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[Opinion] Of NGF Crisis And PDP’s Damage Control By Theophilus Ilevbare

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The hog-wash of 19 grumpy PDP governors in the aftermath of the NGF election declaring Jang as chairman, citing a purported endorsement in a pre-election agreement to form a Kangaroo faction as a belated attempt at damage control after defeat is reprehensible. That they chose to display their asinine grievances in such a manner that undermines demcrocratic tenets leaves much to be desired of men vested with the peoples’ mandate.

A video on the internet released as evidence by the pro-Amaechi group captured the returning officer counting the votes as the 35 governors looked on. Clearly, the PDP had its back on the ground and there was no way they could discredit or upturn the results of the NGF poll except with a splinter group. Funny as it sounds, some of the seeming aggrieved governors who flanked Jonah Jang and Akpabio during a press briefing may have polled for Amaechi in the secret ballot that was fiercely resisted before it was eventually adopted to the chagrin of the anti-Amaechi camp. The secret ballot, effectively sealed victory for Amaechi before any vote was cast as a few PDP governors found a clandestine way of registering their displeasure at the president’s coercive tactics by polling for Amaechi. It was a triumph of ‘good’ over evil, a victory over democratic tyranny.

It behoves on the seething governors to tell Nigerians the law that Amaechi broke or where it is spelt out in the NGF constitution that a sitting chairman must step down and cannot preside over an election in which he is a candidate. It is akin to saying Jang and his grouchy colleagues in the NGF splinter opposition would rewrite the country’s constitution on the eve of 2015 elections to embed a clause that a sitting Governor or President must step down before seeking re-election. It is ludicrous that Governor Jang in an attempt to hoodwink the unsuspecting Nigerian public, is parading himself as the authentic chairman of the NGF. It is no rocket science to every discerning political observer, that the endorsement of Governor Jang’s candidature by the PDPGF, Northern Governors’ Forum and the signing of a secret document in may before the President does not in any way translate to actual votes cast and eventual victory in an election of the NGF. It makes a mockery of democracy that the anti-Amaechi group have spent so much time trying to confer legitimacy on an election loser.

It was puerile for the grumpy PDP governors to claim elections were rigged. Declaring Jang as the winner and chairman of the NGF which he shamefully lost is infantile. Many questions are begging for answers. They weren’t embroiled in the elections, they could have walked away when they noticed it was being rigged. Why didn’t they protest, threaten a walkout or stop the elections? The PDP governors are crying over spilt milk. If the same scoundrels masking as governors agreed to take part in the poll without raising any objection, then it is baseless to claim the paper for the ballot was not serialised. They could have refused to participate. Nigerians would like to see any evidence to buttress their school boys agitation that they were coerced to act against their will. The pro-Jonathan group that we’ve come to know in the last few months would never have sat back to watch the manipulation of the NGF elections. The puppet Governors have erased any doubt in the mind of Nigerians who for long have borne the brunt of their rapacious tendencies and greed for power, that the entrenchment of true democracy at all levels is not on their agenda as custodians of the people’s mandate. The aftermath of an election conducted between 35 governors has left Nigerians fearing the worse for 2015.

The tacit backing they receive from the presidency is giving those governors the latitude for this brigandage. It would have made sense to reject the outcome of the election and seek redress through legal means rather than the opprobrious scenario in Abuja where Jang declared himself the winner, brandishing a secret document allegedly signed by 19 PDP governors whose signatures have not been verified by an independent jury to absolve forgery.

The PDP wouldn’t have complained if they had won the elections. The failure of the puppet PDP Governors to close ranks with their colleagues under its leaky umbrella when it mattered most became their achilles’ heel. Same scenario played out in the House of Representative which eventually threw up another of the President’s antagonist, who is being tipped in some quarters to challenge Mr Jonathan as a Northern candidate in the 2015 elections; Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal. The ruling party, with majority legislators in the House, failed to convince its lawmakers to vote for the party’s concensus candidate in the person of Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola. Mr. Presidents’ failure in both election speaks volumes of his ability or lack of it to spin election results in his favour and prove to cynics and critics alike that he is in control of the party’s machinery. Amaechi’s victory is good for democracy, like that of Tambuwal, has affirmed the liberation of the NGF and House of Reps from the shackles of undue influence of the Villa. Nigerians owe Governor Amaechi a depth of gratitude for standing up against the foolery in his party and not joining the bandwagon.

With the split, the influence of the forum has been dealt a big blow, which has been the aim of the Pro-Jonathan group, who don’t want Amaechi’s name mentioned anywhere even in print as the NGF chairman. In all of this brigandage by the enemies of democracy who are actually the beneficiary of the fault lines they help create in the system, the average Nigerian, stands to benefit nothing from a fiasco that state funds will be deployed to service. Unfortunately, President Jonathan who is supposed to be mediating and calling his overzealous errand boys in the NGF to order is infact fanning the embers of this bunkum.

The presidency cannot look the other way when he has sowed a seed of discord with a clear mandate to his foot-soldiers in the NGF to either win elections or split the forum to discredit Amaechi. The splinter group by Jang fits perfectly into one of the many game plans drawn up by forces loyal to the President. Mr Jonathan cannot absolve himself from meddling in the affairs of the NGF. Forces loyal to the president are determined to railroad and stampede Amaechi out of the PDP with a suspension from the party already slammed on him. If his expulsion from the party is not witch-hunt then it becomes easy to draw the line between a scheme by Jonathan that alienates Rotimi Amaechi but embraces DSP Alamieyeseigha. That Mr President is estranging some Governors is the strongest indication yet that he is weak at building bridges which might be his undoing in 2015. The will power that he has so far failed to wield in transforming the country, he has been enamored to deploy to his delight in the persecution of perceived enemies of his administration which has become his pastime relegating developmental issues to the background.

President Jonathan like the democrat and a stickler to the rule of law that he claims he is must rise above political pettiness and ignore the sulking losers. Governor Amaechi on the other hand must take his travails as his own contribution towards nurturing our democracy to full fledge federalism. Already, he has shown uncanny courage. His political heroism and maverick has put him head and shoulders above the tantrums of political neophytes who indulge in smear campaigns and deliberate distortion of facts to arm twist the unsuspecting public. Henceforth, he can count on the support of Nigerians.

 

 

theophilus@ilevbare.com

blog: http://ilevbare.com

Twitter: @tilevbare

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Opinion

Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?

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Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.

In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.

In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.

In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.

As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’

Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.

The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.

On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.

“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.

In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.

With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.

The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.

Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.

Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.

PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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Opinion

Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye

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We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!

So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.

Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A

Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.

The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?

The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.

He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….

The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.

Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences  of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”

It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.

My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.

Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.

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Opinion

Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth

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By Fredrick Nwabufo

Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.

I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.

But wait!

The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.

READ: Dethroned Sanusi Will Be Under House Arrest – Ganduje’s Aide

“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.

In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.

In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.

Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.

As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.

‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.

READ: Sanusi Breaks Silence After Dethronement As Emir Of Kano (Video)

And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.

To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.

So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.

But Sanusi was still talking.

Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.

I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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