Opobo: Socio-Economic Dynamics For New Horizons

The book: Opobo Kingdom: 150 years After. Socio-Economic Dynamics for New Horizons, a six chapter book that opened with a prologue and ended with an epilogue, came at a very auspicious time when the great kingdom of Opobo is celebrating her sesquicentinary-a celebration due to start in the next few days. Seen from this perspective, Celestine Ogolo, the author comes across like the Biblical prophet Elijah, or some may say Isaiah, shouting in the wilderness: make straight the path of the Lord which in this case can be rightly modified to read: “make straight the path of Opobo development.”

The author introduced the work by giving a graphic account of how Opobo kingdom emerged from the crisis in old Bonny in the mid 19th century, the rationale for the crisis itself and its trajectory, and the eventual Bonny civil war of 1869 that culminated in King Jaja and his supporting chiefs eluding Bonny that same year to found Opobo Kingdom.

Mixing oral tradition with historiography, the writer narrated how the early Bonny people used to offer human sacrifices to a certain “godfather” (in this case a Crocodile) who they believe was the progenitor of their race and how on a fateful day, a young boy named “Jaja” was offered to the crocodile but was rejected to the surprise the anxious waiting crowd who had come to witness the routine sacrifice. A young girl, named Ama, was said to have immediately jumped into the river to rescue Jaja and bring him to the shore. It is this same Jaja that is believed to be the legendary King Jaja that surmounted all hurdles and rose to the top in Bonny political hierarchy and later founded Opobo Kingdom.

The author went further to connect the Bonny crisis and the eventual Bonny Civil War of 1869 with the struggle for dominance and control of the enormous wealth accruing from palm oil and how this led to the exit of King Jaja and his other chiefs from Bonny through Andoni, Nkoro and eventually landing at the new land called Opobo. This chapter also gave, in alphabetical order, the names of the fourteen (14) sections that make up Opobo Kingdom namely: Adibie, Biriye, Diepiri, Dapu, Ye Amakiri, Epelle, Fubarakworo, Iroanya, Jaja, Kalaomuso, Kiepirima, Owujie, Tolofari and Ukonu. He also mentioned the names of some of the towns and villages that make up the Kingdom. These include; Opobo Town, Kalaibiama, Ekeregborokiri, Epellema, Queens Town, Oloma/Ayaminima, Minima, Kalasunju, Okpukpu, Ozuobulu, Muma Down Below, Inokiri and Abazibie.

In chapter 2, the author narrated all that led to Jaja and his group eluding Bonny for a new place in Andoni territory and how the chiefs and elders of the latter compelled him to swear to the “You-Obolo” deity that he would not join forces with their enemy, the Bonny people, to fight against them (Andonis) in the event of any war.  In an oblique manner, the chapter exposed the cracks in the reasoning of the British colonial officials who in the course of the already stated feud between Jaja and his former contemporaries in Bonny stayed aloof until the war started affecting the flow of palm oil, the main economic interest of which all of British colonial imperialism in the Niger Delta, according to K.O. Dike, the great historian, was built.

The author further showcased the brilliance, dexterity, domineering character and political brinkmanship of King Jaja all of which helped him build an economic empire for his new kingdom in less than no time, consequently forcing the Bonny people to sue for the signing of the 1983 Treaty between them and Jaja. Important to note in t his chapter was the narrative on the Commando style through which the British later arrested, tried and banished Jaja to the Island of St. Vincent without offering him any right to appeal.  Finally, the chapter took us on a brief but concise succession process of the following kings who reigned in the kingdom: Prince Sunday Frederick Jaja, King Arthur MacPepple Jaja, King Douglas Jaja and the reigning King, Dandeson Douglas Jaja.

In chapter three, the author captures pre-independence and post independence Nigeria and how the amalgamation took place between the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914.  An historian that he is, the author used the chapter to expose the reader to the immediate and remote causes of the Aba women riot of 1929 and the colonial administrative structure which Nigeria operated at that time. 

The skewed nature of this administrative structure, according to him, exacerbated the cry of the minorities who, feeling a sense of marginalization requested for a State of their own. The result of this was the creation of the Sir Henry Willinks Commission.  All of these, the author reiterated contributed to the eventual creation of Rivers State on May 27, 1967 – an action, which according to the author, on the other hand spurred the military leader of the former Eastern Nigeria, Coloniel Odumegwu Ojukwu, to want to secede from the country.  All of these brought with it several challenges including huge infrastructural gaps and economic downturn for Opobo.  The Kingdom was to bounce back later and this helped her attain the status of a local government area on 1st October, 1996.

Chapter four saw the author stylishly educating his audience on the different local administration/local government system practiced in Nigeria beginning from 1916 when the British introduced the Native Authority Ordinance.  A detailed function of local governments as spelt out in the Fouth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was also captured in this chapter.  Generally, the chapter gave a breakdown of eth modus operandi of Local Government Councils in Nigeria and the challenges they face.  The second on personal interviews with Chairmen of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Council (both past and present) is an eye opener on the intrigues of that office and the inertia encumbering chairman when on the saddle in the Council.  The author also did a yeoman’s job providing facts and figures of sampled statutory allocation to Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Council and how she has fared from 1996 till now.  Needless to say report of the current state of affairs in the Council cum kingdom is unbiased and commendable.

The entrepreneurial skills and capacity of the Opobo people was showcased in chapter five where the author made us understand that ancient Opobo kingdom operated an oil palm driven economy which made her one of the richest city states in the Niger Delta.  Her economy waxed strong until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.  The chapter also captures the trading pattern which existed around 1912 and how the creation of the Port Harcourt seaport and railway negatively affected the palm oil business of the people bringing with it a trade decline for the Kingdom.  The remaining part of the chapter saw the author delineating different development plans and blue prints which, he believes, will re-establish the kingdom generally on a sound footing.  These plans, according to him, revolve around education, culture, trade, environment and tourism.

In chapter six, the author presented the position of two schools of thoughts about the state of things in the kingdom.  According to him, while one group applauded the giant strides the kingdom has made over time in different spheres of life, the other claims more could have been achieved given the historical antecedents and potentials of the Ibani people.  Subtly pitching his tent with the latter group, the author insists that any meaningful development in Opobo Kingdom must be based on a well thought out Master Plan or realistic blueprint which will not only help direct the course of development but will also help the kingdom to bounce back to her elevated position among the Niger Delta people.

In concluding the work, the author harped on the need for a purpose-driven and visionary leadership as that, to him, is the fulcrum on which all other development variable in the kingdom revolves.

The author closed the book with an epilogue in which he recognized and applauded the giant strides made by about fifty (50) prominent sons and daughters of the kingdom whom he described as icons and whose achievements, he believes, can spur others and in that way propel to the kingdom to greater height.

Indeed, every shade of Mr. Celestine Ogolo was shown in the book: his editorship side by his stylistics and semantics, his administrative side by his masterly presentation of details in an orderly manner, his journalistic side by his beyond-the-surface analysis of the major themes covered in the work, and his historical side by his sheer preference for exactness in date.  If the date is not complete, you won’t find Opobo there. The following examples will suffice:  1869, Jaja and his group left Bonny (p.38); May 27, 1967, Rivers State was created as one of the twelve states by the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon; 1st October, 1996, Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area was created out of the former Andoni/Opobo Local Government Area by the administration of late General Sani Abacha.

As is customary with intellectual works, the book has a few issues that are worth being considered during its second edition.  First is the issue of pagination.  One would have expected to see the page numbering starting with the first chapter as is the convention, but in this case the first page number 23.  This is even more bizarre when one observes that the preliminary pages (endorsements, prologue, acknowledgement, foreword and preface) were correctly numbered in Roman numerals. The obvious implication of this lacuna is that the book does not have numbers 1-22.

The in-text referencing style also needs to be improved upon to bring it in tandem with the American Psychological Association (APA) sixth edition or even the seventh edition format. In specific terms, many direct quotes bore only the author’s surname and year of publication contrary to the standard practice where such quotes had page numbers added to them. Again, many citations at the end of sentences (appearing in brackets) had double full stops, one at the end of the sentence, and one after the bracket-instead of just one full stop after the bracket.

A few circumlocutions also abound in the work, like the story about the founding of Opobo which appeared in Chapter One with a rehash in Chapter Two.  The issue of epilogue too is a bit confusing.  While not quarreling with the biographical account of the “icons” listed in that section as its motivational effect on our youths is not only incontrovertible but also unquantifiable, yet it remains a moot point if the title “epilogue” is apt for it.  My thought is that the section could more rightly be captioned “icons of Opobo Kingdom” and added as part of the Appendix.  Indeed, even the data on “Joint Account Allocation” which the author showed as having been pain into the accounts of the twenty-three (23) local government councils in the State could have been moved from pages 140-146 (which is within Chapter Four) and nearly tucked into an Appendix.

Needless to say the absence of an appendix is a low point in the work.  Finally, a few grammatical and typo-errors need to also be corrected in the next edition.

In all, Opobo Kingdom: 150 Years After, Socio-Economic Dynamics For New Horizons, is a very enthralling book, incisive yet captivating, emotive yet not sentimental, invigorating yet humbling, and studded with facts not fiction.  Conventionally, one would expect a book of 355 pages to be filed with sleepy stories and lullabies, but not so with this one. Ogolo, a master historian showed what stuff he was made of by keeping the reader appetitive and longing for the next page.  Indeed, every page has a story a tell, every page made sense itself!

A classic in historiography, Ogolo’s narratives are no impish chant, they are analytic, pungent, factual, blunt, sometimes direct, sometimes witty, but always cascading with the truth, In all of these, the message is very clear: there is need for a timely socio-economic reengineering of Opobo kingdom if the latter is to hit new horizons in development.  With a lot of endorsements by the “masters” of African Economic History, a prologue and foreword item.  Consequently, I have no reservations in recommending it for every Niger Delta who is desirous of knowing how Opobo came to be, and how it can change, and for all others who are lovers of Opobo Kingdom.

Prof. Epelle, is of Dept of Political Science, IAUE, Rumuolumeni.

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Nigeria Held Hostage By Naira Exchange Rate (2) A critique of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s policy perspective on “What Africa Must Do…”

Every country has to trade with strength or be traded as a marginal presence in the market. Not even Mexico and Canada as next door neighbors of the US economy could escape the Trump business philosophy. China for a dull Trade war from Trump before Covid- 19 changed the tempo of the agenda. The power of the respective currency of each country speaks for their relative standing in the world’s markets.

As a former Vice President of Nigeria (1999-2007) and the 2019 Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar owes his audience a high degree  of executive insight into national policy debate. But he is equally well known as one of Africa’s emerging business Emperors. Thus any one listening to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on the economy has a right to expect to hear views of how the Naira can be released from it’s prostrate position as the indicator of an economy held hostage. But did it happen?

The policy critique he published is arguably among the first well- informed, comparative and certainly purposeful analysis. It shows that Covid-19 presents a more dangerous  challenge to the economy of Nigeria and Africa’s potential as a competitor in the world market. The presentation is  brilliant and timely. It shows that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s reputation of running a back-up bench of sophisticated professionals, is quite intact.

The underlying thesis of the critique makes it clear that the first and fundamental responsibility of government (no matter where), is to create and sustain a productive economic base. That is how to gain constructive international attention and cooperation for the country.  Nigeria is therefore likely to be worse hit, unless we can begin now to take credible corrective actions. Even that point alone, is eloquently brilliant. But there is more.

The critique shows that unfortunately Nigeria is ignorantly hugging a record of wasteful and unproductive institutions. In addition we have a record of woeful incompetence by our policy managers. No Nigerian institution has risen since 1999 to gain sustained international respect for thoroughness, fairness  and efficient processes. It is not just with elections that our system shows gross incompetence. Other areas of national & international competition are affected. This situation weakens the nation’s capacity in both the domestic and external arena.

Alhaji Atiku’s piece also points out a direction that has gone missing in our national discourse lately: Nigeria is no longer a champion of any constructive agenda for Africa’s economic rebirth. Perhaps it is because government since 2015  has not committed itself to a measurable agenda to build our national economy, as a model to earn respect from other countries in Africa.

But the policy critique urges Nigeria to start now. We can present a credible multi-stakeholder focus on production and regional trade-drive, to expand opportunities for citizens of each country and investors.

There is the unspoken “what if”? Well, government can chose to start from the front or clear from the way. It happened in the US and can happen here too. For instance many State governments enlisted in the international climate change agenda, to defy Donald Trump who pulled the US (Federal Government) out of all such treaties. This policy critique by Atiku Abubakar is largely strategic for its Sector-based approach. But it appears superficial in two areas.

First, it ignores the urgency for Nigeria to lay a credible foundation for a competitive national economy. We don’t have any.  Therefore mere crisis management of Covid-19 will not give our country the quick return to “normalcy” that every country is crying for. As I have shown with exchange rate battering of the Naira, Nigeria’s economy has not had any “normalcy” in nearly 40 years. China created a normalcy defined by improvement of opportunities for her citizens and moving hundreds of millions out of poverty, within the first decade of the United Nations millennium goals.

On the contrary, Nigeria’s economy has not had a policy- driven surge of steady progress, with growing investment in productive capacities and expansion of access to business opportunities for citizens. We have not had an economy  marked out by a sustained upward improvement in the exchange rate of the national currency. Rather our country achieved the tortuous status of becoming the poverty capital of the world by 2017.

The irony is that no government in office has made it one of it’s priorities since 1999. And we should ask: why not? Perhaps it is because our political elite are groomed on a culture of consumption and a life of luxury. They have never been pushed to grow an economy.

The result is that after each adminstration’s tenure, most LGAs, States and even the Federal government has a worse productive economic base than it’s predecessors. Yet those who managed each level of government into greater poverty get themselves adequately compensated  with a mouth watering retirement package. Meanwhile the Civil  Servants who are left with the rot, are robbed daily by a diminishing Naira. The result is that 20 years after democratization, the political elite have left Nigerians with an economy that pushes the citizens into a worse hostage status with each new administration.

Not surprisingly one of the key questions the Atiku proposal dodged, is the need to encourage states to build internal economic focus and muster momentum to change the direction of our economy.  States spend about 40% of national revenue from Crude oil. In 1999-2020, most state budgets present themselves as the spending pipeline and not a productive corridor of the national economy. That is the height of economic ignorance and management mediocrity.

How do we get them to mobilize a dedicated percentage e.g. 30-45% of revenue per annum, to stimulate productive Joint Venture investments by states?  They  will create sustainable career jobs and a competitive business environment as was the case (1972-1983) when the Naira had respect. This can immediately energize the national economy through sustained collaboration in building private sector capacities. It will infuse performance focus and competitive capacities in different sectors of our national economy, including Public Sector management .

There is also an intriguing stakeholder challenge on the domestic front of each political party. In Nigeria’s  Second Republic (1979-83), each political party was identified by citizens based on what work was done in each state where the party was in power. So the relationship framework of the time made Governors a collegiate type of stakeholders working with their party’s national executives.  In such an environment Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s party would have directed state governments where it is in power, to implement smart economic measures as implied in his policy critique.

The problem with our democracy this time, is that political parties are powerless before state Governors. Each Governor owns the party in his state and does not seem to submit to the authority of the national party machinery. So our leading political parties that have won political power in any state seem to find themselves under the control of their Governors.  Thus we have a weak stakeholder network between national party machinery and state governments. Of course LGA Chairmen are still treated by Governors as their Class Monitors.

Secondly, Alhaji Abubakar’s policy critique also appears weak for underestimating stakeholder relationship issues between Saudi Arabia and Russia. There is an on-going “Premier League competition” and struggle for control of a new political economy in the Middle East.

Russia is eminently poised to profit from Trump’s apparent lack of international relations’ sophistication or a deliberate oversight masked by “rich boy” arrogance. It appears to be pushing the US to the fringe in the region. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Turkey are now standing as leading pawns on a regional Chess board that is fast heating up.

What Nigeria must not lose sight of is the fundamental transformation of the Arab economy in the oil market. In recent years, Arab oil producing nations led by Saudi Arabia, have moved out of their hostage economy status. They are no longer a dependent and rent- claiming crowd of mere oil producers in the global market. Rather they are  now becoming competitive as manufacturing and high tech emerging economies. They are part of an ” OPEC plus” community whose  players have largely scaled up their economies. Nigeria  and Angola must be leaders of that redundant wing of “OPEC plus”, that has no economy to compete with. So the leverage Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s thought we could exact on Saudi Arabia is no longer what it used to be.

It is tougher for Nigeria to navigate the terrain because of the near collapse of multi-laterism that once defined NATO and it’s allies. Today lack of trust and inadequate level of consensus building, has destabilized NATO  considerably. Donald Trump’s unilateralism and a near blind push of “America First” philosophy, is designed to capture technology market advantage for the US, especially with 5G as the “ripe fruit in view”. China is no charity organization either. It trades on it’s own terms and as it has shown with the US, the country’s leaders know when to push the throttle for maximum advantage.

President Buhari’s administration has to encourage non partisan national stakeholder community of Nigerians at home and in diaspora to do something different. Nigeria has to build a deliberate  new economy from the states and upwards to federal level, to put our citizens first. Let such a stakeholder platform begin to emerge by proposing win-win options with different countries. It needs to set up a clear agenda to transform the Nigerian economy, to give our citizens competitive opportunities. Such options must invest the Naira with purchasing power to raise the quality of life of our citizens and their natural right to dignity.

There is nothing on the table at Federal or state level in that regard.  Alhaji Atiku Abubakar only scratched the problem by drawing attention to it. Let us seize upon the idea and cut a clear path forward for the economy at Local Government, State and Federal levels.


Brown, a veteran journaluist is emeritus national president of NIPR and Managing consultant/CEO of GRAIN Consulting, PH

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Nigeria: Not What Time, But Whose Time? A Critique of Bishop Kukah’s Convocation Lecture

The convocation lecture by Bishop Matthew Kukah did not disappoint. It had all of the elements that have come to make Bishop Kukah an authentic precious voice of a Nigerian society turned into a wilderness by a feudal system that has captured our politics and economy, especially since 1999. The scope of literary evidence of his comparative framework from the Bible to Poetry, Fiction, American Constitutional literature and Oral literature about Nigeria’s’ search for historical relevance they are all there plus an insight into the foundation of many anti-people policies that define every constitution of our country.

You also see the depth of intellectual analysis with which he approaches his assignment and the passion with which he presents a spicy combo of facts and an alternative vision for a better Nigeria! These have become “native” ingredients of Bishop Kukah’s dishes to the public. They were in full play and of a richer flavour this time. The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto used them to create the unique Kukah delicacy of a 2020 convocation lecture, to make it a prescription diet from the North to the South and from the East to the West.

But in my view Bishop Kukah forgot to give the hungry a place at the table. I argue that the poor and oppressed in Nigeria are those left hungry by the Feudal system which has run Nigeria’s democracy since 1999 as a bazaar for those who monopolize access to the treasury. They claim a right to appropriate to themselves not only the treasury but the entire economy at Local Government, State and Federal Government levels. It is the feudal system by its disregard for competence and equitable access to opportunities for all Nigerians, that has turned an overwhelming percentage of citizens into primary victims of our nation.

 In my view the big idea in the lecture is that it will take a group of committed elite ie people with better dreams for Nigeria or components of it, to fight to uphold sustainable values that can bring the society to a steady path of progress. It seems from Bishop Kukah’s position, such struggle has not happened. Simply put, the lecture is a call for Nigerians to define what their common goals and values should be, in order to find the zeal of collective energy to pursue same without being derailed.

 It would seem that Bishop Matthew Kukah, blamed the lack of any group with such shared dream about our nation or it’s components, as the reason for pockets of inconsistent and individual efforts that tend to lead in conflicting directions. His position appears to be a warning that those we call the present political elite are like Boko Haram.

They do not mean well because they have no ideas of what Nigeria should be for all of us. He considers them same as kidnappers and robbers, but they                      are only different because they are more tenacious and deadly in their bid to snatch every lucrative space for themselves. He makes a subtle statement about the peptic quality and general gloom arising from social injustice in Nigeria: the personal success of today’s patrons of feudalism in Nigeria is dragging the nation backwards into darkness.

But to me that is where Bishop Kukah’s thesis lacks historical validity. First he wrongly assumes that the forces of feudalism are unorganized. They may appear so, but in actual fact their common interest brings the feudal forces in the North, South, East and West into a collective defense of a system that benefits their “sectional” or group interests. Political party, ethnic group and religion become mere tools for personal gain.

For instance those who make the Niger Delta unproductive by refusing to invest huge revenue allocations from Federal Govt into productive industries that could create opportunities for more people, are our Niger Delta sons and daughters. They are not Muslim or from Kano, Katsina or Maiduguri. They want you and I to be their “slave” who obey their political decisions. Thus even though they are our brothers and sisters they are as negative as those Feudalists from the Caliphate  of Sokoto, Kano, Katsina or Yola.

Secondly, it is sad that Bishop Kukah did not address the capacity of feudal forces to expand their hold on the national economy and politics. It is a simple process by which the Nigerian political system confers total control of any profitable corridors, on those in political office and their cronies. The same process disconnects the overwhelming majority of Nigerians from state resources because they do not have political power.

Such people have limited opportunities and zero state resources to pursue any aspirations. This tends to translate Nigerian society into two segments, namely: the first is the group of “Masters” ( ie those who have political power along with their cronies. They are less than 200 persons among whom are politicians, civil servants and cronies who serve as corridors for those in power to loot public resources in each state under any administration).

The second category is the masses who graduate from being Supporters to Servants and finally into Slaves. In every state a growing population is gradually dispossessed by deliberate State policies, into the underprivileged. So we lose access to resources, we lose human dignity and we lose the right to aspirations as citizens. This overwhelming majority of Nigerians, are daily dragged into slavery by a feudal process which deprives people of fair access to productive resources or social justice (even justice in court, goes to the highest bidder).

What to do? I would hold that Bishop Kukah failed the logic of his analysis. You cannot liberate “the enslaved” without liberating the economy that made them slaves. To do so we must join hands to demand that  collective resources such as State or LG revenues be properly invested to create collective opportunities. This struggle for deployment of our collective resources must move to that main theatre of warfare between Masters and those they have turned into Slaves.

In the period 1999-2019 the rank of slaves continued to increase as unemployment, mass poverty and insecurity rendered the majority of citizens vulnerable and conquered.  What time will such slaves begin to win the war? Bishop Kukah missed this systematic investigation of Nigeria’s modern feudal system. That is why he failed to answer the question: whose time is it in Nigeria?

Amaopusenibo Bobo Brown, veteran journalist and emeritus National President of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, is the Managing Consultant /CEO of Grain Consulting, Port Harcourt.

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We Must Move On: The Struggle Continues

As we are all aware, the election to determine the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the November 16 governorship race in Bayelsa State has been conducted. Even with all the inarguable inherent flaws bordering on crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines, a winner has been declared. The delegates—whether coercively or voluntarily—have spoken even if their voices do not represent the voice of the people.

My decision to seek election as Governor of Bayelsa State was based both on the collective opinion of respected stakeholders of our beloved state and a personal conviction that I have what it takes to make the difference in the economic development of our state. Having travelled the same route more than once, I took time to pray, plan my strategies and carry out wider consultations more than I had ever done in the past.

My sincere desire was to bring into governance my experiences and exposures both in the public and private sectors—spanning more than three decades. I came with a mission and a vision clearly articulated and made public. I was thrilled to see the Blue Economy Concept and Project Dolphin becoming household chants, especially among our vibrant youths.

When we finally picked the Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms, we chose to run idea-based campaign. We envisioned a state where electricity will run 24/7 in less than 18 months through planned utilisation of abundant but wasted gas resource. We looked forward to creating a permanent distance between our youth and violence by applying the same method we did in the Presidential Amnesty Programme—disarming, demobilising, rehabilitating and reintegrating them. We articulated programmes that would produce intellectual militants in place of violent militants. We thought of a booming economy based on sea-side industrialisation that would create jobs for our people.

We thought of extensive road networks and bridges, functional health facilities, among others. Drawing from my modest experience at the Niger Delta Development Commission, my vision was to assemble a team of experts that would conceive and execute a 25-Year Development Plan for Bayelsa State—a plan that would outlive my administration—for the good of our people. From all indications, these lofty plans may have to be put on hold because the opportunity to execute them has been put on hold.

We chose to run a decent campaign in line with the Constitution of our party, the PDP and the laws of Nigeria. We vowed never to engage or respond to acts of violence and abuse from any quarter. We did not envisage that the process would be smooth and easy; but we also could not believe the depth of desperation and deadly manoeuvring that we encountered along the way. We were called unprintable names and even labelled with criminal tags. But we were too focused to be distracted.

To my supporters and friends, let it be known that no one could have been more disappointed with the outcome of our governorship primary that held on Tuesday September 3 than me. I know you are awfully disappointed too. But our disappointment is certainly not that the outcome was against our wish to obtain the mandate of our great party, but because of the obviously flawed process that led to the primary.

We all know that the basis of our party is the Constitution in addition to the rules and regulations that we set for ourselves from inception in 1998, and the fact our party has become reformed. Consequently, for anything to be legitimate it must derive authority from our Constitution. Unfortunately, certain aspects of the processes of the just concluded primary election rudely violated the provisions of our Party Constitution.

For instance, by the provisions of Section 50(1) of the Party Constitution, the authority to formulate guidelines for all matters relating to the governorship primary is vested in the NEC of the PDP. The election of Ad-Hoc delegates is one of such matters. Strangely, the panel set up to undertake this exercise simply imposed on us a list of electoral and returning officers prepared by the state officers of the party who are avowed members of the orchestrated Restoration Team. Thus, the process was deliberately handed over to the Restoration Team. Our protest was ignored.

This issue of election of local council chairmen and councillors that were allowed to participate in the primary despite a court order was another setback. You would recall that we protested to the appropriate organs of the party. As it turned out, the national leadership of the party would seem not to have been persuaded by the strength of our argument for obedience to the supreme law of our great party. Even the powers that be in state unsuccessfully challenged the superiority of our position in court.

While we must put on record our disappointment with this wilful disregard to our Constitution, we must take no further steps that would merely equalize the disregard for the same Constitution. In the circumstances, we express our serious reservations about the process that led to the primary for its unconstitutionality and its outcome completely unacceptable because of its illegitimacy.

However; we must move on. At the beginning of this contest, we made our objective very clear, that we are out to take the levers of power in order to use them to galvanise the economy of the state for the benefits of our people—who have been kept down for too long. We believe this could only be realised on the platform of this great party.

For us, therefore, this is simply a setback. We will remain focused, believing that very soon we would be able to realise our aspiration.We thank our great supporters, especially our delegates that backed us up to this point and ask them not to despair but stand firm in the belief that sooner than later, our just cause would prevail as the struggle continues. We thank you all.

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‘Collective Thinking, Dialogue’ll, Solve Nigeria’s Problem’ Obasanjo Says In Letter To Buhari

Former President, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, recently wrote another open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari calling for urgent actions to tackle Nigeria’s challenges. The letter released by Kehinde Akinyemi, his Special Assistant on Media, reads:

I am constrained to write to you this open letter. I decided to make it an open letter because the issue is very weighty and must be greatly worrisome to all concerned Nigerians and that means all right-thinking Nigerians and those resident in Nigeria. Since the issue is of momentous concern to all well-meaning and all right-thinking Nigerians, it must be of great concern to you, and collective thinking and dialoguing is the best way of finding an appropriate and adequate solution to the problem. The contents of this letter, therefore, should be available to all those who can help in proffering effective solutions for the problem of insecurity in the land.

One of the spinoffs and accelerants is the misinformation and disinformation through the use of fake news. A number of articles, in recent days, have been attributed to me by some people who I believe may be seeking added credence and an attentive audience for their opinions and view-points. As you know very well, I will always boldly own what I say and disown what is put into my mouth.

But the issue I am addressing here is very serious; it is the issue of life and death for all of us and for our dear country, Nigeria. This issue can no longer be ignored, treated with nonchalance, swept under the carpet or treated with cuddling glove. The issue is hitting at the foundation of our existence as Nigerians and fast eroding the root of our Nigerian community. I am very much worried and afraid that we are on the precipice and dangerously reaching a tipping point where it may no longer be possible to hold danger at bay.

 Without being immodest, as a Nigerian who still bears the scar of the Nigerian civil war on my body and with a son who bears the scar of fighting Boko Haram on his body, you can understand, I hope, why I am so concerned. When people are desperate and feel that they cannot have confidence in the ability of government to provide security for their lives and properties, they will take recourse to anything and everything that can guarantee their security individually and collectively.

For over ten years, for four of which you have been the captain of the ship, Boko Haram has menacingly ravaged the land and in spite of government’s claim of victory over Boko Haram, the potency and the activities of Boko Haram, where they are active, remain undiminished, putting lie to government’s claim. The recent explanation of the Chief of Army Staff for non-victory due to lack of commitment and lack of motivation on the part of troops bordering on sabotage speaks for itself.

Say what you will, Boko Haram is still a daily issue of insecurity for those who are victimised, killed, maimed, kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery and forced into marriage and for children forcibly recruited into carrying bombs on them to detonate among crowds of people to cause maximum destructions and damage. And Boko Haram will not go away on the basis of sticks alone, carrots must overweigh sticks. How else do you deal with issues such as only about 50% literacy in North-East with over 70% unemployment?

Herdsmen/farmers crises and menace started with government treating the issue with cuddling glove instead of hammer. It has festered and spread. Today, it has developed into banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and killings all over the country. The unfortunate situation is that the criminality is being perceived as a ‘Fulani’ menace unleashed by Fulani elite in the different parts of the country for a number of reasons but even more, unfortunately, many Nigerians and non-Nigerians who are friends of Nigeria attach vicarious responsibility to you as a Fulani elite and the current captain of the Nigeria ship.

Perception may be as potent as reality at times. Whatever may be the grievances of Fulanis, if any, they need to be put out in the open and their grievances, if legitimate, be addressed; and if other ethnic groups have grievances, let them also be brought out in the open and addressed through debate and dialogue.

The main issue, if I may dare say, is poor management or mismanagement of diversity which, on the other hand, is one of our greatest and most important assets. As a result, very onerous cloud is gathering. And rain of destruction, violence, disaster and disunity can only be the outcome. Nothing should be taken for granted, the clock is ticking with the cacophony of dissatisfaction and disaffection everywhere in and outside the country.

The Presidency and the Congress in the US have signalled to us to put our house in order. The House of Lords in the UK had debated the Nigerian security situation. We must understand and appreciate the significance, implication and likely consequences of such concerns and deliberations. No one can stop hate speech, violent agitation and smouldering violent agitation if he fans the embers of hatred, disaffection and violence. It will continue to snowball until it is out of control. A stitch in time saves nine, goes the old wise saying.

With the death of Funke, Chief Fasoranti’s daughter, some sympathetic Nigerian groups are saying “enough is enough”. Prof. Anya, a distinguished Nigerian merit Laureate, has this to say “We can no longer say with certainty that we have a nation”. Niger-Delta leaders, South-Eastern leaders, Middle-Belt leaders and Northern Elders Forum have not remained quiet. Different ordinary Nigerians at home and abroad are calling for different measures to address or ameliorate the situation. All the calls and cries can only continue to be ignored at the expense of Nigerian unity, if not its continued existence.

To be explicit and without equivocation, Mr. President and General, I am deeply worried about four avoidable calamities: 1. abandoning Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or wrongly, as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram type; 2. spontaneous or planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened. 3. similar attacks against any other tribe or ethnic group anywhere in the country initiated by rumours, fears, intimidation and revenge capable of leading to pogrom; 4. violent uprising beginning from one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to dismemberment of the country.

It happened to Yugoslavia not too long ago. If we do not act now, one or all of these scenarios may happen. We must pray and take effective actions at the same time. The initiative is in the hands of the President of the nation, but he cannot do it alone. In my part of the world, if you are sharpening your cutlass and a mad man comes from behind to take the cutlass from you, you need other people’s assistance to have your cutlass back without being harmed. The mad men with serious criminal intent and terrorism as core value have taken cutlass of security.

The need for assistance to regain control is obviously compelling and must be embraced now.

A couple of weeks ago at a public lecture, I had said, among other things, that: “In all these issues of mobilisation for national unity, stability, security, cooperation, development, growth and progress, there is no consensus. Like in the issue of security, government should open up discussion, debate and dialogue as part of consultation at different levels and the outcome of such deliberations should be collated to form inputs into a national conference to come up with the solution that will effectively deal with the issues and lead to rapid development, growth and progress which will give us a wholesome society and enhanced living standard and livelihood in an inclusive and shared society.

 It will be a national programme. We need unity of purpose and nationally accepted strategic roadmap that will not change with whims and caprices of any government. It must be owned by the citizens, people’s policy and strategy implemented by the government no matter its colour and leaning.

Some of the groups that I will suggest to be contacted are: traditional rulers, past heads of service (no matter how competent or incompetent they have been and how much they have contributed to the mess we are in), past heads of para-military organisations, private sector, civil society, community leaders particularly in the most affected areas, present and past governors, present and past local government leaders, religious leaders, past Heads of State, past intelligence chiefs, past Heads of Civil Service and relevant current and retired diplomats, members of opposition and any groups that may be deemed relevant.”

The President must be seen to be addressing this issue with utmost seriousness and with maximum dispatch and getting all hands on deck to help. If there is failure, the principal responsibility will be that of the President and no one else. We need cohesion and concentration of effort and maximum force – political, economic, social, psychological and military – to deal successfully with the menace of criminality and terrorism separately and together.   Blame game among own forces must be avoided. It is debilitating and only helpful to our adversary. We cannot dither anymore. It is time to confront this threat headlong and in a manner that is holistic, inclusive and purposeful.

For the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians, I pray that God may grant you, as our President, the wisdom, the understanding, the political will and the courage to do what is right when it is right and without fear or favour.

May God save, secure, protect and bless Nigeria. May He open to us a window of opportunity that we can still use to prevent the worst happening. As we say in my village, “May God forbid bad thing”.

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Amosun Arms Stockpile Story. Alpheaus Paul-Worika, Ph.D

The Presidency has in a swift involvement in the evolving story of arms stockpile allegation made by an online media (Premium Times) against former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikinle Amosun, made a clarification that further exacerbated the contradictions in the story.

Premium Times had stated that the former Governor on the eve of his departure from office handed over a cache of arms and ammunitions and other security items to the Ogun State Police Commissioner, Mr Bashir Makama.

The news outfit has reaffirmed its story in deference to the governor’s denial of any wrongdoing in the submission of the items or even in their procurement and storage. Such courageous reaffirmation should elicit a major concern and investigation rather than a quick response such as has been given by the presidency. Senator Amosun is not a staff of the Presidency.

What are the issues: According to Premium Times, Amosun purchased truckloads of arms and ammunition and hid his cache of weapons under the radar of the security authorities. As his tenure came to an end, Amosun  told the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama that he had thousands of arms and millions of ammunition at an armoury in Government House, and that he had decided to hand them over to the police.

Makama  was said to have  gotten  to Government House and Amosun reportedly handed over  four million rounds of ammunition, 1,000 units of AK47 assault rifles, 1,000 units of bulletproof vests and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) to the police.

Amosun reportedly told the police at the event that he procured the arms and ammunition to check the widespread insecurity in his state and decided to keep the cache of weapons at the Government House armoury to ensure they were not allocated indiscriminately by security agencies.

Amosun through his media aide  Rotimi Durojaiye admitted handing over some armoured vehicles and light weapons to the Ogun State Police Command at the twilight of his government, but vehemently denied that guns were involved in the handing over exercise.

Amosun further clarified that he imported the security hardware with the approval of the Presidency, under Goodluck Jonathan in 2012. to tackle the state of insecurity that made Ogun state unsafe and unattractive to investors. 

He got all necessary approvals from the Office of the National Security Adviser to procure the 13 units of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), the 1000 units of AK 47 rifles, 2 million rounds of ammunition,1000 units of bullet proof vests and 500 bullet proof helmets and other security communication gadgets.

Amosun  gave what seem like a detailed report on the entire transaction restating that due process was followed and the purpose for purchase was patriotic, sublime and noble.

 The president’s Senior Special Assistant, Mallam Garba Shehu in response to the allegation said preliminary investigation by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, showed that there was no sinister motive in the former governor’s action.

But the presidency’s defence of Amosun from any illegalities has thrown up fresh issues that a quick response cannot diminish, especially now, when the issue of insecurity in the country has reinforced calls for the establishment of state police.

For greater public enlightenment, can  a state governor can be authorized to procure as much as 1000 rifles and millions of bullets to support the police for any security operations; and why should states  not be allowed to establish their own police force? Should state governors fund the police and not be interested in how their support materials are deployed and utilized?

According to Amosun’s spokesman, Rotimi Dunojauye, “routine, bona fide and patriotic disposition of the Senator was bring savagely twisted in a premeditated effort to serve some vested interest.   But in the face massive proliferation of arms that have resulted in several mop up operations across the country especially during the build up to the general elections  , the when some governors were accused of sponsoring cultists and bandits it beggars belief that one governor had securely  under his control an arms stock of such magnitude.

Perhaps, it serves better security interest and strategy that the Government House should also be a warehouse or an amoury for police weapons.  If that is legal, why was the Police commissioner not aware and why should they be handed over to the police commissioner a new governor was to take over. Methinks the Government House and all government materials should be handed over to the new governor.

This action seems to give life to the claim by Premium Times that the former governor’s action was taken to avert the unlikely response of an unfriendly successor. But we have come to know that this could not be the case because the new governor as we have been told is also a contractor who supplied some of Armed Personnel Carrier purchased by Amosun for the police.

So the former governor and his successor have something in common,

Now a simple patriotic and official duty is enmeshed in controversy and as Amosun’s spokesman said: “It is important to clarify that not a single AK47 rifle was handed over at the event.” So what is the fact about bullets and rifles and how can such issues be reconciled if not by an investigation of the entire custodial and handover process.

 The presidency is better positioned to understand the possibility of subterfuge in such transactions and handling. indeed the predilection to pre-emptive defence should give way to greater circumspection.

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New Minimum Wage: New Work Ethics

The man who is now presiding over kaduna state amidst inter-ethnic and inter-religious turmoils, was once the beloved minister of federal capital territory.

Although as the Abuja minister who gained notoriety as an Anti-poor bureaucrat, he was also praised in official circles for embarking on some policy implementation that at least on paper, made people to become conscious of not patronizing the many land speculators that flooded the Federal capital territory.

Nasir El Ruffai who has so far proven to be a terrible choice of a governor in the complex state of kaduna, he was however the public office holder who made the shocking discovery that over 40% of the choice houses in Abuja belong to civil servants in the federal capital.

Ironically, soon after he left office, the national Assembly indicted him of a range of misconducts connected with land redistribution just as he was alleged to have coverted several landed property in Abuja to his cronies and family members.

The senate also banned him from holding public office for ten years. Nasir El Rufai fought this indictments in court. It would seem that he got a judicial reprieve.

The kernel of making reference to the Nasir El Ruffai persona is to bring out the larger issue of poor work ethics and corruption amongst the top echelons of the civil and public service cadres who work in the diverse governmental agencies in Abuja. These sets of workers used to earn a national minimum wage ofN18,000 per month which isn’t even enough to pay their transportation costs to their work places. But from this sane segment, you find a greater percentage of them in the directorate cadres owning virtually all the top notch housing assets in the Federal capital territory which are obviously proceeds of frauds.

It was because of deep-seated corruption and the culture of bribery within the hierarchical structure of the civil service that has totally undermined the economic advancement of Nigeria. Nigeria is obviously a crippled clay giant.

The diminished work ethics seen in the civil and public service of Nigeria is to be blamed fundamentally for why Nigeria does not work. However, the civil service ought to be the heartbeat of any nation and it is so in many foreign jurisdictions.

In Britain, civil servants are some of the most respected citizens. During my recent visit to the United Kingdom, I picked up a book tittled “Dictatorland:The men who stole Africa”, written by Paul Kenyon, a distinguished British Broadcasting corporation’s correspondent and BAFTA award winning journalist who had travelled all over Africa.

The chapter five of this beautiful book is devoted to the issues of underdevelopment of Nigeria even as he began the chapter five which he subtitled Nigeria with a rich demography of Nigeria, by recollecting the words of Ken Saro Wiwa who stated thus:” I am unfortunate to be a Nigerian. I would rather not be, but I am doing my level best to be one and a good one at that”.

Recall that Mr. Saro Wiwa was killed by Sani Abacha, the military dictator at one time who had him and a few of his other environmental campaigners killed for opposing the devastation of their oil rich region of the Niger Delta by shell and a plethora of other multinational oil drillers. Due largely to corruption in the civil abd public service the remediation processes that would have addressed the environmental abuses suffered by the Niger Delta region couldn’t be addressed and redressed till date.

In this chapter five also, the author narrated how the bureaucracy of Abuja works and swims in corruption.Those experiences he narrated are very much alive as i write and have even escalated making life in Nigeria to become miserable, brutish, short and uninteresting.

He wrote thus: “In the 1990s, OPL245 was much coveted throughout the oil world, with shell and the Italian supermajor Eni emerging as the two frontrunners. The person who would decide the allocation was the Nigerian oil minister.”

He also stated that: “In a country where people joke that their leaders are ‘professional fraudsters playing at being politicians’, the oil job was open to abuse like no other. The ministry of Environment, or transport, was happy to skim off the conventional ten cent, but the oil ministry had the potential to catapult its boss into the realms of the fabulously rich. Fees to middlemen alone could amount to tens of millions of dollars, and to the minister himself, hundreds of millions.”

To be very specific, the author stated further that: “Dan Etete was a boisterous cannonball of a man, who ricocheted around social gatherings, glasses of champagne in one hand, silver-tipped cane in the other, recounting tall stories about his shipping business or his connection in government, promising something to everyone and everything to someone. His tailor? Yes, he’d put you in touch. The wine? Always French, he had some properties there. The silk cravat? He knew a little shop in Abuja.”

He wrote that Etete was a social whirling, an honorary chief always looking for a deal, and precisely the kind of man who, in Nigeria, is destined to enter the political arena. Revealing that Etete took a seat in the senate, representing an area right in the heart of the oil producing delta, and soon began to attract the attention of the military chiefs who ran Nigeria, not just for his giant white checked suits, but for his eagerness to take part in illicit schemes, and to keep his nose out of other people’s.

“When the big job finally came his way in 1991, it was the gift of military dictator General Sani. Dan Etete was to become oil minister.

The author narrated that an application for OPL245 landed on Etete’s desk at the oil ministry in Abuja sometime in April 1998, from a small start -up company no one had ever heard of. It was called Malabu, incorporated just days before specifically for the purpose. Malabu had no employees, no capital, no offices, just the names of three company directors on a sheet of paper. Its bid for what promised to be Nigeria’s richest oilfield was just $20 million. It was like trying to buy a Rolls Royce for the price of a hubcap”.

Dan Etete he recalled had numerous options, and might have wished to discount Malabu and its three aspirant directors without so much as an interview. But Etete knew something about the company no one else did. Within a matter of days, he had chosen Malabu for ownership of OPL245.

As can be attested to, the above celebrated or is it notorious story is still trending as i write. The matter has escalated to a level that the international police has been asked to pick up some of the suspects connected with the Malabu deal. The matter which started due to bureaucratic corruption in Abuja has seen many companies quized and litigated against in UK; France and Italy.

The bureaucratic corruption and bribery mentioned above are very much in widespread practice but amongst those supporting All Progressives Congress. It used to be Peoples Democratic party for the last 19 years until 2015 when Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress came on board after winning the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan who handed over without any fight.

Corruption and bribery in Nigeria is turn by turn. As yours faithfully was picking up this book from the bookshelf somewhere in central London last week, the news from Nigeria emerged that the Federal government has Okayed the new minimum wage for all workers.

Relatively speaking, this is good news, but at the same time, it would seem that not much will change if the decadent work ethics of the public and civil servant do not change. Nothing may change with the enforcement of the new minimum wage if widespread corruption, bribery and bottlenecks slowing down governance in Nigeria are not defeated.

Nothing may change if the retinue of challatans recruited as special assistants by political office holders and these office holders who consume over 70% of annual budgets on salaries and allowances are not made subject to the application of the new national minimum wage.

 Onwubiko  head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria. Courtesy: Daily Post.

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Fearless Judiciary, Antidote To Impunity

As soon as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the time table for the conduct of the 2019 General Elections, the various registered political parties set the machinery in motion for the conduct of Primary Election in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended).

While the conduct of primary election was smooth in many states of the federation, the story was not the same in States like Rivers and Zamfara particularly under the All Progressive Congress Party (APC) being the ruling party in Nigeria.

The APC in Rivers State was barred by the Supreme Court from participating in the 2019 Election because of its flagrant disobedience of lawful orders from a court of competent jurisdiction, the High Court of Rivers State.

In Zamfara State, like the case of Rivers State, two factions of the APC have been enmeshed in legal tussle over its primary election leading to the 2019 General Election.

While one faction claimed that the party conducted primary election on the 3rd and 7th October 2018 for the governorship, National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election, another faction said there were no primary elections conducted in Zamfara State under the APC. The courts were therefore called in to resolve the controversy.

The High Court of Zamfara State in resolving the controversy surrounding the primary election of the APC held on 25th January 2019 that the party conducted primary election in Zamfara State, and ordered INEC to accept the list of candidates submitted to it by a faction of the party.

The other faction not being satisfied with the judgment of Honourable Justice Shinkafi of the High Court of Zamfara State appealed to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal in a well-considered judgment set aside the judgment of the High Court of Zamfara State directing INEC to accept the list of candidates submitted by a faction of the APC after having found that there was flagrant breach of the Electoral Act 2010 and the Party Guidelines for the conduct of the party’s primary election.

The pronouncement of the Court of Appeal (Per Tom Shaibu Yakubu JCA) is quite instructive and revealing and I wish to quote from the judgment of the Court when it found as a fact that no primary election was conducted in Zamfara State under the All Progressives Congress Party for the 2019 General Election.

“From the provisions of paragraphs 14 and 20 of the guidelines, there is very clear emphasis on the person to be recruited for the purpose of conducting primary elections, both paragraphs placed emphasis on recruiting persons from outside the area where elections are to be conducted, the power to appoint the 7 man Committee is vested in the National Working Committee, PW1 stated in his evidence that Lawal M. Liman is the Chairman of the party in Zamfara State, he is not a member of the National Working Committee, he was not appointed by the National Working Committee to conduct primaries.

‘In the face of all these hard facts, he crafted Exhibit 6 signed and sent list of allegedly successful candidates to the Resident Electoral Commissioner Zamfara State, forwarding list of successful candidates, and the list included his name as a successful candidate, he is also one of the Respondents in this appeal.

‘I must say it loud and clear, that Lawal M. Liman the Chairman of All Progressive Congress Party in Zamfara State had no slightest power to conduct primaries and forward list of successful candidates to Independent National Electoral Commission.

‘He acted illegally against his party’s Constitution and guidelines with respect to conduct of primaries. He had no authority or slightest business conducting primary elections and forwarding list of allegedly successful candidates including his name to Independent National Electoral Commission. His action is incongruous, patently bizarre and detrimental to healthy competition in politics.

‘It is also strange that PW1 insisted that Primary elections were conducted, his stance was either founded on ignorance or a calculated design to stick to falsehood and hoodwink the lower Court. I must also add that PW1 is not a reliable witness because he has a mission and a purpose to serve. He is a candidate and a product of the purported party primaries, hence he has a stake in the purported primary election, which he tried to defend by all means, all be it very unfairly.’’

A consideration of the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, particularly sections 31 (1) and 87 (1) of the Act, may throw more light into the decision of the Court of Appeal regarding the primary election of the APC in Zanfara State. Section 31 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) provides that:

“Every political party shall not later than 60 days before the date appointed for a general election under the provisions of this Act, submit to the Commission in the prescribed forms the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections.

The above provision of the law, takes me to section 87 (1) of the same Electoral Act the section also dealing with primary elections provides as follows: 87(1). A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.

From the finding of the Court of Appeal, the provision of Sections 31 (1) and 87 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), and the All Progressive Congress Party Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for the 2019 General Elections – Direct Primaries, prescribed the mode of producing candidates for 2019 General Election.

In this instance, therefore, there is no gainsaying the fact that the procedure circumscribed by the Electoral Act, and the APC Guidelines for the conduct of primary election into the office of Governor, membership of the National and State House of Assembly must be followed for the conduct of the primary election to be valid in the eye of the law.

This is so because, the law is very clear that when a statute dictates a certain mode of doing an act, then that method and no other must be employed in the performance of the act. See Bernard Amasike V. Registrar General, Corporate Affairs Commission (2018) LPELR – 456 (SC). See also CCB Nig. Plc v. A.G. Anambra State (1992) 8 NWLR (Pt. 261) 528 at 556.

I am extremely sad that our courts are often called upon to perform the onerous and difficult task of interpreting our laws in the face of obvious impunity and flagrant disregard of extant provisions of our laws by political actors. I say I am sad because the rules for the conduct of primary election do not require a third party’s interpretation for their observance by the participants in the electoral process who are part and parcel of the making of the laws and designing the procedure.

However, the judiciary cannot shirk its sacred responsibility to the nation to maintain the rule of law. It is both in the interest of the government and all persons in Nigeria. The law therefore, should be even handed between the government and the citizens.

This is why I have no hesitation in commending the judicial boldness displayed by the Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto in the Zamfara State APC primary election when it set aside the judgment of the High Court of Zamfara State recognising the primary election that never took place from the evidence placed before the Court.

The statement must be made that the rule of law is the opposite of the rule of power. It stands for the supremacy of law over the supremacy of individual will. In this instance, I have no doubt in my mind that the Supreme Court without hesitation will affirm the sound judgment of the Court of Appeal.

The law remains the same that if an act is void, it is incurably void, and every other proceeding which is founded on it is also bad and incurably bad. For you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. It will surely collapse. This impunity and reckless disregard of our laws must stop and the antidote is a bold and fearless judiciary.

 Ogwemoh (SAN) writes from the United Kingdom

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Tribute To The Redoubtable Ogu Amazons. Amb S.M.K. Taribo

The Ogu women, under the inspirational leadership of Barr. Christianah Tamunoberetonari, Vice Chairman of Ogu/Bolo LGA, manifested the patriotic heroism implied in the foregoing quotation.

In the evening of Saturday March 9, they assembled spontaneously, and under a nonpartisan impulse or platform, to protect the mandate of the electorate as freely, peacefully and orderly expressed through the ballot papers at the just concluded Rivers State Gubernatorial and House of Assembly Elections.

They did so because a contingent of armed soldiers had invaded Ogu, Head quarters of the LGA, for the predictable purpose of hijacking the ballot materials to a destination outside the the legitimate one with a view to corrupting the results.

By then, the materials had all been gathered from the various polling units/wards, and conveyed to the LGA Secretariat for collation by the pertinent INEC officials accompanied by all the accredited agents of the contesting political parties.

In attendance were also independent observers. The unexpected arrival of the soldiers and the coercive exhibition of their illicit design triggered the instinctive mobilization of the womenfolk. They besieged the Secretariat to the end of preventing the uniformed invaders from gaining unauthorised access to both the materials and their custodians.

Unarmed, warily dressed and courteously behaved, the wailing Amazons confronted the armed intruders, chanting comic songs in vernacular and pidgeon English, pleading with the soldiers to either abandon their demonic mission or slaughter them! A video of the scene has since gone viral! It captures a soldier trying to scale the perimeter fence of the Secretariat to seize the ballot documents!         

The protestation turned into a vigil that lasted from 6pm on Saturday to the afternoon of the following Sunday. It held hostage not only the armed encroachers and the demonstrating women but the chairman of the LGA, the INEC personnel, the party monitors and agents, but some Ogu luminaries who acted as mediators. The assorted barricades and road blocks which the protesters efficiently mounted at strategic spots, hindered the entry into, and from, the vicinity of the historic encounter.

It remains the dispensation of God’s singular Grace that the confrontation ended bloodlessly even as the Guardian Spirit of Ogu radiated the virtues of caution, meekness and forbearance among the embattled trespassers. It should be recalled in this regard that earlier on, in the night of Wed.6th March, a horde of soldiers had invaded the community for the ostensible purpose of arresting youth activists of the PDP, the homes of some faithful were raided with the aid of pointers. This resulted in the abduction of two young men, namely: Nathan Opeks Iruenabere and Gift Jeremiah, and their cynical detention at Bori Cantonment, Port Harcourt. This repulsive incident occurred at the admitted behest of a rival candidate for election to the Rivers State Legislature.    

This was the pregnant atmosphere that impelled the chiefs to personally undertakIa town- crying tour round the community on Friday, 8th March after the Amanyanabo-in-Council meeting. During the tour, they warned the populace against perpetration of violence,be it provocative or retaliatory, in the course of the imminent election. They further cautioned against collusion with external elements to sabotage the regular and tranquil conduct of the exercise. They sternly reminded the citizens of the DIVINE CURSE contained in their COVENANT WITH GOD by the OATH they swear annually and publicly.

They finally re-invoked its imprecation on any violator! It is against this complex background that the exceptional heroism of the Ogu Amazons should be appreciatively applauded. By their impulsive and pacific action, they vigilantly defended, advanced and edified the honour, legendary prowess, values, integrity, prestige and indomitable will of the Ogu, aka, “the ashes of our fathers and temples of our gods”! They should be celebrated as HEROINES, and their names grafted in the Kingdom’s Pantheon!  

Equally deserving our admiration and eulogy are the agile and resilient youths: they very wisely and tactfully watched from the sides like concerned spectators; they exercised the necessary restraint and discipline in the face of vexatious intrusion! This extraordinary attitude has saved the community from the premeditated and preplanned ransacking and desolation of our renown “ fast developing home by the raiders to the sadistic delight of the schemers!          

 As for the misguided Ogu traitors and quislings that facilitated the unwarranted invasions in confederacy with frustrated and hostile outsiders, aimed at wreaking havoc on our collective psyche, comfort and peaceable existence, let them hasten to repent and beg God for pardon , lest they incur the retributive justice that is prescribed in our annual Covenant with God!

Chief Amb. Taribo-Amgbara, a retired Diplomat is a war-canoe chief of Ogu Kingdom.

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Political Lessons From The February 23 Election Bayo Onanuga

As  the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declares Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress inner of the presidential election, there had been surprises and upsets in many states as the results were announced. But not predicted was that the candidate, would return a resounding victory against PDP.

Here are some of the lessons learnt in the February 23 election:

 Social media power overrated: If elections are won on Twitter and Facebook, President Buhari would by now be writing his handover notes and be preparing to tend his cows on his farm in Daura. But the limitations of the social media platforms especially Twitter have just been exposed by the results of the election. The candidate of the PDP got more retweets, more likes for tweets by supporters on Twitter, but such preferences count for nothing in the real voting.

For information, although there are over 92 million Nigerians using the internet, not all of them are connected to the social media platforms. According to some verified statistics, about 25 million Nigerians use Facebook, with 16 million being active users. Twitter users are in several millions, representing just 8.83% of social media users. At 8.29 %, users of Pinterest are surprisingly close to users of Twitter. Instagram commands just 2.0 per cent and Facebook 78.47 per cent as at 2018.

This may explain why the orchestrated campaigns of falsehood and calumny against the APC candidate did not get much traction going into the election. As past elections had shown in Nigeria, the people who vote are the ordinary people, the peasants, petty traders, artisans who are not wired to the social media platforms. And they have spoken in favour of the candidate they believe is the greatest friend of the ‘Talakawa’.

Elite, pulpit power smashed. Those hate preachers who abused the pulpit to command their congregation to vote for the PDP have been put to shame. Elite in the north and south who believe Buhari has been ‘bad business’ and worked vigorously to dethrone him, now also know their powers are limited. The ordinary masses hold the master key to ‘people power’. Buhari, like in 2015, has overcome elite gang up and conspiracy of the churches. In Abuja, the votes recorded in Kubwa, Garki, Mbappe and some other places with a wide Christian population and civil servants against Buhari were to some extent offset by farmers living in the villages around the capital.

Politicians who put a lot of score on endorsement should know better. The Afenifere in Yorubaland and the various political groups largely failed to mobilise the votes for Buhari in the region, despite their endorsement. The results in Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo were too close to show that the people did not heed the instructions of the groups. Ohanaeze was also rebuffed to some extent in the south east states. The Northern Elders Forum of Ango Abdullahi, the Middle Belt Forum, the Arewa Consultative Forum need some reality checks about their power as opinion moulders.

  Igbo have learnt  from their one-basket political disposition in 2015. In 2019, they did not put all their eggs in one basket, as they gave Buhari more than 25 per cent in Ebonyi, Abia and Imo. Only Enugu and Anambra gave Buhari the snub as the opposition recorded a thumping victory here, 355,553 votes in Enugu to Buhari’s 54,423. Anambrans understandably gave their son Peter Obi massive support by giving Atiku 524,738 votes and Buhari 33,298.

In Lagos, however, Igbo voting pattern like suspected in 2015, unsettled their Yoruba hosts, leading to threatening inter-ethnic hostility. Yoruba believe that Igbo should always support their interests, afterall ‘When in Rome, one is expected to behave like the Romans’.

 All politics is truly local. Kwarans demonstrated this in the way they humiliated the PDP and its chief strategist, Bukola Saraki, rejecting the campaign of ‘better Nigeria’, ‘making Nigeria work again’, for home grown wild fire campaign of ‘O To ge’, which translates to “Enough is Enough’. The campaign dethroned Saraki from Kwara central senate seat and smashed the PDP into political irrelevance, with the APC recording 308,984 votes, two and a half times more than the 138,184 votes recorded by the PDP.

 In Daura, Katsina voters showed the APC senatorial candidate that he needed to settle with them as they clobbered him, by voting for the Accord Party candidate, in the same polling unit, where Buhari recorded over 700 votes to three for Atiku. In Kogi state, Dino Melaye won a return ticket to the Senate despite all the controversies he generated. He will need to thank fumbling ex-police chief, Ibrahim Idris for making him popular with his people. And in Bauchi, speaker Yakubu Dogara survived his expected political demise and won fourth term ticket in his Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal constituency.

Buhari , politician with a home base. President Buhari has proven once again that he is the Awolowo, Aminu Kano of our time, posting overwhelming victory in his home state of Katsina and other states, such as Kano, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Jigawa in the North West that he had consistently won since 2003, when he made the first bid for Nigeria’s presidency. Buhari also showed commanding presence in the North east.

Atiku failed to show such political force in his state of Adamawa that he won with a few thousand votes. Then to show how Buhari has gathered much political traction since elected in 2015, he had a strong showing in states, such as Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, with high Christian population, that Atiku thought he would have won convincingly, based on the propaganda that Buhari is anti-Christian. Buhari similarly cut inroads into South South and South East states, denying Atiku any Tsunami effect from the zones.

  Lies, falsehood do get their comeuppances

This election has proven this. Buhari in the run-up to the poll was the target of so many vicious lies and propaganda. The most reprehensible lie was that he was a clone from Sudan planted in Aso Rock. He was also painted as a hater of Christians, who allowed Boko Haram to seize a Christian girl Leah Sharibu. They accused him of promoting an Islamisation agenda and of being an ethnic bigot who favoured his region in appointments. Some even said he had finished Nigeria with foreign debts, a claim that was not supported by available facts.

  Onanuga wrote for News Agency of Nigeria.

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