Chuma Nzeribe, Peter Obi, and Political Treachery

By Okey Ndibe

Governor Peter Obi of Anambra is one of the luckiest politicians in Nigeria’s history. He’s in danger of turning himself into one of the most historically blind as well.

In 2003, Mr. Obi ran as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). He won the election, his appeal buoyed by widespread disenchantment with the four-year banditry of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, the PDP’s one-term governor, had come to epitomize wretched governance.

It was reported that a hectoring, ill-educated “godfather” named Emeka Offor had facilitated Mr. Mbadinuju’s emergence as governor. When both men fell apart, the then governor, a former newspaper administrator and lawyer, preoccupied himself with survival. Unable to discharge even the minimal obligations of the government, Mr. Mbadinuju adopted the clownish role of a pastor-in-chief. At one point, he owed pensioners and state workers as many as twelve months of unpaid pensions and salaries. Yet, week after week, the man seized the airwaves and importuned the hapless victims of his disastrous policies with indulgent sermons that quoted liberally from the Bible.

Mr. Mbadinuju, who was educated at Cornell University, proved that attendance at a grand academy was no inoculation against failure. The people of Anambra came to blame Mr. Mbadinuju’s wretched tenure as a consequence – in part, at least – of the war of attrition between him and forces allied with his erstwhile “godfather.”

That perception, and the residents’ determination to free themselves from the PDP’s vicious stranglehold, fueled the triumph of Mr. Obi, a then little known banker and businessman. When the PDP stole Obi’s mandate, installing Chris Ngige as governor, Mr. Obi went to court to redeem it. Some of us admired the tenacity with which he pursued the reclamation of that mandate. He rebuffed pleas to pack it in. He rejected the pleas of those who contended that Mr. Ngige was performing well – having dumped his own equally unlettered “godfather,” Chris Uba (as well as Mr. Uba’s enabler, then President Olusegun Obasanjo) – and deserved to be permitted to stay on. A believer in the principle that the people are sovereign, I lauded Mr. Obi’s fortitude and persistence. He was correct – I believed then and believe now – to insist that he was not at liberty to abandon the pursuit of an office that was bequeathed by the voters, but hijacked by the PDP.

Mr. Obi’s streak of luck continued in 2007. After Mr. Obasanjo, the PDP and former electoral commission chairman, Maurice Iwu, conspired to impose Emmanuel Nnamdi (Andy) Uba as Anambra governor, Mr. Obi returned to court. Facing formidable opponents and forbidding odds, he summoned that stubborn streak in him. He scratched his way, round after grueling round, to the Supreme Court – which then declared Mr. Uba an impostor, sacked him, and asked that Obi continue as governor till early 2010.

When Mr. Uba made relays to the Supreme Court and other courtrooms, seeking to snatch away the governorship, Mr. Obi stood firm and beat back his antagonist’s insidious schemes. In Anambra and all over Nigeria, Obi became a charmed and fascinating figure, a politician of considerable heroic stature. If he remained steadfast and governed with the same zeal and commitment that he brought to legal jousts, this governor could have made himself a compelling candidate for some exalted elective office in the near future.

Alas, Mr. Obi, the man of great luck, appears intent on betraying not only the people who stood behind him but also undermining the image he worked hard to earn. To admirers of Governor Obi, this must be the strangest of times. Is the man aware of the consequences of this act of self-miniaturization?

The word on the street is that Governor Obi is working assiduously to fold up APGA and hand over its remnants to the PDP. Here’s a man who had the opportunity to husband APGA into a strong political player, one capable of establishing itself as a colossus in the south-eastern part of Nigeria in much the same way that the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has become an indomitable force in the south-west. But rather than work at realizing this prospect, Mr. Obi has chosen to make APGA a tool in the hands of some of the worst elements in the PDP.

Last January, APGA held its version of primaries in Anambra. It turned into a wholesale give-away of party tickets to PDP members who’d made last-minute (and highly suspicious) defections to APGA. One such element is Chuma Nzeribe, a man who’s managed to feature in one questionable role or another in the crises-prone politics of Anambra. One of the most embarrassing moments came when the party, with the apparent blessing of Governor Obi, gave its senatorial ticket for Anambra South to Mr. Nzeribe. How perfidious was that decision?

Let’s count (some of) the ways. Mr. Nzeribe was the chief security officer to former Governor Mbadinuju when the Bakassi Boys, a vigilante group, carried out some of its worst excesses, including extra-judicial killings that appeared politically motivated. The most gruesome of those murders, that of Barnabas Igwe and his wife, remains an open sore on the state. Mr. Igwe, a leader of the bar, was one of Mr. Mbadinuju’s fiercest critics.

Chuma Nzeribe was a member of the Chris Uba circle that ensured that Anambra remained ungovernable as part of a strategy to cow the intransigent Ngige into surrendering to the godfather he had the temerity to forsake. This cabal arranged the gangster-like abduction of Mr. Ngige by scores of police officers led by former Assistant Inspector-General of Police Ralph Ige, since deceased.

In November 2004, this clique sponsored the invasion of Anambra by truckloads of thugs. For three days, the hired wreckers swept through the state in an orgy of arson and destruction. Escorted by the police, the arsonists destroyed state-owned television and radio stations, a state-run hotel, the governor’s office and several other buildings as well as cars. The spree left the people of Anambra shocked and awed. It also burdened them, by some account, with damages in the range of thirty billion naira. At the height of the mayhem, a triumphant Chuma Nzeribe addressed the press and dared Mr. Ngige to appear in Awka, the Anambra State capital.

Nobody – not a single person – has been prosecuted for this act of impunity, shocking even for a country with Nigeria’s history of outrageous conduct. I have urged Governor Obi to pursue reparations on behalf of the people of Anambra. I happen to know that other people have also sought to nudge him into action – to no avail.

Governor’s Obi’s political romance of Chuma Nzeribe is simply bizarre and cruel, a puzzle embedded inside a riddle. It’s as cruel a way to repay the people of Anambra for their generous goodwill as possible. Even if Mr. Nzeribe were a bankable electoral asset, his selection as APGA’s senatorial candidate would still be traitorous. In the event, he is a certified underdog. In 2007, he was smuggled into the House of Representatives as a beneficiary of the ruling PDP’s do-or-die rigfest. In July 2009, a panel of the Court of Appeal sacked him from the legislature, declaring that he had usurped the place of a lawyer, Vitalis Okafor, who was the legitimate nominee. That judgment elicited widespread celebration in Anambra, including Ihiala, Chuma Nzeribe’s hometown.

Why, then, are Governor Obi and APGA in such haste to resurrect the political career of a man whose ethical and political deficits are so gargantuan? Why is APGA being remade, before our very eyes, in the image of the PDP, a party whose rejection by the people of Anambra led to Obi’s political ascendancy? How would Obi justify the historically absurd decision to align with the PDP, a party whose record in Anambra stinks?

INSECURITY: Arewa, retired security chiefs in crucial meeting

By JIDE AJANI, Editor, Northern Operations & ALBERT AKPOR

ABUJA – THERE were strong indications, yesterday, that the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, is not about to let up on its relevance within the Nigerian polity as it has scheduled a meeting of very senior retired military officers of Northern extraction to a meeting slated for Wednesday, March 23, 2011.

Vanguard has authoritatively discovered a letter of invitation dated March 1, 2011, sent out by the ACF to 44 of such individuals.

This came as the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, yesterday, queried the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Abubakar Alkali, over the disturbing spate of crimes in the state.

The letter of invitation was signed by Colonel Musa Shehu (rtd), in his capacity as the Secretary General of the elite Northern body.

The invitation indicated that at the end of the deliberations “submissions would be made to the Federal Government as our contribution to finding solution to the incessant communal and ethno-religious conflicts ravaging our region in particular and Nigeria as a whole.”

Security situation

The document which is in Vanguard’s possession reads: “PROPOSED MEETING OF FORMER SECURITY CHIEFS OF NORTHERN EXTRACTION

“As you are now aware, the security situation in the country has taken a turn for the worst. For quite some time now, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, has engaged its members in different Standing Committees in order to come up with suggestions that could be made to assist those in authority to effectively address the worsening situation.

It is at one of these sessions that it was agreed that the North has large resources of credible experts, experienced and respectful professionals whose input would enhance the integrity of any submission by the ACF.

“Consequently, it was agreed to request you to personally participate at a roundtable set up for this purpose by the ACF. Your discussions would be free and frank and would be made to the Federal Government as our contribution to finding solution to the incessant communal and ethno-religious conflicts ravaging our region in particular and Nigeria as a whole.

“As an accomplished professional and very highly esteemed member of our community who has served and headed your service meritoriously at one time or the other your personal attendance and participation will be greatly appreciated.

The roundtable is planned to hold on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at the ACF Conference Room No. 11A, Sokoto Road, Kaduna, from 1100hrs.”

The Roundtable which is proposed to be chaired by Alhaji M D Yusuf, GCON, has the following distinguished personalities as invited participants:

*Lt. Gen M I Wushishi, GCON; *Gen. Domkat Bali, GCON; *Alhaji Umaru Aliyu Shinkafi, GCON; *Alhaji Mohammed Gambo Jimeta, CFR; *Air Marshal A D Bello, GCON; *Lt. Gen. Salihu Ibrahim, CFR; *Alhaji Aliyu Attah, CFR; *Lt. Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, GCON; *Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, CFR
*Brig. Gen. Haliru Akilu, CON,; *Admiral Saidu Suleiman, CFR; *Alhaji Ismaila Gwarzo; *Major-Gen. A Kazir, CFR; * Air Vice Marshal Idi Musa, CFR

*Major Gen M C Ali, CFR; *Air Marshal Al-Amin Dagash; *Lt. Gen. Victor Malu, CFR; *Lt. Gen. I I Bamaiyi, CFR; *Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi, GCON; *Major Gen. Sarki Mukhtar; *Amb. Adamu Mohammed; *Amb. Babagana Kingibe, CFR; *Alhaji Bukar Usman, MFR; *Amb. Ibrahim Zakari, CON; *Gen. Martins L Agwai, GCON; *Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Sabo; *Major Gen. A M Halidu Giwa; *Air Marshal Isaac Alfa, CFR; *Air Marshal Jonah Wuyep, CFR; 8Major Gen. Mohammed Said; *Lt. Gen. A D Danbazau, CFR; *Mr. Afakriya Gadzama, MFR; *Vice Admiral I I Ibrahim, CFR; *Brig. Gen. M A Umar, Secretary”

The document pleaded that the invited personalities should “kindly indicate your availability to attend by contact the following coordinators of the roundtable meeting: Gen. Haliru Akilu (rtd), Brig. Gen. M N Umar (rtd), and Colonel Musa Shehu (rtd). While we look forward to seeing you at the Roundtable, be assured of our usual respect and sincere regards.”

A security expert, however, told Vanguard that “it is curious that such a meeting of strategic importance is being called at a time like this and not earlier”.

IGP queries Lagos CP

Apparently disturbed by the spate of armed robbery in Lagos State, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Hafiz Ringim, yesterday, warned the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Abubakar Alkali, to buckle up or be prepared to leave the state.

The IGP in a signal signed by his Principal Staff Officer, PSO, said he was particularly worried over reports of incessant armed robberies and civil disturbances in Ketu and Mushin areas of the state since Alkali took over from his predecessor, Marvel Akpoyibo. He noted that instead of reducing, crime rate has since shot up astronomically.

Meanwhile, the CP was said to have held a marathon security meeting with his senior officers yesterday with a view to finding solution to the spate of insecurity in the state.

Change of officers

A source was quoted as saying that one of the mistakes Alkali might have made was the immediate change of some senior officers in key commands instead of consolidating. He said: “We told him that a good administrator does not dismantle an already existing structure but he seemed not to have heeded that golden advice. What he did was to bring in his kinsmen who are totally alien to what is on ground. The result is what you are now seeing.”

 

Why the North will always feel betrayed by President Jonathan, by Mohammed

From Saxone Akhaine, Kaduna

Newly elected Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) National Chairman, Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, spoke on how he intends to reposition the Forum, how President Goodluck Jonathan betrayed the North, his vision for the North, why the April elections must be credible. He spoke with SAXONE AKHAINE in Kaduna. Excerpts:

CONSIDERING the circumstances that led to your emergence as the national chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), what would you say about the leadership issues in the Forum?

The Forum doesn’t have any problems with leadership. For instance, the Forum is not a new terrain to me; I have always been with the northern elders. I have been with them from inception when the late Abdurahman Okene led it. Later on, we had leaders like Waziri Katagun, Sule Katagun and the Second Republic president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Then came the time when the late Sultan advised and decided that we should all merge into one organisation in the North because we all had the same objectives. He then set up a committee and suggested the name, ACF. He set up an organising committee to merge the three existing bodies then under the leadership of the Emir of Ilorin. We went on for about a year to do this and set up the ACF, that was 10 years ago really and at that time I was in the Executive Council of the Northern Elders Forum. The Chairman was the Galadima of Katsina, Justice Mamman Nasir. After that merger, the institution harmonised and a constitution was raised for one organisation. So, we have had various leaders since then, from MD Yusuf, the late Sunday Awoniyi, IBM Haruna and now myself.

Events leading to the April elections have exposed the ACF as being a political organisation…

The ACF is not a political organisation, but we know in reality we cannot say that we will not be involved in national politics, particularly as it affects the North. We want to ensure that the North gets the leadership of the nation when it is due. And we also want to ensure that the leadership is devoid of ethnic and religious influences. The membership of ACF cuts across all the regions in the North, and all are adequately represented within the Forum’s hierarchy. The ACF is also concerned about the peoples’ culture, business, and governance itself.

We have had problems in the past. For example, the problem of the Tiv and Jukun; now we have Jos, Bauchi, Borno crises, particularly Boko Haram. We have really tried as an organisation, to negotiate and advise government on how to resolve most of the problems. We successfully resolved the problems in Taraba we are now working on the crises in Jos and in Borno, and we will certainly put it behind us.

What do you make of the controversies over zoning and rotational presidency that engulfed the ACF and do you have plans to reconcile the warring groups in ACF?

When the Northern governors discussed zoning, they categorically declared that they were pro-zoning. And the ACF also accepted zoning. The arguments have been widely published. The South had eight years under President Olusegun Obasanjo. And when the leadership came to the North, President Umaru Yar’Adua unfortunately died in office before he could even complete his first term. But the feeling in the North is that the North should complete the next four years before it goes back to the South. The governors understood and accepted this position. In accepting it, the ACF advised the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that if President Goodluck Jonathan was going to contest, then he should see that the PDP constitution is changed because the party accepted zoning in its constitution. But if the constitution is not changed, then Jonathan should go to another party that does not have the constraints to contest. The governors agreed, but they found some spurious reasons to make a U-turn. In the end, we saw what happened in the presidential primaries.

Beside our monthly meetings, we are going to have an Annual General Meeting (AGM), which will be chaired by former head of state General Yakubu Gowon, who is also the chairman of the Board of Patrons. There is no problem. Whatever the ACF agreed upon we have them in various communiqués and we stand by them. I don’t think it is true that ACF feels threatened or being torn apart. Most of the divergent comments are personal opinions of people who do not accept zoning. The ACF has its stand. These people should understand that the North did not moot zoning initially; the suggestion came from the former Vice President, Chief Alex Ekwueme and it was agreed and put in the PDP constitution. If there was no zoning, the President himself would not be where he is today; if there was no zoning, people will be free to contest elections anywhere. Zoning was to give us a sense of belonging, so that no part of the country will feel cheated. The president was among those who agreed on zoning and he signed it. Now he has said that he will not go for second term, but that he will serve for four years. How can we trust that he will keep to his words if he could not abide with an agreement he signed on zoning? How can we trust that after four years he will go? After four years he might say that circumstances forced him not to leave. If you cannot keep your word, of course people cannot trust you. That is the point.

Will ACF support President Jonathan or ask the people to vote for him?

The ACF believes that people will be left their conscience when they vote. Our preference should have been really that zoning continues. We are not going to tell people not to vote. We are not like the Ohanaeze Ndigbo that has asked their people to vote for Jonathan. The danger of that position is that they are telling the North that they have done away with zoning. And they are expecting to have the Presidency in 2015 and they want other parts of the country to support zoning then. Today, if Jonathan is contesting, it means there is no longer zoning and the North will look for candidates and use its numerical strength to chose whoever we think should lead this country.

Would the ACF prefer that Jonathan did not run?

Naturally, the North feels cheated that it does not have the option to continue after the death of President Yar’Adua. We accept that the 1999 Constitution says the vice president should complete the tenure of the late president. But he should have respected the agreement on zoning. He should have allowed the North to complete its four years and he could still contest.

Your predecessor, Gen. Ibrahim Haruna congratulated President Jonathan after the PDP primaries despite the ACF position on zoning…

That is his view. I am following what the ACF has agreed on. The ACF issued statements and a communiqué that stated the Forum’s standing on zoning. If he said anything to the contrary, it is his view.

Comment on the cost of governance under the presidential system of government?

Our constitution is supposed to be tailored towards the American type of constitution, and it has its own advantages and disadvantages. When the military came up, they brought the Presidential type of government and promised that there was going to be a plebiscite to make sure that it was accepted, but they didn’t do that. So, we are following the constitution and model of government and that is what we have at the moment. Until it is changed, this is the reality facing us.

How much has the present democratic governance benefitted the nation in the last 12 years?

I really don’t know, and people must understand that for this country to remain united, every part must have a sense of belonging. You can’t isolate one section and say that you are running a country. Everybody must have a sense of belonging. If we look at the South West, for example, they are leading in education and they are also leading in economy. The South East have a high entrepreneurial spirit and they are great traders. In every corner of the country, and in every village that you go, you will find a shop owned by an Ibo man. The North has a lot of catching up to do. We have not got the education like the others, but I believe there is hope. For example, there are more universities in the North now, so, it is a matter of time before we will catch up. In any case, democracy is all about numbers, it is the numbers that will vote you in and not any other thing. So, let us wait and see.

How will your leadership handle the problem of underdevelopment in the North?

What we need to do first is to have the unity of the North. There have been frail nerves and we have to unite our people. And we have to look at the issue of education. We have been doing that but we have to be more serious now. We are worried that education is getting worse in this country. It is shocking to hear that at the Senior Secondary School level, only 20 per cent passed the final examinations, when actually we should be have 99 per cent. That is what other countries are having. We can’t progress without education. We have to also encourage people to set up industries, so that our people can get employment. The biggest problem is elite unemployment; our universities are producing thousands of people without jobs for them. After their national service, they stay for three or five years without a job. These are the things we will look into.

What will you be telling northerners ahead of the April polls?

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has promised that every vote will count. This means that what happened in the past will not happen. People will vote, their votes should count and whoever wins will be the choice of the people. What people are worried about is when some people fraudulently win elections, and then want to claim to run the country. So, if people are elected with popular votes and there is no fraud, then the result will be accepted. My advice is that we should hold INEC to its promise in April. The government should not think that what is happening today in Middle East cannot happen in Nigeria if people want to do the things that have been done in the past.

 

ACTION CONGRESS OF NIGERIA USA CHAPTER

                                                                              Motto: Justice, Peace & Prosperity

                                                                              ACN: Democracy for Justice             

                                                                 P.O. BOX 29356, WASHINGTON, DC 20017

                                                               Email: [email protected]

PRESS RELEASE

February 25, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC USA 

ACN-USA ENDORSES AKANDE AND RIBADU AS IT ELECTS NEW OFFICERS AT ITS 2011 CONVENTION IN ATLANTA USA

The Action Congress of Nigeria, United States Chapter at its National Convention held in Atlanta Georgia on Saturday, February 12, 2011 endorsed the Chief Bisi Akande led National Executive Committee of the party that emerged at the Benin Convention. ACN-USA also endorsed the presidential primary in Lagos at which Mallam Nuhu Ribadu emerged as the presidential candidate of ACN. ACN-USA noted the rising profile and gains of ACN and attributed them to the focused, principled and progressive leadership of Chief Bisi Akande, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other national and state leaders of the party. ACN-USA calls for free and fair elections in April 2011 and urged Nigerians to vote for change and progress by voting Mallam Ribadu and all ACN candidates to power.

ACN-USA convention was heralded by the National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akanda who used the occasion to explain and assert the nomination process employed by the party in picking its candidates for the April 2011 elections. In his address titled “Candidate nominations by political parties in a democracy“, Chief Akande presented a studied comparison of the varied processes employed by political parties in several countries practicing electoral democratic form of governance. He noted that there was no uniform process of picking candidates as each party does so under a set rules and defined nominating processes. He demonstrated that even within countries, parties differed in the method they employed in selecting their candidates. He pointed out that in every case, each party has the responsibility of presenting candidates who would represent their interest and are loyal to the party and its ideals. He maintained that ACN’s nominating process will continue to evolve and charged members of ACN-USA to study the ways the process can continually be improved and make recommendations to the party.

Also addressing the Convention was Otunba Henry Ajomale, Chairman, ACN-Lagos State, who brought the goodwill of the ACN Governors and the States Chapter Chairmen, commended ACN-USA members for committing to raising the flag of ACN in North America. He enumerated the sterling performances of the ACN Governors in Lagos and Edo States, and asserted with emphasis that the same is bound to hold in Ekiti and Osun States. He maintained that ACN is bent on turning the “brain drain” from Nigeria in to “brain gain” as the party would not shy away from seeking, welcoming and deploying the abundant reservoir of knowledge, talents, skills and experiences present at the convention. He acknowledged the dedication and performance of ACN-USA members who have joined the governing team in Lagos and Edo and insisted that the same level of dedication and performance is envisaged from those joining ACN governments in Ekiti and Osun. 

A profile of the party’s flag bearer in April 2011 Presidential Election, Malam Nuhu Ribadu was presented by Dr. Dawudu who saluted the qualities and character of Malam Ribadu. He urged the convention to gear up to work to elect our candidate as the next President of Nigeria and to be ready to receive our candidate when the Presidential Campaign train comes to North America. 

The Convention also welcomed representation from the leadership of the party in Nigeria and delegates from other Diaspora Chapters including the United Kingdom and South Africa. The convention was also addressed by Chief Olu Adeuyan, Mr. Idowu Ajanaku, the Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Media and Mr. Kayode Opeifa, a pioneer member of ACN-USA and Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Transportation.

Earlier In his address, ACN-USA chairman, Tony Ike Isama, acknowledged the services of the  out going Executive and thanked them for being steadfast in preserving ACN-USA and upholding discipline amongst its ranks. He called on Federal Government and INEC to ensure a free and fair elections and promised that ACN-USA will deploy all its resources to monitor the April 2011 elections and expose to the whole world any irregularities that may be discovered.        

The Convention produced new officers to lead ACN-USA for two years. The officers are: Tony Ike Isama (re-elected overwhelmingly as the Chairman), Adesegun Labinjo (Deputy Chairman), Kunle Oshunlalu (National Secretary), Femi King (PRO), Ayo Olashege (Financial Secretary), Felicity Mbanefo (Woman Leader), Alade Williams (Treasurer) and Henry Adesanya (Organizing Secretary).

The Convention was concluded with a dinner party, celebrating the ACN recent victories in Edo, Ekiti and Osun States. Recognition awards were presented to all ACN Governors as well as to ACN leaders including Chief Bisi Akande, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Dr. Chris Ngige, Otunba ‘Dele Ajomale, Oloye Lekan Awojoodu and Barrister Dele Alade. The

The convention was attended by ACN members across USA and beyond including the Convention Chairman, Barrister Dele Alade, Oloye Lekan Awojoodu, Dr. Andrew Anugwom, Dr. ‘Biodun Dada, Mr. Kunle Masha, Mr. Femi Akande, Mr. Friedry Nwoghiren, Mr. Lasisi Mohammed, Mr. Philip Ekeson, Mr. Musiliu Jibowu, Mr. Adeola Odusanya, Chief Emeka Malokwu, Dr. Babs Onabanjo, Hon. Shakirudeen Ayoade, Mr. Sesan Omomo, Mr. Tyrone Adeyemi, Mr. Charles Odiase, Mr. Dapo Ojuade and many others.

Signed

Femi King, Publicity Secretary

Ogun not well-governed, says Obasanjo

By Ernest Nwokolo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday said, Ogun, his home state, should be properly governed henceforth so that others can emulate her in future.

Obasanjo said given the abundant blessings coupled with the calibre of great men, including himself that hail from the Gateway State, there must be no excuse as to why it cannot be run well.

He said:” Whatever one believes must be done. Some are asking what does Obasanjo wants? And I said nothing except that Ogun state should be run well, to be an example out of the 36 states. There is no reason why Ogun should not be run well.

“In this Abeokuta we are well blessed. This is the land four great men came. They are Prof. Wole Soyinka, Kuti, Chief MKO Abiola and I. We are contemporaries and each of us stands for what we believe in but we don’t see eye to eye. Nepotism is not in any of us. We believe in justice and fairness.”

He spoke during his birthday eve variety show at Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Amphitheatre where members of the Kegite Club International entertained guests.

The former President urged people to cultivate the courage to do what is good to uplift the country and society without expecting any commendation.

According to him, “if you expect the commendation of humans, you will be most disappointed.”

He said people should take a cue from Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed who despite their popularity and service to humanity were ill – treated by the same people they helped.

Jonathan’s advisers under pressure to quit

By Yusuf Alli

Fresh facts emerged yesterday that there is pressure on some members of the Presidential Advisory Council(PAC) to quit the group following disagreement over the decision of President Goodluck Jonathan to run in the April election.

It was learnt that those who opposed Jonathan’s bid for the presidency may leave PAC after the April poll.

The PAC, which is headed by a former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophillus Danjuma (rtd), was inaugurated on March 5, 2010.

It was raised by the President to advise his government on key policy issues and directions in view of the controversy that trailed Jonathan’s emergence as acting President and later as the nation’s number one leader.

But when the President offered to seek a fresh mandate in April, some members of the PAC, described as ‘young elements’, opposed his aspiration.

Worried by the rejection of their advice, these young elements had decided to leave PAC.

Investigation, however, showed that some elderly members of the PAC had prevailed on the young elements not to quit now.

A top source in PAC said: “Some influential members of PAC had advised the President, before he declared, not to run for the presidency. They wanted him to complete only the tenure of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.

“But the President said he would consider the advice and weigh options.

“His ambition does not enjoy the support of many members but he later decided to give his aspiration a trial.

“The young elements in PAC are still insisting on their point that the President has no business with April presidential poll.

“Following Jonathan’s insistence, they chose to opt out of PAC because they claimed that their relevance has been called to question.

“The presidency does not want them to leave because of the backlash on the President’s campaign.

“Also, elders in the council warned members who wanted to leave that their exit might be misinterpreted politically and it may take a partisan dimension.

“There were fears that the council might also split along political divides over the President’s ambition which would not augur well for the objectives behind the inauguration of PAC.

“Although some members of PAC like Fola Adeola, Bamanga Tukur, Chibudom Nwuche, and M.D. Yusuf, had already taken a position on April poll, the leadership of the council has been trying to manage the situation to avert any major split.

“So, they prevailed on the younger ones to remain and allow the tenure of this current administration to end.”

Another PAC member said: “We were asked not to quit because if there is any major political crisis, the council will be in the best position to address it.

“So we have heeded the advice of the elders. But after the poll, some of us will quit because there is no point remaining in a council where your advice does not count.

“Look at the 2011 Budget, 60 per cent of it is voted for recurrent expenditure and 40 per cent for capital estimates.

“Is there anywhere in the world you have that kind of budget. We have given advice but they seem not to accept it on the budget.”

Besides Danjuma, other members of the council are a foremost constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze (Deputy Chairman); ACN Vice-Presidential candidate, Mr. Fola Adeola; Mallam Abubakar Gimba; a former Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Mr. Basil Omiyi; a former Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji M. D. Yusuf; a former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; Amb. G. B. Preware; Prof. Bartholomew Nnaji, and Mr. Kase Lawal.

Others are Mallam Muhammed Hayatuddeen; a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore; Hon. Chibudom Nwuche; Mrs. Mobolaji Johnson; Hajiya Halita Aliyu; Alhaji Magaji Danbatta; Prof. B. G. Bajoga; Dr. (Mrs.) Sally Bolujoko; Mrs. Mariam Uwais , and Chief Kanu Agabi.

Others are Dr. Bamanga Tukur; Alhaji Ismaila Isa; Prof. Shehu Said Sarinwata, and Dr. Simon C. Okolo, the Chairman, National Economic Summit Group, and the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation( Secretary).

Court Injunctions And April Polls

 

Stakeholders have expressed concern that the spate of different court injunctions may affect the general elections slated for April, Jayeola Oyekan writes.

Defining the role of the judiciary in a democracy is a very difficult adventure as democracy itself can rarely be said to contain a natural or intrinsic role of the judiciary. Hence, the role of the judiciary in advanced democracies as the United States. The United Kingdom and Australia to mention a few are substantially different from the role of the judiciary in modern democracies. According to a learned scholar. “The French Revolution assigned to judges in France a function very different from the function assigned to the English judges by what is sometimes called the Glorious Revolution”.

However, various scholars who have had the opportunity to write on the role of judges in a democracy agreed that the role played by judges in a given country or a society is discernible by not only what the judges in that society do but how they do it. In other words judicial style dictates the role of the judiciary. There is also a common agreement that judiciary in a modern democracy plays very crucial roles: that apart from protecting individual liberty and freedom. it maintains checks and balances on the powers of the legislative and executive branches of government.

In the past two and half decades, the Nigerian judiciary has been plagued by several problems and challenges that seem to question its role and style in our nascent democracy. One of such challenges that have become a very serious albatross is reckless nature of its judicial activism and the way judges exercise their discretions in granting injunctions. One subject that clearly reflects public interest is election: there is a general resentment against the judiciary tampering with electoral process even though; there are clearly some situations where public interest also demands that injunctions be granted in certain extreme situations.

However, the strong public interest in having elections go forward unhindered usually outweighs the granting of injunctions that may delay elections: and if the court must exercise this equitable remedy, efforts must be made by the courts to ensure that injunctions are rarely granted and that courts do not become a market place for deciding political and electoral questions. It is therefore; improper for courts to unduly interfere with the April 2011 general elections as such an exercise will encroach on the voting rights of Nigerians and violate the Electoral Act, 2011.

Very few Nigerians would forget the late Justice Bassey Ikpeme who was used by the former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida to set the agenda for the eventual annulment of the June 12. 1993 Presidential election which the late Chief M.K.O Abiola convincingly won. Reports had it at that time that Justice Ikpeme who was a young judge of the Abuja High Court was influenced by the military to grant an injunction at mid­night and under a candle light on the eve of the June 12 presidential election restraining the then National Electoral Commission from conducting the election despite the fact that the late judge knew that she had no jurisdiction to entertain the case brought before it by an amorphous organisation led by Arthur Nzeribe due to the “ouster clauses” in the electoral decree passed by the same military government. By this singular act of recklessness and judicial activism, the judge ruled that elections must not hold, thus setting the tone for the annulment of the most credible election in the political history of Nigeria.

The Nigerian judiciary still has many judges whose present roles and styles in our democracy today are similar to the roles played by the late Justice lkpeme judging by the spate of injunctions and counter injunctions flying around the political space barely less than two months to the April general elections. Apart from the salutary effect on INEC who has been forced in many instances to display the names of candidates who were not presented by their parties to the commission in accordance with the Electoral Act, political parties and their members have also been disenfranchised and may be robbed of their rights by the judges who routinely grant injunctions in a reckless manner. Some of the candidates on the lists currently being displayed by INEC neither emerged winners in their party primaries nor participated in party primaries. Some even do not belong to any political parties but were able to secure court injunctions to compel the INEC to substitute their names with those that were validly nominated in any political parties of their choices! In some cases, after the party’s primaries were concluded and the party announced a candidate, an aspirant who did not win would go to court and obtain a court order compelling the INEC to recognise him; rather than moving to vacate the order, the candidate that won would rush to another Court to procure a counter order directing the INEC to publish his name.

While INEC is groaning under the weight of judicial activism and questionable injunctions, political parties are yet to commence campaigns in several states for the same reason. hi the same vicious cycle, the general public have been deprived the opportunity of assessing the candidates in order to assist them in making informed decisions ahead of the general elections that would assist them to vote for the right candidates. In short, these injunctions are aimed at promoting rule of chaos as opposed to the rule of law.

As at today, the INEC may have received well over 100 injunctions and’ orders either stopping the electoral body from including some candidate on its list or substitute the names with some others who in many cases are even unknown to the political parties. The INEC Commissioner for Legal Services, Mr. Philip Umeadi (Jnr.), while reacting to the sad developments by our judges in one of the National dailies recently, admitted tl1at the trend was precarious and might portend a serious threat to the forthcoming elections. Cautioning the judiciary, the commissioner who himself is being accused of high handedness with the way he picks and chooses which of the court orders should be obeyed by the INEC, warned the judiciary against allowing itself to be used by politicians to rubbish its integrity and image. Umeadi also confirmed to a national newspaper that the fears being expressed in certain quarters about the deluge of court orders derailing the election were real.

Quoting from the newspaper. Umeadi said: “As today (three weeks ago), orders are still being served and information available to us from some of the courts indicate a number of cases waiting to be assigned to judges, which would be heard and of course ex parte orders compelling INEC to do one thing or another would be expected. But I can assure you, we will go ahead with the publication of the candidates’ list. In our books, we have noted some of the areas where there are concerns in most of the states. and we also appreciate the fact that most of the cases are still pending. I make particular reference to the one in Enugu State, which is pending. I also note the one in Ogun State, which is pending. So, I think at the end of the day, we should be able to sieve all these cases and have a clearer picture Honestly, the fear that the avalanche of court cases can derail the April elections is real”.

Umeadi did not just mention Enugu and Ogun states cases in isolation; they both present very pathetic examples of the race by the judiciary to threaten the forthcoming elections. Ironically both cases involves the People’s Democratic Party and they are ~ Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal Court, Abuja.

ruling People’s Democratic Party and they are before Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The National Legal Adviser of the PDP after the successful conduct of the primary of the party in Enugu State had submitted the name of its governorship candidate, Governor Sullivan Chime for publication. In an ex-parte application brought by one of the governorship aspirants, Mr Anayo Onwegbu, and 38 others, Justice Abdul Kafarati granted an order restraining INEC from accepting or validating Chime’s name as the party’s standard bearer for the governorship poll. Justice Kafarati also ordered the PDP not to submit the name of Chime as its candidate for the forthcoming governorship election in the state, pending the determination of an action challenging his alleged nomination. Fortunately, at the resumed hearing on January 16, 2011, Justice Kafarati vacated the order. Lawyer to INEC, Mr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), had argued that if the interim order was not vacated, it might affect the chances of the PDP fielding a governorship candidate for the April poll in Enugu State.

The case of Ogun State is similar in all particular materials with that of Enugu State. From the motion to vacate the order of Justice Kafarati dated January 26, 2011 and brought by Mr. Lateef Fagemi (SAN)on behalf of the PDP National Secretariat and other newspaper reports, the party held its primaries in Ogun State between January and February 2011 where the party’s candidates emerged and the names submitted to INEC. However, a section of the party in the state led by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo who either did not participate in the party’s by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo who either did not participate in the party’s primaries or lost the party’s nominations approached the court for an order substituting the list of names of the validly nominated candidates which contained the name of Mrs. Lola Abiola-Edewor, daughter of the winner of the 1993 presidential elections, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, with a list of people who did not participate in the primaries including the name of Senator Iyabo Obasanjo, daughter of ex-President Obasanjo. Justice Kafarati granted the order and compelled the INEC to substitute the PDP list with the list of Obasanjo’s candidates.

The National Secretariat of the PDP had disowned the list and challenged Kafarati’s order, informing the judge also that he was misled by the Obasanjo faction to obtain the order. The motion to vacate which was filed about three weeks ago is still pending before the Justice Kafarati thereby presenting a cloud of uncertainty over the fate of the PDP in Ogun State.

As the general elections are drawing near, our courts must work round the clock to remedy these situations by vacating their conflicting orders thereby reassuring the general public that the country is not about witnessing yet another late Justice Ikpeme’s situation. Effective dispensation of justice and public confidence is vital to the role of the judiciary in a democracy.

According to the Hon. Murray Gleeson, the then Chief Justice of New South Wales in a public lecture entitled: “The role of the judiciary in A Modern Democracy” which he delivered at the annual judicial conference of Australia in 1997: “A great deal of public money is invested in courts, and the community is entitled to demand that they be administered efficiently and effectively. The public are entitled to expect that individual judges will do their work efficiently, as well as fairly, will manage cases with ‘due regard to considerations of economy, and will deliver judgments reasonably promptly” .

•Oyekan sent this material from Abuja.

In Defence Of PDP Decampees‏

By ADE Olugbotemi

 

When some members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) woke up from their slumber barely one week after Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was rightly returned to Oke-Fia government House and Abere secretariat to decamp to the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN….. Democracy for Justice), I was one of the first set of people to castigate the chieftains of ACN for allowing this to take place at all. I have my reasons: (a) there is bound to be agitation from the long standing party faithful who did endure the inclement political atmosphere of the past eight years or so. (b) The people who are decamping now are major stakeholders in the party that now constitutes the main opposition in Osun State that once held sway and plundered the common wealth of the people. (c) The tendency of an average human being to want to exert influence, in turn, through competitive rigmarole which usually tends towards self-aggrandisement is inborn and innate for survival. There are many other reasons which time and space may not allow to be listed. I have since discovered that this process of carpet- crossing which is a continuous one has become inevitable. This is what I intend to expatiate on this week.

Watchers of events around the state of OMOLUABI have expressed different opinions about the leadership style of the man at the helm of affairs. While some see nothing wrong in the various steps so far taken, some have described Aregbesola’s leadership style as too ambivalent; and the later appear to be in the majority. One thing that is not lacking in the divergent opinions is that God has brought one man to the fore whose tenure will herald change that is known only in few geographical jurisdictions in the largest country in black Africa. We can now beat our chest that we have seen one man who matches words with action and who is out to convince all that we can do it right if we choose to. What requires is just to be steadfast and commit to memory what we have promised and follow this up with constant evaluation that will enable us to adjust when the need arises.

In Osun State, I can say majority of us are disciplined and thoughtful. At a point in time when persecution was at its crescendo, I thought the politicians in the progressive circle and the people would surrender by openly declaring support for villainy that the last administration was known for. In the face of unequalled intimidation, when it became risky to decide to live in Osun State without rallying support for Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, people still decided to stick to their guns and remain hopeful that one day, the Lord, who is the right. Judge will redeem His people when it behooves Him to do so. The few people in the progressive camp that decamped during the inglorious administration of Oyinlola were actually those wolves in sheep’s clothing, ready to sell their birth rights for a morsel. Such an experience creates avenues for people to carve a niche for themselves such that when history becomes a reference material; their marks will be on the sand of time.

Some heroes fell to the power of bullets that became efficacious in the hands of the tyrants that ruled us till the early hours of November 26, 2010, and it is remarkable that Aregbesola is planning to immortalize them. I believe that the untimely death of those innocent ones will continue to hunt Oyinlola whose duty was to get rid of enemies as a soldier but decided to extend that mentality to the period when, as a civilian governor, he was supposed to make civility his toga. The blood of the innocent will be accounted for before the Supreme Judge, in whose sight there is no obscurity. All that may appear as history today, but at the appropriate time, the evils of yesteryears will reverberate when the mouth will turn agape at the retribution of the Almighty.

The new governor is an Omoluabi to the core and he has shown no pretence about his intention to sell the quality to everybody that is resident in Osun State. To give everybody a sense of belonging, he has apportioned slots to all segments and groups; including those who are non-Yoruba’s, but have chosen Osun State as their place of abode. There is room for everybody to maximize potentials because of the environment that has now been made congenial by the government of Aregbesola. There is freedom of expression now and all segments of the society, irrespective of political affiliation can now operate freely without any fear of intimidation or molestation. It is like Aregbesola is saying: “Shame on you, if you cannot be your best”. The step to assuage frailed nerves through the peace and reconciliation commission is commendable. This will definitely put everybody on equal pedestal when adequate compensation for the injustice suffered in the past is affected. Kudos to the man of vision and mission.

To my mind, enough ground has been covered to convince the doubting Thomases that it is no longer business as usual. We are now far away from an era when a leader would say something and do another thing or when a leader would do something and tell the people that something else had been done. All that are yet to be accomplished of Aregbesola’s six-point agenda have been well-laid in the policy plan that will only take time for their execution. The trust from the people is in place and this is what any government in power needs to succeed. It is only those who want to remain resolute in their evil concupiscence that will be adamant in playing politics with the destiny of Osun State. It is equally they that will claim not to see anything good in Osun State these past few months.

There is no longer anything to be shameful about to decamp to Action Congress of Nigeria, even if only as sojourners for the next four years. Anybody who wants to remain relevant must join hands with Ogbeni Aregbesola to move Osun State forward. There seems to be no room for idleness in this present era and it is efficacious that everybody keys himself or herself in to be part of pleasant stories that will soon be told of Osun State. Those within the ACN party hierarchy that may get carried away by the expectation of cake portions may soon find out that they have become dysfunctional to the structure they toiled to build while the struggle lasted. That is why we must all embrace the new challenges that the hydra-headed process of state-building poses.

More PDP stalwarts and faithful will soon find their ways into the ACN. Whether we like it or not, we will together co-habit and work together to move Osun State forward and upward to the status of OMOLUABI state that God has destined for us through the man of destiny that God has raised at this time to make history. The revolution that is ongoing calls for serious mobilisation so as to really conquer the parasites that have crept to the top echelon of governance with the sole aim of impoverishing the majority when only a few of them remain in affluence and plenty. The challenges before us go beyond politics if we want Ogbeni Aregbesola to succeed. There must be enough room, conducive to accommodate all those who have decamped and those contemplating this move in the near future.

There is a word for those who are decamping to ACN at the moment. They must see the opportunity to let them in, to the ruling party as that to right the wrong of the past: God Himself said that there is joy in heaven for a sinner that repents of his sin. The past is gone. The present is ours to see what we can do to repair what we have advertently or inadvertently destroyed in the past. The danger is in our inability to have ample chance for the corrigenda of the past. There is opportunity now to strip ourselves of the guilty occasioned by the commission and omission of the past when once again, we will be justified by God and by the people that the past errors were borne out of man’s infallibility.

Before I am done will this issue, I like to commend the leadership of the ruling party in Osun State who have been liberal enough to maintain an open door policy towards those who have decamped and those who will yet decamp. The governor and the party leadership must however not get carried away by the influx of decampees, especially from PDP. It is possible that some of them have been posted as spoilers so that the good intention of the present government will remain unachievable. There is the need to take heed and be watchful so that any intrigues to frustrate the good intention of government may be detected before it is too late.

No minimum wage, no elections in April, Labour threatens FG

From FRANCIS AWOWOLE-BROWNE and BIMBOLA OYESOLA, Abuja

Organised labour yesterday drew the battle line with the Federal Government and threatened to mobilise against the conduct of the April general election except the new wage bill is signed into law.

The unionists vowed that no governorship election would hold in any state except the governors showed commitment to paying the new wage awaiting passage at the House of Representatives after the Senate had passed it last week.

The labour leaders went into a marathon session yesterday to deliberate on the minimum wage against the background of the claim by their erstwhile leader and now Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, that they were going to have problems with the state governors because the most of the governors were against the new wage.

Oshiomhole had advised the labour to prevail on the Federal Government to review the revenue allocation formula to favour the states and local governments so that they could have more money to meet their obligations, adding that most of the governors would like to pay but didn’t have the means. However, labour leaders discountenanced the advice that they should plead with the Federal Government to review the revenue allocation formula but would tackle the federal and state governments headlong because the issue touched on law and not sentiment.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), President Abdulwaheed Omar, quickly dismissed the position of Oshiomhole as a mere distraction, warning that it would be a total showdown with government should the National Assembly fail to pass the bill before the end of its tenure, adding that congress would not allow itself to be arm twisted.

Omar said: “That would be a distraction and we have come a long way in the battle. Therefore, all the parties agreed we are not going to listen to any further excuses. It would be uncharitable for them to be giving us conditions after the whole agreement has been sealed and the law was already being processed.”
The delegates to the 10th quadrennial conference of the NLC, holding in Abuja, then resolved at their session yesterday that there would be no elections in the states without payment of the new wage noting that the workers patience had been tested enough by the state governments.

They expressed their frustration with the state governments over the matter and took a position not to allow elections in those states if the governors failed to pay because it would amount to disobeying the law.
The congress president insisted that “the ultimatum we are giving to the government is that the new minimum wage bill must be assented to by the president before the dissolution of the present National Assembly. Failure of both the executive and the National Assembly to collaborate and ensure implementation of the wage bill would put the April elections in jeopardy as workers would ensure the elections do not hold.”

Oshiomhole had explained that the Federal Government allocated to itself 47. 3 per cent of the total federal revenue, leaving the states and local governments with only 43.7 per cent and in the process the Federal Government had more money to throw into projects that had no value to the people rather than giving it to states and local governments, which has responsibility to the people at the grass root.

It was on the basis of this that he called on labour to rise up to the challenge and engage the Federal Government on the revenue allocation formula.

Our Fears for Free, Fair Polls, by Opposition Parties

By Ike Abony

Fears that the much-touted free and fair polls by President Goodluck Jonathan may not be achieved were expressed across the country by opposition political parties at different fora Wednesday.

Leaders of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), hinged their fears on their inability to access public places and federal government airplanes for their campaigns.

They, therefore, accused the federal government and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of deploying state security agents to restrict their campaigns.

Speaking while receiving a delegation of an US-based International Republican Institute (IRI) led by the former President of Ghana, Mr. John Kuffour, Director-General of Nuhu Ribadu Campaign Organisation, Chief Audu Ogbeh, told the visitors that: “We have fears, we are not allowed access to public venues, soldiers are often deployed to rallies.”

Ogbeh specifically cited Benue, his home state, where his party has been denied the use of a public square for its campaigns and insisted that: “There are visible signs of harassments, subtle attempts to muscle our candidates, attempt to resurrect dead cases, unless these signs are removed we can’t believe that there would be free and fair election.”

Corroborating Ogbeh’s fears, ACN’s Presidential Candidate, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, said the party delayed the flag off its campaigns by one week because of the refusal of permit.

He said the PDP has carried on as if the other parties never mattered’ noting that public property, like aircraft and others, have been used by the PDP Presidential flag bearer as if it is their own alone.

In his brief remark the former Ghanaian leader said “we are here to see and listen so as to be able to formulate an opinion for stakeholders in Nigeria, we are honest observers’’ He said that Nigeria is so strategic to Africa especially West Africa and whatever happens here, whether positive or negative, affects Africa.

In Ebonyi State, citing an unfavourable security report as well as inadequate public space in the state, Governor Martin Elechi of the state yesterday asked the national leadership of the ANPP to shelve its planned national rally and flag off of her presidential campaign in the state.

“In the face of these developments, the proposed rally, at this particular time is therefore an open but avoidable invitation to anarchy knowing that the Governor will be unable to restrain the angered and embittered youths of Ebonyi State from a man whose track record has been a recurrent tale of anguish and suffering for Ebonyi Youths. Consequent upon the foregoing, the entire Nigerian Nation is being alerted of this development… Let the ANPP chieftains hold their rally elsewhere,” Elechi stated.

When contacted on phone, the ANPP National chairman refused to react formally preferring to do so after studying the tape of the governor’s broadcast.

Elsewhere in Minna, Niger State, barely 24 hours to the zonal Presidential rally of the CPC, the Niger State Police Command has advised the party to postpone its rally.

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mike Zuokumor, who made this known to journalists in Minna yesterday said, the CPC was asked to postpone its presidential rally as a result of the party’s inconsistency.

Zuokumor added that the reason the command has asked the CPC to postpone the Presidential rally is because the PDP would also be flagging off its zone A senatorial campaign at Suleja which will coincide with the CPC flag-off that might trigger off crisis.

“We have advised the CPC to postpone their presidential rally from 3rd to a convenient date because there is security information that a possible conflict between the supporters of both parties could arise if they are allowed to hold on same date due to proximity of their venues”.

 

April polls: ACN, PDP show strength in Lagos

Eric Ikhilae

LAGOS was groaning yesterday under a massive traffic jam – no thanks to a show of strength by the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The ACN pulled massive crowds at four rallies to present its candidates in the April general elections. The PDP held a rally at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in the heart of the city to drum up support for its presidential candidate Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

The coincidence of the rallies, to many a resident, pointed to a test of popularity between the two leading parties.

There was no shopping at the TBS Shopping Centre. Besides, all the adjoining roads were blocked by security agents.

Fashola, who attended rallies at the Agege Stadium and the Volkswagen grounds in Ojo on the outskirts of the city, flew in a Chopper to the rallies.

The other ACN rallies were held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere and at the Gbagada playground.

Juju songster Sunny Ade was on the band stand at the TBS rally. Fuji star Adewale Ayuba thrilled ACN faithful at the Teslim Balogun Stadium rally.

The ACN rallies were huge, throbbing with party supporters and excited residents who came to see Fashola as well as listen to the message of the leaders.

At the TBS were PDP chiefs, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Olabode George, Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki, Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel, Speaker Dimeji Bankole, PDP Acting National Chairman Dr Haliru Bello, Nigerian Ambassador to Ghana Musiliu Obanikoro and Imo State Governor Ikedi Ohakim.

Others are: Ghali Umar Na’Abah, Mrs Sarah Jubril, Jimoh Ibrahim, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, PDP vice chairman, Southwest, Alhaji Oladipo Tajudeen, Governors Akwe Doma (Nasarawa), Ibrahim Idris (Kogi), Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo), Minister of Petroleum Dieziani Madueke, former Deputy Governors, Mr Femi Pedro and Mrs Koforola Buknor-Akerele, and Mr Olusola Obada, among others.

President Jonathan, who noted that the Federal Government has abdicated its responsibility to Lagos, said this situation led to the decay of its infrastructure.

He said a committee had been set up to review Federal infrastructure in Lagos. “Those we feel that can be handled by the state government, we’ll let them have them; those we feel must be handled by the Federal Government, we’ll look into them.

“If it’s road we’ll repair them and if it’s houses, we’ll renovate them.”

The President added: “We want to return Lagos to its pride of place. In achieving this, we’ll work with the private sector, including either privatising or selling federal infrastructure in Lagos.”

The aim, according to Dr Jonathan, is to revive the economy, using Lagos as a model “because of its strategic importance”.

He promised to address the problem of infrastructure in Lagos, if re-elected.

Jonathan said he would modernise the Murtala Muhammed Airport road and the Tin Can Port road to ease goods clearance.

“Lagos is important and in view of its cosmopolitan nature, Lagos is where we have to emphasise that we have no enemy; we have nobody to fight. We will work with you to improve the economy of this country,” he said.

Jonathan praised the efforts the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Akintola and Chief Moshood Abiola, among others, in the political development of the Southwest.

He said he intended to emulate those leaders in his effort to revamp the economy through the initiation of policies that would stimulate investment, improve infrastructure and ensure job creation.

Obasnajo, who spoke briefly in Yoruba, interspersed with pidgin English, said he would be discontented should his party lose in both the presidential and governorship elections in Lagos.

In a song: Lau erebe erebe lau, lau erebe erebe lau, Obasanjo onigba kadibo kamawole o, Lau erebe o, erebe lau.” (Obasanjo will not be contented that we vote and lose).

He assured Jonathan of victory at the poll, saying he has the support of the people. He also congratulated him in advance.

Vice President Sambo, who pleaded for support, described President Jonathan as the most qualified of all the presidential candidates.

Speaker Bankole, who also spoke in Yoruba, urged the people to vote PDP, assuring them that the Federal Government will provide them with security.

The party’s governorship candidate, Ade Dosunmu, promised a better alternative by reducing taxes. He will also improve infrastructure and standard of education.

At the ACN rallies, party leaders railed against what they called the PDP’s ineptitude, urging the electorate to defend their votes.

Fashola accused the PDP of squandering Nigeria’s wealth. He urged the people to liberate themselves by voting the ACN.