Jonathan gets 360 ministerial nominees . Ex-govs, Makarfi , Agagu, Segun Oni tipped . Minister, wife fight over slot

AYODELE OJO AND SOLA ADEBAYO

President Goodluck Jonathan has invited nominations for ministerial appointments from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). National Mirror reliably learnt that President Jonathan sent letters to the state chapters of the PDP requesting for 10 nominees from each state last week. In the letter from the Presidency, Jonathan asked the party to “nominate 10 eminently qualified persons to occupy executive positions” in his administration that would take off on May 29. Sources told National Mirror that virtually all the states have sent their nominees accompanied with their credentials to President Jonathan before last Friday. South West vice-chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo, confirmed the development last night.

“That is very correct. We have since complied with the directive,” Oladipo told National Mirror on Sunday. A top presidential aide also confirmed the development, saying “President Jonathan wants an all-inclusive government where qualified party members are given opportunity to serve the nation.” “The whole essence of this approach is to have a pool of competent Nigerians to man strategic executive positions at the federal level. From this pool, Mr. President will select majority of his cabinet members and those that will hold strategic positions in parastatals, agencies and other executive positions. I can tell you that the selection won’t be jobs for the boys.” The source, however, noted that President Jonathan could still pick some of his cabinet members outside the PDP nominees. Already no fewer than 360 nominees have been sent to President Jonathan for consideration. It was learnt that the selection of the nominees was done by the incumbent governor, in states where PDP is in control, and party leaders at the state level. A source in the Presidency told National Mirror that a compact committee headed by President Jonathan is subjecting the nominees to serious scrutiny.

The source said: “First of all, competency evaluation is being done on the nominees by the President. Those who scaled through the first huddle would also be screened by the security agencies on their suitability for the job. I can tell you that the processes will be completed before inauguration on May 29.” With the new development, serving governors and godfathers in the ruling PDP may determine the composition of the new Federal Executive Council (FEC) under the leadership of President Jonathan. Already, it was learnt that Jonathan has advised the present ministers willing to return to the cabinet and those lobbying for appointment into the new FEC to relate with the political leaders and governors of their respective states. Findings showed that Jonathan has conceded to the political leaders and governors, especially of the states controlled by PDP to compile and nominate credible Nigerians for consideration for appointment as ministers by the Presidency.

It was gathered that the latest disposition informed the invitation extended by the Presidency to some leaders of PDP at the states’ and national levels to the recent presidential retreat hosted by Jonathan in Obudu Ranch, Cross River State. Our sources revealed that Jonathan has been directing Nigerians angling for appointment as ministers to the PDP leaders and governors of their states. One of our sources, a serving minister said the disposition of Presidency probably informed the exclusion of the members of FEC from the presidential retreat in Cross River. The minister said the action had left the present members of the FEC at the mercy of the governors and the PDP godfathers. Consequently, the outgoing ministers desperately curry the friendship of new power brokers, especially the governors in order to guarantee their return into the new cabinet. For instance in Delta State, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godsday Orubebe and the Minister of State for Education, Chief Kenneth Gbagi, were of late reported to be currying the friendship of the state Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. Orubebe and Gbagi, regarded as strong loyalists of the Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, were embroiled in deep-rooted political crisis with Uduaghan. “The fact that the ministers were not invited to the presidential retreat held recently in Cross River showed that the ministers are no longer in the reckoning in the scheme of things in the Presidency. The party leaders at the national level and the governors of PDP are holding the ace.

“The outgoing ministers and ambitious party men craving for appointment into the new FEC are jostling to have the attention of the godfathers and governors of their states. We now have a situation in which these godfathers and governors have become thin god,” lamented the minister, who pleaded that his name should not be mentioned in print. A top PDP stalwart told our correspondent that some serving ministers would find it difficult to make it back to the Jonathan’s cabinet as they were not nominated for consideration by the party at the state level. For instance, Defence Minister, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN), did not feature in the Ondo State list; the minister has been suspended by the state party for anti-party activities. Rather former governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, and top party members find their way into the list. In Ekiti, ousted Governor Segun Oni, and Minister of FCT (State), Caleb Olubolade made the list. National Mirror learnt that Senator Ahmed Makarfi is being tipped as ministerial nominee for Kaduna State. Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State, lost his return bid to the Senate to Dr. Ahmed Datti, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

An impeccable source told National Mirror that serving governors who lost their re-election bid are making spirited efforts to be part of President Jonathan’s cabinet. Governors Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo), Akwe Doma (Nasarawa), Umaru Shinkafi (Zamfara) and Ikedi Ohakim (Imo) failed to secure a second term at the April 26 governorship polls. Meanwhile, a serving minister and his wife (names withheld) were reported to be on war path over the membership of the new FEC. It was learnt that the minister, who planned to retain his job in the new cabinet was upset that his wife was also lobbying for appointment as a minister in the new dispensation. Findings showed that the woman, who served as a director in the campaign team of Jonathan was seriously lobbying to unseat her spouse in the post May 29 cabinet.

The minister is from the South/South while his hubby, a key player in the oil industry, hails from the South/East. It was gathered that the woman was mobilizing and exploring her contacts, especially with the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, to secure the plum job. One of the aides of the embattled minister told our correspondent yesterday, “There is a serious threat to the ambition of my boss (name withheld) to return to the federal cabinet as his wife (name withheld) is also lobbying for appointment as a minister. “With the enormous power and tremendous influence and intimidating contacts of the madam, it is doubtful if the ambition of my boss would not be truncated,” added the source, who craved anonymity. Presidential spokesman, Ima Niboro declined to react to the report. Niboro ignored calls and text messages to his cell phones requesting his reaction to the report.

Ribadu Moves To Kabul, Afghanistan To Fight Corruption

By Saharareporters, New York

Nuhu Ribadu, the presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria and former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has quietly relocated to Afghanistan to assume duties as a member of the Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee in that country.

Ribadu was appointed to the position by the United Nation’s Department for International Development (DFID) in Afghanistan, in December 2010.

The former EFCC boss started work in Kabul last week. His schedule will take him between the cities of Kabul and Kandahar on a regular basis.

Text of Team Ribadu’s Press statement:

The Presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, today begins a three-week country governance audit of Afghanistan as part of a six-man international monitoring team set up by the United Nations under the “Afghanistan Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee.”

Mr. Ribadu left Nigeria for Afghanistan last Tuesday, May 3; joined five other team members in Dubai; and traveled into Kabul at the weekend where they are expected to fine-tune the strategy of curbing corruption in the troubled country.

The committee’s duties, according to briefing papers from the Department of Foreign International Development, DFID, and the United Nations Development Programme office, include a review of the social, political, economic and cultural conditions giving life to corruption in the country, which they tag “drivers of corruption,” and a sustainable proposal on how to curb the crime and moral ill that has ravaged the image and international standing of the conflict ridden country.

Aside from offering best “approach and principles” of fighting corruption, on a legal basis”, the monitoring team, according to its mandate, is also expected to propose ways of ensuring that international aid and development financing to Afghanistan meets with the country’s “national priorities.”

Afghanistan (ranked 176th) is the third most corrupt country, with a CPI (corruption perception index) of 1.4 according to Transparency International, with only Somalia (178) and Myanmar (176) ranked worst. Nigeria is ranked 134 with a CPI of 2.4 among the 178 countries ranked

Members of the committee who were appointed late last year commenced work on April 21 with a teleconference on the task at hand and how to achieve their mission.

The monitoring and evaluation is expected to help the Afghanistan government in its fight against corruption and also guide the international community on how best to relate with the country.

Though the committee is expected to complete its work in two years, media aide to Mallam Ribadu, Ibrahim Modibbo, said that the task will not affect Mr. Ribadu’s national priorities and his continued commitment to the growth and development of Nigeria.

“It is Mr. Ribadu contribution to the global fight against corruption that has gotten him this recognition. This will however not deter him from playing his roles as a responsible citizen and political leader in our country.”

“You know, his party, the ACN, controls six states and Mr. Ribadu will do all he can to ensure that the governors of those six states bring the dividends of democracy to their people in order to let Nigerians know that the ACN is the best party to rule the country” he added.

Buhari: How INEC rigged for Jonathan in 20 states

By Kamarudeen Ogundele, Abuja

CPC urges tribunal to order fresh poll over Lagos, Kwara, 18 others

The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) yesterday began its battle to upturn President Goodluck Jonathan’s victory at the April 16 presidential election.

Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s party filed a petition before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, just ahead of today’s deadline for submission of petitions.

The CPC is asking for the nullification of results in 20 states where it said the election was rigged.

The states where the CPC is alleging substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act and other irregularities are: Lagos, Bayelsa, Kaduna, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Kwara, Adamawa, Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Enugu and Cross River.

Others are: Rivers, Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo Anambra, Benue and Plateau states as well as the FCT.

In the petition anchored on two grounds and filed by Mr. Ebun Shofunde (SAN), Abubakar Malami (SAN) and Alasa Ismail, the CPC is asking the tribunal to set aside the presidential election and organise a fresh election between the CPC and the PDP.

The CPC also urges the tribunal to hold that Jonathan and his running mate, Namadi Sambo, were not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.

The CPC plans to prove that there was substantial variation in the voters’ register used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the presidential and governorship elections. To that extent, says the party, INEC and its chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, unlawfully manipulated the register to the advantage of Jonathan and Sambo.

It accused INEC of using different voters’ registers containing different number of voters for different elections.

The petitioner also alleged that ballot papers were used at polling stations other than the original places they were made for.

The CPC alleged also that there was under usage of ballot papers at some polling stations, adding that such papers were moved to various polling units in facilitation of ballot stuffing in favour of the PDP.

It said there was significant number of ballot papers missing in some polling units that were never accounted for. This, the CPC said, ultimately affected the result of the presidential poll.

The petitioner urged the tribunal to declare that Jonathan and Sambo were not duly elected.

It also urged the tribunal to declare that Jonathan did not fulfil the requirement of Section 134 (2) of the 1999 Constitution.

That Jonathan did not score the highest votes cast, did not meet the one-quarter mandatory votes cast in addition to scoring two-thirds votes cast in all the states of the federation and the FCT.

That it may be determined that the result declared by Jega on April 18, 2011 by which Jonathan was returned as elected president is wrongful, invalid and unlawful.

That the election held on April 16, 2011 did not produce a winner as contemplated by the provision of the 1999 Constitution.

The tribunal should therefore, direct Jega to arrange another election between the petitioner and the PDP in conformity with the provision of Section 134(4) of the 1999 Constitution, said the CPC.

The party has lined up 151 witnesses to prosecute its case.

The PDP has also raised a legal team to challenge Buhari’s result in the North.

It has hired forensic express to analyse six million of Buhari’s 12 million votes and to prove under age voting in the North.

Buhari won 12,214,853 to Jonathan’s 22,495,187 votes.

It was Buhari’s third attempt in a row at becoming Nigerian elected president. He was the Military Head of State between January 1984 and August 26, 1985.

The CPC accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of frustrating its efforts to file the petition. It claimed that all entreaties to get sensitive materials to use in arguing its case proved abortive.

In an exparte application filed last Friday, the CPC asked the tribunal to compel INEC to release certain sensitive materials used during the polls to it.

CPC National Chairman Prince Tony Momoh said yesterday in a statement that the party decided to go to the tribunal to point out that lapses observed before and during the elections “were not adequately addressed, if at all”.

The statement reads: “Today, Sunday May 8, 2011, our great party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), puts its name in the history books of this great but highly stressed and manipulated country to draw attention to persisting injustices that a few have visited on the many. The few are the ruling elite who have refused to access power through obedience to the laws of the land but rather in breach of them. When we intimated INEC of the abuses we noticed even before the elections were started in early April, we were assured in writing that the lapses would be addressed.

“That we are in court today points to the fact that those lapses were not adequately addressed if at all. We said from the outset and still believe that elections in Nigeria can be free and fair only when people who are registered to vote are allowed to vote, that the votes are counted and that the votes count in the choice of those who seek their mandate.

“We say the results announced to the world were manipulated, where the elections took place, between the polling units and the collation centres.

“We have made certain demands on INEC to ensure that the materials listed for inspection for use in our petition against the election are available at INEC National Headquarters to be accessed. We will not accept any diversion being introduced into this matter by INEC asking us to go to their state electoral offices in the country. We will insist on examination of the documents at INEC’s National Headquarters. For example, we are aware that the original of forms EC8D and EC8E are with INEC here in Abuja. Form EC8D is the summary of results of all local governments in each state, and form EC8E is a summary of results of all the states of the Federation and the FCT.

“We are not just shouting wolf by going to court. The PDP and all other stakeholders in the Nigerian Enterprise have asked us to go to court. Our candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, says he is not going to court, and that between 2003 and 2007, he was in court for a total of 50 months.

“But we, the party that sponsored him and his running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, have decided to go to court to question the conduct of an election that has been trumpeted to the world as free, fair and credible.

“We are even encouraged by what the newspapers have published that the ruling party has packaged a legal team to question the scores credited to our candidate in his areas of strength. This is acceptance that the elections were flawed.

“The outcome of the case will no doubt enrich our electoral case law, especially in the area of forensic examination of fingerprints on the ballot papers.

“If we want to grow this country, we must clean up that area which has to do with the procedures for choosing our leaders. We want to contribute to the fulfillment of this dream.

In the ex-parte application filed last Friday, the party is praying for an order of the court directing the commission to seal all the Direct Data Capturing Machines (DDC machine), ballot papers and ballot boxes used in the election so as to preserve them for forensic test.

The defendants are the INEC, its National Chairman (Prof. Attahiru Jega), Jonathan, Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The ex-parte motion was brought pursuant to Sections 77(1) and 151 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), Order 26 Rule 8 of the Federal High Court (civil procedure) Rules 2009.

The applicant also wants an order directing INEC and Jega to produce for inspection and permit it to take copies of the documents/materials/ballot papers used in the election as shown out in the schedule to the motion.

Challenges before the helmsmen

Kemi Olaitan, James Danjuma, Chukwuemeka Chukwuka, Aza Msue, Sola Busari, Tony Anichebe and Dennis Agbo

The just concluded governorship election in the country has, no doubt, tilted the equations in Nigeria’s political landscape with new faces thrown up as chief executives in their respective states. And the governorselect are savouring their sweet victories even as they await their swearing-in on May 29. But, how prepared are they for the daunting challenges before them in the next four years? What really are these challenges? Would they justify their elections and rise up to the challenges or would it be business as usual? Our correspondents, Kemi Olaitan, James Danjuma, Chukwuemeka Chukwuka, Aza Msue, Sola Busari, Tony Anichebe and Dennis Agbo looked at the peculiarities of the issues confronting the incoming governors in their various states

Oyo
For the governor-elect in Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the road to electoral victory in the governorship contest was one strewn with many thorns, the memory of which would linger in the mind of the Ibadan-born businessman cum politician, for a long time to come. He rode on the back of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to victory, defeating the incumbent, Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). However, as Ajimobi is getting ready to occupy the Agodi Government House, there is no doubt that he would have to prepare himself for the many challenges ahead so as to endear himself to the people of the state.

For a state in the politically sophisticated South-West geographical zone of the country, it would be particularly interesting to see how Ajimobi and his other new-elects in the region would justify the confidence reposed on them by the electorates. One task Ajimobi would have to contend with on assumption of office will be how to resolve the problematic crisis in the state Council of Obas and Chiefs. The out-going government appears to have set a trap for him with the hurried signing into law of a bill, stripping the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, of the Permanent Chairmanship position of the Council.

To analysts, Ajimobi, who is coming in as a first time governor, would require the wisdom of Solomon to ensure that he would not be seen to have taken side in the matter, most especially when the royal father of Ibadan where he hails from is also involved in the contest. The governor-elect would also have his hands full with the crisis over the ownership of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso. While the state government under Alao- Akala maintained that the school remains the property of the state, his Osun State counterpart, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, has been insisting that the university is a joint property of both Oyo and Osun governments.

Ajimobi would be expected to bring in his administrative pragmatism to resolve the protracted feud. He is equally not expected to toy with the new minimum wage to avoid being on collision course with workers in the state. Many see the issue of minimum wage as a delicate one, which they anticipate the governor-elect should handle with care. There are also those who believe that the state still yearn for meaningful development. To them the issue of infrastructure, health, education, and good roads are things that should occupy the agenda of the incoming government. Indeed, the outgoing government has been accused of profligacy by most people who accused it of not having much on ground compared to the revenue which accrued to it from the federation account in the last four years.

One of such analysts, Barrister Wale Olajide, is of the belief that the change, which he said the people of Oyo State clamoured for, can only be meaningful if the governor-elect aligns with the peoples’ needs. According to him, the most important element in determining progress in any society is peace, thus it is necessary for Ajimobi, to serve as a rallying point for all in the state irrespective of political, religious or ethnic affiliation. Also, one of the traditional rulers in the state, the Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Ganiyu Adekunle, Ologunebi 1, urged Ajimobi to appoint people of impeccable character into his cabinet. “I urge you to appoint people of intellect, honesty and integrity as members of your executive for the development of our dear state,” Oba Adekunle said. As the people of the pace setter state wait for their governor-elect to assume the mantle of governance, his performance in the next four years, based on the expectation of the people would determine whether by 2015, he could, with confidence face the people and tell them, “I have delivered on my promise.”

Ogun
Just like the neighbouring pace setter state, the people of Ogun State, is anxiously waiting to welcome Senator Ibikunle Amosun, to tackle the issues they consider most important in their lives. The issues have been broken down for Amosun, the ACN governor-elect.

Adequate water supply
The greatest problem facing the people of the state right now is the issue of acute water shortage, which has persisted over the years. As at now, many residents of the state, especially in Abeokuta, the state capital have to pay heavily to meet their water needs. For instance, in major parts of the town like Isabo, Isale-Igbehin, Sapon, Ijaiye, people now have to queue even to buy well water. According to Mrs. Grace Salako, a fashion designer, who resides in the area of the town, a 20-litre keg of well water sells for N25 and getting it to buy is always a difficult task.

Road maintenance
Many of the roads in the state, especially in the state capital, Abeokuta are in a terrible state of disrepair. But, with Otunba Gbenga Daniel’s initiative on the Ogun State Roads Maintenance Agency (OGROMA), which was a huge success before mismanagement set in, the Amosun government is expected to resuscitate OGROMA to ensure that good roads are back in the state.

Hike in school fees
Another major and very profound problem Amosun would inherit is the issue of hike in the fees paid by students in higher institution of learning in the state. A concerned parent, who pleaded anonymity and who has three children in the state polytechnic (MAPOLY), said he had already withdrawn one of them from the school due to his inability to cope with incessant increase in fees in the school. According to reports, the situation is not different in all other higher institutions owned by the state government.

Issue of garage take-over
There is also palpable tension in most of the major garages and motor parks in the state. It is a well-known fact that whenever there is a change of government, garage officials loyal to the new administration would want to assume leadership of the garages. This often leads to violence and with unfortunate blood-letting. This, according to informed opinions in the state, is a situation the governor-elect cannot afford to be associated with.

Kano
Although the incoming administration of Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has set an agenda for itself, when the governor-elect admitted that high level of joblessness in the state is largely responsible for pockets of crisis Kano has recorded over the years. Kwankwaso, who is coming in through the PDP after defeating the incumbent Governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), has promised that something has to be done to salvage the situation. Aside that, many residents in the state believe that Kwankwaso’s government would have a lot of job to do if he must endear the people to his government. Kwankwaso, who was Kano State governor between 1999 and 2003, and who is known to be plying a familiar terrain is promising massive job creation that will engage the teeming youths, who have become vulnerable because of their idleness and are being used as foot soldiers, particularly by desperate politicians.

“My priority in my second coming would be to explore the possibility of creating massive employment opportunities that will gainfully engage the idle youths, so as to contribute to the economic development of the state and this I intend to do by embarking on the resuscitation of industries in the three industrial estates of Bompai, Sharada and Challawa,” he said. Kwankwaso has also noted that with the current epileptic power situation in the country, there is no way he could accomplish his goals and has therefore decided that his government will root for Independent Power Project (IPP). He said with this done, the ailing industries will have the opportunity to bounce back and in the process offer employment to the youths. “And this in my opinion would a go a long way in checkmating the mischief of politicians, who engage these boys in nefarious activities to promote their selfish ends,” the incoming governor promised.

In the view of some major stakeholders in Kano, another vital area the incoming administration should focus on is security. With the volatile nature of Kano, residents are of the opinion that security should be a priority in the next four years. There has been open confrontation between the non-indigenes, particularly and the government over the issue of Sharia. This conflict came about following the activities of the Hisbah Guards, the Sharia Enforcement Agents, popularly called the Sharia police, some of whom have displayed high sense of overzealousness in prosecuting their assignment, such that pitched them with the non-Muslims and non-natives. Apart from pockets of conflict over the Sharia issue, the eight-year tenure of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau has been mostly peaceful and residents expect further improvement on security from the incoming administration. Shekarau will also be remembered for his accommodation of nonindigenes in his cabinet. There were three non-indigenes appointed during his tenure; one each represented the South-East, the South-West and the Middle Belt.

This action, in the opinion of many, went a long way in not only promoting co-existence but also brought the government closer to the non-natives, who were known to have been given some sense of belonging. The non-indigenes will not expect anything different from this laudable policy of the outgoing administration. Eze Ndigbo in Kano, Chief Boniface Ibekwe, has this message for Kwankwaso, “He should as much as possible try to keep peace in the state as well as restore the confidence of investors so that people can come to Kano and invest. The state has lost its glory, due largely to crisis because most investors have fled Kano because of insecurity. He should see this as a challenge and again the conflict between Muslims and Christians over Sharia is not healthy.

So, in his second coming and as someone who started Sharia in the State, he should take practical steps to end this conflict by ensuring that those charged with the responsibility of implementing the Islamic legal code know their limit and should be told that Sharia in the state should have no business with non-Muslims,” Ibekwe advised. Dr. Jimpat Aiyelangbe, a medical doctor and Yoruba leader in the north also said that Kwankwaso’s government should emulate the kind gesture of Shekarau, who gave non-indigenes positions in his cabinet. “Under Shekarau, we had three special advisers on inter-community relations. In Kwankwaso’s regime, we should hope for more, not just three special advisers, we expect to have commissioners in his government. We all know that Shekarau tried in the area of security, it is our belief that the incoming government will improve upon the security situation in the state as well as strive to promote coexistence among natives and non-natives, Christians and Muslims living in Kano so as to avoid the occasional conflicts the state has recorded in the past over religious intolerance,” he said.

For Bishop Ransom Bello, the Kano State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and overseer of Calvary Life Assembly Church, “Kano used to be a great state economically, only next to Lagos; what brought Kano down? This is what we should find out; of course it is incessant violence, which has promoted instability in the state. ”

Katsina
Much of Katsina State is rural and agrarian with over 70 percent dwelling in villages and hamlets. The dearth of basic amenities like electricity, good drinking water and roads, as well as government incentives to boost agriculture, often leads to the search for better opportunities in the urban areas. This trend must be reversed if, according to opinions, the governorelect, Ibrahim Shehu Shema is aiming to make appreciable impact to improving the lots of the people. Shema would also have to facilitate the joining of many rural communities to the national grid, increase effort to avail them of basic amenities as well as construct more roads that would open such areas to the outside world. Apart from those, he would have to deal with the issue of quality education as well.

The state often allocates high budget to education and its school structures are some of the best in the country. Yet, the quality of pupils and students being produced from these schools are often source of worry for many stakeholders in the state. Not only does substantial number of the students perform woefully in final-year examinations, as recorded in the last Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) and National Examination Council (NECO) examinations; they also often have problem of expressing themselves when speaking and writing in the English language. The state in the next four years would have to make plans for the education sector that would provide for effective training and retraining of teachers as well as recruitment of teachers with English background.

Zamfara
The enthusiasm that greeted the emergence of Hon Abdulaziz Yari as Zamfara State governor-elect no doubt goes to show the kind of acceptability his government would enjoy when it comes to power on May 29. Yari, a House of Representatives member, had contested on the platform of ANPP to defeat the incumbent Governor Aliyu Shinkafi of the ruling PDP. With his victory at the poll, Yari is set to face the task of state building, to justify the confidence reposed on him by those who voted him to power and for the general interest of the people in the state. One of such challenges is in the agricultural sector.

The state’s slogan ‘Farming is our Pride’ is based on the fact that agriculture is the most important occupation of the people, with substantial budgetary allocation going to the sector on yearly basis. Yet, agriculture in the state remains majorly at the subsistence stage, with commercial farming seemingly reserved for the wealthy few. Analysts say Yari would have to initiate policies that would reverse the trend, including helping more farmers to grow local and cash crops in commercial quantity, and providing an enabling environment for easy access to loans for those interested in expanding their farming businesses. There are also those who say he would have to build on what the outgoing governor is doing where agricultural inputs and seed monies are distributed to entrepreneurs.

Yari would also have to deal with the problem of poverty and dearth of basic amenities in the rural and urban areas of the state. The rural areas, citizens of the state say, need to be provided with basic necessities of life like good drinking water, good roads and affordable housing for the populace. The problem of illegal miners would be another headache for the governor-elect. The outgoing governor had recently said that there were about 10,000 illegal miners in the state. Some of them, according to Shinkafi, ignorant of needed precautions, had fallen victims of lead poisoning, which led to loss of hundreds of lives, including children. A strong policy to ensure risk-free harnessing of mineral resources as well as maximizing mining activities to bring more income to the state government, should be the target of the incoming government. In the area of health, Yari would have to face the problem of maternal mortality and how to effectively reach the rural areas with needed health facilities.

The north is generally adjudged by international bodies like World Health Organisation (WHO), to have one of the highest mortality rates in the world. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) deputy Mission Director in Nigeria, Mrs. Mikaela Meredith, in Gusau last year, called on the Northwest state governments to intensify efforts toward reducing maternal and child mortality rate in the region. Meredith said available data showed that the region recorded the highest rate of child and maternal deaths in the country, and that the deaths were due to ignorance, inadequate health facilities, and abject poverty. Yari would have to put modalities in place that would help move the state away from one of those affected by high mortality rates in the country. This, they say, would improve what the previous administration had achieved.

Kaduna
Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, a minority Southern Kaduna-born politician made history for being the first from his zone to occupy the famous Sir Kashim Ibrahim House through the ballot despite serious odds against his ambition. Yakowa was Secretary to the Government of Kaduna State in September 2003. He later became deputy Governor in 2005, following the death of Stephen Shekari, the then deputy governor to former governor, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi. He returned as deputy to former governor Namadi Sambo, now Vice President, in 2007. However, as the governor re-elect is set to be sworn in on May 29, expectations are high within his party and other stakeholders alike. Prominent among the impending challenges is how he can bring peace and unity in the state to restore peoples’ confidence. In his view, the former governor of old Kaduna State and governorship candidate under Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa said even though the governor-elect did not win any election, people still expect him to work.

“He has been imposed on the people of Kaduna, because he didn’t win election. Although we have military governors that were imposed on the people; People expected them to perform even as military governors, the same thing to him. In fact, that he was imposed on the people, makes him more prone to scrutiny,” Musa told Sunday Mirror on telephone. According to the president, Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, Malam Shehu Sani, the governor-elect should first and foremost tackle his image problem and try to be fair to all people in the state. “If INEC declared him as the winner, he can still be sworn him but if the court judgement goes against him, he will still have to step down.

There cannot be a power vacuum in the state, somebody must be there; the image he has now is that of a sectional leader, sectional governor, to implement the agenda of his own people, the Southern Kaduna people against the people of Northern Kaduna. So, the challenge before him now is to prove his critics wrong by implementing policies and programmes that would demonstrate that he is the man for all people,” Sani advised. To, the Public Relations Officer of Kaduna State chapter of PDP, Alhaji Ibrahim Aliyu Wusono, “the governor-elect should tackle the major problem of rural development confronting the state, roads construction and focus more on education, rural electrifications, rural development and youths empowerment. ”

Akwa Ibom
The Akwa Ibom people have again reaffirmed their support for Governor Godswill Akpabio’s administration for another four years. However, Akpabio’s administration has been charged by different segment of the state to get back to work immediately as, according to them, much is still needed to be achieved. Areas of interest to the people include: agriculture, education, infrastructural development and industrialisation.

A university Don, Mr. Nkereuwem Udoka of University of Uyo said, “the state government should go into partnership with communities and private individuals, both within and outside the country on mechanized agriculture in the state.” In the envisaged partnership, “communities should provide land for large-scale faming while the state government and private investors will provide funds and technical expertise.” In the education sector, the former speaker, Nigeria Youth Parliament, Mr. Onofiok Luke said the government’s introduction of free and compulsory education policy should be given a legislative backing to ensure that no Akwa Ibom Child is denied basic education at the primary and post primary levels in future after Akpabio’s administration.

To elder Joshua Eyo Asuquo, an accountant and tax consultant “the pace of infrastructural development witnessed in the state since 2007 should be sustained. It is my belief that no effort should be spared in building more roads linking the various rural communities in the state. This is why road construction should be devoid of political consideration as this will ensure rapid development through quick accessibility of all nooks and crannies of the state. Contracts for road construction should also be given to qualified contractors and constructing firms with reputation of quality job,” said Asuquo Mrs. Evelyn Anwana, a house wife and mother of five children also pleaded with Akapbio to ensure that the free medical treatment for children under five years, pregnant women and the aged granted by his administration does not suffer set back in his second term.

Enugu
From the oldest man in Enugu-Ezike to the traditional ruler in Ikem, down to politicians and the ordinary people, they all had similar reason for exercising their franchise. For instance, 90-year-old Elder Gabriel Abugu, who is the oldest man in Amaeze- Ugbaike in Igbo Eze North Local Government Area of the state, told Sunday Mirror that he was interested in seeing jobs being created by the government for the youth. However, the traditional ruler of Ikem community in Isi-Uzo, Igwe Francis Okwor, would prefer Governor Sullivan Chime to use his second chance to provide his area with water. Senior civil servant, Ralph Ngwu agrees that water has remained a huge problem in the state, especially for residence in the developing layouts like New GRA, Ugbene 2 and community layouts. He also wants Chime to try more on creation of jobs.

But, Okwor wife, Lolo Elizabeth Okwor, differs when she said that attention of the governor should shift to women’s welfare, like good antenatal and post-natal services. And former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, is of the belief that Chime should reach out more to Enugu indigenes and carry people along. ‘His intra personal relationship is not very good. He should continue with his infrastructural provision and create more employment in the next four years.’ For the former opposition leader and two-time commissioner in the state, Deacon Okey Ogbodo, who said the governor did not do well in his first term. ‘If he wants to do well now, he should think of developing human capacity in the state,” said Ogbodo.

Why Jonathan, PDP Opt For Muraina Ajibola On Reps Speakership

Bayo Oladeji, Abuja and Daharatu Ibrahim, Katsina

Fresh facts are beginning to emerge that some northern members of national caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were the ones who convinced President Goodluck Jonathan and the top echelon of the party to retain the Speakership position in the South-West.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY checks show that the same group of northern politicians were the ones who raised the issue of religion as a key factor in balancing power distribution with argument that since the Senate President would be a Christian, the Speaker of the House of Representatives should be a Muslim.

Party officials who attended the Obudu Retreat held by the national caucus of the PDP with President Jonathan and his deputy, Namadi Sambo, in attendance, disclosed in separate chats that elders of the party had concluded on the choice of the South-West as custodian of the Speakership position and was wholly supported by the northern representatives at the retreat.

It was on that basis, according to those present, that the caucus was prevailed upon to zone the post of deputy Speakership to the North-West against the initial consideration of North-East for the post. The group noticed that if the South East was given the position, there would be a religious problem since all the aspirants are Christians.

Northern members of the PDP who supported the South-West were said to have been emphatic that a male should be picked from the zone as the next Speaker on the basis that Muslims generally would be more at home to work with a male Speaker rather than a female choice.

The religious consideration based on Islamic ethics was said to have been the reason the caucus settled for Ajibola, while certain members were said to have openly reflected on the past experience in the House in 2007 when the first ever Nigerian female Speaker, Hon Patricia Etteh, lost her job on consideration along religion.

Although the former Speaker, according to reports, lost the post on alleged granting of anticipatory approval on contracts for renovation of her official residence and that of the Deputy Speaker, the unexplained reason for her ouster from office hung on her religious background amid initial ambivalence of her Muslim colleagues to her leadership.

The same religious reason was said to have been responsible for non-consideration of the South-East for the post of House Speaker since no member of the House was obviously qualified on the basis that all of them are Christians.

Fear were also said to have been expressed that any female who emerged could easily be manipulated and eventually consumed by the intricate politics in the House, given the high level of treachery and intrigues that usually characterise politics in the lower chamber.

The need to avoid a pitfall of the House in which case any female Speaker so elected would later be impeached or operate in atmosphere of crises, was a chief reason many of the caucus members resolved to support a male candidate for the post.

There have been reports that much as Senator Gbemisola Saraki would made appreciable showing in her ambition to be governor of Kwara state, tapping from, the connection and firm grip on politics in her state by the father, Chief Olusola Saraki, the influence of religion was considered as the bane of her efforts, most especially as she was ranked on gender basis.

LEADERSHIP can authoritatively report that the northern members of PDP are taking further steps in proving the point they struck at Obudu by pledging support For Muraina after a meeting they held in Abuja last Friday night.

A principal official of the House who was in attendance at the meeting told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that the northern caucus in the House resolved to support the lawmaker to be Speaker, the party national caucus having concluded plans to prompt him to take over the office.

The source who is currently a House Committee Chairman said the track record of the Speakership aspirant from Igboora, Oyo State sold him out as a man who would hold the office effectively if given the chance, being a lawyer, a vocal member, disciplined and loyal party member who had performed creditably in all the assignments he had handled.

Chief Justice of Nigeria Katsina-Alu escapes death, loses wife

By Uja Emmanuel, Makurdi

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Aloysius Katsina-Alu had a close shave with death at the weekend. His wife died.

For the country’s number one judicial officer and his wife, Victoria Mimi, savouring the cool evening breeze under a tree in their expansive country home in Alu village, Benue State, turned out a lethal experience. A tree fell on the duo, killing Mes Katsina-Alu. The CJ was injured.

Alu village in Ushongo Local Government Area, is about one and a half hours drive from Makurdi, the state capital.

Mrs Katsina-Alu, 53, was rushed to the hospital. But she did not survive.

A family member, Mr. Ajiryar Katsina-Alu, yesterday recounted how the tragic incident happened on Saturday.

Jonathan, Whether With A Shoe Or Not, Start Walking…

By Prince Charles Dickson

Ẹni tí ó bá máa jé Ọ̀sákálà a jé Ọsákálá; eni tó bá máa jé Òṣokolo a jé Òsokolo; èwo ni Ọ̀sákálá-sokolo?

Whoever wants to be known as Ọ̀sákálá should be known as Ọ̀sákálá; whoever wants to be known as Òsokolo should be known as Òsokolo; what is the meaning of Ọ̀sákálá-sokolo?

(One should make up one’s mind to be one way or the other, and not keep straddling fences).

Well the elections are finally over, the tribunals will go to work almost immediately…Whether CPC goes to court, or it is Buhari that does go,it matters not, it’s all political semantics, it won’t bring back lives lost in post-election violence, the litigations that follow will help strenghten our democracy but will not change much. Jonathan is the new charge de affaire, or remains president as the case is. He needs to make up his mind to be president with or without shoes.

I would always state for purpose of clarity, I am no CPC supporter or sympathetic to the PDP cause, I stand only for one thing, I stand for good governance, whether in full or as the case is with us in its shadow. I do not care about who brings it and how, because that’s the essence of leadership. I will positively criticize whoever is at the helm of affairs towards the pursuit of good governance and all it entails.

In the next few paragraphs, I will borrow copiously from Obama’s ‘I Have Killed Osama Speech’. And before I go far, I want to equally state that in recent times, as a people, we have not been privileged with leadership of smooth talkers or oratory skills.So this is no comparison. However we have not been blessed with leadership that understands the principles and precepts of nationhood either.

To Jonathan and his men, those that truly are with him for good reasons and the jobbers…In the course of this presidency, many are asking, are we hopeful that at any point, like Obama…Jonathan will say “Tonight, I can report to the Nigerian people and to the world that we have conducted an operation that has brought to book the killers of X, Y, and Z…”

After four years, what will be the achievement of this presidency, off course that is if they do not go beyond four years or if they last up to? The fuel queues are back, the electricity is still where it has been, when will the walk and work start and how will we know that this government is not straddling fences.

We have seen how the blood of innocent children cemented the so-called PDP victory, will it be justified and not be in vain. In the run up to the last general elections, we saw terrible images and like Obama said in the next four years and for a life time, “…we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table”. What is Jonathan’s government going to do that is new other than being on facebook?

Children will be forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents will never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. (Because of Buhari’s CPC, Jonathan’s PDP, a failure of government to adequately provide for the security of her citizens).Have we seen the last of these mindless killings?

Will the Jonathan government change much; we still remain a nation in which deaths of her citizens do not leave …”a gaping hole in our hearts”.

In recent times, the last time we came together as a nation was during the Abacha era, today, as a people we dwell on our differences and are more united by Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona and the Royal wedding.

Can the Jonathan government and era bring about us, offering our neighbors a hand at some expense? Will this PDP led arrangement help reaffirm our ties to each other and our love of community and country or further push us apart.

When Obama said this, “On that day, no matter where we came from, what god we prayed to or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family. We were also united in our resolve, to protect our nation…” I could not but think when will we have a leadership that will inspire such sentiments, such belief, that though we are Ibos, Yorubas, Hausas, Tivs, Efiks, Ijaws, Muslims, Christians or atheists, we are equally Nigerians and without losing our ethnic identities there is something Nigerian about us.

Obama talked about the tireless effort of the American security “Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals…”. What has our military accomplished apart from the accolades they get on foreign missions and the many pregnancies they leave in those lands and HIV/AIDS they bring back home. How will the Jonathan administration improve on the stability of the military that is learning to be confined to the whines and bites of a growing democracy run presently by crooks for now?

In weeks baring any significantly unpleasant happening, Jonathan would be sworn in a second time in less than a year, like Obama directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of their war against al Qaeda. Who would Jonathan be directing, for what purposes and to achieve what and would it be achieved?

As Osama’s death does not mark the end of the American effort. I am equally not among those crowds that expect that Jonathan will perform miracles but his administration can lay a foundation towards a better Nigeria, I am not pessimistic but I would be pleasantly surprised to see that happen.

According to Obama, “The American people did not choose this fight”. As Nigerians we did not choose our nationality, some colonials sat on some table and thought it so, for 50 years as an independent nation, and for 97 years since the union was bound, its been one civil war, an Aburi Accord, numerous constitutions, and conferences, coups both palace and face me, I face you types, countless ethno-religious violence, a million dollar democracy and more in the offing we still remain Nigeria.

Despite the hypocrisy of the Americans, they understand the cost of wars. Yet as a country, they will never tolerate their security be threatened, nor stand idly by when their people have been killed. For Nigeria, will Jonathan and his men and women change that? Is it possible that government will be relentless in defense of Nigerians or as usually they will keep condenming the perpetuators and do nothing?

Without shoe, or with shoe, will governance exemplify professionalism, patriotism and unparalleled courage to do what is right, as a people is there the possibility of a concerted effort to serve our country in whatever capacity we find ourselves. Another journey beckons, Nigeria, are they ready, are we ready or its business as usual.

2011 polls: My story, by Jega

Abdulkareem Baba Aminu, Fatima Sanda Usara, Umoru Faruk Salifu & Hussain J. Ibrahim

The polls have come and gone, with all manner of controversy surrounding the process. Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, opened up candidly in an exclusive interview with Weekly Trust, choked with revelations. Herewith, are excerpts:

Weekly Trust: The 2011 elections have been quite eventful. A lot of things happened, which no one really expected. Looking back now, with the benefit of hindsight, what would you have done differently?

Prof. Attahiru Jega: We thank God that the 2011 elections have come and gone, we did our best under difficult circumstances to have free, fair and credible elections. We knew it would not be a perfect election but we gave it our best to ensure there was substantial remarkable improvement over previous elections and we are gratified that all observers both domestic and international have acknowledged that the elections of 2011 are a watershed and represents a substantial improvement over previous elections. True, the elections were not perfect, there were quite a number of areas where we would require substantive additional improvement. Frankly, I don’t think there is anything I would have done differently but I have learnt sufficient lessons from the 2011 election.

At least I know which area to pay greater attention to in order to bring about additional improvements. For example, the actual process in the polling unit was very transparent. It was impossible for anybody to abuse the process given its transparency, so the only way to commit fraudulent act is either to prevent the process from taking place or at the end of the process to see if they could change or alter the results before the collation. And unfortunately for anybody who tries to do that once the results have been declared and pasted at the polling unit, if anything changed in the process of collation, it would be discovered.

The point I am making is we have learnt a lot of lessons. In a chain there is always a weak link and perhaps the weakest link in the electoral cycle, given the benefit of hindsight, may be movement of results from the polling unit to the collation centre. Obviously that was predicated on proper security.

And then the security, also. Even though we know that this time around the police did their best under difficult circumstances, we also know that there were areas where there was inadequate security coverage. So you also find out that movement from the polling unit to the collation centres also lacked adequate security. So things could happen under such circumstances. But the challenge is for people to have evidence and to prove that something indeed went wrong. And if something went wrong, I believe that it can be proved and that is why the tribunals were there.

WT: Whose idea was it to use NYSC members in the electoral process?

Jega: When we came in as a new electoral commission, we discovered that there is a process to establish a relationship with the NYSC and we discovered that they have been used in the Anambra rerun elections in February of 2010. I was privileged to be a member of the NYSC governing council at one time and I have served as a corps member in my younger days and I know that the NYSC is a fantastic national service idea with many committed young men and women offer a lot of sacrifices for their country. So I have no hesitation whatsoever in trying to develop and strengthen that relationship which we found. Therefore, we were able to engage the directorate headquarters of the NYSC into further discussions and we signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with them. I think it was one of the best decisions we have taken. The NYSC have discharged their job very credibly. It is very unfortunate that after the elections, particularly the presidential elections, some people targeted them and attacked them and some of them even lost their lives. It was unfortunate, a condemnable act.

WT: Is the utilization of youth corps members in the future something you will encourage?

Jega: Definitely, I will encourage it. You see what has happened is that many people who discovered that the NYSC could not be bought or used to subvert the electoral process now wanted to ensure that they are removed from participation in the process. It was in my view a very high-level organized scheme by leading politicians who didn’t want the NYSC to continue to participate in the process. You will be amazed that as we are preparing for the rerun elections in Imo, for some funny reasons they have ensured that the NYSC are not going to participate. I don’t need to go into details, but it is very high-level scheming.

So, personally, I will do everything possible to encourage the use of NYSC corps members in the future and I would want to urge them not to feel discouraged and not to feel disenchanted with their experiences in the recent past, particularly after the presidential elections.

WT: In Bauchi and other places where you said were attempts to withdraw corps members to subvert the process, what did INEC do to counter the politicians?

Jega: What we did was we mobilized INEC staff from FCT and from the headquarters and we took into Bauchi and Kaduna over 500 additional complimentary staff just to make sure that wherever there were gaps we have filled them. Also in addition to NYSC members we trained students of tertiary institutions. So wherever the NYSC members were not sufficient we use students of tertiary institutions, like in Bauchi, particularly from ATBU, who have been trained so they can fill the gap wherever the NYSC corps members withdrew. It is just unfortunate that people were trying to take advantage of the traumatized NYSC members pretending they want to give them protection and providing them with aircraft when really what they wanted to do was to undermine the process.

WT: Before the election, INEC seems to have given many Nigerians the perception that the DDC machines that were introduced will really help to check fraud. But from what you have said, most of the fraud detection will just have to wait until after the elections. So is it that the machines never played a significant role during the voting process?

Jega: I don’t know how it happened, but there has been considerable misunderstanding among Nigerians about the purpose of the DDC machines. The key purpose of the machines is to first and foremost help us do a biometric capture of data and information for people who are eligible registrants in the electoral process. And we have done that. We’ve been able to record over 73 million Nigerians of 18 years and above. We’ve captured their fingerprints, their photographs, all their details. The database we are having now is probably one of the single largest one in the country. It is a tremendous national asset. Using the DDC machines have enabled us to do that. Secondly, the DDC machines and the data we were able to capture have also helped us to avoid the problem of having people making multiple registrations. We have done that and have eliminated double registrants from the register. So the register we have is much more credible because we have used advanced fingerprints-checking devices.

Having said that, the capacity is there for us in the future to take a DDC machine to a polling unit and say anyone who comes to vote should just place his fingerprints on a DDC machine and his photograph will appear. But this time around, we didn’t have the resources to do that and secondly we are mindful of the Electoral Act that states categorically that there will be no electronic voting. And we didn’t want to start using any kind of electronic verification during election so that somebody will not go to court and say that INEC is using a form of electronic voting.

I haven’t told anybody before or during the elections that we are going to use DDC machines for accreditation. But there were some representatives of some political parties who wanted us to do so. They were emphatic. But we told them categorically that we are not going to do that.

WT: On social networking sites, it is markedly clear you have a following of sorts among youth, some saying you should run for president. Is a political career something that is on the cards for you?

Jega: I am a political scientist, I am not a politician. And now I have a job to do as chairman of INEC, which is a tenured job of five years and I have done it for less than one year, so I still have some years to go. I think Nigerians have incredible capacity for wishful thinking. I appreciate those who think I have the capacity to do other things but for now I will rather concentrate on what I am doing.

WT: INEC has promised to prosecute multiple registrants. Nigerians are still waiting for that to happen…

Jega: It is regrettable that we did not prosecute as many of the multiple registrants as we will like to. But some have been successfully prosecuted and have been fined or jailed. But there were many. From the records which we issued a long time ago, we have detected over 870 thousand cases of multiple registrations. But it requires a lot of energy, a lot of resources and a lot of legal support to be able to successfully prosecute them. So we entered into an arrangement with the Nigerian Bar Association which has committed itself to giving us legal support to be able to prosecute them. But unfortunately, it took time for us to be able to finalise that arrangement. We will still prosecute them.

WT: One contentious issue in this latest election process is the incidences in Kano and Katsina States where the CPC were wrangling over the candidates to fly their gubernatorial flag. Somehow the whole matter also involved INEC, changing names of governorship candidates. Why was the situation clumsy?

Jega: This is the problem of the parties themselves. This question is better answered by them. All we did was to try to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act in terms of who is a candidate. And we tried to be very meticulous and very firm about the definition of a candidate given the Electoral Act. Now, obviously, some candidates or some parties went to court and contested our positions and the courts have been giving all sorts of judgment. But what we have done is wherever a court gave a judgment we will respect that judgment and wherever we feel very strongly about it we will appeal the judgment, otherwise we respect the court’s judgment. The problems you mentioned were self-inflicted by the political parties themselves.

WT: Coming back to the case of Bauchi and Kaduna, opposition parties advised INEC not to conduct elections in those states because of the chaos there. Also under the Electoral Act they cited a section where they said elections must not be conducted under chaos, but INEC went ahead and held elections in these places…

Jega: It is true that there is a section of the Electoral Act that says that elections can be postponed if there is a natural disaster, violent uprising and so on. But these are anticipatory cases. For example if we are preparing for elections, let’s say two days from now and suddenly there was a hurricane or flood or any natural disaster which prevents that from happening, then you can postpone the elections.

But this is an election long after a crisis has happened. So the issue is, is there sufficient time for things to normalize before you do an election? So in both Bauchi and Kaduna it was not postponement because of a disaster but postponement for things to settle down after a crisis. What we tried to do is to avoid what I have earlier said about the possibility of state of emergency.

If we had pushed the election of Bauchi and Kaduna beyond May 29th, then obviously we would have invited, from the legal advice we have, a declaration of state of emergency in those states. And we think that allowing that to happen will create more problems in those places. The challenge was, was there sufficient security to do the elections after the crisis? From the security report we got, we have to rely on security report from security agencies, things were normalizing. In fact, Kaduna where there was a greater crisis, things had normalized faster than they did in Bauchi.

WT: But there were so many people in the refugee camps who didn’t participate…

Jega: But how long will it take to resettle people in the refugee camps? It will take six months to do so. Are we going to wait for that long? The problem is the Electoral Act, people vote only in polling units where they have registered. So if you are in a refugee camp there may be a polling unit there but the people who are there because of displacement did not register there. How can they vote there? It would be illegal for INEC to move a polling unit from somewhere and bring it to another place.

No matter how we will want to be compassionate, there are legal constraints that prevented us from doing certain things. There are people who have lost their voters’ card in the crisis. This is regrettable, but the provisions of the Electoral Act are also clear. You don’t give cards 30 days before an election.

WT: How will you review security during the polls?

Jega: In comparative terms, frankly, we have had greater security mobilization and involvement during this election than in any other previous election I know of. If I can remember correctly, around November last year we created what we call Interagency Consultative Committee on Election Security both at the national and state level and at the local government level. All security agencies including paramilitary organizations were part of this interagency meeting. We met almost regularly, initially monthly but when we came closer to the elections almost on a two weeks interval. We were able to have greater coordination of all the security agencies involved in the elections.

Of course the more security you provide the more other innocent people become afraid. Participants will become worried about what such mass security presence can do and that can affect the participation of the people and the outcome of the process. We hope such things do not happen in future.

WT: Has INEC been able to quantify some of the losses and damages it has incurred in these elections?

Jega: If you mean quantifying in terms of actual cost we haven’t but we do have a record of our offices and vehicles that have been razed down or destroyed and our personnel who have been either injured or affected one way or the other. We have all that information. But then it is difficult to monetarily compensate people who have been injured or those who lost their lives, but we did our best to ensure that we have certain things in place just so we can minimize the suffering of those affected.

For example, we did a comprehensive insurance for all INEC staff as well as all our ad hoc staff, including the NYSC members. The insurance covers everything from injury to accident to death. Also, all our vehicles are insured. Certainly, we have incurred losses, some people have been traumatized for life given the experience they have gone through, either through intimidation, harassment or bodily injuries.

WT: Your colleagues in the academia served as returning officers, especially during the presidential elections. Was this an afterthought?

Jega: We decided as INEC that we will do anything possible to bring credibility to the process and to also insulate our staff from participating in roles that can be misunderstood. As you are aware in 2003 and 2007, Resident Electoral Commissioners were returning officers for governorship elections in the state and they were also the collation officers for the presidential elections. INEC officials at the state level, either electoral officers and so on were also the returning officers and collation officers at the lower level.

And that is why there were all these allegations of INEC officials collecting money to sell results or declare false results. As a new commission, we decided that we will insulate the staff of INEC from those activities and bring people whom we have carefully chosen, people who are persons of integrity who will do their best to ensure that the process is not undermined. That is how we brought people from the universities. I am very pleased to say that the people we have brought from the universities have in general satisfied our confidence and they have done well for our country.

WT: The Electoral Act has pegged a limit to what aspirants can spend during campaigns, whose responsibility is it to monitor that that provision was adhered to?

Jega: The Electoral Act gives INEC power to monitor the activities of political parties, to monitor their accounts and their campaign expenditure and so on. But to be honest with you when we came in as a new commission we do not have the capacity to effectively monitor campaign financing. Something that we have planned for the future is to set up effective machinery to be able to do that. It requires a lot.

You have to factor in the fact that we have so many candidates and a challenge is how to monitor how much each candidate has got as financial contribution and what they are spending. It is something that requires sophisticated technology as well as diligent field officers and investigators to be able to do that. INEC does not even have a desk that handles campaign financing. So what we have been doing is doing the easy bit by ensuring that the accounts of political parties are audited.

How will you respond to calls to scrap political parties that did not perform well in the recently concluded elections?

Jega: I believe very strongly in multi-party democracy. As a political scientist who has studied politics on a comparative basis, I don’t believe in the restriction of political parties. I believe that parties will phase out depending on their performance and how popular they are. If they are decoys, they are useless. What I wouldn’t want to see is to have an individual register a political party simply to collect money from government and that tendency may be there. Luckily, the electoral Act has been amended such that no money can be given to anybody.

Jonathan in dilemma over Mark, Reps Speaker

By Yusuf Alli

With intense lobbying going on for the positions of Senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives, indications emerged yesterday that President Goodluck Jonathan is in a dilemma over the zones to cede the two top offices to.

To help him resolve the highly contentious issue, the President may consult with the National Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Board of Trustees this week.

The President of the Senate, Chief David Mark, yesterday began a one-on-one lobbying of all Senators-elect to push for the retention of office.

Also, a former editor and columnist, Eziuche Ubani, has joined three other aspirants for the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Investigation by The Nation revealed that the President has been weighing two options on the power sharing formula.

These options are the retention of the existing formula or an adjustment of the formula to assuage the feelings of some geo-political zones, particularly the Northeast and the Southeast.

The existing formula is as follows: President (Southsouth); Vice-President (Northwest); Senate President (Northcentral); Deputy Senate President (Southeast); Speaker (Southwest); Deputy Speaker (Northeast); SGF (Northeast) and Head of Service(Southwest). According to findings, the President is in a dilemma between honouring the ‘unwritten agreement’ he has reached with the principal officers of the National Assembly to retain the existing formula or adjusting the formula in the light of the reality of the voting pattern.

It was also learnt that the agitation of the South east for the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives has further made final decision on the power formula difficult.

Similarly, the President, Sources said, not dismissing the position of the Northeast that the far North should be pacified for not producing the president in line with the zoning agreement of the PDP in 2002.

The Northeast is subsequently asking that just as the nation pacified the Soutwest in 1999 and 2003 following the annulment of the 1993 election won by late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, the far North should be pacified by ceding the Senate President to the zone.

A highly-placed source said: “This is a challenging time for the President because he is going to undertake the first assignment which will define his leadership vision and statesmanship.

“Virtually every zone is demanding one concession or the other and in view of the peculiar nature of his mandate, he has to be ingenuous to strike a balance in the power formula.

“So, you can imagine the dilemma of the President. But with the retreat over in Obudu Cattle Ranch, he has to move swiftly and be decisive on the formula.”

A high-ranking Senator, who spoke in confidence, said: “The National Assembly leadership is waiting to see if the President will live up to his words to retain the existing formula which will see the President of the Senate, Chief David Mark remaining in office from the Northcentral and the Speaker slot left for the Southwest.

“The decision of the President will shape his relationship with the 7th National Assembly. We stood by him when the road was rough and we want to know if he will reciprocate the gesture.

“Mark had everything at his disposal to compromise when the late President Umaru Yar’Adua was ill in 2010 but he stood for constitutionalism. Will the President now forsake such a loyal officer?

A Northcentral Governor also said: “I will not say exactly that the President is in a dilemma but there is a challenge of how to balance the power sharing formula.

“For instance if the South-East produces the Speaker, the nation will end up having Christians as President, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, and Speaker. Such a scenario will not augur well for the unity of the country.”

Another high-ranking member of the House from the South-East said: “Even if the President sticks to the existing zoning formula, he needs to work harder to lobby new members of the House to buy into it.”

As at press time, it was learnt that the President might meet this week with the National Caucus, the Board of Trustees, and other stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“The President will unfold his zoning formula after these series of consultations with all the stakeholders.

While awaiting the decision of the PDP on zoning of offices, both the Northeast and the President of the Senate, Chief David Mark,have continued their push for the foremost senate office. The Northeast lobbyists and Mark have embarked on meeting all Senators-elect one-on-one

A source said: “Mark is banking on the party leadership to retain the existing zoning formula while the Northeast lobbyists are banking on governors, PDP elders and what a source described as “reasonable ones among returnee senators and senators-elect”

“The essence of this consultation is to avoid a situation whereby there will be last-minute revolt from new members. About 30 old Senators are returning to the Upper Chamber. So, to win an aspirant needs the support of 55 Senators.”

In the House of Representatives, aspirants to the post of Speaker has increased to four with a former editor and columnist Eziuche Ubani ( Abia State ) joining the race.

The other aspirants are Emeka Ihedioha (Imo), Bethel Amadi (Imo) and Muraina Suabana Ajibola from Ibarapa Central/ Ibarapa North Federal Constituency in Oyo State . If the present arrangement is retained, the odds may favour Ajibola, who is considered a ‘godson’ of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Ajibola, a lawyer and second term member of the House, is a former local government chairman.

A member of the House said: “Muraina does not hide his support for Obasanjo in the House.

During the power probe scandal in the House by Ndudi Elumelu’s Panel, it was only Muraina who wrote a Minority report in favour of the administration of the ex-President.

“I think we may end up with the progressives confronting the conservatives in the House over the choice of a new Speaker. The progressives may not want Obasanjo’s stooge and President Goodluck Jonathan will not want to stab his political mentor in the back.”

A principal officer of the House however queried the rationale behind the retention of the present power sharing formula.

He expressed fears that the Southeast may also revolt for being alienated by the President in the scheme of things.

He added: “If the president continues with the present power structure, there is likelihood of a revolt from the Southeast. Senators from the far north may also revolt against the party in the senate.

“What is the rationale behind compensating the Southwest that did not perform during the general elections?”

As at press time, there were indications that the Southeast caucus in the House of Representatives may meet today on the zone’s desire for the Office of the Speaker.

“Irrespective of the decision of the PDP, we are going ahead to determine what is best for the region.

“We will meet on Sunday to chart a path for the region which has kept faith with the President. We also expect Jonathan to keep faith with us,” a Rep who does not want his name in print said yesterday.

Jonathan serves ministers quit notice, dissolves FEC May 25

By Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation

In preparation for the new government, President Goodluck Jonathan has served his 42-man cabinet a quit notice.

The Federal Executive Council will hold its valedictory session on May 25.

Also, permanent secretaries, who are accounting officers in all ministries, have been directed to prepare handover notes for evaluation during the short transition period.

There are indications that about 27 out of the 42 ministers may be dropped, but most of them have started lobbying to remain in office.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that ministers were served the dissolution notice through a letter from the Chief of Staff to the President, Mike Ogiadomhe, on Thursday.

Although most ministers have kept the letter secret from their aides, the presidency said there would be a valedictory dinner for them on May 25.

With the letter, the presidency has laid to rest speculations that the cabinet might be in place till the appointment of new ministers.

A top source in the presidency said: “I am aware that the ministers have been notified of when the valedictory FEC session will hold. The essence is to ask them to start winding down and avoid any further commitments in office.

“Do not forget that the tenure of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua-Jonathan administration will end on May 29. Constitutionally, none of the ministers can stay in office beyond that date.

“Some of the ministers with pending or outstanding memos before the FEC can also use this transition period to tidy up.

“The notice does not foreclose the reappointment of some of them into the cabinet.”

The source also said that all permanent secretaries had been directed to compile handover notes for evaluation during the short transition period.

“I think the permanent secretaries were given the directive about a week ago. You know, they are the accounting officers of their respective ministries.

“They also know that by the directive from the presidency, they have to curtail last-minute activities of the outgoing ministers with regards to finance.”

But the suspended Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, is battling for reinstatement before the dissolution of the FEC on May 25.

Another source said: “Iheanacho has been pleading with the powers that be in the presidency to help him prevail on the President for reinstatement. We learnt that he has even approached the First Lady, Dame Patience, to intervene.

“I think Iheanacho is more worried about the implications of the suspension on his integrity and political career than the office.

“It will be emotionally challenging to leave office as a suspended minister. But that shows the leadership strength of the President, especially his ability to wield the big stick when necessary.”

As at press time, it was gathered that no fewer than 27 to 30 ministers may be dropped by the President.

A top presidency official added: “The President is looking forward to 50 to 60 per cent lay-off of ministers in the cabinet.

“Less than 30 per cent of ministers in the outgoing cabinet lived up to expectations. You should expect drastic changes in infrastructure-related ministries.

“There has been intense lobbying by the outgoing ministers and their godfathers. But the main focus of the President is performance with measurable results.That was why the President went to Obudu for a retreat.”

Section 147 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) empowers the President to constitute his cabinet.

The Section reads in part: “There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.

“Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.

“Any appointment under subsection(2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of Section14(3) of this Constitution provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state.”

INEC: Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha Is Imo Governor-Elect

THE WILL

OWERRI, May 07, (THEWILL) – The candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha has been declared winner of the Imo State Governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

According to the Returning Officer for the election, Professor Hillary Ode Edeoga, Okorocha defeated incumbent Imo State Governor, Mr. Ikedi Ohakim of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to clinch the governorship seat of the state. He polled 336,859 as against Ohakim’s 290,496, while Ifeanyi Ararume of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) polled 107,068.

With results declared from 26 out of the 27 Local Government Areas of the state, having successfully concluded the supplementary governorship election in three of four LGAs on Friday, May 06, 2011, Owelle Okorocha was declared winner having fulfilled all other constitutional requirements.

The commission cancelled election in Oguta Local Government Area following the discovery of electoral fraud allegedly orchestrated by one of the political parties with the support of INEC officials. Security agencies have since apprehended those involved.

Oguta LGA is the strongold of former Senator, Chief Arthur Nzeribe.