Day Tambuwal Rained Encumiums On Imam Imam, By Ankeli Emmanuel

It was like every other event organized in the seat of the Caliphate, with lots of dignitaries in attendance.

As expected, the aura of the event was however more unique than others. More so that it serves as a platform for allowing the citizenry have a say as to how best they think governance should be for the overall interest of the led.

Yes, it was a day, when all stakeholders from across the length and breadth of the state gathered under one roof to discuss the 2017 Sokoto state budget presented by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal before the State House of Assembly for consideration.

The event organized by the state Coalition of Non- Governmental Organizations (CONSS) was  in collaboration  with office of the governor’s special adviser, media and public affairs, Mallam Imam Imam.

Registering his modest surprise over the turn out, chairman of CONSS, Alhaji Abdullahi Shunni noted that “similar event to allow for public input into the state budget had been organized six times before now, but of all, this remained the first time a seating governor honours the event in person”.

Abdullahi Shunni in his presentation noted that, when the governed are duly aware of the government’s plans for them, it makes the business of governance lots easier; hence, transparency is guaranteed.

“There are about 173 member organizations across the 23 local government areas of the state that formed the CONSS.

“And collectively, we are suggesting that the governor finds strategies to improve locally generated revenue in view of the dwindling federal government allocation.

“We are also suggesting that the governor should continue  to strengthen agriculture, solid minerals  industries and increase his political will in blocking leakages”.

Narrating the rationale behind the 2017 stakeholders budget summit from his own perspective, Mallam Imam Imam, the special adviser, media and public affairs to Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, opined that, the 2-Day Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum on the Sokoto 2017 budget  will provide the needed opportunity to many to contribute on the various government policies and interventions.

Acccording to Imam Imam, the open-door policy of the government has amongst other benefits led to increased mutual trust.

“Sokoto is one of the few states that have adopted the Participatory Budget Model where communities often decide on what projects are to be executed by the government.

“Our aim is to continue to be more accountable and responsive. Citizens are diverse. Not only do citizen viewpoints differ from those of government insiders, it also differs from citizen to citizen.

“Because no single citizen or group of citizens is able to represent the views of all citizens, we arranged diverse groups of citizens at this forum to have a say on the fiscal document. We have representations from community leaders, organized private sector, women and student groups, non-governmental organizations among others.

“With this stakeholders’ consultative meeting, this administration has shown practically that it values the people’s ideas and their concerns.

“Participatory budgeting allows citizens to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects, and it gives them the power to make real decisions about how things are done. This has led to entrenchment of mutual trust which is today benefiting government and citizens equally”.

Mallam Imam Imam in his submission on the relevance of collective intellectually mutual deliberation as a reliable source for better achievements noted that everybody’s view point matters in good governance.

“When residents gather as we have here today, they have the opportunity to agree upon important decisions, and with everyone weighing in, we can build healthier, more vibrant, and more economically diverse and economically sound communities.

“Sokoto’s 2017 budget has outlined various strategies that will lead to increased investment, boost internal revenue and ensure inclusive growth in all parts of the state.

“The strategies to be adopted include aligning monetary, trade and fiscal policies and expand infrastructure, ensure the development of small and medium scale enterprises, improve ease of doing business, deliver the desired change in the agricultural sector and importantly expand government’s social investment programmes in areas like education, health, youth and women empowerment”.

After herald of speeches by other dignitaries, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal took the stage and disclosed that the 2017 Sokoto Stakeholders Budget Summit was very important hence it lays further foundation  for all-inclusive government.

Tambuwal, however broke his silence on some of the criticisms rained on him by the people of the state with a very revealing testimony on reasons for some of his actions considered absurd by some.

What baffles many was not just the mere fact that Governor Tambuwal gave an explicit but very convincing reasons for appointing those considered as non-indigenes into his administration but also left participants in the 2017 Budget Summit in no doubt that his appointments will continue to be on merits.

Before President Buhari Returns Home By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, something major is happening in our dear beloved country and it is very positive. Every disappointment they say is a blessing. While we are very sad that our President, Muhammadu Buhari, has not been feeling too well for some time now and needs treatment and recuperation abroad, I now believe that God wants him to also have some time for sober and deep reflection. Someone asked me about two weeks ago, on Twitter if I have given up on the Buhari government? My answer was an emphatic NO! And the reason I gave was simple and straight-forward enough: I believe in miracles. 
What has happened in Nigeria in the past few weeks, even days, can only be a testimony to that miracle I prophesised. When President Buhari left Nigeria he formally wrote to the Senate putting his Vice-President in charge as Acting President until he returns. That singular act which is merely a repetition of what was done during previous extended personal visits abroad by the President is salutary as it is stellar and itself heralded the transformation in this government that we are witnessing. It seems to me that President Buhari knew that his government needed some change in direction, some fillip, and in his infinite wisdom chose a subtle way to initiate that change without seeming to jettison his kitchen cabinet. 
When I flew out of Lagos to Johannesburg last Monday, February 20, 2017, a US dollar was selling for about 520 naira in the omnipotent black market. As at Thursday, it was selling at around 475 Naira. By yesterday, Friday 24 February 2017the Naira was exchanging at about 460 Naira to the Dollar.  What a difference a week makes.  This remarkable resurgence of the Naira is coming on the heels of new policies and directives that the CBN has been mandated to put in place by the rejuvenated economic team that the Acting President is the driving force.
Not just that, I received a report from Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi that the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, paid an unscheduled visit to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Thursday, February 23, 2016, and caught the airport officials napping. My joy knew no bounds. Only last Saturday, I had complained bitterly about that unfortunate airport on this very page. 
In the past seven years, I must have written countless times about that that gory airport. It was one of the reasons I disliked President Jonathan’s government because it had done a wishy-washy renovation of the place and was celebrating it as if we can now compete with some of the best airports in Africa (note that I did not mention Dubai, Europe or America). I took pictures of dead escalators, comatose elevators, jet bridges in blatant darkness, leaking roofs, cranky conveyor belts, flooded and stinking toilets, murky basements, potential structural deficiencies from a disused underground car park and generally an airport in various stages of disrepair, dilapidation and decay. We did what we could to alert our leaders to the monumental disgrace at that airport. 
It is however not just the infrastructure that is wrong with the Airport.  At a time when the Acting President has launched a 60-day initiative for making it easier to do business in Nigeria, it is incumbent upon him to ensure that this starts from our international airports as this is the first thing that the foreign visitor and investor sees upon arrival in Nigeria. I have never been able to understand why we must have Security operatives openly checking passports along their Immigration airports upon arrival at the Airport.  In the same vein, I cannot understand why we must stick with the archaic, unhealthy and unsafe practice of manually rummaging through passenger’s luggage when they are departing and having the full complement of security agencies visibly on hand to do this to the inconvenience of passengers and other airport users.  Technology has long since gone beyond this. Security and search of luggage is now automated, mechanical and above all unobtrusive.  It cannot be the case that our huge unemployment rate is responsible for creating jobs where none should exist thus creating an indolent corrupt workforce.  The devil they say finds work for idle hands.  Despite our repeated calls for the overhauling of the International Airport, Minister after Minister have however behaved as if the place was virtually jinxed and the gods of Abuja could do nothing to sanction their rascality.
Anyway. The good news is that the Acting President has started doing some of the things we expected and advised President Buhari to do. I do not want to over-excite anyone yet but this is smelling good, like the Americans would put it. We must enter special prayers and intercede with serious fasting so that President Buhari can continue along this path of progress when he returns to office, hopefully very shortly, by the grace of God. 
I had suggested in my memos to him that what he was looking for in Sokoto (the city) is actually in his sokoto (pocket). He has got a powerful joker in the pack and that is his Vice President. Professor Osinbajo is not your typical politician. He is a technocrat with the diligence, astuteness and thoroughness of the smart lawyer that he is. He has a passion for Nigeria and its great development that is uncanny and worthy of emulation. Whilst I am relatively close to Prof Osinbajo through my best friend, Prince Adedamola Aderemi, and his family, we do not meet that often.  However, we once met at London Heathrow, long before he ever dreamt of becoming Vice President, if he ever did, and we discussed Nigeria for so long, almost forgetting that we had flights to catch. I remember how we agreed that running a government should not be so difficult. Our paths crossed again during the campaigns. He and our mutual friends, Pastors Ituah Ighodalo and Ghandi Afolabi Olaoye who were with him at the time, shared similar hopes for Nigeria. Our passion alone coupled with temporal faith in the Buhari/Osinbajo administration was enough to move mountains.
So, what went so wrong that this miraculous government began to wobble and fumble as soon as it came to power? It is one of those ironies of politics that a government that came on the promise of ameliorating the suffering of the people actually exacerbated the terrible situation it met on ground. 
Many wonder why a government and political party that has an Osinbajo and parades several other political wizards has found it difficult to stabilise the economy? How come a President that received substantial votes from across the country without much controversy could not unify the nation? Why did Buhari decide to start his tenure with fighting on too many fronts? Here was a leader who already had his hands full from Boko Haram menace. The only reasonable conclusion was that President Buhari was programmed to fail by the same cabal that has held Nigeria by the jugular since Independence. This fact, that Baba was heavily jazzed by some principalities, was actually corroborated by an insider and no less a personage than Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of our President. 
Truth is Professor Osinbajo is re-navigating the country in the right direction and should be encouraged to do more by President Buhari. If a man discovers a snake and a woman kills it, it doesn’t matter who did what. The glory ultimately goes to President Buhari for having the wisdom of entrusting Nigeria to such a loyal and dependable ally. Baba should ignore the demons of power who may wish to drive a wedge between them. Any parent or sibling would be proud of a child making the family great. This is what Osinbajo is doing and he should be commended and applauded for it.
Nigeria needs to make a lot of money quickly and reduce the dollar rate since most business people depend on importation of goods and even services. For the time being, our first source of income is oil. Osinbajo has done the most necessary thing by visiting the Niger Delta and offering the olive branch to the militants. I don’t know why Baba thought he could wipe them off the surface of the earth just like that. Thank God, something good is likely to come out of this timely effort at dialogue and negotiation. 
The second major task for the Acting President is to resuscitate and revive our ailing companies.  Many of them are shutting down and everything must be done to ensure that they resume business properly. Too many Nigerians have already lost their scarce jobs due to the stubbornness of government to free its soul from siege mentality and see businessmen and women as partners in progress.
The third major mission is to ease the palpable tension in the land. President Buhari has done very well in fighting insurgency in the North but, sadly, a new menace is ravaging Southern Kaduna where lives are being wasted recklessly. We pray that government would find a quick solution. Peace must be allowed to reign supreme and Government must be seen not to be taking sides.
The government bureaucracy in Nigeria is atrocious. Everything must be done to curtail the excesses of civil servants who are too set in their ways. The rule of Law must be enforced. No Nigerian should feel inferior to a fellow citizen on account of ethnicity or religion. No one is comfortable investing in a country full of stress and unnecessary hiccups. 
When Baba returns, he should reach out more to Nigeria. Many people feel he has become too distant and a bit standoffish since achieving his dream of attaining power. I personally believe that this may not be the truth but perception counts a lot. When Baba comes back, he should be less acrimonious and reconcile Nigeria. Nigeria is haemorrhaging dangerously.  Prof Osinbajo seems to be waving a magic wand right now.  President Buhari will do well to own that magic wand when he returns and build on the progress made by his Vice President.  That is the essence of a good team. It is what Nigerians desire and what they deserve after the darkness that they have recently been plunged into.
Bashorun Dele Momodu OVATION International +234 805 506 9220

Concerning PDP’s Misguided Foot And Misfiring Gun By John Mayaki

Like an errant child, the Edo State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has done it again. In a reckless press conference that displayed the opposition party’s penchant for acting unheedingly to details, PDP swaggered into town, like a mouse into a cattery, attempting fruitlessly to vilify both the All Progressives Congress and Governor Godwin Obaseki.

If PDP wants to throw a tantrum, there is no problem with that. There is however some problem with if PDP, in throwing its tantrum, abandons order and sanity, picks up a gun, and shoots itself in the foot.

PDP’s history is replete with particulars of where the party has deployed little tact and shown even lesser invention in the conduct of its affairs. Now, in this most unfortunate press conference, the Chairman of the Edo state Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party, Chief Dan Orbih has gone and dwelt on issues both himself and his political party lack every moral grounds to pontificate.

Firstly, the question that ran through the minds of rational Edo people is what is the character of the man talking? Are the words of this man – Chief Dan Orbih – and his antecedents before him, and his party to be taken seriously or with a pinch of salt?

Dan Orbih is Chairman of a PDP that governed for about 10 years in Edo state and created unquantifiable socio-political mess for which the people angrily voted the party out of power and replaced it with the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Under the administration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the mess by Dan Orbih’s PDP was being cleared up and the people of Edo State, satisfied with APC, chose to vote in Mr Godwin Obaseki. He is continuing, like his predecessor before him, with helping the people of Edo State to recover from the unmitigated trauma of PDP governance in the state.

How then can an unblushing Dan Orbih, who has no moral justification whatsoever, seeing as his party failed the people and the state woefully, begin to paint the APC government in bad light simply because he wants socio-political relevance, which the wise people of Edo state will not avail the PDP anymore.

Ordinarily against this backdrop, Orbih’s conference and the claims he made therein should be ignored. However, it is necessary to respond to them, as his intention is to whip up public sentiments against the state government.

One is worried as to where Orbih and his party forged documents from that they could claim with such an unholy level of confidence that they are government documents in that ill-fated press conference. The veracity of the said document needs to be authenticated because PDP can go to any length to fabricate anything including and not limited to Government Vouchers.

For a public document like a voucher purportedly obtained from the government house to be authentic and taken seriously, it must be either the original or a certified true copy. In this case, the PDP, in furnishing journalists with the said vouchers did not disclose whether it was the original copy or a certified true copy let alone which authority certified it assuming it was the latter.

On the issue of cabinet formation, Governor Obaseki will not be blackmailed into making mistakes, for so we can infer from PDP’s unwise press conference. He is taking his time to put a credible and competent team together with appointees who must be recommended from the 192 wards to the state government.

Section 14, schedule 4 of the constitution states that the composition of government in Nigeria shall be carried out in such a manner as to recognize the diversity and dynamics within that government constituency, therefore, it cannot be expected that the appointments of cabinet members are to be done overnight, if this provision has to be adhered to.

Orbih must be reminded that there is a process of appointment and if he is busy plotting how to get an appointment, then why will he not simply say so. If that is the case, he should apply from his ward and the party will consider his papers if he is eligible. His character, if worthy, will advocate for him.

However, the public is quite perceptive to his dubious academic credentials, which can block his eligibility in the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led government. Governor Obaseki needs people who know their onions, not assumptive people. Neither will a party like the PDP suffer a man whose mien suggests a bereavement of ideas, work experience and credible means of livelihood to get political appointments under its famed umbrella.

On the issue of Contributory Pension Scheme, Orbih should be asked what is wrong in initiating schemes designed to protect workers’ welfare at an old age. The Pension Reform Act of 2004 gives the state government authority to implement its provisions in favour of workers.

Besides PDP and Orbih lacked the gumption, even they were extravasating outlandish ideas at ill-conceived press conferences to reveal to Edo people that Governor Godwin Obaseki budgeted N6 Billion to facilitate the scheme just as deductions are paid into designated pension funds custodians.

Therefore, Edo State Government wishes to assure the good people of the state of its readiness to initiate and execute people oriented programs that will improve the standard of living, generate jobs for our teeming youths, deepen the economy, provide security and create the enabling environment for socio-economic activities to flourish.

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