Evaluating The Best Choice Ahead Of APC Gubernatorial Primaries In Kwara State, By Sheu Sholagberu

The pains being endured by the downtrodden and average residents facing daily challenges of poor economic activities, insecurity and other social malaise, as a result of selfish leadership that has imposed unquantifiable hardship on the common people in our society, deserves a holistic evaluation, in order to create an enabling environment to rescue the people from the oppressors that have ruled Kwara State ingloriously, with iron fist on peoples’ common wealth in the last fifteen years.

It’s unfathomable to imagine that Kwara State rank lowest in terms of infrastructural development among contemporary States created in 1967, if this generation cannot be held responsible for the sordid past under the last generation, at least this generation should be accountable for the poor governance under their watch.

It’s expected of the change crusaders to raise their heads up and creating a glorious future should be the utmost preoccupation of their minds; focus should be targeted towards creating a remarkable vision for GENUINE SERVICES TO THE MASSES. The people must be determined to achieve a change of orientation amongst the populace, from servitude towards independence, this is achievable only if ranks are closed and harmonisation of genuine interest without blackmailing the choice candidate to fly the ticket of the APC at the governorship election.

At every election circle, it’s been a contest between the opposition against a political cliché led by Dr Bukola Saraki. In 2007, 2011 and 2015, he took advantage of the divisions among the opposing party, he planted informants and hatchet men, to distract the fold and facilitated emergence of candidates he can easily defeat at polls, he won then, but never again.

The ultimate test abound again, instead of harnessing their potentials, commission committees, raise a movement towards effective sensitisation of the electorates and mobilisation of voters to our kitty ahead of the 2019 general election, the opposition have been busy in the expedition to outwit one another in contest where only one person can become the flag bearer. Among those tagged moles, there are innocent personalities who are mere victims of circumstances, among those regarded as independent minded, you will surely find sympathisers of Saraki dynasty, in essence,  focus should be on a candidate that can generate sympathy from the populace and give a good fight for victory at polls against Saraki Candidate.

All the aspirants possess required financial resources, all the aspirants are not alien to Kwara Politics and all the aspirants are eminently qualified to perform as a good Governor if elected, but one aspirant certainly standout, with an exceptional qualification, he command unimaginable loyalty amongst the people. Although, he has been a subject of attack by those who usually engage in subterfuge to create hegemony crisis within the Emirate enclave, but his genuine interest to serve the people of Kwara State will surely vindicate him. Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal possess all the requirements to defeat the main challenger (PDP candidate) for the governorship seat of Kwara State, if thrown into the race and supported by other aspirants on the platform of APC.

The greatest asset at his advantage above other aspirants is premised on the fact that, he is highly marketable due to his family background, working experience and expertise knowledge. His versatility with governance of Kwara State during the reign of his biological father who dedicated his life time to true services as noted during his leadership of Kwara State and his clear understanding of the deficiencies of succeeding administrations till date stand him out.

Note that, this piece is not intended to demarket any other aspirant on the platform of APC, we are only stating the obvious that, a personality that already enjoy good will left by his father can easily be promoted, you can’t build something on nothing, he has a solid foundation we can build upon to aid our victory at poll, except the challengers lack understanding of the orientation of the immediate environment.

All politics is local, Kwara locality has a kind of mentality that place Hakeem Lawal at a vantage position to surmount all hurdles and ease the success of APC at the 2019 general election, it’s all about good will and packaging, with togetherness, the Kwara APC can make an onerous task as simple as Arabic letters, if they weigh the advantage the candidature of Hakeem Lawal gives the party, under the current prevailing circumstances. It’s not strategic to elucidate the strategies to deploy to defeat the kwara PDP with a personality like Hakeem Lawal but a surface insight will be pointed for the thinkers to evaluate.

Firstly, the PDP has resolved for a youthful candidate, in consideration of the waves of the moment, not too young to rule, it’s a joker they must play, if they crave the indulgence of the Youth Constituency, they must be well guided. Secondly, a candidate from Kwara Central can easily be matched with a more rooted candidate with family pedigree and lastly, a candidate with no ill feelings among the electorates is highly sought after and more needed by the people than ever.

It’s not enough to just jostle to be the flag bearer, it’s extremely important to possess the requirements before the voters and all hands must be on deck to ensure mistakes of the past are no longer repeated by those that desire good governance for the good people of Kwara State. Base on aggregate of opinions, the critical stakeholders, already attuned to the exemplary leadership being provided by the National Leader of APC in Kwara State – All Lai Mohammed (Minister for Information and Culture, FRN) and the State Executives under the able leadership of Hon Bashir Bolarinwa, the prompt attention given to grey areas in the conduct of credible gubernatorial primaries are well noted and appreciated.

To other major stakeholders, members of the State, Local Government and Ward Executives, your good works at ensuring credible primaries are highly commendable, but worthy of note is the sacrosanct reality that the only candidate that will not jeopardize the collective interest and can give APC an easy victory at the Governorship Election is Hakeem Lawal, why not face the reality?

The beauty of raw gold are not felt before processing, it’s the duty of the goldsmith to fashion out the beauty through craft. Noble APC stakeholders and delegates at the primaries, you are the goldsmiths that hold the aces, at this critical point where the decisions you make will determine the immediate future of Kwara State, in terms of dividends of good governance to the people of Kwara State. For so long, people have decried the poor governance in Kwara State, severally the opposition has contested against the power brokers and on every occasion they have lost, due to ego, intolerance and selfishness.

Another opportunity beckons, the struggles of the common men should not be in vain again, if truly the opposition to the Saraki inglorious rule have foresight, hence, the opposition should clear their minds of doubts and see the light at the end of the tunnel, with Hakeem Lawal as APC Governorship flagbearer, victory is assured.

Let no man nurse any fear, he has a large heart to accommodate diverse interest and fashion them into proper perspectives and with animosity to none. He is an accountant of great repute, a profession that has sharpened his tendencies for accountability and he is not oblivious of the complexities of Kwara as a cosmopolitan society, as such, he will respect the rights and protect the privileges of all party members and the entire residents of Kwara State.

Let no one give wrong narratives about his personality, he chose to be a quiet person due to his respect for old and young, he knows when to act in the best interest of the oppressed, he is a team player that understand the essence of collective decisions. If you speak but the truth of him, you will promote the honour of APC in Kwara State; together we shall win this time around. “Every generation has a mission to fulfill or betray”

Sheu AbdulKadir Sholagberu

Secretary,

VISION FOR A BETTER SOCIETY (ms.sholagberu@gmail,com

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Nigeria’s Certificate Scandals, By Reuben Abati

The number of persons involved in certificate scandals under the Buhari administration may speak to something far deeper in our society, even beyond the administration, but it is to say the least, disgraceful and embarrassing. Ordinarily considered some of the best educated black persons in the world – one US report indicates that Nigerians are among the most educated immigrants in the United States, vertically and horizontally –  it is now shameful that Nigerians today are also ironically poster-characters for fake certificates, 419 qualifications, and dubious academic affiliations.

This whole saga started, this time, with the President himself whose school certificate qualification became an issue of much speculation and histrionics. The Constitution requires any office-seeker in Nigeria to have the minimum of a secondary education. You are required to go to school till about the age of 16: extremely small education in my reckoning but good enough to enable you read and write, and be able to sign documents.

The focus on this President’s educational qualification, and the opaqueness that grew around the matter ended up motivating nosey-parkers to begin to look for certificates in the corridors of power, including certificates of participation in the National Youth Service Corps. One of these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if investigators begin to turn their searchlights on birth certificates! In the past, we had the Chicago scandal, we also had the Toronto scandal, today we are a country of too many “Chicagos” and “Torontos.”

You will recall that Ms. Kemi Adeosun was accused of dodging the compulsory one-year national service for higher institution graduates. She was pushed to resign her exalted office as Minister of Finance, but her case served the country well in the long run: it brought up issues of citizenship and the value or non-value of the NYSC. Ms. Adeosun would probably be remembered more in Nigerian history for the manner in which her example generated a conversation around the rights and citizenship of Nigerians in diaspora, their relationship with their ancestral country, the character of supposedly “trusted associates”, and the long-term relevance of the National Service scheme in a country where there is very little service but a greater obsession with self, entitlement and gratification.

Ms. Adeosun has since moved on and Nigerians have left her alone. But there is still the unresolved matter of Okoi Obono-Obla, the President’s Special Adviser on Corruption.  He has been accused by a Committee of the House of Representatives of parading a doctored school certificate result. They argue that the School Certificate Result that he holds does not belong to him but to a dead cousin. And that he used that certificate to gain admission to the University of Jos where he studied law. The West African Examinations Council (WAEC), the examining authority that should know the truth has also allegedly said that there is something fishy about the certificate in question. In Okoi Obono-Obla’s case, I am a bit confused.

As Chairman, Editorial Board and Editorial Page Editor of The Guardian newspapers for more than 10 years, I published opinion pieces, letters to the editor and essays from a certain Okoi Obono-Obla which were always very well written, well-made pieces, and fit for publication. Not one piece from that Okoi Obono-Obla’s sounded like something written by a man who needed to dodge a WAEC examination. Obono-Obla’s response to the current allegations is that the matter is already in court and that this is a case of “corruption fighting back” but whatever the truth is, and it is the duty of the court to determine that, the Obono-Obla case makes the Buhari government look really bad. It reinforces a growing narrative that there are too many persons in high places who cannot defend what they claim they are, under a government that flies integrity as a proof of innocence and virginity.

And there is Adebayo Shittu, the voluble, bearded Minister of Communications – the guy didn’t participate in the National Youth Service Corps. Ms Adeosun’s defenders talked about citizenship and her betrayal by “trusted associates”. They put up a spirited defence for her.  In Adebayo Shittu’s case, the guy has the stupid effrontery to come forward to say that he did not enroll for the NYSC because he thought his membership of the Oyo State House of Assembly was the equivalent of a National service. I have heard a lot of stupid comments in my short life-time but this certainly must be the worst of them all.

To worsen matters further, Shittu is said to be a lawyer, duly called to the Nigerian Bar. And he talks like that? Too many of this type are all over the place defending illegalities, and yet they would be the first to tell you I am a Barrister even when every year at Call to Bar ceremonies, fresh wigs are advised not to go about threatening people with the redundant title of Barrister this and Barrister that. The APC has had cause to disqualify Adebayo Shittu from participating in the APC Governorship primaries in Oyo State. Good for him. He has also been quoted as saying he is now ready to enroll for the NYSC. As the Yoruba will say: “Igbayi laaro”.

In pidgin: “na now him just dey realize say NYSC important?” In street talk: “commot there, no dey talk nonsense”. The NYSC Act is very clear.  It needs no golden interpretation. Shittu has committed a felony. He has convicted himself with his own mouth. He has raised further questions about the administration’s commitment to the rule of law.

There is also the case of the Governor of Adamawa state, Jibrilla Bindow, who has been accused of forging his school certificate qualification. Bindow is seeking a second term as Governor of Adamawa state. His opponents, principally named Global Integrity and Crusade Network (GICN) have now chosen to tell us that the man did not even complete secondary school. They have given WAEC an ultimatum to tell Nigerians whether or not Bindow who had served previously as Senator of the Federal Republic, has a Secondary School Certificate in accordance with the laws of the land. They claim he has not been able to make any difference as Governor because he is a secondary school drop-out.

But surely, it is not only the ruling All Progressives Congress that has this problem. Senator Ademola  Adeleke, the Governor the people of Osun state wanted but the APC blocked, also obviously has issues with his academic qualifications. They say the man did not have a School Certificate. WAEC confirmed he had one. Then the Police accused him of having sat for the 2017 National Examination Council Examination (NECO) via a proxy. What we remember though is that he allegedly had an F9 in the School Certificate Examination. He didn’t deny that and yet he wanted to be Governor! Under President Buhari, Nigeria is at the level of F9 and fake certificates.

Let me nail this down. These stories, either from the APC or PDP or any other side do not help Nigeria’s image. I imagine that if any Nigerian were to go anywhere in the world today, and present the best, most impressive credentials, the relevant authorities would still go behind to double-check. Many of our students today who go abroad for additional educational opportunities are routinely asked to take extra tests that candidates from other countries are not required to take.

When the rest of the world hears that Nigerian political leaders, the same persons who are supposed to take serious decisions about national, bilateral and multilateral relations are a bunch of semi-illiterates, draft dodgers, and uneducated semi-illiterates, they are bound to look at the rest of us as imbeciles. Japan, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh and the United States have some of the best educated persons in the world. Every serious country promotes its best people. In Nigeria we promote the worst of the pack in a country where there are more than enough people with credible qualifications. We don’t’ recognize such people. Instead we send to the international community, people who could not pass School certificate, the equivalent of the IGSCE in the United Kingdom, school drop-outs who have no clue about important governance issues – these are the ones we send out to go engage better educated and more enlightened persons.

In the end, the Buhari government prefers to take its time to respond to this issue that has become a major issue of his time as President.  It may be said that President Buhari is a bad judge of character – he should  never have associated with or recruited all these characters giving him problems in the first place,  but how about the institutions whose job it is to screen political appointees and every other person in the public sphere?

Senator Abiola Ajimobi has been Governor of Oyo State for two terms but I understand someone is also saying he too, does not have an NYSC certificate. If he has an NYSC certificate, he should display it right-away and put his accusers to shame. I really don’t understand what is going on. What is the meaning of this certificate problem in a country where there are people who can put every needed certificate on the table and yet they are the ones who are unemployed and the one who have issues are the ones running government?

The relevant security agencies continue to disappoint the country and a lot of political crises are generated in part because the security agencies are politically compromised. Nobody can aspire to public office in Nigeria except they have been screened by the security agencies. What happened to that process under President Buhari’s watch?

For, the forgery of school certificates is a form of corruption. I am saying that certificate scandal is the worst form of corruption. Right now, our political representatives are no longer respected abroad   Who wants to talk to a diplomat whose basic education is uncertain? Who wants to take a country seriously where a state Governor says “We works” instead of “We worked”.  And you have a President who is very comfortable with all of these?

President Buhari needs to clean up his cabinet, do a complete audit.  He should appeal to all the men who have certificate problems in his cabinet to do him a favour and ship out voluntarily. I won’t be surprised if the same investigative journalists who ousted the cases mentioned have even more scandalous examples in their file and may release bigger blows in the day ahead. Who are these people? Common certificate they don’t even have and they want to rule Nigeria!  The diplomats serving in Nigeria must be laughing at us in the dispatches they send home.

The President has a responsibility to act on all of these cases, to determine the credibility of these allegations and to prove that his government is sincere about the anti-corruption campaign across all genres.

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Between Bafarawa And Wamakko: A Tale Of Two Homogeneous Politicians, By Usama Dandare

For a brief preamble, I am not going to dissipate your precious time going around the mere allotment of revealing to you all you need to know about the tragedy waiting to befall the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the upcoming 2019 gubernatorial election in Sokoto State. Ahead of the party’s primaries scheduled for today September 30th, about four candidates (Senator Abubakar Gada, Engineer A.A Gumbi, Alh. Ahmed Aliyu and Faruk Malami Yabo) have been intensifying their consultations and lobbying to clinch the party’s ticket, but a major setback is hindering the entire political processes within the APC family.

Senator Aliyu Wamakko who’s the state’s party leader is trying to dominate the entire process and install, against all odds, a less popular candidate at the detriment of whatever nemesis. Akin to a similar move that impaired the political career of former governor Attahiru Bafarawa.

The same arrogance that ended Bafarawa’s political dynasty is the same arrogance that’s presently hunting Senator Wamakko. In 2007, Bafarawa thought he was immortal and his reign is imperishable, he simply overrated his importance and at same time thought he can dictate the future of Sokoto politics.

Basking on the euphoria that his choice is sacrosanct for all Sakkwatawa, Bafarawa went on to present an unpopular candidate, Maigari Dingyadi, as his gubernatorial candidate under DPP against the wishes of all and sundry. ALAS, Bafarawa and his anointed candidate were overwhelmingly defeated in the electoral humiliation of April 14, 2007, in a political hurricane that swept across the entire nooks and crannies of Sokoto state.

Not enough to be a lesson for a man who comfortably rode on the crest of that political hurricane. Senator Aliyu Wamakko is now hell-bent on stepping into Bafarawa’s shoe, he’s hours away from ended his own political dynasty with his own political arsenals. Wamakko today hold a sentiment that he’s a minor deity, a mortal who’s indispensable in the politics of Sokoto State and a demigod who can dictate the choice of Sakkwatawa.

The once masses friendly Wamakko has now developed a reputation for rudeness and intellectual arrogance, to an extent that his effrontery and lordliness has pushed him into believing he owns Sokoto APC and everyone in the state must be answerable to his command. This was exactly who Bafarawa thought he was when he fielded Maigari Dingyadi in 2007, and surprisingly, the same arrogance is now pushing Wamakko to field a very frailed Ahmed Aliyu, a political underdog who lacks all the moral and intellectual capabilities to be a leader.

Albeit he was a two term commissioner during Wamakko’s regime and the incumbent spare tyre to Governor Aminu Tambuwal, yet, he’s still the weakest and the most unsound among the four candidates jostling for the APC gubernatorial ticket. He lack charisma, composure, experience, civilization and the moral values required for leadership. He has no track record of service, no history of credibility neither that of integrity, all he has is his tight relationship with Senator Wamakko which obviously is for a reason known to all.

As sensible and erudite he is heaving in sight, Wamakko need to immediately ponder on the possibility of changing his mind about imposing Ahmed Aliyu. Else, he is substantiating the widely speculated notion that his notorious red chamber colleagues (Bukola Saraki & co.) defected to the PDP and left him to completely destroy APC before returning to his former den. He is undoubtedly on a mission to hand PDP a last minute penalty kick in the race to Lodge Road.

If truly Wamakko is out for the good of APC and the state not for his vested interest as widely speculated, then fielded a wrong and a more weaker candidate where there are more stronger ones should be out of his sight. It’s completely astonishing to how he failed to understand that he’ll be in a very hot soup if PDP return to power in Sokoto, and any slight selfishness will result to that. It’s for his own good not to give PDP a soft challenge, else, he should cry not for his political demise for he might never have a befitting burial.

Usama Dandare, a social commentator write from Sokoto.

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A Rejoinder: “How To Lose A Nigerian Election,” By Ifeoluwa Adebayo

In the last few years I have read many articles and opinion pieces on Nigeria and Nigerian politics. Many of these are non-partisan, many partisan, many well written, many not so well written. The medium piece by Ose Anenih ‘How to lose a Nigerian election’ falls in the ‘well written’ category. However, as expected of a partisan opinion piece, he has made sweeping assumptions, contradictions, deliberate omissions and biased conclusions.

THE SMART CARD READER CONTRADICTION

The article in one paragraph commends the introduction of the card reader to prevent election manipulation in the Nigerian 2015 elections stating that “it helped clean up the electoral register; and as a consequence, brought down voter turnout from 52% in 2011 to 43% in 2015, resulting in almost 10 million-less votes than were cast in 2011”. This is admitting that the card reader technology helped eliminate almost 10 million false votes during the 2015 elections. The interesting thing is that, in the same paragraph, just before the commendation, the article states that “in theory it (the card reader) was supposed to ensure that election results could not be written with the previous levels of impunity, and that only accredited voters i.e. voters verified by the card reader via their voters’ cards and their finger prints, could actually cast their votes”. Ose contradicted himself, stating in one breath that the card reader’s efficiency is only “in theory” and stating in the same paragraph, that the card reader ‘practically’ eliminated almost 10 million ‘ghost voters’. INEC had clearly stated that the manual validation option, in the event that the card reader fails to read a voter’s biometric details or has any other issues, was to prevent the disenfranchisement of voters. Therefore, there was no “flaw in INEC’s new verification process” as stated in the article, what was termed as a flaw was a provision to ensure voters can exercise their rights in the event that technology, as is normal globally, malfunctions.

INEC AND IRI SMART CARD READER REPORT

The International Republican Institute in its post-election report stated that “Despite a number of technical problems, and after some delay in polling officials becoming accustomed to the new systems, the Smart Card Reader and PVC were successfully used during the accreditation process and INEC is commended for introducing this important mechanism for reducing voter fraud and increasing voter confidence in the electoral process”.

INEC’s data from the Smart Card Reader Accreditation Backend Transmission system puts the total number of voters accredited with the Smart Card Reader at 80%. INEC’s data also points out that the occupations with the highest percentage of full accreditation were civil servants at 53.5%, while the lowest were farmers and housewives at 33.4% and 31.0% respectively, which may point to the fact that education and literacy had a lot to do with the accreditation process. INEC has learned from the 2015 elections and can only get better going forward which is the way systems work globally.

THE BUHARI EFFECT

The article goes on to analyze the numbers and concludes, based on data from Presidential election results in 2003, 2011 and 2015, that “the region that will determine the outcome of the 2019 elections is the North West”. This is a generous assumption, considering that from his own analysis, Ose recognizes that in 2003, 2007 and 2011, the winner of the Presidential election has won with only 30% of the votes from the North West, which is understandable as a presidential candidate will be duly elected after attaining both the highest number of votes cast, and having received at least 25% of the votes at each of at least two-thirds of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Interestingly, attaining 30% of the North West votes only became difficult once General Muhammadu Buhari became a candidate in the elections in 2003. His popularity and the cult like following of millions of Nigerians resident in the North has consistently granted him an assured win in the region.

In 2015, there was a paradigm shift in the game, the ‘General’ was courted by political leaders in the South West, a region in which he had not performed very well in previous elections, and coupled with the extremely poor performance of the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, General Muhammadu Buhari won the 2015 elections, winning states like Benue with over 70,000 votes, a state he had consistently lost in previous elections. And winning in Lagos, a state that was flooded with PDP dollars for vote buying, with over 160,000 votes. The General became President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29th, 2015.

The article did mention a “Mount Wike”, it however leaves out the fact that Rivers State got a total of 1,556,313 votes in the 2015 elections, and by INEC figures had 2,537,590 voters, that is a 61.3% voter turnout rate, and Delta state a turnout rate of 55.4% with a total turnout of 1,260,315 voters, Akwa Ibom had a 60.1% turn out rate with 1,011,715 voters, Bayelsa had a voter turnout of at least 60% with at least 366,403 voters, only Cross River State had a voter turnout of about 37%. I wonder then where he gets his 39% turn out rate for the South South, which he says is higher than the 46% voter turnout rate of the North West.

THE DECEPTIVE OMMISSION

The most surprising fact however, is that interestingly, in the same Deep Dive report referenced (https://medium.com/@deepdiveng/loopholes-in-nigerias-electoral-system-9fde82572321), we observe that if anyone took advantage of the failure of the card reader, it is the regions where there was a large of number of people that could not be authenticated at all by the card readers. This means these people could have presented fake card readers. From the Deep dive report, there was a total of 5.4million voters affected in the South, with Rivers State making up the highest numbers with 1.33million voters affected out of 1,556,313 voters, this means less than 250,000 voters in Rivers state used the card readers, a whopping 85.5% of votes cast in the state could only vote with incidence forms and could have presented stolen or fake permanent voter cards. Delta State comes in second with 782,141 voters affected, which is a 62% rate, Anambra comes in third with 616,870 such errors which was 90% of the total number of votes cast.

These numbers are incredibly high and smartly left out in Ose’s article. The numbers seen here probably explains why the South South and South East regions had unexplainably large votes for the PDP in the 2015 elections. And by the way, that massive blue mountain you see there? That is ‘Mount Wike’ in Rivers State and the second tallest mountain is ‘Mount Uduaghan’ in Delta State.

THE BIAS

Finally, Ose masked his bias in the article, but gave himself away in the last paragraph as positioning for a certain North Central candidate, by advising the PDP not to pick a candidate from the North West to avoid alienating the South. Factually, the easiest way an opposition party can make Ose’s target of 30% of the votes in the North West is by fielding a strong North Western candidate in the 2019 elections, the other regions will likely vote based on various indices such as existing political structures which will be largely driven by the strength of individuals (political leaders) in the various parties, religion, ethnicity, party affiliation of State Governors, and how voters rate the incumbent government.

If anything is certain, it is that someone, probably same person that expunged the card reader from the latest amendment to the electoral laws, is afraid of the efficiency of the card reader at reducing voter fraud in the 2019 elections.

PLEASE NOTE THAT FIGURES USED TOOK INTO CONSIDERATION ONLY VOTES FOR PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AND GOODLUCK JONATHAN, AS THE OTHER NUMBERS WERE MOSTLY NEGLIGIBLE

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Re: Nigeria: Papering Over The Cracks – HSBC, By Ibrahim Olalekan

When President Buhari led the All Progressives Congress(APC) party into the 2015 general elections, his campaign focused on three major reforms namely re-positioning the economy, containing security threats and fighting corruption. This would indicate that he had made considerable effort to properly diagnose Nigeria’s socio-economic condition.

It should also be recalled that the APC administration inherited a cash-strapped mono product economy which was also extremely vulnerable. As was aptly put by HSBC “Nigeria’s painful recession” in 2016-2017 was in the offing owing also to the devaluation of the local currency the Naira by the previous administration from N155 to N199 to a dollar in 2014 in a bid to defend the Naira and reduce the depletion of foreign exchange reserves.

The writer’s allusion to Nigeria’s positive macroeconomic indicators only to opine that Nigeria has a disappointing macro outlook is very contradictory. To put this in perspective, it is important to reference some key macroeconomic indicators e.g current account surplus is 5% of GDP. Foreign exchange reserves at a historic high of $47bn. Headline inflation has decelerated from 18.4% at the start of 2017 to 11.23% in August 2018.

The total value of capital importation into Nigeria in Q2 2018 is $5.5bn. These strong fundamentals have supported the currency even in spite of monetary normalization in some advanced economies. The Naira has been relatively stable and performing satisfactorily compared with some of its peers and that of selected emerging economies.

The oil price shock in 2016 seriously affected government’s fiscal position and inadequate buffers for the rainy day led to the depletion of foreign reserves. Although unemployment stands at 19%, the expansionary fiscal policy of the Buhari administration reduced the impact of the 2016 economic headwinds on employment amid operations of factories.

The Social Investment Programme which includes N-power, Conditional Cash Transfer and Homegrown School Feeding programme were implemented to put the economy on the path of recovery. These programmes sustained the purchasing power of beneficiaries by maintaining the aggregate demand that kept factories in operation. This is akin to the stimulus packages the USA, China and the European Union unleashed during and after the 2008 financial crisis.

In fact, ultra low interest rates and fiscal expansion have just started to unwind in those countries.

Concerns about Nigeria’s legacy structural problems led to the rollout of some landmark initiative such as the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), National Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council, Made in Nigeria for Exports et cetera. These programmes are conceptualized for the diversification of Nigeria’s economy away from oil and improve the competitiveness of Made in Nigeria goods in the international market. These policies are intended to put an end to jobless growth by creating jobs that are good for development.

Ibrahim Olalekan, a Public Affairs Analyst wrote from Abuja, Nigeria.

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Osun: Election As Theatre, By Reuben Abati

What is going on in Osun state right now is nothing short of political theatre. It is keeping us all entertained, but it has also turned so many observers into emergency lawyers. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the Osun Gubernatorial election of September 22 inconclusive and has ordered a supplementary election at seven polling centres in four local councils on September 27.

Many Nigerians are taking a keen interest in the Osun election. This should not be surprising. Every election season in Nigeria, what the law says or does not say is the concern of all kinds of experts who suddenly discover the country’s Constitution and call it out into action as they deem fit. In the last 48 hours, the Nigerian public space has been suffused with relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution on elections, with the more popular references being Sections 1(2), 69 and 179 (2) of the Constitution and Sections 68 (c), 69 and 153 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). Many interested parties have also been dredging up decided cases from the past.

It is really entertaining to see both lawyers and non-lawyers alike referring to precedents from previous elections in Kogi, Bauchi, Edo, Katsina states, and court rulings in Osunbor vs Oshiomhole, Nwobasi vs  Ogbaga and 2 ors.,  and Faleke vs INEC.

What are the issues? Issue 1: whether INEC has acted rightly within the purview of the law by declaring the Osun Gubernatorial election inconclusive? Issue 2: whether a candidate who won a simple majority and one-quarter of the votes in two-thirds of the local councils in the state as required under Section 179(2) of the 1999 Constitution, can be denied a prompt declaration on the grounds that the margin of his victory is lower than the number of cancelled votes? Issue 3: whether the guidelines provided for in the Electoral Act 2010, and the INEC Manual for Election officials, can override the Constitution? Issue 4: whether INEC has the powers to declare an election inconclusive? Issue 5: whether Senator Ademola Adeleke having been the first to go past the post in the Osun Gubernatorial election of September 22 should have been declared winner of the election?

Opinions on the matter are divided; even lawyers are offering contradictory opinions. Those who do not know what the Constitution looks like have also been busy quoting it. It is partly for this reason that I have argued elsewhere that the wise option before the People’s Democratic party (PDP) and its Osun Gubernatorial candidate, Ademola Adeleke, would be to go to court and seek an interlocutory injunction to stop INEC from going ahead with the proposed re-run until the more substantive issues in the case have been determined. They may also seek an order of mandamus from the court asking INEC to declare the results of the Osun State Gubernatorial election held on September 22. As at the time of this writing, neither the PDP nor Senator Ademola Adeleke has taken this course of action. They probably have taken the decision to participate in the rerun election.

Once they do so, they may no longer be in a position to raise any a posterioriprotest about the election of September 22, as the principle of estoppel by conduct could automatically kick in, and be held against them, and that election would be validly inchoate as INEC has declared. Is it not better to put something on record?  I am all for testing the law on the issues outlined above, more so as there has been a repeated tendency on the part of INEC, under President Muhammadu Buhari to use the tool of “inconclusive elections” mostly in elections where the ruling party seems to find it difficult to have its way. But why would the PDP and its candidate be reluctant to attempt a legal response at this point?  Over-confidence that they will win? Or hope that they could still resort to the Election Petitions Tribunal later, if the need arises?

Adeleke and the PDP are probably aware of the declaration by Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court at the commencement of the new Legal Year 2018/2019 last week. His Lordship disclosed that High Court Judges have been directed not to grant any stay or interlocutory injunctions in political cases. I don’t think anyone who needs the protection of the courts should be deterred by this. While it is advisable to protect the courts from the antics of political gladiators, I find His Lordship’s directive strange, for it would appear that what he has done is to ask the High Court to divest itself of its own jurisdiction. How can a court divest itself of its own jurisdiction through administrative fiat? Would it not be better to take every case on its own merit, expeditiously of course, and to ensure that the end of justice is served?

And perhaps, Adeleke and the PDP are also intimidated by the reference, in the last two days, to the Supreme Court decision in Faleke vs INEC and anor. (SC. 648/2016) NGSC 84 which is being relied upon by a few to justify INEC’s decision on the September 22 Osun election. It must be noted to start with that the material facts in that case are different, even if there are clear and unambiguous pronouncements in that ruling on the value of election guidelines, the powers of INEC to declare an election inchoate and the effect of Section 179 (2) (a) (b) of the Constitution. My suspicion is that the jurisprudence in Faleke’s case is now being exploited for political reasons. The Supreme Court in that case, may have unwittingly created an argument that it did not originally anticipate.  There are unanswered questions: Can we use the Electoral Act or any other subsidiary legislation to vary the provisions of the Constitution? Can we use a subsidiary legislation to write into the Constitution what is not in it?  I raise these questions for reflection.

This space not being a court of law, I shall proceed no further on this score. It is entirely up to Senator Ademola Adeleke and his party, to decide whether to go to court or not. But with Adeleke having led the Osun Gubernatorial polls with 254, 698 votes to Gboyega Oyetola (APC)’s 254, 345, leaving a margin of 353, and the former fulfilling the conditions in Section 179 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, it can be said that the sentiments of the people of Osun state are with Senator Ademola Adeleke and the PDP.

The incumbent Governor of Osun State, Raufu Aregbesola and other APC leaders who before Sept. 22 had thought that they would win the election easily must have been  shocked that the PDP candidate could put up such a strong performance. What they will also not easily admit is that Adeleke’s performance is from all indications, a vote against Aregbesola and the APC. It is a comment on the prevailing order in that state: a vote against non-payment of salaries, and pensions, and a comment on the arrogance of the APC elite. It has taken a dancing Senator to remind Governor Aregbesola of the extent of his party’s popularity in Osun state. That popularity contest will be determined this week.

My sympathy is with Ademola Adeleke, and not necessarily because he has the best credentials for the job, but if he is the choice of the people of Osun State, the people should be allowed to make their choice and no deliberate obstacles should be placed in their way.  There is probably nothing his opponents have not done to stop him. He was accused of not having the requisite educational qualification for the office: secondary education – and was taken to court. The Court summoned the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and asked for clarification via a sworn  affidavit.  Adeleke was vindicated when the Examinations Council confirmed that he indeed sat for the School Certificate Examination in 1980/81. His critics didn’t give up.

They made big capital out of the fact that the Senator, as a secondary school student got an F9 in English language. They turned this into a butt of jokes, except that the law does not require Nigerian politicians to have anything more than fail grades for them to be eligible for office. With his F9 in English, Adeleke can in fact sometime in the future emerge as president or Vice President of Nigeria! His critics still wouldn’t give up. Three days to the election, the Police Headquarters in Abuja disclosed that Ademola Adeleke and one Sikiru Adeleke are the subject of an investigation involving an alleged fraudulent procurement of NECO certificates. They wanted him to report in Abuja. The president had to intervene and ask the Inspector-General of Police to back off. Adeleke was further cast in the image of a bumbler without brains who only knows how to dance all over the place.

I think the fellow himself has not helped matters in this regard, though, but that is certainly not the focus of this commentary. What is certain is that every ad-hominem attack on Senator Adeleke has totally failed. He remains popular with the people of Osun state.

This is the same man the people of Osun State gave majority votes on Saturday, September 22 in a Gubernatorial election that paraded 48 political parties and candidates, and they will probably do so again on Thursday. By hounding Ademola Adeleke with everything at their disposal, the Osun APC and their allies elsewhere, have turned him into the ordinary people’s hero. Public sentiment is in his favour, either in Osun or anywhere else in Nigeria, because of the perceived desperation of the APC. The declaration of the September 22 election merely fuels existing suspicions and the public’s sentiments. This is the more reason why INEC’s integrity and credibility is at stake. It must do everything to demonstrate that it is indeed an independent and unbiased umpire and not an agent of the ruling party. Both INEC and the ruling party must be seen to be consolidating our democracy and do nothing to undermine the country’s jurisprudence.

I don’t know whether the INEC Chairman and the Returning Officer for Osun watched the recent US Open Grand Slam final match between Serena Williams and the young Japanese tennis player, Naomi Osaka. There was a lot at stake in that match. If Serena Williams won, she would have matched the record 24 Grand Slam titles won by Australian player, Margaret Court. If Naomi Osaka won, she would be the first Japanese to win the US Open Grand Slam singles championship.  But at the end of the match, both players were not the issue, even if Osaka won, but the chair umpire of the match who was accused of harsh calls against Serena Williams. Serena received a code violation warning for smashing her racket, she was accused of cheating, she was penalized a game for “verbal abuse.” The drama took the sweetness out of Naomi Osaka’s victory. INEC as umpire in the Osun election should avoid the temptation to turn itself into an issue.

Senator Ademola Adeleke and his party may be ahead with 353 votes so far, but having chosen to participate in the rerun, they must be aware that the two-horse race they have signed up for on Thursday can go in either direction. They must not smash their rackets. They must eschew verbal abuse. They should keep their eyes on the ball. They must appeal to the people of Osun state to be vigilant and the voters in the local councils where the rerun will be held should come out en masse as they did last Saturday. One more piece of advice for Adeleke: to win that election, he must cultivate the friendship of other opposition leaders in the State.

Other PDP leaders, including Senate President Bukola Saraki and Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, have been helping him to talk to Senator Iyiola Omisore, who has now emerged as the “beautiful bride” of the supplementary election, since most of the votes at stake on Thursday are concentrated in his political strongholds – Ife North and Ife South. Adeleke should reach out to him personally, and encourage him to mobilise his supporters to back the PDP- a party he defected from just before this same election.

The APC are also talking to Omisore and he has set up a technical team to weigh the options before the Osun State Social Democratic Party (SDP). Omisore faces a critical moment in his political career.  He must make a wise choice. Victory for Adeleke will shore up INEC’s credibility, allay all fears of manipulation, and create opportunity for the emergence of an inclusive government in Osun State, with implications for subsequent elections in 2019. But of course, the APC is not going to drop the ball either on account of public sentiments. Governor Raufu Aregbesola will seek to protect his legacy and future, and also seek to avoid the “Ekiti outcome. “ Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola will also want victory for himself. May the people’s will prevail.

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Kwankwaso’s Imposition Of Candidates Is A Recipe For Failure, By Rabiu Shamma

It was Graham Wallas, a political thinker, who once said that politics without the study of the psychology of the individual is meaningless. Though I am not going to get academic in this article, but I will just try to give an opinion on how the dictatorial tendencies of former Kano State Governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso in imposition of candidates at all levels will spell doom for his party, the PDP in Kano State in the general elections that will hold early 2019.
Some months back, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso defected from the ruling party, the APC, to opposition party which is the PDP. Since his defection, the former Kano governor has shown his age long political behavior of non-compromise, he has succeeded in dismantling the elected leadership of the party in his home state, Kano, through the connivance of the national leadership of the party. As a result, Kwankwaso’s take-all orientation has succeeded in dividing the Kano PDP, as they now have two party chairmen, the substantive chairman Senator Mas’ud El Jibril Doguwa, and Kwankwaso’s factional chairman Engineer Rabiu Suleiman Bichi.
However, the recent imposition of a not popular governorship candidate by Kwankwaso, his son in-law, Alhaji Abba K. Yusuf has brought to open the cracks in the Kwankwasiyya camp, this selection has been tagged by many political commentators as a clear case of nepotism. He was selected ahead of more competent, popular and renown Kwankwasiyya foot- soldiers like Rabiu Suleiman Bichi, Dr Yunusa Adamu Dangwani, Alhaji Aminu Dabo, Professor Hafiz Abubakar, Aliyu Madaki among others.
There is no any other known quality, apart from Abba K. Yusuf being in-law to Kwankwaso, that made the Senator to anoint him as his preferred governorship candidate for Kano state governor in the 2019 general election.
Democracy is about mutual discussion and persuasion, so Kwankwaso cannot eat his cake and still have it. He should rather serve as a true leader and provide a level playing ground to all his followers to contest for primaries and then give them   his full support to whoever emerges winner in the primaries, he has served twice as the number one Kano citizen, so for him to long for total control of the state is not something that is possible again.
The governorship ticket was not the only one that was imposed by the senator, in fact his people were prevented from buying forms except he approved that in a very autocratic manner. As a result, all the positions to be contested for the senate, house of representatives and even the state assembly had anointed candidates handpicked by Kwankwaso, with further two in-laws of his selected. This is not democracy!
In conclusion, it is apparent that the selfish imposition has created cracks in the Kwankwasiyya camp, as this will be the first time the members of the cult-like political movement came out openly to go against their leader, there are insinuations that the governorship candidates will soon write a protest letter to the national headquarters of the party. Furthermore there is the Salihu Sagir Takai camp still in the PDP, not to talk of the original leadership of the party led by Doguwa who are all against the perceived injustice perpetrated in selecting an unknown candidate to contest against Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in the 2019 governorship election. Except a miracle will happen, Kwankwaso’s nepostic imposition of candidates is a recipe for failure for the PDP in Kano.
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#NotTooYoungToRun: The Cacophony of Youth Inclusion In Nigerian Politics, By Ani Agwu

The Global Goals are built on the success of the Millennium Development Goals’ endeavour to exterminate all forms of poverty. The goals recognize that ending poverty must go hand in hand with strategies that build economic growth, and address a range of social needs including education, health, job opportunities and social inclusion. The SDGs envision building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels for shared prosperity, peace, and partnership.

In trying to build institutions, Nigeria has had a checkered political and economic history. Like many other African countries, Nigeria won independence in 1960. It adopted a parliamentary democracy akin to the Britain’s, with Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, who lasted for only six years before the military murdered him. This era, generally known as the first republic, lasted from 1960 to 1966.

It was marked by ethnic tensions, poor governance and corruption. The second civilian leader, President Shehu Shagari, stayed in office for four years (1979-1983) before he was tossed out by a dictator, General Muhammadu Buhari. In the contemporary Nigerian political parlance, Buhari had converted; he’s now a democrat.

Around May 29, 1999, Nigeria returned to a democratic arrangement with General (Rtd) Olusegun Obasanjo as a civilian president. Be that as it may, the country did not escape military’s influence. By the military mentality that subsisted, a man’s might is his right. Even this morning, if you “provoke” the Nigerian secret police (DSS), they would host you indefinitely. If you’re unlucky, nobody would ever see you again in this present life.

Partly because of this very rough political history, young Nigerians developed apathy or lethargic indifference towards politics. Politics was confined to sexagenarians, septuagenarians and even octogenarians. Old people, across geopolitical zones, took hold of the political space but this proved rather catastrophic. In fact, they instituted a legal caveat barring young people from what they are doing in the form of minimum age requirements. To play partisan politics, you just needed to be old to fit in.

But suddenly, there was an outrage. The young people, who constitute overwhelming majority of the population rose up against the establishments, maybe for the first. They drafted and sponsored a bill, seeking a slash in the age requirements for elective positions. The bill was christened #NotTooYoungToRun. Tension heightened, almost consuming. The argument was strong enough: If we are old enough to vote, then we are old enough to be voted for. Build up to the 2019 general elections, exactly on May 31, 2018, the president caved in and assented to the bill. To a great extent, the law is positioned to counter political apathy and provoke young people into partisan politics, in pursuit of youth participation and political inclusion.

Is it a case of coup d’état against young people?

Before the young people’s’ jubilation could go full circle, the establishments struck again, calculating to reverse whatever fortune the #NotTooYoungToRun had gathered in the months before. The action substantiated a certain narrative that Nigeria politics is “tele-guided”. The first assault came from the ruling party – All progressive Congress (APC) by “imposing” a restrictive and discriminatory fee on party nomination forms. With Forty-five Million Naira (N45, 000, 000.00k) for nomination forms, the message is simple: We don’t want you in this affair!

This is the highest fee for party nomination in the history of the country. APC has been cited here as an example, although, the nomination fees of other political parties are behind that of the APC in the ranking. Going by the national minimum wage, you need to set aside your whole salary for a minimum period of 200 years. Unfortunately, the maximum number of years permitted in public service is about 35 years.   The price tag for APC’s party nomination forms is simply contradictory to the spirit and letters of #NotTooYoungToRun.

Sparking public outrage, the former Vice President of the World Bank; former minister of education and co-convener of BBOG, Dr Oby Ezekwesili took to twitter to convey her disappointment and displeasure. “When I decide to run for elective office, no way any Party that charges above N100,000 for Nomination Forms would get my membership. Tufiakwa!” she said in disapproval.

In a related development, Adamu Garba – a young entrepreneur, who had earlier declared his interest, withdrew from the race for inability to pay the restrictive amount. Overnight, he quitted and dashed for his business in Lagos.

Certainly, to play politics in Nigeria, you need a formidable war chest. You need enough money for razzmatazz, flamboyant campaign and buying-of-votes. Going by the trends, a vote goes between N1, 000 – N10, 000. At the grassroots, the basic understanding of social contract is cash-for-votes. It is: how much are you willing to pay? In the art, money (mammon) is the god.

Any hope for the victims?

The holy book says, “But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man”. Nigerian politicians are strongmen – brutish and mean. How do we bind them? To bind them, the shrinking civic space must be strengthened or emboldened through domestic and international pressures for political inclusion. If the organized labour and civic organisations do not find a means to cause a disruption in the political space, old politicians may effortlessly succeed in completely emasculating Nigerian youths.

Because fighting from the outside could really be efforts in futility, the struggle requires more than one approach. For the binding to succeed, the establishments – old politicians, must willingly pave way or at least cooperate with young people seeking inclusion. This is a sad reality going by how much these gerontocrats have captured state resources and power to their private gain. They possess so much power and command undue influence.

Is Nigerian politics a cash cow for her retired and tired civil servants and military Generals? “We are retired but not tired” they often admit with faces rich in sarcasm. Paradoxically, youths are driving enviable changes in the banking sector, ICTs but not politics. Up till today, youth inclusion is only but a cacophonous concept in Nigeria. It is discrepancy. It has to change, urgently. May we succeed as young Nigerians!

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Bindowo’s Government As Our Mirror, Babayola M. Toungo

“… the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” Shakespeare

Another election cycle is upon us and my heart bleeds for my beloved Adamawa State.  My heart bleeds because the politicians, particularly those in opposition to the current governor are fighting amongst themselves instead of forging a unified front against an incumbent who has held captive the people of Adamawa in a python-like grip of bad governance, thuggery, deception and general maladministration.

This time around in my tracking of Adamawa politics I am going to embark on a journey of soul searching, in a peregrination of some sort, a political principles search if you would prefer.  This is because I am a stakeholder in the democratic process that has seen to the emergence of our present crop of political leaders. I am more a stakeholder, than others, that has seen to the emergence of APC political office holders at the States and national level beyond Adamawa State itself.

As such I am pained at what the party has become or what it has been reduced to, as a negation of our aspiration to build a virile and resilient political machinery that will be a complete departure from the practice that other political associations, most especially the PDP has engendered, in its 16 years of its (mis) governance.  At least in my Adamawa State.

I am in pain that in one way or the other I have contributed to the emergence of Governors, Senators, Legislators and President Buhari as politicians of a class that will represent us and most especially bring a special difference from the Northern States because of our antecedents and leadership qualities that are now almost inherent in us – which has been found worthy of emulation by others within the 19 Northern States.

Alas, look at what is happening in Benue, Plateau, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano, Kwara and many other States that the media has decided to keep under silent wraps away from the prying eyes of the electorate. Is Yobe the only State where the political class will choose not to embark on an internecine political wrangling for political office – or specifically the office of the Governor?

It is within this context that we got saddled with a governor who lacks an understanding of governance, democracy and their importance.  This lack of understanding may not be his fault and may not be deliberate but due to many causes, all of which may not be the governor’s doing.

It may be due to intellectual shallowness as many people allege; the apathy of the citizens and to the inherent failure of the opposition to articulate a choate position and their inability to connect with the people and wake them up from their indifference to governance and who governs them.  Most of the electorate in Adamawa have been conditioned to expect nothing from life except what crumbs fall their way during every four-year electoral circle and expect nothing between one election cycle to the other.

Isn’t it time for us to pause and redefine our relationships with those who lead us and even our positions in our society?  Of all the other professions, I believe politics is the most important because politicians decide how you live your life.  It is not important because of the amount of money doled out to voters during election period; nor because of how ethnically based, hate-filled and shallow our politics have been turned to by carpetbaggers.

Politics is important because of the service its practitioners ought to render to their fellow citizens through qualitative, equitable, just, focused and upright leadership.  Qualities that appear to be alien to the current occupants of our government house in Yola.

The government constantly reminds us of the work done on our dilapidated roads.  It is quite laudable.  I doff my hat to them for making the roads within Yola once more motorable – if you choose to forget the exorbitant amounts allegedly spent in rehabilitating them.  But look at these newly minted streets and see the number of school-age children out of school; look at our hospitals (where you find any) and then you may begin to comprehend that you have been sold a dummy.  Look at how far we have been left behind in all human development indices.  Our system seems to have collapse and we may need an energetic, well-read and broad-minded candidate to move us into the 21st century.  The task is enormous but is doable.

We, the electorates shouldn’t allow ourselves to be treated like hired lackeys of the politicians and must therefore be assertive in making sure the right people are voted into office.

To those of us able to read this piece either in a newspaper, on your laptops, notebooks or smartphones, let’s be the guardians of our state and this may perhaps be among the many functions God entrusted us with as citizens of Adamawa State.  We have achieved much just by being citizens of this perennially potentially great state and we have erred often.  But we should be willing, with all humility to make amends and make Adamawa great.

 

This is my way of apologizing to the people of Adamawa State.

 

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As We Move Towards the Rivers State Government House, By Soalabo West, Esq.

My public declaration to vie for the high office of Governor of Rivers State on the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has elicited diverse reactions from indigenes and residents of the State. Many Nigerians from different parts of the country have also expressed their views on my aspiration.

No matter the leanings of the opinions that were expressed, my willingness to offer my name for nomination for the position of Governor of Rivers State, has, nonetheless, broadened the ambits of the political discourse within and outside the State. This I believe is good for the PDP and our polity, in general.

For the records, I have been a loyal member of the PDP for over 10 years and even when the party was afflicted by a gale of defections, I remained in the PDP, hoping that the principle of rotational zoning entrenched in the constitution of the party by the elders and founders of the party will continue to guide the leadership of the party in matters relating to elective positions. Alas, this is not the case and I am now hard put to say that, due to the whirlpool of existing political exigencies, I will no longer be aspiring to actualise my governorship ambition under the aegis of the PDP.

In announcing my interest for the governorship position under the aegis of the PDP, I emphasised that my candidature was inspired by the crying need to allow the riverine communities of Rivers State to produce the Governor of the State in 2019. I don’t think that I was asking for too much from the State and National leadership of the PDP as the upland area of the State has produced all the Governors elected on the platform of the PDP since the advent of civilian elective participatory democracy in 1999.

My argument remains that by 2019 the upland communities would have controlled the governorship of Rivers State for 20 years. I am convinced that my request that an indigene of the riverine part of the State, should of necessity be availed the opportunity to govern the State is in tune with the democratic ideals of equity, justice and fairness.

Sadly, I have come to realise that the leadership of the party in the State and at the National level of the PDP may never be prepared for an indigene of the State from the riverine area to govern Rivers State in 2019.

The reason that is being bandied around is that the incumbent Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, an Ikwerre man who also took over from former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, also from the Ikwerre ethnic stock, is doing well and as such should be allowed to continue for a second term of four years, up to 2023 does not trump the existential imperatives of the riverine people of the State.

I have written to the leadership of the party at the State and National, asking for a commitment that the party will, in pursuance of the provisions of the PDP constitution, zone the Governorship position of the party, in 2023, to the riverine communities. But that commitment has not been made.

Let me say this: Rivers State has all that is required to bring growth and development to any modern state. We have excellent human resources, very fertile land, two seaports, huge hydrocarbon deposits, an international airport, miles of beaches caressing the Atlantic and so much more.

We’ve got great plans for Rivers State and believe that she can be better. We will break her away from the shackles of underachievement and usher in a new era of peace and progress where everyone can fulfill their potentials with the government providing the enabling environment.

What if we could plan most future developments in our State and pass laws to ensure that we operate substantially within the ambits of those plans? Be they educational, infrastructural, entrepreneurial, cities development, waste management or even multiyear budget plans.

What if we could employ 300-500 new professionals incrementally- lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, scientists, administrators, engineers, surveyors, agricultural extension services providers, etc- to work and reside in each local government area of Rivers State? Providing them staff quarters and other incentives to ensure they stay and pursue their lives there?

What if we could get manufacturers and service providers back to Trans Amadi Industrial Estate and build new industrial parks in Abonnema, Ahoada, Bori, Degema, Omoku, Oyigbo, Etche or Omuma and engender improved security in the State together with facilities (including a short emergency number like 112) to cater to all emergencies?

What if we could deploy a statewide fibre optics backbone in partnership with telecoms service providers to deliver cheaper internet bandwidth and support the development of tech innovation and incubation hubs to provide a springboard for our teaming youths, startups and small businesses to leapfrog into a successful future?

What if we could enhance school sports, build centers of sporting excellence in each of our Local Government headquarters in partnership with the Federal Government, multinational companies, international sporting agencies and businesses together with organizing regular competitions between the different LGAs?

What if we could reclaim lands swallowed up by sea rises and clean up our polluted lands, swamps, creeks and seas, then introduce lost land and marine resources using an integrated partnership funding model to harness the participation of the federal government and international multilateral agencies and multinational companies working in our communities?

What if we could enhance our existing healthcare systems to drastically reduce HIV/AIDS, malaria, maternal, neonatal and infant mortality rates and deliver at least 2 world class tertiary healthcare institutions one of which can deal with various body organ challenges and, above all, cancer?

These are a few of the things that we have planned to do and which will be greatly beneficial to Rivers State and all our people.

Although, I will no longer be vying for the position of Governor of our State on the platform of the PDP, I am still very interested in the governorship race of Rivers State and in the coming days will, after due consultations, inform on the new direction that God has led us to.

Importantly, I am convinced that our developmental ideas will usher in a new paradigm of peace and progress to Rivers State anchored on equity, justice and fairness. So in the spirit of oneness, collective growth and development of our State, all are allowed to utilize any of our developmental models and harness our ideas for the common good of our people. After all we are striving for a greater Rivers State first!


Soalabo is a lawyer and can be reached at www.soalabowest.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Babande writes from Sabon Pegi, Damaturu Yobe State

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salisu Na’inna and Cassidy Madueke writes from Abuja.

 

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