Tinubu Capable Of Reconciling APC – Kalu

Former Abia governor, Dr. Orji Kalu has called on the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to accelerate efforts toward reconciling aggrieved members of the ruling party.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Kalu made the call on Sunday night while speaking with newsmen at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.

He said the task given by President Muhammadu Buhari to Tinubu was very apt because there was an urgent need to reconcile feuding members of the party.

According to him, the situation whereby a serving governor and a minister who belong to APC are engaged in bickering at a time concerted efforts are needed to return the party to victory in 2019 is not good.

Kalu said, “I have reported this to the highest authority of the party that it is not proper for a governor and minister in Ibadan to go two parallel ways.

“It is not to the benefit of the president and neither is it to the benefit of the party, it is not the benefit of Nigerians; the synergy needed to accelerate cohesion in the ruling party will not be there.

“We need to thank Mr. President for his wisdom in giving the mandate to the national leader of APC the opportunity to reconcile members of the party.

“I am very excited that such a thing is happening. I am confident it will be a good beginning for my brother and friend, Tinubu to execute the reconciliation task very well.

“I am confident Tinubu will be blunt to settle feuding members of the APC.”

He noted that Buhari had the constitutional right to seek for re-election, adding that the only reason the president might not run in 2019 would be solely on health grounds.

According to him, Buhari is an honest man and will let Nigerians know whether he will contest or not at the appropriate time.

“Buhari is an honest man. If he is interested in running, he will tell Nigerians that he will run. We pray that his health gets better and that his doctors give him a clean bill of health.

“You know Buhari is also a man of conscience; if he feels his health will not allow him to seek re-election he will not go ahead, but if he feels he is capable of running, he will seek re-election.

“It is his decision, it his right, he is entitled to the second term,” he said.

(NAN)

I Was Right To Endorse Buhari In 2015 – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in an interview with German publisher, DW explained why he wrote the open letter to President Buhari in January advising him not to seek a second term in office.

 

He was also asked if he regrets endoring Buhari back in 2015 and he said,

‘Yes, it was the right decision. With the benefit of hindsight, you will agree with me, if you know what has happened and what has been revealed about the government of Jonathan and those who are with him, in terms of sordid corruption and you will agree that this was the right decision. I believe it that was a decision that was good at that time for our country and our democracy. Because we were able to transition from one party to another party. As a result of that we are consolidating democratic process. It is also the right decision now, for us to see that the man who is taking over from Jonathan has not met the expectation of Nigerians, that’s what democracy is all about. Democracy is about change. But if you think that is not the right decision, then you are not a democrat. But I am a democrat and tomorrow if I take a decision and things don’t work out the way we expect them to work out in a democracy, then you make a change’.

See excerpts from the interview below….

One of the biggest promises of President Buhari was to fight corruption. That is his flagship topic. You are now saying that he turns a blind eye on corrupt people in his inner circle. Has Buhari’s corruption fight failed already?

I won’t quite put it that way. I would say he was probably looking outside, he wasn’t looking inside, because if you are fighting corruption [and] corruption is becoming rife then you also have to turn your attention inward.

What would you do differently if you were him in fighting corruption?

I would do what I exactly did before. I set up the two mayor institutions that are being used to fight corruption. I would make sure that the people who are in charge of these two institutions are men or women of integrity and I would look outside and inside because there is no point in fighting corruption beyond you while you have corruption (in front of) your nose.

Would you say is that you were more successful in fighting corruption?

I won’t judge myself. I will leave that to other people.

President Buhari is widely regarded as a man of integrity among most Nigerians. Is he lacking seriousness?

I don’t know which Nigerians you are talking about. Maybe Nigerians of four years ago. Talk to Nigerians today.

In your letter, you wrote that Buhari has a poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. You also said that he is weak in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector. Your critics are saying that they have the impression that you [feel you] are a moral authority and that you are the only person who understands how to run this country. What do you say to that?

I won’t answer them. I will reserve it as my right as a Nigerian.

You said in the past that you would pull out of politics. How does that go together with the new coalition movement?

A movement is a movement. It’s not a political organization. It’s a social, economic organization. And I have said that if that movement turns political, I will withdraw from it.

But you write that the two biggest parties in the country are unfit to run Nigeria. Do you hope to provide an alternative?

No, I would not stand in the way of that movement. If it decides to become a candidate sponsoring organization then it will become political and I will withdraw from it.

It is not yet clear who the members will be. And the names that got a lot of attention were the names people already know former governors, members of the [opposition] PDP (People’s Democratic Party). Some people have the feeling that it is not going to be a new innovative movement but think that it’s old people in new clothes.

If that is what you hear then you are hearing it wrongly. There are thousands of Nigerians inside Nigeria and outside Nigeria who have never been in politics and are members of this movement. It’s not old wine in a new bottle. It’s new wine in a new bottle.

 

The interview was conducted by DW’s Africa correspondent Adrian Kriesch.

“APC Not Aware Of El-Rufai’s Suspension”

The leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says the National Working Committee will state its position on the suspension of Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai in due course.

APC national publicity secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi, said this in a chat with newsmen on Monday morning.

He explained that response to the development cannot be rushed as the national secretariat was yet to really know what happened.

“I have no details of the matter yet. You know it (suspension) occurred during the weekend”, Abdullahi said.

“Also, I was out of town. Before I can comment, I will need to study what actually happened. So, I can’t give the official reaction now”.

Asked if he would issue the party’s position in form of a statement, the spokesman replied: “It depends, what we find out will determine how we’ll react”.

APC party faction led by the Senator representing Kaduna North Central, Suleiman Hunkuyi, had accused El-Rufai of “anti- party activities and anti-human activities.

The Senator said if El-Rufai did not respond to the query within 48 hours, “the state working committee will sit down and deliberate.”

But in a statement on Sunday, the faction said the governor refused to honour the invitation to defend himself over the allegations levelled against him.

It resolved to suspend him for six months with immediate effect.

The statement said, “Sequel to the 48 hours ultimatum issued to the Kaduna State Governor Malam Nasir Ahmad Elrufa’i by the Kaduna state working committee of the APC to give explanations and defence on the allegations labelled against him, the SWC under chairmanship of S.I.

“Danladi Wada on Saturday 17th February 2018 convened, resolved and do consider and ratified the findings and recommendations of the Disciplinary and Fact Finding Committee put before it in accordance with Article 21 (B) (iii) of the APC Constitution, to the effect that having the governor failed to respond accordingly, he stands suspended for a period of 6 months from the APC with immediate effect.”

34,826 Decamp To APC In Niger

 

National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Oyegun, on Saturday received 34,826 members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Niger, who moved to APC.

Among the defectors were the state Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Aminu Yusuf, former Speaker of the state Assembly, Alhaji Adamu Usman, a former Attorney General, Alhaji Abdullahi Wuse among others.

Oyegun said in Minna at a rally to receive the defectors that Nigerians must shun sentiment and support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to set the nation on a new path of growth and progress.

He said that the country requires “people of principle” to help fight for the success of the programmes of the APC.

“APC needs sincere soldiers as leaders, people who are ready to join the fight, because God entrusted Buhari to us to salvage the nation and its economy,” he said.

He therefore urged the new APC members to support President Buhari in the efforts to restore the economy through the revitalisation of agriculture and solid minerals sectors.

Oyegun noted that already, government support to agriculture had helped to drastically bring down rice importation.

The APC national chairman stressed that the Buhari administration had also raised power generation to 7,000 megawatts and that the figure would go up by 50 percent after the completion of the Mambila hydro power project.

He noted that the increase in power supply would help boost industrialisation and job creation in the country.

Alhaji Aminu Yusuf, PDP state Deputy Chairman, said they joined the APC to assist in developing the state.

“By the time elections are over, you don’t talk about parties anymore, instead you talk about development of the state.

“The party approached me to come and join them and assist the government build the state. We are coming with our skills and experience to assist the government in developing the state,” he said. (NAN)

Osun APC Youth Forum Begins Town Hall Meetings, To Tour Federal Constituencies

By Nofisat Marindoti

A group within the State of Osun chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-Osun All Progressives Youth Forum (OAPYF) led by Comrade Olateju Olorungbebe  on Saturday began town Hall meetings in all the eleven Federal constituencies  across the state.

The meetings have been scheduled to hold between February 17 and March 3, 2018, and kick started from  Igbonibi Town Hall, Ila-Orangun, Osun Central Senatorial district.

Olorungbebe noted that the programme was specifically conceived to ameliorate perceiving differences  within the party and parcify any aggrieved member.

The coordinator explained that necessary mechanism are in place to make the programme a huge success and bring members to an amicable stance.

“This town hall meeting is an opportunity for all the  Osun APC Youth to interact intimately with political appointees and party leaders elected on the platform of APC in our locality, to assemble and discuss our basic interests.

“We are also exploring the interactions to proffer solution to internal tension threatening our cohesion and bond  irrespective of political interests , and swing into actions to solidify our political family the more as a vibrant segment of the party.

“It is pertinent for us to take the present challenges confronting our party as opportunity to make a difference and work hard as good ambassadors of this party to sustain and promote the good will of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

“It is clear that the over seven years experience of dynamic leadership of APC in the state has exposed the corruption -riddeen administration of opposition party in the past,  hence,  the need to prevent them from coming back to the saddle.

Meanwhile, the  Osun State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Kolapo Alimi in his remarks charged youth on good conduct and exhibit habits that will further promote good governance as institutionalised by Aregbesola’s style of administration.

Alimi said, Governor Rauf Aregbesola has performed excellently well on education which has yielded positive result on West African Exmanation Council WAEC in the State.

According to him “students’ performance in West Africa Examination Council in 2006 indicated that 37,428 candidates sat for WASCE examination, 4,085 passed with five credits including Mathematics and English Language. He went down memory lane stating that in 2007, 36,171 sat for the examination, only 2,483 passed. In 2008, 37, 715 sat for the examination, only 3,813 passed.

He said further that in “2010, 43, 216 that sat for the examination, 6, 777 passed including Mathematics and English Language, in (2011) 53, 293 and 11, 672 passed,  in (2012), 51, 463 sat while 11,431 passed,  in (2013) 47, 009 sat for the examination and 9,654 passed, in (2014) 47, 686 sat while 8, 844 passed”.

He added that 12, 171  accident victims had been rescued by the state emergency ambulance service known as O’Ambulance, in the last  four years among other achievements.

Also, a parliamentarian in one of the local governments in the state,   Hon Rasheed Raji Ropo enunciated  that the PYF embarked on the constructive consultations of all  disgruntled but progressive leaders in the state towards a smooth transition in 2018.

Ropo further said that the forum plays a Mediative role to all existing and feuding political groups in the state towards a progressive transition of the present government.

“Other cardinal roles of PYF is reconciliation of all individuals and groups who are yet to confirm with ethos and principles of progressive tendencies.

“Our mandate includes the strategic formulation of  a best possible approach to sustain the present legacy of Governor Aregbesola in the coming gubernatorial election slated  for September 2018”.

Earlier, His Royal Highness, Oba Abdulwahab Adedotun Bibiire, Orangun of Ila, during a courtesy visit by the group to his palace  urged the youth to promote peace and harmony in the state.

He called all the party members to continue to support Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on his efforts to transform the state to make it a cynosure of all eyes.

APC Declaims Visiting Ali-Modu Sheriff Of PDP

Ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has denied that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo met with former National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Ali-Modu Sheriff.

The party also dissociated its National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, from the meeting.

A statement in Abuja on Friday, the party urged stakeholders to disregard the speculation and describing it as “falsehood”.

‘’Following Thursday’s visit of the national chairman of the APC to the Villa, the attention of the party has been drawn to surprising speculations in some sections of the media on the visit.

‘’For the records, the APC national chairman only met with the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.

‘’He was not aware, neither was he part of the reported meeting between the Vice President and the former PDP national chairman,’’ the statement by APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said.

Abdullahi added that Odigie-Oyegun did not visit the Vice President on the day in question and had equally not met Sheriff in over two years.

He therefore said that linking the chairman’s visit to the villa to media reports of Sheriff’s plans to join the APC was an effort to cause confusion and disaffection in the party’s Borno chapter.

The party explained that its membership was negotiated at the ward level of intending entrants, irrespective of status.

David Umahi Vows Never To Ditch PDP

Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has pledged not to abandon the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in spite of the crisis currently rocking the party at the national level.

Umahi made the pledge on Sunday during a Christmas ‘Get-Together’ he organised for the State Working Committee (SWC) of the PDP including its local and zonal committee members.

The governor spoke against the backdrop of fears in the state that he would soon dump the party due to the crisis and to secure his second-term bid.

According to him, the current challenges confronting the party will not lead to its demise as it will soon fizzle out with the commitment of its dedicated members.

“Anybody who believes that I would leave PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC) or any other party is sleeping and should be woken from sleep.

“APC and other parties cannot win election in this state because PDP has performed marvellously and cannot be arm-twisted,’’ he said.

The governor said that infrastructure projects, especially roads were being executed in all Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state, courtesy of the PDP- led government.

‘“We are not just constructing roads but doing so on asphalt and stone base and other sectors such as education, health, agriculture, human empowerment among others, are feeling our impact,” Umahi said.

The governor advised the party leaders to shun corrupt and divisive tendencies in order to succeed and reposition the party for the onerous tasks ahead.

“You must avoid taking bribes, embezzling party funds among other negative acts, as contentment and Godliness is very important to achieve success.

“When you are given N10 million for instance, present the actual amount to the members because the worst thing in life is to embezzle funds meant for all, alone,” he said.

The state PDP Chairman, Mr Onyekachi Nwebonyi, thanked the governor for the reception and pledged to support him in justifying the mandate given to him by the people.

“We have learnt from the mistakes of the past and have been repositioned to maintain our resounding electoral success in 2019 and beyond.

“The people are witnesses to your massive infrastructure strides and impact in all sectors of the state which would make us maintain our overwhelming dominance in the state,” he said.

The Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Bernard Odoh, thanked the governor for identifying with various sectors of the state during the yuletide.

“Ebonyi is the only state that earmarked N1.7billion to touch the lives of its people during this Christmas period.

“This will definitely cushion effects of the current recession in the country and make the people part of the state’s governance,’’ Odoh said

It is reported that the party stakeholders used the occasion to suggest ways of enhancing the party’s well-being and pledged their support for the governor.

PDP Pays Visit To Founding Father, IBB

In less than three weeks after ex-military ruler Ibrahim Babangida ‘s controversial statement vilifying President Muhammadu Buhari, his Minna hill top home became haven to his party’s henchmen.

The members of the National Working Committee of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) visited Babandiga, one of the founding fathers of the party.

The National Chairman of the party, Mr Uche Secondus, led the committee on the courtesy visit to the former military president on Saturday.

Babangida, a retired Nigerian Army General, who was President of Nigeria from 27 August 1985 to 26 August 1993, also welcomed the party leaders.

Meanwhile, as Babangida was receiving the PDP leaders, Chief John Oyegun, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Saturday received 34,826 members of PDP in Niger, who defected.

Among the defectors are the state Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Aminu Yusuf, former Speaker of the state Assembly, Alhaji Adamu Usman, a former Attorney General, Alhaji Abdullahi Wuse among others.

Oyegun said in Minna at a rally to receive the defectors that Nigerians must shun sentiment and support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to set the nation on a new path of growth and progress.

He said that the country require “people of principle’’ to help fight for the success of the programmes of the APC.

“APC needs sincere soldiers as leaders, people who are ready to join the fight, because God entrusted Buhari to us to salvage the nation and its economy,” he said.

He therefore urged the new APC members to support President Buhari in the efforts to restore the economy through the revitalisation of agriculture and solid minerals sectors.

Oyegun noted that already, government support to agriculture had helped to drastically bring down rice importation.

The APC national chairman stressed that the Buhari administration had also raised power generation to 7,000 megawatts and that the figure would go up by 50 percent after the completion of the Mambila hydro power project.

National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun
National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun: Wants discipline in the party
He noted that the increase in power supply would help boost industrialisation and job creation in the country.

Alhaji Aminu Yusuf, PDP state Deputy Chairman, said they joined the APC to assist in developing the state.

“By the time elections are over, you don’t talk about parties anymore, instead you talk about development of the state.

“The party approached me to come and join them and assist the government build the state. We are coming with our skills and experience to assist the government in developing the state,” he said.

APC Kaduna: Queries Gov, Suspends 3 Aides, Senator And 27 Members

The All Progressives Congress in Kaduna State, on Friday, has suspended the representing senator of Kaduna North, Suleiman Hunkuyi, over alleged anti-party activities.

According to the allegations brought against Hunkuyi, he was part of a parallel APC that opened an office of the party in the state.

The same faction also queried Governor Nasir el-Rufai and suspended three of his aides.

The announcement suspending the federal lawmaker was made at an emergency meeting of the State Executive Committee of the party, which held at its state headquarters.

The acting Secretary of the APC, Yahaya Baba-Pate, who spoke to journalists shortly after the meeting, also said 27 other members of the party were suspended for dragging the party before the court.

Baba-Pate added that the SEC also agreed on a timetable for the forthcoming local government elections in the state.

The meeting was almost disrupted following an attack by hoodlums on a member of the state House of Assembly, Yusuf Zailani, while leaving the venue of the meeting.

SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that but for the timely intervention of the police, who dispersed the rampaging thugs with gunshots, the meeting would have ended in chaos.

Since the party assumed office in the state in May 2015, it has been enmeshed in crisis, leading to the formation of three factions of the party in the state.

The factions include the ‘Restoration APC,’ led by Alhaji Tijjani Ramallan and Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi; the ‘APC Akida,’ led by Senator Shehu Sani and the Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Dr. Hakeem Ahmed; and the ‘APC Government House,’ led by the governor and his deputy.

Buhari’s Government Has Failed- Balarabe Musa

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

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

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

Is it correct to accuse him of nepotism?

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

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

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

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

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

What is your idea of cattle colony?

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


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

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

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

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

Do you think Obasanjo has the support of the North?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your impression about an Igbo presidency?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But do you think that decision was right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Punch)

APC Govs Pressurize Buhari To 2019 Election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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