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We Must Move On: The Struggle Continues

As we are all aware, the election to determine the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the November 16 governorship race in Bayelsa State has been conducted. Even with all the inarguable inherent flaws bordering on crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines, a winner has been declared. The delegates—whether coercively or voluntarily—have spoken even if their voices do not represent the voice of the people.

My decision to seek election as Governor of Bayelsa State was based both on the collective opinion of respected stakeholders of our beloved state and a personal conviction that I have what it takes to make the difference in the economic development of our state. Having travelled the same route more than once, I took time to pray, plan my strategies and carry out wider consultations more than I had ever done in the past.

My sincere desire was to bring into governance my experiences and exposures both in the public and private sectors—spanning more than three decades. I came with a mission and a vision clearly articulated and made public. I was thrilled to see the Blue Economy Concept and Project Dolphin becoming household chants, especially among our vibrant youths.

When we finally picked the Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms, we chose to run idea-based campaign. We envisioned a state where electricity will run 24/7 in less than 18 months through planned utilisation of abundant but wasted gas resource. We looked forward to creating a permanent distance between our youth and violence by applying the same method we did in the Presidential Amnesty Programme—disarming, demobilising, rehabilitating and reintegrating them. We articulated programmes that would produce intellectual militants in place of violent militants. We thought of a booming economy based on sea-side industrialisation that would create jobs for our people.

We thought of extensive road networks and bridges, functional health facilities, among others. Drawing from my modest experience at the Niger Delta Development Commission, my vision was to assemble a team of experts that would conceive and execute a 25-Year Development Plan for Bayelsa State—a plan that would outlive my administration—for the good of our people. From all indications, these lofty plans may have to be put on hold because the opportunity to execute them has been put on hold.

We chose to run a decent campaign in line with the Constitution of our party, the PDP and the laws of Nigeria. We vowed never to engage or respond to acts of violence and abuse from any quarter. We did not envisage that the process would be smooth and easy; but we also could not believe the depth of desperation and deadly manoeuvring that we encountered along the way. We were called unprintable names and even labelled with criminal tags. But we were too focused to be distracted.

To my supporters and friends, let it be known that no one could have been more disappointed with the outcome of our governorship primary that held on Tuesday September 3 than me. I know you are awfully disappointed too. But our disappointment is certainly not that the outcome was against our wish to obtain the mandate of our great party, but because of the obviously flawed process that led to the primary.

We all know that the basis of our party is the Constitution in addition to the rules and regulations that we set for ourselves from inception in 1998, and the fact our party has become reformed. Consequently, for anything to be legitimate it must derive authority from our Constitution. Unfortunately, certain aspects of the processes of the just concluded primary election rudely violated the provisions of our Party Constitution.

For instance, by the provisions of Section 50(1) of the Party Constitution, the authority to formulate guidelines for all matters relating to the governorship primary is vested in the NEC of the PDP. The election of Ad-Hoc delegates is one of such matters. Strangely, the panel set up to undertake this exercise simply imposed on us a list of electoral and returning officers prepared by the state officers of the party who are avowed members of the orchestrated Restoration Team. Thus, the process was deliberately handed over to the Restoration Team. Our protest was ignored.

This issue of election of local council chairmen and councillors that were allowed to participate in the primary despite a court order was another setback. You would recall that we protested to the appropriate organs of the party. As it turned out, the national leadership of the party would seem not to have been persuaded by the strength of our argument for obedience to the supreme law of our great party. Even the powers that be in state unsuccessfully challenged the superiority of our position in court.

While we must put on record our disappointment with this wilful disregard to our Constitution, we must take no further steps that would merely equalize the disregard for the same Constitution. In the circumstances, we express our serious reservations about the process that led to the primary for its unconstitutionality and its outcome completely unacceptable because of its illegitimacy.

However; we must move on. At the beginning of this contest, we made our objective very clear, that we are out to take the levers of power in order to use them to galvanise the economy of the state for the benefits of our people—who have been kept down for too long. We believe this could only be realised on the platform of this great party.

For us, therefore, this is simply a setback. We will remain focused, believing that very soon we would be able to realise our aspiration.We thank our great supporters, especially our delegates that backed us up to this point and ask them not to despair but stand firm in the belief that sooner than later, our just cause would prevail as the struggle continues. We thank you all.

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‘Collective Thinking, Dialogue’ll, Solve Nigeria’s Problem’ Obasanjo Says In Letter To Buhari

Former President, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, recently wrote another open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari calling for urgent actions to tackle Nigeria’s challenges. The letter released by Kehinde Akinyemi, his Special Assistant on Media, reads:

I am constrained to write to you this open letter. I decided to make it an open letter because the issue is very weighty and must be greatly worrisome to all concerned Nigerians and that means all right-thinking Nigerians and those resident in Nigeria. Since the issue is of momentous concern to all well-meaning and all right-thinking Nigerians, it must be of great concern to you, and collective thinking and dialoguing is the best way of finding an appropriate and adequate solution to the problem. The contents of this letter, therefore, should be available to all those who can help in proffering effective solutions for the problem of insecurity in the land.

One of the spinoffs and accelerants is the misinformation and disinformation through the use of fake news. A number of articles, in recent days, have been attributed to me by some people who I believe may be seeking added credence and an attentive audience for their opinions and view-points. As you know very well, I will always boldly own what I say and disown what is put into my mouth.

But the issue I am addressing here is very serious; it is the issue of life and death for all of us and for our dear country, Nigeria. This issue can no longer be ignored, treated with nonchalance, swept under the carpet or treated with cuddling glove. The issue is hitting at the foundation of our existence as Nigerians and fast eroding the root of our Nigerian community. I am very much worried and afraid that we are on the precipice and dangerously reaching a tipping point where it may no longer be possible to hold danger at bay.

 Without being immodest, as a Nigerian who still bears the scar of the Nigerian civil war on my body and with a son who bears the scar of fighting Boko Haram on his body, you can understand, I hope, why I am so concerned. When people are desperate and feel that they cannot have confidence in the ability of government to provide security for their lives and properties, they will take recourse to anything and everything that can guarantee their security individually and collectively.

For over ten years, for four of which you have been the captain of the ship, Boko Haram has menacingly ravaged the land and in spite of government’s claim of victory over Boko Haram, the potency and the activities of Boko Haram, where they are active, remain undiminished, putting lie to government’s claim. The recent explanation of the Chief of Army Staff for non-victory due to lack of commitment and lack of motivation on the part of troops bordering on sabotage speaks for itself.

Say what you will, Boko Haram is still a daily issue of insecurity for those who are victimised, killed, maimed, kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery and forced into marriage and for children forcibly recruited into carrying bombs on them to detonate among crowds of people to cause maximum destructions and damage. And Boko Haram will not go away on the basis of sticks alone, carrots must overweigh sticks. How else do you deal with issues such as only about 50% literacy in North-East with over 70% unemployment?

Herdsmen/farmers crises and menace started with government treating the issue with cuddling glove instead of hammer. It has festered and spread. Today, it has developed into banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and killings all over the country. The unfortunate situation is that the criminality is being perceived as a ‘Fulani’ menace unleashed by Fulani elite in the different parts of the country for a number of reasons but even more, unfortunately, many Nigerians and non-Nigerians who are friends of Nigeria attach vicarious responsibility to you as a Fulani elite and the current captain of the Nigeria ship.

Perception may be as potent as reality at times. Whatever may be the grievances of Fulanis, if any, they need to be put out in the open and their grievances, if legitimate, be addressed; and if other ethnic groups have grievances, let them also be brought out in the open and addressed through debate and dialogue.

The main issue, if I may dare say, is poor management or mismanagement of diversity which, on the other hand, is one of our greatest and most important assets. As a result, very onerous cloud is gathering. And rain of destruction, violence, disaster and disunity can only be the outcome. Nothing should be taken for granted, the clock is ticking with the cacophony of dissatisfaction and disaffection everywhere in and outside the country.

The Presidency and the Congress in the US have signalled to us to put our house in order. The House of Lords in the UK had debated the Nigerian security situation. We must understand and appreciate the significance, implication and likely consequences of such concerns and deliberations. No one can stop hate speech, violent agitation and smouldering violent agitation if he fans the embers of hatred, disaffection and violence. It will continue to snowball until it is out of control. A stitch in time saves nine, goes the old wise saying.

With the death of Funke, Chief Fasoranti’s daughter, some sympathetic Nigerian groups are saying “enough is enough”. Prof. Anya, a distinguished Nigerian merit Laureate, has this to say “We can no longer say with certainty that we have a nation”. Niger-Delta leaders, South-Eastern leaders, Middle-Belt leaders and Northern Elders Forum have not remained quiet. Different ordinary Nigerians at home and abroad are calling for different measures to address or ameliorate the situation. All the calls and cries can only continue to be ignored at the expense of Nigerian unity, if not its continued existence.

To be explicit and without equivocation, Mr. President and General, I am deeply worried about four avoidable calamities: 1. abandoning Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or wrongly, as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram type; 2. spontaneous or planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened. 3. similar attacks against any other tribe or ethnic group anywhere in the country initiated by rumours, fears, intimidation and revenge capable of leading to pogrom; 4. violent uprising beginning from one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to dismemberment of the country.

It happened to Yugoslavia not too long ago. If we do not act now, one or all of these scenarios may happen. We must pray and take effective actions at the same time. The initiative is in the hands of the President of the nation, but he cannot do it alone. In my part of the world, if you are sharpening your cutlass and a mad man comes from behind to take the cutlass from you, you need other people’s assistance to have your cutlass back without being harmed. The mad men with serious criminal intent and terrorism as core value have taken cutlass of security.

The need for assistance to regain control is obviously compelling and must be embraced now.

A couple of weeks ago at a public lecture, I had said, among other things, that: “In all these issues of mobilisation for national unity, stability, security, cooperation, development, growth and progress, there is no consensus. Like in the issue of security, government should open up discussion, debate and dialogue as part of consultation at different levels and the outcome of such deliberations should be collated to form inputs into a national conference to come up with the solution that will effectively deal with the issues and lead to rapid development, growth and progress which will give us a wholesome society and enhanced living standard and livelihood in an inclusive and shared society.

 It will be a national programme. We need unity of purpose and nationally accepted strategic roadmap that will not change with whims and caprices of any government. It must be owned by the citizens, people’s policy and strategy implemented by the government no matter its colour and leaning.

Some of the groups that I will suggest to be contacted are: traditional rulers, past heads of service (no matter how competent or incompetent they have been and how much they have contributed to the mess we are in), past heads of para-military organisations, private sector, civil society, community leaders particularly in the most affected areas, present and past governors, present and past local government leaders, religious leaders, past Heads of State, past intelligence chiefs, past Heads of Civil Service and relevant current and retired diplomats, members of opposition and any groups that may be deemed relevant.”

The President must be seen to be addressing this issue with utmost seriousness and with maximum dispatch and getting all hands on deck to help. If there is failure, the principal responsibility will be that of the President and no one else. We need cohesion and concentration of effort and maximum force – political, economic, social, psychological and military – to deal successfully with the menace of criminality and terrorism separately and together.   Blame game among own forces must be avoided. It is debilitating and only helpful to our adversary. We cannot dither anymore. It is time to confront this threat headlong and in a manner that is holistic, inclusive and purposeful.

For the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians, I pray that God may grant you, as our President, the wisdom, the understanding, the political will and the courage to do what is right when it is right and without fear or favour.

May God save, secure, protect and bless Nigeria. May He open to us a window of opportunity that we can still use to prevent the worst happening. As we say in my village, “May God forbid bad thing”.

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Amosun Arms Stockpile Story. Alpheaus Paul-Worika, Ph.D

The Presidency has in a swift involvement in the evolving story of arms stockpile allegation made by an online media (Premium Times) against former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikinle Amosun, made a clarification that further exacerbated the contradictions in the story.

Premium Times had stated that the former Governor on the eve of his departure from office handed over a cache of arms and ammunitions and other security items to the Ogun State Police Commissioner, Mr Bashir Makama.

The news outfit has reaffirmed its story in deference to the governor’s denial of any wrongdoing in the submission of the items or even in their procurement and storage. Such courageous reaffirmation should elicit a major concern and investigation rather than a quick response such as has been given by the presidency. Senator Amosun is not a staff of the Presidency.

What are the issues: According to Premium Times, Amosun purchased truckloads of arms and ammunition and hid his cache of weapons under the radar of the security authorities. As his tenure came to an end, Amosun  told the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama that he had thousands of arms and millions of ammunition at an armoury in Government House, and that he had decided to hand them over to the police.

Makama  was said to have  gotten  to Government House and Amosun reportedly handed over  four million rounds of ammunition, 1,000 units of AK47 assault rifles, 1,000 units of bulletproof vests and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) to the police.

Amosun reportedly told the police at the event that he procured the arms and ammunition to check the widespread insecurity in his state and decided to keep the cache of weapons at the Government House armoury to ensure they were not allocated indiscriminately by security agencies.

Amosun through his media aide  Rotimi Durojaiye admitted handing over some armoured vehicles and light weapons to the Ogun State Police Command at the twilight of his government, but vehemently denied that guns were involved in the handing over exercise.

Amosun further clarified that he imported the security hardware with the approval of the Presidency, under Goodluck Jonathan in 2012. to tackle the state of insecurity that made Ogun state unsafe and unattractive to investors. 

He got all necessary approvals from the Office of the National Security Adviser to procure the 13 units of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), the 1000 units of AK 47 rifles, 2 million rounds of ammunition,1000 units of bullet proof vests and 500 bullet proof helmets and other security communication gadgets.

Amosun  gave what seem like a detailed report on the entire transaction restating that due process was followed and the purpose for purchase was patriotic, sublime and noble.

 The president’s Senior Special Assistant, Mallam Garba Shehu in response to the allegation said preliminary investigation by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, showed that there was no sinister motive in the former governor’s action.

But the presidency’s defence of Amosun from any illegalities has thrown up fresh issues that a quick response cannot diminish, especially now, when the issue of insecurity in the country has reinforced calls for the establishment of state police.

For greater public enlightenment, can  a state governor can be authorized to procure as much as 1000 rifles and millions of bullets to support the police for any security operations; and why should states  not be allowed to establish their own police force? Should state governors fund the police and not be interested in how their support materials are deployed and utilized?

According to Amosun’s spokesman, Rotimi Dunojauye, “routine, bona fide and patriotic disposition of the Senator was bring savagely twisted in a premeditated effort to serve some vested interest.   But in the face massive proliferation of arms that have resulted in several mop up operations across the country especially during the build up to the general elections  , the when some governors were accused of sponsoring cultists and bandits it beggars belief that one governor had securely  under his control an arms stock of such magnitude.

Perhaps, it serves better security interest and strategy that the Government House should also be a warehouse or an amoury for police weapons.  If that is legal, why was the Police commissioner not aware and why should they be handed over to the police commissioner a new governor was to take over. Methinks the Government House and all government materials should be handed over to the new governor.

This action seems to give life to the claim by Premium Times that the former governor’s action was taken to avert the unlikely response of an unfriendly successor. But we have come to know that this could not be the case because the new governor as we have been told is also a contractor who supplied some of Armed Personnel Carrier purchased by Amosun for the police.

So the former governor and his successor have something in common,

Now a simple patriotic and official duty is enmeshed in controversy and as Amosun’s spokesman said: “It is important to clarify that not a single AK47 rifle was handed over at the event.” So what is the fact about bullets and rifles and how can such issues be reconciled if not by an investigation of the entire custodial and handover process.

 The presidency is better positioned to understand the possibility of subterfuge in such transactions and handling. indeed the predilection to pre-emptive defence should give way to greater circumspection.

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New Minimum Wage: New Work Ethics

The man who is now presiding over kaduna state amidst inter-ethnic and inter-religious turmoils, was once the beloved minister of federal capital territory.

Although as the Abuja minister who gained notoriety as an Anti-poor bureaucrat, he was also praised in official circles for embarking on some policy implementation that at least on paper, made people to become conscious of not patronizing the many land speculators that flooded the Federal capital territory.

Nasir El Ruffai who has so far proven to be a terrible choice of a governor in the complex state of kaduna, he was however the public office holder who made the shocking discovery that over 40% of the choice houses in Abuja belong to civil servants in the federal capital.

Ironically, soon after he left office, the national Assembly indicted him of a range of misconducts connected with land redistribution just as he was alleged to have coverted several landed property in Abuja to his cronies and family members.

The senate also banned him from holding public office for ten years. Nasir El Rufai fought this indictments in court. It would seem that he got a judicial reprieve.

The kernel of making reference to the Nasir El Ruffai persona is to bring out the larger issue of poor work ethics and corruption amongst the top echelons of the civil and public service cadres who work in the diverse governmental agencies in Abuja. These sets of workers used to earn a national minimum wage ofN18,000 per month which isn’t even enough to pay their transportation costs to their work places. But from this sane segment, you find a greater percentage of them in the directorate cadres owning virtually all the top notch housing assets in the Federal capital territory which are obviously proceeds of frauds.

It was because of deep-seated corruption and the culture of bribery within the hierarchical structure of the civil service that has totally undermined the economic advancement of Nigeria. Nigeria is obviously a crippled clay giant.

The diminished work ethics seen in the civil and public service of Nigeria is to be blamed fundamentally for why Nigeria does not work. However, the civil service ought to be the heartbeat of any nation and it is so in many foreign jurisdictions.

In Britain, civil servants are some of the most respected citizens. During my recent visit to the United Kingdom, I picked up a book tittled “Dictatorland:The men who stole Africa”, written by Paul Kenyon, a distinguished British Broadcasting corporation’s correspondent and BAFTA award winning journalist who had travelled all over Africa.

The chapter five of this beautiful book is devoted to the issues of underdevelopment of Nigeria even as he began the chapter five which he subtitled Nigeria with a rich demography of Nigeria, by recollecting the words of Ken Saro Wiwa who stated thus:” I am unfortunate to be a Nigerian. I would rather not be, but I am doing my level best to be one and a good one at that”.

Recall that Mr. Saro Wiwa was killed by Sani Abacha, the military dictator at one time who had him and a few of his other environmental campaigners killed for opposing the devastation of their oil rich region of the Niger Delta by shell and a plethora of other multinational oil drillers. Due largely to corruption in the civil abd public service the remediation processes that would have addressed the environmental abuses suffered by the Niger Delta region couldn’t be addressed and redressed till date.

In this chapter five also, the author narrated how the bureaucracy of Abuja works and swims in corruption.Those experiences he narrated are very much alive as i write and have even escalated making life in Nigeria to become miserable, brutish, short and uninteresting.

He wrote thus: “In the 1990s, OPL245 was much coveted throughout the oil world, with shell and the Italian supermajor Eni emerging as the two frontrunners. The person who would decide the allocation was the Nigerian oil minister.”

He also stated that: “In a country where people joke that their leaders are ‘professional fraudsters playing at being politicians’, the oil job was open to abuse like no other. The ministry of Environment, or transport, was happy to skim off the conventional ten cent, but the oil ministry had the potential to catapult its boss into the realms of the fabulously rich. Fees to middlemen alone could amount to tens of millions of dollars, and to the minister himself, hundreds of millions.”

To be very specific, the author stated further that: “Dan Etete was a boisterous cannonball of a man, who ricocheted around social gatherings, glasses of champagne in one hand, silver-tipped cane in the other, recounting tall stories about his shipping business or his connection in government, promising something to everyone and everything to someone. His tailor? Yes, he’d put you in touch. The wine? Always French, he had some properties there. The silk cravat? He knew a little shop in Abuja.”

He wrote that Etete was a social whirling, an honorary chief always looking for a deal, and precisely the kind of man who, in Nigeria, is destined to enter the political arena. Revealing that Etete took a seat in the senate, representing an area right in the heart of the oil producing delta, and soon began to attract the attention of the military chiefs who ran Nigeria, not just for his giant white checked suits, but for his eagerness to take part in illicit schemes, and to keep his nose out of other people’s.

“When the big job finally came his way in 1991, it was the gift of military dictator General Sani. Dan Etete was to become oil minister.

The author narrated that an application for OPL245 landed on Etete’s desk at the oil ministry in Abuja sometime in April 1998, from a small start -up company no one had ever heard of. It was called Malabu, incorporated just days before specifically for the purpose. Malabu had no employees, no capital, no offices, just the names of three company directors on a sheet of paper. Its bid for what promised to be Nigeria’s richest oilfield was just $20 million. It was like trying to buy a Rolls Royce for the price of a hubcap”.

Dan Etete he recalled had numerous options, and might have wished to discount Malabu and its three aspirant directors without so much as an interview. But Etete knew something about the company no one else did. Within a matter of days, he had chosen Malabu for ownership of OPL245.

As can be attested to, the above celebrated or is it notorious story is still trending as i write. The matter has escalated to a level that the international police has been asked to pick up some of the suspects connected with the Malabu deal. The matter which started due to bureaucratic corruption in Abuja has seen many companies quized and litigated against in UK; France and Italy.

The bureaucratic corruption and bribery mentioned above are very much in widespread practice but amongst those supporting All Progressives Congress. It used to be Peoples Democratic party for the last 19 years until 2015 when Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress came on board after winning the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan who handed over without any fight.

Corruption and bribery in Nigeria is turn by turn. As yours faithfully was picking up this book from the bookshelf somewhere in central London last week, the news from Nigeria emerged that the Federal government has Okayed the new minimum wage for all workers.

Relatively speaking, this is good news, but at the same time, it would seem that not much will change if the decadent work ethics of the public and civil servant do not change. Nothing may change with the enforcement of the new minimum wage if widespread corruption, bribery and bottlenecks slowing down governance in Nigeria are not defeated.

Nothing may change if the retinue of challatans recruited as special assistants by political office holders and these office holders who consume over 70% of annual budgets on salaries and allowances are not made subject to the application of the new national minimum wage.

 Onwubiko  head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria. Courtesy: Daily Post.

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Fearless Judiciary, Antidote To Impunity

As soon as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the time table for the conduct of the 2019 General Elections, the various registered political parties set the machinery in motion for the conduct of Primary Election in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended).

While the conduct of primary election was smooth in many states of the federation, the story was not the same in States like Rivers and Zamfara particularly under the All Progressive Congress Party (APC) being the ruling party in Nigeria.

The APC in Rivers State was barred by the Supreme Court from participating in the 2019 Election because of its flagrant disobedience of lawful orders from a court of competent jurisdiction, the High Court of Rivers State.

In Zamfara State, like the case of Rivers State, two factions of the APC have been enmeshed in legal tussle over its primary election leading to the 2019 General Election.

While one faction claimed that the party conducted primary election on the 3rd and 7th October 2018 for the governorship, National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election, another faction said there were no primary elections conducted in Zamfara State under the APC. The courts were therefore called in to resolve the controversy.

The High Court of Zamfara State in resolving the controversy surrounding the primary election of the APC held on 25th January 2019 that the party conducted primary election in Zamfara State, and ordered INEC to accept the list of candidates submitted to it by a faction of the party.

The other faction not being satisfied with the judgment of Honourable Justice Shinkafi of the High Court of Zamfara State appealed to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal in a well-considered judgment set aside the judgment of the High Court of Zamfara State directing INEC to accept the list of candidates submitted by a faction of the APC after having found that there was flagrant breach of the Electoral Act 2010 and the Party Guidelines for the conduct of the party’s primary election.

The pronouncement of the Court of Appeal (Per Tom Shaibu Yakubu JCA) is quite instructive and revealing and I wish to quote from the judgment of the Court when it found as a fact that no primary election was conducted in Zamfara State under the All Progressives Congress Party for the 2019 General Election.

“From the provisions of paragraphs 14 and 20 of the guidelines, there is very clear emphasis on the person to be recruited for the purpose of conducting primary elections, both paragraphs placed emphasis on recruiting persons from outside the area where elections are to be conducted, the power to appoint the 7 man Committee is vested in the National Working Committee, PW1 stated in his evidence that Lawal M. Liman is the Chairman of the party in Zamfara State, he is not a member of the National Working Committee, he was not appointed by the National Working Committee to conduct primaries.

‘In the face of all these hard facts, he crafted Exhibit 6 signed and sent list of allegedly successful candidates to the Resident Electoral Commissioner Zamfara State, forwarding list of successful candidates, and the list included his name as a successful candidate, he is also one of the Respondents in this appeal.

‘I must say it loud and clear, that Lawal M. Liman the Chairman of All Progressive Congress Party in Zamfara State had no slightest power to conduct primaries and forward list of successful candidates to Independent National Electoral Commission.

‘He acted illegally against his party’s Constitution and guidelines with respect to conduct of primaries. He had no authority or slightest business conducting primary elections and forwarding list of allegedly successful candidates including his name to Independent National Electoral Commission. His action is incongruous, patently bizarre and detrimental to healthy competition in politics.

‘It is also strange that PW1 insisted that Primary elections were conducted, his stance was either founded on ignorance or a calculated design to stick to falsehood and hoodwink the lower Court. I must also add that PW1 is not a reliable witness because he has a mission and a purpose to serve. He is a candidate and a product of the purported party primaries, hence he has a stake in the purported primary election, which he tried to defend by all means, all be it very unfairly.’’

A consideration of the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, particularly sections 31 (1) and 87 (1) of the Act, may throw more light into the decision of the Court of Appeal regarding the primary election of the APC in Zanfara State. Section 31 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) provides that:

“Every political party shall not later than 60 days before the date appointed for a general election under the provisions of this Act, submit to the Commission in the prescribed forms the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections.

The above provision of the law, takes me to section 87 (1) of the same Electoral Act the section also dealing with primary elections provides as follows: 87(1). A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.

From the finding of the Court of Appeal, the provision of Sections 31 (1) and 87 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), and the All Progressive Congress Party Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for the 2019 General Elections – Direct Primaries, prescribed the mode of producing candidates for 2019 General Election.

In this instance, therefore, there is no gainsaying the fact that the procedure circumscribed by the Electoral Act, and the APC Guidelines for the conduct of primary election into the office of Governor, membership of the National and State House of Assembly must be followed for the conduct of the primary election to be valid in the eye of the law.

This is so because, the law is very clear that when a statute dictates a certain mode of doing an act, then that method and no other must be employed in the performance of the act. See Bernard Amasike V. Registrar General, Corporate Affairs Commission (2018) LPELR – 456 (SC). See also CCB Nig. Plc v. A.G. Anambra State (1992) 8 NWLR (Pt. 261) 528 at 556.

I am extremely sad that our courts are often called upon to perform the onerous and difficult task of interpreting our laws in the face of obvious impunity and flagrant disregard of extant provisions of our laws by political actors. I say I am sad because the rules for the conduct of primary election do not require a third party’s interpretation for their observance by the participants in the electoral process who are part and parcel of the making of the laws and designing the procedure.

However, the judiciary cannot shirk its sacred responsibility to the nation to maintain the rule of law. It is both in the interest of the government and all persons in Nigeria. The law therefore, should be even handed between the government and the citizens.

This is why I have no hesitation in commending the judicial boldness displayed by the Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto in the Zamfara State APC primary election when it set aside the judgment of the High Court of Zamfara State recognising the primary election that never took place from the evidence placed before the Court.

The statement must be made that the rule of law is the opposite of the rule of power. It stands for the supremacy of law over the supremacy of individual will. In this instance, I have no doubt in my mind that the Supreme Court without hesitation will affirm the sound judgment of the Court of Appeal.

The law remains the same that if an act is void, it is incurably void, and every other proceeding which is founded on it is also bad and incurably bad. For you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. It will surely collapse. This impunity and reckless disregard of our laws must stop and the antidote is a bold and fearless judiciary.

 Ogwemoh (SAN) writes from the United Kingdom

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Tribute To The Redoubtable Ogu Amazons. Amb S.M.K. Taribo

The Ogu women, under the inspirational leadership of Barr. Christianah Tamunoberetonari, Vice Chairman of Ogu/Bolo LGA, manifested the patriotic heroism implied in the foregoing quotation.

In the evening of Saturday March 9, they assembled spontaneously, and under a nonpartisan impulse or platform, to protect the mandate of the electorate as freely, peacefully and orderly expressed through the ballot papers at the just concluded Rivers State Gubernatorial and House of Assembly Elections.

They did so because a contingent of armed soldiers had invaded Ogu, Head quarters of the LGA, for the predictable purpose of hijacking the ballot materials to a destination outside the the legitimate one with a view to corrupting the results.

By then, the materials had all been gathered from the various polling units/wards, and conveyed to the LGA Secretariat for collation by the pertinent INEC officials accompanied by all the accredited agents of the contesting political parties.

In attendance were also independent observers. The unexpected arrival of the soldiers and the coercive exhibition of their illicit design triggered the instinctive mobilization of the womenfolk. They besieged the Secretariat to the end of preventing the uniformed invaders from gaining unauthorised access to both the materials and their custodians.

Unarmed, warily dressed and courteously behaved, the wailing Amazons confronted the armed intruders, chanting comic songs in vernacular and pidgeon English, pleading with the soldiers to either abandon their demonic mission or slaughter them! A video of the scene has since gone viral! It captures a soldier trying to scale the perimeter fence of the Secretariat to seize the ballot documents!         

The protestation turned into a vigil that lasted from 6pm on Saturday to the afternoon of the following Sunday. It held hostage not only the armed encroachers and the demonstrating women but the chairman of the LGA, the INEC personnel, the party monitors and agents, but some Ogu luminaries who acted as mediators. The assorted barricades and road blocks which the protesters efficiently mounted at strategic spots, hindered the entry into, and from, the vicinity of the historic encounter.

It remains the dispensation of God’s singular Grace that the confrontation ended bloodlessly even as the Guardian Spirit of Ogu radiated the virtues of caution, meekness and forbearance among the embattled trespassers. It should be recalled in this regard that earlier on, in the night of Wed.6th March, a horde of soldiers had invaded the community for the ostensible purpose of arresting youth activists of the PDP, the homes of some faithful were raided with the aid of pointers. This resulted in the abduction of two young men, namely: Nathan Opeks Iruenabere and Gift Jeremiah, and their cynical detention at Bori Cantonment, Port Harcourt. This repulsive incident occurred at the admitted behest of a rival candidate for election to the Rivers State Legislature.    

This was the pregnant atmosphere that impelled the chiefs to personally undertakIa town- crying tour round the community on Friday, 8th March after the Amanyanabo-in-Council meeting. During the tour, they warned the populace against perpetration of violence,be it provocative or retaliatory, in the course of the imminent election. They further cautioned against collusion with external elements to sabotage the regular and tranquil conduct of the exercise. They sternly reminded the citizens of the DIVINE CURSE contained in their COVENANT WITH GOD by the OATH they swear annually and publicly.

They finally re-invoked its imprecation on any violator! It is against this complex background that the exceptional heroism of the Ogu Amazons should be appreciatively applauded. By their impulsive and pacific action, they vigilantly defended, advanced and edified the honour, legendary prowess, values, integrity, prestige and indomitable will of the Ogu, aka, “the ashes of our fathers and temples of our gods”! They should be celebrated as HEROINES, and their names grafted in the Kingdom’s Pantheon!  

Equally deserving our admiration and eulogy are the agile and resilient youths: they very wisely and tactfully watched from the sides like concerned spectators; they exercised the necessary restraint and discipline in the face of vexatious intrusion! This extraordinary attitude has saved the community from the premeditated and preplanned ransacking and desolation of our renown “ fast developing home by the raiders to the sadistic delight of the schemers!          

 As for the misguided Ogu traitors and quislings that facilitated the unwarranted invasions in confederacy with frustrated and hostile outsiders, aimed at wreaking havoc on our collective psyche, comfort and peaceable existence, let them hasten to repent and beg God for pardon , lest they incur the retributive justice that is prescribed in our annual Covenant with God!

Chief Amb. Taribo-Amgbara, a retired Diplomat is a war-canoe chief of Ogu Kingdom.

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Political Lessons From The February 23 Election Bayo Onanuga

As  the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declares Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress inner of the presidential election, there had been surprises and upsets in many states as the results were announced. But not predicted was that the candidate, would return a resounding victory against PDP.

Here are some of the lessons learnt in the February 23 election:

 Social media power overrated: If elections are won on Twitter and Facebook, President Buhari would by now be writing his handover notes and be preparing to tend his cows on his farm in Daura. But the limitations of the social media platforms especially Twitter have just been exposed by the results of the election. The candidate of the PDP got more retweets, more likes for tweets by supporters on Twitter, but such preferences count for nothing in the real voting.

For information, although there are over 92 million Nigerians using the internet, not all of them are connected to the social media platforms. According to some verified statistics, about 25 million Nigerians use Facebook, with 16 million being active users. Twitter users are in several millions, representing just 8.83% of social media users. At 8.29 %, users of Pinterest are surprisingly close to users of Twitter. Instagram commands just 2.0 per cent and Facebook 78.47 per cent as at 2018.

This may explain why the orchestrated campaigns of falsehood and calumny against the APC candidate did not get much traction going into the election. As past elections had shown in Nigeria, the people who vote are the ordinary people, the peasants, petty traders, artisans who are not wired to the social media platforms. And they have spoken in favour of the candidate they believe is the greatest friend of the ‘Talakawa’.

Elite, pulpit power smashed. Those hate preachers who abused the pulpit to command their congregation to vote for the PDP have been put to shame. Elite in the north and south who believe Buhari has been ‘bad business’ and worked vigorously to dethrone him, now also know their powers are limited. The ordinary masses hold the master key to ‘people power’. Buhari, like in 2015, has overcome elite gang up and conspiracy of the churches. In Abuja, the votes recorded in Kubwa, Garki, Mbappe and some other places with a wide Christian population and civil servants against Buhari were to some extent offset by farmers living in the villages around the capital.

Politicians who put a lot of score on endorsement should know better. The Afenifere in Yorubaland and the various political groups largely failed to mobilise the votes for Buhari in the region, despite their endorsement. The results in Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo were too close to show that the people did not heed the instructions of the groups. Ohanaeze was also rebuffed to some extent in the south east states. The Northern Elders Forum of Ango Abdullahi, the Middle Belt Forum, the Arewa Consultative Forum need some reality checks about their power as opinion moulders.

  Igbo have learnt  from their one-basket political disposition in 2015. In 2019, they did not put all their eggs in one basket, as they gave Buhari more than 25 per cent in Ebonyi, Abia and Imo. Only Enugu and Anambra gave Buhari the snub as the opposition recorded a thumping victory here, 355,553 votes in Enugu to Buhari’s 54,423. Anambrans understandably gave their son Peter Obi massive support by giving Atiku 524,738 votes and Buhari 33,298.

In Lagos, however, Igbo voting pattern like suspected in 2015, unsettled their Yoruba hosts, leading to threatening inter-ethnic hostility. Yoruba believe that Igbo should always support their interests, afterall ‘When in Rome, one is expected to behave like the Romans’.

 All politics is truly local. Kwarans demonstrated this in the way they humiliated the PDP and its chief strategist, Bukola Saraki, rejecting the campaign of ‘better Nigeria’, ‘making Nigeria work again’, for home grown wild fire campaign of ‘O To ge’, which translates to “Enough is Enough’. The campaign dethroned Saraki from Kwara central senate seat and smashed the PDP into political irrelevance, with the APC recording 308,984 votes, two and a half times more than the 138,184 votes recorded by the PDP.

 In Daura, Katsina voters showed the APC senatorial candidate that he needed to settle with them as they clobbered him, by voting for the Accord Party candidate, in the same polling unit, where Buhari recorded over 700 votes to three for Atiku. In Kogi state, Dino Melaye won a return ticket to the Senate despite all the controversies he generated. He will need to thank fumbling ex-police chief, Ibrahim Idris for making him popular with his people. And in Bauchi, speaker Yakubu Dogara survived his expected political demise and won fourth term ticket in his Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal constituency.

Buhari , politician with a home base. President Buhari has proven once again that he is the Awolowo, Aminu Kano of our time, posting overwhelming victory in his home state of Katsina and other states, such as Kano, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Jigawa in the North West that he had consistently won since 2003, when he made the first bid for Nigeria’s presidency. Buhari also showed commanding presence in the North east.

Atiku failed to show such political force in his state of Adamawa that he won with a few thousand votes. Then to show how Buhari has gathered much political traction since elected in 2015, he had a strong showing in states, such as Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, with high Christian population, that Atiku thought he would have won convincingly, based on the propaganda that Buhari is anti-Christian. Buhari similarly cut inroads into South South and South East states, denying Atiku any Tsunami effect from the zones.

  Lies, falsehood do get their comeuppances

This election has proven this. Buhari in the run-up to the poll was the target of so many vicious lies and propaganda. The most reprehensible lie was that he was a clone from Sudan planted in Aso Rock. He was also painted as a hater of Christians, who allowed Boko Haram to seize a Christian girl Leah Sharibu. They accused him of promoting an Islamisation agenda and of being an ethnic bigot who favoured his region in appointments. Some even said he had finished Nigeria with foreign debts, a claim that was not supported by available facts.

  Onanuga wrote for News Agency of Nigeria.

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Postponed Elections: Concerns On Ethnic Stereotyping Prof. Adele Jinadu

We learnt that Professor Okechukwu Ibaenu, INEC National Commissioner was summoned to report to the Department of State Security (DSS) for interrogation. Others from INEC summoned with him include Chidi Nwafor, the Director of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Ken Ukeagu, Director of Procurement; Osaze Uzzi, the Director of Voter Education and Publicity and Bimbo Oladunjoye, the Assistant Director of ICT. The DSS has the responsibility to convene and interrogate anyone suspected to be a threat to national security and we do not in any way question that.

We understand that the DSS has since withdrawn the summons but we remain concerned. Our concerns stem from a web design that suddenly emerged on the social media presenting alleged linkages between the Atiku Campaign Organisation and leading civil society activists of Igbo ethnicity and Professor Ibeanu in INEC. Key civil society activists were targeted in the campaign – Olisa Agbakoba SAN, Clement Nwankwo, Sam Amadi, Innocent Chukwuma and Chidi Odinkalu. Alleged linkages were then drawn to Professor Ibeanu and Mike Ogini of INEC, Bukola Saraki in Senate and the Ballard facilitation of the Atiku trip to the United States and even Donald Trump. Within hours of the circulation of this web, a massive social media campaign with the hashtag #INECIbeanuMustGo was trending presenting Ibeanu as the Atiku Campaign mole in INEC with responsibility for scuttling last Saturday’s election and rigging the forthcoming elections.

We know Okechukwu Ibeanu to be a committed democrat who has devoted his life to the struggle for peace and democracy in Nigeria. He is a respected professor of political science and was in charge of logistics, having taken over from Amina Zakari in October 2018. Subsequently, a different ad hoc committee was set up specifically for the elections. The ad hoc committee has 17 members, and is headed by Ahmed Tijjani Mu’azu, a retired Air Vice Marshal. Making Ibeanu the fall guy for the botched elections is therefore completely wrong. INEC has collective responsibility for the failure.

There appears to be an orchestrated campaign against Okechukwu Ibeanu. His house in Enugu and his car have been broken into with valuables, including laptops and iPads, taken away. On Monday, an article written by Ibeanu in December 2015 resurfaced on the social media followed with a comment: “Nigeria has a Biafran agitator as the REC for Logistics, no wonder this unpatriotic individual, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu who has made his mission to undermine the Nigerian state.” The article in question was a rejoinder to an opinion written by Ibrahim Jibrin (“Jibo”), one of the signatories of this press release on perceptions of the Igbo Question and Biafara

Professor Ibeanu has had a distinguished academic career at home and abroad and was special rapporteur of the United Nations from 2004-2010. In 2016, he was appointed INEC national commissioner representing the south-east. He was the Chief Technical Officer to Professor Attahiru Jega, the INEC Chairman between 2010 and 2015 and contributed enormously to the success of the 2011 and 2015 elections.

We have the following concerns:

1) There are too many conspiracy theories in circulation and a great deal of mudslinging in the campaigns. In addition, the campaign has been characterized by strong ethno-religious mobilization on all sides, which can be harmful to nation building.

2) This is a clearly orchestrated campaign to smear the names of these people, most of whom have devoted their lives to the struggle against military rule and for democracy for the past three to four decades.

3) The said campaign is divisive and is geared to smear an ethnic group and present them as enemies of democracy and free and fair elections.

4) The smear campaign can only do harm to the difficult process of consolidation of Nigerian democracy.

We therefore appeal to all stakeholders to desist from pursuing campaigns of calumny against any group, and to instead, focus on ensuring that the elections hold in a spirit of nation building that would allow the winners of the elections carry forward the Nigerian national project. Let us all work with INEC and all other authorities involved in the electoral process to re-build trust, and to ensure that there is peace and concord before, during and after the elections.

A press statement by Prof. Adele Jinadu, Femi Falana and other leaders of civil society and democracy groups.

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Apple Watch review: price drop makes Apple’s smartwatch more affordable

7.6tech score

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A Week With The New MacBook: Living The Good Experience Life

8.5tech score

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