President Buhari’s Democracy Day Speech

President Buhari’s Democracy Day Speech

ADDRESS BY H.E PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AT THE 2019 NATIONAL DEMOCRACY DAY AT THE EAGLE SQUARE, ABUJA

12TH JUNE 2019

Protocols

All Praise is due to GOD Almighty Who spared our lives to be present at this great occasion. We give thanks also that the democratic process has been further entrenched and strengthened.

2. Twenty years ago, a democratically elected government took over from the military in a historic transfer of political power for our country.

3. Today, we are privileged to mark the longest period of unbroken democratic leadership and 5th peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another in Nigeria.

4. Throughout the last four years, I respected the independence of INEC. I ensured that INEC got all the resources it needed for independent and impartial management of elections in the country.

5. All interested parties are agreed that the recent elections, which except for pockets of unrest, were free, fair and peaceful.

6. I thank all the people who worked for our party, who campaigned and who voted for us. I thank my fellow Nigerians, who, since 2003 have consistently voted for me.

7. Victory is your greatest reward; peace, unity and greater prosperity will be our collective legacy.

Your Excellencies, Fellow Nigerians,

8. I and Nigerians collectively must give adequate thanks to our Armed Forces, Police and other law enforcing agencies for working round the clock to protect us by putting themselves in harm’s way and defending our values and protecting our future.

9. Terrorism and insecurity are worldwide phenomena and even the best policed countries are experiencing increasing incidents of unrest and are finding things hard to cope.

10. The principal thrust of this new Administration is to consolidate on the achievements of the last four years, correct the lapses inevitable in all human endeavors and tackle the new challenges the country is faced with and chart a bold plan for transforming Nigeria.

11. Fellow Nigerians, I have had the privilege of free education from Primary school to Staff College to War College.

12. I received my formative education in Katsina and Kaduna and my higher education in England, India and the United States.

13. I have worked and served in Kaduna, Lagos, Abeokuta, Makurdi, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, Ibadan, Jos and finally here in Abuja. Throughout my adult life, I have been a public servant. I have no other career but public service. I know no service but public service.

14. I was involved at close quarters in the struggle to keep Nigeria one. I can therefore do no more than dedicate the rest of my life to work for the unity of Nigeria and upliftment of Nigerians.

15. In 2002-2003 campaigns and elections, I travelled by road to 34 of the 36 states of the Federation. This year I travelled by air to all 36 states of the Federation.

16. Before and during my time in the Armed Forces and in government, I have interacted with Nigerians of all ages and persuasions and different shades of opinion over a period of more than fifty years.

17. And my firm belief is that our people above all want to live in peace and harmony with their fellow Nigerians. They desire opportunity to better themselves in a safe environment.

18. Most of the instances of inter-communal and inter-religious strife and violence were and are still as a result of sponsorship or incitements by ethnic, political or religious leaders hoping to benefit by exploiting our divisions and fault lines, thereby weakening our country.

19. And our country Nigeria is a great country. According to United Nations estimates, our population will rise to 411 million by 2050, making us the third most populous nation on earth behind only China and India.

20. We have water, arable land, forests, oil and gas and vast quantities of solid minerals. We are blessed with an equable climate. However, the bulk of our real wealth lies in Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Mining. We possess all the ingredients of a major economic power on the world stage.

21. What we require is the will to get our acts together. And our strength is in our people – our youth, our culture, our resilience, our ability to succeed despite the odds.

22. A huge responsibility therefore rests on this and succeeding Administrations to develop, harness and fulfil our enormous potential into a force to be reckoned with globally.

23. Thus far, we Nigerians can be proud of our history since Independence in 1960. We have contributed to UN peace-keeping responsibilities all over the world; we have stabilized Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and two years ago we prevented the Gambia from degenerating into anarchy.

24. Without Nigerian influence and resources, the liberation of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and ultimately South Africa would have come at greater cost. This fact had been attested by none other than the late Nelson Mandela himself.

25. Elsewhere, Nigeria is the Big Brother to our neighbours. We are the shock-absorber of the West African sub-region, the bulwark of ECOWAS and Lake Chad Basin Commission. We can therefore be proud to be Nigerians. We must continue to be Good Neighbours and Good Global Citizens.

26. At home, we have been successful in forging a nation from different ethnicities and language groups: our evolution and integration into one nation continues apace.

27. When, therefore we came to office in 2015 after a decade of struggle we identified three cardinal and existential challenges our country faced and made them our campaign focus, namely security, economy and fighting corruption.

28. None but the most partisan will dispute that in the last four years we have made solid progress in addressing these challenges.

29. When I took the oath of office on 29 May 2015, insecurity reigned. Apart from occupying 18 local governments in the North East, Boko Haram could at will attack any city including the Federal Capital, could threaten any institution including bombing the United Nations building and Police Headquarters in Abuja.

30. Admittedly, some of the challenges still remain in kidnappings and banditry in some rural areas. The great difference between 2015 and today is that we are meeting these challenges with much greater support to the security forces in terms of money, equipment and improved local intelligence. We are meeting these challenges with superior strategy, firepower and resolve.

31. In face of these challenges, our Government elected by the people in 2015 and re-elected in March has been mapping out policies, measures and laws to maintain our unity and at the same time lift the bulk of our people out of poverty and onto the road to prosperity.

32. This task is by no means unattainable. China has done it. India has done it. Indonesia has done it. Nigeria can do it. These are all countries characterized by huge burdens of population.

33. China and Indonesia succeeded under authoritarian regimes. India succeeded in a democratic setting. We can do it.

34. With leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

35. Following the 60 percent drop in oil prices between 2015 and 2016, through monetary and fiscal measures, we stimulated economic growth, curbed inflation and shored up our external reserves.

36. We now have witnessed 8 quarters of positive growth in the economy and our GDP is expected to grow by 2.7 percent this year.

37. Furthermore, our external reserves have risen to $45 billion enough to finance over 9 months of current import commitments.

38. This Administration is laying the foundation and taking bold steps in transforming our country and liberating our people from the shackles of poverty.

39. First, we will take steps to integrate rural economies to the national economic “grid” by extending access to small-scale credits and inputs to rural farmers, credit to rural micro-businesses and opening up many critical feeder roads.

40. Secondly, for small-scale enterprises in towns and cities, we shall expand facilities currently available so that we continue to encourage and support domestic production of basic goods and reduce our reliance of imported goods as I will outline later.

41. For the next four years, we will remain committed to improving the lives of people by consolidating efforts to address these key issues as well as emerging challenges of climate change, resettling displaced communities and dealing decisively with the new flashes of insecurity across the country, and the impacts on food scarcity and regional stability.

42. We are not daunted by the enormity of the tasks ahead. Instead, we are revived by this new mandate to work collaboratively with State and Local Governments, Legislators, the Diplomatic Corps and all Nigerians to rebuild and reposition our country as the heartbeat and reference point for our continent.

43. Fellow Nigerians, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen:

a. Despite the enormous resources pledged to infrastructure development these past four years, there remains the urgent need to modernize our roads and bridges, electricity grid, ports and rail systems.

b. Whilst agriculture and industrial output have recovered since the recession, we are more committed than ever to work with the private sector to improve productivity and accelerate economic growth.

c. The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index which is the gauge of manufacturing activity in the country has also risen for 26 consecutive months since March 2017 indicating continuous growth and expansion in our manufacturing sector.

d. It still takes too long for goods to clear at our seaports and the roads leading to them are congested. It still takes too long for routine and regulatory approvals to be secured. These issues affect our productivity and we are committed to addressing them permanently.

e. Our Government will continue work to reduce social and economic inequality through targeted social investment programs, education, technology and improved information.

f. Our social intervention programs are a model for other nations. Together with state governments, we provide millions of school children with meals in primary schools, micro loans to traders and entrepreneurs, skills and knowledge acquisition support to graduates and of course, conditional cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

g. A database of poor and vulnerable households is being carefully built based on age, gender, disability, educational levels for proper planning in this Administration’s war against poverty.

h. A database of unemployed but qualified youth has also been developed under the National Social Investment Programme which can be used by the public and private sectors for recruitment purposes. Cumulatively, nearly 2 million beneficiaries have received aid under this Programme apart from Anchors Borrowers Programme and School Feeding initiative each reaching 2 million recipients. And we will do more. Much more.

44. Fellow Nigerians, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, we know that there exists a strong correlation between economic inequality and insecurity.

45. When economic inequality rises, insecurity rises. But when we actively reduce inequality through investments in social and hard infrastructure, insecurity reduces.

46. The disturbing increase in rates of kidnapping, banditry and other criminal activities can be attributed to the decades of neglect and corruption in social investment, infrastructure development, education and healthcare.

47. This issue is further compounded by the impact of our changing climate and ecology.

48. The ECOWAS and Sahel regions, starting from Chad all the way to Mali, are also experiencing adverse impacts of drought and desertification, which have triggered waves of human displacement; conflicts between farmers and herdsmen; terrorism; and a fundamental socio-economic change to our way of life.

49. These issues are regional and not unique to Nigeria alone. The problems call for increased regional and international cooperation in developing a sustainable solution.

50. As Chairman of ECOWAS, I will be hosting a regional security summit of heads of states in the Sahel to develop a Joint Strategy to continue our efforts in addressing these issues.

51. Fellow Nigerians, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, at the heart of inequality and insecurity, is pervasive corruption. When we took office we realised that if you fight corruption, corruption will fight back – and we have seen this at all levels.

52. For Nigeria to progress, a collective resolution to address corruption and foster broad-based prosperity is required to create a country that is not only for a few privileged, but for all Nigerians.

53. This charge is not only to Civil Servants, Ministers, Legislators and State Government functionaries, but also to Corporate leaders.

54. We shall make greater investments in our rural economies. We shall aggressively source locally our raw materials.

55. We have incentives for investments specifically made in rural communities.

56. However, nationwide development cannot occur from Abuja alone; it must occur at States. And Government cannot do it alone.

57. I therefore implore all State Governments, especially those with large rural economies, to aggressively solicit investments in your states. Invest in developing human capital, reducing bureaucracy and corruption, hosting and attending investment summits and improving the ease of doing business.

58. At this point, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the entrepreneurs, investors and venture capitalists who have built or are building agro-processing projects; petrochemical plants; crude oil and solid mineral refineries; energy exploration; software development projects; telecom infrastructure; health, education and manufacturing projects; and the like, across our country.

59. I would like to make special mention to promoters of our small businesses that are proudly making goods and services for export and for local consumption. The Nigerian economy rises and falls on the strength of your investments and productivity.

60. We will continue to listen to your ideas and plans not just about how we can secure more investment, but how your plans can help create a more equitable economy.

61. I also thank the labour unions, farmer groups and associations, organized private sector and the civil society organisations for their support and cooperation with our government these last four years.

62. We will continue to count on your support, guidance and understanding during the next four years.

63. I especially thank our traditional leaders and congratulate re-elected and newly elected State Governors and members of the National Assembly. Our Government will continue to count on your support so that we can together move our country forward.

64. Fellow Nigerians, Your Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, despite the challenges over the last four years, my optimism about Nigeria’s future is unshaken and Nigeria’s role in the world as an emerging economic force is without a doubt.

65. Over the next four years, we are committed to assembling a strong team of Nigerians, and allies, to implement our transformative plans and proposals.

a. We will see significant focus, resource and, where necessary reform, in tertiary and technical education to reposition Nigeria’s workforce for the modern technological age.

b. We will accelerate investments in primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare programs, interventions and infrastructure as well as in upgrading of our medical personnel to stem the flight of our best trained people.

c. On food security, our farmers have made great strides in local production of rice, maize, cassava, poultry, fertilizer, fisheries and sesame. We remain resolute in supporting private sector in emphasizing backward integration and export expansion plans.

d. Felling of trees to provide energy for domestic use is taking its toll on our rain forests, our ecology and our climate. Accordingly, we are taking steps to harness cleaner and more sustainable sources of electricity. We export over 2 million tons of cooking gas, yet we consume less than half a million tons.

e. We will work to address this issue and support rural communities with challenges of safely switching from firewood to cooking gas.

f. Dedicated agro-industrial processing zones will be developed on a PPP basis to increase farming yields, agricultural productivity and industrial output.

g. Over 2,000 kilometers of ongoing Federal road and bridge projects across the country will be completed to reduce journey times and the cost of doing business. As I mentioned earlier, critical feeder roads will be built to facilitate easier transportation for people and goods from rural areas to major roads.

h. We are at advanced stages of securing investments to modernize and expand our transmission and distribution infrastructure, ensuring that electricity is available and affordable for all Nigerians.

i. Several rail, seaport and airport projects are at various stages of completion. We will open the arteries of transportation nationwide.

j. It is a fact that Nigeria has more gas reserves than it has oil. Over the last four years, we have become a net exporter of urea, which is made from natural gas. We invite investors to develop more natural gas-based petrochemical projects.

k. Fellow Nigerians, This Government will not tolerate actions by any individual or groups of individuals who seek to attack our way of life or those who seek to corruptly enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us. We will crack down on those who incite ordinary innocent people to violence and unrest.

l. We will ensure that such actions are met with the strong arm of the law.

66. Nation building takes time. But we must take solace in the knowledge that this country, our country, has everything we require to make Nigeria prosper.

67. Fellow Nigerians, Your Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you to join me in this journey of rebuilding our nation.

68. Our focus will not be to help the privileged few but to ensure that Nigeria works for Nigerians of all persuasions. That is a more just arrangement.

69. As we all know, correcting injustice is a pre-requisite for peace and unity. As part of the process of healing and reconciliation, I approved the recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day and invested the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Babagana Kingibe with National Honours, as I did with the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. The purpose was to partially atone for the previous damage done in annulling the Presidential elections of that year.

70. Today, I propose the re-naming of the Abuja National Stadium. Henceforth it will be called MOSHOOD ABIOLA NATIONAL STADIUM.

71. In my first term, we put Nigeria back on its feet. We are working again despite a difficult environment in oil on which we depend too much for our exports. We encountered huge resistance from vested interests who do not want CHANGE, But CHANGE has come, we now must move to the NEXT LEVEL.

72. By the Grace of God, I intend to keep the oath I have made today and to serve as President for all Nigerians.

73. I thank you for attending this august occasion from far and near, and for all your best wishes to me, to our party and to Nigeria.

74. God bless us all, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Buhari has not approved state police — Presidency

Buhari has not approved state police — Presidency
President Muhammadu Buhari has not approved the formation of state police structures as being reported by some newspapers, the Presidency said on Monday.

A statement signed by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said President Buhari Monday rather received a report on the reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

It said the president requested that the report be studied and a white paper produced within three months.

”President Buhari’s specific directive is that a three-man panel is set up to produce the white paper.

”The report of the white paper committee will form the basis of the decisions of the government on the many recommendations, including the setting up of state and local government police made by the Ojukwu panel.

”Until a white paper is produced, it will be premature and pre-emptive to suggest that the recommendations contained in the report have been approved by the President in part or whole,” the release said.

The debate over the creation of state police has heightened in recent months with the rising insecurity across parts of the nation.

Buhari approves state, LG police

Breaking: Buhari approves state, LG police

by Praise Olowe

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday approved the establishment of state and local government police.

He also approved the dismissal of 37 police officers as recommended by the National Human Rights Commission Presidential Special Panel on SARS Reforms.

This was contained in the statement by the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission and Chairman Presidential Panel on SARS Reform, Anthony Ojukwu, during the submission of report of the Presidential Panel on the reform of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), of the Nigeria Police, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Panel according to Ojukwu received 113 complaints on alleged human rights violations from across the country and 22 memoranda on suggestions on how to reform and restructure SARS and the Nigeria Police in general.

Read Also: Ohanaeze youths dissociates self from calls for Buhari’s resignation
He said, “At the end of its public hearing and having listened to complaints as well as defendants and their counsel, the Panel recommended thirty seven (37) Police officers for dismissal from the force. Twenty four (24) were recommended for prosecution.

“The panel also directed the Inspector General of Police to unravel the identity of twenty two (22) officers involved in the violation of the human rights of innocent Citizens.

“The police was directed to pay compensation of various sums in forty—five (45) complaints and tender public apologies in five (5) complaints and directed to obey court orders in five (5) matters.

“The Police was directed to immediately arrest and prosecute two (2) retired senior Police officers found to have violated the rights of citizens (one for extra-judicial killing and the other for illegal takeover of Property of a suspect). The Panel also recovered two vehicles illegally auctioned by SARS Officers and returned them to their owners.”

Some other key recommendations of the Panel include,” Significant improvement in the funding, kitting and facilities of the Nigeria

Police Force; Strengthening Information and Communication Technology of the Force; Establishment of State and local government Police.”

Source: The Nation

APC and its midnight children 

APC and its midnight children

APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole

By Louis Odion, FNGE

The custom in most African societies forbid whistling at night. Man is presumed to exercise dominion only over day. The ungodly hours are, in turn, conceded to dark creatures and fearsome principalities. So, it is thought that any unnatural sound may arouse the wrath of the gods of the night, thereby rupturing the harmony and balance of the social space.
In folklore, deviants of this ancestral norm are characterized as a curse on the community.

But to be sure, these are not to be mistaken for the loftier characters in Salman Rushdie’s magic-realist novel, Midnight Children. The magical exploits of Rushdie’s own fictive Saleem bear striking semblance with postcolonial India in turmoil. Though losing his power of telepathy after a medical procedure, Saleem instead gains a powerful sense of smell.

However, unlike the sometimes transformative magic of Rushdie’s incarnation, the midnight children in the referenced African fable revel in mischief, malice and pettiness.

In contemporary Nigeria, no one presents a more compelling parallel than All Progressive Congress. On the eve of its supposed hour of glory, the ruling party is in the news across the federation for the wrong reasons — troubles stirred by its own mutation of the metaphorical midnight children, increasingly constituting a nightmare to the nation at large.

So, even as resolute mother APC seeks to forge ahead in the communal market, her preoccupation now partly seems how to rein the wayward hands of the child on her back into the girdle, lest they scatter the merchandise on display sideways.
Nowhere is this anxiety better dramatized than Ogun where people have been forced to watch the comic folly of the Governor Ibikunle Amosun seeking to hide behind a finger. Though still wearing APC colours, it is open secret that the departing Ogun governor is funding the cases of all APM candidates at the election tribunal against APC members — from those elected into the state assembly to the governor-elect.

Still, bitterness over the defeat of his anointed (Adekunle Akinlade) by Dapo Abiodun in the last governorship polls has turned Amosun to a squirrel digging holes all over Abeokuta, curiously on the eve of his exit. And whenever he bites his own finger to ventilate that seething rage, his anger is probably compounded realizing that what hits him back instead is physical pain and that no blood drips from the swollen bite-mark.

When Abiodun’s people protested the festering plague of holes in Abeokuta, Amosun told another cheap lie to defend the first one. The man with the distinctive machete cap or “Fila-defia” (a jocular allusion to America’s Philadelphia city of highrises, “fila” being Yoruba word for hat) said he was only sprucing the state capital up ahead of the visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to commission his legacy projects, as well as prepare the grounds for the subsequent inauguration of the governor-in-waiting on May 29.

If that was the sincere intention, you would expect that drab walls be painted anew and gaping potholes filled instead. But in Amosun’s warped logic, you dig holes to make a city more alluring.

Worse, while the governor’s towncriers were busy parroting that spin last weekend in response to public outcry, they did not seem to realize that what was left unsaid showcased them in squalid lights. One, transition of this nature is supposed to be a colloboration between officials of the outgoing administration and nominees of the incoming. Instead, magisterial Amosun was said to have made public buildings and vehicles inaccessible to the committee raised by Abiodun to midwife his inauguration. Besides, not a single kobo was said to have been made available by the Amosun administration for Abiodun’s team to work with.
So desperate have matters become that Abiodun’s people have had to make contigency arrangements on some necessities. For instance, this writer reliably gathered that his team had to travel to Osun State to borrow an open-back jeep for the customary parade at the inauguration. Since Amosun has continued to hold tight to Ogun’s, insisting on deploying same for an elaborate “pull-out” ceremony he was arranging for himself on May 28.
Apart from digging craters, Amosun’s mischievous caterpillars were also reportedly deployed to either crack the soil in some communities or cannibalize the royal institutions across Ogun. In a desperate craving for public applause, the governor was also sighted performing “flag-off” rites for road projects amid dancing and praise-singing by paid drummers in a mindlessly elaborate exercise in public deceit barely a week to his departure! Of course, everyone knows that even the drivers of the emergency earthmovers would soon leave with Amosun.
While such ground-breaking event may soon be forgotten, not so with the royal gerrymandering Amosun has inflicted. No fewer than 73 chiefs who had lent themselves to Amosun as political hirelings were unilaterally upgraded to Oba status without due consultation in what is widely seen as a vicious slap on the Alake of Egbaland and the Awujale of Ijebuland. So, it is obvious that the incoming Abiodun administration will be inheriting a royal crisis.
In Zamfara, it is a case of shortlived revelry. Fumbling Governor Abdulaziz Yari would be made to realize rather too late the limit of the power of American dollars. Under him, the ruling party has made history as the one who supposedly won landslide victory at the polls but denied the trophy eventually.
The story we heard initially was that the state chapter of the ruling party failed to meet INEC’s deadline for primaries. When told this bitter truth, the deluded emperor in turn threatened to literally plunge everyone standing in his way to foisting all his stooges on Zamfara into the grave, not excluding himself.
First resorting to the sorcery of a cartel of shifty judges, Yari pushed himself over the first hurdle by securing assorted “black-market” court orders. Then, he fell for the sweet tongues of some Ponzi conmen lurking around Abuja. The whiff of American dollars in uncountable sacks apparently proved too irresistible at the party headquarters. In fact, the fixers with itchy fingers and wearing necklace made of glutton teeth hardly thought twice before surrendering the entire booklet of party tickets to the dollars Sheik from Gusau.

But just when Yari probably began to visualize Zamfara in his grotesque image beyond the midnight of May 28 (when his second tenure would end), came the rude shocker from Supreme Court last weekend pronouncing a regicide of sorts against all those elected on APC platform in the last general elections. In what could only have been inspired by a sense of sardonic humour, the court further slapped him with a fine of N10m (American dollars?).
With that, Yari’s earlier bluster to dispense political euthanasia freely would now seem to have partly turned a self-fulfillig prophesy.

Yari’s career bofoonery is perhaps only matched by Rochas Okorocha’s epic fawning in Imo State. For a man who rode to power eight years ago chanting “Rescue Mission”, how ironic that he himself is ending at the terminus politically wounded, his political empire in utter disarray, after a failed experiment at monarchism (“iberiberism”?).

While a sulking Okorocha would today lament a high conspiracy against him, what he would not admit is that he was actually outbidded in the sleazy bazaar camouflaged as party primaries last October, from where the rain truly began to beat him. As the popular account goes, someone supplied four times the amount of American dollars Okorocha allegedly offered to have his son-in-law made APC candidate in the governorship polls.
Now, aside the eternal shame of not having his son-in-law succeed him as governor after all the public boast, Okorocha faces additional trauma of a hostile take-over of the Douglas House with EFCC Rottweilers already barking ferociously at the gates.
In Oyo, we are listening to the bitter ending of the “Koseleri” panegyrics. When Abiola Ajimobi took over in 2011, workers jubilated. But he is leaving office amid labour strike. Being the first to win a second term democratically after a long succession of governors apparently got him so intoxicated as to arrogantly proclaim himself “the constituted authority” when some poor students heckled him for a more humane administration of their institution. Those still in doubt were taken into the literary appreciation of the term, “Koseleri” (it has never happened before).
But beaten silly in the subsequent polls and apparently afraid history might not remember him afterall, Ajimobi has embarked on perhaps the most bizarre pursuit of self-validation — a cynical attempt at self-immortalization. By not seeing any shame in rushing to name a major street after himself in Ibandan few days to his exit, Ajimobi has only ended up portraying himself as another incurably insecure megalomaniac seeking to preempt the verdict of the posterity.

In Lagos, sadly, Akinwunmi Ambode appears too traumatized, too disoriented by the loss of second term ticket last October to sustain his earlier presence of mind and finish strong. Nothing perhaps tells the tale of his diminished shadow better than the staccato of discordant tunes around his last days.
The magnificence of the new Oshodi bus interchange is, for instance, tainted by the side-talk that what President Buhari commissioned in April was a half-completed job. The allure of a section of the International Airport Road reconstructed is, in turn, smeared by the deepening squalor of the equally important Lagos-Badagry expressway. So much that last week, thousands of protesting residents of the axis poured onto the now famished road completely forsaken in the past four years.

Again, the transformation of Epe to a scenic wonder is contrasted by the continuing degradation of Apapa today. Added to that is a rather disturbing and yet undischarged allegation of squandering a staggering N49b of taxpayers’ money on the eve of Ambode’s exit from power.
Everything considered, it will, therefore, not be incorrect to say that these midnight children of APC are exiting the stage not in a blaze of glory, but with the whimper of a broken whistle.

Credit: The Nation

Buhari Signs N8.92trn 2019 Appropriation Bill Into Law With Reservations

Buhari Signs N8.92trn 2019 Appropriation Bill Into Law With Reservations

President Muhammadu Buhari, who on Monday signed the 2019 appropriation bill of N8.92 trillion into law, said adjustment of the budget by the National Assembly may affect its smooth implementation.

Speaking at the event which took place at the president’s mini-conference room, Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari said the addition of about N90billion to the N8.83trillion he submitted to the legislature would make it difficult for government to realise its set objectives.

He, however, stated that the executive arm of government would dialogue with the forthcoming ninth National Assembly so as to make life much better for Nigerians.

“Of course, some of these changes will adversely impact our programmes making it difficult for us to achieve the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

“Although I will be signing this bill, it is my intention to engage the National Assembly to ensure we deliver on our promises.

“I will therefore be engaging with the leadership of the 9th National Assembly as soon as they emerge to address some of our concerns with the budget,’’ he said.

According to the president, his administration will look at how to improve the budget process in order to speed up its consideration as well as return the country to the January to December fiscal year timetable.

He appreciated the Ministers of Budget and National Planning, Finance, the budget office of the federation and all other stakeholders that played key roles in producing the document.

President Buhari also lauded the leadership and members of the National Assembly for the efforts they put in passing the 2019 appropriation bill.

Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma thanked the leadership of the National Assembly for their cooperation and support.

He also thanked the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osonbajo, Ministers and all members of the Economic Management Team for the various roles they played in producing the budget.

He said: “Because it is a collective endeavour, without their support, it would have been impossible to produce a budget.’’

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the dignitaries who witnessed the ceremony at the mini-conference hall of the president’s, included the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives,Yakubu Dogara.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari also witnessed the signing of the budget.

Others at the event were the ministers of Finance (Zainab Ahmed), Budget and National Planning (Udoma Udo Udoma), Information and Culture (Lai Mohammed) and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Sen. Danjuma Goje,

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang and his counterpart for the House of Representatives, Umar El-Yakub, were also at the event.

On June 6, 2018, Buhari signed the 2018 appropriation bill of N9.120 trillion into law.

Udoma said after the signing of the law that the budget would help the president to consolidate the achievements of previous budgets and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.

He expressed satisfaction with the implementation of the 2017 budget, which saw the N1.5 trillion implementation of capital projects during the 2017 fiscal year.

He said the government would work hard to recreate the same achievement and generate the revenues required to finance projects and programmes that would significantly improve the economy.

NAN also reports that during the signing of the 2018 bill, the president further noted, with dismay, the cuts made by the National Assembly to the bill he originally presented.

He said the legislature made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion.

The president said he only signed the bill because he did not want to further slow down the pace of recovery of Nigeria’s economy and further disclosed that he would send “a supplementary and/or amendment budget” to the National Assembly to rectify the critical issues he raised.

It is official: Minimum wage now N30,000 as Buhari assents to bill

BREAKING: Minimum wage now N30,000 as Buhari assents to bill


President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act, 2019.
By this act, the new minimum wage is now N30,000.
The President assented to the Act on Thursday in Abuja, mandating all employers of labour across the country to pay workers a minimum of N30,000 monthly wage.
The National Assembly had submitted the minimum wage bill to the President since March 27.
The bill approving N30,000 as the new national minimum wage was passed by both chambers of National Asaembly before they went on break for the 2019 general elections.
Earlier in the week, workers in the Federal Capital Territory had begged the President to sign the minimum wage bill.
Some of the workers had expressed concerns over the delay in signing the bill into law, adding that it was causing them unnecessary anxiety.

Presidential Poll: A Post-mortem

Presidential Poll: A Post-mortem

By Simon-Kolawole, Email: simon.kolawole@thisdaylive.com, sms: 0805 500 1961

Since I have been old enough to follow presidential elections in Nigeria, I have to admit that I have never experienced the kind of gloomy mood that hit some sections of the country after the declaration of Presidential Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the February 23 poll. In the past, there would be spontaneous outbursts, demonstrations and riots by the aggrieved. This time around, the atmosphere was more like a funeral in certain places. Many looked severely bereaved. A friend of mine, an entrepreneur, was so distraught that he sent me a chat after the announcement of the final result: “Simon, where do we go from here?” I joked in response: “Canada.”

In my opinion, there were generally two categories of people that backed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the presidential election. In one category are those who genuinely believe his presidency would be better for business in particular and Nigeria as a whole. They are convinced that Atiku has a better grasp of the economy, is more pan-Nigerian in outlook and can assemble a winning team — compared to Buhari. In the second category are those who feel persecuted and marginalised by Buhari and would be too glad to see his back. It is not so much that they all passionately believe in Atiku, just that Buhari is bad news to them 24/7.

I can identify two of the strongest responses to the outcome of the election in the pro-Atiku camp. One is that the poll was rigged. They maintain that if everything had run normally, Atiku would have won. Their grievances are well known: they think that the votes for Buhari were inflated in some northern states, that the security agencies terrorised Atiku’s supporters in some parts of the south and that state institutions worked actively for Buhari’s re-election. I would conclude that a good number of Atiku’s supporters are of the opinion that the election was rigged. Atiku himself has headed to the election petitions tribunal to challenge the outcome.

Some prominent Nigerians have asked Atiku not to go to court. The former vice-president has even been derided by some APC supporters on the social media for daring to challenge the outcome of the election. I take it that people are simply playing politics. We know how many opposition candidates became governors via court judgments when PDP was in power from 1999 to 2015, and I think it is most unfair to mock Atiku for choosing to exercise his democratic and constitutional right. As to whether or not he can win his case, why not wait for the courts to decide? Why pre-empt? It appears many of us still do not have the temperament for democracy in Nigeria.

The second strongest post-election response from the Pro-Atiku camp, which has been picked up and amplified by the international media, is that the results were reflective of the social strata and tendencies in the country. Infographs have been designed along this line of thinking: that the educated voted for Atiku and the uneducated preferred Buhari; that the lovers of prosperity chose Atiku and the lovers of poverty trooped out for Buhari; that earners of higher income were in love with Atiku and the wretched of the earth stood firmly by Buhari. I have seen maps being circulated to support this thinking. Many foreign journalists and analysts have bought fully into it.
Any student of statistics will tell you a guiding principle: that correlation is not the same thing as causation.

If PDP wins the 11 states in the south-east and south-south, it may have nothing to do with the levels of education, poverty, violence or income. It may just be that the PDP is still very strong in those states. It may have more to do with their political leanings and traditional voting patterns rather than an addiction to university degrees. I don’t know. I can’t say. But just sitting down in our living rooms and drawing conclusions from election data without a proper survey of the voters themselves might turn out to be unhelpful.

In the first place, you have to choose one argument. You have to either argue that Atiku won the election but it was rigged or that voters made the wrong choices by not preferring prosperity, which Atiku is said to represent, to poverty, of which Buhari is meant to be the poster boy — in the opinion of these analysts. If you believe the election was rigged, how can you go ahead to say Buhari won because the uneducated, unenlightened and wretched Nigerians voted for him? That would be contradictory. Also, you cannot argue that the wretched re-elected Buhari and still maintain that the election was rigged. You just have to pick one line of argument.

If we are to go by the educated vs uneducated parameter used by some analysts in their post-election commentaries, then we will end up confused. In the south-west, for instance, APC won four of the six states. Should we conclude that the majority of the south-westerners are illiterates and poverty-lovers for voting APC? In 2015, five south-west states voted APC. In 2011, five south-west states voted for PDP. Should we say south-westerners were educated and prosperity-loving in 2011 but became illiterates in 2015 and 2019? In states such as Benue and Oyo where votes were almost evenly split between PDP and APC, how do we separate the literate from the illiterate?

Correlation is definitely not causation. In 2011, the south-east gave 4,985,246 votes to PDP. The figure dropped to 2,464,906 in 2015 (when the PDP controlled all the instruments of power, including the security agencies). In 2019, the tally for PDP further dropped to 1,693,485. I do not want to believe the south-east has been falling in love with poverty and illiteracy since 2011. There may be another reason the voter turn-out has been dropping. Between 2011 and 2015, PDP lost a total of 2,520,340 votes in the south-east in the presidential election — even with a sitting PDP government at Aso Rock. We need to be more sophisticated in our thinking.

I am beginning to come to the conclusion that we only have some respect for democracy in Nigeria when the outcome of an election conforms to our bias. I remember when President Buhari lost to President Jonathan in 2011, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which did not have any presence beyond the core northern states, kept insisting they won. In fact, CPC said there was a bug in INEC computers that was deducting Buhari’s votes. CPC questioned the results from the south-east and south-south, where Jonathan scored 97% of total votes cast. The reverse is not the case: PDP is questioning the results from the north-west and north-east.

What is the conclusion of the matter? Those who believe the 2019 presidential poll was rigged should stick to their position and support Atiku in his litigation. Nobody should say “it is a waste of time”. No litigation is ever a waste of time. Some improvements we have witnessed in our electoral system were influenced by previous legal experiences. For instance, the principle of “substantial compliance” came into being in 1979 when Chief Obafemi Awolowo mounted a legal challenge against Alhaji Shehu Shagari. It is relied upon by the courts till today. There is a reason our laws provide for post-election petitions. Atiku should be supported to exercise his options.

Those who cast the election as a battle between literacy and illiteracy should also stick to their story. They are inevitably saying the election was not rigged. They are only saying the outcome was reflective of the preference of the majority of voters, whom they consider to be illiterates and lovers of poverty. That means 15.1 million illiterates re-elected Buhari while 11.2 million professors voted for Atiku. This narrative is condescending, no doubt, and reinforces inherited prejudices and biases against certain sections of the country — but at least it represents the mindset of some analysts. My only problem with that is the abuse and misuse of statistics that readily comes with such a mindset.

However, when the emotions of the presidential election have cooled, I would advise the protagonists and antagonists to take a second look at the figures both retrospectively and introspectively. The APC should ask itself: is this really an endorsement of our performance or a mere benefit of the cult followership that Buhari enjoys in some parts of the country? Could we have turned out this performance if Buhari was not our presidential candidate? Should we gloat or keep our feet on the ground, knowing the enormous tasks ahead? Are there expectations from Nigerians tied to this victory? What do we owe to the millions who re-elected us into office?

The PDP, as the biggest opposition party, should also ask itself the critical questions: what did we not get right? Where did the rain begin to beat us? Did we overrate our chances? Was it just the incumbency factor that worked against us? Why has the voting trend for us in the south-east been on a downward spiral? How did we descend from the height of having 24 governors at some point in Nigeria’s history to having just 13 today? What did we do wrong? How can we rebuild faith with Nigerians? No doubt, we need a very strong opposition party in Nigeria. It is in the interest of our democracy. Going forward, therefore, the protagonists and antagonists need self-appraisal.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…
VOTER APATHY

From indications, voter turnout for Saturday’s governorship and house of assembly elections was lower than we saw in the February 23 presidential poll. Why? There would be many reasons. I think one of them is the sequence of elections. If I had my way, we would do state elections first and the presidential election last. That is a way of building momentum and generating interest in the elections. But I understand the politics of it all: if governors secure their own positions first, they may not work hard for the president two weeks later! That is why election sequence has always been a battle from the days of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Anti-climax.

MILITARISED ELECTIONS

Does anybody still remember when the All Progressives Congress (APC) used to kick against the deployment of soldiers for elections? The defence of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) then was that the deployment was necessary to secure the peace and avoid bloodshed. An APC lawmaker even went to court and won. Students of history should find it amusing that with APC now in control, the militarisation of elections has continued. There is always a reason to justify it: to safeguard lives and property and prevent violence, you know the rest. Give the average Nigerian politician state power and he is likely to use it the same way. It is the same difference. #APCPDP.

JUDICIAL PRIMARIES

Many of us have simplistic theories on why Nigeria remains backward in the comity of nations but we don’t need to be too hard on ourselves: it is just that we are not like any other people on earth. It is only in Nigeria that candidates of political parties are determined by the courts. The moment our politicians and lawyers figured out how they could use and abuse the laws of the land, it has become fashionable for them to engage the courts to play the role of political parties by determining who is a candidate and who is not. The courts are supposed to serve the cause of justice, we cannot deny that, but why must our own case in Nigeria be always upside down? Mystery.

AND FINALLY…

Election times can be very stressful and even life-threatening in Nigeria, but many people are making lemonade from the lemon. In affluent neighbourhoods, people set up canopies, play music and do barbeque while waiting to be accredited and while voting goes on. But you have to do a thumbs-up to the lively woman in Enugu, said to be a teacher, who came with a pillow and a mat to her polling unit during the presidential and national assembly elections. On Saturday, she turned up again for the governorship and house of assembly polls with more than a mat and a pillow: she brought Whot for a game of cards with fellow voters. Life is too short. Have fun. Chill.

Source: ThisDay

Why Atiku lost: An analytical dissection of the 2019 Presidential election

Why Atiku lost: An analytical dissection of the 2019 Presidential election

Mayowa Oladeji

To ascribe the defeat suffered by Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 Presidential election to massive rigging is mental laziness.

To also describe the 2015 election that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power as perfectly free and fair is a distortion of history. The election was given the toga of credibility because the opposition won the election.

The headline on one of the online media on 13th February 2015 screamed, “58 Nigerians killed in 2015 pre-election violence so far – Rights Commission.”

The National Human Rights commission had released a report on pre-election violence in parts of the country and especially in some key flashpoints.

On the 17th of February again, another headline read, “Explosions, gunshots disrupt APC rally in Patience Jonathan’s home town.”

The intention is not to justify the horrific violence that greeted the election, but history is not about morality or passing judgement but recording events, so that lessons could be learnt.

The 2015 election result was disputed by the ruling party, at the National Collation Centre In Abuja.

A former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe had accused the-then Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) boss, Prof Attahiru Jega of colluding with the opposition, so the election was not without blemish.

This election like 2015 is not perfect, but there are several factors that worked against the opposition party, most they could have mitigated, but for reasons best known to them, they failed to be proactive.

Five things that cost Atiku the election
Poor winning strategy for North Central
Atiku campaign team placed their hopes on anger in the Middle Belt over herders/farmers clashes. Emotion is never a reliable strategy, while it is a useful too, it’s unstable, that is what transpired in that Presidential election on Saturday, February 23rd 2019.

Most pundits never expected the votes that came from Benue, Plateau and Kogi states, what was shocking was, no message nor structure tailored to harvest the discontent of the people with the ruling party from aforementioned states.

In Kogi for instance, Sen Ahmed Ogembe and Sen Attai Idoko should have been given the needed support, because if they had performed well just like Sen Dino Melaye did, Atiku would have benefitted. No one has ever won the presidential election without winning North-Central.

Despite being obvious that the PDP was heading for defeat in Kwara due to the anger towards Saraki, the party never had any strategy to checkmate the fallout of the ‘O to ge’ movement other than chest-tumping on national television. The ruling party ended up wining North Central with 2.1m to 1.6m, almost the same margin as 2.4m to 1.7m of 2015.

Non usage of incidence form
Since 2011, the quantity of votes in the South East has continued to experience decline. The effect was less felt in 2015 due to the use of incidence form, but with the elimination of incidence form, the effect was devastating for the major stronghold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Total votes for the PDP dropped by about 400,000, while the ruling party increased its votes from 198,000 to 403,000. Before we jump into conclusions, only the North East had an increase in this election, but Atiku also benefited from the increase.

Both the APC and the PDP had a 400,000 increase each to their 2015 figures in the North East, so if the party had positioned itself, it could have benefitted from the increase in the North East votes.

Worst hit by the elimination of incidence form is the South South region, where Rivers, Delta and Akwa-Ibom all polled over 1m votes each.

What changed was the elimination of incidence form and presence of strong members of the ruling party in those states, from Akpabio to Omo-agege and the likes.

The governors in those states were lukewarm in their participation in delivering the candidate of their party.

Voting schedule
During the electoral amendment saga, the main issue was the proposed amendment to make the Presidential election the last election.

The President rejected that bill on three occasions. What, that decision saved the president. For instance, the president benefited from the legislative election in places he would ordinarily not have had any vote. For instance in Bayelsa, the president benefited from Senate and Reps elections. Indeed, the ruling party picked up a Senate seat and two Reps seats.

This also reflected in the Presidential election also. If the election were to be between Atiku and Buhari, it would have been annihilation for the incumbent, but local elections benefitted the President.

Atiku also benefited from the schedule. In Oyo and Ondo states, he benefited from from the work done by Kola Balogun and the revolt against Governor Abiola Ajumobi. If this strategy of supporting APC Senatorial and Representatives candidates had been deployed in the North East and NorthWest, probably the result would have been different.

IDP Camp voting
In the aftermath of the election, many were left wondering why Borno and Yobe states had electoral surge – look no further. Before the elections, INEC has revealed that voting arrangmenit had been made for 409,813 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to vote in Boko Haram-ravaged areas.

One would have expected the PDP to work hard in those places to prevent the political massacre it suffered.

The campaign
The ruling party campaigned as though it was in opposition, touring the 36 states of the federation, with Osinbajo doing his door-to-door campaign and the President and the party doing mega rallies.

Also on social media, the likes of Kayode Ogundamisi were doing the dirty job while Tolu Ogunlesi focused on informing the people on infrastructural achievements of the government, this strategy would be winning template for years to come.

And the wisdom in having Festus Keyamo, a South South man and Senior Advocate of Nigeria as the spokesperson of the presidential campaign was novelty, as against the PDP that had about 6 spokespersons and Kola Ologbondiyan.

However, the opposition party allowed people who should not be around the campaign, like Reno Omokri, Femi Fani Kayode, Ayo Fayose to run riot. These are persons who have expressed anti-Northern statements in the past.

The campaign easily turned into an anti-North campaign, this situation easily fired up the core North.

Whoever suggested this strategy to the party cost the party a golden opportunity to dislodge a president whose popularity had waned significantly.

Buhari, Obasanjo and the day after

Buhari, Obasanjo and the day after

By Dare Babarinsa

It is bitter irony of the winner-take-all American system we have imported hook, line and sinker that the man who secured more than 11 million votes may have no role in the new government that would take effect from May 29, 2019.
Unlike what we had in 2015, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, the loser of the last presidential race, has indicated that he would challenge in court the victory of General Muhammadu Buhari.
In 2015, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the once mighty Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had conceded victory to his challenger, General Buhari. Atiku says he would prefer to fight it out in the court of law.

Atiku is a veteran of the presidential game and was once one heartbeat away from becoming the President.
As the Vice-President under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, he was almost like the co-President in the early years of their tenure especially before 2002. Then ambition and the raw bile of intrigues intervened.
Since then, Atiku has been chasing the prize. In 2007 when Obasanjo endorsed Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as his anointed successor, Atiku had the support of most of the PDP governors but they dare not oppose the patriarchal and dominant Obasanjo in the open.
Atiku moved to another party as the presidential candidate, taken the bait offered him by his old colleagues in the defunct Peoples Front of Nigeria, PFN, who now dominated the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
This time around, those old colleagues of the PFN days, especially Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are now the leading centurions of Buhari’s APC amalgam. They were the ones who shut out a large swathe of Nigeria from the Atiku brigade.
Their new champion is the old general who once threw the army of political leaders into detention and ended the Second Republic. Now he is a born-again democrat and his laughter is infectious.
General Buhari showed unusual stamina and vivacity during his campaign.
Despite the weathering of years, he remains ramrod and vigourous and someone who saw him in Ekiti says our President may still be busy on the domestic front.

Covering a presidential campaign is tiresome for reporters, not to talk of the candidate himself. The rigour of the campaign proved that the old soldier has a reservoir of hidden strength.
In the months to come, the challenges of his office would tax his strength, his intellectual resources, his capacity for balancing act and his wisdom for managing the centrifugal pull of a heterogeneous country.
It does not speak well of the President that none of his security chiefs come from the South-East of Nigeria.
Indeed only two of them, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Naval Staff are from the South.
The rest; the commanders of the Army, Air force, Immigration, Civil Defence, Police, Prison, Custom and the National Security Adviser, are all from the North. This is an issue the President has to address in his second coming.
This would not have been an issue in the past era, but Buhari, suspected of ethnic particularism, is held to a higher standard.
During the First Republic, the head of the army, (Major-General J.T.U Aguiyi-Ironsi), the navy, (Commodore Akinwale Wey), the air force, (Colonel George Kurobo) and the Police (Louis Orok Edet) were all from the South.
President Buhari has already served notice that this time around, he would pursue his fight against corruption with added vigour.

As of now, the suspended Chief Justice of the Federation, is facing trial for alleged corruption. Buhari is also the first President to open the book of past military chiefs.
So far, there is no open allegation of corruption committed during his regime, against any of his top lieutenants. This is a big thing for a country where corruption in high places has become almost a custom.
Now the Buhari era is rescuing us from that custom. With a new National Assembly coming in June, it remain to be seen whether the President would take a keener interest in those who would emerge in the leadership of the new National Assembly.
The presidential election was also the National Assembly election and it had seismic effect in many parts of the country.
In Kwara State, the electorate decided to topple the Saraki dynasty which had held sway for 40 years.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, heir to the dynasty built and nurtured by his illustrious father, Senator Olusola Saraki, lost his bid to return to the Senate.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, who once contested for the governorship of Kwara State and lost to the Saraki machine, led the victorious onslaught.
With the downfall of Bukola, the Saraki mystique may finally unravel. The Kwara people have brought the O to ge (Enough is enough) train to town. We don’t know where it is heading to next.

For the governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, his loss at the senatorial contest makes the next governorship election to be of higher interest.
Ajimobi, who had made a lot of infrastructural changes to Oyo State, especially Ibadan, had recruited a lot of foes for himself by his perceived arrogance and high-handedness.
The governorship race in Oyo is now a photo-finish race between Seyi Makinde of the PDP and Ajimobi’s anointed candidate, Bayo Adelabu of the APC.
With his loss, Ajimobi would join two of his predecessors, Chief Rasheed Ladoja and Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala, in the elder statesmen league of politicians.
With his loss too, Senator Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom State, may be heading for the same club.
One man who has shown tremendous clout is the beleaguered governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun who will be going back to the Senate.
He is the only governor of the ruling APC who is sponsoring a governorship candidate of another party and was bold enough to present that candidate to his principal in Abuja.
It baffles me till today, that despite the stoning incident in Abeokuta, President Buhari has remained non-committal about this double-dealing.

If this general elections has a hero, it may as well be the pussy-footing chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, and his over-worked colleagues. They had to deal with 73 presidential and thousands of senatorial and House of Representatives candidates, something that is unprecedented in Nigerian electoral history. The next National Assembly must revisit the Electoral Act.
During the First and Second Republics, you pay a deposit to the electoral commission if you are contesting.
If you don’t win a certain percentage of the votes, you lose your deposit. In 1979 Chief (Mrs) Simbiat Abiola, contested for Senate in Ogun State and lost her deposit.
If this is re-introduced, it would help to weed out the unserious candidates who are only seeking for attention and an addition to their Curriculum Vitae.
One non-candidate who dominated the election was Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerian ruler for 13 years and Africa’s pre-eminent elder-statesman.
Obasanjo was the man who appointed Buhari the Minister of Petroleum Resources in 1976 and he was the man who made Atiku the Vice-President.
Either way, he would have remained an influential member of the power club in post May 29 era of Nigeria.
In 2015, he tore his membership card of the PDP before an assemblage of prominent women who had answered his call from all over Yorubaland including Kogi and Kwara States.
When the new APC tried to recruit him, he declined, saying he was now an elder-statesman.
It is a measure of Atiku’s persuasive power that he was able to recruit Obasanjo back into something close to partisan politics.
Since leaving power in 2007, Obasanjo intermittent interventions in national affairs has placed him on a special pedestal above the din of partisan political combats. He has also become our country most famous letter writer.
However his recent involvements with the PDP presidential campaign may have affected that role and Nigeria is the poorer for it.
Whether he would be able climb onto his old pedestal again as the voice of his country, only the future can tell.

Credit: The Guardian

For The Love Of Atiku

For The Love Of Atiku

Atiku Abubakar

By Ustaz Abubakr Saddeeq Muhammad –

As Opposition leader, you carry great responsibility; to campaign for the top job in any country is onerous. You are the standard-bearer for your politics, your party and the beliefs both hold dear. Anyone who has ever run a campaign to win an election knows how big a task it is.

A Journey: My Political Life by Tony Blair

Having Atiku Abubakar in any political contest heralds the presence of ‘a ferociously effective election-fighting machine’ due to his vast experience in Nigeria’s politics. In the same book where I quoted the above epigraph, Tony Blair said: “The first rule in politics is that there are no rules, at least in the sense of inevitable defeats or inevitable victories. If you have the right policy and the right strategy, you always have a chance of winning. Without them, you can lose no matter how certain the victory seems.’ Of course, Atiku does not lack the right policy or the right strategy in his desire to occupy the highest office in the land.

Unfortunately, politics in Nigeria is hardly about policy. Strategy, yes, and even that is more on how to manipulate the process and “vote” in the stead of the electorate. But what is “most grievous and most bitter” is the employment of ethnicity and religion as a strategy to ascend the throne.

The number of innocent souls mown down during the farmers-herders debacle was huge, and the killings stopped as suddenly as they started especially at the time when politicians became busy with electioneering in the run-up to this year’s elections. Did the cessation of the carnage have something to do with political gladiators?

Amid the ‘riot of celebration’ in the country after (the Independent Electoral Commission), INEC’s declaration of Muhammadu Buhari as the President-Elect, there is need to look at the role played by ethnicity and religion in 2019 general elections.

The politicians found in the farmers-herders crisis, a crisis of their own manufacture, a means to a bloody end – with the aid of the conventional and the social media currency was given the false narrative of a Fulani President using his kin to decimate Christians as part of an elaborate plan to Islamise Nigeria. This message was widely preached in places of worship by men of God quoting copiously out of context from the scriptures to stoke up the embers of ethnic hatred and religious disharmony. One pastor was seen and heard on video goading his flock to kill any Fulani that strayed into the church premises.

False prophets and preachers related what God told them about the general elections, that 2019 is the year of decision in which the Christians will decide the leadership of the country to end Muslim domination and place an iron lid on the Islamisation plan in Nigeria, that President Buhari should not seek reelection otherwise he will die. ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hope. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord”.’ Jeremiah 23:16

There was no abatement of the false exhortation from the pulpit for deliverance against Islamisation even after Atiku Abubakar, a Fulani and a Muslim emerged as the standard-bearer of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The pulpit knighted and anointed him as the messiah of the persecuted Christians of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, “to liberate the children of God” from another Fulani Muslim, Muhammadu Buhari and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Mental aberration!

Atiku Abubakar’s demeanour and pronouncements did not belie the apostolic mission assigned him by the church. Every time he spoke there was that tint of affirmation of division and disunity in the country. He said: “…the leader Nigeria needs urgently is one who can unite the country and heal the deep wounds, not another Buhari who would further divide Nigeria and deepen the wounds,…”

The fact that Buhari’s running mate, Osinbajo is a pastor did not lighten the ferocity of the Islamisation storm. There were calls “on (the) General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye to strip Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of his pastorship” for exposing the misrule, embezzlement and corruption of the Goodluck Jonathan-led government. He was further maligned as “a fake man of God” and “a pastor only by name” for insisting that “it was impossible for anyone to Islamise Nigeria, as claimed by Christian interests.”

Socio-cultural organisations came out to endorse the candidature of Atiku Abubakar, and some of Buhari which compounded the situation as internal strife set in splitting members into two – the ones issuing the endorsement, the others repudiating it.

Some Muslim organisations endorsed Muhammadu Buhari of the APC as their presidential candidate and urged their followers to vote for him, not least the Sheikhs that pocketed ample share of the largess of the Jonathan government and now dread what the impending return of a Buhari government portends. The mimbar (pulpit) was transformed into a campaign platform for President Muhammadu Buhari.

Many Muslim, as well as some Christian leaders, paid solidarity visits to the Presidential Villa to register their support for the reelection bid of Buhari. Of course, the presence and participation of a trifle of Christian leaders did not alter the division of the PDP as a party for Christ and the APC as a vehicle for the Islamisation of Nigeria.

Honesty, I do not see any difference between Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari in the way they conduct themselves as Muslims in public. This is not to undermine their concealed commitment to their religion if there is any, but I am trying to establish a point. I really cannot say who between the two loves Islam more than the other. I am not speaking concerning their competence, integrity or willingness to fight corruption. I am referring to their relationship with their religion as Muslims. I have observed the Juma’ah prayers with both of them on different occasions, together or singly, at the Abuja National Mosque. My understanding is that both of them are wary of exhibiting any Islamic trait for fear of being tagged Islamists, probably. None of them ever commences a speech with bismillah (in the name of Allah) or suffixes future undertakings with inshaa Allah (if Allah wills). I concede these are not the criteria to ascertain a firm believer from a weak one, but in a country were Christian public officers commission projects “in the mighty name of Jesus”, there is nothing wrong where a Muslim in government uses words of similar import.

The church must by garlanded with roses for effective proselytising in favour of the PDP candidate to such an extent that Christians, especially in the South, were willing to lay down lives for a Fulani Muslim from the North. About a hundred Christians were killed in the South-East, South-South and South-West regions in election-related violence – ballot box snatching or shootings. Conversely, no one was killed from the North, at least during the period that actual voting lasted, trying to help their kinsman be president.

After the declaration of Muhammadu Buhari as the President-Elect by INEC, a scion of my late Sheikh’s family posted a statement on his Facebook page, a statement more deserving of a Secondus than a sheikh, in which he said: “Truly Atiku Abubakar should be saluted for his dogged stand against authoritarian leadership tendencies. He has saved the nation is a way only history will vindicate him. I, therefore, urged him to reject the fake results, no credit should be given to falsehood and seek redress in the court of law, the same way, the president did in his previous attempts, he knows better when injustice is served.”

It is indeed disheartening that the above averment came from somebody who has advocated for the opposite of what he is now urging Atiku Abubakar to do. He has once advised Buhari against seeking redress in the courts after the 2007 elections as that was not the best way to settle disputes between two Muslims. It was unfortunate then that Buhari did not heed to the Sheikh’s advice; that did not affect the fact that it was the right counsel. When Muslims were angry about his taking part in the reconciliation between Atiku Abubakar and Obasanjo after the former’s emergence as the PDP candidate, the Sheikh supported his participation with the “Hilful Fudhul” (League of the Virtuous) incident which established an alliance among Makkans against injustice. Thus, he said reconciliation among people of whatever creed is the task of every believer. Based on this, encouraging Atiku to concede to victory would have been more honourable to both parties rather than urging him to go to court and challenge an election adjudged free, fair, peaceful and credible by local and international observers.

Religious leaders, Muslim and Christian, have failed the nation lamentably in the 2019 elections. They made themselves susceptible to debasement by being partisan. Men of God are not men of gold. They are parents of all regardless of party affiliation, repositories of good counsel and spiritual guidance. But whenever they lean towards a candidate or his political party, they lose the deference their flock accord them.

Leadership