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Friday, 20 November 2015

Edo 2016: Battle of the titans

The race to the Governorship of Edo State, from all appearances, promises to take the shape of the legendry “Battle of the Titans”. With no less than 20 aspirants across the party divide already in the race and still counting, there is little doubt that the ancient and traditional land of Igomigodo is about to witness a robust political contest that will stretch the political maturity of the people to the limit. But it is all for the best and shows that the incumbent Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has not only opened the political space in the State in the last eight years but has further opened the eyes of the people to the realities of governance.
What is, perhaps, most interesting is the mix of the aspirants to the governorship race. Aside the old political war horses who have made their appearances in the race once or twice, or have held political positions by reason of appointments, there is a full dose of the academia who have, over the years, made their marks and left their footprints in the sands of the nation’s Ivory Tower. Then there are the members of the Private Sector who, perhaps, have suddenly realised that in order to grow the real economy of the State they must be on the driver’s seat and in control of the engine of growth which is the Private Sector.
Heading the political old war horses is, for example, Professor Oserhemen Osunbor who contested and won the Edo State Governorship election in 2007 with the ticket of the PDP but whose election was invalidated by the State’s Election Tribunal in 2008. Interestingly, the man he now seeks to succeed in office, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, is the same person who took the seat from him by virtue of the Tribunal’s verdict. Perhaps, more interesting is the fact that the erudite Professor is attempting a come back under the umbrella of the ruling APC. Then there is Professor Julius Ihonvbere, Political Scientist and former Secretary to the Government of Edo State. He resigned in 2012 and contested the Edo North Senatorial seat but lost. He is also contesting under the umbrella of the APC.
And heading the Private Sector entrants, perhaps, is Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi, a former Group Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who lately decamped from the PDP to the APC. He runs alongside  Professor Osayuki Oshodin, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, another PDP decampee, Chief Lucky Imasuen and Pastor Ize Iyamu of the PDP. There is also Architect Mike Onelememen, Senator Ehige Uzamere and Major General Charles Airhiavhere who battled for the seat with Comrade Oshiomhole in 2012. With all these men in the race, is there any doubt that the people are going to witness a repeat of the Battle of the Titans? This is because these are juggernauts in their own rights and judging from their records, they should not be taken lightly when they enter a political battle such as is being envisaged in the State in 2016.
One possible difficulty, though, that could arise for the people in making their choice, perhaps, will be the personalities involved: what with the different levels of influence that are bound to come to play during the campaigns and the election itself. However, the out-going administration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has lessened the burden of choice by providing the dividends of good governance by which any incoming administration would, no doubt, be assessed. He has, in the last eight years, brought to bear on the State the effectiveness and efficiency of the Private Sector as engine of growth of any economy.  The people of Edo State need someone who will sustain that tempo of development in the State after Oshiomhole.

Looking at the profiles of the aspirants, especially those coming from the Private Sector, Engineer Christopher Ogiemwonyi stands out as the leader and most experienced administrator and manager of men and resources. With over 30 years of work experience in the oil and gas industry, this graduate of the University of Benin, a 1974 B.Sc. (Hons) holder in Applied Physics with option in Electronics and 1976 post graduate Diploma holder in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Ibadan, has proven his mettle as an administrator and high profile manager of men and resources. Aside his intimidating academic achievements, 64 year old Christopher has a daunting career profile which began way back in the late 1970s. He began his career as a Petroleum Engineer 11 in 1975 with the Conservation Department and in February, 1977 was seconded to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Warri, a secondment which was enriched by a four and half month Advance Petroleum Engineering Programme in SPDC Training Centre in the Hague, Netherlands. Between 1978 through 1982, he worked in various departments of Petroleum Resources including the then newly created gas Department.
In 1999, he was promoted General Manager, Operations and moved to National Petroleum Investments Management Services (NAPIMS) to oversee the Operations Division. He midwifed various projects especially the Local content initiative of the Federal Government. By dint of hard work, he was appointed the Group General Manager, NAPIMS in 2001. As GGM NAPIMS, he oversaw the whole industry including the Joint Ventures (JV) and the Production Sharing Companies (PSCs). While in NAPIMS, he served as Chairman, Nigeria OTC Committee for 2003 and 2004. Between 1999-2003, he midwifed key projects including EA field, Erha field, Bonga field and Agbami field amongst others. Also, under his watch, NAPIMS achieved zero cash call arrears by October, 2003. As GGM NAPIMS, the Oil Industry was encouraged on joint utilization of assets such as offshore swamp rigs. Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi is, perhaps most noted today for his achievements while in NAPIMS. With an objective to compete with international oil and gas concerns, Engnr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, in 1988, facilitated the formation of Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) which he headed as Project Leader (Petroleum Engineer) in Benin City until 1999.
Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC),was incorporated in 1988 and, as stated earlier, one of its objectives was to compete as an indigenous Oil and Gas producing Company. NPDC was assigned four acreages including OML – 65 containing Abura Field, a takeover asset from the defunct TENNECO then producing at 980 bopd. He championed the takeover of this asset, kept an up-to-date reserves position of the new Company and served as the Abura Field Project Leader, He raised the production level from 980 bopd to over 4,000 bopd in 1990. In 1992, he served as Oredo Field Project Leader. This was a Greenfield project that involved KELT ENERGY,UK and IP CONSTRUCTION, Calgary. He also served as Oziengbe field Leader. This is another 10,000 bopd EPC facility at Oziengbe field.
If the career profile of Chris Ogiemwonyi is daunting, his professional progression is even more so. For example, he is currently President, Energy and Engineering Technology Construction Company, an Energy Consulting Group, a position he has held since May 2011. He was Minister of State for Works from April 2010 to May 2011, President Energy Strategy Centre (Esc) Abuja, an Energy Consulting Group,  from September 2009 to April 2010, Group Executive Director Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ( Exploration & Production Directorate) from September 2007 to April 2009. As Group Executive Director (GED) Exploration and Production, Engr. Ogiemwonyi was in charge of seven NNPC Companies and Subsidiaries which included National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), LNG & Power Division, Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL), Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) Crude Oil, Marketing Division and Local Content Division.  He was Managing Director, Nigerian Gas Company Limited Warri, from March 2005 to September 2007. In March 2005, he was reassigned to National Gas Company Limited as Managing Director. His focus was to increase gas supply to major customers like; PHCN, SNG, GSLINK, WAPCO, SHAGAMU, and EWEKORO, NOTORE FERTILIZER PH,OBAJANA CEMENT COMPANY etc NGC is coordinating 130mmscf/d gas supply (WAGP – West Africa gas Supply Project) to Benin, Togo, Ghana and hopefully to Ivory Coast. Trans- Sahara Gas Project (TSGP), the 2 billion scf/d supply from Nigeria through Algeria to Europe, was another portfolio under his supervision as NGC’s helmsman.
A technocrat per excellent, Chris Ogiemwonyi served on the board of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). He was also former council member of Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Warri and Chairman, N-Gas. Also a former Director NETCODIETSMANN and one time Board member of Nigermed, Engnr. Ogiemwonyi served as member, Presidential Committee on Independent Power Project (IPP) development for Niger Delta, served as a member of the NNPC Corporate Board and Chairman of Hyson/Calson Joint Venture (JV). He was also a member of the Presidential Committee on Accelerated Expansion of Electricity Infrastructure.
A product of the Harvard Business School, Ogiemwonyi belongs to many professional bodies including the society of Petroleum Engineers. He is a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and former President of the Nigeria Gas Association. He is a recipient of the Justice of Peace (JP) by Edo State Government and the Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award. Ogiemwonyi, who is married and blessed with children, is patron to several bodies, including the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the Association of Community Newspapers Publishers of Nigeria (ACNPN) .
•Obasuyi sent this piece from Benin

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Frank Marshall Davis: Obama’s ‘Communist mentor’?



Barack Obama, second row right, is shown in a 1978 senior yearbook photo at the Punahou School in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Punahoe Schools, File)
Megyn Kelly: A lot of liberals don’t believe in American exceptionalism, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love America.
Rudolph Giuliani: Well, that I don’t feel it. I don’t feel it. I don’t feel this love of America. I think this man (Obama) was — when I talked about his background, I’m talking about a man who grew up under the influence of Frank Marshall Davis, who was a member of the Communist Party who he refers to over and over in his book, who was a tremendous critic of the United States.
Kelly: But when you say he wasn’t raised to love America, I mean, he was raised in part by his grandparents, his – his grandfather served in World War II, his grandmother worked in a munitions plant to help the nation during World War II. I mean, to suggest he was raised by people who don’t love America, who don’t — didn’t help him learn to love America.
Giuliani: Well, his — his grandfather introduced him to Frank Marshall Davis, who was a Communist.
–Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Fox News interview with Megyn Kelly, Feb. 20, 2015
President Obama met Frank Marshall Davis four decades ago and saw Davis 10 to 15 times as a teenager. Yet the Obama-Davis relationship continues to be a concern among some politicians, as portrayed most recently by Giuliani during his Tour de President Obama Doesn’t Love America. Readers of The Fact Checker wanted to know if Giuliani’s comments were accurate.
So we reached out to Cliff Kincaid, president of America’s Survival, a group that seeks to expose Communist and Marxist influences. It is research from Kincaid and a few others that has shaped the opinion of critics who believe Obama adopted radical, socialist ideologies under Davis’s mentorship. Davis was a journalist and activist who was associated with the Communist Party in the 1930s and 1940s.
We interviewed Kincaid at the Conservative Political Action Conference. When The Fact Checker arrived, Kincaid had been waiting with four of his peers, stacks of documents and a video camera pointed at an empty seat saved for us.
“The Frank in Obama’s book, ‘Dreams from My Father,’ is Frank Marshall Davis,” Kincaid said. “You don’t dispute that.”
“It has been admitted,” he continued, “except that here we are, to be honest with you, seven years after we broke this story. … The Washington Post has not reported the facts about Obama’s relationship with Frank Marshall Davis. That’s why I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity so you can hear directly from us and see the material we have.”
He and his peers do not outwardly label Obama a Communist, but believe Communist influences have been played down by the media. Obama has shown to be an ineffective Communist, if he were one. He has failed to unravel the capitalist system over the past six years that he has held the most powerful position in the world — though, as Obama says, “interesting things happen in the fourth quarter.”
So we decided to take a definitive look at Davis’s Communist Party activities and his relationship with Obama, based on competing research by those who have spent years trying to posthumously vindicate or indict Davis.
What was Frank Marshall Davis’s Communist influence on Obama?

The Facts: The Case Against Davis

Davis was born in Kansas in 1905. His encounters with racism and poverty throughout childhood inspired his life-long quest for racial and economic equality. He lived and worked in Chicago for most of his early adulthood, then moved to Hawaii, where he died in 1987.
He was a prolific poet and political columnist. He associated with other black-rights activists and labor unions and decried Jim Crow segregation laws in his columns.
His writings caught the attention of the FBI, which began tracking him in the 1930s, according to FBI records that Kincaid obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The FBI was concerned with his role as executive editor of the Associated Negro Press, through which agents believed he was spreading Communist propaganda to the outlet’s members.
Informants told the FBI that Davis was a member of the party and organized its marches. The FBI record of Davis contains what is purported to be his Communist Party identification number: #47544. (The number was obtained from a “highly confidential source,” the files show.) The House Committee on Un-American Activities was well aware of Davis by the late 1940s. Davis’s last identification as a Communist Party member was in 1952, and he stopped being active with the Hawaii Civil Rights Congress in 1956, the file says. When Davis took the Fifth Amendment in front of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in 1956, agents were suspicious.
So the FBI continued to track him into the 1960s and did not officially remove him from the Security Index until 1963.
Davis had an interest in photography. In Hawaii, he took pictures of shorelines, apparently not photographing any particular objects, according to an FBI informant. That implies he might have been taking photos for espionage, to send to Soviet leaders to target Hawaii as a strategic territory, said Kincaid and Trevor Loudon, a libertarian activist who also researches this topic.
No other person can claim the title of Obama “mentor” than Davis, wrote Paul Kengor in “The Communist,” his book about Davis and Obama. “Frank is a lasting, permanent influence, an integral part of Obama’s sojourn,” he wrote.
Obama’s grandfather introduced him to Davis, whom Obama took to as a father-like figure, Kengor wrote. Kengor quotes passages from “Dreams from My Father” of their conversations on social justice, race relations and limitations of white tolerance.
Obama sat around listening to stories as his grandfather and Davis drank, and “it would be the height of gullibility to assume that (Davis), during those long evenings of talk and drink, never taught any politics to the wide-eyed Obama, or ruminated aloud with no effect whatsoever on the impressionable young man in the room — brought there (by a leftist grandfather) to be mentored in the first place,” Kengor wrote.
Obama sought advice from Davis as a college freshman — the last known meeting between the two. As Obama became a community organizer in college and later grappled with the challenges of race and poverty in Chicago, he visualized Davis and asked, “What would Frank do? What would Frank think?” Kengor wrote. Obama does refer to Davis several times in his book when listing people who influenced his understanding of his black identity.
The use of the word “change” during Obama’s first campaign for president hearkens Davis’s desire for change, Kengor wrote.
Why do Kincaid and others believe that the relationship with Davis shaped Obama more than, say, his own experiences and others he met throughout his life? Why does it matter that he met Davis as a teen? It’s that Davis was a “hard-core member” of the Communist Party and hated America and instilled those thoughts in Obama, Kincaid said. Obama also has gone on to surround himself with others with radical left views, Kincaid said.
“There are millions of black people who had just as bad an experience as him [Davis] who didn’t become anti-American Marxists. That’s the key point, isn’t it?” Loudon said.

The Facts: The Case For Davis

Davis’s memoir, “Livin’ the Blues: Memoirs of a Black Journalist and Poet,” shows the evolution of his political views on segregation and economic inequality. He worked low-wage jobs until he started his career as a news reporter, covering politics and crime in Chicago and Atlanta. He became a political columnist for the Chicago Star, which had Marxist-Lenninist leanings and pro-labor views. Writings in his column, “Frank-ly Speaking,” showed he developed class-based ideologies that linked racism with classicism and fascism.
Davis never identifies himself as a Communist Party member in “Livin’ the Blues.” But he describes working with members, as long as they helped him achieve his goals. He had memberships, endorsements or affiliations with more than a dozen leftist groups, including the Chicago Civil Liberties Committee, CIO unions and the National Committee to Combat Anti-Semitism.
“I worked with all kinds of groups,” Davis wrote, “I made no distinction between those labeled Communist, Socialist or merely liberal. My sole criterion was this: Are you with me in my determination to wipe out white supremacy? Because I had some smattering of prestige as a writer and wielded some influence as an opinion maker in the black press at large, my active participation was welcomed.”
He was aware his associations had caught the attention of the FBI and the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He was amused by the FBI’s surveillance and was proud of it: “I would accept any resultant citation [by FBI or the committee] as an honor, for it would indicate I was beginning to upset the white power structure.”
When an FBI agent eventually interviewed him in Hawaii, Davis denied party membership. He wrote: “When they could find no evidence I was plotting to overthrow the government by force and violence, the Hoover gestapo turned to other tactics. … I owe the FBI an apology for causing them a needless waste of so much energy on me.”
Davis was a closet Communist at best, said John Edgar Tidwell, a University of Kansas professor who studies Davis’s writings. He was among many black intellectuals at the time who were exploring ways to dismantle Jim Crow laws and were attracted to groups that embraced social equality, redistribution of wealth and power, and integration, Tidwell said.
“He was not out there on the front lines carrying pickets and signs,” Tidwell said. “He wasn’t trying to overthrow the government at all. What he was seeking to do was intellectually find a way by which African Americans could be included into the mainstream of American life and culture.”
It is important to remember the U.S. political climate during the late 1930s through the early 1950s. The House Un-American Activities Committee and FBI were quick to label people and organizations with dissenting views as Communist. They were especially suspicious of people with pro-labor and civil-rights views, said Chris Brick, editor of George Washington University’s Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project. Brick has studied the thousands of pages of FBI files on Eleanor Roosevelt, under suspicion for her political activism and her criticism of the House committee.
Davis and his experiences made an impression on Obama, as shown in “Dreams from My Father.” Davis “made the young man feel something deep and disorienting” about his identity, wrote David Remnick in “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.” Obama’s anecdotes show he was intrigued by Davis’s experiences and insight. But the relationship was “neither constant nor lasting, certainly of no great ideological importance,” Remnick wrote.
Davis’s son, Mark, said he did not know his father had been involved with the Communist Party or that he had met Obama until he read about it years after his father died. So if Frank had had a father-son type of relationship with Obama, it is curious that Mark would never have heard about it.
“When I was growing up, I knew that my father had some radical history. But I did not know that he had joined the Communist Party,” Mark Davis said in a phone interview. “He did not in any respect try to indoctrinate me into any collectivist mindset.” And, he said, he doesn’t believe there was any indoctrination by osmosis for Obama.

The Pinocchio Test

It has been seven years since this assertion surfaced, and it continues to be perpetuated. Davis was indeed associated with the Communist Party, and the FBI identified him as a member. He was affiliated with more than a dozen other groups that were open to his views on social and racial inequality. He repeatedly showed his bitterness toward Jim Crow laws and wanted African Americans to have constitutional rights. He was an activist, but there is no evidence that Davis was a hard-core Communist who spied for Soviet leaders. He was critical of American society, but not America as a country.
Davis made an impression on Obama, as shown in his memoir. Obama mentions Davis several times in “Dreams from My Father” as someone who influenced his understanding of his black identity. But there is no evidence Obama was “raised” by Davis, or that Davis remained a close Communist mentor who advised him throughout his life. We carefully considered the facts underlying this assertion, and the evidence is slim. We may never definitively know one way or another, but it is time to put it to rest. (Update: Paul Kengor, author of “The Communist,” wrote a lengthy rebuttal of this fact check for The American Thinker.)

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Applying Okafor’s Law in a new Nigeria

By Simon Kolawole

Interesting stuff. When the National Assembly was about to be inaugurated in 1999, some shadowy figures took money to the lawmakers to influence the leadership elections. A “principled” senator from the south-west turned down the N150,000 offered to him through a fellow senator who acted as the middleman. Some days later, the “principled” senator turned down another N200,000, which was intended for the confirmation of ministers. His colleagues then decided to leave him out of the loop. But he soon stumbled on another
sharing session in another room at the Hilton hotel. This time, it was N350,000. Our dear senator finally decided to eat his share of the national cake.

“Take it to my room,” he said, repentantly. And having realised how much he had missed on two occasions, he quickly asked for the arrears: “And the other one… and the other one.”

Have you ever heard about Okafor’s Law? It is the law of “repeatable” action: if you have done something once, you can do it again. If you have been somewhere before, you can go there again. This is because you have crossed the Rubicon. Although it is often mischievously applied to boy-girl relationships, Okafor’s law is a principle of life. If you collect bribe once, you can collect bribe again. If you drive against one way once, you can do it again. If you beat traffic light once, you can beat it again. In other words, having crossed the boundary, you can cross it again. Once you set off on a note, you are in position to continue with it.

As the senate started screening President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees on Tuesday, Okafor’s Law came to mind. Are we going to start on a wrong note again?

I was in Abuja, expecting to hear rumours of Ghana-Must-Go (GMG) bags being moved around to facilitate the confirmation. I waited in vain. I am not saying for sure that nothing exchanged hands, or that no promises were made.

However, to the best of my knowledge, GMG was not deployed. Buhari’s body language is unmistakable. Who would dare offer confirmation bribe? Who would dare be the middleman? Who would dare collect it? It is now a risky
adventure. I left Abuja in high spirits.

Now, let’s compare and contrast. President Olusegun Obasanjo came to power on May 29, 1999 with the promise of building a new Nigeria, of changing our orientation, of creating a transparent society, of wrestling corruption to the
ground, and so on and so forth. I loved him to pieces. I believed in him. A few days later, it was time to elect the senate president. The clear choice of the PDP senators-elect was Dr. Chuba Okadigbo. But we were told Obasanjo did not
want him, so a lot happened on the eve of the inauguration of the National Assembly. Let’s just say Obasanjo had his way by hook and crook.

Unfortunately, once we took off on that cash-and-carry note, it became a culture at the National Assembly. Okafor’s Law simply set in. From that moment, ministerial confirmation, passage of bills, appropriation of budgets, public hearings, change of leadership and “oversight” functions became a matter of naira and kobo — and later on, dollars and more dollars. From the initial price of as little as N150,000 for ministerial confirmation in 1999, it rose to N50m in 2003. We started discussing billions thereafter. It had nothing to do
with geo-political zones, ethnic affiliation, party membership or gender. No. Nigerian politicians are blood brothers and sisters when it comes to “sharing”.

Every day, I see parallels between Obasanjo and Buhari. Both were soldiers. Both were military dictators. Both won democratic, national mandates to be president. Both were faced with similar challenges of a failing economy and moral decadence. Their commitment to duty is unquestionable.

Obasanjo, in particular, always worked round the clock. Yet the two men are so different — and I am not talking about their looks. Obasanjo is, clearly, intellectually ahead of Buhari. He also, evidently, has a broader worldview than
Buhari. Obasanjo’s nationalism, even at the risk of being ostracised by his Yoruba kith and kin, was remarkable.

But Buhari manifestly has greater moral character than his former boss. No matter your nationalism, intellectual ability and work rate, your moral character is most critical — and that, in my opinion, is what Nigeria needs the most to be
transformed. Buhari and Obasanjo have never been on the same pedestal in terms of character. Obasanjo easily lost the moral authority to inspire a new Nigeria when he was president. His government took off on a shaky note in 1999.

His attempts at redemption during his second term were again rubbished by the invasion of National Assembly by GMGs in the wake of the third term saga. Personal example is key to moral transformation.

Corruption is a virus that has compromised the health ofNigeria. Buhari has a golden opportunity to install the anti- virus and reboot the system. He has the mistakes of Obasanjo to learn from. He has the street appeal to keep him
in check. He has the moral authority to inspire new thinking. So far, I would say it is going well. He did not want Bukola Saraki as senate president but we never heard that GMGs were deployed to stop Saraki. He nominated some
controversial figures as ministers but he has not intervened with bags of dollars to get them confirmed by hook and crook. I am lovin’ it, to borrow MacDonald’s pay-off. Will Okafor’s Law now apply positively to the National Assembly since we have started on a GMG-free note? Let’s hope so. Budget defence used to be the height of perfidy.

Some committees would take rooms at hotels, far away from the National Assembly complex, and invite contractors — not ministries, departments or agencies — to come and “defend” the amounts allocated to their projects. They would ask for “settlement in advance” to enable them make “good”
provision for the projects. Any contractor who did not play ball was scandalised and the budget ridiculously sliced.

Impunity was the rule. I hope this will not happen without repercussions under Buhari’s watch.

The conspiracy to steal and waste our oil wealth was unimaginable. Some lawmakers were offering to jack up budgetary allocations on the precondition that a ministry or agency would bring some hefty sums in advance. The head
of an agency complained to me sometime in 2011: “The committee chairman told me they would add N25 billion to my budget if I agreed to give them N2 billion cash in advance.” That is why a president would send a budget of N1
trillion to the National Assembly and by the time the lawmakers are done with “budget defence”, it would end up as N1.4 trillion. The perfidy is heartbreaking. That is why Nigeria is like this.

Do I need to talk about those “oversight” functions? It is all about the money. Any minister or head of agency who does not play ball is given a hard time by the oversight committee.

Probes are instituted at the slightest opportunity. Committee members will ask an agency to foot the bill for a public hearing — even when this is already provided for in the National Assembly budget. So the money comes out twice.
Committee members want to travel abroad for a “conference” (probably a sex party in Dubai) and, in addition to the official allowances from the National Assembly, they will collect allowances from agencies they are supervising.
Lord have mercy.

Am I suggesting that corruption is limited to the National Assembly? Not by any chance. In fact, imagine what goes on at the state and council levels. It is humongous. Imagine what goes on at MDAs. It is murderous. But Buhari’s journey with the National Assembly so far is encouraging. The president will still have to deal with the crooks in his cabinet.

A couple of these guys are not fit to be ministers, but I am hoping they will play into Buhari’s hands and end up disgraced and prosecuted. That would be a good signal that we are in a new Nigeria. Once Buhari fires a minister for
corruption, he can fire another one. I love Okafor’s Law. And I mean its constructive, positive application.


Saturday, 26 September 2015

Ministerial list: Buhari dumps 73 nominees from states

Governors and leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) should expect the shock of their lives as Presi­dent Muhammadu Buhari prepares to unveil members of his much expected cabinet with several of the over 73 nom­inees submitted from across the states conspicuously missing from the list.
Saturday Sun gathered that governors from APC-controlled states and some na­tional leaders of the party had submitted no less than 73 names for the president to select his ministers from. This is despite the president’s initial warning before his swearing-in in May that he would not al­low state governors to nominate ministers for him.
Of the 23 states controlled by the APC, only Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was said to have submitted only one name, a former governor of the state (names withheld) while the rest sub­mitted either two or three names to the president to chose one from for appoint­ment as ministers representing their states in the Federal Executive Council.
A reliable source in the presidency told Saturday Sun: “The ministerial list will soon be out as promised by the President but it is full of surprises because many min­isterial hopefuls and those who nominated them will be shocked. This is because the President won’t be bound by the old tradi­tion.”
The old tradition, it was gathered, means the practice in the past where state gov­ernors and party leaders would nominate three names from their states, out of which the President would pick one as minister representing the state in FEC.
From May 1999 to May 2015, it has been the tradition of the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal Government to appoint a minimum of one minister from each of the 36 states of the federation and six others from the geopo­litical zones into the Federal Executive Council.
The APC governors had in a meeting with the then president-elect before their swearing-in on May 29 pleaded with Bu­hari to give them the privilege of nominat­ing ministers from their respective states as it’s always been done. Though the presi­dent did not approve the proposal, Saturday Sun gathered that the governors went ahead to submit names and CVs of their nominees weeks later.
Giving an insight into what his party leaders, governors and indeed Nigerians should expect from him on the composi­tion of his cabinet, Buhari had in May said: “I am an ardent listener of Hausa Service of Voice of America (VOA) and the Brit­ish Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) from 6am to 7am every morning. I am going to quote myself because I heard in one of the interviews that I said the type of people I am supposed to appoint, like in the cabi­net and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and service chiefs, will be different. Definitely, my approach is going to be different from what we had under the PDP where governors nominated minis­ters”.
The then president-elect had said if state governors are at liberty to appoint their commissioners, he, too, should be at liberty to choose those who would serve with him in the FEC, thereby abolishing the existing tradition where state governors are the ones that submit names of their candidates for ministerial appointments.
“I have been around long enough to know people that I can approach for things like that… Deliberately, we will look for com­petent people, dedicated and experienced to head ministries and, of course, there will be schedules for ministers and we will ex­pect them to fill them. Certainly, there is a lot to do but we are hoping that we’ll get good people to be in charge of ministries who can apply themselves to their respon­sibilities so that in no time Nigerians would begin to see the difference”.
The first strong indication that Buhari would not be dictated to in the composi­tion of his cabinet emerged in July when he named Major Gen. Babagana Monguno as his National Security Adviser to the sur­prise of most APC leaders and Nigerians who had given it to Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau. Almost a month later, Buhari again shocked his party and in­deed the nation when he announced Engr Babachair David Lawal and Abba Kyari as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chief of Staff, respectively. Before then, names of top APC leaders like Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and Rotimi Amaechi had been touted as likely SGF while former Lagos governor Babatunde Raji Fashola was well favoured as the likely COS to the president.
Reacting to the development, Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors’ Forum and Imo state gover­nor, Rochas Okorocha said they won’t be­grudge the President.
Okorocha, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Sam Onwuemeodo, said the governors are more interested in federal projects in their states than ministe­rial appointments.
According to him: “Okorocha did not support Muhammadu Buhari to become president because of who would become minister from lmo State. He supported him because he has what it takes to offer Nige­rians the needed and the expected change. And he has begun to enthrone that change and anybody he feels can help him achieve that goal he has the better option of bring­ing the person on board.
“Governor Okorocha has repeatedly said that what Imo State and, indeed, the South-East need most at the moment are projects that can usher in development and growth. Some of these appointments had in the past only succeeded in producing contented millionaires without the larger society benefiting from the appointments. Imo had had minister of Aviation yet Imo Airport could not be upgraded. The state had had also Minister of Education and the only achievement was taking women whose husbands were alive and branded them widows and took them to Abuja as tools of blackmail. So, President Buhari should be given a free hand to pick his team.”

Fear of arrest: Politicians lobby CCB to rectify declaration forms

There are indications that politicians in the country have begun to lobby the Code of Conduct Bureau in a bid to amend some of the information in the asset declaration forms that they had earlier submitted.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the development is because of fear of arrest as this is coming in the light of the ongoing trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged false declaration of assets.
Investigation by Saturday PUNCH showed that state CCB offices have become busier following Saraki’s ordeal at the CCT, but sources told our correspondents that it was too late for politicians to change the information they had earlier given to the bureau.
For instance, sources in the CCB office in Delta State disclosed that some politicians, including senators and members of the House of Representatives, have been lobbying officials of the bureau to grant them permission to amend the asset declaration forms they had submitted.
According to the source, politicians in the state had until now taken the exercise for granted, believing that they could never be prosecuted over it.
The source said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption stance and the trial of Saraki at the CCT seemed to have jolted the politicians.
Confirming that politicians have begun lobbying CCB officials, the source, who did not want to be named, added that officials of the bureau have recently had to take their security more seriously as a result of the fresh attention drawn to it by Saraki’s prosecution.
The source said, “The Saraki trial has caused politicians to become jittery. They have been gripped by fear of arrest because of the recent political events and some of them have been secretly visiting our offices to lobby some of us. They include senators and members of the House of Representatives.
“Some of the politicians that have been coming are highly placed. Before now, they took everything for granted, knowing that they are in the same party with the government at the centre. With the recent developments, many of them are now rushing to amend the information given on their asset declaration forms.
“They say there might be errors in their forms and that they are willing to make the necessary adjustments.”
Our correspondents also learnt that politicians in Ondo State have been approaching officials of CCB to assist them in amending the forms they had submitted to the bureau.
One of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, informed one of our correspondents that some politicians in the state, who were believed to have lied about their assets in the disclosure forms, have been pleading with officials of the bureau to allow them to review their information.
He said, “Some of them have been coming to us to amend some information on their forms, but there is nothing we can do about their request, because the forms had already been forwarded to Abuja and there is no way we can retrieve them again, at least from our own end here. I don’t know of any other means.”
The source, however, denied that officials of the bureau have been conniving with politicians to cover up for those who declared false assets, saying, “That is criminal, everybody is now very careful. This is an era of change and nobody wants to play with his job again.”
But a source at the CCB office in Enugu admitted to one of our correspondents that politicians sometimes want to review information they submitted in their forms, attributing it to their ignorance.
He said nobody is allowed to review information already put in such asset declaration forms.
He, however, regretted the possibility of some officials of the bureau conniving with politicians to make illegal amendments in the forms.
“Anything is possible,” he said, adding that “It is also possible that some staff of the bureau would conspire with politicians” to rectify completed assets declaration forms.
In the same vein, he revealed that, most times, officials of the CCB assist politicians in filling their asset declaration forms.
He said the CCB usually works with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, disclosing that the bureau recently aided the anti-graft agency by making the asset declaration form of a former governor of the state available for corruption charges.
The official said, “The CCB is usually involved in the investigation of corruption cases, particularly those involving elected public office holders.
“I know for a fact that when the EFCC brought charges against a former governor of this state (Enugu), we made input in the investigation because the assets declared at the beginning of the tenure were taken into consideration before the case was filed.”
In Rivers State, an official of the CCB, who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, however, described efforts by politicians to lobby the bureau’s officials as a waste of time.
The source also told Saturday PUNCH that once asset declaration forms were filled and submitted by politicians, it would be criminal for any official of the CCB to allow an amendment to the document.
Explaining that the filled forms were always sent to the CCB headquarters in Abuja after submission by politicians, the official insisted that such forms would not be returned even if they were still in the state.
The source said, “We have their (politicians) slips and completed forms, which have already been sent to the CCB in Abuja. Since the politicians had already sworn to oaths that whatever they filled in the forms as their assets is correct, they cannot come for amendments.
“It (amending or altering asset declaration) is not right; it is not possible and it is a criminal offence. It is not possible for any of us here to be involved in anything like that.”
The Ekiti State Director, CCB, Mr. Akinfolarin Feyisola, said there has been no lobbying of officials of the bureau by politicians in the state, adding that any official found wanting would be prosecuted.
He said, “We don’t have such cases here. The state office does not have the power to investigate and verify assets declared by anyone, except with the authorisation of the Federal Commissioner.”
A source at the CCB office in Osogbo told one of our correspondents on Friday that asset declaration forms filled by political office holders in Osun State had since been submitted to Abuja.
He said there was no way any politician could return to the state office to ‘rectify’ any falsehood in the asset declaration forms already submitted to them.
The State Director of the CCB in Akwa Ibom, Mr. Ime Obot, disclosed that when public officials in the state declare their assets, his office lacks the power to work on the contents or even view them.
According to him, as soon as a public official declares his assets in the form, which is enclosed in a sealed envelope, the agency’s duty in Uyo is to forward same to its headquarters in Abuja for further actions.
On politicians lobbying some workers of the agency to manipulate the contents of the documents in their favour, Obot said such situation does not exist in the state since his office does not have power over asset declaration.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Code of Conduct Bureau, Sam Saba, said he was not aware that politicians had started lobbying officials of the agency to rectify their asset declaration forms.
He said this in a text message in response to inquiries made by our correspondent in Osogbo on Friday.
Saba said, “As a matter of fact, verification of assets and liabilities of governors, lawmakers and others is a shared responsibility between the headquarters and state offices.
“Teams to verify are drawn up at the headquarters including staff from respective states. The teams are headed by Federal Commissioners on a zonal arrangement.
“I am not aware that politicians have been lobbying officials of the CCB to block loopholes in the forms filled that are already in its custody. Such requests have not reached our Abuja office.”

Pro-Lawan senators move to impeach Saraki

Sunday Aborisade and John Alechenu

There were indications on Friday that members of the Senate Unity Forum had started wooing senators loyal to the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki.
Saturday PUNCH reliably gathered that the move was part of fresh efforts to change the leadership of the Senate.

The group comprises senators, who were opposed to the emergence of Saraki as senate president.
It was learnt that the SUF members, who contacted the pro-Saraki senators, hinged their argument on the ongoing trial of the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
It was gathered that the group might have succeeded in securing the support of 12 pro-Saraki senators, mainly the Peoples Democratic Party members.
Investigations showed that the anti-Saraki group sought the support of the senate president’s loyalists because it had become obvious that the senate president could not be removed without the support of some senators that were sympathetic to him.
At the inauguration of the Senate on June 6, 57 out of 109 senators were reported to have voted for Saraki.
However, members of the SUF, who were supporting Senator Ahmed Lawan were at a meeting with the party leaders when the election was held.
Investigations revealed that some of the senators who supported Lawan’s bid had allegedly met with some All Progressives Congress leaders on the need to remove Saraki.
It was gathered that they started meeting with the leaders shortly after the Senate went on recess.
Specifically, a member of the group, who spoke with our correspondents on conditions of anonymity, explained that series of meetings had been held with APC leaders like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Chief Bisi Akande.
A member of the group from the South-West geopolitical zone, who also craved anonymity, confirmed to one of our correspondents that the SUF members had started reaching out to their colleagues who had joined the camp of Saraki.
He expressed optimism that the group would be able to muster enough support from other senators to get the required 73 members needed to oust the senate president.
He said, “We know that getting the required figure to carry out an impeachment at the moment would be a herculean task but honestly we hope to achieve it very soon. Already there has been a serious move to get our former party members who are with Saraki now back to our camp.
“I can also confirm to you that we have the support of about 12 Peoples Democratic Party senators who are ready to support any move against Saraki. Don’t forget that some ranking PDP senators are still aggrieved over the emergence of freshers as their principal officers.”
Further checks by one of our correspondents also revealed that some of the APC leaders who met with the SUF members had asked the anti – Saraki senators to work on some influential PDP senators who could get their colleagues to support their course.
A source said, “I am not in Abuja now, we shall resume on Monday. I don’t have specific information at the moment but what I can assure you of is that our leaders have said that it is fight to finish.
“We learnt that the like minds senators are already working on some of their supporters in the PDP camp to reject the ministerial list by refusing to screen them but we are also ready for them. I won’t disclose our strategy for now.”
One of our correspondents further learnt that the SUF were also working on a political solution to execute its agenda since it would be difficult for its members to dangle financial inducements to their colleagues because of the anti – corruption posture of the Buhari administration.
One of them confided in one of our correspondents that Saraki might want to save his face from the impending embarrassment at the end of the CCT trial by opting to step aside.
He said, “We know that he might want to give conditions like a settlement of his CCT case out of court, withdrawing of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission charges against his wife and an end to his former manager’s trial for alleged fraud at the Société Générale Bank. We could help him in this regard to have a soft landing and avoid disgrace. “
Senate spokesperson, who is also a die-hard supporter of Saraki, Senator Dino Melaye, did not pick his call when contacted for comments on Thursday
Also efforts to get reaction of the SUF’s spokesperson, Senator Kabiru Marafa, did not succeed as calls to his mobile telephone did not go through.
Also some senators contacted across the two camps, declined official comments but a PDP senator from the South-South geopolitical zone, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “We are watching events as they unfold. I won’t say more than that.”
The source explained off the record that since the trial of the senate president centered on corrupt enrichment as a public officer, the SUF would appeal to the conscience of Nigerians and the international community to prevail on Saraki to step aside and clear himself of the allegations preferred against him by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Part of the strategy, the source added, would include sponsoring of a motion by a member of the group to draw the attention of the red chamber to the trial of Saraki and plead with him to safe himself from unnecessary distraction by stepping aside for adequate concentration at the tribunal.
He said, “Nigerians should not see the on-going trial of the senate president as a witch-hunt, rather, they should rather try and find out whether it was true that he included a multi – million dollar property he bought in 2006 as part of his assets as of 2003.
“We should stop playing politics with everything in this country. The mantra of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is anti – corruption and it will not be proper to have a morally deficient person presiding over the affairs of the legislature being a critical arm of government.
“The prosecution counsel had promised to shock Nigerians with the revelations of witnesses who had testified against the senate president at the CCT. The implication of this is that all the charges were not fabricated or invented to spite him. He should therefore go and face his trial. “
Attempts to get the reactions of the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed as well as that of the party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, were unsuccessful.
The National Chairman of the party could not be reached as calls to his mobile telephone indicated that it was switched off.
Repeated calls to the mobile telephone numbers of Mohammed and Tinubu’s Spokesperson, Mr. Sunday Dare, were neither picked nor returned.
A response to text messages sent to them was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report at 8:45pm.
A pro-Saraki senator confided in one of our correspondents that the seat of the Senate President was not threatened because the Code of Conduct Tribunal had no jurisdiction to try Senator Bukola Saraki for any criminal offence.
He said, “The idea that members of the SUF are reaching out to pro-Saraki senators in the senate does not arise because majority of the members of the upper chamber had freely elected their presiding officers and would not be in a hurry to remove them because of any politically motivated trial by a tribunal which lacks jurisdiction to do so.
“Nobody can impeach or arrest the Senate President, and the lawyers are there to argue out the competence or otherwise of the CCT to try the case preferred against him. More than 80 senators had signed a document with which they unanimously passed a vote of confidence on their president.
“No senator had approached any of us on any issue of impeachment because they know the answer already. They cannot get 73 senators to impeach the Senate President. They are playing games and we are also ready for them. “
Attempts to speak with Senators Dino Melaye, Eyinnaya Abaribe, Hope Uzodinma, James Manager, Mao Ohuabunwa, Ali Ndume, and Bala Ibn Na’Allah, to get their views on the development failed as they neither picked their calls not react to text messages sent to them.
The phone of the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, was also switched off when one of our correspondents dialed his number on Friday evening.


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Exposed: How Lamido Sanusi, Senator Saraki, Lai Alabi Fraudulently Acquired Intercontinental Bank Plc

A letter written by founder and deposed Group Managing Director of defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr. Erastus Akingbola, to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan details how suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Senator Bukola Saraki and Mahmoud Lai Alabi fraudulently took over the bank.
In the document, Akingbola reveals private conversations he had with Aliko Dangote, Senator Saraki and Mallam Sanusi before he was taken out of the bank.
The 7-page letter dated February 9th 2014 was published by The Will:
Dr. Erastus Akingbola Document The bTrent Dr. Erastus Akingbola Document The Trent 2 Dr. Erastus Akingbola Document The Trent 3 Dr. Erastus Akingbola Document The Trent 4 Dr. Erastus Akingbola Document The Trent 5 Dr. Erastus Akingbola Document The Trent 6 Dr. Erastus Akingbola Document The Trent 7

APC Chieftain Wants Bayelsa Primary Cancelled, Sylva Disqualified

By Igoniko Oduma, Yenagoa
A stalwart of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State, Richard Perekeme Kpodo, on Wednesday, called on the national leadership of the party to cancel the controversial result of Tuesday’s governorship primary in Yenagoa which was purportedly won by former Governor Timipre Sylva.
Kpodo, who also called for the disqualification of Sylva, described the primary as a sham, saying the outcome of the exercise as reportedly conducted by Sylva and his loyalists cannot be a basis to produce the party’s governorship candidate for the governorship election in the state.
He stated that Sylva through his manipulation, intimidation of aspirants and use of thugs, exhibited his true character.
He said it was such character he displayed while he was governor of the state, insisting that Sylva was a bad product for the APC.
Kpodo expressed displeasure at what he termed the rascality and extreme show of violence displayed by alleged thugs of Sylva who held the chairman of the seven-man electoral committee and Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, hostage for hours.
He argued that the action of Sylva and his boys showed how desperate he was to grab power by hook or crook and expressed hope that the national leadership would not sweep the matter under the carpet.
He lauded the courage and bravery of the officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) and soldiers  who rescued Oshiomhole from Sylva’s irate youths.
“As one of the founders of the APC in Bayelsa State, I think the national leadership of the party should disqualify Timipre Sylva for his insubordination because all amount to criminality against the party’s constitution and guidelines.
“So, we are calling on the national leadership of our great party to take action to sanction Sylva for manipulating the process and intimidation of fellow delegates and electoral officers led by Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole.
“This is because we do not see any reason a leader of the party could hold a serving governor hostage and if Oshiomhole were not an activist, the man would have succumbed to their ‘evil machination’.
“But Oshiomhole maintained his cool, calculated and was able to wriggle out of the problem. He even told Sylva that he could not do him anything.
“And we thank God we have a vibrant DSS director who rescued Oshiomhole from the Sylva thugs. He is supposed to be disqualified.
“The guideline said if you have a criminal case in court, you cannot contest. The party is not even abiding by its rule. The mantra of the party is change, that is, to change the old wrong ways of doing things. For instance, to desist from acts of thuggery, cultism and other criminal ways.
“As I said earlier, Sylva should be disqualified. The primary should be rescheduled so that proper screening can be done. A lot of people came with cloned Permanent Voter Cards, answering other people’s name.
“A lot of shooting in the arena; is that how he wants to lead Bayelsa State? During his first tenure, there was serious security breach in the state. Now he has started exhibiting his true character,” Kpodo said.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that Sylva was properly prosecuted for his alleged crime against the state.

Security, well-beings of Nigerians remain my priority, says Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has felicitated with all Nigerians as they celebrate this year's Eid-el-Kabir.

President Buhari also congratulates all Nigerian Muslims who are currently in Saudi Arabia to participate in the rites of the Hajj.

As they join the global Islamic community in celebrating Eid-el-Kabir, Buhari urged Muslims and other Nigerians to rededicate themselves to a greater acceptance and internalisation of its lessons of piety, faithfulness, dedication, fortitude, obedience, sacrifice and selfless service which are for the benefit of all mankind.

In a statement by Garba Shehu, the president's senior special assistant on media and publicity, the president called for more patience, fortitude, tolerance, endurance, patriotism and a greater willingness to make personal sacrifices for the good of all as his administration strives to lead the nation towards rapidly overcoming its current security, economic and developmental challenges.

President Buhari assured all Nigerians that their safety, well-being and progress remained uppermost in his thoughts and actions, and that he would continue to work with all his might to deliver the positive changes in national life which they expect after his election.

The president seized this opportunity to commiserate with families in Maiduguri and North-Eastern Nigeria who lost beloved relatives in recent terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, the president has directed the armed forces and other security agencies to provide maximum security across the nation during Eid-el-Kabir prayers and celebrations, especially in areas most vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

No Tears For Senator Saraki By Joe Igbokwe

One of the biggest problems facing Nigeria today is impunity. It has led to corruption, arrogance, brigandage, deep political crisis and outright murder. This pandemic disease has led to near collapse of our economy, collapse of values, collapse of institutions and collapse of governance. This high table mentality in Nigeria has led gullible people to take laws into their hands and damn the consequences to the detriment of 160 million Nigerians. Senator Bukola Saraki in Court facing charges of corruption

This is the reason why Senator Saraki ignored his Party (APC) directives and connived with a useless party (PDP) we just defeated to steal the Senate Presidency. He did not stop there, the criminal arrangement led to the emergence of Senator Ekweremmadu of PDP as the Deputy Senate President. The moment this brigandage took place we saw wild jubilation in the camp of PDP. Ekweremmadu went to Enugu State and told his people that PDP is back. A lady who is a PDP member mockingly said to me: “yes APC won the election but we have taken over the National Assembly” it was then that it became clear to me the extent of damage Senator Saraki inflicted on the leadership of APC.

What Senator Saraki did is unheard of in the history of Party politics. Saraki made the world to believe that APC leaders are unprepared for the task of governing this country. Saraki’s inordinate ambition at once put a question mark on the capacity of leaders of APC to drive leadership in Nigeria. Saraki tried to prove to the whole world that he is smarter than all the leaders of APC put together. Saraki ignored 51APC Senators who were in a meeting and went to do business with 49 PDP Senators, a party APC just defeated after sixteen years bloody struggle. Senator Saraki bribed his way to the clerk of the Senate and cajoled him to proclaim a Senate that is incomplete. Saraki and Ekweremmadu criminally changed the Senate rules in order to carry out the open robbery we saw in the hallowed Chamber of the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Because of the inordinate ambition of one man and lust to be the Senate President by all means Saraki ignored the President, the Vice President, APC governors, Senators, House of Reps members etc to sacrifice the unity of his party. Senator Saraki compounded the problems of APC, and mounted a major road block for its smooth take off considering that it is just coming to power after sixteen years in opposition. This man put spanners in the works and initiated a serious internal crisis within the ruling party that nearly made Nigerians who massively voted for APC to begin to lose hope. Saraki and his gang of forty thieves devastated the master plan of our great party to choose the right people to serve as the Principal Officers in the National Assembly. Since July 9 2015 when this shenanigan took place in the Senate and the huge dust it raised, Senator Saraki has remained adamant to disobey the Party’s directives and step aside rather he has continued to run from pillar to post to sustain a stolen seat. The lust for power, rapacious greed, avaricious tendency, and slave to public office have pushed Bukola Saraki to continue to work with PDP in order to weaken APC.

But will Bukola Saraki succeed? Impossible. APC does not want Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and neither does APC want Ekweremmadu as the Deputy Senate President. Saraki has caused enough implosions within the party. He has brought public opprobrium to the party, he has slowed down the Party’s machinery from taking off smoothly, he has portrayed us as a weak party. Now is the time for him to go. Saraki has no choice than to go otherwise he will have himself to blame. Again if Bukola Saraki feels his hands are tightly glued to the exalted seat of the Senate Presidency and therefore cannot be removed, APC may be compelled to tear or cut his hands off, so that the National Assembly can move forward. No man is an island, and none can claim that he is the final word in APC .
I shed no tears for Senator Saraki.

Joe Igbokwe

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Broken Lives Of Jonathan’s Henchmen

With just about three months since power slipped through their fingers, many PDP stalwarts, and some members of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet, who once decreed a thing and it came to pass, have so quickly melted into oblivion. Tony Egbulefu explores how some of these hitherto powerful figures are managing the broken pieces of their lives. Additional reports from Midat Joseph, Abu Nmodu, Okechukwu Obeta, Kola Eke-Ogiugo, Donatus Nadi, Patrick Ochoga and Kareem Haruna
Since the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was dislodged from the nation’s helm of affairs, certain figures in the party, whose presences were fixtures in the national power grid have so promptly become relics, receding into oblivion with the transience of power. Apart from ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, who intermittently, is seen and heard, and could undoubtedly be traced to his Otuoke nativity, Bayelsa State, most active players in both the inner reaches of the power loop and in the corridors in his government have been plagued by self-effacement. While observers put this down to low esteem that comes with a grace to grass fall, it is believed in some quarters that the jolt that came from the beating the PDP took in the hands of the erstwhile opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), demanded that the residue of PDP power brokers embarked on a silent rediscovery.
It is obvious that some members of this tribe of yesterday’s men and women of consequence are yet to come to terms with the reality of being bystanders in the power equation. This line becomes persuasive in the face of the delusionary PDP’s target of 60 years hold on power and the reality check that was the March 28, 2015 presidential poll.
Given their gradual obliteration from national consciousness, how these men and women, who operated at the commanding heights carry on with the reverse of fortunes, matter to Nigerians. There were part time politicians among them, who held powers to swing things, and were licensed to affront anybody. Some women among them made men crouch.

Dame Patience Faka Jonathan
She was the Nigerian first lady from 2010 to 2015. Mrs. Jonathan was a power broker, a peddler of influence, and indeed the most powerful woman Nigeria has known since the days of the late Mrs. Maryam Babangida as first lady. She treaded where her husband, the president, would not dare. She was a bugbear just as she was a gruff. She would scheme or muscle her way through, leaving just the devil to care. Since May 29, when she was eased down from her exalted position, the former first lady, whose mention was regular on everyone’s lips, and in the media for the ugly, the bad, and the good, has just so swiftly receded into a historical piece. Since relocating to her Bayelsa country home, she has maintained sealed lips in all things, even when she appeared in London with her husband, shortly after Mrs. Aisha Buhari took over. Lately, Nigerians heard of her reconciliation with the Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson. Though widely reported, and attestations to the reconciliation heard from the governor’s camp, Mrs. Jonathan in her new tradition of silence has not uttered a word. A glean at her subdued countenance and the passenger she was at the September 8 governorship intent declaration of Dickson in Yenagoa, registered aptly in many, that indeed, empires fall, for others to rise.

Diezani Alison-Madueke
Mrs. Alison-Madueke served longest in former President Jonathan’s cabinet, alongside the Minister of Finance, and coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Ieala. She served as Jonathan’s petroleum minister in the entire five years of that administration. History records her as the first Nigerian woman to serve in that crucial capacity. She superintended all the country’s receipts from the oil and gas industry, NNPC and NLNG and the cash cows that oversee government’s petroleum products imports, marketing, gas distribution and crude oil export; and natural gas exploitation and export respectively. Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s prime position, and the fact that she shares same ethnic blood with the president, earned her an inner-circle membership of Jonathan’s government all through the five years. The former petroleum minister grew immensely powerful and thick-skinned that she would easily spurn at attempts to either call her actions to question or accountability by the legislative arm of government. Apart from her endless and fruitless bickering with the legislature, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), under the leadership of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, also had reasons to have lingering brushes with her, also over issues of transparency and accountability. What was clear was that in spite of the deluge of resentments from several quarters against her style of management of the country’s oil and gas industry, she sat pretty throughout, and not even for a day was her position in government threatened by the president. As Jonathan was about to give way, and sensing a likelihood of trouble for her from President Buhari, Mrs. Alison-Madueke became preoccupied with knee-jerk pacific consultations. Though, she continues to absolve herself of any corrupt entanglement, the more prominent thing known about her since she left government is that she is in a hospital bed abroad.

Ali Modu Sheriff
He defected with fanfare from the APC to the PDP on July 14, 2014. Sheriff is a very influential politician, not only in Borno State where he governed for eight years on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), but in the entire Nigerian political space. His unending spat with his protégé and successor, Kashim Shettima, partly informed his reason to switch political camp. Apart from his deep pockets, Sheriff is known to have grassroots followership. For all these, the PDP happily welcomed him. Expectedly, Sheriff sought to unseat Shettima with Gambo Lawan of the PDP in the governorship election of April 11, in what was described as a gritty electoral duel but this was never to be as Shettima coasted home to victory in what largely was a one-sided affair. The defeat of his candidate in the state, and the routing of the PDP at the federal level, handed Sheriff new unpleasant realities about his political relevance and survival. In going about living his life in political humiliation, Sheriff has chosen to return to running his businesses in Abuja, Lagos, Chad and Europe. Each time he is around in his Maitama, Abuja home, friends and political associates still throng his residence to fraternise with him. His associates say he is studying the political space for his next move. Sheriff, somehow, still retains some appeal. He was in Maiduguri for a wedding ceremony recently, where he rather became the centre of attraction, as the crowd roared in cheers of him. He responded by throwing piles of crisp naira notes at them. However, the most current national news about him was his surrender in June to the EFCC; and his subsequent detention and release on administrative bail over allegation of mismanagement of Borno state’s federal allocations as governor.

Ibrahim Shekarau
He was one of the northern politicians who made the Jonathan government tick, as the clock wound down to the 2015 general elections. He was the leader and founding member of the APC in Kano State, a state he governed on the ANPP platform. His ANPP formed part of the nucleus of the coalition that birthed the APC in 2013. Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, then governor of the state, and a defector to the APC, practically muscled him out of the party. Shekarau defected to the PDP in January 2014. Given his massive grassroots followership in the hugely populated Kano State, his defection from the APC was considered a huge loss to the party and what the PDP needed to even out things with Kwankwaso in the state. President Jonathan rewarded him with the position of Minister for Education. The elections came, and Shekarau and his PDP lost it all in the state to Kwankwaso and the APC. It was Shekarau demystified.
The succour from the federal scene is also gone. Shekarau, today, lives his live in silence and oblivion. He is marooned, and seems even not to have the stamina for opposition politics in the state.

Attahiru Bafarawa
What Shekarau passed through in the hands of then Governor Kwankwaso also played out between former Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State and Attahiru Bafarawa, his predecessor. Bafarawa governed Sokoto State on the ANPP platform and partly in his second term, on DPN platform. He was a founding member, and leader of the APC in Sokoto, until Wamakko, defected from the PDP and snatched the leadership of the APC in the state from him. As fallout of this, Bafarawa later decamped to the PDP. His switch to the PDP bolstered the party’s hope for a good outing in the state in both the state and federal elections. He backed the PDP all the way, and personally donated N11.5million to the party for the conduct of its membership registration exercise in the 27 local government areas of the state. At the moment, it can be said that all political activities of Bafarawa in Sokoto state have long come to a screeching halt. In Sokoto today, Wamakko is the undisputed new powerbroker.

Namadi Sambo
Since he left office as Nigeria’s vice president, Namadi Sambo, is best known to have been an in-patient in an undisclosed hospital in Washington DC, United States of America (USA). LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered from an authoritative source that the former vice president underwent a ligament surgery on August 18, in the hospital. Fact is that Sambo just waited for the handover ceremonies to be concluded on May 29, as he departed Nigeria just three days after. Before settling in Washington for the surgery, he had shuttled from United Kingdom to United States, then Saudi Arabia. Umar Sani his former spokesman did not reply inquiries about Sambo’s whereabouts, sent to his phone by our reporter. The newest, however, that may trail Sambo in the country is the imminent anti-corruption peaceful protest to be organised by a coalition of northern-based civil society organisations against him in Kaduna State. One of the organisers of the demonstration who didn’t want to be mentioned in print told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the demonstrators will make a demand on President Buhari to immediately commence the investigation of Sambo to specially ascertain his involvement in the sale and purchase of Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company.

Jerry Gana
Professor Jerry Gana has been missing in the turf of Niger State and national politics since May 29. LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that since the loss of the general election by the PDP, Gana now prefers to spend more of his time in Abuja, where he does private businesses and engages in some intellectual activities. The former information minister currently maintains a general political low profile. It was gathered that he often visits Bida and his home town Doko to associate with his people but has been passive politically. Gana it was learnt, however, still commands respect among the people of his state, particularly his Nupe speaking people of Niger-south, whom he represented as a Senator in the Second Republic. For the 2015 general elections, Gana was chairman, PDP Fund Raising Committee, which garnered a whooping N21.8 billion for the party and Jonathan. Gana later emerged, head of Jonathan’s Mobilisation and Contact Unit for the 2015 presidential election.

Peter Obi
He is the predecessor of Governor Willy Obiano of Anambra State. Obi governed the state on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Shortly after he left office, he defected to the PDP. For the presidential election, Jonathan’s campaign office, appointed him deputy director-general, south, a position that made him address all presidential campaign rallies that took place in all the states of the south. After the loss of the PDP, Jonathan appointed him chairman of the board of Nigerian Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). He would later lose the position after President Buhari disbanded the commission. Obi coped with the double loss by proceeding to Harvard University, United States of America for an academic programme. Currently he engages in educational development initiatives, sourcing funds from education-friendly organisations and individuals, locally and internationally, which he distributes to primary and post-primary schools in rural communities across the country, for the improvement of their educational infrastructure. Call it charity work. But to many, Obi is better known now for exchange of brickbats with Obiano.

Ifeanyi Uba
He was the man behind Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), which carried out nationwide direct and hard sell marketing of Jonathan during the campaigns. TAN ran a massive omnibus campaign programme for Jonathan, the type hitherto not seen in the country’s electioneering. Uba, the driving force of TAN, is an oil tycoon. He owns Capital Oil and Gas. Unlike fulltime politicians, Uba has been carrying on as if nothing happened, seemingly insulated from the pinch of PDP and Jonathan’s electoral failure. Rather than being recluse, he has been all over the place, and has recently ventured into soccer and newspaper businesses. He bought over former Udoji Football Club and renamed it Ifeanyi Ubah Football Club. The club features in the country’s premiership division. Presently, he is building a 50,000 capacity sports stadium at Nnewi, his country home, for the club.
He has also established a national newspaper out-fit, titled The Authority. With the staff recruitment completed about two weeks ago, the newspaper is slated to debut on October 1, 2015. In his latest press interview, he sounded off that he had no regrets, forming TAN, and campaigning for Jonathan.

Tony Anenih
Age has already emasculated “Mr. Fix It,” the Iyasele of Uromi. With the loss and domination of his Edo State by Governor Adams Oshiomhole and the APC, Anenih’s political influence, had even vapourised before the many losses the PDP suffered in the 2015general election. Citing “the current state of affairs in the party,” Anenih had to resign as chairman of PDP’s board of trustees, nine days before Jonathan left office. He was indisposed during the electioneering and as such could not play any meaningful role in Jonathan’s campaigns but Anenih was so sure that the election would go the way of Jonathan, and was quoted in the media as saying that whoever thought otherwise was mad. He is credited to be the man behind the PDP’s decision for automatic ticket for Jonathan against the wish of some northern heavy-weights in the party.
Anenih was spotted at the September 8, 2015 declaration rally of Governor Seriake Dickson in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. Surprisingly, Anenih, LEADERSHIP Sunday was told, is presently engaged in strategising across the country to reposition the PDP for future electoral conquest. A close source to the politician, who prefers anonymity, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that “the leader is very relevant in party politics in the country. People are consulting him and he goes to wherever he is needed. He is strong and getting stronger. I know he is in Abuja attending to business and political interests.”

Edwin Kiagbodo Clark
The octogenarian is the leader of the Ijaw nation. He took upon himself the role of a father figure and ethnic guide to Jonathan, while his presidency lasted. Within the North, Clark’s overly visible influence in the Jonathan government earned him a good measure of scorn and bile, but he cared in the least. Clark made no pretences about pushing Jonathan to damn the consequences and take a shot at a second term. Given the way he often went-over-the-top in advancing issues on the side of the former president, many outside the South-south came away with the adverse impression that what was in place was an Ijaw presidency. Clark is currently the chancellor of his own university, Edwin Clark University, located in Kiagbodo, Bomadi local government area of Delta State. The former federal commissioner for Information in the then Mid-western Region, LEADERSHIP Sunday can reveal, carries on as a happy man, and remains a political godfather within PDP members in the state. Sources close to him say Pa Clark as he is fondly called, currently takes strong interest in the administration of his university.

Godsday Peter Orubebe
He is of the Ijaw ethnic nationality in Delta State and served as minister of Niger Delta in the Jonathan administration. The federal government’s amnesty programme cash cow was under his overall superintendence. Though he was not a member of Jonathan’s kitchen cabinet before he resigned to contest the governorship of his native Delta state, the blood of ethnicity drove him to assume the role of Jonathan’s attack dog. Nigerians would not forget in a hurry how he ignited disarray at the INEC presidential election result collation centre as the defeat of Jonathan starred him in the face. At present, Orubebe runs his private business with his wife. Orubebe sources say has his eyes trained at the Delta State Government House, come 2019.

Labaran Maku
He was a former Minister of Information in the government of President Jonathan, before he voluntarily left to pursue his political dream in the twilight of that administration. He attained political reckoning with his involvement in the Jonathan government, but parted ways with the PDP after he failed to clinch its gubernatorial ticket in his Nasarawa State. Maku joined APGA and cross swords with his former party, but never against Jonathan’s re-election. He stood with Jonathan. With APGA, which he introduced almost brand new in the state, Maku came second behind the incumbent Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of the APC, dusting the better established PDP to a distant third; yet his political opponents in the state, appear more convinced that he is only a noise maker. Maku has been preoccupied with courtroom duels since the conclusion of the gubernatorial election in the state. His party supporters who usually come to the tribunal venue in their numbers, recently caused a stir in the state when after a sitting, they went to town making victory laps over an alleged Maku’s courtroom victory pronouncement. The claim spread like wild fire, throwing residents of the state in confusion. Maku had to fight a reputational battle recently by addressing the press to state his case against an allegation that over N30 billion was discovered on his farm in Akwanga. Despite his failure at the poll, Maku’s political image seems to be on the rise and gearing to overtake that of Solomon Ewuga as the leader of his Eggon tribe in the state.

Ahmed Gulak
He was the political adviser to former President Jonathan. He assumed the seat way back in 2010, until he was eased out in 2014. Gulak was part of the PDP’s strategists that coordinated the 2011 presidential election successfully for Jonathan. Though he left Jonathan’s government well ahead of the 2015 general election, it was a fiasco for the PDP and Jonathan. He strived with former Governor Ngilari to deliver Jonathan to Adamawa state’s electorates. He failed. Working as the president’s political adviser, Gulak was one of the hard-hitters against anyone that breathed a word against Jonathan. He took a shot at becoming a senator in the last election and also failed. He is one of the few Jonathan’s men that have embraced active internal politics of the PDP. Recently, it emerged that he is interested in filling the position of the national chairman of the PDP, left vacant with the exit of Adamu Muazu. In advancing his interest for the position, he stormed the national secretariat of the party, demanding that members of the national working committee of the party, led by Uche Secondus as acting chairman, should resign for election to be conducted. His ambition to take over the leadership of the PDP is a legitimate one, given that the zoning formula of the party, which gave the slot to Gulak’s North-east subsists in the party.

Bala Mohammed
As minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed occupied a prime position in the Jonathan administration. In effect, he was the governor of the federal seat of power. The centrality of his position in the political space demanded that he worked closely and in sync with President Jonathan and the PDP in every facet of his duty. Land, which is a premium item in the FCT, was entirely his to divvy and farm out. His juicy position also meant that he wielded power and influence and had massive revenue at his control. He however, could not harness any of these for his ambition to become governor of Bauchi state. The same can be said of Jonathan and PDP’s electoral success in his Bauchi state. Working in disunity with the former Bauchi State governor, Isa Yuguda, he failed abysmally in his state to deliver any meaningful electoral harvest. Mohammed could, however, partly lay claim to the lean measure of success the PDP scrapped out in the general election in the FCT. Though Mohammed left with Jonathan, indications are that the politician is not yet done with politics and the PDP, the party that brought him fame and fortune, after he canvassed for the now famous doctrine of necessity that saw to President Jonathan’s emergence as acting president, as a senator. He was elected to the Senate on the ANPP’s platform but defected to PDP soon after Jonathan’s emergence as president, following the demise of former president Unaru Musa Yar’Adua, thus paving the way for him to be appointed minister. Insight gathered by LEADERSHIP Sunday indicates that he is gearing to bite the bullet for the position of PDP national chairman, which behoves on his North-east zone to produce. He was recently in Ekiti State where he canvassed the support of the state governor, Ayo Fayose, for his ambition to head the PDP as its national chairman.
Given that he is no longer seen or heard, Mohammed in the meantime, is fast fading in the consciousness of Abuja residents. This is just as he remains largely unpopular in Bauchi state where the APC holds the reins of power.

Ahmadu Ali
He has held all sorts of positions in the Nigerian entity, some of which predate the Second Republic. As at the last count, he was the director-general, Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation for the 2015 presidential election. For the sake of Jonathan’s re-election, Ali sundered his age-long close friendship with former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Before he re-emerged on the scene to drive Jonathan’s re-election bid, many had already consigned Ali to the cast of political relics in the country. How the lot for such a high-pressure job that demand jet-age acumen fell on septuagenarian Ali remains a hard nut that brain boxes in the political space have not been able to crack. Since the loss of the election by the PDP and Jonathan, a litany of blames from PDP members has trailed the path of Jonathan’s campaign office. The Ali-led campaign organisation has been accused of placing the cart before the horse in its method and tactics, corruption, ineptitude, and in fact, a bare-faced inability to tell apart their left hand from the right as a campaign office. Fact is that since Ali failed, he has snuck back to where Jonathan dusted him from. Having not been seen or heard since he failed, there is little doubt that his 2015 presidential election job and activities may be his swan song in the political arena.

Bamanga Tukur
He was the powerful third national chairman of the PDP, Jonathan worked with, and whom incidentally, most members of the party believe ran the PDP aground. Tukur was unyielding in the manner he went about advancing Jonathan’s interest amidst the infighting that erupted in the party in 2013, over which zone in the country would produce the party’s flag-bearer for the 2015 presidential election. Without recourse to proper procedures, Tukur would deploy punitive measures against any governor in the party whose body language he read, jarred with Jonathan’s desire to nick the ticket. Under his watch, the New PDP, a parallel party was formed out of the original PDP. The resentment of Tukur and Jonathan degenerated to the exit of five governors on the party’s platform in one fell swoop to the APC, followed by massive membership haemorrhage of National Assembly members of the party. To save the situation, Tukur was asked to leave in January 2014. Tukur’s battles against those who stood against him in the party, curiously was not for his personal gain, but to ensure that the coast was clear for Jonathan’s re-nomination by the PDP in 2015.
“We had told them then that our focus for the future should be about consolidation and continuity and that goes beyond the plans of our opponents that PDP will fail,” Tukur said as the infighting continued.
Tukur stayed aloof and watched Jonathan’s 2015 re-election campaign from a distance. In what appears as gloating, he is yet to express pains at PDP’s loss of power at the centre and the electoral failure the party recorded across board. In a twist of irony, Tukur has more than once expressed support for President Muhammadu Buhari, and believes that the president is treading the path to the heart of Nigerians with his war against Boko Haram insurgents and corruption. Speaking to the media last week, he expressed his belief that the electoral fortunes of the PDP would have been different, if he had led the party into the 2015 general elections battle field. He said he would not contemplate quitting the PDP. Tukur’s primary occupation since he relinquished the mantle of the party’s leadership has been the running of his businesses. He will be 80 on September 15, and plans to celebrate.

Adamu Muazu
Popularly dubbed “the game changer” by his admirers within the PDP fold, he took over from Tukur as a consensus choice of PDP’s apparatchik in January, 2014. Muazu then, came off to opinion leaders in the party as a bridge-builder and level-headed. The party needed such a man, not just to mend the cracks that plagued it following Tukur’s alleged high-handedness, but for a holistic rebuilding, and positioning on winning ways for the 2015 general election. Calm returned to the party soon after Muazu took ove, and the PDP which was only experiencing the effluence of its members, began to attract defections from National Assembly members into the party. In praise of Muazu, he was branded “The game changer,” by the happy party members, including Jonathan and his wife, Patience. Nothing was seen wrong with Muazu’s leadership of the party, and possibly, nothing went wrong with it until he led the PDP into the 2015 electoral field and got a thrashing by APC. For the party’s failure, strong voices of dissent rose from within against Muazu. Resignation was the chorus. The decibel rose so high and with succour from no quarters, Muazu threw in the towel on May 20, 2015. Since his exit, Muazu has gone out of circulation.
Even before the end of the Jonathan administration on May 29, the “game changer” under whose watch the “change agents” wrested power from his party, left the country. According to his aides in a statement on May 12, he was sick and had gone abroad for treatment. This was in apparent response to comments by governor Fayose that he (Muazu) had secretly travelled to Singapore for treatment during the elections, without the knowledge of the party’s presidential candidate, Jonathan.