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Its Official: PDP Zones 2019 Presidency To The North

The desire of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), post-election review committee to have the candidate of the 2019 presidential election come from the north has been achieved as the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, Thursday adopted its recommendation.

The PDP had mandated the committee to come up with ideas on how the party could reinvent itself after its dismal performance in the last general election.

Submitting its report last week, the committee made four cardinal recommendations on the restructuring of the party, part of which include zoning the presidency to the north.

In submitting the report, the committee emphasised the sanctity of the zoning principle of the party, introduction of biometric membership registration, introduction of direct primaries and reconciliation as a restructuring measure.

With the adoption of the report of the committee by the NWC, the party has now officially zoned the presidency to the north.

Speaking at 67th NEC meeting of the PDP, the national chairman, Uche Secondus, said: “We have come to a critical juncture in the life of our dear party and the NWC under my leadership is determined to drive the process of re-invention that would ultimately return the party’s lost glory.

“Against this background, we have adopted the recommendations of the Ike Ekweremadu committee as a veritable road map for this process of rejuvenation and we call on all to give it their support.

“Primarily, the NWC has already kick-started the implementation of the PDP biometric membership registration, which the NEC approved in 2010. “The Ekweremadu report has reiterated the importance of this policy in opening up the party and returning it fully to the grassroots among many other advantages it carries.

“The zoning principle enshrined in our constitution is another fundamental element to be pursued in this reform roadmap. In accordance with the recommendation of the committee, we have made a pronouncement that the party’s presidential candidate would be zoned to northern Nigeria for the 2019 general election.

“The NWC believes that a thorough implementation of the roadmap is the panacea to the challenges confronting the party. Now that the report is before NEC, the process of consultation has started.

“The PDP brand is still dear to the hearts of majority of Nigerians because it still remains the only national party that articulates the interests of Nigerians. All we need is focus at this time and the co-operation of all to reposition it for greater heights.

“When a person chases several rats in different directions, the most likely outcome is that none of those rats will be caught. In life, we are often barraged with so many competing issues at the same time most of which legitimately deserve our attention.

“There is therefore the need to become more focused and united in order to be effective in our pursuits. A sick man needs to see a good doctor for treatment, whether he likes the idea or not.In our party today, the treatment we need is to implement the road map presented to us by the Ike Ekweremadu committee.”

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Buhari’s Milk Of Human Kindness To “Baby Stephen” By Chukwudi Enekwechi

At his recent sympathy visit to the victims of the Kuje and Nyanya bomb blasts at the Trauma Centre of the National Hospital Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari had compassion on a little girl whose medical bill of about N270,000 was beyond the capacity of her parents. On sighting Mr. President, her mother, Deborah Stephen cried to him over the medical bill hanging on her neck and Mr. President’s compassion on her and immediately directed his Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari to settle the bill.

The president also wished the little girl a speedy recovery and his sympathy. It should be recalled that the girl was a victim of an armed robbery attack along with others and was rushed to the Trauma Centre at the National Hospital for medical treatment. Needless to say that the main reason why he visited the National Hospital – to sympathize with the victims of Boko Haram attack – received his full attention, as the federal government undertook to pay all the bills accruing from their treatment.

The point at issue is that President Buhari, a former army general despite his high office was humane and humble enough to attend to the plight of a woman in need. Definitely, this is a trait commonly associated with great leaders and statesmen.

Again, it is with such milk of human kindness that President Buhari is steering the ship of the state. Similar to his kind heartedness is the sense of humour typical of President Buhari. It has been said in certain quarters that his sense of humour is legendary. All of these do not in any way detract from his other virtues of integrity, commitment to the rule of law, angst against corruption and indiscipline.

It has even been alluded that Buhari shares the same values with personages like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, late Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Mallam Aminu Kano, Mahatma Ghandi and other notable national and world leaders who have made significant impact in the lives of their people and humanity at large.

There is no doubt that personal traits of leaders play a major role in the affairs of every nation and in Nigeria we have seen over the years that the personal dispositions of some people, mostly leaders referred to as “body language” contribute to the progress or lack of it in the country.

Take for example Buhari’s “war against indiscipline” as a military leader. It is agreed even among his critics that his campaign for a disciplined society where values reign rather than rule of the jungle reawakened Nigerians’ consciousness to the noble ideals necessary for nation-building. Unfortunately, the foundation he laid towards the renaissance of a new nation was abandoned by successive administrations.

With his return to office on May 29th this year through a democratic process, President Muhammadu Buhari has once more made a clarion call on the populace to eschew indiscipline in all spheres of our national life.

Pointedly in his October 1st independence anniversary broadcast, he had enjoined Nigerians to be disciplined in their conduct at marketplaces, schools, hospitals, offices and motor parks. Obviously, this patriotic call is intended to rejuvenate national ethos and norms that will reposition Nigeria towards the realization of her manifest destiny.

President Buhari’s exemplary leadership qualities have endeared him to that generality of the people in Nigeria and beyond. With his avowed commitment to bring about sustainable and positive change, there is no iota of doubt that Nigeria will once again witness prosperity and cohesion as far as interpersonal and inter group relationships are concerned.

President Buhari’s humanitarian gesture to “Baby Stephen” and his mother goes a long way to demonstrate that he has milk of human kindness, and as a leader cares for the citizens. This act is commendable as citizens are supposed to connect with their leaders both personally, mentally and spiritually.

Unfortunately, this human angle aspect of our humanity has been missing in the past, and the implication was that our leaders could not feel the pulse of the people directly. In most cases the populace they were elected to cater for were alienated from them as the leaders were misled by a few people in and around the corridors of power for their own self-aggrandizement and pecuniary benefits.

Chukwudi Enekwechi, Journalist and Politician, writes from Abuja

Kwechis19@yahoo.com

 

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APC’s Prince Audu Answers The 11 Billion Naira Question

In a tweetChat with his followers today, APC Candidate for the November 21 Kogi state governorship election, Prince Abubakar Audu cleared the air on the N11 billion allegedly looted by him, amongst other questions tweeted at him by Nigerians using the hashtag #AskAudu. His answer:

“When I was in office between 1999 – 2003, we received average monthly allocation of N350 million – about N16.8 billion for the entire 4 years of my tenure. With these, we paid all salaries, we built Kogi State University, Obajana Cement Factory (now owned and run by Dangote Cement), Confluence Beach Hotel, Stella Obasanjo Library, Paparanda Square, Govt. house (Lugard) House, Government Office, secretariat, the banquet hall, started the confluence stadium and built the Lokoja township stadium, others are the Fed. Medical Centre + equipped same with 25 state-of-art ambulances, NTA Kogi, Radio Kogi, Kogi Graphics Newspaper, 75 rural electrification projects, the presidential lodge, Governor’s lodge, Abuja, inter-state roads; We also built the specialist eye centre, commissioner’s quarters, 200 housing units, just to mention a few. In 2002, the Fed. Govt. instituted a panel to evaluate and reward performance. Out of 12 awards for the 36 state governors, I won 7 awards. Now, how could all these have been achieved?

When the then ruling People’s Democratic Party saw me as a threat, they started instigating Kogites against me, and when the people couldn’t buy into that, having known the truth, they orchestrated my arrest, which led to my being dragged before the ICPC, CCB, CCT and EFCC.

When all that failed, the then PDP led Kogi state government took over and issued a white paper, banning me from politics for 10years. I proceeded to court, and the court ruled that the Kogi government has no such right to ban me from politics.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has also taken me to 7 courts in total (4 in Kogi and 3 in Abuja). In each of these cases, they’ll always pull out before judgment is passed and go back to frame up new figures; I was 1st accused of stealing N1.5b, then N4b, then N8b and finally N11 billion. It’s also on record that I was the most pursued politician by the EFCC, as the PDP wanted my head at all cost – always during elections.

And so I ask all Kogites and Nigerians, how could my administration have achieved all we did with less than N6 billion, if N11 billion was missing? Again only the work I did in Kogi State stands there today. The PDP govt. since I left office, has received about N550 billion, without accounting for it.

So the questions should be where have these funds gone? Why are Kogites still languishing in abject poverty? Why is Lokoja the dirtiest state capital in Nigeria? Why has EFCC been mute? Clearly the PDP led EFCC had a different agenda. I leave these thoughts to my fellow Kogites to mull over and ponder. The truth is out there for those who care to know but my happiness is that all well-meaning Kogites know the truth and have pledged to support me and the APC to victory ahead of the November 21 Governorship election, as I promise to do even more, when we eventually take up power.

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No Court Order Stopping Amaechi’s Screening, Says Rivers APC

??The Rivers State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress [APC], says its attention has been drawn to a statement being circulated in the media that Mr. Livingstone Wechie has obtained a court order restraining the Senate from Screening Rt. Rotimi AMAECHI as a ministerial nominee.


The APC said following the announcement, it made frantic search at the Federal High Court across the Country and did not find any such proceedings pending or ORDER before any Court in the Country, the Federal High Court being the only Court that has jurisdiction to determine any matter in which the Senate is made a party and its duties and functions are the subject matter, in view of Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).


Continuing the party said, “again, because we are aware of the desperation of the PDP and Mr. Livingstone Wechie on this matter, we have nonetheless carried out a search at the High Court Registry in Rivers State, and no indication that such Order exists at the High Court of Rivers State, except if such order is given to Mr. Livingstone WECHIE in the sitting room of a Judge, which we know that no right thinking judicial officer will do so, especially at this time that the National Judicial Council is desirous of sanitizing the Judiciary.”


“Clearly, the State High Court has no powers or jurisdiction under the Constitution to determine a matter in which the subject matter relates to the duties or functions of the Senate. The distinguished and Honourable Judges of the Rivers State High Court are fully aware of this Constitutional provision. We strongly believe that none of them would be drawn into such level of judicial rascality or abuse of office, no matter the inducement or incentive” the APC said in a statement signed and made available to NF-Reports by its Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone.


The APC urged all good people of Rivers State to remain calm and await the Senate Report and action as has been announced by the Most Distinguished Senate President.


“We hereby give notice to the Directorate of State Security Services and the Nigerian Police to investigate this level of misinformation that is capable of breaching the peace. We urge them to be vigilant and watch for any attempt to forge and criminally alter documentation at the Rivers State High Court Registry”, the statement concluded.

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BMSG Hails Buhari’s Historic 79% Job Approval Rating

Abuja: Nigerians are increasingly rallying around President Muhammadu Buhari as he continues to advance the country on an all-inclusive progressive course, the Buhari Media Support Group (NMSG) says. 

The BMSG makes the assertion against the backdrop of the NOI Poll monthly report for September, 2015 that puts the President’s latest approval rating at a historical high of 79%.

The BMSG says in a press statement in Abuja on Thursday, 15 October, that the 79 percent job rating of the President by Nigerians across the country, according to NOI, has clearly shown that more Nigerians are becoming enthused with the work rate and service delivery threshold of President Buhari.

Quoting from the result of the poll unveiled by NOI, BMSG notes that mere 11 percent of Nigerians disapproved of the job rating of the President while 11 percent were undecided.

“It must be noted that no other President had recorded this level of approval rating since the NOI Polls commenced the business of pollster in the country some four years ago,” Malam Muhammad Labbo and Chief Cassidy, Coordinator and Secretary, respectively of the group say in the statement.

“When considered along the fact that President Buhari had continuously secured high approval ratings of Nigerians for his work rate and service delivery since the first month after his inauguration in June when he recorded 70 percent job approval only declining marginally to 69 percent in June but rising sharply to 77 per cent in August to the current 79 percent job rating approval in September, it can be surmised that the President was well prepared for the task of elevating Nigeria to higher social and economic status.

“What these impressive published job ratings imply is that Nigerians have become trusting of the capacity and commitment of the President to deliver on promises made during his campaigns.”

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Buhari’s Ministers Are Practical, Energetic And Of Good Reputation – The Economist

MUHAMMADU BUHARI has earned the nickname “Baba Go Slow” from fellow Nigerians, for he has taken his time out of the blocks.The former military ruler, who won elections in March after promising to root out corruption, has governed alone ever since taking office in May. He said he would appoint a cabinet by the end of September. Yet as the deadline passed he had named only one minister, for oil. And he did not have to look far to find the candidate—he picked himself. This week, at last, Nigerians were given his nominees, but not their positions in his cabinet.

Finding a clean team in one of the most corrupt nations on earth is not easy, but Mr Buhari has tried. His choices are practical, energetic and of (mostly) good reputation. They include Babatunde Fashola, an ex-lawyer known for sprucing up Lagos, one of Africa’s most unruly cities, and Kayode Fayemi, the radical former head of Ekiti state.

Few of the other candidates are household names, but given the track record of the politicians who ruled for the past 16 years that is no bad thing.

Nigerians do not mind having waited. In the time they have been twiddling their thumbs, they have noted a “Buhari effect” whereby the nation has been terrified into better order. Power supplies have improved, leaving them in darkness less often. Oil refineries are working better too. Frayed diplomatic relations are being restored and stolen money is being hunted down.

Days before the nominees were announced, the former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, was arrested in London with £27,000 in cash. She denies charges of money laundering, yet oil theft increased under her watch. For many Nigerians, her extravagant displays of jewellery and chartering of private jets epitomised all that was wrong with the old cadre of politicians.

After four months alone at the helm, Mr
Buhari is yet to spell out policies for the economy and oil industry. The Senate must screen the president’s selections and further choices must be made. Mr Buhari named only 21 candidates of a total of 36. He promises the rest soon. True to form, he is in no rush.

Source: The Economist

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UNILORIN: Celebrating 40th Year of Academic Distinction By: Akorede Shakir

Since the departure of the colonial era and the early periods of independence, public education in Nigeria has become devoid of an efficacious system that operates a modern standard of curriculum, technical, logistic, administrative and other aspects of premium education in the milieu of the 21st century.

It will give me a deep satisfaction to start this piece with a brief about the state of education in Nigeria, as captured in the shocking statement of a social-network guru, Japeth J. Omojuwa, who says “it is a thing of generational shame to see Nigerians run to Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, even Sudan, to acquire tertiary education. There are even Nigerian students in Ghanaian polytechnics. We spend over N200 billion/year on paying school fees in Ghana. Is that not a shame? Why are our schools still teaching courses that prepare students for the jobs of the 1960s…?”

The aforesaid is indeed a shameful generational challenge!

It doesn’t need any equation or graphical proofs to show how repugnantly Nigerian education has deteriorated in the recent decades. However, there continues to be a renewed and re-encouraged optimism that education in Nigeria would still retake the global standard. The 29th Convocation lecturer, Ambassador Walter C. Carrington (Former United States Ambassador to Nigeria) said on the podium of the university of Ilorin auditorium on Monday 20th October 2013 that “there is a more optimistic world yearning to be born.”

Lending credence to this hopes, I want to say it categorically that University of Ilorin has over the journey of forty years become an “epitome of excellence” in the midst of its senior and second-generation contemporary universities in the country. The university, without any doubt, has never ceased to remain an outstanding institution that builds young potentials with rare brands of excellence and championship in various fields of learning, research and life endeavours. This citadel of learning is second to none in the recent age of our country, in terms of its standard and vast overall growth. The truth of the matter is that Unilorin takes the lead among other institutions that keep the hope of those that cannot afford schooling abroad. The numbers of exchange programmes enjoyed by students of the university, internships, scholarships, leadership training, and in fact the increasing number of international students from across African regions (including Anglophone and Francophone countries) schooling therein will continue to attest to the internationality of the University.

As an affiliate college to the premier University of Ibadan, Unilorin started in 1975 with 200 admitted students, sequel to an entrance examination. In the mean time interestingly, a proper academic work started on 25 October 1976. The university’s sojourn in tertiary education however started with only three academic faculties of Arts, Science and Education. Today, this university has become fully-fledged with rapid human, learning and structural evolvement. It has rose through highest ranks championing unprecedented milestones in the Nigerian education sector. Her imitable feats have won her, severally and repeatedly, the ‘Number One University in Nigeria’ award. At the moment nonetheless, Its quite enthusing as the Fortieth Anniversary of the University brings forth outstanding moments to celebrate the institution’s Founder’s Day and other awesome historic events that impel every mind to eulogise the monumental strides of this great citadel of learning and appreciate its enormous contribution to the development of tertiary education in Nigeria.

The world-class innovations by the varsity, such as: the CBT exam, fifteen years of uninterrupted academic calendar, Tablet PC for new students, plantations and e-voting at Student Union level and other first of its kind feats in the history of tertiary institution in Nigeria pose irrefutable justifications for the international encomiums showered on her as she celebrates her 40th anniversary. It is noteworthy that the strenuous efforts by her staff are indeed commendable. It is impossible to dispute however, that the university has day-in-day-out caught up with many of the first generation universities, competed with them and has become better by far than many of them. As the most-sought-after university in Nigeria today, the roles of all heroes –the past and present Vice Chancellor(s) and the Students’ Union leaders of the University can never go unacknowledged. They are duly appreciated for the sustained mechanism put in place to foster stability, peace and progress of the university. In all variables, Unilorin has really achieved a lot of feats to make her proud at 40th.

As the town and gown of the university look forward to a resounding anniversary, the university is set to host several international icons ranging from giant African leaders; outstanding academics; monarchs; top government officials, to accomplished entrepreneurs, among other dignitaries coming to celebrate with her during the anniversary and 31st convocation ceremonies. President Muhammadu Buhari and his Ghanaian counterpart, President John Dramani Mahama shall make the most-distinguished personalities to confer great honours on this university, as they both would be present on Friday, October 23, 2015. The Ghanaian President and Chairman of ECOWAS shall be delivering the University’s anniversary lecture entitled “Africa’s Agenda 2063: Ending Poverty and Ensuring Prosperity in Africa” on that day. While in honour of this thrilling anniversary, a commemorative Book “Unilorin @ 40: The Soaring Eagle” shall be unveiled, as well as commissioning of about 22 new projects executed by the University administration in the last one year which shall be anchored by the Visitor to the University, President Muhammadu Buhari.

As we observe this monumental event, areas of inefficiency and dysfunction in the education sector must be seriously discussed. The staunch challenges facing our education must equally be underscored and worked upon by the government and all stakeholders so as to throw life to the hopes of the people without further hesitation. As a matter of dire need to achieve this, the Buhari-government must be charged to develop and ensure thorough implementation of policies that will resuscitate Nigerian education and reposition it to fit in with the modern class. Also, matters revolving teachers and students’ welfare should also be looked into with the progressive mind of making education endearing, affordable and absolutely empowering to the citizens., once again. As the nation enters a new era of governance that preaches positive change, measures to fast-track education development must be made paramount. On a special note however, I once again reiterate my support for the opinion by Chief Dele Momodu that the President should make his government more committed to the youth and students by hosting public events on campuses and engaging them constructively. Hopefully by this, the Nigerian campuses and other youth constituencies will witness significant transformations that are highly required.

I’m one of the classified ones by destiny to be part of the products of this remarkable year. As such, it gives me a proud memory to join voice with other colleagues to congratulate ourselves saying: VENI VIDI VICI.

We celebrate this great Alma matter particularly on this twin occasion. We congratulate the management, especially the Vice Chancellor, Professor Abdul Ganiu Ambali and his efficient team, all staff and students of the university on the 40th anniversary and the 31st convocation. Our prayer for the university is to continue to keep championing excellence. By the next ten years when the school shall be reaching the golden jubilee age, we have strong convictions that greater climax of academic landmarks would have been attained.

A hearty “congratulations” to the better by far University!

THE WRITER: Akorede is a fresh graduate of Arabic Department, University of Ilorin, a university scholar throughout his years of learning, research and unionism, a former NANS Chairman (Kwara State) and a veteran contributor to the developmental success of the Student Union activities of Unilorin. He tweets from @akorive001, and can be contacted on: akorive001@gmail.com

 

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Tribunal: Saraki’s Victory Reaffirms People’s Mandate – Atunwa

The former Speaker of the Kwara State Assembly and Member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency, Rt. Hon. Razak Atunwa has hailed the victory of Senator Bukola Saraki at the election tribunal held in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital.
 
Following the verdict passed in Ilorin which upheld the senatorial election of Dr Bukola Saraki, Rt. Hon. Atunwa described this as a further reaffirmation of the people’s mandate who came out in their thousands to vote Senator Saraki in the March 28 senatorial elections. 
 
Atunwa who made this known in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Olawale Rotimi, he said the fact that Dr Bukola Saraki recorded majority votes in the March 28 election was not a subject for debate but a conspicuous fact in an election which has been rated as the most credible so far in the history of Africa’s democracies.
 
“The judgment passed by the tribunal held in Ilorin which emphatically upheld the victory of Senator Bukola Saraki against PDP’s Abdulrazaq Abdulrahaman signifies a reinforced determination and commitment to achieve a truly democratic Nigeria devoid of electoral pilfering and sludge in all echelon” he said.
 
“Elections are not won by propaganda or baseless petitions or sentiments, they are won by serious commitment to the development of the people. 
Senator Saraki has continually gained the confidence of the masses which is solely connected to his masses oriented leadership style since the commencement of his service as a public servant”

Atunwa further commended the people of Kwara Central and Kwara at large for their steadfastness and commitment to the ideals of democracy, good governance and the rule of law. Atunwa charged the people to strengthen their support for the Saraki political structure in Kwara and in turn, Kwarans  should be rest assured that ultimate justice in tackling major challenges in the state will be delivered. 
 
“There is no room for disconsolate, crestfallen or dispiritedness. The great people of Kwara should hold their heads high and be confident that they have voted for true democracy and good governance. They have shown their intolerance for electoral robbery and have left no one in doubt that their votes must count, the leadership in the state led by Senator Saraki will ensure all campaign promises are delivered to the benefit of our people” he added.
 

 

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Ministerial Appointees: Time To Make Our Party And Nation Proud – Sen. Gbenga Ashafa

I, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, representing the Lagos East Senatorial District, hereby congratulate the 18 eminent Nigerians, who were yesterday, October 14th 2015, confirmed as ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

While I recognise that the task before them is both herculean and complex, I am confident in their ability to succeed and set Nigeria on the path of greatness. With our fearless and visionary leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, at the fore of this team, ably supported by the erudite Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, I am more than assured that this new government will deliver on its promises and make our economy competitive and productive.

I am particularly proud of the intelligence, poise and grace with which our own Former Lagos state governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), conducted himself throughout his time addressing us in the Red Chambers. His thoughts and plans were illuminating as always. He represented Lagos State very well on that podium and will do very well in the Federal Executive Council. Of that, I have no doubt.

The revered National Leader of the All Progressives Congress and Former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, should be proud of himself on a day like this. It was his farsightedness and uncanny judge of character and talent that brought the likes of our Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Former Ekiti Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; and Mr. Fashola to limelight. These three are graduates of the Bola Tinubu School of Leadership and today, they are ministerial appointees. This is indeed a lifting moment for us all who have climbed on Asiwaju’s broad shoulders to our current heights in political and leadership accomplishments.

May the Almighty bless our leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and increase him in wisdom and good health.

As for the confirmed ministerial appointees, may you be filled with all the strength and patriotism required to deliver on your commissions. Please, make our party and nation proud!

Signed:

Senator Gbenga Ashafa

Lagos East Senatorial District

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Six Candidates Speculated But Did Not Make Buhari’s Ministerial List

After a long wait, President Miuhammadu Buhari two weeks ago presented the first batch of the list of 21 ministerial nominees to the senate for confirmation.

This was followed by the second list of 16 ministerial nominees, thus signalling an end for others who were hopeful of clinching a ministerial slot.

While many of those on the list were speculated from day one, some other persons who were thought to be in consideration were left out.

Here are six candidates that were widely speculated but did not eventually make the list.

PAT UTOMI Utomi, from Delta state, had been prominently mentioned in the media as one of the technocrats who would be appointed minister by Buhari.

Utomi is highly regarded in business and politics as a man of high intellect and honesty. He is an advocate of a more ethical politics. He is the founder of Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL) and was the presidential candidate of the lesser-known African Democratic Congress Party in the 2003 and 2007 presidential elections.

He joined the APC in 2014. Utomi campaigned vigorously for the APC in the last general election.

“I think Nigerians don’t have any alternative to the person of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. I refer to him from my writings as the Buhari ascendancy,” he said of Buhari during the presidential election.

His name had featured on several lists of possible ministerial nominees especially as Buhari insisted that the ministers would be chosen based on merit instead of political considerations.

This had probably led many Nigerians to consider the appointment of Utomi a fait accompli.

However, Ibe Kachikwu, the GMD of NNPC, got the slot of Delta state.

FEMI FALANA Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria, is a lawyer-activist who made name for himself over the years fighting noble causes.

Especially in the days of military dictatorships, he was one of the notable Lagos lawyers who suffered imprisonments and other hardships while agitating for democratic rights.

Although he was not a public supporter of APC, Falana was speculated as one of the would-be ministers. It was even reported that he had undergone security screening and was pencilled in for attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice.

Falana’s nomination was being pushed by Bola Tinunu, the former governor of Lagos State and leader of the APC in the Southwest.

Falana lost the Ekiti slot to Kayode Fayemi, former Governor of the state, who played prominent role in the APC presidential campaign as its Director of Policy and Strategy, who has been nominated and cleared as minister.

OBY EZEKWESILI She is an activist who has led the #BringBackOurGirls campaign which seeks return of the Chibok school girls who were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in April 2014 in Borno state.

Ezekwesili is a policy expert who had served meritoriously in the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) as DG and as minister of solid minerals and later education under President Olusgeun Obasanjo.

She served as vice-president of the World Bank from May 2007 to May 2012.

Ezekwesili has a solid reputation as an incorruptible and efficient administrator as well as an ardent critic of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

She effectively led the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to global fame and many believed the actions of the group caused irreparable damage to Jonathan, which contributed greatly to his defeat at the polls.

She was also touted as a would-be minister in the new government. Her closeness to Obasanjo was thought to be an additional advantage, coupled with the fact that she was considered a technocrat, a criteria Buhari said he would consider paramount in choosing ministers.

Although she did not openly identify with the APC during the general election, most of her associates did and her comments throughout the campaign suggested she would prefer Buhari to win the election.

Chris Ngige, the former governor of Anambra, Ezekwesili’s state, was nominated into the cabinet. This suggests that Oby, as she is fondly called, has lost out, unless Buhari adopts the previous administration’s approach of appointing 42 ministers, one from each geo-political zone in addition to the mandatory one from each state.

ABIKE DABIRI She played very huge role in the APC’s presidential campaign, serving as compere of most of the events and provided the feminine voice on several issues.

An APC member from Lagos, Dabiri, a former broadcast journalist, is a two-term house of representatives member from Ikorodu who reportedly initially toyed with the idea of running for governor in Lagos. She, however, threw herself into the presidential campaign and it is no exaggeration to say that no woman campaigned more vigorously for the APC than she did.

It was generally expected that she would be compensated with a ministerial slot. But she is from Lagos where there are many APC bigwigs and where Bola Tinubu calls the shot.

Many names alongside hers were mentioned, including that of former governor, Babatunde Fashola, and former commissioner of finance, Wale Edun, for a possible ministerial position.

Fashola eventually got Buhari’s nod, foreclosing the chances of Dabiri and Edun.

RABIU KWANKWASO

Kwankwaso is a politician’s politician who served as governor of Kano state for two terms. He was one of the key PDP leaders who left the party in 2013 to found the New PDP (nPDP) and later moved into the APC and became a critical bloc of the then opposition party.

Like Buhari, he contested for the APC’s presidential ticket but emerged second ahead of other heavyweights like former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Imo state governor Rochas Okorocha.

Although a serving senator, Kwakwanso was speculated as a likely nominee from Kano state. Many had said that if he was nominated it would not be unusual for a senator to forfeit his seat for a position in the executive arm of government.

The last two ministers of the FCT Bala Mohammed and Mohammed Adamu Aliero were recruited from the senate. In fact, the lobby to name Kwakwanso minister of the FCT was intense. A lobby group Abuja Professionals led this campaign.

Buhari named former army chief, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, from Kano state, to the cabinet.

BOLAJI ABDULLAHI

For Bolaji Abdullahi, former minister of sports, lightning has struck twice in his political career as his name is prominently missing from the list of ministerial nominees sent by President Muhammadu Buhari to the senate.

Favoured by the stalwarts of the Kwara state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to be the ministerial nominee from the state, Abdullahi was overlooked by Buhari in favour of Lai Mohammed, the party’s national publicity secretary.

Lightning first struck in March 2014 when Abdullahi was removed as minister by President Goodluck Jonathan months after Bukola Saraki, who nominated him, defected to APC as crisis rocked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with the formation of the new PDP.

The second lightning has struck — again on the account of Saraki’s estrangement from Buhari following his decision to contest for senate president against the preference of the president and many senior APC figures.

Abdullahi was the deputy director of the policy and research direction of the APC presidential campaign, working closely with Kayode Fayemi who headed the directorate.

Although Buhari was said to have been impressed with Abdullahi’s contributions, including speech writing and inputs into campaign strategy, insiders in the know of the intrigues that went into the compilation of the ministerial list said Abdullahi’s fate was sealed when Saraki decided to defy the party’s position on senate presidency.

“In a sense, you can say Abdullahi’s political strength has turned out to be his waterloo. It was Saraki that brought him into politics, made his a special assistant and later commissioner for education. He was also the one that nominated him as minister from Kwara in 2011,” a party insider said.

“But it is also indisputable that whatever happens to Saraki will affect him either positively or negatively. So Abdullahi took the bullet from Jonathan because of Saraki and has taken a second bullet from Buhari also because of Saraki.

Nobody is questioning his competence and record, but I don’t believe he ever stood a chance of being made minister after the fall-out from the senate leadership elections.”

Culled from TheCable with additional report by Abusidiqu

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Again, Senate Defers Amaechi, Shittu’s Screening To Tuesday

The Senate Thursday deferred the screening of former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi as a ministerial nominees to next week Tuesday.

Also affected in the postponement is a former Commissioner in Oyo state, Mr. Adebayo Shittu.

This will be the second time the Senate will postponse the screening of Amaechi.

At the close of plenary on Wednesday, it was announced that Mr. Amaechi and Mr. Shittu would be screened today.

But, Senate at resumption of plenary on Thursday postponed further screening of ministerial nominees till next week.

Already, 18 nominees were confirmed as ministers having been screened in batches of 10 and eight on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

As at press time, it could not be ascertained why the screening of Mr. Amaechi and Mr. Shittu, is being deferred again.

It would be recaalled that the petition against Mr. Amaechi bordering on corruption had been dismissed by the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges because the case is still in court.
Also, the 16 nominees on the second batch list would be screened on Tuesday.

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How Fashola Rattled Senators At The Senate #MinisterialScreening

FORMER Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), was clearly the star attraction at the screening of ministerial nominees, yesterday, as the Senate cleared 18 nominees for ministerial appointment.

His suggestions on state police, review of the Abuja Master plan and apology to the Igbo over the deportation of some Igbo residents of Lagos during his second term marked one of the major highlights of yesterday’s screening of the nominees.

The former governor who appeared before the Senators from 11. 48am to 1pm told the Senators of the need to review the Abuja Master Plan which has been distorted, just as he said that it has become imperative to decentralize the Nigerian Police as he advocated the establishment of a state policing system if the nation’s insecurity problem must be addressed.

Fashola who defended allegations concerning a N78 million website and N258 million borehole, said that throughout his stay as governor for eight years, nobody has so far come out to accuse him of enriching himself corruptly, even as he said that he did not personally sign any cheque as well as his commissioners. He also apologised to Nigerians for deporting some citizens of the state,particularly from the South-East to their states of origin.

He said: “The number available to me is that we have probably a standing Police force of about 500,000, less than a million in every event to a population that is heading to 180 million. So, we are under-policed and if the Federal Government decide to take up these responsibilities on its own, can it do so in the micro level that is necessary at the state and local government levels?

“My recommendation is a compelling urgency for decentralization. I have made those recommendations to some of the committees on constitution amendment where I was privileged to make presentations. There have been arguments about why we should not go there but those argument did not go far. They did not address the fundamental responsibilities that government has. I have heard the argument that government will abuse the Police for political purposes.

“The abuse of political power is not as important as loss of lives, and everything we do to advance that cause makes us more respected as government that cares. There is a process for curing abuse of institution but there is no process known to me today for recovering lives already lost. These are challenges that are before us as a people and as a nation. At the state level, you can also wonder what governors are going through.

“They have parliaments that make laws but they have no capacity to enforce their own laws. We are talking about domestic issues — rape and domestic violence — there are criminal offences in many states across the country but who is prosecuting them? This is because the Police officer is too busy chasing a robbery. Our mothers, daughters and sisters are expected to tolerate rape. If we are afraid of abuse, one of the things I will suggest is that we start a state Police.

“I proposed a system where we have six zonal commands from existing the Police force. It is not every state that can start if it cannot fund it. States who can fund can decide to employ 1,000 men, the Police Service Commission will train and graduate and if at the end of the training, only 800 pass the exam, they would be employed. The state buys their uniforms, there is a national license.”

On security, Fashola said, “ As far as security is concerned, that is the primary purpose of every government. It is the purpose for which government exists, to protect the citizens and their assets and it is the toughest job that any government can have. It is the challenge that leaders across the world are facing — terrorism, youthful gangs, cults and so on.

“My attitude was to see criminals as my competitors and in a competition, my desire was to use my resources to outspend my competitors, out-think the competition and out-maneovre the competition. But our risks are different. As a governor, my job was to ensure that nobody died, my job was to ensure that nobody robs. So, I have no magic for error. Every citizen that was robbed, I have failed that citizen. So, I have to be right every time, the criminal has to be right only once.

“So, we brought all the stakeholders — from the banks who were being robbed everyday then without the capacity to respond and one of the things I told one of the bankers was that if he could protect and bullet-proof his banks, if he cared about his workers and customers, can the government bullet-proof every home? If you bring some of this money and we put it in a pool and give these Policemen, it will help us and so, the point here is that there is a necessity here to decentralize.

Speaking on Abuja, the nominee said, “ In deciding what to do about Abuja, these are the real issue. First, getting a hold of its resources, knowing its districts and its problems, knowing the people, sharing with them what the thoughts are. The Master Plan itself may perhaps need to be reviewed. Plans are not static documents, they must be reviewed periodically. A level of consultation and knowledge would be necessary in order to accurately say this is where Abuja should be heading. In spite of our complaints, it is still a beautiful city, getting it to be better than it is, is a matter of choice for all of us. Laws have to be enforced and it should be rigorously followed.”

On old and young politician and how they relate to economic development, he said, “The sum total of every nation is its people. The more elderly ones are the more matured ones. No matter how hard we try, we will never discount the experience, the maturity, counselling and guiding support of people who are older than us. We must continue to interface with them. I must walk away from the tendency to condemn the level of our national development. We must begin to see our cup as half full rather than half empty.”

On the alleged website project, Fashola said: “Let me say first that it raises the question of public understanding of the role governors, public servants and some have a surprise to learn that as a governor of Lagos State, I didn’t sign cheques, none of my commissioners signed cheques. I didn’t fix contract prices. It is an institutional process.

“The only training I have is that of a lawyer. Nobody can award contract over benchmark price. Throughout my tenure, I have been confronted with the price of things and the reality is that when you design a road, what you meet in reality when construction starts is usually not what you end up with. In all of these, nobody has alleged that I have corruptly enriched myself. I could not have been a master in computer and technology. I need something to do my work.”

When asked about his definition of loyalty, Fashola who noted that he remained loyal to causes he believed in said: “As for loyalty, the concept of loyalty is a strange one. The real answer to that question is, may your loyalty not be tested. I always pray that my loyalty will not be tested because you might have to take a bullet for somebody. We discuss it loosely, but in public service, I have remained loyal to causes that I have signed onto and in all my life, nobody can fairly accuse me of giving my word and going back on my word.”

Fashola calls for state police, apologises on deportation of Igbos

On deportation of Igbo people, he said: “In a federation, the right to free movement is not absolute, it carries with it a responsibility not to be a nuisance.” He said those moved to their states of origin were those who asked to be taken home. Fashola concluded his submission by saying he apologised in the interest of national cohesion.

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