All You Need To Know On The Kastina Refinery, By Friday Nwosu

Propelled by the desire to encourage cross border economic development, Nigeria and the Republic of Niger recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the construction of a hydrocarbon pipeline and a petroleum refinery.

The pipeline is to be constructed from Niger to a border town in Katsina State, Nigeria. The new refinery would process up to 100,000 and 150,000 barrels per day of crude from Niger Republic.
The choice of Katsina was informed by its short distance to Niger, a factor that would lower the pipeline distance and cost of construction.

President Muhammadu Buhari, shortly after signing of the MoU, inaugurated a steering committee for the projects which is to be co-chaired by Nigerian and Nigerien ministers. Buhari also inaugurated a separate team led by Nigeria’s Engineer Rabiu Suleiman, supported by the Director General Hydrocarbon of Niger Republic, to develop the implementation roadmap and strategy for both the refinery and pipeline projects.

The two committees are expected by December 2018 to come up with a detailed roadmap and guideline leading to actual execution of the projects. The roadmap would cover bankable feasibility studies for the refinery and pipeline projects, optimal project site, pipeline routes and details, security plan and selected consortia of investors for both the refinery and pipeline projects.

The projected duration for completion of the projects is put at between three to four years.

The signing of the MoU and subsequent inauguration of the two committees has continued to elicit questions from Nigerians. The questions have largely been raised about the level of government involvement, the funding for the project, crude supply from Niger and security issues in the region.

WHERE IS THE FUND COMING FROM?

So far, the estimated cost of the refinery and pipeline projects remain unclear as it would only be determined by the outcome of the technical study of the committee.

However, a Nigerian investor, Alhaji Ibrahim Zakari, said about $2 billion would be needed for the construction of the refinery. Zakari announced that his company, Blak Oil Energy Refinery had mobilized substantial part of the $2 billion needed for the construction of the refinery.

“The funds are coming from abroad, US, Canada, India and the Middle East,” he said.

It is instructive to note that the project will be private sector driven with the full support of the governments of both countries, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, also said, explaining that almost nothing of both governments’ funds would be put in the projects. According to him, about 50 investors were at the MoU signing at the State House to observe the processes and firm up their initial expressions of interest.

CRUDE SOURCE

Questions have also been raised about the volume of crude supply from Niger Republic for the proposed refinery that will have capacity to process between 100,000 and 150,000 barrels of crude per day.
Kachikwu said the landlocked West African country currently produces “enough to support about 60-70,000 barrels per day but lots of fields that have been capped will be opened (with the coming of the new refinery.)”

Moreso, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has ramped up Niger crude output to nearly 70,000 barrels per day this year from under 20,000 barrels, according to Niger’s statistic agency Institut National de la Statistique du Niger.

The Nigerien authorities have also assured that there is ongoing plan to expand crude oil production to about 90,000 barrels per day as the refinery project comes on stream.

HOW WOULD NIGERIA BENEFIT?

The project when completed is expected to provide job opportunities for more than 2,500 Nigerians.

Buhari while speaking on the benefits of the projects said the initiative will not only provide a reliable market for the stranded crude from Niger Republic but will also provide petroleum products for Nigeria, as the country “aggressively pursues its aspiration on petroleum product self-sufficiency”. He also expressed hope that the current frontier exploration efforts in the Northern part of the country (Chad Basin, Gongola Basin, Sokoto Basin, Bida Basin and Benue trough) would also result in the provision of additional hydrocarbon inflow to the corridors of the proposed pipeline and a potential refinery around Kaduna axis.

The general benefits to be derived from these projects by both countries are enormous, Kachikwu said. He said other similar projects getting government support across the country include the Agip refinery for which studies are ongoing in Bayelsa State.

“You have the Port Harcourt refinery which when we finish refurbishing it, will cover the South South and South East. The Warri and Kaduna refineries are all there including the Dangote in Lagos.

Understanding APC And The Crisis Of Defections, By Reuben Abati

Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the “factional” leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has reportedly asked Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki to resign his position as Senate President.  What exactly does the Comrade want Saraki to resign from- the Senate Presidency or even his membership of the Senate having won election into the Assembly in the first place on the platform of the APC? Oshiomhole also probably expects that other members of the APC who are occupying elective and appointive positions will also tender letters of resignation, having defected from the ruling APC.

It is either the embattled party Chairman has not adverted his mind to the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution on party matters or the party’s legal adviser is not doing his job.  The gale of defections from the ruling APC  – 16 Senators, including the Senate President, three Governors, 37 members of the House of Representatives, the Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, and looks like more to come in the days ahead, including Ministers who may be preparing their letters of resignation, their political principals having deserted the party – raises a number of questions, political, moral and legal.  I intend to address some of these in order to assist the leaders of the APC to stop acting as cry-babies and to attempt a clarification of the nature and character of the tsunami that seems now certain, if unchecked, to sweep the APC out of power.

With regard to the Saraki defection, the language of the Constitution is very clear and specific in Section 50(1) (a) wherein it is stated that there shall be “a President and a Deputy President of the Senate, who shall be elected by the members of the House from among themselves”. The same expression is retained in Section 50 (1)(b) as applicable to the House of Representatives, and the emphasis is on the phrase – “from among themselves.” The Constitution thus does not say that the Senate President or the Speaker and their Deputies must come from the ruling or majority party; indeed any of the members of the Assembly can occupy the mentioned positions once their colleagues choose them “from among themselves.”

Saraki does not therefore have to resign his Senate Presidency because he has left the APC, that party also cannot order him to resign.  The only way he or the Speaker of the House of Representatives can be removed is stated in Section 50 of the Constitution and in the present circumstance Section 50(2)(c) is of particular interest – it prescribes removal only “by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of that House”.

Can the APC at the moment muster up to “two-thirds majority” in either the Red or the Green Chamber to remove the Senate President or the Speaker and their Deputies? I don’t think so. There are probably more persons in both Houses who have also resolved to defect from the APC but who are still physically identifying with the party in order to stay behind as fifth columnists, or simply because of a lingering lack of clarity about their fortunes in their local political environments should they defect at a wrong time.

I think Comrade Oshiomhole also needs to be reminded that Nigeria is not running a parliamentary system; the agenda of party supremacy that he has been pushing, and which probably makes him sound like a cane-welding party chairman – dishing out Stalin-like instructions to other party members, is only bound to alienate others, and effectively turn him into an undertaker. A Constitutional democracy such as we run requires greater inclusion, horse-trading and statesmanship rather than the dominant rhetoric of arrogance.

Those who have defected from the APC also need not lose any sleep, particularly members of the legislative houses. Specifically, Section 68 of the 1999 Constitution outlines the circumstances under which a member of the Senate or House of Representatives shall vacate his seat; the most relevant to this commentary being Section 68 (1) (g) which permits defections from one political party to the other in the event of a division in the political party of which a person is a member, or the merger of two or more political parties or factions. Those APC members who are protesting the defection of the Senate President and others cannot deny that there is a division within the APC or that the party is now divided into factions – the Oshiomhole-led faction, the Engr. Buba Galadima-led faction better known as the Reformed APC and the Saraki faction, which has now returned to the PDP.

However, whereas Section 68(1) (g) offers such protection to defecting members of the National Assembly, the Nigerian Constitution is silent on the matter of Governors who come to power and office on the platform of one political party and who while still in office choose to cross to another political party.  This is the dilemma that is thrown up by the phrasing of Section 221, and perhaps the basis for Oshimohole’s request for Saraki’s resignation, even if the provision does not apply to him in the light of a reading of other sections. Section 221 states that:  “No association, other than a political party shall canvass for votes for any candidate at any election or contribute to the funds of any political party or to the election expenses of any candidate at an election.”

In other words, for the purposes of elections, the Constitution recognizes only political parties as the vehicle through which any candidate may seek elective office.  In the absence of any provision for independent candidacy, nobody can seek office except through a political party, and hence the votes belong to the party and not the individual. It is political parties that canvass for votes. The Governor or rather the candidate is therefore a trustee of the party. The question then is: can a trustee run away with the fundamental object of the trust, namely the position that he occupies? If and when he does so, it will appear that he has shortchanged his political party and the electorate.

The only way to determine this, however, is through the court of law, and not the kind of self-help tactics that the APC seems to prefer. There have been reports that some members of the Senate are plotting to take over the National Assembly and Nicodemously impeach Senator Bukola Saraki. The leadership of the APC is advised to commit to due process, and not to encourage any illegal conduct. In Benue state, the Governor, Samuel Ortom has also complained that he is being harassed, and there has been an attempt by eight out of the 30 members of the State House of Assembly to impeach the Governor. The matter is now before the court.

The level of persecution, harassment and injury to character over the matter of defections from the APC is most strange. After all, the APC itself was a beneficiary of a similar development in 2013-2014, when members of the new PDP and APGA defected from their parties to join the APC coalition. Aminu Tambuwal, then Speaker of the House of Representatives received fulsome praise from then Presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari for leading many PDP lawmakers to join the APC.

Comrade Adams Oshiomhole also deployed his “eloquence” to encourage members of the PDP to join the APC. Since the APC got to power in 2015, many more members of the PDP have defected to the ruling party. APC leaders did not see anything wrong in this; they did not accuse the defecting PDP members of anti-party activities, so why should they complain now that they are being served a dose of their own medicine? Or are there other issues, within the ruling party, such as post-2015 financial reconciliation or the sharing of spoils, that the public needs to know so that we can be better informed?

I say this because when you read the statements that have been made by those who have just defected from the party, you can only but be shocked. Engr. Galadima who was a major engineer of the 2015 APC victory is now engineering contempt and odium against the party. Governor Ortom has pointed to a failure of leadership within the party. Governor Tambuwal sounded very harsh as he talked about corruption, mismanagement of the economy, the spread of national insecurity and what he calls “prison-yard democracy.”

The former APC National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi also issued a statement dripping with venom and contempt for a political party, which he had defended only a week earlier.  Saraki’s anger is perhaps on the face of it, understandable – here was a man who from day one was not given any respite by the Buhari Presidency, here was a man who was criminalised by the same party he helped to build; he had to be saved by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, only to be labeled “an armed robber” subsequently.  Like Saul on the way to Damascus, Saraki and others have now seen the light; like the Biblical prodigal son, they are all returning to the PDP, which Dino Melaye calls their “home”. It took the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) 16 years to implode; it has taken the APC less than four years to reach the same point.

In 2014, the PDP was divided, and confused as to how to handle the same situation such as this that has now arisen with the APC. There were members of the party who advised that the then Attorney General of the Federation should be asked to take the defecting five Governors of the time to court, and if that would be a long process, the President should declare a state of emergency in the affected states and have the Governors removed or impeached and sole administrators appointed in their place. Mohammed Bello Adoke, AGF and Minister of Justice, as he then was, insisted that it was not the duty of his office to dabble into partisan politics and that if anybody should go to court, it should be the political party, the owner of the trust in contention and not the Federal Government of Nigeria. The party didn’t want to go to court. It wanted the five Governors punished.  The President didn’t buy into their idea.

Those whose views prevailed eventually were those who argued that the five Governors could go if they wanted. They said it was God himself cleansing the party by removing the bad eggs within. They were sure that the defection of the Governors and some members of the National Assembly would not affect the party in any way in the 2015 general elections.  As we all know, the PDP paid dearly for this. The APC is about to suffer the same fate.  Oshiomhole Is not helping matters with his rhetoric. The President is also aloof. He went to inspect the campaign headquarters for his re-election bid and then jetted off to London for a 10-day vacation. If I were in President Buhari’s shoes, I would not consider this a right time to go on vacation.  He would have nobody to blame if by the time he returns, there have been more defections from his party and government.

The situation is more worrisome moreso as the President, realizing the brewing crisis within the party, a few months ago, set up a Reconciliation Committee led by the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. What happened to that Reconciliation Committee?  Did it ever submit any report? And if it did, who and who did it reconcile?  It is quite curious that in the face of the on-going crisis within the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Chairman of the Presidential Reconciliation Committee has been silent. His silence is too pregnant with meaning. Is it a cautious admission of the failure of the Committee he led, or an admission that the crisis is not resolvable?

In all of this, we are left with two things. The first is that our politicians are not principled at all. They can belong to the PDP in the morning, the APC by noon and within 24 hours, they could join a completely new party and advance strong arguments to justify their nomadism. The political parties are not built on any concrete principles or ideology either; they are vehicles for political survival and access to power by ambitious politicians. The second thing is that we, the people, are the ones who are short-changed. By now, governance has more or less stopped within Nigeria’s ruling party; the politics of 2019 has taken over.

Bad politics results in bad economics and the crisis of growth and progress. With a National Assembly that has suspended key legislative work, and an Executive that is seeking a second term in office, and whose President is on holiday, while the party is on fire, international investors have also put Final Investment Decisions on hold, the market is in the grips of uncertainty, GDP ratings are stagnant, creeping stasis is imminent, and all of that, until Nigeria’s political drama is resolved. The only thing that is not on hold is the people’s frustration and the rising cost of being Nigerian.

Abuja Investments Company And FCTA Utter Neglect Of A Goldmine, By Chris Okeke

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), was established to attract sustainable develop to the FCT. However, under the leadership of the present FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, his administration has practically starved the city and the nation at large of reasonable economic growth.

President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government has consistently harped on the efforts of the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) as a means to revive the country’s battered economy from the ruins of corruption, but the FCTA has failed to use an existing, the Abuja Investments Company Limited (AICL), to achieve the much sought economic growth.

It is quite interesting that the nation’s capital would have an investments company, yet unable to meet a convincing model for attracting investments into the country.

Given the disposition of the President Buhari’s administration to earnestly promote Public Private Partnerships and encouraging Foreign Direct Investments and the rise of local investments, it is a surprise to find that the FCTA is yet to appoint a substantive Board Chairman and Chief Executive for AICL.

Recall that the Minister had earlier suspended the management of AICL on allegations of corruption and immediately appointed an Interim Management Team, which served for one year and was also bedevilled with allegations of corruption.

However, one would ask a question, was there ever a need for Mohammed Bello to suspend a management of a company wholly owned by the FCTA? If truly it was an effort to ensure an overhaul of the company, it certainly would have been more ideal to relieve the team of their appointment in abidance with laid down regulations and immediately appoint a vibrant team to vehemently pursue a restoration of the company’s ideals.

Yet after the suspension, Mohammed Bello went ahead to appoint an Interim Management Team with a tenure of six months and limited powers to dutifully undertake the job of a full-fledged management. The Minister met his match in Dr Bashir Isyaku, Head of the Team, who consistently was in scandal after scandal, dragging the company’s previous management and the entire staff into unending conflicts.

The Minister, again in his characteristic neglect of the core mandate of what AICL should be, renewed the tenure of the IMT twice, obviously in concurrence with the actions of Dr Bashir, but finally relieved them of the appointment upon the expiry of the last renewal in May 2018.

Shockingly though, Mr Minister after a whole year of the IMT, has still not found a suitable Chief Executive for AICL as he still went ahead to appoint an Acting GMD/CEO, a full Director in the services of the FCDA, leading one of the busiest Departments in the FCTA (Economic Planning, Research and Statistics).

It is imperative to note that the Minister is absolutely oblivious of the fact that AICL should be a key player in the recovery from the ruins of corruption and a ready vehicle for the promotion of inflow of investments into the FCT. However, the appointment of a core Civil Servant into the saddle to combine the AICL job with his FCDA job does explain that the Minister feels AICL fills no critical role in the city’s economic landscape.

Also, many months after the death of the substantive Board Chairman, the Minister is yet to appoint a Chairman for the Board.

In many sectors of the economy in the FCT and in Nigeria at large, AICL is well placed to drive progress, but the critical needs would be centred around the company having a vibrant Chief Executive with deep experience and knowledge in various fields of endeavour, as well as a Board Chairman with enormous network across the private sector. Given that, the company would be found at the centre of the country’s economic discourse.

Finally, Mr Mohammed Musa Bello, with your continued neglect of the AICL to a state of redundancy, and by extension, its subsidiaries, it shows clearly that you are only paying lip service to the focus of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to revitalise the nation’s economy.

Open Letter To Osun Speaker Dr Najeem Salaam, By Akinyemi Oluwaseye

Dear Sir,

Years have continued to tip-toe into my memory with warm reflection about your impactful personality. Your dignity has never ceased to be magnified with integrity and humility. To many, you have been generous like the wind that blows in a heat-filled night. To many, you have epitomized your name, being the ‘Star’ that has illuminated their path to greatness and fulfilled dreams. Your diligence, sense of purpose, knack for excellence and commitment to serving humanity will continue to be ingredients that catalyses your attaining grander heights among your peers.

The sun does not herald to a superficial announcement about her significance. The moon brightens the earth at night without funfair; but when the stars emerge, the beauty of the sky captivates onlookers and wows them into a charming splendor.Sir, may you continue to be the ‘Star’ that entices the memory of human beings with the goodness you do.

You have demonstrated over the years an uncommon concern for those around you and those whose interests you have been entrusted to serve. Working under your stewardship has been expository and highly eventful. I have in actual fact learnt from your stewardship that when we prepare adequately today, chances are that we will not have to repair tomorrow.

Outstandingly, I have come to realize through your marvelous personality that the best use of power or wealth is to use it to create happiness and prosperity for others. Men are alike in their promises; but only in their deeds do they differ.Your  charitable giving and serving the less-privileged and the down-trodden who crowd your vicinity has shown that you grasp the best ways of power control.

One may be granted a position of authority, but not real leadership. Your composure, smartness and influence as a leader refresh my belief that with personalities like you in power, the State of Osun and Nigeria can attain their great potentials. To many of us, you are a hero. I always see the manifestation of Arthur Ashe’s submissions in you, that “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever the cost.”

Sir, as you continue your good works in impacting lives and humanity, many will continue to look up to you because you have not ceased to sustain their trust and confidence. Do not stop being the great,reliable and humble leader that you are. My sincere wishes are that: God propels you to greater heights with uncommon ease and may His Mercies eradicate any jinx that comes your way. Amen. Cheers Sir!

Your Sincerely,

Akinyemi Oluwaseye

Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, By Mukhtar Jarmajo

As Your Excellency is aware, the primary responsibility of government is to protect the live and property of the citizenry. This simply means that a government, especially democratic one, should go to any constitutional extent in the quest to ensure the safety, peace, harmony and general wellbeing of its people as to allow for their social and economic prosperity.

This, Your Excellency may wish to recall, was one of the points you so much stressed in the campaigns ahead of the 2015 elections in response to the northeast insurgency which had then threaten the nation`s territorial integrity. Your Excellency may wish to agree with me here that one of the reasons why the APC got majority votes especially in the northeast was the belief that a Buhari led administration will curb the insurgency that had ravaged the sub region.

Quite commendably meanwhile, this administration has today considerably reduced the strength and firepower of the insurgents. There are enough evidence that the northeast insurgents have been boxed into a corner and that through time and with continued commitment, both the war and the peace will be won.  However, while we commend Your Excellency`s efforts at wresting the northeast insurgency, we must also express dismay over the farmers/herdsmen clashes, kidnappings, armed robbery and killings that have been going on in the north-central and the north-west. Your Excellency, the security situation in these sub regions has since assumed worrying dimensions.

As the chief security officer of this country, I am sure the president knows this better than anyone else. It therefore disturbs most Nigerians that the atrocities in the north-central and north-west have been allowed to linger for so long as if this administration isn’t the one giving Boko-Haram a run for its money. Our expectation has been that the killings especially in Zamfara state would have since been stopped. What most Nigerians expect was that things like this wouldn’t be allowed to last this long under a Buhari led administration.

As it is however, the killings, kidnappings and armed robberies are ongoing and Your Excellency has no reason whatsoever, for not protecting the lives and properties of the citizens in these places. There have been conspiracy theories that the disturbances are mostly sponsored by opponent politicians who are committed to pulling you down ahead of the 2019 elections. This and any other excuses are unacceptable as reasons for the loss of lives of many innocent Nigerians. Nigerians in all corners of the country must be protected by the government.

And government should also be seen, not just heard, to have protected its citizenry. Therefore in doing this, it must adopt effective measures and use efficient tools in responding to crime as well as preventing its future reoccurrence. It is on the news that the presidency has directed the deployment, last Sunday, of one thousand officers and men of the armed forces to Zamfara state as one of the measures to halt the incessant killings going on there.

While that was a good move, the federal government must understand that it cannot succeed in doing this alone. State governors must wake up to their full responsibilities as chief security officers of their respective states if Nigeria is to be secured. Security is not just about men and ammunitions, it is also about intelligence gathering and synergy between agencies as well as states governments.

Jarmajo is the Managing Editor, Pearl Magazine.

2019: Why Jubilate Over APC-To-PDP Mass Defection? By Festus Ogun

It should no longer be a news to anyone that mass defection is currently rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC). Many key members of this ruling party are aggrieved and are left with no option than defecting to other political parties. It appears that the drama of defection that was witnessed during the 2015 election is staged again on our national scene as the 2019 elections draw nearer.

Ordinarily, as a conscious citizen fed up of the failure of President Mohammadu Buhari led administration, it behoves on one to jubilate — at least, that some members of the ruling class are rejecting his autocratic leadership. I have also received many calls and messages from people indirectly demanding that I join them in rejoicing APC’s supposed fall which can be likened to the Biblical wall of Jericho.

As humans, when our collective ‘enemies’ experience downfall, our joy will recognise no bound. We are tempted to be happy and laugh terribly at their shortcomings.

Well, the APC is neither my enemy nor that of my friends but the administration it brought to power is neither working in support of the people’s cause nor making any regard for the primary purpose of government which is the people’s security and welfare. This must be made known with all manner of sincerity. However, should we then join
the bandwagon to mock the supposed downfall of the APC?

It is dangerous to jubilate at this point. It is not yet Uhuru.

Many of the aggrieved members of our political ruling class defecting from APC are moving to the PDP. In fact, the set of defectors of today are former members of the PDP, who left the party before 2015 polls. Like Dino said weeks ago, many of them are only returning home from their political sojourn.

Although, history is not our friend in Nigeria, let me quickly remind us that many of those defectors claiming to do better than the APC/Buhari are the set of people that milked up our collective resources during the 16 year (mis)rule of PDP.

What has changed about them? They were even at the APC and collectively contributed to our retrogression. So, what we have at best is a situation where we have the same political gladiators coming in different form. We are only roaming about in the same circle of people with little or no goodwill for our dear country. Such a dangerous tragedy!

We should not jubilate yet because the defection is not in the interest of the people. They are not defecting to PDP for the common interest of all of us.

PDP failed Nigerians. The members of PDP defected to APC. APC is not doing well in government. Some members of APC are now defecting to PDP to reclaim “the mandate”. Crappy!

Nigeria is only cursed with a political class that cannot stick to principles but will do anything to protect their interests. And a country without principled leaders may find it so hard to witness progress.

In a nutshell, the defection is not about the masses and the people of Nigeria but for the protection of their selfish political interest. Even if we are looking for alternatives to President Buhari and the APC, we should be able to discern right alternatives wrong ones. We want a better alternative, please.

•Festus Ogun is a good governance advocate and human rights activist. Contact him via festusogunlaw@gmail.com 09066324982

Buhari’s Second Term Bid As A Settled Matter, By Chukwudi Enekwechi

Over the last few months there has been a raging debate as to whether President Muhammadu Buhari will recontest the presidential race in 2019. While the argument went back and forth between his supporters and opponents, President Buhari chose to do an introspection on the issue, and having weighed all the issues at stake he has finally decided to recontest for the highest office in the land.

Going by the present realities in the country, most of which I will dwell on in this piece, there is no doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari has taken an informed decision that is in the interest of the entire country. Firstly, it is only by continuing the various socio-economic programmes his administration has embarked on that Nigerians will stand to reap the benefits. 

Before his emergence in 2015 the country was beset with many challenges ranging from insecurity, corruption, maladministration, dilapidated infrastructure among others. Having realised the negative effects of these challenges if left unchecked, President Muhammadu Buhari took the gauntlet and embarked on a holistic rebuilding of the country. For instance, Boko Haram had constituted itself into a nightmare for Nigerians, but President Buhari has within a period of three years curtailed their nefarious activities.

 Realising also that corruption was a militating factor in the overall development of the country, President Buhari took deliberate measures to combat it, and today a greater portion of the country’s financial resources are being deployed to the development of several dilapidated infrastructure and abandoned projects.

In the area of economy, the Buhari administration was able to enunciate an economic diversification programme which has made it possible for the development of other sectors of the country’s economy. Presently Nigeria has become self-sufficient in rice production and with potentials to export the excess. In fact based on the premium the administration placed on agriculture, many other cash crops are being grown and exported to the outside world.

 As a deliberate measure to diversify the economy and boost non-oil exports, the Central Bank of Nigeria recently announced the disbursement of non-oil export stimulation facility with a N500 Billion facility. This loan facility will be made available to local businesses and other stakeholders who operate in the sector with a view to promote non- oil exports; attract more foreign exchange; provide employment opportunities and diversify the economy. This is apart from other deliberate plans which the administration is already implementing to boost the country’s economy. Such programmes include the Anchor Borrowers Programme, Social Investment Programme and the School Feeding Programme.

The President Muhammadu Buhari administration is also focussed on rehabilitating the country’s dilapidated infrastructure bearing in mind the multiplier effect such move will have on the general wellbeing of the citizenry. So far the administration has embarked on the reconstruction of several roads and railways projects across the country. The administration is also diligently implementing the country’s railways masterplan without hitch, and it is planned to connect all the geo-political zone of the country with the attendant socio-economic impact on small and medium enterprises in Nigeria.

Therefore, the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari will augur well for the country as he will use the opportunity to consolidate on his programmes and achievements. It is inconceivable for a new administration to emerge in 2019 and then out of political considerations abandons the people-oriented projects already being executed by the Buhari administration.

 The re-election of the Buhari administration will guarantee Nigerians the opportunity to reap the fruits of the sacrifices they have made since the return to civilian rule in 1999. For the first time we are seeing an administration that is altruistic and determined to serve Nigerians rather than continue to pander to the selfish interests of few influential individuals.

The difference between President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders is his altruism, and this principle has made Nigerians the ultimate beneficiaries of his administration. This is exemplified as much of the available or budgeted resources are channelled towards providing needed amenities for the people, rather than being frittered away to serve some narrow interests.

It easy to see the people-oriented programmes of the Buhari administration being crystallised in the agricultural revolution in the country as well as the deliberate diversification of the economy. This move has raised the revenue profile of the country from the non-oil exports significantly and influenced an increase in the country’s foreign direct investments.

 Presently, the country’s foreign reserve has risen to about $47 Billion and this can be attributed to the prudent management of resources by the President Buhari administration. The implementation of the novel Treasury Single Account by the administration has enhanced transparency in governance and made more money available for the execution of government projects. 

Therefore in the run-up to the 2019 presidential election, President Buhari’s decision to recontest is a welcome development and Nigerians have heaved a sigh of relief after waiting for several months.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi

An Abuja-based Journalist

Kwechis19@yahoo.com

Gov Lalong And His Quest For Sustainable Peace On The Plateau, By Mpaka Numbere

There is no doubt that the simmering conflicts and violent attacks over the years in Plateau State has retarded harmonious interaction and rapport among the various ethnic groups in the state that was once a reflection of its slogan (Home of Peace and Tourism), also, these conflicts can be rooted to settlers-indigenes disputes, unresolved political differences, perceived social and economic marginalization, bad government policies, high level of unemployment, poverty and inequality in the state’s socio-economic relations, etc.

Plateau State has had major outbreaks of violence in 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2010, 2012 and beyond as highlighted thus:

September 2001, Violent clashes in Jos with over 3, 000 persons killed, 28 Nov. 2008 Religious violence in the city of Jos over 700 people killed, December 2008 Violent clashes over disputed election result in Jos over 400 people killed, 17–20 January 2009 Resurgence of religious crisis in Jos. Plateau 320 killed, January 17 2010 Hundreds of people were reported killed after clashes in Jos, most by gunfire. Police estimate death toll at 326, although some community leaders put the figure at more than 400.  Jan 22, 2010- 150 bodies allegedly confirmed dead and pulled from a well in Kuru Karama,

 

March 2010 – Hundreds of people are killed in clashes between Fulani pastoralists and Christian villagers in the mostly Christian villages of Dogo Nahawa, Zot and Ratsat south of Jos. The then Plateau State Commissioner for Information Gregory Yenlong said more than 300 people had died.

 

December 2010 – At least 80 people are killed followed by bombings as well as clashes for two days later between youths in Jos.

January 2011 – Human Rights Watch says more than 200 people killed in violence over preceding month, many hacked to death or burned alive in attacks on villages, and reprisal killings in Plateau state.

July 20 2011- 5 people killed in fresh violence in Angwan Rukuba. October 6 2011 unknown assailants attacked Gwol village in Barkin Ladi, injuring nine and killing one. September 11, 2011 2 explosive devices were thrown at the West of Mines area and a number of casualties were recorded.

September 2011- attacks in 2 villages of Barkin Ladi; kakpwis in Foron district and Kuzen of Gashit district.

February 2012 suicide bombers attack at COCIN Headquarters and St Finbarrs Catholic Church, Rayfield

July 8 2012, 14 rural communities were attacked, namely Gashish, Matse village 63 people killed, Barkin Ladi incessant attacks leveled on the villages by marauding suspected Fulani militias. A total of 103 people killed including senator Gyang Dantong and Hon. Gyang Danfulani.

October 11 2012 suspected Fulani herdsmen killed 14 people in three villages in Riyom LGA November 26 2012. The gruesome killing of eight people at a beer parlour in Heipang, Barkin Ladi by men dressed in military fatigues in a Toyota Hilux van belonging to the Special Task Force.

These senseless killings coupled with some unreported attacks puts the number of death at numbers that cannot be imagined until 2015. This persistent recurrence of violence has had a negative impact on the people ranging from, destruction of lives and properties, livelihoods, create hate and mistrust among citizens of Plateau State, as well as the partitioning of the city along religious and ethnic lines. Even though peace is returning to Jos, it is still in a condition of pervading and volatile tension.

Governor Lalong after assuming office in 2015 understood the magnitude of this, with a 5-point policy thrust of Peace, Security and Good Governance, Human Capital Development and Social Welfare, Agriculture and Rural Development, Entrepreneurship and Industrialization, Physical Infrastructure and Environment, which cannot be successfully achieved in an atmosphere of rancor, the governor quickly established the Plateau Peace Building Agency headed by a pragmatic leader Mr Joseph Lengmang with a mandate to explore all avenues to return Plateau on the path of sustainable peace.

This agenda the agency has committedly pursued leading to the unveiling of the Plateau state peace roadmap and the establishment early warning signals to halt such violent attacks and unnecessary loss of lives and valuables.

The peace loving people of Plateau state and many social commentators believed that the commitment of the Governor toward peace building was yielding positive result as there was relative peace on the Plateau for a while until the recent attacks in some villages within Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Bassa that has again brought tears and anguish to indigenes and residents of these Local Government areas

Besides the loss of innocent lives and properties, one of the most open results of the incessant violent conflicts is the massive movement or migration of households out of violent prone areas with some of them relocating within the city in areas perceived as safe for them. Following the immediate intervention of the governor to half the near breakdown of law and order after the recent attacks in Barkin Ladi, it became obvious that the road to a sustainable peace on the Plateau is a tortious one.

Again with the vow of Governor Lalong to put Plateau on the path of sustainable growth, he commits himself to find a lasting solution to lingering problem of peace within the Plateau and to come up with a sustainable roadmap to peace, to actualize this drive and passion within him, the governor after visiting affected communities and displaced persons focused on the need to bring justice to those affected by the attacks, this commitment of the governor no doubt is yielding positive results as the Operation Safe Haven and men of the military upon relocating their operational base to the affected Local Government area in Barkin Ladi has arrested over 20 suspects with deeper commitment to bring a stop to the attacks.

In furtherance to his commitment towards returning a sustainable peace on the Plateau, the governor has further directed a high powered committee to immediately come up with proper recommendations towards the immediate and appropriate resettlement of displaced person(s) to their ancestral homeland (that has never been done in the history of all the violent attacks that has displaced thousands of people in Plateau State), in this renewed commitment, the governor vows to resist any form of indiscriminate occupation of lands by any group in the name of land grabbing, a move many people believe is on course for a sustainable peace.

Indeed, Governor Lalong has proved that his heart is after his people and with the developmental drive he has put in towards the betterment of the rural populace, peace and security of lives and properties of rural dwellers cannot be compromised by anybody or group of persons. As the resettlement of displaced persons are gradually being concluded, one will only wish and pray that the efforts of the executive Governor will once again return Plateau on the path to a sustainable peace where residents across all local government areas will carry out their legitimate business without fear of any kind and to return Plateau to the good days of Home of Peace and Tourism.

Numbere is writing from Jos, Plateau State

Ekiti Election: A Few Words, By Reuben Abati

I have up until this moment resisted the temptation to comment on the just concluded gubernatorial elections in Ekiti state for the simple reason that the more the facts of the process emerged, the more confusing they seemed. About a week later, certain things have however become clear which deserve our attention.

One, the Ekiti gubernatorial election is a classic Nigerian type of election. It was certainly a do-or-die election, in which the two main parties involved were determined to win by all costs and by any means possible. Nigerian politicians believe that whoever wins and gets declared has the upper hand. Win first and if the other party likes, he can go to the tribunal or the appellate courts. But just don’t lose at the first instance. Whatever happens thereafter is a matter of chance and technicality. In this regard, the APC smartly outwitted the PDP, and the victory seems sweet.

However, the reduction of the Nigerian electoral process to such tragic melodrama certainly does not serve our democracy well. There were no heroes in the Ekiti election, only villains.

Two, there is no evidence here or elsewhere that the Nigerian electorate has learnt any lessons from past experiences. They openly collected money, from all possible sides in the conflict. Vote buying sets us back by a long stretch. Tethered as it is to a transactional root, Nigerian democracy is physically challenged. This is sad, and it is important that reports of vote-buying by both local and international observers should be investigated. A cash and carry voting process is a violation of free choice.

Three, the Ekiti election presents us with perhaps the most brazen case of godfatherism that we have yet seen. There were two major candidates, Olusola Eleka of the PDP and Kayode Fayemi of the APC. But the whole thing soon became a contest between Fayemi and the out-going Governor, Ayo Fayose. You would think Fayose was the one on the ballot. He danced more than the bride and cried more than the bereaved. Why do outgoing Governors insist on anointing their own successors and dictating to the electorate? They abridge the people’s choice by seeking to impose their own will. They are driven not by public good but their own insecurity.

By rejecting Fayose’s candidate, it can be said that the people rejected his presumptuousness. And by the way, what manner of man is Olusola Eleka?  He accepted and projected himself as a puppet throughout the entire process. Many Nigerians do not even know him as a candidate. He was absent, voiceless and timid. If he had won, he probably would have ceded authority to his Godfather and allowed him to do a third term by default.  He did not deserve to win. If I had a stake in the matter, I certainly would not have voted for him.

His spinelessness is disgusting. But Fayemi should also not be over-triumphant. He may end up with a hostile and aggressive PDP-dominated House of Assembly. The war with Fayose may also only just have begun. It will be naïve to under-estimate Fayose.

Four, the electoral commission, INEC, still has to clean up its act ahead of the 2019 general elections. Its performance in Ekiti is far from satisfactory. What we have seen is that the professional political elite is prepared to do battle in 2019, and that promises to be a really fierce battle. Voter education will be most critical; the people’s readiness to sell their votes speaks to the level of poverty and depravity in the country.  Nigeria itself needs to be saved.

Dasuki’s Bail And The Attorney General, By Reuben Abati

It is more than two weeks now since His Lordship Justice Ijeoma L. Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, gave clear, positive and unambiguous orders in the matter between Col Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd) as applicant and three persons – the Director General, State Security Services, the State Security Services and the Attorney General of the Federation as respondents. His Lordship affirmed that the continued detention of the respondent by the operatives of the second respondent, under the instruction of the first respondent since 29thDecember 2015, without granting him administrative bail, “is a violation of his fundamental right to liberty under Section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999”.

The Court grants Dasuki bail, with clear conditions that must be fulfilled, and even goes further to add that “where there is any interview with the Applicant by the Respondents in respect of those allegations, the Applicant shall not be detained and such interview shall be conducted on working days only between 9.00 hours to 18.000 hours.”

This would be about the fifth time that a court of competent jurisdiction, including the Federal High Court, the Federal High Court of the Federal Capital Territory and the ECOWAS Court will grant Col. Dasuki bail, and the Federal Government will refuse to obey the orders of the court.

Commitment to the rule of law is by far, the strongest demonstration of the democratic credentials of a government. Failure to respect the rule of law translates into the rule of men and blatant dictatorship, if not fascism. It is scandalous that a government whose leader is the only President to have been invited to address the International Criminal Court on issues of justice and the rule of law, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute, and who gave a commitment before that Court that his government is indeed committed to the rule of law and fundamental human freedoms, is to be seen to be abusing the courts of the land and violating the judicial process. This hypocrisy is condemnable. The disobedience of the courts in the Dasuki case is not the only one of its type; it is a pattern that we have seen since 2015.

What is worse is that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been in the forefront of this entrenchment of a culture of impunity and official lawlessness. When the ECOWAS Court in October 2016 ruled that Colonel Sambo Dasuki’s continued detention was a violation of his fundamental rights, an aide of the AGF reportedly said the Ministry of Justice was studying the judgement.

Close to two years later, they are still studying the judgement! In some other instances, they don’t even bother to study anything before telling the courts to shut up.  But it is perhaps in reacting to the latest ruling by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu that the Attorney General fully revealed the mind of the government.  He has been quoted as saying, and he has not denied saying so, that the Federal Government will not release Dasuki from detention because according to him, Col. Sambo Dasuki is responsible for the killing of more than 100, 000 Nigerians, and so, he is being kept by the state in the interest of the “larger pubic good”, because  “government is about the people and not only for an individual.”

I respect Abubakar Malami. He is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and as desperate as things may be in this country, we have not yet reached a level where the SAN certificate can be procured at the famous Oluwole market. It is earned. Senior Advocates are therefore respected because they are at the peak of their chosen profession as distinguished persons. Malami, SAN, certainly knows the law but with due respect, what he has said about the Dasuki case is sheer, reckless twaddle. Every lawyer, even while serving clients, is expected to be an officer in the temple of justice.

The Attorney General of the Federation is the chief law officer of the country, and the chief legal adviser to government. In Sections 150 and 174, the Nigerian Constitution places enormous responsibilities and burdens on his shoulders. Nowhere in that Constitution is he required to engage in beer-parlour talk; serve partisan interests or function as anybody’s sycophant. AGF Malami should know that he cannot by administrative fiat disobey a court of law, to do so would amount to a clear abuse of court, and an act of contempt. If there are any compelling arguments to warrant the continued detention of Dasuki, the best place to canvass those arguments would be in the court of law, and through an appeal process.

Knowing this, the AGF indeed made some reference to the possibility of an appeal, but what he seems to have done is to convict Dasuki. The former National Security Adviser was arraigned on charges of illegal possession of fire-arms, breach of public trust and illegal diversion of $2.1 billion. Malami amends the charge list, ex facie curiae, when he says the accused was responsible for more than 100, 000 deaths. This is most strange, for, the Attorney-General, no matter how heavy the pressure of his work may be, must be seen to be the chief protector of due process, standards and best practice. He cannot be seen to be acting as the accuser, the jury and the judge in either the Sambo Dasuki case or any other matter. This will amount to a violation of the doctrine of the separation of powers. The Attorney General’s personal opinion cannot override the duty of the court to grant every accused person the right to fair hearing.

Section 36(5) of the Nigerian Constitution provides for a presumption of innocence. In the absence of conviction, it is unfair to lock Dasuki up and throw away the key, and to at the same time, take away his dignity and liberty, and prosecute him in the court of public opinion. The sacred duty of the Attorney General of the Federation is to ensure that the letters of the Constitution take precedence. The liberty of any Nigerian should not be deprived except through due process. The spectacle of an Attorney General advising the Federal Government to disobey the courts must also be shocking to all lawyers and every party involved in the administration of justice. Except there is a supernatural reason for such a development, which is unknown to us, it makes no sense within the province of the law to so act, because the Attorney-General, in the contemplation of the Constitution, is an officer of the law and not a marabout.

This is the more reason why we should re-open the debate about the possibility of separating the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. The National Assembly is accordingly enjoined to take a second look at Section 150 of the Constitution and amend it in order to resolve an inherent conflict which places the protection of the rule of law at the mercy of the strength of character of the occupier of that office as currently defined. Section 150 states that: “There shall be an Attorney-General of the Federation who shall be the Chief Law Officer of the Federation and a Minister of the Government of the Federation.”  Let me try and define the conflict.

The Attorney General of the Federation as “Chief Law Officer” of the Federation is necessarily performing a professional function, part of which is further explained in Section 174. He is expected to know the law, enforce due process and advance the cause of justice. He is a technocrat, and that is why he must be a lawyer of not less than 10 years experience. A Minister of the Government of the Federation is basically a political appointee, exercising delegated authority as determined by his appointor – the President of the Federal Republic. While the Attorney General’s commitment should be strictly to the rule of law, the Minister is judged and retained by his boss, and party members on the basis of his or her loyalty, the quality or non-quality of it. Not too many men can walk this tightrope successfully, balancing these two functions and the conflicting expectations, and this has been the major challenge with the idea of combining in one person the functions of an Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

To be fair, even in the United States where there is only an Attorney General, who functions independently of the Presidency, there is always conflict. This is the main story, for example, of James Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty (2018). Comey insists that loyalty to the country and the rule of law is more important than loyalty to Mr. President. I am paraphrasing him of course, but it is a book that Abubakar Malami should read. An amendment of Section 150 of our Constitution should create a separate office of the Attorney General of the Federation, which will be completely independent, and whose occupier will have a security of tenure, and no party or political affiliation. There can then be a Minister of Justice, who if he wishes can attend party functions and go to the Villa every day to shoot the breeze. As long as he is not in any position to do any damage to persons and institutions, he can be as political as he wants.

What we cannot afford is an Attorney General who would behave in such manner, mixing the law with politics, cherry-picking in the temple of justice, and politicizing the management of cases.  We have enough anarchy in the country already; we do not need to extend the frontiers of anarchy by allowing government to break the law. The men of today should guard against setting dangerous precedents that could consume them and the country tomorrow.

The rate at which institutions have been bastardized to pave way for recriminations and vengefulness is bound to bounce back negatively and our democracy will be worse for it. Abubakar Malami is the 23rd Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Nigerian Federation. He should be more keenly aware of the twin-burdens of law and history that rest on his shoulders  – by doing what is right in all matters and to all men.

Still On Osun Youth Empowerment, By Abiodun Komolafe

On December 20, 2010, Governor Rauf Aregbesola introduced Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) as a “strategic youth management” initiative in fulfillment of his pact with the people as contained in his Six-Point Integral Action Plan.

To the best of my knowledge, Aregbesola’s determination to stop Osun youth from eating losses on their future motivated his interest in OYES as a responsive, youth-sensitive intervention to take the edge off the havocs wreaked by income poverty, ‘promote the culture of hard work’ among our youth and desensitize them to violence. Lest we forget, Osun’s previous pass was the cumulative effect of its past leaders’ incompetence, tactlessness and rhetorical slap-fighting that had so far proved unhelpful to humanity. That the governor could force a hole in a stone, in spite of the state’s lean resources, was therefore a feat that must be applauded by all. His commitment to liberating the youth led to the engagement of 20,000 youth all at once, a manner unprecedented in Africa’s history. So far, the scheme has helped mop up over-40,000 youth off our streets and productively engaged them.

OYES activities include Deployments (comprising The Teacher Corps, Green Gang, Public Works Brigade, Traffic Marshall and Sheriff Corps, etc); Collaborations and Exit Programmes. This revolving scheme has a 2-year lifespan and each volunteer is entitled to a-N10,000.00 monthly stipend.

A strategy in statement turned into action by OYES Management Committee and Commandante on a daily basis for action, command, control and administration, Aregbesola’s intervention through OYES focuses on a life of dignity for all. Unlike what obtains elsewhere, Exit programmes in OYES are designed as value-added elements for the volunteers to acquire life-sustaining skills. Such skills could be in Computer, Agriculture, fish farming or driving. As a matter of fact, all skills are captured!

Once upon a time, OYES had about 82 activities in its basket of Exit Routes! But, in order to widen its scope and expand its reach, new products like Care Givers, Auto Care and Entrepreneurship Training were recently added to the list. Findings even revealed that some cadets were trained in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in China and India; some, sent to Germany to learn new techniques in modern Agriculture while some were trained in South Korea acquire training in Administration. As we speak, over-30% of OYES volunteers serve as O’AMBULANCE Paramedics. Interestingly, more than 280 cadets, trained and ‘exported’ to other states have not only discharged themselves as worthy ambassadors in line with the state’s ‘Omoluabi ethos’, their services in other states have, in return, positively impacted the economy of Osun. It is believed that these new additions, plus Endurance Trek, will go a long way in promoting cohabitation, cohesion and good strength among volunteers.

Talk of the success of OYES and the passion and support of the governor cannot be discounted. The teachability of the cadets and the ability of the volunteers to accept training and life-surviving skills, in addition to training, duration and size of the cadets are part of the scheme’s success ingredients. It is therefore gratifying to know that a good number of OYES volunteers are now landlords and employers of labour while others have learnt trades that can make them independent. Perhaps the most interesting is that World Bank and Federal Government of Nigeria have adopted OYES template as YESSO and N-POWER respectively.

By the way, that Aregbesola is a success in Osun is already settled in history. But then, “success without a successor is failure.” Even, so concerned about a successor was Abraham, the father of faith, that he had to extract a covenant from God: “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars … So shall thy seed be” (Genesis 15: 1-6 KJV). In my considered opinion, the roles of the electorate in producing a worthy successor who truly believes in what Aregbesola is doing and can easily buy into this laudable scheme need not be treated with kid gloves. At a time like this, Osun needs leaders who have honour! It needs leaders who will not lie!

Let me state again that one sure way of ensuring that the message of OYES doesn’t die with the messenger is by documenting the state’s development plans and encouraging other states to emulate Osun’s giant strides in this Social Protection intervention.

Another way of preventing the future of OYES from being written in cessation is by facilitating the Social Protection Bill into law. This will make its scrapping by any administration without soliciting input from the public an impossible task. And I doubt if those who have over the years felt its positive impact on the society will support such a move. For instance, major streets in Osun are as we speak cleaner than those in Lagos State because Visonscope has lost the vision of ‘keeping Lagos clean.’  For Osun, the relevance of OYES on its major streets is visible even to the blind. If, for whatever reason the cleaning and other OYES-compliant activities are in any way disrupted, Nigerians will without stress know that OYES is not in control, just as it is in Lagos that some people are now aware that the engine of Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) is crippled.

That a fresh batch of 20,000 volunteers, which the current government is expected to hand over to the next administration, is already being prepared, is an indication that OYES has come to stay in Osun! Over and above all, that the governor has graciously approved the teaching of Multiple Sources of Income (MSI), which OYES tends to encourage, in Osun schools is an indication that the scheme will not die, but live!

All said, how I wish appropriate policy frameworks would also be put in place to make OYES part of the state’s civil service structure? How I wish successful OYES graduates were absorbed into the core civil service at the end of their 2-year programme? Isn’t it time for what is good for the goose (in Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, (in LASTMA) to be good for the gander (in OYES)?

May principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leaders’ efforts in the State of Osun, scatter!

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

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

Sorry Uncle @DeleMomodu, The Laundry Job No Longer Pays, By Ayantunji Benjamin Gbenro @bengbenro

This is in response to Uncle Dele Momodu’s article titled “DO BUHARI HANDLERS UNDERSTAND THAT THE NUMBERS ARE AGAINST THEM IN 2019 AT ALL”.

Let me start by congratulating Uncle Dele on the launching of his book and encomium showered on him by Pastor Tunde Bakare. You paid your due Sir. I will however love to bring to your attention that the laundry job is no longer adding up and you are gradually losing your gift of Pen Prophecy or Clairvoyance as alluded to by the revered Pastor Bakare, nothing pointed to that more than this article. I will endeavor to address the points you raised one after the other to show where you erred. You might probably have a rethink and correct yourself. We certainly need you to retain that unique gift of Pen Prophecy of Calirvoyance.

APC in disarray: I am not APC’s spokes person and I hope the party will find time to provide a more robust response to this. However, as an observer, APC at inception was a conglomerate of the progressives before the New PDP block joined and it became a collection of strange bed fellows. Nobody, can discountenance the contribution of the New PDP block in the victory at the polls in 2015 but when other factors such as Buhari, Tinubu, PVC and card reader are taken into cognizance, it pales into insignificance. The mistake APC made was probably taking the New PDP into its fold after they become political orphans. Probably it would have been better for APC not to have them. The New PDP block became an impediment to APC government immediately after election. Even the fact that they got the Senate Presidency and Speaker House of Representative, albeit against the party’s dictate did not satisfy their sense of entitlement. The former APC chairman also in my opinion failed to assert the party’s authority and bring everybody together. The new chairman, Comrade Adam Oshiomole is obviously trying to assuage frayed nerves. Whether this succeed or not is for future to tell, however, if I can hazard a guess, genuine APC members will be persuaded while fake members will leave back to their natural habitat. I will suggest at this juncture that you advice your friends to expedite their movement back home. Any time wasted is tragic. Presidential election is just about seven months away.

Your analysis of the outcome of the recent gubernatorial election in Ekiti State is completely out of sync with the reality. We know what a display of Federal Might you alluded to in the article look like. July 2014 election in the same Ekiti and September 2014 election in Osun State is not such a long time that we won’t remember. We didn’t see your “friend” Dr. Kayode Fayemi moving about in DSS bulletproofed vest with hooded DSS officers as was Gov. Ayodele Fayose in 2014. No PDP leader was arrested by the 30,000 strong police contingent in 2018 unlike the 36,000 combined security men/women of 2014. The home of the campaign director of PDP was not invaded nor was his 84yrs old mother harassed in 2018, unlike what happened to Mr. Bimbo Daramola in 2014. PDP leaders were not prevented from entering Ekiti in 2018, unlike 2014 when Ameachi, Oshiomole etc were prevented. There was no Musliu Obanikoro to ferry billions in chattered aircraft into Ado Ekiti in 2018, unlike 2014. I heard a helicopter landed in government house Ado Ekiti with tons of cash from somewhere in the Niger Delta. Rather than display of Federal might, the Governor used State might to place every possible impediment on the path of APC candidate, to the extent of trying to prevent the President from entering Ekiti State. We didn’t witness a 16-0 result were incumbent and all his party leaders lost their wards. Uncle, let’s not turn history on its head for posterity sake. PDP lost because incumbent Governor performed woefully, insulted elders and civil servants, disgraced Ekiti people and APC and it candidate took advantage through a robust and well coordinated campaign. There will be no need for 30,000 police in every State in 2019 Presidential election, but there will be need in some States with history of electoral violence. It’s a constitutional responsibility that the President must not shirk from irrespective of blackmail.

The most ridiculous of your assertions is trying to deny President Buhari’s domineering popularity in the north and that North has always been PDP’s region. Let me help you with a little history in case you missed it or you deliberately turn it on it head to encourage your friends. In 1999, Former President Obasanjo of PDP had 18,738,154 votes, while Chief Olu Falae of APP has 11,110,287 votes. The total votes was about 30 million. Bulk of PDP votes came from SE, SS and NC while bulk of APP votes came from NE, NW and SW. In 2003, PDP has 24,456,140 votes, Buhari of APP has 12,710,022 votes, Odimegwu Ojukwu of APGA has 1,297,445 votes and Jim Nwobodo of UNPP has 169,609 votes. The total votes increased to about 40 millions from 1999. That’s about 25% increase, this can only happen if the votes were inflated. Buhari of APP got bulk of his votes from NE and NW while PDP added SW to it votes. By 2007, Yar’Adua of PDP got 24,638,063 votes, Buhari of ANPP got 6,605,299 votes, Atiku of AC got 2,637,848 votes and Orji Uzor Kalu of PPA got 608,803 votes. Total votes was about 34 millions. The curious thing about the results is while PDP maintained almost the same number of votes as 2003 despite losing SW to Atiku of AC, Buhari’s votes dropped by about 6million votes despite retaining his traditional NE and NW. No wonder the 2007 election was adjudged the worst in our recent history. Even the winner agreed that the election was the worst. In 2011, Former President Goodluck Jonathan of PDP got about 22,495,187 votes, Buhari of CPC got 12,214,853 votes, Nuhu Ribadu of ACN got 2,079,151 Votes and Shekarau of ANPP got 917,012 votes. Total votes was about 37 millions, about 8% increase from 2007. This increase is basically due to increase in total votes from SE and SS which obviously due to inflation of results. Buhari retained his NE and NW and 12million votes. 2015 elections saw Buhari’s emergence as the winner with 15,424,921 votes and GEJ of PDP got 12,853,162 votes. The total votes was about 28millions. Compared to the previous elections since 1999, that’s a minimum of about 20% drop. While this could be superficially attributed to voters apathy, the truth is that physical evidence during campaign and voting shows more turn out than previous elections. The introduction of PVC and card readers prevented inflation of votes. Despite the fact that Buhari marginally defeated PDP in the SW and NC for the first time, these technologies prevented votes inflation from SE and SS which could have made PDP a comfortable winner. Sir, let’s always present facts for the sake of upcoming generation. Buhari’s dominance is not a myth, North is not a traditional PDP enclave and you got the arithmetic wrong.

As long as Tinubu and Buhari remain in APC, you can advice your friends to move into any other party. Advise them to field the most formidable candidate among them and that they should all back him up. Let’s settle this issue of who own Nigeria between the masses and your political elite friends once and for all in 2019.
God bless the Federal republic of Nigeria

Send this to a friend