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Men who want Obiano’s job

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Men who want Obiano’s job

Ahead of the next governorship election in Anambra State, OKEY MADUFORO examines current intrigues, factors and permutations that will determine which senatorial district will produce  Governor Willie Obiano’s successor

 

 

W

ith about two years and eight months into his second term in office as the governor of Anambra State, Governor Willie Obiano on doubt has began to  brainstorm on who would succeed him at the end of his eight years tenure.

 

 

His party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), has an internal arrangement of rotation among the three Senatorial Districts in the state and it has, accordingly zoned the gubernatorial seat to Anambra South Senatorial Zone.

 

 

But some elements in APGA are, however, contending that since the zoning formula has gone full circle from South to Central and down to the North it is only proper and fair that the North should start the fresh circle of rotation, irrespective of the fact that the incumbent governor is from the North.

 

 

This pressure has already deepened the challenges currently being faced by Gov. Willie Obiano whose kinsmen from the North are breathing down his neck to pick the APGA candidate from the North.

 

 

Should Obiano give in to their pressure, the likes of Prof. Charles Soludo who has been touted as the chosen one may well forget the ambition of flying the flag of the party in the next election.

 

 

Conversely the North also has a second trump card of drafting the current member of the Federal House of Representatives from Anambra East and West Constituency, Chief Chinedu Obidigwe or the current Chief of Staff to Obiano, Mr. Primus Odili as possible running mate to Prof Soludo from Anambra South Senatorial District.

 

 

But fears are being entertained that the propagators of Anambra North may have an agenda of orchestrating a plot to impeach the would be governor from the South to enthrone the Northern deputy governor as substantive governor hence actualizing their initial agenda. Be that as it may the South is pulling all stops in producing the next governor of Anambra State hence polarizing the zone into three separate political blocks.

 

The Ihiala political block would certainly not get the nod of the South since former governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju from Uli, Ihiala Council Area has taken the slot. The Old Aguata Union (OAU) Aguata, Orumba North & South is neck deep in the contest irrespective of the fact that it had produced Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Sen. Andy Uba who they contend never completed

 

 

a full tenure of four years. Ezeife spent less than two years while Andy Uba spent 17 days in office.

Nnewi Political block is currently shopping for strong candidates across Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo council areas and as at the time of this report it has over five aspirants and the more proactive camp is the Nnewi North Local Government Area with heavy power brokers in the race.

 

 

Poison chalice

 

 

Former governor Chris Ngige had earlier during the issue of zoning described the concept as the poisoned chalice, insisting that the idea is one that nobody knows who would drink from it.

 

 

Ngige has been seemingly vindicated in view of the extraneous influence the church now has over the politics of Anambra State and currently both the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church are determined to enthrone one of their own as governor of the state.

 

 

A section of Anambra political watchers have described the meddlesomeness of the church in politics as “Satanic Christianity,” contending that had it been that was the case before now Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife of the Salvation Army wouldn’t  have emerged as governor of the state in view of the numerical strength of his Christian denomination.

 

 

They alleged that the governorship seat has been reduced to a mere church representative position where a denomination in power plays the winner takes it all, reserving choice political appointments to knights and parochial church committee leaders and leaders of the Deanery.

 

 

Even priest and pastors are appointed into special positions to the detriment of merit and proficiency, hence propagating mediocrity.

 

 

Apparently, all gubernatorial aspirants have converted all the church Dioceses to pilgrimage centres where Bishops and Vicars are consulted with the assistance of Grand Knights of the churches to obtain the Episcopal blessings of their denominations.

 

 

Hence it is almost certainly that the church would make substantial inputs into who becomes the next governor of the state, as old boys of Christ the King College (CKC) are pitched against the Old Boys of Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS), Anglican Mission School and Catholic Mission School. The duo of Peter Obi and incumbent Willie Obiano are old boys of (CKC) and the DMGS old boys are angling for a shot at the top.

APC /PDP silence

 

 

These two political parties have chosen to remain silent about the zoning arrangement and none of the parties may likely throw the ticket open for grabs. They see zoning as an APGA arrangement, insisting that they would go for the best irrespective of zones.

 

 

According to the Chairman of PDP in the state, Chief Ndubisi Nwobu, every aspirant is credible and the party shall conduct the freest primary election to produce the most credible candidate.

 

 

“All that we need is a good and populist governor for Anambra State and not because it is the  turn of his zone. But if the party leadership chooses to do the zoning arrangement we shall also go for the most credible from the zone in question because the party is supreme at all times”

 

 

Chief Basil Ejidike of the APC noted that much as his party believes in equity, it “is interested in good governance, but it is too early in the day to begin to talk about the election and the zoning project, but I can assure you that we shall produce the best.  Zoning is an APGA arrangement and with time our party the APC would come up with our position on zoning.”

 

 

Apparently the gubernatorial aspirants are not unmindful of these scattered pictures of confusion, hence they have continued to trudge on. At the moment Anambra South has a total of 15 aspirants which include the contenders and the pretenders.

 

 

Johnbosco Onunkwo, APC

 

 

The young man contested the gubernatorial primaries of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the last election and his foundation has been making some statements. He has the financial strength to execute the project and has been able to cut across political parties and the political blocks across the three senatorial districts.

 

Onunkwo, however, has the challenge of overcoming the conspiracy of the elite who sees him as a younger person capable of retiring the old and never-say-die politicians from active service and that was the challenge that Comrade Tony Nwoye had in the last election.

He still has to battle with his kinsmen in Umuchu community in Aguata Council like Engr. Godwin Ezeemo the political structures of Sen Andy Uba and his younger brother Chris Uba of the APC and PDP. His Catholic background is an advantage.

 

Godwin Maduka, PDP

 

 

The Umuchukwu-born doctor and pharmacist had his first baptism of fire in politics when he surreptitiously backed the unsuccessful senatorial ambition of Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu in APGA which crashed like a pack of cards.

 

 

His venture into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is seen by political watchers as an experiment that would only give him relevance, because the murky waters of Anambra PDP is one that has the propensity of sinking strange vessels in a voyage meant for Vikings.

 

 

It would certainly be the eighth wonder of the world should Maduka emerge as the candidate of the PDP, though has the capacity and the muscle to take on any candidate from any political party.

 

 

Godwin Ezeemo, PDP

 

He is making his third attempt at the governorship position of Anambra State and what he has going for him is his consistency in the political tarmac. Also he is an Anglican which gives him an edge over and above other aspirants from the PDP.

 

 

This Orient Daily Newspaper publisher is at home with politics and has a way of starting with  a bang,  leaving his supporters with the belief that the heat would be sustained only to end up with an anti Climax when the tide is high. Should Ezeemo plays the church politics as it is played and stamp his feet on the ground mother luck may smile at him.

 

 

Chris Azubuogu, PDP

 

He is on his third term as the member representing Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo Federal Constituency in the National Assembly and age is on his side. His achievements as a federal lawmaker are his great assets and his projects have also forayed into Anambra Central and Anambra North Senatorial Districts respectively.

 

 

Though his traducers contend that he is not as popular as his fellow aspirants in the party, Azubuogu believes that he has the magic wand and has chosen to maintain a low profile while building strong political structures across the state.

 

 

He is also seen as a lamb without blemish since he has no baggage on his shoulders. Being a Roman Catholic, he remains a top contender from Nnewi political block.

 

 

Sen. Andy Uba, APC

 

 

He was there for 17 days as governor of Anambra State and a two term senator of Anambra South District. His failure to win the last National Assembly election is a minus for him unless he does something very magical. He is one of the top contenders in the APC and his structure in the party has remained intact ever since.

 

 

But observers believe that Nnamdi Uba would need to resolve his differences between him and his younger brother, Chief Chris Uba if he must pull through. This is, however, dependant on if his brother has no ambition to contest for the post on the platform of the PDP. This was one of the reasons why he lost the last election. Interestingly he is an Anglican.

 

 

Prof. Charles Soludo, APGA.

 

 

A number of propagators of a President of South-East extraction are of the belief that he is a presidential material and not for governorship. But he is the anointed candidate of APGA. Against this backdrop of the fact that no aspirant in the party has indicated interest in the position Soludo almost became governor in 2010 but for the death of late President Umaru Yaradua who was solidly behind him.

 

 

The former Central Bank governor is a strong Roman Catholic from Aguata Local Government area and APGA may have fundamental problem should he be denied ticket of the party.

Sen. Uche Ekwunife , PDP

 

 

This Amazon of Anambra politics is no stranger to the political terrain and she is determined to break the jinx of a woman winning the governorship election of the state. She has been a two- term member of the Federal House of Representatives and Senator for the second term. Though Sen. Victor Umeh scuttled her first term through the courts but the proprietor of Ogene FM Radio has refused to be cowed.

 

 

In recognition of her guts, politicians in the state describe her more as a man and than a woman in view of her exploits in Anambra politics with the major stakeholders of PDP behind him especially former Governor Peter Obi.

 

 

Ekwunife bestrides the two political templates of Anambra politics. She is from Igbo Ukwu town in Aguata Council Area of Anambra South and married to Agu Ukwu Nri town in Anambra Central District which she represents at the moment.

 

 

She was an Anglican before getting married to a Roman Catholic and she is one of the patrons of the Christian Women Organization (CWO) of the Catholic Church and also one of the major sponsors of the Christian Pentecostal Mission.

 

She is indeed an aspirant to watch in the PDP and party members are aware of this glaring fact. But for last minute moves of the then Governor Obi during the APGA gubernatorial primaries of 2013, Ekwunife was coasting to victory against Gov Willie Obiano.

 

 

Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah ,YPP

The CEO of Capital Oil and Gas, publisher of Authority Newspaper and Ifeanyi Ubah Football Club has to his credit the defeat of the Ubas and termination of their political dynasty in the last general election to become senator.

 

For a man who midwife the Transformation Agenda of Nigeria (TAN), the official campaign platform of former President Goodluck Jonathan the gubernatorial contest is more of a mere dress rehearsal.

 

 

Uba’s victory in the last election made a strong statement about what is expected in the next gubernatorial election because with the seven local government areas in his kitty, he only needs to win at least four council areas each from Anambra Central and Anambra North to obtain the constitutional spread to win the governorship election.

 

Similarly, Ubah enjoys so much sympathy from APGA due to the political crisis of candidacy between him and Obiano, while borating of very cordial romance with the All Progressives Congress (APC) as observation from his relationship with Senate President and the APC government at the centre.

 

However, Ubah has not declared his ambition to contest but his body language speaks volume of his interest in the race. Going for him is the fact that he remains in the Young Progressives Party (YPP) and he has no plans to join another party.

 

 

In the light of the above, his party primary election would certainly be a work over and while other aspirants are deep in intra party crisis of who becomes the candidate, he has all the time in world to start early campaigning without the attendant bruises that trail party primaries. Currently he is building the Nnewi Catholic Cathedral for the Diocese.

 

 

From all indications, Anambra South Senatorial District is the hot bed of politics of attrition and the zone is the heart beat of all activities. Most aspirants would certainly search for running

mates from Anambra Central all things being equal. The outcome will unfold in no time.

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. ปั้มไลค์

    November 17, 2019 at 6:11 am

    Like!! I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. The article has truly peaked my interest.

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Politics

Mega rally: More tension as APC youths set bonfires in in Edo

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Mega rally: More tension as APC youths set bonfires in in Edo

*Govt orders closure of schools, cites disturbing security report

Thousands of Youths loyal to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State Thursday protested against Friday’s planned mega rally to receive former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and other defectors into the ruling party.

This is as the state government also Thursday ordered the closure of all schools over what it described as “disturbing security report concerning the use of school premises for a political rally.”

The protesting APC youths, who said they were drawn from 192 wards in the state, insisted they do not want any violence in the state.

They marched from Ring road to the Benin Airport.

The youths had set bonfires on different parts of the dual carriage Airport Road thereby causing hours of traffic gridlock, even as motorists made detours through other routes to the city centre.

Spokesman for the protesters, Mr. Imafidon Utete, said they were on the streets to protest against plans to disrupt public peace under the guise of receiving PDP members.

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Shettima: North’ll look beyond APC, PDP in 2023 if…

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Shettima: North’ll look beyond APC, PDP in 2023 if…

Alhaji Yerima Shettima is the National President of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF). In this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, he speaks on recent developments in the polity, especially North’s quest for the 2023 presidency, calls for restructuring and electoral reforms, among other issues

 

The Acting Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) recently said that the North is going to support northerner for the presidency in 2023. What is your take on that and do you see Northern youths also going in that direction?

Did he say anything different thing from what I said before? Was I not the one who started it? Do you think I would just come out and say something I am not sure of? It is not possible, and that is why I will advise all political parties to zone their presidential tickets to the North. Any political party that makes the mistake of presenting a southerner as presidential candidate in 2023 is wasting its time.

Why informed your conviction?

The North will massively go one way, so I will advise the various political parties to present a northern candidate. My argument is based on the fact that rotation of the presidency was jettisoned in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan. So, if President Muhammadu Buhari eventually completes his second term in 2023, the North would only have had nine years, while the South would have had 15 years. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had eight years of uninterrupted administration; Umaru Yar’Adua had only one year, the second year he was sick and Jonathan acted for one year before becoming the substantive president as a result of the Doctrine of Necessity and after Yar’Adua’s demise in 2010, Jonathan became president. So, out of the four years of Yar’Adua’s first term, he had only one year, while Jonathan had three years of the administration.

When some of us came out in 2011 to say it is important for the country to allow a northern candidate to emerge through the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), so that the North can complete the Yar’Adua administration and northern administration by extension, some people raised eyebrows, saying ‘it is not constitutional, there is nothing like agreement, it is the right of every Nigerian to contest’ and that was how the issue of rotational presidency was jettisoned.

I also think that it is fair to allow the North to retain power beyond 2023 given the challenge the region is facing in terms of insecurity and lack of infrastructure. No doubt, one of our own is heading the country today, but we are the most backward, most marginalised in this administration. Everything is being cornered by the South-West in terms of road network, rail project and anything you can talk of.

But prior to the present Fourth Republic, the North has been at the helm of affairs for many years compared to other geo-political zones…

Despite that look at what is happening to us; we have suffered enough. If we are talking of justice, we never got justice from Nigerians. I gave you an analysis of the South occupying the presidency for 15 years and even if with Buhari’s two terms, we would only have had nine years. Can we compare nine to 15 years? Even if we are given the 2023 ticket freely without anybody opposing us, you will realise that we will only have 13 years. We have not even catch-up with the South’s 15 years. But however, let us just have one shot more so that we can be able to look at somebody else because we do not see anything meaningful coming out of this administration or anything in the best interest of the North for now.

So, we are saying that by the time we have one more shot between 2023 and 2027, we would have been able to put things on ground because we are not going to assume that four years is enough for us to solve all our problems. At least, there would be template that successive governments that come from any part of the country can also build on.

What is the assurance that if the North produces the president in 2023, the person coming on board will address the region’s problems, considering the fact that many northerners have been at the helms of affairs for almost 38 years since Nigeria gained independence 59 years ago?

What is the guarantee that if we leave it and somebody from the South becomes the president, he would do projects for us?

Does that not show that where a president comes from is not an issue?

We will ensure that the candidate we are going to produce from the northern part of Nigeria is somebody who has the capacity, age and energy. Those are some of the criteria we are going to consider and at the same time, we must be able to assess his antecedents on his relationship with other parts of the country. Does he have a say and does he see himself as a Nigerian or just a northerner? We want a pan-Nigeria person from the northerner part of the country, who sees the country as his constituency and at the same time knows where he comes from.

Who are the likely presidential candidates the North is looking at for the 2023 presidential election?

I won’t give names because it is too early to talk about that. In the Northern part of the country today, when I make a statement, you hardly see anybody opposing it because I don’t talk just because I want to talk. I talk from facts because I am an insider. I am a member of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and by extension, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF). I have my platform too. So, anything I come up with, be rest assured that there is was a wide consultation before I pronounced it. I don’t just sit down in my comfort zone and talk because I want publicity.

We have two major parties in Nigeria today, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). What do you foresee if the two parties zone their presidential tickets to the South in 2023?

There are other political parties, so we will look for an alternative platform without considering the size of the party.

Do you think it is possible for you to get an alternative to the two major parties?

Why was it possible for APC to do what it did in less than two years?

But APC was a big party when it confronted PDP, which was the ruling party in 2015…

It was a merger of Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and other political parties. So, it is possible again; we can still do that magic. In less than one year, you will see things taking shape. We are working mindful of the fact that timing is also one of the factors we have and we are working around the clock. In less than one year, you will get to hear that this is a different dimension; a lot of things will come to play. By the way, what makes you think that people will go for APC or PDP? Think beyond that. We are thinking of an alternative beyond APC and PDP and we will get there.

The next general election is about three years away, but the conduct and outcome of the last month’s governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states caused some apprehension over what may happen in 2023. What are thoughts on that?

Was there any election in Kogi? It was an act of shame as state instruments were used against the will of the people and leaders forced on them. That was what happened in Kogi at the expense of peoples; lives. An election that was supposed to be calm and cool with the over 30,000 policemen deployed as claimed by the Nigerian Police Force to protect lives and property, but look at what has happened. Lives have been wasted. There was a broad-day light robbery; everything was done in the open. Was that what you called election? For me, the last election we had was in 2015. In every other election after that, we were just going backward. We have not done anything meaningful under the present leadership of the Independent National Electoral Committee (INEC). This is the worst experience we ever had.

With what happened in Kogi and Bayelsa, do you have any fear about the 2023 elections?

I am worried over what happened in the Kogi and Bayelsa elections and without carrying out electoral reforms before the next general election, I foresee a situation where the whole country go up in flames. I am worried and I am afraid. The only thing left for this government to do that will be meaningful beyond any other thing to save the future of this country is to pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

Why do you think that elections are gradually turning into war in Nigeria?

It is because people are becoming more desperate. Holding of political office in this country pays more than running any other business and to that extent, people believe the moment they secure a political office, they will make money than they ever imagined within a short period of time. No matter how stupid the office looks, they make money. That has made people to become more desperate. So, we must begin to act in the right way by looking at the electoral law. For me, I am looking beyond amending the electoral law; I am also looking at a situation where we ensure that we reduce the power at the centre. If power at the centre is reduced, people will begin to yearn for political positions in their regions and communities. If you know you don’t have the pedigree or capacity within the community and you want to contest to represent your people, ordinarily you would be knocked out because everything would be put on ground to measure your capacity and people will see it.

So, the moment you are not supposed to be among their first 11, they will drop you and they will bring people who are competent. If they knew from time that your family is into fraudulent act, those records would be used to disqualify you. So, at that level, we will begin to have good leaders and no matter where you come from, nobody cares; whether you are rich or poor. The son of a nobody can be president, governor or minister and on that basis, we will begin to have a Nigeria that is peaceful, coordinated and development will be there for everybody. Without that, there will be problem.

We should also decentralise power, but you cannot decentralise power without restructuring. Restructuring is one of the issues that have been in the front burner. We need to look at this issue of system of governance; what kind of system of government we need and how to run it? It is only when we sit down and discuss that we can arrive at a conclusion.

Talking about restructuring, the South and Middle Belt parts of the country have been clamouring for restructuring, but the North seems not to be in support…

Whoever told you that the North is not in support of restructuring is a bloody liar. The opinion of few northern people who don’t understand the meaning of restructuring does not mean that the entire North is against restructuring. The Northern Elders Forum is not opposed to restructuring and that was why it entered into an alliance with leaders from other parts of the country to form a pan-Nigeria movement – the Nigeria Elders Forum that brought together the likes of Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief John Nwodo, among others.

So, if you see somebody saying that the North is against restructuring, probably the person doesn’t have an idea of what he is talking about. We are prepared to discuss; we are prepared to reshape the country , so that we can move forward.

So, you are hopeful that Nigeria would be restructured one day…

Definitely, it will. It is a matter of time.

Do you think restructuring is achievable under the incumbent administration?

It is not possible under this administration. They will not do it.

Why do you say so?

Because the characters we have in the administration do not believe in restructuring.

There is a rumoured of third term agenda for President, which many still believe despite the President saying he is not interested in a third term…

I also heard about the speculation, but I am one of those who see things beyond just hearing. Though President Buhari has come out openly to say he is not interested in a third term, we have realised that sometimes he might not want to do something, but the forces around him wouldn’t let him be. To that extent, we cannot fold our hands and assume that because he has said it, it is over; it is not yet over. As they are saying they will not, we will not also sleep because nothing is impossible. We have seen that so many things the government promised not to do are what it has done.

For instance, when they came to power, they promised that fuel price would go back to N45 per litre, but instead of that there was over 100 per cent increment in the price of fuel. They also said there won’t be an office of the First Lady, but wife of the president has suddenly become first lady. We have seen a case where they said fuel subsidy was a scam, but in fact, this government is even paying more than what the previous government paid.

Are you saying that the APC cannot be trusted on the third term issue?

They cannot be trusted under; it is not just about Buhari because Buhari is an individual.

But the President has said that he is not running for a third term…

It is not enough for Nigerians to go and sleep. We hope he doesn’t, but if he does, it is going to be as good as dead on arrival because tension is high. Nigerians have suffered enough, so anything you bring that goes against their mindset would be resisted.

The Federal Government few months ago closed the nation’s borders, but some Nigerians believe that the decision has brought hardship to the people, while government is of the view that the decision is in the interest of the country. How would you react to that?

I don’t understand and my thinking maybe because I am a layman or because I am not in government. There is saying that he who drives on the road knows exactly where the potholes are than somebody who is just a passenger. I don’t know how somebody can justify this issue of border closure at the expense of Nigerians, who are suffering. You said the reason for closing the borders is for us to focus on what we have in-house. What are those things we have inside and has closure of the borders really given Nigerians the opportunity to consume our own products.

You said we are producing enough rice locally, but today, a bag of local rice is sold for over N22, 000. How does that help the common man? If you are buying a bag or rice for almost N22, 000 and getting what you want from the rice, it is a different thing. But we have a situation, where the rice has stones and even tasteless at that expensive amount of money. Does that help us in any way? I don’t think so. We should have more locally produced rice at a cheaper price. If the rice is being sold at cheaper price, people will buy it and they will know that they are either faced with eating the rice with the stones or take time to select the stones from the rice and eat it tasteless because they want to be patriotic Nigerians.

Let the government be courageous enough to tell people what they have benefitted from the boarder closure. The only benefit I am aware of is the money the country is making on a daily basis coming from the angle of Nigerian Customs, but is that enough to hold the entire country of over 180 million people to ransom. Because of what you are making, you deprive families’ their means of survival. And this money you claim to be getting for government, does it anyway impact on the country? If it had impacted, we wouldn’t have heard just few days ago that the government is going for another loan; writing the National Assembly for approval of about $30 billion loan with over $287 billion that is already on ground.

So, where is this money that they are talking about that we are making? Where is the money that has been recovered from looters? Where is the money that we have saved in the Single Treasury Account? Where is our foreign reserve? Why are we still going about borrowing? In fact, the World Bank has warned Nigeria to be careful of taking any loan again and we are still in it.

Some Nigerians have attributed high cost of governance as major problems of the country and they are therefore calling on government to cut cost. Wheredo you stand on that?

What is wrong in reducing it? Are they not the people that are supposed to do it? Are they doing it? Just few days ago, we heard of this issue of arrears that governors are collecting. The smallest one announced was the one of Zamfara State, where a former governor was collecting N10 million per month. I commend Zamfara State governor and members of the state House of Assembly for kicking it out and I hope other governors who are not in tune with this godfatherism issue would also kick it out, so that we can begin to save from that angle.

Don’t you think it is time we reduced the number of public officers too?

We should do that, especially if we can place the National Assembly on part time basis; they will only collect allowances, it will be better. In fact, it will reduce people thinking that the only business they can do is to go into politics because you see people spending over a billion naira just to become a senator, while someone is spending about N10 billion to be a governor. What do you expect if somebody invests up to N10 billion in an election? How do you expect him to be accountable to his people? Certainly, he will plan to make 10 times of the money he invested to get into office. So, if he invests N10 billion; he is expected to get back N100 billion.

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Bayelsa guber: The long walk to change

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Bayelsa guber: The long walk to change

The 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State has come and gone, but PAULINE ONYIBE reports that it is one that will linger in the memories of many, given the intrigues that altered the political equation in the oil-rich state

 

 

Unlike what happened in 2015 Bayelsa State during the general elections, when women stood their ground in places like Southern Ijaw that another party will not succeed, but the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the same women and this time, the youth and in fact, almost all Bayelsans, agreed that they didn’t want the PDP again in the November 16 governorship poll.

Even in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s local government area, a supposed leader of the PDP in Nigeria, the outcome was not different as the All Progressives Congress (APC) also won.

The PDP governorship in the 2015 election, Seriake Dickson defeated his APC counterpart, Timipre Sylva, by polling 134,998 votes against the latter’s 86,852 votes.

Of course, it wasn’t an easy win for Dickson then, but the electorate helped him pull through, though then President Jonathan, who was instrumental to his rise to power, played a major role.

The PDP had been in power in Bayelsa State for about 20 years since the advent of democratic rule in 1999 and the people of the state were not ready to give another party a chance in the recent November 16 election.

However, the PDP ran in to trouble waters, when it failed to manage its primaries that led to the emergence of its candidate for the poll. As a result of what many described as assurance from Governor Dickson to the numerous aspirants, who showed interest in the party’s ticket, PDP raked in about N420 million from purchase of nomination forms.

Each of the nomination forms cost a whopping N21 million naira and 21 aspirants picked the forms. They were Oliver Tariela, Kaniebi Okoko, Great Joshua Maciver, Franklin Osaisai, Ndutimi Alaibe, Benson Agadaga, Fredrick Agbedi, Reuben Okoya, Douye Diri, Talford Ongolo, Kemela Okara, Gboribiogha John Jonah, Benson Konbowei, Godknows Igali, Johnson Kiyaramo, Paulker Emmanuel, Anthony George-Ikoli, Robinson Etolor, Nimibofa Ayawei, David Alagoa and Igiri Ziperedein.

But, their displeasure with the way the PDP primary was conducted made some of the aspirants like Tmi Alaibe who felt cheated to head to the court to challenge the outcome.

The former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) came second in the primary with 561 votes. His argument was that the then eight newly inaugurated local government chairmen and the 105 councilors, who voted during the primary, were not legible to vote.

Though he didn’t leave the party, it was so glaring that most of his supporters left and those who stayed were not there in spirit and in truth.

Also a gale of defection hit the party when the governor made the party members to understand that there was restoration caucus which eventually produced the candidate. Those, who left felt there was no need staying back since there was division in the party.

One of the persons, who left PDP that also contributed to the defeat of the party, was Gabriel Jonah, who has been one of the forces keeping PDP in Nembe local government. Jonah led thousands of his ‘Otita Force’ members to the APC.

Also, Senator Nimi Barigha Amange, also dumped the PDP for the APC. Abenego Don Evarada and Helen Bob all former aides to the governor also dumped the party for the APC. A former member of the state House of Assembly, Parkinson Markmanuel, Glad Stone Amabibi, Abadani Dick, Omonibeke Kemelayefa and Robert Enogha among other prominent PDP members left, but the governor still assured the remaining members that such won’t stop PDP from winning the governorship election.

Jonah left because of the ill-fated treatment he felt was done to his elder brother, who is also the deputy governor of the state.

Nembe people also felt that the governor should have supported his deputy to take over from him instead of another person and he felt slighted which has made him to somehow abandon the restoration since after the primaries.

The deputy governor has not been seen in the public performing any government function since that time. This, perhaps, explained why the people of Nembe warned PDP not to come anywhere close to their area and the crisis when the party went to the local government during the campaigns.

There were also issues over the choice of PDP’s deputy governorship candidate. The argument was that since the governor who claimed to be the leader of PDP in Bayelsa State has made his choice of the governorship candidate, Senator Douye Diri, some stakeholders felt that the deputy governor should have come from Ogbia – former President Jonathan’s local government area.

Other stakeholders felt that the governor shouldn’t have also picked the deputy governorship candidate after choosing the governorship candidate. They complained that the governor exhibited highhandedness and felt belittled. Even some of the aspirants, who contested the primary, disappeared with just two or three of them supporting Senator Diri.

All the governors’ effort it was learnt was to make way for him to get to the senate after his tenure as the governor of the state.

Amidst the discomfort within the party, Jonathan didn’t say a word because it was learnt that he tried talking to Governor Dickson on the need to allow Alaibe fly the party’s flag but did not succeed.

Even when the governor was told by other stakeholders that Senator Diri was not “a marketable candidate,” he reportedly didn’t listen to anybody as a result the former president kept quite hence APC won in his local government.

The, perhaps, explained why most political analysts and observers in the state and even beyond, were quick to insist that the PDP lost the election because of the peoples’ protest votes in favour of APC.

To these analysts and observers, it was the desire of most Bayelsans to vote out PDP because of what they termed the highhandedness of the PDP administration.

The electorate, including those staying in areas prone to flooding, defied the rain on election day and came out en mass to exercise their franchise. At Opolo, women were seen chanting APC with their brooms.

In the market and the streets of Yenagoa, it was the decision of many to try another party and they made good their decision by voting massively for APC.

After APC’s victory, it was wild jubilation across the state as residents celebrated the coming of the APC.

Lyon won in six out of the state’s eight local government areas, while senator Diri won in two local government areas.

Lyon polled 352,552 votes to defeat Diri, who polled 143,172 votes. The six local government areas won by the APC are Brass; Nembe; Ogbia,

Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor and Yenagoa, while the PDP won in the Sagbama and Kolokuma/Opokuma local government areas.

In Sagbama  local government area, the APC polled 7, 831 votes while the PDP scored 60,339 votes. In Nembe, APC got 83,041 votes, while the PDP polled 874 votes.

In Kolouma/Opokuma, the APC scored 8,934 votes, while the PDP scored 15,360 votes. In Brass, APC got 23,831 votes, while the PDP polled 10,410 votes.

APC scored 24,607 votes in Yenagoa, while the PDP got 19,184 votes. In Ogbia, APC got 58,016 votes, while PDP polled 13,763 votes.

In Southern Ijaw Local Government, the APC candidate polled 124,803 votes, while his PDP rival got 4,898 votes. Lyon also defeated Diri in Ekeremor by polling 21,489 to the PDP’s candidate’s 18,344 votes.

No doubt, Bayelsans desired change and they got it. However, the change did not come that easy as lots of political intrigues and political horse-trading defined it.

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Contracts: Reps concur with Senate on 30 percent mobilisation fee

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Contracts: Reps concur with Senate on 30 percent mobilisation fee

By Philip Nyam, Abuja

The House of Representatives on Wednesday joined the Senate in increasing mobilisation fee of local contractors from 15 to 30 percent in what it believes will reduce the bureaucratic issues that delay the execution of projects by amending the procurement act.

Recall that the Senate had last week passed the bill and transmitted to the House for concurrence.

An executive bill, it is titled: “a bill for an act to amend the National Council on Public Procurement and the Bureau of Public Procurement act, No. 14, 2017 to review the mobilization fees paid to contractors, institute e-procurement and provide time frame for the procurement process etc and for related matters”

Presenting the bill for concurrence, the acting leader of the House, Hon. Peter Akpatason said the current mobilisation fee for local contractors was inadequate and that it caused abandonment of contracts in the country.

He said when passed into law, the bill will reduce the timeline for processing contracts award to two weeks, while it approved four days for issuance of certificates.

The lawmakers, however, did not fix any percentage as mobilisation fee for foreign contractors.

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Gemade begins moves to succeed Ortom in 2023

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Gemade begins moves to succeed Ortom in 2023

From: Cephas Iorhemen, Makurdi

Barely three years to the end of the eight-year tenure of Governor Samuel Ortom, former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Barnabas Gemade has kicked off moves to launch himself into the 2023 gubernatorial race to take over power from the incumbent governor.

Senator Gemade, who represents Benue North East in the red chamber of the National Assembly from 2011 to 2019, disclosed this in an interview in his Gboko residence.

The former Minister of Works in President Ibrahim Babangida’s administration, said there is mounting pressure on him from the zone and and state at large to contest the election, he is still consulting with relevant stakeholders and was expecting a positive answer from God to have a smooth sailing into government house.

He particularly pointed that his track record of achievements while in the senate and other public offices have placed him in a vantage position above other intending aspirants in the zone to clinch the seat in the coming governorship election.

“My scorecard is so large and convincing enough for Benue people to want me to be their governor as you can see the pressure now even as 2023 is still far from here. For example, in my two tenures at the red chambers, I delivered over 360 projects in my constituency apart from over 10,000 items I distributed and lots more,” he said.

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Edo 2020: Obaseki’s game-changer

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Edo 2020: Obaseki’s game-changer

Felix Nwaneri reports that despite mounting opposition to Governor Godwin Obaseki’s second term bid, the Edo State helmsman could leverage on his achievements so far to scale the hurdle

 

 

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igeria is said to have failed to attract investment because the local dynamics are too shoddy and loosely defined, which it makes it difficult for serious investment to place a bet on the country or its subnational entities – the states.

But one state that has somewhat scaled this hurdle and is now a darling to international development institutions and investors is Edo State under the leadership of Governor Godwin Obaseki, an investment banker, who cut his teeth in deepening reforms in Nigeria’s investment sector.

 

There is no doubt that in the last three years that Obaseki has been at helms of affairs in the Edo, which prides itself as the “Heartbeat of the Nation,” he has brought his expertise to bear on the development of the state, helping to facilitate the siting and mobilisation of funding for the Edo-Azura Power project, which has the World Bank Group, Siemens and Julius Berger, among others, on board.

This was to ensure that the state has a proven record of attracting and keeping investors to build the right infrastructure that can drive industrialisation. Though Edo-Azura supplies power to the National Grid, its presence has spurred the incursion of more power companies into the state and also guarantees other large industries in the state a source for relatively stable power.

 

Interestingly, the Obaseki administration has also been able to replicate its giant stride in other sectors, especially education, sports, urban renewal and civil service reforms, among others.

As it is, the world is paying attention to the education reforms in Edo State. In a recently published commentary on its website, the World Economic Forum (WEF) applauded the Edo State Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo-BEST) initiative for improving learning outcomes among pupils in primary schools across the state and described Governor Obaseki, as a trailblazer who is “quickly and dramatically lifting the quality of government schools and up skilling teachers in his low-income state.”

 

According to the WEF, “education experts around the world and across Africa in particular are paying close attention to EdoBEST that has become a beacon of light to other education ministries because it is improving learning for marginalised children and up skilling both novice and experienced teachers at scale, within existing state budgets and without western aid.”

 

The Forum further said that the changes are happening within the existing system and being spearheaded by existing teachers and school leaders, and hailed the reforms as “a Nigerian solution to a Nigerian problem.”

The World Bank and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) have also highlighted EdoBEST as a crucial programme that can be a template for transforming education in educationally disadvantaged societies. Last September, the World Bank Group organised a side-event at the UNGA summit in New York to discuss Edo-BEST.

 

The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) also recently bestowed Governor Obaseki with the Best Performing Governor Award in recognition of his education reforms, success of the Edo-BEST programme and his prioritisation of teachers’ welfare in the state.

 

Receiving the award, Obaseki said: “If you are not able to add your sums and pronounce your alphabets, you cannot write and you cannot think logically. So, what we have done in Edo State is to prioritise basic and technical education.”

He argued that basic education from the perspective of encouraging teachers, deploying technology to determine and tell when a teacher is in class, among others, form the basis of the Edo-BEST programme.

“I can tell from my office today when a teacher is in class. If a teacher is not in class then the teacher hasn’t signed into the database. Once a teacher is signed in, the lesson note for that day will be loaded into the teacher’s tablet. And we’ve trained teachers to understand how to use the tablets and the technology to teach the children.

 

“So, this is also to motivate them and corporal punishment has been abolished in our schools. The outcome is that children are learning. A child in Edo state today after one term has now learnt more than three terms of work in the old system,” he said.

 

In the area of urban renewal, the Obaseki-led government has it as one of its key development thrusts, and since the start of the administration, there has been massive construction of roads, reclaiming of gully erosion sites, construction of parks and restoring sanity to public places across the state.

 

The unprecedented urban renewal projects have earned the governor the sobriquet: “Wake and See Governor,” said to be a product of the governor’s unique leadership style that abhors unnecessary fanfare.                          

The road construction projects span across different parts of the state and are being spearheaded by the Ministry of Infrastructure, State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR) and SEEFOR Plus, the state government-funded scheme modeled after the World Bank funded project.            

 

A major aspect of the governor’s infrastructure drive is the renovation of public schools across the state, expected to complement investment in human capital development.

Schools, including conventional and technical institutions of learning, are being remodeled to reflect the governor’s commitment to build infrastructure in the quest to revive the state’s industrial sector.

 

The target, according to the state government, is to have institutions that would serve as grooming grounds for best-in-town technical experts, who will receive training and certification that would be recognized in any part of the world.

On sports, Obaseki is leaving no stone unturned to return Edo State to its glorious days and this informs the ongoing renovation, expansion and equipping of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium with state-of-the-art facilities to spur sports development and develop local talents in the state.

 

The governor said of the project: “We take sports seriously in this state, because 72 per cent of our population is under 30 years of age, and that is why we are building 20 mini-stadia across the state.”

The Edo Innovation Hub is another initiative that has been acclaimed by many. A cluster for technology innovators and inventors, the hub was set up to strengthen the state’s nascent technology innovation scene. The hub was commissioned on June 14, 2018 by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Tagged Edo Innovates, the hub provides a range of beginner, intermediate and advanced training in business and technology innovation, providing youths the opportunity to learn a wide array of employability 

and entrepreneurial skills.

Specifically, some of the offerings at the hub include digital skills, business support services, start-up incubation and business acceleration, mentorship, co-working spaces, and entrepreneurship training.

 

More than 1,000 youths have been trained at the facility since inception, with not less than a quarter of them being females. Besides this, the hub has recently proven to be a resource center for the state’s government plans to build an internationally competitive locally-trained labour force in partnership with reputable organisations, working to mitigate the menace of human trafficking and illegal migration.

 

This has attracted investment from the World Bank-assisted State Employment and Expenditure for Results project (SEEFOR) Project, United Kingdom (UK) the Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE), a number of Chinese companies, among others, at the hub.

 

On civil service reforms, Governor Obaseki has reiterated that he will not sack any worker in the state because he believes in the power of the human intellect and would never work to render any worker a liability.

With this thinking, the governor has made the civil service in Edo State a fulcrum of his reform agenda by ensure that workers are catered for while in service and in retirement.

 

This informed the decision to re-train civil servants for efficiency and through a partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the state government is retooling the state’s workforce for effective service delivery.

 

And in line with its efforts to ensure that no civil servant is redundant, the state government conducts regular training for civil servants with a focus to make them better at their jobs.

The government has also undertaken to redesign offices and build a Training School that would provide institutional support for the plan to ensure that workers are brought up to speed with current developments in their areas of expertise.      

 

The state government has also built Judges’ Quarters to ensure that the welfare of members of the top brass of the judiciary is well catered for. New Court complexes are being constructed, with the governor determined to convert Edo into the judiciary hub of the Niger Delta. Stenography equipment and other modern equipment have been procured and court clerks trained to deploy them to ensure an efficient, fast and seamless judicial process.

 

The pension reforms in the state have also helped in clearing the backlog of pension arrears accumulated for almost 20 years before the current administration. The workers in the state have been migrated to the contributory pension scheme. The success of the scheme at the state level has inspired the extension of the scheme to the local government level. 

 

The state government, also realising that one of the biggest tasks before it, is the challenge of human trafficking and illegal migration, has faced it head-on.

This explained why the governor didn’t mince words when he came into office as to the fact that the state had a problem with illegal migration, which deprived it of its human capital.       

To tackle this problem, Obaseki set to work by employing a mix approach of engagement and dialogue across to get the necessary stakeholders on board. With this, the state was able to set up the Edo Taskforce Against Human Trafficking (ETAHT), empowered by the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law.

 

The law was a landmark feat to give legal backing to the fight against human trafficking in the state. With such commitment, the governor has appealed to countries that suffer migrant crisis to invest in opportunities of building institutions and infrastructure that will complement the state government’s efforts in engaging and empowering youths in the state.

 

While it is acknowledged that there is more to electoral victories in emerging democracies such as Nigeria, there is no doubt that Obaseki will leverage on the giant strides of his administration in his quest to return to office as governor of Edo State for a second term.

 

The governor, who beat his chest on this, told New Telegraph in a recent interview that “if I have the people with me, there is nothing to be afraid of because election is not a war that requires deployment of the military for possible take-over of a territory.

 

He added: “If God had wanted things to continue the way they were in Edo State, He would not have brought a total stranger like me; He would have selected one of the subsisting faces in politics. I am a different person, so I have to do things differently. But, if some reactionary forces feel that we must go back to where we were before now, they have the people of Edo State to battle with.”

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Two years in the saddle: The Secondus, PDP story

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Two years in the saddle: The Secondus, PDP story

E

xactly two years ago, precisely on December 11, 2017, Prince Uche Secondus entered Wadata Plaza, the National Secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the 13th National Chairman of the main opposition party with the following words on marble.

 

“As I resume today as the National Chairman of this great party, I come with an open heart, open arms with our doors ajar to welcome all lovers of true democracy. PDP under my leadership is open to accommodate all those who desire for this country to have free and robust political activities.

 

“I intend to create a level playing ground and a conducive environment for all to bring in their God given talent to help rescue this country from the obvious lack of direction of the APC administration. It’s now clear to all political watchers that the onus of saving our democracy and our country rests squarely on the PDP and this is what my leadership tends to pursue vigorously.

 

In the coming days and months, PDP under my watch will introduce an all-inclusive system that would carry along every member with goodwill. We are calling on all Nigerians to be patient with us as we begin this process of rebuilding, repositioning with the ultimate goal of regaining power at all levels in this country.

 

“Nigerians are yearning for us and we have no choice but to rise up to the challenge. I therefore call on all our members who left the party in the past for various reasons to return and be part of this second chance history in making under a Secondus.”

 

That was the entry remarks of Prince Secondus  at the party’s Wadata Plaza as he alighted from his car at the gate trekking to his office to assume duties and to symbolically demonstrate the all-inclusive policy he intends to push as the leader of the party.

 

Prior to this 24 hours earlier on 10th December, 2017 at Eagles Square, Abuja he was elected the National Chairman at the party’s National Convention. In his acceptance speech he had given his policy direction which was encompassed in 3Rs- rebuilding, repositioning to regain.

 

The party badly needed a fresh touch and Prince Secondus was well aware having been part of the party’s daunting problems including the battle to rescue it from those who came purposely to auction away the party.

 

To be able to reposition and rebuild the party, a lot of old ways needed to give way, internal democracy the party’s biggest challenge must be restored. Also to be restored are the core values of the founding fathers of the party which are anchored on the basic tenets of democracy, rule of law and freedom.

 

Prince Secondus started immediately by decentralizing power watering down the almighty influence of Wadata Plaza where party ticket in the past could be purchased or made available to the highest bidder.

Many still driven by the past doubted him when he said that under his watch, flag bearers of the party at all levels must be popular persons with deep grassroots touch who can win elections.

 

A lot of the party’s flagbearers at various elective positions in last general elections did not believe what they saw that they could pick PDP ticket without first ferrying some Ghana must go bags to Wadata Plaza in Abuja.

Perhaps the height of Prince Secondus two-year reign was in October 2018 in Port Harcourt, Rivers state when the democracy watchers waited for the imploding of the party believing the soothsayer’s prediction that the party would not be able come out of Port Harcourt intact.

 

But against the book maker’s calculations it turned out to be the party’s finest hour. Becoming the best presidential primaries ever to be conducted by any political party in Nigeria’s history. Rather than implode the party came out of Port Harcourt stronger and more united. All the 11 Presidential aspirants who contested and lost agreed unanimously to line behind the eventual winner the former Vice President of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar. How did you do it was always the question to Secondus and his answer was ‘its God and transparency”. When the losers saw that they were not short changed or manipulated out and that the ground was level for all they became amenable to see reason and to accept defeat.

This was the spirit Prince Secondus led the party into general elections through one of the most vigorous political campaigns. The reception of the party by Nigerians across the country was overwhelming since they had earlier believed and accepted Prince Secondus apology to Nigerians on behalf of the party on the short comings of the party that led to their defeat in 2015 but even worse is in causing the entry of APC into the ruling class with all their minuses.

 

Jittery at the wave PRINCE Secondus leadership was making and how they were unable to March the rising profile of the party, the ruling APC turned to the dangerous option of using the Electoral Commission and the military to force themselves back to power and that they did disregarding the cries and   lamentations of democracy watchers.

 

Notwithstanding that Secondus was still able to grow the party from control of 11 states to 16 before they came with the November 16, 2019 abracadabra in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

 

 

Looking ahead after reviewing the last two years, Prince Secondus says the emergency is over but the battle is not over yet as anti-democratic forces are growing wings by the day. All institutions of democracy are under threat starting with the Judiciary, the legislature and the press. He says all hands must be on deck because APC has touched the soul of democracy by disregarding rule of law and the electoral process.

But Secondus relying strongly on his deep faith believes that there is a light at the end of the tunnel because evil exists but never overcomes good. For him supporters and members of the party must stay strong because when light arrives, darkness will vamoose.

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2020 budget: How NASS, executive harmony led to early passage

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2020 budget: How NASS, executive harmony led to early passage

CHUKWU DAVID reports that the new found love between the Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila-led Senate and House of Representatives, respectively and the Muhammadu Buhari-led executive arm of government, resulted to the early passage of the 2020 Appropriation Bill

 

 

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or the first time in the history of budget consideration and passage since the country’s return to civil rule in 1999, the National Assembly has made history by passing the 2020 budget expeditiously and within reasonable time period.

The two chambers of the apex legislative assembly, in obvious relentless and harmonious resolve to change the narrative of late budget passage and its attendant poor implementation, displayed commitment and determination, which resulted in the 2020 Appropriation Bill being passed in less than two months of its presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

 

This goes to explain that, with determination, commitment and cooperation among the three arms of government, good governance is possible and can be delivered to the electorate in good time.

It also exposes the fact that the age-long friction between the Executive and the Legislature has actually hampered and robbed Nigerians of meaningful development over the years.

 

 

Therefore, there is no gainsaying that the current feat recorded by the National Assembly in the early passage of the money bill, was the direct consequence of the new found love between the apex legislative institution and the Executive.

Right from 1999, when this democracy came on stream, the Parliament and the Executive have always been having rancorous relationship especially when the leaders of the Parliament are not product of party consensus or the choice of incumbent President.

 

 

In the present political dispensation, however, the two presiding officers in each chamber of the National Assembly, were products of the choice of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

 

 

This is why there has not been any disagreement between the National Assembly and the Executive on any issue, particularly with respect to approval of executive communications emanating from President Muhammadu Buhari.

In fact, since June 11, 2019, when the present National Assembly was inaugurated, with Lawan and Gbajabiamila, emerging as the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively, every communication from President Buhari has been enjoying expeditious approval.

 

From instance, the Senate approved the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) within one week after it was submitted to it by President Buhari.

 

The President submitted the document on September 25, 2019 and the Senate considered and approved the report of its Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning, Chaired by Senator Solomon Ademola (APC, Lagos West).

Coming to the budget itself, President Buhari laid the document before the joint session of the National Assembly on October 8, 2019, which was exactly five days after the MTEF was passed.

 

The two chambers immediately swung into action, read it first and second time and committed it to the Senate Committee on Appropriations to conduct budget defence sessions with the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government.

 

In previous assemblies, budget passage had always dragged for many months after being presented to the joint session of the National Assembly by Mr. President before it would be passed for assent.

 

Part of the reason was that National Assembly used to face frustrating challenges in the hands of some heads of the MDAs, who would not honour invitations to budget defence, thereby delaying the process.

 

 

The delay in budget passage at the National Assembly became worse in the Eighth Assembly, when the relationship between the apex legislative institution and the Executive was most rancorous.

 

The reason could be traced to the frosty relationship between the Executive and the leaderships of the two chambers of the National Assembly, which led to mutual suspicion and distrust between the two arms, with each trying to frustrate the other.

 

 

 

This was so majorly because Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara had emerged the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively, contrary to the wishes of the APC and the Presidency.

It was also believed that this was responsible for some heads of the agencies and ministries disrespecting the National Assembly and its resolutions, particularly invitations for budget defence or any other invitations whatsoever.

 

For instance, in March 2018, following the rampant failures of MDAs to appear for budget defence, the Senate, in a resolution, threatened to pass the 2018 budget without submissions from recalcitrant MDAs.

 

Saraki who expressed serious concerns about the attitude of the MDAs, said that the Senate was prepared to conclude the process of the 2018 Appropriation Bill to ensure its passage but regretted that the MDAs were not cooperative.

 

 

 

He noted that the perception of the public was that the National Assembly was deliberately delaying the budget when the contrary was the case.

Similar experience was also witnessed during the 2019 budget defence hearings with the MDAs. Many of the heads of the establishments failed to honour invitations by lawmakers on time, leading to serious delay in passing the money bill.

Having witnessed these anomalous attitude of the MDAs towards the National Assembly, and not willing to encounter a repeat of the the experience, the Senate cautioned heads of the MDAs not to indulge in the ugly record of the past.

 

 

The President of the Senate specifically threatened at a point, that the Senate would give zero allocation to MDAs that failed to honour Senate invitations for budget defence. This has indeed yielded positive result in the ongoing 2020 budget defence process.

 

 

Meanwhile, the National Assembly had while passing its legislative agenda, resolved to return the country’s budget cycle to January to December calendar instead of the current unstable arrangement that had always impeded effective implementation.

 

 

Not desiring to miss this target, the Chamber worked assiduously to ensure that the budget was passed before the National Assembly embarks on Christmas break.

Accordingly, it has gone into record that this is the earliest budget to be passed by the National Assembly since 1999, having been passed within one month and 27 days after its presentation by the President.

 

 

This is enough proof that, determination, commitment, cooperation and collaboration among the various arms and agencies of government will always result in achievement of government set goals, to the benefit of the citizenry.

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Why Buhari should accent to Electoral Act Amendment Bill – Gbadamosi

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Why Buhari should accent to Electoral Act Amendment Bill – Gbadamosi

Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi was the governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) in Lagos State during the 2019 general election. In this interview, he speaks on human rights abuses, amendment of Electoral Act and Land Use Act, among other issues. TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports

 

 

Tuesday was World Human Rights Day and the International Community is concerned about breakdown of human rights in Nigeria vis-à-vis what is happening in the polity. How would you react to the latest development on human rights issues in the country?

 

It is a thing of concern because we saw the amassing and unbelievable thing, where security officials invaded a courtroom, which has now been excused by one of the aides of the government who said that the invasion was organised by the man who has come to the court to seek relief; that is Omoyele Sowore. Of course that is something that perhaps the media handlers of Muhammadu Buhari administration need a serious talking to because they have dragged Nigeria seriously into serious disrepute and we need to come back from that as quickly as we can. They need to retrace their steps. This is a democracy; this is not a military dictatorship but they are acting as if we are under a military jackboot. That is not the case. We are not going to have that. 

 

 

Most Nigerians are of the view that happened during last month’s Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections reiterate the demand for the review of the Electoral Act by the National Assembly. What is your take on that?

 

The amendments to the Electoral Act should have been signed by President Buhari, but he didn’t. What happened during the 2019 general election and elections that have come up since then like the Bayelsa and Kogi elections showed what the actual intension of President Buhari was by not signing that Electoral Act amendment. We have seen what President Buhari considered to be good election because we saw him congratulating Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. We saw him congratulating him after the election, where people were being shot at from a helicopter, teargas was being thrown around and the handset of the Yahaya Bello campaign was the sounds of gunshots. All of that have no place in democracy. And Mr. President ought to be ashamed of his party (All Progressives Congress, APC) for endorsing such madness.

 

 

You were recently given an award as ‘Best Real Estate Developer’ while your estate, Amen Estate won the ‘Happiest Community Award’ at the Real Estate Development Award. What is your take on the awards?

 

 

The Real Estate Development Award is a project that I have come to appreciate greatly because it has helped to bring sanity into the industry. If you go around, you will see a lot of private developments that have taken place that are actually helping to enhance the environment. One of the best was of selling the country is through culture and popular culture today is begin to take Lagos as the headquarter, not because of anything that government is doing but because of what the private sector is doing in terms of the built environment. That has helped in terms of musical videos; enhancing the works of our local artists to the point that they are being recognise by their international colleagues in United States, United Kingdom and all over the place. All that was made possible by the activities of those of us in the real estate sector that have delivered our estates as locations for the shooting of all these videos that are now been shown on the global stage.

 

 

As an estate developer, what is your take on the Land Use Act, which was one of the issues you discussed while delivering a lecture at the Real Estate Development Award?

 

The Land Use Act has the unsalutary effect of taken away the ownership of land from the people of Nigeria and handling it to the governors of the state in Nigeria. In fact in my own opinion, it is something that somehow detached from the possibility of the economic growth in Nigeria, and this is born out by the level of development that you see in the country as what you see elsewhere in the world; United States, United Kingdom and all these other developed economy that we have gone to borrowed things like our constitution and legal system and so on from and operate free home system of land ownership, whereas in Nigeria, there is no free home. That is something we need to look at in other to speed up the economic development of Nigeria. And of course because of this Land Use Act, there is no real security of titles because the governors who retained the right revoke the Certificate of Occupancy that they issued.

 

What about issues surrounding Certificate of Occupancy?

 

 

The situation especially in a state like Lagos is that there is a long queue apparently of Certificate of Occupancy on the part of governor or someone within the system piled up somehow. It is an imperfect system. The Land Use Act is not a perfect system and it is something that we are going to have to work with for the time being until we can work out something better and until we can repeal the Land Use Act or review it to give out free hold to their land.  So until that time, the system as it were should be made to work. The system not working is also another reason why the Land Use Act should be revoked. The governors should not have that much power over the land of the people.

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Kogi poll: Strengthening early warning signal, response mechanism

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Kogi poll: Strengthening early warning signal, response mechanism

T

he November 16 governorship election in Kogi State has come and gone but undesirable reviews on the elections have continued to flood the media space. The election was marred with violence despite the early warning signs and recommendations to relevant actors in the election process. The Nigerian Police and the election management body failed to improve on the lapses from the February 23 presidential election. The level of violence witnessed and reported during the governorship election was alarming and it raises concerns about the state of our elections, not just in Kogi but as we move ahead towards attaining sustainable electoral democracy in Nigeria.

 

 

During the pre-election period, early warning reports were disseminated to all relevant stakeholders ahead of the elections, aimed at providing pointers to incidents that could mar the process.  An early warning system by itself does not automatically prevent conflict from happening, but however provides vital information for action to prevent violence or mitigate the consequences of electoral violence.

 

 

It has been well established that in order to prevent the occurrence of electoral violence an early warning system needs to be in place as it is rather impossible to prevent an incident from occurring without having prior knowledge or information. Early warning is about obtaining first-hand information and using that information to inform planned interventions in the mitigation of such incidents, but how well has these early warnings signals reported impacted and helped in preventing the outburst of electoral violence in the just concluded governorship election in Kogi state.

 

 

The early warning signs and flashpoint was supposed to help identify the cause of an incident, predict the outbreak of the incident and strategise on how to reduce the effect or escalation of the incident, but unfortunately, inspite of all the early warning signals and trends of violence reported, Kogi election still experienced increased record of electoral violence outweighing the 2019 presidential election precedents.

 

 

For instance, the October conflict scan analysis meeting organised by Search for Common Ground; a Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) who observed early warning signs before, during and after the elections, had in attendance representatives from the police force, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Civil Society groups, media and other stakeholders. During the meeting, early warning incident tracked from all 21 local government areas in Kogi State were critically discussed and analysed as with recommendations.

 

 

Top on the discussion was the high rate of political party and candidate violence, which has triggered down to all forms of electoral violence between politicians and their supporters, proliferation of arms by political thugs, vandalism and destruction of properties and instrument of campaign, intimidation and threats to citizens, harassment and abduction of some individuals who were loyal to opposing parties and in other instance incidents of death reported from some quarters in the state.

 

 

Other areas of concern were the worrisome rate of vote buying and voter inducement, inter-communal clashes and the inciting comments and hate speech during campaigns and rallies to spur violence. With all these incidents heralding the pre-election environment, what was experienced during the election was predictable. Concerns and worries were raised by journalist and other participants at the meeting but again assurances were given by the police who promised to enforce patrol vehicles during the elections and create visible policing to apprehend miscreants and ensure peaceful election on Election Day.

 

 

Early warning concerns on report on fake policing and political thugs sewing and wearing police uniforms to disguise like the Nigerian Police was also raised during the stakeholders meeting in Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State, with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu and the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu in attendance. This was supposed to put the police and security agents on alert and intentionally strategize on how to dislodge this fake policing which was masterminded to disrupt the polls on Election Day.

 

 

Again assurances and warnings were been made by the Inspector General of Police stating that adequate provisions has been made by the police to forestall any incident of violence that could disrupt the process, assuring citizens of the safety of their lives and property as well as apprehend all miscreants who chooses to perpetrate mayhem on that day, but it is rather unfortunate that a different event played out on Election Day with these thugs seemingly seen to overpower the security agents or connive to execute their mission.

 

 

 

There is need for system strengthening of the national early warning and early response mechanism by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and all relevant stakeholders in elections. A holistic approach in reviewing and analysing data received on early warning signals and strategise on how to develop an Early Response System (ERS), which addresses these early warning concerns. If deliberate attention is given to the information provided, it will go a long way in preventing, predict the outbreak of incidences and appropriately device measures to mitigate this violence that poses as a great threat in attaining electoral stability and peaceful elections.

 

 

•Mamedu is an early warning signal specialist and a programme coordinator with Search for Common Ground

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