Yobe Politics And Gulani’s Endless Absurdity, By Muhammad Babande

There is hysteria among some fringe elements of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Yobe State who have chosen to belong in the fringes of political vacuity following the resolution of major party stakeholders in the state regarding the styles of the primary election to adopt, as preparations intensify for the 2019 elections.

One Ahmed Bulama Gulani, who claims to be a PhD student but without the profundity of thought and intellectual rigour that are normally the turf of advanced students, seems to be the very physiognomy of this hysteria.

In recent articles, including in Saharareporters and Premiumtimes, Mr Gulani continues to recycle a single, jaded idea – that Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam has single-handedly ‘imposed’ his candidates on the party at a time that “the people of Yobe State have asked for direct primary elections”.

Without a hint of evidence or any pretension of fidelity to the facts, Mr Gulani also claimed that government funds were used by the state government to purchase nomination forms for select candidates.

A true PhD student, who understands the value of facts and scientific evidence, would normally substantiate such claims with measurable and verifiable proofs. But since Gulani is only desperate to make a point – and those proofs do not exist – this is not a path he would take. Instead, he went on to make even unreasonably wild and baseless claims that primary elections are planned to be held at the Yobe Government House, and that the governorship aspirant anointed by Governor Geidam “is not the best” as if “best” is a universally settled and constant term.

It is trite to say this is bunkum. No one has ever said the primary elections will be held at the Government House. In fact, it is evident enough that Mr Gulani does not know a shred about Yobe State to assume that holding the primary elections at the Government House is even possible. With thousands of delegates to the primaries, the Government House is simply unthinkable and less spacious a place to hold or organise such events. Nor is there evidence that the “people of the state”, whatever that means, have asked for ‘direct primaries’, as Mr Gulani has claimed.

The direct primary election is only one of three kinds of the primary election that the APC constitution has given teeth to; the others being indirect primary election and consensus. As anyone even remotely abreast of recent developments within the APC knows, the indirect primary election is now the most preferred among all states of the federation. And the reasons are easy to understand.

First, most state party branches do not yet have an up-to-date data of registered party members and therefore lack a reliable and acceptable basis on which to conduct direct primaries. For many states in the country, especially those in the northeast, direct primaries also pose a huge logistical and fiscal challenge that the party would be hard pressed to bear.

Second, the “people” of Yobe State could not have asked for only a direct primary election. The people, if at all, would only do so through their party representatives and officials. Those are the same representatives and officials who have sanctioned the use of indirect primary election during a stakeholders’ meeting held in Damaturu recently.

They included all local and state chairmen and executives of the party, party elders, youth and women leaders and elected representatives. Of the five House of Representatives members of the APC from the state, four attended the meeting. The Senate leader Dr Ahmed Lawan, who is currently the most senior APC senator in the country, was also in attendance as was the only minister from Yobe State in President Buhari’s cabinet, Hajiya Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim. If these are not the party stakeholders whose decisions count, I challenge Mr Gulani to tell me his.

It is beyond doubt that the trajectory of events in Yobe APC today directly flows from that stakeholders’ decision.

Even so, Governor Geidam has made it abundantly clear that any party member or aspirant who is not comfortable with the arrangement can step forward for the primary elections that have been scheduled.

If those in cahoots with Mr Gulani are confident enough and popular enough as they seemed to suggest, they should stop all the vile and nonsensical talk and just go out for the primaries. Nothing can be a more “level playing field” than that everyone has the right to participate in the primary elections if they choose to. Let Mr Gulani’s Ogas demonstrate their political clout in the primaries if they have any.

If they continue to holler – as Mr Gulani is doing on their behalf – rather than throw their hats in the ring, we would assume that they are only empty shells and that all the noise is just a desperate attempt to steer attention away from the facts in the service of personal interest.

Which bringeth me to the final point I want to make. Mr Gulani’s hypophora about the aspirant that Governor Geidam has anointed demonstrably fell short. He asked, “what’s the qualification and (record of) experience of Mr Mai Mala Buni (who has been anointed by Governor Geidam)?” without providing the answer.

Well, again, this question, rather than throw his readers into confusion, only shows that Mr Gulani lacks the faintest idea about what’s going on in the APC.

Mai Mala Buni, for Mr Gulani’s information, is now in his second term as the national secretary of the APC. Before his re-election as the national scribe of the party, he was a state-branch party chairman and a special adviser to the Yobe State governor. He is a sagacious politician known in Yobe State and across the nation as a level-headed gentleman who can work (and has worked) across the aisle to get things done.

Now, as a PhD student, does Mr Gulani knows the minimum educational qualification that the nation’s constitution specifies for one to hold the office of governor or president? I haven’t read yet that you need a PhD to be governor or president!

In the end, all of Mr Gulani’s blather boils down to a single issue: Those who are poised to lose out in Yobe APC will seek to drag others down their precipitous path.

But whatever noise they make, the personal interests of a few cannot match or out-perform the collective interest of the majority of party members and stakeholders, who have resolved to work together to make the APC in Yobe State even stronger.

That is the message in the full glare of public spotlight when Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim representing Yobe East in the Senate decided to step down in favour of the aspiration of Governor Geidam to run for the same position in the 2019 elections. It is a message of unity and an endorsement of party supremacy. It is a message that Mr Gulani and his ilk will ultimately have to internalise.

Mr Babande writes from Sabon Pegi, Damaturu Yobe State

 

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Who Needs These Doomsday Prophecies, Anyway? By Salisu Na’inna And Cassidy Madueke

One cannot but wonder why there are such negativity by the industrialized West in their perception of growing economies like Nigeria. They keep churning out outright lies, half-baked truths and unsubstantiated reports.

A case in point is the recent Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) report on Nigeria which is basically saying that the outlook for Nigeria in the near future is bleak and blurry. The report predicted gloomily that PMB will not win next year’s election, Nigeria’s economy will continue to struggle between this year and 2022 and that there are no fundamental structural reforms to propel the economy to a better growth.

The EIU report is devoid of any iota of credibility. This is because it did not state how its authors drew their conclusions. If they conducted a research, the question is when, where? who were the sources of their data, what was the methodology used? Their speculation on the likely status of the Nigerian economic situation from 2018 to 2022 has no basis. What indices and factors were used to assess and draw the negative model in their speculation?

The report ignored the ongoing public financial management reforms that deepened accountability; emphasised fiscal discipline and raised capital spending from less than 12% to more than 30% in the past three years of this administration. The spending on infrastructure to support the economy is unprecedented within the time scale it is happening.

One other outcome of the reform is the cleaning up of the public sector payroll involving the Civil Service, the Military, the Police and other agencies. Ghost workers were detected and removed from the Federal payroll, the biometric data of authentic employees compiled.

Corruption is now being tackled vigorously, with hundred convictions and recoveries of billions of dollars removed illegally from the Treasury.

The introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has brought out otherwise hidden billions of Naira to the attention of the authorities. The whistle-blowing policy of the government has added bite to the process of the public financial management reform.

The fiscal sustainability plan for sub-national governments has contributed in greater fiscal discipline in the states.

The regime of continuous audit has helped in the reduction of fraud, frivolous expenditure and financial recklessness.

The world noted and applauded these reform measures, but not the EIU because it is incapable of engaging in rigorous research to ensure that the information it sells to clients is accurate, truthful and scientifically compiled.

Contrary to speculative arguments and therefore bogus conclusions, credible leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, China and other major economic powers came to Nigeria and signed many economic cooperation agreements. They did so because they have more accurate, authentic and unbiased knowledge and information about this country, its true economic trajectory of growth after exiting recession as testified by both the IMF and the World Bank.

Political stability has many colors: stability of regimes, stability of the geographic entity in the form of a nation state within internationally recognised borders. Functional political institutions and their stability, rule of law and other factors that enable businesses to thrive profitably exist in Nigeria.

The EIU report about the economy today, its direction tomorrow and the speculation about the country’s political future is spurious, false and based purely on fake assumptions.

Furthermore, the Economic Intelligence Unit report failed to apply the use of modern day forecasting techniques but rather used naive projection in its forecast and analysis which undoubtedly did not take sincere cognisance of uncertainties, variables and flexibility nature of economic activities and performances, particularly the likely/anticipated forward movement of the economy which the economic policies’ implementations of President Muhammadu Buhari administration will most likely usher in.

It imperative to note that the present administration has tirelessly formulated and consistently implemented fundamental policies and structural reforms, bilateral and trade agreements with most of the world’s leading economies, which positive impacts are already being felt in all the sectors and are capable of propelling the nation’s economy to higher growth as well as sustaining the growth beyond EIU’s stated period.

Undoubtedly, the report in our opinion, lacks an iota of intelligence, accuracy, reflection of the reality on ground and should be completely ignored.

Salisu Na’inna and Cassidy Madueke writes from Abuja.

 

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An Open Letter To My Fellow Yoruba On Sound /h/, By Ganiu Bamgbose

Letter ‘h’ equates a sound in English and it is called glottal fricative. This sound is a problematic one for many people who speak the English Language as a second language. The /h/ sound is present in some words, optional in some words and silent in some other words. It has however been observed that among Yoruba speakers on English, there are also cases of h-insertion and h-omission.

The sound is found in words like: house, abhor, habit, his, her and so on. It is optional in a word like hotel, which means you may pronounce the word with the glottal fricative sound or leave it out. The sound is not found in words like honour and hour despite the presence of letter h.

Research has shown however that Yoruba speakers of English struggle with this sound and with them are the instances of h insertion and h deletion. In my personal experience, I was once told by a year 5 student when I served in the eastern part of Nigeria that, “Sir, have you observed we laugh collectively when you teach sometimes? It happens anytime you’re supposed to pronounce a word with h and you leave out the h.”

This explains the truth that many Nigerians from the western part struggle with this sound irrespective of our level of education. Aside the three cases of h-ful words (words pronounced with the h sound), h-less words (words pronounced without the h sound) and h-variant words (words that can be pronounced with or without the h), it has been observed that Yoruba have instances of h omission and h insertion.

We talk about h omission when we remove the h sound in h-ful words like houses, abhor, help, harass, hamper, his and so on and h-insertion happens when we insert the sound h into h-less words like egg, ate, earn and many other words. The simple truth is that, like the vowel sounds we have in words like birth and word, the glottal fricative /h/ is another sound that is not found in the Yoruba phonemic repertoire.

Anyone who hopes to speak the English language without blemish must pay attention to words with the h sound, words with letter h but that do not have the sound, words with letter h but that may or may not take h sound, words where we erroneously omit the h sound and words where we incorrectly insert the h sound.

The articulation of sounds that are not found in the phonemic inventory of one’s language must be done with deliberate effort and carefulness to avoid cases of linguistic interference and also to be able to communicate with global intelligibility.

Fluency is a task; you have to take it seriously!

Yours faithfully,

(c) 2018 Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose (GAB)

Doctoral student of English,

University of Ibadan

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The Rise Of The Digital-Preneur, By Anita Amorighoye

Life, as we know, is changing. We are experiencing a shift from the known traditions of the norm to the age where speed, accessibility and convenience (driven by technology) ranks as prime influencers of the consumers buying decision.

The quest to remain dominant despite overwhelming challenges, penetrate an increasingly competitive landscape, meet with ever-changing customer needs and attain business objectives keep businesses owners up long hours sustained by one coffee cup after another. In this present age, it is no doubt that businesses (and indeed people) need a helping hand to keep afloat.

Humanity is living in the fourth industrial revolution, the age where we create more value using less effort within a wider scope with more reliance on Technology. Evidently, all we do – basic living, communication and even trade is being digitally disrupted. To imagine life without an online presence is to recall the days of the Tally- when you need your token to access a service. We have come a long way, wresting buying power from the product/ service provider to the consumer.

Nigeria in no small means is a major player in this digital revolution. This was affirmed by McKinsey & Company (a foremost management consulting firm) that Nigeria is playing host to some of the world’s fastest growing cities in terms of urbanization. And it is projected that over the next 50years, Nigeria’s GDP per capita will grow by over 30%, above her fellow MINT nations: Indonesia and Turkey. However Nigeria, as every emerging nation is plagued with her own challenges.  Among the various challenges facing Nigeria, the country is confronted with its own economic, social, cultural and political issues which have influenced the nation’s development. One of the many issues bedevilling Nigeria is Youth Unemployment.

Figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) earlier this year reveal that out of an active labour force of 85.08 million people in Nigeria, over 16 million people were unemployed as at the third quarter of 2017.

The report further asserts that the category of unemployed persons was 8.5 million people “who engaged in an economic activity for at least an hour” and 7.5 million people “who did absolutely nothing.” Added to this report is the disturbing revelation of Business owners who also argued that over 60% of Nigerian graduates are unemployable because they lack the requisite skills needed in the labour market. Frightening!

It may seem daunting to rid the scourge of youth un/underemployment, but it is possible depending on governments approach. Ironically some developed nations have undertaken various immigration schemes to attract and strip many third world nations of her skilled labour with the promise of a more prosperous living abroad, Nigeria being a major casualty.

This is so evident in the quantum of medical personnel of Nigerian origin leaving the shores to North America and many European nations for greener pastures.  Sadly, it seems internally this issue is not being accorded the desired attention.

Developmental schemes being put together by the various arms of government to try and harness the potential of the youth are grossly inadequate and antiquated. One wonders if there is a misjudgement of the abilities of these youths, boxing them within a notion that they lack literacy skills. However, we often forget that numerical literacy in Nigeria is very high and that should be a significant indicator when designing empowerment schemes.

These schemes should enable the youths to gain skills and activities that cater for sustainability and competitiveness in the global market. So what can we do to minimize the negative economic and social impact of youth unemployment while creating avenues to positively influence the GDP of the country and our trade exports?

The answer lies in the rise of the Digital-Preneur, creating entrepreneurs armed with digital skills that require only an enabling environment with minimal equipment to develop products and services relevant to both Nigeria and the global market.

Driving This Race

Imaging a Nigeria having a vocation centre in every one of our 774 local government areas, where the youth are encouraged to develop their innate skills in art & craft, musical talent, graphics, programming, etc. And then train them on how to stimulate demand for their products and services online.

This is important because online trade creates the opportunity for traditional groups to digitise their craft, farmers exchange localised techniques, herbal remedies being packaged all for export for the appreciation of the global market. With this, there will be less youth restiveness and social vices, the growth of talent, increased private sector participation. This is the first step in maximizing the potential of our key natural resource, not oil, but human resource!

Now we have a lot of emerging entrepreneurs, it is clear that the environment is ripe for the proliferation of digital skills. Referencing Jumia report 2018 with an 84% mobile phone penetration and a growing internet subscription rate (currently51%) digital-preneurs have favourable indices to grow and scale. Smartphone acquisition is also on the steady rise due to reduced cost of acquisition, while data affordability continues to favour more online presence according to a recent survey from the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI).

Like vocational skills, developing digital skills need to be adopted in the curriculum of schools to equip the younger generation in basic education. Inculcation of digital skills into developmental schemes should be encouraged.

Government’s collaborations with the private sector for the management of hubs, incubators and accelerator platforms should immediately be explored and special budgetary provisions to cater for this. Smart cities should no longer be a campaign promise! The list is in-exhaustive on the approach to take, but one thing remains evident we must rethink and re-strategize our plan in capturing our future by the way we do things today.

The Economic Growth and Recovery Plan 2017-2020 recognizes capacity building and skills acquisition in ICT as a key area to tackle unemployment. While we await the implementation of the plan, other institutions can begin collaborations with the private sector to drive the Rise of the Digital-preneur!

Anita Amorighoye sits as a director at the Ayzer Centre for Entrepreneurship. A centre dedicated to promoting both intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial skills in Africa with a specific focus on finance and technology. The centre also helps SMEs to put together well-structured businesses that consistently meet pre-defined objectives, build sustainable profits and navigate the rigours of doing business in Africa while enabling them to scale through direct investments from the teaming number of investors, development and financial institutions.

She has over 18 years’ experience spanning various areas of banking such as Commercial & Retail Banking, Treasury, Corporate Banking, Public Sector and Enterprise Risk Management… You can reach her on:

 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anita-umoh-61836414/

 

 

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Hafiz Bayero: The Proverbial Golden Fish That Has No Hiding Place, By Imam Maiyaki

Youths all over the world have a unique and major role to play in nation building.They constitute a large percentage of the labour force in most developing societies.In Nigeria,the youths constitutes 43% of the population with an estimated population of 72million.It’s pertinent to note that for any nation or state to achieve greatness,it is imperative for them to have youths at the forefront of governance and leadership.This is because the youths of today have been enriched with developmental ideas ranging from governmental,social,political, cultural, educational,enterprenual etc and what they need is the big stage to showcase these capabilities.

Civilized climes such as the Government of Kaduna State under the leadership of Malam Nasir El-Rufai  have been able to provide that big stage for the youths to thrive by assigning leadership roles to a lot of youths in his cabinet.It is a very good gesture because by so doing the youths can contribute to nation building and can be regarded as experts later on in their life.

These youths are achieving successes in the various fields assigned to them but Hafiz Bayero has been exceptionally outstanding among them.He is one of the shinning lights of  Governor El-Rufai’s administration and he keeps breaking barriers and setting pace for good governance.

According to Narendra Modi:-“Good governance is not fire-fighting or crisis-management. Instead of opting for ad-hoc solutions the need of the hour is to tackle the root cause of the problems”.This is exemplified in the actions of Hafiz.He doesn’t rush to bring up an idea or policy but rather he effortlessly takes his time to nurture an idea which will have a huge impact on a lot of people and at the same time sustainable.

Hafiz Bayero holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Aston in Birmingham, England. He also has an M.Sc. in Process Engineering and Business from the University of Warwick.

As Special Assistant for Job Creation, Hafiz helped to introduce initiatives for youth employment like the Kaduna Start-up Entrepreneurship Programme (KADSTEP) which has benefitted 2500 graduates and the revitalisation of the state’s business apprenticeship training centres. He is part of the KADIPA team (Head of Investor Relations) that was responsible for organising the showcase Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit (KADInvest) 1.0,2.0 and 3.0 and possibly 4.0 and has successfully driven the Kaduna State’s acclaimed strides in Ease of Doing Business and in attracting investors which yielded a lot of positives as companies such as BlueCamel,Olam,Vicampro,Shifu Lounge etc were successfully established in Kaduna State.Also Kaduna State government and Vlisco are partnering to establish a textile park along Kaduna-Abuja road.The investment drive in Kaduna also caught the attention of Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote as Dangote group,KDSG and Bank of Industry are set to establish a Peugeot automobile plant in Kaduna State.

These investments have yielded and will continue to yield jobs and grow the economy of the state.According to Standard Organization of Nigeria(SON),over 198 new companies have sprung up in Kaduna State .Kaduna State is gradually becoming an investment hub of Nigeria.

Like the proverbial golden fish that has no hiding place,the governor recently appointed him special assistant to the Governor on Intergovernmental affairs. Hafiz will be responsible for maintaining the Kaduna State Government’s relations with other arms of government, investors and development partners, operating out of the federal capital, Abuja.I am very sure Hafiz will do an excellent job in this new role.

Hafiz Bayero meteoric rise,is not seemingly by accident. It is due to his zeal,courage and determination.He has assumed leadership role at a very young age and he doing very well.At the pase he is going,his future legacy is surely a distinction.The development you brought to Kaduna State and the excellence and professionalism you exhibited throughout will forever be written in Gold. He mixes freely to the extent that you can easily identify him as a golden star. Hafiz is a real youth ambassador and he is surely poised for greatness.

 

By Engr. Imam Maiyaki

@MaiyakiImam

imammaiyaki@gmail.com

 

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Osun: Picturing Into The Future! By Abiodun Komolafe

It is a matter of days before the electorate in Osun goes to the polls to elect a successor toRauf Aregbesola, the outgoing state governor. 

 

Nature, they say, abhors vacuum. As Aregbesola’s administration is gradually but furiously winding down, it is incumbent on the people to access where they are coming from, with a view to picturing into what the future holds in stock. 

 

Flipping back to the last 8 years with the benefit of hindsight, Aregbesola had met a state at its developmental nadir. The governor met a rudderless state, where every facet of government was comatose. Worse hit were social infrastructure, education, health and commerce. The preceding government, overseen by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was profligate with the state resources owing to its misplaced priorities and astounding banality. Then enter Aregbesola who worked assiduously to change the state’s narrative. With a landscape littered with infrastructural edifices, ranging from landmark road networks to social amenities, the economy and commercial activities of the state jumpstarted from their dying ashes. This story of success may be a harrowing one but the fact remains that Aregbesola has done what ought to be done to rescue an ailing state.

 

With few days to Aregbesola’s handing over the flag to his successor therefore, where is the state headed in a way as to avoid a reversal of the gains of the last 8 years and who does the cap fit? Well, a peep into the profile of some of the contenders to the throne will suffice.

 

First is Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Born on September 29, 1954, Oyetola holds a Bachelors degree (B.Sc.) in Insurance and Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) in Finance. He has served as Area Manager at Leadway Assurance Company Limited; Underwriting Manager at Crusader Insurance and Technical Controller at Alliance and General Insurance.

 

In 1991, Oyetola founded Silvertrust Insurance Brokers Limited, a firm he has successfully managed until he was appointed as Chief of Staff in 2011. He was also Chairman, Ebony Properties Limited; Executive Vice-Chairman, Paragon Group of Companies; and Director, Pyramid Securities Limited.

 

Oyetola served as Aregbesola’s Chief of Staff until his election as APC governorship candidate. A certified Insurance Broker by training, the quiet, modest and witty APC flag-bearer is said to be among the founders of the now-rested Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1998 and has since then remained a notable figure in Osun’s political scene so much that when the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, birthed, he was one of the party’s notable chieftains.

 

He is a loyal, pronounced technocrat, result-oriented progressive and philanthropist par excellence whose capacity for generosity remains endless. As a matter of fact, no fewer than 400 students have benefitted from his scholarship grants in the last 25 years. He is married with children who are doing fantastically well in their chosen fields of endeavour.

 

As fate would have it, his deputy, Benedict Olugboyega Alabi, also holds a Masters degree in Economics which makes the team a perfect combination. 

 

Next is Ademola Adeleke of the PDP. Reports have it that he is a secondary school dropout, whose candidacy has been dogged by controversies. As we speak, many court cases, bordering, principally, on certificate forgery, are hanging on his neck, all which are making the coast unclear for his candidature. 

 

With the benefit of hindsight, Adeleke is an accidental politician who was shot into limelight following the sudden death of Isiaka, his elder brother. The concern in some quarters is how the son of a former senator missed the golden opportunity of acquiring the best education that money could provide. Unfortunately, the PDP standard-bearer seemed to have learned nothing from the rise and fall of Salisu Buhari, Nigeria’s former Speaker of the House of Representatives. As he now parades “badly-damaged” credentials, the candidate is seen more as a spoilt brat who is being pushed by his immediate brother’s humongous wealth. In any case, it is yet to be seen if he will survive the allegations against him in a court of competent jurisdiction. In my considered opinion, a vote for the Ede, State of Osun-born candidate, popularly referred to as Ajobiewe, will be a vote for emptiness and untoward setback as the 58 year-old candidate has shown himself as having nothing to offer.

 

Moshood Adeoti is the governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP). Adeoti is the immediate past Secretary to the Government of the State of Osun (SSG). Born on February 27, 1953, Adeoti defected from the ruling party and resigned his appointment as SSG to protest the choice of Oyetola as the candidate of the party in an election that was adjudged free, fair and credible. 

 

A Bachelor’s degree (B.Sc) holder in Business Administration, the ADP candidate was at various times the Councillor, Secretary and Chairman of Iwo Local Government before becoming the Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which eventually metamorphosed into APC. Aside from his appointment as SSG, the only known place the Iwo-born politician seemed to have had a ‘cognate’ experience was in the Sawmilling industry where he served as Manager.

Last but not the least is Iyiola Omisore. A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) holder in Infrastructure Finance, the veteran governorship candidate has at one time or another served the state as Deputy Governor and Senator representing Osun East Senatorial District. However, despite Omisore’s claim to sound academic acquisition, he is perceived more as a man of slothful pastimes and unstable whims whose dangerous schemes cannot do the state any good. It is believed that his desperation may not be for the genuine interest of the masses after all. As such, his victory at the polls may translate into converting our collective patrimony into personal use. Remember: the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate still owes Nigeria a huge sum of money, part of which he has been struggling to refund through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

 

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

 

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

 

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

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Kemi Adeosun: Yet A Quintessence of Probity and Integrity, By Amaechi Agbo

“Recognised probity is the surest of all oaths.” – Suzanne Curchod.

On the 14th of September, the former minister of finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun honourably tendered her resignation letter to the President, Mohammadu Buhari, bringing to an end, near three years of purposeful management of the nation’s economy with epitomized probity. However on a controversial note.

Nonetheless with this singular act, Kemi Adeosun has not only etched her name in our history books, but has also justified the fact that in public service, integrity, probity, ethics, transparency and self discipline can still be found.

The former minister made history as the first political office holder to quit her position on the basis of integrity and probity. She has justified the federal government’s credo of integrity by throwing in the towel even when the old order of manipulating the system in view of the caliber of political clouts around her would have been the order of the day.

The ruling party, APC described her resignation as actions of honour, strength of character and integrity. And I do not disagree with them. Most Nigerians don’t. In fact they were shocked she would take this rare but honourable path.

In the previous administrations in the country particularly since the emergence of our most recent democracy 20 years ago, no minister or political office holder had resigned his or her position despite in the face of allegations of corruption or malfeasance or misconduct or fraud.

Still fresh in the minds of Nigerians are the cases of former aviation minister, Stella Odua and that of Minister of Interior, Abba Moro. Both Ministers under former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Stella Oduah, currently a senator of the Federal Republic, was enmeshed in two scandals of certificate forgery and maladministration.

Oduah claimed she attended St. Paul’s College, Lawrenceville in Virginia, US, from 1978 to 1982, obtaining a first degree in Accounting and a Master’s Degree in 1983. But the college disclosed that it had never in its 125-year history had a graduate school or graduate programme.

Her claim to have obtained an honorary doctoral degree in Business Administration from Pacific Christian University based in Glendale, was also found to be dubious.

Following these revelations, the then Minister had since amended her biographies on the internet revising her profiles on the web with a view to cleaning up any reference to St. Paul’s College in her history. While the PhD allegedly received has also been deleted from her Wikipedia profile.

The former minister was also involved in reckless financial meddlesomeness.

She was rocked in financial misappropriation following her refusal to follow due process in the award of contract for the purchase of two bulletproof cars at the sum of N255 million; a total sum that was grossly inflated.

Consequent upon the scandal, the committee set up by then President Goodluck Jonathan to probe the scandal in the Aviation Ministry indicted Ms Oduah. The report of the presidential committee tallied with some findings of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation on the corruption case.

The development sparked a wide controversy within and outside the country with many Nigerians and groups calling for her sack as well as the House committee’s recommendation that the minister be relived of her duty. None of the calls nor recommendations were heeded.

While the minister refused to resign in the wake of the two proven cases of outright  forgery and breach of public trust, the then president, Goodluck Jonathan still retained her until she voluntarily resigned in order to contest the 2015 senatorial election in her state of Anambra.

On his part, former minister of Interior, Abba Moro, conducted a most embarrassing and tragical recruitment exercise in the country’s history when on Saturday, March 15, 2014, his Ministry conducted recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS.

Tagged “Nigerian Immigration Service Recruitment Tragedy” afterwards, the exercise, poorly planned and implemented, led to the death of about 20 applicants in various recruitment centres across the country, involving over 520,000 Nigerian graduate applicants who paid N1,000 each to be qualified to take the test.

After the NIS tragedy, several Nigerians demanded the resignation or dismissal of Mr. Moro and the then Comptroller-General of Immigration, David Parradang, as well as their criminal prosecution for involuntary homicide, but none of such happened as their boss then, Goodluck Jonathan turned a blind eye to the pains and anguish of Nigerians and retained him till his government was voted out in 2015.

Other cases of scandals that rocked past administrations abound but never did one of them throw in the towel even when such cases were proven beyond reasonable doubts that the actors committed perjury or gross misconduct.

Though, in her resignation letter, Mrs Adeosun still maintained her innocence having submitted the same certificate to different government institutions in the course of her public service to her state and Nigeria in general; her innocence remains a debate for the court room where it would be expected that she makes a case that she knew nothing about the fake certificate and had no hand in procuring it.

One thing Mrs Adeosun would be remembered for is this: She brought discipline into the country’s finance systems,  implemented policies that her predecessors were scared to touch; she identified and pursued a path to long term sustainable economic growth for the country.

Under her stewardship, Nigeria was able to exit recession and has laid the foundations for lasting growth and wealth creation.

Beyond the certificate scandal, Mrs Kemi Adeosun would be remembered for being a role model, and a quintessential persona when integrity and honour is called among Nigerian politicians and leaders.

 

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Why Tradermoni Matters, By Amaechi Agbo

On 7th August this year, the Federal Government commenced the Tradermoni scheme in Lagos.

Tradermoni scheme is designed to help petty traders expand their trade through the provision of collateral free loans of an initial sum of N10,000.

The scheme was launched in partnership with the Bank of Industry, BoI, in order to enlarge government’s financial inclusion agenda down to the grassroots, the bottom of the ladder, considering the contribution of petty traders to economic development of any nation. It is a federal government empowerment scheme to help alleviate poverty in Nigeria by empowering traders and artisans.

Tradermoni is similar to MarketMoni which is another cash transfer loan scheme of the the Federal Government under the same Social Investment Programmes, but they are not the same. While Marketmoni loans start at N50, 000 and target medium-scale traders, market women, artisans, and youth in market associations. Tradermoni loans on the other hand starts at N10, 000 and target petty traders and petty artisans.

There have been lots of misconceptions with people questioning what the petty traders can do with N10,000. But one cannot wish away the impact it will have on the fufu seller on the street whose capital is N3,000. As little as it seems, an added sum of N10,000 to her capital would lead to her expanding her business and serving more customers.

To an average income earner, N10,000 does not sound so big a money to help in business but to the rural traders, it is not so. N10,000 will make a significant impact in the business of the roadside corn seller, akara (fried bean) seller. The ugu (pumpkin) seller as well as the groundnut, garri, shoe maker/reparier, beans and all other petty traders who are the beneficiaries of this scheme.

These loans come from a recognition of the genuine contribution of petty traders to the growth of the nation’s economy. Consequently the loan will not only help the local traders to expand their businesses, but also change their standards of living thus aiding in poverty alleviation and stability in the country’s economic outlook.

This programme aims at reducing short-term poverty by direct cash transfers and fight long-term poverty by increasing human capital among the poor through conditional cash transfers.

Under the scheme, beneficiaries can get access to a higher facility ranging from N15,000 to N50,000 when they repay the initial N10, 000 within the stipulated time period of 6 months. Accordingly, beneficiaries have the options to repay the loan with flexible options of N85 daily or N430 weekly.

Since coming into power via his change mantra, President Mohammadu Buhari has never hidden his desire to change the economic well-being and welfare of the poorest Nigerians – the masses. Access to credit to help boost the output of their petty businesses has proven to be one route he has taken in providing succour to Nigeria’s lowest income earners.

The Vice – President Yemi Osinbajo over the week told beneficiaries of the Tradermoni loan scheme in Gbagi Market, Ibadan, Oyo state, that more funds would be committed to the scheme as soon as the traders begin to pay back. This emphasises the need for the sustainability of the programme, which in itself can only be sustained through the collective efforts of the traders – simply paying back the small loans they have collected.

Tradermoni scheme is not only a justification of the current Federal Government’s unrelenting drive to take Nigerians away from the clutches of poverty but also a determined initiative to ensure that government reaches out to the unreached, and create a more equitable society.

The scheme has been implemented, successfully, in 10 states so far. These states are: Lagos (the pilot state) which was launched on August 7, Kano state kicked off on August 18, 20th of August saw Abia state integrated into the scheme while Akwa Ibom was on 21st of August.

Katsina got into the initiative for the take off of the scheme in the state on September 1st; Osun, Kogi, Cross River and Oyo states kick started the scheme on 3rd, 8th, 11th and 13th of September, respectively. The programme was also launched in the Federal Capital Territory on the 6th of September at the Utako Market.

With the scheme currently being implemented in 10 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, the Vice- President, as part of his outreach in ensuring a smooth and successful implementation of the free loan scheme, visited  the market in Ibadan to assess how the loan was being executed and to ensure that all registered traders got the money.

It is unfortunate that there are Microfinance banks in the country which invariably are saddled with the responsibility of granting or providing loans to small traders but have made their interest rates so high that no low income trader would dare consider. This initiative by the Buhari administration helps close the gap.

The intention of the programme is to reach all 36 States of the country and the FCT. It has started on a remarkable note and can only get better. Testimonies from some of the beneficiaries have already filled the media space – attesting to the impact it has made in their little businesses. The testimonies resound what ought to be: government should be for not just the elites, but the lowest cadre of society. And this is what the Buhari administration is achieving with the TraderMoni initiative.

 

 

Amaechi Agbo is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja

avameche@gmail.com

 

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Osun 2018: The Streets Are Watching! By Abiodun Komolafe

Once upon an administration in the State of Osun, a people groaned in the rough of aches and moaned in the tumble of pains. Then, hunger begat hunger, poverty took the place of affluence and it was as if the gods were angry! Under the criminal grip of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), governance became a satanic blend of “dumb horse-traders” and “perpetual complainants who do nothing about their complaints apart from moaning and moping.”

Eight years ago, Osun reclaimed its destiny from a rapacious, visionless and pretentious clique. Thanks to Rauf Aregbesola for rescuing the state from the PDP’s singularity of purpose and complete insensitivity to the people’s plight. As Osun prepares to elect Aregbesola’s successor, hopes are high that the state’s democratic destiny would never again be left in the hands of misfits and pretenders whose previous outings was an eloquent reflection of how deep we had sunk as a country and a people.

I have long argued that September 22, 2018 would be a battle between the “Oligarchy of Intellect” and the “Oligarchies of the Purse”; between the ‘power of performance’ and the ‘forces of politics.’ At a time good governance is being misconstrued for a Dead Virtue by enemies of progress, this date in the life of Osun will be a fine specimen of political liberty over commercial prosperity; between national integrity and national cake. Against this backdrop, those who wish Osun well should pick themselves up more so as the exercise shouldn’t be about dwelling in the past which in my considered opinion has become a bucket of ashes.

Pretensions aside, we must all “come together”, “think together”, “speak together” and “act together” in order to prevent a relapse into the political violence, ethnic competitions and economic barrenness that once defined dear state. Let all men of goodwill go out there with a view to replacing those lies being peddled by “desperate political parties”, “dullards” and men of scant consolation acting the sycophancy script with the true position of things. At a crucial time like this, lovers of democracy must endeavour to understand and work in agreement with the changing dynamics of the electorate. After all, individual success is a combination of individual efforts.

But what then does Osun want? Where is the state headed and who fits the bill? Fact remains that Aregbesola’s government has set the pace for a knowledge-driven economy. It has helped a great deal in shaping values through morals. Its ‘O’ Series and Social Protection initiatives, among other laudable programmes and policies, have positively impacted lives. Without doubt, its interventions in the Agriculture sector have not only repositioned the state as the food hub of the Southwest, they have also gone a long way in cushioning the bitter, biting effects of the economic recession that was recently unleashed on Nigeria.

With a loyal and competent successor like Gboyega Oyetola therefore, Osun has no reason to fear! Unlike candidates who either paint the pictures of men of fancy speculations and unstable whims or politic for individualistic innuendos, Oyetola as an advocate of Due Process will deploy his vast experience in finance management, business and public administration as the needed balm to permanently heal the state’s economic wounds. Fiercely loyal to his principles, the All Progressives Congress (APC) flag-bearer is a pious technocrat and an astute politician whose political vivacity has continued to uplift many Nigerians in all facets of their endeavours. His character, his courage, and, above all, his desire to serve a cause greater than himself are a demonstration of his resolute commitment to greater good above personal interests.

The APC standard bearer is the best among the candidates, the best for the job; and the best pill for Osun’s ailments. Following in the footsteps of Aregbesola, the witty, disciplined, teachable, dependable, responsive and skilfully-artful Oyetola will continue in the tradition of changing the face of Osun into a state looking ahead to the future. His unblemished accomplishments, passion for functional education, accessible healthcare and radical approach to urban renewal projects is awesomely thorough. The interesting part of his life is that he is unshaken in courage and undimmed in vision.

Oscar Wilde captured the mood of the moment when he defined democracy as “the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people.” For many years, civilized Romans left politics in the hands of their kings and Chiefs. Greeks once destroyed its own democracy. In Prussia, it was the people who willingly subscribed to autocracy. Ditto for Louis Napoleon’s France! Even, America, world’s acclaimed symbol of democracy never had it smooth. But since they value popular participation, they have since learnt relevant lessons from their past. Again, how come Rwanda suddenly became the epicenter for everything chaotic, tribalistic and genocidal?

How did she gravitate into a metaphor for the sad, the bad, the ugly and a habour for hatred? Expanding the horizon, how did the “substantial” violence which characterized the fall of the House of Hohenzollern come to be and what was responsible for the rise of the Weimar Republic through the German Revolution of 1918–1919? Coming back to Osun, what could have prompted a major opposition party into relishing in a silly, reckless theatrical charade of insulting our collective intelligence in an election as important as governorship, unless some extraterrestrial forces have so counseled? If they ever did, what are the presumed intentions and likely implications?

Evil prevails when good people do nothing! Basically, it is the unrepentant rebelliousness and the fanatical gluttony on the part of Nigeria’s leaders that has led us into this petty, pitiable pass. Greed makes a man think only of himself without thinking of what becomes the lot of others. It is greed which makes Nigeria’s leaders work against the interest of Nigerians that has absurdly malformed Nigeria’s elite into a blend of opportunists looking for ways to further impoverish the populace.

Threateningly, greed has even turned our traditional rulers into traditional riggers and our religious leaders into prayer contractors. Isn’t it laughable that a political party which claims to be working in the interest of the people will be working towards turning Bola Ige House into a ‘Dance Hall’?

The streets are surely watching!

May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts, backfire!

KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

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Ashafa’s Presence At Sanwo Olu’s Declaration; Right Or Wrong Signal, By Kareem Babawande

The Politics of Lagos has always been peculiar and for all those who consider themselves political watchers, yesterday’s declaration by Jide Sanwoolu sent a clear signal; “This is the incoming Governor of Lagos State”

A conspicuous political heavyweight at the event who’s attendance has caused a stir on social media, with various platforms trying to decode the meaning of his presence at both the declaration of the incumbent Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode and that of Jide Sanwoolu yesterday was Senator Gbenga Ashafa. A known loyalist of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

All politics they say is Local and you will agree with me that 24 hours is a very long time in politics. As at 10th of September when the Governor went to Abuja to pick his nomination form and declare his campaign for a 2nd Term Open, there was no clear signal from Bourdillon as to the direction of the party in relation to Governorship in Lagos State. Ashafa, who represents Lagos East where Ambode comes from, had a responsibility to attend that event. The sitting Governor was declaring and the Senator from his district should have been there.

Secondly, considering his pedigree as a Lagosian born in the Luther-Bamgbose area of Lagos Island, Ashafa’s presence at the declaration of Jide Sanwoolu’s declaration was a clear pointer of the need for him to enjoy the acceptability of the people and also a clear signal of where Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is heading.

Recall in 2007 when Fashola was to emerge as the Governor? He was perceived even in the political establishment as very rigid and unlikeable. Gbenga Ashafa a civil servant at the time was appointed the Chairman of the campaigns Think tank and was charged with taking him round till he was accepted by the establishment and the people. Fast forward to 2014 during the campaign of Ambode, Same Ashafa was the first to take Ambode to meet all the Traditional Rulers in Ibeju Lekki, which was used largely to establish the roots of Ambode in the Eastern Senatorial District.

Gbenga Ashafa is used to confer legitimacy and acceptance by the establishment. Dear Lagosians, Jide Sanwoolu is your next Governor except the PDP’s Otedola is strong enough to put up a fight. But I doubt much. If you don’t believe me, you can put a bet on it.

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Osinbajo Inspiring A Young Generation Of Leaders, By Seun Bisuga

With role models thinning fast, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo offers a glimmer of hope to youths aspiring to be successful in both private and public practice, given his glistering career and breathtaking records.

His carriage, grace and knowledge on a wide range of topics attracts people to him from afar and for those who have been privileged to a one-on-one with him, what sends a chill down your spine is his humility, attention to details and morale boosting advises.

It pretty much leaves you with a renewed belief in yourself and in Nigeria. You are rekindled with the ‘Nigeria will be great again’ mentality and state of mind. You know you can go beyond borders and break barriers.

When young aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress met with him they departed with words of wisdom, more than money could buy. “You are the ones who can make the difference if you remain consistent in service,” Osinbajo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria told the aspirants.

The young aspirants were not only buoyed by his words but by his actions. There was a willingness to pass on his knowledge in governance, first as Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Lagos and as Vice President of Nigeria. “That you are not just sitting down at home, not just getting upset with yourself on Social Media. You are putting your money, resources and your time where your mouth is. So, consider yourself in very exceptional company. This is a group of people who have not lost hope, but are very determined to ensure that things work.”

Sometimes testimonies have a strong impact in passing a message across and no testimony beats one which is very verifiable. To ginger the group, he told them a story that resonates. “As a young person, I belonged to several pressure groups. I graduated at the age of 21. And when I graduated, I began to participate in various pressure groups, human rights organisations, anti-corruption, civil society groups of every kind. When political parties started forming, we could not aspire, but we remained involved.

“For seven years – after serving as Lagos Attorney-General – I was part of the party, I did not have a board appointment or anything, but I kept working for the party. I kept working for the party as a lawyer. Most of those cases we were not paid a dime. But we went from place to place. Sometimes we didn’t even have a place to stay when we went to court the next morning. So, there is a measure of paying the price, it depends on how serious or committed we are to some of the things we say we are committed to.”

Many things stood out for the young aspirants, but none can be compared to the fact that the Vice President is one of the handful of politicians without any corruption tales hanging over his head since he got into active politics.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has never been accused of corruption or corrupt practices, he has led a clean political life in a heavily laden with corruption since 1999, standing in a league of his own, alongside President Muhammadu Buhari.

When you talk of making a difference, Prof Osinbajo has made the difference in more ways than one. “We are in a place where we are the ones who can make the difference,” he told the young aspirants who wanted to know how he succeeded in both private and public sector.

He added, “Nothing is going to change overnight, but we can make efforts to change the process. We can do a lot more, but it depends on our commitment. I like the idea of young people getting a quota in the party structure to run for office on some level, such as the State Houses of Assembly.”

For those who have had any formal or informal contact with Prof Osinbajo, you’ll testify to the fact that his leadership is both contagious and infectious. Be it on the Trader Moni campaign, meetings in Niger Delta, National Economic Council or even as acting President, he has exuded the highest level of leadership and history will have his name in GOLD.

Seun Bisuga is a journalist, writer and social media analyst. He can be reached via email: bisuclef@yahoo.com

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Osinbajo And A Proper Understanding Of The Restructuring Debate, By Chukwudi Enekwechi

The issues surrounding restructuring in Nigeria have remained topical at least since 1999, but it assumed a new level of resonance recently as the 2019 general elections approach. As expected, different pressure groups, socio-cultural associations and politicians have joined the fray. The most discernible motive for the high tempo in the resurgence of discourse about restructuring mainly centres around the ploy by some opposition politicians to take advantage of it to harangue the Buhari/Osinbajo administration as if all Nigeria’s problems will be solved with restructuring.

In their attempt to pull wool over our eyes on the topical issue and profit from it politically, they have tried to hinge the myriad of problems besetting Nigeria on restructuring, thereby insisting that the Buhari/Osinbajo administration must restructure Nigeria in their own terms and conditions.

As a responsible government, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo made an intervention on the need to focus more on rebuilding the country for the benefit of all citizens which is evident in the administration’s programmes, and equally acceding to fiscal federalism as a restructuring model.

Some politicians who ab-initio had hoped to gain mileage with the advancement of a holistic restructuring will not listen or accept the Vice President’s line of argument rather they chose to pour invectives on him.

Being a gentleman and patriot, Professor Yemi Osinbajo further adduced reasons to justify his position for fiscal federalism, rather than geographical restructuring as being canvassed by some politicians. For any discerning mind, Professor Osinbajo’s postulations on fiscal federalism as a type of restructuring is not only patriotic but realistic and workable especially if we consider the heterogeneous nature of the country. As a country with divergent ethnic, cultural, religious and political backgrounds it will be chaotic and disruptive to embark on a geographical restructuring of the country at present, yet in a bid to benefit from the clamour of the crowded streets, some opportunistic politicians are insisting otherwise.

It is however important to remark that any long-lasting tinkering of the Nigerian political firmament as it is presently constituted must be weaned of the shout or plaudits of the throng, because in the end the essence of government is to guarantee the security of lives and properties of the citizens as well as cater to the needs of the people. I think it is within this prism that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo tried to reason with the other schools of thought on the issue of restructuring. Unfortunately while as a statesman he is endeavouring to toe the patriotic line which will be acceptable to all the strata of society, his traducers chose to play to the gallery ostensibly for immediate political gains.

Therefore as the controversy over restructuring rages it important that Nigerians come to terms with the position of the Vice President, bearing in mind that this is one man who has never failed to stand shoulder to shoulder with Nigerians in their moments of need. There is no doubt that he has remained altruistic, devoted, committed and determined to sink and swim with Nigerians in the quest for an egalitarian society, and this is in line with the stand of President Muhammadu Buhari who has seen in him an undiluted level of patriotism and love for Nigeria, hence his decision to run again with him in the 2019 presidential election.

Nigerians must be wary of the later day restructuring converts to avoid any disappointment in the future. In the three and half years of the Buhari/Osinbajo administration it has become crystal clear that they have a clear focus of where to take the country, and using the three enablers of providing security, reviving the economy and tackling corruption Nigerians have seen the duo as partners in progress in whom they can entrust their future. As we approach the 2019 elections, we must distinguish mere rhetoric, deceitful political propaganda and realistic postulations as advanced by the Vice President of Nigeria Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

It is rather disappointing that some politicians in bid to gain momentarily from a prevailing situation will throw caution to the wind and condescend to the level of being impervious to reason. Lest we forget, Professor Osinbajo is not averse to restructuring as he has consistently promoted the creation of state police which is an aspect of restructuring, but he has always maintained the need for fiscal federalism which tends to devolve more powers to the sub-national governments rather than geographical restructuring.

 

By Chukwudi Enekwechi JP

Kwechis19@yahoo.com

 

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