If You’re Not A Senator, Leave Ambode’s Lagos Now!!!

By Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, March 19, 2018)

It is not the red piece of cloth waved by the matador in a bullfight that enrages the bull. Bulls are colorblind. The red piece of cloth is to mask the blood of the gored bull. Sheer animalistic instinct propels the bull to charge at one of the three matadors, who rides a horse, taunting the brawny beast. Bullfighting is common to Spain, Portugal, France and some Latin America countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru. Basically, bullfighting is in three parts: the entry, the planting of the banderillas, and the killing of the bull. The entry sees the bull being released into the bullring with one of the matadors approaching it. The planting of the banderillas is the thrusting of wooden spikes into the bull’s neck muscle to weaken it, and the third and final part is putting the bull to the sword. After the bull is felled, harnessed horses come in and pull out the unfortunate animal, which would be cut up and sold in the local market. The head of the matadors that kill all six bulls could be awarded one or the two ears of the bull. And if the spectators feel he did the job with panache, they would root for him to be given the tail of the bull. If the head matador is injured and leaves the bullring to receive treatment, the remaining two matadors must kill the bull. But if by fate and grit, the bull survives the fight, which is a very rare occurrence, it would be granted a pardon called ‘indulto’ in Spanish and returned to its home ranch to become a stud for the rest of its life.

A few days ago, the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, and Lagosians were locked in a bullfight over the state’s an-arm-and-a-leg Land Use Charge. The matador and the bull were in the bullring – sizing, guesstimating, eyeballing and assessing each other. Who will blink first? The matador did; he backtracked, dropped his sword headlong into the sandy arena. He also dropped the red cloth and sauntered out of the ring with a grim, sad frown etched on his brow. But the bull will not be fooled. It continues to watch intently, muscles taut, head lowered, body angled back like a catapult ready to fly. Lagos is on the cross.

The contempt unfolding in Lagos today couldn’t happen over 2,000 years ago in the whole of Rome and Judea when Jesus Christ was dragged before Pontius Pilate. The priests and the elders of the time couldn’t unilaterally pronounce Jesus guilty; they had to take him through the law of the land. And Pontius Pilate, who represented the law, openly asked the traducers who they would love to be released between Jesus, the Messiah and Barabbas, the notorious criminal. The people shouted, ‘Jesus!’ Pilate tried all he could to deliver Jesus Christ from the priests and the elders because he knew they wanted to kill him out of envy. Pilate stalled. The shouts of ‘Crucify him!’ became intense even as Pilate inquired what Jesus’ offence was. Absolving himself of Jesus’ impending crucifixion, Pilate washed his hands off the case and released Jesus to them. In a mutual respect move, one would have expected the Lagos State Government to make wide consultations with all the various segments of the Lagos economy before arriving at the controversial Land Use Charge which saw rates increase by 400%. Did the Lagos Sate House of Assembly meet with all segments of the economy? If it did, did the opinions of the segments reflect in the 400% increase? How Ambode, a chartered accountant, assented to the record-breaking increase in an economy that just moved from recession to depression was an ultimate betrayal of voters’ trust. Chinese philosopher, Confucius, never lived in Lagos but in an enduring epigram, he says: “To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness.”

I had thought the governor was a different breed until this shocking action that revealed his underbelly and disrespect for Lagosians. To think that the state-in-council sat and approved the increase showed that the political hegemony bequeathed by Governor Emeritus, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in Lagos State, is low on benevolence and high on malevolence. To think that Ambode expects Lagosians to applaud the reduction of the rate shows the hypocrisy in the prebendal politics of ‘Baba so pe’ (Baba says), which is always quick to describe the opposition Peoples Democratic Party as wicked and greedy. Really, I don’t think there’s any difference between the nest-of-killers’ politics and the politics of a godhead, who determines who get into posts within vicious transport unions, local government councils, state executives and legislatures, federal parliaments, federal cabinet, churches, mosques, banks and palm wine drinkers’ club. Ambode and his cabinet must have thought that Lagosians remained the puppets which subsequent administrations controlled on the strings of deceit and coercion; bringing the word of promise to their ears and breaking it to their hope. Methinks announcing a price increase and reducing same to gain cheap political popularity had faded out of governmental fad. If any state was to return to that vomit, it shouldn’t be our Almighty Lagos.

Not a few Lagosians saw through the politics of the rate reduction. Many are still shocked as to why the government decided to trifle with its immense goodwill earned on the platter of non-lousy service delivery. They contend that if the governor wasn’t playing politics and taking the masses for granted, he shouldn’t have, in the first instance, assented to the unholy increment. They’re also quick to note that the governor shouldn’t have embarked on a superfluous reduction after all the hues and cries, but should have returned the law to the assembly for a proper amendment – when the spirit of the disturbing law still lives. Some of the questions on the lips of Lagosians are: How would the government check landlords who are sure to increase rents astronomically? Is the new law not unfair to property owners whose buildings or lands aren’t in use? Did the representatives of the masses in the Lagos State House of Assembly truly enact a law that stipulates 100% increase in charge if payment was not made between 75 and 105 days? Does the increase reflect the economic realities of the citizenry? Defending the law, Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Akinyemi Ashade, said property of N10m and below constituted 75% of property owners in the state, who were expected to pay N5, 000 per annum as land use charge. But the commissioner failed to state how much the owners of property above N10m were expected to pay.

The caliber of people Ambode is building his new Lagos for is probably encrypted in the revelation by the senator representing Kaduna-Central senatorial district, Shehu Sani, that each of the nation’s 109 senators monthly receives a running cost of N13.1m and a consolidated salary of N750, 000, in addition to N200m for constituency projects. The labourer, teacher, civil servant, commercial motorcyclist, unemployed, petty trader, struggler appear to have no place in the future Lagos. Aside from senators and privileged members of the political class, other Nigerians whose citizenships are guaranteed in the new Lagos, on account of their earnings, include big-time kidnappers such as Evans, big-time assassins such as Ade Lawyer, transport union kingpins, herdsmen, sweepstake winners, armed robbers, ‘pen robbers’, security chiefs, corrupt judges, big-time prostitutes, rich clerics, successful sycophants, shylock businessmen, smart blackmailers, foreign-based footballers, expatriates, etc.

Muslims Victims Of Unfair Media Bias In Nigeria – Aregbesola

Governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has again described the allegation that he planned to Islamize the state and secede from Nigeria as falsehood that has not been backed by any fact.

Aregbesola who is the special guest of honour at the inauguration of Board of Trustees, BoT, Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria, spoke at the banquet hall, government house, Osogbo, at the weekend.

Represented by the Grand Mufty, Osogbo land, Sheik Maruf Ishola, Aregbesola noted that Muslims have been ‘unfair victims’ of media bias in Nigeria.

“In our own country, fake news, hate messages and subtle (and not so subtle) incitements along ethnic and religious lines by the media carry the grave portents of triggering a catastrophic civil war from which we may never recover.

“Without investigating and publishing only confirmed truth, journalism is nothing more than a rumour mill. We must be able to separate free speech from libel and promotion of falsehood.

“If you say that Aregbesola wants to Islamize Osun and secede from Nigeria, you must be able to back it up by facts and incontrovertible evidence. Failing this, it has become libel and falsehood which is injurious to my person, the government of Osun, our political party, the APC and ultimately the entire society.

He urged the group to uphold the truth by ensuring fair treatment of all religions wherever they are, saying “as BoT, you need to watch out for these, not just as they affect Muslims, though Muslims have been unfair victims, but as they affect the society in general.

Speaking on “Effective Use of Mass Media for Da’wah”, the guest speaker, former Managing Director of the defunct National Concord Newspaper, Alhaji Liad Tella, identified ‘media bias’ against Islam as hindrance to the effective use of media for propagating Islam.

He maintained that Nigeria government and the media were aware for a long time that Boko Haram are not Muslims, but intentionally addressing them as Islamic sect.

According to Tella, efforts to deceive members of the public from knowing that the State of Osun, especially public schools, is dominated by Muslims, necessitated the war against hijab in the state.

“The government of Nigeria know that Boko Haram are not Muslims. They know when French jet was dropping arms for Boko Haram in Sambisa forest. They know that those arrested could not read Qur’an, yet, they continue attributing them to Islam.

“Media distortions and half truth or outright falsehood about Islam and Muslim is very confounding because the fundamentals of journalism are rested on truth.

“Fair balanced and objective reportage are the cardinal ethics and supposed inviolable principles of journalism. Unfortunately, this is not so with media reportage on Islam and Muslim in Nigeria.

The guest of Honour, Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, maintained that Nigeria media has been unfair to Islam.

Represented by the Deputy President General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, Alhaji S. O. Babalola, Sultan urged Muslims not to be discouraged by the bias and discrimination.

Ealier in his welcome address, the national coordinator, Muslim Media Watch Group, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said the aim of the group is to promote quality broadcast in media organisations all over the country.

He said the group is also working to correct the misrepresentation of Islam and Muslims in any of the media by putting-in the correct, accurate and true picture of issues at stake in the right perspectives for the benefit of viewers, listeners and readers.

Here are photos from the Inauguration


Aregbesola’s Social Intervention Programmes Reduces Unemployment, Crime Rate In Osun


For the past seven and half years, the social intervention programmes of the Rauf Aregbesola led-APC administration in the State of Osun has effectively made the pervasive crime rate of the state minimal and reduced the raging unemployment rate before it took over.

Studies show that before the advent of his administration, Unemployment, Violence and Corruption had been the order of the day despite the so-called “Stomach Infrastructure” which was only beneficial to party members and some politically inclined members of the public.

At the flag off of the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme, OYES in December 2010, many thought the scheme would be for members of the then Action Congress AC to benefit from their own which they laboured to get into office but were surprised to see how apolitical the scheme went which even absorbed members of the opposition.

The scheme which improves the economy of the state with about N200 million paid its 20,000 beneficiaries monthly also gives the Youths who were hitherto “jobless” the opportunity to eke out a living nonetheless how minimal it might be.

OYES since inception has been a model, one which the World Bank applauded and described as another way out of engaging unemployed Youths in menial jobs of community service, providing enormous opportunities for them to become self reliant and teaches them the spirit of the Omoluabi Ethos; Hardwork.

The Federal Government under the former President, Goodluck Jonathan and some states of the federation keyed into this initiative with programmes like YESSO and SURE-P before the current government refined it and modelled it after the one Rauf Aregbesola created in Osun which is today referred to as N-Power.

Aside the fact that it has reduced the unemployment rate of the state with 3% influence, it has also taken to its barest minimum the level of crime in Nigeria.

Residents of the state who had lived in major towns like Osogbo, Ikirun, Ile-Ife, Ede, Ejigbo, Ilesa among others said before Aregbesola, Violence, Crime and Youth Restiveness were the order of the day as there would be no week without an ugly incident of either bank robbery, burgling of shops, residences among others.

They told newsmen that since Aregbesola came, social intervention programmes like O’YES, Agba Osun, O’REAP and many more have and are still helpful to the reduction of crime in Osun while the solid foundation for the state’s economic prosperity in the next 50 years has been laid.

Rainstorm Wreaks Havoc, Destroys Central Mosque, 15 Houses In Eripa

By Sodiq Yusuf

Eripa in Boluwaduro Local Government of Osun State on Saturday witnessed a heavy downpour which destroyed the town’s Central Mosque and 15 other houses in the town.

The rain which start around 6pm  to 7pm rendered some people in the town homeless.

Speaking with newsmen, the Public Relations Officer of the town, Mr Lawal Lukuman said the rain which was characterized by heavy wind destroyed many houses seeking the support of the Osun state government to rebuild some affected buildings and area in the town.

According to him ‘’We appeal to the state government and local government to come to our rescue to rebuild the affected places.’’

‘’Some of the owners of the houses cannot afford to buy nails or roofing sheet let a lone buy materials to renovate the weak structures.”

See the photos of the affected houses below:

Aregbesola Has Not Divided Osun APC, Groups Working For Party Success – Osun APYF 

By Ismail Kolapo

The Osun All Progressives Youth Forum, APYF has said that there is no division in Osun APC with all groups working for the interest of the party and Governor Rauf Aregbesola.

The group in a statement by its state Publicity Secretary, Lawal Lukman in Osogbo on Sunday stated that contrary to a reported letter written to the National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun by a concerned group of some leaders, all are pressure groups tailored to move the party forward.

APYF said all the “so-called concerned leaders” are the crop of leaders wanting to destroy the party and financed by some elements that think the forthcoming primaries of the APC in the state will not favour them.

The Osun APC Youth Group said no one is capable of destroying the party that has given Osun unprecedented development in the last 7 and half years.

The All Progressives Youth Forum said the party is indivisible and remains one just as it called on all “aggrieved persons” to come out to the public and register their grievances for amicable solutions.




The attention of the All Progressive Youths Forum Osun state chapter  has been drawn to a false allegation by some members of our party, All Progressives Congress, APC that that Governor Rauf Aregbesola is planning to destroy the party.

Aregbesola has had a good relationship with the party members across the state and enjoyed patronage from all the party leaders in the state.

There is no record of any official complaint or allegation of any veto power since he became the Governor of the State.

Aregbesola has been acknowledged and commended locally and internationally for taking proper care of the party and its members.

To set the records straight, Aregbesola has been taking care of the party members since he took over as the leader of our great party APC in Osun.

For the past seven years, he has also from time to time distributed food items such, as Rice, chicken, cow, and money across Wards and Units in the state.

It is unfair that some self acclaimed group in our party are circulating untrue information on social media that Aregbesola is destroying the party.

APYF uses this medium to challenge the unidentified  group circulating the statement to come out with tangible decument or information that Aregbesola is not taking care of the party.

We use this statement to charge and encourage our party members and for those who like our party to continue supporting our great party for good development in the State of Osun and Nigeria at large.


Lawal Lukman 

State Publicity Secretary, APYF.  


Police Arrest Man  Over Robbery In Ile Ife

By Sodiq Lawal

Operatives of the Police division in Moore,  Ile Ife, have arrested a robbery suspect, Odeniran John, and recovered three stolen vehicles from him.

According to Police source, the suspect was arrested on Friday following a tip off that some group of armed robbers with four stolen vehicles were about taking them to the Eastern part of the country following which the operatives’ clampdown on them where the prime suspect was nabbed.

The recovered vehicles were according to the source are, a hummer jeep and Siena Bus.

Confirming the story, the Area Commander of the police division in the town, Funsho Adegboye said the suspect will soon be charged to court as effort is ongoing to arrest the fleeing suspects.

Parents Contribute To Cultism, Hooliganism Among Secondary School Students – S.Commentator

A social commentator, Dr. Adeoye Oyewole has attributed the rate of cultistm and hooliganism practice by secondary school students to the failure of the parents to take up their responsibility in the society.

Dr  Oyewole who identified deficiency of parental care as one of the major factors that contributes to that illicit act stated this while featuring on a radio program in Osogbo on Saturday.

He stated that, “we are in civil society where parents and children leave home at  the same time in the morning and meet again at the night when they have no time to cross check the activities of the children anymore.”

“Some these students didn’t attend school, they wear uniform from home and go to some places where they drink alcohol, smoke India hemps, marijuana without intervention from other member of the society.”

He said ” The level of poverty as affected a lot of things as some parents can not even understand their roles on a child because of the economic situation of the state and in Nigeria at large.”

The consultant psychiatrist charged government to re-introduce the department of counselling in all public schools in the state of Osun and to allow successful people in various fields to visit the public schools to serve as point of encouragement for the students.

The Senior Special Assistant to Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Mr Ahmed Mustafa in his opinion bemoaned the rate of cultism among secondary school students in the State of Osun.

Mustafa who said the teenage period is key to the future of a child urged parents to keep effective monitoring on their children during the period.

He also implored the school authorities to provide platforms like debate and press club programmes where students can be engaged.

The media aide to the governor said government has put in place mechanisms to curb indecency in public schools just as he urged other stakeholders to play their part.

Land Use Charge Reversal: Ambode’s Exemplary Leadership Gesture

It is not common to find a highly placed government official back down from his lofty office in deference to the wishes of the masses of the people, whether in the implementation of polices or in just the day-to-day governance process.

The average occupier of a position of influence won’t want to flaunt his powers to show he is in charge; he is likely to stick to his positions even when such a position is suffocating the people that he is supposed to be governing. If you find any highly placed official do the opposite, it could only be because such a one truly has the interest of his people at heart.

This is one perspective from which many analysts now view the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunm Ambode. Just one move he made recently, above all others, has shown him as a man of compassion, a governor who is concerned about overall impact on the lives of the people than sticking to principles and procedures. With such a singular step, he had been able to demonstrate that governance is more about the welfare of the people than unnecessary expression of executive power.

Under reference here is the now famous Lagos State Land Use Charge (LUC) Law. It was successfully reviewed and then passed into law by the Lagos State House of Assembly on February 8, 2018, only for stakeholders to begin to raise issues concerning the law.

You would have thought that the state executive would ignore such agitations given that the said law had been given the seal of approval and gone ahead to do the needful. In fact, some governors in some states out there would have staked everything to see that the dissenting voices are silenced by all means, and the law rammed into implementation.

Not so, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. He had the axe on his hands, and the authorisation to apply it, but he listened to his emotions as a human being; he decided to listen to the cries of the people directly affected by that law.

Thus he acceded to convocation of stakeholders meeting on the matter. After an extensive deliberation, his government came out with one of the most beautiful pieces of news for house owners this season; it announced a major reduction on those new rates payable by property owners under the new land use charge law. It equally waived penalty for late payments across board.

It was the State’s Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinyemi Ashade, who addressed the press on the matter, saying the rates payable on commercial properties have been reduced by 50 per cent in response to the demands of the people.

The concession by government also covered reduction of the charges for Owner-occupier with third party including industries and manufacturing concerns by 25 per cent, while tax credits have been given for LUC charges already paid in addition to introduction of instalment payment system.

The decision to reduce the rates was taken at the weekly Council Meeting Chaired by the State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.

In the words of Ashade: “The Lagos State Government, in its desire to build world class infrastructure and improve the well-being of its citizens reviewed the Land Use Charges payable by all property owners. This exercise was received with mixed feelings by various interest groups who expressed serious concerns.

“In line with this administration’s tradition of inclusive governance and civic engagement, and as a Government that is committed to the welfare of its citizens and understands the importance of continuously engaging the populace, we undertook extensive dialogue with various stakeholders on the Land Use Charge (“LUC”) revised Law and its implementation.

“Consequently, we received a wide range of responses from our dialogue with various stakeholders on the amended LUC Law 2018. The stakeholders included the Organised Private Sector, Nigeria Bar Association, Real estate investors & developers, Landlord & Resident Associations, Community Development Associations, Civil Society Organisations, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI), Nigeria Institute of Estate Surveyors & Valuers and several other professional groups.”

With the latest development, a property valued at N20million for instance and earlier billed N91,200 would now pay N45,600 per annum as a result of the 50 per cent discount, while property occupied by owner, third party and property used for industrial and manufacturing purposes will now pay N23,040 per annum on a property valued at N20million as against the earlier N30,720 based on the 25 per cent discount.

On owner-occupied property, for a property valued at N20million, only N7, 752 would now be paid per annum as against N9,120 earlier demanded

“We appreciate and commend property owners of all categories who have performed their civic duties faithfully by paying the LUC. Consequently, as a result of these new measures, those who have paid the original amount will be awarded tax credits to the extent of the excess amount paid and carried forward to next year,” Ashade said.

Obviously, there is no better way for a government to show responsibility and compassion than this one.

This is especially when one realises that the legislation had gone through the normal process before becoming law, and also, given the intense lobbying that goes with this kind of legislation.

To have factored all these and decided to stomach the repercussions is one move the state executive has made that deserves commendation.

It demonstrates louder than ever, the state government’s determination to deliver the famed dividends of democracy. In rolling back the law, the government had demonstrated that it is pro-people, a listening and humble government.

Many in the position of Governor Ambode in other areas would have perceived a possible reversal of that law as a personal affront and would have mobilised every resource, human and material to thwarting it.

Ambode did otherwise. Beyond personal ego, he saw a window to an impactful touch on the people’s welfare; he saw an opportunity to demonstrate his humaneness and did not let it pass by.

Long years to come, Lagosians, and indeed other analysts of governmental process would remember this singular gesture of Governor Ambode. They would be able to retail the tale that not all those who occupy executive office are driven by inconsideration, but that beyond their official briefs as elected politicians, that they truly feel what the people feel. This is one lesson that Governor Ambode teaches in this magnanimous move. At the expense of sounding repetitive, it truly deserves commendation by all patriot and positive-minded persons. Kudos to you, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

Community Network Initiative (CNi)
Email: [email protected]
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Phone No: 08065802172

NMA Introduces Doctors’ Stamp To Check Quackery

The Nigerian Medical Association says doctors will commence full use of doctors’ stamp with effect from April 1 to curb quackery in the medical profession.

The president of the association, Prof. Mike Ogirima, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Abuja.

Ogirima frowned at the rate of quackery in medical profession, which had increased disease burden and mortality rate.

He said the stamp contains security features that would differentiate professionals from quacks.

He explained that some security features embedded in the stamp include full name of the doctor, the institution he qualified from and the year.

Ogirima added that any doctor that does not possess or have the stamp latest April 1 would be regarded as a quack.

According to him, from April 1, any medical legal documents emanating from qualified doctors must contain the concerned doctors’ stamp.

“The implication of the stamp is that if you are practising as a medical doctor and do not have the stamp, you are a quack.

“With effect from April 1, we expect all documents emanating from doctors all over the country to bear doctor’s stamp and they should start using it on all medical legal documents.

“The rate of fake practitioners in medical field is on the high side, so through the use of the doctors’ stamp, we will be able to curb the menace,’’ he said.

Ogirima said in 2017, about 30 cases of fictitious medical reports were discovered at the NYSC camp, which was not healthy for the profession and the nation at large.

He, however, called on perpetrators of this act to desist from it in order to restore dignity to the medical profession and boost patients’ confidence in the nation’s health sector. (NAN)

Obiano Sworn-In For Second Term As Anambra Govenor

The Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano; and his deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke, have been sworn in for a second term in office.

The Chief Judge of the state, Justice Peter Umeadi, led them in the oath of office.

In his speech, the governor vowed to fight criminals in the state to a standstill.

He said he would tighten security to ensure Anambra State remains the safest state in the country.

The governor said he would set up state of the art hospital in the three senatorial districts, while assuring that major roads in Onitsha Nnewi and Awka would be fixed.

The governor said he would encourage small and medium enterprises in the state to boost economic powers of the people, while assuring the completion of the airport project.

Among the dignitaries who attended the swearing-in was President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister of labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who stood in for Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, among others.

Obiano was reelected on November 18, 2017.

China’s Xi Jinping Gets Second Term In Office

China’s rubber-stamp parliament unanimously handed President Xi Jinping a second term Saturday and elevated his right-hand man to the vice presidency, giving him a strong ally to consolidate power and handle US trade threats.

Xi’s reappointment by the Communist Party-controlled legislature was a foregone conclusion, but all eyes had been on whether his former anti-corruption enforcer, Wang Qishan, would become his deputy.

The National People’s Congress has widely expanded Xi’s already considerable authority during its annual session, adding his name to the constitution and lifting the two five-year term limit for the presidency and vice presidency.

Xi received a standing ovation after winning all 2,970 votes for the presidency and Central Military Commission chairman. In 2013, Xi had received 2,952 votes, with one against and three abstentions, a 99.86 percent share.

Only one delegate voted against Wang’s appointment, with 2,969 in favour.

Xi and Wang shook hands as the legislators heaped on applause.

As part of the package of constitutional amendments, Xi and Wang for the first time took the oath of office by pledging allegiance to the constitution. Xi put his left hand on a red-covered book containing the charter, and raised his right fist to take his vow.

“I pledge loyalty to the constitution of the People’s Republic of China” Xi recited, vowing to “strenuously struggle to build a rich, strong, democratic and civilised” country.

Elevating Wang allows Xi to keep a formidable ally by his side, as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong cements his authority and sets his sights on a possible lifelong tenure — a move that has drawn criticism online.

Wang, 69, stepped down from the Communist Party’s ruling council in October under informal retirement rules.

But he has kept a prominent profile, sitting at the same table as the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee during the public sessions of the National People’s Congress while receiving fervent applause from the delegates as he voted.

Wang’s appointment shows that “he’s a really important political advisor,” said Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London.

“He’s a very capable politician, so it makes sense he would still be around,” Brown told AFP, noting that “it also shows we’re in an unconventional time in Chinese politics.”

Wang was at the frontline of Xi’s anti-corruption crusade, heading the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which has punished 1.5 million officials in the past five years, from low-level cadres to regional leaders and generals. He stepped down last year.

Known internationally in his previous role as China’s pointman on trade, Wang could help Xi deal with increasingly tense relations with the United States amid fears of a looming trade war, analysts say.