NEWS AND STORIES
President Muhammadu Buhari’s suggestion that former Edo governor Adams Oshiomhole be elected APC National Chairman is a personal opinion and not an imposition, according to Gov Umar Ganduje of Kano.
“Buhari’s choice on who becomes the APC next national chairman is his personal opinion; it is not an imposition in any way,” Ganduje told newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Buhari, at a meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, asked governors elected on APC platform to support the candidacy of Oshiomhole in the race to lead the party.
Ganduje, while reacting to that, said that everybody was free to contest for the seat just as everybody was free to hold an opinion on who should lead the party.
´´Mr President’s opinion is not constitutional and it is not a non-constitutional opinion as well. He just voiced out his thought which will serve as a guideline to some and otherwise to others,´´ he said.
The governor added that the issue of Buhari’s opinion being undemocratic does not arise.
“There is what we call guided democracy and we regard what Mr President said as such,” he stated.
He, however, said that if President Buhari´s choice of the party´s next national chairman would ensure its stability and avoid a fallout after the election, it would be better for all.
Also reacting to Buhari’s choice of Oshiomhole, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, said that the President’s position would not prevent others from contesting the seat.
Abdullahi, who spoke with newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja, at the end of a closed-door meeting between the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and Governors elected on its platform, said that the race was still open.
He, however, said that the meeting between the NWC members and the governors was to get their commitment toward a peaceful and transparent congresses that would be accepted by majority of APC members.
“We felt that such commitment was necessary because some of the party´s governors are already giving the impression that congresses will not be held in some states,” he explained.
Abdullahi hinted that the party´s leadership may change the dates for its congresses and convention earlier announced to commence on May 2 and end with the national convention on May 14.
“We have agreed that the NWC will go back and take a second look at the timetable and see the possibility for adjustments, because there are other issues.
“The timetable may be reviewed because it coincides with Muslim’s month of fasting; we must be sensitive to the feelings of Muslims who will be fasting in the month of Ramadan. We shall try to avoid conducting any political activities in that period,´´ he said.
The schedule of activities earlier released by the party´s Organising Secretary, Sen. Osita Izunaso, had indicated that ward congresses would hold on May 2, while appeals that might arise from the exercise would be heard on May 3.
It further showed that local government congresses would hold on May 5, with appeals arising from the exercise fixed for May 7.
The states are expected to hold their congresses on May 9, and entertain appeals from dissatisfied members on May 10. (NAN)
A former Special Adviser on Revenue Mobilisation to Chief Bola Tinubu, Dr. Charles Nwadiani, has said the reason he wants to govern Delta State from 2019 is to enable him expand the frontiers of governance and rescue the people of Delta State from oppressive governance.
Dr. Nwadiani who is a governorship aspirant of the All Progressive Congress spoke to newsmen at the Benin Airport.
Nwadiani noted that Governors in Delta State have failed to replicate good governance as applicable elsewhere in the country.
He stated that having helped to lay the foundation for modern Lagos while serving as a Special Adviser to former Governor Ahmed Tinubu in Lagos state, he hoped to replicate the same feat in Delta State.
Dr. Nwadiani said he would focus on improving security, youth empowerment and making the state an attraction hub for investors through massive investment in agriculture.
His words, “The most important thing is bringing the culture of good governance and expanding its frontiers to the Niger Delta, making Delta State, the root of great developmental strides. We have limited our action plans to 4 years and we will implement in these 4 years and successive governments will build on it.
“We will mount surveillance cameras everywhere, make the state safe for investors because if you do not have investors, you will only end up killing the people with multiple taxation and we will achieve this within the first 6 months in office”
“We will create an organ called Delta state emergency agency (DELSMA). The DELSMA will involve us building a microfinance bank for the youths of delta state. The youths will have access to loans of up to 5million Naira to build their entrepreneurial skills, thereby becoming employers of labour”.
“We also will employ a lot of youths into the Agricultural sector. We have vast land in the state that can be converted for agricultural purpose and this, we intend to do. After we have done these, we can then conveniently secure the trust of investors. We will have more investors coming and even those that ran away from the state will come back”
“We will rebuild our industries, our moribund factories through adequate funding and putting competent hands and then, we can begin to look at revenue generation in the next one year”, he noted.
Former Ekiti state governor and current Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi on Sunday says he will contest the July 14 gubernatorial election coming up soon in the state under the APC.
He made his ambition known at a news conference at his Isan-Ekiti country home in Oye Local Government Area of the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Fayemi had hosted leaders and scores of members of the party from all the 16 Local Government Areas and the 177 Wards of the state.
He said he was driven by his past records of positive achievements, especially for workers, retirees and pensioners while in office in the state.
He explained that his decision to seek re-election was to deliver the state from incompetent and dubious hands and take her to where its supposed to be.
NAN reports that the former governor becomes the 35th person to formally indicate interest in the governorship poll in the APC alone, aside from dozen others whose campaign posters and billboards are already out on the streets without formal declaration.
Fayemi said he would formally submit his letter of intent to the state secretariat of the APC as soon as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lifts ban on campaigns on April 15.
On the issue of a White Paper, indicting him for corruption and consequently banned him from seeking public office for 10 years, Fayemi said he was not bothered.
He declared that the said White Paper cannot stop his ambition, describing the document as final result of several months of political witchhunt launched against him by the Ayo Fayose-led administration that cannot stand the test of time.
“Regardless of whatever anybody may think, I know I am eminently qualified to contest the election, if I am not qualified, I would never have come to tell you I want to contest.
“Most of the negative things Fayose and his government said or alleged of me were deliberately concocted out of malice to either malign my character or score cheap political goal; but the truth will always prevail.
“Same goes for the manipulated debt profile of the state which was a clear case of exaggeration and distortions.
“Can you imagine, Fayose said he issued White Paper banning me from holding public office, but today, I am giving him red card. By the end of the gubernatorial poll exercise, we will know who is right between the two of us,” he said.
The Minister vowed to dislodge Fayose and his deputy in the poll if picked at the May 5, 2018 gubernatorial primary of the party in Ado Ekiti.
He advised other aspirants against divisive tendencies by their followers, stressing that whoever that eventually emerged from the coming primary must be embraced by all since the national secretariat of the party had promised that the whole exercise would be open, free and fair.
He promised to use his second-term to correct all past mistakes and improve on the good ones, saying he had learnt his lessons since leaving office about four years ago as governor.
Fayemi, therefore, asked all those he offended while in office as governor to forgive him, while also saying he had forgiven all those who erred against him, in the interest of the party.
He warned Fayose not to attempt to remove or destroy his campaign posters and billboards the way his government was currently doing to some opposition posters.
The minister was however silent on when he would be resigning his appointment as minister from the Federal Executive Council.
The House of Representatives has lifted the suspension placed on the former Chairman of its Committee on Appropriation, Rep. Abdulmumin Jibrin (Kano-APC).
This followed a letter of apology sent to the House by Jibrin, which was presented by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, at plenary on Tuesday.
The lawmaker was suspended in 2017 for 180 legislative days for allegedly exposing “budget padding” scandal in the legislative arm of government.
Presenting the letter, Dogara said that the suspended legislator had met all the conditions necessary for him to resume his duties.
He therefore said that Jibrin was free to resume his legislative duties whenever he wished.
THE increasingly crowded field battling to replace Ayodele Fayose as the next governor of Ekiti State, just received a different kind of aspirant. Almost all who have indicated interest in the governor’s seat have been male, now a new female challenger has tossed her hat into the ring.
She joins the likes of Dr. Mojisola Kolade of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who has formally declared interest. In the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Biodun Olujimi’s posters have been sighted around the state although she is yet to formally state her intentions.
But real estate consultant and media entrepreneur, Princess Oluwatoyin Aladejana of the Aladejana royal family of Iworoko-Ekiti, is leveraging on more than her gender to make a case for suitability for the office of governor.
The businesswoman who is aspiring on the platform of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) has this to say about her aspiration in a piece titled ‘A Heartfelt Proposal to My Beloved Ekiti’:
‘I do have aspiration for that section of Nigeria called Ekiti. You may enquire: “What manner of aspiration does she have?”
My simple answer is this: I aspire to see a certain kind of Ekiti. New; Reborn; Prosperous; Peaceful… And that is just the beginning. The vision is as clear as daylight before my eyes. Yes, I do aspire for an Ekiti of my dreams.
I long for an Ekiti that is purposefully optimistic, solution-persuaded and courageous; an Ekiti that will not relent until her people attain spiritual, social, economic and psychological fulfillment.
I picture an Ekiti of decently-grounded folks, tempered by a deep sense of responsibility towards the success of our collective, phenomenal heritage; with patriotic individuals who would therefore seek after her good, and only her good.
I desire an Ekiti of intellectual achievement “firsts”; a state that maintains her cerebral soundness: that replicates the kind of brainy unassailability which caused the late Chief S. L. Akintola, Western Nigeria’s Deputy Premier in the heady First Republic, to acknowledge and assertively proclaim in the midst of his political campaigns that: “O ba di’we EKITI O ka o…” Translation: Par adventure a human being transforms into a book, the Ekiti indigene would read that individual.”
I dream, yes, of an Ekiti where unemployment and lack are viewed as the inconveniences of our distant past, because the comparative advantage in natural and intellectual resources have been effectively harnessed; enabling each local government to be an independent economic hub that is self-sustaining – by providing trading opportunities, employment and commercial prosperity to her immediate environment. This economic reality will be achieved through well-thought out public-private partnerships with patriotic, indigenous investors and their foreign partners.
Igbemo Ekiti then becomes the incontrovertible rice milling and distribution center of Nigeria’s South-West, and her neighboring nations.
I see a fountain of knowledge that encapsulates Igbole as the “Silicone Valley” of Sub-Saharan Africa. The irrefutable hub of innovative inventions and ever evolving brilliance…
In truth, who could put a price tag on Ekiti life, or measure her ingenuity in fiscal terms? Our mind, our spirit, our imagination, our overall worth is priceless. We are fearfully and wonderfully crafted by God Almighty! We keep evolving in indisputably, superior leaps and bounds. We are unstoppable!
I aspire for an Ekiti where the rule of law conscientiously subsists as the “Rule of God;” A place where her people can boast of stability in every facet of the life… administration in, and administration out. After all we only change administrators not the constitutionally enacted systems…
An Ekiti that fearlessly elects her own leaders without pecuniary considerations, but rather with patriotic zeal, integrity and love – knowing that the fate of generations to come depend on the quality of the choices they make.
An Ekiti where love triumphs over all prejudices, where God’s limitless grace, our unconditional affection for one another, and zealous cooperation cause us to rise victoriously above our daunting challenges
O! What delight it would be to live in an Ekiti that recognizes the futility of pointing accusing fingers at the failings of our leaders, but rather embracing their strengths, however minuscule; remembering that these great men and women, practically put their very own existences and that of their families on the line to ensure that our interests as “Ekitians” are substantially served.
I fully subscribe to an environmentally conducive, bountiful Ekiti; whose luxuriant soil defies drought, desertification, and famine. The Ekiti with an unending row of trees set to capture harmful carbon dioxide, leaving us with wholesome air to breathe.
I envision the awesomeness of living in an Ekiti where even a toddler understands the life redeeming benefits of recycling and, therefore, practices it as he tosses his empty coke can into the neighborhood recycle bin.
How refreshing would it be, waking up to an Ekiti whose lush and lofty hills have become the majestic domain of sky high windmills with rotational prowess’ that call forth electrical power; to behold a “Fountain of Knowledge” where The Creator’s solar that keeps humanity warm is transformed by technology into energy that powers the day and illuminates the night. I could go on…
Mere dreams? Not likely, if we can promptly snap out of our apathy and take the bull by the horns. If we can embrace with fierce urgency the needs of Ekiti now! How? By taking our own destinies in our hands. By firmly and decisively grasping the fast approaching relay baton from the hands of professional rogues masquerading as politicians and proceeding with precision to determine the sustenance of our prestigious heritage.
Finally, precious folks! I propose a resounding toast to an Ekiti whose latter day glory far exceeds the former – in reach, depth, width and length.
Ekiti a ro wa l’orun; ni oruko Jesu! Amin.
Former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, has said the President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government is bereft of ideas on how to move the country forward.
Lamido who was in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, to solicit for support as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential flag bearer in next year’s election said it was for this reason he was offering himself for service to salvage the country from collapse.
Lamido who visited Governor Ben Ayade described the PDP as the party owned by Nigerians with genuine concern for the welfare of all Nigerians irrespective of their tribe or religion as in the case by the ruling party.
“Today we witness the collapsed of governance because they were not prepared in the first place. They only came together to grab power at the centre without proper planning, that is why today we have hunger-haram in the country,” he said.
Three former ministers are leading an exodus of top members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after efforts to heal the wounds of the last national convention of the party hit the rocks.
Ex-Information Minister Jerry Gana,ex-Education Minister Tunde Adeniran and ex-Niger Delta Minister Godsday Orubebe are moving to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which is merging with the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Peoples Salvation Party (PSP) to form a formidable party ahead of next year’s elections.
More chieftains of the PDP are expected to join them, The Nation gathered yesterday.
The Olusegun Obasanjo-inspired Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) is in talks with the SDP to work together.
The likes of Gana, Adeniran and Orubebe, all founding members of the PDP, are still displeased with what they see as the hijack of the party by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and others during the party’s last national convention.
Adeniran was defeated in a bitter chairmanship election by Wike’s candidate, Uche Secondus.
A high powered committee headed by Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State to reconcile the aggrieved members could not help the situation.
The aggrieved party chieftains launched into a marathon meeting/negotiation with the leadership of SDP on Thursday night in Abuja for a merger.
The meeting ended early yesterday with the the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the coalescing group at Ladi Kwali Hall in Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.
Joining Gana from the PDP are a former Military Administrator of Katsina State, Sen. Joseph Akaagerger; a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Peter Godsday Orubebe; Chief Mike Oghiadhome, who was a former Chief of Staff to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan; ex-Governor Saminu Turaki of Jigawa State; and ex-Minister of Defence, Dr. Olu Agunloye and a former Deputy Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Hon. Dare Emiola.
Also teaming up with SDP are a former member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Junaid Mohammed; Sen. Bassey Ewa Hensaw; a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Olamide Oni; Supo Shonibare (South-West Zonal chairman of SDP), Hon. Dipo Olaitan (a former leader of the Alliance for Democracy in the House of Representatives); a former Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Kehinde Ayoola; Amb. Yemi Farounbi; leaders of the Middle Belt Forum; Mr. John Dara; the leaders of the National Intervention Forum led by Dr. Tafawa Balewa; Amb Bejide; Shehu Gabam who gave the vote of thanks.
A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae is a stalwart of the SDP.
Although ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State and a former Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu were part of the preliminary talks, it was unclear why they were not at the signing of the MoU.
A highly placed source in the group said:”As a matter of fact, Mantu propped up the name of a party which should be included in the merger but it was rejected. He attended the initial meeting but by the time the MoU was signed, he was not there.
“We are hopeful that he will be at our subsequent meetings. Some of our leaders are suspecting that Mantu may chicken out because he has been begging Adeniran and Gana not to leave PDP.
The MoU entered into by the leaders was obtained yesterday by The Nation.
Jointly signed by Falae (for SDP) and Prof. Gana (for Movement for a New Political Order), the MoU reads in part: “Whereas on the 12th Day of February 2018, a joint resolution was adopted at Sheraton Hotel Abuja, for working together to ensure the emergence of a new and credible political order to deepen democracy, good governance and genuine development, with peace, security and social justice. The said meeting also unanimously resolved to build:
a)a restructured, balanced equitable and truly functional Nigerian Federation:
b)a humane, free, seIf-reliant and democratic society;
“Whereas, it was also agreed that the proposed movement shall be directed, driven and defined by such core values as: 1. Justice, fairness, equity and progress; 2. Democracy, good leadership, good governance and sustainable development; 3. Transparency, integrity, truth and honour; 4. Accountability and zero tolerance for corruption; 5. Respect for human dignity, human rights and sanctity of human life;; and 6. Peace, security, harmony, cooperative solidarity, within the rule of law; and 7. International cooperation for a common humanity within a secure and peaceful order.
“Whereas, the movement further resolved to be inspired and motivated by the ideals of social democracy, with great emphasis on: the triumph of social justice; the nobility of human dignity; the harmony of fairness and equality; the power of working together in solidarity; the excellence of good governance, driven by good leadership; the wisdom of reforms and transformation far beyond mere growth; the horror of poverty, demanding eradication; the dignity of prosperity; the imperative of democracy and the security of peace with justice
“Whereas with due reference to these objectives, core values, and ideals, a Strategy Committee was mandated to search for a suitable, popular, meaningful and widespread platform, with a name that already resonates with the people and to make appropriate recommendations; and
“Whereas, the Strategic Committee, comprising representatives from all the six geopolitical zones of the Federation, have met and submitted their report, unanimously recommending the adoption of Social Democratic Party(SDP) vehicle by the movement for a new political order:
“Therefore, we hereby resolutely agree to: (a) Fuse together into one political form; (b) adopt the Social Democratic Party(SDP) as the political vehicle for the fused political formation; (c) Convene a non-elective convention for Saturday, 14th April, 2018; (d) authorize the National Working Committee to serve as the Interim Management Committee until the said convention; Set up a National Steering Committee of 12 members to guide the Interim Management Committee during the transition period; Raise a Constitution Review Committee to consider all necessary amendments to the party constitution.”
Speaking with our correspondent last night, Dr. Junaid Mohammed said: “Those involved in SDP are the Peoples Redemption Party(PRP), Peoples Salvation Party(PSP), the Social Democratic Party(SDP) and some elements of Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). It was like a merger but we do not want to call it so because the All Progressives Congress(APC) has destroyed the concept of merger.
“I am an optimist, I believe SDP will make a great impact. The main reason I want to be associated with it is because it is ideologically driven. Even it was not ideologically driven before, it has to be ideologically driven.
Asked if some governors and National Assembly members have subscribed to SDP, Mohammed added: “It is not compulsory to have governors or members of the National Assembly in a party to succeed. There are about 65 to 67 parties thereabout in the country. In terms of electoral performance, most of the parties are not on ground. The two parties which have led the country are not doing well. They have impacted negatively on the economy and our political life. A three-party or a four or five -party system will be better.”
A top source in the SDP said: “The SDP has been approached by the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) which has been founded by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. We are hopeful that our ongoing talks will be fruitful.
“We share common ideals with the CNM on how to move the nation forward.”
The special press statement of former President Olusegun Obasanjo urging President Muhammadu Buhari not to run in 2019 drew more flaks yesterday. At a news conference, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, a former Nasarawa State governor urged Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to pull the brake to avoid a self-inflicted injury and personal tragedy of slipping into irrelevance.
In early February this year, former President Olusegun Obasanjo published an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari titled: The way out: A clarion call for coalition for Nigeria movement. In it, he raised three fundamental issues.
One, he called on the President to forget his re-election ambition -an ambition which he has yet to declare in 2019 because of his failure on many fronts.
Two, he expressed his loss of faith in the capacity of our two biggest parties, APC (All Progressives Congress) and PDP (Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to drive the nation’s development.
Three, he advocated the formation of Coalition for Nigeria, a movement according to him, “that will drive Nigeria up and forward.”
Two weeks or so later, former President Ibrahim Babangida’s media aide, Kassim Afegbua, issued a statement on his behalf in which he claimed that the general too advised the President to bury his ambition for a second term in office because of his alleged failures and because the nation needed a digital and not an analogue leader.
The general promptly denied authorising the statement. Both Afegbua’s statement and Babangida’s are still wrapped in controversy. Afegbua insists his statement remains authentic.
In his own signed statement titled: “My Counsel to the nation”, the former president advised the political parties to play by the rules and the government to be proactive in matters of security challenges.
Perhaps, we should read his denial between the lines. While I am prepared to give Gen. Babangida the benefit of doubt for now, I would like to point out that he and his aide appear to have been encouraged to issue their separate statements by Chief Obasanjo’s letter. It is as if they wanted to take advantage of this to say what they had been itching to say about the president all along. I wish to remind the general that although men have short memories; history has a long memory. We can trace nearly all our present economic and political problems to his transition programme. We cannot forget SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme) that sapped the economy, or the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election for which the nation is still paying a stiff price. It is not always advisable to be holier-than-thou.
l have listened to and read the various responses to Obasanjo’s letter. I am encouraged by those responses because they point to our willingness to engage in a national dialogue, be it organised or informal, on matters that affect our country and our collective interests.
I can think of no single Nigerian who does not want our country to make the great leap from a struggling third world nation to a first world nation.
We are all in a hurry for our country to make that leap. Nigerians have never been found wanting in offering informed suggestions on what should be the focus of our political, economic and social development such that we could meld the multiplicity of tongues into a modern nation in which, to borrow from the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “we are judged by the contents of the mind and the brain and not by tribes and religions. Nation-building remains a work in progress in all countries. This is often slow and frustrating when the process itself impinges on our individual ambition.”
I believe that it was in this same spirit that Chief Obasanjo issued the letter. It would be uncharitable to ascribe anything other than the purest of patriotic motives to his recent outing. As former military head of state and as a civilian president, Chief Obasanjo is a respected and illustrious son of our soil. He would be morally remiss should he choose to keep quiet when he sees things going wrong in the land.
For a total of eleven and half years in power, he too struggled with the daunting challenges of our national development. He knows the challenges of ruling a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation faced with the crises of under-development.
I would like to believe that he is in a better position than any of us to appreciate the difficulties that anyone in Aso Rock faces today. I believe he, more than the rest of us, should have some sympathy for anyone grappling with the historically depressed economy and the complex dynamics of national development and progress.
I decided to dialogue with the movers and the shakers in our news media this morning/afternoon on the issues raised by the former president. I am not here to defend President Buhari.
He is quite capable of, and in a better position, to defend himself much better than me. I have initiated this press dialogue for two reasons.
The first is to underline my belief in the power of dialogue as a veritable instrument through which we can freely contribute to the resolution of our problems and address our challenges.
Human societies are best served with’ the aggregation of ideas that shape their focus. The late president, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, once put this very well when he said it was “better to jaw-jaw than to war-war”.
Two, I too, being a humble political leader in my own right, as a two-term governor of my state, Nasarawa, and as a ranking senator of the Federal Republic, I have as large a stake as anyone else in the progress and the development of our nation at all levels. I, too, cannot keep quiet when I see attempts by anyone or a group of persons to undermine the integrity of the Office of the President, the integrity of our government and the integrity of our political system. I have earlier said it would be unfair not to accept that Chief Obasanjo was motivated by the good of the country. In his letter, he said, “Some may ask what does Obasanjo want again?” He proceeded to answer the question in the third person thus: “Obasanjo has wanted nothing other than the best for Nigeria and Nigerians…”
Was he entirely motivated by that noble sentiment? I find that hard to believe. Motives are not always as honourable or as altruistic as one might be made to believe, particularly when such a man as this is so highly placed that we tend to place him above the shenanigans of petty politics. I found it difficult to completely ignore what appears to me like the dark motives hovering over his action because I see it as a behavioural pattern that began with his 2014 letter to the then President Goodluck Jonathan, titled: “Before it is too late”. It seems to me he believes that that letter alone cost Dr. Jonathan the presidency. So, if he is fatigued by President Buhari, he can resort to the same weapon with probably the same consequences. It is a long shot.
No one can deny him the right to criticise a sitting president but, his method leaves much to be desired. He cannot, therefore, escape the charge of impure motive and that he took this step, not to try and set things right for the sake of the nation but to promote Obasanjo for the sake of Obasanjo.
Being a former president, he has an unimpeded access to the president and can, therefore, seek to influence him in the privacy of the seat of power. Indeed, in the early years of the Buhari administration, Chief Obasanjo was a frequent presence in Aso Rock. I believe he frequented the seat of power in support of the administration. I now wonder why he suddenly decided to turn a friend into an enemy and rubbish everything the President has done so far in a little over two and half years.
In a civilised political culture, it is taboo for former presidents to openly take a sitting president to the cleaners. Our former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has faithfully kept to this time-honoured culture of a former ruler not washing the dirty linens of a current ruler rather gleefully in the public. So, have former President Shehu Shagari and former head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The implications for the polity of a former president regaling the public with a litany of the failures of a sitting president is a calculated and unholy effort to destroy him politically.
The question is, if Chief Obasanjo meant well for Buhari, his administration and Nigeria, why did he not choose the option of quietly offering his advice to the president? In taking his case to the rowdy market place of sensationalism, he clearly intended to score cheap political points at the expense of the President. He intended to undermine the Buhari administration, subject him to public ridicule and impugn his moral strength and integrity to lead the nation.
As he must have obviously expected, his statement was intended to heat and is heating up the polity and causing confusion at this critical time when the myriads of our national challenges commend themselves to our statesmen and women for sober reflections rather than indulgence in crass sensationalism. It is a disservice to the country.
No one, not even Buhari’s most rabid supporters, would be unfair to themselves enough to suggest that everything is right with the administration. It is true that the government has not met the expectations of the generality of Nigerians. But, it is not for lack of capacity or the unwillingness on the part of the President to respond to the needs of the people and those of the country. I know that we invested high expectations on the Buhari administration but is it fair and realistic for us to expect the administration to solve all the problems it inherited in less than three years? Human and resources management towards achieving a desired result is not amenable to the waving of a magic wand.
No administration is a total success and none is a total failure. Chief Obasanjo cannot honestly claim that he ran a perfect and totally successful administration because he did not.
Every administration grapples with problems thrown at it by circumstances beyond its control. President Buhari inherited an economy that was unsteady on its feet. He also inherited the security problems such as Boko Haram, armed robberies and kidnappings.
Yes, I agree, that under his watch these problems should grow less, not more. But the solution to problems such as these is a slow and agonising process. He has no powers to simply make them disappear overnight.
The President was fully aware of these problems and challenges when he sought the consent of the electorate in 2015.
He did so in the hope that with the support and the goodwill of all Nigerians, he could tackle them. I know he has not given up on that. I do not think he intends to leave a bleeding, disunited nation and disarticulated socio-economic development at the end of his tenure.
He seems to be overwhelmed by the problems because while problems rain down, solutions to them take time to be effective. I think the President, in the circumstances, deserves support and encouragement rather than antagonism from a constituency that should give him that support and encouragement as he seeks to address these and other problems in his own way.
I do not intend to comment on all of Obasanjo’s letter seriatim, I will deal with three of his allegations, namely: the president’s alleged clannishness, his management of the economy and his anti-corruption war.
Before I do so, let me say at this point that I am worried by the antics of Chief Obasanjo and his penchant for promoting himself as the only competent Nigerian leader. Since he left office on October 1, 1979, to local and international applause Chief Obasanjo has systematically sought to undermine every federal administration after him.
He has today set up himself as the moral conscience of the nation. He believes he has acquired the wisdom of King Solomon and has consequently imposed on himself the right to decide who rules us and how we should be ruled.
Perhaps, part of the reason is that before leaving office in 2007, his party, the PDP, conferred on him the titles of “Maker of modern Nigeria and father of the nation”. Such titles do have a heady way of making a man seeing his head bedecked in the halos of self- righteousness.
There is a process for changing our governments through the instrumentality of elections. Chief Obasanjo, one of the architects of that process and a beneficiary to boot, ought to support that process and let the people decide who they want to rule them. It is not for him to decide for the people or the President.
No one should arrogate to himself eternal verities in the administration of his country. It is his consuming ambition to have his hands on the levers of power under all our presidents. When he loses that grip, he turns against the incumbent in office. He undermined Gen. Babangida’s economic programme – SAP, with his statement that SAP should have a human face and the milk of human kindness. He denigrated Gen. Babangida by advising people to whom the former president says good morning to check their wrist watches to make sure it is morning.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic obliges the president to compose the executive council of the federation in a manner that reflects the federal character. I do not see that the council is dominated by people from Katsina, the President’s home state.
Nor do I see that the major ministries such as finance, power and steel, housing, transport are held by people from that state or his part of the country. All these ministries are held by competent men and women from the southern parts of the country. What does this say about Buhari’s clannishness?
I am aware of criticisms that the President appointed only northerners as heads of his security agencies. There may be some merit in a national spread but a president reserves the right to fill such positions with those who command his implicit trust and confidence. That is neither unconstitutional nor a moral crime.
The management of the economy has always been a frustrating experience but gallant efforts have been made at critical times to reposition the national economy. SAP was one of such efforts intended to structurally reform the base of the economy.
The late Gen. Sani Abacha’s Vision 10-10 and 20-20 was initiated for the same purpose. So was Chief Obasanjo’s own NEEDS. If these efforts had succeeded in the past, President Buhari would have had an easy ride on the management of the economy today. The recession, for instance, was not Buhari’s making; nor can the security challenges be laid at his door.
Poor management of the economy in the recent past birthed the recession. I cannot think of any steps the President has taken with deleterious effects on the economy. And to put a fine point on it, the minister of finance and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are not from Katsina State.
President Buhari knows only too well that if he does not get the economy right, he would have a tough time trying to get anything else right. He is struggling with that challenge with my personal sympathies.
Chief Obasanjo touts himself as the champion of the anti-corruption war. It is fair to give him some credit for waging the war with the setting up of EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission). It was the right step towards caging the monster that has wrecked immeasurable havoc on the country. But, as laudable as that was, Chief Obasanjo soon turned the commission into an attack dog against his known and suspected political enemies or detractors. He used it to undermine elected governors in Plateau, Oyo, Bayelsa and Anambra states. The lawmakers in those states were induced or forced by the commission at the behest of Chief Obasanjo to remove their governors from office in a manner that insulted our constitutional government.
In each of those cases, a handful of legislators, sitting either in a hotel outside the states or in a private house removed the governors from office. We must thank their Lordships Justice Niki Tobi of blessed memory and Justice James Ogebe for stepping this egregious abuse of legislative powers when they, as chairmen of the appeal court panels sitting in Ibadan over Ladoja’s appeal against his unconstitutional removal from office, quashed his removal and affirmed that the court was the primary custodian of the constitution; not the president. That ended Chief Obasanjo’s apparent reign of presidential terror tactics against the state governors.
Chief Obasanjo said that President Buhari is selective in his anti-corruption war. I agree with him because if the President were not selective, Chief Obasanjo himself would be in the dock today on trial on charges of corruption arising from the corrupt practices in the pursuit of his third term gambit in the National Assembly in 2006.
Today, he denies that he ever nursed such ambition. And being a man much favoured by God, he has repeatedly said that if he had wanted it and asked the almighty for it, he would have given him the third term.
He knows as well as I, and other leading members of the PDP, that he badly wanted it and initiated the process of constitutional amendment. He bribed each member of the National Assembly who signed to support the amendment, with the whopping sum of N50 million to make the constitutional amendment scale through.
The fresh, mint money was taken in its original boxes presumably from the vaults of the CBN and distributed among the legislators. The money was not his and it was not appropriated by the National Assembly as required by law. I, therefore, agree that in failing to make the former president account for that money. President Buhari is waging his anti-corruption war selectively.
Nor, should we forget that President Buhari has also not bothered to interrogate Obasanjo’s role in the Haliburton scandal for which some Americans are cooling their heels in jail.
Perhaps, President Buhari might look into the Siemens affairs in which the Obasanjo administration was indicted and for which people were on trial. What became of the trial?
I worked closely with Chief Obasanjo in his eight years in office as president when l was governor of Nasarawa State. I found many things to admire in him. I admire his patriotism and his hard work. But, he systematically sabotaged his legacy by bending the system to his personal service and promotion.
I do not admire his single-minded determination to promote himself as the strongest and the most incorruptible leader Nigeria has ever had. He waged his anti-corruption war in a manner intended to rubbish all our revered institutions such as the court and the National Assembly and leave him as the only Nigerian without palm oil on his hands.
His lack of democratic temperament and his refusal to honour the mother of all our laws, the 1999 Constitution as well as the constitution of the PDP, birthed the culture of impunity in our country.
He had no respect for the rule of law and, therefore disobeyed court orders at will. This once prompted the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr. Justice Muhammadu Uwais, to say that a government that did not obey the courts was a bad government.
In his eight years in office, Chief Obasanjo did not run a constitutional government, partly because he had no patience with the niceties of democracy and partly because he believed the law should serve him, and not he the law.
At almost every turn, he undermined the various pillars of constitutional government. For instance, contrary to the provisions of the constitution, he imposed a state of emergency on Plateau and Ekiti states.
He had no powers to do so but since he saw himself as both the law and the last strongman standing in our country, he assumed unchallengeable powers. The courts quaked over his constitutional rampage. Our democracy is passing through a wrenching experience of constitutional government today because at the end of his eight years in power, Chief Obasanjo left our democracy in a lurch.
He was like a wrecking ball. In 2007, he alone decided his successor in office contrary to the rules of the game. He imposed governorship candidates of the party too in 2003.
You would recall that the PDP gave Chief Obasanjo its platform for eight years from 1999 to 2003. Yet, when the party began to have problems in 2014, Chief Obasanjo jumped ship and publicly tore his party card into pieces. He owes whatever he is today to the party. I thought a man made by the party should sacrifice his time and effort to save it from imploding. We wonder if ingratitude has a better definition than that. But, with Chief Obasanjo, ingratitude has a different meaning, obviously.
His Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) is a red herring across the path of our constitutional government. He is free to form a political party and pursue his ambition of being the power behind the throne but such a national movement would achieve no discernible purpose in the economic management and the social administration of the country.
I believe that Chief Obasanjo is too high and too big in the estimation of the people to permit himself the continued sickening indulgence in political skullduggery.
I believe that the Nigerian people and the Nigerian state have been most kind to him. Chief Obasanjo has a moral obligation to make the country succeed in solving its myriads of problems.
That, I believe, is one way he can give back to the country that has given him so much. As a friend, I wish to advise the former president to pull back from the dangerous path of rubbishing all presidents that came into office after him. Bringing everyone down is not a patriotic duty. I fear that if he continues along this path, he would, sooner than later over reach himself and begin the inevitable descent into national nuisance and irrelevance. That would be a self-inflicted wound and a personal tragedy.
• Ogbeh sheds light on plan, blames past governors for herdsmen killings
• Says they wasted N100bn received from Jonathan
Sixteen of the 36 states have signified intention to be part of the cattle colonies initiative of the federal government, The Nation can now reveal.
More are expected to join, according to Dr. Olukayode Oyedele, Special Assistant to Agriculture Minister, Audu Ogbeh. Oyedele did not name the 16 states or those in line to join the initiative.
But Taraba, Benue and Abia states have categorically declared that they should be counted out.
Ogbeh, who has been holding series of meetings with stakeholders on the project, defined the ‘colony’ as “a place where many owners of cattle can co-exist, be fed well, because we can make their feeds; they can get good water to drink, cows drink a lot of water and we can give them green fodder.”
Government, according to him, will provide veterinary services for the animals and “protect the cows against rustlers.”
“By a special design, we have to make sure that rustlers can’t cross into the ranches and steal cows and walk away,” he said. Each colony will comprise between 20 and 40 co-located ranches.
The scheme is part of the strategy to check the incessant clashes between farmers and pastoralists whose animals often stray into cultivated farms and destroy crops.
Such clashes have claimed hundreds of lives across the country, setting communities and communities and endangering national security.
It was gathered that Kogi and Plateau states are among the enthusiastic supporters of the cattle colony initiative.
Plateau already has a few ranches which may grow into colonies
However, the support of the governors for the project is not without opposition from some communities and opinion leaders in their states.
In Kogi State for example, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Institutions, Mr. Teejay Yusuf, asked Governor Yahaya Bello to tread cautiously on the matter “in the interest of coming generations.”
Yusuf said the governor should shun the temptation of taking unilateral decisions on the scheme.
Another member of the House of Representatives from the state, Mr.James Faleke, berated the governor for buying into the initiative without proper consultation with the people while a group called Igala Project from the Kogi East Senatorial District has commenced compiling signatures in support of a petition against the establishment of any such colony in the senatorial district.
The group is objecting to Bello’s alleged designation of part of the district as a cattle colony, saying its position follows “the multiple acts of war and mayhem being unleashed daily, on our innocent farmers and hapless law-abiding citizens, in their villages, homes and farm lands , by rampaging Fulani herdsmen.”
It adds: “between June 2015 and December 2017, Igala land has witnessed several incidences of killings as a result of herdsmen violence in several areas including Ebeje where eight people were killed and farms set ablaze, Agbada/Agojeju where 19 people were slaughtered, Edede – two persons were killed, six people killed in Oganenigu, three people killed in Ojapata, five people killed in Ojuwo Anawo. All these happened in Dekina Local Government Area.”
Audu is quoted as saying: “once the colonies begin, we are also going into large scale artificial insemination to improve the breed of cattle so that the yield of milk can increase.
“As at today, our cows deliver just about one beer bottle which is a litre of milk a day but in East Africa, cows do 15 litres of milk, and in Europe, they do averagely 50 litres of milk a day.
“Somebody said to me in a text, very angry at this policy, that the word colony means that we are trying to use the Fulani to colonize their state, and that it reminds them of colonialism.
“Well, we don’t really want to take anybody’s land to give anybody.”
“We won’t come to a state, take land and give Fulani or Hausa or Itsekiri or Idoma or Tiv and say this area has been seized and given to an ethnic group. That’s not the idea but we’ll also tell the herdsmen: ‘If you are passing through a state, you can only go to the colony and stay there, feed your cattle and, when you are moving off, agro -rangers will follow you and make sure you don’t destroy anybody’s farm.'”
And speaking to reporters in Zaria, Kaduna State yesterday on the sideline of his tour of facilities of research institutes in the university town, Ogbeh blamed state governors during the Jonathan administration for the farmers/herdsmen clashes in the country.
He claimed that the governors received N100 billion to solve the crisis without anything to show for it.
His words: “In 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan gave N100 billion to state governors to solve the farmers/herdsmen crisis once and for all.
“Though, I don’t have the details, it doesn’t appear anything was done.
“If the money went to the states and they have done nothing, what do you expect?
“Let me ask: we have three tiers of government, why does everybody blame Buhari at the centre all the time? Why don’t we ask our state governments questions? ”
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar said on Friday that he resigned from the All Progressives Congress because the party had failed Nigerian youths.
Atiku announced on his website that the ruling APC was a dying party that never took youths into account.
He said the future belonged to young people and that he joined the APC to facilitate a bright future for the young and old.
“The party we put in place has failed and continues to fail our people, especially our young people; how can we have a federal cabinet without even one single youth.
“A party that does not take the youth into account is a dying party. The future belongs to young people.
“I admit that I and others, who accepted the invitation to join the APC, were eager to make positive changes for our country that we fell for a mirage.
“Can you blame us for wanting to put a speedy end to the sufferings of the masses of our people?’’
Atiku also hinged his resignation on fractionalisation of the APC, resulting from “arbitrariness and unconstitutionality’’ over the years.
He said it was for the same reason that he defected from the Peoples Democratic Party in 2014.
“While other parties have purged themselves of the arbitrariness and unconstitutionality that led to fractionalisation, the APC has adopted the same practices.
“It has even gone beyond them to institute a regime of a draconian clampdown on all forms of democracy within the party and the government it produced,’’ he added.
Atiku said that after due consultations, he had resigned from the APC to take time to ponder his future. (NAN)
While acknowledging its human frailties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) insisted at the weekend that the party's 16 years of mistake remained far less than the calamity of the last two and half years of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in multiple dimensions.
A group, known as the National Volunteers for Lamido, which made the assertion in a statement issued in Abuja, noted that whatever the PDP did, it left the scene over two years ago and that exit provided Nigerians the opportunity to gauge the standard of performance. "From the economy, foreign relations where an APC government has decided to make caricature of the country, its leadership and people, security, wage theft, misapplication of resources and the lack of vision at all levels. This is total disaster."
In the statement, signed by its National Coordinator, Umar Danjani Hadeja, tgroup also accused the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu of deliberately choosing to feed the public with falsehood and obvious inaccuracies, deliberate misinformation, and even mischief bordering on denial and selective amnesia.
It was reacting to Garba's attempted response to a recent interview granted by a former governor of Jigawa state, Alhaji Sule Lamido to the Sun Newspaper, which was published on Saturday, November 11, 2017 wherein he fielded questions on his presidential ambition and the state of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as well as some snippets on reasoned insights on President Muhammadu Buhari's leadership style, the All Progressives Congress (APC) government and the future of Nigeria and the place of her youth.
The group particularly lampooned the Presidential Spokesperson for relishing in quackery whenever he ventures into the laborious attempts at rebuttals or rejoinders, more often, with scant regard for the truth. "Clearly, Garba's attempted response to the said Sule Lamido interview is yet another classic example of the PR disaster and liability that he now represents for the Buhari administration. Surely, we would care less for this misfortune of an appointee of Mr. President who is fishing and scavenging desperately for "stuff" that would make him look useful in a job he clearly does not know how to do. His brazen and intellectually lazy import-substitution mission for issues never raised in the interview in the effort to tar Alhaji Sule Lamido with a dirty brush is at best, mischievous, unprofessional and a damning verdict on Garba's."
While describing the attempt by Garba Shehu "to tar Alhaji Sule Lamido with a dirty brush" as mischievous, unprofessional and a damning verdict on the presidential spokesman, the group also expressed concern over the feeble and failed attempt to address or "attack" the facts of the matter raised in the Sule Lamido interview.
It took a swipe at the presidential spokesman for falsely accusing Alhaji Sule Lamido of impugning the integrity of the nation's judicial system and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), when, in actual fact, "the government is itself destroying," these two institutions.
"Where, for instance, did Garba see any reference to these institutions in the said interview? Did he at all, read the interview or in the classic case of playing the 'Boss', lazily rely on some subordinates who supposedly drew his attention to a publication he never sighted? And as if this was not shameful enough, he brazenly proceeded to blindly issue a 'rejoinder' to a publication he apparently knew nothing about. This is a further injury to the image, integrity and ethics of the journalism profession," it said.
According to the group, Garba has thrown up the poverty of the government's effort to water down any serious effort to address our national ills. " His usual habit of ignoring facts was manifest in his attempt to defend his party rather than the government's confused approach to implementing the agenda it promised."
The group however noted that Alhaji Lamido would not be deterred, distracted or cowed by the shenanigans of the ilk of Garba, stressing that as a statesman and nationalist whose sole driving impetus is improvement in the material condition of the ordinary Nigerian citizen, as well as carving a place of high repute for Nigeria in the comity of nations, "Alhaji Sule Lamido is forging ahead with steely determination and singleness of purpose."
"Lamido will continue to speak truth to power and call out the APC government in all its numerous failings. No amount of name-calling, falsehood, character assassination or intimidation will do the trick. Not from Garba Shehu, not from anyone else. The APC government must shape up or ship out, or else expect the Sule Lamidos of this Country and they are in the majority now, to continue to call it out," the group insisted.
Still comparing the PDP government with the current administration, the group further drew attention to what is called confusion and lies, cross messaging and open confrontation among various officials of government even while brazenly engaged in corrupt practices of various kinds as widely reported in the media. "This is worse than a calamity for a developing nation like ours. Garba should encourage the government he serves to investigate those cases instead of chasing shadows and silhouettes. If you check the markets, prices have skyrocketed. There is unemployment, poverty and hunger, which bad effects have shot over the roofs, while some officials including Garba are smiling, as they hide their loots from this government. These stories have become daily doses of media reportage. Time shall tell."
Maintaining that the antecedents of everyone given opportunity of service speaks for him or her, the group contended that Alhaji Sule Lamido comes across as a deliverer of promise, challenging anyone in doubt to visit Jigawa State to understand the difference between the Lamido years and the present reality. "Every visible productive project of stature dotting the entire landscape was initiated and completed by him."
"The essential Alhaji Sule Lamido is a quintessential leader who is and still loved by the people; among whom he lives to date. He speaks his mind, no matter who is involved. In the process, he has encountered and also survived the vicissitudes of politics while serving his fatherland. This has, over the years, shaped his vision with courage of conviction and strength of character. You may confirm by the kind and nature of people around him and his associates.
"Unlike Alhaji Sule Lamido, Garba is inconsequential inconsistent, foul mouthed and practicing quackery as Public Affairs management. Therefore, our final word and free consultancy for Garba is this: "Attend a refresher course on how not to be a Public Affairs assistant. We understand one such course is scheduled for some time in the year 2019, otherwise, you will remain an albatross on President Buhari's neck. Nigerians are watching"
…I don’t begrudge anybody, says Ndume
The resumption of former Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume Wednesday after serving out 90 legislative days of suspension did not go without drama.
The drama played out when Ndume in his usual boisterous manner raised a Point Order apparently to announce his return to the chamber.
It was obvious that senators were wondering what the Borno South lawmaker wanted to say so soon after he was left off the hook.
Ndume surprised everybody in the chamber when he recalled the sudden death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke (Osun West) whom he said sat behind him in the chamber.
Ndume who told his colleagues that he used to call Adeleke his “landlord” in the chamber prayed the Senate to observe a minute silence in honour of late senator.
Not done, Ndume also recalled the recently signed North East Development Commission Act.
The Bill that led to the Act, he said, was spearheaded by him and Senator Kabiru Gaya to address the humanitarian crisis created by the activities of Boko Haram in the North East geo-political zone.
He thanked his colleagues for ensuring speedy passage of the Bill and President Muhammadu Buhari for appreciating the necessity to sign the Bill into law in record time.
While Ndume was marshaling his points, Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) was gesturing at the back ground to raise another point of order.
It was not clear what Melaye (Kogi West) wanted to say but Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who might have sensed trouble, did not recognise him.
When Ndume was done, Saraki simple ruled that “the points made by Ndume are noted” and quickly moved on to other legislative matters listed for the day.
At a press briefing, Ndume said that he went to court to challenge his suspension to seek clarification on the position of the law about the way and manner the Senate suspended him.
The lawmaker said that he did not go to court for any personal benefit but to seek clarification in the interest of democracy.
He insisted that there was nothing personal about his suspension neither is he holding anybody responsible for his suspension.
He also said that he went to court to test the law in defence of democracy and reiterated that he does not begrudge anybody over his suspension.
He noted that the court had since declared his suspension as illegal, null, void and of no effect.
Ndume who added that the Senate has signaled its intension to appeal the court ruling declared “we will watch how it goes.”
He said, “There was nothing about what happened. I did not see anything personal; I did not take anything personal. I don’t begrudge anybody but if there is anybody who took personal leave that to God.”
Former Secretary General of the Common Wealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku has said that Nigeria will fare better if the on-going call to restructure the country into regions is adhered to.
Anyaoku gave this view yesterday, shortly after paying a courtesy visit to Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, at Government House, Benin City. He said that Nigeria’s economy was more viable and rate of development faster when it operated a regional system of government.
He described governor Obaseki as a visionary governor and Edo State is fortunate to have him. Responding, Obaseki said that given the cost of governance at the centre, restructuring is inevitable if Nigeria must make progress as a country.
He extolled the leadership quality of Chief Anyaoku, stressing that the former top scribe of the Commonwealth stands for good governance and part of the generation that did the nation proud while in office.
“He is an international personality who stands for good governance and diplomatic skills,” Obaseki said.
In this interview with FEMI MAKINDE, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the Second Republic, Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN), suggests that the structures bequeathed to Nigeria by the British colonialists must be altered before the nation can make progress
Nigeria is celebrating its 57th independence anniversary. Are you proud to be a Nigerian?
No, I am not. Nigeria should have done better than what we have now. We should have been the best country in Africa. Sometime ago, I went to a university in Cape Town to deliver a lecture, and after the lecture, I answered some questions. It’s a pity, Nigeria should have been like America, Canada or Australia, but we are not. I am not happy about that at all.
Where exactly did Nigeria get it wrong?
One, the British emphasised their own economic interest. Two, our education was very good, and after independence, it continued to be good. But now, it has become a disaster. We also got it wrong in terms of leadership. Unfortunately, the bad ones have been the ones ruling for a long time, and that is another reason Nigeria has not developed the way it should (have) since independence.
Do you consider the amalgamation of the North and the South by the colonialists a blessing or curse?
A disaster! An absolute disaster! There was no need for it at all. Don’t forget that before that time, the North and the South were sovereign states. They had different governor generals. In 1900, they were two different nations. It was only in 1914 that the North and the South were merged purposely for ease of administration. What was managed was the economic interest of the North and the South. We borrowed a lot from Australia at the time. From then till now, it has been a new Nigeria of foreign economic interest and that is the truth.
Are you saying that Nigeria would have been better than it is now if the North and South weren’t amalgamated?
Nigeria would have been much better. The thinking of the North is quite different from that of the South. In any case, the thinking of the western Nigeria is different from the thinking of the eastern Nigeria. The marriage of the North and the South was of foreign economic interest. There was no need for it at all. In any case, we took no part in the marriage, it was a foreign marriage foisted on the people.
Do you think Nigeria still has reasons to celebrate at 57?
(There is) no need at all. What are we celebrating? We are celebrating a bad marriage; we are celebrating disaster. I am not happy about it. I was very proud before independence that things would be better but things are very bad now. If you look at our children now, you will see that they travel abroad for education and they are doing very well. The best Nigerians are now abroad. You find them everywhere, in the US, UK, France, Switzerland and all over and they are doing well. They are not contributing to our own progress but are contributing to the progress of other foreign countries because they are not proud of their own country. That is the truth. Our best are trooping outside the country almost on daily basis.
You also played a role in the struggle for Nigeria’s independence. Do you regret it?
I don’t regret it. In any case, I was in politics before independence and I was also in politics after independence. What I regret are the consequences of independence because there was no need for military intervention. Since then, things have never been the same. In any case, the marriage of various ethnic groups by the colonialists has not worked, no matter how we try to distort things.
Ghana for instance was doing fine before the coup which spread to the whole of Africa and caused a mess since then. Even in South Africa, when the foreigners were ruling, it was very good but (since) the natives came, it is now bad. The economy is controlled by the foreigners and politics is controlled by the natives.
The marriage in Africa has been bad. Colonialism has not worked well in Africa. The Americans had to fight, when the capital was in New York, to drive away the British. It was a bloody war and it was supported by the French. But look at things now, America is the best country in the world and China is next to them. India is also moving at an incredibly good speed. They manufacture aeroplanes, cars and all sorts of good things but Nigeria has not been able to get close to that. Our marriage by the colonialists has been very bad.
Do you support some groups like IPOB agitating to break away to form Biafra?
I don’t believe in Biafra but the truth is that the marriage (of the North and South) has not worked well at all. What is the common denominator between the North and the South? What is the economic denominator between the Yoruba and the Igbo? The people of the Niger Delta are not happy. They believe that if they control their oil, they would have been better off. The consequence of colonialism in Africa is the worst in the world. The colonialists have gone away, yet they still hold our economy, no matter how they try to deceive us and distort the facts. I practice law in a number of West African countries. I go to The Gambia to practise law. I go to Dakar, Senegal to play golf. I go to Ghana and Cameroon. When I go through (countries) like that, I just laugh and say Africa, what have you done wrong? Why is it that America, which fought a bloody war with the British to gain independence, is doing so well and we are doing badly? I don’t see how that can be corrected unless things are properly made.
How do you think it can be corrected?
Are you saying each region should go their separate ways?
Yes. No matter how much we deceive ourselves, the western Nigeria was doing very well before and after independence. But since independence, it has been either a bad marriage or military coup. That is not the way to run a country. Britain is not run like that. America is not run like that. Likewise France.
Are you saying Nigeria would have been better if it fought for independence like the US fought the British?
We fought. There was a very big fight and I doff my hat to Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro, Chief Akintola (Williams), Aminu Kano, Dr. Michael Opara and others. But the truth is that up till today, no matter how much we lie to ourselves, when it comes to our economy, when America got her independence, they took over control with their hands. There was already a (United States) government in New York, but they moved it to Washington. When America was fighting Britain for independence, France helped them to fight Britain and Britain was driven away. At that time, some people were in the House of Commons in London and at the same time, they were in the parliament in New York; that was ridiculous. Sometimes, it would take six months to travel from London to New York. When it comes to colonialism, Britain has been the worst in the world; they like to lick other people and that is why India had to fight a lot of wars to get independence.
Thanks to the Labour Party. When the Labour Party came to power, it set India free immediately and the gentleman who was just a councillor in London became foreign minister in India and you see great men leading them. Once the arithmetic is wrong, and that was what happened to Nigeria, the mathematics of policy is very wrong. As long as that mathematics is wrong, we cannot get anything right.
Have your contributions to nation building affected your personal life in any way?
My contribution was not as free as that of other great leaders in the country, but I okayed my role and I have no regret about it. My children went to University of London, (University of) Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and other universities in the world and they did extremely well. Some of them had first class in London, also in Harvard. I am very proud of that. Later I had the privilege of serving in Geneva, at the United Nations, and I served for five or six years. I was very proud (of that). When there was problem in Nigeria, I moved to London and continued my legal practice here.
What kind of problem?
There were lot of coups. The military were taking over power at will. That was the problem. One military ruler went to the University of Ibadan and asked the students there to contribute to the economy of the country. What is the economic strength of students? What money have they got? When those who don’t know are governing those who know, the consequences are poverty and lack of development. That is what we are having till today. Before independence, I went to St. Peter’s School at Aremo, Ibadan, which was one of the best schools in the country. From Standard IV, I went to Oduduwa College and I took my Senior Cambridge and had Grade 1. I had no regrets at the time but what I regret is the way Nigeria is structured, the way Nigeria is led, the way Nigeria is being governed and the way the economy is structured. If you look at the entire world, the countries with the worst set of economic structures are in Africa. People who control the economies of African countries are mostly foreigners. The real power lies in the hands of those who control the economy.
Which of the heroes of Nigerian nationalism do you miss most and why?
Oh, they are many. The best of them was Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe followed by Awolowo, S.L Akintola, Anthony Enahoro, Dr. Opara, Aminu Kano and several others. We produced excellent leaders. They were great leaders. If the economy of Nigerians is in the hands of Nigerians, as the political structures, the story would have been different. That is the truth. Things would have been completely different if Nigerians were the ones controlling nation’s economy. What we got wrong was the structure the British gave us which we have refused to alter ourselves. After independence, India altered everything to suit their own purpose and the country is now one of the best in the world. China which was in abject poverty has become the second best country in the world. That’s amazing and everybody is proud of that. Look at China, USA, Russia and others. I doff my hat to them. They are very great but it is not the same with Nigeria.
Can you draw any parallel between the struggle for independence and the calls for restructuring now?
People calling for restructuring now are partly right and partly wrong. The struggle for independence was natural. After the two major world wars, colonialism became irrelevant and the people who fought the wars made sure that colonialism was abolished. And that was why we had our independence. I had a privilege of going with (Tafawa) Balewa in 1960 to the United Nations in New York to be a member of the family of nations. But we have political independence on paper; do we have other things in our hands? Your guess is as good as mine on that.
What are your views on the issue of true federalism?
Talking of true federalism or bad federalism is nonsense. What you really need are good leaders in the country and not the third-rate people who have been ruling at local government, state or at national level. In many parts of Africa, you see Rubin’s leaders, leading the countries and as long as you have those rubbish people as leaders, there can’t be any progress. As long as you have those who should at best be messengers leading, there can’t be any progress.
How do you think Nigeria can get rid of these bad leaders?
I will not answer that question the way you want me to answer it but let us pray to God.
Which system of government do you consider good for Nigeria, presidential or parliamentary?
I prefer the presidential system of government. The presidential system is very good because to be president, you have to campaign all over the country and the people must accept you and vote for you. But in the parliamentary system, all you need to do is win an election in a small constituency and then you will say you would rule the country. That is nonsense and when you do that, it doesn’t really work. That is why Americans took presidential system of government. The same thing goes for China, France and Russia. The British system, their evolution and development is quite different from ours. Britain lives on colonialism. Without colonialism, Britain would never be what it is.
Is presidential system of government not more expensive than parliamentary?
Presidential system of government is not expensive but those running it are the ones making it expensive. They are making it expensive through greed. When they make laws, it is as if they will be in power forever. That is one of the reasons. They should have the aim of being in power for a number of years and leave the place for others to go there. Look at The Gambia. When the small boy, the (former) head of state, wanted to remain in power forever, other countries in West Africa asked him to leave, and when he did not want to go, they threatened him with military action and he ran away.
Some people are advocating a part-time legislature in a bid to cut governing costs. Do you support this?
That is rubbish. If you are in parliament (legislature), you should be able to do your work well. Also, if you are a minister, it is a full-time job.
Do you agree that the salaries and other emoluments of our legislators are outrageous?
Their payments are a disaster. When I entered into the parliament, I was earning £800 a year. When I became minister, I was earning £3,000 a year; that was a lot of money in those days. But today, people want to go into politics and become billionaires overnight. That should not be allowed and if you replace them with the military, that is even worse.
How do you think Nigeria can tackle corruption?
Corruption has to do with leadership and the problem is that those who are ignorant come to power through the military, which is the launching pad for corruption. But if you have the right people contesting elections and staying there for a number of years prescribed by the constitution, like you have in America, there won’t be problems like we are having in Nigeria now.
Are you saying Nigerians should no longer vote for former military men?
They should not. Nigerians used public funds to buy guns and boots for them and those ones should stay out of politics. But some of them are retiring from military and joining politics. I don’t agree with what they are doing. What we have is a military government masquerading as civilian government. That is rubbish.
But what did you do differently in the second republic from what is happening now?
We had a presidential system of government under (Alhaji Shehu) Shagari and it was very good. When Shagari came in for the second term, they used military coup to drive him away, and from then till today, no matter what name you call it, it is still military rule (that has been) masquerading as civilian government(s).
Do you foresee a military coup?
No. I don’t even want them to come back. If they come back, it will only get worse. The consequences of their coming back will be terrible. The richest people in the country today are military men and those who had relationship one way or the other with them. I don’t want to say anything further on that but everybody knows.
How has Nigeria fared since the return to democracy in 1999?
It is 50:50. It is not too bad and it is not good but it could be better.
What do you think we can do as a nation to make the country better?
One, there should be no more military incursion into power again. Two, we should have the best brains in politics. Not messengers or thugs becoming governors and pretending to be governors and wanting power for themselves forever.
How can Nigeria achieve progress?
The best thing is not to follow the British structure. Also, the economy should be run by Nigerians and not foreigners. If you don’t do that, you know the consequences. Do you see the economy of America being run by foreigners? Do you see the economy of Britain run by foreigners? That is what I mean. But if you look at our economic structure now, it is not in our hands. It is being run by foreigners and everybody knows the truth.
How will you rate the performance of President Buhari since 2015?
Your guess is as good as mine. I should have preferred that (since) Buhari has got what he wanted, he should go and rest while others who are real politicians should come to power. But people don’t listen to the truth; they want half-truth and half falsehood.
What is your response to those in support of his return in 2019?
I just laugh at that. If he does that, it will be a big joke.
Are you saying he will not win?
I don’t know but it is going to be a very big joke.
What did you mean when you say Nigerians should go their separate ways?
The West should go their way likewise the East and let the Northerners decide what they want.
Is it through dialogue or by what means?
It should be through dialogue. I don’t believe in military coup; it has never worked anywhere and it can’t work in this country.
You were a minister of education in the first republic. What do you think Nigeria can do to revamp the education sector?
First, the universities should be adequately funded. I don’t see the best university in Nigeria today like we used to. Secondary schools have also collapsed. When I was doing Senior Cambridge, many of us came out with Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3. And when I finished, I was given a scholarship to study in England and come back to teach. I accepted the letter but I didn’t accept the scholarship because my parents could afford to send me to England.
Can Nigeria learn anything from the report of the 2014 National Conference organised by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan?
The confab report should be implemented. I had the privilege of moving the final adoption of the report because I was part of the conference. The government should implement the report; to ignore it is to ignore the best thing for Nigeria. Former President Jonathan did well and I doff my hat to him.
Is it advisable that Nigeria should amend the 1999 constitution or drop it totally?
We should drop the 1999 constitution totally. I want to see western Nigeria as a sovereign state. Let the North be different and let the East be different. That is the way God created us; any other marriage is rubbish.