Senators in mandate renewal tussle

OGUNWALE

Senators have plunged into the charged political environment, seeking to renew their mandates either on the platform of the parties that brought them to the Senate or under their new-found political parties. Assistant OGUNWALE reports the momentum being gathered by the renewal bid.

Human and vehicular traffic within the National Assembly complex has thinned out in the past few weeks as a good number of serving senators are currently on the field haranguing the electorate for votes.

Senate President David Mark leads the pack of the senators struggling to retain their seats. Having been elected to the upper legislative chamber for three consecutive times since 1999, the ex-soldier-turned-politician is having the hottest contest so far in his political career.

Clutching the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the Benue South senatorial district, his arch-rival and fellow retired Army General, Lawrence Onoja is keenly contesting the seat with Mark, but on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). The political rivalry between the two prominent sons of Idoma land dates back to 1999 with renewed hostilities at every circle of election. This time around, the battle appears to have assumed a more complex dimension as the ranks of Marks’s political foes appear to be more united by a common destiny of securing their political future.

On the same line with Onoja is George Akume, former Governor of the state and serving senator representing Benue North West. Akume is seeking a return to his seat on the platform of the ACN. He is being challenged by Tersu Tsegba, a member of the House of Representatives and one of the major beneficiaries of the political war of attrition between Akume and the sitting Governor Gabriel Suswam. The Governor was on hand to ensure that Akume, who was elected to the Senate in 2007 on the platform of the PDP, lost the Benue North West ticket of the PDP to Tsegba, apparently with a wink from David Mark; a development that forced Akume to join the ACN where he got the ticket on a platter of gold.

Tugging at Akume’s garment on the ACN plank is Joseph Akaagerger who represents Benue North East in the Senate. He suffered the same fate as Akume as the PDP ticket which brought him to the Senate in 2007 has since been pocketed by the former national chairman of the PDP, Chief Barnabas Gemade. To strengthen the ACN camp, Usman Abubakar who almost truncated Mark’s political career through the election petitions tribunal in 2009 has been drafted into the ACN camp. Reports say that Abubakar was persuaded with the offer of the deputy governorship ticket of the ACN as a counterforce to Mark’s stranglehold on Zone C, where the young politician and the President of the Senate hail from. He has since grabbed the ticket with both hands.

Abubakar contested the Benue South ticket with Mark in 2007 under the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and had challenged the ex-soldier’s victory at the tribunal where he got the latter’s victory voided before the Appeal Court came to his rescue. Today, the ANPP in Benue, just like in many other states across the country, is breathing through only one nostril. Analysts predict a straight 50-50 chance between ACN candidates and the PDP contestants in the coming elections where opposition to the governor’s re-election bid has continued to long in the balance.

Also on the mark is Lawrence Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy President of the Senate who is battling to renew his Enugu East mandate. It took a great deal of legal fisticuffs and political horse-trading before Ekweremadu, backed by the top hierarchy of the PDP at the centre, could retrieve his ticket from an anointed candidate of the party’s erstwhile national chairman, Ezekwesilezie Nwodo.

In that encounter, Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime was also shaken to the whiskers by the rampaging Nwodo before stronger forces within the national leadership of the party whipped Nwodo into submission with a court order. With Nwodo out of the way, Ekweremadu may as well smile back to the Senate, depending on the strength or weakness of other contestants in the Enugu West race.

The boisterous Senate Majority Whip, Kanti Bello is also in the ring, trying to renew his Katsina North mandate in a state where stiff opposition from the Muhammadu Buhari-led rival Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) is giving Bello and his ruling PDP sleepless nights in all categories of elective positions on the table. Kanti Bello was one of the candidates who scrambled for the post of Vice President under President Goodluck Jonathan in May last year when the latter mounted the saddle after President Umaru Yar’ Adua’s death. He was beaten to it by former Kaduna State Governor, Namadi Sambo.

Incidentally, Kanti Bello turned out to be one of Jonathan’s fiercest critics in the acrimonious political war over zoning when he aligned with the General Ibrahim Babangida’s camp in the failed battle to scuttle Jonathan’s ambition. For this time-tested political war horse seeking re-election, the battle ahead appears a bit complicated with the image of the CPC looming heavily above the Katsina political firmament.

Also seeking re-election for the third time is the diminutive Deputy Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma Egba, SAN. He represents Cross River Central. Opposition parties seem to have a very weak presence in the state which makes the contest a near-comfortable one for the lawmaker.

Deputy Senate Whip, Muhammed Mana’s fate is still hanging in the balance as the PDP ticket for his Adamawa North is currently trapped in a web of legal contest. It appears he may have to fight the election either through the ballot or the courts.

Minority Leader, Maina Lawan and Minority Whip, Ahmad Sani have also thrown their hats in the rings in Borno and Zamfara states respectively, contesting on the platform of what is left of the ANPP. While Lawan who represents Borno North can still hope to coast home to victory on the back of Governor Ali Modu Sheriff who still has a firm grip of the party in Borno, it may not be that easy for Ahmad Sani. The former Zamfara Governor who left the government house to represent Zamfara West in 2007, has been on a war path with the sitting Governor, Mahmud Shinkafi.

The two politicians became enemies shortly after the 2007 election and their irreconcilable difference led the governor and a good number of prominent erstwhile ANPP stalwarts into defecting to the PDP at different points. Still clutching to the carcass of the ANPP in the state, Sani is faced with a combined forces of the Governor and other powerful forces to unseat the bearded apostle of Sharia. While he is still battling to secure his precarious political career, confetti of negative public denunciation has continued to trail his recent marriage to an Egyptian teenage girl like a horde of flies. But considering the cultural peculiarity in his immediate environment, his marriage to a teenager may not be a major obstacle on the way to realising his political ambition.

His major challenge is the hostile political environment dominated by the governor and the rising profile of his political foes. In the race for the Kano South is Senator Kabiru Gaya, Deputy Minority Whip and chieftain of the ANPP. Gaya had been beating the drums for his governorship ambition towards the last quarter of 2010 only to engage the reverse gear a few months back. Details of why he made the u-turn remained unclear but reports have it that he was being careful not to go against the wish of Kano Governor Ibrahim Shekarau who was said to have penciled down another candidate for the governorship position.

Apart from the determination of the ruling PDP to wrest the state from the grip of the ANPP, the onslaught by the invading CPC has altered the political equilibrium in the state. Gaya obviously has a tough battle ahead of him.

Anambra State presents an entirely different turf. The three senators from the state: Annie Okwonkwo (Anambra Central); Ikechukwu Obiora (Anambra South) and Alphonsus Igbeke (Anambra North) lost the PDP tickets to their more rugged opponents. Okwonkwo is contesting under the Accord Party while Obiora is flying the flag of the LP. Igbeke who displaced Mrs. Joy Emodi in May 2010 through an Appeal Court verdict had contested under the ANPP in the 2007 elections but had defected to the PDP a few weeks after he took his seat. He may as well be waiting for the expiration of the current legislative session before he decides what to do next.

Former presidential aide, Mr. Andy Uba has taken custody of the Anambra South ticket. Among contestants for the three Anambra senatorial seats under various political platforms is former Information Minister, Professor Dora Akunyili who is contesting under the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). Interestingly, none of the political parties appears to enjoy any significant following. The candidates are largely counting on their personal electoral values and the goodwill of the electorate.

The battle for senatorial seats in the North West and South West zones with majority of PDP sitting members is expected to record major upsets with the onslaught from the opposition CPC in the former and the ACN in the latter. It is apparent that a good number of senators in these zones seeking re-election may fall by the wayside.

Other interesting cases in the senatorial race are the senatorial districts where the candidates are fighting to come back the fourth time. Besides David Mark, two other senators in this category are Gbenga Ogunniya (Ondo Central) and Nuhu Aliyu (Niger North). Ogunniya is fighting it out in a state controlled by the opposition Labour Party (LP) where Governor Olusegun Mimiko appears to dictate the tune. But sources close to Ogunniya maintained that the soft-spoken lawyer of the PDP stock may spring a surprise at the end of the day. Their position is premised on the fact that Ogunniya who hails from the same district with the governor, enjoys a robust goodwill from a large chunk of his constituents, including traditional leaders across the zone. He has candidates of the ACN and the LP to contend with in a race generally described keen and competitive.

On the other hand, Nuhu Aliyu may encounter very little problem if political configuration in terms of numerical strength on his ruling PDP vis-a-vis the opposition parties is anything to go by. For now, the ex Deputy Inspector General of Police who has been in the Senate since 1999 appears to dominate his immediate political environment. Senators Abubakar Sodangi (Nasarawa West) and Patrick Osakwe (Delta North) used to be on the fourth-term contestants’ list before the party primaries.

While a war-tested former Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Adamu snatched the ticket from Sodangi, combined forces of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and power political interests in the state seem to have driven the nails into Osakwe’s political coffin. An associate of Uduaghan’s and immediate past Secretary to the State Government, Professor Utuama has since taken the ticket from Osakwe.

The scramble by senators to return to the Senate has taken a toll on legislative duties and attendance at both plenary and committee assignments. Since the conclusion of the primaries, attendance has been dwindling progressively up till the time the Senate went on break on Wednesday, March 16. Senators who were attending plenary sessions and committee functions regularly are mainly those who lost their tickets and who are not seeking re-election on the platform of any other party.

Some of the regular faces include Senators Jibril Aminu (Adamawa Central); Effiong Bob (Akwa Ibom North-East); Umeh Ekaette (Akwa Ibom South); Nimi Barigha Amange (Bayelsa East); James Manager (Delta South); and Osita Izunaso (Imo West). Others are Nicholas Ugbene (Kogi East); Otaru Ohize (Kogi Central); Caleb Zagi (Kaduna South); Grace Bent (Adamawa South); Bassey Ewa Henshaw (Cross River South); Patrick Osakwe (Delta North); Anyim Udeh (Ebonyi South) and Lee Ledogo Maeba (Rivers South-East).

Also on the regular attendance list are Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin (Oyo Central); Andrew Babalola (Oyo North); Olorunnimbe Mamora (Lagos East); Kola Bajomo (Ogun West); Umar Gada (Sokoto East); Anthony Manzo (Taraba North); Abubakar Sodangi (Nasarawa West); and Sidi Ali (FCT). Members who are contesting but still kept fairly regular attendance include David Mark (Benue South); Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West); Victor Ndoma Egba (Cross River Central); Aloysious Etok (Akwa Ibom Nort-West); Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna North); Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West); Zaynab Kure (Niger South) and Ayogu Eze (Enugu North).

‘Our plans for Nigeria’

Sanni Ologun

Last Friday evening, three leading presidential candidates, Muhammadu Buhari (CPC), Ibrahim Shekarau (ANPP) and Nuhu Ribadu (ACN) took part in a presidential debate organised by the cable television NN24 and beamed live to Nigerians. Here are excerpts from the debate anchored by Kadaria Ahmed of Next Newspaper.

Buhari:

Ribadu

Shekarau:

Kadaria: During your presentation before the senate you indicted Mr. Bola Tinubu of corruption. Now given what you said about Ahmed Bola Tinubu can I ask you why Nigerians should believe you? Doesn’t this raise serious morality and ethical issues about you because you are now working with the man and trying to become the president?

Ribadu: With respect Kadiria. I never said he is a looter of international standard or a thief. I was making reference to all the persons that we were investigating then. I said the case of Bola Tinubu was a case involving international dimension. It was not a case that was being handled by the EFCC therefore I would not have much to say about it. In any case I have never come out to judge and sentence an individual before.

Kadaria:

Buhari:

Basically, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 stipulates that every person from the age of 18 and above can aspire to any office from councilor of a local government to the president. I am using that facility to ask Nigerians to vote for me.

Kadaria: Will you be able to operate in a democratic setting given your history? Will you be able to work with democratic institutions?

Buhari:

Kadaria:

How do you reconcile this intolerance with your desire to be a leader of the country as diverse as Nigeria?

Shekarau: In the first place I do not agree that the Hisbah was brutalizing and violating the constitutional rights of our citizens. We did not just wake up to establish Hisbah without the legislation. We used the same constitutional provisions that allow any state to create any form or any law that would maintain law and order within the state. The Hisbah is not more than what today we refer to as community policing. We have Hisbah in every community; their duty is to ensure that the citizens are law-abiding. This is exactly what they do. It is those who violate the rules of the land, and we challenge any one who ever says that the Hisbah has done any thing to him contrary to the rules and regulation governing the land should take his case to the law court and challenge the creation of Hisbah. In fact the fist item on the law of the Hisbah is that the Hisbah is to assist the Nigeria police in maintenance of law and order.

Kadaria

Shekarau:

Kadaria: You seems to be very strong in terms of protecting the rights of the majority, what about the rights of the minority in the society that you govern?

Shekarau:

Kadaria: Now since Nigeria started exploring oil, the benefits have included poverty, environmental degradation and in recent times, criminality. How would you address this problem if you are voted to become the president of Nigeria?

Ribadu:

General Muhammadu Buhari, how will you deal with the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta?

Buhari:

Kadaria: As a matter of fact what you are saying is that you still don’t have a solution. You still going to sit down and come up with a solution?

Buhari:

Kadaria: How is your programme for the Niger Delta different from that of the two other candidates?

Shekarau:

Kadaria: I think we keep hearing sit down with the militants, talk to them but the existing government had sat down with the militants. We have an ongoing amnesty programme

Shekarau: It is not about the militants. The government is sitting with the militants. It is not about just the militants. What are we doing about the whole idea and the people back home in the communities. The militants are somehow speaking loud the minds of the teeming population back home. If you go to the leaders of the militants, this is just one of the byproducts of the grudge back home. What you need to do is to go back and sit with the communities, identify what the root causes are. What are the problems? What measures are you going to take at all levels to solve them?

Kadaria: Now Nuhu Ribadu you know that there is a PIB bill that is making its way through the legislative arm of government are you satisfied with the provisions of the bill as it is?

Ribadu

: No. there are so many areas that would require improvement and changes. It is a good thing because it is progress in what we are doing. The fundamental thing that is lacking in this industry is openness, transparency, accountability in the way we manage these resources. Today, NNPC is a closed place. No one knows what is going on there. It is a small clique of people that is in control. They are in conspiracy with the oil companies. The oil companies do what they like, no questions are asked. They are almost literally above the law. It has to change. They caused the problems that are happening in the Niger Delta and indeed the oil industry. I wanted to say and I will say it again, that the problem, the insecurity, the inability to get the maximum out of that industry and indeed the Niger Delta is simply because of not being able to address those fundamental issues. The issues are economy and justice. Economy: ability to get the maximum out of what we have, use it properly in the way that people would see benefits. Two, if you want peace you must go through the hall of justice and fairness. The oil companies have been in conspiracy so far. They have not been on the side of Nigerians. … The issue of the Niger Delta is not necessarily about the militants. Coming from my back ground as a trained guidance counselor, you need to go back to the roots, get back to the community. There is something that tells me that there is a total loss of confidence in government. Before these young men start carrying weapons and start harassing everybody that must have had some inclines or feeling that their leader and elders down there in their community have a grudge that those government at the local, state and federal levels have not been fair to them. The sum total of the problem of the Niger Delta is a problem of total loss of confidence and the only solution is to go back and address the issue of loss of confidence. It is not about telling these youths to hand in their weapons, we have an amnesty, it is not working. The issue is go back to the roots sit down with them, discuss with them and allocate appropriate funds to make sure that the problems are addressed. No, we have a solution. The solution is we have to sit down with the Niger Delta militant’s leadership, their traditional leadership and the operating companies before we know the problems. The issue of militancy in the Niger Delta is that young people were armed, given ammunition and sent against political opponents and after winning the elections the youths were asked to hand over the weapons but they said no. if we examine the reason it is very clear. If a young man, a teenager is earning $50,000 a week why should he go to school and spend 20 years and earn N100,000 a month? In the CPC we have decided that the traditional leadership, the operating company leadership and all the three tiers of government will have to come together and critically examine the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta and deal with it using the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The problem of the Niger Delta is also the problem of Nigeria. It is a region that has produced so much but unfortunately it has not been able to translate into development and growth of the area. We have neglected that part. We have to change it. We have to as a matter of urgency go back; we have seen what this government is doing, creating agencies, making just patronage outfits and taking care of very few people. Action Congress of Nigeria during my own administration, with my team, will come up with a marshal plan; a plan that is going to address the totality of the problems confronting this region. We are going to ensure the resources that are coming out of that area constitutionally go to that region, channeled and put into addressing those issues. The violence there has to be addressed. Two, youth employment, young men and young women who are today almost frustrated will have to go back and see that they are given a chance to contribute. In fact it may interest you to know that Kano State today is the most peaceful state in Nigeria. If you ask any of the so called minority they are quite happy, they are quite peaceful. In fact, today you will be surprised to find out that those you call non indigenes prefer to go for settlement of disagreements within the community either to the Hisbah or to the censorship board. We don’t have any quarrel at all. The laws are working, the society has accepted them and the film industry is thriving very well. All we say is abide by the rules and regulations and there is no community that you live in without guiding principles, without rules and regulations and think there would be discipline and order in that community. I think there is something wrong. Hisbah has nothing to do with film censorship. We have a film censorship board created by law through a legislation. We have a right to decide what is right for the community. A government has the moral responsibility to protect the rights and interests for the peaceful coexistence of the society. What we have done is to say any body who wants to establish a film industry should comply with certain basic laws. I challenge anybody who says any of these rules and regulations contradicts the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to challenge us in court. : In practical terms, the impact of the Hisbah in Kano has included killing the film industry that was providing employment for what is known in Nigeria as Nollywood. So there has been an exodus of film makers out of Kano who get harassed, who have been asked to submit their scripts for inspection in total disregard of the peoples rights to express themselves in that particular way. Now Mallam Shekarau, Nigeria is a plural society. I learnt in the state you govern, Kano State the Hisbah which is a morality police is known to brutally enforce Sharia and in the process sometimes trampling on peoples rights as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. Yes. My antecedents in party Politics since 2003, I believe Nigerians knows about it. We lost an election. I did not go on the streets. I went to court to prove my case. In 2007 again I contested, again the Supreme Court which was the last court gave a split decision. Three justices of the Supreme Court said the election was flawed, three said it can be managed. Nigeria couldn’t run another election. The Chief Justice then cast his support for the government then. Which means undemocratic. I spent 50 months in court asking for my rights that the elections were rigged and the international community observer team reports and our internal observer team report confirmed that the elections were rigged. I didn’t go to the streets, I went to the court and I spent 50 months in court. Firstly you said when the question was put to me about democracy then I said we have not decided about it. It means within the military government I to lead I was democratic. I was the president of the Supreme Military Council, the chairman of the national council of states and the chairman of council of ministers: We, when I say we, these three governmental structures at the federal level in deciding on each issue, whether it is budgeting, security, whether it is in any aspect of government before the other parts of government is given the opportunity to execute such a decision of government, there are ministries, there are parastatals, there are security institutions. So part of the constitution the military administration under me suspended were of course the election and the partisan politics… Now to General Muhammadu Buhari. Sir you were a Head of State during the military regime and you were quoted in an interview with the Daily Times I think that was in 1984 when you were asked about transition to civilian rule as saying that “we have not discussed the question of return to democracy in the military council. The problem we have now is how to revive the economy, ensure discipline and respect abroad. In addition to all that your regime was known to be a little bit autocratic. Now given your antecedents, when you were a military leader why should Nigerians vote for you under a democratic dispensation? My party, the All Nigeria Peoples Party has identified five major focal areas which are summarized as FENDS. The F stands for freedom, E stands for equity, N stands for nationalism, D for development and S for security. All of these items are about human development and for us to achieve and realize this kind of objective we broke them down into two components: that is human development and social justice. These are the two major platforms by which we shall achieve these five major objectives. : I am 50 years. A child of Independence. I hold a Master’s degree in Law and I was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1984. I joined the Nigerian Police Force in 1985 and since then I have been in the service of my country. I worked for 25 years and rose to the rank of AIG. I was the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which I laid the foundation a few years ago. I am here contesting for the office of the President Federal Republic of Nigeria. I have come to bring change because time for change has come. And this event is proof that time for change is here. I am not here because of luck. I have worked all my life. I deliberately and consciously came out to contest for the office of the president of Nigeria. I am young. I belong to the age bracket of vibrant young leaders in the world today. The important issue to be discussed as I have always mentioned is firstly the security of the nation state itself. There is no point of going out only to be kidnapped and this is more significant, perhaps, more than even the issue of power. There is no way you can get serious investors anywhere in the world if their security cannot be guaranteed.

Cut president, govs’ tenure – CBN Gov Sanusi

By Taye Obateru

* Also seeks slimmer legislature, cabinetGovernor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has urged the nation to consider a single tenure for the president and governors, a uni-camera legislature and a reduction in the number of ministers in the search for a durable democracy.

This is as he accused the present ruling class of failing to leave behind the same or a better educational system than the one they enjoyed while growing up, challenging Nigerians to collectively take up the challenge to fix the country for the benefit of present and future generations.

Sanusi spoke, yesterday, after being conferred with a honorary doctorate degree at the 24th convocation of the University of Jos (UNIJOS), reiterating that the solution to militancy, kidnapping and ethno-religious crises was to create an equitable society that would give people hope.

He said Nigerians must answer honestly some questions that are fundamental to the country’s economic growth and development even if the answers are unpalatable.

“What are our priorities as a nation? What can we do about the cost of governance? We just passed a budget of N4.9 trillion, the bulk of which is recurrent expenditure. We have a constitution that says we must have a minister from every state, so we must have 36 ministers. Do we need 36 ministries? These are questions that we need to ask.

“Do we really need a bi-camera legislature? Do we need all the ministries, departments and agencies that we have or can we do something about that and reduce the cost of governance and free up funds for education and health?”, he said.

The CBN governor added: “The vice chancellor just announced that this is his last convocation after four years. I still remember when vice chancellors had two terms and, at the end of the first term, there would be nothing but struggle and conflict between vice chancellors and deputy vice chancellors and whoever wanted to succeed.
“Do our executives, maybe, need just one term so that they now think of the legacy they leave behind rather than the next term? These are the questions that the civil society alone can raise and would push through the legislative changes required to improve governance in this country. Democracy is a process; the constitution itself should evolve and it should be relevant to the needs of a developing nation.”

He said the country was not spending enough on education while people are not presented enough opportunities that would make them succeed, adding, “it is very easy to dismiss people as militants or as terrorists or as fanatics or as ignorant people, but the fundamental question is, what type of society breeds these types of human beings and who is responsible for that society?”

Sanusi lamented that while most of those presently in leadership position received quality education from primary to university within the country, “we are not leaving for those coming behind us something as good not to talk of better, than we benefitted from.”

He advised the youth to refuse to be used by those who construct differences on the basis of religion or ethnicity, arguing that “the only difference that matters in the difference between those who have and those who do not have; between those who have the opportunity and those who do not.”

In a message to the convocation, President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Professor Nicholas Damachi, said the administration was committed to improving education as demonstrated by the allocation of the highest amount ever to education in the 2011 budget.

He re-affirmed the commitment of the administration to maintaining peace in troubled areas like Plateau State noting that the country’s nascent democracy requires a peaceful atmosphere to grow.

He commended the governing council and the management of the university on the giant strides recorded in various areas despite obvious challenges.

A total of 6,924 graduands bagged various categories of degrees, diplomas and certificates among them, Governor Gabrael Suswam of Benue State, who bagged a Ph.D. Sanusi and chairman, Zinox Technologies Limited, Mr. Leo-Stan Ekeh, were conferred with honourary doctorate degrees.

Presidential candidates battle in debate

By Joe Brock

 

President Goodluck Jonathan snubbed a television debate with election rivals on Friday, drawing criticism from the Facebook generation he sought to woo at his campaign launch six months ago.

There was an empty podium next to his rivals, ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu and Kano state governor Ibrahim Shekarau, at the event, broadcast live on Nigerian news channel NN24 and the Internet.

“Why don’t Ribadu, Shekarau and Buhari agree under one party and kick this PDP (ruling party) out of power,” said one posting on a Facebook page dedicated to following the NN24 debate.

“GEJ (Jonathan) should have at least sent a Senior Special Assistant on Debates and Challenging Interviews,” said one commentator on Twitter, mocking the ruling party’s reputation for setting up committees without solving problems.

The presidency said NN24’s request was one of several from media organisations seeking to organise a televised debate and had been received while he was busy on the campaign trail.

“The request came late, it was one of ten. He’s going to participate in a debate on the 29th…It’s unfair to the president to suggest he’s avoiding a debate,” said Ken Saro-Wiwa, his special assistant on international affairs.

The presidential vote is due to be held on April 9, with parliamentary elections a week earlier and state governorship elections a week later.

Jonathan announced his intention to run in the elections on social networking site Facebook in September, stealing the thunder from Buhari, who was holding a campaign launch in the capital Abuja at the time.

Jonathan’s aides spun the strategy as a sign he was a “breath of fresh air” in touch with Nigerian youth. Political commentators acknowledged the stark contrast with the traditional pomp of Buhari’s launch was a publicity coup.

But his campaign has since lost momentum, with the turnout at some of his rallies in recent weeks less than overwhelming.

A pre-recorded television interview with local music star D’banj, broadcast on Thursday evening, was pilloried by some as a patronising attempt to engage with the youth.

“Jonathan and the PDP may be misjudging the youth who are determined to put an end to the era of mediocrity and criminal showmanship that has dragged their nation backward for decades,” said one comment doing the rounds on Blackberry messenger.

Opposition Eyes Run-Off

The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate has won every election since the end of military rule 12 years ago and Jonathan remains the front runner, but opposition parties are hoping they may be able to force a run-off.

Jonathan must win at least a quarter of the vote in two thirds of the 36 states to secure victory in the first round.

Buhari has strong grass roots support in parts of the north, while Ribadu’s Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is dominant in the southwest, and while they have no formal alliance they are hoping to prevent Jonathan clinching a first-round win.

Diplomats were in the front row at the debate and members of the audience were asked to submit questions in advance.

Buhari was grilled on his reputation as an authoritarian during military rule, Ribadu on why he was standing for a party whose members include people he has accused of graft, and Shekarau on the Hisbah Islamic squad he set up in Kano to enforce sharia law even on a Christian minority.

The opposition has called for the order of the parliamentary and state governorship votes to be amended, saying the timetable favoured the ruling party because if Jonathan won the presidential race then voters would be more inclined to vote PDP at state level a week later.

The electoral commission ruled out the suggestion on Friday, saying it was too late for such a change.

“It is like a moving train, it cannot suddenly be brought to a stop because you see something by the rail,” electoral commission spokesman Kayode Idowu said.

How we’ll stop rigging – Jega

Headlines

Independent observers to track election results- Jega

Already 22 persons, including electoral officials, are currently facing trial for offences committed during the January governorship re-run elections in Delta State, according to Prof. Jega at the just concluded National conference on Partnering the Police for free, fair and credible 2011 elections facilitated by Vanguard Newspapers, in Asaba.

As the conference attended by senior police officers, politicians and other major election stakeholders wound up yesterday, policemen were warned that they would be individually held responsible if found if found carrying out unlawful orders given them by either senior police officers or political office holders.

A 14 point communiqué issued at the end of the conference amongst others called for closer collaboration between the Police, INEC and the media in checking the violations of the nation’s electoral laws.

The communiqué also called for a review of the electoral act to stop the swearing in of election winners with cases pending in the tribunal. The communiqué also called for a rectification of the limitations arising from parts of the voiding of the Public Order Act.

*Jega unveils measures
Jega in a paper entitled ‘The imperatives of building confidence in Nigeria’s electoral system through efficient information and security management’ said results from any polling areas where ballot boxes are snatched would be cancelled and polling repeated under a free and fair atmosphere.

In the paper read by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC in Delta State, Dr. Gabriel Ada Jega said: “There is also the introduction of parallel observers who shall document election results independently and forward same to the Commission for comparative analysis.

“Others are the repeat of elections in any polling unit or ward where ballot papers and boxes were snatched, burnt or destroyed by hoodlums until a free and fair conduct is achieve no matter the length of period it takes the Commission to achieve the feat”.

“I can say it without fear of contradiction that the Commission has steadfastly and progressively introduced far-reaching measures to build confidence in the electoral process.

These include the introduction of radical and revolutionary electoral reforms such as the production of a credible voters register, new guidelines for the conduct of elections, accreditation of voters/announcement of the numbers accredited to the hearing of all present at a polling unit, announcement and pasting of election results at the polling units and the ban on government officials at all levels from parading the voting centers with security escorts.

Noting the determination of the commission to punish electoral offenders as deterrence to others, he said:
“As at the last count 22 people are undergoing trial. Their offences ranged from ballot box snatching, disruption of polls during the re-run elections and tempering with voter registration during the voter registration exercise etc. However, issues of security management should be addressed vigorously at both the national, state, local government area and community level and continually reviewed and re-assessed.”

“From INEC perspectives, the transparency of the new process of election we hope shall help to reduce threat to peace and violence thus the need for all to adapt to this new process”, he added.

Also at the session yesterday, police officers were charged to uphold their obligations to the law above human and political considerations. Mr. Frank Odita, a retired Commissioner of Police in response to enquires from some of the senior police officers in attendance told them that they would ultimately be held responsible if caught carrying out illegal instructions either given out by politicians or their superior police officers.

“If the DIG here for example gives you an illegal assignment and you are caught, it is not him but you who would be held liable,” Mr. Odita, erstwhile Force Public Relations Officers said.
*Stakeholders want collation centres relocated

Meanwhile, political stakeholders including senior Police officers at the conference called for the relocation of collation centres away from the local government secretariats.

Barrister Uche Okuku, Chairman of the Rivers State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN who gave vent to the plea of the political stakeholders submitted that parties who control local governments in the country would make the local government secretariats inhospitable if not inaccessible to opposition political parties during collation of election results. He thus called on the INEC to relocate the collation centres away from the local government secretariats as proposed to public schools accessible to all.

Also in his presentation yesterday, Barrister Ted- Iseghohi-Edwards a columnist with the Leadership Newspaper called for the amendment of section 81(1) of the Electoral to allow stringent punishment of political parties who violate the provisions of the law. He described the present laws as too lenient to deter infraction.

Yesterday’s session was attended by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr. Azubuko Udah, the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, Mr. Tony Uranta, member of the Niger Delta Technical Committee, the Commissioner of Police Delta State, Mamman Ibrahim Tsaase, among other senior officials of the nation’s security agencies and politicians from different political parties.


*22 persons facing trial for electoral offences
*stop swearing in of election winners with cases in tribunals – communiqué
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Austin Ogwuda and Evelyn Usman
CHAIRMAN of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega has unveiled revolutionary measures to allow free conduct and flow of election results in the April elections.

Kwara heading for a logjam?

By Dapo Akinrefon

KWARA State offers an interesting perspective on age-long reverence for patriarchal politics. Indeed, a storm is gathering in the political firmament of the state.

For a state, which to some, is regarded as city of lawyers, perhaps, the judiciary will be used to solve the on going logjam in the state.

Ilorin is a city in love with the wig and gown; its sons and daughters bestride Nigeria’s bench and bar. The city has families that have produced lawyers and judges. Indeed the first lawyer to be given the silk in the whole of Nigeria’s North is from this expanding city: Alhaji A.G.F. Abdulrazaq (SAN).

He too has at least two lawyers in his family. One of the most respected judicial officers in the history of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, who used to head the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), is from Ilorin. He retired as President of the Court of Appeal. His son is also a lawyer.

The Belgore family has made notable contributions to the profession especially with Justice Alfa Belgore of the Supreme Court and Justice Babtunde Belgore, retired Chief Judge of the Federal High Court. Another judicial officer from the Belgore family is currently serving in the judiciary of The Gambia.

Ilorin’s Emir, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari is a retired Justice of the Court of Appeal. Justice Saidu Kawu, retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Alhaji Aliyu Alarape Salma (SAN) are from Ilorin.

But like a colossus, one man holds the ace as far as the state is concerned. For the man fondly called ‘Oloye’, Dr. Olusola Saraki’s grip, has shown little respect for zonal cleavages and religion as in some states.
However, Dr Saraki’s Central Senatorial District has always provided the leadership exclusively.

The clamour to get the North and South provide the governor is presently, one of the deciding factor in the choice of the next governor come April.

Saraki has again pitched his tent in the central zone backing his daughter, Gbemisola. But his son, Bukola, the sitting governor, sees it differently and is supporting Alhaji Abdulfatai Ahmed, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate.

With deep South-West sub-ethnic bias, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), is equally holding a good chunk of interests. Its candidate, Dr. Dele Belgore is also from the district. The battle is therefore, a three horse race – PDP, ACPN and ACN.

While the PDP which has ruled the state in the last eight years has the wherewithal to retain power, the ACN on the other hand is gearing up to wrest power from the former.

The PDP candidate, Ahmed, sees his ambition as an extension of the ‘legacies of Governor Bukola Saraki, whose extensive agricultural strides has endeared him to the citizens.

He declares that “I have been part of this administration for seven years as Commissioner for Finance. I was involved in the blueprint that resulted in the massive transformation of the state. So, I see my victory as a continuation of the legacy. Again, PDP is very popular in this state. It is well accepted by the people, and the president on his visit to the state recently was amazed at what he saw. He observed that truly, the state is PDP.”

The Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), which is largely seen as a breakaway rump of the PDP consisting mostly of die-hard followers of the older Saraki, is equally strong in the state. Its weakness, however, is mainly the lack of a strong national leadership to invest proper structure and status.

Observers have resorted to label it ‘a one state party’, owing to it not having a national outlook. But that notwithstanding, the party is riding high on the popularity and magic wand of ‘Baba Oloye’, who has come to be accepted and adored as the ultimate political machine of the state.

As things stand in the state, the 2011 elections will be taking another dimension from previous ones.
While the performance of the outgoing governor, and a seeming challenge to his hegemony from within, will come to fore, there is also the gender challenge.

The poser of whether the state, despite religious and socio-cultural interests, is ripe for a female executive governor and how far has he (Saraki) gone to prepare the minds of the voting populace for the change, or is he merely taking the people for a ride, remains questions seeking answers.

From all indications, the election in the state will be fought on a triangular basis – the PDP, ACPN, and ACN. And to reduce it further to the holy orders, it will be in the name of the father, the son, and the daughter.

But to many, there is the general perception that the ACN will have an edge over others.

Media Aide to Kwara ACN Gov Candidate, Mr Rafiu Ajakaye was quick to point out that the guber race is clearly between Belgore and others, measured against the reality on the ground. Political analysts would be mistaken to predict the outcome of the poll based on indices that shaped previous polls such as the somewhat over-bloated level of Saraki’s popularity among the people.

It has been argued that given the widespread sentiments against the Saraki, accentuated by the unprecedented level of uncoordinated protests among the youths and grumblings within the elite, Belgore would likely be a beneficiary of pent up anger over perceived arrogance of the Saraki political dynasty.

And to worsen the situation the unprecedented rise in political awareness among the people would make rigging almost impossible. The antecedence of the ACN in retrieving stolen mandate is also a serious deterrence for the ruling clique.

Ajakaye explained that “all of these come next to the impact and influence Belgore’s pedigree already have on the psyche of the populace. He comes from a resoundingly popular family with nothing to link with political negativism and much to draw massive votes.

The name Belgore is synonymous with sterling record in public service in Kwara State and in Nigeria as a whole. The name might well have entered into the Guinness Book of Record as the family with the highest number of jurists, a legacy that dated back to well over 200 years when the popular Alfa Belgore, Dele’s great grandfather, became the Alkali (grand jurist) in the colonial era on the altar of competence, commitment and superior knowledge.”

He said “Dele himself comes to the race armed with some of the best credentials needed in the 21st century politician, when meritocracy is urgently replacing mediocrity and favouritism. He is for now immune from any political baggage, some of which are found in his challengers. A senior advocate of Nigeria without any link to corrupt government bureaucracy, Belgore is respected for his urbane mien, thoroughness, intelligence and national prominence.”

But the only problem Belgore faces appears to be the shaky structure of the ACN in Kwara. But this may not count for much, when weighed against public sentiment which tends to spot him out as the only candidate that can make the difference.

He is seen as a new face in Kwara politics, but this seems to be a plus for him rather than being a burden in normal politicking. That may well be because of the anti-Saraki sentiments that are daily gaining ground in Ilorin and elsewhere.

The President Is A Good Son Of A Bad Family

By Dele Oluwole

“Democracy is an impossible thing until the power is shared by all, but let not democracy degenerate into mobocracy”

 

– Gandhi

As a Nigerian, before I share my pain with you let it be known that the followership (all of us Nigerians) is as bad as the leadership and that is because we do not hold the leadership accountable like it is in Europe and America.

Starting with a macro economic comparison between Ghana and Nigeria, Ghana foreign reserve is just below 3 billion US Dollars and the GDP of less than 40 Billion US Dollars. On the other hand, Nigeria’s GDP is 320 Billion US Dollars and foreign reserve of almost 40 billion US Dollars. The euro bond issued by Ghana had a sovereign interest of 6.5% but that of Nigeria was 7.8%

Are you wondering about the wide difference in the interest? Even though Ghana envies the Nigeria’s bequest of over 200 natural recourses and despite the fact that Nigeria is far richer than Ghana the global financial community has more credibility, respect, and trust for Ghana than the government of my country, the Nigerian government.

The holy bible says, “The hearts of my men are desperately wicked” the bible did not say hearts of black men but ‘men’. In this perspective, the white politicians in Europe and America have the predisposition to be corrupt but majority of them at least have either chosen or compelled to be transparent because the followership holds them accountable.

Haven leaved in Europe for many years I now know that the leadership of Nigeria will continue to milk the country dry until the Nigerians themselves say enough is enough as we have seen in the Arab countries recently. Unfortunately, we Nigerians are too timid to embark on a path that will liberate us from the jaws of the clique that has held the country captive for many years.

Occasionally we have the brave amongst us like our own Allen Greenspan, the bold central bank Governor, Mr Sanusi Lamido. He has spoken openly without fear or favour against the corrupt malpractices of the lawmakers in the National assembly and the presidency, these are those who should know better. The national assembly senators challenged him to clarify one of his public speeches or be sacked. He bluffed the senators who summoned him to defend his statement that the annual expenditure of the national assembly is massively burdensome on the overall national budget. The senators dug their own pit as he gave his televised defence to the detriment of the committee members whose mediocrity seems to have taken turn for the worse.

The ruling party, PDP in the past 10 years or so have brought the economy of the country to its knees. From a rigged election to jailed corrupt party chiefs, speakers and governors. The ruling party has made a governing a do or die affairs as we have seen in recent years as they are the only party that failed to sign the electoral code of conduct. They now hurriedly read the freedom of information bill that has been avoided for over four years with hope of passing it before the election. Do they think Nigerians are fools?

What has also characterised the ruling party is the failed Nigerian economy because of policy somersaults, mediocrity, and greed. These unpalatable national antecedents have eroded the very little credibility the Nigerian state and people have in the international community before the ruling PDP came into power.

My country’s economy is now on life support due to the unprecedented colossal looting of the treasury and the non-implementation of the national budget since 1999

How does one justify the National Security Adviser office massive capital budget of $580 million for 2011 whilst the Ministry of Education capital budget is just $399 million? No one should expect anything better from a clique of mediocre that hijacked the country since the early 90s.

My country have spent more than $333 billion on Nigerian roads since 1999 yet our roads have become more deplorable. Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) reports put daily deaths on our roads to about 780. That sadly means that there are 780 avoidable deaths on our roads while the politicians fly across the country in private jets and helicopters.

We do not need UNO, EU or America to intervene in the man made national political Tsunami Nigeria is experiencing. We are blessed with enormous natural and human resources, therefore the future lies in our hands. Let the good people of Nigeria vote out corrupt politicians that have plagued the country and vote in those who they believe in.

The election is next month and the president is vying for your vote again, unfortunately, he is the good son of a very bad family (the ruling PDP). The Holy Bible has it that seeds that falls on bad ground will die; the ruling party PDP is the bad ground whilst the president is the seed.

Vote for whom you believe in not a party!

Before the politicians are voted out or given another tenure in office let us start by petitioning our governors, senators, local government chiefs, etc FREE at ….

http://www.myopenpetition.com/ – it is FREE

.

INEC, Security Agencies Brainstorm on Electoral Offences

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

 

Following the renewed threat by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) to bomb campaign rallies in Lagos and Abuja and oil facilities in the Niger Delta, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Tuesday met with security agencies to adopt new measures that would effectively check violence and other electoral offences.

Speaking at a one-day forum on the role of civil society groups, the media and police in preventing and mitigating election-related conflicts jointly organised by INEC, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Abuja, INEC Chairman, Prof, Attahiru Jega, said the commission was collaborating with security agencies to ensure that enough personnel were deployed to apprehend and prosecute violators of the Electoral Act.

“We have been able to hold collaborative discussions with all the security agencies to be able to define specific roles each agency will play during the elections.

“We are deploying adequate security agencies to be able to apprehend and prosecute offenders. INEC is also considering meeting with the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) so that it can assist the commission in prosecuting electoral offenders,” he said.

Apart from the establishment of the security agency committee, a lot of work has gone into preparations for election security in the past few weeks.

He said one of the gains of the collaborative engagement with security agencies was that it had minimised the rivalry and conflict of roles that used to exist among the various security agencies involved in election security in the country.

Jega, who used the occasion to re-assure Nigerians that there would be substantial improvement in the conduct of the April general election, said the security measures had helped to establish a framework on definite roles of each agency to avoid a clash of responsibilities.

“Also, a lot of work has gone into drawing-up a comprehensive document on matters relating to election security and a lot of decisions have been taken in this regard. One of the good things that have resulted in this arrangement is that it has reduced inter-service rivalry among the agencies and all of them are now ready to provide solutions to any security problems with regard to the elections.

“What I can say is that there is a lot of hope with regards to having substantial improvement in security during the elections. The Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (IACCES) is also operational at the state level and in about 20 per cent of the local government areas,” he added.

While expressing the hope that the effort would add value to our existing security plans, Jega said INEC’s commitment in dealing with electoral fraud was very much on course, adding that a lot of prosecutions against electoral offences were being undertaken by the commission.

“Many persons have been convicted of electoral offences. For instance, he said a lot of NYSC members have been prosecuted and convicted of offences during the just-concluded voter registration exercise. A lot of these youth corps members and INEC officials, who were caught-up in one electoral offence or the other, have been prosecuted and sentenced for such offences. We have demonstrated our commitment to prosecute electoral offenders.

“We are doing our best. This election might not be perfect in terms of having everything we want to be in place before the election, but there will be substantial improvement in the conduct of the April general election,” he said.

Katsina gov in fatal crash

Aide-De-Camp, 7 PDP supporters killed
From ANDY ASEMOTA, Katsina
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tragedy hit the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign train on Tuesday as the convoy of the Katsina State governor which was on its way to receive President Goodluck Jonathan at Daura town was involved in a multiple collision with two buses conveying some party supporters.

Although Governor Ibrahim Shema and his running mate, Abdullahi Garba Faskari, cheated death by the whiskers in the auto crash, no fewer than eight persons, including the governor’s Aide-de-Camp (ADC), Mr. Aminu Ibrahim, died on the spot.

The crash reportedly occurred at Zaka Aliyan village, near Mashi, about 20 minutes from Katsina.
An eyewitness told Daily Sun that the ADC, who was traveling with his boss in the same car, three supporters of the PDP in a bus that collided head-on with Shema’s Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) and another four faithful of the party in another bus that crashed into the ill-fated vehicles all died on the spot.

The governor was going to Daura while the two buses conveying the PDP supporters were going towards Katsina town.
Investigations also revealed that about 20 others who escaped with various degrees of injury were rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Katsina.

The remains of the ADC and three of the victims were also deposited in a morgue of the hospital.
Dependable sources close to the hospital, however, told Daily Sun that the remains of the ADC and the driver of one of the affected buses were removed from the centre before mid day for burial according to Islamic rites.

President Jonathan, however, arrived Katsina in the afternoon and was received by Governor Shema who accompanied him on a visit to the Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, and the party elders at the PDP secretariat before proceeding to the Katsina Polo ground, to address the rally despite the tragedy.
Speaking at the low-key rally, President Jonathan told the crowd that he would tackle the nation’s problems.
The governor was believed to have been slightly injured but he did not betray it at the rally.

The president, who said his campaign train was reflecting on the demise of former President Umar Yar’Adua on their way to Katsina when he learnt of the fatal crash involving Shema’s convoy, assured that he would not disappoint the state and the nation.
He insisted that the robust plan, which the late Yar’Adua could not actualise would be completed by the current administration in the next four years.
“He (Yar’Adua) had a robust plan for Nigeria. He had seven-point agenda. A number of things were planned by us. In the eight years that we expected him to run the Federal Government, a number of things would have been taken for granted. Things like power, water and a number of things,” the PDP presidential flag-bearer stated.

Jonathan, who also commissioned a number of projects executed by the state governor, particularly hailed the three-lane ring road going round Katsina town as “a major investment that has brought a major facelift to Katsina.”
He also paid courtesy call on the Yar’Adua’s family in Katsina and promised that he would continue to work with the people of the state politically and otherwise.
Earlier, Governor Shema had assured that the party would deliver the state in the April elections, saying the electorate had seen in the PDP the prospects of sustaining people-oriented policies.

Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has condoled with the Governor Shema.
“I wish to convey to Your Excellency the commiseration of the people and government of Edo State as well as my personal condolence over this unfortunate incident,” Oshiomhole said.
In his letter, the governor added: “We share your deep anguish over the death of such a close and effective confidant and aide. I had met Aminu on a few occasions and do remember him as a charming and resourceful officer, who invested so much energy into his duties. Yet, we must bear the pain of his demise with equanimity, since we cannot question the will of Allah (SWT).

“Our fervent prayer is that Allah (SWT) will extend His mercy to Aminu and grant him Alijanna Firdaus, as befitting a favoured servant. We also pray God to give you and the family the strength and courage to bear the loss.”
While expressing his sympathy to the Katsina Governor, Oshiomhole said: “We thank Allah for your survival and for the survival of others, who were involved in the accident with Your Excellency. We pray for the continued protection of Allah (SWT) as we all engage in the electioneering campaign.”

Nigeria: By Luck Than Design, A Patience Goodluck Story

By Prince Charles Dickson

Her name is Patience Goodluck Jonathan; I am particularly sure that fellow Nigerians of all nationalities know who she is.

A brief introduction may however be necessary, importantly she is a Dame…in case you don’t know, and a Dame is originally the official title of a female member of the Order of the British Empire, equivalent to that of a knight. I am not so sure of many things but I know Mr. President’s wife is not a female member of the Order of the British Empire.

A Dame however was (formerly) a form of address to any woman of rank or authority, on this count no one can begrudge madam first lady; she actually is a woman of authority.

However, I don’t know exactly when people started calling our first lady Dame, but recently, the Plateau state deputy governor became a Dame too and a host of other women too now find it fashionable to be Dames. My wife too, is set to become a Dame next week

I know a lot of Nigerians are not comfortable with her when she speaks English, but trust me, she may not know English but she knows quite a lot about Nigeria, and is a representation of many things that is wrong about Nigeria.

As she canvasses the length and breadth of Nigeria on tax payers’ monies, it’s that same picture of profligacy of government of the greedy by greedy and for the greedy.

The Patience Goodluck story to a large extent is a reflection of our current state as a nation. One we joke with everything not because they should be joked about but rather than cry, we all laugh. We are saddled with such much injustice, we continue to be patient.

By fate, Japan as a result of a tripod disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear wahala have 10% electricity cut off, while Nigeria by design has 80% without electricity.

So by design OBJ started an Excess Crude Account meant for the future. As at today, less than one billion dollars is remaining in the account which once had about 34 billion dollars. Whatever happened to over 33billion in less than 3yrs is luck, or like a friend asked, has that future, which the money was meant for arrived?

Very quickly let me thank those who have jealously stood in ‘patient’ defence of the First lady, because of such naivety and collective acceptance of that which is not correct we have accepted the ‘umblella’, they would use it while it’s raining, defending themselves, leave us in the rain, and in the scorching sun, only to return it when they are done.

Again let me quickly remind those that are jealous of her husband to know that with goodluck, everything is possible and also that her loving husband is not the problem of Nigeria, on the contrary together, with their ilk in PDP, they represent solutions.

The only choice we have is to show via the polls that hence with PDP everything is possible, with the peoples’ power if we can muster it, nothing is impossible, not that we have all the time and choices.

When people castigate Patience Goodluck Jonathan for saying that we should vote for the “Umblella”, they forget or rather chose not to remember that under the rule of the ‘umblella’ nothing has really worked for almost 12 years so Nigerians remain victims of the Stockholm syndrome.

For example in the whole of 2010, the four refineries with a combined capacity in excess of 445,000 barrels per day could only refine a mere 80,757 metric tonnes of petroleum products.

It was by luck not design that the refineries even worked especially given that the rest volume of 8.1 million MT of petroleum products that came into the downstream sector was imported. And Nigerians still praised Jonathan for availability of petroleum products, when Kerosene was either costlier than fuel or killing more Nigerians that malaria shows that we are sick.

It is by luck that with the country’s daily revenue from crude oil at an average of US$282 million by design there is very little to show for…

And as usual Nigerians blame everything and anything, and I wonder, how is it Dame Patience use of English or her husband’s fault that a nominee who is said to be a wife of serving Ambassador to France failed to recite the national anthem and could not name the capital of Jigawa state, when asked to do so by the Senate foreign affairs screening committee.

And so you know, Mrs. Chinyere was beautiful by design, could speak English by design, but could not recite the national anthem, at least Dame Patience Jonathan can recite it and her beauty just like the Nigerian nation is in the eye of the beholder, even if her English fails her, by luck she is the First lady and not you.

After all just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, spoken English is in the ear of the hearer. It’s all a function of how we see things.

Strangely because of how we see things, a lot of persons have compared her to former first lady, Hajiya Turai Yar’adua, and they forget that it is not easy to carry second. (Whoever is better amongst the two of them, majority of Nigerians who criticize them can never be first or even second ladies).

Her husband’s recent ramblings on oil and gas according to a commentator (An Hausa man) is because her husband and Sambo is a good people.

By luck Jonathan’s presidency will unite us, the only problem is that it may be difficult to make fellow Nigerians irrespective of their nationality to see reason and allow him because we are blinded by ‘tribalism’, a derogatory term only used to refer to Nigerians that are loyal to their identity. Forgetting that it is a similar sentiment used in the Western world to refer to loyalty or patriotism.

Therefore we lose track of the fact that as a people it is only when we are loyal to our identity that we can be loyal to a nation that adequately represents us. In the end due to a lack of design, a lack of planning, the nation under the current crop cannot represent us.

Dame Patience through her campaign trail is asking us to close our eyes to what looks today like a symphony, exhibiting astute exhibition of clueless drifting and moribund spin by the umblella click, one which has driven our nation’s economy through unproductive dealings aptly defined in rudimentary economics as ‘Cash & Carry economy’ and on the contrary, like “A Good Mother takes care of his Children and believe that her fellow husband will make change happen if we can give him a chance.

I will go into my concluding paragraphs by letting us know that except something magical happens by design, luck will prevail. Luck, a force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person’s life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities.

In this instance, goodluck, that which has seen Dame and her husband, and 50 years of leadership on the good end of the nation’s misfortune. As we approach the D-day, can Nigerians by all means necessary start by wilfully designing a new course?

We have to put a full stop to the luck being enjoyed by our leaders…we have to re-shape our circumstances, re-direct events, and find new opportunities

The Nigerian politician by luck is an indescribable specimen of anthropologic potency, carrying gold headed cane, more in the cane’s head than his. They wear tinted eye glasses that they cannot see through, Brazilian leather wears that slow their movement and agbada that make them look like dressed grasshoppers.

The onus on Jonathan, Buhari, and Ribadu is to prove beyond doubt that by design they can come up with plan that can move this nation forward. The question on the lips of conservative progressives is, do these men have the will or again we are going to make do with the complexities of patience, hoping against hope that it will be well when indeed we watch leadership sap us of the will to live.

MEND Issues Fresh Warning About Imminent Attacks

By Jomo Gbomo

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (M.E.N.D) has reiterated that the public as well as all oil companies must take its latest threats seriously and not be carried away by the reassurances of the Nigerian government and security services.

It warned in a new statement, signed by “Jomo Gbomo,” that on account of the attempts by Nigeria’s security services, “we may resort to carry out all bomb blasts without prior notification and then issue a statement of claim afterwards.”

It noted that since the government of Goodluck Jonathan has blamed its political opponents in other bomb attacks, MEND “will sit back and watch how the blame game will continue to be played out by the government after our statements of claims has being issued.”

It said it wished to avoid civilian casualties and therefore warned public to stay clear of any political gatherings or meetings of any sort “as we know our targets.

See full statement below:

“The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (M.E.N.D) wishes to strongly advise the general public and all oil companies to disregard all attempts by the Nigerian government and security services in dismissing our latest threat.

In light of these attempts by the Nigerian security services, we may resort to carry out all bomb blasts without prior notification and then issue a statement of claim afterwards.

Anyone caught up in these blasts due to their ignorance would only have themselves and the government to blame. The same government that would abandon the casualties in an unequipped teaching hospital while their family members travel abroad for medical treatment.

We gather that some agents from the United States are training some members of the Nigerian police force in bomb detection, detonation and making improvised bombs. We find this very laughable coming from a country that cannot guarantee its own citizen’s security with their overwhelmed prison system coupled with a useless and corrupt Nigerian police and security force that will end up selling this knowledge.

The government of Goodluck Jonathan has formed a habit of blaming its political opponents in other bomb attacks so when we start to strike, we will sit back and watch how the blame game will continue to be played out by the government after our statements of claims has being issued.

We finally reiterate our desire to avoid any civilian casualties and again strongly warn the general public to stay clear of any political gathering or meeting of any sort as we know our targets. Jomo Gbomo