Tuesday, 23 January 2018
Politics

Politics (126)

• Taraba village alarmed over ‘helicopter loaded with arms’
• Herdsmen raze Falae’s farm in Ondo State
• Fayose threatens leader of Ekiti cattlemen

A group, Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), is operational in North Central and South South Nigeria. It deploys foreign terrorists that unleash mayhem on communities, with a view to exacerbating ethnic and religious tensions.

This disclosure was made in a report presented to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The report was described as the result of findings by security operatives, including the Department of State Services (DSS).

A presidency source, at the weekend, said the discovery of the ISWA network followed the arrest of suspected attackers consisting of Fulani herdsmen, government-sponsored militias, militants and other miscreants in Benue State.

The source noted that many of the persons in custody spoke only the French language, unable to communicate in any of the Nigerian dialects.

This is the first time security officials have confirmed the activities of ISWA.

The source disclosed that a “good number” of the terrorists have been arrested, not only in the Benue valley, but also in towns in Edo State, specifically Akoko-Edo, Okpella and Benin, and Okene, in Kogi State.

“It is understood that the cell, which has members in different parts of the country, concentrates on recruiting young men to fight for the Islamic State in West Africa by unleashing cold-blooded murder on innocent citizens.

“There was intelligence that they planned several attacks, here, before and during Christmas and New Year. Their bombing targets included fuel depots, foreign missions, police and military establishments.

“Their network is very wide. So much was achieved by the DSS, which made a significant number of arrests in the last two months that helped preempt the attacks. This saved Nigeria from the spate of major terrorist attacks witnessed elsewhere, syndicated by ISIS worldwide,” the source said.

The source added: “We are learning more and more about this complex and sophisticated network. This is the main reason the secret service is not parading those suspects so far arrested. It has become clear to us now that the challenge facing this country is a serious one.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed that Buhari has been receiving “report upon report on the situation in Benue and other states”.

He, however, said he had not been briefed on any of the reports.

This is coming barely three days after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday, inaugurated the Sanctions Committee charged with tracking and freezing funds for terrorist groups in Nigeria. 

The committee, headed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, consists of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; National Security Adviser, Babagana Mongunu; Director-General of DSS, Lawan Daura; and Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.

Also included are Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai; Director General of the National Intelligence Agency; and the Director General, Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit.

In Taraba State, meanwhile, a helicopter allegedly packed with arms and ammunition was said to have made a stop at Jibu village, Ibi Local Government Area.

In a statement, yesterday, spokesman for the state governor, Bala Dan-Abu, said the incident might be a plot to arm a militia preparing to attack communities in the state.

He said a similar sighting preceded an attack in Agatu last year and called on security agencies to unravel the mystery behind the craft.

Member representing the area in the state House of Assembly, Josiah Aji, said he was notified of the development, adding that the council chairman and relevant agencies have been alerted.

Some residents of the area told The Guardian via phone that armed security operatives have been deployed to investigate the matter.

Police spokesman, David Misal, however, described the report as a mere rumour.

But it was real in Ondo State yesterday when suspected herdsmen burnt down the farm of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae. And in neighbouring Ekiti, Governor Ayodele Fayose, warned the leader of Fulani herdsmen, Muhammed Abashe, that he would be held responsible for any further attack in the state.

The governor was reacting to the recent killing by suspected herders of a Tiv woman at Orin Ekiti.

Fayose said Abashe failed to provide leadership by not stopping his kinsmen from destroying farms and attacking residents at the slightest provocation.

“If you still want to stay among us, you must accept the responsibility of ensuring that none of our peoples’ farms is destroyed by herdsmen any longer. None of our people must be killed by your men. If any killing or destruction of the farms of our people occurs again in that area, I will ensure that I use the law to fight you. This is the last warning I am giving you,” said Fayose.

Posted On Tuesday, 23 January 2018 23:20 Written by

Members of the Kwara South Unity Forum in Kwara State have initiated a recall process against the senator representing the Kwara South Senatorial District, Dr. Rafiu Ibrahim.

According to a photocopy of the acknowledged copy of the petition, made available to journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Sunday, the petition had been sent to the Independent National Electoral Commission and the office of the President of the Senate.

The letter, dated November 13, was received and acknowledged at INEC on November 14 and the office of the President of the Senate on November 17.

The public notification of the recall process however did not come without a drama.

While the group was about addressing journalists at Ofa on the recall process, hoodlums and thugs stormed the venue and disrupted the media briefing.

The General Secretary of the Kwara South Unity Forum, Mr. Ahmed Akorede, alleged that the invaders also made away with some valuables, adding that members of the group had been receiving threat messages, for discharging their “human right and constitutional” responsibility.

The President of the group, Mr. John Adegboye, while addressing journalists during a media briefing at Ijagbo in the Oyun Local Government Area of Kwara State, alleged poor representation by Ibrahim.

He also accused Ibrahim of disregarding members and elders of the senatorial district while taking directives from external personalities.

He further alleged that issues, critical to the growth and development of Kwara South, were allegedly being openly disregarded and dismissed by the senator.

Adegboroye also accused Ibrahim of abusing their democratic rights and intelligence and was not sufficiently addressing human capital development in the area.

He stated, “A situation whereby, a man we voted for, now comes out openly and with audacity, to state that he needs to consult ‘his boss’, who isn’t even from Kwara South, is nothing but a violation of our human and democratic rights.”

Adegboye said it was wrong for Ibrahim to kneel before the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

According to him, the Senate is a gathering of equals while the President of the Senate is simply the first among equals.

He said, “We find it demeaning, insulting and outrageous that our senator acted as an escort and body guard to the wife of the Senate President when she was arraigned in court on charges of money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

“This unnecessary show of subservience has been interpreted to imply a situation in which we are not the people in control of our destinies. We cannot accept this anymore.

“It is therefore under these circumstances that the good people of Kwara South today decide to intimate the generality of Nigerians about our intention to recall Senator Rafiu Ibrahim from the 8th National Assembly.

“We affirm that the Kwara South Unity Forum has instituted recall proceedings against the senator representing Kwara South Senatorial District. The days of ‘shadow democracy and indirect rule,’ whereby a few individuals become more important than the entire electorate, are over.”

But a coalition of students, during another media briefing, passed a vote of confidence in Ibrahim.

The coalition comprise the National Association of Nigerian Students, Kwara State branch, and the National Association of Kwara State Students.

The students’ speech was jointly signed by the Chairman, NANS, Kwara, Abdulkadir Aliyu; President, NAKSS, Abdulafeez Oyedepo; and Director of Travelling and Exchange, NANS, Abdullahi Olawale.

Aliyu, who read the speech, said Ibrahim had made tremendous contributions towards infrastructural and human capital development in Kwara South.

He said, “Ibrahim’s unblemished reputation, leadership sagacity, hospitality, open door policy, philanthropic gesture, kind heartedness, ‘articulacy’, listening ears and most importantly, his integrity, have given us hope that with his kind, there is great hope for the Nigerian students.”

A stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress, led by Kazeem Adekanye, during the media briefing, urged the senator and the proponent of his recall to embrace dialogue.

Adekanye, a former Chairman, Transition Implementation Committee, Irepodun LGA, said there was unity in the party.

He said, “For some of us, we believe that we have leaders that we respect. Yes, we may have one or two things that may not be okay with us, we should employ better means of engaging them so as for us all to reap the benefits of democracy.

“We all know that as senators, their primary job is to legislate; the other aspect has to do with constituency project. I am aware he has brought a lot of constituency projects to Kwara South. He has also been reaching out to people as individuals and I am sure he has reached out to traditional rulers.

“We in Kwara South, we are under one leadership of Dr. Bukola Saraki. All of us, who are his disciples and followers, are united under that banner. There are no internal crises; there is no war between us.”

Posted On Monday, 25 December 2017 13:47 Written by

Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan is rolling out his political armour against several Peoples Democratic Governors (PDP) in a fierce battle for the soul of the party at Saturday’s crucial national convention.

Also scheming for control of the party’s machinery are ex-Vice President Namadi Sambo; ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar (who is yet to officially join the party); ex-governors, loyalists of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida led by a former National Security Adviser, Gen. Aliyu Gusau; ex-President of the Senate, Chief David Mark; Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu; ex-Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu; members of the party’s Board of Trustees being coordinated by its chairman, Sen. Walid Jibrin, Sen. Ahmadu Ali and Prof. Jerry Gana, a former Minister of Information.

Serving governors are being coordinated by Mr. Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Ayo Fayose.

Former governors of the party including Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo), Gabriel Suswam (Benue), Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada (both Kogi) are not left out.

Investigation revealed that almost every godfather in PDP is backing one candidate or the other for election into the National Working Committee (NWC).

The objective is to enable the godfathers have a say in the management of the party especially in the choice of the party’s presidential candidate for the 2019 election.

It was gathered that the interest of the godfathers has complicated the intrigues surrounding the contest for party offices at the December 9 convention.

Although some party leaders are pushing for merit, some other leaders believe that all the candidates have been tested in the past.

The positions of National Chairman, National Secretary, Deputy National Chairman (North); Deputy National Chairman (South) , the National Organizing Secretary and the National Publicity Secretary are attracting more interest from the godfathers.

The top contenders for the national chairmanship are a former Acting National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus; a former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran; a former Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George; a former Minister of Sports, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja; a former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; ex-Governor of Oyo State, Sen. Rashidi Ladoja; a media mogul, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi; and a former governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje.

A breakdown of the support base of the chairmanship aspirants is as follows:

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Wike, Fayose, PDP governors, state PDP chairmen
Tunde Adeniran—-Jonathan, IBB Boys, Gusau, Gana, Ali, Mantu, BOT members
Otunba Gbenga Daniel—-Ex-governors, a splinter of IBB Boys,
Olabode George—-Some BOT members
Taoheed Adedoja—-BOT members, some Northern delegates
Jimi Agbaje—–South-West delegates, BOT members
Rashidi Ladoja—-Ex-governors but under pressure to accept concession of Deputy Chairman slot to his choice
A top party source said: “The jostle for offices at the national convention is going to be a battle royale because the godfathers in the party and the governors want to slug it out to install their loyalists.

“For ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, the convention will be a litmus test for his plans to be a father-figure for PDP. But if he fails, it might be another political setback for him after the loss at the poll in 2015.

“Jonathan and others, especially loyalists of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida, are working hard for a national outlook for PDP but some of the governors think otherwise. They said they are already conducting some permutations.

“Our greatest fear is that all these forces are trying to outsmart each other. If the party leaders can cage the governors and allow the delegates to have a final say, we will be opening a new chapter for PDP.”

A member of Board of Trustees of PDP said: “we are all worried because if we do not get it right, we might as well say goodbye to our chances in 2019.

“The party is on the edge again. We are however struggling to appeal to all groups to sheathe their swords and avoid implosion at the convention.”

Responding to a question, the BOT source added: “All our leaders are conscious of the 2019 poll and they are struggling to be relevant. You cannot blame them because in politics, relevance matters.”

A governor, who spoke with our correspondent last night, said: “I think the way out of any crisis at the convention is to allow for a free and fair contest. We need to live up to our appellation as a democratic party.

“We are already working on a unity list because we do not want to play into the hands of the ruling party. Certainly, there will be more horse-trading in the days ahead but we will survive it.

“We urge the judiciary not to entertain any frivolous application to stop the convention from holding.”

Posted On Sunday, 03 December 2017 02:01 Written by

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)

Posted On Friday, 24 November 2017 17:20 Written by

Panelists are Secondus’ men, Adeniran claims

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) remains unsettled as it heads for its December 9 convention.

National chairman aspirant Prof. Tunde Adeniran has kicked against the list of panelists to conduct the ward delegates’ election ahead of the convention. He has petitioned the leadership.

The party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting has been fixed for Abuja to ratify the list, among other decisions on the convention.

Adeniran said many members of the committee are sympathisers and supporters of Prince Uche Secondus, another chairmanship candidate.

In the Southwest, the faction led by Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe is laying claim to legitimacy. The leadership recognises Dr. Eddy Olafeso as the Vice Chairman (Southwest). Makanjuola is threatening a law suit should his faction be denied participation at the convention.

In Oyo State, a meeting on Sunday to settle the differences between the two factions on Sunday broke up in disagreement.

The director general of Adeniran’s Campaign Organisation, Alhaji Shehu Gabam, said the peace accord entered into by the eight chairmanship aspirants is threatened.

”A particular state has members on that list and some of  them are the leading campaigners for Prince Uche Secondus. We as campaign organisation were not consulted to bring one or two persons and I am sure other aspirants were not consulted too.

“It is an indirect way of short-changing other aspirants. The spirit behind the MoU we signed has been violated, not by the aspirants but by the party managers,” Gabam said.

The Adeniran camp mentioned Senator George Sekibo, Mr. Austin Opara, ThanGod Danagogo, Chief Kenneth Ubani Emeka Ihedioha as some of the Secondus loyalists on the list.

The Adeniran camp said: “Now you have just one chairmanship aspirant having his men deeply entrenched in a system that would determine how the delegates will emerge.

“The party created the division among the aspirants. The party should provide equal base for all aspirants and I want to say that we disagree with the composition of this list.”

Adeniran urged the party leadership to shun impunity and imposition of candidates, saying PDP must learn from past mistakes.

The camp yesterday rejected the call by the Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose for shadow primary elections for aspirants from the South West, saying the governor had already taken sides.

The Caretaker Committee of the PDP said: “We have received a petition written by Prof Adeniran on the matter and the Caretaker Committee will meet to discuss the petition this week.”

Ogundipe told reporters that the faction remained the authentic executive in the zone based on a subsisting court judgment.

Ogundipe said the continued recognition of Olafeso as Vice Chairman (Southwest) ran foul of the law as there had been no superior order to nullify the subsisting Abuja court judgment.

“We are the authentic Southwest zonal executive of the PDP, based on a subsisting court judgment and we want the party to accord us the due recognition.

“Any other group parading themselves as exco from the zone is committing an illegality as there has been no better judgement to nullify the court judgement affirming us as the authentic executive.

“Moreso, the subsisting court order restrained Olafeso and his group from participating in the Dec. 9 national convention.

“We do not want to constitute any problem to the convention and that is why we are saying the party should operate in accordance with law and allow us to present delegates from the zone.

“In the event that we are excluded, just as we were at the non-elective convention in Port-Harcourt, we shall take the necessary legal action, and that will affect the party in the long run,” he said.

Ogundipe said the Supreme Court judgment affirming Sen. Ahmed Makarfi as Caretaker Chairman did not nullify the leadership of his faction in the zone.

He urged all stakeholders to abide by the rule of law in order not to jeopardise the progress of the party.

Ogundipe cleared Chief Olabode George of any involvement in the leadership impasse in the zone.

He said an all-encompassing meeting of stakeholders in the zone, including national chairmanship aspirants, would soon hold, to decide on a united position of the zone to the convention.

Olafeso, in a statement yesterday said the Southwest PDP did not micro zone the chairman’s post.

He denied that the Southwest executive at its last meeting with stakeholders directed that national chairman aspirant must come from a particular state.

“This is patently false as no such decision was taken. We only zoned other offices that were zoned to the Southwest among all the states in the region and this action is traditional.

“The position of national chairman and deputy national chairman is zoned to the southern states and, as such is beyond the scope of the South West zone to unilaterally adjudicate on. We declare that all those gentlemen that have signified their intentions to contest for those positions remain at liberty to continue to prosecute their ambitions without hindrance.”

The attempt to resolve the crisis between the two factions in Oyo State failed at the weekend.

Senator Rashidi Ladoja called a parley in his home on Sunday but it ended in a stalemate as the faction led by Seyi Makinde, Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi and Senator Hosea Agboola rejected the terms of truce.

At the meeting, the representatives of the Makinde faction – Akande-Adeola, Agboola and Hon. Kehinde Ayoola- rejected the offer of a position for Akande-Adeola and Agboola to appease the faction.

The faction, it was learnt, insisted on harmonisation that will see both factions have almost equal number of slots in the State Executive.

The factions held parallel congresses on November 4.

The National Caretaker Committee invited Ladoja for a resolution. Ladoja was said to have promised the committee that he would resolve the crisis.  His promise made the national leadership to stop its intervention. The committee also considered the fact that both factions accepted the former governor as the leader.

At the Sunday meeting were also Sen. Femi Lanlehin, Chief Yemi Aderibigbe and Sen.  Ayo Adeseun from the Ladoja faction.

The meeting, which lasted for over two hours, failed to resolve the problem, with each camp not ready to shift grounds.

It was learnt that Makinde also rejected the two slots already given to him, saying he should have been allowed to present his own candidates.

Posted On Monday, 20 November 2017 23:13 Written by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted On Monday, 20 November 2017 16:29 Written by

…I don’t begrudge anybody, says Ndume

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*We’re providing conducive environment for business

•Getting out of recession ‘not a fluke’

President Muhammadu Buhari is not adopting a quick fix approach to the economy, but initiating long-lasting policies, the Federal government has said.

Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed told reporters in Lagos at the weekend that the results of the economic policies of the government would soon begin to germinate in full measure.

The minister said: “This administration’s contract with Nigerians sits on a tripod— The fight against corruption, tackling insecurity and reviving the economy— even our worst critics acknowledge the progress we have made in fighting corruption and tackling insecurity.

“But one area in which they have consistently criticised us is the economy. Right from the inception of this Administration, we chose the path of seeking a lasting solution to the economic crisis plaguing the nation instead of engaging in a quick fix that may attract accolades but will not endure.

“We chose to be painstaking instead of engaging in palliatives.”

The minister added that the “well-thought-out policy, encapsulated in the Administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is working and the results are beginning to show. In September we exited recession and returned to the path of growth, after five consecutive quarters of contraction. Taking Nigeria out of recession did not happen by accident. It was the culmination of months of hard work by the Administration and fidelity to its well-articulated economic policies.

“To show that taking Nigeria out of recession was not a fluke, less than two months after, the country has moved up 24 places, to 145th, in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ report. Not only that, for the first time the country is recognised as one of the top 10 most-improved economies in the world.”

Secretary of Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) Dr. Jumoke Oduwole said the Federal Government would build on the achievements recorded, especially the enhancement of a conducive environment for business operations.

She said the conducive atmosphere include guaranteed access to credit for Small Scale Businesses (SMEs), construction permits, ease of business registration, ease of tax payment, and promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment.

She said The PEBEC chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo took a significant step towards making it easier for micro, small and medium enterprises to business by approving a 60-day National Action Plan on the ease of doing business for ministries, departments and agencies responsible for their implementation.

The minister said the measure was taken because micro, small and medium scale businesses account for half of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (DGP), adding that they also employ over 80 per cent of the labour force.

Mohammed added: “We look up to these enterprises to provide endless possibilities for economic growth. If the MSMEs blossom, Nigeria’s economy will thrive. We even surpassed our target. We had hoped to move up to 20 places. We beat that by four more to move up to 24 places.”

To boost taxation, the minister said the administration launched the “Nigerian Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to provide time-bound opportunity for tax payers to regularize their tax status and pay tax regularly.

He said if tax payers honestly declare previously undisclosed assets and income, they will benefit from forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties, and be insulated from criminal prosecution for tax offences.

Mohammed added: “As of 31st Oct. 2017, VAIDS has raked in over N200 million and 55 million US dollars. For eight consecutive months, headline inflation has been falling; the foreign exchange reserves are up to $34 billion, from $24 billion a year ago; oil production is at nearly 2 million barrels per day, a significant improvement from 2016 when it was mostly below a million; the value of the Naira in the parallel market has appreciated significantly in recent times against the US dollar, and that at about 1.8 billion dollars, the capital inflows in the second quarter of 2017 were almost double the $908 million in the first quarter.”

The minister said Nigerians will savour a new lease of life, owing to the on-going massive infrastructural development, especially roads, railways and power, adding that food prices tumble and more jobs will be created.

Hailing Nigerians for their patience and belief in the Buhari administration, Mohammed said: “Reviving the economy was never going to be an easy task. It was bound to bring some hardship to our people in the short term. Through it all, the good people of Nigeria have borne the pains with equanimity, based on their unshakable trust in the sincerity, capability and commitment of President Buhari. Now, the soothing balm is here.”

Oduwole reviewed the performance of the economy, based on the World Bank’s reforms in the critical areas of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit and paying taxes, stressing that Nigeria was on course.

She said: “In the area of company registration, the Corporate Affairs Commission has moved to offer online registration and introduced new features such as electronic stamping of registration documents. Thus, entrepreneurs have been able to register their businesses much faster, within 24-48 hours, thereby saving cost and time

“Getting construction permits and registering property in both Lagos and Kano States have become more transparent and easier for businesses with the online publication of all relevant regulations, fee schedules and pre-application requirements online.

 
Posted On Monday, 06 November 2017 02:05 Written by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where exactly did Nigeria get it wrong?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you think it can be corrected?

(Through) Separation!

Are you saying each region should go their separate ways?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What kind of problem?

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

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

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

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

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

What are your views on the issue of true federalism?

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

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

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

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

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

Is presidential system of government not more expensive than parliamentary?

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

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

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

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

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

How do you think Nigeria can tackle corruption?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you foresee a military coup?

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

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

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

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

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

How can Nigeria achieve progress?

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

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

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

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

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

Are you saying he will not win?

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

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

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

Is it through dialogue or by what means?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted On Sunday, 01 October 2017 13:03 Written by
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