Six things June 12 taught me

Six things June 12 taught me

By Simon Kolawole

Where were you on June 12, 1993? I was in Ilorin, Kwara state, enjoying the weekend with my cousins. I could not vote because I registered in Lagos. If I had voted, I would have thumb-printed the space for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) whose presidential flag bearer was Chief MKO Abiola. I had been rooting for Alhaji Bashir Tofa, the candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC). But after watching the televised presidential debate and having an argument debate with my dear friend, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu (now APC national publicity secretary), I was finally persuaded to vote for Abiola, although I eventually disenfranchised myself.

I learnt a dozen lessons from the June 12 debacle. First, northerners were unfairly vilified in the political crisis that engulfed the nation after the annulment. The narrative was that they did not want Abiola to become president. There was a conspiracy theory that the north wanted to hold on to power by all means. However, the election results did not support this claim. Abiola won nine out of the 16 states in the north while Tofa won only seven. The romantic part of the story was that Abiola defeated Tofa in his home state, Kano, and even in his ward. I do not want to believe it was the Yoruba or southerners in the north that did the magic. That would be a disingenuous claim.

To be sure, I accepted the conspiracy theory then. The north, I mean the “core north”, had so dominated the political landscape that resentment had built up considerably in the south against the “northern oligarchy”. So it was easy to read the annulment as a northern agenda. If you ask my opinion today, I would say there was no conspiracy. I would say the military guys just did not want to let go of power. That is the benefit of hindsight. After all, the previously cancelled primaries had three northerners in the lead: Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua having pocketed the SDP ticket and Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi and Mallam Adamu Ciroma about to face a run-off for the NRC ticket.

The second lesson is that Igbo and Yoruba are not irreconcilable political enemies. Historically, the two dominant southern ethnic groups had appeared to be political rivals fiercely at war with each other — always going in opposite directions in the struggle for supremacy in the Nigerian power game. However, despite the SDP fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket that held virtually no attraction to the Igbo, they still voted massively for Abiola, a Yoruba. There were four Igbo states then. Although Tofa won in Enugu, Imo and Abia and Abiola won only in Anambra, the total scores provided better evidence: 790,371 to Tofa, 739,748 to Abiola. A mere difference of 50,623 votes!

I believe Yoruba still owe Ndigbo one. You would appreciate these figures better if you realised that there was an Igbo on the NRC ticket: Dr Sylvester Ugoh was Tofa’s running mate. Abiola getting 48 percent in the south-east was definitely not an ordinary gesture. Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu had angrily left SDP for NRC after the Muslim-Muslim ticket was announced, arguing that SDP had marginalised the Igbo — even though Abiola was always going to pick a northerner as his vice-presidential candidate. Informed that Abiola would appoint an Igbo as secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Ojukwu famously quipped: “That’s a glorified tea boy!”

The third lesson is that the Nigerian political class can be petty. NRC behaved badly after losing the election. Rather than join forces with the SDP to defend our democracy and confront the military which was the mortal enemy, it became a matter of “if I don’t have it, then nobody else should”. NRC backed out of the fight very easily. To make matters worse, SDP members who had been unhappy that Abiola got the party’s presidential ticket in the first place were very eager to negotiate away the mandate. SDP leaders were soon engaged in meetings with the military to set up an interim government to “save Nigeria from the precipice”. You won the election, guys!

The fourth lesson is that anyone can become a symbol of resistance no matter their past. Abiola was an establishment person, one who wined and dined with the powers that be, starting with the military government of Gen Murtala Muhammed in 1975. He was a known friend of Gen Ibrahim Babangida. If anyone was expected to accept the annulment of June 12 quietly, enter his car and go back to his house, it was Abiola. I am sure Babangida and his team were dumbfounded that Abiola led the rebellion against what was supposed to be a routine cancellation of elections. I honestly did not expect the resistance from Abiola, much less that he would go to his grave fighting.

What this seems to tell me about Nigeria is that the much-expected turnaround may come from unexpected quarters. I am not saying I saw any vision, but the usual suspects may not lead the ethical and political revolution that will unleash the potential of this country. Nigeria is too blessed to be crawling on its chest. How can we have all these resources — human and material — and be stuck in the cesspool of poverty, disease, unemployment and corruption? But the change leader may turn out to be the least expected person, one whom we despise or treat with suspicion. Abiola was an unlikely symbol of resistance. He did not look the part but he played the part.

The fifth lesson is that Nigerians have short memory. Many of those parading themselves today as heroes of democracy were actually in bed with the miscreants who annulled June 12. They fought vigorously to make sure the annulment was not reversed. They said and did despicable things for political gain and filthy lucre. But nobody remembers again. They now grandstand and lecture us on democracy and the resistance to military rule. If you want to have a list of these villains-turned-heroes, please get a copy of Olusegun Adeniyi’s “The Last 100 Days of Abacha”. You will marvel at the conduct of the sycophants who have become latter-day saints of the democratic order.

Finally, this may be minor but it is not irrelevant: I also learnt that presidential debate is a good thing. Actually, if Babangida had not annulled the presidential election, he would have bowed out a hero after a lot of missteps in his eight years as president of Nigeria. He had tried to create a new political order after performing many experiments, including banning and unbanning “old breed” politicians and creating, controversially, two parties based on competing ideologies and manifestoes. Watching the two presidential candidates debate was something completely new to me as a Nigerian and it really helped me weigh my options before making up my mind.

Unfortunately, debates have become a joke in Nigeria. Rather than make progress and build on what we experienced in 1993, we have gone terribly backwards on many counts. Studies have shown that if you want to win the presidential election in Nigeria, you must not participate in TV debate. Okay, that is a joke, but all the presidents we have produced since 1999 never participated in debates. In 1999, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo stood Chief Olu Falae up at the Hilton Hotel in Abuja on the night of the debate. Eventually, Falae had to do it alone. I remember him saying “I don’t find it funny debating with myself” — or something like that — when the programme started.

In 2003, Obasanjo was absent again, even though Gen Muhammadu Buhari and Prof Pat Utomi were waiting for him. In 2007, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua did not feature. No reasons were given, although we knew Yar’Adua to be articulate and capable of taking on his rivals. He did not prove it. In 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan avoided the company of Buhari, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, and chose to debate with himself. In 2015, he spoiled for a debate with Buhari, but Buhari’s handlers advised him to keep clear. This year again, Buhari avoided debating Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Debate dodgers always win presidential polls in Nigeria.

We need a culture of debate. I would be the first to say that to debate is one thing and to govern is another, but I would add that avoiding debates does not guarantee good governance either. I won’t even say debates determine the outcome of elections. I think most people’s minds are made up irrespective of the pedigrees and eloquence of the presidential candidates, but my point is: what do we stand to lose if we hear them debate their ideas and policies in a room? It is a feature of democratic culture we need to imbibe. It certainly swung me in Abiola’s direction in 1993. Overall, I have some good memories from the June 12 debacle, although the pains were devastating.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…
HONORING MKO

I’m quite happy that President Buhari has followed through on his national recognition of Chief MKO Abiola, winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, by making June 12 our Democracy Day and naming the national stadium in Abuja after him. Former President Obasanjo must be livid. For eight years, we begged him to celebrate Abiola but he refused. Yet if Abiola had accepted the annulment of June 12, there would never have been an Obasanjo presidency. He died and Obasanjo became the chief beneficiary. And here is Buhari naming a stadium built by Obasanjo after Abiola! At least, nobody can say Buhari is looking for south-west votes again. Lovely.

CORRUPTION AND POVERTY

One interesting debate we have been having in Nigeria since 2015 is: is our problem corruption or the economy? Many think President Buhari has prioritised fighting corruption above the economy; Mr. Peter Obi, PDP vice-presidential candidate, even said anti-corruption is not an economic policy. Others have argued that without fighting corruption, the economy cannot grow and poverty will worsen. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has weighed in, pointing out to African leaders that it is not enough to fight corruption – they have to create wealth to fight poverty. Let’s hope President Buhari got the memo. Shared economic prosperity can actually help the anti-corruption war. Deep.

CLEAN SWEEP

Now that the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has succeeded in installing its preferred candidates as leaders of the national assembly, Nigerians have a right to expect a smoother working relationship between the legislature and the executive — especially for the quick passage of budget. However, a part of me does not believe this is our problem. PDP installed most of its preferred candidates for the 16 years it was in power but that did not make much difference. In fact, the PDP became an opposition to itself. We can only hope that something will change this time around and that Nigerians will indeed see the benefits in form of good governance. Waiting…

MYTH BUSTER

I recently got a WhatsApp broadcast that tried to recreate the murder of foremost journalist, Mr Dele Giwa, via a parcel bomb in 1986. It said the bomb was delivered to Giwa’s son, Billy, by Major Buba Marwa, accompanied by Major Tunde Ogbeha. It said they came in a Peugeot car which they burnt thereafter, and Gen Babangida made Marwa governor of Lagos and “pumped” money into the state. All credible accounts said the bomb carrier used a motorcycle. And why has Billy Giwa not identified Marwa as the courier in 33 years? Meanwhile, Babangida left power in 1993 and Marwa became military administrator in 1996. How did Babangida pump money into Lagos? Phoney.

Credit: TheCable

June 12 and its new false interpreters

June 12 and its new false interpreters

by Louis Odion

Never known to be in the habit of turning the proverbial other cheek, it is a big puzzle that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo chose to absorb a sucker punch of volcanic severity on June 12 last week without as much as a grunt. Babagana Kingibe had baited him with a charge of complicity in the high conspiracy that aborted June 12.

Not that we did not know that before.

But afraid that his old skeletons might be unearthed finally, ordinarily voluble and perennially crusading OBJ uncharacteristically retreated into a cowardly silence to a claim that, considering his assumed brotherhood with MKO, would sound very abominable indeed.

Baba has no comment, whispered his spokesman to inquisitive newshounds.

Well, as an aside, it is perhaps a measure of the ethical flux pervading the land today that Kingibe, otherwise a June 12 renegade himself, could permit himself the liberty to so question the former president in the first place.

Let it however be noted that OBJ’s ensuing silence is also strategic. Replying Kingibe would inevitably usher an even darker question. Following his release from Abacha gulag in June 1998, he, with MKO Abiola still alive, famously forswore the prospects of any presidential aspiration.

So, in dodging Kingibe’s pointed challenge, OBJ, a master of political chess game, surely demonstrates a possession of enough native intelligence to anticipate possible apocalypse.

Let us, as a mark of charity, even concede OBJ’s earlier misspeak in Harare in 1994 that “Abiola is not the messiah” was a foible of the head and not the heart.

Now, the more monumental poser of history still left unanswered in the last twenty-one years: would the “Ebora of Owu” swear by the most potent deity of his native land that never did he under any circumstance ever say “So, what happens to MKO?” at some point to the conniving generals pressuring him to accept a draft into the presidential race before Abiola’s mystery death on July 7, 1998?

The old witch wailed last night; the child died the morning after.

To be sure, this writer is not ashamed to confess a partisanship, even fanaticism, whenever and wherever June 12 resurrects. The sensitivity thus aroused is not just civic, but also professional. Some of us were living witnesses to the momentous events before, during and after June 12. I was a politics reporter with Concord Press (owned by MKO) through the 90s and knew first-hand what it meant to function under constant threat of military bullet or detention and yet labored for months on end without salary.

So, as conscientious bearer of national memory, we certainly know the real soldiers of fortune, the double agents, who sought to profiteer from the sacrifice of others. Just as we can distinguish the fake labour activists in funny costumes who chanted “Aluta” in daylight but cavorted with the evil generals at night as informants on the payroll. Another authentic June 12 hero, Frank Kokori, already said enough in last Saturday’s Vanguard to make the surviving ones among this category of traitors regret all the blood money they collected from the military in the 90s.

Indeed, as immortal Shakespeare forewarned, truth crushed to the earth shall rise again. And Sophocles added poetically, there is danger in unnatural silence.

But while the shrewd chicken farmer of Ota keeps a crafty silence under the circumstance, some of his political slaves would rather resort to rehabilitating history and falsefying accounts, obviously to impress their idol.

Without shame or fear, one of them, Doyin Okupe, even lied that it was the north that blocked OBJ from duly recognizing June 12 or formally acknowledging Abiola’s colossal sacrifice throughout his eight-year imperial reign.

Really? So, was he also told to cajole all the South-west states (except Lagos under Tinubu) to stop observing June 12 as public holiday in Abiola’s honour once his PDP “captured” the region from Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 2003?

The truth is however imperishable: in his moment of power and glory, Obasanjo never seemed to realize that righting historical wrong is not a political favour to anyone, but a moral duty to community or country.

Already, the fact of his perfidy here has been corroborated by Ayo Fayose in a tell-all account published by The Interview magazine in 2017. As Ekiti governor in 2003 and one of the early beneficiaries of OBJ’s guerrilla politics, Fayose recalled he and other PDP governors in Osun, Ondo, Oyo and Ogun were coaxed by the then emperor of Aso Rock to worship only May 29 as part of a deliberate pagan rite to wipe June 12 from the nation’s memory.

Well, Okupe failed to clarify whether it was iron bar or raffia mat that was deployed to barricade OBJ from doing the needful on June 12. Were we to buy this argument, how ironic then that his master who couldn’t dare contemplate June 12 out of fear of the north, yet had the temerity to conceive and bid for treasonable Third Term that would have completely shut the zone out of contestation for presidential power for as long as it pleased OBJ.

But let it be said that the “north” cited couldn’t be that of Dangiwa Abubakar Umar, Shehu Sani, Mathew Hassan Kukah, Dan Suleiman, Jonah Jang and other men of conscience. Of course, the “north” the jobbing Okupe actually meant could only be that of now discredited generals who unchained OBJ from prison after Abacha’s demise and literally railroaded a fellow general to Aso Rock barely a year later.

The bug of revisionism afflicting Okupe would also appear to have infected Kola, the scion of the Abiola dynasty. The the word, outrage, perhaps best describes the reactions of many disciples of MKO to a slew of wild claims by Abiola’s heir in a Sun interview last week which tended to belittle the sacrifice made by others in defence of June 12 even as they inadvertently diminish the mystique of his illustrious dad.

Descending from the enigmatic Bashorun, Kola has, of course, always borne the yoke of high public expectation. Aside his muscular looks, it is rather difficult to identify his own talent. But it certainly can’t be oratory.

On the cusp of history at Aso Rock on June 12, 2018, for instance, Kola chose to delegate an epochal invitation to speak on behalf of the Abiola family to a more articulate Hafsat, his half-sister, after President Buhari’s formally declared June 12 a national monument and canonized his dad posthumously as GCFR.

Over the years, Kola has, at best, done very little or nothing to dispel the popular notion that he was at peace, even infatuated, with the very family the rest of us see as his dad’s chief enemy. (Some accounts even hinted marriage was on the cards.)

While boxing himself into such blissful detachment, he, therefore, would seem far removed to view reality like the rest of us.

So, when Kola then decided to come out of his shell and grant rare interview this year, we should have anticipated that a major disaster was about to unfold.

Well, NADECO activist and the revolutionary Army colonel, Tony Nyiam, has already gone a great length in another media reports to dispel the fallacy in the ridiculous claim that Tinubu only became radicalized into NADECO because Abacha refused to make him governor or commissioner in Lagos, to warrant dwelling further on that point.

Note, Nyiam cannot be called a Tinubu apologist. For he has consistently disagreed with Asiwaju since the latter teamed up with Buhari to found APC in 2014. But forthright Nyiam would not stand by and condone Kola’s crude revisionism against Tinubu because of today’s political difference. That would have amounted to a rape of history.

Nyiam is unlike Bode George, a grandpa who still relishes toddler’s fables and seems quite unaware of the shame – if not curse – in lying with hoary hair. Note, this “bread and butter” Admiral could not, in real terms, be counted among the generals who truly mattered then and his understanding of events was obviously shaped by hear-say from his master, Diya.

Perhaps, we should empathize with a man consistently worsted electorally in Lagos by Tinubu since 1999. He fancied a new career in politics after leaving the Navy on account of being the barefoot messenger of Dipo Diya who would later fall out of favour with their overall lord and master, despot Abacha. But despite all his desperate toil since, not once has BG been able to win even a polling unit in his ancestral Isale-Eko.

So, it is pointless attaching any weight to the words of the political eunuch of Lagos.

But, to me, even more disturbing is Kola’s reported allusion to Abiola’s high blood pressure. No one disputes that. His physician, Dr. Ore Falomo, already told us MKO had battled that medical condition for decades.

However, viewed against the certainly murky circumstances of Abiola’s sudden death on July 7, 1998, such unguarded comment by Kola will only profit those who would have the rest of us buy the juvenile fiction that MKO, who had endured four harrowing years in open grave called solitary confinement, suddenly became overwhelmed by excitement on the very eve of freedom, so much that he suffered cardiac arrest after sipping from a curious cup of tea offered by visiting American diplomats in a presidential lounge in Abuja.

In summary, illogical verbiage like this will only lend credence again to the notion held by some that Kola was perhaps too consumed by the hot pursuit of a love interest in Minna all through the 90s to have a clear understanding of what otherwise transpired right under his nose.

Credit: The Nation

Supreme Court sacks Niger Senator

Supreme court sacks Umaru, declares Musa senator for Niger East

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie,

The Supreme Court, yesterday, declared Alhaji Mohammed Sani Musa winner of the Niger East Senatorial election. The apex court also set aside the April 8 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which declared the ex-chairman of Senate Committee on Justice, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru, the valid candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and winner of the election.
In a unanimous judgment, the five-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, upheld arguments by Musa’s legal team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), to the effect that Musa, the actual candidate for the election, won the APC primary election.

The apex court upheld the appeal filed by Musa and affirmed the February 7 judgment by Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which declared Musa the validly nominated candidate of the APC for the election.

Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, in the lead judgment, faulted the Court of Appeal’s finding that the case was statute barred. Justice Ariwoola upheld Olanipekun’s argument that the suit was filed at the trial court within time and that the Court of Appeal was in error to have held that the cause of action was the outcome of the primary election, saying the course of action, as argued by the appellant, was the submission of Umaru’s name to INEC, instead of Musa, who won the primary.

Olanipekun, who led Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN), for the appellant, had, while arguing the appeal on May 17, prayed the court to uphold the appeal and restore the judgment of the Federal High Court in favour of the appellant, arguing that the Court of Appeal was in error when it held that the appellant was out of time and that the cause of action arose from the day the primary was held.

Olanipekun said: “The appellant could not have complained about the primary election that he won. The cause of action accrued when the first respondent’s name (Umaru) was sent to INEC as the candidate of APC. The cause of action arose when the APC sent the name of the first respondent (Umaru) to INEC as its candidate, instead of the appellant who won the primary.

“The primary election was conducted on October 2, 2018, the 14 days could not have started counting, because the name of the first respondent has not been sent to INEC. “If the 14 days is calculated from their position that the cause of action arose from October 2, 2018 when the primary was held, the cause of action would not have arisen as at October 16, 2018. The cause of action only arose on October 18, when the first respondent’s name was sent to INEC and we are within time when we filed our suit at the trial court on October 26, 2018.”

Olanipekun noted that the Court of Appeal only set aside the judgment, but failed to upturn any of the findings of the trial court in the judgment of February 7. Both Babatunde Ogala, who represented the APC, and Taminu Inuwa (SAN), who represented INEC, urged the court to allow the appeal. After the February 7 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Umaru approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which reversed the trial court judgment and declared him winner. Aggrieved by the decision, Musa appealed to the Supreme Court, an appeal that was upheld yesterday.

Source: The Guardian

Why Obasanjo refused to recognise June 12

Why Obasanjo refused to recognise June 12

by LEKE SALAUDEEN,

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has drawn the ire of Nigerians over what they described as his failure to recognise the June 12, 1993 presidential election. They are furious that Obasanjo who rode to power on the waves of the June 12 annulment saga, never acknowledged the historic election and the winner, Chief MKO Abiola, at public functions throughout his tenure, Assisant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN reports.

THE struggle for the actualisation of June 12, 1993 presidential election started immediately the former Military President Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election won by Chief MKO Abiola and his running mate Ambassador Babagana Kingibe. Following the advent of the Fourth Republic and the election of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, Nigerians were optimistic that recognition would be given to June 12 as the authentic ‘Democracy Day’. That didn’t happen. Obasanjo who came to power on the crest waves of the June 12 annulment saga disdained the symbolic date and questioned its relevance of the date in the polity of the nation.

Obasanjo ruled for eight years, but he never acknowledged the role Abiola and June 12 played in his emergence as a democratically-elected president. Abiola sacrificed his life for democracy to thrive in Nigeria, but that did not mean anything to Obasanjo who chose May 29 as ‘Democracy Day’ against the popular demand that it should be June 12.

At the peak of the struggle for the actualisation of the June 12, 1993 elections, Obasanjo told the world that the acclaimed winner of that election, MKO Abiola was not the messiah that Nigeria needed. The comment was a reflection of Obasanjo’s perception of himself as the country’s ultimate saviour.

Afenifere chieftain, Senator Ayo Fasanmi, berated Obasanjo for saying Abiola was not the messiah Nigeria needed. He asked: “Is Obasanjo the messiah now? He is not the messiah we are looking up to. As far as I am concerned, Obasanjo has become a spent force. He wants to be recognised as the one directing the affairs of the nation at every stage from the time he was military Head of State, civilian president, through the late President Umaru Yar’Adua time to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s period. He has the feeling that he knows it all.

“We should be careful about Obasanjo. I have my reservations about him. Yoruba must come together but not behind Obasanjo. Obasanjo can’t lead us. I can’t recognise any invitation from Obasanjo.

“The honour that was conferred on Abiola by President Buhari should have been done by Obasanjo. He didn’t do it. We thank President Buhari for doing this. We should support him and not Obasanjo’s agenda. Obasanjo should go into retirement. He only wants to be seen and heard.”

The spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Mr Joe Igbokwe, said: “Obasanjo did what he did apparently to mock and get at the late Abiola and the family he left behind. He did not want the name of Chief MKO Abiola to be remembered or to be associated with anything he is doing. He pretended as if June 12 never existed. He must have reasoned that he got to power in 1999 through his personal efforts.

“But Obasanjo was being economical with the truth. Without June 12 there would not have been 1999. For eight years that Obasanjo was in power he deliberately pretended that June 12, 1993 never existed. At public functions, he never for one day mentioned Chief MKO Abiola or acknowledged the obvious and painful truth that it was Chief Abiola that paid the supreme price for his rise to power again.”

On his part, Senator Shehu Sani said Obasanjo’s failure to honour the late Abiola reflected the effort of the political class to suppress the sacrifice of those who went to jail and those who paid the supreme price for the democracy that Nigeria has today.

Sani, who represented Kaduna Central at the just dissolved eighth Senate, said: “It is not simply about Chief MKO Abiola not being recognised by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, it is about an institutional decision of the political class who continues to suppress the role played by the free press bringing about democracy. Hardly will you see any of those that were on the streets of Lagos protesting for democracy ever being recognised with even an award of OON, which is the lowest. As they share oil blocs to themselves, share positions to themselves, so they share national honour to themselves.”

He said the June 12, 1993 presidential election that the late businessman won, but which the military junta of General Ibrahim Babagida annulled, laid the foundation for the current democratic rule in the country. Without the struggle of June 12, there could not have been democracy in Nigeria today. The change and the experience in the 2015 election was part of the seed of June 12. It was the same forces that forced the military out of power that rallied Nigerians to reject the PDP out of power.”

June12 activist, Comrade Jude Egbas knocked Obasanjo for failing to address the annulled June 12 1993 presidential election. He noted that “Obasnjo had eight years to recognise Abiola as the winner of the June 12 election and tender apology to the MKO family and Nigerians for the injustice. But his ego wouldn’t let him be great.

“Obasanjo was the military choice after the 1993 robbery of MKO and Nigerians. Obasanjo was the one the power elite settled for to placate the Southwest after the injustice done Abiola. Ironically, from 1999 to 2007, Obasanjo refused to mention Abiola’s name and refused to acknowledge the significance of June 12. Obasanjo had the opportunity to right the wrongs of June 12, but he blew it. Hopefully, someday, he will publicly tender unreserved apologies for his ignominious roles in the June 12 debacle.”

Former General Secretary of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Mr Ayo Opadokun, was sad over the inability of Obasanjo to recognise the election mandate of Abiola, believed by many to have emerged winner in the polls, adjudged to be free and fair. NADECO spearheaded the movement for the restoration of election mandate of the late politician, business mogul and philanthropist.

He said: “Former President Olusegun Obasanjo who the military foisted on Nigeria for eight years ignored all pleas to close the chapter of military’s disrespect to the popular will of the Nigerian people as expressed on June 12, 1993 which results have been officially announced at all the wards, local government areas, and state levels of collations confirming Abiola’s victory.” He was disappointed that Obasanjo being a beneficiary of Abiola’s martyrdom ought to have recognised him.

The son of late MKO and Kudirat Abiola, Jamiu, disclosed that Obasanjo ignored several pleas which he made to him to honour his father. He said: “When Obasanjo was the President, I visited him several times and called him several times. There was a time I sent him a text message when he was President telling him that people’s impression about his failure to honour Abiola was because he did not like him.”

However, Jamiu was happy that his father’s sacrifice has been recognised. “I am the happiest man because for so long I felt that my parents died for nothing because there is nothing worse than somebody making a sacrifice and the sacrifice not recognised. He said it was recognised by Nigerians but those that got power after June 12, 1993 found it convenient to sweep it under the carpet for reasons best known to them.”

Credit: The Nation

The legend called M.K.O

The legend called M.K.O

By Yakubu Mohammed

Today marks the beginning of the celebration of Democracy Day on June 12. After about 25 years of ceaseless clamouring for the federal government to declare June 12 a national public holiday in honour of M.K.O Abiola almost to no avail, majority of Nigerians were astounded this time last year when, as if from the blues, President Muhammadu Buhari, formerly an unapologetic military dictator now a converted democrat, publicly recognised the injustice of the annulled June 12 election and took the bold and unprecedented step to rectify it.

So today has replaced May 29 as Democracy Day, which perhaps explains the lacklustre inauguration of the president some two weeks ago to commence his second term of office without the necessary pomp and panoply. Not even a word to fellow citizens, something to rouse them to a new sense of direction and some frenzy of patriotism.

May 29 has joined October 1, the country’s anniversary of independence, as mere footnotes in the national calendar. The debasing of the two hitherto very significant dates in our life is symptomatic of the honour we have decided to give to June 12 as a watershed in our democratic trajectory. For the first time we have had an unbroken 20 years of democratic practice, despite some of its glaring imperfections and some of its failures and foibles not to add the chicanery of its adherents.

But are they really its adherents? Some people will tell you to your face that we have democracy today without democrats. But that is beside the point. The fact is, mercifully, there are no gun-toting men on horseback, dictating the tune and running the affairs of the country. Today we can argue and debate and disagree, up to some point. Even in the media, especially in the unregulated social media, this democracy permits some licence to libel and defame and peddle obviously vile and pernicious wild rumour that can set the country ablaze.

We also have a handful of those who believe that this democracy is not complete without the free for all display of the power of the AK 47 by armed gangs going by the fearful nomenclature of bandits and kidnappers at home and on the highways and even at polling booths.

We also tend to believe that this current democracy can profit from some large dose of impunity and the impudence of reckless power, some bit of autocracy with some fascism looming large in many states. But this day, without any iota of doubt, is M.K.O Abiola’s day of glory. It is akin to Martin Luther King’s national holiday in America. Abiola is the single most important architect of the modern democracy. He won the June 12 presidential election in 1993 fair and square. But it was annulled. In pursuit of his mandate, he made the supreme sacrifice. The struggle to actualise that mandate, prolonged and sometimes vicious, eventually resulted in the return to democratic dispensation on May 29 1999 with political power ceded to the South West, the home region of Abiola.

That this democracy has endured for two decades and still counting is a testimony to the fact God has a hand in our affairs, despite our own obvious weaknesses and failures. But what lessons do we learn from the life and times of this great man, a true legend of our time?

As president Buhari said last year, we must all resolve to avoid the situation that led to the June 12 election fiasco. To do that we must all learn to live and play by the rules of the game. We must avoid a repeat of the litany of election inconclusiveness that we witnessed in the last elections.

Abiola might not have been a perfect human being or a perfect politician for that matter but his world views and personal examples synchronised very well with the true dictates of democracy and good governance with a premium on the well-being of the people.

Abiola left a legacy worthy of emulation by today’s leaders. His broad-mindedness was exceptional. So was his quality and practice of regarding every Nigerian, irrespective of ethnicity and religion, as a fellow compatriot worthy of trust and empathy. He was a true believer of merit and one’s worth, always inclined to give another man the benefit of the doubt.

Abiola might not have become president but his larger than life image came from his ability to triumph over base and primordial sentiments and an incredible sense of fellow feeling. I concluded that pen-portrait of this incredible Nigerian by saying he might not have been a very good politician – considering how very good Nigerian politicians are – he was definitely a good humanist, a man of the world who was courted by the high and the mighty.

Abiola, upclose
Very well known to the public is the fact that the man M.K.O was a typical grass- to- grace phenomenon. He was never shy to tell whoever cared to listen that like many Nigerians of modest background, he was born into abject poverty. Born on August 24 1937 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was the 23rd child of his father, Alhaji Alao Salawu Adenekan Abiola.

M.K.O, the brand that would later take the world by storm, was the first child of his father to survive, the first 22 having either died at birth or before they turned one year. His father, not one to succumb easily to fate, christened the new born-child Kashimawo – roughly translated to mean let’s wait and see.

His father lived long enough to see his son grow through poverty – drumming and dancing to pay school fees – to wealth, becoming the first Blackman to rise as the executive vice-president of ITT world-wide. Though he was stupendously rich, he did not allow that to enter his head. Philanthropy defined his life. He believed that the more he gave the more he had. But this man of legendry wealth was not unaware of his limitations. He had occasion to say: “I cannot give everybody money. I wish I could. And If I could, I would but I couldn’t. But I can give hope” And that was more lasting. The hope that Abiola gave was not the type given to Tantalus, unattainable, a mere mirage or a will-o’- de wisp. It was the hope that Nigerians missed by not having an Abiola presidency. What Nigerians missed also was his human touch, an incredible sense of empathy, feeling for others.

Though he could be brash when occasion called for it, but he couldn’t bear to see a fellow human being suffer. When there was a task to be performed he brooked no obstacle. No hurdle was too much for him to scale.

Now I ask: how many of our big men today would willingly give out their official cars to their paid staff to use on official assignment? Abiola would tell his captain to ferry any of his editors in his private jet for an assignment outside Lagos. I am an eye witness to his humility. On one occasion, I had the luxury of being flown, all alone, in his private jet to represent him at Enugu and, on another occasion, being flown with Dele Giwa, just the two of us, to attend a function in Abuja. That was the legend called M.K.O.

Credit: The Guardian

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.

Senate presidency: Five reasons why Lawan defeated Ndume

Senate presidency: Five reasons why Lawan defeated Ndume


by Praise Olowe

Senator Ahmed Lawan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday emerged President of the 9th Senate.

Lawan defeated Senator Ali Ndume with total votes of 79 to 28. Here is a look at five reasons why Lawan defeated Ndume:

· APC’s endorsement

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC met with governors and members of the National Assembly elected on the platform of the party on Monday in Abuja to endorse candidates for positions of the Senate President, Speaker and their deputies.

The forum endorsed Senator Ahmed Lawan as Senate President. It is safe to say that the endorsement of Lawan could have influenced his victory.

Unlike 2015, the endorsement worked because the party didn’t stop at that. It mobilised all forces to make sure the endorsement worked.

Read Also: Lawan floors Ndume to emerge Senate President
· Buhari’s intervention

On Thursday 6th June, President Muhammadu Buhari met with Senators Danjuma Goje and Ahmed Lawan. After the closed-door meeting with the President, Goje withdrew from the race making, the road clearer for Lawan’s victory.

As against 2015, the President took the bull by the horn, ensuring he neutralised almost all the oppositions, cementing his status as a father figure in the party.

· Wide consultation

The same Lawan was endorsed in 2015 by APC but didn’t do much. He, more or less, trusted the party to ensure his victory. But this time around, he didn’t bank on the endorsement alone. He went round the nation, speaking to stakeholders and lobbying senators to support him.

He was able to rally round key forces to make his ambition a reality.

· Disaffections with Ndume

Most People’s Democratic Party (PDP) senators, somehow couldn’t trust Ndume with their votes. The 28 votes he garnered clearly indicate all PDP members didn’t vote for him despite his endorsement by the NWC of the party.

Ndume, to many of them, is never a good alternative to Lawan. He was in the PDP some years ago and they believe he may just be a sell-out.

· PDP’s late moves

PDP endorsed Senator Alli Ndume late. It was only on Tuesday’s morning, few hours to the election, that the party made its preference for the senate presidency public. To many of the senators, it was one move too late. If they had probably endorsed him earlier, he would have probably won.

Source: The Nation

Gbajabiamila emerges 9th National Assembly Speaker

Gbajabiamila emerges 9th National Assembly Speaker

At last, the House Majority Leader in the 8th National Assembly has been declared the Speaker of the 9th National Assembly defeating his lone rival, Umar Bago to claim victory.

Gbajabiamila who represents Surulere Federal constituency 1, polled a total of 281 votes to defeat Bago who polled 76 votes.

The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) leadership had adopted Gbajabiamila as its preferred candidate. But Bago had gone ahead to contest for the position, raising fears that an upset might be on the way.

A total of 360 members-elect took part in the voting exercise which kicked off shortly after the conclusion of elections of the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President respectively.

Credit: The Sun

Lawan, Ndume and the politics of endorsement

Lawan, Ndume and the politics of endorsement

By Solomon Fowowe

“May the best man win.” The catchphrase that precedes every contest even if there is barely any belief in it. It’s simple, the All Progressive’s Congress wanted their man to win. The opposition People’s Democratic Party crunched the numbers, knew there wasn’t any way they could pull off a win with a PDP candidate.
They simply acted as the opposition party unwilling to endure an embarrassing loss, pitched their tent behind the APC dissident, Senator Ali Ndume. It’s APC vs APC for all PDP cares.

“As the opposition political party, we must be seen to play a responsible opposition role. Yes, none of the two presiding officers we are rooting for belong to the PDP, but we know that as a critical member of the National Assembly, we must have a say in the election of its leaders. This is the reason why we are backing both Ndume and Bago,” PDP Chairman, Uche Secondus told Punch

In a statement signed by PDP’s national secretary, Umar Tsauri, the party noted that its decision was in order “deepen democracy, ensure a strong and independent legislature, strict compliance with the principle of separation of powers as well as constitutional checks and balances in the polity.”

Admittedly, there were a lot of factors at play as the leadership of the 9th National Assembly was contested. Many dealings, tacit and clearly stated promises, quid quo pros but there was something that came first for the APC – the smooth relationship between the Executive and the National Assembly.

None of the frosty, stilted air between President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon Yakubu Dogara regarding bills and the budget.

APC looks to have learnt from the leadership tussle of the 8th National Assembly where they were undercut by Saraki and Dogara. They leveraged on alliances with the opposition People’s Democratic Party to emerge the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives against the wishes of the APC leadership.

Saraki’s defiance set the tone for the next four years, his defection from the party three-quarters into his tenure merely formalised the lingering distrust.

APC placed their seal of approval on Senator Ahmad Lawan, made sure there was no meeting on the voting day and persuaded/ordered other candidates from the party to step down. Senator Danjuma Goje stepped down but Senator Ndume remained in the race.

He hoped his act of defiance would produce results. It produced 28 votes while Lawan had 79 votes.

Senator Ndume couldn’t pull off a Saraki-esque machination, for one APC are the wiser, PDP doesn’t have vested interests and Ndume doesn’t quite have the gravitas of the former Senate President.

PDP knew it was going to be a coronation, still, they went through the motions to put up an endorsement as a mere formality. Even if the endorsement meant, parking behind the same senator the PDP led government accused of sponsoring terrorism in Nigeria.

It does feel firmly like an APC-led house. But for democracy’s sake, the big hope will be that the National Assembly will put the country ahead of their party inclinations. That there will be an independent legislature that checks the excesses of the executive.

Credit: The Guardian

May 29 no longer public holiday as Buhari assents to law declaring June 12 Democracy Day

May 29 no longer public holiday as Buhari assents to law declaring June 12 Democracy Day

BREAKING: Buhari assents law declaring June 12 public holiday

By Ismail Mudashir |

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Public Holiday Amendment Act, declaring June 12 of every year a public holiday and Democracy Day.

Presidential aide on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, stated this while briefing State House correspondents on Monday.

He said with the assent to the amendment, May 29 has been removed as a public holiday.

“By the act amended and signed by Mr. President, May 29 is no more a public holiday. June 12 is now a public holiday and the country’s Democracy Day,” he said.

The assent came 48 hours to the celebration of the country’s maiden Democracy Day.

Credit: Daily Trust