“I’ll Leave The PDP Primaries If That Will Breed Peace In Ekiti PDP” – Fayose

The Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose has declared that he is ready to move out of the state on the day fixed for governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Fayose, who is supporting the gubernatorial bid of his deputy, Kolapo Olusola, said he would leave the state so as to avoid making other contestants uncomfortable by his presence.

The governor stated this  while receiving the national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus and former Senate President, David Mark in Ado Ekiti.

“If other aspirants are not comfortable with my presence on the day of the primary, I am ready to vacate the state if that will usher the needed peace.

“What I know however is that with God almighty behind me, I will still come back to receive certificate of victory from my people,” Fayose said.

In his address, Secondus assured members of the party that the primary elections will be free and fair.

 

He said: “I assure you once again, there will be transparency and the process would not cheat anybody. I urge you to join the leaders to work together to ensure free and fair transparent primaries, eminent Nigerian are conducting the primaries.

“We urge you to remain calm. We also urge INEC and security agents not to be partial but come to defend democracy. From here, we are moving to other parts of the country for sensitisation.”

PDP 16 VS APC 3: The Difference Is Clear

On May 29, 2018, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will be three years in power; that is to say that it will be three years in its leadership of the federal government of Nigeria. By extension, the APC also controls the states with 24 states of the federation and over three-quarter of the local governments. Three-quarter of the 774 local governments (constitutionally recognized) is approximately 580. That is, indeed, a massive control. That was comparatively what happened during the era of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I think the PDP had more control during its first two tenures between 1999 and 2007. By then, it was as if Nigeria had become a one-party state.

Though interested, I hardly have time to watch football matches, except when any match coincides with my prepping or relaxation times. But I want to borrow some features in the football world to drive home some points, especially considering the title being discussed.  After all, politics is like a game where the key players hardly have permanent enemies or friends due to the possibility of meeting severally in other places of mutual interests.

And in Nigeria, historic facts show that the key Nigerian politicians since the creation of Nigeria in 1914 have made the country like a football match played by themselves or bequeathed to their children, grand children and unconditionally their great grand children – generation to generation; three or more in succession. Recall that the big generals of the Nigerian army have mastered the country through chess-game and it has been very difficult to pull them out of Nigeria’s politics. That is by the way.

A football match is made up of a 90 minutes’ play. Within this period, a lot of actions are displayed or play out themselves. Some of the actions please some people on one hand and irritate others on the other hand. There may be quarrels, extremism and tactical offences during the match. In short, it is correct to describe a football match as a war without weapon. There are cases when players lose control and degrade below the animals. There are cases when footballers die in the field, after the match or go home incapacitated not to ever play again in life. There are cases when spectators or fans lose their lives from the effects of the matches or from personal circumstances. Definitely, the ultimate target of the match and the players is goal(s).

But there is always a physical umpire to manage any situation. He is called a referee who is a human being and thus fallible. That is why you have in football history such coinages as the “hand of God, clean sheet, clean sheet, park the bus, stay on your feet, dead ball specialist, amongst others. Put simply, there can be cheating in the game. And the commonest question after a match is who won and with how many goals. This could be followed by another question from a fan with special interest: But who played better?

The 19 years of democratic governance in Nigeria are full of intriguing, yet intricate experiences and revelations. These years are shared between two political parties, the PDP and the APC with the ration of 16:3. Furthermore, the years are shared amongst four Presidents namely: Olusegun Obasanjo who had eight good years full of (in)actions, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua with two and half years full of target goals but invariably soiled by ineptitude as the soul was willing but the body weak, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan with six and half years full of garrulous and overzealous supernaturalism and Muhammadu Buhari with three years by May 29 full of manifestations yet unfolding. The three first Presidents ruled under the PDP, while the last is ruling under the APC. By this simple calculation, the PDP is winning the APC by number of years. And according to independent investigations, both teams have 11 key players with many substitutes and fans.

Nigerians have been agog to discover or at least decipher the differences between the 16 years of PDP leadership and the three years of the APC’s in terms of fulfillment of electioneering promises, development of human and material/capital resources and institution or reinstitution of the glorious ethics and culture Nigeria used to be known for in the past. Of course, it has been an interesting challenge between the two parties. But Nigerians have been watchful and proactive much more than before.

The PDP had produced three presidents of Nigeria, APC one. It could be very haughty to claim that nothing positive was achieved for Nigeria in the 16 years of the PDP leadership. The greatest achievement of the PDP is sustenance of the unity of Nigeria. They came at the time the unity of Nigeria was profoundly threatened. The respect from the western countries for Nigeria then was below zero point and PDP was able to brush it up. The effects of the military juntas were overwhelming and the processes of producing then incoming leadership were flawed. The then president was not selected and elected on merit. Rather, it was to compensate a past mistake committed by a Head of State against democratic norms and demand. That is why a lot of (mis)steps took place all through the 16 years. The game sometimes became tough, but the referee was often partial and the docility of spectators was unimaginable. That is how the years sluggishly passed by and the Nigerian people were stage-managed, living on promises and hopes.

The PDP, looked upon anyhow from any angle, was able to stabilize democracy by successfully conducting elections and handing over to successive governments. Though there were aggressive adoption of unconstitutionality, cohesion and violence, to an extent, in the dealing of the federal system, the electoral processes produced elected officers in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. Again, although it was later realized to be false stylish living, there was cash flow amongst the citizenry. Nigerians felt the flow of free monies. And corruption was consolidated, having been institutionalized by the earlier military administrations. PDP initiated many laudable projects but corruption marred most of the efforts as monies budgeted every year for every of such projects were diverted into private pockets with impunity. Needless mentioning some of those projects.

Surprisingly, confessions on the evils committed by the PDP are being exposed by members of the party. Though very lately and probably pushed by political interests, a former deputy senate president under PDP, Ibrahim Mantu, has confessed that his party was perfect in election rigging. They gave money to INEC boys and used the bad boys.. “All our elections in the past, I’ve been in the game for about 20 years”, the two term deputy senate president between 1999 and 2007 confessed recently. Former Sokoto state governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, confessed that PDP is paying for its sins. According to him, God is punishing the party for its sins against Nigeria. God, he said, is angry with PDP for offending Him and Nigerians, so He snatched the power and handed it to APC. Also, the governor of Gombe state, Ibrahim Dankwambo, has urged Nigerians to shun all forms of corrupt practices (past and present) and rise up against corruption.

The party’s chieftain, Raymond Dokpesi, confessed that the party made a lot of mistakes during the 16 years it occupied the presidency. “Today, the PDP is described as the most corrupt party in the country; they said our leaders were clueless and corrupt. That was how they described former President Goodluck Jonathan”, he said in Umuahia. And the party’s chairman, Uche Secondus, has made the greatest confession and sought for forgiveness.

Basically, the 16 years of vague purposeful leadership of the PDP caused its failure to retain power beyond 2015, despite its projection to lead Nigerian for at least 60 years. Nigeria’s assets and properties were sold to party members; the top politicians made businesses without paying taxes to the PDP successive governments; blanket presidential waivers were granted on importations foe few powerful citizens. In short, like it happened during the Shagari-led democratic era, properties belonging to Nigeria were unbelievably and unpatriotically given out as “gifts” to some Nigerians who are today part and parcel of the problems, hardship and threats Nigerians are collectively facing. The “dashed away” or “freely distributed” properties included but not limited to oil wells, farms, companies, in the power, housing, agriculture, health and educational sectors. Who owns the pension administration, the national health insurance management and other similar establishments which subject benefitting citizens to untold suffering and hardship for what they are constitutionally entitled to? That was unbecoming of democratic governments which legalized unguided urge for high-class corruption, to the extent that stealing of public funds was excluded from the list of corrupt practices. And the docility of the citizens was yet unthinkable.

President Muhammadu Buhari recently revealed that the PDP squandered about $500 billion oil earnings in the 16 years it was in power. According to the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, corruption and impunity of the past was perfected by the PDP as the Jonathan-led administration shared N150 billion before it handover power. Abiodun Adebayo Lanry posted on his facebook wall that the economy Buhari is destroying is producing millionaires of PDP extraction like never happened in 16 years of PDP. Former Edo governor Adams Oshiomhole said the PDP failed to provide basic amenities and fight insurgency. There are current indications of PDP’s inability to restructure Nigeria, despite its national conferences. The Boko Haram insurgents were on the rampage throughout the era.

In comparison, the APC’s three years of leadership has made some visible achievements. Corruption is being practically fought, though carefully and gradually. Youth empowerment through N-Power and ministries are done on merit, though the general appointments are allegedly lopsided and largely based on pedigree and not merit. Military and other pensioners are being paid to forestall the eyesores of senior retired citizens wasting away in the streets of Nigerian cities from their villages in search of their hard earned money. N5 billion was recently released to the military Pension Board in 2018. The foreign reserve is on the increase. Internally generated revenues are on the rise and judiciously utilized.

The monies and properties looted by heartless citizens are being recovered. The train projects, massive road construction and maintenance, improvement in power, fight against insurgency and terrorism, massive agricultural development, are some of the clear difference when 16 years are compared with three. It is just unimaginable how Nigeria will be if the APC maintains power for 16 years with the same high spirit of patriotism and nationhood-building. But will the cabals allow this spirit to last?

Nonetheless, the matches being played with Nigeria are on. However slothfully interesting, imposing and conditioning these matches are, the hope is there that our democracy has stabilized; threats to our unity are being tactfully handled or “maneuvered” and our economy is  steadily growing stronger by the day. I leave the rest to compatriots.

Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja.

E-mail: [email protected]

Aregbesola Has Done Well, It Would Be Hard For PDP To Take Over From Him – Babatope

By Sodiq Yusuf

A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Chief Ebenezer Babatope has lauded Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s achievements in the State of Osun saying it will be hard for the PDP to take over from him in November, 2018.

Babatope stated this on Thursday while featuring on a programme on Rave 91.7fm in Osogbo.

He said the Governor has done well so far; a development that might make it tough for the PDP in Osun to reclaim the state from the APC.

His words “Aregbesola has done well. In everything he has done, he has done it well. It will be very hard for the PDP to take-over from him.”

“As far as am I concerned, Rauf Aregbesola is a performer. The young man has done very well. Anything he touches, he does well. Aregbesola plans well. Go round the state, Osogbo and all other places, kudos to him.  Even if I am opposed to the APC and what Buhari’s federal government has done, I can never discredit Aregbesola and his government, he has done well.”

On the current crisis in Osun PDP, Chief Babatope who is a member of the Board of Trustees of the nation’s opposition party is of the opinion that the party will be reconciled to give other parties a good fight at the polls.

BREAKING: Omisore Supporters Burn PDP Flags

By Kehinde Ayantunji 

Loyalists of the Former State Deputy Governor, Otunba Iyiola Omisore on Thursday burned the flags of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at Omisore Campaign office, Gbongan/Ibadan Road, Osogbo.

The action might have signaled the departure of Omisore from the PDP.

Eyewitness at the party secretariat told OsunDefender reporter that, Former Special Adviser, to Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola on Students Affairs, Mr Adeniyi Bamidele popularly known as Sangaruwa led those who burned the flag.

Adeniyi and five others are among those who are currently challenging the last month congress that produced Soji Adagunodo before an Abuja High Court.

The flags burnt to ashes

Four PDP flags at the front of the campaign office was removed and bunt to ashes by the angry supporters of the former senator.

Omisore later arrived at the secretariat in 18 Passengers Toyota  Bus and moved in convoy to the major streets in Osogbo in a show of popularity.

However, the former deputy governor is yet to announce his new political platform as at the time of filling this report.

Members of the Fafoirji group at the secretariat

After the action of the members which Senator Omisore was part of, the former deputy governor declined comments when was approached by newsmen.

A former member of the House of Representative who is the Director General of Faforiji group, Hon. Bade Falade in an interview said, “Today we called a meeting to purposely brief our people concerning the happenings in the party in the light of the congress that was conducted.

Falade who faulted the congress as directed by the National Working Committee said, “When the instruction for the reconvening of the congress was passed, the directive was given to Adagunodo group. They now said they have concluded the outstanding ward congresses so also is the local and the state congress without us  which was supported the the National Working Committee of PDP”.

He stressed that, “there are have been court actions trying to establish a ward congress that was conducted and concluded in Osun State by Markafi before he departed and that base serves as an instrument during the national convention held in Abuja.”

The Leader of the Faforiji group opined that,”On the basis of the court action, we thought there is no need for ward congresses again but in the wisdom of the National Working Committee, they felt it was needed to conduct their own which they did. We did not participate in the congresses.

Falade said “We have come here today to breif our people about the issue because they have been restless since the congresses were held. We thought we could bring them together to let them know the state of affairs but before we uttered anything, they lowered all the flags and billboards were all destroyed.”

He however stated that the action taken by the the members is not from the instance of the Faforiji leaders “All the leaders from Faforiji’s group are still in PDP. Although our people might be aggressive but we will pacify them. By implication Senator Omisore has not exceeded PDP, he is till in PDP. We have litigation pending in some courts and nothing can be done until that is determined.”

Photos Credit: Toba Adedeji

APC And PDP’s Goalless Draw By Abimbola Adelakun

Following the back and forth between the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party over the latter’s apology to all Nigerians over their mis-governance while in power, the Buhari government, in one-upmanship crassness, released a list of “looters” who are alleged to have stolen the country blind.  The APC and PDP end-game: as 2019 is around the corner, Nigeria’s dominant parties are playing a scatological game and using Nigerians as their dump.

The PDP “apologised” to get back into the good favours of Nigerians who yanked them out into political wilderness in 2015, not because they were truly sorry for the 16 years of our national life that they wasted before Nigerians cottoned on to their ways. If they were sincerely apologetic, their rituals of contrition would be less melodramatic, and would have included all the upper echelons of the party who contributed to running down Nigeria under their watch.

Why was it only the party chairman the one to apologise when he was not the only one who sinned? If the PDP was truthful, there should also have been some soul- searching, remorse, and an agenda for reparations considering how much they plundered the national resources. What exactly are Nigerians supposed to do with an apology that is not backed by concrete and meaningful actions? Despite its illogic, the apology had enough weight to at least rattle the APC. The APC, worried about Buhari’s dwindling popularity, thought Nigerians would be swayed by the apology. With sanctimonious righteousness, the APC warned Nigerians about the PDP’s past and present shenanigans; they quickly released a list of “looters” as a deal clincher.

The list was, unfortunately, underwhelming; it consists mostly of the names we have known, and some of them are even being tried in court presently. Who by now has not heard of the accusations against the likes of the party’s National Chairman, Uche Secondus; a former National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh; Chairman of DAAR Communications, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi; a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode; a former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu; some relatives of former President Goodluck Jonathan, and other familiar names of those who served in the previous administrations while under the banner of the PDP?

The APC updated the list with 23 more names that included former Governors of Plateau, Niger and Oyo – Jonah Jang, Babangida Aliyu and Rasheed Ladoja – respectively. The new list also includes the immediate past NSA, Sambo Dasuki, and former Petroleum Resources Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke. The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, who has been at the vanguard of the “name and shame,” promised that their party would not stop talking about the past misdeeds of the PDP.

After the APC released its lists, spokesperson for former President Jonathan, Reno Omokri, countered and released his own list that consists of a former governor of Rivers State now serving as Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi; a former governor of Jigawa State, Saminu Turaki; a former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako; a former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva; a former governor of Nasarawa State and current APC senator, Abdullahi Adamu; a former Ekiti State governor and current Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi; a former SGF, Babachir Lawal, and a former governor of Gombe State and APC Senator, Danjuma Goje. Having learned that the best way to respond to propaganda is counter-propaganda that is as vehement, the PDP muddled the APC’s show by thoroughly trivialising the so-called anti-corruption fight.

Since the APC has vowed to keep talking about the PDP’s past crimes, someone should ask them what the end goal is. What is the point? Are they trying to solve a problem, or they just want to score a political goal? If they want to solve the problem of corruption, then what good can come out of merely releasing the names of the alleged looters? How does naming people who will respond with vicious counter-attacks translate to a proper judicial process that tries, convicts, and punishes crimes? If the cases are in court and/or with the EFCC, why not leave them there? The job of the Presidency should not be to spectacularise corruption but to ensure the judiciary can perform its legitimate function appropriately. Have they ever imagined the psychological toll their frequent revelations of corruption take on Nigerians?

Naming and shaming alleged criminals in Nigeria has become so normalised that nobody is likely to lose sleep because somebody put their names on an indecorous list. None of the charades will stop those who will contest elections next year from offering themselves up as candidates for public services. The APC’s obsession with playing the politics of purity always ends up with their hypocrisy being thrown in their faces. Really, how did they plan to convince us that one side is made of incorrigible thieves while those under their watch are saints? How can you look Nigerians in the face and call your opponents looters when those who surround your government have been alleged to have done similar things?

I tried to tally up the amount that these groups of people have reportedly stolen, and it did not amount to as much as is claimed to be missing. For all the APC hustle, their allegations still largely border on the snippets looted by the foot soldiers of corruption. The names on the looters’ lists do not fully explain the billions of dollars that have been stolen either as oil theft, subsidy scams, tax scams, or the sleaze that reportedly goes on in the NNPC daily. All the names on Lai’s lists and what they reportedly stole cannot be the looting that has grounded Nigeria. There will be more if they look in the mirror.

Since Omokri’s counter-attack, other PDP members too have claimed innocence. As expected, they claimed to have stolen nothing; they are merely being hounded by a government that is trying to box its own shadow into a technical knock-out. Ironically, the APC members accused of corruption by the PDP have barely responded. It says a lot about the state of our polity that serving senators and members of an administration would be accused of stealing and there would be nary a response from the appropriate quarters.

Nigerians themselves are barely ruffled; they have cultivated a placid stance to manage the two parties without going crazy. What will be the use of outrage when we all know that in a few days’ time, all of these will blow away? The APC will find another mischief for the PDP to react to and the drama will just go on from there. While they are at it, the real losers will be Nigerians; they are the ones watching their national patrimony degraded and denigrated by these two rogue elephants fighting each other.

If there is any lesson in the entire drama for Nigerians, it is that 2019 is going to be bleak and unless there is something akin to divine intervention, there is really no hope that we will get anything akin to leadership anytime soon. Both parties are playing a game, trying to score against each other but both sides are too imbricated to be described as separate teams. They are all playing the same side and that is why they cannot score against each other.

Between both the APC and the PDP, Nigerians can confirm that both teams are a bunch of witless clowns, a band of unscrupulous looters, and they cannot be bothered to even take themselves seriously. Both sides can continue to release names of looters for all they like, one thing stands clear: when the history of this time is written, both the PDP and the APC will be indicted for the blood on their hands. Both of them will be found guilty of subjecting the country to their rapacious appetite. Both the APC and the PDP will go down in history with the ignominy they deserve.

Where Is The Nigerian Opposition?, By Reuben Abati

Less than a year to the next general elections in Nigeria, the biggest deficit in the political process leading to that moment is the absence of a robust, virile and effective opposition. The role of the opposition in a democracy is to question, criticise, challenge, and audit the governments of the day – local and national – and make them more transparent and accountable, and even if these twin-objectives may not be immediately achieved, the opposition exists nonetheless to put the people in power “on their toes” as it were in the people’s overall interest.

This is the underlying principle of a parliamentary system of government, and even in other forms of government including a Presidential system, the opposition provides checks and balances, it is a kind of alternative government, a counterweight, providing such balance that could safeguard the integrity of the political process. But of course, what is at stake is “the conquest of power”: the opposition provides the people with a choice and ultimately seeks to wrestle power from or out of the hands of the incumbent and present a different vision of social and economic progress.

In doing this, the opposition may be constructive – in this regard it could even work with the ruling party or government to promote the national interest. This was the case under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao of India who once sent opposition leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, as leader of the Indian delegation, to defend the government on its human rights record in response to allegations by Pakistan.

Rao’s party members, who felt he had no business working with the opposition criticized him as loudly as they could, but the Prime Minister felt it was more important to be bi-partisan and project a picture of national unity. It is not a strategy that has endured in India’s divisive politics. But what is known is that in other jurisdictions, members of the opposition in parliament sometimes vote on a non-partisan basis on key issues before the parliament. This may occur when the rivalry among the political parties is peaceful and there is a broad consensus that the country is far more important than the boundaries imposed by partisan politics.

For the most part however, opposition politics can be disruptive, and apropos, the strategy of the opposition is not to construct anything or offer any value but to “oppose, oppose, oppose” by any means possible to wear down and pull down the incumbent government. Physical violence, blackmail, abusive words, post-truth imagery and fake news are part of the arsenal of the disruptive opposition.

In Nigeria at the moment, we neither have in my estimation a constructive or a disruptive opposition. Whatever we have that may look remotely as any form of opposition is weak, uncoordinated, and ineffective. Our political parties are internally polarized, politics has become evil, our political leaders do not know where to draw the line, the ruling government is having an upper hand, it is committed to an unrelenting, overzealous persecution of the opposition and progressive ideas. The last time we witnessed what looked like organized opposition, even if it was disruptive, was ironically through the All Progressives Congress (APC). In 2013, a number of political parties formed a synergy with civil society groups to become the All Progressives Congress, and adopting an “oppose, oppose, oppose” strategy, they managed by 2015 to get the ruling Peoples Democratic Party out of power. It was a major turning point in Nigerian politics since the return to civilian rule in 1999.

But the PDP was not prepared for its new role as the leading opposition party, just as the new government led by the APC was equally unprepared for governance. This sudden reversal of roles caught Nigeria’s main political actors napping. The APC at the centre found it difficult to even appoint Ministers: it took six months to come up with a list. In one or two states, the Governors acted as sole administrators for up to a year. There are about 80 registered political parties in the country, but these are at best relatively unknown parties. The main political party, the PDP has been largely in disarray since it lost power. Most of its members have defected to the new ruling party, many of its founding fathers now prefer to be known and addressed as statesmen, and the party’s strong mouthpieces have all been cowed into silence by a ruling party that is wielding power like a whip. The PDP came out of power mired in a corrosive in-fighting and blame-sharing that robbed the party of its soul. It was later “kidnapped”, and then rescued, but it is not yet in strong enough shape to stand up to the ruling party, offer alternative views or organize itself properly. Who is even the national leader of the PDP? Close to the next general elections as we are, nobody is quite sure. What exactly does the PDP want to do? It is not so clear either. Is the PDP still interested in power? If it is, it is not showing the kind of determination that the APC projected in 2014.

There are PDP members in the legislature at the Federal and State levels, but their voices have not been loud enough. Nigerian politics has not been ideology-driven for a while, that is one explanation, but it is also possible that the remaining PDP members are hedging their bets and secretly planning to join the APC. This is the case because the ruling APC is now in charge of state resources – and that is a major attraction for Nigerian politicians, besides, the APC not knowing how to govern has been functioning more as an opposition party. It has spent the last three years hounding PDP members and the Jonathan administration, and making it difficult for anyone to come up with progressive, opposition ideas.

It had to take Microsoft’s Bill Gates to criticize the Economic Recovery and Growth Programme (ERGP) of the Federal Government before the PDP realized that such a document existed. The new PDP, failing in its role as an opposition party, cedes the initiative to the APC and merely reacts through statements that do not even make much impact. In the states across the Federation, opposition members often forget what their role in the legislature is supposed to be as they join the queue of lawmakers trooping to the Government House to collect favours from imperial Governors. At the Federal level, APC Senator Dino Melaye has functioned more as an opposition leader than any PDP Senator with his persistent interrogation of Executive policies and actions. One or two PDP Senators, along with some other APC members, in comparison, have since acquired a reputation for going to the Red Chamber to sleep during plenary sessions! There is no quality debate as such in our parliaments, more or less, and so the debate about Nigeria has shifted to morning shows on radio and television, oftentimes conducted by ill-equipped analysts and the hysterical crowd.

It is the country that pays the cost when the opposition is asleep, and one political party is allowed to ride roughshod over everyone just because it is in power and office. When members of the APC claim that there is no alternative to President Muhammadu Buhari, I guess they are not saying there are no persons who are better qualified than the President; rather they are saying they cannot see any organised opposition that could pose a threat to the continued stay of the Buhari government in power beyond May 2019. And by conduct, they even make it clear that whoever challenges the APC should be prepared to face the consequences of doing so. The APC mastered bully tactics as an opposition party. It continues to rely on the same tactics as a ruling party.

The gap that has been created by the absence of an effective opposition in Nigerian politics since 2015 is gradually now being filled by thought leaders. Sometime in 2016, I wrote a piece titled “Where are the public intellectuals? in which I challenged the Nigerian intelligentsia generally to rouse from its slumber. That slumber is perhaps understandable. The Nigerian intelligentsia bought into the APC project in 2014 and 2015, and wanted the PDP out of the way by all means. Not too long ago, confronted with the failings of the APC as a ruling party, this special class has since recanted. I dealt with that in “The season of recanting” (Jan.16) but since this other article, the political space has since become more interesting with the interventions of persons like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, General Ibrahim Babangida, General TY Danjuma, Professor Wole Soyinka and the emergence of groups like the Obasanjo-led Coalition for Nigeria, the Agbakoba-led Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), the Ezekwesili-led Red Card Movement, and the Concerned Nigerians Movement led by Charly Boy Oputa. The main battle-ground in recent times however has been the Nigerian social media where young Nigerians have been quite loud in expressing their dissatisfaction with the Buhari administration. The social media proved to be a strong weapon of mobilization in the hands of the APC before 2015, now it is its main nemesis.

Useful as these interventions, this reawakening of the civil society, may seem, the value is limited except there is a formal opposition that is specifically organized for the “conquest of power” at the polls. There is a growing consensus among these groups that both the APC and the PDP are of no use, they have not yet identified an alternative political party that can engage the ruling party but I believe the point is not lost on the actors involved that elections are won or lost not on twitter but by political parties actively organized for political action. Opposition politics involves branding, strategy, organization and pro-active action. Nigerian Opposition parties seeking to dislodge the APC can work together to form a political coalition as the APC did in 2013, and even if they do not win in 2019, the country’s political process would be better enriched by a constructive and strong engagement from the opposition that any ruling government deserves.

The current infidelity of the average Nigerian politician is the biggest obstacle that I see. Most Nigerian politicians do not necessarily go into politics because of what they can contribute, but because of what they intend to take out of it. The APC would continue to insist on its self-ascribed invincibility if the best that other political parties can offer is to apologize. The PDP Chairman recently apologized to Nigerians for whatever the PDP did while in power for 16 years. I don’t know whether that is meant to be a strategy or a confession but the meaninglessness of it has been exposed by the vicious responses from the APC and how the PDP has found itself having to struggle to put in a word. The Nigerian Opposition when eventually it awakens and seeks to engage the APC must realize that the APC has a tested opposition machinery, which found itself out of depths in the context of governance, but which in an election season could assume its emotional memory state, and with the resources now at its disposal, including power, prove to be deadly.

Opposition politics is not rocket science and nobody has to travel to India, the UK or the United States to master it. In Nigeria’s First and Second Republics, whatever may have been the problems of that era, this country had a rich culture of opposition politics. Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Action Group and later the Unity Party of Nigeria, as an opposition leader, confronted the ruling government with hard facts and figures and an alternative vision of how Nigeria could be rescued. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Malam Aminu Kano and Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri – opposition figures at various times – also stood for something. Whoever wants to rule Nigeria or any part thereof should be prepared to tell us exactly what he or she wants to do and how and when. If we have not learnt any lesson, we should by now have realized that a politician wearing Nigerian clothes, taking fine photos, eating corn by the roadside, over-promising, pretending to respect women and children, distributing cash and food, claiming to be a democrat, dancing to impress, and sometimes projecting himself or herself as nationalistic may not be what we are made to see. Nigeria needs a different breed, new faces, new ideas, a new way of politics.

Reuben Abati, a former presidential spokesperson, writes from Lagos.

EDITORIAL: PDP’s Apology

 

For a party whose second name is impunity; one that bled Nigeria for whole of 16 years, it was an unexpected surprise – hopefully an initial first step – towards the long journey to restitution:   

“I hereby, as the National Chairman, do admit that the PDP made a lot of mistakes; we are humans, not spirits and the ability to admit is key in moving forward…

“We admit that we have made several mistakes; we have passed through all our challenges and have acquired the experience no other party can boast of. We were sanctioned by Nigerians at the polls in 2015; let me use this opportunity to apologise for our past mistakes.

“It is the honest thing to do, a legacy to transfer to our children; we cannot continue like that. When we make mistakes, we should come out boldly to the people and apologise”.

That was Uche Secondus, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at a public forum early this week.

Nearly three years into the hangover of its electoral shellacking, it is heart-warming that the party that plunged the country into the moral and socio-economic abyss from which it is only now slowly recovering is finally coming to terms with the need to apologise to Nigerians. That is if one ignores the superficiality of the apology, the subtle attempt to parry away responsibilities for the most sordid legacy – and the dubious play at semantics.

Is this a genuine act of contrition or is this just part of the electoral calculation? Is the party genuinely repudiating the impunity, the maladministration and corruption for which it is now famously known? And apology for what?

On the first, it is difficult not to see the so-called apology as part of its electoral calculation. With the 2019 elections barely a year from now, it seems understandable that the party would seek to launch itself back into reckoning if not necessarily into the hearts of Nigerians. Moreover, after surviving a bruising internecine schism that tore right through its middle, a sound bite like the one coming from Secondus would appear necessary to court some attention.

On the second, with the way it has been carrying on, it is hard to see the old leopard change its spots anytime soon. Third – and this is tragic – is that the PDP leader refers to the affliction of 16 years – more appropriately a crime against the people – as a “mistake”. We consider it an abuse of the word.   

True, Nigerians may be prone to amnesia. However, the wounds inflicted by the PDP are not only still deep but certainly too fresh for any mealy-mouthed apology, no matter how elegantly couched.

By the way, where does the apology start from? From the do-or-die politics that the party enthroned– a variant of which became the garrison politics of the PDP Southwest? Is it the legacy of electoral fraud – the flagrant disdain for orderly democratic processes under which names of winners of party primaries are substituted with those who did not even contest as was the case in Rivers?

Do we recall the case of Edo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti gubernatorial elections in which winners in the elections were returned as losers until the courts stepped in to do justice?

What about the legacy of underdevelopment? How can anyone begin to talk of an apology for the mind-boggling heist perpetrated by party hierarchs under which governance was reduced to a bazaar without first admitting that crimes were committed against the people if only as a first step into the long journey to full restitution?     

Surely, Nigerians recognise genuine contrition when they see one. This so-called apology, aside falling short, makes a mockery of the word. After serially gang-raping the country for 16 years, the least citizens expects is that the party would take deliberate and practical steps to purge itself of its ignoble past. Only then will Nigerians begin to take it seriously.

Despite Apologies Nigerians Still Suffer From Your Years Of Misrule, APC Tells PDP

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken a swipe at the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the apology it tendered to Nigerians for mistakes made during its 16-year rule.

A statement signed by the APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi, Tuesday, said although acknowledged, the apology was belated as Nigerians still suffer from the PDP’s years of misrule.

The APC also said despite the apology, the PDP still needs to “confess their sins and fully atone for it, before restitution is considered”.

The statement read: “The All Progressives Congress (APC) acknowledges the apologies by the Peoples Democracy Party (PDP) for the damage the party has wrought on the country’s democratic fabric during its sixteen-year rule.

“However, despite this belated grovelling apology, PDP will need to come clean, confess to their sins and fully atone for it, before restitution is considered.

“As they say, to err is human but forgiveness is divine. We join PDP in praying to God to forgive them, but Nigerianss are human who are still suffering from the years of PDP’s misrule.

“Therefore, even if Nigerians are gracious enough to forgive, they will not forget in a hurry.”

Read Also: We’ve Learnt From Our Mistakes, PDP Apologises To Nigerians

The PDP on Monday admitted to making mistakes while it was in power and therefore, apologised to Nigerians.

National Chairman of the Party Mr Uche Secondus, made the apology while giving his keynote speech at an event in Abuja with the theme: Nation-building: Resetting The Agenda.

He said the Party was ready to start afresh on a clean slate and therefore, appealed to Nigerians to put behind its wrongdoings.

“We must humble ourselves before God who created us and tell the truth. We can’t continue as a nation of lies – what are we going to give to our children?

“On behalf of my colleagues and members of this party, we apologize to Nigerians that we have made our mistakes and we are ready to correct them and to build on a new note, on a new agenda because experience is the best teacher and no other Party has it,” Secondus said.

We Have Made Mistakes, Learnt Our Lessons, PDP Apologises To Nigerians

The Peoples Democratic Party on Monday in Abuja, apologised to Nigerians for the mistakes the party made while in power.

National Chairman of the party, Mr Uche Secondus, made the apology at a public national discourse on “Contemporary Governance in Nigeria.”

He assured that under his watch, there would be no imposition of candidates or any form of impunity.

 

“I hereby, as the National Chairman, do admit that the PDP made a lot of mistakes; we are humans, not spirits and the ability to admit is key in moving forward.

“We admit that we have made several mistakes; we have passed through all our challenges and have acquired the experience no other party can boast of.

“We were sanctioned by Nigerians at the polls in 2015; let me use this opportunity to apologise for our past mistakes.

“It is the honest thing to do, a legacy to transfer to our children; we cannot continue like that.

“When we make mistakes, we should come out boldly to the people and apologise.

“It is important to do so because we have learnt from our mistakes unlike the All Progressive Congress (APC) that will make mistakes and lie to cover it.

“We apologise to Nigerians that we have made mistakes, we have learnt our lessons and we are ready to begin on a new agenda; experience is the best teacher, no other party has it,” he said.

According to Secondus, when things are not positive and the mindset is negative, it is time to reset it.

 

He said that the public discourse was an ample opportunity for the party members to collectively “press the reset button’’ and set a new agenda for the nation.

According to him, there was too much power at the party’s National Headquarters, and going forward, power will be devolved to the wards, states and zones.

In his contribution, a chieftain of the party, Chief George Bode, said that the position of the party leadership rekindled his loyalty.

Bode called on members of PDP who left the party as a result of its past mistakes to return home from the “wilderness’’.

According to him, to err is human and forgive is divine, it was time to walk the talk for the repositioning of the country.

One of the panelists at the event, Ms Toyosi Ogunshiji, commended the party for toeing the line of honour.

She said that Nigeria must move from praying to taking more serious actions for the progress of the country.

Ogunshiji said that the country needed statesmen “who think about the people and not politicians who think about the next elections’’.

According to her, Nigerians only voted against President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 and did not necessarily vote for President Muhammadu Buhari.

She said that the electorate who would be seen in the 2019 general elections would be different from those politicians had seen in the past.

NAN

Osun 2018: Zoning Interests May Tear Parties Apart

By Mariam Bello

Ahead of political parties’ primaries in preparation for the September 22 governorship election in the State of Osun, the idea of zoning or not zoning the seat to a particular senatorial zone might tear the major political parties apart if not properly managed, as gladiators have divided over the matter across political lines.

In the All Progressives Congress (APC), while some groups and bigwigs, including the former Governor of Osun, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola have stood in favour of zoning the seat to Osun West on the ground that the zone has not had its fair share of the seat, some other gladiators and aspirants, as well as youth groups within the party have insisted that zoning the seat to a particular district would spell doom for the party and the state at large.

Also in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the idea of zoning to Osun West might have hit the rock, following the insistence of the former deputy Governor of the state, Iyiola Omisore, from Ile-Ife, Osun East Senatorial district to contest for the most prestigious seat in the state.

This is in addition to the factional crisis rocking the opposition parties in the state, more so the Ife-born politician has the hears of the National Secretariat of the party.

Contrary to the position of Oyinlola and some other gladiators in the APC, one of the party’s aspirant, Barrister Kunle Adegoke from Osogbo in Osun Central has insisted that there is no fairness or equity in zoning, saying there was never a time it was agreed on in the annals of the state and if at all, it was so agreed, it was not based on Senatorial Districts.

He was quoted to have said that no governor has ever been chosen based on zoning in Osun before, saying, if it is part of the system, why not use the federal constituency basis by which Osogbo and Iwo Federal constituencies become most prominent among the “cheated”.

He said the issue of zoning was just a dummy being sold by a section of the ruling elite to favour a personality or one of them, while the masses who will never derive any benefit from the scheming, would parrot the idea slavishly forgetting that they were never meant to benefit from the class scheming being foisted on them.

According to him, it was a strategy to narrow the political space to favour a weak candidate whose credentials cum political and intellectual capacity cannot withstand a fair contest to produce the best, saying the current situation of Osun, do not need just a governor based on zoning, but the best material for the job.

“As far as I am concerned, let the best emerge even if he is from the same ward with the current governor. No governor by zoning can pay workers’ salaries, put food on our table, improve our educational standard, health status etc. based on his place of origin”.

Also, a youth wing within the APC, Osun Progressive Youths Alliance (OPYA), has called on the leadership of the party in the state to jettison the idea of zoning the governorship slot to a particular zone, saying all contestants must be given the equal right to contest.

In a press statement by the Coordinating Head of OPYA, Comrade Adeboye Adebayo in Osogbo recently, speaking on behalf of the group said, the idea of zoning would not give room for a robust contest that would allow superior ideas and capacity to strive for the growth and development of the party and the state.

“Zoning of political positions is the idea of lazy minds who are afraid of robust contests, such an idea will retard the soaring profile of our party and the growth and development being witnessed at the moment in the state.

“Every interested individual should be allowed to put whatever ideas they have for the growth of the State on the table and allow the party to decide her flag bearer according to the laid down rules of the party’s constitution. Zoning should be outrightly jettisoned as it is alien to our party constitution”, he noted.

According to him, all the senatorial districts of the state can boast of great minds who are full of renewed ideas, particularly within the APC and none should be sacrificed on the altar of zoning, noting that the progress of the state is paramount and anyone with better workable ideas and planning should be allowed to lead.

“Zoning will breed animosity, zoning will deprive our State of the best in terms of capacity for growth and development, zoning will deprive our party of funds, more funds will be generated for the party if the contest is thrown open and zoning will breed unfairness and inequalities, hence it should be jettisoned”, he said.

Also, a governorship aspirant of the PDP extraction, Prof. Adeolu Durotoye, has cautioned that limiting the choice of candidates in the election to a particular political zone might be counter-productive.

Durotoye, who is the Provost, College of Social and Management Sciences, Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), said what Osun needs to fast track its development is a candidate who can raise the stake of transformation in a calm or rocky atmosphere.

The aspirant enjoined stakeholders in Osun to avoid the inherent pitfall that zoning has created for political parties, especially at the national level, adding that picking candidates through the zoning practice has robbed the country of competent hands to govern the society.

Besides, Omisore has been hell bent on his decision to contest, insisting that this is another opportunity for him to test his political capacity and he would not let go that opportunity on the altar of zoning.

Regardless of the opposition to the zoning formula, a socio-political group, Coalition of Concern Progressive Youths (CCPY) has warned that the party will be left to face a bleak future should the next governorship seat taken out of Osun West Senatorial District.

In a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Korede Ajibade, the group maintained that it is the turn of Osun West Senatorial District in the interest of fair play and justice, adding that zoning the governorship seat out of the zone would amount to crisis, political fraud and imbalance in the sharing of political offices since the creation of the state in 1991.

Some concerned elders were also reported to have supported the agitation that the next governorship slot be zoned to Osun West Senatorial District in the spirit of justice and fair play.

When contacted, the Chairman, Elders Caucus of the APC in the state, Chief Sola Akinwunmi declined from making comment on the matter for now.

FG Blasts PDP For Doubting Abduction, Release Of Dapchi Schoolgirls

The Federal Government has taken a swipe at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), following the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, faulted the party’s reaction to the girls’ release on Thursday in a statement by his media aide, Segun Adeyemi.

The abducted girls regained freedom on Wednesday, more than four weeks after the insurgents invaded the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, in Yobe State.

Of the 110 girls snatched by Boko Haram on February 19, the government said 104 were returned by the terrorists with six unaccounted for.

In its reaction, the PDP accused the Federal Government and the All Progressives Congress (APC) of ‘scripting’ the abduction of the schoolgirls.

The party had also called on the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the incident, which it said was a scripted drama by the APC in the bid to seek re-election in 2019.

Mr Mohammed, however, condemned the claim by the opposition, saying such postulation portrays the PDP as an “inhuman, insensitive, unpatriotic and unworthy party”.

He said since the release of the Dapchi girls were negotiated by friendly countries and reputable international organisations, it would have taken a conspiracy of global proportion to have stage-managed the adoption and release of the girls.

The minister noted that the PDP’s reaction amounts to an expression of sour grapes, alleging that the party failed – when it was in power – to quickly resolve a similar abduction of schoolgirls.

“As we have said many times since the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls, no government is exempted from its own share of tragedies,” he said. “What makes the difference is the way such tragedies are managed.”

“Whereas it took the PDP all of 18 days to even acknowledge the abduction of the Chibok girls in 2014, the APC Federal Government acted promptly and responsively when the Dapchi schoolgirls were abducted on February 19, 2018, hence their quick release,” Mohammed added.

He further claimed that the party that failed when it was in power has also failed as an opposition, going by its response to the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls – a development he said calls for a non-partisan celebration.

According to the minister, “In its 16 years in power, the PDP redefined governance as cluelessness, massive looting of the public treasury and crude exhibition of power. In its over three years in opposition, the PDP has again shown it does not understand the role of the opposition in a democracy.”

“How then can the PDP convince Nigerians that it has learnt its lessons and that it is ready to rule the country again? he questioned.

Mohammed explained that the Federal Government has ignored statements from the PDP because the party has failed to learn the ropes of being an opposition party.

He, however, said the government broke its own rules because “the PDP over-reached itself and scored an own goal at a time it could simply have congratulated the government and people of Nigeria on the release of the girls or just keep quiet.”

The Minister assured Nigerians that the Federal Government would intensify the ongoing efforts to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls and return them safely to their families.