NEWS AND STORIES
Kenyans are still awaiting the results of their much anticipated presidential election, after technical glitches delayed both the voting process and the count.
This is the first national poll since the disputed contest of December 2007 that triggered weeks of bloodshed. The poll was held under a new constitution designed to prevent a repeat of the violence.
Meanwhile, Malik Obama, 54, ran for governor as an independent candidate in western county of Siaya.
A half-brother to Barack Obama, they share the same Kenyan father, he told AP news agency he leaned towards the US president's 2008 campaign slogan "Change" - eradicating poverty, developing infrastructure and industrialization.
But the hotelier turned politician, who has eight likes on his Facebook page and ran a poorly funded campaign, failed to win.
ABUJA – An umbrella body of all youth associations in Ebonyi State, the Ebony Youth Assembly, EYA, has declared support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s ambition to contest for Presidency in 2015.
The group said its decision was taken following a recent declaration by the Federal Capital Territory High Court that President Jonathan is constitutionally qualified to contest the 2015 presidential election.
The National President of the EYA, Comrade Chinedu Ogar who announced this while addressing newsmen in Abuja, said Nigerians should not be dragged into unnecessary controversy over the issue.
It would be recalled that the court, presided over by Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi had struck out the suit, filed by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Cyriacus Njoku which sought to stop Jonathan from the 2015 race.
Comrade Ogar said that after reviewing the transformational agenda of the Jonathan’s Administration, the group feels it deserved to be given a chance to take root.
He said “we are not interested in any secret deal with any group of people; we are aware that Jonathan is President of Nigeria and Nigerians and not of a clandestine group of governors or power brokers. The mandate he holds belongs to Nigerians”.
Ogar noted his people beleived the second term will enable the administration conclude on-going projects and embark on other people-oriented infrastructural development.
According to him, several youths in Ebonyi State have been employed in Federal Government Agencies while many others are also benefitting from the SURE-P projects being implemented by the Fderal administration.
“This is the first time Nigeria is witnessing balanced development in all the six geographical zones. This is also the first time that Federal Character principle is bing upheld in appointment to federal Civil Service. In terms of job creation, about 300 youths of Ebony have been given appointment in government service while a good number of them have been empowered through the SURE- P Programme of FG,” he said.
Speaking on project execution, Ogar said the youths are convinced that the South East has benefited from the administration, citing the example of recent award of the building of the Second Niger Bridge to Julius Berger Construction Company as well other road projects under construction.
After an extra-ordinary General Meeting of the Assembly, held at Rockview Hotel in Abuja, on the issue of Jonathan’s eligibility to contest in 2015, the youth leaders regretted that even though the court has put to rest the issue of eligibility, “certain elements from the Northern part of the country, including Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, have since introduced a new dimension to it, saying that Jonathan signed a secret agreement to do a single tenureâ€.
“This matter is very simple; the court has settled that Jonathan is still in his first term of four years in office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and therefore is immensely qualified to re-contest in 2015.
“The judiciary has restated the freedom and right of every Nigerian to seek any office under the constitution. We urge Nigerians to continue to resist all attempts by desperate politicians to truncate the system through the distortion of the facts of law.
Ogar said the the ball is now in the court of the PDP as a party and Nigerians to decide, through legitimate processes, whether or not to return President Jonathan to the Presidency in 2015 if he indicates interest.
The Ebonyi youth leader further questioned the rational for the former Head of State, Major General Muhammed Buhari’s posturings as an apposite of democracy when indeed he was the one who cut short the life span of a civilian administration of Shehu Aliyu Shagari in 1983 through a coup.
“Sometime in 2010, we were the first to mobilize our people as a state, to publicly; in a mass rally in Abakaliki township stadium, adopt His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as the candidate of the state for the 2011 Presidential election.
“We are surprised that mid-way into his first tenure as President, all manners of issues are being raised over the eligibility or otherwise of President Jonathan to seek re-election.
“In view of the issue in question, we are proud to state categorically that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is constitutionally qualified as a Nigerian to seek re-election in 2015, ” he said.
THE Congress for Progressive Change on Monday called for the trial of former President Olusegun Obasanjo for genocide over the 1999 invasion of Odi community in Bayelsa State.
Spokesman for the CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, said, sequel to the court description of the 1999 attack on Odi by Nigerian soldiers as genocide, Obasanjo should be arrested and tried before the International Criminal Court.
The CPC catalogued two instances of mistreatment of two communities in the country and concluded that Obasanjo should be tried for the Odi massacre because he “harboured sadistic and malevolent intent” in dealing with the two communities.
A Federal High Court presided over by Justice Lambo Akanbi on February 19, 2013 had ordered the Federal Government to pay N37.6 bn as compensation to the people of Odi over the invasion of their community by armed soldiers during the Obasanjo administration.
However the CPC said the payment of compensation as ordered by the court was inadequate adding that the ex-President should be tried for genocide.
Soldiers on the order of the Obasanjo government invaded Odi on November 20, 1999 and destroyed the community over the killing of 10 policemen by a gang involved in the Niger Delta unrest of the period.
The party’s statement reads, “On 20th November, 1999, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, then President of Nigeria, authorised the invasion and subsequent destruction of Odi community in Bayelsa State by the soldiers of the Nigerian Army.
“After more than 12 years of delayed justice, the Nigerian High Court Judge, Justice Lambo Akanbi, had described the invasion as genocidal, reckless, brutish and gross violation of the rights of the victims to life and ownership of property.
“In addition, the learned Judge ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria to pay N37.6bn as compensation to the victims.
“In 2001, the same PDP-led regime of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, ordered the invasion of Zaki-Biam, a community in Benue State, by soldiers with the same malevolent intent as the Odi invasion.
“Indeed, in a decided case in July 2007, the Federal Government was ordered to pay N4.8 bn as compensation to the victims.
“Undoubtedly, it is clear from these two decided cases that Obasanjo harboured sadistic and malevolent intent in dealing with the two Nigerian communities.
“In the judgment on the class suit No.FHC/PH/CP/11/2000 on the Odi invasion, Justice Lambo Akanbi ruled that the attack on the people of Odi was genocidal, reckless, brutish and a gross violation of the rights of the victims to life and ownership of property.
“In Article 5(1a) of the statute of the International Criminal Court, genocide is a crime under the jurisdictional purview of the Court.”
Fashakin went further to explain that Article 6 (a-c) of the same statute explains that “For the purpose of this Statute, ‘genocide’ means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.”
He said that at the time of these infractions, the Nigerian State was not in a state of war with these communities and that the action typified the impunity and excessive show of executive recklessness that he alleged the PDP-led regimes had unleashed on the nation in 13 years.
Fashakin said his party was of the opinion that no amount of monetary compensation could fully assuage the sense of colossal loss of these communities, whose rights to life, he said, were indecently trampled upon by the Obasanjo regime.
He said, “It is equally our belief that, with the establishment of the intent and content of the invasion as genocidal, the course of Justice is best served if the head of the government at the material time, that is, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is formally arraigned before the International Criminal Court for the crime of genocide.
“The wider implication of the arraignment shall be the institution of constitutional order and decency among the ruling elite so that the inalienable rights of the people to personal liberty and justice shall remain sacrosanct.”
Obasanjo was not available for reaction on Monday.
Efforts to reach the ex-President through his Chief of Staff, Victor Durodola, were not fruitful. At the first contact, Durodola told one of our correspondents on the phone to call back, promising to reach Obasanjo to react.
When our correspondent called Durodola again at 10:20pm, he said, “Baba is at home but he has not responded to my text to him on the subject. May be he has slept but I am sure he will respond by the time he sees the text.”
Lt. Col. Gabriel Anthony Nyiam came to national reknown after the abortive April 22, 1990 coup orchestrated by a group of middle belt and southern officers of the Nigeria Army against the then authorities headed by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
Col. Nyiam was the highest serving officer involved in that uprising which seriously violated Babangida’s headquarters in the Dodan Barracks and led to the death of the military president’s ADC, Lt. Col. Usman Bello.
A son of a soldier from Cross River State, the young Nyiam followed his father’s profession early in life when he enrolled into the Nigerian Military School, Zaria, and from there into the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna as part of the 9th Regular Combatant Course that began in January 1971.
Following the completion of his studies at the NDA he was enlisted into the Army Corps of Engineers and from there proceeded on study leave obtaining a first degree in Quantity Surveying from Earthwork University in Scotland and subsequently, a masters degree in International Relations from the University of Aberdeen, also in Scotland. While studying, he was seconded to the British Army, where in his words he claims to have learnt that “soldiering is an honourable profession in the defence of the weak”.
Upon returning to Nigeria he was deployed to the army headquarters where he worked directly under General Babangida who was at that time Army Chief.
His last posting was as a directing staff at the Command and Staff College, Jaji. Following the failed April, 22 1990 failed putsch, Nyiam relocated abroad and joined forces with the camp of pro-democracy enthusiasts that fought the Sani Abacha regime from abroad.
Nyiam has written a book “True Federal Democracy or Awaiting Implosion: an aide-memoire” which he envisages should be used as a working document for making a new Nigeria constitution.
Ahead of the formal presentation of the book, Col. Nyiam had an interaction with Vanguard Editors during which he spoke on issues relating to Nigeria’s federalism, his relationship with Gen. Babangida, reasons for the coup and the commercial reasons behind the amalgamation of the north and southern protectorates of Nigeria 100 years ago. Excerpts:
WHAT are you campaigning for?
I thought that the first thing we should have done was to have come up with a process whereby we meaningfully start building the basis of democracy.
You would see what has happened in Egypt of recent; the first thing people do is to go for a conference towards a constitution. It is on the basis of that agreement that every sensible state proceeds from.
In our own case, people who are supposedly democrats took over a constitution which starts with a big lie and makes a claim on behalf of the people and we have been working on a constitution which was imposed by military decree.
The problem that we did not solve with the Aburi Accord still hunts us and I see as an observer that democracy which we are supposedly pursuing and that we are just paying lip service to democracy. Our elections I can say with all humility are 70% fraudulent. Our census is fraudulent. And we know this and we are supposed to be intelligent people and we accept this.
Our federalism is in itself fraudulent and it is not surprising why there is pipeline vandalism, it is not surprising why there is bunkering. In other words, Nigeria is in lack of people who can discern the principles that determine a process and keep by those principles.
Look at the US and the issue of the use of drones, you can see the discussion and the level it is going as to how to make the government more accountable with some suggesting that the judiciary may have to come in before they can authorise an American to kill.
In our own case, we pay lip service to things that are very fundamental because they are not bread and butter matters. What are important to us? Elections! They will come and go and we are still in square one and we yet we have no constitution that Nigerians consented to.
You hear parliamentarians saying that because there is a government in place that there cannot be another conference. Rubbish. Right now in the UK which is a very old democracy, there have been national conferences.
There is a scheduled referendum and it all came out from a conference which was something like a sovereign national conference. A bill was passed that whatever is arrived at that conference would be subjected to a plebiscite, but here, you hear people arguing because people forget that there is a difference between what is called direct democracy and indirect democracy.
Most of what we are familiar with is what I call the indirect that is, we delegate sovereignty to our National Assembly. They are delegates. When it comes to what is beyond making laws, people take back their sovereignty.
What I am trying to point out is that once you breach the principles of a process, the consequences would be that anything else would be dysfunctional.
This argument you have put down in your book is it a one-off one man brain wave?
I have said nothing new. In fact, those who are familiar with Awo’s writings would know that what we fought for in April, 1990, all we have been saying are footnotes of what Awo had written. That we do not have politicians of the quality of Awo, politicians, who think from first principle like Mandela. All we have are people who are jumping to action without thinking through what they do. Correspondingly, we do not have the institutions that ensure that thoughts always precede action. Don’t you think that if the military had not intervened that many of the things we are grappling with now would not have arisen?
Agreed. I agree.
So, what do you think we should do as a nation?
First of all, it is to discuss. Why are we running away from sitting down to discuss our problems? The first thing is that no one has the answers and the first thing to do is to have a conference. If you look at the growth of India and Pakistan. Pakistan is made up of Aryans much more than the Indian part. Pakistan had much more potential to develop more than India, but because of military rule they have not and also because of the failure to practise federalism and these are two things that have also been our problem.
Failure to practice federalism
But India which pursues federalism properly and sticks to democracy, you can see the progress. In the first republic we did not have the commissioner of police in Enugu being a Yoruba man or an Hausa man. The senior cadre of the police in the east or in the west were indigenous people. What I am trying to say is that once you breach principles you would just be dancing around. OPC as it is organised now is much more in tune with the principles of policing than Nigerian Police Force.
I still believe that if we carry on democracy we will get there. But my point is that we cannot say we are a federal state and there is no fiscal federalism. People wonder why Boko Haram? I tell people that Boko Haram is an indication of the lack of self determination and self determination is seen as treasonable in Nigeria. But federalism allows for people to self-determine who governs them.
How do you think we can move this country forward if we cannot develop pillars of trust, given that should there be a national conference it could be easily hijacked?
I think you are right and this has been an issue since Aburi. At Aburi, a decision was reached and people came back and advised government which then went back on what was reached. But we have examples to learn from. In South Africa they started by having a truth and reconciliation commission, but here what do we do? No, you cannot discuss that, you are overheating the polity! That terminology I don’t know where it came from.
We pretend to ourselves, we lie to ourselves and we believe the lies. You have a constitution in a democracy which says that someone’s resources beneath the soil is not his; ab initio, you have attempted to steal those peoples resource.
That is why I have nothing against illegal bunkerers because from the beginning, the Federal Government itself is the biggest thief. I have to put it straight because you go to Pakistan, you go to India, nobody would go and tell a man that what is underneath yours is not yours.
The Federal Government is the first thief and they put that in the constitution and then we accepted that! My point is that the way we are going we will not last. We will keep on having problem, we are not going to break, but we will keep on having problems.
Some say it is better to break?
I believe that our Lord Jesus Christ came to teach us the oneness of God and God is one. It is not for nothing that every religion says that God is one. From that angle, unity is paramount. I say this for somebody who may at times have been said to have been asking for the excision of a section of the country.
If you read that statement, we gave conditions that if these leaders from these areas continue doing like this that they are suspended from the union. I believe that mistakes were made and of course we have learnt our lessons and that Nigeria needs to be together. If you break and say remove the south-south, then the middle belt of the South-south would soon say that they want their own autonomy and where do you stop?
So, I don’t think that is the way out. The way out is that we need to be more creative, we need to use the head God has blessed us with.
Considering the fault lines you mention in our federalism, do you think we were better off in 1990?
We were better off in 1963. I went to school in Yaba and in my community where I grew up in Lagos the politicians were Ibos and there was no discrimination. When we were going to military school, Gen. Maimalari took us, the Lagosians; myself, Marwa, they treated us as if we were Lagosians. We were more united though we had regions that had their own constitutions, their own anthems, everything.
So, the 1960/63 constitution is a model that would work anytime. If you ask me, 1990? I would say things are worse off right from the government before this. Remember we took action before the June 12 crisis even though we foresaw that it would go that way and that was why we took the action, but if Obasanjo’s last government was a military one, I would have taken an action, but if it is elected, I wont. But there is need for clarification. If elections continue becoming fraudulent, then it is bad as a coup.
To what extent has the fact that someone from your region is now president mollified the angst of your people in the south-south?
That’s not my point. My point is that being a president is too transitory. It doesn’t even matter to me. I think having a structure is more important. I remember a man who played a key part in my life, that is Obasanjo, I remember when I worked for him asking me what I wanted. I told him, sir if you restructure this country and he then said to me, you are pontificating. I said no and in no time after he left office some of the things he did were being thrown aside because there are too many tactical manourveres in Nigeria.
In politics, there is no strategy. There is a lack of strategic thinking in our institutions. We cannot run away from trying to build institutions and to think strategically – strategically in that we think about the posterity of our children.
In advanced countries you see them thinking about their children but in our case, it is just about ourselves. Are we animals? There is no rocket science about it as Awolowo did it. Why is Yoruba land ahead of everyone else?
Till tomorrow! Awo was a man who understood politics and went to the first principles and tried to establish that. Even when he was minister of finance during the war, Awo working under the basis of first principles helped Nigeria to be able to win the war more than anybody gave him credit for because the measures he took which are misinterpreted in certain quarters – I am not saying that he is blameless- but the measures he took undermined the efforts of the opposite side. When he knew the opposite side was trying to buy arms he strategically approached the issue by undermining the currency. Awo was not a military man, but he was a strategist.
One of the few strategists today is the man in robes, Bishop Kukkah, a man who thinks everything from the depths. But our politicians very few think in that direction.
What is more important to me now is that there should be a conference by whatever name it is called. Let our people sit down together and we all pour our grievances.
Why should the National Assembly with representatives from all sections of the country be a platform for that?
Democracy has two dimensions indirect democracy and direct democracy. Indirect is what we are doing now and you delegate sovereignty to some people to act on your behalf to make only laws. When it comes to making the constitution, the people take back their power and do it directly by plebiscite. So, I do not know where we learnt this argument that because there is a National Assembly that there cannot a national conference.
It is not true. The military deliberately came up with a skewed system, they made some regions to have the block votes that they can determine how laws are passed in this country. It was a deliberate thing, it wasn’t by accident that there are so many local governments in some areas and some areas are deprived. So, we have to go back to basis and until we begin to tell ourselves the truth we will not move.
Were you more Nigerian in 1963 than you are today?
I was. I was. My dad was an ex-soldier and the minister of defence then, Ribadu treated everybody without discrimination. Of course you know Tafawa Balewa that some of his best ministers were not from the north. So, Nigeria gave me much as a young man. I went to school where I was paid salary and from that salary and as a student I was paying my younger sister’s school fees. So, I was a Nigerian through and through.
Don’t you think Nigerians would be more interested in you telling them why you took the action against Ibrahim Babangida instead of a treatise on federalism?
The issue of writing about oneself is so much of an ego trip. We have not solved our problems. This country has done so much for me and for many of my colleagues who are VCs and so on. We all had scholarships.
As a young officer I was earning even more than the British prime minister with my estacodes. I was getting a £1,000 monthly in the early seventies and my salary from Udoja awards was another £600 and the British prime minister at that time was earning £14,000. When he is taxed, his salary came down to £11,000 and that enabled me to help my relations that I could help and I was able to buy houses and that’s what I have been living on. So, the country has given me…and I am not alone. Hardly any one of my generation that didn’t enjoy the benefits of this country and what are we doing? We pay back by corruption! Where would you take the money to? It is not that I am not tempted to be corrupt, but I see the futility.
I remember a man I respect very much, Beko Ransome-Kuti, they were begging him to come and take a plot of land and he refused.
Who was begging him?
Tinubu! The man lived so selflessly. If you knew Beko, his sitting room was so poor looking, but that was a man for me! When I came back from exile and he came to welcome me and the car he drove, an old Volvo! And if you know Beko, he was more courageous than many generals in our army. In fact, the things Beko did? I have seen enough of life to know that if you are in the rat race you will remain a rat and I don’t want to be a rat.
What is your take on Prof. Chinua Achebe’s book on the civil war?
I was a young man from the east and they didn’t make exception. If you were a young man from the east they just thought that all of you were Iyanmiri! I was actually by the Jebba bridge but my dad asked me to go back to the north and I was one of the people on the bridge that they stopped and I saw them picking people and shooting them. I was a form one student going to form two. So, I saw some of the things that happened. I also lived close to the barracks and I saw how Ibo officers, and even a relation was killed in Abeokuta.
I experienced these as a young man so I can see where Chinua Achebe is coming from. It is this issue of trust. A people so traumatised like Chinua Achebe.
Remember Chinua Achebe left the country and for most of the time has lived outside the country, so he is like what they say that an “Indian who has left India is more conservative than an Indian who is still in India.”
Chinua Achebe still has not forgiven Nigeria. I, also there are certain things that push me and even our action, I would say that some of it were driven by that my childhood experience.
On what Chinua Achebe has said, he has a right to write history as he sees it. Other people have a right to correct the picture. But one thing I must say is that at one point, I think there was a discussion between Ojukwu and Awo and somehow, one person did not follow the agreement that was reached.
Concerning April 1990, you talked of learning your lessons are you saying you regretted the action?
I do not regret an action against a military government. People see it as a coup, but I don’t see it as a coup. We did not take action against an elected government.
Some of the officers who took part in the action and soldiers who joined, were actually Hausas and they came and said oga, thank you for this, but during the action when they heard the speech – (to excise the core North from the country) they became confused and I think that is where the regret is for making that statement I must say, youthful overzealousness or whatsoever.
I have also seen that over time that the common Fulani man following his cows and there are many in my state, Cross River, he is just a human being like any other human being. If you go to Osun, you will see some beautiful Yoruba looking people, but I heard that they are Fulanis.
Accusing a people
So, my regret is this: it is not the people, it is not Yoruba or Ibo that is the problem, because in our action it tended to give that impression, the regret is that you cannot accuse a people.
God has blessed us and I do pray that the leaders help us towards having a country. This would be the greatest country there would ever be. A country where you have people with round faces, you have people with slim faces, bantu looking, Fulani looking and I think that this could be one of the greatest countries looking if the leaders give it a chance.
What’s your present relationship with Ibrahim Babangida you were recently seen with him at a booklaunch?
We were all honouring a common friend, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi. Of course that is not the first time we have met as it is being portrayed. One of the papers went as far as saying that Great (Ogboru) was apologising. There was no apology, it was just respecting in the true Nigeria culture, an elder-statesman. We have no apologies to give and like I said, Gen. Babangida and myself have made mistakes and we have moved forward.
Having successfully conducted the civil war and the idea that no part of the country should again be able to question the centre, do you think that the case of devolution of powers to the states would work?
Lets be clear, if you see the killing of Easterners, Ojukwu had no choice. It wasn’t that anyone in the east was too powerful, in fact, the east became the weaker side. It goes back to Lugard. You know Lord Lugard was the governor of the northern protectorate, he was sent to come and be both governor of the north and the south. When Lugard came and said these people are so rich, he saw how the south was rich and he then used his connection in Whitehall (British Civil Service) to convince them to amalgamate these two people so that the crown office would not be subsidising the northern office.
It was by chance! In the same way when the civil war happened it was expedient to as well undermine the other regions by centralising power. It was only for war.
But in so doing, they now realised that “ah, we can now have a share of this wealth.” What that has now done is that it has made some who were among the best farmers in this country to become lazy. As a young man in Zaria, I saw that the Hausa farmer was a better farmer than any other farmer in the country. The irrigation techniques we read about Egypt, I saw it in practise around my school in Zaria.
Instead of baking we are now sharing the cake. Sharing makes people lazy, we need to go back, let the people from each region do their best and contribute to the centre. The Hausa man would be better off because he is a very hardworking man if he is not deceived by this issue of governors going to the centre to take money which I see as stolen money.
In the sharing of the cake you said “they” saw. So how can you convince them to hands off the cake?
If they don’t allow, you see what Boko Haram is doing? People forget that Boko Haram now is a class war. The people who are affected more than anybody are the emirs from the north more than even us. So, it is no longer they now, but it is a time of reckoning now and it is in that spirit that some of us believe that Babangida, Buhari, the southern leaders should get together because we really need to talk. We cannot run away from talk.
What the National Assembly is doing is just a joke and I knew it was coming to that and I am not surprised that the issue of hidden agenda has now come out. The people there, how many of them were properly elected? How many of them are really representatives of the people.
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE MEETING OF PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT (PDM) HELD ON TUESDAY* *5th FEBRUARY 2013 AT SHEHU MUSA YAR'ADUA CENTRE, ABUJA
The Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) met on 5th February, 2013 in Abuja as part of its ongoing effort to reposition itself to continue to be a leading player in the political development of Nigeria.
The meeting was attended by the national officers of the Movement, State Coordinators, Women and Youth Leaders from the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
2. Barely over a year since the rebirth of the PDM and since the repositioning exercise commenced, we are glad and proud to announce the following to the nation and to the world at large: a. The peaceful election and inauguration of a new National Management Committee consisting of eight national officers to replace the existing National Steering Committee. Members of the new National Management Committee are as follows: Senator Abubakar Mahdi National Chairman Chief Bode Ajewole. Deputy National Chairman Chief Dubem Onya. National Secretary Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim. Director of Research & Planning Prince Tonye Princewill. Director of Organization Dame Titi Ajanaku. Director of Women Affairs Alh. Murtala Shehu Yar'adua Director of Youth Affairs Abdullahi Shuaibu Yeman. Director of Finance The formation of two new organs, a National Elders Committee and a National Caucus, will soon be announced. b. The appointment and inauguration of State Coordinators, Youth and Women Leaders for the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT c. The approval of a new zonal, state, senatorial and LGA Management structure across the country. All new structures are to take effect immediately. We are proud to announce that these leadership changes took place democratically, in an atmosphere of peace, discipline and camaraderie, a refreshing departure from the rancour and the sit tight mentality which is common among political organisations across the land.
3. The PDM also reviewed current developments in Nigeria and lamented the culture of corruption and judicial collaboration which has engulfed the country. It condemned the recent sentencing of a convicted criminal for a period of 2 years with the option to pay a paltry N750,000 as fine for stealing a whopping sum of N33bn of pension funds. The light sentence handed down for this crime against Nigerians and, especially, against the millions of retirees who sacrificed their lives at their prime age, does not inspire confidence in the purported war against corruption in particular and in the nation's judiciary as a whole
4. The Movement received briefing on the ongoing merger talks among opposition political parties in the country and commended the opposition for its resolve to give Nigerians an alternative political platform. We call on all opposition political parties and organisations across the country to close ranks in order to provide Nigerians with a clear choice between conservative and progressive ideologies.
5. While we are gladdened by the development, we implore the opposition to define its own identity based on progressive ideology, with clear and contrasting policies and programs capable of pulling Nigeria out of the current state of despoliation, despair and debasement. Telling Nigerians how bad things are simply won’t suffice. Clear and practical solutions are what Nigerians need. PDM is developing a clear roadmap for the entrenchment of profound national social, political and economic reforms which will lead to creating jobs, steady power supply, improved security, transparent and credible elections and bring corruption in all its manifestations to an end.
6. The Movement resolved to open discussions with the organisations of like mind, with a view to finding common grounds on issues of principle, policy and strategy in order to move the Nigerian project to the next level. These discussions must be open, transparent and above all, in the best interest of the peace, unity, stability and economic progress of Nigeria and Nigerians AS A WHOLE. The era of Business As Usual should be dead and gone. Politicians must begin to do things differently, henceforth, in order to save Nigeria from imminent collapse. Nigerians are sick and tired of more of the same and are clamouring for change, a change which they deserve. Signed by Members of Communique Committee:
A coalition of four opposition political parties on Wednesday, in Abuja, announced the name of their new party, All Progressive Congress.
The four parties that gave birth to the new APC are the Action Congress of Nigeria, All Nigeria Peoples Party, All Progressive Grand Alliance and Congress for Progressive Change.
The new name was announced to showcase the success of their merger talks. Just 24 hours earlier, 10 governors on the platform of the four parties had met in Lagos where they endorsed their parties’ merger plan, meant to wrestle power from the Peoples Democratic Party.
Briefing journalists in Abuja, the Chairman of the Merger Committee of the ACN, Chief Tom Ikimi, said the new name was arrived at by all the parties involved.
Ikimi also read the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting which endorsed the merger and the new name.
Apart from Ikimi, others who signed the communiqué were the representatives of APGA, Sen. Annie Okonkwo; Chairman of the Merger Committee of CPC, Alhaji Garba Sadi; and the Chairman of the Merger Committee of ANPP, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau.
Ikimi said, “At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent. And to meet the challenge, we the following political parties namely ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC have resolved to merge forthwith and become All Progressive Congress and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity.
“We resolve to form a political party committed to the principles of internal democracy, focused on serious issues of concern to our people, determined to bring corruption and insecurity to an end, determined to grow our economy and create jobs in their millions through education, housing, agriculture, industrial growth etc, and stop the increasing mood of despair and hopelessness among our people.
“The resolution of these issues, the restoration of hope, and the enthronement of true democratic values for peace, democracy and justice are those concerns which propel us.
“We believe that by these measures only shall we restore our dignity and position of pre-eminence in the comity of nations. This is our pledge.”
Ikimi said that the leadership of all the merged parties would soon inform the Independent National Electoral Commission about the merger.
“We will inform the appropriate organs and authorities, including, INEC as soon as possible,” he added.
Asked what would become the fate of their members in the National Assembly after the merger, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs also said they would not have problem since they would not be defecting to another party.
Their leaving their respective parties, he said, would be based on the merger, which he said was permissible under the law.
He said the members of the National Assembly were already meeting.
On why the leadership of APGA was not represented at the meeting, Ikimi said the presence of Okonkwo was enough and that he had the backing of the leadership.
Okonkwo also said his name was submitted as a member of the merger committee of the party, adding that he was at the press briefing to represent the interest of the party.
Ikimi defended the absence of the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, at the meeting of the opposition governors in Lagos on Tuesday.
He said the governor was also committed to the merger, but was absent from the meeting due to flight problems which he associated with bad weather.
According to him, “The governor is committed to the merger and would have been in Lagos yesterday, but planes could neither take off nor land in Benin due to bad weather. That was why he was not there.”
Shekarau also defended the new name of the party, saying “it was chosen by all the committee members after a rigorous screening exercise.”
Among those at the briefing were Chief George Moghalu, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Chief Niyi Adebayo, Sen. Chris Ngige, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Sen. Kabiru Gaya and Sen. Buka Abba-Ibrahim.
The Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), was also at the meeting. He, however, left before the briefing started.
Speaking with reporters, Osoba asked Nigerians to be patient, saying their days of suffering would soon be over.
He said the progressives in the country decided to come together to rescue the nation from the ruling PDP.
But while reacting to the unveiling of the new name, the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, told The PUNCH that his party was not worried by the development and that the merger of the opposition did not constitute any threat to the PDP.
Tukur said there was no polling unit in the country where his party was not represented, submitting that the “weak political parties” were coming together because they realised that individually, they did not have the strength to go into war with the PDP.
He described the ruling party as the Messi of Nigerian politics.
Messi, an Argentine striker with Barcelona of Spain, is the current World Footballer of the Year and a great dribbler.
Tukur said, “It does not mean that we want to be a party without opposition, in fact opposition is a charge to action.
“People tend to believe that when they see people coming together they will do well. If they have the strength why do they come together?
“If you go for a contest you have the striker, you know Lionel Messi? PDP is Messi in that contest. They (opposition) are not a threat at all; it is better, it will inspire the PDP to action. In that contest (merger) tell them Chairman said PDP is the Messi.”
However, there are indications that some PDP governors might join the new party. Checks by our correspondent on Wednesday showed that some PDP governors were already giving their tactical backing to the merger deal.
A member of one of the merging political parties, who was initially negotiating with the leadership of the PDP on how he would defect to it, told our correspondent on condition of anonymity that he was expecting some governors in the new party.
He said, “Yes, I was on my way to the PDP but some of the governors already in the party called me and asked me what I was coming to do in a dilapidated party that would soon crumble.
“They said we should go and arrange a new party and that they are coming as their party would soon collapse.”
The source added that the governors were not happy with the crisis rocking their party.
The PDP governors recently demanded immediate convening of the National Executive Committee meeting of the party, where there were speculations that they would move a no-confidence vote against Tukur.
But Tukur, backed by the President, said the meeting would not hold until after the party had elected its Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Tukur had run into trouble with the governors with his alleged unilateral dissolution of the exco of the PDP in Adamawa State.
THE General Overseer of Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has said the only way Nigeria can grow and develop is to carry out a total cleansing, “the type that happened in Ghana.”
Speaking at a press conference Sunday, Bakare said those who put the country in its present mess would not escape when God arrives to do the cleansing.
“We need the Ghana treatment to send shock waves down the spines of everybody so that people would tip-toe when going into public office,” he said, enthusing that it remained “how God will do it.”
In a message titled “The Head that refuses a life-giving rebuke will be thrown down the cliff of perdition”, Bakare expressed regret that the present administration has missed the right path long before now. “Until good governance is in place and credible people are not discouraged from playing clean politics, things would not change.”
On the allegation by former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, at a lecture that the government squandered foreign reserves running to several billions of dollars, Bakare berated the government’s spokesmen and the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for chasing the shadow and leaving the substance.
He said the CAN leadership failed to address the real issue on corruption but was chasing shadow. According to him, “CAN is expected to serve as the voice for the voiceless but it has turned itself into government appendage. It was the re-tweeting of figurative expression of Malam Nasir el-Rufai that the agents of diversion have latched onto in order to take our focus from the fundamental issues Ezekwesili raised and to which they have no answer.”
He said rather than the government giving a lucid, reasoned and mature response to Ezekwesili, “it went into all manner of tirades against her person, virulently attacking the messenger while ignoring the message. This puerile approach must have incensed many Nigerians with sense of decency and propriety in public affairs.”
The National Chairman, Action Congress of Nigeria, Chief Adebisi Akande, spoke with TUNDE ODESOLA on national issues, his party and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party
What’s your position on the state of infrastructure in the country?
My position tallies with the disillusionment of the average Nigerian over the state of infrastructure in the country. You saw the situation at the Police College, Ikeja. How can you get anything good from any policeman or policewoman trained in such a college? The government expends money on it yearly but where does the money go? Look at the situation of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos-Sokoto Road, the country’s rail system, East-West Bypass, Benin-Ore-Sagamu Road and many others. You can’t get to Abuja from anywhere, the roads are bad. Go to the East, the roads are impassable. Erosion has eaten up the East.
Flooding occurred in about 23 states in Nigeria last year, killing people and destroying properties. You can see the proactive step taking by Osun State in checking flooding. In most homes, electricity only comes for few hours in a month. We keep having air disasters.
So, what infrastructure are we talking about? It won’t be out of place to say that Nigeria is a failed state - may be except for a few states not controlled by the typical Peoples Democratic Party politicians, because there are a few governors that are not of the Action Congress of Nigeria but they are working in the interest of their people.
Bloodletting and violence by Boko Haram has left the country writhing in the throes of perpetual insecurity. What’s your view on this?
Majority of Nigerians believe that poverty within the country gave rise to Boko Haram while so many people believe it’s due to the jostle for Peoples Democratic Party presidential ticket in the countdown to the 2015 general elections. Government may want to negotiate, it may not want to negotiate. Should you want to negotiate, who are you going to negotiate with? If not, why are you not going to negotiate? Government’s primary duty is to ensure peace and tranquility. Unfortunately, it is these key issues of governance that Boko Haram is attacking. It’s on record that most people have read politics of the PDP into Boko Haram insurgence. The President himself said Boko Haram is everywhere, including his government. The shielding of Boko Haram members by senators and people in power gave credence to the President’s submission. Do not forget that a police commissioner had once deliberately allowed a suspected Boko Haram member run away from police cell. You will remember also that the late National Security Adviser, Gen. Patrick Azazi, had at a public function attributed national insecurity to the politics of the PDP. If all of these have been the case, it could be submitted that the Boko Haram problem is like a ball in the court of PDP. Should it decide to negotiate, then, the presidency’s interest may be negatively affected. Second term ambition could be the underpinning of Boko Haram. Negotiation may mean shifting ground to accommodate lack of second term for the present occupant of the presidency, but which is most desired by a lot of other interested personalities and groups who may want a continuation of the present corrupt order. Already, the strategising for the above is already on and some people are already losing out in the power game. The dialogue option may not be workable for obvious reasons. It may be that the presidency may not be in tune with Boko Haram’s sponsors within the fold of the PDP and when a falcon cannot hear the falconer, then anarchy, like we have in Nigeria, is let on the loose. Therefore, the matter of negotiation with Boko Haram will be a matter of expediency as may be dictated by the interest of the President; does he want to hustle for second term and continue to lose more Nigerians to daily killings and bombings or does he want to adhere to the constitution he swore to protect Nigerians? He has a choice to make in all these.
The state of the country has been a source of worry to Nigerians. What do you think?
What exactly should we be talking about in Nigeria that is not known to all and sundry? Is it the corruption, assault on human lives or the ineptitude of the Federal Government to provide basic needs? Is it lack of power or lies by government officials in order to perpetrate themselves in power? Is it the inability to get our priorities right? We seem not to be getting anything right, we keep retrogressing. When other countries are in the moon, we are still dwelling in the caves. A number of good things happened to Nigeria in the past and some other countries came to copy those things. Those countries today have made it good with those things they copied from us. For us, we have lost them all. The values are dead. Calling somebody a thief in the past would evoke the feeling of death for the person but ironically, thieves are leading us today.
The spate of violence in the country has been linked with the 2015 election. Is this the reality?
Many people are linking Boko Harm with the contest for 2015 presidential elections. It may not be out of context to rein in that fact based on the earlier facts supplied. But besides the fact that the present violence is restricted to the northern part of the country, it is expected that there will be adherence to democratic practice as available in a free and fair electoral contest. In 2011, when the rules are adhered to, when the democratic processes were followed to some extent, there was less reportage of violence across the country and the elections were principally declared free and fair by observers. One can only expect that there would be an improvement on the 2011 elections in 2015.
Will your party latch in on the Board of Trustees crisis within PDP?
PDP has never had any serious influence in Nigeria; it has always been forcing itself on Nigerians through electoral rigging and manipulation. PDP has been a house of commotion since 1999. It is only when they have the common interest of cheating Nigerians that they always come together and have a common front. The issue of BoT is not anything serious but a continuation of giving jobs to the boys so as to ensure that the commotion within is reduced. Otherwise, what exactly is the constitutional role of a BoT for a political party? It is supposed to be an advisory body. And if it is merely an advisory body, why would you want to kill yourselves over its chairmanship? This tells you that there’s more to the PDP BoT than meets the eye. There must be a lot of corruption at the expense of Nigerians. In relation to our party, we have no political capital we have to make out of the PDP BoT crisis because we have a solid and good relationship with the people of Nigeria whom we have always been courting through the enhancement of due democratic processes, good governance and delivery of solid democratic dividends to the people. These are what we inherited from Obafemi Awolowo’s credo, which says “freedom for all, life more abundant.”
A lot of people were surprised that a well -respected monarch in the North could be attacked. What is your take on the attack on the Emir of Kano?
It is very unfortunate. But it tells you how daring the attackers are becoming. The institution of monarchy, especially as it concerns the Emir of Kano, which is one of the leading traditional institutions in Nigeria, is being debased in estimation. Once again, it is a product of the ineptness of the Federal Government to secure lives and property in Nigeria. If the Emir of Kano is violently attacked in such a manner, then who is safe in Nigeria? Yet, all that could be heard from the Federal Government are feeble statements lacking in action. It is a dangerous trend that should be checked from recurring.
How prepared is the ACN for election in Osun and Ekiti State next year?
Like it is well known, performance, delivery of democratic dividends and adherence to the rule of law have always been key issues in ACN-controlled governments. This is our strength and we rely on it so much. As you must have observed, Governor Adams Oshiomhole had a wonderful electoral ride into his second term on the basis of his super performance. I’m sure that not many people are aliens to the ongoing aggressive development efforts in Osun and Ekiti states.
Governors Rauf Aregbesola and Kayode Fayemi are turning the state around for good having inherited a decadent system foisted by the disgraced PDP administrations in the various states. With these sterling performances aimed at making life more comfortable for the people and with many more of such performances to come in another one year or so, definitely we should not have any problem with the people of the two states who are highly political sophisticated and who appreciate good governance when they see one. We expect that the Independent National Electoral Commission will provide a level playing ground whereby due process will be adhered to, adequate electoral materials will be provided and made to reach polling booths on time. We also expect that security agencies will be fair and impartial and will reject advances that could taint elections, I assure you the ACN will win at all times if these conditions are provided. The ACN will win not only in Osun and Ekiti but in Nigeria in general.
How do you feel at 74?
There’s nothing spectacular in being 74 without being useful to your people. It is purely the grace of God that has taken me this far. I thank God who has so far given me so much grace and opportunity to come this far.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said last night that Islamist extremist group Boko Haram would pose a threat to other African nations if not contained, while also pledging support for Mali.
Jonathan, speaking in an interview with CNN, however did not offer details while denying the Boko Haram insurgency was spurred by deep poverty in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north and refuting widespread reports of major military abuses.
“Boko Haram, if it is not contained, would be a threat not only to Nigeria, but to west Africa, central Africa and of course to north Africa,” he said from Davos, where he was attending the World Economic Forum.
He mentioned Boko Haram members travelling to “link up” with members of Al-Qaeda’s north African branch operating in northern Mali and other north African nations.
“That is why the Nigerian government is totally committed to work with other nationals, other friendly governments, to make sure that we contain the problems in Mali,” Jonathan said.
Nigeria has pledged to send 900 troops to Mali and is to command an African force being deployed there.
Asked whether misrule and corruption were helping feed the violence blamed on Boko Haram in Nigeria, Jonathan firmly denied it.
Most Nigerians live on less than $2 per day despite the country’s status as Africa’s biggest oil producer, and many have seen the insurgency as largely in response to conditions in the north, which has been particularly neglected.
“Boko Haram is a local terror group and we call on the rest of the world to work with us,” said Jonathan.
“Because now we are talking about Algeria, we are talking about northern Mali, and what I believe is that if we allow terror to exist in any part of the world, it will not just affect that country or that state, but it will affect the rest of the globe, and we should not play politics with Boko Haram.”
Nigeria’s military has been accused of major abuses in its fight against Boko Haram, including killings of civilians, the burning of homes and indiscriminate arrests. Jonathan denied the assertions when asked about them.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both issued detailed reports on allegations of major military abuses, among others.
Informed that the US State Department has raised concerns over the military’s actions, Jonathan said US diplomats should seek out the true story.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.
The perceived ambition of Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State in 2015 has sparked a dirty fight between him and the Minister of the Niger Delta, Elder Godson Orubebe, with both South South leaders publicly calling each other names.
Amaechi, who doubles as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), is widely rumoured to be nursing the ambition of running as presidential running mate to a Northern aspirant in the next election.
Orubebe believes that the Rivers governor, of all people, should not be a party to any move to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from getting a second term in 2015, declaring on Thursday night: “In America, people within the same political party do fight, but once the President emerges, everybody will sheathe their swords and support the President to succeed so that Americans can get the best. But is that what our President is getting? That is not what he is getting.”
He spoke at a press conference in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
However, Governor Amaechi, who is serving his second term in office, has not publicly declared any ambition; and he parries questions on the matter whenever he is confronted.
He added: “Unfortunately, the man (Amaechi) has forgotten that it was by the grace of God that he became the governor of Rivers State. He has forgotten so soon. He has arrogated to himself, powers that he does not have. It is God that has powers.
“Today, he sees himself as the governor of governors and he begins to feel that he is even bigger than the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But I want to let him know that God is still God. He must have respect for the Presidency. He must have respect for the President of this country.
“It is sad. It is unfortunate that people from the South-South, even governors, particularly Governor Rotimi Amaechi, have no respect for the President of this country. I think this is the right time we should let him know and I have decided to speak because this is the time to speak.
“Let him (Amaechi) use the resources of Rivers State to develop Rivers State. Let him not use the resources of Rivers State to bribe people in Nigeria. That must stop. He should understand that God is still God.”
But it was not only Amaechi’s speculated ambition that riled Orubebe.
The governor had on Wednesday expressed disgust at what he regarded as the minister’s lack of attention for the vital East-West road which runs across swampy sections from Oron in Akwa Ibom State passing through Ogoniland in Rivers State as well as Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Ogun states, while terminating in Lagos.
The rehabilitation of the road, especially between Delta and Rivers, has suffered from severe red-tape which has slowed down its completion thus, exposing motorists and commuters to danger.
Governor Amaechi, reacting to a recent tanker explosion on the road in which about 14 people died, had said the nine Niger Delta states would take over the project in view of the alleged inaction of the Niger Delta Ministry.
The minister asked Amaechi to mind his business and stop using the resources of Rivers State to bribe Nigerians.
He said: “He (Amaechi) was saying that the governors of the Niger Delta want to take over the East-West Road. The resources of Rivers State are so enormous, but I can tell you that there are so many villages in Rivers State that have not been connected by road.
“Port Harcourt used to be the Garden City of this country. Today, Port Harcourt is a slum. You cannot move in Port Harcourt. I think that he should concern himself with utilising the resources that are in there to develop Rivers State and the people of Rivers State.
“I expect him (Amaechi) to talk, if he is performing like Akpabio (Godswill, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State). If today the Governor of Akwa Ibom State is talking about those things, I will tend to listen, sit down and reason with him, but not governor of Rivers State.
“He (Amaechi) is only talking. Almost the roads he is talking of are abandoned. Nothing is going on in Port Harcourt. The people are crying. He should think of doing that.”
Orubebe had earlier on Thursday inspected work on the projects in Warri, Kaiama in Bayelsa State, Port Harcourt and Ogoniland in Rivers State and Eket and Oron in Akwa Ibom State.
The inspected sections alone,according to him, has 42 bridges, with 32 completed and ten ongoing and 768 culverts, with 740 completed.
Sand-filling is epected to be completed by June.
Orubebe said that the recent collapse of parts of the road was caused by last year’s massive flooding.
Amaechi’s response to the minister’s attack was swift and no less strident.
In a statement through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr.David Iyofor, the Governor said: “Ordinarily, I would not respond to the ludicrous, thoughtless and bizarre rantings of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, against Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, but it has become imperative for me to do this and show clearly that the minister’s game is just to divert attention from his ineptitude and abysmal failure.
“Contrary to his madcap vituperations, Governor Amaechi has tremendous respect for the office of the President of Nigeria and President Goodluck Jonathan. The office of the President of Nigeria is a big institution that deserves utmost respect and it would be grossly irresponsible for anyone to disrespect Mr. President which unfortunately Minister Orubebe is doing by dragging the President’s name into his inability to deliver on the East –West road.
“Minister Orubebe seems to suffer from a severe form of selective amnesia as he conveniently forgets that the same Amaechi he (Orubebe) now contemptuously, disgraciously and insolently disparages and flippantly accuses of not respecting Mr. President led Rivers people to overwhelming vote for and gave President Jonathan the highest votes by any state in the country at the last presidential elections. Minister Orubebe should please tell us, what respect, regard and show of love is bigger than that?
“Minister Orubebe’s imprudent and reckless attacks on the person of Governor Amaechi is a dubious but obvious attempt by the minister to divert attention from his abysmal failure to deliver on the East- West road. This callous attempt to drag the President’s name into it is what is most disrespectful and irresponsible.
“I challenge Minister Orubebe to show the world projects he started and completed in the Niger-Delta as Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs. I challenge Minister Orubebe to show the world one project he started and completed in Rivers State with the huge resources allocated to his ministry.
“Or is Rivers State not part of the Niger-Delta, Minister Orubebe? In the same vein, I challenge Minister Orubebe to come to Rivers State at anytime of his choice and since he has become too blind to see Governor Amaechi’s monumental developmental strides and projects in the state. I will be most delighted to show him the kilometres upon kilometres of brand new roads and bridges, the world-class new hospitals and health centres scattered all over the state, the exquisite primary and secondary schools that have become the models for many, the robust urban renewal programme, and many more developmental projects of the Amaechi administration.
“I will advise him to make sure he brings the press along as well, so when he suffers from his selective amnesia again, the media will be quick to remind him that they saw the projects with him.
“What an irony for an appointed minister, who has failed woefully and who has been unable to complete one single road, to cast aspersions on an elected governor who is judiciously using the resources of his people to better their lives and develop their state.
“What a shame! This is indeed most ridiculous and laughable. It’s no longer in doubt that Minister Orubebe does not like Rivers State. Minister Orubebe should please face the simple task of completing one road, just one road, the East-West road, as this dubious diversionary attempt to attack Governor Amaechi will not complete the road that is most dear to the hearts and lives of Niger-Deltans.”
ABUJA — The new party coming from the merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, will pursue the restructuring of the country, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the CPC national leader said yesterday.
Speaking at the inauguration of the CPC merger committee in Abuja, Buhari said that a flag and logo for the new party which is expected to emerge in June this year have already been prepared.
The merger committee headed by former Deputy Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Garba Gadi, is expected to formalize ongoing talks with the ACN and other opposition parties on issues ranging from manifesto, party flag and logo.
Buhari said: “It is not impossible that the new party is presented to the people by middle of this year after signing the declaration. It should not take more than six weeks for the parties to pursue the matter within their own constitutional context to ensure that the issue is legitimated through the proper procedures and processes of its own organs”.
He said the party and the ACN were already pursuing the merger at an advanced stage as both parties are near perfection on every detail of the agreements between the two parties.
Buhari said there was a strong understanding and determination between the ACN and CPC to create a new party with a brand new logo and flag already designed, including all other paraphernalia of a political party already in place.
Buhari who was optimistic on prospects of the new party said: “The new party will root for proper federation as the basis of the union and for the governance of the country; and should therefore support the restructuring of the country. The 36-state structure of the country is simply not working; and it must therefore be rationalised.
“The party should root for democracy, rule of law and the entrenchment of a democratic culture in the country; and the foundation of the new party should be anchored on the recognition and acceptance that our cultural and religious differences are a blessing and a source of strength, and should not be a cause for disunity”.
“The new party should as a matter of topmost priority begin to tackle and plan for the creation of a new security architecture for the country and possibly for the entire sub-region, a development that may involve the creation of local security networks and the restoration of traditional intelligence gathering techniques to shore up a police force that has obviously failed,” Buhari said.
According to Buhari the new party will bring about new work ethic in the public service and accountability by every public office holder.
He assured Nigerians that the merger between the CPC and ACN is going to be a full fledged one, and not an alliance, because Nigerians expect a merger.
However, he charged the Gadi led 18-man committee on CPC merger talks to be focused and see their assignment as a national task as it is an opportunity to build and run a better Nigeria.
“Your task is national, the issue before you now and as you go into your negotiations is fundamentally one that you will negotiate at the best deal for Nigeria. It is essentially a matter of give-and-take: there is nothing sacrosanct about any of the issues you will be called to thrash out, but of course, there is a bottom-line the outlines of which have been giver in the committee’s terms of reference.
“We are not going into a battle; we are going into a friendly game with our brothers who desire for this nation what we desire for. You must always remember to negotiate with respect, understanding and decorum as befits people who are ready and genuinely desirous of merging into one tomorrow,” Buhari added.
The Peoples Democratic Party has come under criticisms for appointing an ex-convict, Chief Bode George, into a panel to reorganise its Board of Trustees.
A Lagos High Court convicted George in 2009 for fraud after he served as Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority. He spent two years in prison.
Legal practitioners as well as civil rights groups, Anti-Corruption Network and Coalition against Corrupt Leaders, on Sunday, condemned the PDP’s action, saying the party had no respect for the public.
Executive Secretary of ACN and former member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dino Melaye, and the Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, said the PDP’s decision was akin to legalising corruption.
Melaye said, “Almost everybody in the party (PDP) is an ex-convict, only time will tell. The party is about corruption, so corruption and corrupt persons mean nothing to them. He (Bode George) is still carrying our national honours and so you can see.”
Adeniran said, “Nobody is expected to associate with a corrupt convict that has not been discharged of the burden of guilt because such people will not do anything to discourage similar crimes.
“He is not going to discourage people of doubting integrity from assuming office as a political leader. By implication, such characters will infest others with the criminal virus because he exemplifies corruption. And since like begets like, whatever decision taken by any committee he is a member can only be seen as lacking in integrity.”
But two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Rotimi Jacobs and Yusuf Ali, who spoke to our correspondents, differed on the issue.
Jacobs, who is a counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, while condemning the development, said it was an indication that the PDP was not sincere in its anti-corruption war.
He said, “Is that how the PDP will be fighting corruption? Is that how the ruling party will fight corruption? For a party that is supposed to be fighting corruption, it is a very sad development. It is the shame of a nation.”
But, Ali noted that despite his conviction, George had the right to belong to, and participate in the activities of a political party.
He added that the appointment was a PDP affair, and that the party was not the Federal Government.
Ali said, “The party is not the government. We should not equate the party with the government. Since he belongs to the party, he can function within the party.
“Even conviction cannot stop somebody from belonging to a group or a trade union. If he belongs to a group, he can take part in the activities of the group. It is different from taking public office.”
Meanwhile, a member of the PDP BoT, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the President suggested George’s name at the meeting where the decision was taken.
The source said, “The President suggested his name. You know this is politics; the President is losing followership in the South-West and other zones, so the best he thinks he can do is to look for those who can work with him.
“If he thinks an ex-convict is the best person to reorganise his party, so be it.
“Don’t forget that he said recently that another ex-convict, Chief Diepreye Alamieseigha is his benefactor.
“Ironically, both George and Alamieseigha were convicted for corruption. He has the right to choose his friends.”
When contacted, the Secretary of the Board, Senator Wali Jibrin, declined to speak on the matter.
Asked whether the appointment would not send a wrong signal about the country’s fight against corruption, he said, “I don’t know anything about that.”
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC will tomorrow arraign the Deputy Speaker of Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon. Mato Dary Dogara before a Federal High Court, Kaduna.
Dogara will be docked alongside five others, including Kabiru Tahir Malali and Ahmed Yahaya former Chairman and Treasurer respectively of Lere Local Government, Kaduna State on a six-count charge on contract over-invoicing and criminal diversion of funds.
Dogara is a former Chairman of Lere Local Government and had also served as a commissioner in the state.
Another breakthrough came the way of security agents in their confrontation with members of the dreaded Jamaatu Ahlil Sunna Lidawati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, with the arrest of one of the sect’s suspected leaders, Hassan Pagi BUKAR, in the residence of a 2003-2007 member of the House of Representatives (names withheld).
The Boko Haram alleged leader was, according to sources, arrested along with the security guard of the erstwhile lawmaker.
Although the one-time member of the House of Reps was said to have been briefly arrested and interrogated, he has since been a daily guest of the security agency that effected the arrest.
The arrest was reportedly made in the Gwarimpa area of the Federal Capital territory, FCT, Abuja.
Sunday Vanguard learnt, last night, that the arrest and interrogation of Bukar had started yielding results.
For instance, the suspect reportedly disclosed, upon interrogation, that his brief as a sect member was to “carry out robbery activities by dispossessing members of the public of their cars”.
The security guard in the former House of the Reps member’s residence (who was described as a mere gateman) was said to have been “employed from Sokoto”.
During further interrogation of Bukar, Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that the suspect disclosed that the cars used for suicide bombings by the sect were stolen vehicles.
One of the very indicting statements of Bukar, the source said, “was that he implicated the former Rep by saying that he also buys some of the cars from him (Bukar) when they are stolen”