Buhari’s Government Has Failed- Balarabe Musa

In an imterview, Alhaji Balarabe Musa,former civilian Governor of the old Kaduna State says that the Igbo should take a shot at the 2023 Presidency.

What is your assessment of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in the last two years?

The performance of President Muhammadu Buhari since he came on board in 2015 has fallen short of the expectations of Nigerians. In other words, he has been unable to fulfil promises he made before he got the votes of Nigerians. I can reasonably say without fear that his government has failed.

Is it correct to accuse him of nepotism?

I wouldn’t say so because any Nigerian, especially in that position, can be accused of nepotism. This is because so many things are wrong in Nigeria. No matter who is ruling this country, that allegation is inevitable due to certain circumstances that may be beyond the immediate control of the occupant of the position.

So, what is your impression about his choice of aides and cabinet members?

His choice of aides has not been good enough and that is why we are having the problems confronting us at the moment. The situations we are facing now would have been avoided if there had been proper selection of aides through extensive, broad-based consultation.

Buhari’s handling of the herdsmen menace has earned him hard knocks from many Nigerians. How do you think he should have handled the situation?

I think he is doing it well. He has just announced, in the case of Benue, that the criminals would be dealt with.

What is your idea of cattle colony?

I think the idea is completely wrong and it is impracticable because every Nigerian has the right of movement. Cattle colony, as I understand it, is to put the cattle in a reserved area where they can feed. That is not practicable. What is practicable and even necessary is to control free movement of cattle but that is not the same as cattle colony. The position now is that the herdsmen are carefree and they should not be allowed to be carefree because they are infringing on the rights of other people.


How did you ensure peaceful coexistence between the herdsmen and the farmers when you were governor?

The problem was there but it was not as it is today because there was still enough land for grazing. What is happening today is that there is no land for grazing because all the lands that were reserved for grazing in the past, especially after the colonial era, had been taken over by rich farmers. The herdsmen therefore have no land for grazing. That is why they now encroach on other people’s farms and this often leads to friction.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is leading a coalition to counter the APC and the PDP. Were you consulted by the former president on the coalition issue or are you playing any role?

I was not consulted. But what I can say is that I have listened to some people talking about the coalition. When did Obasanjo come onto the political scene? We were there long before he came onto the political scene. Some of us have been dealing with the idea of a political coalition since the colonial period, but it never succeeded because of the reactionary attitude of those people who were calling for it, particularly after the Second Republic. We found out that those who called for coalitions so far are those who have personal grudges or those who are secessionists. In the end, after participation in this coalition (and we have participated in so many of them), we discovered that the coalition amounts to regional rivalry and secessionism. I am not saying that it will continue to be so negative. No. There may be changes and we are waiting to see the real changes before we get involved. One of the coalition movements mentioned my name without contacting me at all, but when I looked at the list, I found that it was only one person, whom I have not associated myself with since the coalition thing started. He is, however, one person that I have great respect for and who I know won’t be involved in something that will end up in either ethnic politics or regional agenda because this is how all these movements usually end up.

Do you think Obasanjo has the support of the North?

I don’t want to talk about the North. As far as I am concerned, we are involved in Nigerian politics. That’s all for that question.

Would you have supported the Obasanjo coalition if you were contacted?

No. I won’t support it because I know the antecedents of Obasanjo. He is a former president of Nigeria and he was not able to solve the problem that his coalition is proposing to solve. What has he learnt better? It (the coalition) will fizzle out just like its predecessor.

Should Buhari dare the coalition and run for a second term?

Nothing stops him (Buhari) from contesting. After all, every elected public office holder in Nigeria has the right to seek a second term. Did Obasanjo himself not defy public opinion and even seek an illegal third term because it was not provided for in the constitution? He sought a third term and he failed. In the case of Buhari, he is entitled to a second term by law. Whether the issue of a second term will work in President Buhari’s favour is another matter altogether.

But judging from the hardship Nigerians are going through today, would you advise Buhari to go for a second term?

No. I won’t bother myself too much thinking about that because if today Buhari decides he won’t run for a second term, do you have a better person now in Nigeria who can perform better than Buhari? Up to the end of the Second Republic, when (the late Chief Obafemi) Awolowo, Zik (the late Nnamdi Azikiwe), Aminu Kano and so on were there, you could say ‘if not Awolowo, Zik is competent’ and so on. There was, at that time, a clear alternative available for Nigerians; whether you liked it or not, it was a distinctive alternative. But today, where is the alternative? We are now in a situation where there is no alternative or it is difficult for the alternative to emerge because this is politics and election in which ‘money power’ plays a leading role. So, it is not possible to find a qualitative and relevant alternative to Buhari at the moment.

Do you think that the APC will be strong enough to defeat the PDP and Obasanjo’s Third Force in 2019?

The APC can’t defeat them (the PDP and the third force) but they will rig the election. There is no doubt about that because even some APC members, at the beginning of the Buhari administration, said and warned their party’s leadership that they would be chased out the way they chased out the PDP and we are in that situation now. They are not doing the right thing. That is why there is the possibility of them being chased out the way they chased out the PDP in 2015.

So, what’s happening to the Peoples Redemption Party where you are the National Chairman?

We are at the stage of renewing our resolve to be relevant and capture power, if not in 2019, then later. We have established three committees: they are membership, convention and review committees (which we called a ‘holistic’ review of the PRP past, present and the future). The committees have completed their works because last (penultimate) Wednesday, the Review Committee submitted its reports, which we are currently considering.

You mentioned earlier that there is no alternative to President Muhammadu Buhari. You mean, you don’t have an alternative in your party that can challenge the President in terms of integrity, credibility and so on?

We are trying to do that now through the holistic review of the PRP past, present and the future with particular reference to 2019. In other words, there will be new leadership under the circumstances. We will also have a new membership drive based on manual registration of members and online registration of members.

Do you believe this will afford you the opportunity to produce a credible candidate to challenge Buhari if he decides to contest the presidency again in 2019?

Whether he attempts to run or not, it is our decision and right to produce someone that can defeat him. We will try to do this through the renewal which we are now embarking upon at the moment. So, by 2019, during the primaries, you will see us producing the candidate who can make the difference.

What is your impression about an Igbo presidency?

I support it. In the first instance, this is democracy and every Nigerian has the right to aspire to any position. Secondly, there is a zoning system. It’s a PDP policy but it is a right policy even though it was initiated and promoted by the PDP. Now, it has been accepted by every political party and every organisation now sees zoning as a means of giving everybody a sense of belonging. Now, the North has had their opportunity to have the Presidency on many occasions. The West had it through Obasanjo and even the South-South had it. Only the South-East has not had it. Why not? Are they not Nigerians? Do they not have the right to a sense of belonging? If you deny them this right, would you honestly say that Nigeria is one? No. We have to be critical this time. The right person from the Igbo part must come. We see what we have landed ourselves in by insisting that ‘any northerner or any southerner’. We see what it has led us to now. So, I support an Igbo presidency that will be elected by Nigerians. We are not going to leave it for the Igbo to just bring ‘any Igbo’. No! We have made that mistake in the past by saying ‘any northerner or southerner’. This time, we will be critical by choosing the Igbo man who will help us. If every Nigerian feels he has a sense of belonging, there will be no need for zoning.

Did that form any part of your current party’s review?

No. It will be an aspect of our party. There will be a situation where every part of Nigeria has a sense of belonging. No part of Nigeria should be left out. Why was Obasanjo, who did not enjoy the support of Nigerians, particularly in the South-West, given the chance to be president? How did he become the president in 1999? It was considered by most reasonable Nigerians that the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential was unfair to the South-West and Nigeria; and the South-West adopted a feeling of ‘we don’t care’ but those who felt that that annulment was unfair felt that the South-West should be consoled. That is why they brought in Obasanjo, otherwise, Obasanjo wouldn’t have been brought in at all. Even left for the South-West alone, Obasanjo wouldn’t have been brought in because he was so unpopular there. In fact, he was alleged to be part of the annulment of the June 12 but because of this feeling of giving the South-West a sense of belonging, the whole Nigeria, particularly the North, supported the Obasanjo presidency. So, why not now that the Igbo don’t have a sense of belonging? There is this feeling that it is because of the 1967 Nigerian Civil War, which took place several years ago that some reactionary elements have refused to forget. In the early ’70s, one could understand but we can’t continue to punish the Igbo forever because they are part of Nigeria. So, this time, just as we say, ‘let us console the Yoruba because of June 12; let us also say that the Igbo have been punished for so long because of the Nigerian Civil War; so, let us give them the presidency this time around. You know the Igbo are republican by nature. So, it is the northern and southern elite that don’t like an Igbo presidency because the Igbo man is republican. He is more competitive than both the Hausa and Yoruba elite. That is one of the reasons for the fear but should we continue with this fear?

There are allegations of unfair treatment of the Igbo by Buhari, especially in terms of appointments, because they didn’t vote for him in the last election. How do you react to this allegation?

Buhari was wrong. He realised and decided to correct it. I think some people can prove it wrong or right. I have the belief now that in terms of appointments, he has given them their due positions, but it might not be sufficient for them. I think he is now fair compared to the beginning when he claimed that they didn’t vote for him, and therefore, they were not entitled to be part of his government. I believe he has learnt his lessons and he has corrected the mistakes.

What is your take on the appointment of northerners as service chiefs, except the Chief of Naval Staff?

I am not sure but I will have to cross-check. I don’t know. But let me tell you one thing and this is something that a lot of young Nigerians don’t know. During the Second Republic, there was a conspiracy between the Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo elite to keep the military out of Nigerian politics. So, these elite from the North, South and East conspired among themselves to donate the presidency to the North, which President Shehu Shagari benefited from because they believed that only northern elite would have the popular support to stop the military from coming back.

Shagari, at that time, said he didn’t see himself being anything more than a local government chairman. He was honest. But they still forced him to come and be president because he was a distinguished northerner and he had the capacity to get the support of the North.

But do you think that decision was right?

Politically, it was right and if they had not done so, the military would have come back to power almost immediately. They had so much tasted power that they became part of the Nigerian problem which is corruption. Remember that after the General Yakubu Gowon regime, there was a Commission of Inquiry which showed the overbearing power of the military governors and the fact that every military governor at that time was found to be corrupt, except the late Governor Mobolaji Johnson of Lagos State. There was an inquiry to that. So, the military became very powerful and corrupt and were only interested in remaining in power. They were in the position to use any mistake by the civilian to come back. The fear was clear. So, it was left for them to do so.

For instance, if they had handed over power to the West, the antagonistic posture of the Yoruba would have given the military an excuse to return. The same would have happened in the case of the East. So, with the North in power and because of the longer experience, power favoured them against the South-East and West. So, there was the feeling that they could manage power more successfully than an easterner or westerner. That also has been reflected in some other ways. For example, why should all the presidents come from the North? It was not just the power of the North but the calculation of Nigerian politicians that because of their experience in power, they (North) would likely be able to keep the power for the Nigerian elite, which come from all over the country. I think we have to get away from this. It is high time we make every Nigerian have the capacity to exercise power like the Igbo.

Do you think the Igbo should support Buhari for a second term so that they can produce the president in 2023?

I understand right now, there is a small conspiracy between the Igbo and the Hausa-Fulani. I don’t know whether somebody is testing the ground because I am not aware of any meeting between the North and the Igbo elite. But the impression is given now that the Igbo political power alone cannot give them the presidency without the conspiracy of the North and West. The Igbo feel they have to find a way of reaching an agreement with the North or the West to have political power in 2023. I think they can have it. The conspiracy is sensible because no section of Nigeria alone can make it. The northerners were able to achieve or get the presidency because of their numerical value. So, the Igbo think that if they can get the support of the West, they can have the presidency and if they can have the support of the North, they can get the presidency. But they have a better chance with the support of the North because the region is more in terms of voting power. If they can get the voting power of the North and East and what they can get from the other parts, they can make it. So, I understand there is a conspiracy whereby the Igbo will support the North to continue having another chance in 2019 on the understanding that in 2023, the North will support the Igbo. I just hope it will work. But since this conspiracy is an essential part of politics in Nigeria today, it makes sense.

Will an Igbo presidency solve the problem facing the South-East?

Yes, because they will have a sense of belonging; and you know the East is competitive and republican in nature. They will all agree. If they translate the republicanism in the real sense, they can encourage the North and the South-West to support them. If they can produce the equivalent of the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, it will work. But the question now is: can they produce the equivalent of ‘Zik of Africa’ now?

(Punch)

APC Govs Pressurize Buhari To 2019 Election

Governor of Kogi State, Mr. Yahaya Bello, has said 24 All Progressives Congress governors are mounting pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to seek re-election in 2019.

Bello stated this on Saturday in Lokoja, the state capital, at a rally organised by the APC to receive defectors to into its fold.

The governor, at the event, which was also attended by the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said Buhari must contest in 2019.

He explained that all the 24 APC governors were ready to support his reelection.

He maintained that APC remained the only viable and strongest party in Kogi State, saying the development made members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party to defect to the party.

He said, “Presdent Buhari must contest second term because all the 24 APC governors are ready to support his reelection

“All the PDP members that mattered in the state have all decamped to the APC because they have seen the light and realised that APC hasbetter programme for the people of the state and Nigeria in general”

Odigie-Oyegun, at the rally, said the President had liberated the country from an impending economic doom.

He added that Buhari had succeeded in repositioning the economy from dependency on oil and focusing on other sources of revenue such as agriculture.

He said, “Nigeria, under President Buhari, no longer depends on oil to survive. Today, Nigeria, under Buhari, has taken the lead in the agricultural production and the nation is operating on a stable economic progression.”

Meanwhile, some of the national leaders and six state governors billed to attend another APC unity rally in Minna, the Niger State capital, shunned the event.

Also, all the state House of Assembly members walked out of the rally in annoyance.

The rally, earlier scheduled for 1pm, commenced at 3.30pm when it became clear that the party’s national chieftains and the invited governors might not attend.

The climax of the rally was the reception for 34 defectors from the PDP including ex-commissioners in the state.

Speaking at the pre-rally meeting on Saturday Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger State, said the APC’s profile was rising in the state because of its strict adherence to the principles of party supremacy.

Bello advised the new members to abide by the party rules and regulations.

He said, “The cohesion, progress and unity we are witnessing in Niger State APC today are productS of strict adherence to party supremacy. We respect party supremacy and I am glad that the calibre of people returning to the family are experienced party men.’’

The state party Chairman, Jibrin Imam, described the defection as the best thing to happen to the state and the party, adding that “this development will further strengthen the party.”

Will Osun Have Cow Colony?

Commissioner for Special Duties, Honourable Mudasir Toogun said, “the problem with the cattle colony is in the name itself, no one in Africa will hear the name and it will not send fear down their spine.

“Actually the intention behind it is not to colonise any place, rather it is ‘cattle ranches’. Cattle ranches are a good business and it would provide and create more jobs; the government alone could not foot the bill of these ranches, hence, the need for the industrialists to come and grow feeds for the ranches”.

“Hardly can any state afford to fund the growing of cattle feeds and maintenance of ‘cattle ranches’, it is a big business that require private partnership.

“So, industrialists and cooperate organisations are beckon to establish cattle ranches in the state.

“To contain activities of the Bororos, only the government with its instrumental of power can’t do it.

“What has made the problem more alarming is the development that had taken over our land; we construct roads, build houses, there is population explosion but the land is fixed.

“Also, large cultivation of land is on the increase, so there is a need for cattle ranches, but it could be private business as any other business which any other person can do”.

 

OAU MSSN Gets New Leaders

By Sodiq Lawal

New leaders have been appointed to direct the affairs of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN)  Obafemi Awolowo University branch Ile-Ife for the 2017/2018 academic session.

This was disclosed after the Jumu’ah service by the former executives of MSSN at the OAU central mosque on Friday.

A 300 level student from faculty of law, Kamoru Sodiq emerged as the Amir and a 300 level student from department of Sociology and Anthropology, Animashaun Aisha emerged as the Amira.

Our correspondent gathered that a total number of 43 students emerged as the newly appointed executives for the academic session.

However, in am exclusive interview with OsunDefender, the new Amir promised to make the association to metamorphose into an ideal place.

The New Amir

“It is simply the decision of Allah. I begged not to be made an Ameer but now, the chips are down. We just have to live beyond expectations, stand firm on our feet and make our Mssn OAU great again,” he said.

Ijesa People In The Diaspora Raises Concern Over Adewole

A socio-cultural group, Ijesa People in the Diaspora has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to wade into the ongoing dispute between the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole and the reinstated NHIS boss, Prof Usman Yusuf before it degenerates into a life threatening escapade for the minister.

In a statement by the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the group, High Chief Bobaseye Fasakin in Lagos, the manner of the NHIS Executive Secretary’s  dismissal and onward recall to his office by the President has breeded irreconcilable differences that might put Adewole’s life in danger.

Fasakin who recalled the circumstances leading to the death of a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Chief Ajibola Ige urged the President to save “their man” from the hyenas and jackals who might want to silence him with the decision.

His words “We have paid detailed and undivided attention to the irreconcilable differences between the federal ministry of health and one of her agency, NHIS on the suspension and recently recall of Prof Usman Yussuf back to office and the attendant uproar it has generated politically in the past couple of days, we are concerned about the safety of Prof Isaac Adewole as jackals and hyenas who are agents of victimization within the leadership structure of the presidency may be looking for his downfall by all means possible.”

“As students of history in Nigeria, we can remember the circumstantial situation that finally led to the murder of one of our brightest sons, the late cicero of Esa Oke, Chief James Ajibola Ige who was a serving attorney general and minister of justice in the administration of former president of Olusegun Obasanjo.”

“We are very cautious not to be categorical in our utterances but intelligence report revealed that caucus within the presidency as at then were instruments and agents used to execute the hatchet plan of victimizing, intimidating, molesting and eventual assassination of Late Bola Ige .”

Ijesa People In Diaspora said “It is within this context that we call for reinforcement of security apparatus in and around the educationist turned politician. In the last twenty nine months, the former vice chancellor of UI has distinguished himself as a valuable asset to the assemblage of progressive team of the Buhari led government to restore the lost fortunes of the health sector through the various technical interventions and laudable programmes he has embarked on.”

“We are impressed with the outcome of the recently published performances indices of sectors where the health ministry under Adewole was one of out of the six result oriented ministry of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, mentions were made about the revitalization of the 10,000 primary healthcare centres initiative, the north east emergency health and nutrition programme, the conceptualized production of vaccines locally and the too numerous to mention international funds he has facilitated into the country for achieving universal health coverage UHC.”

The group added that “We count on President Muhammadu Buhari to act swiftly and resolve the crisis within the shortest possible time as we continually admonish our son not to relent in bringing his wealth of experience to salvage the expected turnaround in the health sector for the good of all Nigerians.”

Fulani Herdsmen Crisis Caused By Societal Issues – Aregbesola

The Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has described the Fulani herdsmen activities as a product of disregard for their immediate environment rather than an ethical issue.

The Governor also challenged Nigeria to be strong and bond to take the leadership role of leading the black man to the zenith of the world.

The Governor spoke in Ado-Ekiti during a visit and an interactive session he held with students at the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti.

Aregbesola said it is wrong to see the issue of the Fulani herdsmen as just an ethnic issue or from the political angle, saying most of their action is as a result of the primitive way things are still being handled in the country.

He stated further that they did not just become wild because they are herdsmen but because Nigeria as a nation has completely disregarded the environment and because nobody has cared to help them.

While emphasising that their actions are not justifiable, he noted that the root of the problem is the poor economy and the underdevelopment of the country.

He however explained that the challenges posed by the Fulani herdsmen could be turned into a huge business and economic development opportunity if the right approach is used to tackle the issue.

The Governor stressed that he expects scholars from the various universities across the country to begin to engage in researches and come up with ideas to produce pasture and other feeds which the cattles in Nigeria can use to feed all year round, saying the cattle herdsmen will be willing to buy it.

According to Aregbesola, “as much as I condemn the activities of the Fulani herdsmen, I think it is not about one ethnic group, my personal opinion is that we have not given them an alternative as a people.

“I am sure they too can not say they enjoy the manner in which they roam about with their cattles, the challenge is caused by the primitive nature we still do things in this part of the world, it is caused by our total disregard of our environment and because we have never cared to look at how to help these herdsmen.

“The challenge is also about poverty and our refusal to begin to use our God-given knowledge as a people to solve our myriad societal problems we have as a nation of which the herdsmen killings is among.

“For emphasis, I am not justifying the criminality of the herdsmen, in fact I condemn it in all totality, I am only saying the root cause of the problem is our poor economy and our refusal to develop ourselves.

“I want to tell you that there is a business angle which can help nip this crisis in the bud, but it is a pity that we are not looking into it.

“If our scholars through our universities can look inwards and find an alternative to the herdsmen grazing the land indiscriminately with their cattles, I think the herdsmen too will embrace it and be willing to pay for it which I see as a business opportunity”. Aregbesola said.

The Osun governor also used the event to challenge Nigeria as a nation to rise up to the challenge of being the rallying point of Africans and all black men all over the world, saying if the black man must succeed then Nigeria must not fail as a nation.

 

National Assembly Lacks Power To Reorder Elections

Let me begin by saying that the National Assembly itself is established by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended. Section 47 of the Constitution provides that ‘There shall be a National Assembly for the Federation which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives’.

This provision of the Constitution shows clearly that the National Assembly itself is a creature of the Constitution. The Constitution which is the ground-norm of all other laws in the land including any Act made by the National Assembly, also provides for legislative powers exercisable by the same National Assembly. Section 4(1) of the Constitution provides that “The Legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representative”. Section 4(2) provides that “The National Assembly shall have power to make law for the peace, order and good Government of the Federation or any part thereof”…

Suffice to say that the National Assembly also derives its Legislative powers from the same Constitution.

Now, Section 1(1) of the Constitution provides that “This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 1(3) provides that “If any other law (this time, Electoral Act) is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void”.

Therefore, I hereby opine that the effect of Section 1(1) and Section 1(3) is that the Constitution has binding force either on the National Assembly as an Authority or Senators and Members of House of Reps as individual persons.

Section 153(1)(f) of the Constitution provides for the establishment of INEC just as Section 47 of the Constitution as herein above mentioned, provides for the establishment of National Assembly. The composition and powers of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are as contained in part 1 of the Third Schedule of this Constitution.

For the purpose of this piece, paragraph 15(a) provides that “The Commission (INEC) shall have power to Organise, Undertake and Supervise all Elections to the offices of the President and Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor of a State and to the Membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly of each State of the Federation”.

I, therefore, humbly opine that the effect of Section 153 (1) (f) of the Constitution and paragraph 15 of Part 1 of the third Schedule to the Constitution is that the Commission (INEC) shall conduct elections in the order stated in the Constitution, that is, from President to Governor and finally or lastly Membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly of each state of the Federation.

Alternatively, since the commission shall have power to organise, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the President and Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor of a State and to the Membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly of each State of the Federation, the literary meaning of the word “organise” simply means arrange systematically.

Therefore, the Constitution by virtue of these provisions, has given the commission (INEC) power to arrange systematically or order Elections as it deems fit and necessary without any input from National Assembly or Executives. And so far, Section 1(3) of the Constitution says “if any other law (this time, Electoral Act) is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail and that other law shall to the extent of inconsistency be void.

Conclusively, I dare submit that the part of Amendment to Electoral Act touching on the Reorder of Elections is void ab-initio, since it is in conflict with the power constitutionally given to the Commission.

I therefore urge members of the National Assembly to stop unnecessarily heating up the polity. Similarly, I urge the INEC to challenge this unconstitutional amendment to the electoral act in a competent Court of jurisdiction, as the rule of law is the bedrock of democracy.

Cows Invade Akure Airport Runway

A herd of cattle strayed onto the runway of Akure Airport this morning, preventing an Air Peace flight from Lagos from landing.

The Corporate Communications Manager of Air Peace, Mr Chris Iwarah, confirmed the incident, saying “Flight P4 7002 from Lagos had to delay landing into Akure Airport on Saturday when the pilot-in-command sighted cows on the runway at about 12.15pm.

“On being alerted by control tower, aviation security personnel of the FAAN (FAAN AVSEC) quickly intervened and cleared the runway.

“The flight was eventually cleared to land after about seven minutes. Our guests on board were all calm while the delay lasted.”

In a statement signed by its General Manager, Corporate Affairs , Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has apologised to Air Peace Airlines and its passengers for the incident.

She said :”However, normalcy was restored quickly, as officers of the aviation security department quickly dispersed the cows from the runway and the aircraft was cleared for landing.

“The authority will like to assure travellers and the general public that efforts are already ongoing to close the gap that aided this incident.

Orolu Parliamentarians Elect Benson As Chairman, Inaugurate Principal Officers

The newly elected councillors of Orolu Local Government Council Area, Ifon-Osun have unanimously elected their principal officers among all the parliamentarians that represent the whole 10 wards constituting the council.

The event was held on Tuesday at the local government Secretariat headquarters in Ifon Osun and witnessed by traditional rulers, Chiefs, religion leaders, party leaders and members, market men and women, and the local government officials.

Prince Adekunle Benson from ward 10 was elected by the Parliamentarians as the Chairman of the council, while Adekola Toyin from ward 3 was elected the Vice-chairman and they were sworn-in in the presence of the Clerk of the House, Mr. Afonja R A.

Other principal officers of the Parliament that were sworn in were; Rafiu Abiodun Durodola from ward 3 as the leader of the house, Ganiyu Isiaka from ward 7 as the deputy leader, while Jamiyu Fatai Kayode from ward 8 was elected to be the Supervisor for Orolu Administrative Office in Diisu Ayekale.

While delivering his speech, the Chairman, Prince Adekunle Benson appreciated Governor Rauf Aregbesola and the state leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by Prince Gboyega Famodun and Alh. Rasak Salinsile for giving him the opportunity, promising them that he would not let them down.

Benson then promised the entire people of the council that the six-point integral action plans of the Aregbesola administration would be adopted and total transformation and unprecedented developmental projects would be experienced and witnessed in the nooks and crannies of the council.

He said his administration has planned to assiduously work on good roads, clean environment, standard market, waterways, electricity, potable water, food security, total empowerment, Agriculture, Security, Health, Education, Wealth creation, poverty alleviation and many more.

He then sought the cooperation and support of the members of the Parliament and Civil servants, assuring that the administration would operate an open door policy and welcome suggestions and ideas that will assist in the development of the council.

According to him, “we need to work assiduously by tapping every available Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) base due to the local government to complement both the federal and state allocations”.

Do Governments Exist Just To Pay Salaries?

The above question arose in my mind and got me thinking long time ago, when my State, Osun, was in the news for reasons not unconnected with these same questions, and which made Governor Rauf Aregbesola to be so unpopular among civil servants, not only in Osun but all over. Osun soon became the poster boy for states that failed to be up to date in salary payments. It was so rive and unjustified that states which we all know couldn’t pay between eighteen months to two years weren’t even noticed in the media as but Osun that probably owed just a couple of months of modulated salary arrears.

Sometimes last year, I had to engage a very popular radio On-Air Personality based in Lagos on the true situation of things in Osun. He was hitherto fond of using Osun as an example of what he termed “bad governance” until he, according to him, found out the truth. He profusely apologized on national radio to “…this man, Aregbesola, whom we have all unfairly disparaged”. What was the reason behind this misrepresentation? It was not for lack of adequate information from Osun state’s government information handlers, but the presence of morbid stereotypical syndrome which our media and other critics have not, even till date, corrected or condemned.

Thank goodness Osun has finally gotten out of the mess of inability to pay salaries, allowances and pensions up to date. The modulated salary payments agreed to by labour and government have also ended as Osun has commenced paying full salaries to all categories of staff in its employment, and up-to-date. But this is not the crux of this essay.

Few weeks back, a prominent national daily, in its editorial comment asked similar question as headlined above. The editorial board was of the opinion that payment of salaries should just be one of several other responsibilities of government. That explains why budgets are oftentimes segregated into two broad areas:  capital and recurrent expenditures. One is for real development like educational infrastructure, roads, health infrastructure and others while the recurrent is mainly to pay wages, salaries, pension and other costs of running government. But because over the years, citizens see government as the big father, almost everyone sees it as the undisputable provider of livelihood. This certainly, is not unconnected with the defunct oil boom which made us believe in rent and wages without corresponding value added. Going to school to obtain degrees and diplomas is fundamentally meant to equip us adequately to be self reliant. But, over the years, we’ve been made to believe that going to school is a certificate for free meal from government. You can say anything concerning our brothers in the southeast but one thing that probably distinguishes them from the rest of us is their spirit of self reliance which some commentators believe is the result of the sufferings they went through in the thirty months of Biafran war. This experience carried over to their younger generation could be linked to the reason many of them make it in business at relatively younger age than their contemporaries in other parts of the country, who might have spent quite a long period in conventional schooling.

According to the board of editors of the national tabloid referred to earlier, “Governor Rauf Aregbesola exposed the precariousness of the current template by his admission that personnel costs alone amounted to over 85 per cent of the total revenue that accrued to Osun State between July 2015 and November 2017. This is typical of most other states and the message must be rammed home that apart from the primary role of protecting life and property, governments exist to galvanise the people for productive activities.

“The 36 states and 774 local government councils must understand that they are not constituted only to pay salaries and pensions”.

They cited a Canadian government’s policy document which states that regional or state governments are a geographically larger level of government over existing municipalities to provide area-wide municipal functions more economically and to establish a tax base sufficient to undertake necessary new services. If this is the case, states exist mainly to provide services and infrastructure as well as generate funds through tax regimes to provide the aforementioned.

Unfortunately, incompetent governance, dishonesty, fear of popular public opinions, misunderstanding of what government really stands for have combined to make us believe that governments are in office to pay salaries only.

This self-destructive model must give way to a more rational public finance management system. The solution must begin with a proper diagnosis of what went wrong, which is the overthrow of fiscal federalism. It is a slide rich in irony; for when Nigeria first codified the federal principle through the 1954 Macpherson Constitution, it “provided fiscal autonomy to its three regions both over expenditure decisions and over a local revenue base (consisting primarily of mining rents, personal income tax, and receipts from licences). Centrally collected revenues, primarily from export, import and excise duties, were distributed to the regions based on the derivation principle,” according to a World Bank report. This allowed vibrant, self-sustaining regions and LGs that competed fiercely and ran successful administrations. But the violent intrusion of over-centralising military rule since 1966, especially through the General Aguiyi Ironsi’s Unification Decree, gradually eroded fiscal autonomy with subsequent multiple new states and LGs completing the descent that has turned today’s states and LGs into beggars.

According to this board of editors, and which I absolutely agree with, there is no alternative to radical reform; funds are simply no longer there to waste. The World Bank reports that, globally, regional governments are increasingly deploying Information Communications Technology to increase accountability, sustainability and quality of service. The about 600 federal ministries, departments and agencies should be pruned with similar cost-cutting at the states and LGs.

State Governments should downsize their outspized bureaucracies but deploy staff and school leavers to more productive ventures in agriculture, trades and vocations as office works are better automated than use of men in order to free resources for rural infrastructure and make their states magnets for investments in agriculture, mining and SMEs.

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Incessant Road Accidents On Our Major Roads

One thorny and heart-saddening salient disaster that has become prevalent within the suburb of Osogbo and other neighbouring towns in the State of Osun is the recurrence of road accidents. Much as many encomiums would be directed to the state government for its heavily felt midas touch in the construction and rehabilitation of roads infrastructures, more still need to be done to alleviate this unbecoming disaster that has been on the rise.

Rather than often, barely a day that one wouldn’t witness or hear about a fresh road accident. The rate is quiet alarming as this would only slow down the seeming pace of economic growth in the state. How do we account for a situation whereby able minds in the working class get involved in road accidents due to lackadaisical attitude of road users?

Worthy of commendation is one of the safety net programmes put in place by the government of Osun, the O’Ambulance scheme. This initiative has helped saved many lives due to the quick response health services administered to road accident victims as they are designated and stationed along major routes in the State.

What need be done? Besides the state government’s directive to ban road-side hawking and other business activities, strict measures and punishment should be placed in line for deterring traders. The State House of Assembly should enact and pass such a bill into law.

There should be an awareness campaign by Road Safety Commission and non-governmental organisations for the teeming populace, the major road-users on the need to secure their lives from impending danger that could come to be as a result of bad road usage culture.

Faulty vehicles that break down on the roads should not be left, they should be towed away to a safety haven so as to prevent crash on the highway. Strict punishment should be placed on road traffic defaulters too as I have many times seen fatal accidents caused by this negligible act.

 

  • Oluwafoyo Akanmu.

Kobongbogboe, Osogbo.