Tuesday, 21 November 2017

POLITICS

Politics

Politics (117)

While acknowledging its human frailties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) insisted at the weekend that the party's 16 years of mistake remained far less than the calamity of the last two and half years of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in multiple dimensions.

A group, known as the National Volunteers for Lamido, which made the assertion in a statement issued in Abuja, noted that whatever the PDP did, it left the scene over two years ago and that exit provided Nigerians the opportunity to gauge the standard of performance. "From the economy, foreign relations where an APC government has decided to make caricature of the country, its leadership and people, security, wage theft, misapplication of resources and the lack of vision at all levels. This is total disaster."

In the statement, signed by its National Coordinator, Umar Danjani Hadeja, tgroup also accused the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu of deliberately choosing to feed the public with falsehood and obvious inaccuracies, deliberate misinformation, and even mischief bordering on denial and selective amnesia.

It was reacting to Garba's attempted response to a recent interview granted by a former governor of Jigawa state, Alhaji Sule Lamido to the Sun Newspaper, which was published on Saturday, November 11, 2017 wherein he fielded questions on his presidential ambition and the state of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as well as some snippets on reasoned insights on President Muhammadu Buhari's leadership style, the All Progressives Congress (APC) government and the future of Nigeria and the place of her youth.

The group particularly lampooned the Presidential Spokesperson for relishing in quackery whenever he ventures into the laborious attempts at rebuttals or rejoinders, more often, with scant regard for the truth. "Clearly, Garba's attempted response to the said Sule Lamido interview is yet another classic example of the PR disaster and liability that he now represents for the Buhari administration. Surely, we would care less for this misfortune of an appointee of Mr. President who is fishing and scavenging desperately for "stuff" that would make him look useful in a job he clearly does not know how to do. His brazen and intellectually lazy import-substitution mission for issues never raised in the interview in the effort to tar Alhaji Sule Lamido with a dirty brush is at best, mischievous, unprofessional and a damning verdict on Garba's."
While describing the attempt by Garba Shehu "to tar Alhaji Sule Lamido with a dirty brush" as mischievous, unprofessional and a damning verdict on the presidential spokesman, the group also expressed concern over the feeble and failed attempt to address or "attack" the facts of the matter raised in the Sule Lamido interview.

It took a swipe at the presidential spokesman for falsely accusing Alhaji Sule Lamido of impugning the integrity of the nation's judicial system and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), when, in actual fact, "the government is itself destroying," these two institutions.

"Where, for instance, did Garba see any reference to these institutions in the said interview? Did he at all, read the interview or in the classic case of playing the 'Boss', lazily rely on some subordinates who supposedly drew his attention to a publication he never sighted? And as if this was not shameful enough, he brazenly proceeded to blindly issue a 'rejoinder' to a publication he apparently knew nothing about. This is a further injury to the image, integrity and ethics of the journalism profession," it said.
According to the group, Garba has thrown up the poverty of the government's effort to water down any serious effort to address our national ills. " His usual habit of ignoring facts was manifest in his attempt to defend his party rather than the government's confused approach to implementing the agenda it promised."

The group however noted that Alhaji Lamido would not be deterred, distracted or cowed by the shenanigans of the ilk of Garba, stressing that as a statesman and nationalist whose sole driving impetus is improvement in the material condition of the ordinary Nigerian citizen, as well as carving a place of high repute for Nigeria in the comity of nations, "Alhaji Sule Lamido is forging ahead with steely determination and singleness of purpose."

"Lamido will continue to speak truth to power and call out the APC government in all its numerous failings. No amount of name-calling, falsehood, character assassination or intimidation will do the trick. Not from Garba Shehu, not from anyone else. The APC government must shape up or ship out, or else expect the Sule Lamidos of this Country and they are in the majority now, to continue to call it out," the group insisted.

Still comparing the PDP government with the current administration, the group further drew attention to what is called confusion and lies, cross messaging and open confrontation among various officials of government even while brazenly engaged in corrupt practices of various kinds as widely reported in the media. "This is worse than a calamity for a developing nation like ours. Garba should encourage the government he serves to investigate those cases instead of chasing shadows and silhouettes. If you check the markets, prices have skyrocketed. There is unemployment, poverty and hunger, which bad effects have shot over the roofs, while some officials including Garba are smiling, as they hide their loots from this government. These stories have become daily doses of media reportage. Time shall tell."

Maintaining that the antecedents of everyone given opportunity of service speaks for him or her, the group contended that Alhaji Sule Lamido comes across as a deliverer of promise, challenging anyone in doubt to visit Jigawa State to understand the difference between the Lamido years and the present reality. "Every visible productive project of stature dotting the entire landscape was initiated and completed by him."
"The essential Alhaji Sule Lamido is a quintessential leader who is and still loved by the people; among whom he lives to date. He speaks his mind, no matter who is involved. In the process, he has encountered and also survived the vicissitudes of politics while serving his fatherland. This has, over the years, shaped his vision with courage of conviction and strength of character. You may confirm by the kind and nature of people around him and his associates.

"Unlike Alhaji Sule Lamido, Garba is inconsequential inconsistent, foul mouthed and practicing quackery as Public Affairs management. Therefore, our final word and free consultancy for Garba is this: "Attend a refresher course on how not to be a Public Affairs assistant. We understand one such course is scheduled for some time in the year 2019, otherwise, you will remain an albatross on President Buhari's neck. Nigerians are watching"

Posted On Monday, 20 November 2017 16:26 Written by

…I don’t begrudge anybody, says Ndume

The resumption of former Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume Wednesday after serving out 90 legislative days of suspension did not go without drama.

The drama played out when Ndume in his usual boisterous manner raised a Point Order apparently to announce his return to the chamber.

It was obvious that senators were wondering what the Borno South lawmaker wanted to say so soon after he was left off the hook.

Ndume surprised everybody in the chamber when he recalled the sudden death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke (Osun West) whom he said sat behind him in the chamber.

Ndume who told his colleagues that he used to call Adeleke his “landlord” in the chamber prayed the Senate to observe a minute silence in honour of late senator.

Not done, Ndume also recalled the recently signed North East Development Commission Act.

The Bill that led to the Act, he said, was spearheaded by him and Senator Kabiru Gaya to address the humanitarian crisis created by the activities of Boko Haram in the North East geo-political zone.

He thanked his colleagues for ensuring speedy passage of the Bill and President Muhammadu Buhari for appreciating the necessity to sign the Bill into law in record time.

While Ndume was marshaling his points, Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) was gesturing at the back ground to raise another point of order.

It was not clear what Melaye (Kogi West) wanted to say but Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who might have sensed trouble, did not recognise him.

When Ndume was done, Saraki simple ruled that “the points made by Ndume are noted” and quickly moved on to other legislative matters listed for the day.

At a press briefing, Ndume said that he went to court to challenge his suspension to seek clarification on the position of the law about the way and manner the Senate suspended him.

The lawmaker said that he did not go to court for any personal benefit but to seek clarification in the interest of democracy.

He insisted that there was nothing personal about his suspension neither is he holding anybody responsible for his suspension.

He also said that he went to court to test the law in defence of democracy and reiterated that he does not begrudge anybody over his suspension.

He noted that the court had since declared his suspension as illegal, null, void and of no effect.

Ndume who added that the Senate has signaled its intension to appeal the court ruling declared “we will watch how it goes.”

He said, “There was nothing about what happened. I did not see anything personal; I did not take anything personal. I don’t begrudge anybody but if there is anybody who took personal leave that to God.”

Posted On Wednesday, 15 November 2017 18:46 Written by

Former Secretary General of the Common Wealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku has said that Nigeria will fare better if the on-going call to restructure the country into regions is adhered to.

Anyaoku gave this view yesterday, shortly after paying a courtesy visit to Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, at Government House, Benin City. He said that Nigeria’s economy was more viable and rate of development faster when it operated a regional system of government.

He described governor Obaseki as a visionary governor and Edo State is fortunate to have him. Responding, Obaseki said that given the cost of governance at the centre, restructuring is inevitable if Nigeria must make progress as a country.

He extolled the leadership quality of Chief Anyaoku, stressing that the former top scribe of the Commonwealth stands for good governance and part of the generation that did the nation proud while in office.

“He is an international personality who stands for good governance and diplomatic skills,” Obaseki said.

Posted On Saturday, 14 October 2017 14:00 Written by

In this interview with FEMI MAKINDE, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the Second Republic, Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN), suggests that the structures bequeathed to Nigeria by the British colonialists must be altered before the nation can make progress

Nigeria is celebrating its 57th independence anniversary. Are you proud to be a Nigerian?

No, I am not. Nigeria should have done better than what we have now. We should have been the best country in Africa. Sometime ago, I went to a university in Cape Town to deliver a lecture, and after the lecture, I answered some questions. It’s a pity, Nigeria should have been like America, Canada or Australia, but we are not. I am not happy about that at all.

 

Where exactly did Nigeria get it wrong?

One, the British emphasised their own economic interest. Two, our education was very good, and after independence, it continued to be good. But now, it has become a disaster. We also got it wrong in terms of leadership. Unfortunately, the bad ones have been the ones ruling for a long time, and that is another reason Nigeria has not developed the way it should (have) since independence.

Do you consider the amalgamation of the North and the South by the colonialists a blessing or curse?

A disaster! An absolute disaster! There was no need for it at all. Don’t forget that before that time, the North and the South were sovereign states. They had different governor generals. In 1900, they were two different nations. It was only in 1914 that the North and the South were merged purposely for ease of administration. What was managed was the economic interest of the North and the South. We borrowed a lot from Australia at the time. From then till now, it has been a new Nigeria of foreign economic interest and that is the truth.

Are you saying that Nigeria would have been better than it is now if the North and South weren’t amalgamated?

Nigeria would have been much better. The thinking of the North is quite different from that of the South. In any case, the thinking of the western Nigeria is different from the thinking of the eastern Nigeria. The marriage of the North and the South was of foreign economic interest. There was no need for it at all. In any case, we took no part in the marriage, it was a foreign marriage foisted on the people.

Do you think Nigeria still has reasons to celebrate at 57?

(There is) no need at all. What are we celebrating? We are celebrating a bad marriage; we are celebrating disaster. I am not happy about it.  I was very proud before independence that things would be better but things are very bad now. If you look at our children now, you will see that they travel abroad for education and they are doing very well. The best Nigerians are now abroad. You find them everywhere, in the US, UK, France, Switzerland and all over and they are doing well. They are not contributing to our own progress but are contributing to the progress of other foreign countries because they are not proud of their own country. That is the truth. Our best are trooping outside the country almost on daily basis.

You also played a role in the struggle for Nigeria’s independence. Do you regret it?

I don’t regret it. In any case, I was in politics before independence and I was also in politics after independence. What I regret are the consequences of independence because there was no need for military intervention. Since then, things have never been the same. In any case, the marriage of various ethnic groups by the colonialists has not worked, no matter how we try to distort things.

Ghana for instance was doing fine before the coup which spread to the whole of Africa and caused a mess since then. Even in South Africa, when the foreigners were ruling, it was very good but (since) the natives came, it is now bad. The economy is controlled by the foreigners and politics is controlled by the natives.

The marriage in Africa has been bad.  Colonialism has not worked well in Africa. The Americans had to fight, when the capital was in New York, to drive away the British. It was a bloody war and it was supported by the French. But look at things now, America is the best country in the world and China is next to them. India is also moving at an incredibly good speed. They manufacture aeroplanes, cars and all sorts of good things but Nigeria has not been able to get close to that. Our marriage by the colonialists has been very bad.

Do you support some groups like IPOB agitating to break away to form Biafra?

I don’t believe in Biafra but the truth is that the marriage (of the North and South) has not worked well at all. What is the common denominator between the North and the South? What is the economic denominator between the Yoruba and the Igbo? The people of the Niger Delta are not happy. They believe that if they control their oil, they would have been better off. The consequence of colonialism in Africa is the worst in the world. The colonialists have gone away, yet they still hold our economy, no matter how they try to deceive us and distort the facts. I practice law in a number of West African countries. I go to The Gambia to practise law. I go to Dakar, Senegal to play golf. I go to Ghana and Cameroon. When I go through (countries) like that, I just laugh and say Africa, what have you done wrong? Why is it that America, which fought a bloody war with the British to gain independence, is doing so well and we are doing badly? I don’t see how that can be corrected unless things are properly made.

How do you think it can be corrected?

(Through) Separation!

Are you saying each region should go their separate ways?

Yes. No matter how much we deceive ourselves, the western Nigeria was doing very well before and after independence. But since independence, it has been either a bad marriage or military coup. That is not the way to run a country. Britain is not run like that. America is not run like that. Likewise France.

Are you saying Nigeria would have been better if it fought for independence like the US fought the British?

We fought. There was a very big fight and I doff my hat to Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro, Chief Akintola (Williams), Aminu Kano, Dr. Michael Opara and others. But the truth is that up till today, no matter how much we lie to ourselves, when it comes to our economy, when America got her independence, they took over control with their hands. There was already a (United States) government in New York, but they moved it to Washington. When America was fighting Britain for independence, France helped them to fight Britain and Britain was driven away. At that time, some people were in the House of Commons in London and at the same time, they were in the parliament in New York; that was ridiculous. Sometimes, it would take six months to travel from London to New York. When it comes to colonialism, Britain has been the worst in the world; they like to lick other people and that is why India had to fight a lot of wars to get independence.

Thanks to the Labour Party. When the Labour Party came to power, it set India free immediately and the gentleman who was just a councillor in London became foreign minister in India and you see great men leading them. Once the arithmetic is wrong, and that was what happened to Nigeria, the mathematics of policy is very wrong. As long as that mathematics is wrong, we cannot get anything right.

Have your contributions to nation building affected your personal life in any way?

My contribution was not as free as that of other great leaders in the country, but I okayed my role and I have no regret about it. My children went to University of London, (University of) Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and other universities in the world and they did extremely well. Some of them had first class in London, also in Harvard. I am very proud of that. Later I had the privilege of serving in Geneva, at the United Nations, and I served for five or six years. I was very proud (of that). When there was problem in Nigeria, I moved to London and continued my legal practice here.

What kind of problem?

There were lot of coups. The military were taking over power at will. That was the problem. One military ruler went to the University of Ibadan and asked the students there to contribute to the economy of the country. What is the economic strength of students? What money have they got? When those who don’t know are governing those who know, the consequences are poverty and lack of development. That is what we are having till today. Before independence, I went to St. Peter’s School at Aremo, Ibadan, which was one of the best schools in the country. From Standard IV, I went to Oduduwa College and I took my Senior Cambridge and had Grade 1. I had no regrets at the time but what I regret is the way Nigeria is structured, the way Nigeria is led, the way Nigeria is being governed and the way the economy is structured. If you look at the entire world, the countries with the worst set of economic structures are in Africa. People who control the economies of African countries are mostly foreigners. The real power lies in the hands of those who control the economy.

Which of the heroes of Nigerian nationalism do you miss most and why?

Oh, they are many. The best of them was Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe followed by Awolowo, S.L Akintola, Anthony Enahoro, Dr. Opara, Aminu Kano and several others. We produced excellent leaders. They were great leaders. If the economy of Nigerians is in the hands of Nigerians, as the political structures, the story would have been different. That is the truth. Things would have been completely different if Nigerians were the ones controlling nation’s economy. What we got wrong was the structure the British gave us which we have refused to alter ourselves. After independence, India altered everything to suit their own purpose and the country is now one of the best in the world. China which was in abject poverty has become the second best country in the world. That’s amazing and everybody is proud of that. Look at China, USA, Russia and others. I doff my hat to them. They are very great but it is not the same with Nigeria.

Can you draw any parallel between the struggle for independence and the calls for restructuring now?

People calling for restructuring now are partly right and partly wrong. The struggle for independence was natural. After the two major world wars, colonialism became irrelevant and the people who fought the wars made sure that colonialism was abolished. And that was why we had our independence. I had a privilege of going with (Tafawa) Balewa in 1960 to the United Nations in New York to be a member of the family of nations. But we have political independence on paper; do we have other things in our hands? Your guess is as good as mine on that.

What are your views on the issue of true federalism?

Talking of true federalism or bad federalism is nonsense. What you really need are good leaders in the country and not the third-rate people who have been ruling at local government, state or at national level. In many parts of Africa, you see Rubin’s leaders, leading the countries and as long as you have those rubbish people as leaders, there can’t be any progress.  As long as you have those who should at best be messengers leading, there can’t be any progress.

How do you think Nigeria can get rid of these bad leaders?

I will not answer that question the way you want me to answer it but let us pray to God.

Which system of government do you consider good for Nigeria, presidential or parliamentary?

I prefer the presidential system of government. The presidential system is very good because to be president, you have to campaign all over the country and the people must accept you and vote for you. But in the parliamentary system, all you need to do is win an election in a small constituency and then you will say you would rule the country. That is nonsense and when you do that, it doesn’t really work. That is why Americans took presidential system of government. The same thing goes for China, France and Russia. The British system, their evolution and development is quite different from ours. Britain lives on colonialism. Without colonialism, Britain would never be what it is.

Is presidential system of government not more expensive than parliamentary?

Presidential system of government is not expensive but those running it are the ones making it expensive. They are making it expensive through greed. When they make laws, it is as if they will be in power forever. That is one of the reasons. They should have the aim of being in power for a number of years and leave the place for others to go there. Look at The Gambia. When the small boy, the (former) head of state, wanted to remain in power forever, other countries in West Africa asked him to leave, and when he did not want to go, they threatened him with military action and he ran away.

Some people are advocating a part-time legislature in a bid to cut governing costs. Do you support this?

That is rubbish. If you are in parliament (legislature), you should be able to do your work well. Also, if you are a minister, it is a full-time job.

Do you agree that the salaries and other emoluments of our legislators are outrageous?

Their payments are a disaster. When I entered into the parliament, I was earning £800 a year. When I became minister, I was earning £3,000 a year; that was a lot of money in those days. But today, people want to go into politics and become billionaires overnight. That should not be allowed and if you replace them with the military, that is even worse.

How do you think Nigeria can tackle corruption?

Corruption has to do with leadership and the problem is that those who are ignorant come to power through the military, which is the launching pad for corruption. But if you have the right people contesting elections and staying there for a number of years prescribed by the constitution, like you have in America, there won’t be problems like we are having in Nigeria now.

Are you saying Nigerians should no longer vote for former military men?

They should not. Nigerians used public funds to buy guns and boots for them and those ones should stay out of politics. But some of them are retiring from military and joining politics. I don’t agree with what they are doing. What we have is a military government masquerading as civilian government. That is rubbish.

But what did you do differently in the second republic from what is happening now?

We had a presidential system of government under (Alhaji Shehu) Shagari and it was very good. When Shagari came in for the second term, they used military coup to drive him away, and from then till today, no matter what name you call it, it is still military rule (that has been) masquerading as civilian government(s).

Do you foresee a military coup?

No. I don’t even want them to come back. If they come back, it will only get worse. The consequences of their coming back will be terrible. The richest people in the country today are military men and those who had relationship one way or the other with them. I don’t want to say anything further on that but everybody knows.

How has Nigeria fared since the return to democracy in 1999?

It is 50:50. It is not too bad and it is not good but it could be better.

What do you think we can do as a nation to make the country better?

One, there should be no more military incursion into power again. Two, we should have the best brains in politics. Not messengers or thugs becoming governors and pretending to be governors and wanting power for themselves forever.

How can Nigeria achieve progress?

The best thing is not to follow the British structure. Also, the economy should be run by Nigerians and not foreigners. If you don’t do that, you know the consequences. Do you see the economy of America being run by foreigners? Do you see the economy of Britain run by foreigners? That is what I mean. But if you look at our economic structure now, it is not in our hands. It is being run by foreigners and everybody knows the truth.

How will you rate the performance of President Buhari since 2015?

Your guess is as good as mine. I should have preferred that (since) Buhari has got what he wanted, he should go and rest while others who are real politicians should come to power. But people don’t listen to the truth; they want half-truth and half falsehood.

What is your response to those in support of his return in 2019?

I just laugh at that. If he does that, it will be a big joke.

Are you saying he will not win?

I don’t know but it is going to be a very big joke.

What did you mean when you say Nigerians should go their separate ways?

The West should go their way likewise the East and let the Northerners decide what they want.

Is it through dialogue or by what means?

It should be through dialogue. I don’t believe in military coup; it has never worked anywhere and it can’t work in this country.

You were a minister of education in the first republic. What do you think Nigeria can do to revamp the education sector?

First, the universities should be adequately funded. I don’t see the best university in Nigeria today like we used to. Secondary schools have also collapsed. When I was doing Senior Cambridge, many of us came out with Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3. And when I finished, I was given a scholarship to study in England and come back to teach. I accepted the letter but I didn’t accept the scholarship because my parents could afford to send me to England.

Can Nigeria learn anything from the report of the 2014 National Conference organised by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan?

The confab report should be implemented. I had the privilege of moving the final adoption of the report because I was part of the conference. The government should implement the report; to ignore it is to ignore the best thing for Nigeria. Former President Jonathan did well and I doff my hat to him.

Is it advisable that Nigeria should amend the 1999 constitution or drop it totally?

We should drop the 1999 constitution totally. I want to see western Nigeria as a sovereign state. Let the North be different and let the East be different. That is the way God created us; any other marriage is rubbish.

Posted On Sunday, 01 October 2017 13:02 Written by

Renowned banker and politician, Dr. Alex Otti, speaks to TOFARATI IGE, about his banking and political career

Why did you leave banking for politics?

There comes a time when one looks beyond one’s personal comfort and interest in taking decisions. For me, that time was in 2014. I had spent over 25 years in the banking industry rising from a graduate trainee in 1988 when I finished from the university, to become CEO in 2011, after serving a six- year tenure as Executive Director in First Bank of Nigeria. I may not have completed my tenure as CEO of Diamond Bank, but I had achieved most of what my team and I set out to do in the bank in a shorter time than we set for it. Meanwhile, I come from a state where things were going bad owing to inept and incompetent leadership. I thought it was a good time to go and serve a lot more people than I was serving in the bank.

I was not interested in politics ordinarily, even though like it is said, man is a political animal. So, I always find it difficult to refer to myself as a politician. I do, however, know that the kind of changes that I wanted to make in the society can only be achieved in politics.

I have always been involved in what you call politics from my younger days and even in school, having been part of student union activities. I am also familiar with the words of Plato, which says, “One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

Was vying for the governorship of Abia State your first taste of politics?

I will say yes, if what one did in school is relevant to your question. Otherwise, this was my first attempt in the larger society.

Why did you choose to start at governorship level and not the Senate or perhaps the House of Representatives?

Governorship was where I thought I would make my greatest impact. Like I had said earlier, mine was not driven by the need to hold an office but to deliver service to my people. Legislative functions, even though important was not going to cut it for me. Again, I was gainfully engaged and was really not looking for a career in politics. Mine was more of an intervention than anything else.

What were some of the profound lessons you learnt in politics?

Many lessons that can take up the entire paper. I will highlight a few of them. The first is that people are more discerning than governments give them credit. In spite of the propaganda of the government of the day, when people want change, they want change. I was the subject of all sorts of propaganda, prejudices and blackmail, but the people still voted massively for me even though the mandate was stolen. The second one is that many people who call themselves career politicians are actually jobless and many of them are anything but honest. Again, the real power is in the hands of the people, not necessarily those that parade themselves as leaders. It was shocking to see that people can tell the kind of barefaced lies that you will never imagine. It still happens till today. You owe someone five months’ salaries and you take a space in the media and swear you are up-to-date in salary payments. Finally, treachery is fair game in politics.

How did you make the transition from banking to politics?

Those who call themselves politicians do not possess anything that a professional does not have. It is on the other hand more difficult for them to transit to professionalism. As one who had always related with people, it was not that difficult. I had a clear message for the people which the people bought into and followed.

Do you regret quitting Diamond Bank for politics?

If I had any regrets, it would be that I should have done this earlier. I completed my assignment in the bank before leaving. I remain proud of the modest achievements my team and I made in the bank. I am glad that I have led the way for a lot of young people to follow. Many people who had avoided politics like a plague told me that they were encouraged by what I did and would participate in the next election. That is how changes happen. Someone must make the required sacrifice for change to happen. It is impossible to make omelettes without breaking eggs.

Did losing at the poll come as a blow?

First of all, I did not lose at the poll. I won overwhelmingly to the extent that my opponents who were in power then had to manufacture figures to counter their defeat. The records are there to show. Rather than dealing me a blow, I was very proud of my team for their efforts and for dealing a seating government a big blow and forcing them into desperation. You will recall that the Court of Appeal revalidated our victory based on valid votes cast in that election. The Supreme Court reversed it based on technicalities and not facts of the election. Like we have said earlier, we have since moved on.

Were you not bothered about committing so much money into your political campaign even when you weren’t sure of victory?

Everything is about planning. I had a clear plan of what was needed to be spent and where the funds were going to come from. So, there was no anxiety. Besides, I had a lot of support from friends and Abia people who wanted change in the state. Everything in life is a risk, including the risk of going to bed and not waking up. If you get worried about that risk, you may decide not go to bed to mitigate that risk. Avoiding risks is more dangerous than managing them. Once you get involved in a venture, the chances that it would not work are always there. So, we factored in the risk of not winning and even the risk of winning and it being stolen like it happened in this case.

Were you born with a silver spoon?

Wooden spoon you mean? Not at all. I was born into a modest but contented family. There were many of us and the resources were very lean. It was management all the way. My dad would always give us what he thought was enough to sustain us in school while our mum would, out of her meagre resources, augment. Our dad must not know that our mum was augmenting otherwise; he would reduce what he would give us. In spite of apparent lack, there was dignity and happiness.

Growing up, did you have any vices that usually got you into trouble?

I was a very good child and didn’t have such vices.

What is that one unique/quirky thing about you?

Simple; uncomplicated, straightforward; what you see is what you get.

Who were some of your friends and contemporaries?

A lot of them. However, in the university, two of them that stand out are Rotimi Amaechi and Nyesom Wike. While Amaechi was one year ahead of me, I was a year ahead of Wike. So I’m literally caught in the middle. I’m sure you don’t envy me. They both remain my friends.

Considering that they are your friends, have you tried to broker peace between Rotimi Amaechi and Nyesom Wike?

 That is work in progress.

You studied Economics at the University of Port Harcourt; had you at that time began to eye a career in banking?

Banking was obviously one of the options given what I read. But I was also open to other things.

Graduating with a first-class degree is a rare feat. How did you achieve it?

I must first of all, attribute that feat to God. It was not my feat at all because I cannot say that I worked harder than others nor was I more brilliant than others. The thing about first-class degree is that you must be consistent both in character and in learning. If you miss it at the initial stage, it would be difficult to correct later.

One must have thought having graduated with a first-class degree, you would have pursued a career in the academics. Was it something you considered?

I not only considered it, I was given the opportunity by my alma mater after graduation. I turned it down because I thought I needed a job that would pay well at that time so I could support my parents with my seven younger ones, being the first born.

Can you recollect your experiences on your first job upon graduation?

There are many of them. One that stuck is my experience with the personal computer. I had not seen one before. It was my first day at work. My boss then, Mr. Kole Olowofoyeku, handed me a handwritten document and wanted me to produce it on the PC and return to him in five minutes. I had no idea how to turn on the PC not to talk of using it to produce a document. Well, I had to enlist the help of one my more experienced colleagues then, to get the job done. The second one was the kind of training that one had in the bank. Hard work was natural in the bank and I can still remember that on a couple of occasions we could not close from work until the next morning. You would just go home in the morning to freshen up and come back to work.

Did it in any way impact your career afterwards?

Yes. One is that it helped prepare me for surprises. The second is that hard work has become second nature to me.

Who are your role models?

My two role models are no more. They were my dad who passed on in 1994 and my teacher, Prof. Claude Ake, who departed in 1996.

What particular event shaped your life?

I am not sure there is one particular event but a complex set of events which includes the circumstances of my upbringing, education and work.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt in life?

I have learnt so many things that it would be difficult to isolate one as the most important. One of them may just be the one my late mother used to teach. She used to say that you cannot lose anything by working hard, rather, that you had all to gain. That was her way of imbibing the culture of hard work in all of us. The other one is that excellence will always dwarf mediocrity.

While in school, you served as the editor of some publications; did you at any point consider a career in journalism?

Not really. It was just an interest that I had and that is why I still write up till this moment. I maintain a fortnightly column in Thisday and I am completing my second book.

You took a course at Harvard University; how exactly did that impact on your business and professional acumen?

Harvard was one of the most important places that I trained. Interestingly, the course prepared me for the CEO role and exposed me to a lot of new things. The nine-week Advance Management Programme was a life-changing one which I will recommend to anyone who has the opportunity.

What would you regard as the highlights of your banking career?

From 1996 when I joined UBA, I had been part of a transformation team. I guess the successes we recorded must have made First Bank to headhunt me where I also joined a transformation team. The subsequent results by the team must also have informed that call by KPMG in 2010 that led to my resumption as MD/CEO of Diamond Bank. Again in Diamond Bank, it was also transformation all the way which yielded many positive changes. I must say I was very lucky to have assembled an excellent team who worked tirelessly to change the bank. The results came quickly. The bank grew rapidly by assets, profitability and efficiency ratios. It wore a new look as we rebranded the bank, relocated a lot that were not properly located and opened several new branches. It became a preferred place to work as our compensation package became one of the best in the industry. We established a presence in the UK and expanded to more African countries. The Central Bank of Nigeria recognised us as one of the eight “Systemically Important Banks” in the country. This recognition simply meant that because of the size of the bank, it became “too big to fail”. Our information technology systems were upgraded to become one of the most efficient in the country. We rolled out several platforms for service including our agency banking and financial inclusion products. We made the environment such that people were looking forward to coming to the bank and staff loved their jobs.

What were your toughest moments as a banker?

Interestingly, the highpoint of my career as a CEO was also the toughest moment. If I managed to find four hours of sleep in a day, that was a great day. I was everywhere and was involved in everything, juggling them for balance. I was always thinking about the next thing to do to achieve the targets that we had set for ourselves as a team. Thank God, they all paid off.

What professional and personal qualities helped you rise to the pinnacle of your banking career?

Again, I must say that at the centre of it all is God. I believe He enabled me to be focused on what is important. As a leader, you must devote a lot of attention to assembling your team and guiding them. An institution cannot be better than its people. If you want the best institution, you must have the best people. I had a knack for attracting and retaining the best people. I also lead from the front and not the rear. I would not ask you to do what I cannot do. There are very many others that I may not be able to list here.

What were some of the challenges you faced as the CEO of Diamond Bank?

I must say that I was very lucky with my board. I had a very experienced and supportive board so that helped to reduce the pressure. The major challenge beyond the ones I had mentioned earlier was how to deal with the transformation given serious regulatory headwinds. The effect of the global economic crises of 2008/2009 was still being felt in the bank when we came on board. We had to clean up the books of the bank by writing off some toxic assets but we also maintained a minimum capital adequacy ratio as prescribed by CBN. Because the bank was in a transformation mode, additional capital could not easily be raised, otherwise, you would destroy value for shareholders and sell cheap. We, however, found our way round it by raising what is called tier 2 capital. It was not until when we stabilised the bank in 2014 that we went to the market to raise capital by way of a rights issue which was very successful as it was fully subscribed.

What professional/personal goals have you yet to accomplish?

I always set new goals when I accomplish set goals. Right now, my goal is to impact many more people than I had done in the past and the best way to do this is through public service. You can only do so much as a player in the private sector.

In the course of your career, you worked in oil & gas and energy business; in what ways do you think money from the oil industry can be used to ensure meaningful lives for the general populace?

 The major problem we have is government. We run a very large and expensive government that we end up using over 70 per cent of the annual budget to pay salaries. That leaves us with less than 30 per cent for the rest of the people. Meanwhile oil accounts for over 90 per cent of our foreign exchange earnings and more than 70 per cent of our revenues. I believe we must do something about reducing the size of government for the populace to enjoy meaningful development. Some call it restructuring. Whatever name you want to call it, we must discuss how to spend more on infrastructure and social amenities than we are currently doing.

You are on the board of some Nigerian universities, how can the educational sector be revamped?

We need to start from the most rudimentary level. Primary education by law is under the local governments. We all know that most states do not allow the local governments to function. So, funding is a challenge at that and other levels and unfortunately, that is the foundation. Once the foundation is faulty, what can anyone do? We also need to pay attention to the quality, number, compensation and welfare of teachers. Then we must ensure that merit is the basis of everything in the educational sector, be it admission or recruitment of teaching and non teaching staff. We must also pay attention to the curricular. What are we teaching our students? The world has moved. In the world of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, our teachers cannot continue to teach nonsense, apologies to Fela.

What personal qualities have helped you to stand out?

I can only guess. I believe the fear of God is number one. People say I am committed and dedicated. They also say I work very hard and that I am always focused on what is important. Of course, those people may be wrong.

What legacy would you like to leave behind?

I always like to leave a place better than I met it. That is one of the major reasons I went to contest elections in the first place.

Apart from banking and politics, what other activities do you engage in?

I read and write. That takes a lot of my time. I also love the hospitality business. This is out of my passion to serve. So I do get involved in a hospitality business my wife and I set up. I am also involved in a small real estate business.

How often do you get to spend time with your family?

If you asked this question when I was in the bank, the answer would have been different. Right now, I do spend a lot of time with my family and it feels very good to be able to do those things that I was unable to do in the last quarter of a century.

How did you meet your wife?

My wife and I met in 1991 and got married in 1993. I moved into the neighbourhood a year earlier and ran into her where I had gone to pick up my clothes from the nearby drycleaner which was next to her house. We got talking and like they say, the rest became history. She has been very supportive particularly filling in for me when I was virtually an absentee father and husband owing to my schedules. She was the pillar of the campaign and was at the forefront organising women and youth. She has always been there for me and I thank God for blessing me with such a wonderful wife.

What lessons have you learnt in marriage?

Marriage is a great teacher. One of the lessons it teaches you is patience. Because the two of you are coming from different backgrounds, you must be tolerant of each other and also forgiving of each other’s shortcomings. You must also be considerate of your partner in every decision you make. Marriage compels accountability and responsibility. As a single person you could do anything you want without answering to anybody, but the moment you get married, that must change otherwise, the marriage may be in danger.

What romantic things do you say and do to her?

I am not sure I do a lot of romantic things, but I am confident she understands.

How do you unwind?

I unwind by listening to music. I love music. My reading acts as form of relaxation for me, particularly when it is not serious stuff. I use the gym every other day and hang out occasionally with friends. I used to play squash a lot until a few years ago when my wife took me off it, insisting that it was too high impact. I still do quite some travelling.

What kind of music do you listen to?

I listen to all sorts of music. I like Nigerian music and have supported and continue to support it. I also like Jazz and other soft music.

What kind of attire are you most comfortable in?

It depends on the occasion and the mood. I wear whatever works for the occasion. These days, I tend to wear traditional attires a lot. I guess having worn suit and tie for such a long time, I consider less formal wears, a welcome relief.

What advice can you give to young people as regards business?

The first thing is that they should aim to identify a need or gap and think of filling it. That is the fundamental principle for the success of a business. I see a lot of people start from what they want to do. You may do what you want to do but there may not be a market for it. So you must start from the market. A lot of businesses have failed because the business owner did not know how to separate the business from himself. You must understand that the money for the business is not for you. You should pay yourself salaries just like any other worker and let the business run as a business. Then you must continue to reinvent the business. How can you simplify processes? Are there better and more cost-effective and efficient ways to deliver the service? You must also rein in your cost otherwise; you may soon go out of business. Have your eye on technology and ensure that technological disruptions do not send you out of business. Think of our oil and gas today and how electric cars would send a lot of people out of business between 2025 and 2040. That is a perfect example. As it is, some businesses and countries may just be caught napping in spite of the warning signals that had been there in the last few years.

You survived an assassination attempt. Looking back now, would you still want to remain in politics and probably contest the governorship again?

The assassins and their sponsors were just wasting their time because they do not know God. I strongly believe that nothing can touch me except if God allows it. And if He allows it, then it is time. That is why He removed me from that house before the attackers came. Like I had said, we are all in politics one way or the other, so the question of remaining in politics does not arise. As 2019 approaches, I will make consultations and at the appropriate time, I shall make my decision about contesting, public.

What keeps you busy these days?

I am now unemployed like some people have reported in the papers. I find that I am still busy, even if not as busy as when I was in the bank. I set up a financial and investment services company in addition to all the other businesses I had itemised earlier. We are happy that we are able to create jobs. We have about 170 people in our pay roll who work in the hospitality, real estate, technology/communications and financial advisory parts of our business. I oversee the holding company with offices in different parts of the country.

Posted On Sunday, 20 August 2017 12:13 Written by

Deputy National Chairman south of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Engr. Segun Oni also said that the former President should not be talking about what he did or failed to do concerning corruption. 

He said the former President failed in his bid to fight corruption as there were no results to show for his efforts, saying he should just apologize to Nigerians for his failed efforts.

He said: “I haven’t read his comment. But let me say that it is very unfortunate that a former President of this country will say that. There is the saying that there is no mark for effort. The only mark you get is for results. 

“It does’t matter how much a man tried, if he does not have a result to show, what he should just do is to keep quite and that is what I will advice him to do as far as corruption is concerned. 

Posted On Sunday, 13 August 2017 21:46 Written by

THE Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee (NCC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi has prayed for quick recovery for ailing President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that the party wanted him to be the one it would defeat in 2019.

Speaking at the non-elective national convention of the party in Abuja on Saturday, he affirmed that PDP was already the government in waiting.

He said: “We mean well for our President. We continue to pray for his full recovery. We want him to be fit and on seat when we will defeat the APC government come 2019.

“We will continue to pray for him but that doesn’t mean we will go to sleep. We will work hard to replace the APC government, come 2019 God willing.”

Makarfi said not being an alliance but a party with strong bond among its members, the party has much experience and has much to offer the country.

He said the PDP was a truthful party to Nigerians which would not engage in deception, adding that Saturday’s event was an affirmation that the PDP was poised to recapture power in 2019.

The party boss observed that the APC has brought hunger and starvation to the country while insecurity has increased many folds.

He told the delegate statement: “Nigerians may wonder, what has PDP got. Well, what are you getting now? Are you not hungry? Are you not jobless? Are you not insecure? My God! Pray for PDP to come back.

“Kidnapping is part of insecurity and it has spread across the length and breadth of this country and it’s because of joblessness.”

According to him, students were crying over hike in tuition fees even when money was scarce.

He therefore promised that when the PDP returns to power, it would consider a Students Loan Scheme to alleviate their sufferings.

“There will be no hunger because there will be plenty to eat. There may be plenty in the market but you have zero cash in your pocket. Under PDP, there will be cash in your pocket because you have earned the cash,” Makarfi added.

He thanked the delegates for funding their ways to the convention and not expecting any refund of their money.

In his welcome address, the chairman of the convention planning committee and Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, noted that the prayers of Nigerians were answered when the Supreme Court judged in favour of the NCC in the protracted leadership crisis.

He said the PDP was now back with a bang and would not disappoint the people.

“Today, let it be known to all Nigerians who prayed for us during our time of travail that the PDP is back with a bang. We shall NOT disappoint you!” Okowa stated.

The convention chairman admonished that the party must now focus on rebuilding and sticking to the principles of fairness, equity and justice.

According to him, “On this day, we must understand that our nation is at a cross road. Therefore, our emphasis must be about building a party focused on fashioning a better society founded on the principles of fairness, equity and justice. We must commit to making the needs – and aspirations – of the Nigerian people the centre piece of our party’s democratic agenda.

“On this day, we must call for a paradigm shift in our party leadership style. Too often, we have demanded service – and worship – from the very people we have been called to serve.

That must change.

“We need leaders, sincere leaders, strong leaders who understand that power is held in trust for the people and, therefore, must be administered for their good and advancement.

“Finally, on this day, we call on all true PDP faithful’s to return home. It’s time to forgive. It’s time to heal the wounds of the past. It’s time to get over the hurts of the past. It’s time to embrace love and reconciliation. It’s time, brothers and sisters, to come back home!”

Posted On Sunday, 13 August 2017 00:33 Written by
Former Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, has told renowned political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, to contest the post of councillor in his ward, instead of aiming to be the next governor.

Utomi was also urged to stop spreading falsehood against past leaders of the state in his quest to contest the 2019 governorship election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.

Utomi had, during his visit to members of the APC in Agbarha-Otor in Ughelli North, last week, accused previous governments in the state, including that of Uduaghan, of mortgaging the future of the state through excessive borrowing and funds diverted to build personal properties abroad.

The former governor said, despite Utomi’s national and international connections, he had not contributed to Delta’s development.

Uduaghan, who berated Utomi at the Peoples Democratic Party’s stakeholders’ meeting in Asaba, urged the former presidential candidate to contest the councillorship seat in his ward before taking a shot at the next governorship poll.

The former governor pointed out that, during his administration, he appointed Utomi as chairman and member of several committees but that the latter failed to use such opportunities to contribute or attract development to the state.

“You should ask Prof, where is the Silicon Valley? He took us to his hometown, Ibusa, for the foundation-laying ceremony of the Silicon Valley; to date, there is nothing to show that the project has commenced. He has contested the presidential election; he now wants to be a governor. I think he should start from his ward; he should contest the post of councillor,” Uduaghan said.
Posted On Sunday, 23 July 2017 13:43 Written by

Mr. Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has won the Osun West Senatorial bye-election held on Saturday in Osun State.

Official results of the election showed that he defeated his  All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Mudashiru Hussain in nine of the ten Local Government Areas where the election was conducted.

The results is as follows:

Iwo LG        APC 12,205         PDP 12,547

Ede North   APC 2,784      PDP 18,559

Ede South   APC 2,096      PDP 13,406

Ejigbo           APC 12,229     PDP9,723

Irewole         APC 8,952        PDP9,096

Ola-Oluwa   APC 5,316       PDP5,618

Ayedere        APC 5,360       PDP5,789

Ayedaade      APC 7,179        PDP-9061

Egbedore      APC 4,768       PDP-7,142

Isokan            APC 5,227        PDP-6,539

Collation of ward results of the bye-election began in earnest last night with voters anxiously waiting for confirmation of the final outcome from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The election was generally peaceful.

The two leading candidates -Mudasiru Hussein of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – hailed the election as fair and peaceful although the police arrested three suspected thugs for allegedly interfering with the voting process at Okinni in Egbedore Local Government area .

The day began with a drizzle but that did not stop voters from heading to the various polling units in the 10 local government areas that make up the senatorial zone as early as 8am.

Security was tight and voters had little complaints about the supply of voting materials, especially card readers.

Restriction was placed on vehicular movement across the state, except the Ibadan/Ife/Ilesa/Akure expressway, that links Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States.

The election was preceded by a curfew in the district from 6pm on Friday to 6am yesterday.

Hussain after casting his vote at Ward 3, Unit 1, Beulah Baptist Primary School, Ejigbo,at about 9.30am  expressed satisfaction ‘so far’ with the election, saying he was confident of winning.

He commended both the INEC and voters for their maturity, saying that “if elections are conducted like this it means democracy has reached an advanced level.”

For his part, Adeleke, who is the younger brother of the late  Isiaka Adeleke, whose death created the  vacancy voted at Saagba Abogunde compound in Ede North at 8.34 am.

He said he was “100 percent confident of victory.”

“As you can see, it rained this morning before the voting exercise commenced. This is a signal to the fact that I will carry the day. With this large turnout also, its unarguable that I will beat Hussein hands down by God’s grace,” he added.

The Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Najeem Salam, also commended the effort of security personnel in maintaining peace in Ejigbo.

Former Minister for Youth Development, Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi, advised the INEC to sustain credibility and standard set up by the last administration.

He spoke at his Ward 5, Unit 16 Ode-Omu, where he expressed satisfaction with the process of the election.

The police said they arrested three suspected thugs for allegedly unleashing mayhem at Igbokiti Unit, Ward 10, Okinni in Egbedore Local Government council. The thugs reportedly attacked  voters and INEC adhoc officers at the polling unit.

Some voters waiting to cast their votes were allegedly matcheted and injured.

The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fimihan Adeoye, in a telephone chat, confirmed the arrest. He said the suspects were undergoing interrogation.

“With our vigilance and commitment to ensure peaceful conduct of the exercise, we are very happy that there is peace and there is no significant case of violence,” he said.

“We are determined to sustain peace and effective security till the end and even after the entire electoral process.”

Posted On Sunday, 09 July 2017 12:54 Written by

AN Ekiti State House of Assembly member Gboyega Aribisogan has accused Governor Ayo Fayose of instigating his suspension because he refused to prostrate and beg for the offence he did not commit.

He said some party leaders and appointees urged him to prostrate for the governor at a reconciliation parley brokered by eminent lawyer and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola (SAN).

Aribisogan, who was suspended by his fellow lawmakers in October last year said the governor wanted him to admit meeting with the Senator representing Ogun East, Buruji Kashamu, in Lagos sometime last year, an allegation he denied.

Speaking during an interview programme on Adaba 88.9 FM monitored by our correspondent, Aribisogan faulted an investigation panel set up by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) faction loyal to 

Fayose claiming that the panelists had been ordered to do a hatchet job against him.

Aribisogan alleged that some party members in his ward were bribed with a sum of N200, 000 and compelled to write a frivolous petition to the panel to nail him at all cost.

He revealed that the panel had already submitted its report to Fayose on Monday while he was asked to appear on Thursday.

The embattled lawmaker disclosed that he reported the alleged illegality Fayose was using the Assembly to perpetrate to the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin.

Aribisogan said: “I cannot confess the sin I did not commit; they (party leaders) asked me to prostrate and beg Fayose but I refused and in the process they brought out a camera with the intent of taking my photographs. Fayose flared when I refused to prostrate and beg and vowed that he would not allow me to return to the Assembly again.

“For somebody to say he would not allow an elected representative of the people to go back to the Assembly shows the type of character Fayose is. He got 14,000 votes from my constituency and he has done nothing for the people.

“If they want to shoot me dead, I am ready. I am not an appointee of Fayose, I was elected the same way hea was elected. I apologize to all Ekiti for joining hands to bring him back to power and that is why he is misbehaving now.

“The Inspector General of Police had given an order that nothing should happen to me; the House of Assembly belongs to Ekiti people and not to Ayo Fayose. Fayose has brought odium and shame to Ekiti State.

“He is owing the Assembly six months salaries, Ekiti lawmakers are crying underneath because many of them are heavily indebted. Fayose threatened that he would recall me, let him go ahead but I will never prostrate for Fayose.”

Responding, Commissioner for Information, Lanre Ogunsuyi, said Hon. Aribisogan, was suffering from political hallucination.

Ogunsuyi said the Assembly suspended the lawmaker according to its rules and does not need Fayose to carry out is constitutional and statutory functions. The commissioner said Aribisogan was merely cooking up stories to cover up his infractions on the House rules.

He advised Aribisogan to avail himself of the opportunity given by the party to present his case before a disciplinary panel set up to investigate the allegations of anti-party activities and disloyalty levelled against him.

Ogunsuyi said: “I will say it is a political hallucination for the honourable member to accuse the governor of masterminding his suspension from the Assembly.

“It is an internal affair of the House and the governor is not a member of the Assembly.

“He was duly suspended by the Assembly; the governor has no hand in it and all what he is saying are stories without corroboration.”

Posted On Saturday, 24 June 2017 20:31 Written by
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