Friday, 17 January 2014

‘Missing’ $49.8bn: NGF accuses Presidency of cover up

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, has rejected the explanations offered by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, over the alleged missing $49.8 billion as contained in the letter by Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
The leakage of the letter has, however, created a gulf between President Jonathan and Sanusi with the President allegedly asking Sanusi to resign on account of the leakage of the letter, a request Sanusi turned down.
The NNPC has; however, gone ahead to explain how the controversial sum was expended. Not satisfied with the explanations offered by the Federal Government agency, the NGF at its Wednesday meeting said the explanation is puerile.
The Federal Government was accused of diverting the money as it was said that there was no record that the money was ever paid into the federation account as against the dictates of the law.
The NGF in a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting at held at the River State Governor’s Lodge on Wednesday night, said that the best option to get to the root of the matter is for the National Assembly to institute an investigation into the missing fund.
According to the group, it is unheard of that such a huge amount which the group said, translate to two years national budget could get missing and puerile explanations will be offered just to cover it up.
The forum also condemned the President for refusing to call the meeting of National Economic Council, NEC, for over four months, leaving a vacuum in some important area of governance.
The communiqué reads in part: “On the issue of the missing $49.8 billion (N8.5 trillion) or the equivalent of a two-year National Budget, there is no evidence that this amount was paid into the Federation Account or duly appropriated.
“We accordingly call on the National Assembly to institute a comprehensive independent forensic audit by an international reputable firm.
We fear that the recent decline of state revenues is not unconnected with the financial diversion.
“In clear breach of the provision of Section 11, Part II of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 which requires the Federal Government to hold consultations with states before the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, is laid before the National Assembly; consultation with states on the MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper (2014- 2016) did not hold.
“The National Economic Council, NEC, meeting where issues of this nature would have been discussed last held four months ago.
“We note with total dismay the recent violent attacks and killings that have taken place in Borno State as well as the attack on the father of the Kano State Governor.
“We also condemn the flagrant violation of the rights of citizens to freely assemble in Rivers State by the Nigerian Police; the excessive use of force against unarmed citizens in the exercise of their fundamental rights and the shooting of Senator Magnus Abe.
“The financial irregularities relating to public accounting, the lack of compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, and the recent security breaches are not unconnected with the refusal of the Federal Government to convene meetings of statutory institutions created in the constitution such as the National Economic Council, NEC, the Council of State, the Nigeria Police Council and meetings of the Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC.

Our Grouse With PDP Beyond Tukur’s Removal – G5 Govs

rebel-govsThe group of five aggrieved governors of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, have reiterated their resolve never to return to the ruling party despite the resignation of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as national chairman of the party.
The governors, who left the PDP last November following persistent conflicts with the Tukur-led National Working Committee of the party, said that they had proved to the world that they had a genuine reason to abandon the PDP and pitch tent with the APC.
The aggrieved governors also known as ‘G5’ said Tukur’s removal was only a part of the problem in PDP since the party had become synonymous with impunity and lawlessness.
Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, who spoke through his director of press, Ahmad Sajoh, in reaction to reports that quoted President Goodluck Jonathan as saying the G5 governors would soon return to PDP following Tukur’s exit, said:  “We want it known that the main reason the G5 governors and their supporters left the PDP was the regime of impunity and lawlessness instituted in the party, and the deafness with which genuine agitations were ignored by the national leadership of the party.
“This was particularly more manifest in the manner in which properly constituted State executives of the party were wantonly dissolved and members suspended.
“Also, the G5 governors and other office holders in the party who went to the APC had objected to the erosion of all tenets and principles of democratic practice in the PDP particularly the imposition of candidates from Abuja on the electorate in their states contrary to outcomes of nomination processes, and the extreme regimentation of views and opinions in the party to the effect that when one holds an opposing view political aides are sent to insult and threaten such persons”.
The governors urged those asking them to return to the PDP to note that at the time they had been trying to obtain listening ears to their agitations most of those talking today had ignored them and at times even called them names.
“It should also be noted that on their part they had done everything possible to attract some understanding but no one cared.
“At times we even bent over backward to achieve results but we were spurned by both the PDP leadership and those calling them back today”.
The governors made it clear that Tukur’s resignation was not a sufficient reason to believe that the problems that necessitated their departure from the party had been addressed.
According to them, the only thing the resignation has achieved is to vindicate the G5 Governors that their agitations were after all genuine and that the steps they took are justified.
The governors said, “Our movement to the APC is therefore conclusive and the only option available to us under the circumstances is to remain there, save democracy in Nigeria, safeguard our honour and ensure that fairness and justice prevail in the country”.


Why Jonathan sacked service chiefs

Nigeria Service Chiefs
President Jonathan seems to be making a clear statement of loyalty, authority and legality by this decision to replace the service chiefs.
On Thursday, the presidency announced a change of guard in the top military echelon. For many who have been watching the below par performance of the military in the war against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East region in recent weeks and wondering when the government will do something about it, this came as no surprise.
But beyond the bungling showing of the military, President Goodluck Jonathan is making a clear statement of loyalty and authority by this decision. And by its own admission, the presidency is also using this appointment to correct a rather embarrassing legal sloppiness in the appointment of the last set of service chiefs.
After routing Boko Haram insurgents in the few weeks following the declaration of a State of Emergency in four states in the North-East, forcing them into a retreat, Boko Haram has overcome the shock of the overwhelming pounding from the military and its fighters have now regrouped and are beginning to give the military some embarrassing spanking in recent weeks.
The Boko Haram resurgence started last April, when the insurgents attacked security bases in Gashua town in Yobe State, engaging security forces in a shootout for several hours. Certainly the most embarrassing attacks on the military happened in December. On Decenber 2, more than 500 Boko Haram terrorists attacked several army facilities killing scores of soldiers and civilians. Then 20 days later, the terrorists launched a brutal attack on a military barrack in Bama town, killing 17 soldiers, ransacking the barrack and carting away two trucks loads of ammunition, burning at least 29 tanks, and freeing 18 terrorists held in the barrack.
According to a military source, the immediate past commander of the 7 division of the army, Major General Obidah Ethan, ignored intelligence on an impending attack on the barrack. The source told Premium Times that the terrorists that attacked the barrack actually gathered for the attack in a village only three kilometres away from the barrack. Mr. Ethan was transferred to a non-combatant posting six days after the attack.
Although the army has denied that his transfer has anything to do with debacle at Bama, It is hard to ignore such terrible shortcoming. For one it was a good PR for Boko Haram – a clear statement that goes against the grain of government propaganda that the insurgents have been dealt a devastating blow.
The recent failings of the military have precipitated calls for a change in strategy in the fight against the insurgents. With morale at an all-time low amongst troops and laxity in intelligence gathering, Mr. Jonathan decided it was time for fresh set of hands to take the fight to the insurgents, reliable presidency sources said.
Mr Jonathan isn’t joking with 2015 and his bid to remain in power till then and after. If anyone was still in doubt about that, his decision to replace the new service chiefs should correct that immediately. True, perhaps one of his strongest support-base is the Southeast where the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, General Ihejirika comes from but Mr Jonathan, it appears, wants more than mere broad support to quell would-be trouble makers in the military.
By these appointments, President Jonathan is either buying new loyalty or strengthening old ones. The fact that the new Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tobiah Minimah is an Ijaw like the President speaks volume. The new Defence Chief, Alex Badeh, is from Adamawa State. The Chief of Naval Staff, Adesola Nunayon Amosu, is from Lagos State. The Chief of Naval Staff, Usman Jubril, is from Kogi State.
These appointees are either from minority religious group/ ethnic group within their states (Alex Badeh is a Christian from Adamawa State; Adesola Nunayon Amosu is an Ogu errorneously called Egun minority from Lagos State), Usman Jubrin is from the Middle Belt. President Jonathan is clearly asserting his authority as the Commander-in-Chief by virtue of these appointments and his sticking his loyalty with officers from minority ethnic groups just like himself. One will need to watch the reshuffling these men will make with their arm of the military in the next few week to get a better picture of what is at play here. This could be very interesting.
It also does appear that the president might have decided to replace the service chiefs at this time following what seems the unconstitutional nature of their appointment. Following their appointment in 2012, Lawyer Festus Keyamo, went to court challenging the appointment of the officers without their confirmation by a two-third majority of the National Assembly.
Last June, Justice Amadu Bello of a Federal High Court in Lagos ruled that their appointment was unconstitutional and therefore null and void. The government showed no interest in appealing the decision of the court, triggering speculations that the government was planning to sack the officers.
In the statement release by the media aide to the President, Reuben Abati, the government acknowledged its mistake in the last appointments. It promised to send the names of the new service chiefs to the national Assembly for confirmation.

Tambuwal: Okonjo-Iweala Failed The 50 Questions

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, said the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, failed the 50 questions given to her by the House of Representatives.

Minister-of-Finance-Dr_-Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala-360x225 Tambuwal said this at the 11th Daily Trust dialogue in Abuja on January 15.
He was represented by the Deputy Spokesperson of the House, Victor Ogene.
According to to the Speaker, Okonjo-Iweala provided and excessive amount of information but did not cover the most important points the Reps asked her to clarify:
“In writing a 100 page letter, she had probably written two pages as answers to one question. But as a House we are still expecting answers to those questions which form the fulcrum for the preparation of the 2014 budget,” Tambuwal said.
He also said that it is only in Africa that “a minister can talk of being harassed by a parliament.”
To recall, on December 20, when members of the Committee on Finance walked Okonjo-Iweala out from the meeting, she told the them : “When you invite ministers, you should treat them with respect. We can’t be invited and be abused.”
“It is the duty of the parliament to hold the executives accountable to the governed and we will continue to do that”, the Speaker said.
He added that the Committer will start working on the Minister’s response right away and may get back to her should any further clarification be required.
It will be reminded, that the lawmakers asked Okonko-Iweala to submit the answers by January 2.However, she said she needed more time to answer the questions as some of them are “very weighty”. She handed in her written response this week.
Source: Vanguard

PDP’s problems beyond Tukur’s resignation – Obasanjo

 by Niyi Odebode, John Alechenu, Success Nwogu, Femi Makinde with agency reports

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Thursday said that the problems of the Peoples Democratic Party were beyond the resignation of Dr. Bamanga Tukur, as the party’s national chairman.
The media aide to the former President, Mr. Tunde Oladunjoye, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, said Obasanjo had nothing personal against Tukur.
But he said Obasanjo would not comment on Tukur’s resignation, arguing that the issues earlier raised by the former President had not been addressed with Tukur’s exit.
“Baba (Obasanjo) has no comment on the resignation of  Tukur. He has nothing personal against Tukur. His last letter to Tukur was very clear. The issues raised are beyond Tukur’s resignation and they are yet to be addressed,” Oladunjoye said.
Obasanjo had, in his letter to Tukur, a copy of which was sent to President Goodluck Jonathan as the national leader of the party, accused the PDP of negating the principles of morality, decency and discipline in its decisions, especially as they affected the South- West.
Jonathan formally announced Tukur’s resignation at the PDP National Executive Council meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
When contacted to comment on Obasanjo’s view that Tukur’s resignation had not resolved the issues raised in his letter, the  PDP National Publicity, Chief Olisa Metuh, said Obasanjo should have written directly to the party if he wanted the issues he raised to be addressed.
Metuh said, “The former President was a Chairman of the Board of Trustees of our party and he knows very well that we do not administer the party on the pages of newspapers. If he has written a letter to the party, it shall be addressed through the proper channel not on the pages of newspapers.”
Meanwhile, many have continued to react to Tukur’s resignation with many of them describing it as a welcome development.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said in a statement on Thursday, that Tukur’s resignation had vindicated him and others who had opposed Tukur before defecting to the All Progressives Congress.
“I received the news that Alhaji Bamanga Tukur has officially resigned as chairman after damaging PDP beyond repair. This has vindicated me and other progressives that had to leave the party at a point when some of the issues we clamoured  for are now coming to light,” he said.
The Publicity Secretary of PDP in the Osun State, Mr. Bola Ajao, in a statement  that the sacrifice would help to sustain the transformation agenda.
“This is vintage democracy, “The PDP will continue to wax stronger and stronger in its transformation agenda for Nigeria and democratic prosperity of her people,” he said.
Governorship aspirant in Osun State, Senator  Iyiola Omisore,  told the News Agency of Nigeria that  Tukur’s exit was a  sacrifice to ensure the  transformation of the party.
“If Tukur’s resignation as National Chairman of the PDP would be a remedy to the crisis in the party, then we congratulate him for taking such a bold step,’’ he said.


Jonathan’s Men Scuttle Northern Elders’ Parley

The presidency yesterday pulled strong strings to interfere with a joint meeting of Northern Elders’ Forum and the Council of Northern Traditional Rulers as officials of the federal government stormed Luggard Hall, the Kaduna venue of the meeting.
The uninvited delegation comprised the representative of the National Security Adviser (NSA), the director-general of the anti-terrorism agency, General Sarkin Yaki Bello, governor of Kaduna State Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, governor of Bauchi Isa Yuguda, governor of Kebbi State Saidu Dakingari, and the deputy governor of Niger State, Musa Ibeto, who represented the Niger State governor Babangida Aliyu.
As a result, the meeting did not go as planned, as the original schedule of events at the gathering was truncated by the presence of the presidency’s delegation who got themselves listed on the programme of events to deliver an unscheduled goodwill message.
LEADERSHIP exclusively gathered that the meeting was deemed necessary after a discussion between the Danmasanin Kano, Maitama Sule, and His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar III, after the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs meeting in Abuja last year.
The decision prompted the NEF to write a letter to the Sultan inviting him to a joint meeting of NEF and the Council of Northern Traditional Rulers, and an initial date of January 13 was fixed for the Kaduna meeting.
The Maulud public holiday warranted a shift of the January 13 date and was shifted to January 15.
But according to a source who spoke exclusively to LEADERSHIP, just five days to the meeting, there was alleged pressure from the presidency and some state governors on the traditional rulers not to attend the meeting.
The elder’s forum was surprised about the interference from the presidency as such kinds of meetings were held in the south-west and south-east without any interference from the Presidency.
“The forum did everything to ensure that the meeting takes place,” said the source.
“Last Tuesday, we received a letter from the presidency that a delegation of some governors and some top government officials will be attending our meeting.
“We then told them that we did not wish to meet with the governors; our meeting is strictly for northern elders and northern traditional rulers. And what explanation do we offer the other governors and political party officials as the governors enlisted to attend are all Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors and are seen as loyalists of President Jonathan.
“We had a brief meeting this morning and resolved that if the governors should attend our meeting, we will cancel and postpone it as we did not invite them.
Expectedly, on arriving at the venue of the meeting, we had governor of Kaduna, Bauchi, Kebbi and deputy governor of Niger at the event. In fact, a programme of events was printed and shared with a speech schedule for them all,” he said.
He said the forum kept to its earlier resolution of boycotting the meeting and leaving them with the traditional rulers but that the Sultan intervened and pleaded with the elder’s to allow them to deliver their message.
“That was exactly what happened. After a series of discussions, we agreed with His Eminence’s suggestions through the Etsu Nupe to allow them to deliver their unscheduled goodwill message and leave.
“But they refused to leave quietly. They also insisted that the press should not cover what Maitama Sule had to say. Twice we brought the press in and twice they sent them away. So the elders now agreed to continue the meeting without press coverage,” he said.
According to him, the elders and the royal fathers continued their meeting during which they deliberated extensively on the issues affecting the north and the way forward.


Defection: Courts to the rescue of lawmakers?


Jonathan, David Mark and Tambuwal

The Senate insists that any member who defects will be made to lose his seat, the House of Representatives says any member is free to defect and most Nigerians are perplexed, not knowing the right course of action. ISE-OLUWA IGE, OBIORA IFOH, GEORGE OJI, TORDUE SALEM and OMEIZA AJAYI attempt to arrive at a nexus on the proper route to trod. Excerpts:
Does defection by lawmakers contravenes the constitution? This is the question that will be tested in the courts by the parties involved, namely, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APC and lawmakers who had defected from the PDP to the APC and intending defectors.
Section 68 (1)(g) of the 1999 constitution states that: being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected; provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.
The very contentious part of that law is if the PDP, being the ruling party has division within it. While the defecting lawmakers have argued severally that there indeed existed division in PDP, leading to the breakaway and formation of the new PDP (now proscribed), the party however countered the division theory saying that not only is PDP one, but that a competent court has pronounced it to be one. But the defecting lawmakers will not have any of these, insisting that as at the time they left, the ruling party was factionalised.
However, legal luminary, Chief Richard Akinjide said the defecting lawmakers are expected to lose their seats and in his opinion, they are still retaining their seats because they have not really left the PDP. He challenged anyone to provide evidence as to why the lawmakers should remain in the House.
PDP spokesperson, Chief Olisa Metuh, said “defection is treacherous and a huge betrayal not only of the PDP but millions of voters who worked timelessly hard for their election on the platform of the PDP in their respective constituencies. As lawmakers, the defectors must, no doubt be aware of provisions of section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which clearly states conditions upon which a member of the legislature will change platforms. For the avoidance of doubt, the courts of our land have declared that the PDP is one and not bedevilled by any factions. Any member of the national or state Assemblies who therefore renounces his membership of a united PDP must be ready to face the consequences of defection in line with provisions of the Constitution.”
However, Hon. Sam-Tsokwa said: “Nigerians ought and, indeed, deserve to know that apart from the 1999 Constitution, there is no legislation in Nigeria against cross carpeting or defection. Indeed, the constitution subtly endorses cross carpeting or defection in sections 68(1) (g); 109(1) (g); 135 and 180 of the 1999 Constitution”.
These sections are similar except that they refer to the offices of the National Assembly, state House of Assembly, the President and the governors respectively.
Will the court resolve the defection crisis?
Already, the PDP has gone before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to halt the on-going moves by its members at the National Assembly from defecting to the opposition APC. The party is also urging the court to stop the House of Representatives from changing or altering its leadership, following the purported mass defection of its members to the APC. The dual requests were contained in two separate suits before the high court.
Listed in one of the suits as defendants were the House of Representatives, Speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal; Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha; Majority Leader, Mulikat Akande-Adeola; Deputy Majority Leader, Leo Ogor; Chief Whip, Isiaka Bawa; Deputy Chief Whip, Ahmed Mutkar; Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila; Deputy Minority Leader, Sumaila Kawu; Minority Whip, Samson Osagie and Deputy Minority Whip, Garba Datti as well as the 37 members of the PDP who defected to the APC.
Attempts by the PDP to get separate interim orders to either stop the National Assembly members from cross-carpetting or the House of Representatives from changing its leadership were rejected by the trial courts.
For instance, when the suit seeking to stop the House of Representatives from changing its leadership came up for hearing on Monday, counsel to the PDP, Yunus Ustaz Usman, SAN, made frantic efforts to convince the court to issue a restraining order against the House of Representatives from changing its leadership, but the court refused. His situation was made worse by the submissions of the defence counsel to the effect that the suit was not ripe for hearing since service was only effected on them last Friday by 4.54 pm.
Specifically, Chief James Ochuli, SAN, counsel to Speaker of the House (Tambuwal), Gbajaiamila, Osagie and Kawu argued that having been served on Friday in the evening, the suit had not met the statutory requirement of 48 hours allowed for his clients to respond to it, and therefore not ripe for hearing. The lawyer argued that by virtue of section 15(4) of the Interpretation Act, the effective date to begin to count service on the defendants was Monday because holidays are always left out for computation purposes. He further informed the court that the House was going to resume from recess on Tuesday, January 21, and that there was no need granting an interim injunction.
In his submissions, constitutional lawyer and counsel to some of the defected members of the party, Sebastine Hon, SAN, contended that if the court acceded to the request of the plaintiff counsel to proceed with the hearing of the motion, it would constitute a breach of the statutory 48 hour rules as well as the fundamental right of his clients. He anchored his argument on the fact that service on Friday which was even after official closing hours could not be effectual. In addition, he argued that even if the court would bend backward to take the application of the plaintiff ’s counsel, he said he would have to come formally in writing as required by the rules of court.
To cap it all, Mohammed Magaji , SAN, while adopting the submissions of his colleagues posited that technically speaking, there was nothing before the court for determination, since the issue of service was yet to be resolved.
When it dawned on the plaintiff ’s counsel that he could not proceed with his suit, given the staunch resistance from the defence team, he urged the court to make an interim order preserving the res (subject matter) from being destroyed. He said failure to restrain the defendants, there would be a breakdown of law and order that would not only paralyse the activities of the party, but deal a deadly blow to it.
Usman had, in his affidavit in support of the motion, told the court of how the Minority Leader of the House, Gbajabiamila threatened the PDP via telephone calls and interviews that upon their resumption from their recess, they would remove all the principal officers of the House of Representatives.
But rather than accede to the request of the plaintiff, Justice Adeniyi ordered the defendants to file their responses and other relevant processes on January 16, and file on the plaintiff and thereafter adjourned the matter to January 20, 2014 for hearing.
In the originating summons, the plaintiff raised the following questions for the determination of the court”
*Whether in view of the mandatory provision of section 68 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and in view of the pendency of suit No. FHC/ABJ/ CS/621/2013 between Senator Bello Hayatu Gwarzo and 78 ors. vs Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and 4 ors before the Federal High Court, Abuja division, the 23rd to 79th defendants can validly function as members of the 1st defendant, contribute to or vote on any motion and or debate in the proceedings of the 1st defendant with a view to removing or sanctioning 2nd to 10th defendants or any of the principal officers of the 1st defendant.
*Whether in view of the mandatory provision of section 68 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and in view of the pendency of suit No. FHC/ABJ/ CS/621/2013 between Senator Bello Hayatu Gwarzo and 78 ors. vs Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and 4 ors before the Federal High Court, Abuja division, the 23rd to 79th defendants can lawfully alter the composition or constitution of the leadership of the 1st defendant.
The party is asking the court for the following reliefs: *A declaration that in view of section 68 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and in view of the pendency of suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/621/2013 between Senator Bello Hayatu Gwarzo and 78 ors. vs Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and 4 ors before the Federal High Court, Abuja division, the 11th to 52nd defendants (who are 23rd to 79th plaintiffs in the aforementioned suit) cannot lawfully vote and or contribute to any motion for the removal or change of any of the principal officers of the 1st defendant;
*A declaration that the 11th to 52nd defendants who are 23rd to 79 plaintiffs in the suit No. FHC/ABJ/ CS/621/2013 between Senator Bello Hayatu Gwarzo and 78 ors. vs Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and 4 ors before the Federal High Court, Abuja are not competent to sponsor, contribute or vote for any motion for the removal or change of any of the principal officers of the 1st defendant.
*An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd to 52nd defendants from altering or changing the leadership of the 1st defendant
Will defection continue in the House at resumption next week?
The defection that began in the House of Representatives on December 18, last year, is expected to continue on the resumption of the Green Chamber on January 21, though some lawmakers have argued that the defection of 37 PDP lawmakers to the opposition APC and the more defections that would follow would not threaten the PDP.
House spokesman, Zakari Mohammed (APCKwara), has said that both the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal and his Deputy, Emeka Ihedioha would not be changed, as according to him, both are products of the collective decision of the members. The lawmaker said that the House rules defined the status of the leadership of the House at all times.
He allayed fears that some principal officers would lose their seats in the event that the APC formally records a majority in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
He said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the leadership of the House of Representatives as is embodied in the presiding officers emerged from the popularity of the candidates on one hand and the popular votes of members on the other and not strictly on party lineage. Therefore, defection or no defection, the leadership of the House of Representatives remains intact, having enjoyed and is still enjoying the confidence of the members.
“Nigerians are hereby assured and reassured that defection or no defection, the House of Representatives remains and shall so remain Nigeria’s House of Representatives bound together by one solemn constitutional duty, that is to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the federation or any part thereof. The House has a date with history as encapsulated in its Legislative Agenda and this date it must keep faith with in the overall interest of Nigeria.”
The Rules of the House allows a party with the simple majority of 181 to select principal officials.
Earlier, the Chairman of House Committee on Rules and Business argued that the House would rely on Order 7 Rule 2 to resolve the issues faced by the House on the defections. But other lawmakers have disagreed, insisting that it was time Deputy Speaker was given the boot and the present Minority Leader allowed to assume the Deputy Speakership of the House.
Why defections in Senate is not likely
The defection story in the Senate is quite different from what has transpired at the House. Senators from the merging political parties have been foot-dragging from formally announcing their crossover. Although 22 senators have signified their intentions to defect to the new APC and indeed, were part of the 79 lawmakers (22 senators and 57 House members) that approached an Abuja Federal High court to seek a restraining order on the presiding officers of the National Assembly not to declare their seats vacant, no serious efforts as at date has been made by the senators to walk their talk.
The 22 senators are Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central), Bello Gwarzo (Kano North), Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West), Senator Magnus Abe (River South-East), Wilson Ake (Rivers West), Senator Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara North), Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central), Aisha Alhassan (Taraba North), Ali Ndume (Borno South), Ahmed Zannah (Borno Central) and Simeon Ajibola (Kwara South).
Others included Bindowo Jubrilla (Adamawa North), Abdulaziz Usman (Jigawa North-East), Danladi Sankara (Jigawa North-West)), Abdulmumuni Hassan (Jigawa South-West), Hassan Barata (Adamawa South), Umaru Dahiru (Sokoto South), Ahmad Maccido (Sokoto North), Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto East), Garba Mohammed (Kano Central), Isa Galaudu (Kebbi North) and Ahmed Alkali (Gombe North).
Out of the whole lots of the senators, only a few of them appear to be serious about their defection plans. From their actions and utterances, the very serious ones appear to be only Saraki, Adamu, Goje and Abe.
The likes of Alhassan and Ndume who initially showed signs of seriousness in the defection bid somewhere along the line appeared to have been cowed and subsequently became very lukewarm about the move.
National Assembly watchers have adduced a number of reasons to explain the indecision of the senators to actualise their defection plans like their colleagues in the House. Firstly, there is the notion that the senators appear to be cowed by the towering influence of the Senate President, David Mark, who will stop at nothing to ensure subtle victimisation of any of the defecting senators.
There is also the reason that most of the senators who have indicated their willingness to defect might not do so and backdown when the chips are down and thus make it impossible for the opposition to realise the required majority in the Senate unlike their colleagues in the House.
Besides, there is in addition to the theory that the senators are living up to their character as an institution that functions to stabilise the polity and therefore will not be willing to take actions that may jolt or heat up the nation’s political system.
While all these permutations have been on-going, a group, which goes by the name Nigeria Sustainable Democracy Network, NSDN, obviously conscious of the above considerations have urged senators to dam the consequences and act in line with their counterparts in the House of Representatives to be counted with the people.
In a widely published advertorials last week, the group recalled that since 2007, when Mark assumed the leadership of the National Assembly, many senators have defected from other political parties to the PDP without any adverse consequences. It listed about 14 instances, where such defections by senators from other parties to the PDP had taken place since 2007 till date.
“It is expected that in the circumstance that the Senate President should be consistent in his principled approach and management of cross carpeting by any senator of the Federal Republic. Any attempt to tamper with this established and accepted norms and practice is enough to plunge this nation into another political quagmire, especially where over 20 senators are alleged to have prepared to defect from the PDP to the APC,” the group cautioned in the said advertisement.
Why INEC is powerless to halt defection.
Obviously rattled by the defection, the PDP had written the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, urging it to declare the seats of the lawmakers vacant, but the commission has clearly thrown the letter into the waste bin, a development that saw the APC rising from 135 to 172 members, while the PDP slide to 171.
Interestingly, INEC cannot, at least by its own estimation, declare vacant the seats of 37 members of the House of Representatives who defected from the PDP to APC. As expected, the 37 lawmakers had at a session presided over by Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, hinged their decision on the factionalisation in the ruling party.
Consequently, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Kayode Robert Idowu, said the law does not empower the commission to do so, saying there are appropriate authorities to perform such duty. According to him, it is not within the purview of INEC to take such a decision. He said INEC is not the one to declare seats of elected public office holders vacant and that INEC is not going to do that.
He said: “It has never been INEC’s duty to declare seats vacant. That is not what the law provides for. INEC’s job is to conduct elections if, and when, seats are declared vacant by the appropriate authorities.”
Options left for the ruling PDP
As it is now, three options remain open to the PDP. The first option is since it is clear that the PDP can no longer muster the required majority in the House of Representatives, the party may have to really “work” on the Senate and ensure that it keeps the party’s members in line. With the party controlling the Senate, it would still be difficult for the APC-controlled House to adopt resolutions that could embarrass the PDP and the presidency.
The second option which may seem herculean would be to rally the constituents of the defectors to initiate the process of recall. With some lawmakers not clearly on ground, the PDP can at least hope to successfully “engineer” the recall of a few of them.
The last option, which is the court option incidentally, is what the party has chosen. Although the high court had twice rejected the invitation by the PDP to stop defection of its members and the move to change leadership of the House of Representatives, it is still early to conclude that the PDP had lost in its bid. It is expected that the court will hear out all parties in the case and decide on merit the constitutionality of defection of members of National Assembly either out of the ruling PDP to the opposition APC or from the opposition political party to the ruling PDP. As it is, time will tell where judicial pendulum will swing in this matter.

REVEALED: LIST of Candidates to Succeed Tukur

pdp trouble
Six candidates are the favourites in the battle for the position of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who resigned his post as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on January 16, 2014, Thursday.
The President’s men are finalising the list will pick the most ‘politically’ eligible of them all:
1. Idris Umar (Gombe), the Minister of Transport, Senator;
2. Adamu Muazu (Bauchi), a former Governor;
3. Mohammed Wakil (Borno), a former member of the House of Representatives,
4. Alhaji Gambo Lawan (Borno), a former National Chairman of the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM);
5. Amb. Hassan Adamu (Wakilin Adamawa), a former President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)
6. Amb. Idris Waziri (Taraba), a former Minister of Commerce.
It has been gathered that three groups, have emerged on the search for Tukur’s successor. They are: the President’s Strategy Team (PST) being coordinated by Governor Henry Seriake Dickson; a group being led by the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, and the Board of Trustee (BoT) leaders/ PDP Governors Forum headed by Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio.
The main criteria during selection of the new National Chairman are:
- being a committed democrat and team player;
- rich experience in politics and party administration;
- ability to reconcile aggrieved members of the party;
- readiness to reorder PDP for electoral victory in 2015 in at least 25 to 28 states;
- a good listener who will have respect for all organs of the party;
- must be a political asset and not a liability to PDP;
- a candidate who will ensure free and fair primaries.
The groups have not been able to reach a consensus on the choice of the National Chairman, a decision which PDP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has deferred till January 20, 2014, Monday.
The First Lady and some NEC members are, however, working on Idris Umar because he is less controversial out of the six.
Some BoT members, it was learnt, are pushing for Gambo Lawan, Ambassador Hassan Adamu, and ex-Minister Idris Waziri who was present at the 80th birthday celebration of BoT Chairman Chief Tony Anenih for what a source of The Nation described as “essentially tactical.”
“By Sunday, we will know who will be the next National Chairman of the party. It is too early for me to tell you now because consultations and horse-trading are ongoing.
“We are looking at all the candidates that have been thrown up by the North-East. We will screen all of them thoroughly to avoid any slip this time around,” a member of the NWC, who played a key role in the ouster of Tukur, said.
Source: The Nation

Encomiums For Akande At 75

Bisi AkandeIt was encomiums galore for the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Chief Bisi Akande, as he clocked 75 years on Thurday.
A colloquium was held for him at the Eko Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos, western Nigeria with eminent Nigerians present.
APC chieftains, politicians, administrators, business moguls and many others thronged the venue of the colloquium to celebrate Akande at 75.
Alhaji Lai Muhammed, APC’s National Publicity Secretary was full of praise for Akande, describing him as a unique Nigerian and one that eschewed all forms of corruption.
“Chief Bisi Akande is a unique Nigerian and anybody who has been fortunate to work with him will appreciate the kind of person he is. He has been a councilor, chairman, deputy governor, governor and chairman of parties,” he said.
Muhammed added that humility, transparency and honesty had been the hallmark of Akande and that these qualities had remained untouched even till this moment.
“He is intelligent and that is why he has been able to guide AD, ACN and APC to success and to where we are now. He is a rare Nigerian, he is calm under pressure and he thinks like a young man. He has the courage of his conviction,” he stated.
A member of the House of Representatives, Lanre Odubote, described Akande as one of the oldest first generation politicians that Nigeria has produced, saying he is an Awoist.
“We thank God he is still much alive to direct the affairs of the party. We pray that God will continue to protect him. He stands for true federalism and we wish him luck,” he said.
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State described Akande as a great and selfless elder statesman and a man with decades of his life dedicated to midwifing democracy in Nigeria.
“He is a pioneer democrat. He was a former deputy governor and governor, and the only man who has been the chairman of four parties in our great nation. There are not enough words to celebrate Chief Akande, so we will just pray that your days be long and your legacy even longer,” he stated.
APC Publicity Secretary, Lagos State, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, said Akande is one of the most successful former governors in this country as well as being a very successful leader of men and a harbinger of peace.
“He is an elder statesman, a consummate peace maker, an icon of democratic ideals, the democrat of democrats, the father of all and the driver of the new Nigeria. At 75, this great and amiable father has proved through committed leadership that there is still hope for Nigeria and Nigerians,” he said.
The Chairman, Ayobo-Ipaja Local Council Development Area, Chief Sakiru Yusuf, described Akande as a leader worthy of emulation.
He said ever since Pa Akande mounted the leadership saddle of the party, nothing had gone astray.
Chief Yusuf said the self discipline, humility, contentment perseverance, patience and transparency of the great former Governor of Osun State is reflecting in individual members of the party and the party as an entity, transforming from the days of Action Congress( AC),to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now APC.
“Despite his great achievements in life, spanning the academia and politics, Pa Akande is humility and dignity personified. An exemplary leader and role model, whose followers have equally become the pride of their various clans,” Yusuf stated.
He also used the opportunity to call on the people of his area to come out enmass for the membership registration of the All Progressives Congress slated for Thursday, 28 January to Saturday, 1 February, 2014 at all INEC designated polling stations.


Nigeria’s Judiciary harbours “corrupt elements” – Justice Salami

Justice Ayo Salami
Justice Ayo Salami named Ibrahim Auta, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, as one of the corrupt elements.
A former President of the Court of Appeal, Wednesday, came down hard on the Nigerian judiciary, accusing it of harbouring “corrupt elements.”
Ayo Salami, who spoke at the 10th Gani Fawehinmi annual lecture in Lagos, stated that the problem with the Nigerian judiciary is that “some dishonourable people “not fit to be judges get into the system and make it to the highest level of the judicial career.
Mr. Salami was forced to retire in October last year after serving more than 30 months suspension on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan.
While singling out Ibrahim Auta, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, as well as some senior lawyers, Mr. Salami noted that the common man’s quest for justice is further diminished with such characters in the judiciary.
“Another major point why the problem with the judiciary will remain unresolved or even compounded for a long time is that Nigerians do not naturally want the truth to be told. Whoever dares to tell the truth is marked for destruction,” Mr. Salami said at the event organized by the Ikeja chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.
“You members of the Bar often tell sordid stories or tales of certain high ranking serving or retired judicial officers who act as ‘arrangees’ or couriers of bribe. That is, such are engaged at a fee to reach out to judges to influence or ‘purchase’ justice in certain sensitive cases.”
Following a disagreement between Mr. Salami and Aloysius Katsina-Alu, then Chief Justice of Nigeria, over an election petition matter involving Sokoto State, the National Judicial Council, NJC, set up a series of panels to investigate some of the complaints.
Among other things, one of the panels recommended that Mr. Salami apologize to Mr. Katsina-Alu, a recommendation which the former blatantly rejected.
“I should like to let you know that in the course of my travails, the NJC set up the Auta Committee (Justice Auta is a completely junior judge or judicial officer to me) to make recommendation on the NJC Investigative Panel (Justice Umaru Abdullah’s Panel).
“This was meant to humiliate me. But God turned the humiliation to vindication for me, in that the Auta Committee adopted a laughable procedure by introducing a completely new dimension to the case without giving me any hearing at all,” said Mr. Salami.
“The issue of my breaking the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers by speaking to the Press was never raised, not to talk of being tried at the NJC Investigative Panel. The Auta Committee, however, flew above its mandate and said it took ‘judicial notice’ of the fact that I spoke to the Press and this formed part of the recommendations of his Committee which was supposed to act only on the NJC Investigative Panel’s findings,” he added.
Mr. Salami said that the Justice Auta’s panel had already set out from the outset to indict him at all cost.
“During the period, I had a case pending at the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the proceedings before the Committee. When told by a member of the Committee that I had a case challenging their sitting at the Federal High Court and that they should not proceed on the assignment, he said they had not been served and were not inclined to stop further proceedings on the matter.
“Obviously, the conclusion was already predetermined because it is very elementary that what was important was not service but notice of the process.”
Mr. Salami said that the efforts of the current Chief Justice of Nigeria, Maryam Mukhtar, to rid the judiciary of corrupt elements are being frustrated by the crop of people calling the shots at the NJC.
“When the controversy surrounding my suspension was raging, a young member of the profession soliloquized that if Gani (Fawehinmi) were alive, he would have gone to court.
“I agree, but to which court would he have gone? An intimidated and frightened court? All it requires is a call to the head of the court and it is done,” he added.
The lecture was organized by the NBA, Ikeja chapter, and was titled ‘Nigeria at centenary: A nation still in bondage?’
But the retired judge slammed the lawyers, accusing some of their senior colleagues of contributing to the rot in judiciary.
“There are some who have the capacity to influence and intimidate the Courts and they do so with relish,” said Mr. Salami.
“I wish the Nigerian Bar Association would have the will, ability and capacity to implement the recommendations of the Okpoko Committee that carried out NBA’s independent investigation into the Sokoto Case which led to my travails.
“Unfortunately, NBA which had a good report in its hands could not impose sanctions on members of your Bar that were indicted therein (probably because ‘prominent’ senior lawyers were involved). Again, we have to leave this to history, posterity and ultimately God.
“Sometimes (and when it matters) some members of the Bar representing NBA on the NJC hardly stand up for the truth not to talk of speaking the truth,” he added.

How PDP can reinvent itself – Bamanga Tukur

President Jonathan and Mr. Tukur also spoke about how to re-invent PDP
The outgone National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Bamanga Tukur, has advised members of his party to imbibe the mission and vision of the founding fathers of the party. He said this is necessary to regain the party’s fading glory.
Mr. Tukur, who spoke when he chaired the 63rd National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party which was also his last official engagement as National Chairman, said the public faces of the PDP comprising its elected party and government officials must be people of integrity and character, with proven track record and capability.
He said they should also be people who are committed and focused at all times to improving the livelihood of Nigerians.
“Only by so doing can the people of Nigeria continue to invest in us or any other political platform with the confidence, trust and mandate to administer and manage their public affairs,” he said.
Mr. Tukur said the PDP as a ruling party must take its leading position seriously, and should consistently pursue good governance.
The outgone chairman said the decline in nationwide support of the PDP is to be expected. He advised members of the party to prepare to and make the necessary sacrifice required to grow the party. He said the performance of PDP elected officials should be used as a basis for retaining the peoples trust and confidence.
“PDP has performed and the prospect for the party remains good, while current challenges are surmountable. We must constantly strive to fulfill our manifesto on the basis to which our mandate to govern derives, and on that we shall be judged,” he said.
Mr. Tukur said it is only by upholding internal democracy, transparency , fairness, and probity in all its dealings; as well as delivering good governance and service that impacts positively on the life of the people that the ruling party can reinvent itself.
He advised members of the party to avoid unnecessary disagreements and conflicts which will eventually affect the party.
“ Gloating over being in power, and remaining in power no matter what is, dangerous, destructive and anti-democratic,” he said. He added that pre-occupation with power tussles and undue confrontation has strangulating effect on any political party, and PDP cannot be different.
“Our excessive pre-occupation with the pursuit of power, self-aggrandizement and materialism has been destructive and hurting. It slows down our match towards achieving our national goals, of development,” Mr. Tukur said.
The former chairman also took a parting shot at the legislature warning that the seats being occupied by lawmakers” belong to political parties, not the individuals occupying them”.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, was selected by his colleagues against the wishes of the party, and recently about 37 members of the House of Reps elected under the platform of the PDP, defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC.
The defection of the lawmakers transformed the status of the PDP from majority to minority in the House.
“The party must take discipline seriously. Discipline in the party is a necessary ingredient for success,” Mr. Tukur said.
Mr. Tukur informed the members of NEC that he was privileged to have served as the chairman of the party.
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to deliver an idea, which is the need for a party with discipline and internal democratic practices. I charge you to install new national values that are driven less by personal greed, and more by national interest in order to serve and face the challenges facing our country,” he said.
 We have delivered
Also speaking, President Goodluck Jonathan said the PDP has delivered on its mandate and challenged Nigerians to take a critical look at what has been achieved and the number of days he had been in power.
The president cited the example of the GSM service which he said was brought by a PDP government and has made it possible for the ordinary person to have a telephone which used to be a privilege for a few rich and influential Nigerians.
The president also said the recent decision to privatise the power generation and distribution sector is a revolution whose impact Nigerians would begin to feel in six months’ time.
Season of meetings
Mr. Jonathan also informed the NEC that activities to return the party to its pre-eminent position is in full gear.
He urged party members to be steadfast and committed to its activities.
He said despite the defections it has suffered, the PDP would continue to be the number one party in Nigeria, adding that based on discussions held recently, “some of the members who left would come back to the party.”
“What needs to be done is to ensure that the party remains more united. And from this January, frequent meetings will take place,” he said.
According to Mr. Jonathan, the meeting of the party’s Caucus and its Board of Trustees, BoT would be held every quarter. He also said he would liaise with the NWC to make sure that NEC meetings are held every other month.
“That would give those at the centre the opportunity to interact more with state party chairmen and governors,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan also announced that he held a meeting with PDP governors Wednesday night and they agreed to be meeting monthly to strategise on how to improve the fortunes of the party, and how to also assist party faithful in states not governed by the PDP.
Resignation of Tukur
Mr. Jonathan said he knew “a lot of issues have been agitating the mind of our party faithful and we need to address them.” He said this while referring to the confusion over the resignation or otherwise of Mr. Tukur as the national chairman of the party.
The president said “the NWC under Bamanga Tukur has done very well. The Chairman of our party did not just wake up to be the chairman, he has paid his dues, and he has held several offices and has worked for this country. For us to make sure that we rest these issues, the party chairman agreed to step aside
“He is not guilty in any way; in fact, I have to give him an assignment that is tougher than handling PDP, because we need people like Bamanga Tukur to market this country, and to market the PDP. He has been doing that under the platform of the African Business Roundtable, but we need a tougher job than the African Business roundtable,” the president said.
Mr. Jonathan, thereafter, handed over the resignation letter of Mr. Tukur to the National Secretary of the party, Adewale Oladipo.  He also announced that another NEC meeting would be held on Monday next week to select a new Interim Chairman for the party.
The Governor of Cross Rivers State, Liyel Imoke, moved the motion for the NEC to approve the resignation of Mr. Tukur. The deputy Senate leader, Abdul Ningi, seconded the motion; passed by the NEC.

Breaking News: Supreme Court Orders Abacha Son’s Trial for Theft

The Supreme Court has unanimously decided in the morning of January 17, 2014, Friday that Mohammed Abacha, son of the late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha, must be returned to an Abuja High Court and face his trial.
A 123 count criminal charges have been brought against him by the Federal Government of Nigeria, wherein he was alleged to be in possession of stolen properties belonging to the Federal Government.
The theft was allegedly committed by the late former dictator stole, when he ruled Nigeria.
Mohammed Abacha had previously unsuccessfully attempted to foil his trial. Then he proceeded to the Court of Appeal, where he lost. Finally, he approached the Supreme Court.
The son of the late ruler declared that the immunity enjoyed by his father, while in office, extended to him and that having forfeited some of the family’s properties confiscated by the government, he should be exempted from prosecution in line with the he provisions of Decree number 53 of 1999.
The Court, however, stated that immunity does not extend beyond the tenure of office and that even if the late head of state were alive, he could have been prosecuted for a criminal offence, not to talk of his son, who has never been a State Leader.
Therefore, Mohammed Abacha  has to go and face his trial at the Abuja court.
Source: PM News

Monday, 13 January 2014

Borno APC Crisis: Youth stone Governor Shettima’s convoy during ex-governor Sheriff’s visit

Governor and his predecessor engaged in cold war
The rising tension in Borno State polity was brought to fore on Saturday when the state governor, Kashim Shettima, was pelted with stones during a visit by Ali Sheriff, his predecessor.
Mr. Sheriff, a former governor of Borno State, is a leader of the All Progressives Congress in the North East part of Nigeria.
The stoning incident which happened when Mr. Shettima was on his way to the airport, according to the governor’s spokesperson, Isa Gusau, was orchestrated by politicians who used hired thugs brought in from outside the state to embarrass his boss.
“Some thugs believed to have been hired outside Borno State, were smuggled into Maiduguri for the sole purpose of breaching the emerging peace in the city”, Mr. Gusau said in an email on Sunday to journalists. “Governor Kashim Shettima was on his way to the Maiduguri International airport on Saturday, for the purpose of inspecting facilities brought in from Lagos by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, to speed up the opening of Maiduguri’s airspace for use by air travellers. The visit was meant to be a follow up to the Governor’s meeting with the M.D of NAMA as well as Chairman, CEO of Arik airline in Lagos, two weeks ago, towards the reopening of the airport which had been closed down.”
The attack on Mr. Shettima happened at a time thousands of supporters of Mr. Sheriff were preparing to welcome him to the state after a long time.
Regarded as a foremost politician in the state, the former governor’s visit attracted the presence of many top Borno politicians, including National Assembly members, state assembly members, serving commissioners, and advisers of Governor Shettima’s cabinet, amongst others.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that Mr. Sheriff, being the god-father to many politicians in the APC-dominated state, and a known benefactor of the incumbent governor, is engaged in a cold war with the latter. It is also rumoured that the APC leader has already started shopping for Mr. Shettima’s replacement from amongst his loyalists in the ruling party.
It was also learnt that Mr. Shettima in the past used his office as governor to frustrate such visit by Mr. Sheriff.
“Betrayer, betrayer”
According to testimonies from various witnesses who saw the governor being attacked, Mr. Shettima’s convoy was heading towards the Maiduguri International Airport at the time some youth were on their way to welcome one Muhammed Imam, who is touted as a possible challenger of Mr. Shettima for the APC governorship ticket in 2015.
Mr. Shettima’s convoy drove into the crowd of young people who angrily started pelting him with stones and sachet water, while calling him names.
Yahaya Wakili, an automobile mechanic who lives near the airport junction, told journalists that it took the intervention of policemen of the nearby Police Crack Squad to disperse the angry youth by releasing canisters of tear gas at the mob.
“We really don’t know what was happening on Saturday morning but we saw youth, who were obviously political thugs, gathering on the way to the airport. Some said they were expecting the arrival of former Commissioner called Alhaji Muhammed Imam. The youth, who wore various T-Shirts and caps with APC and Imam’s logo printed on them, were at a point chased away from the road leading to the airport by the police of Special Squad Division whose office was located along the airport road. Some of the youth thought it was Governor Shettima that ordered them to be chased. Suddenly at about 10am or so, we heard the siren of the governor blaring past towards the airport and we also heard shouts ‘mai chin amana, mai chin amana’ (betrayer, betrayer) as they continued to haul stones at the governor’s convoy”, Mr. Wakili, whose workshop is along the airport road, said.
Governor unperturbed
Mr. Gusau said the incident did not perturb his boss who urged his security details to be calm and insisted they moved on to carry out their assignment at the airport.
“While the Governor was heading towards the airport, the hired thugs attempted to breach his convoy by exhibiting all manner of behaviour true to the job they were hired to do. If Governor Kashim Shettima were to be violent, he could have directed his security detail to descend on the thugs but instead, he calmed nerves and ensured that there was no breach of peace with no injury. He calmed members of his entourage and security details,” Mr. Gusau said.
He said the police dispersed the youth and the governor went on to complete his inspection at the airport.
“He spoke with NAMA officials and to his credit, Maiduguri’s airspace is now open to all flight operations. After the inspection, Governor Shettima trekked for 2 kilometres from the airport acknowledging cheers from residents who obviously appreciated his effort in gaining peace and progress in Borno State,” Mr. Gusau said.
When asked whether he subscribed to the rumour that the attackers were hired by Mr. Sheriff’s loyalists to ridicule Mr. Shettima, the spokesperson said, “We do not know those behind that attempt. It is the responsibility of security agencies and journalists to identify them. But (what) we do know is that Governor Shettima’s focus is entirely on delivering projects and programmes to better the lives.”
Triumphant entry
Meanwhile, the ex-governor, Mr. Sheriff, made a triumphant entry into the city amidst a choking convoy that halted the city’s traffic for about two hours.
Interestingly, Mr. Shettima was not around to welcome his fellow APC member and predecessor.
The deputy governor, Zannah Mustapha, and five members of the Federal House of Representative accompanied Mr. Sheriff from Gombe State airport to condole the Emir of Shani’s family in Shani Town before they made the 250km trip to Maiduguri on Sunday. At the entry to the city, all members of the state assembly, led by their speaker, Abdulkareem Lawan, turned out to welcome Mr. Sheriff along with hundreds of party loyalists including some serving members of the state executive council.
Mr. Sheriff, who was visibly elated by the tumultuous welcome and reception, said his visit to Maiduguri was unplanned. He said he decided to come to Maiduguri after his visit to Shani to condole the family of the late emir, Muhamnadu Mailafiya, who died recently.
“I have not visited Maiduguri for the past 11 months now, but the demise of our Royal father, the Emir of Shani, actually created an opportunity for me to visit and see my people. I am deeply happy and humbled by this huge welcome you gave me from Damboa up to Maiduguri. I also thank the people of Bayo, Kwayakusar, Biu, and Hawul whose huge turn out to accompany me to Shani and back to Biu yesterday was unprecedented,” he said.
He declined further comments on whether he was planning any major political move ahead of 2015.
Shettima carves new niche for himself
Mr. Sheriff led Borno State as governor between 2003 and 2011, making him the only person to have governed the state for two-terms. After his tenure, he virtually installed Mr. Shettima, a banker with little political pedigree, as his successor. Mr. Shettima became the flagbearer of the then All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, Mr. Sheriff’s party, and eventually won the governorship election. The choice of Mr. Shettima as the ANPP flagbearer was opposed by many members of the party. Both men became members of the APC when the ANPP merged with other parties to form the former.
Mr. Sheriff, who was a senator before winning the 2003 governorship election, lost a 2011 senatorial seat to his Peoples Democratic Party challenger.
The current governor has used every opportunity to distance himself from Mr. Sheriff’s government; perhaps to appease many residents who blame Mr. Sheriff for the insecurity in the state.
And at every political forum available, Mr. Sheriff’s years of stint is being used as a metaphor for bad governance, in spite of the fact that both Mr. Shettima and his political benefactor are of the same political party.
Befriending the enemy
The fight for supremacy between the two politicians has split the Borno APC into two factions.
Mr. Shettima’s loyalists want him to form his own political structure, different from the already existing and rooted structure of his boss ahead of 2015; a move the governor appears to be towing.
The governor is becoming increasingly popular among Borno residents for what some describe as his simplicity, humble disposition, and style of development. Also, in the past three months, Mr. Shettima has been receiving defectors from the opposition PDP into the APC. Most of the new entrants were once political rivals of Mr. Sheriff, who challenged him in his two-terms as governor.
“Courting friendship with the enemies of your benefactor could be the worst treachery committed by Governor Shettima”, said a serving adviser in Mr. Shettima’s cabinet, who asked not to be named so as not to be victimized by the governor.
“We all know why Senator Sheriff had to deal with some politicians politically; and we all know how it assisted us to remain in power since 1999. If you now come and try to befriend these people who claim they love you because you are different from Sheriff, then be sure of a venomous bite, because you invited vipers into your home”, said the politician.
During Mr. Sheriff’s grand entry and rally in Maiduguri on Sunday, the posters of Mr. Imam, a former ANPP state chairman, who also served as Commissioner for Water Resources and Education during the eight years tenure of Mr. Sheriff, was seen pasted all over the town, touting him as a possible replacement for Mr. Shettima. Some of the inscription on the posters and billboards read, Muhammed Imam for 2015.
A serving member of the House of Reps for the Chibok, Damboa, Gwoza Federal constituency, Peter Guptha, described the sour relationship between Messrs Shettima and Sheriff as unfortunate.
“The best thing I expect from Governor Shettima is to avoid people who would incite him against his god-father”, he said. “I believe Sheriff meant well when he brought him in and made him a governor. Building one’s political structure is a very difficult task; it takes more than two years or the days of a four years tenure to achieve. That is why we have to rely on existing structure. Shettima is a nice gentleman, but those advising him towards the path of war are the evil ones”.

Obasanjo’s Letter: PDP bows, begs OBJ

…says party needs him now, more than ever . Urges him to ignore Buruji

The National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur has indicated to former President Olusegun Obasanjo that his fatherly aura and experiences in politics were still required by the party in its drive to get stronger and more formidable.
Tukur made this known in his reply to a letter earlier sent by Obasanjo dated January 7, 2014 to the party and President Jonathan.
He said the PDP has more pressing challenges bothering most importantly on the coming governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun state as well as the overall general election scheduled for 2015, all which require strong inputs from the former President.
The PDP Chairman, while preaching continuous dialogue and need for stronger partnership among stakeholders of the party, told Obasanjo pointedly that the need for the ruling party to reclaim the lost grounds in the south-west required the full support of party leaders like him.
Sounding conciliatory in his response to Obasanjo’s letter, Tukur expressed gratitude to the manner of approach by the president in presenting his grievances on issues in the PDP southwest, stressing, “I thank you for your gesture and I pray that we shall all continue to dialogue and partner to move our party forward.
Tukur said there is the need for PDP to attain success in the “Governorship elections coming up this year in Ekiti and Osun states and the subsequent elections in 2015 to reclaim lost grounds in the South-West.
The PDP Chairman took time to address the complaint by the former President on the state of PDP in the south-west. He said the crises within the PDP in the zone had been there before he took over the mantle of leadership of the party.
He noted also that the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the National Working Committee of PDP were never party of the problems in the south-west PDP, adding, “We came in when we were threatened with contempt of Court Charges for not obeying the court’s order to dissolve the southwest zonal Executive and remove some officers of the party.
“We complied with the Court’s orders because of our belief in the rule of law and to avoid consequences of disobeying such orders. Tukur’s reply to Obasanjo read in part, “It is an honour that you deemed it fit and proper to intimate me with an issue important to your mind and our party in the south-west zone.
It is my wish and prayer that such cordial and positive relationship will continue between your good self; former President and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of our great party on one hand, and my humble self, the National Chairman of our party on the other hand” “Buruji Kasamu came to limelight in politics as a result of the role he played in the politics of Ogun State where both of you come from.
He later became a rallying point in the south-west following the Courts’ Orders in the series of cases brought about as a result of disagreements among leaders of the party in the south-west, and Ogun state in particular.
“In my opinion, Buruji became a rallying point because of the absence of a zonal executive in the south-west. This vacuum in the south-west has made him the person to whom many members in all the chapters of the party in the zone approach for one form of assistance or the other”
The Chairman disclosed to Obasanjo plans by the PDP to conduct a zonal congress in the south-west zone to elect new zonal executive to be in authority in the zone, in compliance with the orders of the courts.
He said for such zonal congress to hold successfully Obasanjo and other leaders from the southwest should build a strong consensus for that purpose.