The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said the deployment of CSP Usman Musa, former ADC to Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello to coordinate security in Saturday’s governorship election in the state is an invitation to violence and bloodletting.
The party in a statement Wednesday by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, alleged that CSP Musa has been compromised and directed by the governor and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to use excessive force, intimidate and arrest voters.
CSP Musa had been transferred to Lagos but PDP said he was deployed for the election to do the biddings of the governor and the APC.
“We have also been made aware of directives by the APC and agents of Governor Yahaya Bello to shoot and kill during the election to aid the manipulation of the electoral process for the APC,” PDP further alleged.
It called on the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to immediately reverse the deployment as it could lead to a breakdown of law and order.
Why I won’t stop talking – Aisha Buhari
Excerpts of a recent interview in which the First Lady spoke on developments in the presidency and why she will continue to speak her mind on national issues
You were said to have referred to some people as responsible for the present situation in the country. I want you to shed light on this and who are these people?
Thank you for been with me this time to shed light on what I have already said. Actually we all know the situation in the country now. We are all adults. On that very day, I did not blame the governors specifically. If I wanted to blame the governors, I would have said the governors’ forum is not doing well on this and that.
But if you listened to my conversation, I said what we are suffering now is as a result of long time of total neglect of what should be offered to the citizens. And we are all suffering from it; whether you are in the executive or as ordinary citizens, it is all the same. We can’t go to our villages and sleep with two eyes closed. So, it cuts across? Yes, it cuts across.
And on that very day, I also mentioned something on the social media, when the Sultan of Sokoto talked about the social media; the bad effect that it is reflecting in the society.
The Minister of Communication was there when something happened. In that very place, the Minister of Communication gave an example, saying that somebody called the VP, His Excellency Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, saying ‘why did you resign,’ but he said: ‘No, I didn’t resign, who told you I resigned in the first place.’
The person said he saw it on the social media and everybody laughed in that hall… When it comes to unnecessary things, people will start talking from the presidency.
A typical example is what happened after the election of Bayelsa State, when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) people came out and said that they would suspend former President Goodluck Jonathan for doing wrong or something like that. I didn’t read it because I don’t have time. I see no reason why the presidency should come out and say that they were shocked to hear that. Is it their business? Are we PDP members? Is former President Jonathan a member of our party? What does that got to do with the presidency?
Meanwhile, they said the President was dead when he was sick, they saw his coffin and also sent it all over the media that he is getting married; they were showing this and that, nobody came out to defend the President; to say anything about it.
Have you ever been told to stop talking? Who will stop me? Everybody is talking in the country; nobody stopped them. So nobody has told you to stop talking because every time you talk, it is like a bomb… It is a serious matter; nobody is talking, no consequences, so everybody should talk. It is like everybody is free to talk; freedom of movement, freedom of speech, expressing your opinion on things. And don’t forget that everybody knows that we are not safe where we are.
You are either kidnapped or shot death or this one will attack this person and that one will attack this person. It is wrong.
There should be consequences for any offence and the ministers should do what they are supposed to do. I know Nigeria is a complex country, but we need a bit of sanity. We have seen several first ladies before you and we don’t think none of them has been this bold to be able to come out to speak; they don’t intervene in national matters. How would you want to be remembered after leaving this office? Let me give you one example; I think on November 2, I met the wife of the Vice President at the airport on my way to Morocco and she was on her way to Ikenne, Ogun State. She was looking so exhausted and sick.
I said: ‘Dolapo must you travel?’ She said ‘what would I do?
This people really voted for us during the last election and they did not allow any party to come to our ward because of me and my husband and now they are having a function in that very village and my husband is going to be in Daura; he won’t be able to attend. So, there is no way that both of us won’t attend that particular event for Ikenne people.’ I said ‘what does that mean.’
She said: ‘I felt indebted to them the same way they felt for us.’ I said ‘okay, you are now joining the line. Because these people voted for your husband and that was for only one term and the Nigerian masses believed in my husband’s ideology; they continued fighting for it for the past 12 years before 2015.
While you got to this place was not because you are the richest, most handsome and beautiful and most educated but we are just here due to trust and confidence they have in us. So, I feel indebted to the Nigerian masses and I will continue to defend them as the wife of the president, first lady or as a mother of the nation.’ Do you get to take on the President in some of these matters that you just raised?
Do you engage in pillow talk and ask: ‘Mr. President, what is happening?’
There is no pillow in the Villa.
Even in the other room?
No, because they are always busy listening to one story to the other. I think the people he put in the cabinet should just sit up and do the needful and that is it. That is why it is not good to have godfathers; we just need to choose the right people to be in the right places, so that we would rest, so that the First Lady will stop talking.
Aisha Buhari: Unusual First Lady and her battles
- Rumble in villa: First Lady’s outbursts and the war within
Besides being the hostess of the Presidential Villa, President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife, Aisha, rather than sustain the show of power most of her predecessors were known for, has remained a major critic of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration headed by her spouse. FELIX NWANERI reports on the many battles of the First Lady
Born on 17 February 1971 in Adamawa State, the First Lady is a cosmetologist, beauty therapist and author.
Her grandfather, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu, was Nigeria’s first Minister of Defence. Aisha’s father was a civil engineer and her mother is a descendant of the Ankali family, renowned farmers.
Aisha married a former Head of State, Maj. Geneal Muhammadu Buhari and they had five children.
The First Lady holds a bachelor of arts degree in Public Administration from Ambrose Alli University and a master’s degree in International Affairs and Strategic Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.
She also obtained a diploma in Beauty Therapy from the Carlton Institute of Beauty Therapy, Windsor, United Kingdom and a post-graduate diploma in Cosmetology and Beauty from Academy Esthetique Beauty Institute of France.
She is a member of the United Kingdom Vocational Training and Charitable Trust and the International Health and Beauty Council.
She is the founder/managing director of Hanzy Spa and principal of Hanzy Beauty Institute, a beauty salon in Kaduna and Abuja. She is a resource person to the National Basic Technical Education (NBTE) on beauty therapy and cosmetology and has participated in the curriculum development of small medium enterprises for NBTE.
She published a book titled Essentials of Beauty Therapy: A Complete Guide for Beauty Specialists, which has been recommended as a text for the NBTE curriculum.
A women’s right activist and child right advocate, Mrs. Buhari founded Future Assured, an initiative she came up with after assuming the Office of Lady to continue her advocacy work for the health and well-being of women and children through community mobilization and health promotion.
here is no doubt that the office of the First Lady is not recognised by the Nigerian Constitution though wives of the president and governors have over time enjoyed public acknowledgement and some perks.
However, most stakeholders see the office, which Nigeria might have copied from the United States (U.S.), where the use of the title – First Lady – to describe the spouse of an executive first began in the early days of the American republic as an illegality and a drain to the nation’s resources.
From a mere status in the first and second republics, the First Lady phenomenon has metamorphosed to a power broking one in Nigeria. It particularly became part of the polity in 1986 through the wife of the then military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida, late Mariam.
Since then, wives of subsequent leaders, military or civilian have not only continued to glamourise the position, but strengthening it as well. As a result of this, the title which has no mention anywhere in Nigeria’s constitution has become part of the body polity at all levels of government – federal, state and even local council.
And despite the fact that formal budgetary provisions are not made for the Office of the First Lady (at any of the levels of government) it is generously funded with public funds. Also, the various first ladies are allocated a retinue of aides, who are paid with public funds. These are besides their pet projects, which are equally funded by the government.
The argument over the propriety or otherwise of the Office of the First Lady got to a point that its immediate past occupant, Dame Patience Jonathan, advised that rather than scrap the office, constitutional roles should be assigned to its occupants.
Whereas many disagreed with Dame Jonathan’s proposal then, President Muhammadu Buhari, on assumption of office in May 2015, promised that there would be a clear difference between the role to be played by his wife during his tenure and previous first ladies.
Buhari, not only renamed the First Lady’s Office to “Office of the Wife of the President, but maintained then that the ostentation and arrogance that come with the office are over and done with.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mallam Garba Shehu, who made clarifications on the issue then, said: “President Buhari promised that there would be a clear difference between the role played by his wife during his tenure and that played by many previous First Ladies. All that ostentation, ubiquitousness and arrogance we have come to expect from the office are over and done with. Change has come.”
On the Mrs. Buhari role, he said: “The ideal platform from which she will be useful to Nigeria’s women and children is still being thought out. Once this has been concluded on, Mrs. Buhari’s role will become clearer to all Nigerians. There will be nothing shady or hidden about it. There will be no access to public funds. It will be purely private and voluntary.”
No doubt, Buhari walked his talk in his first term (2015-2019) as his wife’s disposition to the once glamorous office of showed that it was a complete break from the past.
However, it was a new song shortly after the President was inaugurated for a second term in office. In a move that shocked many, Mrs. Buhari, announced her decision to be addressed as the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. She said this would also resolve the issue of the title of wives of governors.
He words: “When my husband was elected newly, I personally chose to be called the wife of the President. But, I realised that it caused confusion in the states as to whether the wives of governors are to be addressed as first ladies or wives of the governors. So, forgive me for confusing you from the beginning, but now I chose to be called the First Lady.”
An unusual Wife of President/First Lady
But, whether as Wife of the President or First Lady, it is indisputable that Mrs. Buhari is not the kind of first lady that Nigerians are used to.
Besides been the hostess of the Presidential Villa, she is major critic of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration headed by her spouse.
Rather than sustain the show of power most of her predecessors were known for, Mrs. Buhari has always gone public with her concerns over her spouse’s government.
As Wife of the President, she shocked the nation in December 2018, when she said in an interview she granted to the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that Buhari’s government had been hijacked by a “few people,” who were behind presidential appointments.
She also said that the President did not know most of the officials he appointed in his first term and warned that she may not back him for a second term unless he shakes up his government.
According to her, people who did not share the vision of the APC were appointed to top positions because of the influence a few people wield.
Her words: “The President does not know 45 out of 50 of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either despite being his wife of 27 years. Some people are sitting down in their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position.”
Though the President’s wife failed to mention names then, she said some of such appointees were not on the same page with Buhari on the vision of the APC.
“A lot of people have been coming on their own and also collectively to tell him that things are not going the way it should, when it comes to putting people in certain positions. Because most of those that are occupying positions in agencies, nobody knows them and they themselves don’t know our party manifesto; what we campaigned for; they were not part of us completely.
“People were sitting down in their houses, folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position. They don’t have a mission or vision of our APC. Some of them don’t even have voters card, and those who made sacrifice have been reduced to nothing and certainly not happy with the way things are going,” she said.
Mrs. Buhari then called for the strengthening of the ruling party, saying “whoever is not part of the APC should not have control over more than fifteen million people, who voted for the President. We are in a democracy and not military era, so we have to play it well and leave a legacy.”
When asked whether the President will contest the 2019 election, she said: “He is yet to tell me, but I have decided as his wife that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again.”
That was not the first time the President’s wife would be expressing displeasure with the APC government. She had a month earlier (November 2018) appealed to the administration not to renege on its campaign promise of paying N5,000 stipend to unemployed Nigerians.
In a statement by her media aide, Adebisi Ajayi, Mrs. Buhari also asked the APC to fulfil its promise of giving school children one free meal a day.
While many commended Mrs. Buhari then for speaking out, her husband dismissed the claim of his government been hijacked by a cabal.
The President, while answering questions from journalists during a visit to Germany, said: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room. So, I claim superior knowledge over her and the rest of the opposition because in the end I have succeeded. It’s not easy to satisfy the whole Nigerian opposition parties or to participate in the government.”
Expectedly, Buhari’s choice of words (that his wife belongs to the kitchen) did not go down well with some activists, who described it as offensive.
But, Mallam Shehu (presidential spokesman), who played down on his principal’s comment, said he was merely joking over comment on his wife and called on Nigerians to disregard it.
Then President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, particularly said the fact that Mrs. Buhari could come out to openly express reservations about her husband’s appointees showed that his earlier argument that the government had been hijacked was in good faith.
His words: “It is true that we still believe that there’s a government within the government. We do believe that the President has good intention and we’re behind him. But a situation, where a few people are in charge does not bode well for the image and the future of our country.
“A situation, where people, who work within the executive, say one thing and other people, who work in the same administration say and even do another thing, shows that people are getting directives from different authorities.
“Mrs. Buhari is our mother and she has come out to say that the way things are being run; where APC manifesto has been abandoned and the party completely left out of governance, should not continue for too long.”
Was Mrs. Buhari proved right?
The First Lady might not have been completely wrong on her claim then that those who worked for her husband’s victory in the 2015 election were discarded as most of them waited unsuccessfully till the end of the President’s first team to get “rewarded.”
Among these supporters were those who served in the party’s presidential campaign council and the 19-member Transition Committee that worked with the then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government to ensure a smooth transfer of power.
However, some of her critics reasoned then that there could be more than meet the eye to her outburst. They opined that she was apparently fighting back as the scrapping of the Office of the First Lady and officially designating her as “Wife of the President” denied her of the power and influence she would have wielded.
For instance, an Islamic cleric, Shiek Ismail Illyasu Mangu, who then said that the President’s wife outburst was capable of inciting the public against the government, opined that some people were using the First Lady to tarnish the image of the President and the country.
The cleric, who spoke at Jamaatul Izalatul Bid’ah Mosque in Farm Centre, Kano, said: “We are sad about the interview granted by the wife of the President. We believe that opposition members in the country are using her against the government. Her statement is unfair and capable of inciting violence. It is a threat to the peace of the country and we do hope the security agencies will immediately arrest her.”
But, the president of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, who then rose in defence of the First Lady, said she will stand tall on the day of reckoning.
His words: “I don’t think there is nothing wrong in a woman advising her husband and saying it out in the public. What she was saying is not for today, but for the future, especially as it concerns her family. It is expected that whether a man is in public office or not, he should have people especially family members who can advise him.
“If Aisha chose to keep mum now and at the end of the day the whole thing boomerangs, the immediate family, either directly or indirectly, may have to bear the brunt. We have examples of that around us already.
“It is obvious that the leadership of this country has been hijacked. The man meant well for the country but those around him are not thinking of the masses. So, if she chose to advice and her advice is now being misconstrued, then there is more to be desired.
“It is a good thing that she opened up, so that when the day of reckoning comes, she will stand tall and nobody will accuse her of watching him go astray. We must all stand as patriotic Nigerians and support those who are genuinely committed to the development of this country.”
National Chairman of Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, who also spoke on the issue then, said Mrs. Buhari’s outburst would have been from the responses she was getting from the President on some issues.
“I think the statement of Aisha should be understood that it was not directed at the President. It is directed at the system and the Presidency, and this is because some of the things that are happening are not originally in the party’s manifesto.
Secondly, some of the actors we are seeing now were not part of the original idea of the man’s presidency and thirdly, she is an insider. For her to have spoken out, it sends a message that she is probably not getting a positive response from the President on some issues.”
Damn verdict on APC government Despite President Buhari’s position that the place of his wife is the kitchen and the other room, the First Lady has not refrained from expressing her views on issues of governance.
In what appeared a damning verdict on the APC administration in May this year, Mrs. Buhari rubbished the N500 billion Social Investment Programme (SIP) of the present administration, saying that it failed “woefully” in the North in particular.
She spoke during an interactive programme she organised for women at the Presidential Villa on May 26, which was three days before her spouse was inaugurated for a second term in office. Citing example with Adamawa State, where she hails from, the First Lady said the situation in the north eastern state as far as the implementation of the SIP is concerned was pathetic.
She also spoke of Kano State, where she said the programme failed despite the huge funds the Federal Government budgeted for it. “Concerning the N500 billion voted for SIP, that was part of 2015 campaigns where they promised to give out N10,000; feed pupils in primary schools and give N5,000 to the poorest of the poor.
The SSA to the President on Social Investment is a lady from Kano and I am sure that my husband decided to put somebody from Kano because of the population and political impact it made. “I have never asked how the money is being used or is being given out. I met barrister (an aide to the President) once and he promised me that for my state, we should get 30,000 women to be given N10,000. Up till now, I haven’t heard from him. “I don’t want to raise the alarm that my state does not benefit from it, where the Secretary to the Government of the Federation comes from; I kept quiet because I don’t want people to say that I talk too much.
Recently, I saw a 74-year-old man selling petty things in Kano, I asked him how much is his capital, he told me between N3,000 and N4,000. Don’t forget that we have campaigned to give the poorest of the poor N5,000 every month. “So, I don’t know where the social investment is.
Maybe, it worked out in some states. In my own state, only a local government benefited out of the 22. I didn’t ask what happened and I don’t want to know, but it failed woefully in Kano, it’s not a good sign and it’s not a good thing,” she averred. Mrs. Buhari also criticised the $16 million counterpart fund said to have been used so far on procurement of mosquito nets.
According to her, “I have heard about mosquito nets, Nigeria paid its counterpart fund of $16m. I asked them to give me my own share of the net, so that I can send it to my people in the village. I didn’t get it. They have spent $16 million in buying mosquito nets, I did not get it. Maybe, some people have gotten it, but my personal opinion is that $16 million is enough to fumigate Nigeria.” First Lady turns the heat on Daura, Shehu Mrs. Buhari’s battles assumed a twist last week, when she accused the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President (Garba Shehu) of serving the interest of some powerful individuals, including her husband’s nephew (Mamman Daura), rather than focusing on managing the image of the President. In a statement titled: “Garba Shehu has gone beyond his boundaries,” which she personally signed, the First Lady said the presidential spokesman has shifted his loyalty to individuals who have no stake in the government.
She revealed that the directive scrapping the Office of the First Lady in 2015 was issued by Daura, using Shehu, a development, which according to her, embarrassed President Buhari. Mrs. Buhari said the presidential spokesman has been presenting himself to some powerful people as a willing tool and executioner of their antics, from the corridors of power even to the level of interfering with the family affairs of the President.
Besides the First Lady’s criticism of her spouse’s administration, she has also had it rough with some of her husband’s relatives, particularly Daura, who had lived in the Glass House inside the Presidential Villa with his family members.
She once gave an insight into the power struggle at the villa, with details of how her husband’s relatives physically confronted her in an interview with BBC Hausa. Confirming the authenticity of a video that went viral in October this year in which Daura’s daughter, Fatima, claimed that she was attacked by the First Lady in the villa, Mrs, Buhari said: “I was the one in that video and this person you see standing at my back are my security personnel. “It was Fatima, the daughter of Mamman Daura that shot the video in front of my security and everybody there. She was actually recording the whole thing right in front of me and was laughing and mocking me.
“They did that because my husband sacked them from the house. He told them to get all their belongings and leave the house for my son (Yusuf) to occupy. “I left them and wanted to get to one of the rooms, but they prevented me from getting through. I left them and took another way, yet I met the store locked.” First Lady said in her statement that Nigeria’s development is hinged on the ability of public officials to execute their mandates professionally, and to be shining examples in their various areas of endeavour. According to her, it is not a good sign when officials abandoned their responsibility and start clutching at straws.
She said: “As spokesperson of the President, he (Shehu) has the onerous responsibility of managing the image of the President and all the good works that he is executing in the country. Rather than face this responsibility squarely, he has shifted his loyalty from the President to others who have no stake in the contract that the President signed with Nigerians on May 29, 2015 and 2019. “To make matters worse, Mr. Shehu has presented himself to these people as a willing tool and executioner of their antics, from the corridors of power even to the level of interfering with the family affairs of the President. This should not be so. The blatant meddling in the affairs of a First Lady of a country is a continuation of the prodigal actions of those that he serves.
“We all remember that the chief proponent appropriated to himself and his family a part of the Presidential Villa, where he stayed for almost four years and when the time came for him to leave, he orchestrated and invaded my family’s privacy through a video circulated by Mamman’s daughter, Fatima. The public was given the impression that on arrival into the country I was locked out of the Villa by Mr. President. “Shehu, as Villa spokesperson, knew the truth and had the responsibility to set the records straight, but because his allegiance is somewhere else and his loyalty misplaced, he deliberately refused to clear the air and speak for the President who appointed him in the first place.
“Consequently, his action has shown a complete breakdown of trust between the First Family and him. Mr. Shehu was privy and part of the plan and its execution and he was shocked when he realised that I had publicized my return to Nigeria on October 12, 2019 and cleared the air on the many rumours that took over social media, a job he was supposed to do, but kept mute to cause more confusion and instability for his principal and his family. “Shehu then vented his anger on the National Television Authority (NTA) Management, insisting that the media crew to my office must be sacked. He succeeded in getting them suspended for doing their job. I had to intervene to save the innocent staff from losing their means of livelihood by involving the Department of State Services (DSS) in order to ascertain roles played by key actors in the saga.
“It is at this late hour that I recall, sadly, that it was the same Garba Shehu who claimed that the government will not allow Office of the First Lady to run. He was later to confirm to one of my aides that he was instructed to say so by Mamman Daura and not the President. This antic attracted the anger of Nigerian women. He didn’t realise the fact that First Lady’s office is a tradition which has become an institution.
“Today, even without a budget, I am able to run my humanitarian programmes. In saner climes, Garba Shehu would have resigned immediately after going beyond his boundaries and powers. “Garba Shehu needs to understand that this kind of behaviour will no longer be tolerated.
The latest of his antics was to wage a war on the first family through an orchestrated media campaign of calumny by sponsoring pseudo accounts to write and defame my children and myself. “Based on Shehu’s misguided sense of loyalty and inability to stay true and loyal to one person or group, it has become apparent that all trust has broken down between him and my family due to the many embarrassments he has caused the Presidency and the first family.
“We all have families to consider in our actions and, therefore, it is in the best interest of all concerned for Garba Shehu to take the advice of the authority, given to him sometimes in the first week of November, 2019.” PDP tells President to put his house in order While the presidency is yet to react to the First Lady’s claim, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the public outburst by Mrs. Buhari, has further exposed President Buhari’s lapses in governance. The main opposition party said in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, that the development was an indication that the nation’s affairs have been ceded to the chaotic and selfish whims of a cabal.
The statement read in part: “It is indeed appalling that under President Buhari, our once productive and highly organised presidency has been bastardized and reduced to Kunle Bamtefa’s soap opera, ‘Fuji House of Commotion.’ “Instead of governance, the Buhari presidency has continued to serve Nigerians and the international community with tragicomedies that make mockery of leadership. Never in the history of our nation has the office, essence and symbol of Nigeria’s presidency been so stripped and ridiculed.”
PDP urged President Buhari to immediately put his house in order and save the nation further embarrassment. No doubt, Mrs. Buhari’s revelations has continued to jolt members of her spouse’s kitchen cabinet, but to most political analysts and observers, it is a welcome development that the First Lady has continued to open up, particularly on state affairs, so that when the day of reckoning comes, she will stand tall and nobody will accuse her of watching the President go astray.
Osoba’s men reject Abiodun’s commissioners’ list, cry out to Oshiomhole, Tinubu
*Say Ogun gov hijacked by ‘hyenas, power mongers’
There appears to be a major crack in the Ogun State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) as loyalists of a former governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, are spoiling for war over the list of commissioner-nominees submitted to the state House of Assembly by Governor Dapo Abiodun.
They alleged that the list does not represent Abiodun’s proclamation to run an all inclusive government, adding that it also failed to take into consideration the Osoba political family.
The aggrieved APC members, therefore, appealed to the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and South West Caucus Leaders, including Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and Chief Niyi Adebayo, to prevail on the governor to correct the alleged imbalance in the commissioners’ list.
This was contained in a statement made available to reporters in Abeokuta on Sunday and signed by Otunba Ayo Martins, Olaonipekun Tajudeen and 22 other APC chieftains.
New Telegraph reports that Abiodun had, on Thursday, last week, forwarded the list of 18 commissioner-nominees to the state legislature for screening and approval.
While the commissioner-nominees are billed to appear before the House of Assembly for screening on Monday, loyalists of ex-governor Osoba Sunday kicked against the list in its entirety, saying it was devoid of the inclusive arrangement promised by Abiodun.
The APC members, who recalled how Osoba worked assiduously for the governor’s victory at the polls, expressed regret that his administration had allegedly been hijacked by those they described as “hyenas, power mongers and manipulators.”
They demanded the intervention of Oshiomhole, Tinubu and other well-meaning Nigerians towards addressing the “imbalance” in the governor’s appointments.
The statement partly reads: “The Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, after his victory at the poll, promised to run all inclusive government that will represent the interest of blocs that worked for his victory and other groups interested in contributing positively in running the affairs of the state.
“However, to our dismay, the words of the Governor was reduced to stillborn on the face of the list of commissioner nominees and other appointments made by the Governor so far.
“We have observed that the slang ‘all inclusive,’ is a ploy to specifically ease out the Osoba Political Family from the administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun and which was sold to the Governor by some power mongers and unscrupulous elements who participated actively in the misrule of the state in the past and are now surrounding the Governor like hyenas, ready to pounce on anyone who does not belong to their camp or pay homage.
“Meanwhile, Osoba Political Family has patiently observed the activities of these individuals who are conservatively greedy business men and hijackers of power who have succeeded in hijacking the soul of the present administration in Ogun State.”
Senate: Ijaw group support Daukoru’s aspiration to replace Degi Eremienyo
Some Concerned Niger Delta youths on Sunday threw their weight behind the aspiration of Wanaemi John Daukoru towards his plans to succeed Degi Eremienyo, who was elected the Deputy Governor of Bayesa State in the November governorship election.
Degi had been representing the Bayelsa East Senatorial District at the red chambers before he won the deputy governorship seat on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Rising from a meeting at the Ijaw House in Yenagoa, the concerned youths maintained that the decision was strictly based on the needs for security, peace and development in the region.
According to a press statement signed by the Chairman, Nicholas Ebimobowei and secretary, Amos Ikiomoye and made available to New Telegraph, the group said that: “A careful perusal of the credentials of John Daukoru shows that he is a man of peace and will be a great unifying factor in the ancient Nembe Kingdom.”
The concerned youths, however, advised that in the best interest of unity and peace, the leadership of the various political parties should look away from whatever preconceived imposition arrangements they have and seek to truly unify all interest group by not using the senatorial seat to compensate any group.
“We are very much aware that John Daukoru has not been corrupted by the regular political class as he has over the years built and made indelible mark in the private sector.
“Therefore, we the leadership of all concerned Ijaw youths have resolved to activate all the organs to drive home our position in this matter by not only throwing our weight behind him, but will go
further to organise rallies in support of John Daukoru.
“We are therefore calling on all parties to adopt our position because at this point it is not about APC, PDP or any other party but about the peace, unity, and development of the Ijaw nation,” the statement said.
Docile citizens endanger good governance –Duru
Dr. Chike Walter Duru is a communication, governance and development expert. He is Senior Special Assistant, Media and Communications, Office of the Deputy Governor of Imo State. He is Chairman, Board of Governors, Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria and a member of the National Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), Nigeria. In this interview with newsmen, he speaks on governance in Imo State, transparency in governance, Open Government Partnership, citizens’ participation, among others, STEVE UZOECHI reports
What is Open Government Partnership in Imo all about?
Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multi-stakeholder initiative that focuses on improving government transparency, accountability and responsiveness to citizens through technology and innovations. It was launched in 2011 by eight founding membercountries, following their endorsement of the Open Government Declaration.
The eight countries are: Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, The Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America. Nigeria joined the OGP in July 2016, two months after President Muhammadu Buhari attended the Anti- Corruption Summit organised by the government of the United Kingdom in May, 2016. At the Summit, the Nigerian President reaffirmed his government’s commitment to strengthening anticorruption reforms and bringing integrity to governance through leadership by example. In Imo State, the present administration of Chief Emeka Ihedioha has left no one in doubt, as to his commitment to running an open and transparent government. He has applied to join the OGP.
This is a step in the right direction. The next thing to do is to bring stakeholders together to take it forward. There is need to set up a State Steering Committee, made of state and non-state actors. OGP promotes co-creation. The implication is that there is equal representation and equal rights in decision making. All decisions are taken collectively. There is no chairperson.
What we have are Co-chairs for Civil Society and Government, respectively.
The truth is that if we are able to effectively implement OGP in Imo, it will be a success story. Fit and proper persons, with relevant experiences and capacities should be selected to drive OGP in Imo State. The good thing about OGP is that states are at liberty to choose the commitments that they can implement.
What is the role of citizens in OGP?
Good governance is not possible anywhere, without effective citizens participation.
Public office holders will naturally take the citizens for granted, whenever there is a docile citizenry. The Government holds and manages the common wealth of the people on trust. It is the duty of the citizens to hold those in public positions accountable. If citizens do not take steps to participate in the business of governance, then they have failed in their duties.
When citizens ask relevant questions, taking advantage of existing laws and instruments, those in public offices will naturally sit up, knowing that the people are watching.
When citizens begin to ask questions, public office holders will become more careful and corrupt practices are reduced. In Imo, we have an administration that has shown commitment to transparency principles. It is now for the citizens to play their part.
Holding the government accountable
Apart from the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Act is a very powerful tool for citizens’ participation in governance.
The FOI Act aims to make public records and information more freely available and to protect public records and information, in accordance with the public interest and protection of personal privacy. It enables citizens to hold the government accountable in the event of the misappropriation of public funds or failure to deliver public services. It also seeks to protect serving public officers against any adverse consequences from the unauthorised disclosure of certain kinds of official information, and to establish procedures for the achievement of these purposes.
The Act further regulates conflicts between its provisions and those of other legislation including the Criminal Code, Penal Code or Official Secret Act that prescribe criminal penalties for actions connected to the disclosure of Information. Fortunately, Imo State now has an FOI law. Most developed countries of the world hinged their development on access to information. The effective implementation of the FOI Act will open the governance space; engender transparency and accountability, while enhancing citizens’ participation in governance.
If citizens take advantage of the FOI Act, cases of poor execution of government projects and in some cases, outright abandonment of projects will be checked.
How do you react to the issue of accessible of annual budget?
It baffles me when some state governments deliberately keep the annual budget of their states away from citizens. It is very strange.
A Budget is a law, just like every other law made by the legislature and assented to by the governor or president, as the case may be. It should be available everywhere and people should not go through difficulties in accessing them. Keeping it away from the citizens is criminal. If citizens do not have copies of the annual budget, how then can they monitor budget implementation?
How can they point out issues with the appropriation?
In fact, at every stage of the budget cycle, citizens should participate actively, from inception to implementation. This is one sure way of monitoring government expenditure
. What is your assessment of the present administration in Imo State?
Without mincing words, Governor Emeka Ihedioha has started very well. He is laying a solid foundation for good governance in Imo State. One of the major things conspicuously missing in the last administration of Chief Rochas Okorocha was transparency. The last administration had a culture of corruption and impunity. In fact, former Governor Okorocha presided over Imo’s most corrupt administration, since the creation of the state.
This administration inherited a state on life support and is taking steps to adequately tackle the challenges created by the last administration.
You can see that loopholes and conduit pipes for stealing of state resources have reasonably been blocked. Structures are being put in place to ensure that enduring good governance systems are built – from Treasury Single Account to OGP and many other reforms. What about audit of the civil service? Can you see the number of ghost workers already identified and the savings it will make for the state? What about the pensions verification and payment? It will only take a mischievous person not to recognize the efforts of the present administration, considering where we are coming from in Imo State.
There is also the case of infrastructural deficit…
It is no news that there are no good roads in Imo State. It is a shame that within five months of the exit of the Rochas Okorochaled administration, there are no good roads left anywhere in Imo State. Ihedioha inherited a state with decayed infrastructure and very high debt profile. They almost stole the state to death. I do not envy Governor Ihedioha because he took over from a very unpatriotic administration. However, I am proud to say that the present administration is people-oriented and is committed to addressing the numerous challenges in governance.
What are your experiences while working with Deputy Governor Gerald Irona?
The Deputy Governor of Imo State, Hon. Gerald Irona is a selfless, dependable and responsible leader. He is a grassroots politician, who takes special interest in putting smiles on the faces of people. His commitment to the success of the Rebuild Imo administration is immeasurable. All through his life in public service, he has continued to touch the lives of thousands of people.
The combination of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and Engr. Gerald Irona as Governor and Deputy Governor of Imo State respectively is one of the best things that have happened to the state.
How do you react to the litigations against the victory of Governor Ihedioha?
People should stop wasting their time and resources. Imo people have spoken and it is final.
I expect all those pursuing impossible court declarations to stop forthwith and join hands with Governor Emeka Ihedioha in rebuilding Imo. Also, the Civil Society in Imo must rise to the challenge of mobilising citizens to participate in governance, if the state must move forward.
The Governor and the Deputy Governor cannot be everywhere at the same time. It is the responsibility of citizens to raise flags whenever and wherever things are not going well, with a view to drawing their attention.
The Government must consolidate on the great initiatives. Governor Ihedioha must watch fifth columnists and sycophants, so they don’t derail his administration. Citizens’ engagement should be more frequent. Having round pegs in round holes is the only way to go.
PDP and enemy within
The distrust and mutual suspicion among powerful individuals and various caucuses within the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), which has led to its dwindling fortunes in recent elections is the kernel of this analysis by BIYI ADEGOROYE
That this may not be the best of times for the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), may probably be an understatement, as its fortunes in the recent elections has shown that the once domineering party, which bestrode the political firmament of Nigeria like a colossus for 16 years, is losing areas considered as its stronghold to the All Progressives Congress, (APC), which defeated it in 2015; making it to be in opposition for the first time.
Many of the founding fathers of the PDP, which at inception prided itself as the largest political party in Africa, are dead; few have left for other new parties and the remaining few that are left are taking the back seat in the running of the affairs of the party.
The few founding fathers of the PDP who are still remaining in the party have chosen to take a back seat in the running of the party affairs due to frustration from the younger elements, who believe they have all it take to manage the party. But these elements have forgotten the Yoruba adage which says even though the youth may have more clothes than the elders, he can’t have more rags like the elders.
These elders maintain an arms akimbo posture or what is termed ‘siddon look’ watching the young hawks distort the vision of the founding fathers of the party and pave the way for the declining fortunes of the party in the major electoral contests in the last few years. The PDP was officially formed in August 1998 by eminent Nigerians with diverse background and from across all geo-political zones, prominent among the founders were late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, former Vice President; late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, former governor; late Alhaji Adamu Ciroma; late Chief Tony Anenih and late Chief Solomon Lar, among others.
The coming together of these people, who earlier converged under the umbrella of Group 34, (G-34), was a surprise to many political watchers who believed it was a combination of the progressive elements and the ultra conservatives.
The founding fathers of the party also adopted power rotation as a way of dousing the fear of dominance by one region over others. And with such solid foundation, it was not a surprise that the party dominated and ruled the country continuously for 16 years. At a stage, its leaders were boasting that it would continue to win the presidential election and control the federal structure for 100 years.
But that was not to be as it lost power in 2015 after a faction from it, which styled itself new Peoples Democratic Party, (nPDP), and which also included five of its then serving governors, joined forces with other political parties to form the APC. The recent Kogi and Bayelsa states elections won by the APC exposed the underbelly of the opposition party and opened a can of worms within the PDP family.
The victory of the ruling APC, especially in Bayelsa State, the home state of former and immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan, unsettled the PDP, resulting in series of soul searching meetings, to fathom the reasons the party lost in Kogi and Bayelsa states. But it was clear that with the role played by former President Jonathan and his kinsmen in the Bayelsa election, the PDP house was divided against itself in the election.
The PDP had attributed its defeat in Bayelsa State to the role played by Jonathan, accusing him of anti-party activity and destroying the ladder which he used to climb to the top.
The altercation between the former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sure Lamido and former President Jonathan as to why PDP lost the Bayelsa election, according to discerning observers, is a sign of an open crack within the PDP.
Many believe a party with strong leadership would have resolved whatever differences that were noted between Governor Seriake Dickson and President Jonathan before the election, but the party leadership pretended all was well and believed that Bayelsa State’s Creek House is its to occupy. Political analysts are in agreement that the PDP is presently without a clear leader and that if the situation remains so, the party will remain in the delusion that gripped it due to internal division. A source within the party, who pleaded anonymity, said the leadership challenge facing the party will fester, except something urgent and drastic is done.
Many PDP leaders are said to have openly opposed the leadership style of Uche Secondus, the party’s National Chairman, with many passing vote of no confidence on him. Political observers believe that the role played by Jonathan in the Bayelsa election was just a tip of the iceberg, and they also add that the genesis of PDP crisis is legendary. According to another source within the party, who pleaded anonymity, as long as the party does not have the right person to lead it, it would grope in the dark for long.
“It is significant to have someone who can take decisions and stand by it in order to play its role as opposition,” the source volunteered. The PDP source maintained that the party will witness worse situations than what happened during the Bayelsa and Kogi elections in future election if it fails to put its acts together.
Tracing the genesis of the PDP crisis, it can be argued that it started in 2015 immediately the party lost election at the centre. In 2015 when the former PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, left the party without completing his term, the party was in confusion as to who would complete the term.
Bamanga Tukur was brought in as the substantive chairman, but Tukur’s tenure was crises-ridden and so they needed someone else from the North East. For whatever reason, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and former Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State ensured that they replaced Tukur with Senator Alimodu Sheriff, who they believed could provide money to sustain the party. His tenure was also full of crisis; the PDP National Convention, which was to hold in Port Harcourt ended abruptly.
The Makarfi faction won and Sheriff went to court. The court finally decided in favour of Makarfi who eventually completed the term. But before that happened, Sheriff had tried to pacify Wike and Fayose by promising the duo the Vice President slot separately. The crisis that was brought on PDP by Sheriff and his co-travelers was resolved through the Supreme Court’s pronouncement that Makarfi was the authentic National Chairman of the party.
The seed of crisis, which was gradually germinating was further watered when Makarfi was to hand over to a successor. The zoning method is not new in the party and in the history of the PDP since 1998, the party’s chairmanship had never come to the South-West.
During the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the PDP National Vice Chairman, South-West, was Chief Olabode George, who later rose to become the Deputy National Chairman, South. According to the plan, since Obasanjo was leaving office in 2007, after two consecutive terms as President, it was natural that the then National Vice Chairman, South- West, should step in as National Chairman, but for whatever reason it was changed by him as he emerged the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, (BoT), of the PDP.
Despite stern warnings from founding fathers of the party, the Makarfi-led executive changed the zoning pattern and neglected the fact that it was natural that the zone that had not produced the party chairman, the South-West, should be given the opportunity. So, Wike and Fayose, for selfish reasons, denied the South-West the opportunity. Fayose said it openly that the South -West didn’t need the party chairmanship because of selfish interest.
The zoning method was made so specific, the chairman was not only meant for South- West, but it was micro zoned to Lagos State. At the time Lagos State had no member in the NWC; Ekiti had National Vice Chairman, Osun had National Secretary and Ogun had National Financial Secretary and Lagos had nothing.
It was therefore obvious to discerning minds that the National Chairman of the PDP must come from Lagos State and everybody believed that Bode George had the knowledge of the party and experience and so should be given the job.
In the power play that followed, the party national chairmanship was zoned to the South instead of South- West and to further weaken and polarize the South- West and divide its votes at the national convention, Wike drafted Jimi Agbaje into the national chairmanship race, while Fayose brought in Rasidi Ladoja and in fact paid for his form.
Prof. Taoheed Adedoja from Oyo State joined the race and so was Prof. Tunde Adeniran from Ekiti State. Thus the South-West alone had no fewer than eight candidates. Secondus was given a free reign at the convention, thus putting the South-West virtually out of contention.
People who do not have defined mission, grand plan or selfless interest to ensure that the party comes back to reckoning took over. The emergence of Secondus, the manner of his emergence and the role played by Makarfi, Wike and Fayose led many founding members of the party like Professor Jerry Gana and Professor Adeniran, among others to dump the party. Wike was then planning for the 2019 election.
He assumed it was going to be Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto State governor, who had then returned to the PDP from the APC, who would emerge PDP presidential candidate, with him as his vice presidential candidate. He did not reckon that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar would make a return to the party. Atiku’s return and interest in the PDP presidential ticket changed the game The party went into the 2019 presidential election not as a solid unit, but with a divided house.
Wike and his caucus were not too supportive of the Atiku candidacy. They were looking beyond Atiku and were looking at the 2023 election to perpetuate the same game plan. Presently Fayose is battling corruption cases and immediately the Court of Appeal pronounced that Atiku lost, they congratulated Buhari. And after the Supreme Court judgment, they said let’s go on national rebuilding. Even at that, one cannot see much rigorous opposition.
As far as they are concerned, Atiku’s ambition was dead on arrival. So, they are looking at another game plan for 2023. And sadly for the party, nobody is speaking out Observers believe that the present managers of the party are not only weak, but they can’t be perceived as political juggernauts. They are believed to have subverted the interest of the party for personal interest. On the way forward for the party, political analysts and watchers of political events in the country believe that the PDP, to become relevant, first as a political party and second as an opposition party, it must change its leadership and put politicians with requisite experience, who also have the interest of the party as managers.
They also believe that PDP must bounce back and mend the noticeable cracks within it and start playing the role expected of it as the main opposition party. Whether or not the PDP will be able to do all of these, put its house in order and return to winning ways remains to be seen.
Drama as Kwara Assembly refuses to swear-in lone PDP member
When Hon. AbdulRaheem Agboola, the Peoples Democratic Party’ (PDP) candidate in the 2019 Kwara State House of Assembly election, won his Court of Appeal election case and received his Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) penultimate Thursday, he didn’t envisage that he would be barred from the legislature.
But that was his fate on Tuesday as he was denied entry into the legislative chamber by officials of the Assembly when he went there to resume despite the fact that he was in possession of a duly issued certificate of return. Agboola was locked out of the Assembly on the orders of the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Salihu.
It would be recalled that Agboola defeated AbdulAzeez Elewu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) both at the election petitions tribunal and the appellate court to win the Ilorin South Constituency seat in the Assembly to make him a sole PDP member in the Assembly of 24 members.
Expectedly, members of the PDP in the state had stormed the Assembly to protest alleged refusal of leadership of the House to admit Agboola, who was declared winner of the Ilorin South State Constituency, while Agboola’s lawyer, Oladipupo Aborishade, also engaged members of the House of Assembly on why his client should be denied entry despite the availability of the Certificate of Return.
Speaking with our Correspondent on the incident, Agboola lamented that the House had denied him entry thereby preventing him from representing his constituency since he got his Certificate of Return from INEC last Thursday. He said: “As we all know, Appeal Court is the last destination for the House of Assembly election petition process, and its ruling has declared me winner.
“I started from the tribunal. I have my Certificate of Return from the INEC National Headquarters, Abuja. The INEC in Kwara State only did the official presentation.
“According to the process, I have to come to the House in person to do documentation with the Clerk of the House in order to verify the genuineness of the Certificate and ratify it. This is our third time of coming here. Since last Thursday that the Certificate was issued, they have not attended to us.
“The Speaker, the Clerk and all of them have made themselves not to be available. We have been patient, telling our supporters not to be violent. This is the House we built. I served here between 1999 and 2003. “We got here by 8:00 am today (Tuesday), but the security personnel said the Speaker would address us when he comes. We said there was no need for any address but entry into the House.”
When contacted, the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Culture and Tourism, Hon Awolola Ayokunle, said the House was served “a court summon joining the Speaker and the Clerk to the House in a motion on notice with No. FHC / IL / CS / 157 / 2019, filed at the Federal High Court, Ilorin Judicial Division, holden at Ilorin by Hon. Hassan Abdulazeez Elewu, seeking to restrain the House from swearing in the PDP candidate pending the determination of the case.
“As an arm of government charged with the responsibility of lawmaking, the House cannot but abide by the law. However, the House is restrained from taking further steps in respect of the Certificate of Return issued to the PDP candidate for the Ilorin South constituency seat until the determi- nation of the above said suit scheduled to be moved on Monday, December 16 , 2019.” He assured the public that the House was ready to abide by the rule of law at all times.
Niger and the battle against insecurity
The anguish, pains, tears and frustration have been the situation in various states in the North, South, Eastern and Western parts of the country, as so many people have either been abducted, kidnapped, relocated or killed by the daredevils.
About 1,000 inhabitants of Zazzaga community in Munya Local Government area of Niger State have abandoned their ancestral homes and fled to neighboring communities and states due to the activities of kidnappers who have made life miserable for them in the last one year.
Investigations have it that the entire villages in Zazzaga community have no history of violence and criminal activities as the people, regardless of their religious or ethnic differences have co-existed peacefully for over 50 years now.
Though Zazzaga community is predominantly Gbagy tribe, other tribes like the Hausa, Fulani, few Igbos and Yorubas are among the inhabitants.
In a similar incident, secret cults have been attacking people in higher institutions across the country especially in Port Harcourt, Rivers State where a dreaded cult popularly called ‘Deewell Boys’ have been terrorising residents. Upon investigation, it was reliably gathered that the cult murdered a pastor in Badagry even though his relatives paid ransom for his release by the kidnappers.
The victim who was named Suraju Aderounmu, according to findings was a member of the cult, but had become a pastor of a church ‘Blessed Fountain Ministries, Badagry in Lagos State after he had repented and renounced the cult.
One of his relatives who fled to Minna and pleaded anonymity for fear of being killed told our Correspondent that, “after we paid the ransom, they still kill our brother because according to the note they (cultists) dropped, they claimed he was killed for breaking the cult’s oath.”
Findings have it that the victim, Suraju was a member of the cult group and when he left them in 2017, he went into hiding. “All our family members are very afraid for our lives because this cult people have mounted serious surveillance on us with the plans to deal with us.”
So far, N11.5million have been paid by relatives of those kidnapped to secure their release while five people have been killed by the kidnappers who invade these villages almost on a daily bases.
Our correspondent who visited the community recently gathered that no fewer than six members of the community (four men and two women) are still in the custody of their abductors who demanded N1million each for their release.
The hopeless situation of the community is further compounded by the near absence of security in the area.
The only police out-post established in the area in 2015 before the general election had only two police personnel without a single gun.
This situation has made the kidnappers to always raid the community with impunity because according to testimonies from the District Head, Alhaji Garba Musa and other villagers, the kidnappers sometimes demand for food from them and will settle down and eat before taking their victims away.
A 16 year old JSS11 female student of Junior Secondary School, Zazzaga, Khadijat Saleh whose father, Adamu Saleh was shot dead in her presence before she was taken away, told our correspondent that her duty throughout her 10 days in captivity was to cook for the victims in custody.
“I cook once in a day and the food will remain for people to eat in the evening. Sometime I will cook rice and sometimes I cook tuwo (swallow) and sometimes yam.
We were kept under the tree in the bush not too far from rail line (referring to Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge) because we used to hear the sound of train passing.
“They have everything that someone can use to cook with. I used to go to the bush to look for fire wood but they will tell me that if I run, I will meet another group and that they will rape me and kill me. In the night they will give me blanket to cover myself but the men are left to sleep like that with their hands thigh to the back.”
Also a 65 year old Garba Danjuma who was in their den for ten days, said he sleeps with his two legs tied together and hands also tied to the back. When our Correspondent spoke with the Niger State Police Commissioner, Usman Adamu, he said several efforts are being made to see that the menace is brought under control.
He, however, charged the people to report any person or group of persons caught engaging in any act of lawlessness to security agencies adding that anyone apprehended will face the full wrath of the law.
On many occasions, the state governor, Alhaji Mohammed Bello and security chiefs, led by the Commissioner of Police, Adamu have designed various strategies to address the issue.
The bandits in particular were said to have been flocking into the state from Zamfara, Kaduna and Sokoto states, taking refuge in the Kumaku Forest, a massive land mass, which is the to the North-West and North Central what Sambisa is to the North-East.
The development has made Chairman of the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, and Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar to call for concerted approach to solving the security problem, even as other prominent people have advocated the declaration of state of emergency on security and road in the state.
Governor Bello, whose government has spent more than half a billion naira on the security problem has also urged the security apparatus in the state to adopt community policing method to address the issue, in view of the centrality of security to all aspects of development.
Let Makinde enjoy his electoral victory, PDP tells APC
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West, has appraised various serious issues that concern the party in the region and the nation and urged the All Progressives Congress (APC), to stay off Oyo State and allow Governor Seyi Makinde to carry out the mandate given to him by the people.
The party also condemned the Hate Speech Bill recently introduced in the Senate outrightly, therefore affirmed that any legislation targeted at the fundamental human rights of Nigerians as encapsulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic is draconian and inconsistent with our democratic freedom.
The party stated that without prejudice to the appeal made to the Supreme Court, Makinde won the election in 28 out of the 33 local governments in the state, hence he secured the overwhelming majority and was duly elected.
“The stakeholders resolved that Makinde is one of the best performing governors in the country today and should be encouraged in the interest of national development and justice, even as we urged all hands to be on deck to increase the party’s fortunes in the next elections,” the party’s National Vice Chairman, South-West, Dr. Eddy Olafeso said.
In a communique issued after its stakeholders meeting held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital under the chairmanship of the National Vice Chairman of the party in the region, Dr. Olafeso, the party also said it cannot afford to rest on its oars. The meeting had in attendance, the National Secretary of the party, Senator Umaru Tsauri, Dr. Olafeso, National Vice Chairman, North-East, Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure, Oyo State governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, was represented by his chief of staff, while all chairmen of the party in the region were in attendance.
Other resolutions are: (1) that we take serious view of the judgement of the Federal Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division on the matter of Adebayo Adelabu of APC, challenging the victory of His Excellency, Engineer Seyi Makinde and PDP in the last gubernatorial election in Oyo State.
Hon. Livinus: Nigeria doesn’t need a confrontational National Assembly
Hon (Engr) Makwe Livinus is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing Ohaozara/ Onicha/ Ivo Federal Constituency of Ebonyi State. He addresses a number of critical issues of national interest in this interview with CHUKWU DAVID, including relationship between the Ninth National Assembly and the Executive, Hate Speech Bill, border closure, 2023 Presidency, and the last governorship elections
Where are you coming from, were you in politics before or is this your first outing?
Right from 19999, I would say I have been a participant but I had not actually run for any office but I became a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). By that time, I was already in my private business, owning my own private company after having worked elsewhere in so many other expatriate companies.
Since 1999, I have been supporting candidates that have been running in my state and in my local government, and even up to the national level including the Presidency. I have always worked and supported my party from that time till date. I was in 2011 that I started nursing the ambition of coming to the National Assembly. I never wanted to run for any other office except an office of the National Assembly, either in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. But by the time I started my consultation in 2011, it was too close to the election. So, I did not continue with my ambition, rather I worked for the people the party selected.
Then in 2015, I came in fully, started on time and participated fully until by consensus our party in Abuja, by consensus decided the person who will represent us in the House of Representatives, and I had to support that person. I had to respect the decision of the party at the national level even though I had bought form. I believe I had a good opportunity if I had gone to the field but the party is supreme.
Then, in 2018, I participated and by God’s grace I won and I am here. Before then, I had not really held any political office but Governor David Umahi appointed me member of the Elders Council in Ebonyi State, and that was when he won in 2015, and we obeyed the will of the party and supported every candidate across board. I was also a national delegate in the primaries of the PDP all along till it came to our own turn for national convention; that was the only one I did not follow.
In a democratic setting, the three arms of government are supposed to be independent.
However, there is a general opinion out there that the present National Assembly is a rubber stamp and a puppet of the Executive. What’s your view on this critical public perception?
From what I have seen, observed and participated in, in this Ninth National Assembly, I think that impression is far from the truth because I am part and parcel of the institution now and I am aware of every decision that was taken. I made my own contribution, I had my own views and I know that the only thing that is different is that the Ninth House of Representatives decided not to be so confrontational.
Yes, there is a lot engagement which everybody has been proposing outside the chambers, maybe in the committee meetings and interaction of leadership with different arms of government. For instance, when the insecurity was rising, it was all over the place; when the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, invited the service chiefs, and all of them came and discussions were held. Those discussions could have been held in the chamber and maybe it could have been very turbulent but they were able to address those concerns quickly and more effectively by engaging the Executive constructively. On the issue of the budget, it was also similar engagement and similar in determination.
That you are doing things the Executive sent, for instance, the budget came and we passed it does not mean that you are a rubber stamp. I don’t see what is rubber stamp there because at the end of the day, those budgets had always been passed with a lot of acrimony. But this time, it was passed with a lot of agreement and consensus, and we are looking forward to the President signing it for its implementation. I’m not an advocate of when you want something from the opposition, it’s always fighting. First, present your facts; you should be heard, then you give and they will give, so that it becomes give and take, and you reach a compromise. And when that compromise is reached, I don’t see anything that is rubber stamp there. That is how we have been working so far in all issues that have come to the House, and I don’t see it as being out of the norm.
What is your appraisal of the relationship of previous assemblies with the Executive vis-a-vis the present National Assembly and the executive arm? Is there anything Nigerians stand to gain from the perceived harmony between the two arms in this dispensation?
Yes, definitely. For instance, the budget has been returned to January to December cycle as a very good start. Is that not good for everybody? So, the Executive won’t have any reason now to say that they can’t implement the budget or that there is no funding because they are the people that also estimated the funds that we are now appropriating. So, they have an idea of a good expectation they are going to have, and based on that they allocated funds and the variance we introduced into the budget was not heavy and it was not much and we were all directed towards how the capital projects will impact positively.
In the past, the debate was longer and sometimes it took six months but there had also been times in the past that budgets were passed within two months. It has happened before; I don’t think that we are not the first people to do it. But those periods, assents were withheld until they reached a compromise and then the President signed. But this time around, that determination is there.
Maybe, next year, the Executive may bring it earlier, say in September so that we have more time to discuss but what matters is that, at the end of the day, it boils down to one fact, and that is that the budget is passed. Most of the time, you discover that the National Assembly cannot completely throw away what the Executive has put in the budget, so what is the fighting all about?
Why not engage them in a discussion and reach a compromise, which is exactly what we did this time around?
I am in Appropriation and other committees. You know that what they gave us was not what we gave them back hundred percent. There were areas we made input but we had to engage those agencies and told them reasons for swapping some allocations and projects.
Also, in other issues, we treat them as they come, and the ones that are not good for Nigerians, we tell them that we are not going to pass it or at least most members will speak against it like this hate speech bill; most House members are already gearing for the day it will come to our own place because most of them are against it including myself. When we engage them constructively, I think they will see our reasons when we give good reasons why we accept some bills and throw out some. But what they have brought so far is not that bad and that is why we are flowing with it.
You just mentioned the Hate Speech Bill which is already introduced in the Senate. What is your take on the bill?
Well, my take is that we will wait until it comes to our own chamber. But my personal opinion is that I don’t see it making so much difference because even in Nigeria, we have death sentence for armed robbery but has it stopped robbery; has it stopped kidnapping even in the states that imposed death sentence as punishment for kidnapping?
And if you prohibit the hate speech in Nigeria, are you going to prohibit it abroad because Nigerians live abroad; they will also be expressing their opinions on the social media.
Moreover, there are enough provisions in our laws already, to contain libelous allegations and frivolous statements that cannot be proven. What we need to do first is to go to these aspects of the law and enforce it, instead of categorically bringing out hate speech bill because it will appear as if you want to muzzle the people, and that is the impression that is out there, and we should not be seen to be giving that kind of impression.
The one-time ruling party in this country, the PDP, appears to be gradually sinking into extinction judging from its performances in the February and March, 2019, general elections and the recent elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
Any hope of improvement?
You know that before this year’s general elections, PDP actually lost a lot of ground, and after the elections of February and March this year, we gained more states in terms of the governors. As for the last two elections in Bayelsa and Kogi, we all know what happened in Bayelsa. The big people in the party wanted certain candidate at the state level they didn’t want that candidate, and so that crack in the unity of the party between the federal choice and the state preference is one of the things that cost us Bayelsa; even though there were violence and all kinds of manipulations and rigging there.
But in Kogi, I am not satisfied with the way the election was conducted because my people used to say that if you remove a flea from somebody, you have to show it to the person so that he will see it; otherwise, he will think that you are just pinching him.
So, if you are defeating me it should be seen that you are defeating me clearly and convincingly. There were issues of people wearing police and army uniform and both agencies said that they did not know those people; there were also issues of a lot of killings and shooting including the PDP woman leader, who was burnt alive after the elections. This will show you the kind of carnage.
With that kind of brigandage, I am not sure that if proper election was done in a free and fair manner, in a violence free atmosphere, I believe the PDP would have had a better performance, and they had a better chance of winning the election from the beginning because people were dissatisfied with the current governor. They wanted a change.
Having lost those two states, that doesn’t mean that we are not going to win again in future. We still have governors and National Assembly members; we still have strongholds in the states and across all strata. I believe we have learnt from what has happened and we prepare better, and in 2023, we will improve.
God-fatherism appears to be a serious menace in Nigerian politics, do you want it eliminated?
Well, I don’t really know in what context you are talking of god-fatherism because I also know that there are states that even when their governor brings out a candidate, the candidate will fail the election; and he is a god-father. So, I think that popularity is beginning to play a key role in politics of these days. You have seen the Bayelsa example: the governor brought out a candidate as the god-father in the state, where did it take him to; so you look at popularity. How popular is the candidate you are bringing in, and you can always determine this when you allow the thing to evolve from the grassroots, from the masses, from the voters themselves. If you do god-fatherism and you bring wrong candidates, I think they will fail. In almost all the states in Nigeria now, people are wiser now. So, if you bring a candidate and the opposition brings a better candidate, there will be a war, if there is no manipulation or rigging, there won’t win the election.
How do you see the use of soldiers in the conduct of elections in Nigeria?
That is still a very big challenge. You saw what happened in Rivers State in the February and March elections. Everybody was watching it on the screen. So, all those kinds of things should be eliminated. What I think is that only the police should be allowed to carry out election security duties, and the military can be on the road, manning the security, not having anything to come near where they are voting or collating results. They can stay far be observing things in case there is a breach, and let the police be close to the voting centres because we still really need their presence because a lot is happening in terms of violence, thuggery, ballot snatching and all that. The police should be available to contain that because that is their primary responsibility.
What is your rating for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of the 2019 general elections and other elections that followed thereafter?
I will not score them hundred per cent. They are not the security forces anyway, and they are not the people that made the electoral laws. So, what they can do is limited because if the candidates and the voters are left with only INEC in the field, it will be free and fair election. I don’t think there is any magic they will do for instance to re-write the result at that stage unless the security agencies are involved in carting away the election materials to a dedicated point and preventing people from coming in and then toying with the numbers. I don’t think INEC alone will have that capacity to do that. So, what we need to do is to still look at our electoral laws and see what changes we can make in it in the National Assembly maybe from next year going forward, to address some of these lapses
. Some have said that introducing electronic transmission of election results would help reduce or eliminate rigging. Do you agree to this view and how?
Yes, I think in that direction but they also need to really also to work on the cyber security aspect of it so that there is no external influence or encroachment into the results or data that they have to avoid manipulation.
Once the next work is very secure, that is the best way to run the election because you cannot snatch ballot box, you cannot do multiple double-printing because everything will show; if you vote twice, it will show. So, we should try and adopt it; it will be better for us.
What is the impact of the closure of land borders on your constituents, and what is your take on this seeming stringent decision by the federal government?
The border closure is definitely hurting hard on my constituents in terms of the economy, and I believe that the same thing is applicable to all other sections of the country because it is affecting prices of things in the market.
They say that the cost of everything has doubled since that time. The last time I went home, I wanted them to buy me even battery and other common things like that, and I discovered that the prices of those things have gone up and they say that it is because of the border closure. It is not only the price of rice that is affected because we are even cultivating rice to a point that we are almost becoming selfreliant on rice in Ebonyi, and everybody buys rice from the local producers, which is sweeter, cleaner and better in all aspects because you can’t talk about expired rice as far as the local rice is concerned.
So, in terms of food, we in Ebonyi are still reasonably sufficient but in terms of other things the border closure is affecting their prices. But my opinion in the case of border closure is that you don’t cut off your head because you have headache because that does not stop the headache. It is human beings that we put in those borders.
We have the Custom, Immigration, NDLEA and others. We also have military and police checkpoints near the borders. So, I think that we should work more on our people because even if they get it right with the neighboring countries to do the needful, and our people are still corrupt, yes we will get some income but we will still be losing a lot through this corruption.
So, for me, if the law enforcement agents at the border are doing what they supposed to do, this thing wouldn’t have gotten to this stage. Even now, smuggling is still going on but not at that stage it was going on before. We see all these things on social media and other media platforms, how they put rice in the boot of cars and load in every available space in the car; some put petrol in nylon and put wherever they can. So, what am saying is that this border closure should not continue forever; they should engage the neighboring countries and our security agents at the border.
They should work together and be able to apprehend the smugglers. They have more to do because the people that are moving these things are not ghosts, and they have the intelligence to track them down. So, if they are not compromising, they should be able to do more in arresting these people, and when you arrest, you take the person and make example. That is the only way to stop this thing. Closing the border will not stop it entirely. So, I don’t want the border to remain closed in perpetuity; they should try and reach an agreement with our neighboring countries. When compromise cannot be reached, then they should put people who can ensure compliance on our own side.
They already know what the law is. If our neighboring countries are not ready to cooperate, that doesn’t mean that we should keep the border closed forever because tension is rising. Look at the attack on Nigerian traders in Ghana the other day. We don’t want to see this spread to other countries.
America did not close her border completely; if you are going to America and you carry drug, they will track you and arrest you. We should do the same thing in our borders and prosecute the offenders. So, my take is that they can close the border for one or two more months and if our neighbours are not cooperating, we train our security agents on effective border control, so that they can be more serious and man that place properly. We have the intelligence to track these people but are we honest enough not to compromise ourselves, that’s the main issue.
Many Nigerians are worried that the country’s debt profile is rising uncontrollably in the last four years.
What is your reaction to this?
If you look at it from government’s own point of view, the oil price has dropped; the income is no longer the same and for that reason they need to borrow money to sustain the economy. But then, I don’t quite agree that borrowing is all the solution. We can look inwards and try to develop more agriculture, try to develop more solid minerals mining; we have a lot of these solid minerals here and those can do a lot to improve our economy.
They should also do a lot more in terms of tax compliance; expanding the tax net so that more people come into it and they can collect more taxes. A lot of Nigerians are not paying tax; so they have to do something to make sure these taxes come in. We have to do something to encourage mining and agriculture and more so that we don’t need to spend our foreign currency procuring these same products that are easily available here.
If there is a very critical need to borrow to finance one significant thing or another, it could be done but this general blanket borrowing to finance 30 or 40 projects, I don’t know where it will lead us to because even that amount of money you are borrowing now, before you finish processing that facility, it comes in, it goes to tender, you start execution of the project, inflation has already made that money not to be able to complete the project and it will be abandoned along the line, and what you have spent will be wasted. If it is one or two critical projects, you can borrow and finance it, and you make sure that the projects are completed so that they will begin to impact the economy.
A situation where we are spending 30 to 40 per cent of the budget to pay debt, is not a good economics even though I am not an economist.
The issue of zoning the Presidency has become dicey because it’s like a gentleman agreement which is easily violated. Do you believe in zoning, and do you want it to be a constitutional matter?
What I know is that once something is made to be a constitutional matter, to amend it in future will be a problem.
So, am one of those who want zoning to remain a gentleman agreement but it should also be something that should be encouraged for the sake of national unity. By the state of development Nigeria is now, we have not yet graduated to the level where everybody understands that we are one and where you come from does not really matter because it may be that if there is no zoning, one part of the country will consistently produce the President, and everything he does will be looked at from the point of view that he is favouring his people only. So, that is zoning is important.
And since we have been making it to work in the past to some reasonable extent, we should leave it that way, and not entrench it in the Constitution because it might become difficult to change when we mature politically and democratically to allow free will to prevail no matter where you come from, to allow the best to go. Since I say that I believe in zoning, and since after the civil war, the South-East has not taken a shot at the Presidency, it’s only fair that they should be given a turn this time around in 2023, so that they will have that sense of belonging. After the Civil War, they said no victor no vanquished; that we are all back as one. If it is truly so, then show it in your actions; not when you have commissioners of police up to four, five and six from other places but the South-East has one or none at the federal level; it’s not fair.
There is federal character principle in this country, and I think that should be respected completely, and not to continue to marginalise one zone. So, for the Presidency in 2023, I am one of those appealing to them to give to the South-East in 2023 for the sake equity and for the sake of the unity of the country. They have the power because they have the majority, and they are in control to say we are giving it to South-East or we are giving it to South-East.
So, it’s a matter of decision at the centre. If the two principal parties choose their presidential candidates from the South-East, definitely the President will come from the South- East. It is really the turn of the South-East, and if they truly believe that we are one, they should give it to us.
There is an impression that the Igbos are not usually together when it comes to taking critical political decisions. Don’t you think that this will affect them in the matter of taking a shot at the Presidency?
There is no section that is completely together, even in the North, how many people did they produce as candidates in the past for various positions? So, it’s a matter of contest, and one person will definitely emerge at the end of the day.
There is nowhere it will not be by that contest and it cuts across everywhere you are going to zone it, unless there is a consensus.
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