Odunsi: APC Panel Acted on Doctored Report

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Read Time:9 Minute, 39 Second

Senate Committee Vice-Chairman on Nigeria Air Force and Chairman of Rosabel Leo-Burnett Limited, one of Nigeria’s topmost advertising agencies, Senator Akinola Odunsi spoke with Gboyega Akinsanmi, on the internal crisis tearing apart the Ogun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress. Excerpts:

Due to the crisis in the Ogun State chapter of All Progressives Congress, is it true that the faction you belong is ready to register its political party?

One thing I know for sure is that there is a rift within our party in Ogun State. It is not only in my state, but all over the country. The rift arose from the various congresses that were organised. Some party guidelines were given. In Ogun, for instance, many of us who believe in the supremacy of the party followed the party guidelines to a fault. In the wisdom of the party’s national secretariat, the other group that did not follow the guideline was recognised.

A reconciliation committee chaired by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was set up to the address crisis. How far has the committee gone?

I do not know how to describe the committee. But I know the committee met with my colleagues. So far, I have not seen any evidence of a shift from the status quo. I am not in a position to judge the committee. Whether the committee will achieve much or not, I am not in a position judge them. Like I said, the committee met some of us and heard from us. Since them, nothing has changed. Incidentally, the day the committee met with my group. I did not meet the reconciliation committee in person.  I am not in position to assess their sincerity or otherwise.

Do you hope the committee will be able to resolve the crisis?
At what time will it be resolved? When will the committee resolve the crisis? I do not know really. From what I heard after meeting my colleagues, the committee promised to get back to us in two weeks. But we have not heard anything about it. We have made our position very clear. We simply seek fairness and justice. Where there is no fairness, there can be no justice.

I do not understand why the party set the guidelines and will not duly follow it. Why do we waste time setting guidelines? Why will a party set guidelines and not respect it? When the guidelines were released, it was not as if the guidelines were for some people. Some people were excused from following the guidelines. For me, I do not know how to describe a party that set guideline and cannot insist on following the guideline.

Why did the intervention of prominent people like the Alake of Egba, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo and the Awujale, Oba Sikiru Adetona fail to yield?

When the royal fathers spoke with those of us in the National Assembly, we gave them due respect as our fathers and leaders. Everything they asked us to do we did. Due to their intervention, we resolved to do exactly what they wanted us to do. The royal fathers demanded that the party membership registration should be peaceful in the state. I went to my local government. Even when I saw that the registration officers that were deployed did not follow what we agreed on, I told my people that they should let the sleeping lie so that we could have a peaceful registration exercise. So, we did exactly what we promised Awujale that we would do.

When it came to congresses as well, we determined we would turn our state to a theatre of war. After the ward congress, it was apparent that the other group was not on the ground and they all saw it. But we realised that at this stage, we could no longer insist on doing congresses together.  In any case, the basis for follow-up congress was that those who would take part in ward congresses must buy teller; pay at the appropriate quarters; come to the venues and queue on the field to elect their officials.

We conducted the congresses at the venue the party’s national secretariat allocated to us. It was the same venue that all of us went. But we did not see them. They went home and wrote result on their own. We petitioned the national secretariat after the local government congresses.  The committee that was set up to listen to our appeal was sitting the day some hoodlums broke into the venue and scattered everywhere. Everybody had to run for their lives. But we believe we had a case.

We petitioned the national secretariat and party leaders again. But the committee that investigated the issues of the ward congresses wrote a doctored report, which was adopted at last. So, those without tellers were given the chapter's executive council from ward to state level. So, what are we struggling for? Alake and Awujale really tried.

Apart from the fact that we met them at Ijebu Ode, the royal fathers invited us again to another meeting. We first met in the palace of Alake and eventually drove to Governor’s House to see the governor. We met face to face with Governor Amosun. We stated our case and they urged to resolve our differences. But when we got to the congresses, we discovered they did not keep to the terms.
 
With the conduct of Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, do you see INEC conducting free and fair elections in 2015?
I believe the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) under Prof. Attahiru Jega is a leadership of purpose with some level of seriousness. We must give some kudos to the leadership of INEC. Nobody, so far, has come out to challenge him as to his intention, manner and sincerity of purpose. If there is complaint at all, it has been about Resident Electoral Commissioners. To that extent, I think Jega should be congratulated for what he has done so far in the conduct of elections. That is not to say that all the elections he conducted so far were perfect.

Nobody is perfect. Nobody has been able to conduct elections that are 100 per cent free and fair. But I think Jega has made very serious and determined efforts to ensure that elections conducted are getting closer to what we want. Having said, I think it can only get better. I believe Jega himself has been learning from diverse mistakes and issues arising from the elections he has conducted.  I can specifically mention the elections in Edo, Ekiti and Osun. Perhaps because those elections are isolated, we are not able to actually put it on the scale of general election where the resources of INEC and security apparatus will be fully stretched.

Before and during the elections, both Ekiti and Osun were heavily militarised and it raised concerns in the National Assembly on the constitutional use of soldiers for elections. Is the Senate doing anything about it?

When you are talking of security apparatus in this country, the Nigeria Police cannot alone provide the kind of security we need for an election. How many officers do we even have in the Nigeria Police? The Nigeria Police have about 350,000 officers in the ranks and files. If in the conduct of national elections certain security forces are deployed, we should not see that as militarisation. We should not see in that context, except for those with ulterior motive. We know the police cannot provide adequate security during national elections. When you say the states are militarised, is there any place that the military officers do anything other than keep a watch on the environment?

I was not in Osun. So, I cannot in all good conscience affirm the issue of some secluded masked security outfits around the state. But at the end of the day, what did we get? We had a free, transparent and flawless election procedure. Yes, we do not want elections to be militarised. But we all know we do not have personnel in the Nigeria Police to provide security during elections.

What exactly do you mean by except people with ulterior motive, the police alone cannot provide adequate security in a national election?
In all elections, all the political parties struggle to outdo themselves in the process of rigging or doing things in an unorthodox way. So, if you do the right thing, you should not do anything that will be against the rules. What is their worry? They need to educate their people and mobilise them to ignore the military officers or whoever. They need to come out and cast their votes on the election day. That is what every party should do.

In other federal spheres, the state electoral commission conducts all elections within a federating unit. At this instance, is it proper for the INEC to conduct any election within a state?

Except in Nasarawa State, show me one state where a governor in power conducts an election and any other party wins. It happened in Nasarawa because we have a polished civilised man at the helms of affairs. That tells why the attempt to impeach him failed. Governor Tanko Al-Makura is a technocrat. He is a serious person. So, that is an exception that I provided to the tradition.

Show me other states in the country when an election was conducted by the state electoral commission and opposition parties had a way out. As far as I am concerned, those state electoral commissions write their results as to what the governor in power wants them to write. In my own states, the election conducted leaves so much to be desired for me.

With rising insurgency in the North-east, do you see it as a threat to the 2015 general election?

Well, it is a threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria, even before 2015. The way things have gone in the North-east leaves a lot to be desired. The security in the North deserves very serious attention from the federal government. If you go to the genesis of it all, I think you can see it all started in the form of political struggle. This was because there were so many unemployed youths who were waiting to be used in the run-up to 2011 elections. After 2011, they did not have jobs to do. But they have something to do. The issue of religion became a subject. Before we know what was happening, it went beyond unemployment. It went beyond politics. It blew beyond religion. It has been a scourge threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria.

Does it mean you subscribe to a report allegedly by the US National Intelligence Council that Nigeria could disintegrate in 2015?
I do not subscribe to the report. But there is no smoke without fire. How does the Boko Haram get its weapons? How have they been able to survive for so long without being fished out, even in spite of the involvement of the world powers? I am not too sure of the genuineness of those who are expected to assist Nigeria.

And all these current issues formed the prediction of the US National Intelligence Council. It is like we are walking to that position and they are watching us drift to the direction that they have predicted. We have to be very careful. We have to be extremely careful to avoid grave threat to our corporate existence.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Moghalu: Election in States Under Emergency Rule a Must

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Read Time:7 Minute, 40 Second

Interview Chief George Moghalu, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress was until recently the secretary of the All Nigeria Peoples Party merger committee. He was also the Director General of the Chris Ngige Campaign Organisation for the November 16, 2013 governorship election that held in Anambra State. In this Interview with Charles Onyekamuo, Moghalu speaks on issues of national concern. Excerpts: A lot of PDP members, including governors have been defecting to the All Progressive Congress. Does your party see any danger in managing the influx? APC is a brand, and what is happening is expected because the situation where we are today in the country, people have always clamoured for a viable alternative. So it is expected because APC as a party is seen as that alternative and people are moving into APC in droves. There is nothing actually wrong with that because a political party is like a church or mosque where you don’t restrict people from coming in, only that you must have rules and regulation and anybody coming into the party must accept. Are you one of those who believe the PDP as a party has collapsed because of its internal crisis? I wouldn’t say that the PDP as a party has collapsed because they have government at the centre and they have government in some states. At the same time, sight should not be lost to the fact that there are some problems because of the vantage position they are occupying. That is not to say that the party has collapsed. The party is still there as a strong platform and an alternative also to the APC. For me, I don’t wish them collapsing, I wish them to be there so that some of us who have always wished that we have two strong political parties will have it in place. There are upcoming issues that will definitely be a test case for the survival of APC. I am sure you know that the interim committee of APC now in place will snowball into an elective convention for the party. Also the Ekiti State governor His Excellency, Kayode Fayemi and his Osun State counterpart are up for re-election in 2014. One of the biggest test cases for APC was the Anambra election and the party lost. Can you actually take us through what happened? I agree with you that the interim leadership of the party from the timetable that has been released will soon commence membership registration. From there to the issue of congresses that will culminate in a national convention where a substantive leadership will be elected and put in place. Regarding the Anambra elections, I make bold to say, being an insider and at the forefront of what happened that there was practically no election in Anambra State. To say APC lost the election is totally unacceptable because it is not true. We found ourselves in a situation where both the government at the centre and in the state collaborated with the supposedly Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to manipulate the entire voting process with a view to installing a pre-determined candidate which I consider a betrayal of people’s trust and confidence, even the international community. What happened in Anambra State cannot be considered an election but a charade. If they want to test popularity of APC in the state, let them organize free, fair and credible elections. Let them stop deceiving themselves by saying there was an election. How can you say there was an election when the voters register had no integrity? What happened in Anambra was not an election because if it was an election, Jega won’t come out to say there were issues. So there was no election in Anambra State. What happened is not a basis for any test to determine the strength or the capacity of APC. If that is what they intend to do in Ekiti and Osun States, God help them because I can guarantee you that our democracy will not survive it. The concern of a lot of your supporters is in the funding and mutual suspicions amongst all the parties that merged. Is it true that Ngige had problems of funding prior to the election? I make bold to say that funding wasn’t a problem. In actual fact, what are you doing with the funding? Your funding is to handle your logistics and we had no problem or challenge handling our logistics. One thing about an election is that any amount of money you put into it will surely finish, whether it is in billions or trillions. It is just for the organization to plan properly, applying the funds available to their specific needs to achieve desired results and that is exactly what we did. So funding wasn’t an issue at all. Let’s look at APC at the national level with regards to the 2015 general election. Most people feel that APC is a paper tiger, just blowing hot air? APC as a party is fully prepared for election. We only keep throwing this challenge to the establishment: give us the enabling environment; we want an INEC that is truly independent, committed to delivering on their mandate of providing free, fair credible election. Their attitude must change if they are sincere about giving us a credible election in 2015. We are asking the security agencies to see themselves more as Nigerians who have a responsibility to Nigerians more than an individual or a political party who certainly will go one day; they must be neutral. Whatever it will take, I am among those who will continue to champion it, I know the party is focused on it, there must be internal democracy in APC as a political party, and we must have internal democracy, create the enabling environment. Everybody has to have access to power, if you are the popular candidate of your people, you must be allowed to contest election, whoever wins primaries should be the candidate, whoever shows interest to contest for any office, please allow him to contest. The moment we agree on all these things, I am sure we will be on cruise control and the party will continue to grow. The only time we are going to have problem is when we deviate from these principles. What can you say to the beliefs that APC is ideologically bankrupt and has become an all-comers affair? If you read our manifesto and constitution you will understand that basically progressivism and the welfare of the people are the two key cardinal points in the party. As to people who are coming in, if you are willing to follow the rules, you are welcome because we already have a manifesto written down and we agree that everybody must implement this manifesto and the manifesto covers every aspect of our national life. Ahead the APC national convention, speculations are rife that people like you are gunning for the removal of the zoning process to enable you run for the chairmanship of the party. It is true? Well, speculation is part of political life; anybody can speculate anything. I believe there is need for zoning so that every interest will be accommodated. As for the speculation, I like you to know that once you are in the open, anybody can say anything about you. But I believe my main concern today is that we should first build a strong party before we start talking of who aspires to be what. When the convention comes, we will be able to take our decision, but what I can tell you confidently is that there is consultation going on everywhere. Do you share the view that the president may have finally had a hold on the security of the country? We have had a lot of issues on security, but that we did not have any incidence in very strategic places in the country during this holiday is a welcome development and I am happy about it. This is one area nobody wants to play politics with because you can’t talk about driving an economy in an insecure environment. For me, anything that can be done, any sacrifice that can be made to make the country safe should be of primary consideration because I see it as a primary responsibility of government and I welcome it. So we will keep praying that everybody concerned will live up to expectation and live up to their responsibilities. Still on security, INEC has said the states under emergency rule may not be up for elections in 2015; what is your take on this? It is a joke because like the governor of Borno said which makes so much sense, the moment you say that you have given in to the insurgents, you have confirmed that they are in charge. You don’t do such a thing and more so, with the recent local government election in Yobe State which was reported as free, fair and peaceful with a large turnout has made nonsense of that assertion. So I think that we should not think about that. INEC should prepare and go and conduct elections in those states at the proper time.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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APC Offers Genuine Platform for Igbo Presidency, Says Nyerere

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Read Time:8 Minute, 26 Second

The National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, South-east, Chief Anyim Nyerere, speaks with Onyebuchi Ezigbo on Igbo presidency, APC’s in-roads in the South-east and other challenges facing the opposition party. Excerpts: How can you rate APC’s penetration in the South-east? APC is doing very well but we are not used to making noise. You see,God is working for us and things are working out for us naturally. This is because people over the years have not really had theirdesired expectations as it concerned the dividend of democracy and impact of good governance on the people. They are naturally yearning for this change which APC has come up with and everywhere you go people are clamouring for APC and this change. I believe that God has ordained this change at this particular time. What do you make of the campaign spreading around the South-east that APC is not an Igbo party? These are campaigns of calumny. We are talking about Nigeria and a party that all Nigerians belong. How do you ascribe it to one ethnic nationality? You see, such campaigns or propaganda is just designed to scare people away but they do not know the more they try it the more they attract more people to our party. Talking about being a Yoruba party or Hausa party, are there not Hausa’s and Yoruba’s in PDP? Look at the number of Igbos in APC. So it is not true and there is no amount of such propaganda that will deter people from embracing this change. For the first time in this political dispensation, the Igbo are taken into the main frame of Nigerian politics sincerely, not deceitfully. They are only using the propaganda to scare people away. The APC is a national party and the Igbos are duly represented and their interests well captured. Some people have said the continued operation of interim structure of leadership has not allowed the opportunity to fully extend its influence to the grassroots and that this is beginning to have negative impact on the party? No! This is a process. If we are hoping to make a change, we must be ready to do something right. It is not easy to have fusion of people from diverse political background coming together as one. But APC has been able to achieve that peaceful fusion among the merging parties. In the South East, we have been able to harmonize the state interim executive structures in all the five states. Last week in Owerri, we were able to resolve that to the glory of God. The interim executives at the states were elected and we have been directed by the national leadership to make sure that they are inaugurated before the end of December. Even before now, we had various committees working on our membership drive and this has been yielding positive results. What is the situation in Imo State, especially the threat by the All Progressive Grand Alliance to reclaim the state from APC? That is an illusion; people living in a dream world. We believe in free and fair election, where the wishes of the people should prevail. It is not a matter of making noise. APC is on ground in Imo state and in other areas of the South East. You saw what happened during the Anambra governorship election, that is, if it can be called an election. The conspiracy against our party means that something is happening. There is an Igbo adage that says anyone being talked about, has something to offer. If APC is a push-over, why then the hues and cries; why the conspiracy and gang-up? Allow it if you think they are not the party to beat in an election. As far as Imo state is concerned, APGA is living in a fool’s paradise; there’s no longer anything like APGA in Imo state. Party politics these days has gone beyond a family affair and people can no longer be deceived. Even the smallest boy in the street knows what he wants these days. Based on what happened in Anambra where in spite of the acclaimed popularity of your candidate, you still lost the election. Why? We did what we could under the circumstance in Anambra election. For the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega to come out openly and acknowledge that what happened during the Anambra election was against their expectation and was not normal, what do you need to be told? Can the abnormalities in Anambra state produce a credible result? The answer is no. So whatever you are seeing in Anambra cannot be taken as a victory for anyone because the umpire, that is INEC has come out openly to tell Nigerians that there were fraudulent practices and abnormalities in the Anambra election. Having said that, how can Nigerians accept that there was an election in Anambra? This was why APC was calling for its total cancellation. We as a party has told Nigerians and the world that we do not accept the election conducted in Anambra state and we have gone a step further to go to the court to pursue our case which we believe is the final hope for justice. We have also tried to challenge what happened in Anambra state by carrying our protest march to the INEC office. We warned that if what was experimented in Delta and Anambra states is what they want to try in 2015, that they should better have a rethink, because once beaten, twice shy. It will never succeed. Nigerians will never accept it, not even APC. Your constitution stipulates a timeframe for the interim executives and some people have already started to agitate that the interim leadership has over-stayed its welcome; what would you say to that? There is no breach against the constitution but the period of the interim structure will soon elapse. What the interim leadership is doing right now is to prepare ground for the substantive leadership. After the membership registration exercise, we are going to organize congresses and then the national convention. By God’s grace before the end of the first quarter of 2014, we would have had our national convention. We are in the process now and have started mobilizing for the membership registration. Do you think that the APC can offer an opportunity for a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction? Why not? The Igbo people are eminently qualified to do so and I do not think anything can stop them from aspiring to be President. The Igbo people are Nigerians and constitutionally entitled to do so. In looking at it, one of the best things that could happen to this nation is to have a president of Igbo extraction. If that happens, you will see a change, the desired change in the polity. But isn’t there any sign of interest or movements towards the direction of having an Igbo politician declare for presidency ahead of 2015? You know the ban on politics has not yet been lifted, so nobody will come out openly now to campaign. We have had people making a case for Igbo presidency, even the Ohaneze and other well-meaning Nigerians outside of the Igbo race, like the former governor of Kaduna state, Alhaji Balarabe Musa have been quoted as having said that the best thing that could happen to the country is have Nigerian President of Igbo extraction. We have so many Igbo sons and daughters who are yearning for the right time to come out and declare their interest and aspiration in the presidential contest. APC has been making in-roads in the North, South-west and even South-south and recently five governors left PDP to join APC but none of them are from the South-east, is it not a sign that the party has not gained acceptance in your area? As the days go by, most of our political leaders in the South-east will soon begin declaring for the APC. Former top members of the PDP are now in APC while some other from other parties are resigning and joining our party. Our doors are open to welcome new members who want to join us. Most of them have declared interest that they would come and register with APC. You know it is a continuous process. As far as we know, the entire South East is for APC. What is your political ambition in 2015 and beyond? People sometimes try to shy away from realities. I come from Abia State where there is a dire need for proactive leadership because over the years what we have had in Abia is better imagined than disclosed. So who says Nyerere cannot come out? I offer myself for a service that will emancipate the people of Abia state come 2015. The Bible said if you know what to do and you fail to do it, then it is sin. I have what it takes to make my State better and I will not hesitate to present myself to offer such service to the people of Abia state. What are some of the things you will be offering the Abia people which the present PDP administration has failed to do? Education is something that every Abia person should have access to and money should not be a hindrance. If I get to the helm of affairs in Abia state, I will look at what the state of things are and see how to approach the problem of education. But one thing that is paramount is that every Abia child should have the privilege to go to school comfortably without having to drop out of school because of money. It will be fashioned in a way that Abia people will be happy with our education system. If we will be in a position to offer a holistic free education from primary to tertiary level, we will not stop at doing that. We would do something to ensure that Abia people will go to school without tears.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nzamah: Kaduna PDP is in a Mess

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Read Time:8 Minute, 32 Second

In this interview with John Shiklam, Mr. Mark Jacob Nzamah, a former National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party and former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Kaduna State, speaks on the growing discontent in the state chapter of the PDP and the alleged marginalisation of Southern Kaduna people, among other issues. Excerpts: You recently raised the alarm over the discontent that led to the defection of many members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in Kaduna State, including a former state chairman of the party to the APC. What is the situation? Yes we have our internal problems in Kaduna state. Forget about all these issues of defection to APC. Even if people don’t defect, I can assure you that the discontent and anger of people within the PDP in Kaduna state is enough to cause the problem. Personally I am not defecting to any party, but that does not mean I am happy with the situation of things in the party. I will never change to another party when I know that there is no ideological difference. I can only move when there is indication in the air that the new platform is something different; that there will be internal democracy, that there will be fairness and equity, that state resources will be used for the common good. Nobody is talking about that; all the APC is saying is that PDP is bad and they want to seize power. When you seize power, what do you do with it? But in the first place I know that the APC will not get power with the way they are going about it because the confrontation that is facing the PDP will soon rear its ugly head in the APC when the time comes for them to decide who will stand election here and there. So it is not about moving from one cup of coffee to another cup of tea. It is the same ball game; people just want political offices. What specifically are the problems with Kaduna PDP? The people who left PDP in Kaduna to the APC had serious issues and I don’t blame them as such because unless you have the kind of conviction that some of us have, you don’t solve the situation by changing the vehicle. People have given reasons that instead of remaining in here and be insulted by a party leadership that is put in place and we supported, they will rather move to avoid the insult and possibly be allowed to play some roles elsewhere. It is the same game of seeking respect and recognition but it is not about ideology. People who are saddled with responsibility in the PDP have refused to open arms and accept different shade of opinions where people who hold different views and opinion can come and express themselves. We disagree to agree, that is politics; that is maturity. But we have had a situation in Kaduna where people run this party as a family thing. Unless you are one of those that come to lie down the floor and declare loyalty to them, you will never be allowed to be anything. That is wrong and that is what has caused defection in PDP in Kaduna state. It is not about ideology, it is about people insisting on being respected. It is about people who have played some role in the party being respected. I honestly don’t blame those who defected in Kaduna for their action. Some of us have carried on with the pains and have refused to run out. We will remain in the party and speak our mind without necessarily running away. I don’t believe in running away because the other place you are running to has its own kettle of fish. You come from the Southern part of Kaduna which is largely a support base for the PDP. But the people of the area are said to be disenchanted with the current situation of things in the state. Do you think the PDP will still maintain its grip on the area come 2015? It is going to be slightly difficult because from the Makarfi era, everybody knows that the PDP did not get blog votes from Southern part of Kaduna by magic. It was out of satisfaction that the people of Southern Kaduna voted massively for the PDP because there was a government that was responding to the basic need of our people. These are very simply things – road network, water and electricity. I can tell you that our people are very unhappy that immediately after Makarfi’s tenure virtually everything that was put in place deteriorated, virtually nothing was added. There was no addition to those things that Makarfi left. Instead of a policy of appeasement or discussion, we have a situation where people in government or leadership position make it a duty to insult the sensibility of ourpeople. So we can see discontent and sadness among our people who ordinarily would vote the PDP without asking questions. Today they are asking why there had been no improvement on what was left behind by Makarfi. So I can say without any shadow of doubt that the fortunes of the PDP in Southern Kaduna are highly at risk. This is largely as a result of mismanagement or failure on the part of people in government to build on the foundation that was laid. It is a failure on leaders of the party to play their part, convincing people. We have a situation where party leaders talk arrogantly and behave as if the people don’t matter. You are praising the Makarfi administration because you served as commissioner during that period and because you belong to the Makarfi camp of the PDP in the state? I don’t know Makarfi’s camp of the PDP you are talking about. The truth is that our people in Southern Kaduna are very simple but are very critical. If you don’t work for them, it doesn’t matter which party you belong to, they decisively will reject you. For them, all you need is to work; you don’t need to come around to ask for vote once you work well. I live among the people, I don’t live in Abuja or Kaduna and I interact with them so I know them very well. I am talking about the ordinary people in Kagoro, Zonkwa, Kwoi etc. As a journalist, do an independent investigation and find out what I am telling you. Our people are not happy. Yes, I served under Makarfi as commissioner, but am speaking as a serious member of the PDP and based on realities on the ground. I am not contemplating going to any mushroom political party. But I am saying that the PDP in my state has messed up. If we want to gain and retain our control of the state, we must wake up from our slumber. The people who are in the reins of governance must change the style of managing Kaduna state. Kaduna is not like one of these small states where you can behave anyhow and things get moving, particularly when you are dealing with the Southern Kaduna people. They are highly intelligent and very critical. Even if they don’t talk to you, they wait for the elections. People are going to be shocked if things don’t change. Governor Muktar Yero celebrated Christmas with the Southern Kaduna people. Do you see that as a fence mending effort? The governor is in a better position to say whether that was good or not. But for me, the problem is not centred on the governor or any commissioner coming to celebrate Christmas with the people. It is about administrating the people fairly and justly. It is about the welfare of the people; it is about the wealth of the state; it is about power sharing in the state. These are the critical questions being asked by our people. It is not about coming to Kafanchan and receiving selected groups, selected by your own cronies who bring some people to tell you what you want to hear. It is about what you are doing with state resources; which projects you are working on; which appointments have you given to the Southern Kaduna people. These are the critical questions some of us are being asked by our people. So it is not about visiting my traditional ruler during Christmas. It is about the resources of the state and how you are managing the resources. Have you shown our people respect, knowing that majority of the votes that brought you to office are from our people. I will give you an example. When Yakowa died, it was very painful and we were shocked that the Governor of Kaduna state and the Vice President Namadi Sambo waited until President Goodluck Jonathan reshuffled his cabinet before the very clear marginalisation of the Southern Kaduna people was taken into cognisance. For example, when Yakowa died, the Governor is from the Northern part of the state, the minister was from the northern part of the state, the Speaker of the Kaduna state House of Assembly was from the northern part of the state, the vice President is from the northern part of the state. Everything went on quietly. From the Vice President to the governor, nobody took steps to correct this anomaly until the President decided to reshuffle his cabinet. As I am talking to you now, there is even a plot to ensure that the ministerial slot for the state is given to the northern part of the state. These are very serious issues that should not be swept under the carpet by anybody who is serious about managing Kaduna state. These are the issues that make the Southern Kaduna people unhappy with the PDP. It is important that those at the helms of affairs in the state take note of these things. Will you support your people to vote against the PDP in view of what you said? Our people are highly intellectual and nobody needs to work on anybody to determine the votes. Southern Kaduna is not where you manipulate. We are raising this alarm so that those in charge can correct this glaring anomaly.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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In Times of Crisis, It’s Rescue Before Ideology, Says Fayemi

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Read Time:15 Minute, 28 Second
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, speaks to Olawale Olaleye on some of the developments that presently define the state of the nation. Excerpts:
 
 
What is the implication of the defection of the five PDP to your party, the APC recently?
I believe that the realignment of forces is going to deepen our democratic experience. Of course, chieftains of the PDP will try to play down the impact of this seismic shift and even dismiss it as a storm in the teacup.  However, those who have trained eyes to read the tea-leaves accurately know that it is a game-changer.  This is not an exaggeration. There are those who will argue, you know, that the difference is between six and half-a-dozen because in their view all parties are the same; there is no difference, otherwise how can people move from one party to the other in this seamless manner? In my humble opinion, that will be a misreading of the developments within the PDP.
 
 
I have consistently argued that the PDP is not a monolith; there are progressive politicians in PDP just as there are reactionary politicians in the PDP. My friend, Professor Julius Ihonvbere, was a leading light of PDP in Edo State and he is a radical, progressive intellectual. For many like Julius, the PDP was the only game in their state by the time they got into partisan politics and rather than start from scratch, it was safer to keep up with the Joneses. The only problem with the PDP in the last 14 years is the overwhelming dominance of reactionary survival of the fittest- end justifies the means politicians- who have no notion of public good and only believe in primitive accumulation to the detriment of the majority.
 
 
Although the APC is also not a monolith, in the sense that there are conservative elements in APC, there are radical elements and also moderates in APC; the dominant tendency is the progressive tendency that is radical, people oriented and public spirited in the true sense of social democracy. The issue, for us, is therefore what the dominant tendency is: And that is where progressivism comes into the entire picture. Do the people who are the leading lights in the party believe in social justice for the protection of the weak and vulnerable in the society or do they believe in social darwinism of the survival of the fittest genre? 
 
 
Indeed, I make this point in my new book, Regaining the Legacy, that while PDP for the last 14 years has embraced the supply side economics in accord with the dictates of the Washington consensus which empowers the moneyed elite in the hope that the humongous and inexplicable wealth that come to them will trickle down to the rest of society and this has clearly failed, we have embraced a more grassroots model of economic development with a focus on good social services, social safety nets, modern functional education that can provide decent jobs, improve infrastructure, revive moribund industries and promote the knowledge economy.
 
But where is ideology in all of this?
We in APC see government as a catalyst for development, not a bystander that seeks to sell off all public goods like our friends on the other side. We do not believe that everything public is bad and that everything private is good. So when I see people argue that what has happened with the G5 move to APC is a death knell for ideology in politics, I consider such an argument intellectually lazy. When a country is in crisis, rescuing the country is the priority, not a fixation on sterile, ideological puritanism. And the world is replete with examples.
 
 
When Britain was in crisis in the mid-1940s during and in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, Clement Attley of the Labour Party worked with Winston Churchill of the Conservative Party in the coalition government to rescue Britain from the onslaught of Adolf Hitler. Today in Germany, Angela Merkel is in a grand coalition with the Social Democrats. Also in Britain, Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats is the Deputy Prime Minister of Britain working with David Cameron who is Conservative. Yet, the Liberal Democrats are even more extreme to the left of Labour on certain policy issues like the environment for example but what matters to them is the country first. In Israel today, no single political party has managed to form government in the last twenty years. And even the ideologically bitter opponents – Likud and Labour have had cause to form coalition governments in the recent past.
 
 
Our country is in crisis, we may not like ourselves, but we have a duty to work together and there is no point exaggerating the importance of ideology in a collapsing country. In any case, ideology is no dogma, it is a conceptual framework that helps one address the challenges of society, but in a society that has completely gone to the dogs, you first need to bring it back to stability before you get to the notion of what perspective you follow to reorganise our society.
 
 
In the world today, the ideological lines have blurred. New Labour under Tony Blair stole the Conservatives’ cloth in order to win over the middle ground in the UK.  Even Margaret Thatcher, the most right wing of conservatives, could not get rid of social security and National Health Service much as she tried. In fact, the British Rail was re-nationalised after the initial privatisation fiasco under Thatcher. Even look at the United States today- the one Republican that is seen as likely to give the Democrats a run for their money in the next presidential race is Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey and the reason is simple: he is seen as socially liberal and a fiscal conservative. So, he is popular even with some Democrats and wins election overwhelmingly in a democratic state. So, when you do this analysis, people should know that ideology is also not in cast iron cages as it used to be in the cold war days.
 
How do you relate this to the five PDP governors?
Now let me come to these five governors that have come to the APC so far. I just came back from Sokoto and I have not been there in the last three years before this last visit. I have been to Kano, just a month ago; I have been to Rivers State and I have been to Jigawa; these are governors that are running social democratic programmes. What I see Rotimi Amechi do is not different from what we are doing in Ekiti in terms of infrastructure, education, healthcare, agriculture and transparency in governance. I know what Port Harcourt was like before Amaechi came to power. The difference, without prejudice to his predecessors, is clear. Go to Kano and see what Kwankwaso is doing. Of course, he used to be an SDP chieftain in this country; a former Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives in the Third Republic, he clearly has progressive inclinations of lifting up the weak and the vulnerable. Go and see the unique work he is doing with micro finance among the women.
 
 
Are you saying this is a marriage of the progressives in the PDP and the APC?
This is exactly what our own sage, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo said in 1983 'that at a time in the near future, you will get the thesis and anti-thesis resulting in a synthesis of progressive politics in Nigeria'. There are people who will give it different interpretations but I know that if you want to be spiritual, you will say God loves this country by at least giving us this chance to pull back from the brink.
 
 
Any democracy that does not possess the likelihood for an alternation of power is nothing short of an elected dictatorship. In elementary political science class, what we say is that a country is not democratic until it has experienced alternation of power. The reason why people see Ghana and Senegal as more democratic than Nigeria, Zimbabwe and even South Africa is this. It is when you’ve secured this first level of democratisation that you then begin to examine the character, quality and content of the democracy a lot more closely.
What therefore is the difference between APC and PDP?
 
 
This is precisely what I am telling you. There is a world of difference. There are those who will like to give an impression that this is all about power grabbing. The truth is that you can have all the ideas in the world but if you are not in the seat of power you cannot implement these ideas. Yes, we are interested in power but not power for its own sake. We are interested in power to make a fundamental difference in the lives of our people. And all you need to do and we don't need to be romantic about it, look at the states we govern; that is the only template that is available now. If you say they can talk, go to the states that we run and compare us with others outside our fold.
 
 
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. I am the first to admit that, but on average, even with the resource differentials, what you see in Lagos is what you will find in Edo, in Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo, Imo and Osun and even in security challenged Borno and Yobe in terms of putting the people first. The common thread is that we are people-focused, socially democratic and economically prudent.
 
There is a more fundamental slant to this struggle which is the fact that these PDP governors are seen as fighting a very personal battle against the president and the PDP. How do you situate this within the context of your argument of progressivism?
 
 
Well, I don't want to get into what led to this because I’m not a member of the PDP, but in politics, the only thing that is permanent is interest. With the kind of personalities that joined APC, I doubt if this is simply borne out of personal animosity. I have at least heard and read Amaechi express personal affinity and respect for the President. I have tremendous respect for President Goodluck Jonathan, I relate very well with him even though I’m not a member of his party. I have very good friends in the PDP and I look forward to the day when we will play politics of issues and stop reducing everything that happens to politics of personalities. We can disagree without becoming enemies.
 
 
I disagree fundamentally with the policy thrust of the Jonathan administration in many respects, but I actually like the president. He is a decent, humble person to the best of my knowledge. I have no problem with him, but we are talking about the future of 170 million people. Being decent and humble is not going to be enough. With the greatest respect, it is about fixing a country drifting to the precipice, and you cannot pull the country back from the brink simply by being decent, likeable and nice.
 
 
For example, any government that cannot protect its source of revenue has a serious problem. The constitution of this country is very clear. The directive principle of the constitution says the welfare and the security of the citizens of Nigeria shall be the first business of government. Then government comes to us and says the reason we are failing in our financial obligations to the Federation Account is because some people are stealing the oil, in a country that has a professional armed forces! On top of that, you then outsource the security of pipelines to erstwhile militants, yet hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil is being stolen. Are they telling us this is being stolen in jerry cans? Do they think we are fools? We really should cover our faces in shame.
 
 
If you run a country where you cannot protect your main source of income, something is clearly amiss. I like President Jonathan, but I fundamentally disagree with the current governance framework. I don't have any personal issues to grind with anybody and I don't know if anyone has with me. The Governors that are coming over to APC are not necessarily my friends, but we agree that Nigeria needs to be rescued at this critical period and I am glad that during their press conference, the reason they gave for coming on board the APC train is that they believe Nigeria must be rescued from the crisis staring us all in the face.
 
 
Have you pondered the fact that these PDP governors may also not share APC’s idea of internal democracy?
Well, we have already said that any governor coming into the party will be entitled to all the rights and privileges enjoyed by the current APC Governors – generally speaking.  But of course, there are local dynamics to be taken into account in each state – and certainly in some states more than others. So, I really I don't know what you mean by sharing our idea of internal democracy. Every right thinking Nigerian who loves this country, regardless of whether they are in APC or PDP should be happy that at last, we have a political system that is now fairly balanced. That is good for Nigeria. It was not something that was forced on the New PDP leaders.
 
 
They consciously decided to come on board. Much more importantly, we must do everything humanly possible and constitutionally appropriate to win the confidence of Nigerians. Nigerians have consistently worried that the opposition has not got its acts together. None of us wants to permanently be in opposition, sniping on the fringes and complaining all the time about what is wrong with the government despite the ideas that I have. I want to be involved in fixing whatever the problems are and if I am fixing it at the local level in my state. I want my party to have the opportunity to do it at the national level.
 
 
Now that we are almost equal, 18 states on their side and 16 states on our side at least for now, we have the golden opportunity to demonstrate to Nigerians that the taste of the pudding is in the eating. They must see us walk our talk. I agree with you that APC must show processes that are transparently internally democratic; that we are accountable to our members and by extension the people of Nigeria, and that we are open to everyone and the gate will not be shut against anyone – except against convicted murderers and those banned from holding public office by legitimate legal authorities.
 
 
If you want to run for the presidency – either from the New PDP or the APC, you are free to run; all you need do is sell yourself to party members. We have a responsibility to prove to Nigerians that we believe in processes that must be followed by all members- that no member is a second class citizen and that there will be no back-room deals in the competition for party offices and elective positions. Everything will be out in the open. Nigerians want us to be a better alternative. They don’t want us to be more of the same. Whilst this is desirable, our people must also not let the search for the perfect become the enemy of the reasonably good.
 
Coming from the controversial Anambra State governorship election, the next stop is Ekiti. Are you worried about the turn of event in Anambra?
 
 
I am genuinely concerned about the Anambracadabra which really should not repeat itself in Ekiti. However, I do think there is a silver lining with the Anambra occurrence. Maybe I’m naïve but I do think there are lessons INEC must have learned from the Anambra fiasco. Whether they learn such lessons or not, they should know that Ekiti people are very passionate about their votes. Check the electoral history of this country from the 1960s, you will think we are more Awolowo than the Ijebu people. You recall what happened in 1964/65 in Ekiti in the days of Operation wetie, later in 1983 in the Ajasin/Omoboriowo era in the then Ondo State and even much later in the ‘rig and roast’ development of the recent past. In all of these instances, Ekiti people made it clear that they abhor fraud and injustice. I do not entertain fears but there is need for us to be vigilant so that INEC will do what is right.
 
 
I know Ekiti is being targeted, Osun is being targeted, and within the context of the realignment going on in the country, we have even become states to be retrieved into the PDP fold by hook or crook through ‘do or die’ mechanisms.  These people see our hands in all of what had transpired since the Governors’ Forum elections. Rauf is labeled and blackmailed for recording and exposing the NGF show of shame and I get accused of being Rotimi Amaechi’s arrowhead in the opposition Governors’ camp. I don't know what they want us to do.
 
 
We belong to APC and we are not apologetic about our membership of the party and if there are people that we need to encourage to join the party, that is our binding duty as APC governors but that should not be seen as antagonising the ruling party and the powers that be in Abuja. We are not unaware of the various subterranean efforts already afoot to subvert our elections in some circles but I believe ultimately that the people of Ekiti will decide the fate of Ekiti election. Anybody who tries to use an external force or a sleight of hand to manipulate election in Ekiti knows what is waiting for him. That is the lesson of history here.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Ekweremadu: Single Term Tenure Not Dead Yet

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Read Time:11 Minute, 56 Second
Personality Interview
 
Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman, Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, was in Lagos at the weekend to give a situation report on the amendment process. Shola Oyeyipo presents excerpts from the interview session
 
Although the senate committee has dropped the idea of single term tenure, many still believe it is desirable for the country. Do you agree?
 
Yes, single term is an important issue to me. When the matter came up at the level of our committee, we were mindful of the political atmosphere. We wanted to tap inspiration from what happened in other jurisdictions. It happened in the Latin America in the 70s. They had a circumstance we found ourselves where the issue of transition from one administration was a major issue and there was crisis within their region. So, they started to amend their constitution at that time to create a single term in each of those countries and it was their transition period. This had destabilised their democracy before some of them amended their constitution to go back to two terms of four years, five years or six years. So, we thought it was something we could recommend to our country.
 
In what ways can this benefit the nation?
If you look at what is going on now, all the core problems we are having in all the parties are about the issue of succession. So, we believe strongly that the matter can still be revisited. But I think some of the mistakes we made in our recommendation when we said the incumbent would not benefit from it were responsible for shooting it down. Then there was a kind of coalition of forces to defeat it. So, I believe that if the players in the polity or stakeholders are able to come together to deal with the situation could be a win-win situation for everybody.
 
 
I believe that the way it could work is now that people have been elected for four years, let everybody complete the four years tenure for which they were elected. And then, through the doctrine of necessity and some sort of jurisprudential approach, do some kind of transition of two years in which case those present occupiers like the President and State Governors who are finishing their tenures, will now do another two years that would end in 2017. In that case, you can see that those fighting the president have hinged their complaint on the fact that if the president gets his second term by the time they are gone, he would start to chase them. So, if we all agree that, that is a way to solve the problem, after two years, both the President and other governors will exit. I believe that the fear would not be there and there would not be much pressure on the polity.
 
 
Of course, we don’t have much problem with the legislative positions. We can go ahead and hold legislative election in 2015. The advantage there is when we do the legislative election in 2015, then we do executive election in 2017, we have two year gap for the INEC to have a breathing space to prepare well. You can see what is happening in Anambra now. So, INEC needs sufficient time to prepare for one election before the other.
 
 
In America for instance, there is this two years separation. In fact, in most countries, even in Senegal, and some places in Africa have adopted the separation of legislative elections from the executive elections. If we create a two year gap, it creates a situation where the country would not be engulfed in crisis in the process of conducting all the elections in one period. I think it is something we have to reflect on and see if it is something that can help resolve some of the challenges that we are having and I do hope that if we are able to do that and we all agree to it, it would solve even the executive situations because it is believed that most of the challenges we have is as a result of the charged atmosphere arising from jammed elections.
 
 
And somehow, everybody will benefit. All we need to do is to exercise patience and give them two more years. After that we move to one term tenure that can be five years, six years or seven years depending on what we all agree upon. The cost of all these elections and all the problems that come with it would have all been resolved. So, it would help to reduce cost of election and also reduce the crisis that may come up due to ambition to run for another term in office.
 
How then can we bring the matter back for discussion?
 
We didn’t know that the president and the executive would come up with the idea of National Dialogue when we started the present constitution amendment and came up with the amendment of section 9 of the constitution. Now, because I said the matter was defeated, it is under our processes. And for the matter to come up again, it must come in form of formal motion to bring about that. But because we are serving the people, we would be more than willing to do that if that is what the people of Nigeria desire. If there is debate on it in conversation and Nigerians believe that the way we are going, we need to think along that line and be able to use it to resolve the existing political tension in this country, just as we did during the ill health of our President, we would be more than willing as a national service to have a look into it and be able to reach a level of understanding at the National Assembly.
 
So, we will be willing to discuss it provided that, that is exactly what Nigerians want. But for now, the matter was defeated in the Senate. If we are going to bring it about again, there must be another motion to resuscitate it.        
 
What really is the problem of your committee with multi-level policing, considering the security challenges in the country?  
 
All Nigerians know my position on this. I have a personal position and an official position. I belong to an institution, the Senate and at the level of the Committee on Constitution Amendment, rejected suggestion for state police. We could not take it, even to the floor. And as a person, it is my job and responsibility to present the report of the committee and I needed to explain to my colleagues why we made that recommendation. The reason we gave was that Nigeria was not ripe for state police, though it will be for the future. That is the official position of the committee which I head.
 
 
Now, permit me to speak as a person. As an individual, I believe we can never resolve our security challenges in Nigeria as long as we are doing what we are doing now. Never! If you like, continue to do what we are doing and the fact will repeat itself. We’ll still be having what we are having. The reason is clear. No other country is doing what we are doing in term of policing. Most countries have adopted what I call decentralised policing. If you like, call it multi-level policing.
 
 
Nobody does state police again, what we now do is multi-level policing and if you like, call it decentralised policing. If the security challenges become complicated, you have to bring in complicated process to address it. We cannot have a federal type of government that adopt unitary system of police and expect that to succeed. Even the white men, when they came to do the amalgamation, they knew that a centralised police could not work in Nigeria. So, the type of police they set up was the Native Authority Police. That was the first type of police we had in Nigeria. So, it worked. They even introduced the prison that was native authority based. It was later in the years- I think in 1936- that they decided to set up a Federal Police.
 
 
So, the federal and local authority police co-existed together till 1966 when the army took over. When they took over, they set up a committee to review that type of police and they came to the conclusion that, they were using it to intimidate political enemies. It was bound to happen because the white men did not bother to set up a structure to regulate that kind of level of policing. So, there was nothing like Police Service Commission, may be at the centre, with a guideline to structure that type of native authority policing to be able to determine what bound they must stop.
 
 
They were doing things the way they liked. Instead of the army to find a way to reform that type of arrangement; to make sure there was a level of control and some regulations, what they did was to throw away the baby with the bath water. They now cancelled the issue of other level of police then set up a central police which we have now.
 
 
What happened after that? First was armed robbery. We started to experience armed robbery. Armed robbers now go about their business everywhere because they started to post policemen from Kano to Enugu, from Enugu to Calabar, from Calabar to Ibadan.
 
 
They now bring people who don’t know the terrain of the state. So, armed robbers take advantage of that. When the armed robbers have established their reign, kidnappers now joined them. Now, there are terrorists and some ritualists are also coming in because the police that we have are not grounded in the environment they are operating.
 
 
Take for instance, you send a southerner, may be a Christian to Sokoto. And then, in the course of his beat, somebody commits a crime and he is chasing the person, once he runs into a house, he cannot go further if there is a woman living in that house. He is not allowed to enter because their religion does not allow him to see the woman. There are cultural differences we must respect. And the only way to do that is to get a policeman who is also part of the culture of the area, who respects the culture and also understands the environment.
 
 
Since he lives and does his police work there, he knows everybody in the area. What they do in most countries is called decentralised policing or multi-level policing. That means in Abuja for instance, there is a federal police. Then, there would be Abuja Federal Capital Territory Police. Then those who live in Apo, there would be police. The University of Abuja would have its own police and these are all well coordinated. What happens is that, if there is an offence in Apo for instance and the man appears there in the next second. If it is a thing that he cannot handle, he contacts his colleagues in other part of Apo. Then he can call the FCT Police before bringing it down to the Federal Police. By the time you finish all these, they must have arrested whoever is involved.
 
 
In a situation where somebody has to leave a place in the course of posting, it would not allow him to know the environment in which they are operating. Part of the job of the police is prosecution and also investigation. A policeman is investigating a crime and he is going to testify in Court A, in Lagos. And he is now transferred to Jalingo. Now, what happens to that case? That is the end of the matter. Then, the criminal goes free because the policeman cannot be coming from Jalingo to give evidence in Lagos. They will bring another prosecutor that does not know anything about the matter and he has to start afresh. That is how criminals go away with the offence.
 
 
As I said, as long as we continue to do what we are doing, we will continue to have security challenges that we are having. Since something has to be done, we have to have a rethink. When some of us were pushing for it, we spent a lot of time meeting with the governors in their forum to explain to them the need to decentralise the police. Most of them dismissed it. But thank God, those states that dismissed it are those states that are calling for state police now.
 
 
But they now begin to see the need for it. I believe that as we rightly pointed to our colleagues that the time was not ripe for it, the time is beginning to be ripe for it. People are beginning to see the reason we need to go back to the issue of decentralised police. We have to decentralise the system so that local governments can have police, even factories that can afford it can set up police. But there must be an institution that must regulate it making sure that they are doing the correct thing as they do in Brazil. In Brazil, there is Police Service Commission which gives states their own PSC which are distinct and different from the state government. In that case, it is this PSC that hires and fires the Police Commissioners of the state. Also, there is Federal PSC which now makes sure that all the state PSCs are doing the right things. If you do anything that is contrary to the provision of the law, they will dissolve it. If we put down some of the checks, we must have addressed some of the fears of the people who are opposed to it. It is something that we have to revisit. Not just the South-west governors, everybody has begun to see that it is something we have to revisit.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Wike Represents the Problem of Rivers People, Says Wena

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Read Time:9 Minute, 23 Second
Special Assistant to Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State in charge of the Lagos liaison office, Mr. Aso Wena, speaks with Ojo M. Maduekwe on the crisis in the state and the roles played by the dramatis personae. Excerpts:
 
Looking at the crisis in Rivers State, would you say Governor Amaechi is rather misunderstood?
 
I find it very difficult to situate why people don’t understand Governor Amaechi. If you come close to Governor Amaechi, you’ll know that he means well for this country. He is a rare breed politician. When you look at him from afar, there’s that common knowledge that he is arrogant. Why do they refer to him that way? It is because he is principled, that’s all. Most of these people fighting him know that he is a good man, and they are not comfortable with that.
 
 
Importantly, the reason many people seemed to misunderstand the governor was because when Wike was Chief of Staff, he wielded too much influence and power that he fenced off the people from accessing the governor, having been handed some strict political assignments while the governor struggled to put the state on the portal of stability, development and infrastructure renewal. But a lot of people didn’t know.
 
 
I also didn’t know that they didn’t know until recently when I met with some people who opened up. They thought it was Amaechi who was doing all that shenanigans. One major problem with Amaechi is that he is too trusting and that’s how Wike got away with a lot of mess. Without doubt, Wike is the problem of the Rivers people and those who can see beyond the flash that he seems to represent now can see that he was the problem and can decipher also why he was doing all that.
 
In essence, are you saying those fighting him, one of whom is the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, are the opposite of him?
 
Absolutely! The issue of Wike fighting Governor Amaechi is one area that hurts me so much. The reason is that Nyesom Wike knows that the governor is a good man. That much he knows. He worked closely with the governor for four good years as Chief of Staff. This is aside being in Amaechi’s political family during his time as a local government chairman. Having come to work with Amaechi as Chief of Staff, he understood him better and knew that Amaechi is a good man and one who is not corrupt. The governor has character which Wike lacks and there is therefore, no basis for comparison between them. Above all, Amaechi has one thing that his traducers lack- his knees. While they rely on state power, he counts solely on his prayers to God.
 
Aside Wike, there is President Goodluck Jonathan on whose behalf people like Wike are fighting Amaechi. Are you saying he’s also the opposite of the governor?
 
 
If the president is viewing Amaechi from a different angle, it is quite unfortunate and I don’t know why. Governor Amaechi is like his younger brother and they are from the same zone. Let me ask a question; when President Jonathan was the vice-president, what was his relationship with Governor Amaechi, and what was his relationship with other governors who were running around him today? I am yet to know and, I stand to be corrected. One governor including Bayelsa where he comes from who gave him the chance to nominate a commissioner in his cabinet was Amaechi.
 
 
When Jonathan was vice-president, Amaechi gave him the chance to nominate two commissioners in Rivers State. The president is also from Rivers state because he grew up in Port Harcourt and Bayelsa is nearby. So we see ourselves as family. What I want you to appreciate here is that, as vice-president, Governor Amaechi saw him as a brother and they worked closely together. Where were all these other governors now running around him? They were busy running around late President Yar’Adua.
 
 
When eventually Governor Amaechi became chairman of the governor’s forum and spoke what his colleagues told him to say, the president began to dislike his attitude, and that is unfortunate. When he was acting president, Amaechi was the chairman of the forum, and used it to assist him greatly. When the issue of Yar’Adua’s sickness was creating problems for him, the governor’s forum assisted him and he knows.
 
 
The point I’m making is have you seen any governor from the 36 states that has come to say that this communiqué that Amaechi read was not what we agreed. As the chairman of the forum, when they take a decision, it is his duty to read the communiqué. I am sure that most of these communiqué do not go down well with the president. But there are better ways to go about it. If only the president can realise that Amaechi would have been one of the best persons in his life, it would have been better for him.
 
What do you say of close allies who have now fallen out with the governor?
 
From my understanding, the main person is Nyesom Wike who because of ambition and greed, fell out with governor Amaechi. First, if you see the way he is going, you’ll think he’s working for the president. If the president thinks that Nyesom Wike is working for him, then he should watch out for what’s coming. Wike simply wants to be the governor after Amaechi. He has had this ambition, having worked with governor Amaechi as Chief of Staff, during which time the governor gave him so much leverage.
 
 
At a point Wike was almost making decisions in the state. He amassed so much wealth. If governor Amaechi was corrupt, would he have amassed so much wealth? Wike saw the awesomeness of being a governor and it got into his head. He amassed so much wealth and felt that he could take a shot at the governorship. But he sees that the governor won’t support him because they are from the same tribe and there are other tribes in the state. Seeing that was not possible, he began moving away from Governor Amaechi. In summary, Wike is the problem of the Rivers people. That is all!
 
 
The others, Austin Okpara and Chibudum Nwuche, feel that governor Amaechi should bring Rivers money for them to share. Amaechi is not that kind of person. If not why would these two, after being deputy speakers, be running around government and the president’s wife? Whenever the president’s wife is coming, you’ll see them at the airport going to welcome her, short of carrying her bag. These are men who people should be looking up to as role models. But look at the level they’ve brought themselves, following Wike to run down Governor Amaechi for no just cause, because they feel they should grab power from Amaechi at all cost. Seeing that the president and his wife are not happy with Amaechi, they feel they can cash-in on that and make the state ungovernable for Amaechi. They make the president believe that they are working for him, never. They are not working for the president but Wike.
 
Amaechi has left the PDP for APC; what does this tell for his political career and future?
 
I don’t want to speak much about that. I am aware that the New PDP has defected to the APC and we are waiting for our governor to come back to the state and properly brief us. But look at it this way, he was unjustly suspended from the party; the structure taken away from him through the backdoor; his security reduced in size, thus putting his life at risk and yet when he cried aloud, the president turned deaf ears. Have you seen a politician and political office holder without a party? No.
 
 
One thing you must know is that anytime he comes back to the state and speaks to us, he’ll have more than 80 per cent support from Rivers State, because the people of the state love him. Things that they don’t see, they bow see in Amaechi’s government and I can assure you that the Rivers people genuinely love him.
 
 
Therefore, Amaechi will win election in Rivers any day, anytime. What Wike and co are relying on to win an election in Rivers is the use of security to intimidate voters, and Rivers people are aware. Any day we do election in Rivers state, free and fair, they won’t get up to 20 per cent; they don’t have that support in Rivers. Governor Amaechi is a leader and he has done well, and our people love him.
 
Talking about security, Rivers is a volatile state. Do you foresee the people revolting if Wike and his co-travellers try to intimidate them with the use of security agencies during 2015 elections?
 
To begin with, that Nigerians even hear of Wike making noise in Rivers State is because the president seems to disagree with Amaechi. If the president was neutral on this matter, you won’t hear of Wike; he is no match to Amaechi. Governor Amaechi is his benefactor; he should appreciate that and be grateful to God. Now, on the day of election, if they try to intimidate Rivers electorate, we will resist them; I can assure you that. Rivers youths will resist them and the aftermath will be too much for the president to contain. So if they know the proper thing to do, they should allow the people to vote. If you say you’re popular and he has been campaigning, they should allow the people to vote.
 
Some are saying that Governor Amaechi, like some of the now defunct G7 governors has plans after 2015. Having worked closely with him, what can you say are his plans after 2015?
 
Honestly, he has not sat any of us down to say what his plans are after 2015. He is someone that if he has any form of ambition, he’ll let us know. That is why when you see posters indicating that he wanted to be vice-president, the question anyone should ask is that do people contest to be vice-president? It is not possible! Vice-presidency is by nomination, after a presidential candidate has emerged. To begin with, I say this in many places; I doubt if Amaechi is a soft choice for vice-presidency. I see people naturally being scared of him. So where all these stories come from, I don’t know. For us, he has not told us anything regarding his ambition after 2015.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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A Newspaper Called Me Slave and that Fired My Quest for the Throne

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Read Time:30 Minute, 30 Second
Prologue
His Royal Highness, Rilwan Babatunde Osuolale Aremu Akiolu I, the Oba of Lagos, recently clocked 70. Born in Isale-Eko in 1943, Akiolu attended Ansar ud Deen Primary School and Secondary School. He also studied Law at the University of Lagos. He joined the Nigeria Police Force as a cadet inspector and rose to the position of Assistant Inspector General of Police before his retirement in March, 2002. He was installed Oba of Lagos in 2003, and this year marks the tenth anniversary of his coronation. When THISDAY visited him at the Iga Idungaran (the palace of Oba of Lagos), for an interview, Oba Akiolu was at the East-end of the Palace receiving traditional homage and prayers from the Eyo cult. Sitting closely beside him in the expansive room were the Aremo, the new Iyaloja of Lagos, the Oloris and some white cap chiefs. Chanting incantations in local dialect, the Eyo cult prayed fervently for long life and prosperity for the Oba and his kingdom. Akiolu specifically requested that prayers should be offered for the country and the new Iyaloja, who was to be installed the next day. Done with all that, he requested that THISDAY accompanies him to the main palace. In quick steps, the Oba made his way from that wing of the palace to the main building which houses the throne on which his ancestors sat to rule over the affairs of Lagos. As he walked, his subjects showered praises on him. Just immediately upon the entrance to the main palace where the throne sits, lies the resting place of Oba Oyekan I, who reigned between 1885 and 1900. And by its side lies the tomb of Oba Dosunmu, who reigned between 1853 and 1885. There were mattresses on the tombs. He stopped, opened a small door, looked at THISDAY team and pointed into a dingy room on which was another tomb, “any new oba must spend three months alone in seclusion in this room. But I have renovated the place now”. If it took renovation for the room to be what it was, one can only imagine how it must have been in the past. He then moved to an open space where the throne is located. “This is the real throne of Lagos. My ancestors sat here”, he said with pride before he now added, “that other side is just the ceremonial throne”. And from that throne, Oba Akiolu fielded questions from Olusegun Adeniyi and Tokunbo Adedoja, on several issues, including his growing up days, career in the Police, his emergence as Oba, how much influence political authority has on traditional institution, the threat of terrorist attack on Lagos, and the scramble for Lagos among contending political parties as 2015 election approaches (Photos by Mubo Peters)
 
‘A Newspaper Called Me Slave and that Fired My Quest for The Throne’
How does it feel to join the club of Septugenarians?
Well, life belongs to our creator. As the Quran clearly states, it is only God Almighty in His infinite mercies who knows who to go first – the father, the mother or any of their children. That is the prerogative of the Almighty. But for God Almighty sparing my life, I have nothing but praise to offer. I lost my two parents under the age of 11 years, but Alamudullilahi, here I am today. Thanks be to God Almighty. That is all that I will say.
 
 
You were a prince and you must have grown up on the Island. How was growing up on the island like?
You see, in those days, there were high sense of discipline, honesty, dedication to duty, love of each other and respect for elders—virtues that are fast fading away now and we still have to go back to them. One example I give to people is that when we were young, when we woke up in the morning, if you were a male, you would prostrate to greet your parents, if you were a female, you would kneel down. But you see the young ones nowadays, their children will say, “hi daddy.” That is not our culture and we have to retrace our steps. The Muslims, in those days would insist that their children must go to Arabic school even before going to elementary schools in the morning. The Christians inculcated the same values in form of Bible lessons and these things helped to shape the characters of the children. It is not so nowadays. Some of the practicing Christians and Muslims of nowadays are doing their religions for commercial purposes and I say that with due respect. But that is the truth.
 
You lost your parents at a tender age, how did you go to school? Who funded your education?
I was at the mercy of God Almighty. My cousin who took me to Ibadan, Alhaji Rasheed is still very much alive. He is going to be 87 by April and it was my father who took him to Ibadan 72 years ago and he is still in Ibadan. We used to call him Baba Ibadan but he comes home now more often as age is fast catching up with him. He was one of the people who impacted my life in those early days. But there were many others. If you see the tribute I wrote on the late KO Tinubu – that is the father of Wale Tinubu – then you will appreciate the positive influence he had on my life, aside some other people who really asisted me. But I was particularly very close to the late KO Tinubu. In fact, when we were in training at the Police College, one particular British instructor was always on my case. The general impression in those days was that Lagos people were not serious. But I told them that it was not so. Dr. Taslim Olawale Elias, the late Prof. Ajose, and many of them like that, were from this same Lagos island. And they were achievers of the highest order. The story at the time was that anytime we went on parade I was the one giving them headache. One morning, KO went to the office very early in the morning and the British instructor was shouting, “Akiolu don’t spoil my parade!” The commandant was annoyed and said he was going to deal with me.
 
He ordered the parade commander to halt the parade and bring me out. But unfortunately for the British instructor, I was not on parade that day because I had earlier been granted permission to go to hospital. That prompted KO to say, “so, what this boy is saying is correct. You just want to give a dog a bad name in order to hang him.” The interesting thing is that since that day, even in instances that I did anything that was wrong, the man hadn’t the guts again to go and report me. By the time I passed out from the Police College, KO wanted me to be around so that whenever some of my mates see me, they would also have interest in joining the police. Eventually, I was posted to the then South-Eastern State. On getting there, I was posted to Ogoja again. No light, no water. KO did one thing, he wrote a beautiful letter to the then commissioner of police that, “Sir, as you took care of me in my formative days, please do same to this my cousin.” That explains why I cannot but continue to thank him and I thank God Almighty. The two of them are deceased. Whether we like it or not, we too are going to where they have gone, but we are not in a hurry to go and God will spare our lives for a long time.
 
Growing up, was there a time you had a feeling that you would be the Oba?
If you have read many things which I have said in the past, you would have come across some of the stories and writings I have made. On March 12 or 13, I cannot remember, I think it should be March 13, 1964. We were playing ball in this compound, one vehicle drove in and one of the title chiefs, the late Ajiroba, a very nice person, came out with some nurses dressed in white and they were bringing out ice blocks from the vehicle. I didn’t know what happened. I assisted them to take it to the balcony where you met me before. On the second day, I just saw in the Daily Service or Daily Express, I am not sure now, “Oba Adele joins his ancestors, slaves were seeing carrying ice blocks”. It was then I knew that the Oba had joined his ancestors a day before. One of my cousins, the late KK Somade, was annoyed. I said me that I am a legitimate claimant to the throne was called a slave. I said no and I prayed to the Almighty that one day I would be a worthy successor to this house. And as I was praying, I was also working towards it. And at the end, on 23rd of May 2003, God Almighty gave me the mantle as the Oba of Lagos.
 
What made a prince to join the police, knowing full well that the force has its hazards?
My dear son, there is no profession that doesn’t have its hazards. Police job, upon all the criticisms, to me is still one of the best jobs you can do. You will meet people, you will know how to do things in the ideal way if you want to do it like that, and you will be exposed. You will go round the whole country and it is a very good thing. Look at the North, majority of their emirs were in the native authority police before they were integrated into the Nigerian police force around 1966/67. The police is a very good training ground for leadership. Your uniform has to be immaculate, you must know how to march, how to dress; they even teach you eating habits, how to hold cutleries etc. That was how we were trained as cadet officers and they will tell you to do the job as it should be done, but you may decide to do it the other way. You will make many friends if you are not the commercial policeman; that will be very useful to you in future. I used to tell people my own experience. The day Almighty Allah made Lagos people to announce me as the Oba of Lagos, within a period of seven days, they contributed over N164 million for me.
 
You rose to the position of AIG. The aspiration of every police officer is to become the IG one day. That may have been an aspiration you also nursed dearly. Assuming that you were on the verge of being announced as the IG and then it happened at the same time that there was vacancy on the throne. Would you have had a problem making a choice?
May Almighty Allah be with you. At the time I joined the force as a cadet inspector through the help of God Almighty – and that of some people now still living and may God grant them long life, Prince Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi, Alhaji Femi Okunnu and of course the late Ajiroba  and KO Tinubu, the highest post I aimed at in the police was commissioner of police because anything after commissioner of police is political. Not only political, but if you are not close to your God and strongly determined, the powers that be will dictate to you, at times, things which may not be okay with your own conscience, and that I did not want. I never prayed even to be an AIG. But who am I to dictate to God Almighty. Even at the time I got to that post, I was praying for some of my friends that God should make them IG, particularly Sunday Ehindero. And let me tell you today, before God and man, Tafa Balogun, may God grant him long life, is one of the best operational officers the Nigerian Police force has ever produced in terms of efficiency and performance. If he had listened and taken to my advice, what happened to him would not have happened. I advised him on many occasions that politicians don’t quarrel, they only disagree. I used to say ‘don’t let politicians use you.’ They use you only when they need you and they can dump you at anytime. Like I said, they don’t totally quarrel, they only disagree to regroup at the time its benefits them. And you see what happened to him. And I can say it with all honesty, majority of those funds they are accusing him of, it is the very politicians, particularly the governors, who gave him the money to be on their sides during election. That is the truth I am telling you. And with due respect to some retired IGs, I don’t want to mention them, some of them told me in confidence that they were bitter with Tafa Balogun because they insisted that he should disclose all those people. But for reasons best known to him, he didn’t want to do it. With due respect to our former President, he said it on more than two occasions, to my hearing that no person can win the election without the support of the police. President Obasanjo said it and I can say it anywhere.
 
Talking about elections, you were a senior police officer and the role of the police in any election is very critical and they don’t always play a good role. What do you think is the problem and how do we address it?
Look, man makes the rank, rank does not make the man. You see the Nigeria Police Force, as presently constituted, we have men of integrity and honour and they are the ones who can make Nigeria a better place for us, with some other security services. Let them put down their feet. They should not support anybody. Fair is fair. They should remember when they will die one day to face their creator. And that is the truth. In any case, no politician will give you money and will not disclose it when things do not go well with their plans. They should also bear that in mind.
 
There is something I do not understand. Why is it that princes want to be king and are ready to sacrifice anything?
Let me tell you. It is inborn in all princes, genuine princes for that matter. There is no prince who will not pray to mount the throne of his fore-fathers. It is inborn. O ma n gun yan bi elegun ni. Because there is honour in royalty except we want to deceive ourselves, provided you keep to how it should be – You love people, take care of people and at the same time you must be a no-nonsense person. Let your yes be yes and let your no be no. Let them know you for what you are. No matter what it will cost you, you must be absolutely honest in what you are doing. And it is rewarding.
 
Were there moments while you were in the Force that you felt it was risky for you to be there and what would you say was your most challenging moments?
Well, with praises to Almighty Allah. You see, my service in the police force was very challenging. I was DPO for many years in some very sensitive places like the Kiri Dam riot. I was highly commended by former President Shehu Shagari for the role I played there. And I was lucky to work with some good commissioners of police like MD Wali. When Wali came to my station in 1981, I was the DPO of Guyuk, in the then Gongola State. In the course of the visit, one corporal got up during question and answer time. He said he had a complaint against the former DPO, that the officer promised to send him on course and he took N10 and two goats from him and when the list came out, his name was not there. On the parade ground o! Before the CP could make any comment, I just raised objection. I said, “Sir, can I be allowed to do something?” MD Wali looked at me like this and said: “Prince, what is it?” I said, “Major, get that corporal arrested, detain him, charge him for offering bribe to the police, let them try him in orderly room on oath”. And that was the end of the matter as I could not condone such indiscipline. There were many decisions I took in the police which were against what my boss wanted yet at the end, they reasoned with me. Honestly, I always tell people, there are some courageous and good police officers that I have very high regard for – Alhaji Gambo, Ibrahim Coommasie, the late Mr. Aboyade Cole, even Mr. Inyang. Given their training and exposure, these were professional policemen. I had one AIG, Dabo Aliyu.
 
He is a former governor and he is still alive. Even at meetings, when they said something, I would go the other side and I will give convincing reasons and at the end they would agree with me. Police job, to me, I don’t agree with a number of people that majority of the police are bad. It is not so. It depends on, one, your family background and how you feel it should be done. If you want to dance to the gallery, you will never be a very successful policeman. Police job, up till now, is one of the best jobs. You know up till now, I still call the AIG, I still call the CP. I still suggest ways of doing things to them and they are very happy. The present CP of Lagos State was my AC CID when I was AIG in Abuja. He did not say that this baba you are no more in the police. I still make suggestions to them. Two weeks ago, I called the AIG Zone 2 and I was telling him that he had to evolve a strategy from around 4am to around 6.30am on weekends for stop and search in some areas under DSPs or SPs. All these are security issues which I suggested and they take advice from me. When God brought me to this house, the whole of this area was terrible with area boys or whatever you call them. But before, as God knows what he was preparing me for, when I was DC operations and commissioner of police CID, every week, we were the ones writing intelligence about this people. I interrogated the problem. We were just condemning these people, let us ask them what the problems are. How can we assist them so that we could teach them how to catch fish and not to be giving them fish.
 
And it worked out well. If you come to this place nobody can molest you again because up till now I gather intelligence about this area and if I tell people that at so so so place, this is what is happening, they will say, Kabiyesi, shebi eti fi ise olopa si le (Your majesty, but you have retired from the police force). But I tell them that a policeman is always a policeman. But you see, the problem of policing of this country is the responsibility of everybody and government has to be serious. If you vote money for police for certain projects, don’t introduce party politics into it. Don’t give them the names of companies they should give the jobs to. Give them free hand and they will perform.
 
When we came in to the palace, we saw the eyo and they were praying for you. Is it the kind of thing you go through every day and you are a Muslim, how do you reconcile this with your faith?
Well, by virtue of the position God Almighty gave me here, I am the head of Lagos traditional community. But that does not have anything to do with my religious belief. My father, my grandfather were born Muslims and insha Allah, I am going to die a Muslim. Like I tell people, there is nothing like human sacrifice in this palace. It stopped when the British people took over the administration of this palace.
 
Tell us about some of your community programmes
Onala is part of the inherited traditional palace property and by the grace of God Almighty and with the support of people and well-meaning Nigerians, we will put another hospital for primary healthcare in that area. You see, primary healthcare is very important to the development of Lagos and the country. Yesterday, I heard the President of the Nigerian Medical Association saying that government needed to do something about primary healthcare. And that is why I put the emphasis on providing drugs and other necessary things to the primary health center, which God Almighty used Jim Ovia and Zenith Bank to build for us. There are many other banks that have contributed immensely like First Bank, Sterling Bank and others. You see the project, I prayed to God Almighty that I wanted to accomplish it within 10 years, phase three. But man proposes but God disposes. Even the other one, the Ilupinsi town hall, substantial part of the money is ready and we will soon embark on it. You see, if you are a leader and you think of yourself alone, then you are not a leader. You should think of others and where they go wrong you should deal with them. Let them say anything, that is their own headache but let your conscience be clear to God Almighty that you are not just doing it to lord things over them.
 
You were quoted not long ago as saying that you would prefer not to be addressed as Kabiyesi, but as Alayeluwa, Olowo Eko. What informed that choice and are you planning to make that official?
Kabiyesi in Yoruba means ka bi e o si (He that cannot be questioned). Can I now say that as Oba of Lagos or an emir in the North, nobody can ask about anything I do? It is only God that cannot be questioned. Alayeluwa means the man in charge of everything. You see that “olowo eko” title was on up to the time of Oba Dosunmu because everything in Lagos, the whole of that Marina you are seeing and Tinubu square, go and check the titles of some of these big properties, it is the name of Oba Dosumu you will see there. Just like the royal family in England, the Oba of Lagos was in charge of everything. And all the markets, even, there was a time the traditional heads in Ojo and other places, were directly under this palace. But changes have come and he who does not move with time, time will move without him.
 
Lagos is experiencing a facelift but the problem of area boys still persist, though we must admit that it is not as bad as it was a decade ago. Also, there are people that live in Lagos and when they go to other places like Abuja, they run back to Lagos because they feel it is too quiet. Don’t you think that by the time Lagos is completely sanitized, it may lose its soul because this has become part of what makes Lagos Lagos?
It depends on enlightenment and their level of education and training. If you explain to them in clear terms why it should be this and if they are reasonable. There are some people who are reasonable, there are some people who are not reasonable. That is the truth. Some people do not know God no matter what you tell them. That instinct will still be there. But if you are the enlightened type and you have the fear of God and you will know what they are telling you is correct.
 
You are one of the traditional rulers that are outspoken and we saw that during Obasanjo’s regime when you insisted that Lagos cannot be captured. What gives you this kind of courage to speak out?
Let me tell you, politicians do not believe that something is not possible. And that is why I say it times without number that partisan politics should not be because so so people support me, there should be improvement in their lives. About four days ago, some elders were here, we were doing something and I commended the present head of state when I read that he had written to the National Assembly for the quick approval of the loan requested by the Lagos State Government. It is for developmental projects. And that is one out of many things. I personally too had gone to him to discuss with him.
 
There is no amount of money you spend on the development of Marina that you cannot get back in geometrical progression. But partisan politics should not be tied to development. It is not good. Obasanjo is one of the most intelligent and hardworking Nigerians but for reasons and what some people were telling him, he has even seen it for himself now. My own prayer is that God should keep all of us in this country to let us know where we are going. And that is why I can tell you confidently that the Oba of Benin personally requested me in a strongly worded letter that I should proceed to go and see the President and make it abundantly clear to him that this country is in dear need of prayers for our continued survival and progress. And I put all my comments on it and I sent it to him and I can see signs of better future for Nigeria if we are sincere about what we are doing. Nigerians do not care about who rules them provided it is good governance. But with all sincerity, the power of the Federal Government should be reduced to the barest minimum. Empower the Local Government and the States if you want every nook and crannies of this country to develop.
 
That brings us to the attempt by the National Assembly to review the constitution and the proposal for a National dialogue…
(cuts in) If it is based on sincerity and honesty of purpose. You see, about two weeks ago, the head of state said something. He said politicians think about next election but statesmen think of next generation. Those words are pregnant with meaning. Believe me, some leaders have good ideas and they are very good, but some of them are surrounded by incurably bad people who are narrow-minded and think of themselves alone. It should not be like that at all. That is why I can never be a practising politician. Let me tell you this, when I pulled out of the police because of intrigues because elections were coming and they were looking for way to get things done their own way, they wrote very negative things against me and my name. But God has justified me in so many ways since then. One, I should be grateful to God, under one year, God brought me into this house. And two, the very day I got wind of my retirement, I was offered the post of a civil commissioner in Lagos State, which I respectfully refused. Later, pressure was mounted on me to come and be a Senator, I equally refused because up till now, many politicians in this country do not know their left from their right. It is high time we made politics part time or we reduce the powers of political office holders to the barest minimum. And you see Nigerians even abusing them saying this minister is a thief, this one is a thief. Who were the people who made them like that? They are the ones and you begin to criticize them. When Ironsi came, they said he was God-sent, later they were abusing him. The same thing when Gowon came, they said go on with one Nigeria, later they said go away.
 
There are fears that Lagos may be a battle ground for contending parties because of the huge voting population. As 2015 is fast approaching, are you worried about this?
Wallahi Tallahi, I swear to you in the name of God Almighty and by my ancestors in this house, Lagos people will get the type of government that will move Lagos forward. Because the stage we have reached now, we cannot afford to go back. And the owners of Lagos, the ancestors of Lagos will not leave Lagos. Even though I am a Muslim, but I tell you that there are some inherited traditional practices in this house such that if we say this is where we want Lagos to go, Lagos will go there. I can confidently tell you that nobody can capture Lagos against the wishes of Lagosians. Wallahi Tallahi……. It can never. Quote me anywhere, it is not possible. Let me use this opportunity and through you, anybody who wants to say that he wants to take Lagos, I don’t know any other part o, but God in his mercy will give Lagos the person who would serve the interest of the people. Let me tell you something about Jonathan. I believe that God destined him to be there but it is now up to him to live up to that as he is going to be accountable to his creator one day. That is very important.
 
Lagos is the center of excellence and the economic and commercial nerve center of the country. Recently, some elements of Boko Haram were rounded up in Ijora and there had been consistent threats of attack based on snippets from security sources. How worried are you about these threats?
May God Almighty grant the late General Azazi eternal rest. He was a very good friend. On more than three occasions, I called him here and I told him in plain language that in this country, we must have a national security policy, which is very necessary, and I suggested to him how we could go about it. I did many courses on anti-money laundering, anti-terrorism and I know the implications. You see this Boko Haram, we are just unfortunate in this country. The real problem started from some of our neighbouring countries in the North, particularly Libya after Gaddafi died. I understand there was a warehouse there with about four million AK47 riffles, some of which found their way into this country. That is why the cooperation of the local people is very necessary to get rid of this thing. And I know our security forces, by the grace of God, will get to the root of this Boko Haram thing because it is not part of our culture and we don’t need it in this country. But nobody can overrun Lagos. God and the ancestors of Lagos do not leave Lagos and we have sensitized majority of the people in Lagos State that their eyes must be opened and their ears must be close to the ground, and that has assisted and will continue to assist us.
 
You have been on the throne for ten years. How much influence does political authority have on traditional institution?
When you say political authority, you mean the governors, commissioners?
 
Yes, including the federal level.
You see, even at the federal level and the local executive here, they have lots of respect for traditional rulers provided you are sound and you know what you are doing. You don’t turn yourself to the person they will push here and there. Commend them when they do something that is right and if they want to do something which is not in the best interest of the people, let them know and that if they do not listen and it backfires you can expose them to everybody. We thank Almighty Allah that we have not experienced something like that. The governor and the state executive, both the former and the current governor, they have a lot of respect, particularly for myself and many other obas in this state.
 
One good example, I will not want to mention any particular person, when I was just nine months old on the throne, there was one particular oba that was going to be removed. I said you cannot do that. They had done the memo, they had done everything. In fact, the admin officer who was even putting pressure that they should remove the man is even from the local government of the particular monarch. But I intervened and pleaded with the Governor. But up till now the Oba is still doing what they said he was doing. I said they should leave him. I won’t say more than that. He knows himself, and I told him frankly that “all these things you are doing, you are retarding the progress of your people and they don’t deserve what is happening to them.” I saw what Segun (Adeniyi) wrote that everybody knows where I am standing politically. It is yes and no. Because that does not mean that I will rubber-stamp anybody, never. And they know me.
 
In Lagos, we notice that you don’t confer chieftaincy titles as frequently as they do in other palaces. Why are you not giving titles to many people?
That was why I told you that man makes the rank, rank does not make the man. It was the saying of the late KO Tinubu. Chieftaincy titles are not supposed to be given for monetary reasons. An impoverished king is a weak crown. Even Prophet Ibrahim was a King, Prophet Solomon was a king, but they were very rich genuinely. Look, somebody can be rich genuinely without resorting to fraud, And when he wants to give chieftaincy title, he gives it to worthy and deserving people who have contributed to the society and their impacts have been felt. When God brought me to this house ten years ago, if you are the MD of a bank and you say kabiyesi come and do this for us. I will say, are you here with your human resources or personnel manager? How many people are you going to employ for me because I have many of my people looking for job. By the grace of Almighty Allah, within the period of ten years, God has been able to use me to secure employments for more than 600 graduates. But I usually lecture these people with stern warning  when they get the jobs. I tell them: If you go there and you steal, you will go to jail. A leader should be able to show good example.
 
A final question and on a lighter note. Have you reconciled with Erelu Abiola Dosumu?
Segun, did they tell you I am quarreling with her? For your information, before the demise of our late father, God knows and the ancestors of this house know that I was the closest person to Erelu Abiola Dosumu because she holds a very important position in the traditional set up of this palace, and I made it abundantly clear. In fact when Shonekan was head of state and was here in the palace, she called me and said, “Egbon mi, let us take photographs because by the grace of God, in future when you become the Oba of Lagos they will know that we are very close.” Go and ask her. But as human beings, we do have our differences. But I have no problem with her.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nyesom Wike: We’ll Rebuild Rivers PDP Ahead of 2015

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Read Time:12 Minute, 47 Second
INTERVIEW
Supervising Minister of Education Nyesom Wike speaks on the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities, the 2015 general election, and the crisis in the Rivers State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party, among other issues, in this interview with Jaiyeola Andrews. Excerpts:
 
ASUU has been on strike for over four months due to issues bordering on the federal government’s renege on agreements it had reached with the union. Don’t you think this situation is worsening the image crisis of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration by creating the impression of a government that does not care about the people?
Let me say one thing, the government does not have any image crisis, talk less of worsening any image crisis. The Jonathan administration does not have image crisis.
 
But one would say that it is quite unfortunate that the ASUU strike has been prolonged this far. The truth of the matter is that whatever ASUU is agitating for today – I would not say that it is selfish – is not an agreement that was reached with this government. ASUU claimed this agreement was reached since 2009 when the former president, the late Umaru Yar’Adua was in office. But, of course, government is all about continuity.
First of all, you should give credit to Mr. President that this is the first time a president in Nigeria will say, go and assess the level of fraud, the level of decay in the tertiary institutions in the country. If the president has no good intention he wouldn’t have said we should go and do this. 
 
He directed the Minister of Education and the National Universities Commission to go and do the assessment. This assessment was done and the report was presented at the Federal Executive Council meeting. Everybody that was in the Federal ExecutiveCouncil meeting was touched by the level of decay and Mr. President said this assessment we did was for only federal universities, but what about the state universities.
 
But state governors are not members of the Federal Executive Council.
Since governors are not members of the Federal Executive Council but they are members of the National Economic Council, which is presided over by the president, and there is also the need to present this report to the National Economic Council, he directed the Minister of Education and NUC to present the report before the state ministries of education and state governors. Everybody was disturbed by the level of decay in the tertiary education sector. That now made us to set up a technical committee which was headed by the governor of Anambra State.
 
So what ASUU is talking about is that we had an agreement with the government that every year government is supposed to release N400 billion as infrastructure development fund. I am not disputing that fact, however, the point we are making counters every issue, for government to release N400 billion and not only that, the N400 billion does not concern or affect the regular intervention by the Tertiary Education Fund or the regular budgetary allocation.
 
They said that aside from the money from the fund and the budgetary allocation the N400 billion will be for the universities. This N400 billion in three years will be 1.2trillion.
This thing they are talking about, the federal government cannot afford it, it is not practicable and it is not done, in the sense that government revenue does not come like that, it trickles in; you don’t just expect the government to carry N400 billion and keep somewhere, that with N100 billion yearly and the regular intervention of TERFUND, which is not less than N100 billion to the universities.
 
So assuming that they collected N100 billion from TERFUND and another N100 billion from government intervention, making N200 billion, to develop the universities, the question we ask is, does this institution have the capacity? Look at the TERFUND money, we are still having issues with it.
It is not that the federal government is happy with the ASUU strike; we are still committed to solving the problem.
 
Do you still believe the ASUU strike can be resolved amicably?
Yes, I believe strongly that this government can resolve the problem we are having with ASUU because this government is so passionate about education and we are not happy with what is going on. Parents are not happy, even our children are tired of sitting down at home. Government is doing everything it can to resolve this issue. I respect the ASUU agitation, I respect them, but we are still talking to ensure that we have a lasting solution to the problem. We have had series of meetings but I believe that very soon we are going to resolve this issue.
 
What do you think is the solution to the problem of incessant strikes in the government- owned higher institutions of learning?
I will want to plead with ASUU because the federal government is always committed to ensuring that all her institutions are well cared for. But sometimes when you say some things it may compound the existing problem or crisis, so to speak, but I think that we must also understand that no government has all the recourses to solve all the problems at the same time. In as much as education is key to the transformation agenda of Mr. President, it can be very difficult for him to say that he will not attend to other pressing issues in the country. We do know education is key but we cannot just ignore some pressing issues that equally need attention in the country.
 
You were recently reported as alleging that your state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and others perceived to be opposed to Jonathan were behind the elongation of the ASUU strike. Do you have any evidence?
I never said something of such, I have never. By saying that it will look as if I am giving them credibility or giving them the power they do not possess. When people say things sometimes there must be some political motives. I never said so and it is not true. It is not that I am afraid of them but there is no truth in that assertion.
 
You have been quoted as saying that Amaechi cannot dictate to Jonathan in the attempts to resolve the Rivers State PDP crisis, besides other comments that seem to worsen relations between the president and the governor. Do you really have an interest in the genuine restoration of friendly relations between Jonathan and Amaechi? Don’t you think it is true, as some have insinuated, that you believe your political future depends on the continuation of the unfriendliness between Jonathan and Amaechi?
Is it not funny when you say my political future will be well when there is crisis? That is not correct. I want a genuine reconciliation; thank God you used the word genuine reconciliation. What is the definition of a genuine reconciliation? A genuine reconciliation where you were given a bad recognition, is that genuine? And the so-called crisis that you are talking about, what has it got to do with Rivers State?  Are you saying that the politicians and the political leaders in the state do not know what they want? I mean people should avoid trivialising matters, when leaders are fighting among themselves the next thing you will hear is that the president is involved in the matter, it is not fair and I don’t think that is necessary.
 
People who do that are trying to make sure that if you call the name of the president, then it will mean that it is power from above that is behind what is happening.
If you have a problem at home you should learn how to solve that problem, but not by indicting or trying to indict some other people who have no business in it. That is what I tell every person that cares to listen that Mr. President has never called me to say, my minister, what do we do to the crisis rocking your state? He has never for once asked me.
 
Are you nursing a governorship or senatorial ambition ahead of the 2015 general election?
One thing I notice about people in this country, there is nothing you do that will not be ascribed to one thing or the other. If I am not talking today people will say it is because I want to retain my ministerial appointment, if I talk they will say I have a political ambition. Like I have often said, my focus right now is to ensure that we promote and grow our party, PDP, stronger in Rivers State. Some of the people who are very prominent and leaders of the party who had abandoned the party, we are trying to woo them back to the party, because there is internal crisis within the PDP in Rivers State and so many leaders of the party have left. We are just trying to bring them back to the mainstream ahead of the 2015 general election. When the time comes fully for political activities or to decide who runs for this or that, the leadership of the party will meet to fashion out ways on how to do that. It is not me that will determine what post I’m running for, it depends on the leadership of the party.
 
So let us try and rebuild the party first. You can’t be talking about ambition when your party is in crisis, you can’t, and we must have good roots before we start talking about ambition. If the party is not strong in the state then what kind of ambition are you nursing? There is nothing wrong in any human being having an ambition but you must also face the reality on ground.
Like I said earlier, one ambition that I have is to ensure that there is a credible and a violence-free election in Rivers State, and also to ensure that Jonathan is re-elected because he has done well in this country.
 
Look at his attitude and his commitment. Look at the transformation agenda, nobody can say that a government is 100 per cent perfect, but you cannot say you are not seeing any tangible thing that this government has done that you can appreciate. Look at the transformation in the power sector; you can see what is going on. By the time he is finished with the process and he succeeds Nigerians will be happy. So you must give people credit. That is why I will say that my ambition is to help Jonathan to be re-elected, but not according to the dictates of those that say that he can only be re-elected when he satisfies their own conditions, I will not agree to that.
 
Don’t you think the involvement of the Rivers State Police Command, especially the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Joseph Mbu, in the murky political waters of your state portends danger ahead of the 20015 general elections?
What is the murky political water? What is that? I have often told journalists that they should always   be fair when they are reporting issues. Part of the problems we are facing in this country is caused by the press men, in the sense that they report what does not exist. For example, they would prefer to write that the Minister of Education is shot dead, other political opponents of Amaechi are dead or locked up or are arraigned for one matter or the other because they are the ones the governor can use at any time to prosecute political opponents. Do you know what would have happened to people like us today? Do I need Mbu to go and help me campaign? All I need Mbu for is security, that I am going to a certain place to campaign. Look at what happened in Ekiti, nobody agreed to report it, but if that had happened in Rivers State they would have said Mbu has done this. So the press is always biased.
One professional policeman that I know in Nigeria today is Joseph Mbu. It does not matter that Mbu cannot remain the CP of Rivers State forever, one day he will be transferred. So as far as I am concerned, there is nothing murky in the political waters in Rivers State. Is it murkier than what is going on in Ekiti State today? Look at what is going on in Ekiti, where police came and said that nobody should campaign. For me, if not that there is somebody like Mbu in Rivers State people like us would just have died like that and that is the truth of the matter. Nigerians that are clamouring for Mbu to go are those who are plotting to assassinate those who oppose Amaechi.  It was a deliberate plan to eliminate all of us by controlling the security machinery.  
 
Do you think Jonathan’s government is fundamentally addressing the Niger Delta question, considering the gradual resurgence of kidnapping and armed attacks on the oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta, the uncompleted East-West road, the yet-to-be implemented UN report on Ogoni environmental restoration, and growing unemployment in the region?
Assuming he is not, is he the cause of the problem of Boko Haram ravaging the northern states?  That is not correct. In any case, every tier and every arm of government have a role to play in addressing the issue of the Niger Delta. The federal government, the state and the local governments are all doing their parts.
 
I am a Niger Delta person; nobody can be more Niger Delta than me. Though, I cannot say boastfully to Mr. President that we have everything we need in Niger Delta, the president is trying because we can feel his impact and contribution in the Niger Delta. So the issue of addressing the Niger Delta question needs to be defined because Mr. President may not be able to address all, but he is trying his best.
But on whether he is addressing the issues, I will say, yes. I passed the East-West road the other time and I can tell you authoritatively that a substantial part of the road has been done.
 
However, that does not mean that they have finished and in the other parts of the Niger Delta they are doing well. So I encourage him to try and see what they can do so that by 2015 they must have finished the road.
Is the federal government not addressing the issue of the militants by training them to be useful in their lives? So those that are saying the president has not addressed the issue of the Niger Delta should mind the problems affecting them in their various states. Mr. President has tried so much for that region. He has looked into some of the problems we are facing that had been neglected for years. After all, he is the President of Nigeria not the President of Niger Delta.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Betrayal is Baraje’s Character Trait, Says Yunus

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Read Time:5 Minute, 15 Second
Interview
 
Mr. Afolabi Yunus was Commissioner for Works in Kwara State between 2003 and 2007. In this interview with Akinbami Faloye, he dismissed the place of the new PDP in Kwara politics. Excerpts:
 
Having served as principal secretary to Alhaji Kawu Baraje, as acting PDP chairman, how do you see the current agitation by the new PDP?
 
I’m not one of the people supporting Baraje and Bukola Saraki in this their venture to divide PDP with their self-styled new PDP which has no place in Kwara State politics and Nigeria in general. As a result of that, I am not with him at all. We are not even happy that he can go to that length because we believed very well that having been given the opportunity to serve as National Secretary by Baba Saraki (may his gentle soul rest in peace), he had the opportunity of becoming the Acting National Chairman, he should remain loyal to the PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan.
 
 
But with all these, Kawu Baraje still went ahead to sabotage the government, considering that he was also given the position of the Chairmanship of the Board of Nigerian Railway Corporation. I believe it is in Baraje’s character to betray the hands that feed him. Available records show that Bukola Saraki was even against Baraje taking that position. But he went ahead and took that appointment and at the same time, he is now working against the same government that gave him that opportunity to serve.
 
Is there no element of truth in what they are fighting for?
 
There is no truth in what he is fighting for. He is only being selfish and arrogant. In fact, I want to say he is just being parochial. He is narrow-minded and that is why they are now just pursuing their own self-styled PDP. It is surprising to many people to hear Kawu Baraje calling himself the chairman of the new PDP. What sort of new PDP? The original PDP is the only future for Nigeria.
 
 
We don’t recognise any new PDP or the self-styled version of PDP that they want to bring into place. There is no place for new PDP in Kwara and I know that it has no place in Nigeria. So, for that reason, any reasonable person will not join them because we know they are just buying time. I want to even say that I know they have made up their mind about where they are going. Maybe they have another party in mind and they are just buying time with what they are doing. That is just my observation.
 
But the new PDP is in control of the government and the structure in Kwara?
 
The original PDP is still on the ground in Kwara State and PDP in Kwara State has no problem with anybody. People are still interested in PDP. The original PDP is on the ground in Kwara State and people are prepared to go with PDP. Those that call themselves the new PDP in Kwara State, we don’t know how they will define it. We don’t know what they will tell us, whether they are a faction of PDP and that they want to have a say in the PDP. No.
 
Are you saying that all loyalists of Dr. Saraki are back in PDP?
 
All loyalists of Baba Saraki are in PDP. As I’m talking to you, I’m a card carrying member of PDP and I have my membership card with me. So we are still card carrying members of PDP.
 
How do you see the fate of PDP in Kwara now with the Governor and his predecessor as champions of the new PDP?
 
We have PDP that has been there long before some of us joined and the party is still there intact. But I want to tell you that when you consider the list of PDP executives in Kwara State today, Bukola literally picked up the state chairman, the state woman leader, the state youth leader- all from one Ward. Why is this? Not even only that.
 
 
From Kwara Central, you’ll discover that majority of these executive posts were just picked from Kwara Central. He gave only the position of secretary to Kwara South. I am from Kwara North and we are being marginalised even more than that of the South because he gave Kwara South the state secretary and he ended up picking all other ones from Kwara Central.
 
Are you saying that when election comes, PDP members will not go with Bukola Saraki?
 
Right now, Bukola has come up with the idea of new PDP faction in Kwara State. But majority of the old PDP and many of us that later joined the PDP, we are not in support of the self-styled PDP that Bukola is bringing. We are prepared to go with the original PDP in Kwara State and that’s what is giving us hope now that when election comes, we believe strongly that it is we in the original PDP that is going to defeat the self-styled factional structure that he has introduced.
 
What if Bukola and Baraje changed their minds?
 
Supposing they can change their mind and realign, it would have been better. But I want to tell you that there is no going back in the agenda of these people. There is great awareness now on the side of the people and that is why they will be ashamed to come back because it is not in them. I want to say that they are prepared to go to another party which they are yet to announce and even they must have been discussing it with some of their followers.
 
 
They are just buying time by telling people that they are still in PDP. They are really not in PDP. Take it from me that all these G-7 Governors that are leading a rebellion right now are already in another party. They are just wasting time by telling people they are still in PDP.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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