Politics – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com Breaking News in Nigeria Today Tue, 18 Jun 2019 06:30:58 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.1 https://tribuneonlineng.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/logo.jpg Politics – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com 32 32 118125416 INEC, 2019 elections and observers https://tribuneonlineng.com/219395/ Tue, 18 Jun 2019 06:27:58 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=219395 Tribune Online
INEC, 2019 elections and observers

elections, INEC, observers

In the past few days, stakeholders have engaged in debates on the position of the European Union (EU) team that monitored Nigeria’s general election. KUNLE ODEREMI brings the views of some leaders on the seemingly damning report.   REPORTS by various teams of international observers that monitored the 2019 polls in Nigeria seem to be […]

INEC, 2019 elections and observers
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INEC, 2019 elections and observers

elections, INEC, observers

In the past few days, stakeholders have engaged in debates on the position of the European Union (EU) team that monitored Nigeria’s general election. KUNLE ODEREMI brings the views of some leaders on the seemingly damning report.

 

REPORTS by various teams of international observers that monitored the 2019 polls in Nigeria seem to be following a similar pattern. Apart from creating eddies in the political circle, the common denominator appears to be that the polls fell short of certain cardinal democratic practices and standards. The latest of such reports is that of the European Union election team, which listed 30 grounds that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must address to avert issues becoming perennial, if the nation hopes to raise the bar ahead of the 2023 general election. Chief among the conditions is the imperative of an intensive enlightenment campaign among the people, whereas INEC had at different times said it did the needful in that regard preparatory to the 2019 elections.

Ahead of the polls, the INEC recorded 80 million prospective voters as against 67 million registered for the 2015 elections. Yet, the turnout was 35.6 per cent in the presidential poll, which compared with 44 per cent in that of 2015 presidential election, with the EU election monitors attributing the low figure to poor mobilisation and education of voters, coupled with the unwieldy number of political parties on the ballot. A total of 71 parties out of the 91 registered with INEC participated in the 2019, while 44 parties were involved in 2015.

VIDEO: Angry Nigerian vandalises cars at Nigerian High Commission in London over passport collection

But, this year’s election was relatively better funded, as the commission secured approval of parliament for its N234.5 billion budget, making it the largest amount ever received by INEC since 1999 when the country returned to civil rule after a prolonged military interregnum. The budget was an increase of about N69 billion compared to the 2015 election expenditure by the commission. The fund was shared between INEC and five security agencies assigned roles at the elections.  While INEC was to spend N190 billion, representing 73.51 per cent of the figure, the remaining N52.45 billion (26. 49 per cent) was to be shared by security agencies based on the following breakdown: Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) was allocated N4.28 billion; Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) N3. 57 billion; Nigeria Police Force N30.54 billion; Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) N2.63 billion, and the Directorate of State Security (DSS) got N12.21 billion.  Some reports claimed that INEC had spent N450 billion from 1999 to 2018, with the figure excluding grants the commission received from international organisations.

In spite of the huge financial outlay, election monitors still scored security agencies and political parties abysmally low because of their inappropriate conduct in the course of the polls. The EU and other teams, for instance, expressed disgust over what they perceived as the uncomplimentary role of security personnel deployed for the elections, just as they were accused of brazen partisanship and acts designed to subvert the will of the electorate, with the main political parties: PDP and APC compounding the mess that characterised the general election.

The report of the EU election monitors is generating a heated debate among Nigerians and across board in the political parties. While some claim the report lent credence to their position that the polls were manipulated in favour of the ruling APC, others, including officials of the Presidency and stalwarts of the party said there was no iota truth  in the claim, though the latter group agreed that anomalies identified by the EU election monitors would be considered by the authorities. It will be recalled that late President UmaruYar’Adua had initiated an electoral reform immediately he assumed office following the spate of criticism that trailed the election that brought him to office.

 

Observations

Shortly after the presidential and national assembly polls, the African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) unveiled a preliminary report. It commended the tenacity of purpose of Nigerians in deepening democratic culture but also observed: “More than a half of the AU observer teams reported lack of essential election materials in the voting points observed as follows: Ballot Boxes (25%), Polling booths (25%), Ballot Papers (25%), Copy of voter register (25%), Envelopes (25%), Indelible ink- marker pen (25%), Polling station journal (25%), Forms (25%), Seals (25%), Stamps (75%), and Smart Card Readers (25%).”

On the same election, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) expressed serious misgivings over “serious irregularities and violence at collation centres in many parts of the country.”  In a joint report, the organisations advocated that the Executive arm of government embark on immediate comprehensive electoral reforms; implement fully and expeditiously the recommendations of the Uwais Commission (2008) and the Nnamani Committee (2017); that INEC reconsider the order and timing of general election to ensure sufficient time for election preparations and to promote voter participation and engagement at both the grassroots and national levels; that security agencies liaise with INEC to enforce the electoral law by investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of election-related criminal acts, as well as investigate and sanction security personnel who violate the rules of engagement on election day.

 

General reactions

Other leaders of the political parties, as well as concerned citizens such as the general secretary of the Arewa Consultative (ACF), Anthony Z. Sani, have joined the debate generated by the report of the EU election monitoring team. They include:

 

Anthony Z. Sani, ACF national secretary

The EU report on the elections has assessed performances in the elections by INEC against plans, and has highlighted areas where there were improvements and where there were shortcomings. It is for the two arms of government, as well as the political parties and the security agencies to study the report, especially the 30 recommendations, with a view to making corrections by way of good legislation and management practices, as well as political will. That is the essence of the observer missions, to wit, help countries improve on their electoral processes by way of political will through the executive arm and also by the legislative arm, as well as through management practices by INEC, the political parties and the security agencies.

The immediate and long-term implications border on the fact that if the corrective actions are not taken in good time, coming elections will not improve over and above the recent ones. Therefore, all the parties involved in their electoral processes are expected to study the reports with a view to correcting those areas that are within the purviews. This is because the executive and the legislative arms of government, as well as the INEC, the political parties and the security agencies have defined roles, which they should play in the electoral processes. If these roles are not performed properly, the coming elections will experience the same challenges recorded by the European Observer Mission. It is therefore left for all the agencies and democratic institutions which play roles in the electoral processes to live up to their democratic mandate for the good of democracy and the development of the nation.

The Federal Government has said it would study the reports and effect corrective measure. So, how far-reaching do you still want the responses to be? Do you want the executive, the legislature and the political parties, as well as the security agencies to be sanctioned for the observed lapses? I think the concern should be that all democratic institutions should locate the courage of their mandate and deliver on the promise of democracy. It is not a matter of rhetoric but of consciously directed efforts to make desires possible and then actual.

 

Chief Ralphs Nwosu, African Democratic Congress (ADC) national chairman

The EU reports indict the APC, Federal Government, Buhari as a person and INEC. That the election is not transparent is an understatement really. The elections meet no modicum of fairness and credibility, and remains a disgrace to all of us. We are all indicted in a sense; if only EU is awakening us to what was very obvious. The APC is a very violent party; people seem afraid to speak. Many credible voices in the country have remained dodgy on the issue or may have lost their voices completely; they may have lost their sanity, or have chosen to live in shame. The implications are far-reaching. You can see the inauguration ceremonies; no former heads of state or presidents, not even one was in attendance. The other nations of the world, including African leaders, were not present. There has been no inauguration in this country except during the civilian regime when such has happened.

The implication is that Nigeria is no longer relevant with this type of shameful attitude to democracy and the image will continue to plummet as long as the perfidy is not corrected. Again, our democracy loses value and steeps into fascism. The end result, trouble all across; no foreign inflow, economy will hit downward spiral; hunger, poverty, disease, youth restiveness, and God forbid anarchy. EU has made their observations known. The Nigerian people have a serious role in how things go. Luckily, cases are in court, so the judiciary is now challenged. The Supreme Court will have to show if they are truly supreme or another failed institutional system and lackey of the compromised elite and polluted political class. However, the outcome of the Atiku versus Buhari case will determine the gravity. We are at a tipping point; the Buhari presidency, which started in 2015, has been like big drama and now, we are at typical cliffhanger.

 

Chief Supo Shonibare, Social Democratic Party (SDP) national chairman

The negative involvement of security operatives during the elections, with allegations of their assisting to manipulate the results, which report was confirmed by the INEC chairman, seems to apportion part of the blame of other issues. It seriously undermines the integrity of the process being within the purview and control of the Presidency, which has operational control over the security agencies. The military did set up a committee to probe the infractions, which we all saw being televised. No one has been indicted or arraigned.

It’s not good enough for the government to inform us that they will implement the recommendations of the EU report. They should demonstrate that willingness by prosecuting the security operatives whose faces were clearly identifiable in the clips watched by all of us on national television. If our security operatives have difficulties, even in identifying them, I recall the army issuing a release that they were not their officers; then it’s difficult to believe our security operatives have the capacity and willingness to uncover any criminal act anywhere in the country.

INEC, 2019 elections and observers
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NASS: Ojerinde to set forth at dawn https://tribuneonlineng.com/219397/ Tue, 18 Jun 2019 06:25:30 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=219397 Tribune Online
NASS: Ojerinde to set forth at dawn

The member representing Irepo/Oorelope/Olorunsogo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Honourable Olumide Abiodun Ojerinde, has expressed his readiness to hit the ground running as a legislator and representative of his people. According to the 35-year-old chief executive of several media and entertainment businesses, the opportunity offered him to serve the people of the constituency […]

NASS: Ojerinde to set forth at dawn
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NASS: Ojerinde to set forth at dawn

The member representing Irepo/Oorelope/Olorunsogo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Honourable Olumide Abiodun Ojerinde, has expressed his readiness to hit the ground running as a legislator and representative of his people.

According to the 35-year-old chief executive of several media and entertainment businesses, the opportunity offered him to serve the people of the constituency is one too big to be toyed with, as he is aware of a heavy burden of expectations hanging on his neck as a young lawmaker and a son of the Asiwaju of Oke Ogun, Emeritus Professor Dibu Ojerinde, a man who has in the last four decades or more dedicated his life to lifting people out of poverty, serving communities and championing positive causes.

 Atiku Vs Buhari: Provide server used for Presidential polls now, Peter Obi warns INEC

The making of history

The young Ojerinde had made history in his own little ways before and after the elections, becoming the youngest elected member of the House of Representatives from his constituency at a young age of 35, which is the ceiling of the newly signed Not Too Young To Run Act for House of Representatives hopeful.

Apart from that enviable achievement of being one of the first beneficiaries of the paradigm shift canvassed by the Not Too Young To Run advocacy, his election as a member of the House of Representatives on February 23, 2019 had also set several records and upped the political ante in his domain. The All Progressives Congress (APC) won in all wards of Oorelope Local Government, proving wrong the saying that a prophet is without honour in his home town.

In the imagination of the advocates and campaigners of the Not Too Young To Run Bill, which was signed into law on 31 May, 2018, the success of the advocacy could not have been expected to be immediate. But the gains of that advocacy became visible in the polity quite early, with individuals like Ojerinde, who is making his first venture into politics after many years of running a chain of successful entertainment businesses including the first private radio station in Oke Ogun area of the state, getting the nod of the electorate.

However, following the conclusion of the electioneering process and the emergence of a sizeable number of youths as elected officials, the discourse has shifted from not being too young to run to whether the youths would be able to handle the challenges of their new offices. Such worries, Ojerinde, however, noted, should not be expressed by his constituents, as he had been prepared mentally and in all other ramifications to provide quality representation to the people.

According to him, right from the very moment he decided to pick up the gauntlet of joining politics, he had taken a stand that service, above all things, would be the hallmark of his time in politics. He had, during his declaration for the post he now occupies, said: “I will take a stand for my people. I have a vision for our land and I am prepared to prove by my words, actions and service delivery that we, the youths, are capable in mind and will power to take our future in our hands. 

In the lawmaker’s view, the opportunity to serve his people as a young man is not one that would be toyed with, as according to him, “the advocacy for younger elements in public offices was timely and important but the beneficiaries have a huge responsibility to prove that they are indeed fit to rule and I will say that it begins with me.”

Service delivery starts now

Ojerinde, fondly referred to as Omo Oloore, in an interview after the inauguration of the National Assembly, maintained that the confidence reposed in him by the people of Irepo/Oorelope/Olorunsogo Federal Constituency would begin to yield dividends immediately.

He said that he had chosen to follow the popular title of a book authored by the renowned Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, “You must set forth at dawn,” saying that service delivery would start immediately.

He said: “While in the field seeking the votes of our people, we interacted with all and sundry and my team has carried out a lot of survey, which has made it abundantly clear what the challenges of the constituency are. I want to let you know that while the House of Representatives is rolling out its legislative agenda, I have also come up with mine. In these four years, our people can look forward to a robust representation in terms of lawmaking. But beyond lawmaking, oversight and other statutory functions of a legislator, we have, in conjunction with the constituents, identified the challenges facing the constituents in the areas of education, health and pervading poverty.

“We have already devised the strategy to combat these challenges and very soon, you will see interventions in all these sectors. I am also happy to inform my constituents that there is going to be a home-grown approach to building all these sectors and improving them, as we have decided to not only look inwards for expertise on projects .

Constituents express confidence in Ojerinde

Many constituents who spoke to Nigerian Tribune following Ojerinde’s inauguration, expressed confidence that the young lawmaker would be able to provide quality representation as he has promised, describing him as a chip off the old block in terms of keeping promises and helping others. They made reference to how the lawmaker’s father and former registrar/CEO of National Examination Council and Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, Emeritus Professor Ojerinde, has been doing a great job uplifting communities and people in the constituency despite never holding a political office.

NASS: Ojerinde to set forth at dawn
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Why I lobbied Saraki, Dogara —Boss Mustapha https://tribuneonlineng.com/219068/ Mon, 17 Jun 2019 02:41:45 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=219068 Tribune Online
Why I lobbied Saraki, Dogara —Boss Mustapha

people

AS Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha is regarded as presiding over the ‘engine room’ of the government. In this interview by some journalists, he provides an insight into the inner workings of the Buhari administration, its relationship with state governments, and schism over policy direction, insecurity, among other contentious issues.
JACOB SEGUN-OLATUNJI was there. Excerpts:

Why I lobbied Saraki, Dogara —Boss Mustapha
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Why I lobbied Saraki, Dogara —Boss Mustapha

people

HAVING been in the saddle for almost two years, you should be conversant with the dynamics of the office. In specific terms, what are the roles of your office working with six departments and 22 agencies?

One of the responsibilities of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) is to co-ordinate policies formulated by ministries, departments and agencies. A total of 22 agencies report directly to the OSGF. Six permanent secretaries are charged with the responsibility of overseeing these offices. It’s quite a lot of responsibility to co-ordinate government policies and to ensure their implementation. This office provides the secretariat for the Council of State; Federal Executive Council and other committees chaired by Mr President. We provide secretariat services to track policies, projects and programmes that have been approved and put in place to ensure that the policies are properly implemented.  Generally, we provide co-ordination for government and we ensure that government does not work at cross-purposes; that synergies are provided and they inter-link.

 

Such huge task no doubt, will come with certain challenges. What is the relationship and synergy between state governments and your office? 

When I assumed office in November 2017, I realised that so many things that were decided at the federal level never took place in the states. There was a big communication gap. Since we provide secretariat services to the Federal Executive Council, we decided to extend it to the Cabinet Affairs Offices of the various states. We developed a handbook on how to manage the Cabinet Affairs Office, which was launched a few months ago. So, we have been going about to ensure that my colleagues in this office get at least a link between the federal and state governments for the purposes of pushing the change agenda.

State governments now realise that there was so much that was going on at the federal level that states were not appropriately benefitting from. For example, when we got the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to speak about the Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme, a lot of the secretaries to the government at the state were amazed that there was so much money available that their people could access.  When we started to talk about the School Feeding Programme, a lot of them were reluctant. They asked: what are you talking about? Some states that had logged into that programme began to explain what was happening in terms of school enrolment with the nutrition and health of the children. It helped them in convincing their state governments that they needed to key in and begin to appropriate those benefits that were coming to their states. Initially, the perception was that this is a political move to have a hold in the states, but by the time they realised that it was for the benefit of their people, they jumped in to be on the truck.

 

To what extent do you think political differences could serve as possible hinderance to your set goals?

In the OSGF, you have the Special Services Office, which provides the secretariat to the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA). It deals with security matters. We have a meeting of permanent secretaries at the different levels of different states with their permanent secretaries that oversee that there will be synergy in dealing with security matters. We all agree, when it comes to the architecture of security that if there is no synergy, the security machinery, security personnel, security apparatus will operate at cross purposes. That can spell danger for the country. So, we try as much as possible to create that synergy, by having this office co-ordinate a routine meeting as often as possible; sometimes monthly, sometimes quarterly, depending on the need, so that we can discuss the security implications of what is happening all over the country. We are being threatened by different dimensions of security challenges. So, this office co-ordinates that; it provides information and logistics support in terms of intelligence with the different components of our nation, so that we can effectively deal with the security challenges.

 

The three arms of government — executive, legislature and judiciary — are required to collaborate without compromising their individual independence. But how would you rationalise working relationship among all arms, especially with the National Assembly?

Upon assumption of office, I went to the National Assembly to knock at the door of the immediate past Senate President and the Honourable Speaker of the House Representatives. I extended a hand of fellowship and partnership and I said, ‘look, you know that we can’t do this business alone; we need your support, in-as-much as whatever we want to do, we need money.’  Many government policies require legislations. If you don’t have a very good working relationship with the National Assembly, how do you get the legislation to back the policies? The President has signed a couple of Executive Orders but, the executive orders are different from proper legislations that will drive policies, create establishments or agencies to push a particular agenda. So, you need the legislature. I have tried as much as possible to do what needs to be done with the legislature and even the judiciary, so that we have all the relationships that are mutually beneficial to all.

 

There are protests in certain quarters over the new guidelines from the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU). What is the real intention and objectives behind the guidelines?

The NFIU law empowers it to monitor withdrawals, movement of funds and indeed, everything that deals with finances as it affects our nation. We have to keep a watch on the movement of funds all over the world. The tendency is for government to be interested in how funds are used because funds have become an instrument of destabilisation in most countries. So, it is important that as Nigerians, we are to follow up and keep in mind how funds are moved within the system. It can destabilise the economy and the security architecture of the nation, so we have to be very careful.  The NFIU that used to be part of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has now receded and it is at the moment trying to do its job. But, what I am saying is that in doing their job, we have to manage it in such a way that we are all partners. We are working for the same system to ensure that our people will get the benefits of whatever policies or establishments that are put in place. We would try as much as possible to create a platform for the resolution of whatever issues that will arise.

 

Nigerians are divided on the performance of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, on his three key promises to the populace: revamping economy, war on corruption and fight against insecurity. What would be your honest assessment of the government based on those three grounds?

When President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, a substantial part of the local governments in the North-East were under Boko Haram insurgents. As a matter of fact, I got a new figure that shocked me when the governor of Borno State, at a meeting, mentioned that in 2015, a total of 22 out of the 27 local government areas in the state were under Boko Haram. Today, I can tell you not a single local government is under Boko Haram. We are not completely out of the woods yet, but I can tell you substantially that all the local government areas that used to be under the occupation of Boko Haram have been liberated. People have returned to their homes.

We have had incidents of banditry, which have taken a new dimension altogether. It is no more kidnapping just for the sake of it. Kidnapping is becoming a commercial enterprise and the banditry in the North-West, if care is not taken, will be another insurgency because the bandits come in and take territories and declare lordship over those territories and they dare even authorities and security agencies. There are many aspects of these crises that are manifesting, but I can tell you that we have tried as much as possible to deal with them. You can see there is relative calm, even in the southern part of the country. The South-South was a major challenge at the time we came in, in 2015, but because of the interface, mediation, negotiation and by extending a hand of fellowship and assuring people that they are part of Nigeria and they can make claims for which the government is obligated to listen to them, there has been relative peace, even with the issue of self-determination as exhibited in the south-eastern part of the country. So, much is being done in terms of interface with the governors, with the leadership of the South-East, trying to dissuade people from toeing that part which will not be of benefit to anybody. So, as much as possible, in the area of securing the nation, issues of security as they manifest in different dimensions, we are doing as much as humanly possible to ensure we contain it. We have tried as much as possible to interface with the traditional rulers, being the first respondent in most communities, through the National Council of Nigerian Traditional Rulers, which is co-chaired by the Ooni of Ife and the Sultan of Sokoto.

The Nigeria Inter-Religious Council existed before I came into office, but for a period of about six years held no meetings. I had to do a lot of spadework to convince the leadership that we needed to go back to the negotiating table and begin to talk. When the people outside begin to see the leaders of different faiths talking, it encourages them to have a sense or feeling that our problems will be sorted out. That has helped us tremendously and we have had   meetings in all the six geopolitical zones at different levels. The same thing with the National Council for Traditional Rulers, which is part of what the government is doing, as well as the OSGF because we are responsible for public safety and security.

In the area of fighting corruption, so much has been done in terms of recoveries. As we go into 2019-2023, government will be looking at strengthening the institutions; putting in place mechanisms that will help stop corruption from taking place at all because it comes with a lot of expenses which I know requires a lot of paradigm shifts. One thing we can do is to begin to create safety nets for the people in the work place. One thing that constitutes motivation for corruption is the fear of the unknown. You’re working today and you don’t know the future, and you will be 60 very soon. The worker says: ‘I don’t have a home, a good car and still have kids in school; how will I cope with that kind of life?’ That propels you into quest for wealth and generally, that is the thing that propels people to want to acquire more money as much as possible. But once you are able to create a safety net; something that can take care of them in terms of any major accident, insurance packages that can cover them and their families, people will have less tendency in indulging in corrupt practices. Nobody wants to be stigmatised with corruption, which is the truth, but I know it is this fear of the unknown that normally propels people into doing that. Going forward, we should strengthen the institutions and build capacities for them; make sure too that we create safety nets around the whole place so that people can have a bit of comfort. No government has ever recovered the kind of money that we have recovered, the kind of properties that have been seized, now going through the processes of temporary forfeiture and eventually permanent forfeiture.

The other aspect of it is the diversification of the economy. I think we have done very well in that area, particularly in the area of development of infrastructure. Most countries, long time ago, knew that if they could provide roads, provide rail, then they would open up their countries; there will be influx of businesses and I think in that area, we have succeeded tremendously.

Not only that, so much investment has gone into agriculture. The Anchor Borrowers’ scheme has provided huge resources. As of the time we went to campaign, about N86 billion was expended and you know how many millionaires have come out through the scheme, particularly in the area of growing rice. We grew the rice farmers’ population from four million to 12 million.  So, it’s a mass of people that have benefitted from that scheme.

The Social Investment Programme has done so much in creating wealth for the small business people. Is it the Farmers Money or the Trader Money, Market Money, so many of those programmes have helped generate employment for the people? The School Feeding Programme has created wealth for a lot of people that so many people have gone back to the farms; millions are required to feed the students on a daily basis, so many food vendors, women that have been employed as cooks servicing that particular industry. I believe that to a large extent we have diversified the economy. We realised that we came at a time when there was a major drop in crude oil prices but we were able to navigate to come out of recession and I think we have done so well and therefore, we can do better for the people of this country.

 

The Buhari administration is being accused of lethargy in tackling herders-farmers conflict and the banditry in the North West. Why such attitude from the government?

I think for anybody to accuse this government of being lethargic in dealing with herders-farmers conflict is quite unfair, because we have been very decisive. The categorisation of the Fulani as herdsmen is improper. I am a herdsman but not a Fulani. So, particularly in the northern part of the country, saying all herdsmen are Fulani is a lie. We are all herdsmen, we are all farmers; some are arable farmers, some are herdsmen and all this farming, in the agricultural sense, is one. One is animal husbandry; the other one is arable farming or crops.

The farmers-herdsmen’s conflict is not new. They have a pattern in resolving their conflicts in a particular location. If the herdsman allows his animals go into a farmer’s plot and there is destruction, the local community used to sit down; there will be an assessment of the level of destruction, then the herdsman will be asked to pay. If unfortunately, the farmer kills an animal that belongs to a Fulani man or herdsman, then the community will sit and establish the justification for that action and if there’s no justification, you will be asked to pay. So, we have a communal way of resolving conflicts.

Ranches and reserves have been in existence. In Adamawa State, where I come from, there are several reserves established by law dating back to the days of Northern Nigeria, with defined cattle routes. Abuja is a cattle route defined and gazetted in the laws of Northern Nigeria and similarly in several parts of this country. There is a major contention going on now; partly economic with the growth in our population. With the growth in urbanisation, we have taken some of those reserves and turned them into residential areas. We have a belt across those cattle routes because there is a traditional pattern of movement that was established over the years. We have taken the grazing reserves and apportioned them among elite farmers. We have fenced over the places, and these animals will have to feed and would have to get to a source of water in a seasonal movement. That’s why they are called nomads.

We have nomadic fishermen; we have nomadic herdsmen. In the early part of the 70’s, the military thought it fit to build nomadic schools. There is a commission for nomadic education. Most of us do not think that is important.  People move across a certain area at a certain time, so we needed to establish schools that will go along with them. We did that and even set up a commission, but we did not look at the economic aspect that is now rearing its head. There is a competition over land, over control of resources. So, much has happened as a result of climate change that was not factored into the whole thing. So, for anybody to say that the government has been lethargic in dealing with that crisis is totally being unfair. By and large, there must be a systematic way of dealing with that conflict. It   requires the inputs of traditional rulers, religious leaders and community leaders to confront that particular conflict. So, it’s a complex situation and I know that government is decisive in putting apparatus in place to deal with it.

 

How have you been managing disputes between heads of agencies and management boards since assumption of office, since no system is insulated from occasional challenges?

When I came into office, most boards were already constituted. I had the responsibility of releasing the list of board members and chairmen. We partnered with the Bureau of Public Service Reforms and other regional agencies to organise retreats for the board members and the management. There is the perception of a politician that has just been given a position as a member or chairman of a board; sometimes you come with a sense of entitlement. So, we decided that we needed to put everybody in their rightful compartment and the retreats were meant to acquaint chairmen and board members with their responsibilities. The first is to formulate policies in terms of day-to-day management of the organisation that is vested in the management team. Oftentimes, it is the managing director or a director general. We had a lot of skirmishes here and there and we have tried as much as possible to resolve them by asking them to go back to their notes that they took during the retreats, which clearly define the two arms of the same organisation. We have issued several circulars, even before I came into office as SGF, with clear demarcation between the functions of the board and the functions of management. So, we have tried as much as possible to stabilise the system. Oftentimes the office of the permanent secretary, general services, is involved in the mediation. We have tried as much as possible to resolve those issues and where any issue is such that we cannot resolve, we seek for direction from the President on how to resolve it.

 

Yes, the election has come and gone, but how did you react to the re-election of President Buhari?

It was a thrill because it was a hard-earned victory. We worked very hard for it. In 2015, I was his director in charge of contact and mobilisation, so I know the amount of work that was put in then. We had certain assurances because of how well he had done in the last three and half years leading to the last general election. We were confident that he was going to win. I was pleasantly surprised that he won with a much larger margin this time than in 2015. That gives me the satisfaction that the people of this country are quite happy and thrilled about his leadership style; his integrity and sincerity of purpose. He is a man that has no other agenda but the pursuit of better things for the good people of Nigeria. I am happy that he was re-elected. It is a thing of joy for us.

 

How have you been keeping pace with demands of your office?

When I assumed duty on November 1, 2017, I didn’t come with any special skills of my own. The only thing that I believed I brought and sustained me was where I was coming from, and by extension, where I am, is the grace and favour of God upon my life. I felt that no special skill would be able to sustain me in this office except if I trust in God and ask for enablement on a daily basis as to how to operate. I came with a leadership skill that if you are ready to work, you can work easily with me. For more than one year, I have not changed the secretaries and security staff I met in office, even the directors and permanent secretaries except for the new ones that were brought. I have not requested for anybody to be changed because I believe in the ability of every Nigerian to put in his/her best if the enabling environment is created. They have performed tremendously well and that is why they can cope with my work ethics. It is simple. I am here to work, so if I stay until 2 am, I don’t see any reason they cannot stay. They are much younger than me, so I don’t see reason why they can’t except for staff members that are housewives that I allow to go at about 8pm so they can attend to their families. For anybody that has a privilege, out of 180 million Nigerians, to serve as Secretary to the Government, it is such an honour and privilege; not because you are qualified but probably because like I said, the favour of God upon my life is what drove me to this office using the instrumentality of the hands of the President to select me from among the lots of people that are eminently qualified to occupy this office. So, I see it as an honour and trust which is the way I apply myself in this office. I work any time of the day, anytime of the week, anytime that there is anything to do, I just have resolved in my heart to give it the best.

 

Then what are some of the challenges of the office?

The truth about it is that in every working place, you come across challenges. Probably, the speed at which you want to move might not be the speed that is allowed by the system. You know we have a bureaucratic system that helps, which is not bad because it puts checks and balances to enable you use your discretion well. Most government activities are done based on the information that is available to you. But if you do not seek for the information, which sometimes takes time, you will not get the information. And whatever decision you decide to take may not be the right decision; it will be a decision based on facts or information that is not available to you. So, sometimes I get a little bit constrained; sometimes a little bit frustrated, but I have learnt to be a process man. The truth is that the Nigeria project is a very complex project and because of the complexity of the Nigeria project, sometimes it brings to bear on what you can and cannot do in office. That, I do not consider a challenge because that is the only way you can build a nation: by going through the intractable problems that confront the country and finding solution. That is the job I have been given to do and I am glad doing it.

 

What do think are your major achievements in office?

When I came on board, I noticed that there was so much I needed to do to create synergy, to create coordination with my colleagues in council, with the ministries and agencies. I can tell you that to a large extent, we have succeeded in doing that. Also, I realize that I needed to help government track its policies and programmes. Last year, I had the courtesy of launching a compendium of about 1,042 pages of Council memos initiated by this administration from the assumption of office in 2015 all the way to December 2017. I got the President to authorise that for the first month to three months of 2019, every cabinet member will do a presentation of what he’s been able to do since his appointment as a minister. All the cabinet ministers, including me, had to do physical presentation of the policies that were initiated by the ministries, the contracts that were approved by the cabinet and the programmes that were executed in order to give details and at the end of the exercise, we saw where we were.  It was like a mid-term report and the compilation of what this government has been able to achieve: how much money was expended; what was the status of the projects; what were the outstanding ones and what were the challenges. That for me was a big sense of satisfaction of some of the things that we were able to achieve and because of that, I’m able to look at plans to see how the government was moving. In the history of this country, in one week, we held three Federal Executive Council meetings as we were coming to the end of the tenure. I got the President to approve Wednesday, which is our statutory day, Thursday and Monday and within that process, we considered well over a hundred memos and sealed up the first stage of the President in a grand way.

I find that quite satisfying that I was able to drive my colleagues in that way and achieve the kind of end we were able to achieve. I believe that most of the ministers that will be leaving the cabinet, like the President said in his speech, should be proud of themselves because of what we have been able to achieve. Never in the history of this nation has any Federal Executive Council been able to achieve within a short period of time what we were able to achieve in our last sitting. It was so amazing and I believe that these are some of the things I give myself a pat on the back. The general thrill is the seamless transmission of information and document in coordinating government activities and creating a very favourable atmosphere of work between my office and the National Assembly. These are some of the things I will look back on and say ‘probably, I could have done it better but I did my best.’ And I think I can appreciate some of the achievements and the response that we get.

 

What are the expectations of Nigerians from May 29, that is, the second tenure of Mr President?

I can tell you that I am one Nigerian that is very optimistic and full of expectations that looking into the future, there are great things that will come to the people of Nigeria. I know that President Muhammadu Buhari, in his second term, will keep his focus on the three things that he had promised because we have not got over all the issues. He is going to concentrate on that and probably drive it even much harder so by the time he leaves in 2023, there will be legacies that you say, because of what he did, this has become sustainable as a future and as a hallmark of our nation. I am confident, really expectant, that as our resources improve in the area of revenue generation, rise in crude prices, making more money available, the tax net expanded to bring in more resources, I believe that we will be able to deliver substantially on some of the promises that he has made and I am very confident that the people of Nigeria will not regret their actions of giving him a second mandate.

Why I lobbied Saraki, Dogara —Boss Mustapha
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Undercurrents of political power sharing in states https://tribuneonlineng.com/218926/ Sun, 16 Jun 2019 02:51:33 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218926 Tribune Online
Undercurrents of political power sharing in states

governor

Governance in states of the federation where elections were held has since started. The next level of politicking is how positions are to be shared among collaborating forces that ensured electoral victory, write DARE ADEKANMBI, EBENEZER ADUROKIYA, OLAYINKA OLUKOYA, OLAKUNLE MARUF SOKOTO, ADELOWO OLADIPO, GODWIN ENNA, MUHAMMAD SABIU, KOLA OYELERE and ISAAC SHOBAYO.

Undercurrents of political power sharing in states
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Undercurrents of political power sharing in states

governor

STATE governors are gradually settling down after their inauguration on May 29. They have made a number of key appointments as evidence that they have hit the ground running in their respective domains. However, they are appointments that fall within the ambit of their executive powers, as quite a preponderance of pending major appointments require legislative approval. Such approval is not necessarily predicated on the provisions of the constitution, but also on serious political engineering and lobbying.

Accordingly, state chief executives often show more than a passing interest in the process of power sharing in the legislature. Even where a governor and majority of the members of the legislative arm are elected on the platform of the same political party, the issue of power sharing remains touchy, largely because of the role of power centres that are diametrically opposed in intent and direction. The politics of power sharing becomes more intense, where a coalition of forces railroaded victory at the general election such as was witnessed in a number of states in the 2019 governorship polls. Some state Houses of Assembly are battling with such scenario after their inauguration. Where a speaker may have emerged, there is a problem over the sharing formula over other levels towards averting conflict of interests. Reports indicated the mutual agreement on power sharing among the coalition of parties that worked to guarantee success at the poll have either been jettisoned by the senior partner in the arrangement or enmeshed in controversy.

 

Cold war in Oyo coalition

What the opposition parties in Oyo State could not achieve in the 2015 election, when they attempted to stop the All Progressives Congress (APC) governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, from getting a second term, was almost seamlessly realised in the 2019 elections.

In the first round of elections, the APC won two Senate seats and nine out of 14 House of Representatives positions. From the results, it was clear to the opposition parties that history would repeat itself, if they did not fuse to dislodge the APC.

A series of meetings, accompanied by high-wired horse trading were quickly held among leaders and governorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Seyi Makinde; African Democratic Congress (ADC), Senator Femi Lanlehin; Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Chief Sharafadeen Alli; and Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN.

Makinde, the PDP candidate, was consequently unanimously adopted as the coalition governorship candidate. Lanlehin, Alli and Ayorinde not only stepped down for him, all the state House of Assembly candidates of ADC, which has 12 serving lawmakers, lost their election principally as a result of the coalition.

Despite the loss of the Assembly candidates, the opposition leaders held their head high up that they succeeded in stopping Ajimobi from succeeding himself. The coalition was not achieved without an agreement as to how the ‘spoils of war’ would be shared.

Based on the result of the February 23 election, which they reckoned showed the strength of coalescing parties individually, it was agreed that PDP would get 65 per cent, ADC 30, ZLP 5 and SDP, 0.05 per cent. Governor Makinde, it was gathered, magnanimously added 10 per cent to the five allotted ZLP, out of deference for Senator Rashidi Ladoja, who coordinated the coalition.

Feelers from the coalition partners suggest that Makinde is committed to honouring terms.

Though some political stakeholders, it was said, raised eyebrows over the recent list of members of Governor Advisory Council, a body saddled with advising government on policy implementation, among other tasks, over the omission of Lanlehin’s name whose name was missing in the list. But some political watchers suggested that the astute politician might have turned down his participation in the council.

Generally, the council, chaired by a former Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Hosea Agboola, is seen by some as a decoy to ‘bench’ likely 2023 governorship hopefuls. But the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the governor, Chief Bisi Ilaka, said the intention of Governor Makinde in setting up the council was noble.

According to him, the governor believes he can tap from the experience of those in the council and have them complement his development agenda for the state. There is nothing political about it, he told Sunday Tribune, adding that the governor’s preoccupation is to deliver the promised goods to the people of the state.

Addressing newsmen in Ibadan, the state chairman of PDP, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha, allayed fears that Governor Makinde might dishonor the agreement reached with the coalition partners. He said all stakeholders in the coalition were meeting regularly on how the agreement would be implemented. The chairman said there was no cause for alarm over the governor reneging.

 

The ongoing conundrum over political appointments in Delta

As expected, the sharing of spoils of political victory by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State has begun with a palpable cold war ongoing in the local government areas of the three senatorial districts of the state.

While former political appointees of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and PDP chieftains locked horns over who gets reappointed or otherwise in the governor’s second term administration, the struggle has become intense in the past few weeks in the state, especially after the governor was reported to have requested names of prospective appointees from local government executives of the PDP.

In addition to the appointments of special advisers, new commissioners, senior special assistants and special assistants to various offices, mouths are salivating for Governor Okowa to create, perhaps, new higher offices in his second term to compensate “his hardworking aides” or retain them in their former positions.

People of Delta are also optimistic that the governor will constitute and appoint people to oversee the various governing boards, commissions, parastatals and agencies of government in the state, a situation already generating high profile lobbying, scheming and horse-trading among appointment seekers and loyalists of the governor.

Sunday Tribune was hinted of some heated infighting within the system, as erstwhile political aides and party faithful, who are groping from Government House Asaba to the local government councils, are backstabbing to outwit one another in clinching their coveted appointments from the governor.

Checks at the Government House, especially the Chapel where Okowa usually holds his morning devotions, some days ago, revealed that many former appointees have turned the place to their second home, lobbying and scheming for sumptuous offices. Asaba has simply become a beehive of political activities as even hoteliers now smile to the banks daily.

The flooding of the government enclave in Asaba was noticed a fortnight ago when the governor met with journalists across the state to appreciate their contributions to his reelection. Prior to the arrival of the governor and his newly-appointed Secretary to State Government (SSG), Honourable Chiedu Ebie; former Commissioner for Finance, Chief David Edevbie; and Special Political Adviser to the Governor, Mr Funkekeme Solomon, a retinue of office seekers had herded to the press hall to further curry the governor’s favour. It took moments of plea from the anchorman to ease them off the hall to allow journalists have enough seats to occupy.

It was gathered that the purported directive to the PDP executives at the local government level to nominate three persons (namely one man, one woman and one youth) to be considered for political appointments is tearing the party into shreds, as some chieftains are said to have hijacked the slots.

The height of the shenanigans for these slots, in spite of Okowa’s repeated promise of fairness and equity to all and sundry, reportedly led to the alleged clubbing of a PDP faithful in Sapele, Mr. Godfrey Igbise, by some thugs allegedly loyal to a former commissioner, who they said had hijacked the appointment slots for his local government, Sapele.

Similar political intolerance and brigandage was also reported in Isoko South and Ethiope East local government areas of the state, as alleged attempts by some chieftains of the PDP to hijack the available slots for their cronies has set aggrieved youths, who are claiming to have worked tirelessly for the party, against them, a situation analysts fear might set the party on fire ahead of the 2023 polls, if not checked.

Meanwhile, Governor Okowa had, during the thanksgiving service for a successful inauguration of his second tenure held at St. Philips Anglican Church, Asaba, promised to be fair and equitable to all in all appointments.

“I thank God that we have made some appointments recently; we are doing what is right. Many more appointments will be done and I promise the people of Delta that I will be equitable, fair and just in the appointments we are going to make; going forward, we believe and rely on the guidance of God.

“More appointments will be made. We ask for the continuous partnership and prayers of all Delta people,” Governor Okowa had pleaded.

 

Power-play in the seat of the caliphate state

There are indications that the issue of power sharing is becoming a thing of great interest among the stakeholders in the power centres in Sokoto State. But the leadership of the ruling PDP in the state seems to be playing down the intrigues behind the ongoing political undercurrents, ostensibly to sustain the harmony and atmosphere of conviviality among the various the various caucuses.

The emergence of Honourable Aminu Manya Achida as Speaker of the state House of Assembly penultimate week has definitely changed the pattern, as well as the political calculations in the state.

The speaker emerged as a lawmaker on the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), main opposition party in the state but with clear majority members in the House of Assembly. It boasts 16 members to beat the PDP which has 14. However, being in control of the government at the executive level the PDP was able to produce the deputy speaker of the House.

Meanwhile, it is believed that going by the result of the Assembly election, the two parties must have reached an agreement over the sharing formula of major positions in the House, with claims that some PDP members are expected to  benefit more, having been part of the deal that produced the current speaker of the Assembly.

Apparently to affirm the foregoing development, the publicity secretary of the APC in the state, Bello Sambo Danchadi, who spoke with Sunday Tribune, debunked insinuations that the party was putting pressure on the speaker to help it (APC) produce majority of the chairmen of committees of the House.

He described the sharing formula of the committee as the duty of the House leadership, which he said his party would not interfere in.

“I believe the issue of who chair which committee is the prerogative of the House leaders. Our party will only wish them well, as we believe our members in the House are up to the task,” he said.

 

Niger State

The news of the appointment of some principal officers by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State to serve as his cabinet members between now and 2023 was received with mixed feelings by different sections of stakeholders.

While a section of the state saw the emergence of the immediate-past Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe, as the new Chief of Staff (CoS) to the Governor as a welcome development, against the backdrops of the massive influence wielded by his predecessor in office, Honourable Mikhail Al-amin Bmitoshai, in the first tenure of the governor, others saw it as a kind of shortchange of the Gbagyi (Gwari)-speaking people in the state. Balarabe, a former commissioner for finance and a Hausa speaking-person, is from Kagara, in Rafi Local Government Area of the state.

An insider, who spoke with Sunday Tribune on condition of anonymity, said not until 2015, after the appointment of Bmtoshai, the immediate-past CoS from Shiroro Local Government Area of the state and of Gbagyi extraction, none of his tribesmen and women had occupied an important position in the successive governments in the state, after the aborted Second Republic when a deputy governor in the state emerged from the area.

The very reliable source, however, stated that what the Gbagyis lost in the position of the CoS they had regained with the emergence of the new speaker of the State House of Assembly in the person of Right Honourable Abdullahi Abdul Bawa Wuse, who, though is from Tafa Local Government Area of the state, is also a Gwari-speaking person. The Gwari are one of the dominant ethnic groups in Niger State.

Another person close to the government, who spoke with Sunday Tribune on the governor’s appointment, mentioned that of the new SSG, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, who is from Mashegu, Niger North Senatorial District, the same zone as Governor Bello. He is a former HoS and former commissioner for agriculture in the immediate-past PDP-led administration of former Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu.

The development is has been generating heat in the polity, as sources said the governor’s appointments have been receiving criticisms by the leadership of the state chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) over perceived marginalisation of the Christian community in the appointments of the principal officers in the new cabinet. Those made so far are said to be all Muslims, “to the detriment of their Christians counterparts in the state.”

The source, however, said there was still room for a better relationship between the governor and Christians, as there could be appointment of Christians as commissioners in some key ministries in the state.

“It is only important that the CAN leadership in the state should constructively engage the governor and dialogue over the matter,” he said.

He, however, blamed the CAN leadership in the state for allegedly adopting a political party in the run off to the just-concluded general elections, adding that rather than the Christian leaders to restrict themselves to a statement earlier issued by the religious organisation that all the political parties in the state should adopt Christians as running mates to the governorship candidates, CAN in the State went ahead and openly adopted the African Democratic Party (ADP) as its preferred political party after it field a Christian as running mate to its governorship candidate.

 

Appointments create anxiety in Ogun

Almost 19 days after the inauguration of Prince Dapo Abiodun, as the fifth democratically-elected governor of Ogun State, there is anxiety about who gets what appointment in the new cabinet.

Sunday Tribune recalled that Abiodun, during his inauguration dinner pronounced that there would be no appointments until after his 60 days in office. This pronouncement, no doubt, his coming to reality as the governor had till date made just one appointment since he assumed duty.

However, there are strong indications that the coalition of political groups that came together before the governorship election in favour of Abiodun has been scheming about who becomes what in this government.

Information has it that there are many forces contending to ensure they have input in the administration.

There is pervasive suspense over the issue of power sharing. A couple of interests worked for the governor, culminating in his election. Some of the caucuses belong to some former governors of the state, a serving senator and a senator in the Eight National Assembly, among other interest camps.

Meanwhile, the bulk of members of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) remain intact with their principal, a few of its members are said to have since joined the new political leadership in the state. They were said to have adopted a wait-and-see attitude, pending the outcome of the petition filed by the defeated candidate of APM, Honourable Kunle Akinlade, before the state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.

 

Nasarawa power play

It is no longer news that Honourable Ibrahim Abdulahi Balarabe from Toto/ Umasha constituency has retained his position as speaker of the Sixth Assembly in Nasarawa State. His deputy is Honourable Nehemiah Tsetse Dandora from Akwanga North constituency.

Their emergence has shown that the ruling APC had done its homework very well to be able to convince certain members of the party eying the seats to sacrifice their ambitions for the sake of the party. The likes of Okpoku Mohammad of Look/Udege constituency, Muluku Agah, Nasarawa Eggon east constituency; Ogar Ogazi of Kokona East, among others, played significance roles that paved the way for  Balarabe to emerge.

Information gathered revealed that the aforementioned members will definitely be rewarded accordingly to head various key sensitive committees or principal positions in the state Assembly to serve as compensation for their sacrifices.

More so, it was learnt that this group of persons certainly will have a say in any political appointment the Abdulahi Sule-led administration would make in the state as part of the arrangement.

Winner takes all

Like in the executive arm, the leadership of the Kaduna State House of Assembly was shared among the Kaduna North and Kaduna Central.

The speaker, Alhaji Aminu Shagali, who came from Zaria constituency, under Kaduna North senatorial district, was merely reelected. His re-election was a smooth sailing exercise, as nobody contested with him. Ever since he was elected to the House, the state governor, Nasir el-Rufai, it was gathered, had been drumming for his re-election. This cannot be unconnected with the role the speaker played to ensure that the governor got tremendous votes during the gubernatorial election.

Zaria Local Government, it was learnt, gave the governor the highest votes during his election.

A new development also came up in the House. For the first time since 1999, the Southern part of the state failed to produce the deputy speaker. Usually, if the Northern part produces the speaker, the Southern part would produce the deputy speaker.

However, this time, the position of the deputy speaker went to Honourable Yusuf Zailani from the central part of the state. This is as a result of the politics the Southern part played during the last gubernatorial election. It was gathered that the Southern part of the state put all their eggs in one basket by voting the PDP in the House of Assembly elections, while the APC did not have a single lawmaker from the area.

According to an official of APC, Yahaya Pate, “the Southern part has no case or reason to complain,” he said, adding that “it is winner takes all. The majority members who are from APC decided to vote for their own. So, case closed.”

 

Ganduje, Shekarau, Dabo, Abubakar’s camps strategise for power sharing

Sharing formula issue among the power brokers in Kano state began to rear its head penultimate week, with the emergence of officers in the state House of Assembly, particularly with the emergence of the speaker, member representing Ajingi constituency, Alhaji Abdulaziz Garba-Gafasa.

It will be recalled that Gafasa was speaker during the second term of former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, a situation indicating that the position of speaker had been tactically allocated to the former governor’s camp. Shekarau is now the senator representing Kano Central in his senatorial zone, a position earlier held by another former governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

However, a reliable sources within government circle, who preferred anonymity, revealed that positions in the incoming cabinet would be shared between the Shekarau camp and the camp of those of PDP who defected after they were booted out, during a power sharing crisis involving them and Senator Kwankwaso.

It will be recalled that after victory at the poll, Governor Umar Ganduje, in his maiden speech, announced that the new cabinet would compose other party members and not only members of the APC.

It was also stated that caucus meetings are now going on among the stakeholders on ways to settle those who would be appointed as commissioners and the number each camp would bring.

According to our sources, it is clear that Senator Shekarau played a major role during the last governorship election, because his large support base overwhelmingly mobilised and voted en-masse for the APC, after their political godfather dumped the PDP for APC.

Also, it was gathered that notable people in the Kwankwasiyya group, the political platform known with Senator Kwankwaso, such as Aminu Dabo, former Managing Director of Nigeria Port Authority; Professor Hafix Abubakar, former deputy governor, who earlier resigned, joined the PDP and later came back to the APC, and a host of others, had been penciled in for positions, for their contributions to the APC victory at the poll.

 

Disquiet in Plateau

Three weeks after his swearing in ceremony as governor for the second term, Governor Simon Lalong is still keeping the people of the state and stalwarts of the in suspense over his cabinet. The people of the state are beginning to ask questions. Apart from his deputy, Professor Sonny Tyoden, the governor has no aide. The general insinuation is that the governor is probably waiting for President Buhari to name his cabinet members before he would follow suit.

A source close to the governor revealed that Governor Lalong recently set up a committee to work out modality for the new appointments, adding that the committee was billed to submit its recommendations to the governor this week for possible consideration.

However, the emergence of the new speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Honourable Abok, has not changed the zoning pattern adopted during the first term in office.

Undercurrents of political power sharing in states
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Oyo: Early steps of a new governor https://tribuneonlineng.com/218920/ Sun, 16 Jun 2019 02:41:28 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218920 Tribune Online
Oyo: Early steps of a new governor

makinde

In this piece, MOSES ALAO takes a look at the early steps of the new Oyo State governor, Mr Seyi Makinde and how they have shaped opinions and political developments in the state in his first two weeks of office.

Oyo: Early steps of a new governor
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Tribune Online
Oyo: Early steps of a new governor

makinde

IN the last 18 days, the governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, has been at the receiving end of mixed reactions from within and outside the state on the way and manner he has run the state in his early days in government.

Despite the fact that the government might still be studying the handover notes and seeking to have a full grasp of the challenges of the state, following a position by the new governor that its Transition Committee was not given access to valuable information that could help the government to take off effectively, a development that led to the extension of the duties of the committee by two weeks, the governor, in the view of observers, cannot be said to be sitting idly and watching helplessly.

In a little over two weeks, Makinde, a successful engineer and businessman, who prior to his emergence as the governor of Oyo State on March 9, 2019 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was derided as lacking in experience politically, has stamped his authority on the office and indeed, the state. The governor has taken various bold steps towards steadying the ship of the state, some of which have fallen on the wrong sides of some groups and class of people in the state, leading to criticisms from such quarters.

But some watchers of political developments in the state have noted that the actions so far taken by the number one man in the state were indicative of a man who would neither fear nor falter in making decisions and someone who definitely “will not suffer fools gladly.” Indeed, Governor Makinde had owned up to this indication immediately after taking office, noting that his government would not shy away from taking decisions that will turn around the state and that if it made mistakes, it would accept responsibility, make amends and move on.

Some of the steps taken by the Makinde government, which have elicited commendations and criticisms from residents of the state and those outside it include the scrapping of the N3, 000 education levy for public school students, sack of local government/LCDA chairmen, the proscription of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), reversal of promotions, appointments after March 9, 2019, steps to promote investments and set up a state anti-corruption agency, among others.

But those close to the Makinde government have insisted that the biggest step so far taken by the governor is his comportment and maturity in running the state, without running down the past government, making reference to how Governor Abiola Ajimobi ran down his predecessor in office, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, stating that his [Ajimobi] government met the state at zero level.

“No matter what anyone says about the Makinde government in the last two weeks, one thing is clear: he has handled the job maturely, facing the work of governing the state squarely instead of seeking to discredit the past government despite the obvious missteps of that government. The governor has shown comportment and demonstrated that indeed, his government would be a clear departure from the past arrogant and garrulous style that some people used to govern the state. If you ask me, the Omoluabi attributes, which the people saw in him and made them to vote for him are still intact,” a former member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Babatunde Oduyoye, told Sunday Tribune.

 

Scrapping of N3, 000 education levy

Right from the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, venue of the inauguration on May 29, which was attended by a large crowd, showing how popular the new governor is with the people, Makinde had given the people of the state something to cheer, as he announced the immediate reversal of a N3, 000 education levy and the subsequent increase of the state’s education budget to 10 per cent.

The governor had, by his declaration to scrap the levy during his inauguration speech, demonstrated his commitment to keeping his campaign promises, even as he showed his government’s commitment to improving the education sector by announcing the increase of the education budget as well as promising to increase the budget for education annually until it reaches the 26 per cent recommendation by UNESCO.

 

Sack of LG/LCDA chairmen

Few hours after his inauguration, Governor Makinde, in a move that has been hailed as indicating that the new government would not shy away from taking action as and when due, announced the sack of all local government and Local Council Development Area (LCDA) chairmen.

In the directive announced by the governor’s first appointee and Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka, the government placed an embargo on local government and state-local government joint accounts, directing the local government chairmen to hand over to the Heads of Local Government Administration or the most senior directors in their local governments. The directive had equally dissolved all boards and parastatal-agencies.

Eighteen days after that decision, the dust of the matter is yet to settle, as the ousted chairmen, under the aegis of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), have continued to fight the government over the decision it described as “unconstitutional and illegal,” citing how the chairmen were elected in accordance with the constitution.

The chairman of the body in the state, Ayodeji Abass-Alesinloye, is leading the charge, with the body writing to President Muhammadu Buhari on the development as well as approaching a the court to seek redress and also sue the governor for contempt of court, citing how it had secured an earlier order against such dissolution.

But the state government has explained that its decision to sack the local government chairmen was not only legal, because the election that brought them in was conducted against a court order, but that it was also in the interest of the state, as the new governor intends to reform the local government system and make it to work for the people at the grassroots.

Explaining the government’s position, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa, said that the government committed no illegality in sacking the council chairmen.

He said: “Let me state that the government of the Oyo State committed no illegality in dissolving the councils. Rather, the government took the step in defence of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The laws say that you cannot create local governments by whatever name you call it, without recourse to constitutional procedures.

“The immediate past state government went ahead to create LCDAs in total disregard for the constitution. They also jointly conducted elections into the recognised councils and the LCDAs the same day. By that singular act, they have tainted the elections conducted into the 33 local governments with illegality. You cannot mix apple and oranges together and call it a basket of apples or a basket of oranges. So, the state is out to stop the illegality.

“Also, remember that the council chairmen were guilty of what lawyers call forum shopping in trying to vacate the injunction that was issued to stop the conduct of the elections by rushing to a different court to get an order.

“A court of coordinate jurisdiction cannot vacate an injunction issued by its peer. It is an aberration in law and a violation of the law of natural justice. The state government cannot close its eyes and allow the perpetuation of judicial karate in the name of politics. So, the Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, had to announce the dissolution of the councils to ensure sanity and to bring everyone to the path of constitutionality.

“The constitution states that you cannot create local government areas without recourse to the National Assembly. If you do that, it is inchoate like the Supreme Court said in the case of Lagos State. So when you do something like that and conduct elections into the councils, you have violated the constitution ab initio.”

Similarly, a chieftain of the PDP who spoke to Sunday Tribune on a condition of anonymity said: “You know how difficult if not impossible it will be for the state government to be able to reach the nooks and crannies of the state without a functional and effective local government system and indeed, individuals who share the vision of the governor.  This is one of the underlying reasons for sacking the Ajimobi chairmen. Of course, you know that the former governor just picked his loyalists and cronies as chairmen; there was no internal democracy and that led to a crisis in the APC. There was no primary to choose the candidates and the opposition parties back then saw the erstwhile ruling party’s maniacal obsession to win the local government polls and withdrew from the exercise. Can you put something on nothing? These chairmen had no solid or legal foundation and they needed to give way for progress and true development of the state.”

As of now, the governor’s step in sacking the local government chairmen has remained topical, with a majority of residents especially members of the ruling PDP and a few APC chieftains hailing the development as a step in the right direction, while the Oyo State APC and many of its loyalists continue to attack the governor on the decision.

 

NURTW proscription and the security of the state

Days before the May 29 hand-over ceremony, the immediate past government and indeed, the opposition APC had expressed its doubt over the incoming PDP government’s ability to sustain security and order, which they often describe as the chief achievement of the Ajimobi government in eight years. For the opposition, the emergence of a PDP government in the state after eight years, in itself, presaged violence, insecurity and “a return to the PDP days of violence and brigandage.” Indeed, every body language of the incoming governor had been put under scrutiny by the opposition APC, with most residents of the state also giving different views on what could become of the state in terms of security. The major source of fear had been how the governor would handle the NURTW issue, a fear that Makinde, as governor-elect, was always quick to dispel as non-issue, promising to cross the bridge when he got to it.

It was, therefore, a surprise to many residents of the state when the governor, following a breakout of hostilities in some areas of Ibadan, the state capital, over attempts to effect a leadership change in the union, announced the proscription of the union and the take-over of the motor parks. Hailed in many quarters as a master stroke to check insecurity, the proscription order has, however, been interpreted in another light by opposition politicians and, indeed, the national leadership of the road transport union.

For instance, while a former governor of Oyo State and Osi Olubadan of Ibadan, High Chief Rashidi Ladoja, had in an interview with newsmen, hailed Makinde’s decision on the NURTW, noting that any act of chaos and breach of peace should be curtailed, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the leadership of the NURTW and several other individuals have continued to point at the illegality of proscribing the union in the state.

But Makinde has insisted that peace, security and order “are not negotiable for our government,” adding that he was not opposed to anyone running a union but that he would not allow such to lead to crisis and violence under his watch.

Beyond the NURTW issue, the governor has continued to reiterate the commitment of his government to the security of lives and property, pointing out that security is central to his agenda for rebuilding and transforming the state. He had, at the training and service orientation workshop for members-elect of the House of Assembly, ahead of their inauguration last Monday, said: “We are going to take the security of lives and property seriously. Few days after I was sworn in as governor, we proscribed the NURTW. I told them that we were not interested in stopping them from running their union, because it is registered under the law. But we cannot allow few people to hold the state to ransom in the name of running a union. I am talking to the security agencies in the state; we know the security challenges and we know exactly what need to be done…We intend to make Oyo State one of the safest states in the country.”

Clearly, Makinde, on the NURTW issue, is on a road well-travelled in Oyo State, as successive governors had always had to devise means of checking the notoriety of the driver’s union. Beginning from former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, who in 2007, proscribed the union due to violence, to Ajimobi, who in 2011, banned the activities of the union and gave orders to security agencies to dislodge them from motor parks, evidence abound that the actions of the governors often, in the end, augur well for the state.

 

Reversal of appointments

Another step taken by the Makinde government, which generated reactions across the state, was the reversal of the appointment of 15 permanent secretaries by the immediate past government. Former Governor Ajimobi had, on 15 May, 2019, barely 14 days to the end of his tenure, inaugurated 11 civil servants as permanent secretaries in the state. The action had, at the time, appeared to be in tandem with his government’s resolve to “to work till the end of the government,” a position advanced by the former governor to shut down criticisms from the PDP about the outgoing government’s last-minute decisions on contracts and other developments. It was, however, a no-brainer that Makinde would have to revisit some of the appointments, as he had promised to review all new contracts and appointments made by the Ajimobi government in the last three weeks of his government.

Explaining the governor’s decision, his erstwhile spokesperson, Prince Dotun Oyelade, said the governor could be trusted to keep his words on his campaign promises,” adding that “just like he made good the promise to cancel the N3,000 paid by parents on the public school children and open the Secretariat Flyover for the use of every citizen of the state, in the same manner he is dealing with the issue of the appointment of permanent secretaries and civil servants.

A similar reversal, according to those close to the government, should be expected on last-minute contract awards that do not reflect propriety and probity.

 

Planned sponsorship of Investment Promotion and Anti-Corruption Agency Bills

Part of Governor Makinde’s initial steps in office, which have continued to resonate in the Oyo State polity is his declaration that the state government would immediately sponsor two bills before the House of Assembly, namely the Oyo State Investment Promotion Agency Bill and the Oyo State Financial Crimes Commission Bill.

The governor, who has hinged his agenda for the development of the state on four cardinal pillars of economic expansion, education, health and security, had explained that he would set up the two agencies with a view to expanding the economy of the state, creating a favourable environment for business to thrive and ensuring probity and accountability in governance.

But the decision to set up an anti-corruption agency appeared to have set the opposition and some people in the state on edge, with several individuals hinting at an attempt to rubbish the past government or witch-hunt some individuals. This fear became more pronounced following a statement by the Chief of Staff that some past government officials went away with properties belonging to the state.

The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, however, assured that the intention of the governor in setting up the agency was not to witch-hunt or rubbish anyone but to ensure openness, probity and accountability in governance and to ensure that Oyo State’s money does not end up in wrong hands.

Speaking during a live radio programme tagged Political Palaver on Naija FM, Ibadan, on Thursday, Adisa warned that if anyone “knows that he is in possession of the state’s money, he should return such before it is too late, as the governor has made it clear that the new agency would be able to call anyone to question including himself.”

 

Appointment of Governor’s Advisory Council

Also as part of the governor’s demonstration of his preparedness for the office, he announced the composition of a Governor’s Advisory Council led by Senator Hosea Agboola, a renowned businessman and former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, with strong and successful individuals in different professions and politics as members. The council is to offer advice and guidance to the governor on how to go about achieving his vision for the state.

 

Awaiting new steps

As the Governor Makinde administration enters into a new week, it is obvious that the people of the state, who are anxiously awaiting the announcement of his cabinet and other team of people that will work him in taking Oyo State to its next level, are looking forward to the government’s next steps. And as they await the new steps, the governor’s assurance that his government would not be afraid to take steps and learn in an effort to ensure that Oyo State regains its enviable height as pace-setter in all ramifications, in sync with the saying that “baby steps still move you forward” will continue to remain relevant.

Oyo: Early steps of a new governor
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Sentiments have replaced patriotism among Nigerians —Kwande https://tribuneonlineng.com/218437/ Fri, 14 Jun 2019 03:32:01 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218437 Tribune Online
Sentiments have replaced patriotism among Nigerians —Kwande

Nigeria’s Ambassador to Switzerland in the Second Republic, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, speaks with ISAAC SHOBAYO on leadership problems confronting the country, expectation of Nigerians from the new leadership of the National Assembly, among other issues. Excerpts:   A lot of Nigerians belief that the bane of the country is leadership. so, what is  your opinion […]

Sentiments have replaced patriotism among Nigerians —Kwande
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Sentiments have replaced patriotism among Nigerians —Kwande

Nigeria’s Ambassador to Switzerland in the Second Republic, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, speaks with ISAAC SHOBAYO on leadership problems confronting the country, expectation of Nigerians from the new leadership of the National Assembly, among other issues. Excerpts:

 

A lot of Nigerians belief that the bane of the country is leadership. so, what is  your opinion on those in leadership positions in Nigeria presently?

You cannot have a community without a leader; you cannot have the gathering of people, even in the house without a leader, and a father is the leader or head of a family. There must always be a leader in any organization, be it religious or political group. But in Nigeria, we have degenerated. The fault is not even from the leader; the fault is in the ordinary citizen that cannot even identify a leader. Of course, we have leaders but what sort of leaders do we have; can’t people asses them?

Ordinary Nigerians should be the ones to assess those in leadership positions, and you can do that easily because these leaders are  moulded by the community. You don’t born a leader. I think the ordinary Nigerian today is civilized enough to know who is a selfless leader with integrity and reputation.  Leadership has qualities and qualifications, I blame the Nigerians because sentiment is taking over the patriotic zeal of citizens; leadership now is not determine by the actions of those in authority; also,  behaviour, good virtue no longer determine who is a leader.

8 dead, 12 injured in Lagos-Ibadan expressway multiple crash

People now vote on sentiments. Religion and ethnicity have become the yardsticks for selecting a leader. The question often asked now is whether the person standing for election is a Muslim or Christian; or whether he is of my tribe or not. The Sardauna of Sokoto did not emerged as a leader on sentiment.

I believe Chief Obafemi Awolowo did not emerge as a leader on sentiment; neither did Dr Nnamdi Azikwe emerge as a leader on sentiment. They emerged by the estimation of people of them. Can you imagine that the Sardauna died more than 30 years ago and people are still talking about him every day? The same thing with Awolowo and Azikiwe. Search your mind and surrounding if you can see among the present-day leaders that can be compared with the late Mallam Aminu Kano, especially in terms of selfless service.

So, the problem now is the greed of the present-day leaders; they have little knowledge of their environment and care less on the welfare of the people who defied all kinds of weather to vote them. Ordinary citizens are not being treated with decorum. The leaders of today place personal interest above the collective will of the people; that is why our leaders in the First and Second Republics remain our heroes still today. You cannot fault them when it comes to the people’s welfare and good standard of living. They set the pace, but the leaders of today have refused to follow their footsteps because of greed.

 

Against the background of all you have said, how do you see the state of the nation?

On the state of the nation, we are moving; some aspects of our life are changing gradually and taking shape; people are beginning to have a change of mind, especially the Judiciary. From all indications, they are out now to sanitise and stabilise Nigeria.

From what we have seen in recent times, it appears we have hope because it appears the Judiciary has woken up and ready to salvage this country from the hands of those taking the advantage of the way and manner we practise democracy to feather their nests. So, I can see light at the end of the tunnel.  Therefore, there is nothing to be afraid of as to the state nation. I was impressed with the way the Senate and House of Representatives elected their leaders without rancour and acrimony. That is to say, we are on the verge of getting it right.

I don’t mind what happened behind the scene; I don’t mind also what happened outside the hallow chambers, but based on what happened in the Chambers on the day of the election, I was so impressive that I don’t mind who won the election. It was clearly and honestly done. If you give me money outside and I came here left alone and you did not give me a paper to vote for a particular person and I am the one to cast the vote on my own, you did not interfere that is ok by me. Whether we like it or not in such kind of election, there is bound to be lobbying and all manner of horse-trading.

Even in advance democracy, you cannot rule that out. But, I must tell you that by that leadership election in both the Senate and House, our federal lawmakers exhibited some level of decorum and maturity.  All what they need to do now is to consider the plight of Nigerians as they commence their legislative duty because all eyes are on them. Also, building a nation is not only the function of the executive arm alone, but legislative arm inclusive. I strongly believe that through appropriate legislations, they can contribute their quota to the development of Nigeria.

 

What are your expectations under the new leadership of the National Assembly?

My expectation is that it would work out well because there is a semblance of freedom and devoid of not too much interference from outside like it used to be in the past. The speeches of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House shortly after their elections were encouraging and I hope they would abide and keep to their promises. Nigeria needs a vibrant National Assembly and we hope this 9th Assembly would not let the country down because expectations of Nigerians are high.

Sentiments have replaced patriotism among Nigerians —Kwande
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Why ninth NASS will be truly independent —Adeyeye https://tribuneonlineng.com/218433/ Fri, 14 Jun 2019 03:30:10 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218433 Tribune Online
Why ninth NASS will be truly independent —Adeyeye

APC

Former Minister of Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, is among senators in the ninth National Assembly inaugurated on Tuesday. In this interview by KUNLE ODEREMI, the lawmaker gives an insight into the tactical role he played in the process that culminated in Nigeria’s return to civil rule on May 29, 1999. Excerpts:   As a key […]

Why ninth NASS will be truly independent —Adeyeye
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Why ninth NASS will be truly independent —Adeyeye

APC

Former Minister of Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, is among senators in the ninth National Assembly inaugurated on Tuesday. In this interview by KUNLE ODEREMI, the lawmaker gives an insight into the tactical role he played in the process that culminated in Nigeria’s return to civil rule on May 29, 1999. Excerpts:

 

As a key player in the prolonged struggle that led to the enthronement of civil rule, what are those striking events you would recollect?

I was the Media Adviser in the MKO Hope 93 Campaign Organisation when Doctor later on, Senator Jonathan Zwingwina, was the Coordinator. Both of us were classmate in the University of Ibadan and both of us were also in the Presidential Campaign Organisation of Chief Olu Falae during the aborted Third Republic. We later moved to the campaign organization of Chief MKO Abiola in 1993 after we had a meeting with Abiola at Ikoyi Hotel. So, we worked hard to ensure victory for Abiola in the SDP presidential primaries and the general election.

When the election was annulled, of course, we joined the struggle to de-annul the election for MKO Abiola to reclaim his mandate. We were active in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and beyond that, some of us belong to another organization, whose members included a lot people like Dare Babarinsa and others. And within our corner, we did whatever we could to ensure that we kept the spirit of June 12 alive and hopefully to actualise it one way or the other. We were also young members of Afenifere which was equally in the struggle for the de-annulment of June 12.

June 12: Buhari’s desperate attempt to gain undeserved goodwill, Reno Omokri says

At a stage, some of the leaders involved in the struggle began to sing discordant tunes, given the impression of a crack in their ranks. What really went wrong? I I don’t think anything went wrong. You see, a few people were opportunistic. They wanted to be part of the (Gen Sani) Abacha regime and they went ahead and became part of the regime. But a lot of others involved in the struggle were resolute and I can recall that Chief Falae met with General Oladipo Diya a day Abacha seized power. Diya invited me; (Chief Olabode) George was there. Chief Olu falae was offered the position of Minister of Finance, which he rejected outright. Those who want to serve, they would always find any excuse. So, there was nothing wrong at all. And you know as politicians, we can always twist things around; before you know what was happening, some will introduce ethnic sentiments and what have you and say the South-West people have taken it (struggle) as their own. I mean we were all fighting to actulaise June 12; we all voted for MKO Abiola and it was annulled. I didn’t see any reason for anybody to introduce ethnic sentiments. It just happened that the majority of those people who were active in the struggle were South-West people and that should not be an excuse now for you to say that they are ethnicising it.   So, I think it was convenient with those people who did not want to continue with the June 12 struggle.

 

Given the tears, blood and sorrow that characterised the struggle, do you think the gains of the effort have been achieved, 26 years after the annulment?

No, I think that by and large, the democracy we are enjoying is as a result of that struggle like or not because it was obvious that Nigerians were not interested in military rule. They were ready to fight the military and it became very clear that you cannot have a sustained military rule for long any more in Nigeria. So, the democracy we are enjoying, we must attribute essentially to that June 12 struggle.

 

But 26 years after the struggle coupled with 20 years of civil rule in the country, do you believe Nigerians are truly reaping the benefits of their enormous sacrifice?

All we need to do is to look at 20 years of military rule and 20 years of democratic dispensation; you can compare them in terms of democratic dividends; in terms of economic dividends and social welfare, and you would realise that democracy is a far better system of government. When Abacha amassed those wealth; millions of Dollars, nobody was in a position to know because he was all in all. He was the Parliament; he was the Executive; he was everywhere. So, that’s the way we must look at the whole situation. Compare the 20 years of democratic rule in terms of what we have achieved in terms of infrastructural development; in terms of the welfare of the masses; the level of accountability. Can you compare this with 20 years of the military? What we achieved under the military is actually zero. All the developments you find in Nigeria are mostly done during the civilian rule: First Republic; Second Republic and even in the current Fourth Republic. The universities were established by civilians; Alhaji Shehu Shagari did his own when he was President in the Second Republic; former President Goodluck Jonathan did his own. So, Nigerians should be patient, this is the best form of government we can have and you will always have the choice and opportunity to elect your leaders. If they (elected leaders) don’t satisfy you, you throw them out when next you have the opportunity to do so through an election.  And that would put everybody on their toes. Ultimately, they are responsible to the masses. A military government lacks accountability because it is not responsible to anybody; because they acquire power through the barrel of gun. But the ballot paper gives the people the power in a civilian regime. So, I think this is the best form of government; we will make our mistakes; there will be hiccups along the line and ultimately, this system will work for everybody. Nigerians should be patient with this system of government; a greater part of life our lives was controlled by the military and what has been the result? It has been one disaster after another; it resulted into a civil war and after that there is virtually no development in any sense. Don’t forget that when this democracy started in 1999, university lecturers were being paid N10,000 a month. Look at the issue of national minimum wage; people can now approach government and demand for their rights; put political pressure on the government and ask for accountability and freedom. So, every democracy in the world is work-in-progress; there is no perfect democracy and even America, democracy is work-in-progress. We keep on refining the system; we keep on making it better.

 

With the conclusion of the election of the principal officers of the National Assembly, what would say is the kind of paradigm shift Nigerians should expect in the new dispensation, as the power structure already seems skewed in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)?  

I believe that things will be quite different this time around, by the grace of God. This election that produced the officers was free and fair; we elected the best people to the offices. These are people we believe will work closely with the Executive to move the nation forward; to ensure rapid socio-economic development. What the people want is their own wellbeing; their own economic and social wellbeing and security and we must cooperate with the Executive to achieve this for the people. The National Assembly is not set up to be antagonistic to the Executive; it was set up as an independent body that should relate well with the Executive to ensure stability, ensure security and to see to the general aspirations of the masses. So, we are not supposed to be antagonistic to each other; we are interdependent; we believe we are autonomous but at the same time, people expect to cooperate with each other and I believe that while we are relating our independence, this particular leadership will ensure cooperation.

Why ninth NASS will be truly independent —Adeyeye
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What will Lawan, Gbajabiamila do differently? https://tribuneonlineng.com/218210/ Thu, 13 Jun 2019 02:58:49 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218210 Tribune Online
What will Lawan, Gbajabiamila do differently?

APC

With the new power structure in the National Assembly, the stage appears set for the take off the ninth legislative business. But, in this piece, Kunle Oderemi asks what difference the new leaders can make during their tenure.

What will Lawan, Gbajabiamila do differently?
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What will Lawan, Gbajabiamila do differently?

APC

LEADERS of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), no doubt, are still savouring the victory of their preferred choice as the principal officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives.The national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has threatened against those who remained resolute in pursuing their aspiration to a logical conclusion despite the endorsement of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila  for Senate President and Speaker of the House, respectively. Yet, President Muhammadu Buhari, on his part, sounded reconciliatory after the battle had been fought and won on the floor of the National Assembly.

Some governors elected on APC ticket, including Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello have congratulated the duo on their emergence. Bello also congratulated the senator representing Delta central senatorial district, Ovie Omo-Agege who emerged as deputy Senate president. Similarly, Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, congratulated the newly elected presiding officers and members of the ninth National Assembly on their successful inauguration. He parised them for their resilience and political sagacity.

On their part, Lawan and Gbajabiamila have unveiled their individual vision and focus after victory for the Senate and the House under their tenure. The speech of Lawan shortly after his victory gave an insight into how he plans to steer the ship of the Senate when it resumes for business proper. He promised to run a Senate that would be responsive to the needs of the masse. He added: “Elections are over. It shows that we voted for a united Senate and it is clear that the outcome is bipartisan. All parties including the Peoples Democratic Party and Young Progressives Party voted for me and with this outcome, the 9th Senate is ready to take off as a united Senate.Today means so many things. It is the commencement of another decade of our democracy and we will work to ensure best global parliamentary practice among other things.”

Similarly, Gbajabiamila while responding to his victory, acknowledged that the challenges ahead were enormous and required that all hands should be on deck. Accordingly, he has promised an all-inclusive system, defend the constitution, and uphold the tenets of justice, equity and fairness in my dealings with his colleagues, as well as apply the ideals of transparency, probity and accountability in the management of the affairs of the House.“The Contest for the Speakership of this 9th Assembly is now over and it’s time to move on. Our country is presently confronted with a myriad of problems and it is our responsibility as members of this institution to set aside political, ideological and other differences that may distract us from the assignment the Nigerian people have sent us here to perform. There’s a lot more that unite us than divide us,” he stressed.

Gbajabiamila admitted that they was huge public expectation and that the ninth Assembly must not let Nigerians down, especially because of the enormity of problems confronting the citizens. “Whatever political party each one of us may belong, we must be conscious of the fact that Nigerians are truly desirous of good governance and are looking to us to be the agents that will through meaningful legislation combat security, poverty, corruption, and other problems and contradictions that have held our country back and stunted our development,” he emphasized.

Part of his broad-based agenda include reforms, which he assured would be carried out in phases According to him, “Moving forward therefore my dear colleagues, it will not be business as usual and we will be shaking the table just a little. We will be introducing various reforms that will reposition this institution but please rest assured that they will be for the greater good. On our shoulders lie the responsibility of working together as a House to safeguard the future of our great country. The House must be reformed before the country can be reformed. We simply cannot and must not fail.”

One of the groups that has reacted to the emergence of the new NASS leadership is the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, which expressed reservations on the process that culminated in the election. It claimed that the South-East geopolitical zone was shortchanged.A statement yby its National Publicity Secretary, Uche Achi-Okpaga, stated: “We are not surprised a bit. He that is down needed fear no fall; we are not expecting any favour from this administration.The government of President Buhari does not place any premium on the South-East. So, all his political foot soldiers and adherents in the National Assembly and elsewhere watch and identify with his body language.” It alleged that the unfavourable disposition of the administration was a sharp contrast to the spirit of friendship the zone had been extending to the government.  “Government has succeeded in igniting an orchestrated gang up against the South-East.We have continued to extend our hands of fellowship but on each occasion, it is trampled with the feet of hatred buoyed by the air of ethnic chauvinism,” it claimed.

Eight NASS

In his quest for the seat of the president of the senate, Dr Bukola had rolled out a comprehensive legislative agenda. It read in parts: “One of the things I have observed and in looking at all our areas of responsibility, it’s largely the fact that in our engagement with many Nigerians out there, they wonder, ‘what do they do there? What happens in the National Assembly? There’s no connect between the National Assembly and the Nigerian people…I hope that the Eighth Chamber, under our leadership, would begin to bring a closer relationship, a better connection between the Senate and the Nigerian people. Some of the laws that we would pass are laws that would have direct impact on the lives of our people. Secondly, in the areas of representation, we must improve in being able to connect, and interact with the people we represent. There must be openness and transparency in even what we do at the Senate. In some of the things that we do, we must ensure that there’s accountability…

“Some of our responsibilities in the area of oversight, we really need to improve on that. No matter and whatever we say, some of the issues that we have seen, on things that have happened over the last few years, we cannot but take responsibility, that, there’s poor oversight…and that’s an area we must improve upon. We must improve on some of these things; particularly on Boko Haram, the issue of security, and we must have better oversight in those areas and as such, these are priority areas for us. We must also, be able to make sacrifices, too, that are necessary. We must have a legislative agenda that also works closely with Mr. President’s agenda….There are issues as revenues. We must work on issues of budget. We have to look at the budget process and make sure that the budget process can have more impact on Nigerians. We must also improve the capacity of senators because I believe that there’s need for lots of research, there’s need for capacity-building and need for better information-gathering. I also think there are some bills that are priority bills in doing that, I thinks one is in the area of delivery of Justice; I think it’s a key area. All the things we talk about, whether its security, rule of law, anti-corruption and even on the commercial side, we need to look at that. We need to look at electoral reform because that would strengthen our democracy. These are bills I believe are key. We need to prioritise these bills…”

The extent the eight Assembly was able to achieve those lofty aims and objectives will remain a subject of public debate, though many have given them thumps up.

But how far can the new principal leaders of the National Assembly go towards achieving their vision in the unfolding political dispensation? What will they do differently, given their antecedents and members of the legislature over the years? What is their support base? Can they take any radical step without stepping on some perceived big toes? It will also be curious how they had the challenge of reconciliation with the aggrieved camps, whose aspirants were unsuccessful at the poll on Tuesday, and worthy of mention is the case of Alli Ndume, who lost the seat of the President of the Senate to Lawan.

 

What will Lawan, Gbajabiamila do differently?
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Issues as Nigerians mark June 12 https://tribuneonlineng.com/218209/ Thu, 13 Jun 2019 02:58:42 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218209 Tribune Online
Issues as Nigerians mark June 12

Buhari on Democracy Day

The celebration of June 12 this year as Democracy Day was used by some Nigerians to renew calls for restructuring of the country. JUDE OSSAI, BIOLA AZEEZ write on some of the inherent issues.

Issues as Nigerians mark June 12
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Issues as Nigerians mark June 12

Buhari on Democracy Day

FROM 1999 and 2014, three major national summits have been held to discuss ways of addressing issues considered as obstacles to national unity and progress. The conferences came under different names and under different administrations. All the initiatives were meant at implementing reforms that could promote nation building, integration and cohesion. The core issues, which form the basis of protests, agitations and even threats of various dimensions, include the minority question, convoluted federal structure, unjust derivation principle and dominance of political power by a section of the country.

Similar conferences were held during the prolonged military interregnum, but all of them failed to make those germane issues the centre of such assembly. The outcome of such gatherings paled into insignificance because of lack of sincerity by the initiators.  It is recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo set the Oputa panel as part of the efforts to reconcile all the ethnic nationalities by addressing all issues of injustice human rights abuses but the panel met a brick wall because of the intransigence of some powerful forces in the country. His administration also organized the National political Reform Conference of 2005; its outcome hung in the balance till date because of political expediency. There was the 2014 National Conference organized by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. It made far-reaching recommendations majorly on the imperative of power devolution, revenue allocation and derivation.

All those efforts aimed at tackling the problems of the country from the roots was not restricted to official circles. Some eminent citizens and pro-democracy organisations embarked on similar initiatives, especially in the buildup to Nigeria’s return to civil rule on My 29, 1999. However, June 12, 2019 provided yet another opportunity for Nigerians to renew their demand that the authorities take practical measures to address the lack of equity, justice and fairness in the country thereby threatening the national unity. For example, some leaders in Enugu, the Enugu State capital used the opportunity of the June 12 Democracy Day to reinvigourate the campaign for devolution of powers from the centre so as to reduce friction and disharmony that has hampered national unity. The people said the authorities would be deluding themselves to think that the contentious issues militating against national integration would fizzle out without a deliberate move to tackle them squarely and sincerely. Though the celebration was low key throughout the state, there was no tension unlike during the May 30 which the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) set-aside to honour those that lost their lives during the Nigerian civil war between 1967 and 1970. According to them, the series of act of injustice and marginalization of other ethnic groups remain a sore point in the quest to evolve a workable federal arrangement. In the opinion of Dr Don Eze, “While other people look at June 12 with regrets and disappointment, we (Ndigbo) look at May 30 with hope and confidence. June 12 is the celebration of an aborted democracy, a presidential election that was held on June 12, 1993, but was annulled by the military. May 30 is the celebration of freedom from injustice, from despotic and oppressive rule, the birth of the Republic of Biafra that was said to have been aborted.”

The fit of anger among other concerned parties in the Nigerian project cuts across some Nigerians in the United States over the protracted problems at home.  Reflecting on the adoption of June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria, members of a pan-Yoruba organization, Egbe Omo Yoruba in North America said the earlier the country was restructured the better for the future of the Nigerian federation. According to the national president of the pan-Yoruba organisation, Dr Durojaye Odimayo Akindutire, the codification of June 12 was not an end itself, as it must be complement with restructuring to guarantee a stable and workable system. He said the fact that the Federal Government had recognised June 12 as democracy day by the federal Government, did not mean the struggle for true federal structure had come to an end. He stated: “Ironically, 26 years later, the ghost of June 12 is partly laid to rest on June 12 this year when the day is marked and celebrated as Democracy Day in Nigeria. it is partly laid to rest because some of the other key fundamental issues pertaining to true federalism, genuine democracy, equity, fairness and good governance in Nigeria that were raised back then are yet to be addressed.

“These are devolution of power from the centre to the federating units (states) vis-à-vis items on the Exclusive and Concurrent Lists in the Constitution; resource control by the states/zones; fiscal federalism in terms of revenue sharing; regional/zonal autonomy, while the authorities must encourage a system that promotes merit-based appointments.”

Another issue that bothered most people was insecurity, which has suddenly took other dimensions in the Southern part of the country. Cases of herders engaging in kidnapping for ransom has becoming alarm. According to Dr Akindutire, “Daily stories of banditry, genocide, ethnic cleansing, herdsmen, terrorists, land grabbing, kidnapping, killing of farmers, raping of our women, burning of our villages, damage to our farms and displacement of our people filled the airwaves and social media. Some are saying some of these are not true. Even if one of them is true, Yoruba, we do not deserve this.”

A number of other mass-based groups like the Middle Belt forum; Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ijaw National Congress (INC) and others also identified other issues like kidnapping and violent activities of herders as exacerbating the issues begging for realistic attention. Their grouse is that there is no evidence that the authorities are determined to ensure justice. Who will bell the cat?

Issues as Nigerians mark June 12
Tribune Online

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June 12: The truth that sets democracy free in our land https://tribuneonlineng.com/218199/ Thu, 13 Jun 2019 01:29:20 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218199 Tribune Online
June 12: The truth that sets democracy free in our land

Tinubu

THE power of truth to set men free from the limiting chains of falsehood and limiting superstitions is one of the most poignant spiritual verities that has proven to be valid across time and space over the last two millennia. In the realm of politics, the most fundamental truth that man has discovered is that […]

June 12: The truth that sets democracy free in our land
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
June 12: The truth that sets democracy free in our land

Tinubu

THE power of truth to set men free from the limiting chains of falsehood and limiting superstitions is one of the most poignant spiritual verities that has proven to be valid across time and space over the last two millennia. In the realm of politics, the most fundamental truth that man has discovered is that power can be the handmaiden of progress and accelerated development only if it flows from the will of the electorate as determined in regular, free, fair and credible elections.

“This is why, in spite of its many flaws and failings, man is yet to invent a form of government superior to democracy – the famed government of the people, by the people and for the people-.  It is thus understandable and indeed justified that Nigerians are elated that the country has recorded 20 years of unbroken democratic rule since 1999.

“Today, we commemorate the country’s emergent democracy in a way that is certainly more spiritually fulfilling and psychologically satisfying than has ever been the case since 1999. For, thanks to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the assent of the National Assembly, we are for the first time today celebrating our democracy as a nation on a historic day, June 12, which coincides with the day that the seed of today’s democratic sprouting was sown 26 years ago.

“What we had been commemorating on May 29th of every year since the democratic restoration of 1999 has been the day of the handover of power from the military regime to the elected civilian administration. As important as it certainly is, May 29 does not carry the weight of significance that June 12 does in Nigeria’s democratic evolution.  May 29th is at best an arbitrary date on which the military chose to hand over the reins of power to an elected civilian government in 1999.

“Observing May 29 as democracy day delinks the country’s democratic experience since 1999 from the protracted and bitter struggle against military dictatorship from June 12, 1993, till the forced exit of the military in 1999. Without those who stoutly stood on June 12 and sacrificed life, limb, freedom, economic ruin, psychological devastation and more in the battle against tyranny, there would most certainly not have been any May 29, 1999, handover to commemorate.

“The democracy we enjoy today was not won on a peaceful and comfortable “platter of gold”. It was not gifted to Nigerians by a benevolent military regime. It is the product of the sweat, tears, blood, pain, toil and anguish of millions of Nigerians. That is why we can never afford to take it for granted or do anything to threaten its existence.

“June 12 must serve as a continual reminder to Nigerians on the imperative of pursuing the cause of justice in all spheres of our lives at all times as a necessary condition for peace, prosperity and progress.  As we kick off from today the annual celebration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day, let us renew our commitment to utilizing democracy as a vehicle for eliminating poverty in our land as well as providing prosperity and life more abundant for the teeming millions of our people.

“It was indeed his deep aversion to poverty and the avoidable suffering of the majority of our people that compelled Chief MKO Abiola to contest Nigeria’s presidency and thus his campaign slogan was “Farewell to Poverty”. The problem of poverty remains primal and fundamental in our land today. Indeed, at the root of the severe existential challenges, which confront the country today such as religious extremism, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, cultism, ritual killing, armed, robbery, communal violence and herdsmen/farmers clashes among other is the protracted economic crisis that has worsened poverty, unemployment and inequality in Nigeria over the last four decades.

“It is indeed incumbent on us all, particularly those in positions of authority at all levels, to vigorously support President Muhammadu Buhari administration as it invests massively and on an unprecedented scale in the renewal and expansion of infrastructure as well as its various social intervention programmes aimed at uplifting the vast majority of our people out of dehumanizing poverty, political instability and insecurity.

“We must take concerted efforts to banish poverty from Nigeria. To rid Nigeria of poverty is indeed a task that must be done. As the historic restoration of June 12 to its proper place by the Buhari administration sets democracy free to soar in our land, let us rededicate ourselves to the challenge of utilizing democracy to set Nigeria free from poverty.

“God bless our fatherland.”

  • Tinubu is the national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC).

June 12: The truth that sets democracy free in our land
Tribune Online

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