Sunday, 31 March 2013
I had thought to leave this subject strictly to the discretionary powers of the nation's women's organisations, as I did not wish to be obliged to counter the convenient accusations that we, the male chauvinist oppressive of womanhood in society, have merely seized upon a legitimate initiative of 'public spirited'
women elite to frustrate female advocacy.
However, as scandal surmounts scandal, it is more than likely that a mere "chicken feed" like N4 billion will become subsumed in public consciousness, overawed by egregious affronts such as the recent presidential pardons. The national attention span - in the face of corruption especially - suffers from overload, and there are those who know it, manipulate and profit from it!
It is within this tried and tested tradition that I view a recent government "clarification" on the First Ladies Mission Mansion, offered through the agency of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I refer to a reportage on page 63 of THISDAY, March 18, and in other media on March 19. The minister offers the following explanation for the 'controversial' budgetary allocation, and I do
quote: "The African First Ladies Peace Mission is similar to any other similar regional or international organisation, it is NOT an NGO. (emphasis mine). It is an African Union-led initiative, it does not belong to any individual, it belongs to the African Union.
"The minister recalled that the mission has been in existence since the time of Mrs. Mariam Abacha... He added that the First Ladies in 2008 requested Nigeria to provide a permanent secretariat for the mission after an intense lobby by Libya to host the secretariat and bankroll its activities..."
The minister goes on to paint a very laudable picture of the purpose of the First Ladies Peace Mission, rounding up with the battle-cry: "Nigeria would continue out its international obligations. (Bravo!) When the secretariat is completed in Abuja..." With those two last items, I regret to say that the honorable minister lost me.
Alarm bells jangled frantically on reading those words: "When the secretariat is completed in Abuja..." Are we dealing here with a fait accompli, which means we are all simply whistling in the wind? Then there is the claim that goes: "African Union-led". The nation deserves to know the chapter and verse under which the African First Ladies initiative was adopted, much less led, by the African Union. Next: since when did the private interests of the of rulers' wives become an "international obligation"? Even if Sanni Abacha's First Lady presumed to act for Nigeria, how does this commit a democratic government to the presumptuousness of the mere spousal appendage of the head of a member state?
Again: this time, simply as a matter of curiosity, since I have never heard of a Muammar Qaddafi's First Lady - who did the lobbying on behalf of Libya? Qaddafi's rubber stamp parliament, the Jamahiriya? Or his permanently invisible counterpart to Nigeria's then spousal squatter in Aso Rock? May I ask what legality, in national or international law, the whims and caprices of rulers'
wives exercise upon governments?
Finally, I wish to quote the following entry from the Nigerian media. It was entered during the roforofo fight between one immediate past 'First Lady', the Spousal Abuser of President Umaru Mus Yar'Adua, and her current successor. They came to
blows - well, metaphorically speaking - over the luscious slab of real estate on which the current madame had chosen to erect her own monument to Nigeria's chronic First Ladyism. I invite you to study closely the 'clarification' by the then Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar).
He does not cite Africa's Union resolution or any such international obligation. He does not cite the imperatives of Nigeria's moral obligations. He does not even mention Nigeria's dubious leadership - 'giant of Africa' - sentiment - to which we are expected to genuflect, no matter how gratuitous the context. No, his intervention narrates most unambiguously the role of sycophantic public servants in the inducement and servicing of spousal egos. Here is the relevant admission, and - do note - revealed as a matter of pride, not of embarrassment or shamefaced, unavoidable disclosure.
"When I became minister, I brought the idea for the building of the secretariat as a legacy the former First Lady would leave behind. I consulted the former president (Yar'Adua) and advised him on the project after she became leader of the African First Ladies Mission. I told him that the NGO - emphasis mine - needed a secretariat to build an edifice just like the Women Centre built by the late Maryam Babangida and the National Hospital built by Maryam Abacha."
"He (Yar'Adua) agreed and told me to look for a land. When I eventually found the land, I prepared a Certificate of Occupancy and the structural design of the proposed secretariat before I reported back to him. He appreciated the effort and directed me to meet her with the proposal."
"After a discussion, she accepted the idea and set up a committee comprised of the FCT and Foreign Affairs officials, Maryam Abacha, late Murtala Mohammed's wife and Patience (Jonathan)."
There you have it in a nutshell. Maryam Abacha's 'project' was a hospital. Sadder still, we have it from the horse's mouth that First Ladies are entitled to set up committees made up of public servants - Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, Foreign Affairs, etc. - heaven knows how many fell over one another to serve on that committee.
The cult of First Ladyism rose to obscene heights under the former maximum ruler, Ibrahim Babangida, yet it was under the watch of that very general that a female permanent secretary, ordered by the then maximum spouse to report to her office for an assignment, told her, quite politely, "Madam, I only take orders
from my minister". She then returned to her office to write out her resignation letter. That was then!
Today, the obverse obtains. The role which even ministers have played in elevating the culture of groveling sycophancy to the status of governance virtue has contributed in no small measure to the abuse of constitutional provisions and irresponsible budgetary attributions. Instead of remaining a dark, embarrassing secret, it is confidently aired on international media such as the Voice of America, turning this nation into a space of ridicule and self-inflicted disdain. It is not all sycophancy however, it is - projects!
Projects with minimal overseeing and accounting, gravy trains with adept practitioners at the controls!
It is time we confronted squarely those unctuous, self-righteous attributions such as "the legacy that the First Lady would leave behind". Who says a First Lady has to leave a legacy behind?" Was she elected by the people? Is she constitutionally a public official? Does she have an obligation to render account of her "stewardship"? I have taken the trouble to study the Federal
Territory Act, and not one paragraph, not one sentence specifies that the FCT minister's functions include saddling First Ladies with the responsibility of "bequeathing a legacy."
To summarise: here then are two contrasting expositions - that of the Minister of the FCT, and that of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The FCT Minister even claimed that this mission is an NGO; the Minster for Foreign Affairs insists that it is not, that it is an "international obligation"! Please, spell it out more clearly. Since when? Under what protocols, resolutions or whatever? And of
what international organisation?
President Goodluck Johathan must be stoutly applauded for declaring that he cannot grant amnesty to ghosts. Let me add also that you cannot make budgetary allocations to ghosts. Like ghost workers through whose invisible entrails billions have vanished into Nigerian burial grounds, First Ladies are nothing but constitutional ghosts, and that means that their 'pet projects', wherever they lay claims on national budgeting - individually or collectively, and
however lofty sounding - are nothing but spectral emanations, already dead on arrival.
Lest I am misunderstood: First Ladies have the same right as all citizens to "leave a legacy behind". They must however work hard to source their funds where the rest of the world does - in the private domain, not dig their hands into public funds on which crying needs, far too numerous and deserving to mention, have prior and - most important - legitimate and constitutional claims. Too bad, Bill Gates has decided to keep away from Nigeria, owing to the latest incontinence of power - Madame should have tried 'touching' Mr. Gates for some small change. Then she would have learnt that hard working millionaires are painfully discriminating about what causes they espouse.
The Peoples Democratic Party is discreetly planning a consensus arrangement that is likely to see President Goodluck Jonathan emerging as its sole aspirant in the presidential primaries for the 2015 election.
The arrangement will also favour first term governors, who are likely to run unopposed in the party’s primaries.
Investigations by Saturday PUNCH revealed that because of the sensitivity of the issue, the party is keeping details of its plans secret. The full details will, however, be made public in the middle of 2014.
The plan, it was learnt, might see the party amending its constitution to pave way for consensus candidacy for its members who are the sitting President and governors.
At the moment, it was learnt that the party is at a crossroads over whether to drop the plan completely or go-ahead with it.
It was further gathered that much as the party wants to satisfy the President, it is under no illusion about its potential threat to the cohesion of the party.
Some even fear that such a plan could lead to the disintegration of the party which prides itself as the largest in Africa.
The stakes are even higher in the North as prominent members have made subtle threats to leave the party in their numbers should the plan scale through.
Our correspondents gathered that the plan, which was leaked to some state governors and PDP leaders, had fuelled the lingering crisis in the party.
The strong opposition from governors and PDP leaders, it was learnt, forced proponents of Jonathan’s sole candidacy to refrain from announcing the plan to amend the party constitution to favour Jonathan.
Some governors, including Aliyu Babangida of Niger State, have voiced their opposition to the President’s second term ambition on the grounds that there was an existing agreement for him to run for a single term of four years.
Aliyu had insisted that Jonathan signed an agreement with governors in 2011 to spend only one term in office.
Also, a former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, was last week reported to have vowed to oppose any attempt to amend the party’s constitution in favour of Jonathan’s sole candidacy.
Atiku was defeated by Jonathan during the party’s presidential primaries in 2011.
He said, “My position is that, as far as PDP constitution is concerned, any attempt to change the rule to favour President Jonathan as a sole candidate in the event of his willingness to contest is unconstitutional.”
As part of moves to save the party from disintegration, its National Chairman, Dr. Bamangar Tukur, and his counterpart in the Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, have embarked on separate tours of the PDP states.
The issue of Jonathan’s sole candidacy is said to have featured prominently during their tours.
During his visit to Kano and Jigawa last week, Anenih held separate closed-door meetings with Governors Rabiu Kwankanso and Sule Lamido respectively.
It was learnt that Kwankwaso told Anenih in clear terms that the North would dump the PDP, if it amended its constitution to favour Jonathan’s sole candidacy.
It was also gathered the President’s sole candidacy formed part of discussions during the North-West zonal meeting of the party.
The consensus of the zonal leaders was that they should not allow the party to impose the President as the only aspirant at the presidential primaries.
Investigations showed that Anenih’s speech during his visit to Minna, Niger State, on Wednesday was part of the strategies to ease tension within the party.
He was reported to have said that the PDP was not in a haste to pick a presidential candidate for the 2015 elections.
He added that the issue was strategic and above discussions on the pages of newspapers.
The Niger State governor had earlier told the PDP leaders not to push governors out of the party.
He had said, “Unless the party decides to push some members out, no PDP governor is planning to dump the party.”
It was gathered at their closed door meeting, Aliyu pointedly told Anenih that the issue of Jonathan’s sole candidacy was capable of leading to a mass exodus of governors from the party.
It was also learnt that the party was not disposed to jettisoning Jonathan’s sole candidacy issue in spite of opposition by some governors.
As such, to pacify second term governors, particularly those of them from the North, the party is expected to give them automatic senatorial tickets.
One ready argument from proponents of Jonathan’s sole candidacy is that it is not different from what is being done by political parties in the United States when picking their candidates for the presidential election.
A member of the PDP National Working Committee, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed the development to our correspondent on Thursday.
He said, “It is true that Jonathan may be the sole candidate of our party, if we succeed in amending our constitution.
“But there are concerns that if the issue is not well handled, it will lead to the disintegration of the PDP as some of our ambitious members may dump our party. What we plan to do is to take care of vociferous governors and other members.
“After doing that, we can now begin to discuss the issue. Second term governors may get senatorial tickets, while the sole candidacy may be extended to governors in their first term.
“Another argument is that in those who are discreetly pushing for Jonathan’s candidacy are saying that in the US where we copied the presidential system from, if an incumbent want to re-contest, he is adopted as the party’s candidate.”
It was gathered that those pushing for a consensus arrangement for the President and governors were of the view that the arrangement would enhance the party’s chances at the 2015 polls.
The PDP leadership is of the view that the consensus method will not negate the concept of internal democracy identified to be a bane of the nation’s democracy, a source said.
It was, however, learnt that some politicians with presidential ambition and some of the governors who are in their second term are up in arms against the move, which is believed to have implications on their political ambitions.
Leading members of the party like former President Olusegun Obasanjo and others are opposed to any such plan and have set in motion a plot to counter it.
When contacted, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, accused opponents of the party of trying to unnecessarily heat up the polity.
According to him, the party is at the moment more concerned about settling its internal crisis than the issue of its candidates in 2015.
He said, “The fact that we are having challenges in the party now is more important to us than the issue of candidate or no candidate. We have some challenges and resolving these challenges is our main concern at the moment. The tour of members of the BOT is part of our efforts to address these challenges.”
As to whether there are plans for Jonathan run as the sole aspirant in the party’s primaries, as is done in the US, the party spokesman replied, “I can only answer based on our constitution right now. There are no plans to amend the constitution and going by the provisions of the constitution of our party, we cannot adopt the US model.
“The United States does things according to their culture and constitution. In Nigeria, we do things according to our culture and constitution. In our constitution, there are primaries and there must be primaries. The issue of whether we are galvanising support for the President or not does not arise.
“The President has not even indicated that he is going to run. If at the end he says he is going to run, who will blame him? Nobody can say he is creating tension; it is other people that are creating tension because there is no way the President can come out to say he is running or he is not running two years or three years before his tenure is up.
“If he says he is not running, he becomes a lame duck President. So, why don’t we wait until he says whether he is running? But ultimately, the decision on who will be the candidate of the party rests on the people, it rests on the party members. Members of the party will decide who is going to be the candidate of the party and Nigerians will decide who will be the President.”
Atiku Abubakar was the Vice-President during the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo's administration between 1999 and 2007. The founding member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party shares his experience in the party and the privatisation exercise under his leadership in this online interview with LEKE BAIYEWU
As a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party, why did you leave your party for the opposition Action Congress in 2006?
I had to leave because I was pushed to the limit. You know what happened during that period and we don't have to go through it all over again. A scheme was introduced, by which I and my supporters were removed from the party under the guise of re-registration. Of course, the bigger scheme was to ensure that I did not succeed my boss (Olusegun Obasanjo). You saw how the cards were stacked against me to pursue my presidential aspiration under PDP. They had me suspended from the party, even beyond the length of time permitted by the PDP constitution. The party rejected and flouted all courts orders in respect of my rights as a party member.
Events were unfolding rapidly and I had a deep conviction that with the help of the courts, we could establish a precedent to ensure that no one trampled upon the rights of citizens – not just I – and got away scot-free. I was eventually compelled to seek alternative platform to prove this point and to advance my aspiration. That was how I joined others to found the Action Congress.
Why did you later dump AC to go back to the PDP, despite your vow never to do so?
Don't forget that I was among the founding members of the PDP. I was forced to leave the party and I joined AC then because forces in the party (PDP) were ferociously determined to frustrate me at all costs. However, when the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua was elected as the President, he initiated the policy of reconciliation and appealed to aggrieved members to return. The committee for this purpose was headed by former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme.
I invested energy, time and political capital in the formation of the PDP and, therefore, because of that sentimental attachment, I responded to the policy of reconciliation and returned to the fold. Should you blame a child for reconciling with his parents after he ran away over disagreement? The circumstances of my departure from PDP are well known to Nigerians. When I returned, I did so to promote the growth of what I helped to build in the first place.
Basically, the destruction of internal democracy in PDP made me to leave the party against my will. You are aware of the policy of de-registration of certain party members by the former President. My supporters and I were the target of this hostile and anti-democratic policy. I was between the rock and the hard place and, ultimately, I was technically expelled from PDP by the hand-picked party national executives. It is, therefore, unfair for anybody to describe my departure from PDP as opportunistic, considering the insurmountable and deliberate obstacles laid on my path by the former President (Obasanjo) and the party national leadership.
When you were the chairman of the National Council on Privatisation and also as former Vice- President, you were accused of selling major public corporations to political office holders, including yourself. One of such is Pentascope. How true is it that the privatisation process was shady?
These allegations are not new. The interesting thing is that those spreading these allegations couldn't come forward with any iota of proof against me. You forgot that I was accused of selling African Petroleum to myself, using a front. However, when the facts eventually emerged in respect of this particular allegation, my traducers were disarmed and were forced to retreat. Indeed, I was the most investigated public office holder under the former administration and, if this allegation was valid, it could have been conveniently used to bring me down and tarnish my name. Thank God I survived this smear campaign, just like others before it.
The Senate conducted a public hearing on privatisation under my leadership as the chairman of the National Council on Privatisation. That was the best opportunity for those accusing me of selling public assets to myself to come forward to prove the allegation. Surprisingly, they never did because they relied mainly on hearsay. A cabinet member in Obasanjo's government, who was promoting this idle rumour, was eventually left looking small because he didn't have the facts to substantiate his allegations against me.
On Pentascope, one would have expected your paper to direct the questions to El-Rufai himself. The Pentascope scandal was one of the issues investigated by the National Assembly and it accused El-Rufai of ignoring wise counsel by imposing the company on NITEL. Despite proven allegations that Pentascope was not financially capable and technically competent to handle NITEL management contract, the former Bureau of Public Enterprise Director-General ignored public outcry and forced the Dutch company on NITEL. Before the coming of Pentascope, NITEL was making an estimated N100bn profit annually. However, as soon as Pentascope took over, NITEL's profits were nose-diving incredibly. With telecom stakeholders, the National Assembly and the Nigerian public insisting that the imposition of Pentascope on NITEL was ruinous to national interest, the Federal Government eventually cancelled the management contract against El-Rufai's desire. I had no hand, absolutely, no connection or knowledge of how that company was brought into Nigeria. Curiously, El-Rufa'i avoided the Pentascope issue in his book, "The Accidental Public Servant." Therefore, if there is anybody to explain the details of the Pentascope scandal, it is El-Rufai himself. The fact of the contract are like this: Obasanjo agreed with the NCP that the former BPE DG was wrong not to have disclosed his interest and that he had failed the test of transparency by not disclosing that his brother was on the board of Motorola. I know you are very familiar with the laws of the federation. You know, for instance, that it is a very serious offence to fail, refuse or neglect to disclose your interest whether directly or through someone else, in dealing with such an important transaction. But, the President in his wisdom decided that the contract be split into three, with each of the contenders, Motorola, Ericsson and the Chinese company – I think Huawei – taking a portion. As if to vindicate the NCP, by 2007 when we left office, the two others apart from Motorola had completed their own contracts. You can go and find out if they (Motorola) have finished.
El-Rufai, has challenged you to explain what happened with the NITEL GSM contract that Motorola lost to Ericson, despite the American company submitting the lowest bid? What is your explanation?
Personally, I dislike the idea of exchanging words with the former FCT minister over this issue. But for the sake of your question, I would like Nigerians to be smart enough to read between the lines. Why does the former FCT minister treat the Motorola issue with such persistent personal bitterness? Why is he making it a heavy matter? Anybody can play to the gallery and deceive the people. Transparency is a key issue of conducting any business, including privatisation. Conflict of interest is inconsistent with transparency. If you are a privatisation head and you have a relationship with a particular person connected with one of the companies making bids, it is a moral and legal duty to disclose that relationship or interest. Pretending that you have no relationship with the person who is rooting for a particular bidder is not altogether tidy and transparent. If he had no interest in a particular company for sentimental reasons, why is he making too much fuss about Motorola losing the bid? Did El-Rufai accuse me of promoting Ericsson because I had any connection with the company directly or indirectly? If, indeed, I had promoted Ericsson for personal interest, Obasanjo wouldn't have let me get away with it. He would have exposed me and disgraced me, and even ordered my prosecution.
Why is it that these corporations have relatively failed, despite being run by private investors?
I don't agree with you that privatisation has failed altogether, despite the challenges some of the new investors are facing. The GSM operators in the country are doing well, despite their challenges caused by infrastructural problems in the country. Look at banks and ports, they all are doing well. Some of the new investors are finding difficulties, maybe as a result of the scope of the challenges or ill-preparation. Some of them have resorted to asset stripping rather than restoring the companies to functional state and start production to create jobs, such as the Ajaokuta Steel Plant. Large-scale privatisation is relatively new in Nigeria and some of the new investors appear to have swallowed more than they can chew. But the privatisation exercise under me was a narrative of huge success, not of failure.
How could the proposed amendment to the PDP constitution seeking to make President Goodluck Jonathan the sole presidential candidate in 2015 affect your ambition?
As a loyal PDP member, I am keenly watching this development and could do anything within democratic means and internal mechanisms of conflict resolution to tackle this challenge. As the ruling party that boasts to be the largest in Africa, the PDP should set standards for internal democracy which should be a template for other parties. In fact, they (members) should not only be proud of its size but also of its credibility in the eyes of Nigerians. Promoting the principles of democracy is the bedrock on which the PDP was founded in 1998 by like-minded Nigerians. Therefore, any attempt to stifle internal democracy, make level playing field impossible and imposing a candidate on the party before the elections would damage the perception of the party. I am happy that the National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, has been speaking along these lines. President Jonathan is entitled to seek the party ticket but that doesn't mean others should be shut out completely through a party constitutional amendment. This amendment is unnecessary because it would set precedents that would undermine the democratic principles to which the party declared to be committed. Nothing gives us psychological satisfaction and ease better than winning fairly. With this amendment, however, can the PDP improve its public perception and convince fellow members that it is committed to fairness, transparency and a level playing field in the conduct of its internal affairs? If we don't reject this amendment now, it would produce problems in the future that the party may find too embarrassing to handle. This effort to amend the constitution to please the ambition of any individual is in bad faith. In fact, it defeats the whole purpose of the policy of reconciliation and re-uniting aggrieved former members.
If the PDP goes ahead with the amendment to make Jonathan the sole candidate in 2015 without primaries, would you be tempted to join the All Progressives Congress as you recently applauded the merger of opposition parties which aims to oust your party?
Provided PDP members are free to vote according to their conscience or personal convictions of what is right, the amendment may face tough opposition. The sanctity of the democratic principles on which the PDP was founded should not be sacrificed on the grounds of expediency to gratify the ego of individual leaders. Should we mutilate a whole legal document by which a party is run for the sake of anyone else's ambition or ego? President Jonathan can throw this hat into the ring, if that is what he wants. It is important, however, that the process of his nomination by the party should be open, fair, just and transparent. The contest should be conducted through open primaries. Other party members should be allowed to participate in the primaries. If they ultimately lose to Jonathan through a fair contest, they will embrace and congratulate him. What is wrong with open primaries or level-playing ground? Amending the PDP constitution for the sake of making President Jonathan the sole candidate is absolutely unnecessary. Exclusion in the nomination of candidates amounts to imposition which is inconsistent with democratic practice. I have read all manners of arguments by proponents, saying that the American system gives the option of first refusal to the incumbent and that the PDP should do the same. That is very misleading.
In the first place, it is not true that American incumbents are not challenged at party primaries; there is no such rule in the United States. The late Senator Edward Kennedy mounted a vigorous challenge against the then incumbent Jimmy Carter. Although Carter won, the contest went down to the wire. It was resolved through a vote at the nomination convention of the Democratic Party. On the second aspect of your question, I wish to make a clarification. As a loyal PDP member and as one of the founding fathers, I couldn't have said the emergence of APC is good for the death of PDP. What I said in Ibadan was that, with the emergence of APC, a two-party system seems to be unfolding in the country and that this development is consistent with my advocacy for a two-party system in Nigeria. I never said the merger of opposition parties as you alleged is good for the ouster of PDP from office.
Can you shed more light on the controversy surrounding your membership of the PDP Board of Trustees?
On my alleged removal as a member of the Board of Trustees of PDP, I do not wish to engage in speculation. No one has communicated such decision to me yet. It would, however, be unfortunate if it turns out to be true. As I said, it would be a setback for the policy of reconciliation embarked upon by the Alex Ekwueme-led committee. This move is like undoing the positive outcome of what Dr. Ekwueme had achieved in that respect.
Is it true that President Jonathan signed a one-term agreement with the North?
With the zoning policy of the PDP virtually dead, talking about agreements at this point is somehow a tricky issue. I am not sure I am in the right position to talk about what you call the one-term agreement. Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State recently referred to that agreement or understanding. A gentleman's word should be his bond. I contested against Jonathan during the 2011 PDP presidential primaries and, therefore, anything I say now might be subject to misinterpretation. Because of this fact, I don't want to belabour the points about agreements or understandings. I am, however, primarily concerned about the image of my party in the eyes of Nigerians. Changing rules or the constitution of the party for the sake of expediency is not my idea of honour. If we conveniently live in denial or pretend that the party didn't reach any understanding on anything, then who would take us seriously? How can you be a beneficiary of something and later pretend that the policy that put you in office is no longer relevant? The emergence of (House of Representatives) Speaker Aminu Tambuwal against the party insistence on zoning was a consequence of abandoning principle for the sake of expediency. With the election of Tambuwal as the Speaker, following the party's declaration that zoning was dead, the PDP leadership was morally disarmed to prevent the emergence of Tambuwal as Speaker in the so-called breach of zoning policy – the same power sharing formula, which the party declared dead. Such is the consequence of hypocrisy.
The election of Tambuwal was a most embarrassing moment for the PDP. If you rejected zoning for the nomination of President Jonathan, what moral right do you have to tell lawmakers to elect their Speaker based on zoning, which you discarded?
When people are blinded by expediency, they hardly foresee the consequences of opportunism. Today, the President is from the South-South geopolitical zone; Vice-President, North-West; President of the Senate, North-Central; Speaker of the House of Representatives, North-West; Chief Justice of Nigeria, North-West; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, South-East; Deputy Senate President, South-East; and Deputy Speaker, South-East. This wasn't the intention of the abandoned zoning policy, but we have to live with this unpleasant reality because of the myopic attitude of some people. The South-West is today crying very loudly about marginalisation, thanks to the abandonment of zoning for the sake of expediency. This issue is not about Atiku but about the imperative of sustaining arrangements that would guarantee every section of Nigeria access to the nation's highest public office. We have been called names by people that benefitted from this arrangement. Zoning had successfully achieved the objectives of equitable power sharing. If anybody now says zoning is not good, that wouldn't change the reality of its benefits. The arrangement had significantly reduced the fear of domination by any section or group over others.
Would you, as a president grant amnesty to Boko Haram?
If I were the President, I would have no hesitation to throw the ball into the court of the Boko Haram leaders. As was case with the Niger Delta militancy, I would declare amnesty for the sect members with a deadline within which to surrender their arms. With the expiration of the deadline, if the sect members don't lay down their arms, then my government would be in a better position to face its critics that accuse it of not taking the initiative. The deadline for the surrender of arms would show whether the Boko Haram fighters want peace or not.
Do you see the revived Peoples Democratic Movement as strong enough to stop Jonathan from winning election?
I have nothing personally against President Jonathan. The issue here is about principle and internal democracy. This is not about PDM; it is about a struggle to entrench internal democracy. Should we destroy everything internal democracy stands for just for the sake of forcing anybody into line to support only one contestant? The PDP, like any political organisation, is a convergence of various political interests and forces that came together to form the party, as it is today. I would work together with all stakeholders within the PDP to bring about positive change from within PDP. This issue is not merely about PDM. The principle behind my struggle is beyond the PDM.
I stumbled on this on facebook and thought I should share. LWKMD.....
Good luck Jonathan walks into a bank to cash a cheque. As he approaches the cashier he says, 'Good morning Ma'am. Would you please cash this cheque for me?'
Cashier: 'It would be my pleasure, Sir. But could you please show me your ID?'
Jonathan: 'Truthfully, I did not bring my ID with me as I didn't think there was any need to. [Don't you know me?] I am Jonathan, the President...'
Jonathan: 'Truthfully, I did not bring my ID with me as I didn't think there was any need to. [Don't you know me?] I am Jonathan, the President...'
Cashier: 'Yes sir, I know who you are. But with all the regulations and monitoring of the banks because of impostors and forgers and requirements of the CBN, I must insist on seeing some ID.'
Jonathan: 'Just ask anyone here at the bank who I am and they will tell you. Everybody knows who I am.'
Cashier: 'I am sorry, sir, but these are the bank rules and I must follow them.'
Jonathan: 'I am urging you, please, cash this cheque.'
Cashier: 'Sir, here is an example of what we can do. One day, Tonto Dike came into the bank to cash a cheque without her ID. To prove herself, she started singing, the guard dog fainted and the computers went off. So we knew it was her and cashed the cheque.'
'Another time, Governor Fashola came without his ID to cash a cheque. We doubted him at first but when our dispatch rider rode in on a motorbike and he screamed, 'Arrest that bike rider,' we cashed his cheque!'
'So sir, what can you do to prove that it is you and only you, as President?'
Jonathan stands there thinking and thinking, and finally says, 'Honestly, my mind is totally blank... There is nothing that comes to my mind. I can't think of a single thing. I have absolutely no idea what to do. I just don't have a clue.'
Cashier: 'Very good, Sir. It is you, alright! Now we're convinced! Do you want N500 or N1,000 notes?
- Happy Sunday to you all!!!