The Ogun State chapter of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is in the news again for the wrong reason. This time, it is about the hoopla surrounding the illegal signing of documents formalising the sharing of public positions between the governorship candidate of the party in the coming 2023 general elections, Hon. Oladipupo Olatunde Adebutu, and his running mate, Hon. AbdulKabir Akinlade.
The deal, which ostensibly depicts desperation for power, has since thrown the conventional and social media platforms into frenzied reactions. Without giving a hoot to the state of the common patrimony, the leaked document exposed how the two candidates had callously and irresponsibly appropriated almost everything belonging to the people even when they were not sure of winning the election.
At a time of institutional meltdown like this, anything can happen especially in a party that has an uncanny capacity for irrationalities. We have all watched with disdain the distasteful disagreement among the key stakeholders in the party at the centre over the power-sharing, and very lately too, the shocking revelation of corruption which is now weighing heavily on the neck of its National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu. Like a gargantuan purulent sore or festering corpse abandoned by close relations, the PDP has become a public health hazard in Nigeria. And no doctor can heal it because its foundation is built on the principles and ideology of looting. A party founded on the tradition of sharing and looting can never survive an ideal politics of good governance.
By being unable to put its house in order, by playing politics with its own constitution, the PDP at all levels has shown itself as a party that cannot be trusted with power. They had done it before; they failed to meet the aspiration of the people. When it became clear to them that they could not survive the removal of the feeding bottle from their mouths, they practically went down on their knees begging the people for forgiveness.
Even at that, it has now become obvious from the unfolding drama that no lesson has been learned. Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, in a moment of eccentricity, had cautioned the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, on the consequences of taking the people for granted for too long, urging the party hierarchy to return to the path of justice. But, as they say, when a crisis has reached a stage of self-destruction, the brain ceases to work.
The PDP in Ogun State is at a stage of self-annihilation by watching its standard bearers condescending to a ridiculous level of concocting and signing an illegal document on how to share the commonwealth of the people in broad daylight. One thing they have failed to realise is that Ogun State is no longer a place for political charlatans. In the last three and a half years of the present administration, Governor Dapo Abiodun has practically and successfully laid a benchmark for good governance.
The least one would have expected from a party that is angling to take over the reign of power from the incumbent governor is a programme of action that is not only unbeatable but also implementable. That way, the electorate would be able to weigh the better option. But unfortunately, that was not the thinking of the state compradors when they sat down to concoct the document that has now thrown spanners in the wheel of their progress. No blueprint on the socio-economic problems, infrastructural development, healthcare delivery system, insecurity, education as well as other myriads of challenges confronting the state in a period of global economic meltdown. All they care about is winning the election by default. Need they be told that Ogun State with its sophistry, educated and enlightened citizenry has gone far beyond that level of pettiness?
Thanks to the eagle eyes of the Whistleblowers who alerted the people of the evil plot even before it was hatched. Never again will the state fall back into the abyss of the immediate past era of impunity and executive recklessness when things were done without recourse to the people’s feelings, emotions, and sensibility.
Eyes are now open more than ever before. Therefore, there can be no more room for any form of arbitrariness, greed, or avarice. With campaign activities now effectively on, what the electorate will want to see in the candidates who would be going round every nook and cranny of the state canvassing for votes is their antecedent and what they are bringing to the table for the good governance of the state; after all, periodic election and the ultimate power transition is to ensure responsible and accountable governance. Accountability is a key requirement of good governance as a fulcrum of democracy. Good governance is the process of measuring how elected office holders conduct public affairs and manage public resources and guarantee the realization of human rights in a manner essentially free of abuse and corruption and with due regard for the rule of law. In its wider scope, good governance includes identifying a vision, developing a strategy, selecting and supporting leadership to deliver that strategy, assurance that progress is being made, stewardship of resources, and the guardianship of quality and safety-all done to the highest standards of probity and transparency.
For us in Ogun State, the ideology of godfatherism is no longer fashionable. So also the idea of surrogacy by those who want to control the levers of power has irretrievably crumbled. It is an open secret that the immediate past Governor Ibikunle Amosun is privy to some of the underhand dealings involving Akinlade and his cohorts in their desperation for power. While playing the ostrich, masquerading as a dedicated supporter of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at the same time, he deploys some of his surrogates to the opposition party to undermine the re-election bid of Governor Abiodun. But in doing so, Akinlade took his desperation for power a notch higher, signing a deal for sharing the proverbial national cake he had never been a part of its baking in the first balance. For most stakeholders in the state, that was the highest level of disingenuous. Yes, queer and strange, indeed.
In a quick rebuttal of his alleged involvement in the shady deals signed by Senator Ibikunle Amosun (SIA) Media Office to ward off the shame and embarrassment it has caused, Amosun exonerated himself, saying the report linking him to the PDP was aimed at discrediting his hard-earned reputation.
His words: “The attention of Senator Ibikunle Amosun has been drawn to media reports, claiming that he has entered into a political deal with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State and Hon Oladipo Adebutu.
“We wish to state that the report is false and malicious. Senator Amosun has no agreement with either Hon Oladipo Adebutu or the PDP in Ogun State.
“This story is nothing more than mischief to mislead the public and discredit the hard-earned reputation of the former governor of Ogun State.
“We have stated before and wish to state once again, categorically, without any fear of contradiction that, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has nothing to do with the PDP in Ogun State. And he is not a party to any alliance formed with anyone or group of persons in the party.”
The rest is left to the members of the public to discern the truth and genuineness of the disclaimer knowing the intrigues that culminated in the exit of Akinlade from the APC.
With or without his involvement in the illegal power-sharing deals, the desperate ambition by Adebutu and Akinlade to govern the state by default has already run a full circle with Tuesday’s (September 27) judgement of the Federal High Court in Abeokuta which nullified all Ogun PDP held on the 25th of May, 2022.
Hon. Justice O.O Oguntoyinbo, Tuesday, who delivered the judgment, ordered that the party should immediately conduct of fresh governorship primaries within 14 days using the INEC-certified delegates list to accommodate all interests/groups. It also barred the electoral umpire from recognizing Ladi Adebutu as Ogun state PDP governorship candidate for the coming 2023 general elections.
By this judgment, Otunba Jimi Adebisi Lawal (JAL) has won but the PDP is in a dilemma. The State Chairman of the party, Hon. Sikirulah Ogundele, in his reaction to the court’s verdicts, said the party would study all the judgments and take the appropriate line of action based on the advice of its legal team.
Whichever way the pendulum eventually swings, the fact is that Adebutu and Akinlade have by their action inadvertently cast a tragic pall over the capacity of the PDP to deliver on its promise to provide good governance. And it speaks to the imperative of the need by the electorate to scrutinize candidates who will be parading the streets to seek their votes. It suffices to say that a party that flouts its internal rules of engagement cannot be trusted with power.
It is not by mere coincidence that the PDP at the state and national level has been so enmeshed in the battle of wits. From the outset, it was never conceived as a genuine political party with the interest of the masses. It was created to serve the interest of a few power mongers. And until those who control the levers of power return to the principles of service and fairness to all, peace will remain ever elusive to the party.
As earlier posited, a party that is founded on the principles and ideology of looting can never survive a genuine test of integrity, which is why the ambition of Adebutu and Akinlade to govern the state has hit the rock. The same fate also awaits any other candidate angling to take over the reign of power from the incumbent Governor Abiodun with the sole aim of appropriating what belongs to the state’s people.
By playing intrigues over the sharing of public positions even when the election has not been won, Adebutu and Akinlade have wittingly or wittingly pitched themselves against the collective aspiration of the people for the rapid socio-economic and industrial transformation of the current government in Ogun State, which has been the main preoccupation of the administration of Governor Abiodun since its inception. Without necessarily gloating over the fate that has befallen the party and its flag bearer, the judgment denotes the triumph of light over darkness.
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Questions and concerns over Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s absence from the Nigerian public space, which has trended on Twitter for days on end, are not misplaced or ill-willed gotcha maneuvers by political detractors. They are legitimate expressions of anxieties over the fitness of a man who has the most probable chance to be Nigeria’s president in 2023.
Forget what flawed, poorly designed—and, in some cases, transparently partisan—polls say about the 2023 presidential election. The auguries, for now, favour a Tinubu win next year. Atiku Abubakar and the PDP are mired in an irrecoverably debilitating internal turmoil, and Peter Obi’s wild popularity in the Southeast, the South-South, and some parts of the Christian North is not sufficient to win a presidential election—unless it transcends these regions and leads to actual votes in his favor.
So, heightened apprehensions over Tinubu’s disappearance from public view—and at events where his presence is required— aren’t the idle, bilious indulgences of his haters that his defenders might say they are. They sprout from an acknowledgement that he could be president who will decide the destinies of 200 million Nigerians.
Tinubu was the only presidential candidate who failed to show up in person when presidential candidates of Nigeria’s 18 registered political parties met on Thursday to sign an accord that commits them to a peaceful campaign in the 2023 presidential election. That event was too momentous to miss. Why did Tinubu miss it? What was more important than it, and where is he?
A member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council by the name of Ayo Oyalowo told Arise TV’s Charles Aniagolu that Tinubu is resting in London. “What’s he doing in London? He can’t rest in Lagos,” Oyalowo said. “They will not let him rest. So, he came [sic] into Abuja most of the time. They will still not let him rest. This man has been working for an average of 20 hours in 24 hours in each day. So reasonable people thought, ‘Oga, you need to leave this country because they will not let you rest.’”
This is a curious defense of Tinubu’s self-engineered blackout from public view. Even if it’s true that he needed to take a break from the high-pressure exertions of political campaigns, why did he choose to leave the country on or shortly before an event as important as the signing of a peace accord among presidential candidate, a yearly ritual since 2015 that attracts international media attention? Isn’t that a self-own?
Most importantly, though, if he becomes president, he would be under even more ponderous pressure than he is as a presidential candidate. Is Oyalowo suggesting that a President Tinubu would relocate the Nigerian presidency to London to evade or minimize the perpetual pressures of the presidency? Which self-respecting patriot who wants to rule his country runs away from it to another country (and a former colonizer’s country, to boot) in moments of pressure? Where else in the world does that happen outside of banana republics?
And why London? Why not, for example, Obudu Ranch in Cross River State or the Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State? Or the hills of Iragbiji in Osun State? These are serene, idyllic places in Nigeria whose quietude can restore inner psychic equilibrium and calm frayed nerves. Why do the people who rule or want to rule Nigeria have such deep-seated resentment of and disdain for the country and a corresponding slavish reverence for our former colonizer?
In this, Tinubu is not alone. Even Peter Obi who markets himself, and is touted by his supporters, as “different” from the rest routinely travels to London to “consult” and strategize for the 2023 election—when he is not seeking the endorsement of the same failed old stagers he says he’s different from. He is an Establishment, neocolonial flunkey dressed in borrowed robes. Atiku Abubakar is no different. He is gripped by the same xenophilic fever that causes our leaders to worship the foreign and despise the nation they want to rule. Dubai is his second—some would say first—home.
But Tinubu is the front runner and the likeliest, for now, to succeed Buhari, far and away Nigeria’s most neocolonial president who finds more comfort in London than he does in Abuja and who has abandoned all pretenses to governance.
In a September 16, 2017 column, I described Buhari as suffering from “Obsessive Compulsive Runawayism,” which I defined as the impulse to desert Nigeria for London, or anywhere else in the West, when the going gets tough, which Tinubu appears to be afflicted by, too.
“This is a president who will leave Nigeria for anywhere at the drop of a hat,” I wrote. “He spent most of 2015 and 2016 traveling the world (for no justifiable reason, in retrospect) and a good bit of  on ‘medical vacation’ in London. So, when he said (or, if you will, joked) that he felt like ‘absconding’ after the enormity of the task he was elected to do stared him in the face, he wasn’t being faithful to the facts. He actually did abscond.” It got even worse after the column was published.
The worries and queries about Tinubu’s frequent habitation in London when he is needed in Nigeria are a direct consequence of our experience with Buhari who has elevated absenteeism, nonchalance, and “ungovernance” to an art. Nigeria’s problems are too enormous to be additionally burdened with another absent, detached, inelegantly insouciant presidency, which Tinubu’s current attitudes suggest we will have should he become president.
Tinubu and his minders need to come clean about the state of his health. If they insist that he is as fit as a fiddle, they need to tell us why he has been uncommunicative in the last few months. Communication with the public is a core feature of the American-style presidential democracy we practice in Nigeria. It is public communication that affords the president the opportunity to influence public opinion, to interface with citizens, and to frame and reframe the contours of national conversations.
That is why we now talk of the “rhetorical presidency,” where the goal of presidential communication is no longer to just persuade lawmakers (which is unnecessary in Nigeria since National Assembly members are often pliant yes-men and yes-women) but to win the popular approval of the public. What sort of presidency does Tinubu want to have if he becomes president? A continuation of Buhari? Well, he may not be as lucky as Buhari has been.
After eight years of Buhari’s vacant, dementia-plagued presidency, the last thing Nigeria needs is another presidency that will double down on it, that would be conducted through dishonest press releases by presidential spokespersons, paid social media troll farms, and TV appearances by deviously mercenary mind managers.
Fellow Nigerians, I address you today, with a deep sense of gratitude to God and a high level of appreciation to all Nigerians whose tremendous goodwill gave me the opportunity to provide leadership for our great country at one of the trying times in her history.
Conscious that today’s address would be my last on an Independence Day as your President; I speak to the millions of Nigerians, who believed in me, propelled and stood by me in my quest to bequeath a country where all citizens have equal opportunities to achieve their lives desires in a peaceful atmosphere.
I am honoured to say that my story in the annals of Nigeria’s history is no household secret. My various attempts, failures and eventual success in being elected as a Democratic President in 2015 was made possible by the majority of Nigerians.
When you elected me, I readily acknowledged that the tasks before me were daunting but surmountable because of the growing national consensus that our chosen route to national development was democracy.
This democracy was to be anchored on a clear understanding, application and the principles of separation of powers supported by a reformed public service that is more effective.
I then pledged to Improve the Economy, Tackle Corruption and Fight Insecurity and this was further strengthened by my commitment to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years as the central plank of my second term in 2019.
To the Glory of God and His Grace as well as the commitment and passion displayed by many Nigerian supporters, we have made appreciable progress in these areas but not yet at our destination.
Mindful of the task before us, we took some time in settling down and we re-positioned the economy by providing strategic interventions in core areas at both the federal and sub-national levels.
One of the areas where we have made significant progress is in the eradication of deeply entrenched corruption that permeates all facets of our national development.
We strengthened the institutions for tackling corruption and also cultivated international support, which aided the repatriation of huge sums of money illegally kept outside the country.
The increasing number of prosecutions and convictions, with associated refunds of large sums of money is still ongoing. Furthermore, we would continue to block opportunities that encourage corrupt practices.
In order to address insecurity, we worked methodically in reducing Insurgency in the North East, Militancy in the Niger Delta, Ethnic and Religious Tensions in some sections of Nigeria along with other problems threatening our country.
Our efforts in re-setting the economy manifested in Nigeria exiting two economic recessions by the very practical and realistic monetary and fiscal measures to ensure effective public financial management. In addition, the effective implementation of the Treasury Single Account and cutting down on the cost of governance also facilitated early exits from recessions.
Fellow Nigerians, this administration removed several decades uncertainty for potential investors in the Oil & Gas sector with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021. This landmark legislation created opportunities for foreign investments in addition to improving transparency in the management of the sector.
Our administration has given the desired priority to the Agricultural Sector through a series of incentives to Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises that resulted in creating millions of jobs. Leading this initiative, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s intervention in a number of areas as well as the Anchor Borrowers Programme had created the required leverages for Nigerians towards self-sufficiency in food and the necessary attraction for farming as a business.
The growing contribution of non-oil exports, especially in agriculture, information and communication technology as well as the performing arts to our national economy will enhance our foreign exchange earning capacity.
We are confronting current economic challenges such as debt burden, growing inflation, living standards and increasing unemployment accentuated by our growing youthful population. These problems are globally induced and we would continue to ensure that their negative effects are addressed in our policies.
This administration will continue to ensure that our fiscal policies are supported by a robust and contemporary monetary policy that recognises our peculiarities in the midst of the growing global economic difficulties.
This is evidenced by the recent Monetary Policy Committee decision to maintain all parameters, especially interest rates and marginally increased the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) from 14 per cent to 15.5 per cent and the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) from 27.5 per cent to 32.5 per cent. It is projected that this would further insulate our economy from over exposure to uncertainties at the international market by restraining growth in core inflation.
As we continue to de-escalate the security challenges that confronted us at inception of this administration, newer forms alien to our country began to manifest especially in the areas of kidnappings, molestations/killings of innocent citizens, banditry, all of which are being addressed by our security forces.
I share the pains Nigerians are going through and I assure you that your resilience and patience would not be in vain as this administration continues to reposition as well as strengthen the security agencies to enable them to deal with all forms of security challenges.
At the inception of this administration in 2015, I provided the funding requirements of the security agencies which was also improved in my second tenure in 2019 to enable them to surmount security challenges. We will continue on this path until our efforts yield the desired results.
As we put in place all measures to ensure that Nigeria takes her place in the Comity of Nations, we recognise the importance of a well-educated populace as a panacea to most of the challenges we face.
We have, therefore, pursued policies and implemented programmes designed to create a literate and proficient society that ensures that citizens are availed with opportunities for life-long achievements.
I must confess that I am very pained by the recurring disruption to our tertiary education system and I am using this Independence Day celebration to re-iterate my call for the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to return to the classroom while assuring them to deal with their contending issues within the limits of the scarce resources available. This administration has made appreciable progress in redressing these issues that have been lingering for over eleven years.
The Federal Government will continue to mobilise resources both internationally and nationally towards funding education to ensure that our citizens are well educated and skilled in various vocations in view of the fact that education is a leading determinant of economic growth and employment generation.
Fellow Nigerians, we have also improved our health facilities, especially during and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which attracted commendation of the global community.
As you are aware, Nigeria was one of the countries that defied global predictions of the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic because of our resilience, commitment and passion with which we individually and collectively managed the pandemic.
This administration embarked on addressing critical ecological challenges across the country in order to mitigate the impact of Climate Change manifesting in the form of flood, soil erosion, desertification, air pollution amongst others
We will continue to ensure that our infrastructure drive remains the key to Nigeria’s economic growth and for which every Nigerian will feel the impact.
The Federal Government is already expanding ports operations to ensure that they provide opportunities for the growth of the Nigerian economy.
We have also continued to accelerate our infrastructure development through serviceable and transparent borrowing, improved capital inflow & increased revenue generation by expanding the tax bases and prudent management of investment proceeds in the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
To further open up our communities to economic activities, we have continued to boost our railway infrastructure with the completion of a good number of critical railways and at the same time rehabilitating as well as upgrading obsolete equipment.
I am pleased to inform my fellow citizens that besides our emphasis on infrastructural development with its attendant opportunities for job creation, employment generation and subsequent poverty reduction, our focused intervention directly to Nigerians through the National Social Investment Programme is also yielding benefits.
There is hardly any ward, village or local government in Nigeria today that has not benefited from one of the following: N-Power, trader-moni, market moni, subsidized loans, business grants or Conditional Cash Transfers.
All the aforementioned programmes along with various interventions by the National Social Investment programme, direct support to victims of flooding and other forms of disasters have provided succor to the affected Nigerians.
Fellow Nigerians, no matter what gains we make, without a good governance system anchored on electing credible leaders on the basis of free, fair, credible and transparent elections, our efforts would not be enough.
It is for this reason that I have resolved to bequeath a sustainable democratic culture, which will remain lasting. The signing of the Electoral Act 2021 as amended with landmark provisions further assures us of a more transparent and inclusive Electoral Process.
Having witnessed at close quarters, the pains, anguish and disappointment of being a victim of an unfair electoral process, the pursuit of an electoral system and processes that guarantee election of leaders by citizens remains the guiding light as I prepare to wind down our administration.
You would all agree that the recent elections in the past two years in some states (notably Anambra, Ekiti and Osun) and a few federal constituencies have shown a high degree of credibility, transparency and freedom of choice with the people’s votes actually counting. This I promise would be improved upon as we move towards the 2023 General Elections.
As we begin the transition process to another democratically elected government, I want to implore all aspirants to conduct issues-based campaigns devoid of hate speeches as well as other negative and divisive tendencies.
I also want to express my wish that we see more female and youth participation in the forth-coming electoral cycle. I am sure that our teeming and energetic youths now realise that violence generally mar elections and so should desist from being used by politicians for this purpose.
Reforms in the public sector are already yielding results especially in the delivery of services. On this note, I urge the general public to demand for citizen-centred services from the relevant authorities.
On the international front, we have continued to take advantage of our bilateral and multilateral platforms to explore cooperation with friendly countries and partners whenever these areas of cooperation are to the advantage of Nigeria.
Fellow Nigerians, in the past few years we have witnessed and overcome a good number of challenges that would ordinarily have destroyed our Nation. However, the indefatigable spirit of the Nigerian people has ensured that we overcome our challenges.
It is in this spirit that I call on all of us to individually and collectively bring to the fore in dealing with all our development issues.
I was called to serve, along with my team, I saw an opportunity to create a better Nigeria which we have done with the support of Nigerians. Almighty God and the good people of Nigeria supported us in laying a solid foundation for the Nigeria of our dreams.
I thank you all and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
As Nigeria celebrates her 62nd Independence anniversary, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has promised to eschew violence, recourse to divisive, incendiary politics.
He disclosed that he and his running mate, Kashim Shettima, have equally resolved to commit to a prosperous, violence-free, and democracy-filled Nigeria.
In a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen, the former Lagos State governor said that Nigerian Independence provides the opportunity for stock-taking of how far Nigeria has come as a nation and how far it must go to achieve a better nation.
“As the nation heads toward the coming election, may we all eschew violence and recourse to divisive, incendiary politics that pull against the fabric of national unity and concord.
“My running mate, party and I stand committed to a prosperous, violence-free, and democracy-filled Nigeria. I ask you all to do the same. Only by so doing, shall we honour the sacrifices and devotion of our nation’s founders,” he quipped.
On the Independence, Asiwaju said: “This anniversary offers us the opportunity to take stock of how far we have come as a nation and how far we must go to achieve a better nation. Let us commit ourselves to Nigeria’s unity as well as to our collective improvement.”
He also preached the language of unity, noting: “we must see each other as brothers and sisters regardless of our ethnic, religious or regional diversity. In seeking national improvement, we must join hands in growing the economy, creating jobs, feeding the hungry, educating our youth, caring for the sick and protecting our people and their way of life from evil and misguided foes who seek to destroy all that is good.
“Today, let us thank President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration for their patriotic efforts in the service of the nation. We give utmost thanks to the committed service of the brave members of our armed forces, security and law enforcement agencies, some of whom have given their very lives in defence of our freedom against terrorism and violent extremism.
“We thank all who have dedicated their lives to public service and to the belief that this nation can be made great. We thank each and every law-abiding citizen of our great nation who dedicate their lives in the hope that Nigeria will better and more united.
“Today, I speak not of politics but patriotism. The time for politics will come soon enough. But the time for and demand of patriotism never fade.
“May we all seek the best for Nigeria regardless of partisan affiliation and may we never undermine the national purpose in pursuit of narrow gain,” he noted in the statement.
Decades ago, I remember reading a piece by a writer lamenting the sudden but astronomical shooting up in the price of “garri”, which used to be the staple food of poor and down-trodden Nigerians. For reasons which need not detain us here, “garri” shrugged off its beggarly position in the hierarchy of staple foods and began to rub shoulders with the likes of rice, beans and yam flour. So, the writer, alarmed at what he described as the effrontery of garri and its audacity to join the league of the elites, screamed: “See me, see garri!” Unruffled, “garri” has not looked back ever since! On the contrary, it has been helped by the lacklustre and wanton-destroyer Muhammadu Buhari administration to firmly book its place amongst the elite club of foodstuffs in Nigeria. Since the coming of Buhari, no staple foodstuff has been cheap again in Nigeria. The steep devaluation of the Naira, leading to its dwindling purchasing power – and this coupled with receding opportunities on all fronts – has meant that every essential commodity has become priced beyond the reach of most Nigerians. Bread, which used to come to the rescue as ready-made food for the commoner, now attracts a princely price. It is the rich and affluent who eat bread these days! For Buhari to think, in the midst of all of these, that he has done well, is mind-boggling, to say the least.
Does the president live in this country? Is he aware of happenings around him or is he like Rome’s King Nero? And so did Nero fiddle while his country was on fire! Of all the issues confronting this country and sending it to an early and untimely grave, as it were, it is “ponmon” that the Buhari administration is flexing muscles over! Insecurity is there; inflation or stagflation is there; unemployment is there; ASUU strike is there; derelict infrastructure is there; crude oil theft is there; humongous oil subsidy scam is there; high cost of living is there; soaring cost of foodstuffs is there; skyrocketing house rent is there; crushing indebtedness is there; and crippling transportation cost is also there – despite all of these, ponmon lo kan, if we may borrow the expression, which has now become a cliche, from the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu!
The Buhari administration is said to be proposing a law to ban the consumption of “ponmon”! For a very long time, beef and other forms of meat have wriggled out of the reach of the common man; following suit, fish has zoomed past the common man; and taking a cue from these two, frozen chicken has said the common man must not mention its name again! Egg, at between N2200 and N2500 per crate of 30 eggs, has joined the bandwagon to say bye-bye to the common man! “Ponmon”, the last hope of the common man, is now under siege! From whence, then, will the common man source his animal protein when all available doors appear shut in his face? And it is not as if “ponmon” at all comes cheap these days anyway; it is just that it is still a shade more affordable than the other sources of protein or a semblance of the same. We have even been told that “ponmon” has no nutritional value but it confers a semblance of respectability to have a form of “meat” perch gingerly on your food or sit pretty in your soup or stew!
In the South, the South-west especially, “ponmon” has also attracted the status of a delicacy; so banning it will attract similar opprobrium as banning stockfish (Okporoko) and fairly used wears (Okrika) in the South-east. Remember, promising to ban these items for being injurious to the people’s health and well-being were some of the “sins” the Igbo refused to forgive Chief Obafemi Awolowo for! So, if the proposed ban on “ponmon” flies everywhere, I am sure it will fail spectacularly in the South-west whose trade mark “owambe” parties will be incomplete without the delectable “gbegiri”, “egusi”, “efo riro”, “ila asepo” soups garnished with “orisirisi” and “ponmon kika”! Let no Buhari dare us!
One conspiracy theory says the focus on “ponmon” or hides and skins is another smart plot to divert the country’s resources in the direction of the North that produces the hides and skins in the same manner the Raw Materials Research Council has done with “Kilishi” while serious issues are left unattended to by the Northerners/Muslims and, possibly, Fulani, who head these organisations and the Buhari presidency. Each day and with each policy, these folks give us additional reasons to scream “To your tents, O Israel!”
*Buhari’s one country, two systems*
Ondo State’s Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu has, once again, hit the nail on the head with his exposure of the nepotistic tendencies of President Buhari who favours his own core and Muslim North in every respect but treats the other parts of the country, especially the South, as orphans or, better still, as second class citizens.
Titled “We believe in one Nigeria but we cannot have one country, two systems”, Akeredolu was reported as saying: “The video making the rounds showing the equivalent of the Western Nigeria Security Network (Amotekun Corps) in Katsina obtaining the approval of the Federal Government to bear arms is fraught with great dangers. Denying Amotekun the urgently needed rights to legitimately bear arms is a repudiation of the basis of true federalism which we have been clamouring for. That Katsina was able to arm its state security force with the display of AK47 means we are pursuing one country, two systems solution to the national question. If the Katsina situation confers advantages on some, in the face of commonly faced existential threats, it means that our unitary policing system, which has failed, is a deliberate method of subjugation, which must be challenged. The Independence agreement was based on a democratic arrangement to have a Federal, State and devolved internal security mechanism. We must go back to that agreement. Denying Amotekun the right to bear arms exposes the Southwest to life-threatening marauders and organized crime. It is also a deliberate destruction of our agricultural sector. It is an existential threat. We want to reiterate that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The Ondo State government, under the doctrine of necessity, has decided to fulfil its legal, constitutional and moral duty to the citizens of the State by acquiring arms to protect them. This is, more so, given that the bandits have unchecked access to sophisticated weapons. The State government cannot look on while its citizens are being terrorized and murdered with impunity. We will defend our people”.
The statement, succinct and poignant, was personally signed by the governor; possibly to show the importance he attached to it. It is good that the impunity and audacity of the conservative North have become as clear as daylight for some of our people to see. Unfortunately, not all of them have seen the light yet. Many still wallow in their self-inflicted darkness because of selfish interests which, ultimately, will become their Nemesis. It is a good thing, however, that a few of our leaders are being forced to speak out now that the rascality of Northern leaders has got them choked to the throat.
Nevertheless, they kept it too late and have been too timid in their response. Femi Falana, SAN, has advocated ad infinitum and ad nauseam that the state governors challenge the excesses of the Federal Government in the law court. That is one legacy no one can take away from Bola Ahmed Tinubu. When he was the governor of Lagos state, Tinubu incessantly challenged the excesses of the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency and won severally, helping to extend the frontiers of democracy and deepen the tenets of true federalism. After him, no other governor has been as audacious, brave, courageous, and focused. If Akeredolu will now fill the void in the interest of all, he has my support.
*FG/ASUU tango: Escalating or de-escalating the crisis?*
The Buhari administration dragged ASUU to the National Industrial Court after eight months of strike action by the university lecturers who have now been ordered by the court to go back to the classroom. The government said on the heels of that judgment, it would soon direct the universities to reopen. ASUU, however, has vowed to appeal the NIC judgment – and had since proceeded to the appeal court. I dare to say that rather than taw, the ice has hardened. Rather than de-escalate, the crisis has escalated. Bragging rights have entered into the fray. Honour and foolish pride, to quote the Jamaican reggae music artiste, Jimmy Cliff, are now at stake more than ever before.
As ASUU goes on appeal, the matter can drag up to the apex court. And knowing the way the wheels of justice grinds with snail’s speed here, this matter may last till this government leaves office. Is that the intention? Again, some conspiracy theorists say the goal of some cabals in the Buhari administration is to so give this government a bad name that the people will vote it out in 2023 so that, hopefully, the candidate of its liking – Atiku Abubakar, a fellow Northerner, Muslim and Fulani – will stand a chance of being voted into office. Otherwise, why should a government winding up and getting closer to election year behave the way this government is doing?
It is only in the South that the politically naive speak of political parties or party programmes and policies. Preoccupation with merit and ideals are only for Southerners whereas selfish and clannish interests rule the waves in the North. What the North’s political establishment follows is: Who is our man? Who will hold power in trust for us? Who will best serve our parochial interests? Who will give us the advantage over the South? Hence, Tambuwal will stab his old Comrade and helper, Wike, in the back in the interest of the conservative North. There are no principles, ideology or morality involved. Otherwise, why has it become rocket science for the North’s political establishment, suddenly trooping into Atiku’s PDP, to understand and accept the simple logic of Wike’s demand for inclusivity and a restructured party? They seek none of the ideals the South fusses about but are fixated on a continuation of Buhari’s naked and arrogant promotion of the Fulani/core Northern interests and the continued subjugation of the South. Destroying education, which is the South’s industry, appears as one of their goals. Did Boko Haram not say that Western education is poison?
Now, if you force the horse to the river, can you force it to drink? If the lecturers are forced to resume, can they be forced to teach? When you ask students to resume and they congregate on campus without being taught, is that not a sure recipe for disaster? Bad as it is, the students being scattered abroad, as they are now, but under the watchful eyes of their parents, is better and safer than asking them to resume and congregate on campus and are not taught. Idle hand, they say, is the devil’s workshop.
If the Buhari administration orders the universities reopened without any solid assurance that the lecturers will immediately resume their teaching job, then, know, for certainty, that the government has an evil intention up its sleeves!
There is a saying that the bigger the head, the bigger the headache! Between Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and his counterpart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, whose head or headache is bigger? Tinubu has been many things that Atiku has not been. Tinubu has been a pro-democracy activist; Atiku has not. Tinubu has been a senator of the Federal Republic; Atiku has not. Tinubu has been driven into political exile in his fight to see to the end of military dictatorship and the return of the country to democratic governance; Atiku has not. Tinubu has been a two-term state governor; Atiku has not. The nearest Atiku got to it was that he won election to be governor of Adamawa state in 1999 as the country made a return to democratic rule but was immediately nominated by former military dictator and presidential candidate of the PDP, retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, as running mate. Obasanjo and Atiku went on to be declared winner of the 1999 presidential election, as a result of which Atiku became the country’s vice president. Although he won election as governor, Atiku was not opportune to be governor for even a minute. So, no one can say what kind of governor Atiku would have made. His running mate, Boni Haruna, was the lucky man who became governor in his place.
Tinubu and Atiku have both been recurring decimals in the politics of the country since military dictators Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) and Gen. Sani Abacha broached the idea of a return to democratic rule in the late 1980s, although IBB kept shifting the goalpost. As politicians, the two men climbed on the shoulders of godfathers to reach a position of stardom. Atiku was helped by Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who was Obasanjo’s Number Two man as military Head of State, and his political machinery. Tinubu, on the other hand, was helped by the Afenifere political machinery. So were the words of Isaac Newton fulfilled, to wit: ”If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” The two men later became giants in their own rights on whose shoulders others began to perch.
Tinubu will be remembered, for good and for bad, for his two-term tenure as governor of Lagos state. While his contribution to the infrastructural development of Lagos is subject to debate when the resources at his disposal are placed side-by-side his achievements, no one can deny that he established a governance template for the state that has survived to this day. His phenomenal increase of internally generated revenue (IGR) such that the state withstood and survived the onslaught on it by President Obasanjo must be saluted. Obasanjo seized the federal allocations to the local governments in the state as a result of Tinubu’s creation of additional local governments in the state. The fair and just action expected of Obasanjo was for him to have supported Tinubu’s action rather than pillory him for it; punish the entire state; and disobey court orders ruling his action as illegal. No other state in Nigeria would have survived that onslaught but Lagos under Tinubu did. It is doubtful if any other governor could have demonstrated such bravado but Tinubu did.
Of the Class of 1999, so to say, Tinubu is the last man standing, as it were. He is the only governor of his set of 1999 – 2007 that is still politically active and relevant at the highest level He remains the only godfather still installing and removing governors and other political office holders at will. For good and for bad, he has maintained a vice-like grip on Lagos. Some may lambast him for this but, truth be told, not a few would love to be able to do in their own domain what Tinubu has been able to achieve in Lagos. Since he left office in 2007, we can count three other successive governors that he has installed: Babatunde Raji Fashola, 2007 – 2015; Akinwunmi Ambode, 2015 – 2019; and the incumbent, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, 2019 to date. Tinubu’s political tentacles also extend outside Lagos to the entire South-west region where he is known to have installed governors or helped the governorship ambition of others, be it Adams Oshiomhole in Edo; Olusegun Mimiko and Rotimi Akeredolu in Ondo; Kayode Fayemi and the governor-elect, Biodun Ayobami Oyebanji in Ekiti; Rauf Aregbesola and Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola in Osun; Isiaka Ajimobi in Oyo; and Ibikunle Amosun in Ogun state, etc. There are other political office holders at executive and legislative levels that owe their rise to Tinubu’s political sagacity.
As a politician of immense stature, Atiku, too, must have helped many politicians within his own sphere of influence; otherwise, it would have been practically impossible for him to have been a recurring decimal in the country’s politics in the past two or so decades. My conclusion, however, is that Tinubu has done more than Atiku in this respect. Not being allowed to govern as a state governor robbed Atiku of the opportunity that Tinubu had. Besides, Atiku’s tenure as vice president was mired in controversy as he was accused of vaulting ambition, treachery, and disloyalty by his boss, Obasanjo. The sensational tango between Obasanjo and Atiku not only made Atiku’s second term in office a nightmare but also continues to haunt the ex-VP to this day. During their first term in office (1999 – 2003), Obasanjo practically relinquished governance to Atiku while he junketed all over the place. The privatization programme that Atiku reportedly midwife has been widely criticized as short-changing the country to the benefit of few individuals and cronies of the powers-that-be. On the other hand, today’s vile tradition of “jeun s’oke”, “area boys and girls”; “alright sir” and “twuale” boys and girls that has become a menace, especially in Lagos state, has been squarely placed at Tinubu’s doorsteps. And unless the trend is urgently addressed, disaster lurks around the corner not only in Lagos state but also in the entire South-west, which is fast catching the bug. Why, for instance, are the Southwest leaders not borrowing a leaf from Igbo leaders whose youths are immersed in business activities and have cornered the country’s entire economy? Just as he has created a political template that has endured, Tinubu can do – or could have done – similarly on the economic front for Yoruba youths.
So, the two leading contenders have issues from their past dogging their footsteps. They also, in addition, have issues arising from their individual party primaries that are not going away quietly or quickly. For Tinubu, it is the Muslim-Muslim ticket while, for Atiku, it is the Gov. Nyesom Wike challenge. Could any of the two have avoided the bind they now find themselves? Had Tinubu chosen a Christian as running mate, the Muslim North would have been at his throat all the same. Some Christian leaders from the North are disappointed they were not chosen. Some others are simply latching on the issue to de-market Tinubu so that their preferred Northern candidate – Muslim/Fulani – can stand a chance. It has got nothing to do with religion! Those in the South joining the bandwagon should quickly become politically sensitive enough to understand that de-marketing Tinubu, a moderate Muslim and Southerner, promotes the chances of Atiku winning the laurel. Should Atiku win, the Fulani stand the chance of 16 unbroken years of rulership of Nigeria! After what we have seen of the crass nepotism of Buhari, it beggars belief that any Southerner or Middle Belter or even Christian North will contemplate such a disaster!
I think Tinubu made the correct decision of choosing a Kanuri man (Northeast) than if he had chosen a Fulani from the Northwest as his running mate. Many would have preferred if the running mate were the governor of Borno, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum; but that is where the North differs from the South in political sagacity. Rather than drag the position with his godfather, ex-Gov. Kashim Shettima, Zulum deferred to his former boss. That was what Osinbajo should have done in the Southwest, which he did not. Atiku may be reaping some fruits from Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim ticket wahala but he has his own headache in Gov. Wike that has refused to be placated after he lost the PDP primaries to Atiku as a result of the gang-up by Northern leaders against the Rivers state governor. Rather than defer to Wike and his demand for inclusivity in the PDP, Atiku appears to have decided to defy him and call his bluff. It remains to be seen what damage Wike and his allies can do to Atiku’s presidential ambition.
Between Tinubu and Atiku, who has the bigger headache and who reaps more from the calamities of the other person? Will Tinubu lose more votes as a result of his Muslim-Muslim ticket than Atiku will lose as a result of his face-off with Wike and his camp or vice-versa? Will Atiku benefit more from Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim headache than Tinubu will benefit from Atiku’s problem with Wike or vice-versa? How does the headache of the two leading combatants benefit the dark horse of the race, Peter Obi? For now, the answers to these questions blow in the wind!
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has continued his search for reconciliation over the crisis in the party.
The former vice-president has again met with the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
An insider privy to the meeting said some top aides of both the governor and the presidential candidate were at the meeting.
The duo met at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja on Thursday.
Recall that Wike has been at loggerheads with Atiku and the PDP over issues bordering on the sharing of positions in the party, a development that led to the call by Wike’s camp that the national chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, should resign.
It was learnt that some members of the Atiku camp were dissatisfied with the treatment meted on the presidential candidate on some matters bordering on the crisis in the party.
According to a report, the former vice-president, who set the ball rolling on the discussion charged Wike to join hands and work together with him to resolve the rift.
A source stated, “But we were surprised by how Wike responded. The governor recalled the London meeting and the agreement reached, the pledge that the former vice-president will revert after a fortnight and how the matter was swept under the carpet.”
It was also gathered that a party chieftain noted that according to the Rivers State governor, members of the Board of Trustees were in concurrence that the national chairman should resign, but some others were asking him to stay.
However, pledged to revert to his supporters after talking with them before any decision could be taken.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Friday, confirmed the death of Duruocha Osita Joel, its missing staff in Anambra State.
The Commission also disclosed that Duruocha’s remains was found along Isu-Aniocha-Urum road in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, where unknown persons dumped him.
Confirmation of his death was confirmed in a statement signed by National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
Titled; ‘INEC staff, Duruocha Osita Joel, passes on’, the statement read: “On Wednesday, September 28, 2022, the commission’s Administrative Secretary in Anambra State, Okwuonu Jude, reported the disappearance of a staff, Duruocha Osita Joel, a Principal Executive Officer II on Grade Level 10.
“On Thursday, September 29, the Administrative Secretary further informed the commission that Duruocha’s dead body was found along Isu-Aniocha-Urum road in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, where unknown persons dumped him,” the commission noted.
On what becomes of his remain, the statement read: “other staff members of the commission, Duruocha’s brother and the Police have evacuated the body and deposited same in the morgue.
“The Police and other security agencies have commenced an investigation to determine the circumstances that led to Duruocha’s disappearance and eventual death.”
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has expressed optimism that despite the challenges besetting the country, Nigerians shall enthrone a nation of their dreams.
Atiku, in a statement by his media office, on the occasion of the country’s 62nd independence, said the celebration of the country’s Independence Day, is an event that will reawaken the consciousness of the citizens towards, “the consolidation of unity amongst the diverse people of the country.”
The PDP candidate, while congratulating Nigerians on the occasion of 62nd Independence Day anniversary, assured that the country would rise again, in spite of its travails.
He noted that the country has come a long way, since October 1, 1960, when she gained independence, passing through different phases of challenges.
Said he: “The democracy that we have is the requisite antidote to the current challenges that we face.
“Though Nigeria is beset with challenges that range from inadequacies of our economic plans to cover a large percentage of our people who live below the poverty line; to security skirmishes that daily threaten the safety of lives and property of Nigerians, the root cause of these problem is traceable to the increasing lack of unity amongst us.”
Atiku admonished Nigerians to give priority to national unity, ahead of the 2023 general elections, adding that, “as one people and under the canopy of one country sharing in one future, we will surmount our challenges and enthrone the Nigeria of our dreams.
“Nigerians should elect leaders who are individuals with proven track records of being protagonists of unity and peace.
“I believe that when we fix the issues that continue to compromise our national unity, we would invariably fix issues that upset our peace and security and subsequently create an environment that can encourage economic prosperity.”
Atiku also implored all friends of Nigeria in the international community to continue to have confidence in the country because, “as a people, we never give up.”