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No Automatic Ticket For Buhari In 2019, Says Ango Abdullahi |The Republican News

Prof.-Ango-Abdullahi                       Ango Abdullahi, Northern Elders spokesman

•Says North ready to support Atiku, Kwankwaso, others

Professor Ango Abdullahi is the spokesman of Northern Elders Forum, and former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.  He expressed support for the position of the Yoruba nation that Nigeria be restructured. Although there is a caveat that each existing region be allowed to decide the modalities for internal restructuring in view of new realities before fusing with others under a federal constitution similar to the First Republic. The NEF boss spoke with ABDULLAHI  HASSAN in Zaria on other national issues including the current rift between former Vice President,  Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC; the speculated cabinet reshuffle; Buhari’s performance and health; who the North will support for President in 2019; and ongoing militarization of the South East.

Sir, few days to Nigeria’s 57 years of nationhood, are we where we ought to be, given our potentials and the level of development of other countries with which we were at par at take -off?

Well, the starting point is to thank Allah for enabling us to observe yet another independence anniversary which we got in 1960. Obviously, the citizens must expect a lot of good things to have happened in terms of development over these years. When we look back, we can see that Nigeria is endowed with a lot of potential areas for development. This is what has been the expectation of Nigerians, particularly my generation because when the country attained independence, I was at the University College, Ibadan. Our fathers or leaders of the country at the time used to talk to us in the university and asked us to work hard, saying that very soon Nigeria would attain independence and that we were the ones to take over from the British. There were high hopes and expectations from within and outside the country that the new nation would make rapid progress in all aspects that touched the lives of her citizens. As you said, we will be 57 years and the question is, have all those aspirations been achieved? The honest answer is no.  If I was a teacher marking Nigeria from 1960, or a teacher marking Nigeria’s script as one of my students  of over these 57 years, I will grade her a failure.  When you look at it from the point of view of the opportunities available, the resources available, the chances available, both internal and external and you sum all these up, including  the human capital, I will say that Nigeria failed to achieved  the goals and aspirations it set for itself and for its people. There are benchmarks with which one can base this conclusion. There are quite a number of countries we virtually achieved independence either together or almost at the same time. Some of the references used in gauging our development indices are  India, in 1948  and Malaysia. Malaysia has really moved faster in their development endeavours. Unfortunately, despite all the endowments, Nigeria has failed to achieve the goals expected of it since independence.

So, who or what do we blame for the failure?

Well, if you go back to 1960, I will say that our founding fathers did extremely well. They did very well indeed. I will score  them high, going  by my marking scheme. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, with all his colleagues in his cabinet did well for the independence government; Chief Obafemi Awolowo for the  South Western Nigeria, along with his friends, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe; Michael Okpara for Eastern Nigeria and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello for Northern Nigeria. All the leaders did well in terms of providing honest and committed leadership to their people. If you  did an honest assessment of each of these leaders on what they achieved even before or after independence, you will appreciate and commend them, especially for managing  their resources well. They had nothing to depend on except revenue generation mostly from tax and agriculture, being the main export product that  earned the country a lot of foreign exchange. In fact, 75 per cent of total revenue came from agriculture. For those of us now who  witnessed and were beneficiaries of that government, the current state of things is regrettable. For example, I went to  elementary school free, Middle School free and university free.. those were things  enjoyed within the limited resources. In Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo introduced Universal Free Education Programme for his people and ultimately placed Western Region at an advantage over the North and East. In 1953, there were only two secondary schools in Northern Nigeria-Barewa College and Government Secondary School, Keffi. By 1966, the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello had provided  secondary schools in each of the  provinces in the North,  as well as Teachers Colleges and vocational training centres. He  established Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria  in 1962. One should ask why those leaders were different from those that followed them? Despite the interruption of democracy by the military in 1966 which culminated in civil war , their legacies and values have continued  to yield positive results… Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s regime invited most of the products of the First Republic to  serve as federal commissioners. People like Chief Obafemi Awolowo was appointed Finance Commissioner, Malam Aminu Kano was appointed Health Commissioner. From 1960 until 1974, Nigeria was doing well in the area of development. I happened to have served as Commissioner of Economic Planning  under the military government from 1973 to 1975. As from that period, things began getting worse, particularly, during Gen. Murtala Mohammed. Although Murtala appeared to be a nationalist and Pan-Africanist, regrettably, he messed up the civil service, which has always been the stabilising factor in any country’s development programme. Politicians come and go, but civil servants remain until retirement. Murtala abused civil service rules, he arbitrarily sacked civil servants, permanent secretaries , directors  were sacked on radio without procedures, no query, warning or setting up of committees. The security of tenure that civil service guaranteed, Gen. Murtala destroyed it when he came to power. Now a civil servant has to be a liar, or sycophant to keep his job. This is where Nigeria began to run into serious difficulties in governance. Secondly, we rushed to change from parliamentary system in the Second Republic to presidential with a military fiat . This  is the major  mistake  that was made. Presidential system brought about nothing other than huge overhead costs in government; compared to parliamentary system.

In other words,  the presidential system is more expensive to run anywhere around the world.  It also brought in corruption  and  lack of accountability. In the parliamentary system, ministers were appointed from elected members in the Parliament, which means that you have a constituency to account for, not only to your constituency, but also to the parliament and the prime minister. While under presidential system, you can lobby for positions by licking the  boots of other political leaders, in a nutshell, you can be enlisted to be a minister even if your people don’t know you. In other words, you don’t feel accountable to anybody apart from the person who nominated you, or a godfather. In presidential system, a minister is free to do whatever he likes as long as  the President is comfortable with him. These are some of our major setbacks. So, to answer your question, this is to some extent, the factors responsible for the lack of development of our nation today.

You were an arrowhead of support for the election of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is nearly 15 months for this administration to exit, but people are still complaining about lack of development viz bad roads, ill-equipped hospitals, schools etc. Does that mean that Buhari  has failed Nigerians?

    You see, the problem is the system.  Buhari may be a good person; he could be a gentleman who  wants to work honestly but in a wrong system. It was a system of military fiat when he was a head of state, but the system he finds himself now does not allow him to manoeuvre. He has to cross many  hurdles and checkpoints at the National Assembly and his party before he can execute anything meaningful, and all these squabbles are not based on principle but  personal interests, either at party level or at constituency  or at the level of the judiciary.  All this really will make it  impossible for a good person or committed  person to operate effectively in this country in the manner which will accelerate development.  Perhaps,  you might ask the question if  we can really change? Buhari might not have failed, but the system of government that he is operating in has substantially failed in the same manner as the ones before it.

Many Nigerians expected the President to re-shuffle his cabinet soon after his return from medical vacation as a step towards rectifying mistakes in the administration, but that is yet to happen.  How do you view this?

I really don’t count that as a solution to government’s problems, weighed against the substantial damage he inherited. You see, once a system is not right everything inside it tends to fail. Of course,  people blame President Buhari for not picking a good team to start with. I personally made that observation  two years ago and I came under much fire from the corridors of power but I’m here again criticizing. I have so far been vindicated  in terms of the quality of people he picked as operators of the government, either at ministerial level, or institutional level. Their quality has failed to measure or meet the yearnings and expectations of Nigerians. When people think that cabinet reshuffle is the answer, it may bring out some good, but for me, it is too late in the day. Ministers are part of the instrument of decision-making, the only difference between them and their permanent secretaries is that only ministers are allowed in the Federal Executive Council. Bureaucrats in their ministries prepare the memos they read at FEC. What I am saying is that it is not enough to simply look at the ministers as the problem. I can argue that most of the people who brought the problem on this country, especially during Obasanjo and Jonathan’s administrations are still and very much in this administration. When you are talking of corruption and incompetence, in fact 70 per cent of the people who operated in the Jonathan government are still in this system. So why do people expect Buhari to perform miracle? It is possible, but very difficult in this kind of system or arrangement.  I believe that the system in which Buhari is operating is not working, since it was changed in 1977/79. It does not fit the kind of federation of Nigeria’s structure, because when the British came, actually, they thought Nigeria could run in two parts, the Northern and Southern protectorates. But very soon, they realized that there was substantial difference between the eastern part of the country and the western part, which later made mid-west to be created, leaving the North as it was.

What do you make of the stiff war between Abubakar Atiku on one hand and the President and his party on the other over alleged spite of the former VP?

You see, I don’t regard Atiku as a major actor in the system; he only operated in the system, but largely failed us. He operated as a Vice President to Obasanjo in the latter’s government, which, as far as I am concerned failed.  So they both have failed. I could not see Atiku being isolated as a major factor in subsequent years. He joined APC, but he was not part of the major groups, though he contested in the primary election when we were challenging the Jonathan administration. In 2015, I was one of those who  felt that PDP had failed to honour an agreement that everybody was aware of and which most of the leaders signed. I was one of those who drafted the constitution of PDP and signed for it to become a political party. So I was also a member of the first Board of Trustees of the party. But the party quickly collapsed and failed. People in executive authority replaced the PDP. The PDP paved way for Obasanjo to be reelected. In the case of states, the party paved way for governors to manoeuvre. So what we had was mini dictatorship within a short time.  Obasanjo changed  the party chairmen about three or four times. If you want to maintain your position you have to go and vow before  Obasanjo or a governor. Atiku can go and make whatever complaints,  he knows how he joined the party, he is just a party member like anybody else. The only thing he may argue is that when the party was formed , he played a role, which  he thought should be appreciated, recognized and rewarded. He is only behaving like most ordinary Nigerian politician. He participated and contributed and he now waits for reward.    In other words, he is like an investor expecting dividends and profit, therefore, he wants to get dividend on his investment. I think this is all Atiku’s complaints.

His challenge seems to foreshadow the direction of the politics/contest of the 2019 presidential election. Who will the north support between the two leaders in the event the dice is cast, and why?

I am not a witness to that, I don’t know, what I read in the newspaper is that, Atiku only complained that he was sidelined in the process of operating party and government. That was not enough for me to say that he has reached a point  of  contesting or  quitting the party. I would want to say he, of course, in the primaries of the party together with others and they all lost to Buhari. It’s also wrong to assume that in every contest, you must win. You may contest severally without winning, so winning election is not always automatic. There are some party executive arrangements that sometime make you an enemy if you  contest elections and lose, and this is happening in many states now, those who contested for governor became enemies  of those who won. I think that is what will continue to divide APC, if care is not taken.

Is the Buhari-Atiku altercation in the interest of the  North, and where do we place the aspirations of others like  Kwankwaso , Lamido, Tambuwal, etc?

No, no, you see the fact that Buhari is incumbent does not automatically confer on him  the candidature of the party in the next election if  there is internal democracy in the party. The fact that you are a sitting president does not mean other members of the party cannot contest against you. If I were Buhari, I will  welcome competition in my party. This is an opening for democracy in my party and I will ask  people to come and test their popularity. If he has done well, people will re-elect him. This is a confirmation he has  done well and that both the party and voters trusted him. I criticize all political parties for the system they employ in conducting primary elections. The one I am most familiar as good was the one used by Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992, that was a direct primary election, where every member of the party has a chance to come and vote for who will represent him as a councilor, chairman, governor  or president. In direct primaries, all parties have chance to come, cue and vote or elect any person of their choice. But the current  delegate system brings nothing except corruption. Once the parties are corrupt, certainly, government must be corrupt, this is what is happening now all over the country.

Where do you stand on the question of whether or not Buhari should run again, against the backdrop of non-delivery on electoral promises and his health issue? You may wish to answer that question with what you think is in the North’s strategic interest, vis-a-vis, experience over the issue of tenure and dispute with the South on zoning principle.

On the issue of who the North will support among Northerners who are likely to contest, I will say we will support internal democracy, that the person who wins the primary election in the party becomes the candidate. It is premature to say and there is no  basis for me to deny Atiku or Kwankwaso, or whoever is said to be contesting, the right to contest. Whoever emerges from the North, we will support him. You see personally I am not a member of any political party, I am only concerned that there should be an internal democracy in any party for development of our democracy, so that people will know that the candidate emerged  and was chosen by their wishes and support. That is the most important thing. In the case of Buhari, he  had a bad start as far as I am concerned, somebody who is in office is supposed to show his credentials of being in that office and these credentials should sell him not only to his party, but to the generality of Nigerians. The decision will be made by party members and eventually when election  comes, voters will ultimately decide party’s decision. My support or non support for Buhari does not matter, our concern is for the system to be  sanitized.

The Yoruba nation unanimously and unequivocally stated last week  its position on  restructuring, declaring it was mandatory as the basis for the continuation of the Nigerian union. The Yoruba also defined what this restructuring should be, so there won’t be any ambiguity that those opposed to it had often cited. Your take on this?

I believe Nigeria has been in existence for 100 years now, in this 100 years, there are people who believe that Lord Lugard or the British made mistakes in the way they crafted a territory and called pieces of this country called Nigeria in 1914. Up till now there are people of high intellect and in responsible positions who  believe  that Lugard made a mistake by merging the Northern protectorate and Southern protectorate and Lagos Colony. These agitations have manifested in various forms over the years and appear directed against the North.  You see, there was no restructuring agitation during Jonathan or Obasanjo’s administration. It started few years ago. All these agitations started when there was no  true  government. My first reference is to go to 1914,  examine this question of whether Lugard or the British made a mistake by merging the territories that appeared  incompatible, according to the agitators. So, if we want to give credit to the British in 1914, for crafting the constitution for these colonies and you also want to give credit to our founding fathers who really faced the British and argued for independence, you may say that, perhaps, this was the fundamental mistake of  our coexistence. There is also a merit in looking forward that even though diverse, we could eventually be molded into a nation. So they tried together with our founding leaders and agreed on the federal constitution. By 1960, if you remember very well,  prior to independence, the regions asked for self-government on different dates. The Northern Nigeria  said it was not ready  in 1957, while other regions said they were ready, which later brought about some misunderstanding in the country, but eventually the regions resolved their differences in term of dates. The North later had its own in 1959, while other regions had theirs  in 1957. Again within one year, Nigerian leaders sat together and discussed independence of the country. The final constitution we had was a federal constitution with regions as the federation units. Western Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria. Those were the federating units under the 1960 federal constitution. My excitement about the position taken by the Yoruba  is that we should go back to the 1960 constitution, go back to the regions. I agree with this position in all honesty and sincerity, but the only point I may have difference with is that, let it be Western, Eastern and Northern, as it was said, but the Yoruba should remember that each of these regions  in the past had a constitution. If we are going back to that, then we must take  each region  to  have its constitution. It’s also  good to remember that a lot of things had happened even before the British left, there was minority commission set-up by the British prior to 1960. The minority groups from different parts of the regions asked for status. The Western Region later agreed that Mid West should be created. So even now, if we are to go back to the regions, what should be done is for each region to go back and consult its people to decide whether these regions will be like what is used to be,  or  there should be amendments in the 1960 constitution, or  there is need for new arrangement before making recommendations to the rest of the country. The Eastern Region will do the same. The Northern region will do the same. You see , I am not discounting that there will be a lot of requests,  even before 1960 , there were lots of agitations in the North for Middle-belt. In short, I agree entirely that we should go back to regions as the Yoruba have suggested, the point of difference here is that the regions should go back  decide for  themselves and decide how they want to restructure themselves. Nobody should decide for any region how to be restructured. I am happy to hear that even South East governors have decided to remain together, to that extent, this might be attractive on the part of Northern Nigeria. I am among those who support this Yoruba recommendation.

Government has practically militarised the S’ East under the pretext of going in to tackle crimes and insecurity in the region. We have seen a crackdown on Biafra agitators, while Arewa youths known to have breached the constitution are treated as sacred cows. Tell me how can this brazen display of double standard promote a sense of equality and fair treatment and as such oneness among Nigerians from different divides? Again, as long as this continues, don’t you think it will only further fuel discontent and agitation? And do you believe this strong arm tactics and forceful approach by government is the best way to bring about peace?

Well,  I consider  all these Kanu’s  saga as general pretence of Nigerians’  dishonesty.  When the Northern youths reacted to the abuses that their parents and grandparents were being subjected by some interest groups,  insult and provocation , nobody  uttered a word of guidance, counseling or caution among so-called elders in the East,  even as I am speaking now. It is when our children reacted the way they did that they had, had enough of these abuses coming from that area, and also supported that those agitating for their own state should be given chance for self-determination in line with the international protocol for self-determination.  With this, who now says that Nigeria’s unity is settled? It is not settled for  more than hundred years? We can see from this saga that there is a lot of pending issues on  Nigeria’s unity. If this problem is still lingering, then you cannot say Nigeria’s unity is settled,  this word is Utopian. Settling  the issue of unity is a determinant factor for coexistence, as such you cannot say Nigeria is indivisible, while its component parts are not united. So you see, I disagreed with all this Utopian position that Nigeria’s unity is settled. The question of its unity now or in future will be the question to ask from time to time. I keep repeating that the problem of Nigeria is the elites, both political and other levels, Nigerian elites have been the cause of either disunity or lack of developments and if that is the case, then we are not prepared to read and visit our souls and attitude. It means that the  celebration of  independence anniversary, to me, is an anniversary to mark the waste of two generations of Nigerians over the last 57 years. Let’s ask ourselves; if we the elites are the problem of Nigeria, why can’t we  come and sit down and tell ourselves the truth? Enough is enough, let’s save future generations, if we continue the way we are going, nothing positive will happen apart from wasting time.

At Yusuf Maitama Sule book presentation, Chief Edwin Clark  made a similar observation and requested you all to come and resolve  your differences as elites in order to save Nigeria from ongoing crises. Are you ready?

I don’t want to reveal too much on what transpired between me and Chief Edwin Clark,  it is an old issue,  we engaged Edwin Clark and his people when we were fighting Obasanjo’s third term, we engaged him positively together with the current father to the Senate President. The Northern Union headed by its chairman, the late Dr Olusola Saraki, while I was his deputy, fought against Obasanjo’s third term agenda. Edwin Clark pledged that whenever the North takes over the presidency, his area (South South) will produce the Vice President.  And this was how we sealed the deal, which produced Jonathan as Vice President to Umaru Yar’Adua. The arrangement was perfected and successfully executed. I don’t want to go into details of other negative side of the story, but I know we’ll get ourselves together for discussion on the solution to Nigeria’s problem.

So, if I may ask you as part of the Nigerian elite, what is the solution to the crises?

We have been failing Nigerians, the elites before us, like late Sardauna, Chief Awolowo,  Dr. Azikiwe and others risked their lives, worked and died for Nigeria, under an arrangement that was not forced. Like what the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, said, let’s understand our differences, so that we work together for the development of Nigeria. This can still be applied today, that is why I feel excited with the position of Yoruba elders,  that we should go back to our regions as federating units. The elites should stop pretending that tough time is over  and  Nigeria’s unity is settled. We in the Northern Elders Forum have agreed that we  are ready to engage in dialogue with anybody that will solve Nigeria’s problems.  (The Sun)

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Igbo Have More to Lose If Nigeria Breaks Up, Says Okorocha |The Republican News

Rochas-Okorocha1

•Why I never supported IPOB

Governor Rochas Okorocha believes that the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) should be condemned by not only the Igbo but other well-meaning Nigerians. His argument is that Nigeria would always fare better as one united country than exist under several independent entities. He made his position known in an interactive session with journalists in Owerri, the Imo State capital. WILLY EYA recorded the proceedings.

Are you going to contest the 2019 presidential election in the event that President Buhari declines to run?

My name is Owelle Rochas Okorocha and not President Muhammadu Buhari. It is only Buhari who can say whether he is contesting or not. But as far as I am concerned, President Buhari is well now as you can see. He is strong and well; he has gone to the United Nations. So, it is left for Buhari to say whether he would run or not. The man, Buhari has the character to lead this country. We should wait for him to make a statement on the issue of 2019.

What is your view on the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and tagging it as a terrorist organization?

I have made my mind clear on this. IPOB is not good for the South East. It is not the best way to complain of marginalization to the Federal Government of Nigeria. There are better ways to do it. And if IPOB must do a thing like that, it should have changed its name from sovereignty. You can call it any name but remove Biafra. Is that the way Ijaw youths and Arewa youths fought? They would have made more impact but for everything that an Igbo man does, we want to go to the extreme. Now you want to separate yourself from Nigeria, meanwhile, the South-South would not go with you; Edo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River would not go with you. If they cut us here now as South East, if I need to go to Rivers, I would go and ask for passport and visa and we are all keeping quiet. These guys are kind actually. If there is a crisis, there is no Hausa man in Imo State or Igbo land who has a duplex. There is no Yoruba man who has a room and parlour or a duplex or a N20 million investment anywhere. But the Igbo have trillions of naira investments in Lagos, Abuja and everywhere and the same people are looking for secession. These people are kind. If they ask you to go now, what happens; you lose those properties to Lagos and the South West; you lose your properties in the North and so on and all of us are keeping quiet and supporting IPOB. We thought we were getting at the Federal Government. It was very childish and those who are behind these should stop. I was speaking to the Ooni of Ife and I said do you know that Hausa love Igbo people so much but the Igbo love the Yoruba a lot and the Yoruba love the Hausa a lot. Have you thought of it? Have you ever seen where an Igbo man and a Yoruba man fought and spilt blood? Give me one example in history. But they are cat and mouse. I was talking to the Ooni recently and he said that the Igbo and Hausa are the same family but they are made to become cat and mouse. Look at the situation. The South-South has produced the president, the South West has produced the President and vice. The North has produced many presidents. The hope is that by the Nigerian sharing formula, the next ship whatever arrangement, the next people that should be considered is the South East. But the South East again has created an image of danger to the rest of Nigeria that if they give them the presidency, they would secede. So, where are we in our wisdom and intelligence? You can judge especially those of us in the Diaspora who have never come home. If they discuss the Nigerian problem here, you think they have a solution to it. So, that is my position on IPOB. But my advice is that the Igbo should change their style and condemn this IPOB thing in a manner that should be done. Allow us to flow with the rest of Nigerians now because we shall benefit more than anyone else. Do you know how the Northerners feel? They feel a sense of hate. The question the Northerners would ask you is if Jonathan were in power, will the situation be the same. Believe me, the IPOB would not be at this level. I know the feeling just like I told Nigerians that the Igbo have a feeling of abandonment. But it is the same way the Northerners feel that this is an attack on their government. Wise people should have done things differently. I advised Ndigbo. Politically, you are not at an advantage; economically, you are not at an advantage. Sometimes some come to complain about non-inclusion of Ndigbo in appointments. When Ndigbo were ministers of Finance, Senate President, Secretary to the Government of the federation, Police head, what did you get? You want to hear the hard truth. The Igbo play the worst politics quote me.  They play this politics of protecting one of their own from the South-South zone. It has now become obvious and the Northerners now understand that they can become president with or without Ndigbo. Before, there was a fear about that. So Yoruba and the Hausa now understand that Kano and Lagos determine the elections in Nigeria. So, we must change our style and condemn it. If anybody joins you to praise you and raise your mind to say oh you are marginalized, the person is not helping you. We played very bad politics in 2015 and we must condemn what is happening now and find a way to re-engineer ourselves into the system.

Why did South East governors ban IPOB?

Some of us came out and made a big statement on IPOB. I condemned it from time. I have never supported IPOB. Who is Nnamdi Kanu to tell Rochas Okorocha to follow him to war? He said he was going to war. Most of the elite of the Igbo nation feel emotional about IPOB especially the clergies. I have engaged the clergies and they feel the same way.

The elite should be engaged and made to change their stand because even if you are made the president, these questions must continue to come up. There is something wrong basically. I believe that it is either that enough information is not out there or that they are not taken properly. We must teach Nigerians how to free their minds. This is because when we are communicating, some people already have a preconceived mindset. I see this as a major challenge that we have. I believe that agitation in Nigeria is a way to get more whether right or wrong. I have been to the Northern part of this country and I weep each time in some of them. When I went to Liberia some time, I saw how great Nigeria is. So, there is a need for every Nigerian to move around. This is because if you go to some of these places like Borno and some rural areas, you might come here and speak a different language. Rather than complaining, you might be organizing a fundraising to save the situation.  (The Sun)

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Quit Notice To Yoruba, Northerners In Niger Delta Stands – Militants |RN

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• Threaten to attack oil installations from September 10

From Fred Itua, Abuja

The coalition of Niger Delta Agitators, yesterday, reiterated its quit notice to Yoruba and northerners living in the region.

Besides, the coalition said plans have been concluded to protest disaffection with the current state of affairs in the country.

The protest is scheduled for all niger delta states, from September 12, 2017.

The group declared that it has the backing of over 500 groups for the protest and warned that markets, schools and other public institutions would not be opened from that day.

The militants also said the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration has failed to commission a single road project or improve on the epileptic power situation in the country, among other infrastructure, since its inauguration on May 29, 2015.

The agitators, in a statement which had the endorsement of heads of the groups in the coalition, said they will carry out threats to cripple economic activities in oil-producing states.

Signatories to the statement included General Ekpo Ekpo (Niger Delta Volunteers); General Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors); Major General Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters); Major General Asukwo Henshaw (Bakassi Freedom Fighters);

Major General Ibinabo Horsfall (Niger Delta Movement for Justice); Major General Duke Emmanson (Niger Delta Fighters Network); Major General Inibeghe Adams (Niger Delta Freedom Mandate); Major General Abiye Tariah (Niger Delta Development Network) and Major General Joshua Ebere (Renewed Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta).

Others were Major General Jeremiah Anthony (Movement for Actualisation of Niger Delta Republic); Major Francis Okoroafor (Niger Delta Freedom Redemption Army) and Colonel Nelson Okochi Walter.

“The Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators has concluded arrangement for a mass protest. We have concluded plans and have the backing of over 500 groups, and we want to warn everyone that would not be part of the protest to stay indoors, all shops, markets, businesses, schools, parks and companies should remain lock as we cannot guarantee that the protest is going to be peaceful because we shall resist any attempt by security forces to destabilise the protest.

“Our quit notice remains valid, we have not withdrawn it.

“Our attention has been drawn to the publication in some national newspapers of Friday, September 1, 2017, that we, Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators mandated one Chief Mike Loyibo of Pan Niger Delta Peoples’ Congress (PNDPC) to withdraw the quit notice on our behalf.

“We want to state here clearly that we did not, at any point in time, appoint or mandate anyone to withdraw any quit notice on our behalf neither did the self-acclaimed leader of PNDPC ever meet with us or our representative to discuss any matter relating to quitting notice. 

“Our quit notice stands… We cannot work with PNDPC or PANDEF. We stand by our previous statements.

“The quit notice we issued to northerners and Yoruba remain valid.

“As a matter of fact, our strike team are already prepared and positioned to start the attack on oil facilities in the Niger Delta from September 10, 2017, in preparation for our planned declaration of Niger Delta Republic on October 1, 2017.”  (The Sun)

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ECA Accuses Northern Elites Of Sponsoring False Report On Biafra, Crises In Igbo Land

IGBO-CULTURE-PROTECTION-COMMITTEE-MEETS

The Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA, has allayed the fears of possible crises in Igbo land following the agitation for the realization of the Biafran Republic, saying that there was no disagreement between the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and MASSOB on one hand and the rest of the Igbo on the other. The ECA said that reports of impending crises over the issue in the press were being sponsored by northerners who believe that they were born to rule Nigeria and lord it over the people forever. This was contained in a statement entitled, “SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE,” and signed by the Secretary of ECA, Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko in Enugu Saturday, evening.
Ugochukwu-Uko, who is also the Deputy Secretary of Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT stated, “Sponsored writers who have been paid to scream that crisis looms in Igbo land, and born to rule oppressors who call on Igbo leaders to rein in the agitators are all clearly swimming against the tide.
“The paid writers are hired to instil fear into the hearts of the general public about how the oppressor will crush the eastern region militarily, while the oppressors are hoping they will succeed to deceive and distract the public from the real issue which is their stiff opposition to saving Nigeria through a peaceful restructuring of the polity.
“Both are living in the past, wasting their time and clearly swimming against the tide. They pitifully, do not know that the masses have long gotten past the stage where intimidation can alter the reality on the ground.

“What Northern elders actually mean when they charge Igbo leaders to call the agitators for secession to order actually is; TELL YOUR BOYS, WE THE NORTHERNERS ARE THE OWNERS OF THE UNIVERSE, WE WILL NEVER AGREE TO RESTRUCTURE NIGERIA, OUR MILITARY WING WHO CREATED THE CONTENTIOUS STRUCTURE TOOK POWER THROUGH COUP DE TAT, WE WILL RETAIN THE ADVANTAGES THE STATUS QUO BESTOWED ON OUR REGION. TELL YOUR BOYS TO ACCEPT THAT OR WE WILL GO TO WAR.
“This is the actual message from ACF, though veiled in diplomatic niceties.

The message is not lost on anybody. The polity is over heated by those who fiercely oppose restructuring not those agitators for a better deal.
“The source of the power base of the oppressor, why he arrogantly opposes restructuring, is the fact that he believes that Eastern political leaders and elite are weak, fearful and only too willing to assist him to continue the subjugation of the people.
“Because the oppressor believes that Southern leaders could be easily intimidated and browbeaten to fall in line with the wishes of the born- to- rule slave master, the oppressor stubbornly refuses to face the reality that the status quo structure of Nigeria can no longer sustain the edifice.

“The fact that the southern leaders always willingly make themselves “girlfriends and house maids” of the oppressor in the hope of being rewarded with one consideration or the other, the stalemate hangs on.
“The considerations which include, vice presidency slot, accommodation in government, empowerment of many kinds etc. is the singular reason, southern leaders turn themselves into prostitutes, willingly mortgaging the future of their unborn children, for a pot of porridge.
TIMES HAVE CHANGED
“But times have changed. The game masters are in for a shocker.
The people have resolved that Nigeria must restructure or Nigeria will die.
Hiring paid writers or talking down on fellow Nigerians will not change the reality. The people are tired of Nigeria as presently constituted.
“Delay in restructuring Nigeria is at the root of all the agitation in the land. Stubbornly hoping that repairing some roads in the oppressed region, granting more appointments to ever-hungry politicians from the oppressed region and amending the military constitution can restore peace is idiotic and further proof that the oppressor is both deaf and blind to the reality on the ground.
“Those who foolishly believe that there is an alternative to restructuring Nigeria are clearly swimming against the tide. Their stubborn disposition can only lead to bloodshed and disintegration now, nothing else. They should kindly face reality.

“Would also like to use this opportunity to state clearly that any agenda that does not include an early restructuring of the polity will only amount to postponing the evil day, only a return to the 1963 constitution can save Nigeria, nothing else.
“Hiring paid writers to shout of a looming crisis in Igbo land will not change the truth. The plot and conspiracy or attempt to use such propaganda to strike fear into the hearts of citizens in order to cow them to accept the unworkable status quo are both childish and laughable.
“There is no crisis looming anywhere in Igbo land, rather crisis looms all over Nigeria and West Africa, if restructuring Nigeria is further delayed, mayhem reigns in the North East, crisis already rages in Niger Delta where five Villages have been burnt down in Bayelsa State. Crisis rages in the economy where millions of Nigeria go to bed hungry.
“These crises have been raging for two years now. The truth is clear for all to see, Nigeria must restructure or Nigeria will perish.”

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We’ll Vote Anti-Buhari Politicians Out In 2019 – Northern Group |The Republican News

From Desmond Mgboh, Kano

Governors and members of the National Assembly from the North, who worked against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari during his 103 days of medical vacation in London, have been told to await their political Waterloo in 2019.

In a position letter to President Muhammadu Buhari during the North West Special Prayer / Grand Solidarity Rally in his honour by the members of  the Conference of Patriotic Nigerians, the group held that the people of Northern Nigeria were waiting eagerly to sanction saboteurs of the Buhari administration during the next election.

The Secretary General of the Conference, Ambassador Ibrahim Waiye, who presented their position letter yesterday in Kano to  Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, for onward transmission to President Buhari, declared that the people of the North were deeply touched by the outright betrayal and backstabbing of the president by same politicians who rode on his back to political victory in the last elections.

They declared that, “Let not those governors forget that every move they make is being monitored by Nigerians. They should not forget that the date of reckoning is around the corner.”

The conference members, comprising students associations, labour groups, youth, traders association and women groups from the North West prayed for Buhari health and expressed gratitude to all those, including the clergy and Imams,  who  partook in the prayers and rally.

Ganduje, who echoed the same sentiment in his remarks,  placed a curse on those who were sabotaging the Buhari administration in his absent even as he declared that Buhari’s seat would not be vacant.

Speaking while receiving the rallying groups, the governor expressed gratitude to Allah for the safe return of President Buhari even as he prayed fervently for Allah to protect and bless the President’s health in the future.

Ganduje,  also expressed the wish that the president should not again travel outside the country on account of any health challenge, but remain healthy enough  to commit himself to the assignment given to him by the Nigerian people.

To those who prayed for the safe return of President Buhari while he was sick, he stressed that Allah had  since accepted their prayers to the shame of those who wished and desired the contrary adding that today Buhari was not only back home to Nigeria, but was  seated on his seat discharging his duties as Nigeria President.

He recalled that President Buhari had since been delivering on his campaign promises of tackling insurgency, fighting corruption and resuscitating the economy adding that millions of Nigerians had been employed by the administration since 2015

He saluted the members of the Conference of Patriotic Nigerians as well as the Imams and clergy for organizing and participating in the prayers and the Solidarity Walk for President Buhari.

Earlier in the day, a prayer session,  led by Shiekh Falalu Dan Almajir, who is the Chairman, Council of Imams  in Kano State, which  held at the  Sani Abacha Stadium was attended by thousands of Buhari faithful.

The prayer was immediately followed by the Grand Solidarity Road walk, which began from the stadium gate down to Jubilee Round About by Gidan Murtala, through State Road and terminated at Government House Round About where  the governor addressed the crowd of faithful.

The Grand Solidarity Walk was attended by the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Broadcast Media, Alhaji Shaaban Ibrahim Sharada and Senior Special Assistant to the President Buhari on Legislative Matters, Sulieman Abdulrahaman Kawu Sumaila, as well as members of the Kano State Executive Council, among others.           (The Sun)

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No Restructuring, No 2019 Election -Southern Leaders |The Republican News

SouthernLeaders

Archive photo: Southern Leaders Forum summit 2015

By Chinelo Obogo

Prominent leaders from the Southern part of the country yesterday said without restructuring and devolution of powers, there may be no general election in 2019.

This formed part of the discussion held at a colloquium on restructuring organised by the Island Club, Lagos.

The colloquium titled ‘Restructuring: Challenges, implications and the way forward’, was attended by prominent leaders in the South West, South East, South South and the North.

Niger Delta activist, Annkio Briggs, who was one of the discussants said she had the mandate of the Niger Delta people to speak on their behalf. She said if the country does not restructure, there would not be elections in 2019.

Annkio Briggs said: “The country is like a moving train without brakes and in order not to crash, we need to restructure. All regions must come together and agree on restructuring and everybody must say what restructuring means to them, and we must agree on restructuring before 2019 election. There is so much injustice in the country.

“For instance, there are 419 local governments in the North and 365 local government in the South and the North gets far more resources from the Federal Government than the people producing oil in the country. Niger Delta is producing more and getting less.

We must have a new constitution or we can use the 1963 constitution and work on it. We can have a new constitution that will take care of these injustices like the issue of Fulani herdsmen and religion. If we cannot restructure, we should call the zones together to call for a referendum, so that each zone can determine how they want to live.”

The lead discussant, Prof. Stephen Adebanji Akintoye, said the federal government has become inefficient and corrupt because of oil revenue from the Niger Delta. He said the abandonment of export products that were helping Nigeria has become a problem. 

“Restructuring has become inescapable for Nigerians. The struggle for a rational federal structure has been a major concern since we were young men. Nigeria needs to restructure due to the harsh effect of the federal structure of Nigeria. Youths in South-East, Niger Delta and South-West are telling us that they do not want to be part of Nigeria anymore. It is under this that the cry for restructuring is growing louder.

“Some people are saying restructuring is a confusing idea and I dare say their strategy is clever, but not clever enough. We want a federalism that is widely accepted and the best structure is federalism whereby each zone would be a federating unit and control and develop its own resources for the good of its people. This is the only solution to our nationality problem.The structure we operated in 1963 was very productive because each region had its constitution and controlled its resources,” he said.

Prof. John Ogu, a former Deputy governor of Ebonyi State, who represented the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, said the marginalisation of the South-East and the unfair treatment meted out to the Igbo from the end of the civil war till date were the factors that aided the rise of separatist groups like the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

He said: “What IPOB is doing now is a cry for justice.They are saying the Igbo have been treated very badly and have been marginalised since the civil war ended, and it is only restructuring that can remedy some of those wrongs. It can be done by amending the 1999 Constitution holistically or by creating a new constitution. “Restructuring does not mean the disintegration of the country, but making Nigeria a federation and changing the unitary system of government, that the military handed to us, to a federal system of government to ensure security.”

The former governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, said restructuring is not about the North against the South.

“Restructuring is decentralising power to make a way from distribution and consuming arrangement for every federating units to increase its financial resources for development. The country is on a precipice. No one can predict what will happen on October 1. Any country that cannot boast of security for its citizens and property is not worthy of being called a country. We need to have state and local police to protect the lives of citizens and property. The ruling party has said voters should not vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019 because of restructuring, so we are now watching to see whether the All Progressives Congress (APC) will restructure before 2019.”

A former Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, agreed with the consensus on restructuring. He said: “Nigeria needs restructuring. It offers Africa and Africans a great hope if we can reform the structure and its internal powers. The majority of us believe that restructuring will make Nigeria a great country, and these kinds of debates are needed to ensure that restructuring works.”

Ayo Adebanjo, a chieftain of Afenifere chastised northern leaders who are opposed to restructuring. “The military introduced this constitution which thrives on a unitary system of government, but you cannot run Nigeria on a military system of government because we have so many ethnic groups. We have passed that stage where people will try to make us think that restructuring is new. It is not. We must restructure now or the country may not survive. The North does not want to agree on restructuring because they are beneficiaries of the awkwardness of this 1999 constitution which was thrust on us by the military” he said.

General Alani Akinrinade condemned what he described as the deafening silence from most prominent northern elders over the quit notice given to the Igbo living the north before October 1 by northern youths.

He said: “Besides a few northern elders who criticised the northern youths for the quit notice given to the Igbo, I am sad that most of the elders I expected to have condemned it has maintained a deafening silence.”  (The Sun)

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Those Calling For Restructure Are Pursuing Hidden Agenda, Says Tanko Yakasi |RN

As the issue of the need to restructure Nigeria continues to dominate public discourse, Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, has maintained his stand that the call was suspicious.

In this interview with VINCENT KALU, the Chairman of the Northern Elders Council (NEC), said those agitating for restructuring have hidden agenda. He challenged them to come up with a blueprint on what restructuring is all about.

In an interview with your co-elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, he warned that if Nigeria is not restructured that there shouldn’t be 2019 general elections; that restructuring should precede 2019. What’s your view on this, do you subscribe to his position?

Both Adebanjo and I, fought for the independence of Nigeria, and I’m older than him about two years, but we joined politics about the same time, some 35 years ago.

At this age, you don’t negotiate with an ultimatum; you can’t give an issue an ultimatum. I’m not opposed to restructuring, and I have never heard that North was opposed to restructuring. However, my quarrel with those clamouring for restructuring is that they are yet to bring out the blueprint for it. What are the blueprints; why are those proponents of restructuring afraid of unfolding their agenda? They have a hidden agenda.

Everybody is afraid of a hidden agenda. Why hidden agenda on this matter?    

This is a matter that affects the lives of all Nigerians. They should put it in black and white and what it should look like.

Going back to regions, personally, I have no problem with that, because they started complaining that the North was so big and bigger than the two regions in the South put together.

This is the creation of God. When the British came and conquered Nigeria, they didn’t know which side was South and which was North, they just started conquering one after the other. After conquering the South, they moved to the North.

There is no issue, if you want us to go back to the three regions, so be it, but put it in black and white and let it be documented that this is what restructuring would look like.

I know what they have and I know why they are hiding it, but I want them to come out with their own plans of how Nigeria would look like in their own conception and then we come out with our own position. We are not one person, we are people, and we can’t react in the same way, but each individual will then evaluate the situation.

As long as Nigerians don’t understand what restructuring means, it cannot be meaningful to them. Even what Atiku and Babangida said is only in respect of devolution of powers, which is different from restructuring. Devolution of powers, there is no problem.

What they said amounts to the devolution of powers. Devolution of powers is transferring items from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List.

There was a time the Kano State Government set up a committee during the constitutional amendment exercise, I presided over a subcommittee of that committee that dealt with the devolution, we also recommended some of the items that should be transferred to Concurrent List. Devolution of powers is a different thing from restructuring.

If you look at the time of the old constitutional conferences in Nigeria, there were two things that are put into no-go areas. The first is the unity of Nigeria and the second is the federal arrangement of Nigeria.

At the time of Sani Abacha, they didn’t say it black and white but at the time of Babangida, he put it there in black and white that you cannot discuss the issue of unity of Nigeria or the federal structure or arrangement of Nigeria. Those ones were the no-go area.

Do you mean since the talk of restructuring started, there is yet to be a paper on how it is going to be?

There are yet to come out with paper on how it is going to work. The clamour is suspicion and people are wondering why it is so difficult for them to come up with a blueprint on this matter that affects the future of every Nigerian.

So, if you are advocating for something that affects the lives of Nigerians, why can’t you bring it in black and white in writing for people to see.

Chief Adebanjo said Sardauna supported the Independent Constitution and queried whether you that are opposed to it, are more northerner than the late premier?

I think there is a mistake there. We had three national figures – Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Awolowo and Sardauna.

At the 1953/54 Constitutional Conference, Zik went with the programme for a unitary form of government, which we were operating at that time. Even members of the National Assembly- House of Representatives were elected by state electoral college because it was unitary.

After the conference, we adopted a federal constitution, which we are operating till today.

The difference is that in those days, the regions had their own constitutions, but operated under a constitution that defined their certain powers in the national constitution. That is the difference.

The national constitution didn’t give any region the power to secede from Nigeria.

Secondly, it is not correct that 50 per cent of the revenue generated by the regions were given to them.

The 50 per cent revenue given to the originator regions were in respect of mineral. It was the elements of ground rents and royalty of which 50 per cent were given to the originating region, as against what is obtained now that we give 13 per cent of the total revenue to the bearing state.

The constitution we are operating now is the same constitution with the Independent and Republican Constitutions. If you go through those constitutions, you can see that the items on the Exclusive Lists now were the same then.

What happened is that they created more states, that is, instead of three or four regions; they created 36 states, which we have been operating for more than 20 years now.

In any case, that constitution he is talking about is what is in operation now.  It has not changed; the only thing that has changed is the number of regions that had been replaced by states, from three to four regions and to 36 states now.

Where do we go from here?

We should respect the structures created by democracy in Nigeria.

There is also the argument that the present constitution was forced down our throats by the military and does not represent the wishes of the people?

We have been obeying the military, and nobody revolted against the military.

Ayo is a lawyer, doesn’t he go to court? Who created the court, is it not the same constitution? Is it not the same military constitution that created the court?

The court was created by the constitution done by the military. Why did he recognize it? The same constitution he doesn’t approve is the same constitution he operates with. You can’t choose one and deny the other. Anybody who doesn’t want the constitution promulgated by the military shouldn’t go to the court created by the same constitution.

Rotimi Williams and Ben Nwabueze came up with the constitution that said, ‘we the people of Nigeria …’, and signed by Obasanjo.

When the constitution was promulgated, Nwabueze didn’t go to protest, Ayo kept quiet, and I kept quiet and others. Nobody in Nigeria protested.

Our leaders, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Awolowo, Malam Aminu Kano, and others accorded recognition to that constitution, they didn’t object to it because it was promulgated by the military, and therefore, they contested elections under the same constitution created by the military.

The 1979 Constitution, equally promulgated by the military in the same way Abdulsalami signed the 1999 Constitution, and elections were conducted, where Obasanjo emerged, Yar’Adua emerged, Jonathan emerged.

Why should we accept the result, why should we respect the National Assembly, states Assembly created by the same constitution promulgated by the military.

So, there is no reason whatsoever that you say that you would not recognise the 1999 Constitution because it was created by the military.  (The Sun)

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