Jonathan Has Done Well For Nigeria, Deserves Re-electeion, Says Odebudo, DPP Presidential Candidate

Odebudo Owolabi
Otunba Odebudo Owolabi
Otunba Owolabi Odebudo is a seasoned politician that has paid his dues within his short stay in politics. He has been a two time Governorship candidate of two different political parties between 2011 and now. He has also been the Chairman of Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) Ogun State Chapter, until the present. He is the Presidential candidate of The Democratic People’s Party (DPP) in the present dispensation until he stepped down for President Goodluck Jonathan whom the DPP had endorsed as their Presidential Candidate in the 2015 presidential election coming up March 28. He speaks in this interview.
EXCERPTS

As the Presidential Candidate of the DPP, why did you agree to step down for President Goodluck Jonathan?

I dropped my ambition in support of President Goodluck Jonathan because of my belief in his sterling qualities as a leader. President Jonathan’s achievements so far in office speaks volume in all ramifications. His record of achievements has surpassed all his predecessors in office. At the present he stands out amongst other Presidential candidates from the various political parties including the APC Presidential candidates Gen. Muhammadu Buhari whose antecedents as a former military ruler were nothing to write home about….read more

Why Afenifere adopted Jonathan By Pa Ayo Adebanjo, NADECO Chieftain


■ ‘How Tinubu, ‘fellow progressives’ deviated from Awolowo’s path’

Pa Ayo Adebanjo, a leader of the Yoruba group, Afenifere, was a top member of the Action Group, led by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in the first republic. He also belonged to the Awolowo – led Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the second republic. At the in­ception of the latest democratic experiment in 1999, he joined the late Pa Abraham Adesanya and Chief Bola Ige, among others, to form the Alliance for Democracy which dominated the governments in the South-west. In this inter­view, he speaks on the state of the nation.

Afenifere, unlike before, is no longer active. What is happening?

Afenifere is still very active. In fact, very soon, we are going to meet in Akure, Ondo State.

It is no longer as vibrant as it was

Well, I am sure that would be because of the press. You are light on to the world, just like the motto of the defunct West African Pilot. There is no doubt that there is some kind of division among us caused by some rebels who didn’t want the right thing to be done, because we are strictly Awolowo’s disciples,undiluted. We don’t modify Awo’s principles for our own interest, progressive is progressive; not progressive today and conser­vative tomorrow. Those who were never progres­sives, the moment they join you, they automati­cally become progressives.

How are you resolving the challenge of people trying to twist the principles of Awo?

We shall continue to say what is right for people to decipher. There are no two ways about it. What we are doing now is to ensure that you people follow the right path. The principle of Afenifere leaders, particularly myself, is to tell you the truth because lying and falsification of things have dominated the country.

But there are a lot of people now call­ing themselves progressives?

I will say all those ones are fake. All those people in the then ACN that is now APC are fake progressives.

How?

They are fake in the sense that they don’t pur­sue the principles laid down by Awolowo. Take, for instance, the issue of federalism, you know we were part and parcel of National Democratic Coalition, NADECO.

And during the NADECO days, we were the only ones shouting about the issue of Sovereign national conference for the re­structuring of the country because the federation was an awkward one. It was not balanced. And it was because the military choked us in 1966.

The Constitution the colonialists gave us at indepen­dence was jettisoned after the 1966 coup. And that is why you saw arbitrary creation of states and local government areas because the people there were northerners. And we said we don’t want the country to separate; for us all to live in peace, let us all sit down and restructure the country on the principle of federalism. Federalism is the sys­tem whereby the various ethnic nationalities that formed the country can grow at their own pace, and then still keep the country as one, that was what we insisted upon.

NYou would also remem­ber when Abdulsalami; Abubakar (former Head of State) said we should go for election, and we said no, we should first of all hold a conference that would lead to a new Constitution which we would all be happy about, but he said, ‘No, I am in a hurry, when you get your civilian government, you can go and do it’. That was why one was held during the Obasanjo time. All those with us during the NADECO time that insisted on national con­ference are the same set of people saying now that the Goodlock Jonathan conference was a diver­sion. That was what Bola Tinubu said. I have said it before, let him challenge it.

Sovereign national conference was one of the manifestoes we used in electing him into office as governor of Lagos State. It was part of the Alliance for Democracy that there must be a national conference. When we won elections in 1999, it was because we reluc­tantly took part in the election because we didn’t want people we didn’t believe in to win elections in South-west and claim later that we were not representing the South-west.

That was why we  contested the elections so that everybody could see that we had the support of the people. After the elections, all the six states in the South-west where we had our governors, Afenifere leaders toured the Houses of Assembly led by the late Papa Abraham Adesanya, for them to pass a resolution that there must be a national conference. Tinubu was there. Now because something does not suit him, because he has some motive now, he says the national conference was a diversion. Is that con­sistent with our policy? Now, what you find these days is imposition of candidates which is against the beliefs of Awolowo.

Take the issue of free edu­cation, you hear free education in Lagos, have you been to their primary and secondary schools and see the number of children there? Can you find any of the children of these ministers in any of the public schools? Is that what they inherited? It is a matter of principle. This is what separated us the Afenifere from the ACN who called them selves progressives. It is not a personal thing.

Where do the Yoruba people stand in the February elections?

I think that would also be a matter of principle. The question of South-south is a matter of prin­ciple of Papa Awolowo that a minority would also have the right to aim for the highest position in the country. That was what I was trying to point out about the recent national conference we had.

That conference has taken care of everything concern­ing Nigeria. Like the issue of power, it is no longer going to be the North-west. Whenever it gets to the North, it must rotate within all other regions in the North. The same thing for the South, it is no longer about South-west but all other regions in the South such that everybody now know when each of the regions would be president, it is no longer the issue of we are born to rule. Why I am supporting Jonathan is because he is the only man who can implement the recommendations of the national conference which was set up to bring eq­uity to Yorubaland and to Nigeria. He is the only man. And once he does that, all these things we are complaining about will be rectified. People talk about corruption but they never care to know the root of corruption.

The thing is that the Federal Government has more money than all other tiers of government. Now, we have closed that gap in the confab. We have done it in such a way that the states now have more powers which may not be palatable to those ones in the North. For example, how did you have more local government areas than the South? How are the local governments in Kano and Jigawa more than those in Lagos? The military at that time just allocated states and local governments to themselves.

There was really no criteria with which they arrived at those local gov­ernments. So, they now went further by allocating funds on the basis of the number of local govern­ments. You will recall that Lagos State was denied local government funds even when the Supreme Court ruled that it should be paid. That is the kind of wholesome power the Federal Government has, and that is one of the reasons I feared if Buhari should govern under this Constitution.

Why?

Because they have the mentality that they are born to rule. And that is why I think this romance with the South-west of picking a vice presidential candidate with him is just a mere gimmick. That is why I am insisting that all the recommendations of the confab should be implemented before the elections because, the inequality this country has been suffering all this while has been rectified with the recommendations of the confab.

All the things that could cause us conflicts have been rectified. So, all our problems have been attacked from the root. And, that is why those who think it is not to their advantage don’t want it done. Everybody believes that this present Constitution is bad and we then say let us all sit down and harmonize it, what is wrong in that one? We have done it now but yet you don’t want it to be implemented.

And where is the antagonism coming from ? From the beneficiaries of the awkwardness of the constitu­tion. And they still want the Yoruba to continue to go along with that? If some Yoruba follow them sheepishly, probably because they don’t know the background, that cannot happen to someone like me. And part of the inequality we are talking about is what has come out in the Buhari certificate mat­ter. In the First Republic, you set up a standard for everybody but when it comes to the northerner, you set another standard. That is exactly what hap­pened in Buhari’s case.

Those of us who knew all these things from the beginning are not surprised by the new turn of events. You heard that his prin­cipal sent a letter to the military that he was ca­pable and that he expected that he would pass his examinations. That was what was happening in those days in the North. Go and ask serious federal civil servants in this country, many of the perma­nent secretaries that were senior to them whether they were not superseded without being qualified. They cannot deny that. If you have read General Isama’s book, you will find it there where he said when they were about to be commissioned, the standard set for them was usually lower for the North. I am sure he never anticipated a situation like this.

And do we have corruption on selective basis? Look at the PTF which he superintended. Even though Obasanjo was trying to cover him up, has he denied anything of such? He knows that if he does, the document is there for everyone to see. There was the issue of the N25billion there. It is all in the report. So, how can I, as a NADECO man, come and support a dictator. All his antecedents are dictatorial and military like.

That was then.

Don’t give me that. When did he become a democrat? What has he done to show he is a dem­ocrat other than the fact he is saying he is being punished because he is now a democrat? When he first came as a military man, he was issuing ret­roactive actions to convict people for murder. We are all living witnesses to what he did with Decree 4, so, that is the type of man you want me to vote for in a civilian regime? He says he is not a funda­mentalist. It is just that people forget about records easily. Here was a man who campaigned in the North and said Muslims should vote for Muslims. Here was a man who said he was going to work for the operation of Sharia through out the country. He has not denied it neither has he apologized for all the anti-democratic things he has done. I won’t be deceived by bringing a first class technocrat as running mate.

That is where I was going that if you cannot support because of Buhari’s per­sonality, how about that of his vice?

That is not possible because the running mate has no political experience. He is a first class tech­nocrat, a distinguished lawyer and a nice gentle­man, but if you are talking of politics, it is another matter entirely. They just brought him in. Tinubu brought him in as Attorney General, he was never in politics. He comes from Ikenne. Does he know the politics of Ikenne?

So, the South-west may be making a mistake.

Exactly, there is no doubt about that, that they will be making a big mistake and digging their graves. They may not listen but, I, Ayo Adeban­jo, am telling them. I am 87 years old, I can die any moment, so that whenever it happened, they would be able to say that indeed, that man told us. Buhari is only deceiving them . Go and read what Wole Soyinka said about him in 2001. Has it changed? Go and read what El- Rufai said about him in 2002 that he is not electable. These are the same people polishing him. When I look at the whole scenario, I feel sorry for this country.

But, it is like Yoruba are irrevocably committed to following Buhari through Tinubu.

I don’t believe Yoruba are following Tinubu. There are so many factors that made him win elec­tion in those days. When it comes to these facts, it is now left for the Yoruba to decide. Those of us who suffered imprisonment during the NADECO days under Abacha , Tinubu was not around. To those of us who were really victims of dictatorship, you cannot send Buhari to us. I don’t know those who are now doing chop chop politics.

From the beginning, we were never those who believe that a military person should come and rule under a ci­vilian regime and that was one of the reasons the Yoruba strongly voted against Obasanjo in 1999. It was the military that imposed Obasanjo on us, because it was Babangida and Abdulsalami that brought him and imposed him on us. They may have disagreement later because Obasanjo didn’t perform. It was Obasanjo that brought Yar’Adua, he brought Jonathan.

The old brigade in the Afenifere are the real progressives according to you be­cause you are the authentic Awolowo’s followers. Is it not an irony now that in­stead of the South-west following people like you, they are following Tinubu and his ‘progressive’ party?

That is left for them. I have given all the facts. This is a democracy. With all we are saying, you and I know that we are suffering here in Lagos.

I am Fashola’s fan, I won’t say he has not done well, but those of us who created his predecessor, Tinubu, know that he could do better for Lagos, that is what we are saying. You may not appreciate what is happening now except you remember the Western Region where things moved well. A man ruled the Western Region for seven years without strike. He introduced free education when our in­come was barely five and a half million pounds including Edo and Delta at that time by share eco­nomic ingenuity. Is that what we are having now?

You have people who do job of N50 million and say it is N250 million and yet, the people would be saying he has done a good job. With all that is being done in Lagos, some of us have asked the question,how much does it cost? What is the rev­enue of Lagos, both the internally generated and the allocation? And yet, we are still owing that much debt. And yet we have to pay for tolls. I am not contesting election for anybody to vote for me, all I am saying is for posterity. Where they have done well, I say it, where they are wrong, I say it as well. When they talk of corruption in Jonathan government,

I won’t say the government is clean, but those who are talking about corruption, how clean are they themselves? This is the question and yet these are the same people you journalists extol to high heavens. Are you saying there is no corruption in Lagos State? The only job we have now is to reform this country and urge Jonathan to implement the recommendations of the confab so that we can all start on a clean slate.

There may have been a lot of irregularities in the past and it is the irregularities that people are fight­ing. Everybody must have autonomy to rule itself and we all combine at the centre for what joins us together. If we had no federal system, Awolowo could not have done what he did in the Western Region.

So INEC should just allow Buhari to run the election and forget about the cer­tificate?

I don’t know. Don’t put words into my mouth, that is left for INEC to prove if indeed he has the certificate; otherwise he is not qualified.

He is not qualified?

That is what the law says. It is not me. You journalists must be honest to this nation. You are not doing me any favour neither are you doing the country any good by trying to plaster what should not be plastered. What the law says is this: You must have a school certificate before you can qualify.

But the school has presented that now?

This is not the kind of certificate I have. I don’t think this one is tenable. If they can be fooled, I cannot. That is why I think Jega should come in. Though Jega doesn’t want to be seen as support­ing anybody, from the law that he is expected to implement, Buhari has not satisfied the Constitu­tion. Jega is only trying to shift responsibility by saying people opposed to Buhari’s qualification for the polls should go to court.

I heard the APC saying Buhari has been contesting election for the past 12 years and nobody said anything about it, why now? And my answer in form of question is, if someone has been committing robbery and getting away with it, the day he is caught, you are now asking, why has he not been caught all this while?

Are you saying it is as good as INEC disqualifying the man based on what is on ground?

Except you are saying the law should not be obeyed. The law is not made for fun. We should not be sentimental about this thing. That is why we say there are two standards, one for Ayo Adebanjo and one for Buhari.

That is what is happening in the secondary schools. When they say examina­tion cut-off mark is this but lower cut-off mark for those in the North, that is the kind of thing we have been going through since amalgamation and we have been shouting that let us educate the people of the North, but they don’t want to be educated as we are. Yet they want to be qualified as we are.

You are 87 now and mummy is 85. What is the secret of your longevity?

It is about honesty. We are at peace with our minds. I won’t see black and call it white because of monetary gain. It is the grace of God. Although I try to eat well and exercise, all still amounts to the grace of God.

(The Sun)

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Jonathan’s Successor: My Advise To Northern Nigeria By Ahmadu Ali

The Director General of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Organisation, Ahmadu Ali says the Fulani socio-cultural group – Miyyetti Allah, the Yoruba socio cultural groups – Afenifere, and Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) have all endorsed the re-election bid of President Jonathan.

Ali said this at the campaign rally of the PDP on Saturday in Kaduna.

“We should tell ourselves the truth, Miyetti Allah, Afenifere and OPC have endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election”.

He said the North should start grooming a non-dictatorial leader who is between the ages of 40-50 to take over from President Jonathan in 2019.

“I want to tell my fellow Northerners to start grooming a 40-50 year-old candidate that President Goodluck Jonathan will hand over power to in 2019 and not a dictatorial leader who attempted to kidnap my friend late Umaru Dikko. Is that the person you want to vote for? God forbid!” Ali said.

Ahmed Makarfi, a serving Senator, in his remarks said the PDP “will use our power of persuasion to ensure that, PDP is voted on the 14th and 28th of this month.

“I assure you that by this persuasion and consultations by the Vice President, the governor, many stakeholders and I will deliver Kaduna state to PDP,” he added.

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Presidential Debate: APC Shields Buhari’s Intellectual Laziness, Says Jonathan *Charges APC ‘Prove You’re a Party of Progressive Intellectuals At Debate’

The Presidential Campaign Organisation of President Goodluck Jonathan has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of stopping its presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari from participating in a presidential debate being organised by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) as a means of shielding the intellectual laziness and inability of the former military dictator to constructively engage contemporary national issues in a live television and radio debate from Nigerians and the international audience.

Jonathan who spoke through the Director of Media and Publicity of his Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, stated that the APC knows that General Buhari will flunk it if he is subjected to the rigours of debate on national issues relating to governance and development.

Jonathan’s Campaign body said it was aware that the APC had already expressed its concerns, when approached by an international news channel for a debate, about the intellectual acumen of General Buhari, and had assured the news channel that it was only comfortable with its vice presidential candidate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who has capacity to feature brilliantly on the programme.

“We have just read a report in the media credited to the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation that the party would not allow its candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, to participate in the radio and television presidential debate organised by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).

“The APC accused the organisers of the debate of unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme against the corporate political interest of the party and its candidates.

“Whilst we will not bother ourselves with the many reasons adduced by the APC, we wish to state that we see the APC decision as an attempt to shield its presidential candidate from displaying his intellectual laziness and inability to constructively engage contemporary national issues in a live television and radio debate.

“We had envisaged that the APC would be reluctant to expose General Buhari to the rigours of a live television debate because the opposition party knows that its candidate will flunk it.

“If the APC truly believes that it is ‘a party of progressive intellectuals’, as it claims it should allow General Buhari to prove that at the debate.

“Should the APC fail to participate in the debate, it would also show the disdain both the party and its candidate have for the Nigerian people, denying them the opportunity to make informed choices on the basis of what each candidate will articulate as propositions on issues that will be raised.

“We are convinced that General Buhari does not have what it takes to sustain a coherent argument on germane issues of governance and development.

“We challenge General Buhari to a debate on any national and international medium of mass communication and our candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan will be ready to participate.

“On the other hand, President Jonathan’s running mate, Vice President Namadi Sambo, is also ready to participate in the debate and any other debate.

“Our presidential candidate and his running mate will not raise flimsy and escapist excuses such as “unhidden bias” and the like, since we believe that they are well-rounded intellectuals who have been prepared by their experience in office to answer any question under the sun on the governance of our nation.”, Jonathan Campaign group noted.

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#NigeriaDecides: Buhari is Clueless About How To Revive Economy, Can’t Remember His Phone Number, Says Jonathan

So Clueless? Can you imagine?

Pa Buhari can’t remember his phone number –Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday during a rally in Enugu said that the All Progressives Congress candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd), cannot remember his own mobile phone number.

Jonathan, whose unscripted address was mostly a response to previous statements made by Buhari, accused the APC presidential candidate of deceiving Nigerians by promising to revive the economy without explaining how he would achieve the feat.

The President wondered how Buhari would develop the country’s economy, a feat he could not achieve while he was in office as head of state between 1983 and 1985.

“Is it now that Buhari cannot even remember his own phone number that he can change the economy of the country.” Jonathan asked.

The Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate said that although he did not like to “go personal during campaigns,” “sometimes circumstances demand that certain things must be said.”

Jonathan said that Buhari belonged to the medieval age, adding that he (the APC candidate) intended to run the Federal Government as a medieval king.

He said, “We cannot run the government as if we are in the medieval age; we cannot run a government where somebody said he would throw people into jail.

“You are not a medieval king – a medieval king can throw you into jail but we have to follow the rule of law because we cannot go back to the old days.”

Jonathan, however, read the speech made by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd.) after overthrowing Buhari’s regime through a military coup on August 27, 1985 to justify his claim that the APC candidate does not keep his promises.

Babangida, in the portions of the address read by Jonathan, justified Buhari’s overthrow by pointing out that the latter did not live up to the promises he made to Nigerians when he ousted a democratically elected civilian government headed by Alhaji Shehu Shagari in a military coup.

Noting that Buhari “deceived Nigerians” from 1983 to 1985, Jonathan quoted Babangida as saying, “The initial objectives of Buhari’s intervention were betrayed as there was a general deterioration of standard of living in the country.”

The PDP candidate also pointed out that Babangida accused Buhari of being “too rigid in his attitude to national issues” and “became alienated from the people” in the course of his stay in power.

He, therefore, challenged Buhari to tell Nigerians how he intends to revive the economy.

Jonathan said, “They are telling young Nigerians that they are going to change the economy but they have not told us how they want to manage the economy more than us.

“If they say they want to change agriculture, they should tell us the weak links in the agriculture value chain and what they want to do about it.

“I said in Lagos that I want to work with young people, not to deceive people.

“I am not going to run the government based on my habits, I am going to run the government according to global best practices.”

Jonathan also insisted that he was committed to the campaign against corruption.

“There is no government that has fought corruption more than we do,” he said, noting that some previous administrations pretended to be fighting corruption while oppressing their enemies.

He recalled that Buhari jailed some prominent Igbo politicians while in office as head of state, including former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme and former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo.

Stressing that Buhari jailed politicians on trumped up charges, Jonathan said, “You can no longer carry people and put them in prison for 301 years.”

The President equally accused Buhari of having a wrong idea of corruption.

According to him, Buhari believes that every wealthy Nigerian is corrupt.

He said, “If a Nigerian businessman has a private jet, then you are corrupt but if a South African has a private jet then you commend him.

“If you have a good house, then you are corrupt, if you have a good car then you are corrupt – that is his definition of corruption.”

Jonathan accused his opponent of making spurious claims against him.

The President said, “They are saying that government is corrupt but they are not telling us what they are going to do to stop corruption. Let them go back to their consultants to coach them, then I will listen to them.

“They should tell us how they are going to manage the economy better than we do.

“They are saying we stole foreign reserves, nobody can steal foreign reserves – spurious allegations.”

He also reiterated his claim that Buhari did not equip the military while he was the head of state.

Jonathan said that he had done more than his predecessors to shore up the country’s defence.

“For 30 years, we had only one frigate, now we have four additional frigates,” he said.

In the same vein, he pointed out that Buhari did not find any woman worthy enough for appointment when he was the military head of state.

The President asked Nigerians to assess him and Buhari by looking at how they performed during their respective periods in office.

He said, “They have deceived us before and they want to deceive us again.

“Go and find out whether these people are deceiving you or are telling you the truth.

“People are assessing me because I have run this country for some years – they have run this country for two years.

“They came with promises but immediately they came in, what they did was to jail Jim Nwobodo for 201 years.”

PUNCH

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#NigeriaDecides: Blame Obasanjo, not Jonathan for Nigeria’s woes, says Oba of Lagos

The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, on Thursday said President Goodluck Jonathan should not be blamed for the problems of Nigeria.
Oba-Rilwanu-Aremu-Akiolu
Oba Akiolu said this while receiving the president Jonathan at his palace in Lagos.

He said that many of the problems in the country predated the Jonathan administration.

Mr. Jonathan was in Lagos State for the flag-off of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) presidential campaign at the Tafawa Balewa Square.

He was at the Oba’s palace to pay homage to him and seek his blessings before going to the campaign venue.

Mr. Akiolu said fighting corruption was the responsibility of every Nigerian.

“What will be, will be; God Almighty will give the best person the opportunity to lead this country.

“Mr President, God knows the best; I am happy; what I want are free and fair elections.

“I am happy that Mr President directed INEC to ensure that voters’ cards are distributed to every eligible member of the electorate,’’ he said.

He urged INEC to ensure distribution of voters’ cards, saying that Lagos had more than six million eligible voters.
The monarch urged that security agents should not be unfairly used against any citizen during the general elections.

According to him, both the PDP governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje, and his APC counterpart, Akinwunmi Ambode, are his children.

He said that he had presented Mr. Ambode’s candidature for God’s blessing at the 2014 Hajj in Saudi Arabia but noted that God would always have the final say.

The Oba expressed confidence that Nigeria would be more united after the elections.

Mr. Akiolu accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of not treating Lagos well during his administration and leaving many problems unsolved in the country.

Earlier, Mr. Jonathan said he went to the palace to pay homage to the royal father and sought his prayers and support for his ambition.

The president said that the Nigerian government under the PDP had done much for the country, contrary to claims by the opposition.

He said that his administration did not believe in blowing its trumpet but determined to meet the expectations of the citizenry.

Mr. Jonathan said his administration had revived rail transport system, improved road network, created jobs and implemented policies aimed at economic advancement, among other achievements. (NAN)

2015: Collecting ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ for Vote, Eating Unborn Children’s Future – Hon Ebenezer Tells Voters

*Hon Oyetakin Ebenezer

Hon Oyetakin Ebenezer is the director of Research and Documentation at Anti-Corruption Network. He is the author of ‘Nigeria: A Giant in Search of Her Destiny’. In this interview, he bared his mind on the just permanent voters’ cards distribution by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), challenges ahead of 2015 general elections and other national issues.

What is your assessment of the electoral process ahead of next year’s general elections?

Well, so far, so rough because the electoral umpire itself, the INEC, is not appearing to be improving in anything. Every time they want to do anything they complain of logistic problem. And you can see that manifesting in the distribution of ordinary permanent voters’ card. So, how long will INEC be bugging their own processes? This is not instilling confidence in Nigerians to say that INEC is prepared to do the right thing. There again, the Peoples Democratic Party that is supposed to lead by example by ensuring that there is internal democracy in party practices, they are doing endorsements, giving free tickets and thereby overheating the polity on daily basis. And when you put all of these together, with the gross mismanagement of the insurgency, they are affecting our resolution to conduct free and fare elections. But the most important thing is that we should appeal to INEC to behave right and both PDP and APC should see themselves as partners in progress; that election is intended to be won and lost. And if you lose election, you should work to run another time. No party should think is their right to perpetually be in power. These are the things we must continue to contend with. In United States where we borrowed our democracy from, we saw that the United States has two prominent political parties, the Democrat and the Republican. We see that a new political party has emerged and is trying to create a balance of contest. There should be unnecessary tension. And that is the tension that the PDP is imposing on Nigerians with the emergence of APC; it is not the APC that is creating the tension, it is the resistance to change from the PDP that has gotten accustomed to power after 16 years.

Don’t forget that it was the PDP government that allowed the registration of the APC. How would that turn round to be an issue for them?

The truth of the matter is that they did not allow the registration of APC. APC was having people too formidable to handle by them. Number one, you remember that they never registered APC until the last day, on 4th of July 2012 and if they did not register it that day and INEC did not pronounce it registered, INEC itself would have entered into constitutional crisis and APC would have automatically be known to law as registered. That was what happened. They did it 12 hours to that elapsing. And you know that PDP, through their frontiers and cronies, was there throwing up multiple acronyms of APC left and right. Those were the things. Now, when you have such contradictions, you should know that it is because the system is resisting a change.

But today, I think Nigerians should be very happy that there is a balance of contest. The dominance party, the PDP is having 19 governors, the APC is having 16. So, when they go into election in 2015, Nigeria can expect surprises. I’m not saying that I’m endorsing APC or endorsing PDP, but I said Nigerians should rejoice that there is alternative, there is choice to make.

In the build up to the 2015 general elections, how will this balance of contest you talked about come to play out?

It is going to play because each of the parties has the capacity to man every polling unit effectively and defensively in terms of defending their votes. In 2011, the CPC that was the close party to PDP in that presidential election, particularly, had no enough manpower and they registered that party nine months to the presidential election. That party had no single counselor, but today with the amalgamation and emergence of APC, that party is having numbers of local government chairmen, counselors, House of Reps members, Senators and what have you, including 16 governors. It is impossible to rig such people’s election because they will defend their elections. So, the political system, both PDP and APC must adjust to ensure that come 2015 they allow Nigerians to make the choice of right leaders that will lead them out of these challenging moments.

What is your view on issues relating to inducement of voters with what is now regarded as stomach infrastructure as there have been accusation and counter accusation in this regard, particularly between PDP and APC as witnessed in Osun and Ekiti states elections?

Now, let me say this without fear or favour: where the fish got rot is from the head. For the past 16 years, PDP has been at the central government. If democracy is not getting better, it is because they have not been behaving appropriately and you definitely know that in the case of Osun and Ekiti, the security intimidation that took place in Ekiti State and security intimidation that was imposed; over 93,000 everything that can carry gun were mobilized to the tiny state of Osun. This is not how to practice democracy; a democracy of intimidation is not what Nigeria needs at this time. But just as you rightly asked, anybody who collected ‘stomach infrastructure’ – rice, N5,000.00, N10, 000.00, or what have you, in order to vote, it is unfortunate. Such people are eating the future of their children unborn. I think, you the press people would have to educate people in the Nigerian society to understand this because when they give you those things, they will collect it back. In the case of Osun State, they were distributing a bag, a gallon of kerosene, a gallon of vegetable oil and N10, 000.00; and when somebody does that to you, he is only buying your future. So, people can collect those money or those materials and still vote their conscience.

What is your advice to INEC in its preparations ahead of the 2015 general elections?

That is why I said we have to beg INEC, because the way INEC has been behaving under Prof. Jega is like what the lawyers will say, descending into the arena. When an umpire descends into an arena, you cannot have a fair play. For example, INEC deregistered numbers of political parties and Fresh Democratic Party went to court and the judgment was that it remains a political party and they should be restored and the Electoral Act, section 78, upon which they based the nullification of those political parties was also nullified by that court. Till today, that stands as the current state of the law, but INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega and his national commissioner, a Political Scientist, who understands the fact that even if it is not a total adherence to established constitutional order of a nation, it is a call to anarchy. INEC has refused to recognize that court order. There was a court order that said there will be no election in Adamawa State, because it suits the power that be, INEC lost their independency and immediately said, ‘well, there is a court order’ and they obeyed the court in Adamawa because it suits the power that be. So, INEC that we see today is a compromised institution that must liberate itself and show to Nigerians that they are out of the Arena it has descended.

Jonathan Pledges to Implement National Conference Report

President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday thumped his chest for organising a successful national dialogue, saying he meant well for the country and promised to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference, which officially closed Thursday.
Confab-report
The president made the pledge Thursday at the National Judicial Institute, NJI, ‎during the closing ceremony of the conference, where he also received the 21-volume report from the conference chairman, Idris Kutigi.

Mr. Jonathan also said the successful conclusion of the conference have proved cynics, who never gave the conference a chance, wrong.

He said some of the recommendations of the conference will be considered by the National Council of State, while the remaining ones will be sent to the National Assembly, the President said while formally receiving the 10,000 pages, conference report, with 600 resolutions.

Jonathan, however, took a swipe on the conference detractors, whom he described as prophet of doom who have been put to shame.

He also pledged that the report would be considered by the council of State before it’s passed to the National Assembly.

Ambassador, ECOWAS Staff, 57 Others Listed Among Travellers Who Made Contact With Ebola Victim

Nigeria Ambassador to Liberia, Chigozie Obi-Nnadozie and 58 others have contact with, Patrick Sawyer, the victim of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, who died in Lagos last Thursday, says the Lagos State Government. At a news conference on Monday 27.

July at the Lagos State Government Secretariat in Alausa, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Lagos Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris disclosed that 59 people had contact with the late Sawyer, which include the Nigerian Ambassador to Laberia.

“So far, a total of 59 contacts have been registered consisting 44 hospital contacts (38 healthcare workers and six laboratory staff) and 15 Airport contacts, comprising 3 ECOWAS staff-driver, Liaison, and Protocol officer, Nigerian Ambassador to Monrovia, two nursing staff and five Airport passenger handlers. “As of the time of this report, 20 contacts had been physically screened of which 50% are type 1 contact and 50% had had type 2 contact. Airline manifest has not been provided by the airline at the time of this report and therefore the precise number of passenger contacts is yet to be ascertained, especially as two flights were involved (Monrovia-Lome and Lome-Lagos),” he disclosed.

On case management, infection prevention and control, Idris said an isolation ward had been designated by the Lagos State Ministry of Health at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba for case management, adding that the designation of three other health facilities was underway.“A total of 100 Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, were procured by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health, FMOH have been distributed to the private hospital and the State Ministry of Health. WHO also donated 250 PPEs to the NCDC/FMOH.

“Adhering strictly to WHO guidelines, the body of the deceased patient was decontaminated using 10% sodium hypochlorite and cremated, with the permission of the government of Liberia. A cremation urn has been prepared for dispatch to the family. The vehicle that conveyed the remains was also fully decontaminated,” he stated.
According to Idris, government could categorically state that as of today only one case of imported Ebola and one death had been recorded in Lagos, saying that no Nigerian had been infected, but that all contacts were being actively followed.
“We call on all Nigerians to be calm and not panic and do hereby assure them that both the State and Federal Governments are up in arms to ensure that the virus did not escape and that no Nigeria is infected with this virus,” he assured.
He said preliminary laboratory investigation conducted by the NCDC AI virology laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the World-Bank Funded African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) Redeemers’ University, detected viral DNA and that in both blood and urine samples obtained from the patient were positive for the Pan Filo virus analysis and Ebola Zaire MGB virus strain- specific analysis, adding that samples were also collected for further confirmation at the WHO Collaborating laboratory for Ebola in Dakar.
On the 40-year old Liberian vidtim, Idris said he arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos from Monrovia via Lome on Asky Airline Flight No KP50, on his way to Calabar for the 8th ECOWAS Retreat of Heads of Offices meeting, as a senior ECOWAS official in Liberia.
He stated that his plane was reported to have had a brief stop in Accra and Lome, and the aircraft was changed at Lome, explaining that he was also reported to have fallen ill while on board and remained very ill on arrival at the airport in Lagos as he was then assisted by various airport and ECOWAS protocol staff to a private hospital named First Consultant Medical Centre, Obalende, in Lagos.
“An initial diagnosis of suspected Viral Haemorrhagic fever was made. He was admitted and investigations were carried and supportive treatment was commenced. The private hospital immediately notified the State Ministry of Health who also notified the Federal Ministry of Health. The patient however died at about 6.50am on the 25th July 2014,” he explained.
Idris disclosed that the Joint Federal and State Team on the basis of all experiences gathered from the response to this outbreak recommended to mobilize funding for response activities, logistics and supplies; train and orientate health staff on the Ebola outbreak response Standards Operating Procedures and supply laboratory diagnostic supplies or activate the mobile VHF laboratory.
Other recommendations, he said, were to provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), organize psychosocial support and provide incentives to health personnel involved in Ebola outbreak response, design key messages in the local language and intensify public enlightenment in the local languages and involve the community in response activities.

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You’re Benefitiary of Godfatherism – Fayose Tells Fashola

The Governor-elect of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, in this interview with NIYI ODEBODE and ADELANI ADEPEGBA, comments on the controversy over his victory and politics in the South-West

Ayo Fayose, Ekiti Governor-elect
Ayo Fayose, Ekiti Governor-elect
Many people were shocked by the result of the Ekiti governorship election. Were you also shocked?

No, we know the facts on ground. We live by realities, not propaganda. There are no Nigerian politicians, serious politicians, irrespective of their political parties, that do not know that Fayose is on the ground and that Fayose’s name is a household name in Ekiti. Despite the fact that I have left office for eight years, I remain with the people. I have fought several elections, for and in support of even the All Progressives Congress. I supported Kayode Fayemi in the rerun. I was the beautiful bride then. It is their way when the going is good with them; when you are fighting on their side, you are the best in the world. Then, you will not be a criminal; then you will not be 419er; then you have integrity, then you will be celebrated. When you are against them; when you humble them, they call you all sorts of names. They look for theories that do not go with reality.

How would you respond to Governor Fashola’s comment that Governor Fayemi accepted defeat because he did not want bloodshed in Ekiti?

I really don’t want to join issues with them, particularly, Governor Fashola because I like him so much. I like his person and I have a lot of respect for him. But Governor Fashola is talking from two sides of his mouth. They say Fayose is not educated, according to them, but he is educated. He is learned but Fashola is not a product of internal democracy. Governor Fashola is a product of imposition, of god-fatherism. I remember when Fashola and Asiwaju Tinubu had issues, there were trumped-up charges against him through the House of Assembly. I remember vividly that he had to go to the court to clip their wings, otherwise they would have messed him up. And even at that, they still kept a tab on him. How would you be a governor, not elected in a transparent primary, but selected by one leader and you would still be surprised if an election was won through due process?

Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, imposed by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on Lagosians, says Fayose
Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, imposed by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on Lagosians, says Fayose
Fashola knows that when he accused Asiwaju of not allowing due process or internal process in the party, Bola Tinubu told him, ‘Have you forgotten that if I followed due process, you would not be governor?’ So he cannot appreciate due process politically. When they were nominating commissioners, he didn’t have one commissioner. He cannot equally say this is my deputy. You know I chose my deputy myself, against all the odds. They gave him a deputy governor, probably, the only person I think he owns now is his wife. I am sure Fashola has forgotten that he is a lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and that the constitution of Nigeria says a man is adjudged innocent until otherwise proved by a court of competent jurisdiction.

I don’t want to say anything negative about him. I would have asked a special adviser or somebody working under me to reply him, but because he is a governor, I have to reply him myself. Let me remind him very quickly, I was governor before him. He was an ordinary chief of staff at that time. I am his senior politically. If at all he knows anything about politics, I am his senior. We know the intrigues more than him. It is true he is sitting on a prime state like Lagos under the watch of his godfather, but he should not run his mouth. It is unfortunate that a man at his level is talking like that. I am an institution like his godfather in Ekiti. When I started, I didn’t have a godfather. I didn’t have anybody like the Saraki of Ilorin who put Bukola Saraki there. They should learn to allow democracy to run. I want to tell them, if care is not taken, they would lose Lagos. The tide, the movement is against them. One thing with the APC is that they would lure you to defect, the moment you defect, they would go and put you on the reserve bench.

That is why they don’t have support continuously. When you work for them, as soon as you are used, they dump you. You can imagine a governor who is supposed to pay salaries and he refused to pay for two, three months, and election is coming, he is now rushing, borrowing money. The civil servants are now telling him, thank God for Ekiti election, if not for Ekiti election, this man would not pay us. Who is fooling who? Look at the heavy tax burden in Lagos, in all their states. The Tsunami is going to consume them and I am telling you the truth, it is not personal. I am not boasting, I am an institution in Ekiti. What is the business of Fashola in Ekiti? The problem is that they have all put their resources in Ekiti election and they lost. The bookmakers failed.

Despite the fact that Fayemi conceded defeat, you described it as political gimmick. Why?

Defeated Ekiti Governor, Kayode Fayemi
Defeated Ekiti Governor, Kayode Fayemi
Governor Fayemi does not have a choice than to concede. It is only honourable for him and I will continue to respect him even when it’s obvious he had no choice but to concede, that is the truth. In my village, people say if everybody doesn’t know the truth, you that is affected by an incident knows the truth; a sick man knows he is having pain in his tummy. Governor Fayemi knows the situation is bad.

But some people have argued that your victory was achieved through inducement of voters with rice and money?

Unfortunately, they (APC members) are the ones sharing money. I complained about them sharing money, check the records. In 2011, they brought money to every polling booth. Those people that were arrested during elections were caught with money. Which party did they belong to? The issue here is that they all know it. They are the ones that engaged in money politics. They buy all the buy-ables. I have been out of office for eight years, where will I get that kind of money to buy votes? The issue remains that somebody that eats your food must be convinced before he can vote for you. Can a meal of rice induce somebody to vote for you? Fayemi gave cooked rice, I gave uncooked rice. This is politics and you need everything to entice voters and rice was shared by me, almost two weeks before election.

Did you have to do that?

Yes. Why was Governor Fayemi buying buses and inscribing Iyaloja, Igbo community on them close to the election period? Why was Governor Fayemi’s wife donating garri to the farmsteads? Why was he giving money to aged citizens and giving gifts including recharge cards to the people? Why did his wife do that? These are petty antics of politicians to draw voters and that does not change anything. A container of rice would not change the mind of anybody because the rice cannot last you till the election day. When you attend ward meetings, you give your people money because some of them may have come to meet you from various villages. You see, when you fail, you must accept and Fayemi lives in Ekiti and we are there together. Are they now holier than the Pope? Most of the hotels in Ekiti were booked by Governor Fayemi six months before the election and they gave rooms to all the policemen that came for the election. We knew what transpired. Fayemi has been honourable.

Their fear is not about Ekiti anymore. They are saying all these because of Osun election. When something is consuming you, you will hold on to anything and all things. If you look at them very well, they were in shock for the first three days after the Ekiti election, they had to summon a NEC meeting to take a decision. They had to look for words, which they coined to describe what happened because they were caught by the reality of the international accreditation of that election which was adjudged free and fair. The court is the highway for them, but they will meet us there. Are they the owners of the court? They are not. They always think they know it all.

There is a belief that federal might played a role in your victory…?

I don’t know what is called federal might. In those days, they used to snatch ballot boxes, you can’t do that again. There used to be multiple thumb printing, but the ballot papers are now customised to the polling booth and the ward. Even if you want to help somebody rig the election, it is not easy anymore. They should stop lying. Some of them said they militarised Ekiti and brought so many security personnel. The question is that the law is not made for the godly, but for the ungodly. The military personnel were not for those that wanted to vote peacefully, they were for those that wanted to create problems. Some of them came to Ekiti with voter’s cards that did not belong to them, stayed in various hotels and had charms on them, they were caught. Who were the people that were arrested in Anambra? Were they not APC members? The same APC members and it is their method to always want to change the story. Thank God, Fayemi was honourable enough. I remember Governor Adebayo did the same thing. Na today them dey lie? It is not today.

Is it true that Ekiti voters did not sack Governor Fayemi for non-performance?

Governor Fayemi did not perform, that is the truth. I stand to be corrected, but he did not perform. Let me ask him one question: Governor Fayemi should tell Ekiti and the public one road project initiated and completed by his administration-from bush clearing, earth removal, sand filling, compacting, surface dressing, drainage works, culvert, asphalt overlay, none. I stand to be corrected. Governor Fayemi only laid asphalt on all the roads that I did. The people of Ekiti State till today have not got a replacement for me. They were not part of the events that took me out of office. Historically, they still remain with Ayo Fayose in their hearts. Let me go to another sector: in education, when I left government, Ekiti was number 35 out of 36 states in the country when I took over from Governor Adebayo, I brought education with credit in five subjects in the external examination as a yardstick, I brought Ekiti in 2004 to 18th position. In 2005, I brought it to 13th, in 2006, it came to the 8th position.

Today, we are back in number 34 under Governor Fayemi. So, tell me the performance, the hype in the media, is that performance? I stand to be corrected again, Governor Fayemi should point at one project started by his administration and completed; none. The governor’s lodge that he is building in Ayaba hill, is Ekiti the Federal Government that he is building Aso Rock? Of what economic value are those projects to the average man on the street? The pavilion was commissioned uncompleted. I don’t like to take on Governor Fayemi, but we have to treat these issues. These projects, of what economic benefits are they and at what cost? Again, let me say this, when I was governor, I did not borrow a dime to run my administration and I still left N10.4bn in the coffers of the state government at my departure.

It is not about your professorship or doctorate degrees, or your being a SAN. They love me. It is not about education. It is about native intelligence and your ability to humble yourself and live with the people. Most of the people that are local politicians, I know their names, I know their houses, I know their farms. I know what they need. I helped them. I have their phone numbers. I announced my phone numbers on the radio, they call me, I picked calls, how many of the opposition politicians can put their numbers in the public domain for people to call them? How many of them can spend two days in their local government areas?

I have gone to look for ward leaders sometimes during party primaries, they would be in their farms and I would meet them in their farms and still help some of them to make heaps. Sometimes, it is not about money. There is no ward in Ekiti that I don’t know people by names, at least 10 people per ward. If I don’t know your name, I have an idea of who you are. You know most politicians give their T-shirts free to supporters, I sold mine. My T-shirt is N300 because I am like the football star. My T-shirt is not free. When others give supporters their T-shirt, they leave it and buy my own. If you don’t buy my T-shirt, you would look like a leper. My hand band which has the inscription of my name is N100, my baseball cap is N200. I am as golden as that. There is a membership of the PDP that is general, but the membership of Ayo Fayose group costs N500. I have at least over 90,000 registered members; they beg to register. With all due respect to my supporters, I love them. I go to the remotest part of Ekiti, wherever you are. If you are having a naming ceremony, you will find me there. It doesn’t matter how poor you are.

If I cannot give you a cow, I give you a ram. If you are drinking Agbo jedi (herbal concoction), I would join you. Women selling boli (roasted plantain) know me and I know them and I phone them from time to time. This is not a question of money. How many of our governors can go to roadside eateries and eat there? They said I am a jankara governor and I have used this to beat them. Every Sunday, I go to eat ‘iyan kolobe’ (pounded yam without soup) and I’d be there for one hour, but during the election period, my opponents started doing the same thing. They started buying maggi that costs N1000 for N5000, so the people knew that they wanted their votes.

How do you react to the belief that President Jonathan wants to ride on your victory to penetrate the South-West in a desperate attempt to win the 2015 election?

There is nothing like desperation. What you don’t have, you have to work to have it. My election is now a reference point in Nigeria that big names don’t win election. Your coat and babaringa don’t win elections. Go and cultivate the people. They are in shock because just for one day, we changed the tide. The tides are changing, the only thing that is constant is change and like I told you, in another two, three elections, it would be difficult to rig. Before, there was this belief that anybody could go to government and take money, but you can’t do it again because things are changing. These leaders should change with realities. Even in the PDP, in the South-West, no leader will disparage the party. We would suspend you. It doesn’t matter whether you are a former president or former governor, if you disparage the party again, we will take you out. I am telling you expressly. By no small means, posterity has put me in this position, if anybody wants to join the APC, let him go there.

If former President Olusegun Obasanjo wants to join the APC, let him go to APC. Segun Oni has gone, we don’t beg for membership. We want loyal members of our party. Obasanjo should stop making uncomplimentary statements about the party, if he continues, we will suspend him; nobody is bigger than this party. When I fought the PDP, I wrote a letter of resignation and I left. You cannot be in a glass house and throw stones; so whosoever, no matter how big you are, you must be careful. You see, they said Segun Oni left, did he win his polling booth? Segun Oni was imposed, his allegiance was to the people that imposed him. We are not bothered about that, but some people have names, they have no ground supporters. Those who hired people like Segun Oni and gave him deputy chairman, South-West, they have hired what Yoruba call korofo, empty carton.

After you won the election, the EFCC said you still have a case to answer. What’s your reaction?

EFCC did not say that. There is an ongoing case with the EFCC. It is an ongoing case since 2007 and so there is no issue. I am not the only one going through it and I remain an innocent man until otherwise proven. So with all the EFCC case and the blackmail, I still won an election. They should borrow a leaf from there; there is something fundamental about me. They would all be living in this country when I would be at the top. They will be criticising me as I go to the top; that is their way. I am still going higher.

You mean you want to contest for the Presidency?

Well, maybe one day, after Jonathan. I will give Jonathan unalloyed loyalty and support. After Jonathan, if anybody wants to use me for anything higher, I will be glad to do it; it’s service.

What gives you the assurance that PDP’s victory in Ekiti will be replicated in Osun?

The PDP will win everywhere. What do you want me to say? You want me to tell you the PDP would not win? We will win everywhere, it’s normal because we have bruised their ego. We have taken the meat away from them. We have shown the whole world practical demonstration, if you are not on the ground, you can’t win this election. The APC will time out after Osun election.

What is the basis of your conviction?

I just said it to you. In the papers, they put all the hype, they put Governor Fayemi’s photo, they showed rallies. I’m a realist. I am on the ground. I am in the PDP. But I have a lot of respect for Aregbesola, anybody who is a governor should be respected because it’s a respectable office, but that does not take away the fact that I am a PDP man and I will work in the overall interest of the party.

There are fears that you may dismantle Fayemi’s programmes and policies….?

I will rather consolidate on his achievements. He has done his bit, he has tried his best; nobody can finish governance, so why would I dismantle his programmes? Even if there are mistakes by his administration, I will draw his attention to them, we will talk about them. I want former governors to be like the military. They still respect one another. Like I told you, there is no reason to fight anybody. No fight, what I am interested in is to do my own bit. Four years is a short time. I just want to do my own bit and go. Unborn children of Ekiti will still be governors after me, so why would I fight Fayemi? I will equally draw Governor Fayemi to myself, draw Adebayo, draw Oni. I have defeated the three of them put together, but that doesn’t matter. That is politics.

The APC has said it will contest your electoral victory in court. Are you worried?

Good luck to them. I will meet them there. Are they the owners of the court? They always think they can buy people.

What specific programmes do you have for Ekiti people?

I have done it before. I did something in the past that made them appreciate me and brought me back. I will do more than that. If I enumerate my agenda, we would be here forever. But in infrastructure, my priority is to tar all the untarred roads in the state capital within 18 months. I am going to construct a fly-over in two strategic places in Ado-Ekiti to ease traffic. There are lots of things I will do to enhance the welfare of my people. If I were Governor Fayemi, I would not have built that governor’s house. I will build roads and other infrastructure that can impact the life of the common man. Things that can add value to the lives of the people are more important than things that would add value to the governor.

Some people have argued that your own kind of development programme is about stomachstructure and not infrastructure, how do you react to this?

Are we saying that people should remain in hunger perpetually because we are providing infrastructure?

An hungry man is an angry man. For four years people did not feel the direct impact of government, is that governance? The truth of the matter is every contract in Ekiti was a payback time for some people. Well, the consequence of not doing stomachstructure is for them to go back home.

You once said that your wife predicted your return to government house. Is she a prophetess?

It is a gift. A lot of people have the gift of God. She is a woman after God’s heart, I keep saying that. People say I should not put her in public domain, I should not talk about her. The fact remains that the hand of God is with her and remains upon her. When my wife said Fayose would come back, Fayemi’s wife kicked, she said what did he forget in Government House? Now, they know and they know better.

Enugu Police Move 21 Boko Haram Suspects to Abuja, As Bomb Scare Cause Panic At 82 Div School

•Hausa community begins identification of members in Imo

As Nigeria’s security agencies battle insurgents in the country, the Enugu State police command has transferred the 21 suspected members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect, arrested in the state last Wednesday to the Force Headqaurters, Abuja for further interrogation.

This comes as the Hausa community in Imo State has commenced screening and identification of all members in the state who claim to be of Northern extraction  following the recent discovery of improvised explosives at the Living Faith Church (aka Winners Chapel) Owerri which was later detonated by security agents.

The suspects who were said to be travelling to Kano with several military uniforms concealed inside a luxurious bus were intercepted by the National Task Force (NATFORCE) at Amala in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State last Wednesday.

It was gathered that the suspects who left Aba, Abia state were intercepted at wee hours of Wednesday morning at a boarder community in Enugu State heading to the northern parts of the country.

The command spokesman, DSP Ebere Amaraizu while confirming their movement to Abuja, however dismissed reports that they were Boko Haram members.

“Those people have been transferred to Abuja for further screening. They are no longer with us. But the command wishes to state that those people are not Boko Haram, this cannot be possible. Let us not go about saying that they are Boko Haram members.

“The Abuja Force Headquarters have them in their custody and they will carry out the screening and it is at their disposal to release them after routine checks and the screening”, he said.

Meanwhile, panic again gripped residents of Enugu State Friday following rumours that Boko Haram was set to bomb the Army command Nursery and Primary School at the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army with headquarters in the state.

It was gathered that tension gripped the people around the 82 Division when two persons were seen in a black colour Golf car patrolling the area dressed on white brocade. Their presence heightened fears.

As a result of the rumour, commuters around the New Heaven Junction, Okpara Avenue and the fly-over, close to the military barracks and main market scampered for safety for fear of being hit by possible bomb explosion.

However when reporters inquired from a soldier at the barracks, he dismissed the report, contending that the 82 Division was well fortified and had all the gadgets to dictate any type of bomb and that the security formations in the area cannot allow that to take place.

Amaraizu however cautioned residents of the state against peddling false rumour in order to instil fear and tension in the state.

“People should stop raising falls alarm about bombs. People because of what is going on now use the opportunity to create panic through peddling falsehood and causing tension. The command wants to use this medium to warn members of the public to desist from carrying false stories and deceiving security operatives”.

“The command will not take kindly to people who go about spreading rumours and creating fear among members of the public. In as much as the command and security operatives in the state are well prepared, hoodlums can also cash in on these falsehood to commit crime during those periods of stampede and apprehension”.

The leader of the  community who is the Sarikin Hausawa, Alhaji Baba  Saidu Suleiman who  disclosed this to newsmen in Owerri said that the measure had become  inevitable to ascertain the true identity of residents of the city who dubiously parade themselves as Hausa and also associate themselves with all  forms of insurgency.

Suleiman expressed regret that all Hausas in the City have come to be associated with all manner of unpatriotic activities including the devilish acts of terrorism being perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect.

Dismissing the deadly Islamic fundamentalist sect as an evil quite unacceptable to any devout genuine Muslim in the country, the Hausa leader advised the people of the state to report any suspected member of the sect to the security agencies for  prompt action.

“Boko Haram is evil and unholy which is alien and unacceptable to genuine Muslim,” he stated.

He recalled the history of the settlement of the Hausa community in Owerri and noted that the Hausa have traditionally enjoyed a  cordial relationship with their host community of Owerri and pledged that the former would continue to do its  best to sustain  the harmonious relationship for the  overall growth and development of the state.

219 Schoolgirls Confirmed Missing as Presidential Committee on Chibok Abduction Submits Report

The Chairperson of the Presidential Fact Finding Committee on abducted Chibok schoolgirls, Ibrahim Sabo, has revealed that a total of 219 girls are still missing.

Mr. Sabo, a retired brigadier general, disclosed this at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, while presenting the report of the committee to President Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr. Sabo, who disclosed that a total of 276 girls were abducted by members of the Boko Haram Sect, said 57 of the girls escaped while 219 were still unaccounted for.

President Jonathan had set up the fact finding committee on May 2 to gather information surrounding the abduction and to ascertain the exact number of students abducted amongst other terms of references.

“Mr. President, the committee here wishes to lay to rest any residual doubt whether or not any student was abducted at Chibok,” he said.

“As most Nigerians already know, there were some persons who doubted whether in fact any student was abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok. On the other hand, for those who believed that there was an abduction, there were lingering doubts as to how such a number of kidnap victims were conveyed, considering also that information was sparse as to how the raiding insurgents evacuated the victims.”

“During the siege on the school, 119 students escaped from the school premises, before the insurgents took away their classmates.

“A total of 276 students were thus abducted. As of today, 57 of the abducted students have been reunited with their families after escaping along zig-zag transport route taken by the insurgents or by bolting to safety when the insurgents laid for a rest. Sadly 219 students remain unaccounted for,” he said.

Mr. Sabo also revealed that in the committee’s interactions with four of the girls who regained their freedom and their families, the girls were hesitant to discuss the full details of their experience, citing the fear of possible reprisals from Boko Haram elements.

He noted, however, that the committee received the full cooperation of the people and interacted with different stakeholders considered relevant to the fact finding mandate but with an exception.

“The singular exception was a senator from Borno, who after agreeing to an appointment with the Committee, turned around to avoid the meeting on the excuse that he had another appointment and would thereafter be unavailable for one month or so.

“Not that his non-appearance has materially or in any way affected the outcome of the committee’s findings, but the senator’s avoidance of an interface with the committee may well speak to a motive not too difficult to discern,” he said.

The chairman also noted that though Nigerians and the rest of the world have been galvanised to drum up support for the freedom of the Chibok schoolgirls, little could be achieved through finger-pointing.

“Getting the girls out and safely, too, is by far more important than the publicity generated by the blame game that has tended to becloud the issue,” he said.

He said that the committee had begun the process of mobilising the communities, but it was still an unfinished business. He said to achieve a more worthwhile outcome, more time and a more compact team would be required.

The committee also advised that in order not to jeopardise the on-going rescue efforts and also the possibility of compromising national security matters, the report should be treated with utmost confidentiality.

Mr. Sabo noted that this, however, did not preclude government from releasing information that may be useful for a better public understanding of issues surrounding the abduction saga.

In response, the President, who promised that the report would not be shelved, also urged owners of boarding schools in the country, especially those in the North East, to provide at least some basic security for their students.

He noted that the insurgents were able to operate unhindered because there was no security arrangement at the Government Girls Secondary School, GGSS, where the girls were kidnapped on April 14.

“Let me charge everybody, whether corporate bodies, federal and state governments or individuals that own especially in the north east, that if we must keep students in hostels there must be some basic security that should be provided,” he said.

Alcohol May Lead to High Blood Pressure

As much as blood pressure is affected by various states of the body throughout the day, as well as various diseases that are seen in many people, it can also be affected by outside influences such as food and drinks. Specifically, alcoholic drinks are a major factor that influences blood pressure in a person.

It is important that more people pay attention to the relationship between alcohol and blood pressure because it is such an important relationship that could very well determine whether or not you are a healthy or unhealthy individual. Drinking alcohol could also increase the chance of other medical issues which may then indirectly lead to an increase in blood pressure.

 Regular drinkers are exceptionally prone to having high blood pressure, because they harm their kidneys in such a way that more pressure is exerted on arteries and such, since the kidneys are closely connected with blood pressure.

Drinkers should limit the amount they drink to one or two drinks every day or so. Women should be expecially careful as to how much they drink because their tolerance is normally lower than a man’s. If blood pressure becomes a strong problem due to drinking, doctors are very likely to administer some strong medicine to a person.

 Alcohol also causes some people to become overweight. At the very least, it is a contributing factor to being overweight, due the number of calories alcohol contains.

That beer gut people get after downing a six pack a day is not only making you look bad, chances are it’s also raising your blood pressure to dangerously high levels.

After all, the more fat a person has on them, the more pressure that fat is going to put on arteries, which will, in turn, raise the pressure of the blood pressing against those arteries.

 Because of the strong correlation between alcohol and high blood pressure, it is plain to see that drinking less is going to drastically help keep a person’s blood pressure down.

Besides the other obvious health risks that could be avoided by drinking less, not having to worry about a high blood pressure could be one of the best to consider.

Physicians with patients who have a high blood pressure should give out regulations and limits in regards to drinking in order to better prepare people for the consequences they could encounter. 

National Conference Jonathan’s Most Courageous Act – Dora Akunyili

Nigeria’s former Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili, has praised of President Goodluck Jonathan’s courage to convene the on-going National Conference in the country’s capital city, Abuja.

She expressed her opinion during an appraisal of the President’s inaugural speech, describing the National Conference as Jonathan’s most courageous act.

According to her, “Nigerians have for long clamoured for this National Conference. I regard this National Conference as President Jonathan’s best Centenary gift to Nigeria; it is a testimony of the fact that he is a listening President.”

Organised by the present government, the National Conference was convened to serve as a forum for discussing and resolving Nigeria’s constitutional and socio-political challenges.

The conference has faced many challenges including an on-going legal fireworks instituted by former Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo and now resolved debate on voting pattern by the delegates.

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National Conference: Delegates suggest use of consultation to resolve disagreement on voting mode

Some delegates at the ongoing National Conference have suggested consultation as the best way to resolve the disagreement on voting mode to be adopted at the conference.

The delegates told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday after an abrupt adjournment of plenary over disagreement on whether two-third or three-quarter majority should be adopted.

One of the delegates, representing Accord Party, Mr Muhammed Nalado, said the adjournment would allow for consultation and dialogue among delegates for easy conclusion.

Nalado said that the 75 per cent voting mode should be adopted on issues that affect the country as stated by President Goodluck Jonathan in his inaugural speech.

“Mr President’s speech has emphasised on consensus and the figure near to consensus is 75 per cent.

“What we want is general acceptance which is at least 75 per cent on burning issues that will show more acceptances, rather than two-third.

“Let us have one Nigeria and we can attain that through consensus or 75 per cent vote,’’ Nalado said.

Another delegate, representing Ogun, Mr Fola Adeola, suggested that group leaders should consult with delegates from their geo-political zones.

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Being the Text of Speech by the Governor-General (Sir F. Lugard) on the Occasion of the Declaration of the Constitution of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, January 1, 1914

You are all aware that His Majesty’s Government, after long and mature consideration, arrived some time ago at the conclusion that it would be to the great advantage of the countries known as Southern and Northern Nigeria that they should be amalgamated into the one Government, conforming to one policy and mutually co-operating for the moral and material advancement of Nigeria as a whole.‬

‪This policy had been strongly advocated by Sir William Macgregor as Governor of Lagos, by Sir Ralph Moor as High Commissioner of Southern Nigeria, and by myself as High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria about ten years ago. It has continued to be advocated by Sir Walter Egerton and my successors in Northern Nigeria.‬

‪The construction of rival railways in Northern and Southern Nigeria accentuated the necessity having a single railway policy, with a single administration, and over a year ago the Secretary of State decided that the time had come to give effect to the scheme of constituting a single Government for Nigeria.‬

‪Mr. Harcourt was pleased to select me to carry out this difficult task, and he appointed me in the first instance as Governor separately of the two distinct Governments of Northern and Southern Nigeria, with a view to informing myself of Local conditions and submitting to him my proposals for Amalgamation.‬

‪I had the honour to submit those proposals for his consideration on May 9th last. They were accepted in all essentials, and today they are to take effect. I desire therefore as briefly as possible to describe to you, and through you to the official and unofficial community of Nigeria the basis on which this Amalgamation is to be carried out, and the principal changes which will result.‬

‪The Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria will be placed under the control of a single officer upon will control of a single officer upon whom His Majesty has been pleased to confer the title of Governor-General, thus indicating the importance of this country among the Crown Colonies and Protectorates of the Empire.

That portion which has hitherto been Northern Nigeria will be known in future as the Northern Provinces, while the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria will be known as the Southern Provinces of Nigeria; each will be under the immediate control of a Lieutenant-General responsible to the Governor-General.

The Colony in view of its separate status and traditions will preserve a separate identity, under an Administrator of its own dealing direct with the Governor-General.

For the present, the Central Headquarters will remain at Lagos, and the Governor-General will divide his time between the Headquarter Stations of the Northern and the Southern Provinces. ‬

‪His Majesty, through the Secretary of State, has been pleased to confer on me the high honour of appointment as Governor-General, and I humbly hope that I may be enabled to discharge the functions of this office, the great responsibilities of which I deeply appreciate, in such a manner as to deserve His Majesty’s approval, and to the satisfaction and contentment of His Majesty’s loyal subjects and of all the people of Nigeria.

To succeed in such a task would be impossible unless I have the goodwill and co-operation of all classes, Official and Unofficial, irrespective of race or creed, and I take this opportunity of earnestly asking for that co-operation and loyal assistance, assuring you at the same time that, so far as in me lies, I shall not spare myself nor find any work too hard or arduous, if I can thereby advance the true interests of this country and of each individual person in it, whatever his race or creed, or however humble his rank.‬

‪For the high and responsible posts of Lieutenant-Governors of the Southern and Northern Provinces His Majesty has selected Mr. A. G. Boyle, C.M.G. and Mr. C. L. Temple, C.M.G. officers in whose loyalty and ability he has the highest confidence, and in whose hand the welfare of the Protectorate is assure.

As Administrator of the Colony the Secretary of State has selected Mr. F. S. James, C.M.G. whose long experience in the South marks him out as the most fitting officer for the post. I may be permitted to offer to these officers my congratulations, and to express my deep satisfaction that I am privileged to work with them as my colleagues.‬


‪Various schemes for the dividing of Nigeria into many administrations have been put forward in the Press and elsewhere, but it has been considered advisable to retain the old and well-known boundaries, at any rate for the present and until circumstances demand a change, more especially because the Northern and Southern Provinces are at present under two different sets of laws, the unification of which must necessarily be a task of magnitude which will take time to effect.‬

‪I had hoped to be able to recommend to the Secretary of State some scheme for a Legislative Council of Nigeria, but at present and until communications by railway are greatly extended the proposition is physically impossible.

The Legislative Council of Nigeria, if it is to represent the public opinion of Nigeria, must draw its Unofficial Members alike from Calabar and Lagos in the South, and from the Minefields and Kano in the North. To no place, however central, could the busy merchants and others find time to come in order to attend the Councils meetings.

It would be manifestly unjust to place the Mohammedan Emirates of the North and the Mining interests on the Bauchi Plateau under a Council sitting on the Coast, in which they could have no representation. The only alternative is that the Legislative Council of the Colony shall in the future limit its sphere to the guidance and control of the Legislature of the Colony.‬

‪And let me here remind you of the enormous extent of Nigeria, Its area comprises over 330,000 square miles – more than 5 times the size of England and Scotland, or one-third the size of British India.

The European population is scattered over this area. The largest community is probably at the Minefields in the Bauchi Province, the next largest at Lagos nearly 1,000 miles distant.

There are other centres widely separated from each other at Calabar and other Coast towns, at Zungeru and at Kano, while the Niger Company which has the largest capital of any single firm, has its headquarters at Burutu.‬

‪Other means than a single Legislative Council must therefore be right by which, on the one hand, not only local public opinion of the Principals of the Commercial and Mining.

Firms, and of other Institutions which have interests in the country, may be given an opportunity of expressing itself, and on the other hand, that the officers of the ripest experience and the most proved ability may be consulted regarding proposed Legislation and on affairs of moment.

To effect these objects the Secretary of State has approved firstly of an Executive Council for Nigeria which shall consist of the senior officers of the whole Administration, secondly, of a deliberative and advisory Council, to be called the Nigerian Council, which shall meet not less often than once a year, and thirdly, that all proposed Ordinances with a few necessary exceptions shall be published in the Gazette for two months prior to enactment, so that opinion may be freely expressed before a law is enacted. ‬

‪The Members of the Executive Council named in the Royal Instructions are:-‬

‪The Lieutenant-Governors of the Southern and Northern Provinces, the Administrator of the Colony, the Attorney-General,  the Director of Railways and Works, the Commandant of the Troops, the Director of Medical Services, the Treasurer, the Director of Marine and the Comptroller of Customs.‬

‪The official Members of the Nigerian Council will include the Members of the Executive Council and all 1st Class Residents or Commissioners, the Central Secretary, the Secretaries in the Northern and Southern Provinces and the Political Secretary.

The Unofficial Members will include a member of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and of any Chamber of Commerce which may be established in Calabar, and a Member of the Local Chamber of Mines, – all resident in Nigeria and to be nominated by those bodies together with four additional European and six Native gentlemen nominated by the Governor-General.

The former to be representative of Commerce, Shipping, Mining and Banking, the latter to be representative of the Native population both of the Coast and of the Interior.‬

‪The Official Membership of the Legislative Council of the Colony has been somewhat altered by the new Royal Instructions, in order that those officers whose work is especially concerned with the Colony may take part in the its deliberations.

The they will for the present by the Administrator, the Legal Adviser, the Municipal Engineer, the Senior Municipal Sanitary Officer, the Assistant Treasurer, the Harbour Master, the Commissioner of Lands and the Commercial Intelligence Officer,‬

‪The Official Members of the old Council have been re-appointed by His Majesty to the new Council with the exception of Mr. Millar and Dr. Johnson who have resigned and whose places have not yet be filled.‬

All three Councils will be presided over by the Governor-General.‬

‪Southern Nigeria was, as you know, divided into three provinces, the Eastern, Central and Western, each under a Provincial Commissioner. In future the Southern Provinces will be nine in number, each of the old Provinces being divided into three. Each Province will be under a Commissioner or Resident assisted by an adequate staff. Departmental officers will be directly under the Head of their own Department.‬

‪I come now to the Judiciary, concerning which there has I think, been some misapprehension. It was recognised alike by my …… and by the Chief Justice that the extension of Supreme Court jurisdiction into the Interior was inadvisable and, before I came to Nigeria, steps had already been taken to curtail its jurisdiction. Schemes were already under consideration for the creation of separate Courts in the Interior district. These schemes have now matured.‬

‪It is obvious that there can only be one Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, and for this high office the Secretary of State has selected Sir Edwin Speed, who has experience in both Northern and Southern Nigeria and has much longer in Nigeria than his colleague Mr. Willoughby Osborne, It gives me great regret that by force of circumstances, the country will lose the valuable services and ripe experience of Mr. Willoughby Osborne, and I am aware of the high estimation in which his services are held both here and at home.

In saying good-bye to Nigeria he will have the satisfaction of feeling that he has discharged the functions of his high office with distinguished success.

To His Honour Chief Justice Sir Edwin Speed I tender my congratulations on his appointment and I am confident that while he holds his high office, the proud traditions of British Justice will ever be worthily maintained.‬

‪The curtailment of the territorial jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and the creation of Provincial Courts necessitates some changes in the existing law, and I am indebted to Sir Edwin Speed for the drafts of the new Ordinances which, with slight and unimportant alterations, will be enacted to give effect to his proposals.
They will involve for the present some diminution in the powers of the Native Courts, but it is my earnest desire to see those Courts advance in ability and to maintain their prestige under purely Native Judges guided and supervised by the Commissioners of Provinces.‬

‪The Scheme of Assizes and the method of conducting the business of the Supreme Court are in accordance with the proposals of the new Chief Justice.

In future there will be a Court vacation for four months during the rains, and for the remainder of the year the Court will be in Session with its full complement of one Chief Justice and three or more Puisne Judges.

The powers of the Provincial Courts are strictly limited and no sentence of over six months’ imprisonment is operative until it has been confirmed. A Magistracy, whose officers are Commissioners of the Supreme Court is set up for the Northern and Southern Provinces.‬

‪In the sphere of Departmental Administration there are some changes of interest. The Railway, Marine and Customs Departments have already, as you are aware, been centralised as common to both South and Northern Nigeria.

They remain outside the local administration of the Northern and Southern Provinces.

In addition to these three departments the Judicial, the Military, the Treasury and the Posts and Telegraphs” become Central Departments.

The Military Forces are organised into one Regiment with five Battallions and two Batteries under Colonel Carter, C.B, CMG as Commandant, with Lieutenant-Colonel,Cunliffe as Assistant Commandant. Mr. Dale takes charges of the Treasury, and Mr. Somerville of the Posts and Telgraphs.

A Director of the Medical Service and an Attorney General will act as Advisers to the Governor-General in their respective Departments.

In the former case the Medical Departments of the Northern and Southern Provinces will remain distinct, while two legal Advisers will assist the Lieutenant-Governors who with the Administrator of the Colony, will have separate……… of local business.

Mr. Cameron becomes the Secretary for the Central Administration, Major Moorhouse for the Southern and Mr. Matthews for the Northern Provinces.‬

‪His Majesty the King has been pleased to approve of a new Badge for the flag of United Nigeria and  of a new Seal. In future there will be only one Official Gazette.‬

‪This, in brief outline, is the scheme of Amalgamation which takes effect to day. The Gazette Extraordinary published this afternoon will to a large extent fill in the details.

It is impossible that any scheme which could have been devised should satisfy all the conflicting theories which have been propounded. The proposals I have made have the merit of simplicity.

They cause no great dislocation, which would have been most disadvantageous at a moment of transition when divergent policies and methods have to be reconciled.‬

‪I take this opportunity of publicly informing you that the Secretary of State has approved the construction of a new railway, which starting from the head of the Bonny estuary, will run northwards across the Benue river and join the Lagos Kano Railway where it crosses the Kaduna river some 50 miles South of Zaria. This important work will, I am convinced, enormously add to the wealth and prosperity of Nigeria.‬

‪Already the benefits of the partial Amalgamation, which has been in operation for the past year, have resulted in increased prosperity. The estimated Revenue of 1914 is almost exactly a million sterling greater than the estimated Revenue for 1912.

When my predecessor from this chair in 1906 announced the Amalgamation of Southern Nigeria and Lagos he stated that the Revenue of Southern Nigeria was just over a millions. The estimated revenue of Nigeria this year stands at 31 millions, and Trade has increased from 5 millions to nearly 15 millions in this period of under 8 years.‬

‪If we remember that it is only fourteen years to-day since the King’s Government assumed control of the greater part of the Interior from the Royal Niger Company, the progress which has been made is astonishing.‬

‪In maintaining and increasing that progress I look to the co-operation of the European and Native races, who must work together for the good of the country. It is and always has been my policy to support the Native Chiefs, and to work through them.

I have not invited any of them from the Interior to be present here because the announcement f the new changes which take place to-day is being made in the capitals of the various Provinces throughout Nigeria.‬

‪Today Nigeria enters on a new stage of its progress and we all join in the earnest hope that the era now inaugurated will prove, not only a new departure in material prosperity, but also that the coming years will increase the individual happiness and freedom from oppression and raise the standard of civilisation and of comfort of the many millions who inhabit this large country.

To these sole ends the effort of my colleagues and myself, with God’s help, will be devoted.‬

‪- F. D. LUGARD‬

*This document is culled from The Constitution, journal of constitutional development, a publication of the Centre for Constitutionalism and Demilitarisation, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2013, pp. 106-114.‬

‪‬

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Anger, Frustration As APC-Led Lagos Govt’s Demolition Bulldozers Leave Over 10, 000 Helpless Badagry Residents #Homeless

Residents describe the Lagos State government’s silence on the demolition as complacency and conspiracy with the police

George Egosoku watched with horror as the bulldozer’s huge blades ripped into his home, a bungalow built from the savings of his 35-year sojourn as a bus driver, and turned it into rubble.

With armed police officers keeping him and other stupefied home owners at bay, bulldozers and backhoes levelled about 1,500 buildings at Atinporomeh, Badagry, a Lagos suburb.

Mr. Egosoku is among the almost 10,000 residents of the community who have now been displaced following the demolition of their homes last December, despite a subsisting legal suit over the land.

“We woke in the morning to see that the police have demolished houses from the bus stop, and one after the other, the bulldozers brought down all the houses including mine and now I have nowhere to live but under these bricks,” said Mr. Egosoku, 70.

The bricks – few blocks mounted on one another and covered with a tarpaulin – is where Mr. Egosoku now calls home.

“The two rainfall, the last being heaviest so far this year, beat me so bad here because the breeze blew away my roof with mosquito biting the hell out of me,” said the septuagenarian.

“I have no money to rent a house and no place to go,” he said.

“I cannot stand the shame of going to live with my brother, his wife, and five children where they have already relocated to,” he added.

HOMELESS AND HELPLESS

The community’s problems began on December 14, last year, when the police authority brought a notice of eviction which claimed that the Nigeria Police Force had become the “rightful owner” of the community’s land.

The letter, with the heading: ‘Encroachment on Police land located at Agemowo/Agelado Mowo via Badagry’ was signed by F.G Ogundeji, a Deputy Commissioner of Police.

Realizing that Agemowo/Agelado Mowo and Atinporomeh are two different communities, the inhabitants quickly reached out to lawyer at Ricky Tarfa Chambers. Declan Kemdiri, a lawyer in the chamber, immediately wrote to the police authority, reminding them of a subsisting court order directing a stay of action on the land.

Mr. Kemdiri further highlighted that the land being claimed by the police, in Agemowo/Agelado communities, is entirely distinct from that in Atinporomeh.

Ignoring the lawyer’s letter, the law enforcement agencies, accompanied by bulldozers, stormed Atinporomeh at 3 a.m. the next day demolishing schools, churches, hotels, shopping complexes, as well as residential homes.

“The police arrived with four Black Maria vans where they arrested and locked up anyone that resisted, 18 bulldozers and five caterpillars to quickly and swiftly level the buildings before the break of dawn,” said Mr. Kemdiri.

On a recent visit to Atinporomeh community, broken blocks and bricks scattered over where used to be residential homes.

Charles Adu, the community’s Chairman, described the demolition as “man’s inhumanity to man.”

“This is a very peaceful community with no government presence as we built our schools, markets and roads ourselves,” Mr. Adu said.

“This is a community that pays its annual land use to the state government. It is not a shanty town that harbours criminals, a swampy community with buildings built under high tension lines.

“The demolition of houses which are still in a case before the court under the purview of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (Governor Babatunde Fashola) is a gross abuse of human rights,” Mr. Adu added.

GOVERNMENT’s ‘DEAFENING’ SILENCE

Mr. Adu described the Lagos State government’s silence on the demolition as complacency and conspiracy with the police.

“This is a collaboration between the state government and the federal government and the state government has not visited this place or said anything about it.

This is a government that has no housing policy and the governor and no official has said anything about our plight up till now,” said Mr. Adu, who lost his house and a shopping complex in the demolition.

Last week, the community took their protest to the governor’s office at Alausa but they were told that Mr. Fashola was absent.

“The conspiracy of silence by the Lagos State government is deafening and one wonders what the government is up to on this issue,” said Mr. Kemdirim.

In 2011, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police identified simply as Mrs. Obembe began moves to acquire the community, according to Mr. Kemdirim, after claiming that she had paid N176 million for the land.

Mrs. Obembe reportedly claimed that she had gotten approval to build a police quarters on the 15-hectare land.

The residents promptly approached a court in Badagry where they got a stay of action order.

They also embarked on a protest to the Lagos State House of Assembly, forcing the Speaker to summon officials of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Renewal who denied issuing any such notice.

Efforts to speak with the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development were not successful. Phone calls and text messages were not responded to.

Mr. Egosoku said that he would remain in his make-shift home until he was compensated for his demolished building.

“I spent about N3 million of all my life savings in building this house and if government does not compensate me, they will have to carry me out from here,” he said.

“Even if they carry me from here, I will remain on the road for people to see me until I die,” he added.

(PremiumTimes)

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#CORRUPTION: Obasanjo Asked Me to Pay a Godfather N10 million Monthly – Mbadinuju, Former Governor of Anambra

“The person who started godfatherism in Anambra State was former President Obasanjo”

Former governor of Anambra state, Chinwoke Mbadinuju in an exclusive interview with The Punch, spoke on the controversies that trailed his administration while he was governor.

Mbadinuju also fingered the issue of godfatherism in Nigerian politics and Anambra state, saying it hindered his ability to perform as governor during his tenure.
Excerpts:

With your experience as governor, what would you say about godfatherism?

Well, a godfather has many connotations. You could have positive godfathers and negative ones. The good ones work towards making things work and succeed but if you have a godfather that is always challenging, he wants to make appointments, if you have 10 commissioners, he would want to have three or four.

After you have given him two commissioners, he will say he wants Special Advisers, Special Assistants and he will even want to choose their portfolios but I said these things are not done like that and they said it is done like that, that is controversy.

You are the governor and you run your administration the way you want it. I know some people helped us.

There is nobody who campaigned for elections or any position who was not assisted. I have not seen one person who will come out and say I didn’t have any help and it was the same type of help I got and I was in trouble. Some of them wrote a petition to the President and the petition was carried by the then Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to the President.

They said I had N3.5bn abroad and I told the President- we were in his office that I never saw such money in Awka. After attending the federal allocation meeting, sometimes Anambra State will get N200m, sometimes N600m; it was never straight. I couldn’t pay salaries in some of the months so where could I get such money to send N3.5bn abroad?

I told him it was not possible, he said, if he didn’t approve it for investigations, some people would think that he was colluding with me. I said okay. Atiku brought the petition and Obasanjo looked at the petition and said but there is no covering letter, Atiku put his hands into his pocket and brought out a covering letter.

These people were ready, everything that they could do to get me jailed or killed, what did I do? I was doing well. Christ was doing good, healing all types of diseases. It is my experience to be doing good while people that run me down go through all sorts of problems, it was terrible I must tell you.

In any case, they went to Europe, London where I studied, they went to Russia where we visited when I played football, I played in Spain, everywhere, they saw my CV and thought that all the places I went, I put money there, they went to America where I also studied and saw nothing and at the end, President Obasanjo called me on phone and said “Governor Anambra,” I said sir, he said you can walk with your head high and I said I told you sir.

The only thing I had was three pounds in London at the University of Southampton where I studied Law and I had left in Lloyds Bank three pounds, I couldn’t have finished it. I kept it there.

Godfather or no godfather, in my own case, they were negative even in the case of those who came after me, they had it rough with godfathers. The person who started godfatherism in Anambra State was former President Obasanjo because he wanted his boys to be governor.

In my own case, he wanted his boy Andy Uba to rule Anambra and indeed his nominee became governor for a few weeks. Anambra State is not an easy state where you can go and do two terms, it’s tough. You can ask Peter Obi what he went through to get a second term; he succeeded because he had godfathers who were positive. In the case of the PDP, we had godfathers who were negative. I was sent to prison pending bail but 5,000 hoodlums were hired to start a riot and attack the prison with the aim of killing me.

They came to the prison where I was. They trampled upon the prison gate and came to my cell but I was gone. One judge told me their aim was to arrest me, tie my hands and feet and drive me through the streets of Onitsha main market in an open van, the same market I go to for prayers, before killing me.

Is it correct then to say that godfatherism hindered your performance?

If you performed 90 per cent with all these distractions, there is no way you can tell anyone that you performed 100 per cent but the important thing is if you go to Anambra State today, they will tell you that my four-year administration was the only time politicians could come to Akwa and go back home with money to take care of their families. No governor from then till date has done it.

I did the best anybody in my circumstance could do, I am happy with what I was able to achieve. When you read my book which I entitled: “How I governed Anambra State,” after reading it you can read: “Legacies and Challenges” and you will know what I went through to achieve whatever we achieved in Anambra State.

Was there an agreement you had with these godfathers that you reneged on?

How can anybody say I was paying godfathers while at the same time they said I reneged on an agreement? There is a godfather who had an arrangement with the military that he would be paid N10m every month, I wasn’t there when the agreement was made.

When I tried to stop it, I was dragged to President Obasanjo’s office and I told Obasanjo this is the situation I found on ground and Obasanjo said I had to go back and continue paying it; that it was legal. At what stage did I renege?

They will always try to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Obasanjo gave them contracts worth billions of naira, they were super rich, there was nothing I could give to them.

You mean Obasanjo asked you to pay this godfather; who is he?

Yes, Obasanjo asked me to pay. The godfather is one of the Uba family.

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2015 Will Vindicate APC – Nnorom

Rev Austin Emeka Nnorom was Executive Secretary and past Chairman, Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) in Lagos State. He was the Chairman of Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD).

MRDD was the first party to evolve as a result of a merger but the merger process was truncated.

He spoke to Our Online Editor on sundry national issues, including the future of his new political platform, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In which political divide are you now?

I’ve just joined the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Were you part of the merger process?

I joined the party before the merger process. As soon as I saw the hand writing on the wall; a clear indication that the process that brought the party together represented, I immediately knew it was a party one had to align with and work with because of what their vision portend for democracy in Nigeria.

As a member of Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy MRDD, which was a product of a truncated merger process, how do you thing the APC merger will work?

Where we are now is beyond thinking that about if it will work. This is already a moving train. APC is a train on the move.

MRDD was an aircraft that never really took off for a day. It was grounded from inception. But APC is a flight that is already airborne to 2015 and the target is to ensure that the nation feels an impact of a change in governance.

It is believed that those who are coming into the APC may end up bringing disequilibrium within the party, particularly when to appointments and allocation of offices ahead of the 2015b election. What is your take on that?

If you look at states where the All Progressives Congress is in charge, you will see a clear style of what officeholders reflect and what it takes to serve in government.

Issues that bother on holding political offices are not used to compensate party members. That you are a member of a party does not and has never guaranteed that you will hold a political office. It’s a party that always want to have round pegs in round holes and square pegs in square holes and that is why these ones are coming in from different divides and they are coming into a divide that they have seen what is on ground.

You won’t expect that because you are merely a member of the party they will ask you to go and head a place where ordinarily you need an expatriate or a qualified person in. I don’t see that being an issue here.

If it’s all beyond the office one occupies are you are saying, some people believe that the merger is all about taking over power at the centre in 2015.
What if APC did not capture power after the general election?

Thank God you are asking “if”. But I wonder how this “if” will take place because I don’t see Nigerians today, settling for continuity.

You mean at the centre?

Yes, I don’t see Nigerians settling for continuity at the centre. It will be very, very difficult.

But a lot of people believe that the president has performed very well?

If you look at governance here from 1999 till date, I think we are ripe for change. The country cannot be more prepared for change than 2015. Presently, the people have an alternative government, which never had before these parties came together. We couldn’t have that as ACN, or CPC or ANPP.

They did not have the strength to fight individually and that made the world to see the PDP as the biggest party in Africa. But today, you have a party that can tell you it’s the biggest party. Right now, APC has become the biggest party in Africa.

What have you to say concerning the believe that some people who are now leaving the PDP to join the APC were some of the people the party saw as corrupt in time past? It is said that joining your party means importing corruption from their party if PDP was corrupt as your party claims?

I don’t know among the governors that are coming into the party that has allegations of corruption against them. Is it Kwakwanso the Kano state Governor or Amechi of Rivers State. I’ve not seen any of the governors that came in that have corruption cases against them.

In fact, one of the reasons why these governors left was that they stood against tendencies of corruption. So, people saying that these governors have allegations against them on corruption I’m yet to hear.

Rather, the disagreement that brought about their leaving bothered on believes that their former party was corrupting the process. Election took place, people voted and you say that the minority will have its way. That is corruption. You had a congress and you are manipulating the process and that is corruption.

So, their agitation is even against corruption. They left purely because of issues that bothered on a process that didn’t ordinarily reflect corrupt-free democratic process.

What is your political future like in APC?

With APC, my political future is very bright.

How would you access the government run by APC in Lagos State since 1999, particularly the current administration?

The footprint of the government is clear and there for all to see. The acknowledgment and the endorsements the government has gotten are there for all to see. In every area, it’s there: in healthcare, education, infrastructure, name it. They speak for themselves.

It has been a general complaint that in the suburbs where the ordinary people are living, there is no real government presence, making some argue that the government is pro-rich. What I your reaction to that?

Life is in phases and men are in sizes. There is a phase for everything in life. This government has started and this government is working and there is no part of the state in the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas where there is no presence of this government.

Today, the impact of government is being felt and when you consider what it takes to construct roads in Lagos state is very expensive. I know that even the suburbs, the government has ensured that the suburbs are developed. And the programme to develop the suburb is being implemented.

So, if there are people who are in the suburbs that are complaining, I am yet to see. Is it in Bariga, Epe, Ajegunle? In all Ikorodu, in all the suburbs, the impact and presence of government is being felt, particularly with regards to infrastructures.

Now that you’re part of the party that wants to take over power at the centre, don’t you think that getting a presidential candidate will create serious problem in the party in view the fact that many people coming into the party are serial presidential aspirants?

I don’t foresee what you called serious. In any political process, issues that bother on having candidates are issues that are taken seriously and it takes a serious person to always mange them. You have to take a critical look at the merging political parties and how they were able to produce their candidates before the merger.

In ANPP, where Mallam Shakarau emerged, there was no problem through the process that sprung him up. In CPC there was no problem after emergence of Buhari and in ACN when Ribadu emerged, there was no problem.

I see a democratic process which shall be very beautiful and which people will celebrate and say this is good for democracy by the time we go for congress.

What is your final word for those who believe that the party will have some crisis?

Let’s watch and see; let’s wait as 2015 vindicate us.

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