Timi Frank, the former deputy national secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC)? called on imams, pastors and traditional rulers to beg former President Goodluck Jonathan for forgiveness as he revealed how he alongside others fabricated lies to sabotage his government.
Lamenting over the insecurity witnessed across the country, the former APC spokesperson disclosed that he has personally asked the former Nigerian leader for forgiveness.
“I call on Nigerians that we should beg former President Goodluck Jonathan for wrongly voted him out and sabotaged his government. I must confess that as an APC figure in 2015, we fabricated many lies against Jonathan, though I have publicly apologised to him but other Nigerians, especially the pastors, Imams, traditional rulers and other opinion leaders should beg for forgiveness too,” he said.
“It is obvious now that insecurity in our nation has gone out of hand. The challenge was limited to a zone under Goodluck Jonathan but presently no state, including General Buhari’s home state is secured.”
Questioning the Buhari-led government on the whereabouts of the $1 billion dollars withdrawn from the excess crude account (ECA) to fight insecurity, Timi Frank admitted the entrenchment of democracy and rule of law in Jonathan’s administration.
“Under Jonathan, Nigerians abroad were relocating back home but under Buhari Nigerians are running away. Under Jonathan Nigerians are respected all over the world but that has since gone under Buhari.
“Under Jonathan Nigerians were crying in tears but now Nigerians are crying in blood. Under Jonathan, there was freedom of speech but that has long gone under the APC administration.
“Under Jonathan, poverty, hunger and unemployment were not as bad as it is today. Under Jonathan Nigeria was a unitedunited Nation but sentiments have taken over now. “As it is now, all the institutions of government that were working well under Jonathan have all been blackmailed and politicised.
“So, I call on others who betrayed Jonathan to come out publicly and apologise to him. I also use this opportunity to appeal to former President Jonathan to forgive Nigerians and bless the Nation against the evils that have pervaded the land” he added.
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In a Facebook write up, the founder and CEO of Ovation Magazine, Mr Dele Momodu has regretted supporting Buhari over Jonathan.
In a very confessional write up, Momodu regretted the fact that they should have listened to voices of reasons like those of former Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose and others but perhaps fooled by the fact that Buhari chose Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as vice president.
This actually depicts that Momodu and his ilks voted and supported Buhari due to Osinbajo, which simply translates to tribal sentiments.
His write up is below.
“I must confess that at the height of our stupidity and naivety, in retrospect, we threw caution to the winds.
We wrote off Jonathan despite occasional flashes of genius and inspiration by some members of his team.
In the meantime, former Nigerian Head of State, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (RTD.) was repackaged to smell like roses and we all fell for the promise of Eldorado he seemed to hold at the time.
I was one of those who jumped on the bandwagon to describe him as a born-again Democrat, despite some strident and persistent warnings by then Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose and others. Perhaps we were fooled by the fact in quick succession he had picked Pentecostal pastors in his running mate in Pastor Tunde Bakare in 2011 and Professor Yemi Osinbajo in 2015.
Those who told us that our Hallelujah Choruses were premature and that a leopard can never change its spots were castigated and hounded by those of us who had been converted to what we believed was the new Buhari.
We sang in unison that anyone but Jonathan. The rest is history.”
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Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, has been arrested by the Metropolitan Police after being expelled from the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he has been hiding as a fugitive for seven years.
He is currently being held at a central London police station, before being presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court “as soon as is possible”.
Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno said Assange had been “discourteous and aggressive” during his stay and added that he had broken multiple conditions of his asylum.
He said: “He particularly violated the norm of not intervening in the internal affairs of other states.
The most recent incident occurred in January 2019, when WikiLeaks leaked Vatican documents. Key members of that organisation visited Mr Assange before and after such illegal acts.”
He also claimed Assange had installed “distortion equipment” in the embassy, and that he had “mistreated guards”.
The 47-year-old Wikileaks founder was wanted by the UK police for breaching his bail conditions, after a saga that began in November 2010, when Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange, after authorities in the country questioned him over allegations of sexual assault and rape, which he denied.
He claimed he would be extradited from Sweden to the US because of his role in publishing hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables.
The hacker surrendered to British police in 2012 and was released on bail within 10 days, but breached his bail conditions after an unsuccessful appeal against extradition to Sweden. He was then granted asylum by Ecuador and allowed to remain in the embassy. (Instablog)
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The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has said that he would accept the result of the presidential election even if it did not go the way of the party.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Tinubu spoke with journalists after voting at Polling Unit 047, Ward 3, Ikeja at 11:20 a.m.
He said that the will of the electorate must be respected, adding that as a true democrat, free and fair elections must be protected.
Tinubu was, however, upbeat about his party’s chances of winning the elections.
“If my party is voted out in this election, I will accept it because it is the people’s verdict, that is their decision. Any democrat that cannot accept a result from a free and fair election is not worthy of that name.
“As a true democrat, you must be able to accept the results of a free and fair election.
“My hope and determination of my party are that we are winning this election because we have the support of the masses and if you look at our rallies, it is an indication of our party’s popularity.
“We are not talking about the elites or those that are rich, but the poor masses, farmers, traders, artisans and the common man who seek for continuity,” he said.
Tinubu, however, rated the conduct of the elections as successful so far, adding that though elections were expensive, yet it remained the best way of choosing leaders.
“The election has been successful so far, so good. It has demonstrated the resilience of the people and like the President has said; we have chosen the best way in a difficult way.
“Democracy is the toughest way of selecting a leader but the best system. With the resilience of the people and strong determination we are getting there,” Tinubu said.(NAN)
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The defectors “left the party to return to a motley agglomeration that would promise them what true democracy could not: automatic tickets…”
Senate President Bukola Saraki and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and others defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) because the party could not offer them an automatic ticket and unfettered access to the public till.
National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who made the claim in a statement he personally signed, entitled: “They Go Away Because We Go the Right Way,” said the defectors “left the party to return to a motley agglomeration that would promise them what true democracy could not: automatic tickets, sharing of the national wealth and other offices and privileges.”
The former Lagos State governor asked the people to go beyond the debate on the numbers in the Senate and the House of Representatives, saying, “we must pull back from the shallow headlines to recognise that something fundamental is at stake.
“Nigeria is undergoing a historic transition. Sometimes awkwardly, tentatively, yet inexorably, we nurture political and governance reform. We steadily close the door on the old malpractices that have caused a rich nation to reside in the tenement of the global poor.”
Speaking specifically on the Sokoto governor’s defection, the APC leader said: “Governor Tambuwal’s exit can be distilled to one cause. He covets the presidency. However, he had not the stomach to challenge President Buhari in a primary. Tambuwal felt further insulted that he would be compelled to face a direct primary just to retain the governorship nomination.
“But for the promise made by PDP headliners like Rivers State Governor Wike that he would have the PDP presidential nomination, Tambuwal would not have left. His exit had nothing to do with the governance of the nation. It was about forging a personal ambition predicated on the defeat of progressive reform not the advancement of it.”
On Senate President, he said: “Much the same for Senate President Saraki. Returning to the PDP, he harbours dreams of the presidency but Tambuwal’s ambition will dwarf Saraki’s when the two collide. If Saraki had remained in the APC, he would be unable to reclaim his Senate seat let alone the Senate Presidency. He thus bolted because he lusts for the presidency but was promised by the PDP, at least, a return to his position in the Senate. “For Saraki to talk about lack of governance is for him to deny who he is and the position he holds. This man stands as Nigeria’s Number three citizen. Clothed is he in ample power and influence. If he saw areas where the government and the nation needed help, he could have easily applied his energies to these areas. He could have drafted legislation and easily got laws passed.
“However, no progressive enactment bears his name for he cared not for progress. He has been more focused on changing the rules of the Senate to favour himself and changing the order of elections so as to coincide with his selfish designs.”
Part of the statement read: “The defections of some people from the APC have generated sensational headlines and exaggerated talk as to what their departures foretell for the APC, the party to which
I belong. Some have predicted the demise of the APC. Those who hope for our decline will be disappointed by the inaccuracy of their desires. The days, months and years ahead will bury such errant forecasts for these predictions are born more of bitterness than of objective analysis.
Much of the attention has centred on which party now controls this or that state and which party maintains a majority in the National Assembly. These considerations are important to members of the political class and the electoral calculations of the political parties. But these calculations cannot be all there is. We must be careful not to reduce our horizon to a mere accounting of elected officials moving from one party to another.
Many in the political class believe this scorekeeping between the parties encompasses all that is important. For such people, the mere holding of office is the sole objective. The quality of governance they provide means little to them. Yet, there are greater things at stake than the fortunes of individual politicians. The people of Nigeria focus their attention on something materially different than this narrow political game.
The people are more deeply concerned with the quality of governance they experience than with the intense cunning by which the political game is played. They are more interested in helpful policies than in the tempests created by politicians in pursuit of personal ambitions. That which provides a better life in a more prosperous nation is what beckons to them. That which shines in the eye of the political opportunist is dross to the average person.
We must pull back from the shallow headlines to recognise that something fundamental is at stake.
Nigeria is undergoing a historic transition. Sometimes awkwardly, tentatively, yet inexorably, we nurture political and governance reform. We steadily close the door on the old malpractices that have caused a rich nation to reside in the tenement of the global poor. The corruption of the past is ending; for it must end if we are to fulfil our collective purpose. With this correction, less public money will be diverted to private benefit. More will be afforded to the causes of the people. The economy is being transformed so that the average person will have a better chance of finding a better life.
We move toward a more democratic union. The old days where a handful of uninformed men and those with deep pockets decided everything for everybody are being swept away. The will of the people can no longer be ignored. Those who would be the masters over the people must now be public servants. A party or elected official may no longer rule over the people. They must govern for the benefit of the people.
By so doing, the arc of our national progress is shaped. Not everyone is happy with this trajectory. As a whole, the political class must relinquish some of its power and wealth so people can enjoy a more equitable portion of the national enterprise.
This is the correct and perhaps inevitable course Nigeria must pursue.
To their credit, many politicians see the need for reform and even champion it. Yet, there are those in the political class who scheme against collective improvement. They seek to halt progress toward a fairer nation. They seek to hold to the old ways. The difference between the two parties and why some people returned to their PDP conclave must be seen in this light.
This is more than the competition over numbers. What rests in the balance is not whether one party has more elected officials on its roster, but which party has the right mindset and policies to reform Nigeria that she may become what goodness demands of her. We are in a locked battle to define the future of this nation and the quality of its governance. This battle pits one party, the APC, with all of its imperfections, that seeks national reforms against another party, the PDP, which symbolizes the perfection of the most selfish designs of the most selfish politicians among us.
This moral battle informed the recent defections. Those who belong to that PDP mode of thought could find no permanent comfort in walking the path of progressive reform and progress. All the things we have inaugurated such as school-feeding programs for poor pupils, social security for poor families, affordable housing programs, greater access to credit for small businesses and greater access to education and health care, these things the defectors could not well abide. They detested President Buhari’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) innovation because it barred them from misdirecting funds into a maze of unaudited accounts from which they could syphon as they pleased. Buhari cut off their clandestine illicit spigot. (The Sun)
• Shiite, IPOB extrajudicial killings, Dasuki’s detention cited as rights abuses, violation of rule of law
Tobi Soniyi in Lagos
The United States Department of State has again issued a damning assessment of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in its 2017 Country Report on Human Rights released last Friday in Washington D.C.
In the 48-page report posted on the website of the State Department, the U.S. government said impunity remained widespread at all levels of government in Nigeria, further noting that the Buhari-led administration lacked transparency.
A copy of the report obtained by THISDAY added that government officials engaged in massive corruption.
Corruption, the report said, was not limited to government officials but very rampant among the security agencies.
The report stated: “Although the law provides criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
“Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security services.”
On the anti-corruption agencies, the report noted that although the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) efforts remained largely focused on low – and mid-level government officials, following the 2015 presidential election both organisations started investigations into and brought indictments against various active and former high-level government officials.
It, however, observed that the EFCC often did not observe all due process safeguards and refused to obey court orders granting bail to the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki.
“Many of these cases were pending in court. According to both ICPC and EFCC, the delays were the result of a lack of judges and the widespread practice of filing for and granting multiple adjournments.
“EFCC’s arrests and indictments of politicians continued throughout the year, implicating a significant number of opposition political figures and leading to allegations of partisan motivations on the part of the EFCC.
“In a case brought by the EFCC, in November a federal court convicted four firms allegedly used by a former aide of former President Goodluck Jonathan of laundering 1.67 billion naira ($$55.3 million) in stolen funds.
“In its pursuit of corruption, the EFCC often did not observe all pertinent due process safeguards. In November, the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice declared unlawful the arrest and detention in 2015 of former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
“A court ordered him released on bail in a case brought by the EFCC for the alleged diversion of 13.6 billion naira ($$443.2 million) intended to purchase military material during the Jonathan administration. Despite the court order, he remained in detention,” said the report.
In support of the claim that impunity remains the order of the day in Nigeria, the report further noted that government did not often take steps to prosecute officials who perpetuated impunity whether in the security forces or elsewhere in government.
It, however, acknowledged that government did take steps to investigate such impunity but failed to bring to book those who violated the law.
The report cited various instances including the atrocities allegedly committed in the North-east by members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and the refusal to bring to justice military men who killed members of the Shia group Islamic Movement of Nigeria in 2015 in circumstances adjudged to be extrajudicial.
“As of November, the government had not adequately investigated or held police or military personnel accountable for extrajudicial killings of supporters of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra,” the report added.
Excerpts from the report added: “Authorities generally did not hold police, military, or other security force personnel accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody.
“State and federal panels of inquiry investigating suspicious deaths generally did not make their findings public.
“In August, the acting president (Yemi Osinbajo) convened a civilian-led presidential investigative panel to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement. As of November, the panel had not issued a report.”
The state department report stated that respect for human rights generally remained appalling in Nigeria.
The report identified the following as the most significant human rights abuses: extrajudicial and arbitrary killings; disappearances and arbitrary detentions; torture, particularly in detention facilities, including sexual exploitation and abuse; use of children by some security elements, looting, and destruction of property; civilian detentions in military facilities, often based on flimsy evidence; denial of fair public trial; executive influence on the judiciary; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and movement; official corruption; lack of accountability in cases involving violence against women and children, including female genital mutilation/cutting and sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons; early and forced marriages; criminalisation of status and same-sex sexual conduct based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and forced and bonded labour.
Speaking during the official release of the report, the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour of the US Department of State, Mr Michael Kozak, said the 2017 report marked the 42nd year that the U.S. has published the country-specific annual Human Rights Reports.
He said the law requires the U.S. executive to produce the report every year.
According to him, “This goes back to the 1970s when Congress said to the Executive Branch, ‘When we’re making decisions about foreign assistance and security assistance and trade agreements and all of that, we’d really like to know: what is the human rights situation in the countries that we’re dealing with’.”
He said the U.S. did not produce the report to pass judgment “on other countries or to name and shame”.
“It’s to fulfil a statutory responsibility to our Congress to try to produce the most accurate description of what we find is going on in other countries so that they can use that in making decisions,” he explained.
Efforts to get the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, to react to the report proved abortive as his phone was switched off. (THISDAY)
Less than 24 hours to President Muhammadu Buhari’s scheduled meeting with the United States of America (USA) president, Donald Trump, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised anti-democratic issues and human rights abuse against the Nigerian leader.
The party specifically drew President Trump’s attention to the recent report of the US Department of State on constitutional and human rights violation in Nigeria under President Buhari.
”We, therefore, urge President Donald Trump to stand up for democracy and take President Buhari to task on constitutional and human rights violations in Nigeria under his watch,” PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said at a press conference yesterday.
Also, the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, in a statement by his media adviser, Ike Abonyi said Nigeria is now a police state under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ologbondiyan noted at the press conference that President Buhari’s administration has wrecked the nation’s democratic order, eroded constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens while foisting a siege mentality on the people.
“Nigeria is facing a perilous time; our constitution has been technically suspended; we have now become a police state; governance has reverted to the nightmares of the 1984 era when draconian leaders held sway and forcefully held our people under the grips of military Decree 2.
“Currently, there is a total collapse of respect for constitutionally guaranteed personal freedom; there is no regard for the natural course of justice, life in Nigeria is gradually returning to the state of nature and there is fear everywhere.
“Today, Nigerians are being hounded, arrested and directly detained on ‘order from above’, without warrant; citizens are locked up in dehumanizing detention centres without access to medical care and legal assistance, just for holding political opinions that run contrary to the views of those in power at the centre.
“There are preponderance instances of citizens’ detention in special police and military facilities for weeks, months and in some cases, many years without trial. Nigerians are daily falling victims of extreme torture, extra-judicial and arbitrary killings and mass burial by unrestrained agents of state security forces,” he stated.
He added that the Amnesty International (AI) 2017/2018 Human Rights report confirmed cases of extreme human right violations under the Buhari administration.
These, he cited to include extra-judicial execution, the forceful crackdown on peaceful demonstrators as witnessed in the South East between September 2017 and January 2018 as well as torture and killings in custody, adding that many of those who were arrested were still in detention without trial.
Ologbondoiyan noted that the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group that freely protested unmolested in 2014 and 2015 were today hounded and manhandled wherever and whenever they dare to come out on a peaceful protest.
“The recent US government’s report on human rights violation in Nigeria also confirmed cases of harassments, persecution of opposition, arrests, detention and extra-judicial killings under President Buhari’s administration.
“Indeed, the height of human rights abuse being witnessed in our country today is the worst in our national contemporary history.
“As we speak, government’s inaction and aloofness have led to escalation of killings in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Kogi, Kaduna, Borno, Yobe, Nasarawa, Edo, Zamfara, Ekiti, Enugu, by insurgents and marauders, who are having a field day as the presidency has abandoned governance for 2019 re-election bid.
“Painfully, our democratic institutions, particularly the legislature, judiciary and even the media are being decapitated by dictatorial forces who are encouraged by the agents of the state at the centre.
“Let the truth be told! Nigeria is bleeding under President Buhari and the world must come to the rescue.
“We also pray that President Buhari will not use the occasion of his visit to President Trump to further de-market our nation as he has always done whenever he is outside the country on official assignment,” Ologbondoiyan added.
Secondus in the statement noted that the on-going clampdown on persons not in agreement with the views of government either in the opposition party òr within their APC fold is a clear evidence of the desperation of Buhari’s to suppress free speech and association which are indispensable requirements for democracy to flourish.
“Legislators are not safe, judges are living and working in fear; media are being harassed, security agencies have all become tools of oppression for the government. Dictatorial signs are all over the place threatening our democracy.
“Their intention is clear: to intimidate and frighten people from saying the truth. But they will never succeed because the huge sacrifice made to bring this democracy to this level by Nigerians is not for it to be destroyed cheaply.
“If governance in a democracy is associated with the delivery of dividends and after three years you have nothing to show, no amount of aggressive pressure and bullying will save such government in the hands of the voters.
“Democracy provides for a day of reckoning when we leaders must return to the people to renew our mandate, that hour has come and only a government that has nothing to show that resorts to intimidation and harassment of those telling them the truth,” he stated. (New Telegraph)
… SAYS OBASANJO’S COALITION CALL, CONTINUATION OF COUP AGAINST DEMOCRACY
Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Revd Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah, has said that the Coalition of Concerned Nigerians proposed by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo in his 18-page letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, to take Nigeria out of the woods, is a continuous coup against democracy in the country.
In this online interview with Sunday Sun, Kukah, a social critic and public commentator, also said he would have thought that if Obasanjo thought he made a mistake, he should at least, apologize to Nigerians before offering the people another recipe to correct the current state of affairs in the country.
Taking a look at the current administration, Kukah further said one of the main mistakes that the Buhari administration made was to assume that everything that happened before them was wrong and everyone who came before them was a criminal.
Kukah also said he had no regret in participating in the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led Peace and Reconciliation Committee that ensured a peaceful transfer of power from former president Goodluck Jonathan to incumbent President Buhari.
You are a cleric who is supposed to be primarily concerned with spiritual affairs, yet, your name cannot be wished away when it comes to national affairs, more importantly, when one considers the important assignments you have handled for the nation and your constant chastisement of the government. In view of this, how do you see the recent letter written by former president Olusegun Obasanjo to President Muhammadu Buhari?
You are generous with your observations. It is very interesting how politicians map our roles for us priests. When you say something that makes them happy, they hail you, but when the shoe is on the other foot and you say the same thing, they charge you to mind your spiritual duties and leave politics out. I am a free citizen of my country and will continue to make my little contributions. I am not out to entertain and make people happy. In fact, the sadder they are, the more likely it is that you are saying the right thing, only they are unhappy. What do you expect me, an ordinary citizen to say when a General has written a letter to another General, a former president has written to a sitting president whom he himself brought to power? I prefer to choose the battles I can win. But at another level, I would have thought that if people think they made a mistake, they should at least apologise to us before offering us another undated youghurt.
In x-raying the letter, which areas do you think ex-President Obasanjo was right and wrong?
I have no x-ray machine and I do not know if the one in the Villa clinic is working now. The letter was not written to me and, if you saw the banter between the two people last week (during the just concluded 30th Ordinary Session of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), then you will be more restrained in your response.
The coalition proposed by Obasanjo: is it feasible in our clime?
I do not know anything about the coalition and I am honestly not in a position to make any comment. As a person, I am not sure that this emergency ambulance mentality is the best form of institutionalizing democracy. Most of this is the indiscipline which does not understand how democracy and consensus building works. It is a continuation of this coup against democracy when those who have held Nigeria to ransom, decide on whom they want in power and then go ahead to manipulate the levers of power for their ends. We can only wish them luck.
Looking at the totality of the current state of affairs in the country, what is your verdict on the incumbent administration?
I take it that what this administration has offered is the best they can offer, given that they have covered over three quarters of the time allocated to them. My verdict is not important and Nigerians should pass their verdict at the next elections. This time, we will be judging based on evidence not propaganda.
In your estimation, where did President Buhari get it wrong?
Who told you he got anything wrong? What is your marking scheme? I believe that what we have is the best that President Buhari can and has offered. He has not told you or anyone that he feels he has made a mistake or wishes to do anything differently. He says he takes his time and I believe we should respect that.
Even though as a Nigerian, he is eligible to vote and be voted for, taking a look at the nation from 2015 till now, do you think if the resident decides to take a second shot at the presidency, it will be right for Nigerians to queue behind the president and vote for him?
Why not? He should be free to offer himself to Nigerians. It is left for Nigerians to decide and luckily for us, we have records of his promises, his achievements in fulfillment of those promises. These should be the basis of decision not the issue of if he should or should not contest. The decision is his to make.
You were very prominent in the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led Peace and Reconciliation Committee that ensured a peaceful transfer of power from former president Goodluck Jonathan to President Buhari. Judging by the activities of the current government, do you regret participating in that committee?
I am very proud of what General Abdusalam led the committee to achieve. We made our own contribution along with other Nigerian civil society groups. I can only thank God for the miracles of answered prayers. In any case, should we not thank God that the current administration has been given a chance to showcase what they are capable of doing?
When we finished the elections, we thought we should disband and go home, especially given that the people who were involved in the exercise were extremely busy people who made sacrifices because no one received or asked for a single penny. We had believed that the committee’s work was done. However, we were encouraged by the reaction of Nigerians across the board when we undertook a consultative initiative to find out what Nigerians felt about the committee.
So, rather than disbanding and going home, we sought the views of the media, the leaders of the two parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC). We had audience with the Senate President and the Speaker, former president Jonathan and current President Buhari. Each and everyone expressed satisfaction and encouraged the members to continue in view of the fact that the country still needed some wise counsel and that the people needed encouragement.
Do you think the president consolidated on the gains recorded by your committee?
It is not for us to judge, but my views are pretty well known. When a midwife helps in a delivery, is she to follow the new mother home to inspect how she is looking after the baby? It is left for Nigerians to judge.
Some people have said that where we are economically, politically, socially, et cetera, is worse than where we are coming from? Do you agree?
Where are we coming from? The problem is that we always think yesterday was better than today. One of the main mistakes that this administration made was to assume that everything that happened before them was wrong and everyone who came before them was a criminal. They created the impression that they had to drain the swamps and literally write a new script. More energy could have been committed to identifying what was worth continuing and in the process, building confidence in the country.
Now, they have realized rather late in the day that the team is the same, only the jerseys are different. Can you name one thing that is substantially different today from what it was yesterday after you have mentioned Boko Haram? At the beginning, I made a case for the fact that national cohesion was an urgent project, holding our people together and developing a vision. Now, look where we are as a people, see how divided we have become, see how scattered and littered the landscape is. Can we continue like this into the next election?
Your brother was kidnapped recently, and at the same time, the nation was grappling with security concerns, most importantly, in Benue State. In your calculation, where are these social ills and odds leading us to?
My brother’s case was dwarfed by the tragedy of Benue, along with many others in the daily menu of senseless killings that are now our lot. His case is a metaphor for the suffering and pain of many Nigerians who have become more exposed now than we have ever been. What is more painful is the seeming lack of concern by the government and the lack of a clear plan to reverse this sad phase of our national life. It is very saddening indeed.
What can we do to achieve the Nigeria of our dreams?
The Nigeria of our dreams is made simple: a country where we can live in peace and security, raise our families with some dignity, a nation where we have an idea of what being a Nigerian means. We just want what others have come to take for granted. (The Sun)
The Senate on Wednesday raised the alarm that the failure of the executive to answer legislative summons would end democracy in the country.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, stated this in an interview with The PUNCH, while reacting to a letter written by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal.
The SGF, in the letter to the upper chamber on Wednesday, said he had dragged the Senate to court over a probe into the alleged management of funds meant for the rehabilitation of the North-East.
Lawal, in the letter to the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, said he would not appear before the probe panel on Thursday (today) as he had filed processes in court. The letter was sighted on Wednesday by our correspondent.
The SGF’s letter came the same day the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), failed to honour the Senate invitation.
The upper chamber had ordered Ali to appear before it on Wednesday (yesterday), in the NCS uniform.
But the Customs boss shunned the invitation, citing a suit filed by a lawyer, Mohammed Ibrahim and advice of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, as reasons.
The PUNCH learnt that the some senators were irked on Wednesday when the Senate received a letter from another member of the executive (the SGF).
When contacted, the Senate spokesman told our correspondent he was not aware of the letter written by the SGF.
He, however, stated that the trend of public officials refusing to answer legislative summons was becoming a threat to Nigeria’s democracy.
Abdullahi said, “I am not aware of that. But we are waiting to see what happens. That is exactly what we are saying; that if this continues to happen, then, bye bye to democracy. It means I can even go to court to stop you (our correspondent) from doing your work.
“We will see how that will continue to play out and I think this is the end of democracy in Nigeria if that continues to play out. We are performing our constitutional mandate and if anybody is going to court to stop us, then, what it means is that we should all go to court and stop the entire government from working.”
The letter written by the SGF read, “Your letter of invitation to appear before the above committee refers.
“I wish to kindly request that you draw the attention of the other members of the committee (to the fact) that I will not be able to appear before the committee primarily because I have gone to court to challenge the invitation, among others.
“Please, find attached the court documents.”
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Shehu Sani, while confirming the receipt of the letter, declined to disclose what the lawmakers would do to the SGF.
When asked if he had received the letter, he said, “Yes. If you have the letter, that is it. Go and write your story.”
When also asked how he felt about the development, Sani replied, “As far as I am concerned, we are going ahead with the sitting (investigative hearing).”
When further asked if the Senate would react to Lawal’s move as it did to the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), Sani said the decision would be taken after the hearing.
“I don’t want to comment on that for now. Report what he has done and wait to see what we will do tomorrow (today),” he said.
The committee had invited Lawal to appear before it on Thursday in a letter signed by Sani, dated March 15, 2017, and addressed to Lawal’s Kaduna address.
It read, “The Senate at its sitting on 4th October, 2016, debated on a motion on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the North-East” after which an ad hoc committee was constituted to, among other things, conduct a public hearing in order to ascertain how much has been released to the Presidential Initiative on the North-East; ascertain how these funds have been utilised from inception to date; and investigate the diversion of grains and other food items from the Strategic Grain Reserves, NEMA and other sources for the IDPs.
“Consequently, the committee held a three-day public hearing between 6th and 8th December, 2016, even though some of the invited stakeholders refused to attend. In order to give them a fair hearing, the committee has resolved to conduct another public hearing.
“You are hereby invited once more to the public hearing.”
Sani had told our correspondent that the panel intended to give the SGF a second chance.
Based on the interim report of the committee, the Senate had on December 14, 2016, called for the resignation, probe and prosecution of the SGF over alleged mismanagement of funds meant for the North-East rehabilitation under his watch.
The lawmakers specifically called on security and anti-graft agencies to arrest and prosecute Lawal, who is overseeing the Presidential Initiative on North-East, for allegedly owning one of the companies awarded contracts in the rehabilitation of the North-East.
Lawal was alleged to have resigned his directorship of the company after becoming the SGF and after the company had executed the contract.
One of the companies linked to the SGF was said to have been awarded the contract for the removal of invasive plants along river channels and 115 hectares of simplified village irrigation operation in Yobe State for the sum of N272,524,356.
But Lawal claimed that the panel did not invite him for his defence, saying that the lawmakers were out to malign him.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported that the committee on February 1, 2017, had requested the Bank Verification Numbers of some companies linked to the SGF, who were contracted for various projects on the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons.
It was also reported that the lawmakers might re-invite Lawal for questioning. ‘Punchgn.com)