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Friday, 28 October 2011

Oil Subsidy Is Fiction-Okonjo Iweala Is Here To Seduce People To Accept The Callous "Oil Subsidy" Removal-Tam David West-TheNEWS

Professor Tam David-West
 Professor Tam David-West, Petroleum Minister during the era of General Muhammadu Buhari, and Mines, Power and Steel in the General Ibrahim Babangida government, spoke with GBENRO ADESINA on the controversy over oil subsidy removal.
For the layman on the street, does oil subsidy exist?
There is no oil subsidy in Nigeria. It is a lie and fraud. After the regime of General Buhari, I challenged government after government, from General Ibrahim Babangida and Chief Ernest Shonekan to General Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to appear on national television with me to justify their subsidy.
Let me introduce you to the basics. Let us say a particular commodity like gari is sold for N10 per bag hypothetically and the farmers are producing to make us self-sufficient at N10. But at a time, they can’t produce enough because of either bad harvest or natural causes, the government now says since garri is a staple food, the government goes to another country where gari is produced and buys it at N20 per bag and brings it to Nigeria to sell at N10 per bag. The government now writes off the extra N10 –– that is subsidy. The extra N10 the government pays on behalf of the people for them to still buy at N10 is the subsidy paid on that commodity.
No government should exist if it can’t serve the people because government is a trust. They are trustees for the people. Edmund Burke, the great British philosopher, said that government is a contrivance of human wisdom and the wisdom should be used to satisfy people’s needs. Any government that can’t satisfy the need of its people is irrelevant and must be overthrown and kicked out.
Coming to petroleum, there is no oil subsidy. Oil subsidy in Nigeria is fiction, it doesn’t exist and it is a fraud. During Buhari’s time, we had three refineries. When necessary, I mean, whenever there was shortage of oil, we embarked on offshore processing. If at a time, the production of oil couldn’t satisfy our needs, we selected oil companies like Shell and others that we would give crude oil to refine abroad, sell at foreign exchange and pay to our account. We got quantum of barrels of crude oil and gave to these companies and after they might have refined it, let’s say they got one million litres and we needed only 200 litres, they would give us the quantity we wanted and sell the remaining and give us foreign exchange. We only took our fuel back, never imported fuel.
This time what do they do? These fraudulent people will take our oil, refine it and bring it back and sell it at foreign exchange. This is fraud in the highest places. Why is it that during Buhari era, with three refineries we were self sufficient but at their time, with four refineries we are now importing fuel?
I personally signed the contract of the fourth refinery which we call new Port Harcourt Refinery in 1984. It was one of the best in Africa, with a capacity of 160,000 barrels per day. The first refinery, in Port Harcourt, was built in 1965; Warri refinery in 1978, and Kaduna refinery in 1980. A newly constructed refinery can’t have major problem for about 30 years. The problem they will not tell you is that after Buhari, every Minister and Head of State became an oil sheikh, except General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
Some ministers have petrol stations and oil blocs. You can’t serve the nation and serve yourself at the same time because you can’t serve two masters at a time. One must serve his country and the dividends of doing this is satisfaction. Total capacity of our four refineries is 445,000 barrels per day. If the refineries are working even at 80 per cent, we will have more than enough product. They did not do that but sabotaged our refineries.
I have been shouting since 1995 and I wrote that they are killing Nigeria and poor men. And in 2009, the House of Representatives corroborated me by saying that refineries were sabotaged. Abdulsalami as head of state, reacting to the state of our refineries, said he didn’t want to open a box of scandal. Why did they do this to the common man? Who are the importers? Big people!
A senator said this year, Nigeria spends N860 million on fuel importation and they projected that by the end of the year, over N1 trillion will be spent on importation of fuel when our budget is N4.3 trillion. Insanity! Dan Etete said they needed $250 million to repair the refineries but the same minister said Nigeria is importing fuel at $900 million. Is that not insanity? If you need this huge amount of money to repair refineries, why don’t you build new refineries? The money you are using to import, use it to build refineries.

Why do you think Obasanjo did not repair the four refineries we had and build four extra for petroleum to be sold at N20 as he analysed when he was in power?

Olusegun Obasanjo is a great liar. They will not do so in order to continue to import fuel for selfish reasons.
Is it true that Nigeria has the lowest prices of refined products among oil producing countries?
Forget Jonathan! He doesn’t understand what he is saying. He is only parroting what they told him. He talks like a parrot. Can he remove what doesn’t exist? Can’t we build our own refineries to serve us and remove the untold hardship they want to impose on us? Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the subsidy goes to the wrong hands. If they remove it, will people not suffer the more? Everything will increase. The new minimum wage of N18,000 will become N2,000.

But Obasanjo said because it is built in phases, it will take about five years to build a refinery?

It is a lie. I told you Obasanjo is a liar. It took just two years to build the fourth refinery. I signed its contract. It is between two and three years. The problem is that there is intellectual laziness and physical indolence. In developed countries, the president will not just talk without being well quizzed. But in Nigeria, at a media chat once, Obasanjo shouted on journalists or talked to them as a teacher. They kept quiet. It doesn’t take five years to build a refinery.

Okonjo-Iweala talked about cushioning the effect of the removal of oil subsidy?
Rubbish! She is sermonising to seduce people to accept the callous oil subsidy removal. Things she promised are palliative, nobody should agree. Labour and Nigerians should make it impossible because you don’t take away what doesn’t exist. We don’t need oil subsidy to build roads, provide water and electricity; vote for capital projects has taken care of that. Degrees don’t guarantee good governance.
Can a school certificate holder rule a nation?

Yes and very well. What degree does Shehu Shagari and Balewa have? School teachers. Winston Churchill was among the dullest in his class and he became one of the greatest British leaders. Degrees don’t make leaders. Leadership is a natural endowment or one acquires it by hard work.
Jonathan wasn’t born great, he said he was born poor. Rubbish! It is a privilege to be born into a wealthy home. I was born into a wealthy home but one can’t control where God puts you. I tell my son that he should not allow the wealth of his father to go into his head because his minister father could as well be a driver. You don’t regret where you were born. So, I didn’t have shoes or wasn’t born great is rubbish. God is not partial. He does things with reasons.
Being born humble is not an issue. How you articulate your humble situation is the issue. That you are born rich doesn’t say you should look down on people. The problem with Jonathan is that though he has Ph.D, he is a brilliant man, but there is a difference between native intelligence and book intelligence. Jonathan is basically brilliant. The danger in that is that such people whenever somebody like Iweala comes talking, they idolise them like mental geniuses and become internally inferior to them. Whatever they say goes –– garbage in, garbage out. He doesn’t have the stamina to challenge them.
For a prince to be advised wisely, he must be wise too. Iweala is not the most brilliant economist. There are hundreds of people more brilliant than she is. Pius Okigbo and Ojetunji Aboyade, they served the nation meritoriously. She is working with somebody psychologically inferior and she will lead him into a ditch. She talks like the president. She once said that government would not negotiate with the Niger Delta militants. Did they not negotiate later? She was paid in dollars when she served in Obasanjo’s cabinet and her monthly pay was N2.8 million and now she is saying oil subsidy is killing the economy. Hypocrite!
If you know that what you are doing is right, convince people in arguments, facts and figures, not by sermonisation. Now, they have hired consultants with millions of naira to convince Nigeria to accept their rubbish. It was done during Shonekan’s time when a Nigerian was given N20mn for public relations job. He collapsed. They have started again. Please, Senators, Honourables of the House of Representatives, throw out this bill. Don’t think and say we are safe in Nigeria. There could be corporate protest here, just like what is happening in the Arab world. If you do anything that will make Nigerians suffer more, they will go on the streets because the suffering is already too much. I can afford things but millions of Nigerians that form the majority cannot. They should know that government is not about commissioning or investment and profits. Government should have moral dimension. Any government that disregards the moral dimension, that is, respect of God, God will punish such for making Nigerians to suffer.

How do you react to the fact that governors have endorsed it and labour has tactically endorsed it with conditions?

All that is nonsense. NLC should represent the masses well. NLC should not give any condition for the consideration of the removal of oil subsidy. Government has ways of compromising labour. When things are hot, they can approach them with millions and buy them over and they will start to talk with double tongues. NLC should be firm. The government should publish the names of those that are importing fuel and government should sign that if it is removed and the effects are not felt between three and six months, then we must dissolve the present government. If they remove oil subsidy, l will lead a protest. I will organise students for demonstration.
Do you still have faith in Nigeria?
My dear young man, if I don’t have faith in Nigeria, I will not be talking to you. I still have faith in Nigeria. To keep Nigeria as one is a task that must be done. We should differentiate between metaphysical Nigeria and political Nigeria. Nigeria is a great country blessed by God. The way we are going, the political Nigeria will destroy the metaphysical Nigeria. Most of those in government are rogues and thieves. They love themselves more than Nigeria. Every Nigerian owes Nigeria more than what Nigeria owes him/her. Nigeria will change for better when we have more statesmen than politicians.
Now, we have a bunch of politicians who only think of the next election while a statesman thinks of the future. Nigeria will collapse if we have more politicians than statesmen. Nigeria is a country where a senator is earning more than the President of America. They even buy government houses. They spend billions on cars and they can’t pay N18,000 minimum wage. They have morally crippled the country and the governance. They will be destroyed by God. Nigeria is a great country –– no natural disaster, there are able men and natural resources. But people are still crying, no job, graduates are driving taxis, doing menial jobs. Many now engage in armed robbery because they have to survive. May God bless us with good leaders.
The worst enemy of Buhari says that Buhari is not corrupt and that is the truth. It takes integrity and rigidity not to be corrupt and lead the nation. You don’t lead like Jonathan. God will punish those that are punishing Nigerians and Nigeria. When the poor man weeps, the tears go to heaven and come down with burning fire and consume his enemies. And that is what will happen in Nigeria.



By Godwin Erhahon, Benin City

Nothing in recent time exposed how much most Nigerians hate the truth than the media distortion against General Muhammadu Buhari, Presidential Candidate of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), of the report of the Federal Government Panel on April 2011 post-election violence.
Virtually all Nigerian national dailies of Tuesday, October 11, that I read chose to interpret the report of the Sheikh Ahmed Lemu-led Panel as an indictment on General Buhari, under common sensational headline > “Post-election Violence: FG Panel Report indicts Buhari”.
A careful and objective study of the story which Nigerian press chose to give that judgmentally sensationalized headline would leave every discerning mind wondering why  our national press whose editors rank among  the most enlightened, courageous  and progressive journalists in the world chose to inform their readers that the panel report indicts General Buhari.
The Chairman of the Panel, Sheikh Lemu himself was so embarrassed by the media distortion of his panel report that he immediately refuted it. As patriots who anxiously awaited the report of the panel, what ought to interest us most in the report should have been:
              i.            The actual cause of the riots;
           ii.            The persons who sponsored or instigated the riots, if any;
         iii.            What should be done to prevent such riots in future;
         iv.            How to pacify and heal the wounds of victims;
            v.            How to promote the national unity that has been seriously jeopardized by the violence, etc.
After reading the panel report, as a journalist, I feel the most appropriate headline for any objective and patriotic newspaper should have been one that highlights the indictment of the Federal Government , that being the accurate summary and import of it all.
The part of the report that the press chose to interpret against General Buhari reads:
Provocative utterances by many individuals and widespread charge by prominent politicians, including CPC presidential candidate to the electorate to guard their votes, appeared to have been misconstrued by many voters to include recourse to violence”.
In the above observation, not a declaration, by the panel, allusions are made to “utterances by many individuals” “widespread charge by prominent politicians including (not especially) CPC presidential candidate”, “appeared to have been misconstrued (not found to have been obeyed) by many voters…” brackets mine.
Obviously, the reference to CPC presidential candidate in the panel’s observation was in response to charges in some of the memos it received which had attempted to single him out for indictment. It is therefore exoneration, not indictment, of General Buhari, as it states that the “utterances” were made by “many” and “misconstrued” by voters. Come to look at it, in a country as ours where cabals of election riggers have continued to perpetuate themselves in power, is it wrong for opposition parties or their candidates to charge their supporters to vote, wait and guard their votes till true results are announced? If we blame post-election mass protest on pre-election calls on voters to protect their votes, are we not confirming that the protesters were voters who found that their votes have been fraudulently reversed? What lesson are we leaving for future elections by blaming those who challenged those they saw reversing their mandate or by shielding the reversers of the mandate?  Are we saying that Nigerians should not challenge those caught in the act of altering election results in future elections? Should we continue to wait for election petition tribunals most of which are manned by jurists who see their service on the tribunals as opportunities to have their share of the public fund stolen by the ruling parties to miscarry justice? Why should we play down the vital aspect of the panel report which blamed the insecurity in our country on the corruption of our rulers and the consequential mass sufferings, hunger and frustration?
Even as I write this piece, PDP supporters in Lagos State are protesting alleged rigging of Local Government Election in that state. Should we blame President Goodluck Jonathan for damages done by the protesters?
Why must we make General Buhari cheap target of vilification because he refused to steal but insists on ending stealing of our common wealth?
For easy understanding of how unjustifiably misleading the media headlines were, let us see the actual findings of the panel report on the causes of the electoral mayhem:
1.      “The existing widespread desire for change as a result of frustration and disappointment of many members of the general public regarding the inability of successive past regimes to solve the  problems of power failure nationwide, deplorable state of Federal Government roads throughout the nation , bribery and corruption which  have virtually been legitimized in all affairs of our nation. Thus with regard to the remedy of bribery and corruption, we recommend that the Heads of the three arms of government as well as other major stakeholders in Nigeria should come together and agree on the effective way forward to avoid the impending catastrophe.
2.      “General insecurity of life and property in peoples houses and on the high-ways and kidnapping are fuel to the fire of public frustration and disappointment. The true state of affairs could escalate to social revolution if preventive measures are not taken in time. In fact, the current sporadic demonstrations in educational institutions and labour unions are all considered to be signals of more serious negative events to come. This assertion could be verified for Your Excellency by the security agencies.
3.      “The manner in which political office holders have lucratised their respective positions at the expense of the whole nation. The panel discovered that the remunerations and allowances of the members of legislature, in particular are considered by stakeholders who addressed us or wrote to us about the issue to be outrageous. It has turned politics in Nigeria to a do- or-die affair for which many politicians of all parties are seriously establishing private armies to execute. In that respect, easy access to drugs, serious general poverty at the grassroots level  and youth unemployment, in particular, are providing many foot soldiers ready for recruitment at a cheap rate. The security agencies could verify this assertion also.
4.      “Generally speaking, the basic cause of the violence in nearly all the communities concerned is political. Ethno- religious sentiments were brought into the issue through negative campaigns and rumour- mongering by unscrupulous individuals to achieve their ulterior motives. The zoning controversy, which started basically as an internal political affair of the ruling party, ultimately changes the nature of the presidential election into ethno-religious contest in the country particularly in the northern states.
5.     “The most important major cause was the failure on the part of the previous successive regimes since the military handover of power in 1999 to implement the recommendations of various committees, commissions and panels that had taken place in our nation. That failure facilitated the wide spread sense of impunity in the culprits and perpetrators of crimes and violence in the Nigerian society”.
Why did our editors play down on the above findings and chose to concoct their own indictments of Buhari as if they were given that baseless headline by Buhari’s enemies ahead of the report?  
Have we forgotten so soon that General Buhari was one prominent northern politician who openly dissociated himself from the agitation for zoning of the presidency to the north? How fair is it for us to blame him for the consequences of an agitation that he dissociated himself from? Or we have chosen to forget or ignore those virtuous principles of his? Why are we so desperate to stain the stainless general?      
Must we gang up against Buhari because he has no money to bribe us with, having served our nation with utmost sincerity and patriotism?
Give the report of the Lemu-led panel to even a secondary school student to summarize the cause of the April post-election violence as identified by the panel and you will find that, as unbiased minds, their summary will differ from the concocted newspaper headlines.
I advice my colleagues, journalists, to always be guided by their conscience, true nationalist spirit, facts and the fear of God in the practice of our noble profession. Corrupt persons in power are our common enemies. No matter the size of the pea nuts that they give us from their loot, they remain our common enemies.
Now that the Federal Government Panel has traced the cause of the riot to the failure and ills of the PDP-controlled Federal Government, let us wait and see how President Goodluck Jonathan who had boasted that he would implement the report no matter whose ox is gored, will do.
From his handling of this report, we shall see how good Jonathan’s luck is to Nigeria.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Buhari: INEC should account for N100bn

By Abdulrahman Abdulrauf
Former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), has challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to account for the N100 billion it took from the federal government for the conduct of the 2011 general elections.
 He told Nigerians to stand up and demand explanation on how the commission expended the money.
 Buhari claimed that most of the money was cornered by persons he described as faceless and corrupt politicians.
 The presidential candidate for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the 2011 presidential poll spoke while responding on behalf of other awardees at the 2011 edition of the Leadership Conferences and Award Ceremony, organised by Leadership Conferences Limited, a subsidiary of the Leadership Newspapers Group.
 At the event, former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was named “Person of the Year 2010,” while Buhari bagged “Politician of the Year 2010,” while the Edo state governor, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, was conferred with the “Governor of the Year 2010″ award.
 In attendance were all governors of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) states, as well as their federal, and state lawmakers.
 In his remarks, Buhari alleged that the electoral commission is yet to justify the money it collected from the government.
 Recalling how he fought for 50 months at the tribunal when he contested both the 2003 and the 2008 elections, the CPC presidential candidate, who is at the tribunal to challenge the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan, said the nation’s electoral system was fraught with inadequacies.
 He said, “I want you people to take note of three things about INEC. INEC asked for N87 billion. Reliably, I learnt they were given about N100 billion. They said they had registered 73.5 million Nigerians, their fingerprints taken at the polling units from ward through local government to state, that fingerprints were being recorded with the biometric data available.
 ”The first thing that our legal team asked was to have all of these (registration and fingerprints) because there were no elections in 20 states. This was stood down. So, how can INEC account for N100 billion for doing nothing? It’s very important. Nigerians must insist on this, because if we can donate N100 billion to faceless officials and corrupt officials and, then, we say it’s against the security of the country to bring evidence as contained in the act, then something is wrong.”
 In his reaction, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said if it is the money appropriated in the budget, they are for certain purposes and the balance would certainly be returned to the treasury, saying the question of foul play did not arise.
 Idowu said, “In this regard, our books are very clear. For us at the commission, we do not have anything to hide. All our spendings were rightly captured as indicated in the Appropriation Act.
 ”And on the second leg of not having access to the data, the court had ruled and we abide by that. The General needs not make it a media issue.”

Buhari: Lemu panel indicts Jonathan, PDP

Buhari: Lemu panel indicts Jonathan, PDP

Written by Nuruddeen M. Abdallah Wednesday, 12 October 2011 05:00
The presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were the ones indicted by the Sheikh Ahmed Lemu panel.

Buhari who spoke to Daily Trust through his spokesperson Yinka Odumakin commended the panel for unravelling the causes of the violence that followed the April general elections. He explained that in its submissions, the panel fingered the manner the president and his party, the PDP handled the zoning controversy that almost torn it into shreds as well as divided the along sectional and religious lines, as one of the causes of the post-elections violence.
“The zoning controversy that rocked the party and the country as well turned the presidential elections into North –South and Christians-Muslims war,” he said. He added that abject poverty, mass youth unemployment, illiteracy, has been identified as responsible for the violent reactions of electoral irregularities by the committee, which is an indictment of the president and his party that has been in power in the last 12 years.
He explained that contrary to some reports the panel didn’t indict Buhari “because of the fact that the panel didn’t come out to state where and when Buhari incited people into violence.” He said that Buhari is not denying the fact that he “urged his supporters to protect their votes.  It was on record that he was not the only one that said so. The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega had urged the electorate to stay behind and protect their votes. Pastor Enoch Adeboye (of the Redeemed Christian Church of God) has publicly urged Nigerians to protect their votes, as well as many other politicians.”

Lemu panel report: I was exonerated –Buhari ...Commends panel

Lemu panel report: I was exonerated –Buhari
...Commends panel
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

General Muhammadu Buhari
Photo: Sun News Publishing

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Former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, has said that the Sheikh Ahmed Lemu-led panel on the violence which erupted after the April 2011, presidential poll, did not in any way indict him.
Buhari said that the panel exonerated him rather than the perceived indictment arising from the statement that he asked people to protect their votes. 

Sequel to the crisis, there were calls from some quarters that Buhari who was the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the April 2011, presidential election should be arrested.
Those who made the calls, alleged that Buhari’s statement during the election campaign, triggered the violence that led to loss of lives in some parts of the country.

President Goodluck Jonathan, in the wake of the crisis, had set up the Sheik Ahmed Lemu-led panel to look into the crisis and make recommendation when necessary.

Submitting its report on Monday at the State House, Abuja, chairman of the committee, Sheik Ahmed Lemu, blamed some politicians, including Buhari, for the post 2011 elections violence that erupted in some parts of the country.
Lemu however, added that the committee, not being a judicial panel, avoided indicting any individual or group.
The report of the panel which was turned in exactly five months the panel was constituted, attributed the violence, partly to the statement credited to the former military leader shortly before the election that voters should “guard their votes.”

The report also blamed successive regimes for not acting on past reports on violence and civil disturbances, by bringing perpetrators to book, noting that it facilitated the widespread of impunity by perpetrators of crimes and violence in the Nigerian society.
But speaking through his spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin, Buhari said that he was not indicted at all in what the Lemu panel has done.
“There is no indictment of General Buhari at all in what Lemu has done.

“If all they could quote was that General Buhari asked people to guard their votes, then they should also blame Jega because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also printed posters, asking people to vote, wait and protect their votes.
“All the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Nigeria should also be blamed because they asked people to register, to vote and protect their votes.
“So, we would have been worried if they have been able to come up to establish the allegations they are making after the elections, that General Buhari asked people to go and lynch people, which the panel set up has not been able to establish.  
“Already, there is a case filed in court against the Presidential Spokesman, Reuben Abati, who made that kind of reckless allegation that General Buhari asked people to lynch. That case is already in the Lagos High Court.

“People should look more to the other recommendations of the panel rather than sensationalizing Buhari’s asking people to defend their votes.
“They have talked about the other causes of the violence, which I think are the real causes of the violence: the zoning policy in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which turned the election into a North-South, Muslim-Christian thing, the question of poverty which they talked about, coupled with the way politics has been lucratized by politicians and other recommendations.”
These are the much, more fundamental issues.” 
Odumakin further said that “if all they could trace to Buhari was that he told people to guard their votes, I think the panel has just exonerated him from the vicious lies and propaganda that have stood against him.”
Buhari however commended the panel “for the courage to do a painstaking job in identifying the right causes of the violence.”

Panel denies indicting Buhari over post-election riots

Panel denies indicting Buhari over post-election riots

On October 12, 2011 · In News
ABUJA—Barely 24 hours after the Federal Government panel on the 2011 Elections Violence and Civil Disturbances submitted its report and a section of the media alleged that former head of state and Presidential candidate of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), was indicted for making provocative utterances that instigated the violence, Chairman of the panel, Dr. Sheikh Ahmed Lemu, has said Buhari was never indicted in the panel’s report submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan.
The report submitted by Sheikh Lemu, had said, “Provocative utterances by many individuals and the widespread charge by prominent politicians including the CPC presidential candidate, to the electorate to ‘guard their votes’, ‘appeared’ to have been misconstrued by many voters to include recourse to violence which they misconstrued.”
But, Lemu, in a chat with select journalists in Abuja, yesterday, described the interpretation as misleading noting, “We never indicted Buhari. From the outset, we said the commission is not out to indict anybody. We are not a judicial panel. It was a shock to us to hear or read that we blamed Buhari for the violence.
“In all my years as a teacher, a judge etc, I have come to learn that no matter what you do or how good your idea or suggestion is, somebody must criticise you. In fact, what we said in our report exonerated him (Buhari). We made it clear to Mr. President that we are not out to indict anybody.”
The chairman stressed that at the meeting his panel had with Gen. Buhari,  where he opened up to them, he (Lemu) was surprised that he (Buhari) was able to talk to them, giving them instances where he was a victim of the post-election violence.
Lemu said: “I sent a team of prominent members of the panel to meet with Buhari. I never thought he would even agree to talk to us, but he did. He told us that he himself was a victim of the violence and of the destruction of his property the photographs of which were given to the panel. He explained to the panel he would never be a supporter of violence.”
Meanwhile, the Buhari Campaign Organisation has commended the report of the panel, saying it has vindicated Gen. Buhari’s position that he never instigated the crisis but was a fallout of social, political and economic conditions in the country.
Buhari reacts
Mr. Yinka Odumakin, spokesman of the organisation, said the report which was submitted to President Jonathan clearly located the cause of the crisis which engulfed parts of country, as a failure of governance at that period.
On the report’s alleged indictment of Buhari, Odumakin said instead the report vindicated him, saying the call for the electorate to defend their votes was similarly made by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and its Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
He said: “The report vindicated Gen. Buhari, who asked people to guard their vote, the same way INEC and Prof. Jega and religous leaders such as Pastor Adeboye asked people to protect their vote. The report did not indict Gen. Buhari.”
He said: “We commend the panel for locating the causes of the problem and identifying as one, the internal schism within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). We are also happy that the panel also said that the problem was neither a religious, Christian/muslim thing; neither North versus South issue. It was, according to the panel, a failure of governance at the time.
“The panel also identified the pervasive poverty in the land, the monetisation of politics as a do or die affair and the failure of government both now and the past to implement past report on disturbances as the reason for the outbreak of violence after the election.

Lemu panel report:Crave for change caused post-election violence

Lemu panel report:Crave for change caused post-election violence

Written by Mohammed S. Shehu Tuesday, 11 October 2011 05:04
People’s strong desire for change, culture of impunity, bad governments and inciting political statements were among the principal causes of post-election violence in April in which hundreds of people were killed, a presidential committee has said.

The Sheikh Ahmed Lemu-led Presidential Committee on the 2011 Election Violence and Civil Disturbances presented its report yesterday to President Goodluck Jonathan, with a strong warning that the current state of affairs in the country could provoke social revolution unless measures were taken to improve people’s life conditions.
Lemu headed a 22-member panel which conducted investigations in the states affected by election violence, including Kaduna, Adamawa and Akwa Ibom.
In a speech at the report presentation yesterday, Lemu said the desire for change as result of frustration of people regarding the failure of successive regimes to solve the nation’s problems was one of the major causes of the post-election violence.
“The second major cause of the recent electoral violence was the existing widespread desire for change as a result of frustration and disappointment of many members of the general public regarding the inability of the successive past regimes to solve the problems of electricity power failure nationwide, deplorable state of federal government roads throughout the nation, bribery and corruption which have virtually been legitimized in all affairs of our nation,” he said.
The committee exonerated retired General Muhammadu Buhari of accusations of inciting the violence, adding that the CPC presidential candidate was also a victim because his property was destroyed during the crisis.
Lemu said, “Provocative utterances by many individuals and the widespread charge by prominent politicians including the CPC presidential candidates to the electorate ‘to guard their votes’ appeared to have been misconstrued by many voters to include recourse to violence which they did.
“However, a long interactive session was held been the CPC presidential candidate and five-member delegation of the panel, led by the chairman, in the office of the CPC presidential candidate in Kaduna on 14th September 2011. It was discovered that he himself was a victim of the violence and of the destruction of his property the photographs of which were given to the said delegation.”
Lemu said the controversial PDP zoning arrangement and desperation by politicians to win election at all cost were among the factors that changed the nature of the presidential election into an ethno-religious contest particularly in the North.
Speaking after receiving the report, Jonathan expressed the desire of the Federal Government to implement the report but noted that he was “more interested in the preventive aspect of the recommendation than the punishment aspect. Yes, people who commit offences must face the laws of the land but how do we prevent subsequent occurrence is the key thing that is dear to me.”
Lemu earlier said the failure by successive regimes to implement reports of previous investigation committees “facilitated the wide spread sense of impunity in the culprits and perpetrators of crimes and violence in the Nigerian society.’
He said the panel recommended that the president should order security agencies to fish out culprits of violence for prosecution and also revisit reports of investigations of previous incidents of violence.
“People indicted by the committees and commissions concerned should be prosecuted. These recommendations are based on what the panel observed from many victims of those previous disturbances who are nursing reprisals and have only been waiting for the slightest excuse to move into action which some of them did during the 2011 election violence and civil disturbances.
“Similarly, general insecurity of life and property in people’s houses and on the high ways and kidnappings are fuel to the fire of public frustration and disappointment.
“The next major cause of violence and disturbances is the manner in which political office holders have lucratised their respective positions at the expense of the whole nation. The panel discovered that the remunerations and allowances of the members of the legislature, in particular, are considered by stakeholders who addressed us or wrote to us about the issue to be outrageous.
“It has turned politics in Nigeria to a do-or-die affair for which many politicians of all parties are seriously establishing private armies to execute. In that respect, easy access to drugs, serious general poverty at the grassroots level and youth unemployment, in particular, are providing many foot soldiers ready for recruitment at a cheap rate,” he said.
Lemu said the panel avoided going beyond its jurisdiction to indict any individual or group of individuals because it was not a Judicial Commission of Inquiry.
He, however, presented the cases together with the supporting DVDs and relevant documents in a manner that security agencies could follow up to reveal more facts about the cases concerned and take appropriate actions.
He said the panel could not ascertain the accuracy of the claims or the remaining figure of the dead and other victims not accounted for but recommended the engagement of professional architects, quantity surveyors and estate valuers to help unearth the right figures of casualties and destruction.
It recommended an interim token of compensation to be given to the identified victims.
It called on the Federal Government to follow the example of Adamawa state which has made law to deduct for loss of life or damage to property from the fund allocation of the Local Government Area where communal violence may occur.
The Lemu panel was set up Jonathan on May11 to unearth the causes and of the post-election violence and recommend solutions.

There’s no subsidy on fuel – David-West

There’s no subsidy on fuel – David-West
Saturday October 15, 2011
Prof Tam David West
Photo: Sun News Publishing

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Former Petroleum Minister, Prof-Tam David West, has warned the Federal Government to back out of the plan to remove petroleum subsidy.
According to him, government would be courting instability of a grave dimension, if it goes ahead with the controversial move, which he said is sure to overburden Nigerians already suffering harsh economic adversities.

David West, who served as oil minister in the Gen. Muhammadu Buhari regime, in the 1980s, dismissed official claim of an oil subsidy, accusing the Federal Government of angling to satisfy “the suicidal conditionality of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, at the expense of its moral and humanistic obligation to its citizenry.”

He observed that the commoners, who had been at the receiving end of the mismanagement of oil operations, would suffer.
On what to expect if the government goes ahead with the plan, David-West said: “It is courting instability and crisis that can cascade into conflagration, because if there is no justice, there can’t be peace.”

The former minister took a swipe at the leadership of labour, accusing them of compromise and sell-out, which he blamed, for what he called the authorities’ disregard for the feelings of the people.

The Federal Government is planning to remove fuel subsidy. As somebody who was involved in oil business as minister, what do you think?
What the NNPC and government have been doing is a scare strategy. They try to scare the public that if you don’t remove subsidy, the economy would collapse. It’s all orchestrated lies. Why? Because, they’ve not been able to justify their statistics. They bring prices of fuel in different parts of the world, both OPEC and non-OPEC, showing that Nigeria’s is the least. But I counter that argument that you can’t talk about this, without talking, comparatively, about the Gross Domestic Product, the standard of living, the wage system in the countries. In virtually all of these countries, the national minimum salaries are between 20 and 100 per cent higher than what you have in Nigeria. The state of their infrastructure is excellent. Schools in some of these countries are free. So, you can’t use that to judge. It’s not valid.

What will then be your advice?
Governance is not simply about Naira and Kobo. There is moral and humanistic philosophy in governance. A government must ask: Are my citizens happy? Have I provided enough to make them comfortable? Unfortunately, people in government are those who put burden on the populace and in all countries, the masses, the relatively deprived masses, in terms of social amenities, are more than the privileged. They are preponderantly at the base of what I call the social pyramid. So, government should be interested.

Edmund Burke said: ‘Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants.’ Premised on this, any government that cannot make its people comfortable is irrelevant. None of the persons in government buys petrol for himself. Their cars are fuelled at public expense. Why must you then make policy that would punish the poor man, who is already suffering? I tell you this country will collapse if this government increases the pump price of fuel by 200 per cent, as it’s planning. They should be careful. The country can collapse if people are pushed to the point of desperation, because if you increase, it’ll have spiral effects on costs of food, rent, transportation and other essential amenities. Living only has meaning when people feel it is better than dying. When a person perceives there is no difference between living and dying, he’ll not fear to do anything, even if he dies.

In 1996, I wrote that a few selfish Nigerians sabotaged our refineries so they can continue to import fuel. This theory has been confirmed by Aret Adams, a former GMD of NNPC. Ask yourself who are gaining from fuel importation? Wealthy people. I’d challenged the NNPC and government more than 17 years ago to publish the list of names of fuel importers; they’ve not done so, because the county will go on fire. We were not importing during Buhari’s time. We were exporting. Soon after Buhari, we started importing fuel, why? Lack of patriotism, empathy and greed. During Buhari’s regime, we were operating three refineries, and exporting; now, we have four and we are importing. The total capacity of the refineries, if they are all working properly, is 445,000 barrels per day. In 1995, NNPC imported fuel worth $800 million, yet the Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete said they needed just $250 million to revive and perfect the operation of the refineries.
How come government could not appropriate the $250 million and fix the refineries?

Is there actually fuel subsidy?
There is no fuel subsidy. It’s all fraud. The finance minister was recently quoted as saying that there is subsidy, but that it does not go to the common people. That argument is convoluted. It’s intrinsically contradictory. NNPC said if it (removal) were not done in 1995, the economy would collapse. This is 2011, it has not and we’re all still here. They promised fuel importation would stop in 2000. This is 2011, it is still in full throttle; you see how unserious they can be? Subsidy removal is IMF/World Bank dangerous suicidal conditionality for oil producing countries. The minister of finance is hand in glove with them. She should not bring their script.

How then do we handle IMF/World Bank?     
Government could easily call the bluff of the Bretton Woods financial institutions for economic recovery and development by having the international customers for the nation’s major foreign exchange earner (oil) pay in advance for guaranteed supply of crude over time. This prepayment strategy, which the Buhari regime adopted, made IMF irrelevant to the economic management at that time.

How would you assess the reaction of trade congresses in the face of fuel subsidy removal?
Why government is getting away with all these things is that labour leaders have compromised and have become ineffective. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) threatened, in March, that ‘no minimum wage, no election’, only to back down when government talked to its leaders and made an empty promise, which it reneged upon. If they had put their feet down then, we won’t be going through this backsliding. We knew of Imoudu’s congress. It not only barked, it bit, and that’s why the man remained a hero till today. In the country, we’ve seen Aba women riot force a bad policy down. Today, we are saddled with lame duck labour.

What’s the way out?
If they agreed on a particular pump price for petrol, it will go down well with the public. There’ll be no convulsion, because it will be credible.

I insist, fuel subsidy is scam By Ikenna Emewu

I insist, fuel subsidy is scam
By Ikenna Emewu
Saturday, October 15, 2011

Last week, I just said how I feel about the endless vicious circle called fuel subsidy that never gets totally removed at any point in time. I say and maintain that ‘subsidy’ is just the other name for increase in fuel pump price.

But what really annoys me is that a nation that has been managed from a big daddy at Abuja who centrally distributes stipends to sustain his kids like a mother bird to the newly-hatched chicks in 51 years has never thought of an alternative means of managing the economy.
Oil subsidy extra payment flows from the pocket of the impoverished man in the street to that of the over-bloated money pool of the powerful man in power. While we scratch the earth to eke out a living, a set or heartless citizens who hold power for their personal gains, are out to make sure after stripping us of all clothing on our back, we bleed to keep them going.

Many Nigerians and I brew so much angst over the matter because it is one injustice with which, the masses of this nation have been visited over the ages by heartless rulers, otherwise, they would have encouraged the development of other sectors to complement the oil revenue.
Funny enough, one of my esteemed readers sent me a text from Nsukka last week clarifying that there is everything good about subsidy as it is the poor that is favoured. He says the rich pays tax via the extra payment on every litre of oil bought. I liked his argument although I disagree. But totally I say no to his allusion that: It is the rich the policy targets because, according to him, ‘does the poor own a car.’ It is funny to think that only the person who owns a car and buys fuel at non-subsidy rate that is affected by this plan. I don’t know where the poor man who has no car but a motorbike, keke NAPEP and even bicycle buys his fuel for other uses or how he would not feel the pinch in fare hike, and simply put in the price of all food items and other goods conveyed by vehicles of the ‘rich’ fuelled by non-subsidy petrol or diesel. By my reader’s comment, possibly, a Nigerian that has a bus, the type called danfo in Lagos is
automatically a rich person and should rightly be taxed further via fuel subsidy? Indeed, I have not know that Nigerian poor man – just because he owns no car that never boards a public transport vehicle or never affected by what affects the rich car owner when it is about hike in fuel price.

If my reader were a Lagos resident, he would have known that many of those things he calls cars owned by the ‘rich’ actually leave the wharf on tow, and later dumped in one junk yard or automobile cemetery for good without being used for a single day. Some of them that limp out of the wharf end up breaking down severally between the port and the destination, which sometimes is not more than 30km. If you ask around, you will find that many Nigerians have had experiences where the vehicles they took out of the ports never got to their place but broke down irretrievably on the road.

These are the cars owned by the rich by my friend’s explanation and there is nothing bad in taxing them more via subsidy removal. The things we call cars in Nigeria are in the real sense of it about 90 per cent second and third hand vehicles. Up to 60 per cent of the so-called cars on Nigerian roads are undoubtedly 15 years and above. In Lagos as an instance, up to 97 per cent of the car sales spots deal in used stuffs. And from even the police and Road Safety data, in a place like Lagos, the new cars make up between 5 and 7 per cent of the entire automobile holding in the city. Because of the preponderance of big companies that buy new cars in Lagos, there is every truth that in some other cities, this margin of new cars is far less. It is this set of beleaguered persons who manage rather than drive cars that are lumped among the rich. I disagree, I dare say. They are worlds away from what is known as riches or wealth, and should not be impoverished

I listened to an argument on this issue on TV last week and heard the host of the programme asking the discussant why Labour is not agitating for more refineries. He said he borrowed the argument from Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State. I laughed at such campaign and asked what Amaechi himself is doing since he is the chairman of the Governors’ Forum and knows the right cause to champion. Or does he intend to tell us that it’s only when labour says it that government would listen? The voice of a super governor and that of a common labourer, which one is louder and closer to the ear of the big man in Aso Rock?
Viewed the other way, does Amaechi imply that government does what the labour and masses ask for? Then when did they ask for the subsidy removal that government is implementing?

If it is true there is fuel subsidy in existence and the nation feels it has a duty to do away with it because, according to them, they spend about N1.2tr on that alone, a figure that is really about N240b and upped by government underhand game to the ridiculous figure they tout, what is damaging in allowing the masses have that as the only benefit from their government?

On the day the UN House in Abuja was blown up by evil men, nine of the victims were flown to South African hospitals. That was the greatest indictment of a government whose officials fly overseas to get the right treatment for malaria. Nigerian citizens have lived without healthcare from the government, and not even an encouragement to the private healthcare investor in all her history. In the past 25 years, the education sector has collapsed at all levels. There has been no meaningful remedy or alternative for the poor. That same poor citizen who battles to keep his kids in school would be given the extra burden of paying more for everything because fuel price increase will affect all of them.

In the past two years, the energy sector through its two thirds dead, one third alive PHCN has jerked up energy tariff about four times, air fare has increased in multiples, transport fare on land keeps going higher without any person to check it. Housing for the masses does not exist in Nigeria. There are no more roads in Nigeria today. For some years, the Benin-Lagos road has been a forgotten issue on when last it was in a passable state. About 40 years ago, that road was built to replace the old one. That means we outgrew the former then, but in the days of Obasanjo, we went backwards to where we were 40 years ago.
How come in a nation where there is no money to run government offices until the extra from fuel subsidy is released to government that every office holder is a millionaire? A situation where businessmen sell their fathers’ inheritance worth millions, civil servants, academics, corporate players, including MDs of very big firms resign to contest to be in the state House of Assembly, what does that tell you? There is more money in this investment than you can imagine. We know the citizens knew their economic status while toiling like every other Nigerian and how things changed overnight just because they were appointed advisers to the senior special assistant to the commissioner. Yet, there is no money anywhere to run government. Subsidy only means more money for government to share, more electoral violence and desperation in the next elections because with ‘subsidy removal,’ there will more money to steal.

It is absurd for government to only think of means of making more money and not checking the leakage. From President Jonathan to the labourer in the street, all Nigerians know that the reason Nigeria’s economy will never function is not because government earns little from oil, but because the available one is stolen by criminals who parade as leaders. What is Jonathan doing to stop the extra he plans to get from us ending up in the same old pockets of criminals?

The report on Election Violence

The report on Election Violence
The Sun Publishing
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The report of the Federal Government Investigation Panel on 2011 Election Violence submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja recently has been generating controversy, especially over the suggestion that it indicted the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari. Media reports on the document indicated that it said Buhari’s statement urging his supporters to protect their votes led to the post-presidential poll violence that claimed more than 10 lives in the Northern part of the country.

The chairman of the panel, Sheik Ahmed Lemu, has however denied any reference to Buhari in the report. He said the body could not have singled out Buhari for indictment because many other candidates in the elections uttered similar statements.

There is no doubt that Gen. Buhari and some of his notable supporters made numerous volatile statements in the run-up to the presidential election. But, as the investigation panel chairman has said, many other politicians expressed similar sentiments. Under the circumstances, therefore, it will be more expedient for Nigerians to focus on the more explicit submissions of the Lemu Panel, such as the alert on the possibility of a social revolution if the government does not address the current social, economic and security situation in the country.

This alarm is, indeed, a timely warning, because the rising wave of insecurity in the country is fast becoming a threat to national stability. The panel chairman rightly charged the president to do all that is needful to stop spiraling violence, even though it would entail stepping on toes of powerful persons and institutions. The panel also recommended that the constitution be amended to allow for impeachable offences to be subjected to judicial interpretation with the final verdict determined through a referendum to allay fear of undemocratic impeachment of the president by politicians who might be opposed to steps he may take to effect positive changes in the society.

We note the panel’s submissions and the president’s pledge to implement its recommendations. One of the major causes of recurring violence across the country is the failure of the Federal Government to implement recommendations of panels it set up to investigate them. There are over ten of such panels whose recommendations over the years were never implemented. A number of these are on the incessant Jos crises.
This contemptuous neglect of these panel recommendations has bred a culture of impunity, as perpetrators of violence know that nothing ever comes out of investigative reports and recommendations submitted to Nigerian presidents. It is good that President Jonathan has vowed to break this tradition by implementing the Lemu panel recommendations.

We urge him to do just as he has said. Punishing persons responsible for wilful murder and arson in the country will not make the heavens fall as the president himself has acknowledged. What can make the heavens fall is if the nation implodes on account of growing impunity by perpetrators of violence because of government failure to hold them accountable for their crimes. Let Nigerians for once see the recommendations of a panel implemented. Let panel investigations go beyond submission of voluminous documents to actual release of white paper and implementation of their recommendations.

One lesson from the post-election violence, however, is the need for politicians to choose their words carefully. Politics is about service. They should, therefore, avoid inciting statements and desperation for public office. The government should also take the warning on a possible social revolution seriously. The distressing socio-economic conditions in the country and the widening gap between the rich and the poor could precipitate a revolution as the Lemu panel has warned.

The challenge before Jonathan is to provide good governance. Let the government fulfill the aspirations of the people for a decent living. If this is done, resort to violence and threats of a people’s revolt will be nipped in the bud.

PDP hasn’t met expectations of Nigerians –Bamanga Tukur •Says party must be reformed

PDP hasn’t met expectations of Nigerians –Bamanga Tukur
•Says party must be reformedFrom TAIWO AMODU, Abuja
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
•Alh. Tukur
Photo: Sun News Publishing

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Chairman African Business Round Table, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, is a chieftain of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP). An aspirant for the position of the chairman of the party, Tukur is worried that the PDP has degenerated into a party of anything goes. He noted that only the institutionalization of party discipline, party supremacy would help to retrieve the party from the abyss it has sunk and endear it to the Nigerian electorate.
You have always expressed concern over the state of affairs in your party. Is that why you are in the race for leadership of the party?
I am one of the founders of PDP, I knew the philosophy of PDP, I knew the principle, which should be guiding the working of the party. We should have a level playing field, whereby the members of that big political party will have the freedom to pursue their own aspirations, because party is the aggregate of the wishes of the members. It is a platform; it is on that we convinced people to come and register and be party members. If you don’t know, I am one of the founders, we didn’t  form  this party, just in that my office thinking what the party should do.
We made a research, we went to villages, to look at government, to states to really sensitize people, because we need to establish democracy. People come to parties, because they believe that if they come together, their voices matter and together they can aspire, together they can get what they believe is their right under that platform.

So, first of all, to put our manifesto, we went around, asking our people what do you usually want, if you want to join a party? Some said, if only they can do the roads to link up the main road, so that when we produce our farm produce, we stop putting them on our heads - we need vehicles to come, but because there are no access roads. Some said, the road to schools is very far and you people said we should send our children to school, but they cannot walk the miles, so we need to bring the schools nearer.

Some would tell you, our wives used to wake up very, very early in order to go and fetch water to drink for breakfast—if only we can get boreholes. Some people in Nigeria, they don’t even understand that this can be a problem. These are the ones, first of all, we sensitize.
Of course, if we go higher, local government, the states, they start telling you, ‘oh, we really want to fix the pipes, we want jobs, we want secondary schools, we need a university’—these are levels. We aggregate that and took note that all centers on the socio-economic well being of the people. There is equally the security of lives and property; they want to be secured, so they need to make sure that they cannot be robbed when they go and sell their wares. These are fundamentals.

So, if you enter covenant with the people and they accept your philosophy and manifesto and they answer you by electing you, they expect you to perform. People wondered when PDP came, look at how we took almost the entire country but what happened? We knew what we told them, we made a covenant. Now, it is the lack of delivery.

First of all, in allowing them to rule through consultations, so that the chairman of the ward, or the local government would remain accountable to them. If you cut the party supremacy, the party that gives you the ticket then you destroy it. Now, I can tell you the reason why I am offering myself back, because already I found out that the house we built is reducing.
No, it isn’t collapsing. It is reducing, people are leaving, PDP has got a lot of problems. If you don’t identify and accept that there is a problem, then you are… because PDP needs those who founded it to come back. Many of us left and that was the right thing to do, because this party believe you me, is really going bad, but one day it will be the party that will lead our continent to the United States of Africa; that’s my dream, but it may not be Bamanga Tukur, or even my time but believe you me these are the kind of thing you people should continue preaching.
Let people understand that we aren’t only thinking of today, we help to shape tomorrow. We would like to see what our yesterday did which conditions our  today to understand how we must move forward.

These are issues, why I felt it is very, necessary for those of us who knew what went wrong and we should be able to come out and say, let us now come back again. We say, it is a party of inclusiveness, why exclude? Party of consensus, why impose? So, party of meritocracy, with a level playing platform, so don’t disturb. The government works on the basis of its own promises - it is a covenant really and the party is so important and that’s why it is a party.  Let the people decide, if it is democracy you want, the people decide. When the people decide, you act. If you cannot, then you show reason why. Build the trust; it is the party that must build the trusts between the state actors and the people who are members of that party. It is the party leadership that will make sure that, that trust exists, maintained and it is sustained and nurtured.
You have said the house you people built is reducing. Why is it reducing? Is it because PDP has failed the covenant it has with the people?
They have failed to deliver, what they are supposed to deliver! Why do you think somebody today will leave a party he built and go to another party? The people who left and won elections, in certain platform they are members of the PDP. So, if they can leave a party, which they formed and go and enter another party and still win elections, why? Simple. If you ask them, it is because there is lack of consultations , lack of consensus, imposition, rather than elections. If you do that, there will be problem.  Any party, any human organization, there will be problem! Anybody who tells you PDP has no problem is deceiving you, but you cannot say, because there is problem you give up.  I want to make sure that we don’t fail.
Talking about social contract, would you say, PDP, at every level has really observed the party manifesto in the breach?
In all ramifications, everybody knows that.  Look at the number of cases in the court, even after elections. Why?  So, it means that there are some loopholes, we want to correct. At 76, you think I want to put problems on my head? I am staying back, I must otherwise, history will judge me harshly, sitting down and seeing something so
good, for the interest of our nation just abandoned, because some people refused to stand up. So, if something isn’t going right, stand up and correct it; have the courage to say so.

Having observed these over the years, because we know your pedigree: in government, in business you will agree with me that the past chairmen of PDP, they were always tied to the apron strings of the President – if you look back, virtually all of them left in humiliating circumstances, apart from Dr Ahmadu Ali that finished his tenure. Now, if you look at that scenario, why do you want to fish in troubled waters?
I am talking about party, I am talking about elections, I am not talking about offering myself to Mr. President. Please, I am offering myself to the Nigerian nation, to our party, the PDP, to save our party in dire need of reformation and I am prepared to stand up for it. It isn’t for Mr. President, I don’t need that, when we were forming the party there was no Mr. President. So, I believe, if they decided to take me, then they know me by the philosophy I stand for: the philosophy of party supremacy, for level playing field, for democracy.

We know you as an independent minded person, but past PDP national chairmen, the moment they wanted to assert their authority, they fell out with Mr. President. You will want to assert yourself, but there are so many forces in PDP that wouldn’t allow. Audu Ogbeh wanted to be independent and we knew what happened.

Well, you see, we reach our bridges, before we cross them. As far as I am concerned, I have an open mind, what I want to do, I say so — if they give me, they will see, how I go about it. My track record is very clear in this country – what I have done from my civil service days, my public service days, my business days – it is all there for all to see.

Get ready for revolution–Lemu

Get ready for revolution–Lemu
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Photo: Sun Publishing
Long before Sheikh Ahmed Lemu-led Presidential Panel on 2011 post-election violence submitted its report, a Kano-based social critic and Second Republic federal lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, had declared in the media that Nigeria was ripe for a revolution, insisting that the country’s present situation fits into Lenin’s definition of a classical revolutionary situation.

But Mohammed was never a member of the panel, neither was he privy to the reports and recommendations of the Presidential panel. But the panel also in its report submitted to President Jonathan, was emphatic that current happenings in the country, if left unchecked, could lead to a social revolution.

Shortly after submitting the report, the Chairman of the presidential panel, Sheikh Ahmed Lemu spoke to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa Service, on the committee’s work, especially on whether or not the committee indicted presidential candidate of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Buhari (Rtd), where he also reemphasized that the government should be prepared to face a revolt if it decides to abandon its report.

“Well, in our own case, we stated unambiguously that considering what is happening around the world today, government will be doing a disservice to itself and Nigeria if it decides to abandon our report like the previous ones. In fact, we gave example with some rebellious actions organized by students and even workers’ union alike. So, we were emphatic in our submissions that if the government fails to act on our report, their refusal to take necessary action could lead to a revolution in Nigeria, like the type being witnessed in some Arab countries. So, we have given the government adequate warning signs on the need to act on our reports.

“But we told the President that if he does take action and throw away our recommendations like the numerous ones before ours, then the President and the Federal Government should be ready to face a revolution. If that is what they want, we have finished our own part of the job and like we told them, we have collected our tickets to heaven, as we are only waiting for the angels and our prayers are that the angels would fly us and land into heaven. If the Federal Government fails to act, it is left to it.”
Below is the excerpt from the interview as monitored by Sunday Sun, in Kaduna recently.

What is contained in your report?
Our report is very voluminous and the views are quite many. However, we have suggested in a brief form what in our view was critical and needed quick attention. In fact, we started with the remote cause of the killings and violence.

What in your view was responsible for the killings and violence?
Well, what we found out was that since the end of military era which ushered in our present democratic dispensation in 1999, we have had series of crises and after these crises, the government usually set up committees or commissions of enquiry. But in the end, these committees or commissions will submit their findings and recommendations, but the recommendations will never be implemented. So, those responsible for unleashing this mayhem become emboldened since they usually go unpunished. So, this makes them to continue to foment trouble, knowing full well that government will not take any punitive measure against them. So, this is one of the things responsible for the post-election violence and part of what we did as a committee, was to list all the previous committees whose reports were never implemented for necessary action.

Aren’t you worried that your report too may go a similar way?
Well, in our own case, we stated unambiguously that considering what is happening around the world today, government will be doing a disservice to itself and Nigeria if it decides to abandon our report like the previous ones. In fact, we gave example with some rebellious actions organized by students and even workers’ union alike. So, we were emphatic in our submissions that if the government fails to act on our report, their refusal to take necessary action could lead to a revolution in Nigeria, like the type being witnessed in some Arab countries. So, we have given the government adequate warning signs on the need to act on our reports.

And what was the President’s response?
He told us that his government would not put our recommendations aside, including our summary report because we gave the government an idea of what could be done to prevent future occurrences.

You went round the country, what and what did your committee give the government?
As you know, we held public hearings and directly heard from the people concerned. We also allowed people to see us in camera. These are the categories of people who felt that their public appearances might compromise their security. In all, we received about 1,000 memoranda and we re-produced them in DVD form, all of which we submitted to the President. So all what happened between us and all those we met, whether in private or in public, were worked on and all formed part of what we submitted to the President.

Did your committee in any way indict General Mohammadu Buhari; going by what you discovered was responsible for the post-election violence?
No, there was nothing like that. If you see what we submitted, you will discover that Buhari was even vindicated. There are several other prominent politicians, who you did not even hear because they operated from the background, who have interest and who were involved. Some of these politicians also promoted the idea of vote protection, so it wasn’t Buhari alone that promoted the idea.

And what we said in our report was that the idea and the spirit behind the vote protection were interpreted in so many ways to mean resorting to violence to protect one’s vote. But when we met Buhari in Kaduna, we discovered that he was even a victim. During the meeting, which lasted for over one hour, he told us about his properties that were damaged, by presenting pictures of his cars and even receipts to show evidence of payment of some of the losses he incurred. And in the end, our committee was convinced that there is no way he would have instigated people to cause violence to destroy people’s properties.

But Buhari’s campaign slogan of ‘vote, protect and escort’ your vote was seen by many as contributing to the violence.
You see, if someone wants to cause trouble and behave like a devil incarnate, such a person could interpret an action to suit himself, and we stated this much in our report.

So he is not indicted?
Yes. You see, what we did is between us and God. He certainly couldn’t have done such a thing for his properties to be destroyed. Like I told the President, we have collected our tickets to the hereafter, and we are only waiting to be called upon. And our expectations are that when the time comes, we will fly to Heaven. So, how do you expect us to blackmail Buhari, because of selfish interest? Even the INEC chairman too promoted the slogan you are talking about.

In your report too, you said the zoning controversy of the PDP was one of the prominent factors that charged the polity; did you indict President Goodluck Jonathan?
Well, I cannot say he is responsible or not but we all knew the political atmosphere took a different dimension, with religion coming into play, especially in the northern part of the country over the issue of PDP’s zoning
Your committee also talked about salaries of the National Assembly members.

We did not say exactly how much they earn. However, every Nigerian knows how much they are earning on monthly basis. They are not collecting N1million or N5million. For example, the Senate is collecting above N10 million every month. What business now in this world is somebody doing that he will be making such money in a month, millions and not thousands?

All the people we discussed the matter with said it was scandalous. So, even though we could not exactly say how much they earn, we were not the first to lament over what they earn. The CBN governor did same and they called him to humiliate him, and when he got there, he did not change his mind, because he was able to prove his point. So, because of this high money, the competition for power has become very intense, with everybody wanting to get his own militia and thugs, so as to arm them, buy them India hemps and other kinds of hard drugs. And all the jobless youths are now their foot soldiers serving as their armed political thugs.

Now that your committee has submitted its report, what is next?
Well, I cannot say because that is in the hands of God and the Federal Government. But we told the President that if he does take action and throw away our recommendations like the numerous ones before ours, then the President and the Federal Government should be ready to face a revolution. If that is what they want, we have finished our own part of the job and like we told them, we have collected our tickets to heaven, as we are only waiting for the angels and our prayers are that the angels would fly us and land us into heaven. If the federal government fails to act, it is left to it.