NEWS AND STORIES
In his first media interview after leaving office as governor of Edo State in 2007, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, speaks about his time in office, life outside power and his travails with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. JOHN ALECHENU was there.
How is life outside power?
As it was before power. You are back to the basics, you are back to yourself. Some people will abandon you for sure. You don’t really people until you give them a position of authority or you entrust them with wealth, or entrust them with power. We’ve had a lot of betrayals; we’ve had a lot of turn coats. But then, your friends are still your friends; the ones that actually grew up with you. It’s actually better when you look back you see some of the ones you actually grew up with to say yes, I am still friends with so, so and so. Like I always tell people, that first day of inauguration you have all this brilliant photographs, albums, keep them so that towards the end of your first term, go back to that album, see how many of them are still around you. When you win a second term, take more pictures of the inauguration, I am not talking about going to commission projects or something like that. At the end of that tenure, go back, see who was with you for the whole of those eight years and ask yourself why or why not. Some of the blame will be on you, some will be on others because there is no way you can satisfy everybody or meet everybody’s expectations.
What have you missed outside power?
Nothing! Quite honestly.
Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
I am so confident of what I did as governor of Edo State that if I were to go back I would make the same mistake all over again. Whatever I did was with the greatest of good intentions for the betterment of my people to the best of my ability. I have no regrets.
In terms of performance, I am glad the history is beginning to reveal itself. I performed creditably well but the perception and expectations are two different things. In terms of performance, I stand to be challenged. My performance surpassed all other governors before me. But a lot of people tend to forget where the state was before I came on board. This was a state that was run by the military for 15 years and this was a state that was not able to pay civil servants, was not able to pay pensioners, parastatals were condemned to self-sustenance policy, colleges of education were no longer what it ought to be, the university was now producing criminals, everything was comatose. People don’t look back to say this was a man that came and paid 24 months of a backlog of salaries, institutions that were dead were being revived. They tend to forget easily because people are looking for immediate gratification. I revived the civil service.
How did you cope with godfathers?
My hands were never tied. If anything, godfathers helped me. Helped me in a sense- this is the first time I am saying this. I don’t really believe in the word godfatherism because we are not criminals, we are not in the mafia, I don’t belong to any cultish society but for the first time, two people that I owe a lot of gratitude to in Edo State that made my tenure successful, was my father (Chief Gabriel Igbenedion) and (Chief Tony) Anenih. Because in the darkest of days, when the state was broke, we could not pay salaries, we could not do anything. I ran to the two of them and they would borrow the state money. They would loan the state money, it is documented, and it is there. When banks would not even touch us, I would go to them and say listen- because my father felt, and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. When pensioners would go to him crying or lie in front of Government House a couple of times I went to Chief Anenih. Chief Anenih gave money just to make sure the government ran smoothly.
Did you pay back this money?
Yes. Much, much later.
What about the Internally Generated Revenue?
It was too small. I just told you, we owed a backlog of salaries and pension.
Why did you not pursue an aggressive improvement of the state’s IGR?
First and foremost, if you know Benin well, you know Benin was a completely civil service state capital back in 1999. In 1999, apart from two or three old generation banks, there were no banks there. You could stand at Ring Road and see new Benin market, you would see Oliha market, that is how bare and desolate the place was. But when I came, we started creating a friendly environment for business to thrive. We gave tax incentives just to encourage people. What they are enjoying today was the foundation that I laid down, all this IGR you have today. If I had not created a conducive atmosphere, a conducive environment for businesses to say yes, Edo State is a safe place to go and invest, nobody will go there.
What about your case with the EFCC?
They are doing their job. They challenge you, you answer their questions. I have nothing to fear. I was outside the country, when they said I was declared wanted, I came back. So, if I was afraid, I would keep on running, but I was confident that I had nothing to fear. In fact, if anything, it is the state that owes me money. For me to loot, there must be something for you to loot. Edo State had no money to loot.
What about the money you returned?
I did not return money. They found N3.5m in my account. Let me explain. When I left office in 2007, (Olusegun) Obasanjo was using the EFCC to harass people. He was saying governors are thieves, this one is a thief, that one is a thief. Meanwhile, the greater allocation from the Federation Account comes to the centre, all the 36 states will take about 47 percent, he takes fifty something, all his ministers are not thieves, he himself is not a thief, and every other person is a thief. After my tenure, I said to Ribadu, I am going outside the country here is my telephone number, I am roaming. If you need to reach me, you can call me. Is it Ok if I go? He said yes, you can go, we have nothing on you. When I went and started trying to unwind –because that day that I left office was as if a ten tonner was removed from my head. I was out there in America, all of a sudden, my lawyer called me and said you have been declared wanted. I said declared wanted for what? You will not invite somebody; you will not write to the person, you will not even phone him why will you just declare somebody wanted without any justification. I said Okay, send me the documents, he did and I was shocked. I asked my lawyer to write to them to tell them that I am not running from my country to start with; neither am I running from the law because I have no reason to run from the law. I gave them the date and the airline (of return) and on that date, I arrived here in Abuja, the following Monday morning, I went to the EFCC office by myself, nobody arrested me. They said, ‘we need you in Lagos.’ I got there, I waited after a while they came and started interviewing me, asking me all kinds of questions. In all of these, there is nowhere they said I inflated contracts or took the money to go and chop or we found money in your domiciliary account. Some of their officers now came and said ‘listen sir, this thing is political, we don’t really have anything on you, we are just doing our job because of orders that be.’ They brought 150 something charges, we argued and argued. They said let your lawyer and our lawyer go and sit down and craft something to save our face and save yours. I wanted to sweep the politics behind me and face my business which is my core area of calling. I told them to leave me alone. I don’t have money in my account, you have checked, police in London have checked, you have checked America; American Police have checked nothing, if you have, go and seize it. They went round and round and round after a while, they came to the Code of Conduct, they said I failed to disclose an amount in my account of N3.3m not billion that’s what I was charged and fined for. To forfeit N3.3m, you can go to court and check, they dropped all the 150 charges. I would have been much richer outside of government. Being in government; made me poorer, in terms of opportunity cost.
April 8, 2014: Issues bordering on corrupt practices, unemployment, restructuring of the country into federating units, economic development and national security topped deliberation on Tuesday at the on-going National Conference in Abuja.
Each delegate who stood to comment on the President’s speech at the inauguration of the Conference also expressed concern over what would happen to the report of the Conference in view of the non-implementation of reports of previous Conference report.
Former Commander of the Presidential Air Fleet Group, Air Commodore Idongest Nkanga (rtd), in his contribution said the Conference has the capacity to either take the country to where it should be in the comity of nations or push it backward.
He said the solution to existing problems of ethno-religious and tribal sentiments lies in Nigeria moving from its current practice of fake federalism and restructure the country into real federating units that would relief the centre of the burden that has turned states into parasites.
Nkanga challenged the delegates to ensure that suggestions and decisions arrived at would not amount to presenting theoretical solutions to challenges that demand practical solutions.
He said that to build Nigeria where equity and justice would reign; the Conference must advance solutions that would eliminate the concept of first and second class citizens or the orchestrated settlers and citizens’ issue.
Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, said in restructuring Nigeria, geo-political zones and not the states should constitute the federating units while the power for creation of local government areas should be left with the states.
It was his opinion that the Conference must focus on the future of Nigeria by ensuring that the burden of power currently placed on the federal government was reduced and given to the federating units, the states and the local government areas.
His position for restructuring with the zones serving as federating units was supported by retired Major-General Ike Nwachukwu who said the purpose of the conference was to negotiate for a new Nigeria.
Nwachukwu said that for the Conference to be a success, everyone must as a matter of patriotism, set aside his prejudices and make sure a new Nigeria emerges at the end of the day.
It was his view that restructuring of the country will result in national security; employment for the youth as people would stop focusing on the centre and looking inward; women rights and economic development.
Both Jim Nwobodo and Professor A. B. C. Nwosu who spoke later supported the position of the previous speakers for fiscal federalism and devolution of power.
Chief Ajibola Ogunshola from the southwest cautioned against the excessive population growth which he said is not counter-balanced with adequate productivity as a major cause of massive unemployment and other social problems.
He spoke in support of restoration of local, state and zonal policing which was abolished during the military era. It was his view that the possible fear of abuse can be reduced by appropriate legislation.
On devolution of power, he said the federation should no longer fund local councils directly and that zones, as the federating units, can have as many states and local government areas as they need.
Former Information Minister, Frank Nweke II, in a calm delivery, advocated a national economic development philosophy as applied in other parts of the world adding that other countries of the world have practically left Nigeria behind.
“The world is not going to wait for us. The world is not waiting for us,” said Nweke adding that nations are built by disciplined and committed visionaries and that Nigerians should never indulge in the belief that nations develop by accident.
He described the conference as a great opportunity for delegates to confront national problems on behalf of all Nigerians and not an occasion to bicker over issues that would take the country backward.
Moses Mgbale from Adamawa State described the Conference as a chance for the delegates to stand in the gap for every other Nigerian; an opportunity for elders to correct their ways and for the youths to learn from the elders.
He said for a stronger Nigeria to emerge from the Conference, every delegate must be determined to be a builder, not a destroyer and that this can be done through objective contributions and suggestions at the committee levels.
Hajiya Fati Mongonu, who said her father was kidnapped by the Boko Haram insurgents, alleged that unlike what used to obtain before, the military today has been infiltrated by the same malaise afflicting the larger society such as tribalism and sectionalism, an allegation that was immediately dismissed by Ike Nwachukwu as absolutely untrue.
Alexander Mshelbwala said President Goodluck Jonathan took a big risk to convoke the conference without minding what the outcome would be. He described the action as a show of courage.
Dr Junaid Mohammed said although the President did not raise issues that agitate his mind, like security and corruption, he hoped that the outcome of the conference will not go the way of other conferences.
Lamido Adamawa, Muhammedu Barkindo Mustapha said delegates must take a cue from the President’s speech instead of theories propounded by the west which were mainly meant to enrich them; and that the roles of traditional rulers need not be enshrined in the Constitution.
Mustapha Abdullahi in his contribution said the main problem with Nigeria and Nigerians is that “we emphasise our differences and de-emphasise those things that bind us together.”
Leadership as a panacea for a stable and progressive Nigeria was the focus of a short comment y former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Abba.
He said whatever the outcome of the Conference, except there is a political will guided by a sense of patriotism on the part of the leaders, nothing positive would be achieved.
In the same vein, Asabe Baba Nahaya said a situation where Nigerians keep cursing their leaders on the excuse that they do not have confidence in them was bad as that curse will continue to take the nation backward.
Leader of Labour Party, Dan Nwanyanwu put the issue squarely when he said: “we are the cause of our problems,” and that both tribal and religious inclinations constituted the main reasons Nigeria has not moved forward.
He cited examples of Nigerian professionals in different disciplines who have won international recognition but cannot come back to operate in Nigeria because of the tensed environment characterized by hatred and favouritism based on ethnic lines.
Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chibudom Nwuche, told the Conference that Nigeria and Nigerians have exhibited signs of a failed state for a long time; and that it was time to arise and build.
Nwuche challenged delegates to ask the basic questions: where did we go wrong, at what point did we take the wrong turn. He traced the cause of the problem to a faulty structure which he said was not too late to correct.
He said Nigeria needs a structure that would enable its best to step forward and provide the required leadership; “history beckons, we have one more chance to right our wrongs.”
Former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili said solving Nigeria’s problems is like treating a patient in a hospital and that “you cannot treat an ailment you have not correctly diagnosed because for the treatment to be effective, the ailment must be properly diagnosed.
He said the Conference would only emerge with sound and acceptable report if the delegates place justice on the table, talk and listen to each other and sincerely address the fears of each group.
Bayo Ojo, former Justice Minister spoke in support of the devolution of power that would ensure a weak centre and strong geo-political zones. He advocated free and compulsory primary and secondary education.
For rights activist, Joe Okei-Odumakin, the Conference must produce a constitution because, “it is going to be a colossal waste of time and resources if we don’t have a constitution emerging from this Conference.”
Nduka Obaigbena, publisher of THISDAY newspaper lifted the morale of the Conference with a powerful speech that centred on the achievements of Nigeria and Nigerians both at home and abroad.
He said every country has challenges and that what to do is for the Conference to consciously figure out how to deal with the situation instead of lamenting over it, pointing out that poverty goes with corruption while unemployment incites violence.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS
BENINCITY—A member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Conference Col.Tony Nyiam (rtd), who engaged in a shouting match with Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole at Monday’s sitting of the committee in Benin, which led to his resignation from the committee, gave reasons for his action yesterday.
His explanation notwithstanding, Edo Reps caucus in the House of Representatives were joined by traditional rulers and youths from the state to declare Col Nyiam persona non grata in Edo State. The All Progressives Congress, APC, on its part said the disruption of Oshiomhole’s presentation before the committee has vindicated the party’s decision not to be part of the proposed conference.
At the committee’s sitting last Monday, Col Nyiam was said to have joined some people who heckled Governor Oshiomhole while he was making his presentation which eventually prevented the governor from continuing with his speech.
In his defence yesterday, Nyiam alleged that Governor Adams Oshiomhole made “sarcastic remarks” against the proposed National Dialogue, asserting that governors who are in the habit of kicking against the laudable efforts of President Goodluck Jonathan should wait for the response of Nigerians.
Nyiam who was asked if he has resigned, said: ‘’The situation is that I have not told anybody in the public that I have resigned”.
Reacting to his altercation with Governor Oshiomhole, he explained that the governor was “talking down on people and he is not supposed to do that because our job is to meet with the people and not the governor since we have paid him a courtesy visit earlier”.
His words: “Governors who have a penchant for insulting the President or making sarcastic remarks against the sense of judgment of the President of Nigeria should be ready to tolerate response from Nigerian citizens to tell them no. The committee’s role is advisory, we need to consult with the people to advise us and we will then synthesize the peoples’ opinion and use that to advise the President because we believe that we need to work towards a peoples-driven constitution which we never had in our history.
“We thought we should start a bottoms-up approach from the grassroots to the top. The attitude was that there should be no talking down on the people we are supposed to engage. Based on this principle, the key feature of our consultation was to meet with the people but out of courtesy we pay courtesy calls on the governors or the royal father in the city. We have followed this procedure starting from Akure where Governor Mimiko gave us audience in his office.
“Governor Mimiko came to the venue and kept quiet throughout. We left Akure and went to Jos, we went through the same procedure where the Middle Belt people, the Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba community and all the major tribes of Plateau, all aired their views including Tivs, Idomas, Igala and others. In all these meetings all of them wanted a conference which is ethnic nationalities-led.
What Oshiomhole told us — Nyiam
“We left Jos and went to Minna, we went through the same experience with Governor Babangida Aliyu and most people there too spoke in terms of ethno nationalities representations. We went to Calabar, we went through the same experience. So we came to Benin, where Governor Oshiomhole shifted the timing and that changed the time we were supposed to meet the Oba of Benin. We saw the governor for at least 40 minutes and he started giving us tutorials as if we are children; he told us that he was a product of Kaduna, that he had his children in Kaduna.
“He went on to now attack the idea of ethno-nation. He argued that we are going to celebrate 100 years next year so what are we going to talk about? I countered that. He argued that we don’t need a conference, but with all the troubles we had, for a leader to say we don’t need a conference is very sad. It is an insult on the intelligence of Nigerians. In Kenya recently after the elections, there were lots of killings that led to a constitutional conference which turned Kenya from a unitary system to a true federalism.
“With that background, he now came to the venue after the Benin Development Forum spoke. He came late and after listening, he asked for an intervention, he took the micro phone and then decided to repeat the lecture, treating people like students and castigating the Federal Government. More offensive for me was that he was talking down on the elders there, that the idea of them coming together there was a waste of time.
“These two things, one talking down on people is contrary to the philosophy of our people. We had former governors there, elders, traditional rulers. Secondly when we are in an interactive session with the people, it is not for a governor to come and take over the stage, grandstanding. This is a governor that spoke over 40 minutes when we were with him. This idea of governors trying to run down the President, a governor abusing the office of the President to make insinuations against the office of the president, to criticise people’s ability for self expression, is unacceptable.
“So when people started booing the governor, I went to the chairman to remind him about the rules of our committee. The chairman said we should give him a chance to continue. He carried on with his derogatory remarks and it was at that point I then said no, not again. When I said that, by this time, his aides tried to come at me, but when I suspected that one was at my back I stood up, then sat down.
“Not long, after a group of people came towards the table, it was then that the DSS people advised that my life was not safe and I was taken away for safety. The Director of the Department of State Service, DSS, mounted security around us; the Commissioner of Police came to see me and they brought security. The Police drove us all out of Edo State because of fears of attack. So contrary to what they said that I mobilized thugs, it is not true, it was Edo people that protected me,” he narrated.
The Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue has however apologized to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State over the behaviour of Col Tony Nyiam (rtd). In a letter signed by Chairman of the Committee, Senator Femi Okurounmu, and entitled: “Dialogue Committee condemns unruly behaviour,” it said: “The Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue wants to put it on record that we noted the sad incident at today’s (Monday’s) Interactive Session with Nigerians from the South South held in Benin City, Edo State.
“The Committee wishes to state its unequivocal commitment and that of its members to the principles of democratic discourse. Although we take special exception to the unruly conduct of one of our members who joined the crowd in shouting down the Comrade Governor of Edo State, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, while he was giving his remarks, the session continued and ended peacefully.”
The Committee continued in the letter dated October 28, 2013 that “we want to emphasize that the Committee will listen to all shades of opinions in the areas of its mandates and will not henceforth condone the kind of unacceptable behavior we witnessed in Benin City.
“The Committee wishes to express its sincere appreciation to the Government and people of Edo State for providing support to the Committee in its assignment in the state.”
Edo Reps caucus blasts Nyiam
Meanwhile, the Edo State caucus of All Progressives Congress, APC in the House of Representatives, yesterday, condemned Nyiam’s reported attack on Oshiomhole even as the caucus identified with the party’s governors in distancing themselves from the planned National Dialogue.
Addressing newsmen, yesterday, the caucus led by the Minority Whip of the House, Samson Osagie said the behaviour of Nyiam when the Dialogue committee visited Oshiomhole showed that the conference was bound to fail.
Other members of the caucus at the briefing include Reps Razaq Bello-Osagie, Peter Akpatason, Jim Adun and Abubakar Momoh. Osagie said the outburst of Col Nyiam at the meeting was uncalled for.
Osagie said “we are miffed that at a meeting convened to listen to the views of Nigerians on the necessity or otherwise of a national conference, a governor could be disallowed for airing his personal views simply because it was unpalatable to some members of the Advisory committee, which is supposed to be an umpire and their uninformed tribal jingoists.
“We wish to condemn in strong terms, the action of Col Nyiam and his co-travellers at the said meeting and to restate the position that their action has betrayed the motive behind the proposed dialogue.
“We however commend Dr Femi Okurounmu, chairman of the Advisory Committee for calling Col Nyiam to order, and urge Nigerians to be vigilant at all times as some persons are determined to coerce others to accept their views and thereby compromise the basic tenets of democracy
Traditional rulers, Edo youths declare Nyiam persona non grata
Also, traditional rulers and youths of Edo State under the aegis of Ariababho Youth Association, yesterday, declared Col.Tony Nyiam (rtd), persona non grata in Edo State, following his outburst at the South South sitting of the confab committee in Benin City, Monday.
They called on the President to urgently replace him if he was yet to resign his position, saying “he has shown that he is unfit for this job given to him by the President.”
In his reaction, the Esogban of Benin Kingdom, Chief David Edebiri, said: ‘’I want to call on the President to remove Nyiam because he almost set the whole place on fire. He misbehaved and we advise the President, if he wants to succeed to replace such a person. If, because he is a member of the committee one cannot air his views, people cannot express their views freely due to his arrogance, it means he is not fit to partake in the business of this nature.”
We have been vindicated – APC
Similarly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned the disruption of Gov. Adams Oshiomhole’s presentation, saying the action has vindicated the party’s decision not to be part of the proposed conference.
In a statement issued in Lagos, yesterday, by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the Committee must be ashamed that one of its members led the uproar that was put up in Benin on Monday.
‘’The truth is that in proposing the conference, the government has no sincerity of purpose, does not believe in engaging in any dialogue with anyone but itself and has only used it to distract the attention of Nigerians from the total absence of governance and sense of direction by the Jonathan Administration.
A battle line has been drawn between Governor Sullivan Chime and members of the National Assembly (NASS) from Enugu state, as the senator representing Enugu east senatorial district, Senator Gilbert Nnaji, have boasted that Chime could not stop any of them from seeking re-election.
There has been rumour of cold war between Gov Chime and the members of NASS from the state since he publicly announced that nobody serving 2nd term at the National Assembly would return to office by 2015.
The Governor had during a meeting of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stakeholders few months ago, insisted that lawmakers who had served two or three terms would give room for fresh blood.
As if that was not enough, the chairman of PDP in the State, Engr. Vita Abba had also on Wednesday, during the party's local government election campaign rally at Nkanu East council area, declared that federal lawmakers from the area had not done enough for the people.
Abba, specifically mentioned the road linking the Enugu east headquarters and Nkanu West, a development that was also condemned by Governor Chime, who said the road was an embarrassment to him and the state.
The uncompleted road is one of the projects said to be under the purview of Senator Nnaji.
Speaking to newsmen in Enugu thursday evening, Nnaji, who is the chairman, senate committee on communication, declared that no individual including Governor Chime, has the power to stop any political office holder from seeking re-election from the electorate.
He said, "there is no gap between Abuja politicians and our Governor; if the Governor said that lawmakers are not going back for 2nd or 3rd term, it is for the people to decide. It is only God that gives power; it is not man.
"So, the Governor cannot decide for us, he cannot decide for either senatorial districts or constituencies; he cannot decide, it is the masses that will decide whether you will go back or not. If the masses say we will go back, nobody can stop us.
"We believe we have done well, so, when we place our score card on the table, people will see what we have been able to do" Nnaji declared.
On the road issue, Senator Nnaji said, "I want to put it clear to everybody that we only appropriate in the NASS, we have provided the money in the budget, you saw when Honourable Peace Nnaji said at the rally that N2 billion has been earmarked for that road.
"So, we have separation of powers, we can appropriate but we cannot implement; our problem sometimes is that when budget has been passed, the presidency will start doing selective implementation.
"We have also discovered that some Governors used to visit Abuja and follow-up on their projects in the budget, so our Governor is supposed to go and follow up on these projects in Abuja. if he throws his weight behind our efforts and accompanies us to the ministries in question, something will be done urgently", said Nnaji.
President Goodluck Jonathan this morning named former senator and Afenifere chieftain, Femi Okurounmu, as the chairman of an advisory committee on the well-clamoured Sovereign National Conference.
The President also named former National Youth Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Akilu Indabawa, as the Secretary of the committee with a promise to name the other members of the committee soon.
The President, in his 25 minutes address to the nation to mark the 53rd Independence Day celebration, said he expected the committee to make its report available within one month.
“Our administration has taken cognisance of suggestions over the years of well-meaning Nigerians on the need for a national dialogue and the future of our beloved country.
“I am an advocate of dialogue. When there are issues that stoke tension and bring about friction, it makes perfect sense for the interested parties to come together and discuss.
“As a demonstration of my avowed belief in the positive power of dialogue to shapen the way forward, we have decided to set up an advisory committee whose mandate is to establish the modalitiies for a national dialogue or conference.
“The committee would also design a framework and come up with recommendations as to the form, structure and mechanism of the process.
Femi Okurounmu, the chairman of the panel to fashion out a framework for the national dialogue was elected Senator for the Ogun Central constituency in 1999. He was then a member of the Alliance for Democracy, AD
He served for a term and was ousted by the incumbent Ogun state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, who was elected on the PDP platform.
Okurounmu since then has been involved with several Pan Yoruba groups, the Afenifere and now the Yoruba Unity Forum.
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan Friday relieved two Presidential Advisers, Senator Joy Emordi (National Assembly) and Dr. Tunji Olagunju (New Partnership for African Development, NEPAD) of their duties.
No official reason was given for the sack, but a statement from the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said the President thanked them for their services and wished them success in their future endeavours.
This comes barely two weeks after the President sacked nine ministers from his cabinet.
Former Defence Minister, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, yesterday, held a secret meeting with recuperating Taraba State Governor, Danbaba Suntai, at the Government House Jalingo, in a renewed bid to douse the political crisis in the state.
The return of Suntai, who is regarded as Danjuma’s political godson, has created ripples in the state’s political circles and split the loyalty of the leadership and members of the state House of Assembly between the governor and his deputy, Garba Umar.
While majority of the members, led by the Speaker, Haruna Tsokwa, are in support of Umar to continue to act as governor pending when Suntai will be fit enough the take over the mantle of leadership, the minority, spearheaded by the Majority Leader, Joseph Kunini, want Suntai to resume work without further delay.
The minority group insists that the ailing governor could lead by proxy even if he is not fit enough to run the state on a daily basis.
But apparently fearing that the fragile peace in the state could further slip, Danjuma flew into the state yesterday and went straight to the Government House, Jalingo, where he held a closed-door meeting with Suntai, who has been indoors since returning to the state on August 25, 2013.
Although Danjuma described his visit to Suntai as private and declined to talk to journalists, it was learnt that he threw his weight behind Suntai and pleaded that the law should be allowed to take its course regarding the crisis in the state.
He is said to have listened carefully to the position canvassed by Suntai that he had assumed duties in earnest having transmitted a letter of resumption and fitness to the House of Assembly, as stipulated by the law and wondered why there was a furore over the matter.
Danjuma, who was received by Suntai’s wife and led to the governor, said he was in the state in a private capacity and did not visit the acting governor, Garba Umar, after meeting briefly with Suntai, even though the latter was in his office at the time.
Attempts by journalists to talk with him or follow him to see Suntai were rebuffed by security agents, who claimed the visit was a private one and did not require public attention.
But minutes after meeting with Suntai and his wife, Hauwa, Danjuma came out. Hauwa was sighted beaming with broad smiles, something that had been very rare since the return of her husband from the U.S.
From the governor’s office, Danjuma went straight to the TY Danjuma Foundation Office in Jalingo, from where he left for his private residence.
However, there were fears that the majority of the members of the House of Assembly, who feel that Suntai was unfit to govern the state, might move to impeach him, having secured two thirds of the signatures of the members.
It was learnt that the move by the pro-Umar lawmakers was responsible for the rejection of the peace deal brokered by the PDP and released by the Senator Hope Uzodinma-led Fact-finding Committee, which visited the state on Tuesday.
Senator Chris Ngige, representing Central Senatorial District of the eastern Nigerian state of Anambra, has emerged the flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the governorship election, scheduled for 16 November.
Ngige garnered 63,255 votes to defeat Mr Godwin Ezeemo, who polled 9,564 votes in the primaries conducted in the 326 electoral wards in the state.
Announcing the result, former governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, who was the chief returning officer of the election, expressed happiness over the peaceful conduct of the polls.
Shekarau said that the party chose the Option A4 method as provided for in the constitution of the party.
“Because the party has the right to choose what method of election to adopt in choosing its candidate, it went forward to choose Option A4 for the election, this is to ensure transparency,” he said.
In his acceptance speech, Ngige commended the Electoral Committee and the leadership of the party for enshrining internal democracy in the process that elected him.
“What has happened today has shown that we have started our journey to the Awka Government House.
“APC has taken its root in Anambra. The journey is a very important one and we have to cross the red sea.
“My 63, 255 votes plus 9564 votes are the number of foot soldiers other party members would have to contend with in the forthcoming election.
“I extend my hand of fellowship to all of you, even those who did not vote for me.
“I want to thank you all, especially Senator Annie Okonkwo for his support and Mr Godwin Ezeemo for insisting that the ballot must be cast because he insisted on a primary election,” Ngige said.
In his reaction, Ezeemo commended Ngige for his victory, expressing satisfaction with the process.
He said that it was only fair that a primary election to take place in a contest where there were two aspirants.
Those who graced the occasion include, the National Organising Secretary of the party, Sen. Osita Izunaso, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Dr Nyerere Anyim and Chief Romanus Egbuladike.
The National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party on Thursday suspended Senator Andy Uba and his brother, Chris from the party.
Also suspended are Ejike Oguebego, Chief Benji Udeozor and Mrs. Tonia Nwankwu.
The five men were accused of conducting a parallel state congress for the nomination of governorship candidate in Anambra State on Saturday.
A letter announcing the suspension of the Uba brothers and others had been sent to the affected party chiefs by the acting National Secretary, Dr. Charles Akintoye.
The acting secretary was directed to write them on their current status having snubbed the NWC which invited them to explain the role they played at the parallel congress.
The letter, dated August 29, read in part, “The NWC at its 353rd meeting held on Wednesday, 28th August, 2013 reviewed the happenings in Anambra PDP regarding the Anambra Primary election.
“It was noted that you organised a parallel state congress which was unauthorised by the party contrary to section 58 (1) a, b, c, f, h and j of the PDP constitution (2012 as amended).
“As a result of this, you were invited to meet with the NWC on Wednesday 28, August, 2013 for fair hearing, but you did not appear.
“In view of the seriousness of the issues involved, you are hereby suspended from the party and the case referred to the appropriate Disciplinary Committee for further necessary action.”
However, sources close to the affected party officers said that the affected party chieftains have obtained a Court order stopping the party from taking and disciplinary action against them but the party had served them with the decision before they got the court order.
Reacting to the suspension, Chris Uba, expressed surprise at his suspension, adding that there was no reason for the action taken by the PDP.
He said, “I was surprised to hear that I have been suspended. I want us to respect democracy and the rule of law. We must protect the rule of law and the judiciary.
“Why the rush in suspending me and the five others? There were more than a million PDP members at the congress. They should have suspended all of us.”
Also, Andy said he had not been served with the suspension from the party and because of that, he would not react to it.
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, has assured participants at the National Convention of the PDP and FCT residents that the police would provide water-tight security during the party’s convention taking place on Saturday at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Consequently, the IG had issued an Operational Order directing the FCT Commissioner of Police, FCT, Femi Ogunbayode, to ensure a tactical and well coordinated deployment of personnel and other operational equipment in order to provide a safe and conducive atmosphere for the convention.
There seems to be no end to the troubles of Senator Andy Uba, a former special adviser on domestic affairs to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, as his party has summoned him to face a disciplinary committee.
Andy’s ambition to become the next governor of Anambra State was virtually nipped in the bud by the national secretariat of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party on Monday.
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, PDP National Chairman had declared that the recognized candidate of the party for the election is former students’ leader, Tony Nwoye.
Nwoye and Uba had emerged as candidates at parallel congresses of the party presided over by rival claimants for the position of chairman of Anambra chapter of PDP in Awka, the Anambra State capital last Saturday.
The primary won by Uba, was conducted by the parallel chairman of the Anambra chapter of the PDP recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Ejike Oguebego.
On the other hand, Ken Emeakayi who presided over the primary which produced Nwoye is recognised by the national secretariat of PDP as the chairman of Anambra State chapter of PDP.
Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State presided over the primary held under the leadership of Emeakayi as the representative of the national secretariat.
Following up on Monday’s declaration, the national secretariat of PDP on Tuesday summoned the former presidential aide, Chris, his brother and Oguebego to appear before a disciplinary panel on Wednesday.
They will appear alongside two other PDP officials in Anambra- Benji Udeozor, and Tonia Nwankwu who played prominent role in the conduct of the parallel congress that produced Andy Uba.
Tony Okeke, spokesperson for PDP in a statement on Tuesday that the party “condemns in the strongest possible terms the organization of a parallel primary election to elect a candidate for the November 16, 2013 governorship election in Anambra state other than the one conducted by the Party on August 24, 2013.”
The party added that the only Governorship Primary election it recognized was the one conducted by the Electoral Panel under the leadership of His Excellency, Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema which was appointed by the Party.
“The organization of another Primary election other than the one referred to above is a clear breach of our party’s constitution and is therefore totally unacceptable and cannot be condoned,” the statement said.
The party also called on the Inspector General of Police to “forthwith commence investigations into the illegal procurement of sensitive party materials for the illegal governorship primary election by persons who paraded themselves as working for the PDP.”
Uba and the other Anambra party officials are to appear before the National Working Committee for a preliminary hearing at the PDP National Secretariat on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 10 am, according to the statement “to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them”.
The All Progressives Congress, Lagos State chapter, says the Peoples Democratic Party’s comment, describing Governor Babatunde Fashola as a dictator, shows that the party is desperate for recognition.
The PDP had said Fashola was a dictator based on the ‘deportation’ of some destitute persons to Anambra State.
The APC said the PDP’s comment, through its acting National Publicity Secretary, was “outlandish and hollow.”
In a statement on Monday by the state’s Interim Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, the party said having failed in 14 years of “regressive politics, the PDP is clutching on to any imaginable straw to survive.”
The party said, “By trying to take advantage of the action of the Lagos State Government to relocate 14 destitute persons to their home states, the PDP through its Acting Publicity Secretary is showing the kind of desperation that has hit the party as it comes in full contact with the fruits of its wanton plundering of state resources to render Nigeria a huge colony of beggars and destitute.
“We ask the Acting Publicity Secretary to help resolve the issues raised by the full disclosure by the Lagos State Government on the resettlement issue, which bordered on communication between Lagos and Anambra state governments on the 14 destitute persons prior to their resettlement.
“Is he not aware that his party (PDP) has shipped out thousands of destitute persons and beggars from the Federal Capital Territory before he embarked on his journey of childish political profiteering?”
The party said instead of raising dust where there was none, the PDP should ask itself why Lagos must take the “army of destitute persons it had been churning out after stealing hundreds of trillions of a 14-year-old oil windfall.”
Igbokwe said, “We are aware that the PDP is scared stiff by the emergence of the APC, the success of its governors and the potential it offers Nigerians in the face of the grand and monumental failure of the PDP.
“But we want to assure this party that nothing will stop their rustication in 2015.”
Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and Deputy National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, said on Saturday that President Goodluck Jonathan was playing ethnic and religious politics to divert attention from bad governance.
El-Rufai, who was guest of the week at a Liberty Radio programme in Kaduna on Saturday, warned that Nigeria could not afford another Civil War.
Besides, he said the Peoples Democratic Party was afraid of former Head of State, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari, and would therefore do everything possible to denigrate him.
El-Rufai said, “It is the political strategy of Jonathan to always use ethnicity and religion whenever there is a problem.
“Whenever there is a big issue about excess crude account or subsidy issue, they bring this issue of ethnicity and religion. But I have not lost hope because I know that Nigerians can see through their pranks and their game and will vote them out in the next election. The challenge for the next president is to build trust among the various ethnic groups so that Nigeria can walk towards one direction.
“This country has gone through one Civil War; I don’t know of any country that can survive two civil wars and those that are stealing crude oil; buying and stockpiling arms should know it is not the number of arms you have that decides who wins a war.
“I know that Nigeria will survive these bad and incompetent leaders, who steal during the day and drink and womanise at night instead of working for the Nigerian people.
“The PDP has evolved from a party that is trying to be democratic in its practices and to have decency in its governance to one that has become a danger to the people of Nigeria and the only person they are afraid of, who is their nightmare, is Gen. Buhari.
“So, anytime Buhari makes a statement or does anything, the PDP machine will be at work to twist whatever he says in other to destroy his character and give the impression that he is a religious and ethnic zealot.
“The truth is that the PDP is scared of Buhari`s integrity and his track record of doing the right thing and ensuring that people are brought to justice when they break the law. They are scared of that day when he will become President because they are afraid that he will call them and ask them the source of their unexplainable wealth.”
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has suspended Governor Rochas Okorocha of the eastern Nigerian state of Imo from the party “for engaging in anti-party activities.’’
Notice of the suspension was contained in a communiqué signed by the National Chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh, at the end of the party’s National Executive Meeting on Saturday in Abuja.
The communique noted that “rising from an emergency NEC meeting in Abuja, APGA unanimously resolved to dissolve the Imo executive committee of the party.
“The party’s NEC has also resolved to appoint a 21-man caretaker committee to oversee its affairs in Imo until a congress is held.’’
It regretted that a governor on the platform of APGA could decide to act contrary to the constitution of the party that voted him into power.
According to the communiqué, the party had approved electoral guidelines for the Anambra governorship primaries for 2013 and fixed its next sitting for Aug. 31.
Alhaji Tayo Sowunmi, the National Vice Chairman of APGA South-West, who read out the resolutions of the NEC meeting, said the party leaders had discussed preparations for the Anambra gubernatorial election.
Sowunmi said barely three weeks after the party invited aspirants who declared interest in the race, 14 of them had already picked the expression of interest forms.
He said that the male aspirants paid N10 million and female paid N5 million.
He said those who had collected the expression of interest forms were expected to pick the nomination forms and then be screened for the primaries.
The communiqué also stated that women were asked to pay N5 million as against the N10 million paid by their male counterparts in order to encourage them to participate actively in politics.
The APGA national vice chairman said the NEC had again restated that the party was not part of APC, adding that some governors had smuggled in the logo of APGA into their advertorials.
“We demand for an apology from Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos and the payment of N20 billion for doing that.
“We also demand N5 billion from Gov. Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State for same offence.’’
The communique urged all the parties involved in the forthcoming Anambra governorship election to stick to the code of conduct signed with INEC and shun negative acts.
Speaking shortly after the NEC meeting, Umeh said the meeting was summoned to prove that the party’s crisis and other important issues bordering the party had been put to rest.
He said that with the return of peace among key stakeholders, APGA would definitely regain the Imo governorship seat in the next election.
“APGA is set to retain the governorship of Anambra on Nov. 16. We welcome all other political parties to engage us in the contest.
“We are calling for a level playing ground because with a level playing ground, we are sure of victory at the end of the day,’’ he added.