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The Importance of 2023 In Current Nigerian Politics

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By Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba

Everything happening in Nigeria now is about 2023 even though this is 2020. It is clear that Nigerians are now doubting the health, the capability and the thinking of would have been savior of Nigeria, President Muhammad Buhari. But the top tier of aspirants to the presidency, Tinubu, Osibanjo, Ekweremadu, Peter Obi are fully aware that Buhari’s support is very essential. It does not matter whether the candidate is running on the PDP platform or on APC’s. Especially on APC’s platform.

This political calculus is obvious in the actions of the top candidates. For Osibanjo, the calculus demands his silence over ALL the things PMB does. The silence is such that some people speculate that he has died, even though this is not the truth. Osibanjo knows that his SW base is not secure because of the presence of his mentor, Tinubu in the presidential equation. He cannot afford the anger of both Tinubu and PMB against him.

The very same problems face Mr. Tinubu. He cannot afford combined opposition from Mr. Osibanjo and PMB. Therefore, the two must first settle between themselves who is a better candidate. And even in this private conference PMB will loom large.

Mr. Ekweremadu faces similar challenges. He cannot hope for PMB’s support but he would be better off if PMB does not appear to oppose him as much. He too has Mr. Peter Obi in the wings. PMB’s preference of one over the other would make a difference. This deference to PMB could account for Ekweremadu wearing the Nigerian Coat of Arms to his Germany trip. He saw the need to appear as a proper Nigerian and not a Biafran.

Peter Obi has exactly Ekweremadu’s dilemma. He must run as a proper Nigeria or the anger of PMB and his cabal will be on him and with Ekweremadu in the equation carefulness is commanded.

The possible tie breakers in these internal warfare are Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, the former president. And who eventually becomes the head of APC.

Mr. Jonathan still commands a huge influence in SS and SE affairs. Both Mr. Ekweremadu and Obi are popular in SE but Ekweremadu is owed a debt by Jonathan. He led the coalition that made sure he assumed the presidency after the death of Yar’ Adua, Ekweremadu made the survival of Jonathan’s six years in office possible. One good turn deserves another. GEJ Will put that into consideration as he ponders on whose corner he would land.

Obi cannot afford to take Jonathan for granted.

No such debt is owed Mr. Obi, but the fact that Mr. Atiku chose him as his VP candidate cannot be ignored by Jonathan. He is from Anambra as much a political state as there is in Nigeria. JEG will necessarily put all that into consideration as decides on whose corner to land.

Whoever gets to be the APC’s party chairman will play the same role in APC as GEJ in PDP given the silence of PMB.
This brings us to the nature of elections in Nigeria. In most other parts of the democratic world, there are no king makers. An unknown governor of Georgia (Jimmy Carter) could take on the Democratic Party and win the nomination of the party as president just as a first term black senator (Barack Obama) repeated several decades later. In the Republican Party Trump demonstrated the same feat. But in Nigeria, there are king makers whose support are absolutely necessary.

Until Nigeria overcomes King Makers her democracy must be followed by an asterisk.

Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba writes from Boston, Massachusetts.

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Opinion

Buhari & S’East: Arthur Eze Nails It — By Femi Adesina

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Femi Adesina

There’s a wise saying in Yoruba land, which goes thus: “If you like, feed the entire city with pounded yam, egusi soup and stockfish on a daily basis, there’ll still be people who won’t like you.”

Let’s be honest and frank with ourselves. There are some people with primordial antipathy towards President Muhammadu Buhari, despite the man’s strong commitment towards transforming every part of the country. Some people have simply closed their minds, eyes and ears, and the President can just do no good.

President Buhari, however, equally has very committed loyalists in every part of the country, not minding some people who have chosen to believe the worst things, and addled their minds in the process.

Last weekend, wealthy businessman and philanthropist, Chief Arthur Eze, struck the nail on the head. He looked deeply at his own South East region of the country, and came out with a conclusion: “The President is man of the moment for the Igbo and the entire South East.

“President Buhari has demonstrated uncommon goodwill towards the people of the South East geopolitical zone, and should now rest assured of our unalloyed support and loyalty.”

Bull’s eye!

But what did Chief Eze see, that brought him to such conclusion, though he had been a supporter of the President for some time? Roads. Bridges, Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Owerri Interchange, Zik’s Mausoleum, great infrastructural projects that the region has not seen in a long while, if at any time.

In late 2018, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, unfolded a minimum of 69 different projects being undertaken by the Federal Government in South East alone, all amounting to about N680 billion. Of course, top on the list is the Second River Niger Bridge, which was built with mouth in the 16 years of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in power. The project is about 48% gone, and billed for completion in first quarter of 2022.

You have the Enugu-Port Harcourt road. Enugu-Onitsha road, and at least 67 other projects. The list is in the public domain.

Just recently, President Buhari approved a Zonal Police Headquarters (Zone 13) located at Ukpo Dunukofia, in Anambra State. It was inaugurated during the week, and will go a long way in addressing the security concerns of people of the region.

Now, do you do all these for people you don’t like? Not at all.

It is disingenuous for anyone to claim that President Buhari does not like any part of the country, most especially the South East.

When the former Major General joined the political fray in 2002, and contested for President in 2003, who was his running mate? Former Senate President, Dr Chuba Okadigbo, a true Igbo son.

In 2007, who ran with Buhari? Another true Igbo son, and former Speaker, House of Representatives, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke.

And when former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme fell deathly ill, President Buhari arranged his evacuation abroad by air ambulance. When he eventually passed on, he was given a most befitting national burial. Do you do that for a people you don’t like? Hardly.

After Ekwueme’s burial, Dr Chris Ngige, another illustrious Igbo son, came to the Federal Executive Council meeting, and gave the appreciation of the region to the President. What did Buhari say?

“I’ve only done what the Constitution prescribes should be done for a former Vice President. In flying him abroad when it became necessary, in giving him national burial, I just did what should be done for a former Number 2 man in the country.”

That is President Buhari for you. He gives every man his due, every region what they deserve. Fairness to all.

Evergreen is the testimony of retired Ambassador Ignatius Olisemeka about the then General Buhari, shortly before the 2015 presidential election.

“Without ever knowing or meeting me, Buhari gave me a chance,” the Ambassador, then 83 years old, wrote.

“As I now write, I have never met him one-on-one. We have never spoken to each other. It is an extraordinary experience of an unusual man.

“I was sitting on my desk in the Ministry of External Affairs, 40 Marina, Lagos, in 1984, when I received a letter appointing me Ambassador to the United States of America. My place of origin did not matter… My religion did not matter. I had no worthwhile contacts with Dodan Barracks…”

That’s the same Buhari that revisionists would want us to believe is nepotistic, myopic, insular, and who would never appoint a non-Fulani into any position of substance. Tufiakwa!

I remember something they twisted against the President in 2015, and which they have stuck stubbornly and irrationally to, despite our many clarifications.

We were in Washington, USA, on an official visit. And the President met with Nigerians based in that country. A question came on how he would fill political positions, since he got less than 5% votes in some parts of the country.

The President said in politics, it made sense to reward those who voted for you, more than those who didn’t. If you got 95% votes in some areas, and 5% votes in others, it stood to reason that those who voted more should get more positions. Then he added: “But the Nigerian Constitution forbids any leader from doing such, and I will do as the Constitution prescribes.”

What did mischief makers do? They took the video recording of the earlier part of the President’s speech, cutting off the part where he balanced it. And they began to share it far and wide, just to portray nepotism. They repeat it till tomorrow, despite many explanations, simply because it suits their heinous purpose.

Despite the sparse number of votes in the South East in 2015 and 2019 elections, would we be right to say the entire region is arrayed against the President? Not so. After the 2015 election was won, I remember a piece I wrote in Daily Sun Newspaper, under the headline, ‘Igbo Heroes of Change.’ I mentioned people who contributed significantly to the Buhari victory like Chief Ralph Obiora, Dr Chris Ngige, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, Hon Juventus Ojukwu, Osita Okechukwu, and many others.

Also today, we have great admirers of the President from the South East, and some of them will stand by him through thick and thin. I am talking of people like Joe Igbokwe, Dr Uche Diala, Peter Claver Oparah, Emeka Oparah, Dr. Kelechi Nwagwu, Zara Gift Oyinye, Jewel Ifunaya Chika, Dr Emmanuel Nwusulor, Anozie Emeka, Abuchi Anueyiagu, Egondu Okorie,and uncountable others, which space won’t permit me to mention.

For President Buhari, when he does anything in any part of the country, he does it because it’s the right and fair thing to do. Most of the 69 projects going on in the South East had been awarded before 2015. But they were never funded. The President reversed the trend, and most of them are proceeding apace, and will be legacies by the time the man exits from office.

President Buhari has his eyes on history, and he will have his place in the pantheon of honor. At the onset of COVID-19 and its devastation on the economy, I was glad to hear him instruct the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed: “No matter what happens, salaries of workers must not fail, pensions must not fail, and funding of infrastructure must not stop.”

Don’t you like the commitment of this President? I sure do.

I commend Chief Arthur Eze for being forthright and true about the President and the South East. Coming a week after Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State expressed similar sentiments about the fairness of the President, it’s time for those in entrenched positions to open their eyes and see, open their ears and hear, lest they become perpetually blind and deaf. Willfully so.

President Buhari does justice to every part of the country. Those who had imbibed a lie should now wake up, and smell the coffee.

*Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari

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Opinion

Nation Building; Why Lawmakers Should Restructure Their Minds

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national assembly

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

On Tuesday July 7th, 2020, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila led House of Representatives; going by reports introduced consolidated two bills that among other provisions, seeks to penalize law enforcement bodies that fails to arrest and compel the appearance of Ministers and Heads of Agencies who fail to honour summons of the National Assembly.

To add context to the discourse, the two Bills are entitled; A Bill for an Act to Amend the Legislative Houses(Power And Privileges) Act 2917 to Prescribe the Offence and Punishment for Contempt of Legislative Houses, to Provide Punishment on the Police or any other Law Enforcement Agent that refuses to Arrest any Person as directed by a Legislative House, to provide Exception to the kind of person to be compelled by a Legislative House, such as President, the Executive Governors and their Deputies, Diplomats and their agents, Representatives of international Organisations such as the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, ECOWAS.

At a glance, when one analyzes this latest Bill, it brings to the fore the role of foresight in leadership as well as leaves the analyst lost with the impression that such step was developed under the aegis of prophets as it appears so logical. It is a perfect way of restructuring the system and building the nation by extention. It did not come to many as a surprise as a peep into the 9th Assembly reveals that the present Assembly, going by the profile of members, is arguably filled with the best trained and most highly skilled in the history of NASS in Nigeria. But for identified personal interests that will be explained on the course of this piece have not allowed them do the job of lawmaking that will enhance the life chances of Nigerians.

Talking about the merit of the present Bill, aside from the fact that the National Assembly is empowered by sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution, to investigate all agencies and cause arrest, of those who do not cooperate with their enquiry on any issues, the most telling good intention about this latest Bill is signposted in its willingness to making law enforcement officers be alive to their responsibilities while promoting checks and balances among different arms of government.

Essentially also, there are more concrete reasons that made me marvel at the quality of their decision. First, separate from the fact that Nigerians have in the past witnessed situations where some Ministers and Head of Agencies ignored the legitimate legislative and judicial directives, thereby become a threat to the very structure they were appointed to protect, there is an accompanying believe that when leaders are not held accountable for serious mistakes, they, and their successors are more likely to repeat those mistakes. Such has in the past brought unwelcome departure from normal good sense and judgement in the country.

And so what this all means is that, today, and every day, Nigerians have as a responsibility to remember that enforcement of such checks and balances like AL Gore, a former Vice President of the United States of America (USA), noted, will definitely make us stronger by ensuring that decisions will be tested, studied, reviewed, and examined through the process of government that are designed to improve policies. And on the part of the Ministers and Heads of Agencies, the knowledge that their decisions will be reviewed prevents over-reaching and checks the accretion of power. For whenever power is unchecked and unaccountable, it almost inevitably leads to mistakes and abuse’ and in the absence of regorious accountability, incompetences flourishes, dishonesty is encouraged and rewarded.

But, in the pursuit of this new Bill, there is, however, something fundamentally new and different and has to do with moral argument.

Infact, there is a wide disagreement. Nigerians with critical minds are concerned about why the House is seeking obedience/compliance from the Ministers, Heads of Agencies and law enforcement agencies, to their directives whereas they (Lawmakers) have never complied to the detects of the masses that elected them to the office. The underlying premise of representative democracy, they argued, was that the voters in each constituency would be able to communicate freely within the public forum with their representatives and could rely on the free flow of information about their representative’s subsequent performance in the house in order to hold them accountable.

But what Nigerians have witnessed all this years is but increased use by the lawmakers, of sophisticated methods to manipulate public opinion and selectively controlled information relevant to collective decision making. A feat that has brought about on the part of the masses increased public apathy and declining participation in political activities, increased cynicism and distrust of the integrity of the country’s National Assembly. Of course, this explains why what is today said at the floor of the national assembly hardly matters to the people.

Specifically, think about some of the trends Nigerians have seen in the hands of the members of the 9th assembly which comprises of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, that sought a three-year jail term for anyone involved in what it calls the abuse of social media or an option of fine of N150, 000 or both. And also proposed a fine of N10 million for media houses involved in peddling falsehood or misleading the public. The Non Governmental Organization’s governance Bill (the NGO Bill), on its part contained far-reaching, restrictive provisions.

What about the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020′ which aims at empowering the Minister of Health, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and various other public health and allied institutions to regulate on quarantining, vaccination and prevention of infectious diseases in the country?

Away from the above unpalatable propositions, there are several reasons, both morally and socioeconomically that did so well to support the assertion that the lawmakers may afterwards not be better than or different from the people they propose the Bill for or accused of non compliance to the House’s directive.

The first example that comes to mind is the House’s recent but wrong push, through Honourable Odebumi Olusegun, of Ogo-Oluwa/Surulere federal constituency (APC, Oyo), a bill tagged; “Bill for an Act to Alter Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which provides that: “no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against the President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors during their period of office.” And have same provision extended to accommodate/cover Presiding Officers of Legislative offices during their period of office.”

If they were so interested in transparency, accountability and compliance with set rule, why seek such protection? Such move was made worse by the fact that it came at a time average Nigerians were getting worse off, economically and materially, than he/she was in 2015. And when the list of actions not yet taken to better the life chances of Nigerians were still lengthy and worrying.

At this very moment also, Nigerians remember with nostalgia, the recent decline by the house the opportunity to promote local content–an expression that is daily preached within the government circle without compliance. As the house refused to patronize the locally assembled vehicles by Innoson Group, said to have been recommended for them; and in its place, opt for the 2020 edition of Toyota Camry which will not only double the price of the initially recommended but, will cost a whopping 5 Billion to purchase 400 of the Toyota Camry model needed by the house.

Essentially, aside from the rejection of Innoson brand of SUV’s initially recommended for members, and in its place, went for 2020 edition of Toyota Camry, that will gulp about N5 billion of tax payers money, and happening in the face of recent lamentation that the House is broke, what, however, made the development newsy is that the house going by report has before now been at the forefront promoting the local content laws in the country.

Finally, as the debate rages, another important point to make is that every generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it remarked Frantz Fanon. Now that lawmakers are faced with the role of nation building, and the nation cries for restructuring, so has their responsibilities graduated to double folds. First, it is time for them to use their pragmatic intelligence devoid of emotional attachment to ask solution oriented questions in a solution–oriented manner. Secondly, and very important is that the hour has come for the Honourables to become the bearers of ‘true’ restructuring flagship by conscientiously restructuring their actions and inactions via leadership by example as it will collectively add up to restructuring the nation.

Very importantly also, Nigerians on their part must develop a ‘war room’ using our resolve and powers to fight the undemocratic and criminal tendencies in our consciences and government in order to usher in a truly egalitarian nation we all yearn for. This pivotal step must be taken as a failure to achieve this may render our race to restructuring elusive and view our discourse as a body without a soul.

~ Utomi is a Lagos-Based Media Consultant.

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Opinion

‘Wike Vindicates Buharists’

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By Femi Adesina

It came like a bolt out of the blue early this week, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, issued an advertisement, which went in a completely different direction compared to what he had always said of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Wike we knew was either usually crying wolf where there was none, alleging that the Federal Government wanted to kill him, or claiming that he was not answerable to the central government at Abuja in any way, or even pontificating that the President and his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had failed the country in diverse ways.
If not for the maturity, and the avuncular attitude of President Buhari to all state governors, it would have been easy for one to conclude that he and Wike were enemies. Forsworn ones.

There was also the then Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, who had formed a tag team with Wike in the anti-Buhari tendency. The President could have dealt with them in many ways, either overtly or covertly, but he let them be. He was a father ready to tolerate his many children, irrespective of their differing idiosyncrasies, propensities and predilections.

A couple of weeks back, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), of which President Buhari is the Chairman, had approved the refund of N148 billion to five states in the country for repair of Federal roads. They included Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa, Ondo and Osun.

Of the five states, only Ondo and Osun belong to the APC. The other three are of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Rivers, under Wike, was particularly combative, truculent, if not at times insulting. But the President did not let that influence his decision. He did what was right, fair and just, irrespective of party affiliations, or personal inclinations.

Rivers State got the highest figure of N78.9 billion, and I remember some people asking me why the President should give such money to a governor who would call him names the next day. But that was where Wike surprised everybody. Last Monday, he issued newspaper advertisements with the title, ‘Thank You Our Dear President.’

Dear President. False? True. Was it the Printer’s Devil? Not so. The Governor boldly appended his signature to the document.

He thanked the President for approving the refund, noting: “Mr President has by this remarkable and heart-warming gesture shown not only your love for the Government and people of Rivers State, but also, demonstrated expressly that you are, indeed, a President for every State of the Federation and all Nigerians.”

False? True. Printer’s Devil? Not so. The Governor went on:
“I assure you that the Rivers State Government is willing and ever ready to cooperate and partner with the Federal Government to advance the developmental aspirations of Rivers State in particular, and our nation in general.”

On seeing the above, I am sure millions of people must have cleaned their eyes, wondering if they were reading correctly. Having satisfied themselves that there were no cataracts, they went ahead:

“I wish to, therefore, appeal to Mr President to kindly oblige us a State visit when invited, to see what we have accomplished for the State and our people with the money.”

Wike, inviting President Buhari on a State visit. False? True. Printer’s Devil? Not so. He meant every word of it, and therefore appended his signature.

Many times, I had responded as spokesman to the President, to wolf cries by the Rivers State Governor. At a point, I began to ignore such cries, just as I did to Fayose before him. Mr President simply took all the wild allegations in his strides, and continued working for the country, all parts of the country.

In January 2018, there had been vicious killings in some parts of the country. States affected were; Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Yobe, Rivers and Zamfara. The President decided to embark on sympathy and solidarity visits to the states. All the Governors were receptive, except Wike, who said the visit was a smokescreen, meant to revive the dying APC in Rivers State.

“Apart from Jesus Christ, we don’t know of anyone who has risen a dead thing. APC is a dead party in Rivers State. No matter how you fast and pray, it will never wake up, “ he had said.

Again, he declared at another time, talking of the President: “We are the only state that the Federal Government refused to pay us our money used to execute Federal projects, because I don’t go to see him in the night, and I won’t go. He is not my friend, he is not doing well…”

When about 20 people were killed on New Year Day 2018, in Omoku area of the state, and the President wanted to visit, Wike demurred. He said there were killings everyday all over the country, and it meant the President must visit every State on a daily basis.

The circle has turned fully round, and Governor Wike is inviting the President to visit. He says he’s “a President for every State of the Federation and all Nigerians.” Wonderful!

Some people say it is N78.9 billion that is working, and the Governor is clearly inebriated by that windfall. But I don’t think so. Rivers is by no means a poor state. The amount is handsome, no doubt, but the state is oil rich, and can hold her own when it comes to finances. I rather choose to believe that Governor Wike had been playing a curious kind of politics all along, and now, fairness and justice have touched him in a positive way.

“He is not my friend, he is not doing well, ‘ he had said. Now, he is calling the man “our dear President “ asking him to be “assured of our profound esteem.” Wonders, indeed, shall never end.

There are millions upon millions of us round the country, who love President Buhari, and believe in him. We are called Buharists, and we have no apologies. They abuse us, deride and malign us, at times, they even threaten us. But we remain who and what we are: Buharists. Come rain or shine.

Why do we love the President, and unconditionally too. Is he a flawless, perfect man? Does he run a perfect, flawless government? Not exactly so, and I’ve not seen any in this world. But we stand by him, through thick and thin. Like Dr Okolo Oteri Eme, one of the Buhari Amazons posted on Facebook earlier this week, “We do not support him because we like him but because he gives us solid, verifiable reasons to love him on a daily basis.”

I see a man with solid integrity, honesty, sense of accountability, in a forest of crooked, perverse people, and you ask me not to follow him? I will follow him from Benin to Beijing, from Cape to Cairo, anywhere, everywhere.

I see a man bringing enduring change to agriculture, to infrastructure; roads, rail, bridges, airports, laying a $2.8 billion gas pipeline, money he could have craftily diverted for himself and for generations unborn, and you ask me not to believe in him? #We Believe! Ask Maryam Shetty, another Buhari Amazon.

I am glad Governor Wike has now seen what we had seen long ago, some of us as far back as 1983. And he has realized that it was time to stop the kind of politics he had played all the while.

My friend, Lorenz Mba, summed it all up in a message he sent to me on Wednesday. “For those who constantly maligned PMB, and called him all sorts of unprintable names, N78.9 billion is your answer. You simply won’t give those you hate N78.9 billion. I see that this gesture has truly humbled Nyesom Wike. Politics is all about propaganda. I salute PMB for his show of maturity in all these grandstanding by Southeast and South-south politicians. Go to Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Onitsha-Enugu, 2nd Niger Bridge today. Talk was cheap. PMB showed up. Enough of rhetoric, Biko.”

We said it that President Buhari hates no part of the country. He has come to serve, and not to be served. He is fair and equitable to all. But they said our mouths were smelling, and we should shut up. Governor Wike has now vindicated us. We are glad. We Believe!

  • Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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