as five of the candidates pariticipated in the country’s first ever televised election debate.

It is a crucial time for Algeria after nationwide pro-democracy protests forced ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika out of power in April. But the country’s 9-month-old mass movement believes the presidential poll is a sham and fear it will be rigged in favor of the old regime.

On Friday in central Algiers they chanted “We will not vote” and held aloft banners reading “The people are fed up.”

The army, the major force within the Algerian state, sees the December 12 election of a new president as the only way to restore normality, reports France24.

The leaderless opposition movement casts the election as pointless if the ruling hierarchy, including the army, continues to wield power, and wants it put off until more top officials step aside and the military quits politics.

“We will stick to our position. We don’t care about next Thursday. We need change,” said post office employee Aissa Baha’i, 32.

As the last protesters were still leaving, state television began broadcasting a debate between the five men running for president, all of whom are former senior officials.

Some people were watching in Algiers cafes, though others were showing a soccer match, including some protesters who rejected it as political theatre.

“These candidates are part of the same system. They don’t have new ideas. It’s a shame,” said Mohamed Tabi, a taxi driver.

The first question was about Algeria’s political system, and candidates tried to mollify the opposition.

One candidate, Abdelaziz Belaid, said he would hold a referendum to change the constitution and another, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, said he would grant all the freedoms sought by the protesters.

Election first

The debate is the first in an Algerian election, and some people watching in a nearby restaurant said they were interested and were planning to vote.

Farid Hamiti, a state bank employee, said the election was “the only way to stop the situation from getting worse”.

Though the protest movement, which during the spring was regularly bringing hundreds of thousands of people out, has so far been peaceful, there have been signs of growing tensions as the election nears.

Earlier this year the authorities detained dozens of protesters for waving flags with Berber symbols, as they began

to put more pressure on the marches. Many were later sentenced to year-long prison terms for undermining national unity.

Late on Thursday, the security services accused a Berber separatist movement of planning to disrupt the election by using agents provocateurs among the protesters to incite police violence, saying a student in the banned group had confessed.

The government has also arrested several opposition figures and journalists, charging some with attacking army morale.

On Friday state media reported that thousands of people had joined marches in towns in western and eastern provinces in support of next week’s vote.

In recent weeks, opposition protesters have marched more frequently and demonstrated against candidates by hanging bags of garbage in public spaces reserved for electioneering.

Meanwhile, the government has sought to appease protester anger over corruption, arresting dozens of senior officials and former officials and businessmen, many of them associated with Bouteflika, and sentencing some to long prison terms.

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‘Obaseki must pacify aggrieved party leaders’



‘Obaseki must pacify aggrieved party leaders’

Comrade Emmanuel Owie Aiguobasinmwin is the Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. In this Interview with our correspondent, he spoke on the political feud between Governor Godwin Obaseki and the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.  Excerpts…



With the crisis currently rocking the APC in Edo State, how prepared is your party towards the 2020 gubernatorial election in the state?



The 2020 governorship election in Edo State will be very easy for our party. Though there is little crisis now, notwithstanding, the APC is one family and I do know that, very soon the problem will be over. Edo State for now is an APC state, and it will be very difficult for any of the opposition parties to take over the state from APC.



Are you saying that the crisis won’t have effects on the party, and that the end to the political rift is near?



Yes I make bold to say that the end of this crisis is just at hand. One thing I want the leaders of our party to know is that crisis is not good for anything, especially now that the governorship election is around the corner. They should remember that when PDP lost the federal seat to APC, it was because of internal crisis. When they lost the state to APC during the era of prof. Osunbor it was also as a result of crisis. I want to use this medium to call on all the aggrieved people in the party to swallow their pride and ego in the interest of the party. We cannot afford to make mistakes that will give opposition party the chance of taking over the state.


Is this just a problem between Obaseki and Oshiomhole? Or are there other party leaders to be blamed for it?



Actually the issue is not between Oshiomhole and Obaseki, in fact, I must tell you that there are people who are benefitting from this crisis and they are praying for it not to end because of their greedy nature. Just like what President Muhammadu Buhari said about Edo State crisis, he said that it would soon be over, that if Oshiomhole can settle other states’, he can also find solutions to the problems in his state. For now, nobody is interested in who is responsible for it or who is to be blamed for it. What we are begging for now is having the issues settled so that we can forge ahead.  There is no more time, before you know it, we are in 2020.



How will you settle the issue of those disobeying the party’s constitution?



As far as I’m concern, nobody is bigger that the party’s constitution, the party’s supremacy should be followed. The NWC is the highest organ in the party, whatever it decides is the final. I will never be in support of anyone who flouts the party’s constitution. Those in power now should know that people brought their money together to form this party, and there are political leaders that determine what happens in the party. You do not run government like a bank, people call you to come and serve, and it is compulsory for you to listen to them.


Do you think Edo South voters will abandon Obaseki to follow Oshiomhole when the chips are down?           



No, we are not talking about any individual now, the party must come first. It is after the party primaries that we can mention names, and then we can now be talking about the electorate. For instance, in Kogi State, Yahaya Bello did not offend the party, but he offended the people, and when it was decision time, the party said it wanted him back and he got the supports of the powers that be and he won for the second term.



Now that Edo South is divided, who does Governor Obaseki banks on for support?



My only advice for our governor is to call prominent men in the state to go and talk with Oshiomhole, it is not too late to meet him. It was Oshiomhole that did everything to ensure that Obaseki was made the governor. Yes, Edo South is divided, if he is not able to put his house in order before the primaries, only God knows what will happen. Our governor should not be deceived, Oshiomhole has total control of Edo North and part of Edo South, and this is where the problem lies.




I will also advice him to stop all these sackings and termination of appointments; he is making the people lose trust in his administration. The election is coming; this is not the time to fire people. It is not a good omen for us in the party.



What is your take on the return of Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu to APC; does he pose any threat to other aspirants?




Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu’s coming back to APC is highly appreciated by his friends and political allies. He is one of the founding fathers of the party, nobody knows why he decided to come back and so, I am not in a position to speak on it. But I do know that anybody the paryt brings forward as the candidate will be supported by all.



Should Obaseki fail to get the 2020 ticket, don’t you think that he is likely to dump the APC for another party?



Obaseki cannot do that. If God forbids that he gets the ticket, he will not leave the party, he has tried his best. If that happens, he will go back to his business. Politicians who jump from one political party to another are not serious people; you should be able to stand with your party, whether good or bad.

You said Obaseki should take some leaders to see Oshiomhole. Are you indirectly advising that Obaseki and Shaibu should go and beg Oshiomhole?


Begging Oshiomhole is not the issue, nobody owns the party. Oshiomhole came as a father to work for you so that you can take over from him, he made you governor, so it is expected that you respect him too. Elders went to Oshiomhole to complain that you are not carrying politicians along, and that you are not doing things according to the laws of the party. As a governor that rose on the platform of the party, he should do the needful, give political party leaders their due respect and patronage. Oshiomhole was good to all, and that is why you see that people are ready to die for him. So I expect our dynamic governor to do the same, so that he can have easy ride in 2020.



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Stepping into Prof Alele-Williams’ shoes is a privilege –Prof. Salami



Stepping into Prof Alele-Williams’ shoes is a privilege –Prof. Salami

Professor Mrs. Lilian Imuetinyan Salami is the new Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Edo State. She is the 10th substantive Vice Chancellor of the university and the second female Vice Chancellor since the university was founded in 1970 by the late Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia. Professor Salami joined the university in 1974 becoming the first female professor in the Faculty of Education in 2005. She was appointed as the Director of General Studies from 2009-11 and has held various positions in the university. In this interview with OJIEVA EHIOSUN, she spoke on her new appointment, the challenges, her vision and mission for the institution. Excerpts…



Professor, today is a remarkable day in your life; how do you feel becoming the second woman Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin?



I’m so happy and delighted, and I want to give glory to the Almighty God for making this dream come true. I also want to thank the immediate past Vice Chancellor for this opportunity and for the cooperation I received from him even before the whole exercise of the selection process. We meet at all times when people are not watching; he has really given me his assurance and full support. For those who think that we are not friends, I think they should change their song. I want to say that we are friends, brothers and sisters, we are one family, and I want us to remain like that. I want to say that I will build on Prof. Friday Orunmwense’s foundation so that we can make the University of Benin one of the outstanding institutions of higher learning. That, for me, is my mission and my dream, which I think will come to fruition with everyone’s hand being on the deck. You see everywhere I go I’m proud to be Unibest, so we must put everything in place to match action with words so that we can take the University of Benin to where it belongs.



In what way do you want to improve on the welfare of students?



The reason I’m here is primarily for the students. Yes, there are top challenges no doubt, but with total commitment to our duties, those challenges are surmountable. Every student on this campus came here for a purpose, so as fathers and mothers, it is our collective responsibility to see that they actualise their aims and objectives of coming to University of Benin. As you know, I have been in this system for a long time, I know the terrain, I know the challenges faced by the students, and my administration is committed to making sure that we provide a conducive environment to learning so that graduates of UNIBEN will be able to compete with their contemporaries in all disciplines across the globe. So I will listen and take their welfare problem as my priority; I will particularly look at the accommodation of students because the more you have students living on the premises, the better it will be for their academic enhancement. We also need to have an environment that is friendly; we cannot produce hoodlums, we need to have an environment that is friendly to our students so that they can learn. We need to have students that are marketable internationally so that they will be proud wherever they go to be products of this university. We are not going to rest on our laurels so as to make sure we achieve already set targets.


What would you say is your story in all of these?


Yes everyone has a story; mine started with having loving parents (Mr. Benjamin and Mrs. Alice Emovon) who believed that education was paramount and committed their very existence to ensuring that my siblings and I had access to the best that they could afford. They had tall aspirations for me, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be where I’m today. As you know, I joined this great citadel of learning in 1994 and then becoming the first female Professor in the Faculty of Education in 2005. Thereafter I was appointed as the Director of General Studies and later chairperson University of Benin Integrated Enterprise, Director of Part- Time Programme, Member Postgraduate Board, Member Appointment &Promotion Committee, Senate Representative in Governing Council. I was also first elected Dean of the Faculty of Education among others. I stand on the wide shoulders of endearing mentors who have guided my steps, seen beyond typical stereotypes of age and gender and challenged me to stretch in ways that made me a better person.



I want to appreciate the founding fathers of this institution; they foresaw a world where its very existence had far reaching implications and impact. They understood that education is beyond what is learnt in the classroom, but what exists long after theory is forgotten. They understood that the true marks of success is our sustained ability to make our immediate and extended communities better than we met them. I’m proud to acknowledge that the University of Benin has produced several distinguished alumni who have made their mark in different relevant fields. So, to make University of Benin a better place, we must reflect on where we stand today and where we want to be tomorrow.



You said you have a seven-point agenda to take University of Benin to the promise land; what are these seven points?



My strategies for bringing this vision into fruition have been captured under the seven pillars. These are:  Increased funding and sustainable initiatives, develop environmental values and ethical orientation, ensure quality academic programmes, enhance staff and students’ welfare and security, expansion/enhancement of physical structure development and management, increase in human capital development and management and community impact initiative.



How do you feel stepping into the shoes of Professor Grace Alele-Williams as the second female Vice Chancellor of this university?



I’m indeed very graceful, honoured and privileged to be the 10th substantive Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin. Yes, I recognise the gravity of this role and do not take this great opportunity lightly, especially when called upon to fill the big shoes left by the first female Vice Chancellor of this great institution, Professor Grace Alele-Williams. What can I say again than to say ‘God I thank you greatly’. But I want to say that I will walk on the path of integrity, authenticity, equity, transparency, accountability, courage, selfless service, good working relationship and high level partnership. I will like to remind our students that the days of producing hoodlums are over. University of Benin must be ranked among the best in the world, so we must all be ready to

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I won’t divert Edo State money to Lagos –Idehen



I won’t divert Edo State money to Lagos –Idehen

Hon. Uwuilekhue Saturday Idehen, a former commissioner on the board of the NDDC, is now an APC governorship aspirant in Edo State. The erstwhile local government boss spoke with our correspondent on sundry issues. Excerpts…



As the immediate past commissioner representing Edo State on the board of the NDDC, what were your challenges?


Part of my challenges was the act establishing the NDDC. The President in one of his visits, agreed that a forensic audit had to be carried out, I don’t think that is the problem, the main problem of the NDDC is the act establishing the commission. If the Act is amended to actually fit the reason why the NDDC was established, Niger Delta people will experience a huge development. But if the Act is not amended, you can do any audit you want to do, but the first thing is the government must take a critical look at the audit. I’m not saying the effort is not gear towards probity accountability to be able to know what has been happening over the years, but the major problem is the Act. The Act establishing it is faulty and was hastily and wrongly put together in 1999/2000.


How would you react to Governor Obaseki’s claim that the NDDC did not do any meaningful project in Edo State?


I think Mr. Governor is uninformed when it comes to the issue of the NDDC. You know jack of all trade, they say is master of none. You cannot presume to have suffered fire burnt more than the man who was actually involved in the incident. I think Governor Obaseki has to seat back to look at the workings of NDDC. The truth is that nobody is being mobilised in NDDC, the governor has to go back to his records and see if money has been corruptibly taken from the NDDC.

Yes, there are some contractors who are actually fraudulent, they execute shady projects in connivance with some fraudulent civil servants and they will certify these jobs. Because the certification of these jobs does not lie with the commissioner, it lies with the management. So, there are fraudulent staff who are engineers sent to the sites to certified these jobs reporting that the jobs had been done. This thing is not peculiar with Edo. It is across the nine states of the Niger Delta, that is why you see jobs done two weeks ago eroded today.


And you will be sure that engineers of this commission certify these jobs and until now, no sanction has been carried out against such engineers. It doesn’t also mean that there are no transparent engineers and staff in the NDDC management. If you see one project that is being certified by one fraudulent engineer in NDDC, it does not mean that there are no good people there, you still have good supervisors, and site engineers that can still do some good jobs. 


I know that there are people who are actually Godly who we can still trust, like a man who was the project supervisor in Benin. By the time he stood his ground and ensure that the project should actually be done, the contractor ran to me.

When he came to me as the commissioner I said, ‘okay, because he is close to one of the executive directors, he feels he can use that one to intimidate the Head of Project Monitoring in Edo office’. I was shocked when the man spoke, from there I knew yes there are actually some people who cannot be cajoled into doing bad things. I knew that there are still people that are transparent that actually want the best for Niger/Delta. There is also the problem of design, whereby a project head will design a project and post to a state without consulting the commissioner. So that is why I said that the Act must be looked into.


What should the people do to get more Federal Government attention for the development of the nine NDDC states?


The attention of government is sufficient to develop the region, because the budget of the NDDC is about a billion naira per-annum. If the application of such fund is justified, you will discover that the level of development in the Niger Delta will be unprecedented. So, to still talk about Federal Government support is not called for, I think we have to be accountable to what we are given first.


Federal Government has a lot of intervention funds for the Niger Delta. What we have to do is to be very prudent in the management of the funds made available. We do not need to bother government, I was in the saddle for two years as commissioner representing Edo State. So when I talk, I know what I’m talking about. There are other NGOs assisting the UN, World Bank, European Union, among others. So, we need to manage what these organisations are helping with before asking more from the government. To my own understanding, I know that a lot of things are going on in that sector, I just pray that one day, we will get a messiah that will be bold enough to step on toes and bring these fraudulent people to book. So that the main aim of establishing the NDDC will be achieved and Niger Delta people will received the needed development.


You want to run for the governorship of Edo in 2020 under the APC. How prepared are you?


In terms of preparation, I do not think there is any battle that is too big for God to fight, I think the first thing that will win in any contest if we have to face the reality, is the conscience and the mind of the people, especially when the people’s interest is paramount in your mind.  And having God in anything that we do goes a long way into helping us.


In my consultation with my people, I have received a lot of calls and write ups which I never masterminded, calls for me to run and they are coming from the good people of Edo base on my antecedents and the role I have played in the lives of people. When I was hosted to a ground reception by my people in my community, they told me to go and contest for the governorship post that I have their full backing. Let me tell all that my ambition is basically bank rolled by friends who know my worth and what I’m capable of doing. Just few days ago, a group called me to say that they have printed 10,000 T. shirts for my campaign. They also said that they would raise money for my nomination form. So these are the handiwork of God.



If I get the governorship ticket and eventually becomes the governor in 2020, all I’m going to do is going to be about the people not about me. I’m not that kind of person that will take Edo people’s money to Lagos, Abuja and Europe. I never dwell in all those places, all my life I have dwelt in Benin City and my village. I don’t have that ambition to acquire wealth that will not give peace. I have an integrity and a family name to maintain.

Apart from being NDDC commissioner,  what other experience qualifies you for the governorship?



I have held several positions, starting from party secretary, Secretary of the DPN in my local government, Secretary of PDP in my local government, secretary of council, chairman of the council, former Senior Special Assistant to the comrade governor, Adams Oshiomhole.



I was two times commissioner, in the NDDC, I was member of the equity committee. All these positions I have held is not by magic, it is God that is seeing the hearts of men. So, if I’m also aspiring to the be governor today, it is not out of place, it is a challenge that is not bigger than God.


What do you have to offer?


I have to accept the call and take the bull by the horns to rewrite the history of this state. The state has suffered enough, there are issues that need to be addressed; first is a system that can create jobs.  Edo people need a government that can provide jobs that the youth will be actually hungry to do. You need a system that is open, accountable and passionate about the feelings of the people, so, I think that is what Edo people need now. We don’t need a system where you use security votes for personal business.


I want to come and set a precedent like the late Professor Ambrose Ali, Dr. Samuel Ogemudia, and our national chairman Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. These people worked their hearts out for Edo people, and today their works still speak for them. Look, despite the fact that Oshiomhole has been highly criticised, I worked with him, he still has his good side. Oshiomhole is very passionate about his people, he has a human face. These are things I also learnt from him, and by God’s grace if I’m there, we will do the right thing.


What is your take on the APC crisis?


The crisis is not to discredit the APC, rather, the crisis is to get the best. It is borne out of the fact that the best needs to be in the saddle, it cannot create any issue. Anybody saying that is a system, is not saying the truth, when a system is no longer acceptable to the people that system should be rejected. There is internal revolution and resentment; it is the resentment that will bring out the best. You cannot continue to hit at the people and expect them not to react. You cannot take the people for granted.


How would you assess Oshiomhole’s leadership of the APC?


One cannot call a day good or bad until the evening, he has just started. He was a labour leader, he became a governor, did his very best and left. He just started as a national party leader, he still has two more years to go. So what you are seeing now is part of the things we will look at the end of his tenure to let us know whether he is a hero or not.


All the great men that made remarkable marks in this country are being remembered and called heroes after they must have gone. But I want people to call Oshiomhole a hero while he is alive. 


Edo people rejected Ambrose Ali who was imprisoned for N800, which was paid by Chief Gabriel Igbinedion. Today he is being remembered by the people and called a hero. For Oshiomhole, I know that he will be among the living heroes of our time because of what he is doing now in Nigeria, provided he doesn’t lose track or allow sycophants to mislead



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The Nembe massacre: Will the police ever arrest the culprits?




ajor killings in the two off seasons gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa and Kogi started on November 16, 2016 in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on Wednesday, three days before the election. An armed militia group working for the All Progressives Congress invaded the King Koko Square at Nembe Ogbolomabiri and opened fire on hundreds of PDP supporters who had assembled there for the last Local Government campaign of the PDP Candidate, Senator Douye Diri. While the gun wielding militia was mowing down innocent citizens who were in Nembe for the campaigns, another set of the hoodlums ambushed the party members and journalists at the Ogbolomabiri/ Bassambiri junction. The OB van driver of Radio Bayelsa, Mr. Simon Onu, was shot dead beside his van. A police inspector, Achibugu Odagi, who was deployed from Asaba, Delta State, on election duty, died of gunshot attacks during the gruesome premeditated massacre. Several of his colleagues were were lucky to have escaped with different degrees of gunshot wounds.



Sadly, many party supporters who went with the campaign train to Nembe and did not know the area were trapped in the bush. There are troubling reports coming out of Nembe that several people were killed with their stomachs ripped open and thrown into the Brass River to sink for ever. A day to the election, medical personnel were battling m save save the lives of 109 persons sustained gunshot injuries at the Federal Medical Centre, and the Bayelsa State Specialist Hospital, Yenagoa



Immediately after the attack, the Candidate of the PDP, Senator Douye Diri, who narrowly escaped  the attacked addressed a press conference where he gave some insight into the masterminds of the attack and their reasons for it


“Before we got into Nembe for the last lapse of our campaigns, we had conflicting informations and intelligence that one Gabriel Jonah who is the head of a group called an “Otita Force” has warned that the PDP cannot campaign in Nembe and that Nembe is an APC community and they will not allow the PDP campaign in Nembe. And allegedly we are told and informed that all the killings were carried out by the “Otita Force” leader Gabriel Jonah.”



It is shocking to note that these killings which many have described as a massacre took place three days to the gubernatorial election in the state. Prior to the Nembe mayhem, the national newspapers were replete with reports that politicians were procuring arms to unleash violence on the innocent voting populace during the election.



Ordinarily, one would have expected the security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission to address the state and indeed take immediate preemptive steps in the interest of the innocent voters who are the unfortunate hapless victims of violence. Unfortunately, the security agencies did not find it necessary to review the pre-election  violence in Nembe to reinforce security  across the state to create the conducive environment for competitive voting.


A sensitive electoral commission which is guided by the tenets of impartiality and which is not in collusion with compromised security agencies on a mission to rig the election would have called a meeting to reassess the security situation in  Nembe following the unprovoked massacre of innocent PDP  members barely three days to the election.



Many Bayelsans found it shocking that INEC ignored the grisly images of the massacre of innocent people in the mainstream media and the social media to conduct a charade called election and even produced concocted figures to justify the infamy called election on November 16, 2019 in Bayelsa.



The horror and the gory spectacle of the bloodied injured was such that all men of good conscience would have expected INEC to take steps  in the direction of voters protection. This is expected because the gun wielding youths who carried out the most devastating assault on the electoral process executed a second phase of the violence. The armed militia moved from house to house in search of members of the PDP to attack most of who fled the town. This was glaringly the case of the riot of an organized armed minority against majority of law abiding citizens who were armed with their permanent voters card. Many including some educated  have said that the attack and sacking of PDP members from Nembe was made possible because the attackers and their supporters were more! What a weak argument! I would have expected the so called majority to have mocked the minority with the strength of their votes in line with the age long ethos of democratic governance! Rather, a strategy not good enough  even for animals was adopted. The prospective voters were killed, and others chased away from the community for the most reckless rigging in election recorded history Bayelsa to be perpetrated against democracy! Like the plight of a virgin raped viciously by a violent alcoholic, democracy is desperately in need of the native hot bath to rectify badly severed veins in private places! What a pity! This the Bayelsa situation!




What makes Bayelsa situation even more pathetic is the deliberate steps to describe what happened as an election despite the incontrovertible video evidence of electoral fraud and the mind boggling descent into criminality. Those who carried out the brutal siege on democracy  in Bayelsa are battling to foist an aura of legitimacy on the anathema they have called an election.



It is on this basis that I find it necessary to call on Nigerians to rise in fefence of the sacred place of the ballot in a democracy. The story line that while election was marred by violence in Kogi State,  voting took place in Bayelsa is the most immoral attempt to create a marriage for contradictions. It is a wicked attempt to overstretch the boundary of immorality! This is worse than an image of our reverred Pope presiding over a marriage of two men!


It is reassuring to hear that following the directive of the President that the bloodthirsty counterparts of the Bayelsa killer gang in Kogi who murdered the PDP Ward Women Leader be fished out, the police has  arrested six persons. Even the United Nations has condemned the reprehensible killings in Kogi. However, it is troubling that a similar directive has not been issued to the security agencies to apprehend the Nembe murderers!


Nigerians are still waiting or that moment of relief when President would give a specific directive to the security agencies to arrest and prosecute those who killed  the OB Van Driver of Radio Bayelsa, Mr. Onu, the riot Police Inspector, Achibugu Odagi, and several people whose stomachs were ripped open and thrown into the Brass River an estuary of the River  Nun to sink forever.  The police authorities have not  arrested anybody for this massacre and the slaughter of the innocent in the guise of election. Going by the circumstances will the security agencies ever arrest anybody for this multiple murders?


On Wednesday, a shocked Bayelsa State Government has empaneled a body investigate the murder of Bayelsans and other Nigerian citizens on the eve of the election.



While paid agents are battling to splash legitimacy on the fraud and savagery called election in Bayelsa, the fact remains that democracy as represented by the Bayelsa election is nothing different from a putrid concert of married women all dancing stark naked in the market square!




*Oputin, Secretary General PDP Youth Network writes from Tungbo, SAGBAMA

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