My Problems With Atiku And The PDP Over The February 23, 2019 Presidential Election (Part 1), By Ussiju Medaner

I have no problem with decision of Atiku and his party to contest result of the presidential election in court; it is a fundamental right which they cannot be denied. Each of the times President Buhari ‘ lost’ elections in the past, he went to court in an attempt to legally reclaim his mandates.

I also do not have any problem with the decision of Atiku to abort his earlier plan of heating up the country by instigating the masses to be on the street and opt for the acceptable electoral litigation process. We all must first give him thumbs-up, and a big thank you to all who prevailed on him to take the path of peace and law.

My problem with Atiku, his party and all their think-tank is that they refused to learn from their mistakes. An African adage says ‘you don’t fall into the same pit twice’ but Atiku and his party have fallen severally into the same error and from all indications, would still be heading a lot more times into it.

The little popularity and acceptance of Atiku before the elections took a downward trend the moment Atiku ratified the use of cooked propagandas and fabricated lies as the major tools of his presidential campaign. After the major blow of the burden of corruption on his personality within the country and abroad, coupled with the destructive revelation of the person of Atiku by former president Obasanjo, it is rationally expected that his campaign directorates will be more preoccupied with image reconstruction strategies rather than the unholy, unfounded and less dignified attacks on the President Buhari .

PDP employing the tactics of the likes of Fani Kayode, Fayose, Omokiri, Adeyanju among others who believe in campaign of calumny, false propagandas, disrespect to elders and sentiments to sway voters’ loyalty towards their principal was perhaps the greatest undoing of PDP in the build-up to 2019 presidential election. That failed in 2015 and also failed woefully in 2019. When Nigerians woke up to the fabricated news of Buhari’s family ownership of 9-mobile and Keystone Bank, many of us wondered what benefit PDP expect to accumulate from spreading such a lie that was bound to be short-lived.

But as soon as the effect of the first lie waned, the Amina Zakari saga commenced. A woman who rose through the ranks on merit mostly during the PDP era suddenly was tagged by Atiku and PDP as Buhari cousin and an APC mole within INEC. While most Nigerians knew PDP was only building sentiments to discredit the candidature of President Buhari, some victims bought the lie among the target group.

Before the presidential elections, Atiku was bold to the effrontery of calling a press conference and lie to all Nigerians home and abroad about some youths and election manipulating devices belonging to APC which they (the PDP) had intercepted. Atiku had claimed that APC sent them to China to perfect the use of the devices that will be used to control the card reader machines.

All these allegations and many more, each without any credible evidence all fizzled out within days but not without all well-meaning Nigerians who prioritized trust and integrity as the main attributes of a leader. This led to the conclusion that Atiku was not an option for the Nigerian presidency.

We had also expected the PDP and Atiku to, after the indisputable loss, become more preoccupied with re-strategizing; looking inward to identify their shortcomings not only in 2019 but also in 2015 and work to possibly reposition the party for future elections. Unfortunately, they allowed themselves to engage more in acts capable of further diminishing their image and of course that of their party.

PDP has done many wrongs after the elections but let’s pick on only two of their misdoings. Having being in power for 16 years, PDP knows very well and are very conversant with the history of inconclusive elections as captured by the electoral act as well as other relevant statute. They have details of many times they had benefited from declaration of elections inconclusive but now they wish there is nothing like that and INEC would act unilaterally to declare them winners of elections they have not won legally.

So when Atiku and PDP came out crucifying INEC as acting the script of the APC led presidency, one tends to wonder how they expect Nigerians to respond. No matter how rich or eloquent you may be, people will naturally ignore you the moment you are tagged a liar and deceiver. For the benefit of those who seem not to be abreast of the antecedents of inconclusive elections in Nigeria, this piece will suffice.

I have a problem with the Atiku’s complaint about the presidential election and the that of the PDP itself, despite having all their counsel was still sloppy enough to mistake the addresses of the second and third respondents at the bottom of the petition. This is indicative of the point that they either are after his money or did not take their time to scrutinize the document because they already know it would lead to no good.

Another problem I harbour with Atiku and his cohorts in the PDP is that they had earlier claimed that the INEC had denied them access to election materials which they intend to obtain evidence from only to come up some days later with parallel result purportedly from INEC server. This parallel results reveals that Atiku of the PDP had won the February 23, 2019 presidential elections with a margin of about 1.6 million votes.

To be continued….

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

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Professor Osinbajo And The Moses Comparison, By Sunday James Akinloye

Like many Nigerians, I have read the constant comparisons between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Moses in the Bible. Most of these writers have little knowledge about the character of Moses, but for some reasons they believe that they have earned the right to misconstrue people.

In all fairness, I don’t know where the comparison between Moses and Prof. Osinbajo started but one thing is clear, the writers didn’t attend Sunday School as kids and have also spent very little time reading the Bible.

Like Moses, Prof. Osinbajo alongside President Muhammadu Buhari liberated Nigeria from the hands of corrupt rulers that had ruled for 16 years. Nigeria was on the brink and God needed to send someone to salvage the situation. He looked at the land and picked two men of integrity.

Unlike Moses, Prof. Osinbajo is not the outright leader here, he is the deputy to the leader, a role similar to that of Aaron but that has never been the basis for these writers who are bent on twisting the narrative of the Bible.

The question none of them will never answer is why did the children of Israel spend 40 years in the wilderness when they should have spent just 40 days? It was due to their disobedience and unbelief. Are you seeing a pattern here?

God has sent two men of integrity to free Nigeria from the shackles but there are some that will complain until they force God to do the unthinkable. Despite all what Moses did, there were some children of Israel who were wise in their own eyes and who questioned Moses and God.

Upon their arrival at Kadesh Barnea, twelve spies were sent to survey the Promise Land and its people (Numbers 13:18-25) but the spies returned after forty days of exploration. Ten of the spies had a bad report: “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are. All the people we saw were of great size. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes” (Numbers 13:31-33).

Only Joshua and Caleb dissented (Numbers 14:6-7). Believing the report of the ten doubters, the people lost heart and rebelled. They “raised their voices and wept aloud,” grumbling against Moses and Aaron, saying, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword” (Numbers 14:1-2, emphasis added).

Again, do you see a pattern? These writers have often pontificated on how the PDP years were ‘better’, they even had a hashtag #BringBackOurCorruption to go with it. On how money was flowing everywhere, on how PPP is better than government’s direct involvement in infrastructure, among others. Just like the children of Israel, nothing is ever enough.

Here’s what happened next, Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them” (Numbers 14:11).

Moses once again interceded for his people and turned away the wrath of God (Numbers 14:13-20). Although God did forgive them, He decided that “not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it” (Numbers 14:23). Rather, they would suffer by wandering in the wilderness for forty years, one year for each of the forty days they explored the land (Numbers 14:34).

Here is another pattern. Some people do not even know that they have incurred the wrath of God in Nigeria and would not reach the Promise Land as it is; they are still nagging God and the men he sent to take us to our Promise Land. Like the saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait” but not these ones.

Back to the Bible, God would give them what they asked for: “I will do the very things I heard you say: In this desert your bodies will fall, every one of you twenty years old or more” (Numbers 14:28-29).

The ten men who had given the bad report were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord (Numbers 14:37). Only Joshua and Caleb survived, the two faithful spies who believed God’s promise to give the land over to them.

There is a learning here, not only is the comparison of Prof. Osinbajo and Moses not accurate, those who nagged, moaned and groaned against God and his servant didn’t get to the Promise Land. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to criticize the leaders and even pastors, just know that there is a price if you do it with a wrong motive.

Like the saying goes, “A word is enough for the wise”.

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No Fresh Building Collapse In Lagos – LSBCA

The Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) General Manager, Lekan Shodeinde has said that there was no fresh building collapse in the state as being reported on social media.

The statement comes on the backdrop of a rumoured collapse at Egerton Street, Oke-Arin, Lagos Island.

Shodeinde said that a three-floor structure was marked as distressed and was undergoing demolition as at press time.

He said the building in question was within a built-up area flanked by other adjoining structures at the rear, adding that the demolition of the distressed building became necessary in order to avert another disaster.

According to him, the present administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode will leave no stone unturned to sanitize the building construction industry in the state by removing all the distressed, illegal structures and buildings prone to collapse as well as those that were not in conformity with the state building laws.

The General Manager appealed to Lagosians to cooperate with the State Government by moving out of all buildings marked as distressed and also stay away from demolition sites.

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Nigeria 2019: Eshu Laalu As Polling Agent, By Reuben Abati

Here is yet another account of what I saw in the politics of Ogun State and Nigeria. One of my early teachable moments was the realization that you are required to dress like the people whose votes you are looking for, and operate at that level, be like them, connect with them. When the 2019 political struggle began, I used to attend meetings wearing suits.

Party members looked at me suspiciously. I couldn’t miss the glances, the whispers, the murmurs but I couldn’t quite figure out what was amiss until one Sunday afternoon, I arrived at a scheduled meeting all suited up.  

As soon as I stepped in, I thought I overheard someone saying quietly: “Even on Sunday evening!” I didn’t think that comment was meant for me. Whoever said that was probably talking to someone else. The pieces soon fell in place when one of our apex leaders accosted me: 

“Deputy, e ma de ku asiko yi o. E ku igbiyanju. Oro kan ma ni mo ma fe ba yin so.”

“Go ahead sir.”

“N se ni mo kan de ti e n wo kini na.  O dabi e ni pe, you don’t like to dress like us. I see you don’t wear Sokoto and Buba, or any traditional attires. You just like these white man’s suits”

“Of course, I have caftans. But I prefer to wear suits for work and formal meetings,” I responded. 

I also tried to explain that I was just coming from a television programme. 

‘Ha ha. Okay. But e joor sir., for this our campaign, you have to take it easy with these your suits oh. In politics, you must always look like the people you want to lead and speak like them. That is the only way they can feel comfortable with you. E joor sir oh. Si so okun mo orun  ni igba gbobo  yi fe po ju. Please do something about it. In this part of the country, a politician cannot go about wearing ties. Lai kii se aja!”

Of course, my wardrobe went through a quick transformation. I no longer heard any complaints or whispers, or murmurs. I had adjusted. I made friends very quickly. But that was not all.

Our principal, Senator Buruji Kashamu operated mostly during the campaigns, from his Lagos office and his office in Ijebu Igbo. The latter is the Omo Ilu Foundation headquarters, a sprawling multi-purpose complex, sitting on about three acres, complete with a hall large enough for over 5, 000 persons, in addition to an open pavilion, offices and a row of chalets with about 20 rooms. Omo Ilu Foundation, founded in 2010, is Senator Kashamu’s philanthropic organization and political structure through which he provides help for orphans, widows and the indigent.  We either met in Lagos or in Ijebu-Igbo, and given my position as his running mate, I was constantly present at meetings and activities.  It didn’t take a while before the Senator noticed that I always came alone. I didn’t travel in a convoy. I didn’t have a retinue of hangers-on. One day, he called me aside and told me:

“Dokita, why are you always walking alone? A politician does not walk alone. In politics, you must have your own team.  You must have your own followers. You must have your own structure. I am going to help you set up your own structure and you can recruit your own followers over time. That is how to play politics. You can’t be going about alone. Politics is about people, strategy, hardwork.”   

In no time, I had my own team and till the campaign ended, I never walked alone. Bouncers, security men, campaign vehicles, a team of drivers and assistants, party associates, advisers, supporters, family friends, consultants etc. My house became a beehive of activities.

In Nigeria, a politician is not expected to close his doors.  Men, women trooped in. People I had not seen in the last three years showed up. They sat in the compound, some came into the house and took over the sitting rooms. The house of a politician must have a ready supply of food and drinks. The house was soon flooded with cartons of assorted drinks. Dry gin. Schnapps, Brandy. Beer. Whatever. Some politicians insist that politics is better when it is fueled with the engine oil of alcohol. I had an inner crowd of regulars, male and female. At certain times of the day, someone will raise his hand and say: “De-pu-ty, e fun wa ni amala!  Maa-anu n –fa-gi.”  Time to eat! I never got a chance to meet this ever-hungry Maaa-nu, the apocryphal carpenter of the stomach!  

These are experienced politicians who have been here and there. Some of them have participated in virtually every major political party since the return to civilian rule in 1999. They know every key political figure in the State. If you want to know your great grandmother’s biography, she may have died in the 15thcentury, you just join politics, you will hear stories about your ancestors who you never knew ever lived. Interacting with those veterans, I received much education about local politics. They know everyone and their habits. There was never a short supply of anecdotes about the public and private habits of prominent Ogun State politicians, their wives and concubines, children and the underground network that seems to be a strong and dominant factor in Nigerian politics. People came in and out, sometimes staying till 12 mid-night. Even if I slept off, they would stay on and have their own conversations. It was a diverse, motley crowd. They argued oftentimes, over this or that, but I admired their dedication, knowledge, experience, their energy and commitment. They have all become part of an emerging political ecosystem around my space. Only a few days away from Abeokuta, I miss them already: the women and their creativity with songs and ideas, the men and their knowledge of the terrain.  

I got a rude shock however, in December, when one of my new friends started pestering me to give him money to buy a ram.  

“Ram?  Se iyawo yin sese bi mo, e fe se ikomo ni?,” Has your wife just put to bed and you need support for the naming ceremony?, I asked.

“No. Rah – rah o, deputy, a fe fi se etutu ni.  We want to use the ram to make sacrifice of protection for you. You need some protection.” 

 What sacrifice? I couldn’t figure out what the man was driving at. But he was persistent. 

“It won’t cost you a lot of money. Just the money for the ram and something on top. You are our own Governor in Ogun Central as far as we are concerned. Many people have seen you. They are talking about you. We also have enemies within the party. There are cases in court. The party people in Abuja don’t like us. As your own people, we have to protect you. Nothing must happen to you. You can be sure the Ijebus will also protect their own son.” 

I waved it all off. December is a delicate month. That is when people use all kinds of trick to get  money for the festive season. January is even worse: school fees have to be paid in January. I told the man I was not interested in any ritual sacrifice. The blood of Jesus is sufficient for all Believers! He didn’t argue. He left quietly.  But he came back two days later, imploring me to give “Unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. He said I should realize that Nigerian politics is like a Dinner with the Devil and that I would need to acquire a long spoon of my own if I was serious about getting a seat at the table. Before his return, another person, who described himself as a Good Samaritan, had also called to say he was bringing to me a charmed waistband which I should tie around my waist any time we were going out for campaigns. I rejected the offer. I told the man I had no plans to become a shamanist because of politics. Our conversation ended in the shape of an argument with him telling me that I didn’t know what I had put myself into. 

“Do you know what all those other people you sit down with have under their clothes? Deputy, Oju lasan ko se politics ni Nigeria yi oh. You must fortify yourself. You need ayeta (local bullet-proof charm), okigbe (protection against machete cuts) gbetugbetu (all-purpose Yoruba charm), awise afogbohun,, ma-y-e-hun (charms for commanding persons), eyonu, atewogba (charms for popularity and acceptance)…after the waist-band, we still have a lot to do. Agan ni kini yi, ko se da gbe! A jo ma gbe ni. We are in this thing together. Anybody whose friend is disgraced is the one who has been disgraced.” 

I was not scared, but I was worried that 21stcentury Nigerian politics was beginning to sound like a return to the inter-tribal wars of the 14thCentury. 

I wasn’t going to part with a penny for any amulet or sacrifice. I was left alone for a while. We organized political activities: visited key stakeholders, communities, arranged consultation meetings, we stormed the town and other parts of our Constituency. The women and my wife had their own group. They focused on markets and house-to-house campaigns. The only thing that worried me was that each time we went to some places, some members of the opposition will later call me to complain that they heard I was spending money and giving people gifts. I would deny of course but they would then proceed to mention the exact place, the person visited and what exactly happened. I became worried. I concluded that there was need to be very watchful. On more than one occasion, persons came to me to show me lists of voters, numbers of Permanent Voters Cards and the phone numbers of their owners. They claimed the voters were under their direct control and they could deliver entire wards and local governments.  They needed money to mobilize the owners of the voters’ cards. It sounded strange to me. I didn’t play ball.

Before long, one of my self-appointed protectors came and said he would like me to go to a church somewhere in Abeokuta. According to him, every politician had already visited the church and whatever the man of God pronounced would come to pass. I refused. If the man of God had already promised every Gubernatorial candidate, victory, why bother?  

The battle for the protection of my soul and life in politics later reached a peak when one of the initial protectors returned to say that even if we did not do anything, we needed to send Eshu on errand, and he had identified the Eshu in the Igbein quarters of Abeokuta as the most potent agent that will ensure our victory in the 2019 Gubernatorial polls. I tried to fence him off by showing off my knowledge of the Yoriuba belief system and traditions. I even chanted the panegyric of Eshu, the trickster-god, the two faced, Janus member of the Yoruba pantheon. “Eshu Laalu, onile orita, ogirimoko okunrin, a ba ni wa oran bi a ri da, elekun n sun ekun, Laaroye n sun eje…” 

Eshu is usually regarded as the equivalent of the Devil, but Yoruba Traditional Thought identifies him as an oxymoronic agent for both good and evil, an attribute translated as drama, form, antonym, and performance in Femi Osofisan’sEshu and the Vagabond Minstrels.  The man was not interested in my anthropological, hermeneutic analysis. I even told him that in actual fact, the most potent Eshu in Egbaland is in Imo, not Igbein and I told him… I was trying to pass a message across. The man flared up. 

“Eshu Igbein is very strong. If you give it what it wants. It will stand up and go out and deal with our enemies. It will bring us all the votes in Ogun State! It will go to every polling unit and vote.”

“Is it Eshu that will vote or the people of Ogun State? Is he a human being? Does he have a voter’s card?”, I inquired.

“Deputy, you don’t know this Eshu. After sending him on errand, you can’t come home straight. Otherwise, it will follow you. You must have a special, spiritual bath. Even then, three days later, it will still come to this house to give you a sign to show that he is already working.” 

“I don’t want Eshu to come here,” I said emphatically. 

“After he has worked for us, once you give him what he wants in return, he will go back. He is our best bet.” 

Olawale Folorunso and Bode Sowunmi who were with me and who had been listening to the argument over the proposed recruitment of Eshu as a polling agent eventually intervened. Bode Sowunmi wanted to know if the Eshu could survive in a compound with interlocking tiles and air conditioners and whether he would occupy one of our rooms. Wale thought the whole proposal was bizarre. Bode asked:

“Okay, Egbon, if you believe so much in this Eshu, why don’t you go and do the ritual and send Eshu on errand on behalf of Dr Abati and Senator Kashamu. You are a politician yourself and you are all in this campaign together. Dr says he doesn’t want Eshu in this matter.” 

“I am not the one running for Governor. I can’t spend my own money. Anybody that wants to be Governor must be ready to give Eshu his due,” the man insisted. 

I refused. 

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A(N)Tikuated Choices, By Babafemi Ojudu

Sometime in 2014, my uncle- in -law, the late Professor Babalola Borisade, requested I help him organize a meeting between Atiku Abubakar and South West Senators. Atiku was about to go for the season’s primary election that will enable him bid for the Presidency.

He and President Mohammadu Buhari were front runners for the ticket of the then recently formed All Progressives Congress (APC). About ten or twelve of us showed up for the meeting and with rapt attention we listened to both him and Borisade, his then campaign Director General (DG).

I was the first to respond.

I praised his business acumen and told the story of a female friend of mine, an award winning former Cable News Network (CNN) Correspondent in South Africa who, when invited to give a convocation speech in Atiku’s American University in Yola, sought my advice on whether to accept the invitation or not. It was at the height of the rampage by Boko Haram across the North East.
I strongly encouraged her and told her the university would ensure her security. She went and gave her speech and after the event she sent a message to me that what she saw in Yola , at the university, was ,in her words, an “oasis in the desert”.

I also cited my experience in Rivers State when I, in company of a committee of the Senate, visited Intels, a company in which Atiku has substantial interest . I was impressed with what I saw, the work environment, the goals and objective of the company as enunciated by one of his sons who received us at the company. The vibes I picked up in Intels was a mark of can- do, particularly when we were told the company was about picking up a multi billion dollar contract to build a port from scratch in a southern African country.

At the meeting, I told Atiku that with those testimonies, I would have loved to vote for him at the coming APC convention in Lagos but, and there is a big but… his image and reputation had been sufficiently damaged by no less a person than his former boss, Olusegun Obasanjo.

I told him with all emphasis I could muster that he is a damaged product and he should not just waste his time. He tried to explain why his erstwhile boss chose to say and write those damaging words about him. He indicated he was not corrupt and challenged anyone who thinks otherwise to bring the evidence of his corruption.

Truly most of the accusations of under- the -table deals done by the regime in privatizing government enterprises that were laid on Atiku doorstep were actually Obasanjo inspired as we found in the course of our investigation . We invited Obasanjo then to shed more light on the allegations against him as well as our findings but he failed to show up. Our attempt to subpoena him was stalled by the Senate leadership then.

As we have come to see Obasanjo is the one who calls everyone thief when the entire community could see his fingers dripping of palm oil.

Branding is very important in public life. Atiku and his supporters didn’t give much attention to this . They rather spent their time building up and promoting lies against the opponent. If the amount of money , Social media space time and resources committed to demonizing President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo had been expended on rebranding Atiku, maybe things would have turned out differently.

Atiku’s first major error in his last bid was going back to the same Obasanjo to mend fences or seek forgiveness when he should have gone after him with the ferocity of a wounded lion to show he lied against him , if he did ,or demonstrate his innocence.

I can’t remember any major decision taken by this politician in his entire political career that didn’t turn out to hurt him .

The moment Atiku went on that journey to Abeokuta with his band of peace makers I knew he had lost the bid for the Presidency again.
Young partisans of Atiku’s opponent went out, combed every available source and researched into all Obasanjo has written and said about him to find materials, consolidating Atiku’s branding as a very corrupt politician.

Omoyele Sowore AAC dug his teeth and nail into him and presented him as an example of what is wrong with Nigerian leadership. Madam Ezekwesili was not left out until she herself got an uppercut from the Chairman of her party who doubled as her running mate.

The campaign saw a mincemeat and couscous made of his reputation and credibility. Obasanjo, who he courted to add value to his campaign became his albatross.

How dumb could he be as a politician!

It is difficult forgiving Atiku for his political blunders. He has all it take to educate himself properly and to hire people who have the capability to advise correctly.

His political faux pas kept recurring all through his career.

Let us cast our mind back to 2010 . 
Rather than stick with his party, ACN, Olagunsoye Oyinlola lured him to Abeokuta to prostrate for Obasanjo.
He thereafter quit Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and went on another adventure. He was at a meeting with Bola Ahmed Tinubu the night before . Both took time to strategize on how to build a party that will defeat Jonathan. He gave no inkling of his visit to Abeokuta the following day. His advisers had billed the meeting as a private consultation with Obasanjo but the old, never forgiving fox kept journalists somewhere in the premises and soon as the meeting ended they pounced on Atiku like a hound of watch dogs will on an unwanted visitor.

What can one say of his attitude as Vice President . Atiku could have waited the time out, demonstrate loyalty and serve the country truly. Instead of waiting for the appointed time Atiku embarked on setting up a political machine that thrashed and undermined his boss.

He allowed himself to be deceived by some governors then who met with him during the day and scurried to Obasanjo in the night to inform him of Atiku schemings.

If money making were same thing as political acumen, Atiku would have towered above any other politician in Nigeria.

His political understanding and sensibility has almost been numb. Whatever he has achieved in politics has been purchased with money and there is limit to how far that could have taken him.
Let’s not talk about his choices of running mates on the two occasions he ran for President. He has an untrammeled love for Obis. Could he have made better choices? He sure could have if he had been a much more savvy and calculating politician.

His utterances? Gosh! Every statement that came out of his mouth is politically awful. I will sell NNPC, I will enrich my friends, I will give amnesty to looters. I insist on selling NNPC even if they will kill me. Haba! Won pe e lole o ngbomo eran jo ( you are said to be a thief, you are playing with someone else’s lamb).
Some internet brats could not stand his determination to sell NNPC and quipped that it appears he has already taken deposits from buyers.
He was even quoted as saying that he will only complete the 2nd Niger Bridge because the Igbos are his in laws.

Atiku’s party hopping proclivity is astounding. A man of such means could have organized a movement around himself and his ideology if there is any. He rather chose to look for parties to hop into each time he dreams of becoming a president. Often they were parties he had abandoned before with such loud condemnation and reproof. Talk of going back to ones vomit serially.

As it turned out Atiku didn’t build a base. He support came mainly from those who hated Buhari’s guts and many others who lost undeserved entitlements .

Whenever he quits a party to join another, the reasons he often give are banal, self serving and contradictory. One often wonders why he never get to hire a sound strategist. Or is it just a question of a swollen headed wealthy, fat cat who assumes he knows it all.

I remember the mess he was made of by a young South West politician who had allegiance to three candidates in the APC primaries that produced President Buhari. He invested so much dollars in the politician who promised him many delegates.
The same politician had collected money from another aspirant from the North while he at the same time pledged support for President Buhari who he clearly knew was the favorite of the party leaders to pick the ticket.

Our man advised Atiku to stay put in his hotel suite and not to show up at the convention venue until late while he went about his deals.
It was one of Atiku’s confidants who I learnt at about 10.00 pm on the convention day roused him from this deception and scolded him for listening to the advise of someone who was everywhere on the convention ground doing deals.
Atiku eventually arrived at the venue and the young man refused to go say hello to him or even walk close to where he sat. Thousands of dollars thrown away, wasted.
I pray Atiku is not being set up by political yahooist to part with whatever is left in his war chest for the 2019 expedition. Your excellency shine your eyes well well.

-Senator Babafemi Ojudu is a Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters

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Right Of Reply To Pendulum Open Letter To The VP, By Laolu Akande

My dear Bob Dee!

One could have easily made up his mind not to read or respond to anything you wrote after seeing the rather unprincipled queuing up behind Senator Bukola Saraki and then abandoning him, moving on to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and then deserting him as well. 

But I felt one should respond to your attempts to create a false narrative from the very hollow lamentation of the recent elections as the “worst in our history”.

In my view, those like your good self, veteran journalists, who have built a formidable platform in the public arena must strive always to use the platform for the larger public good. There have been several interventions from you that reflect such true public spirit, but some of us stridently disagree with what at times could be perceived as a self-serving journalistic conduct. Many would seem to agree that this was obvious in your recent open letter to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

But first, let me thank you for your gracious words of congratulations to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President, and your admiration for the VP’s commendable performance in office. I am certain that your quest for public accountability derives from that admiration.

It is important to state that a citizen’s open letter to public figures or government authority is always welcome here and not necessarily a matter of right or exclusive access. For us, such matters of access for the people to their elected leaders is of normal cause and ought not to be a matter of exclusivity nor should we make a play of it as so special.

As is typical of your propaganda machinery, it begins with an outrageous lie by the principal then the operatives like yourself repeat it ad naseum. It appears you were not in this country when foreign and local observers accepted the results. Independent Foreign Observers commended the transparency and credibility of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

Also, the Independent ElectionMonitor group, supported by the French Embassy, concluded that “based on the analysis carried out in this document as well as the actual observations of the election activities across the country, it is Election Monitor’s considered opinion that the 2019 Presidential Election results are consistent with the will of the majority of voters who took part in the elections notwithstanding the various infractions which also occurred as they were not on a scale significant enough to affect the overall outcome of the election.(ElectionMonitorNG)

YIAGA Africa’s Parrallel Voting Tabulation, relied on by international agencies, embassies and funders also said its  “findings show that for the presidential election the All Progressive Congress (APC) should receive between 50.0 per cent and 55.8 per cent of the vote.” And that “the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) should receive between 41.2 per cent and 47.0 per cent of the vote; these figures are consistent with the official results as just announced by INEC.

“For both APC and PDP, the official results fall within the PVT estimated ranges.” That YIAGA AFRICA results statement was based on reports from 1,491 polling units which are 98.4 per cent of sampled polling units. YIAGA AFRICA’s projections were reportedly also consistent with the officially announced vote shares for the other 71 parties who contested in the presidential election. It is also believed that the group’s projections were based on the results announced in the polling units and would have detected any significant manipulation occurring during collation at the ward, local government area, State and national levels. Also, “INEC’s official results for turnout and rejected ballots were also generally consistent with YIAGA AFRICA WTV estimates.” (Vanguard)

These are empirical facts, my dear Bob Dee, especially if you put your analysis through any rigorous tests. Propaganda and falsehood only need a willing sponsor.

Yes, observers mentioned pockets of violence and some malpractices, but none felt that these were sufficient to affect the credibility of the elections or its results. Frequently cited is Ago Palace in Lagos. One unit in a city of 20 million! In any event, the real question is, how did the violence in the comparatively few places where it happened favour the President? And how come the strong allegations of foul play by the likes of Godswill Akpabio in Akwa Ibom, George Akume in Benue and Ndoma-Egba in Cross River State (all APC Senatorial aspirants!) escaped your eagle eyes?

It is sometimes forgotten, and Bob Dee , you chose to forget, that for the previous 16 years before 2015, the PDP governments had conducted elections. Everyone is familiar with the incredible excesses of the elections and the election-observer reports so poignantly describe some.

In the 2003 elections which gave Atiku Abubakar and his boss a second term, Wikipedia observes that “Millions of people voted several times. The police in Lagos uncovered an electoral fraud, finding five million false ballots.”

But the 2007 elections got even worse reviews: “Following the presidential election, groups monitoring the election gave it a dismal assessment. Chief European Union observer Max van den Berg reported that the handling of the polls had “fallen far short” of basic international standards, and that “the process cannot be considered to be credible”, citing “poor election organisation, lack of transparency, significant evidence of fraud, voter disenfranchisement, violence and bias.” 

They described the election as “the worst they had ever seen anywhere in the world”, with “rampant vote rigging, violence, theft of ballot boxes and intimidation”). One group of observers said that at one polling station in Yenagoa, in the oil-rich South-South, where 500 people were registered to vote, more than 2,000 votes were counted.”

Your choice of words such as “theatre of war” to describe the presidential polls is not only inaccurate and questionable by and large, but also surprising considering the recent history of past presidential polls. And you have to tell us who described the elections as “the most dreadful and desperate”?

Besides these facts that you carefully chose to ignore, the contents of your letter read in part like a brief for the opposition, and, at other times, a judgment of an electoral tribunal in favour of the opposition. And such bias undermines the credibility of the author such as yourself.

It could even render the write-up confusing rather than informing the readers. For good measure, Bob Dee, maybe we should just remind our readers that not only are you an active member of the opposition, you have also benefited from significant business relationships with some in the opposition circles. And this is entirely within your right.

But that certainly discounts your assessment about the direction of our administration. It also devalues your criticism of the narratives that hold those who raped this country in the past responsible for the consequences of their corrupt activities while in government.

One also wonders whether it is your well-known personal relationship with the opposition that has beclouded you so much that you seek to assail the anti-corruption efforts which ordinary and well-meaning Nigerians have embraced.

Let me make it clear that the facts show that while some old members of the opposition have joined APC, that has not shielded those responsible for corruption and graft. In any case, even if old PDP members are now APC members, the current leadership of the country under the APC stands out as it is made up of two gentlemen with impeccable integrity. 

Old PDP members and all Nigerians are welcome just like sinners are embraced in the church, In fact, the church was opened for sinners to be converted. And what is skewed about the anti-corruption campaign when the two governors who have now been convicted for corruption are both APC?

Having said that, be rest assured that the APC as a party will articulate its defences to any allegations. For the records, it is an obvious fact and this must be reiterated that the Buhari administration has a commendable record of respecting the independence of INEC, a clear departure from what occurred under previous administrations. This government also ensures that it provides all the support INEC requires, as well as respects the independence of the judiciary and has ensured that security forces act within the ambits of law. Even international observers have made their comments accordingly and positively. 

As the Buhari administration always noted, every single loss of life is sad and lamentable. And previous elections have regrettably caused even far more losses. We must achieve an electoral system that doesn’t result in any such loss of life. However, the record of improvement from the past is clear as it were.

To characterize the will of the people as Pyrrhic victory represents what exactly needs to change in and about our nation. Indeed, our privilege as elites imposes the responsibility of trustees of power, wealth, values and direction of and for a nation in the interest of the people upon us. To narrow this interest or substitute our amplified voices as the vocal minority for the silent majority is not only taking liberties a little too far, but also losing tune and touch with our national realities. As leaders, we must reflect introspectively on how we have prioritized the people, and how we must continue to do so going forward.

This is what President Muhammadu Buhari is known for and it is what played out in the elections. It is the voices of the few and the devices of the privileged that the Opposition regarded and expected to hold up. That did not happen.

We respect the right to disagree and exercise that right through the established mechanisms, but we reject any denigration and the diminishing of the electoral outcome which is the true voice and expression of the people of this country.

As you noted, the whole concept of sin in the worldly context is a violation of the law of the land, and in the spiritual context, a violation against God. That you judge either as a matter of law, or ecclesiastically when you by yourself determine that this administration is “committing sin” is a departure from what your letter identifies as its objective. Victory in an election is a nation speaking up, while the victor is the symbol of that nation’s victory.

Both life, by its temporal nature, and the Constitution, by its term limitations and periodic elections, already ensure that we all know that everything but eternity is transient, and the example of that in our nation today is the rejection of the old order four years ago, and the most recent confirmation of that rejection by preferring the new and current order, and the Next Level of our national restoration and growth. 

Finally, thank you for declaring your belief that the APC “would have won” a handsome victory because that was exactly what happened! It is your equivocation about Atiku’s loss expressed in the same letter where you said you expected an APC “handsome victory” that left me and other readers confounded. What are we to believe?

Again, thank you for your open letter. Be rest assured that the Vice President and the President would continue working for the good of all Nigerians in the Next Level.

Laolu Akande is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President

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Aisha Buhari As Catalyst For Buhari’s Victory, By Chukwudi Enekwechi JP

Mrs Aisha Buhari is the wife of Nigeria’s president and commander in chief, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR. She is acknowledged nationwide and globally as not only a delectable beauty, but endowed with brain and brawn. She periodically steps into the national consciousness when it appears there exists a yawning gap between the powers that be and the Nigerian people.

Oftentimes she takes sides with the people and insists that the president should not lose sight of the mammoth support of Nigerians that propelled him to the highest office in the land.Many Nigerians have even described her as an amazon and a wife of inestimable value. Most times her interventions have helped to crystallise any fogginess as far as her husband’s leadership is concerned.

She is famous for telling truth to power with a view to impacting on the lives of most Nigerians.Aisha Buhari is not only sound academically but has a grasp of the English language usually associated with the queen of England. She is urbane, sophisticated, caring and able to read the signs of the times politically.

Until she joined the political fray by setting up the Women and Youth Presidential Campaign Team, the second term bid of President Buhari was tottering on the shenanigans of powerful political forces who had one axe to grind with the system or the other or so it seemed, yet she was able to discern the shady and unclear horizon and immediately stepped in to bridge the gap.

This singular act helped to galvanise the entire gamut of the All Progressives Congress political hierarchy to key in and align seeing and realising that victory was possible. She not only took the gauntlet but she led the way to mobilise Nigerians towards supporting her husband to serve Nigeria for the next four years.

In the end both the Presidential Campaign Council and the Women and Youth Campaign Team complimented themselves towards the realisation of the ultimate goal- re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term.

Apart from her regular interactions with the masses across the country, she exhibited uncommon leadership by interfacing with different political leaders who at the nick of time pitched their tent with the ruling party despite the opposition they faced from their past political allies.

Perhaps it can be said that the tone for her future political role in the Buhari presidency was set when the governor of Imo state Rochas Okorocha rolled out the red carpet in Imo state and galvanised Imo women to march for her at the Dan Anyiam stadium in Owerri. That was the first and last mammoth show of support by a state government for Aisha Buhari, until recently when she stepped into the political arena to lead the re-election campaign of her husband.

Today her efforts in seeing to the realisation of the president’s second term has come to fruition and she deserves adequate recognition. This is what we seek to achieve with this piece. She is not only a leader of men, women and materials but she is an asset to the president and Nigeria as a whole.

We as a people cannot afford to relegate such an important woman in the scheme of things especially as she remains unassuming, simple, loyal to her husband and Nigeria, and is committed to using her elevated position to improve the lives of ordinary Nigerians.Therefore as we celebrate the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians owe it an obligation to give honour to whom it is due.

Lest we forget, she played a significant in drawing the attention of the country to the many ills ailing our country among them infrastructural deficit in the South East and this has enabled the president to look inwards and seek permanent and endurable solutions to the boiling issues.

Aisha Buhari incidentally does not seek for publicity or the plaudits of the street, but she is reputed to tell truth to power and this has largely contributed to the success of her husband’s administration, and enabled Nigerians to reap the dividends of democracy as in infrastructure, fight against corruption and the revolution we now witness in the agricultural sector.

The latest news is that Nigeria now leads Egypt in rice production and nobody can doubt that Nigeria is witnessing food security.It is pertinent to remark that this is the first time a wife of the president is being applauded by all and sundry and across the political spectrum and the reason is not farfetched- her altruism, courage and commitment to equity and justice. In the weeks and months ahead Nigerians are expectant that her past interventions will influence the choices of the Buhari administration in appointments and governance generally for the greater good of Nigerians.

We recall that she was the advocate of compensation to those who worked assiduously towards the election of President Buhari in 2015.

Gladly, President Muhammadu Buhari has laid the necessary foundation for the repositioning of the country and the next four years offers a window of opportunity for inclusiveness and even distribution of infrastructural amenities across the country.

Chukwudi Enekwechi JP Member, Women and Youth Presidential Campaign Team Kwechis19@yahoo.com 08176281883

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A Vote For Dapo Abiodun Is A Vote For Osinbajo, By Raheem Akingbolu

Though Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will not be the direct beneficiary of Saturday’s election, it is believed in some quarters that the victory of his party –All Progressive Congress (APC) in the Ogun State gubernatorial election, will boost his political profile.

To this end, a subtle move is being made by friends and admirers of the nation’s Number Two Man to appeal to electorates to cast their votes in favour of APC candidates in the election.

Beside the fact that Osinbajo hails from Ogun State, many observers have argued that winning the state; will be a reward for Osinbajo, whose campaign strategies during the build up to the election have been described as the most impacting and pragmatic.

But despite this, an Ogun State born Marketing Communications expert and political analyst, Mr. Hakeem Olarewaju Adenekan has argued that the state is dicey, adding that no politician can confidently beat his or her chest that one of the parties would win the election.

“As things stand in Ogun, it is difficult for anybody to predict where the pendulum will swing because nobody can do the permutation and arrive at who will win the state on Saturday among Dapo Abiodun of APC, Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement and others.

Be that as it may, in my own opinion, I believe Akinlade will win in Ogun Central Senatorial district, which include Abeokuta because of the influence of his chief promoter, Governor Ibikunle Amosun. In the Ijebu axis, Dapo Abiodun will win overwhelmingly by at least 70% and he will also get at least 45% in Yewa.

The remaining 55% in Yewa will be shared between Akinlade and Gboyega Isiaka of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). At the end, Abiodun may emerge winner with a slim margin,” Adenekan said.

From professional perspective, the Managing Director of Media Edge, a Public Relations company, Mr. John Ajayi, while speaking on why he feels the Vice President’s input may help his party in the election stated that Osinbajo’s campaign strategy during the electioneering campaign was most eclectic and people oriented.

“The town hall dimension introduced by Osinbajo was most salutary and innovative because it turned full circle as a political enigma. His door-to-door campaign and regular engagements with all relevant stakeholders in all towns and cities he visited, no doubt helped to shore up the hitherto low perception rating of the image of President Muhammadu Buhari administration which prior to the election campaigns was perceived to be somehow far away from the electorates.

“Indeed, the city by city, village by village visitations and long treks and camaraderie with all the mass of the people in the areas visited helped the campaign messages and government programmes and policy achievements to percolate the different strata of the society and the electoral demographics.

He was no doubt a sales man per excellence given his oratorical prowess and the depth of knowledge about the achievements and economic policies of the administration.

At every fora, he inspired hope and a renewed sense of loyalty by the Nigerian people .His restless campaign to create full awareness of the administration achievements was unmatched especially his resolve to continue with His campaign plans despite having being involved in an air crash was most inspiring and unbelievably incredible,” Ajayi said.

Also speaking on the approach, a Mass Communication Scholar, Dr. Sunday Aniyi described the house to house campaign embarked upon by Osinbajo as one of the best campaigns that have ever been run in Nigeria.

Aniyi, who projected that the Vice President may take his party to the victory on Saturday, said the campaign must have unlocked many hearts.

“In marketing, the best campaign is the one that connects with the target audience. With his house-to-house approach, Osibajo had campaigned the way a political leader should campaign. He went directly to those who vote, he interacted with them and felt their pulse.

From Ado Ekiti to Abeokuta to Ijebu, Ilorin to Lokoja land, he jaw jawed with market women while dolling out the TradeMoni. It showed in the faces of the women that they were elated that a serving Vice-President came to their shops to canvass for votes.

While some people were thinking of how to manipulate election and weaken INEC, Osibajo went out of his comfort zone and campaigned. With that approach he has successfully humanised the office of Vice-President. Even if for political gain, he has demonstrated what public service should be about,” he said.

Speaking to THISDAY on why Ogun people should honour Vice President Osinbajo with their votes on Saturday, a member of the APC mandate group in the state, Ms. Dhiqrah Yetunde Ogunnaike, said it would be embarrassing for the country’s Number Two Citizen to go back to Abuja as a loser in his home state.

She said; “At this stage, I think our people should look beyond party divides in casting their votes. In the history of Nigeria, I don’t think there has been any Vice President that lost his state to opposition.

From the late Alex Ekwueme in 1983 to Abubakar Atiku in 1999 and 2003, Goodluck Jonathan in 2007 and Namadi Sambo in 2011, it never happened that a vice president lost his state to opposition.

If APC fail to produce Ogun State Governor, it will not only embarrass the Vice President, it will weaken his negotiating power for the South West in the years ahead.

That is why we have consistently reminded our people on the honour we will be doing our vice president by voting for Dapo Abiodun on Saturday,”.

Meanwhile, a close aide of the Vice President, who is also a Special Adviser in the presidency, Mr. Babafemi Ojudu, who was part of his campaign train while the exercise continued, has aptly described Prof. Osinbajo’s passion as second to none.

“As a direct witness to Vice President Osinbajo’s activities while the campaign lasted, I will simply say his passion was driven by genuine belief in the Next Level mantra of the Buhari administration.

He put in his best and I’m sure this impacted well on the party’s campaign and victory in the presidential and national assembly elections. No doubt, it will also be success all through on Saturday,” Ojudu said.

This piece by Raheem Akingbolu was first published in ThisDay with the title, “In Osinbajo’s Interest”

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Leave Our Sacred Dynasty Out Of That Toxic Space, By Usama Dandare

“Sokoto is the place with an extraordinary history of faith, of tolerance, and scholarship in all of it forms. And it is special because the teachings of religion and ethics are prioritized alongside the virtues of reading, writing, math and science”-

The above quote is the words of John Kerry former US Secretary of State & the first US foreign Secretary in history to visit Sokoto Caliphate, on the 23rd of August 2016.

I decided to use his words to introduce this piece as a flash back and a reminder of the status of the Caliphate in the mirror of not only Nigeria, Africa or the Islamic world, but the world over. However, this noble history is about to be tainted negatively by desperate politicians in the state who want to hide in the garment of the Sultanate to score some political points, albeit baselessly.

Because never in the history of Sokoto politics has the Sultanate dominates political discuss in the state than this moment of uncertainties accusations and counter accusations against and in support of the Sultanate.

That’s why as a citizen and a concern Muslim, I penned this piece to warn politicians against dragging the palace into politics, because it is a negative trend that will not augur well with the qualities and the history of the Caliphate as accurately captured by Secretary Kerry from the above quotation.

Politics it is said, is a dirty game embedded by lies, deceit, mischief, mudslinging and all other evil associated with fierce contest for power. Power that is not founded in anyway on the doctrine of Islam or morality which the Caliphate is famous for advocating throughout history.

Therefore, politicians must leave that noble and sacred palace out of their discuss. Every politician must campaign on their merit, not on the pretence of defending the sanctity of the Sultanate. For it is palace respected by all and sundry globally. There is no question of who is in support or against the Caliphate.

Since the return of democracy in 1999, Sokoto state has had successive administrations that came and go, but never has the Sultanate and it sanctity become a subject of electioneering on the podium, until now that some unscrupulous elements deemed it fit to use the Sultanate as cover for what they did or did not do to seek election victory at the polls.

And it all started with the buying of a guest house in Abuja for the Sultanate by the present administration in the state, a process that was initially shrouded in secrecy before it leaked out, which forced the government to go on the defensive over the decision. That singular act didn’t resonate well with the people in the state, because of the way the whole thing was handled and executed by the state government. Then came the issue of education levy. A monthly deductions of worker salary introduced by this administration to fund education.

From its inception, many people started raising eyebrows regarding the accountability and transparency of how the funds will be utilised. That too, generated a heated argument that compelled Governor Tambuwal to intervene during a press conference, to shed some light on the status of the funds and how it is intended to be use. And at that time, the Governor informed journalists that the account has so far, some 500 millions, which he said when it reached a billion by the end of the year in 2017, the money will be handed over to the education intervention committee that is headed by the His Eminence, Sultan.

However, this year, when the Governor was asked on the status of the levy account during BBC Hausa organised Gubernatorial debate, he replied by claiming total ignorance of the account and how it is been utilized. He therefore, impliedly refer the questioner to the Sultanate. But his respnse generated scepticism among people and again, the levy became a subject for public discuss on various social media platforms. People were wondering how a Governor who clear statement in 2017 acknowledge that his following progress of the account, will all of a sudden turned around in 2019 to claim ignorance of it?

And now few days to Gubernatorial and house of assembly elections, some crop of politicians are alleging that their opposition are making derogatory comments about the Sultanate. A move to sow the seeds of discord between them and the palace, just for political gains. Which I interpret as nailing the coffin of the Governor, because he is the one that brought the Sultanate in this whole quagmire. An experience we never had before during his predecessors.

In this regard therefore, I urged both the ruling party and the opposition to shun the Sultanate and sell their candidates based on their own merit. Because, the Sultan is a father for all, regardless of political party affiliations.

And the consequences of dragging the palace into politics, if not immediately halted, could be dire and the resultant effect could go a long way in damaging the image of that sacred dynasty.
A stitch in time, save nine. As the saying goes.

Usama Dandare, a social commentator write from Sokoto.

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An Award Winning Political Slogan, By Babafemi Ojudu

O TO GE, the battle cry by Kwarans in the last election wins my prize for the best slogan of this election.

Whoever came up with it is a genius and should be celebrated. No word captures their aspiration better than this . It’s equivalent in English is Enough is Enough. This does not adequately capture it nuances. Only a Wole Soyinka could provide an adequate translation.

The slogan reverberated across the country like a wild fire in a dry season. It resonated in a manner no one could ignore. Political communicators will for long see it as very effective as Wet e, the slogans Yoruba of South West used in their resistance of Ladoke Akintola during the political crises of the mid 1960s.

Did Kwarans lived up to their cry? Ask Sen Bukola Saraki, the one known as Oloye ,who scampered out of Ilorin as soon as results trickled in yesterday.

For weeks he was welcomed to Ilorin at the airport with the slogan and pursued all over the towns and villages with it as he campaigned for himself and Atiku to become a Senator and President respectively. It was a humiliating and humbling time for a man who had been the major domo of a political legacy handed over to him by his father.

Yesterday he was chased up to the airport with the shout of Ole! Ole! O To Ge, that is Thief! Thief! Enough is Enough. Certainly not a good way to end a political career. This is what happens when humans play God. It always end in disaster. It shall too for every other politician or ruler with such proclivity.

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Chronicles Of An INEC Ad-Hoc Staff, By Aliyu Kasimu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) called for applications from students of tertiary institutions, members of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) amongst others to be deployed at polling units for the 2019 elections earlier slated for 16th of February, 2019 and 3rd of march, 2019 for Presidential and National Assembly and Gubernatorial and State Assembly respectively. 

I will be talking about what happened in the Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area of Nasarawa state, where I applied as ad-hoc staff. As reports from other places have it, the situation across the country isn’t any different from this one. 

The first disappointment was in the application process itself. Before the commission announced an online application, student unions in tertiary institutions (such as the Students’ Representative Council ( SRC) in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria) called for students to send some of their biometric details to their social media accounts. Thereafter, the commission’s offices in Local Government Areas accepted applications which would usually consist of application letters attached with some credentials. 

It was quite clear that the normal “who you know” aggrandizement would play a major role on who gets the job until the commission announced an online application. I was particularly delighted and hopeful since it would close the gap of nepotism and would try to close the equal opportunity gap for everyone. I was wrong after all. In the end, it didn’t count for anything as it wasn’t adopted at all. 

A new lightening of hope and reassurance enveloped me when I saw different reports credited to big wigs in INEC that asked any interested and qualified person to be available for the training, which would eventually be a major basis for selection.

THE TRAINING 
The training was simply a sham show. It spanned three ill days viz; Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We were divided into groups of undergraduate students, SSCE holders and graduates (NCE, BSc, ND, etc) and were required to sign the attendance everyday until the training was completed.

On Friday and after few minutes of introduction to the ad-hoc job and what it entailed, we were asked to pay 10 naira each for photocopy of “pre-test” question papers. We were going to have a test! Anyone who answered those questions only on the basis of knowledge gained in the introductory part of the class must have failed woefully. Don’t refuse to think that the tutors failed in that regard too. I had downloaded the manual from my school’s whatsapp group two days before. Perhaps my school training made me not hesitate to skim through the 124 paged draft before going for the training.

In my school, any good student would study course notes before coming to class for many reasons, one of which is “you simply don’t know what would happen” and so we would always “prepare for the worse”. After completion and submission of the test script, our tutor announced the answers which had me and those who trusted me enough to copy my answers score 9/10.

The training had more than 95 percent of trainees standing throughout the session; now try to imagine the circumstances of the test. I leave that to you, but not without an idea note that it was worse than a “short gun” in a faculty course lecture session in our government owned tertiary institutions. 

On the last day (Sunday), we managed to see the Smart Card Reader (SCR). She had worked us through the functions, features and whatnot earlier on. So when it arrived, we were asked to touch, observe the key features and pass on to the next person. At the end of that exercise, my PVC was used to show how verification and authentication worked. At the surcease of the session, we wrote a post test which was unexpectedly an exact photocopy of the pretest. We had paid for photocopies on Saturday. To be fair to the tutor, she did her best with the resources available to her.

SHORTLISTING OF SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATES 
The list was pasted on the 12th of February, 2019 on the outside wall of the commission’s office and all applicants thronged there to check their names. Some were happy while some where disappointed. Maryam Ahmad Turaki, a geology student of Federal University, Lafia with whom we went for the training confirmed to me that her cousin who was in fact, completely absent during the training period was shortlisted.

It is balanced to think that she wasn’t the only one in such a bewildering situation. While some of us saw our names, she and many others didn’t. I felt sad for her particularly. Maryam was a very jovial friend and kind at heart.

DOCUMENTATION 
A notice was also walled far beside the list of names. It was to the effect that all shortlisted candidates were to come back on Friday, a day to the elections for what they called “accreditation”. I like to think of it as “documentation” as that gives a clearer description of what actually happened. 

We arrived on Friday only to be notified that another list was again, pasted, but this time, at the secretariat which was a few meters from the commission’s office. On my arrival at the secretariat and out of the corner of my eye, I espied the colorfully dressed Khadijah Musa, a 3rd year student of the gutsy University of Maiduguri. We had met during the training. She is truthful, honest and suspiciously shy. 

The list at the secretariat was more detailed. It showed the respective positions of the shortlisted candidates and their exact polling units. But the list didn’t come without disruptions. Some had their wards changed while some claimed that they didn’t see their names, despite seeing it in the earlier list. 

On ascertaining the presence of their names and respective wards, candidates were to report at the commission’s office for documentation. The process involved is topic for another day. Suffice to say that we were a crowd compared to a stampeding herd of wild-eyed cattle, making wild, uncontrollable noises like some unfortunate swarm of angry bees.

WELFARE 
We hung around in waiting, while documentation went on. We had been told not to leave the venue. When it was 11pm, I and a few others had made up our minds to pass the night there. What was the point in going back home when election was in few hours and there would be no movement of vehicles from 6am, we brainstormed. It was bright-line unwise to leave at that time. 

In all the time we spent there, not even sachet waters were given. Nay, they didn’t even speak kindly. When it was time to sleep, they made it clear through their body language, that everyone one was on his/her own; just find a place to catnap before dawn. 

For me and Ahmad Balarabe, one of the commercial danfo buses had been our resting garden. We thought it wouldn’t make a bad place to spend the night either. Alaji and another person joined us soon after we made that decision. Then came a lady; “abeg I fit sleep for that back seat?” she asked, confidently. Deep inside, I had reservations. “You’re welcome” I quickly said. We stepped down to allow her go inside. The girl slept and snored away – the strongest evidence that she didn’t give a damn. She woke up very early in the morning (well before 5am), thanked us for the hospitality and left.

News of possible postponement had started to creep in since 12am. But another news credited to one of INEC’s commissioners debunked and dismissed it. This rekindled some hope. At about 2:50am, I was woken up by obstreperous noises buzzing out in inconsistent ranges such as to make one ponder about how far the noise makers were to his/her coordinates. I asked and was told that the elections had been postponed.

Knowing fully, what people can do and how some people’s happiness thrived on spreading fake news, I assumed they acted based on the earlier news I saw; so I asked if the person had seen it himself. His answer was negative. My mind dismissed it even more until I saw buses which were parked since morning and painted with INEC stickers vamoose. I started nursing doubts as well. Fast forward, I confirmed my self and left for home when I found a car that would go my way at about 4:50am. Many others did the same.

ALLOWANCES
On the 20th of February, 2019 we went to the commission’s office to collect a 7,000NGN stipend. The news got me thinking why they would ask that we show up to collect money after they had collected our account details during documentation. Some of my friends proposed hypothesis; they claimed that from experience, it would be very difficult for us to get all the money allocated for us and that posting monies to our bank accounts was as a result of the sinister motives, bad business. 

They had asked us to come for the stipend a day before. The news had been spread by word of mouth and it reached me through the same channel. The allowance comprised of 4,500NGN training allowance and 2,500NGN feeding allowance. We had waited for very long before we were granted permission to enter the gate; if opening the already pressured gate can be termed like that. We queued up according to our respective wards with our media of identification. The Supervisory Presiding Officer (SPO) would verify information by cross comparing our ID’s and the list with him. He would then make a mark against our names and hand us two forms to append our signatures. Some people had problems with verification; some had problems of valid phone number but distinct names while for some, it was the reverse. This category of people were asked to standby for some more time. They cursed the SPOs as they harangued. I left after I had collected mine.

For me, it was an experience worth passing through. I learnt a lot of things and made knew friends. On this note, I urge the commission to seek to improve the welfare of their ad-hoc staff. Crowd control is also very important.

Aliyu Kasimu 
aliyusoffice@gmial.com
Twitter handle: @ialikasim

PS: please find attached, a photo I snapped at the INEC office in Nasarawa Eggon LGA, Nasarawa State.

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Atiku’s Desperation Going Too Far, By Senator Babafemi Ojudu

PDP and Atiku are desperate. Their desperation is however going too far and they are capable of doing anything now .They are resorting to all manners of puerile strategy to win, to get the South West in particular .

In conjunction with their foreign allies and consultants and a band of ethnic bigots they are even circulating a fake news that Osinbajo has resigned. It was the same set of people who blamed God for not killing him when his helicopter crashed.

They were agog with all manners of inhuman and ungodly postings on social media after the unfortunate incidents. We know them they are king and queens of FAKE NEWS.

PDP and it’s agents have become so irresponsible. They can do anything now, even assassinate Osinbajo to achieve their purpose. But God forbid! They know Yoruba states will be key decider in this election.

They are doing everything possible in the South West to cause confusion. They are sending money to pastors ( quote me on this )to tell their congregation that Buhari want to Islamize Nigeria and some pretenders in cassock are doing their biddings.

When your pastor or Bishop preaches that Buhari want to Islamize Nigeria ask him or her how much he or she has collected from Atiku and PDP? How I wish the pastors know the source of the money they are collecting from Atiku? We are up to them as we shall continue to expose them.

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