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2019: Reject Recycled, Jaded Politicians, Prof. Soyinka Tells Nigerians |RN

Wole Soyinka

Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka at “Le Conversazioni” on Capri, July 2012

Oladimeji Ramon

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said on Sunday that he had already formed his opinion about the government of the ruling All Progressives Congress and knew exactly “where I’m going to cast my vote” when voting time comes.

But Soyinka warned Nigerians not to allow themselves to be hoodwinked by those he said took part in the destruction of the country, but were now parading themselves as the Messiah.

He urged Nigerians not to allow themselves to be plunged into “a zone of amnesia,” but to go back and check the track records of such people and the company they kept.

The don said it was the time that the old political order in the country is broken to give way for a new generation that would take over the country and throw out of the window “the same jaded traitors and enemies of the people” that were being recycled in power.

Also, an activist lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), said Nigeria was facing a serious crisis of governance, and called on the people to be very careful “so that we do not allow those who destroyed the country, those who ruined the nation, to pose as the saviour of our people.”

Soyinka and Falana spoke alongside others at a public lecture on Sunday organised to mark the 80th posthumous birthday of the late human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN).

The lecture, with the theme, “Democracy for the masses through proper and effective governance,” held at Alausa, Ikeja.

Setting the tone for the discussion, Soyinka, who chaired the occasion, urged Nigerians to beware of those who called themselves the God-designated watchmen over the country’s fortune.

He said, “Don’t allow yourself to plunge into a zone of amnesia, in which you conveniently forget unpleasant realities. We’ve had Presidents in this nation, some of whom inaugurated a never-ending democratic process, which landed us eventually under the most brutal dictators that this nation has ever known. We had others also who actually supervised the sacking of ‘democratic government.’

“I’m speaking of Anambra, I’m speaking of Oyo State, a governor was kidnapped under their watch with their complicity; in another instance, thugs actually entered the House of Assembly, sacked the legislators and installed their own candidates; under the same watch. And they call themselves the God-designated watchman over the fortunes of this nation. And suddenly, here they are and I see Nigerians flocking to them and asking them once again to lead.

“Mind you, they’ve said very clearly: if it becomes a political party, count me out o; but paths are already being beaten to their doors – control by surrogation.  Even if they do not individually put themselves back in the position of power, they are already smoothening the way for their surrogates, their stooges, so that they can continue to misrule from their cosy farmsteads. So, all I’m urging is: be very vigilant.”

Soyinka said while he had already taken a stand on the current government, it would be like adding salt to an injury to allow himself to be hoodwinked by those who want to rule the country by a surrogate.

He added, “For heaven’s sake, also grow up. Why do you need patronage? Why cannot a new order arise from this nation? Why can’t a new generation actually rise, throw us all out of the window and take control of their own lives by themselves? Why do we keep recycling the same jaded, traitors and enemies of the people? Why do you need to go for blessing somewhere if you’ve made up your mind that it is time to take control of your own existence? Why the constant trooping?

“I don’t understand it and that’s why I used the expression grow up for heaven’s sake. Be vigilant and take your own destiny in your hands. Once again, I don’t want to be misunderstood, I know what I think about this government when voting time comes, I know exactly where I’m going to cast my vote but I’m not going to allow anybody to hoodwink me and say I will show you the path. No, this will be adding insult to injury.”

Aligning himself with Soyinka, Falana said, “Like the chairman on the occasion, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said, this period calls for vigilance on the part of Nigerians. Our country is undergoing serious crises of governance but we must be very careful so that we do not allow those who destroyed the country, those who ruined the nation to pose as the saviour of our people.

“There’s somebody living very close to this place who has been parading himself as the saviour of our people; this guy ruled the country for 11 and a half years cumulatively – three and a half years under the military, eight years under a civilian dispensation. And he even wanted to do a third term but Nigerians rejected him. The guy is going around the country now, claiming to have solutions to our problems; I wish to say here and we are challenging him to name one thing that he did, any problem of the country that he solved.

“On the contrary, this guy wasted $16bn to generate darkness for the country. This guy formed and took over the resources of the country blindly under what he called blind trust. Nigeria is the only country in the world where a sitting President and a sitting Vice-President established private universities when the government refused to fund public universities and other tertiary institutions.

“Gani went to court to challenge the extortion of state governments and contractors by a man who realised N7bn to set up a so-called library. Under the constitution, any gift received while you are in office, other than customary gifts, is forfeitable to the state; therefore, at the right time, this country, when it is properly organised will take over all those universities and libraries that were set up with public funds and that may be sooner than you think.”

Also, Senator Shehu Sani said though the country was out of military rule it had yet to attain true democracy. He called on the people not to vote based on political parties but to vote individuals who they could trust.

“The political ruling elite are not yet prepared to see to a democratic Nigeria. Nigeria’s political reality is about personal interest. Those who destroyed our country in the past are very much present as born-agains. The integrity of one person is not enough to rule and sustain a state. We have a President who is a man of integrity but integrity is not enough for leadership,” Sani said.

But the Publisher of Sahara Reporters and presidential hopeful, Omoyele Sowoye, rejected Sani’s description of President Muhammadu Buhari as a man of integrity.

Sowore said, “I want to say very briefly that Nigeria must be regretting that when they had a chance to choose between Chief Gani Fawehinmi and a Barabbas, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, they decided to choose Obasanjo instead of choosing Gani Fawehinmi and that is why we are regretting today.”   (Punch)

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JUST IN: Jonathan’s Camp Releases Looters’ List, .. Lai Mohammed, Fashola Top List… See Others On The List

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Reno Omokri, a former Aide and strong ally of former President, Goodluck Jonathan, has released what he described as: “The Real Looters List That President Buhari and Lai Mohammed Should Have Released”.

Read the full statement…

The Real Looters List That President Buhari and Lai Mohammed Should Have Released

It was with great amusement that I received news that the minister for propaganda, the rightly and prophetically named Lai Mohammed, was planning on releasing a new looters list.

The nation was witness to the flop of the pathetic looters’ lists he had earlier drawn up which read more like a list of noisemakers drawn up by a primary school class captain who wanted to implicate his enemies.

After having been shamed at home and abroad for its one-sided and fallacious list, the Buhari administration wants to redeem itself by releasing a third list, which from the look of things, will go into infamy like its two elder brothers.

The funniest thing is that both Lai Mohammed and President Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, had condemned the release of a looters list by the pioneer Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu in 2007.

It is very obvious that they have no moral compass. Their loyalties are only to there bellies. If not, why condemn a looters list released by Nuhu Ribadu and commend a looters list released by the Buhari administration?

In any case, Nigerians and the international community may find the list below to be a more credible list and I call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission to investigate, interrogate and prosecute those contained therein, especially as I have produced details and named names, dates and amounts involved which stand at over $30 billion.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. There are many others, including a South-South ex-Governor who is close to President Buhari, whose security vote was incredibly substantial, but unless I have hard documentary evidence or eyewitness testimony, I have avoided listing such persons.

Muhammadu Buhari and His Cronies: On several occasions during the 2015 election campaign, then-candidate Muhammadu Buhari said he did not know what fuel subsidy is and accused the Jonathan administration of scamming Nigerians through the scheme.

Again on December 28, 2015, President Buhari said he was ending fuel subsidy. On May 12, 2016, the minister of state for petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, said subsidy had been removed. The price of petrol was increased on that basis to ₦145. Then on December 15, 2016, Vice President Osinbajo said there was no more fuel subsidy in Nigeria.

In the 2016 and 2017 budgets, the National Assembly made no provision for appropriations for fuel subsidy.

On Friday, December 22, 2017, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, said that President Buhari had authorized him to make fuel subsidy payments which he tried to hide by using the ingenious term ‘under-recovery’.

On April 6, 2018, the minister of state for petroleum resources, Mr Ibe Kachikwu revealed that ₦1.4 trillion was being spent annually on fuel subsidy payments by the Buhari administration.

Section 162 (1) of the Constitution provides that:

“(1) The Federation shall maintain a special account to be called “the Federation Account” into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the armed forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the Ministry or department of government charged with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”

Moreover, there is a Treasury Single Account policy in operation.

If all funds belonging to the federation are remitted into the Federation Account, if all Ministries, Departments and Agencies are bound by the TSA, how is it possible for President Buhari to unconstitutionally instruct the GMD of the NNPC to use funds which were not appropriated by the National Assembly to pay for a scheme that was scrapped?

This amount is more than twice what was spent by the Jonathan administration on fuel subsidy annually, yet under that government, fuel sold for ₦87 per litre which is half the price it is being sold for today at ₦145 per litre.

Not only should fuel subsidy not be paid, because the minister of petroleum, who also happens to be the President, said he had ended that policy, but even if it is being paid, it should not be at a higher amount than was paid under Jonathan.

Did the population of Nigeria double overnight? Did Nigerians become so rich in a depressed economy that they started consuming twice the amount of subsidy that they consumed a mere 3 years ago even when they are paying more for the product?

The inescapable conclusion is that the ₦1.4 trillion now being paid annually for fuel subsidy, according to Ibe Kachikwu, is money that is going largely to private pockets.

Rochas Okorocha: In a secret memo from a top diplomat and found on Wikileaks with the Canonical ID:06ABUJA483_a, Rochas Okorocha was identified as an embezzler of government funds. To quote the memo word for word, the top diplomat said: “The head of the National Airport Management Authority (NAMA), Rochas Okorocha, was caught and dismissed for embezzling about $1 million through an inflated contract.”

Malam Nasir El-Rufai: In a secret memo from a top diplomat and found on Wikileaks with the Canonical ID:06ABUJA483_a, an American diplomat gave eyewitness testimony of how Nasir El-Rufai had gone from extreme poverty to extreme wealth almost overnight. To quote the memo word for word, the top US diplomat said “El-Rufai is at the CENTER of the corruption allegations. Well-known to PolCouns eight year ago, when he was homeless and seeking a loan to import a taxi from the UK, El-Rufai is said to have recently purchased seven upscale properties in a posh Abuja neighbourhood.”

On June 20, 2017, SaharaReporters. com, a website that Malam Nasir El-Rufai himself had previously praised for its credibility, published government documents stating that Malam El-Rufai had awarded heavily over-invoiced contracts to his wives, children and family members to the tune of ₦3 billion.

NNPC/Maikanti Baru: On August 30, 2017, the minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, revealed in a memo to President Buhari, which ended up getting leaked, that despite the legal requirement for all contracts above $20 million to be approved by the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, has unilaterally awarded sundry contracts without due process to the tune of $24.5 billion.

No independent inquiry was conducted into these allegations. The NNPC, instead, issued a statement claiming that the contracts were approved by President Buhari.

However, the dates the contracts were approved coincided with the dates the President was in London and had officially handed over to Vice President Osinbajo.

When the media pointed this out, the NNPC contradicted itself and said that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo approved the contracts.

However, Vice President Osinbajo released a statement on October 13, 2017, denying that he approved the contracts.

The truth about what happened to the almost $25 billion will not come to light now while Buhari is still in power.

Alhaji Abba Kyari: On September 20, 2016, saharareporters. com, published a report that Malam Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to the President, had received a bribe of ₦500 million from the South African telecom giant, MTN, to help influence the reduction of the $5.2 billion fine imposed on them.

Given that the $5.2 billion fine was eventually and significantly reduced on December 3, 2016, just two months after the reports of the alleged bribe surfaced, a lot of credence has been given to those reports.

This is especially so as the former acting Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, ambassador Mohammed Dauda, in a sworn testimony to the House of RepresentativesCommittee on National Security and Intelligence, revealed that President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet comprising of Abba Kyari and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babagana Kingibe, had pressured him to share the $44 million Ikoyi millions.

After giving his sworn evidence, ambassador Dauda was dismissed and has now gone underground.

Abubakar Malami: Currently the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice. On April 8, 2018, investigative journalism website, The Cable, alleged that they have documents proving that AGF Malami “spuriously” hired lawyers at a cost to the Federal Government of ₦6 billion, to handle the repatriation of looted Abacha funds of $321 million (it would seem that contrary to President Buhari’s publicly stated position, Abacha did loot).

It was discovered that the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke, had finished up the matter and there was no need for the engagement of the lawyers in the first place.

Incidentally, the lawyers alleged by The Cable to have been hired by Malami (Oladipo Okpeseyi, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and Temitope Adebayo) had both worked for President Muhammadu Buhari’s party, Congress for Progressive Change, and also worked for the All Progressive Congress. Interestingly, the current AGF, Abubakar Malami, was the legal adviser of CPC.

Adebayo Shittu: Current minister of communications. On March 12, 2018, Mr. Shittu’s Special Assistant on media, Victor Oluwadamilare, revealed in a letter leaked to the media, that whereas Mr Shittu was struggling financially prior to joining President Buhari’s cabinet, according to the said aide, he has almost overnight become fabulously wealthy to the point where he has, according to his own aide, “investments that run into hundreds of millions of naira in your less than three years in the office.”

Mr Shittu was revealed by his aide to have suddenly come into possession of 12 luxury houses in Abuja, Lagos, and Ibadan and recently bought a brand new ₦93 million printing press. This is in addition to 25 luxury vehicles.

The total value of these largesses the minister has suddenly accrued, according to his aide, is conservatively estimated at ₦2 billion.

Babatunde Raji Fashola: Current minister of power, works and housing. It was established and even admitted by Fashola himself that he spent ₦78 million on his personal website.

Now, government funds should not be spent on a personal website. But even at that, the amount is grossly over bloated. ₦78 million was equivalent to half a million dollars at the time of the transaction.

Moreover, Info Access Plus, the company that got the said contract, released a statement stating that it received only ₦10 million from the Lagos state government for the website contract. The company further revealed that the website, http://www.fashola. com already existed and the contract was only for ‘upgrading’ the site.

Also, substantiated allegations were made against Mr Fashola with documented evidence indicating that he awarded a ₦139 million naira contract for the drilling of two boreholes at the government secretariat. This amount was equivalent to $900,000 at the time the contract was awarded. It goes without saying that two boreholes can be sunk for less than 5% of the amount expended by Fashola.

Rauf Aregbesola: It was reported in several investigating journals that the contract to provide schools in Osun state with the tablet nicknamed ‘Opon Imo’ was awarded to a firm linked to Governor Rauf Aregbesola‘s son at an inflated price of ₦8.6 billion. This allegation was also made in a petition by the Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun state (CSCEOS).

The introduction of the so-called knowledge tablet was meant to boost education in Osun State. The curious thing, however, is that in the latest rankings from WAEC, only 46.77 percent of Osun State students got five credits and above in the 2017 West African Senior School Certificate Examination. In fact, Osun State, which used to be one of the top performing states in education was outperformed by five northern states, including Borno, to emerge 24th position nationwide out of 36 states.

In 2016, the state fared even worse, ranking 29th among the 36 states and the FCT in 2016’s West African Senior School Certificate Examination results released by WAEC.

Usman Yusuf: Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme. Suspended by the minister of health for allegedly misappropriating approximately ₦1 billion. A probe panel was set up by the minister of health, Isaac Adewole. Mr Adewole found the evidence against Mr: Yusuf compelling enough to warrant his suspension.

According to the investigative journalism website, premiumtimesng. com, their editors had cited the documents presented as evidence against Mr Yusuf and their conclusion is that “cases of misconduct was clearly established against Mr Yusuf.”

Again, Premium Times reports that their investigations revealed that Mr Yusuf used his closeness to President Buhari to countermand the minister of Health’s decision and was reinstated to his position.

According to Punch Newspapers “When our correspondent reached out to him to respond to the allegations levelled against him last December, Yusuf had said, “F*ck you, and f*ck the minister”-This is the type of character that has been reinstated by President Buhari to Head the NHIS after being suspended for a ₦1 billion scam.

Lai Mohammed: Currently serving as minister of information, Mr Lai Mohammed used his office to intimidate a parastatal under his ministry to engage in unethical practices.

Documentary evidence reveals that Mr Mohammed was alleged to have begged his subordinates at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for a ‘loan’ of ₦13 million to enable him to travel to China, an act which is against civil service rules and against the rules of public decency.

A civil society organization, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) describes Mr Lai Mohammed’s action as “a subtle attempt at blackmail and a sinister plot to seek to extort N13 million from one of the agencies under his ministerial supervision. The action is absolutely against President Muhammadu Buhari’s current anti-graft disposition which is signposted in the bringing into being of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).”

How many other parastatals, departments and agencies have Lai Mohammed gone a-begging and for which he has not been exposed. Yet this is the same man that goes about parroting lies, half-truths and innuendo against others.

EFCC: The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is currently headed by Ibrahim Magu, a man whose confirmation as Chairman of the EFCC was denied down by the Senate after a negative report on him by the Department of State Security.

Under his tenure, Nigeria made her worst ever retrogression in the Transparency International annual Corruption Perception Index, moving 12 places backwards from 136 to 148.

Also, the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, which is the officially recognized global body that fosters cooperation in the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism, has suspended Nigeria because Mr Magu’s EFCC has, in their opinion, continued to leak financial information passed on to them to the media. This information they leak is overwhelming information related to opponents of the Buhari administration.

When they suspended Nigeria, the Egmont Group gave as a reason the “repeated failures on the part of the FIU, (Nigeria) to address concerns regarding the protection of confidential information.”

At various occasions between 2017 and 2018, Mr Magu publicly declared that the EFCC had recovered looted funds totalling ₦739 billion.

However, in a leaked memo to Mr Magu by the minister for finance, Kemi Adeosun, the minister asserted that contrary to the public claims by Mr Magu that ₦739 billion has been recovered by the EFCC, only ₦91.3 billion had been deposited by the commission into the treasury. She then demanded to know the whereabouts of the balance of the monies.

Between what Mr Magu claims to have recovered and what the EFCC paid in, there is a difference of ₦647.7 billion.

Shehu Sani, a Senator elected under the banner of the ruling APC has alleged that the looted funds recovered by this administration have been ‘relooted’.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, rather than accept the truth that there are an unprecedented corruption, ineptitude and nepotism in their government, the Buhari administration continues to promote the propaganda that our current economic malaise is as a result of the mismanagement of Nigeria’s economy by the Jonathan administration.

However, even members of President Buhari’s cabinet have testified publicly to the fact that the President, his vice and their fallacious minister of information have falsely accused the previous government.

Speaking on February 1, 2018 at a civil society engagement workshop on the Power Sector Recovery Programme in Abuja, the minister of works, power and housing, Babatunde Fashola, in trying to defend himself from allegations of ineptitude as regards the epileptic power supply in the country, ended up vindicating both Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP, albeit unintentionally.

At that event, Mr Fashola said:

“We hear all our so-called experts who say (non-availability of) power is why the economy of Nigeria is not growing. That is not factual and it is not correct. At the time when we had less power in 2013 and 2014, THE ECONOMY OF THIS COUNTRY WAS GROWING AT SEVEN PERCENT PER ANNUM. We had less power then than we have now, but the economy was growing.”

Nigerians can now see that Mr. Fashola, in a Freudian slip, was made by God, to expose the truth that his boss, his party and his colleagues have been trying to suppress for the past three years, namely that former President Jonathan developed and grew Nigeria’s economy at an unprecedented and consistent growth rate of over 6% per annum and handed over a thriving economy that was projected by CNNMoney to be the third fastest growing economy in the world when Dr Jonathan handed over power to President Buhari.

Unfortunately, due to the ineptitude of the Buhari administration, a booming economy became an economy in recession in just one year under the All Progressive Congress.

In less than three years, President Buhari has borrowed more money than the PDP borrowed in the last sixteen years. Yet the economy has gotten worse! Buhari is 75 years old. Who do you think will pay for these loans he is taking?

And to those who think Buhari’s APC is better than the PDP should consider this fact. The Southwest states were the top states in education until the APC took over there. The Southeast/South-south states were educationally disadvantaged until PDP took over. Now they are on top. Do not take my word for it. Google WAEC state by state rankings for the last 5 years yourself.

The corruption by the APC government is so pervasive that it has not only affected the economy, but it has affected knowledge acquisition.

Reno Omokri
(A bestselling author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years: Chibok, 2015 and Other Conspiracies.-

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2019 Election: Decision On Buhari Not Yet Made, Says Arewa Consultative Forum |RN

By Baba Negedu

 

Buhari-new-pix1

President Muhammadu Buhari

The apex northern socio-cultural organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum, (ACF) yesterday disclosed that as the umbrella body of all nongovernmental groups in the region, only it can decide the fate of President Mohammadu Buhari in next year’s presidential elections. The group also said all those speaking on the performance of the president and his chances were on their own.

The ACF National Chairman, Ibrahim Coomasie, a retired Inspector General of Police, told New Telegraph in an exclusive interview from his base in Katsina that Nigerians should wait for the voice of the ACF, insisting that all those speaking “are on their own.” According to him: “In 2015, I was the champion of the whole process.

We said that leadership must come back to the north and we said that any party that nominated a northerner, we would support the person and the party. Then APC nominated President Buhari and then I came out to say that we would support him and we did support him”. The former Inspector General of Police noted that they are waiting for the political parties to nominate their candidates before ACF will speak and give direction to the north on which way to go. “So, it is now left to him and his political party. So, let us wait and see. Because until his political party decides to give him the ticket or not, it is too early to say what will happen or not. If his party decides to renominate him, then we can talk”.

On the vote of no confidence passed on the President by some northern groups, the ACF chairman said: “Those groups are on their own, and that is why ACF issued a rejoinder to that effect. So, ACF is standing by that rejoinder.” He also questioned why they should rate the president low and question his chances, saying “for what are they, the Alpha and Omega? ACF is the Umbrella organisation for all northern groups and organisations. So, you have to wait until ACF talks”. Coomassie added: “Even though it is too early for me to comment on President Buhari’s re-election bid, let me say that it is his constitutional right to contest for the presidency of this country just like he did in 2015.

“He has the right to contest and nobody can stop him. If you remember, former President Olusegun Obasanjo tried to stop him and we said it was wrong for Obasanjo to stop him and he should not. Let us leave the man to decide for himself and he has now decided that he wants to contest. “In 2015, it was after the APC gave him the ticket that we came out to talk. And we decided to support him. But for now, the time is too early”. On the president’s performance, he said: “President Buhari has done very well in office. He has fulfilled the promises he made to the people.

On the insurgency front, he has controlled it. He talked about corruption and he is fighting it. Nobody else has fought corruption the way he has done. On the economy, his performance is not bad. So, I can say he is a good president, just that he inherited a bad situation.” “Those that are saying that the president has not performed are on their own”, he said.   (New Telegraph)

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This Is Why The North Will Still Vote For Buhari In 2019 – Matthew Kukah |RN

Bishop-Matthew-Hassan-Kukah

Bishop Matthew Kukah

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, speaks to TOBI AWORINDE on the socio-economic situation in the North, President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance and the forthcoming 2019 elections

You were one of those who vehemently opposed Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency from the outset. How would you describe the quality of leadership in Nigeria in the immediate past era?

Vehemently opposed to Buhari? Where did you get this from? I think you were sold this dummy in the heydays of ecstasy, frenzy and euphoria of the Buhariphilia, who jumped out of every corner of Nigeria believing that their redemption was at hand. Sadly, today, a good chunk has since apostacised. I never doubted the sincerity of the President’s intention to fight corruption. However, no matter how much you hate leprosy, you cannot cure leprosy by just giving Panadol to the victim.

My fears were threefold and based on experience. First, no matter the goodness, holiness or devotion of any human being, wait until he or she has power entrusted to them and see what they become. So, even in the most optimistic of situations, set goals and expectations and let the person prove himself or herself. Secondly, what Buhari kept saying about corruption did not seem to be the result of some deep reflections. His claims and strategies had never been interrogated. And finally, I insisted that national cohesion was far more urgent a task than just saying ‘we are here to fight corruption’. That informed what you may have referred to as vehement opposition. I was simply warning against too much blind trust and now we are where we are today.

What worries you most about this administration?

I am worried over the lack of fresh ideas, focus, vision and a seeming insensitivity to public feelings; a kind of contempt for how people feel and the impact of policy choices, on the part of this government. This is a season of anomie and alienation. The (Buhari) government seems closed to ideas that challenge their assumptions and apparently does not care what Nigerians think and what they feel. Else, there is no way that you can have a government make the mistakes that this government has made; refuse to engage citizens and simply refuse to give a damn. It is disturbing and, clearly, the government is listening to other drummers. Technically, no one suggests that their views should be taken, but this government has given Nigerians a feeling that they were sold a dummy. This is sad; very sad indeed.

Buhari and the military under his government have continuously claimed that Boko Haram has been defeated. Do you believe them?

Well, this is part of the problem and I think we should let the evidence — not the sloganeering and propaganda — do the talking. The government has refused to listen to the views of Nigerians about the rather incestuous and non-plural ways it has dealt with security and the appointments of their heads. Perhaps the government has a reason for allowing members of only one faith to monopolise the security apparatus, perhaps because it thinks Boko Haram is a problem within Islam and only Muslims can address the issues. Either way, our country is haemorrhaging in a way that ending the Boko Haram conflict will only open a new chapter in a country of people suffering the collective trauma, fear, self-doubt and a feeling of being totally disconnected from the state that has no empathy. With the government seeing this purely as a military operation, we can spend all the money in the world, but we will be nowhere near having a united nation or people. This battle has become a military operation with all its consequences on the economy and the dynamics of the engagement.

What was your reaction upon hearing the news of the Dapchi girls’ abduction?

My reaction was that of shock, sorrow; a tragic sense of déjà vu, and some level of near despair.

Do you agree with Buhari that his response time to the Dapchi girls’ abduction was better than that of the previous administration to the abduction of Chibok girls?

This comparison does not arise. One tragedy is bad enough; a repeat is a disaster. It is like asking whether dying by injection is better than drowning.

Do you think Buhari owes Nigerians an apology, considering his commitment to rescuing the Chibok girls and defeating Boko Haram within the first few months of his presidency?

Why should he apologise? I believe this government has done its best and this is about all it can offer. So, they should be judged not on speculation but on the reality. The issue of an apology does not arise because what we are seeing is the best that is on the table and this is the best team for the job in their view.

Buhari’s health was a major talking point last year with the President spending several weeks on two medical trips. Do you think Buhari owes Nigeria an explanation about what he was treated for?

You mean he should apologise that he was sick? I think we should respect everyone’s privacy. You don’t lose that by being a public servant. I was not happy the way we handled the issue of the President’s health. Others behave differently and I think we should learn not to play politics with everything in Nigeria.

Does his physical fitness worry you, given the possibility of his running for a second term?

There is a Hausa proverb which says, ‘You cannot borrow someone else’s mouth to eat onions’. No one has the right to decide on anyone’s health and as to whether they are capable of a particular function. It is left for the insiders of a party to decide whom they will field as a candidate even if the person is on a stretcher. Today’s weightlifter could fall sick tomorrow. Let the party decide who their best candidate is.

Three of the major promises of this administration is to fight corruption, boost the economy and conquer Boko Haram. Would you say the government has made any significant stride in these areas?

I have said repeatedly that personal opinion does not matter in the long run. Look at the reports from the Federal Bureau of Statistics, the United Nations Development Programme, Amnesty International or Transparency International. What does the evidence suggest? You cannot pick and choose what you want to believe. Or look at the entire Nigerian landscape littered with corpses, destroyed businesses and buildings, all the ravages of war. This is very painful.

What achievements do you think the Buhari government has made?

There is a Minister for Information; he has that duty, not me. They said they have technically defeated Boko Haram, reflated the economy, and brought back some Chibok girls and the Dapchi girls, bar Leah. We now have 7,000 megawatts of electricity and so on. They are also telling us about new multi-billion-naira projects which they are embarking on with no idea when they will be completed. The faces of Nigerians tell a different story and, sadly, we are not communicating with one another.

How do you feel about the recent revelation that senators receive N13.5 million monthly as running costs and that House of Representatives members receives N12m monthly?

Senator (Shehu) Sani has done his job. It is left for Nigerians to decide what to make of it. It is a pity that we are in such a state of stupor that nothing can rouse us from our apathy and this country will continue to sink. Will the President, Vice President, governors and ministers ever come clean or does it require reverting to the Freedom of Information Act? In the mafia, they call this destructive secrecy ‘omerta’, an oath of silence under pain of death. This is why Senator Sani deserves our respect for taking the decision he took. We hear that the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) is claiming ignorance as to these sums. But, as I have always said, governance in Nigeria is a criminal enterprise which functions above the law.

What are your thoughts on governors’ transition to senators when their eight-year tenure is completed?

Well, what else is there for some of these people to do? Can they go anywhere to deliver a lecture or write books on their experiences? This country stands or falls depending on what the governors do.

What is your grouse with Governor Nasir el-Rufai?

What do you mean by grouse?

You recently criticised el-Rufai on his handling of the Southern Kaduna massacre. Do you think there is room for reparations?

Did you read my sermon in its entirety and why do you single out Governor el-Rufai? It was a funeral and there was the need to set the records straight. I simply articulated an evidence-based side of a story that I had played a role in. If that is what you mean by criticism, then fine. We are all entitled to our opinions but we are not entitled to our facts because facts are sacred. I presented my side of the story based on my personal experience with the claims he made.

What can the governor do to make amends?

Amends with, or to, whom? That is within the realm of governance which requires consultation and consensus building.

You have been vocal about the role of the northern elite in the poverty and underdevelopment plaguing the North. Can you elaborate on this?

My field of doctoral research was on Religion and Power Politics in Northern Nigeria and the result was my book, ‘Religion, Politics and Power in Northern Nigeria’. It opened up new frontiers and it was a pioneering research on how religion has been used to mobilise and retain power by the northern Muslim elite. I had over 100 recorded interviews with a cross-section of northern politicians across the divide.

This has given me an appreciation of the issues. It does not make me an expert. However, it is because of this that those who do not want to follow the arguments keep falling back and accusing me of being anti-northern or anti-Muslim. This is the easy line for those who benefit from this manipulation but do not want to face the consequences.

There is a noble obligation that all elite owe to those they represent; those on whose shoulders they may have stood; those who voted for them or those who helped them get an education. In the rest of Nigeria, these elites have met these obligations by building schools, hospitals, clinics, and so on for their people. They have bridged the gap between government’s absence and the welfare of their people. This is the story of almost all of southern Nigeria and parts of the Middle Belt.

In the North, the evidence of this dereliction of duty litters the entire landscape, millions of out-of-school children, federal and state government projects such as irrigation and power-generating dams that now lie abandoned in remote communities, structures, such as the Almajiri schools, all in decay in many communities, and so on.

Look at the World Bank, UNDP and other reports on development in Nigeria and look at northern Nigeria. The sad thing is that for the elite, these lives of destitution, illiteracy and squalor are reservoirs of investment from where they draw their oxygen of political relevance. The grinding poverty leaves the people permanently below zero and all they do is continue to look at the stupendous wealth of the elite with awe. In exchange, they (the elite) pretend to offer them (the poor) dubious religiosity through the manipulation of pilgrimages and construction of mosques.

Could that be the reason for the emergence of Boko Haram?

In my view, it is the long historical experience of this distortion of the religion of Islam with its exclusionist tendencies that Boko Haram has exploited. Boko Haram exploited the fact that this elite proclaimed Sharia in 1999 and 2000, while in reality, they did not believe in the religion itself. So, Boko Haram simply has asked them to step aside.

Indeed, the Buhari project presents us with an interesting view. The average northerner has become far more impoverished under Buhari than he was under (former President Goodluck) Jonathan. But they will still vote for Buhari because they see him as the only one who can help bring their derelict elite to order. It is a strange appeal but that is it. They believe their corrupt elite are above the law. They were seduced with Sharia because they believed it was going to help them punish their own elite, who they see as being above the law of Nigeria. These are the issues.

Did the northern elite act against the interest of their people intentionally?

If they were mistaken, 50 years would have been enough to correct the mistake, but as I said, this culture of ignorance, poverty and squalor is an investment. Aminu Kano spent his life trying to open the eyes of his people, the Talakawa. The late Bala Usman, a phenomenal intellectual, made massive contributions in this regard by subjecting this charade to critical social analysis. The result was a ‘saner’ environment for the generation of fresh ideas among Christian and Muslim scholars. Ideology replaced the divisive tendencies of religion among the elite. Fighting the Kaduna mafia and other mafias was an ideological project. Today, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and some of the remnants of NEPU (Northern Elements Progressive Union) politics remain the last of the best wine.

What are the interests of the northern elite?

They want to permanently hold on to power. Inherently (there is) nothing wrong with that if it can be used for the good of the people, but after all these years of the monopoly of power under the military and civilians, we northerners are still the weakest, the most sickly, the poorest, the most illiterate, and the most vulnerable. We have the highest number of childhood stunting, which is a danger to the future. The elite has brought shame on us and made us too weak to fight.

Do you believe in restructuring?

Does it matter what I or anyone believes? Even if it determines the outcome of the elections, did the All Progressives Congress not promise us restructuring? Promises have never been a problem. The saddest part of it all is that even the politicians do not expect to be believed, but somehow, we stupidly do. The Kenyan scholar, Patrick Lumumba, once said the tragedy with Africa is that those with ideas are not in power, while those in power have no ideas. The sad thing, he said, is that when the people have a chance, they still vote for those with no ideas.

What do you think the North has to gain or lose in restructuring?

They may perhaps gain the chains of poverty and the fear of those who hold the chains over the majority of our people.

What do you make of the APC committee on restructuring led by el-Rufai?

I have not seen it.

Many have described the APC panel on restructuring as an afterthought by Buhari to score political points. Do you agree?

No idea. Nothing is ever late. It is when honesty appears that matters.

What are your thoughts on the Catholic Church in Nigeria rejoining the Christian Association of Nigeria?

How can we rejoin what we started?

Do you still maintain a relationship with former President Goodluck Jonathan?

I don’t know what you mean by ‘a relationship’. The last time I saw him was when the Peace Committee had a consultative audience with him after the swearing-in of the new administration.

Do you have any expectations concerning the outcome of the 2019 elections?

Let us pray to be alive first. 2019 is a long way away. But I tell you that I have never felt this sense of foreboding. Things could change, but we have to plan how to cross this wide river that lies ahead of us.  (Punch)

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Nigerian Christians Should Pray Against Islamization Of Their Country – Bishop Nwokolo

Bishop-Nwokolo-Owen

Rt. Rev. Dr Owen Nwokolo

Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha

  • Kicks against disarming registered vigilante groups

The Bishop on the Niger, Anglican Communion, Onitsha, Anambra State, Rt. Rev. Dr Owen Nwokolo has said that the activities of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen indicate an agenda to Islamize Nigeria, saying that Christians should not allow that to come to fruition.

He called on Nigerians to be watchful, and that Christians should take a stand for their faith.

Bishop Nwokolo, who stated this yesterday while addressing newsmen on the activities to mark this year’s Easter, said that Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem Mankind and to bring salvation to the world; the Bishop warning against sin and murders across the country.

“The Boko Haram… is purely to Islamize Nigeria,” Nwokolo said. “Fulani herdsmen, whether they say it is cultural or outsiders coming into Nigeria, the whole idea of herdsmen bearing AK47 guns, going around killing and intimidating people is to Islamize Nigeria. In the case of the Dapchi Girl in Yobe State, where some abducted school girls were released and they held one because she refused to renounce her Christianity – that was a typical example; in as much as we are hearing rumours that she has been released at last. Why was she detained after others were released? Just because of her faith in Christ.

“We are saying that Nigerians should be watchful. Christians should also pray and be watchful and speak out concerning their faith and take their stand.

“The issue of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen is an agenda to Islamize Nigeria and Christians should not allow that to happen. We must hold our faith, we must stand our ground, we must defend our churches, we must defend our fellow Christians, we must also watch and pray,” Nwokolo exhorted.

He said that he supported the call by Gen. T.Y Danjuma for self-defence because Nigerians won’t fold their hands and watch their people be slaughtered by Boko Haram or Fulani herdsmen, stressing that Nigerians should rise and defend their territory and stop the killers of innocent citizens, mostly Christians, in the country.

Bishop Nwokolo went on to say that:

“It appears that the Federal Government is turning a deaf ear to the plea of the people, behaving as if nothing will happen because they have the power, that there is nothing else anybody can do. We have said so many things before now, we have appealed to the Federal Government to defend the citizens, and it appears nothing substantial is happening. It is not that the Army is not doing anything or they are not making any effort, but we have not seen drastic measures that will curb the old system.

“When IPOB was reigning, we heard how the government… dealt with the problem; but this one, nothing really substantial has been done. So, I don’t know what else to say rather than to ask the people that, if they have any means to defend themselves, they should do it but still appeal to the Federal Government to tackle this matter headlong, because that is the only solution,” he said.

On the call by IGP to mop-up arms from vigilante groups, Nwokolo said: “I don’t know the people that [belong to] vigilante groups and those who are not. If any group has been registered in by the government and have obtained licenses to own and use weapons, withdrawing their weapons from them is to make room for anarchy. In this country, we don’t have enough security men, we don’t have enough policemen to cater to the citizens. I don’t think [we have] up to 500,000 [Police officers] but we have over 180 million Nigerians; with about 500,000 policemen to guard them, it is insufficient, there is no way it can work.

“So, because the situation is like that, the government in one way or the other permitted local people to organize themselves to secure their area working with the police, and to come now to withdraw their weapons in the guise of security is something we can’t support because we see it as a deliberate attempt to destroy the people. If the government will withdraw the weapons of the people, they must first of all increase the number of policemen to match the population and it will still take them a number of years to do that, and Nigeria is not yet prepared to take such steps, unless there is a hidden agenda of eliminating the people.

“We are calling for the introduction of state police so that every state will take care security measures. The Governor of a state is the chief security officer of the state [but as things stand now], he has no power over the security of his state” Nwokolo stated.       (The Sun)

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2019: Buhari Is Preparing Nigeria For Violent Transition – Dr Junaid Mohammed

By Correspondents

Dr.-Junaid-Mohammed

A former member of the House of Representatives during the Second Republic and a delegate to the 2014 National Conference, Dr Junaid Mohammed is unhappy with political developments in Nigeria. In this interview with Onwuka NZESHI, he spoke on the state of the nation and a wide range of other issues

 

What is your view on the call by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on President Muhammadu Buhari to retire at the completion of his current tenure and the moves to assemble a Third Force to lead Nigeria?

In fairness to all other political commentators, you have to admit that Obasanjo wasn’t the first to make a statement about the need for a Third Force. I have been saying this for two years before Obasanjo made his comment.

Secondly, after Obasanjo made his comments, another former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida also released a statement saying the same thing. I can tell you that the two statements were not only timely but absolutely truthful. The accusation of corruption, incompetence, nepotism and all other things levelled against Buhari and his administration were facts. So, irrespective of the occasional stormy relationship between me and either of them, if what somebody has said is the truth, we should accept it for what it is. The truth is the truth irrespective of the person’s proclivities. So I can tell you that I share in the contents of the commentaries made by Obasanjo and Babangida. In this very instance, I am 100 percent with them because they are 100 percent with me, repeating what I said two years earlier.

As far as I am concerned, neither Buhari nor the cabal around him in the Presidency and the entire government has challenged anything any one of us has said about the failure of the administration. So if it has not been challenged, it is deemed to be true and I believe it is true.

Are you saying that Buhari hasn’t got a right to seek re-election?

I think it is important for us to realise that in a democracy, anybody who wins a credible election is entitled to be regarded as a legitimate leader and that legitimacy which is bestowed on the individual or group of individuals or party, ‘remains valid until the performance of the individual or group concerned loses that legitimacy.

I have said it before that if performance legitimacy is something important in a democracy, then Buhari has lost his legitimacy and the party he leads has lost its legitimacy. For all I care, there is nothing that has happened between the time I spoke and the time Obasanjo and Babangida spoke; nothing has changed.

This is a government that has failed to deliver and we judge deliverance on the basis of performance. And if you judge a politician by what he said he is going to do during the electioneering campaigns then this government has failed.

This government promised to rid our society of poverty; they promised to rid this country of corruption; they promised to rid this country of Boko Haram insurgency and other forms of insecurity and they promised to do a number of other things. They have not succeeded in doing anything. So if you are to assess the performance of a government by what they do after winning an election, you have to admit that Buhari and the cabal he leads have failed woefully and lost legitimacy.

Some time ago, I said I was willing to give them 30 percent in their anti-corruption war and 40 percent on the fight against insurgency, but now I am not sure I am willing to award them such marks now given the way the counterinsurgency battle has turned in recent times. The level of insecurity in the country has gotten worse.

We are no longer contending with the Boko Haram in the North-East and militancy in the Niger Delta, but we are now confronted with the Fulani herdsmen ravaging the whole country. There is a failure in all areas of our national security and I don’t see where can give them a pass mark.

In addition, there is an obvious problem of our country sliding into anarchy.

Out of the 36 states in Nigeria today, 32 are governed only with the substantial help of the military which means the civil authorities are in charge only in four states of the federation.

We have an Inspector General of Police who doesn’t take orders from the Commander-in-Chief and nothing has happened to him. He can flout presidential orders because his appointment was not done on the basis of merit but on either corruption or something else. He is the most scandalous IGP in the history if Nigeria and Buhari don’t have the balls to sack him.

We also have other issues. The Service Chiefs have had their tenures extended for a second time.

You don’t extend the tenure of Service Chiefs that way because of the consequences it has on the security services themselves. Now that it has been done, it will trigger demoralization of personnel in the Armed Forces because those who have been trained to take over from the current crop of Service Chiefs might never get those positions again in their career. Now if those currently in command of the security forces remain, the war in the North-East will never end because virtually all of them are involved in one form of business or the other. They get fish from Baga near Lake Chad and bring it down South to sell. Others are involved in other commodities and businesses. As long as these people are making money from the war situation, the war will never end.

Apart from being counter-productive to the counter-terrorism war, the tenure extension is also dangerous to the moral of the other high ranking officers of the Nigeria Armed Forces.

What will happen is that by the time they are due to leave finally, two generations of Army, Navy and Air Force officers who would have come on stream as Service Chiefs and Commanding Officers in the divisions and formations would also be shoved out of the services. That is not the dream of these officers who worked hard with the hope of being made service chiefs and commanders. Everyone wants to get to the pinnacle of their chosen career.

Why do you think these Service Chiefs are being retained in spite of these problems you have enumerated?

It is the typical style of this President and his government. Of course, they had their tenure extended by Buhari on the advice of the cabal for reasons best known to them. Unless something happens, I can’t see how we can have a peaceful transition from one group of elite and one political party to another party or from this President to another President. This is very dangerous for democracy because the litmus test of democracy is the peaceful transition of power from one group of political elite and party to another without the intermediation of force or violence.

What are happenings now is that Buhari is preparing us for a violent transition from him to somebody else. As far as I am concerned, this system has failed and it has failed woefully. So it’s better we start thinking of alternatives

Is it really feasible to do away with the two major political parties and set up a completely new political platform that would be strong enough to give us credible leadership in 2019?

Before the emergence of the APC as a party from the other parties, how long did it take? How long did it exist before it contested and won a major election? It was formed .in 2014; it became a party in 2015 and won the election in 2015. So there is no big deal there. Secondly, the issue is not just about a platform; the issue is that we have a set of very unrealistic circumstances dictating our democratic experience.

As we speak, there are about 70 registered political parties in the country and we have been told that another 100 applications are being processed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).Sadly democracy under these circumstances is nothing but a farce. It is never going to be a meaningful democracy that will allow power to be used for the service of the people in the right sense of it.

We have seen how parties come together not on the basis of any ideology. They come together simply because they find it convenient to couple themselves into one group, give it some kind of fanciful name and go to contest an election. When, of course, they are in the money and they lose, they remain a formidable force to fight that election.

Today, the two major political parties we have are untenable. These two parties are different only in their names. They are like two sides of the same coin. Both of them are corrupt and they have incompetent leaders. They have no attraction with the common people in this country. None of them represents the social forces such as the labour movement, civil society and other social groups. If the relevant social forces are not represented by a credible party that is a perpetuation of anarchy and that is precisely what we have today.

The situation has been made worse because we have an incompetent and nepotistic regime. Under this kind of situation, we have merely transferred the economic and financial powers of the state to an individual family like what we have in some Latin American countries where a particular family controls the entire wealth of the entire nation. This is where we are heading to under the Buhari administration.

So it is better we have an alternative in the event of the two parties going hay-wire because they have all said they are going to conquer; they are going nowhere. In the event of a crisis situation, we don’t have to justify a military regime and that is why some of us have decided to have a party in waiting for 2019. A credible alternative platform is needed in case something happens because I believe something is going to happen.

What do you think is going to happen?

Well, I won’t tell you now; another time

Is the Social Democratic Party (SDP) the political path in waiting?

Yes. It is the party in waiting. It is not a collection of individuals like me or Olu Falae or Jerry Gana or Tunde Adeniran. No.It is a conglomeration of political forces coming together. Since 2016, I have been the leader of one political group called Peoples Salvation Party (PSP), a collection of people from the former Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and then we have the SDP and one of two other parties that are likely to merge. There is the likelihood of the Labour Party (LP) either in part or in whole also joining the others to strengthen this multipurpose party in waiting. As it is now there are four parties coming together but there is the likelihood that more will join. We want to have this fusion of political forces and thereafter we can have individuals coming to join the party.

There are reports that Obasanjo is also involved in this arrangement and that he is currently wooing some key figures in the APC to come on board the new platform. How true is this?

Well, honestly, I will not be able to authenticate that because I haven’t heard that from any one of us who are the engine room of the new party. But the fact is that every one of us that are involved in the new SDP completely agrees with not only what Obasanjo said about the Buhari administration but also with what Babangida said about the same government. So to that extent, we are in bed together but there are a lot of us promoting the party who believe sincerely that now is the time for real change. We cannot have Buhari perpetuate himself forever. If by any mistake Buhari remains President after 2019 this country will be in very serious trouble and I don’t see how it can end peacefully

The major political parties think that those of you congregating around SDP is more or less spent forces who do not command the mass followership that could give your party victory in 2019. How would you react to this rating?

First of all, I have never heard anybody call me a spent force in the politics of this country. This is new to me. But it doesn’t matter. The choice is not for me to make; it is for the Nigerian people to make.

If they believe they are happy with what they have now; if they believe that the country is where it is supposed to be, they can continue voting either APC or PDP, but those of us who never joined APC or PDP can never be described as spent forces. I have never joined any of them because I don’t have faith in them. I have spent all my time from 1999 till date attacking those people and saying that these are not the right people to lead this country to the Promised Land. The spent forces are those who are either in APC or PDP and offered nothing new to Nigerians and I believe that the people have a right to choose. All we are offering is an alternative and the right to think differently.

What is your interpretation of the controversy between the Presidency and National Assembly in respect of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill?

As far as I am concerned, it is not the business of the National Assembly to micro-manage elections to the extent that they will be determining the sequence of the election. That is not democracy; it is the height of irresponsibility.

Secondly, these people have not given us a reason why they want a sequence different from the one provided by INEC. Is it because they think the sequence they provide will give them an advantage and that advantage may translate into something? I have read the Electoral Act and I am not persuaded that the responsibility of the National Assembly extends to micro-managing elections. If they know where it is in the law, they should show us.

Most of the people in the National Assembly particularly in the Senate are have question marks over them and lack any form of legitimacy. They only hide under the cover of their parties during the election and they have realized that with the present non-performance of Buhari if they go for an election alongside Buhari they may lose the election. I believe that if INEC refuses to accept the re-sequencing of the election, it will be justified by the law courts. However, it is too early to write off the issue but as far as I am concerned it’s a non-issue because it is not the business of the lawmakers to prescribe the order of elections.

There is a fresh outrage about the jumbo salaries and allowances of our parliamentarians. How do you react to a monthly payment of N13.5 million?

What the National Assembly has been doing is wrong, immoral, and hypocritical and rubbish. They have been giving themselves this kind of outrageous salaries and allowances which no legislator elsewhere on earth does. The idea is that a man who cannot make N100, 000 a month should now be given so much for doing nothing. Most of them do nothing, yet they are given N14m every month in addition to other allowances. It is, in my view, untenable and this democracy can never survive with this kind of people dishing themselves this kind of salaries that cannot be justified. They are the most irresponsible group of people on earth.

As we speak, the National Assembly sits for only three days in a week and yet they are paid as if it is a full-time job. How do you pay somebody full time for working three days a week? They don’t work on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So who is fooling who? They are liars and a disgrace to democracy.

From day one, they set out to undermine the government and APC, their party. They are still doing the same thing three years after. If we want democracy to survive, we should never allow anybody to fix his salaries and allowances. I repeat, nobody should fix his own salary. There should be an independent body like the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to do that after a proper job analysis. We should never fall into the temptation of borrowing a salary template from anywhere and just dump it here. What we pay as salaries and allowances to these people is not acceptable to the Nigerian people. Besides, look at the size of the national economy

How many economists are there? How many scientists are there in the National Assembly? How many engineers are there and what have they been doing before they came to the National Assembly? What has been their contribution to the nation since they found their way to the National Assembly? Look at the turnover; about 80 percent of them don’t come back after every election. This means that even if they had institutional memory, it is lost at every election because the majority has fallen by the wayside. These people just go to the National Assembly because of the money they want to make and nothing else.

If your group eventually emerges as the alternative platform and gets to power, what will you do differently to change the system?

I want to assure you that an SDP government will never allow legislators to fix their salaries and will never allow this perversion called constituency projects. The SDP will pay legislators their basic salaries and the minimum of allowances charged on a pro-rata basis as well as on the basis of distances travelled from their places of work to their home constituencies.

We will also ensure that every member of the National Assembly is accountable. There shall be no sacred cows. Those facing must give way. Yes, there are those who commuted what you might call bailable offences but you cannot be on bail and at the same time, be enjoying the salaries and other benefits of public office. It is unacceptable.

Are you talking about those facing corruption charges in the National Assembly?

Yes. They should remain outside the National Assembly until their cases are disposed off by the courts. If the judicial officers could be suspended because they are facing corruption charges these lawmakers should be treated the same way until they are cleared.

Do you think INEC is ready to conduct a free, fair and credible election next year?

Yes, they are. I say so because I know at least the Chairman well. I know his antecedents; I know him since he was a student and so far he has given no reason to want doubt his ability to conduct the election.  (New Telegraph)

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Coup Comment: Kaduna APC Chieftain Calls For Ekweremadu’s Arrest |RN

IkeEkweremadu

Deputy Senate President, dr Ike Ekweremadu

By Baba Negedu, KADUNA

 

A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) in Kaduna State, Alhaji Salisu Tanko Wusono yesterday called for the arrest of Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.

Wusono the Acting publicity Secretary of Kaduna APC chapter said the call has become imperative following the comments by Ike Ekweremadu that democracy is under threat and coup is possible in Nigeria.

Wusono said just because there is what he called intraparty wrangling within some states is not enough to say a coup is possible.

Wusono then condemned the postulation of Senator Ekweremmadu and called for his immediate arrest by security agencies because his advice is sarcastic in nature and could open a door for a plethora of calls for military take-over in the country.

Wusono, however, urged Nigerians to ignore senator Ekweremmadu, saying he was not surprised by the position of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) chieftain because the party is no longer in power. (New Telegraph)

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