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Sunday, 26 April 2015

The scramble for Tambuwal’s seat

KOLAWOLE DANIEL in this report gives an insight into the race for the Speakership of the House of Representatives in the in-coming Eighth Assembly and the top contenders for the race.

The race for who is the next Speaker in the House of Representatives is becoming interesting day by day as politicians in their usual character are leaving no stone unturned to outdo one another in clinching the Number 4 seat in the country. Though the Seventh Assembly is yet to wind down, political players have kick-started moves to determine the Speaker in the incoming Assembly. The incoming ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC),  at this time, is not helping matters as to which zone is taking what in the incoming government.
Sources close to the APC leadership confirmed that the party leadership is holding consultations on how to go about the power sharing formula without short-changing any zone and interests that formed the party.
Some members of the next Assembly have already confided in Nigerian Tribune that, as an independent body, members would choose its leaders based on experience and leadership qualities irrespective of region or state. Information, however, has it that the position of the Speaker and deputy Speaker, the only elective positions in the House, are unofficially zoned to the North-East and South-South zones. The South-East will be compensated with the position of Chief of Staff or Secretary to the Government of the Federation and a former APC Presidential Screening Committee, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, is reportedly tipped for the offices.
Events in the House in the last few weeks showed how political the office of the Speaker is, as various interest groups have stepped up lobby  for their candidate or zone. The quest for the post of Speakership position has its own drama unfolding as brothers are contesting against one another.
Gunning for the Speakers include Honourable Pally Iriase and Peter (South-South), Edo State. A former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and a Deputy Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly for four years, is said to have started campaigning vigorously for his ambition. Also, the  current Minority Leader, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila from the South-West, Lagos State, is also interested in the position. The Minority Leader has 12 years’ experience in the House.
The North-West also has House chairman on Finance, Abdulmumin Jibrin, from Kano State, as another interested member in the race for the position. To advance his cause, the lawmaker has urged the party to place premium on merit, continuity and necessity among other factors in deciding who should be the next Speaker. Jibrin said the party should jettison zoning. This is as he promised to overhaul the operating standards of the House, which he described as moving in snail’s pace, stressing that, “We will engage the executive constructively and mitigate friction between the executive and the legislature,”.
As it is now, the North-East currently has two of its own gunning for the plum job, one of them is Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture Honourable Mohammed Monguno and Chairman, Committee on House Services, Honourable Yakubu Dogara. Dogara, who represents Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa-Balewa federal constituency, was among the first set of 37 members, who defected to the APC in December 2013 from the PDP.
In a twist of event, the North-West caucus, instead of supporting their own, Jibrin, has reportedly tilted towards endorsing Dogara as Speaker. A member of North-West caucus in the House, Honourable Nasiru Baballela, who hinted that the North-West forum of the incoming 8th Assembly would soon endorse the candidature of Honourable Dogara claimed that Dogara is the choice of majority of its members.
On Honourable Dogara’s ambition, the North-West Caucus, according to a statement issued by Honourable Ila, who represents Tarauni federal constituency in Kano State, added that  “He is the most qualified and fitted for the position of speaker and he is humble, intelligent and calm. These are qualities of good leadership.
The statement added: “We in the House believe in consolidation. The current leadership of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has stabilised the House and given it a name.
“We cannot afford to go back on this and that is why we must ensure that only people of like minds such as Dogara are elected into leadership positions in the 8th assembly. Electing Dogara as speaker will go long way in uniting the people of northern Nigeria who are of different ethnic groups and religions. We want to make sure that we go back to the good old days when we coexisted as one people in the north in the days of our forefathers.
“The late Sardauna of Sokoto of blessed memory united the north as one indivisible entity and since his demise we have not been able to continue on that noble path. Now, history beckons, and a golden opportunity is in our hands to correct the many wrongs of the past by electing someone with impeccable character and proven integrity as our Speaker. Electing a Northern Christian as speaker will give a sense of belonging to our Christian brethren that we are one people and they too can become anything in a united Nigeria. More than ever before our people, have been divided along ethnic and religious lines, we must correct this.”
A member of the House from Oyo State Honourable Sunday Adepoju, who is also in the race for the pleaded with the party’s leadership  to zone the speakership position to the South.  Adepoju said for equitable distribution of position, all the zones should be considered.  The lawmaker, who represents Iddo/Ibarapa East Federal Constituency of Oyo State, explained that should the Senate Presidency be zoned to the North, the position of speaker should go to the South.
He said that the zoning arrangement in the coming Assembly would only  reflect the principle of Federal Character required by the 1999 constitution (as amended). He, however, appealed to the APC that, in the spirit of fairness and adherence of federal character, the position of Speaker be zoned to the South-South geo-political zone. Adepoju stated that, if the party decides  to zone the position to the South-West, he would be interested to contest for the position.
Also a former Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly Professor Mojeed Alabi, has joined the race for Speaker. The professor of Political Science, who is banking on his experience as a former Speaker, is reportedly seeking the favour of the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, to clinch the top job. Alabi, who holds two doctoral degrees (PhDs) in Law and Political Science, is a lecturer at the University of Ilorin.
Another second timer from Osun state is also said to be interested in the race. Honourable Israel Ajibola Famurewa, who won his re-election bid in the just concluded elections represents Atakunmosa East/ Atakunmosa West/Ilesha East/Ilesha West in the House.

Pastor Tunde Bakare: Nigeria’s Counterweight To Jagaban Bola Tinubu

By Dr. Mohammed Sarki
Congratulations to Dr. Kolawole Kayode for one of the most brilliant and well-written articles in recent memory. The piece, titled “BOLA TINUBU IS GENERAL BUHARI’S JAMES IBORI” very aptly reflects the prevailing concern of many Nigerians that their hard-won, relatively peaceful victory is in danger of being highjacked by the same cabal of unscrupulous kleptocrats, but this time around, with a different leader.
The fear is that the type of cabal that, under the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, was led by convicted former Delta State Governor, Mr. James Onanefe Ibori would be replaced by one under the direction of Jagaban Borgu, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former Lagos State Governor and presumed financier of Nigeria’s President-elect, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retired).
In making his carefully articulated case, Dr. Kolawole Kayode apparently forgot to mention that on Monday 16th September 2013, British prosecutor Madam Sasha Wass (Queens Counsel) told London’s Southwark Crown Court that Mr. James Ibori has “asserted ownership of a large part of Oando…” “The Crown Court will assert that Oando is a company where James Ibori has hidden assets.”
Oando, as Dr. Kolawole Kayode rightly reminded us yesterday, is the largest home-grown Nigerian Oil and Gas conglomerate which is mostly “beneficially owned” and controlled by Jagaban Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mr. Adewale Tinubu (Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s nephew) and Mr. Omamofe Boyo (Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s reported nominee to be General Buhari’s Petroleum Resources Minister).
Many Nigerians reflect positively on General Buhari’s antecedents as Military Governor of the then Northeastern State at the age of 32 years (August 1975); Nigeria’s Federal Commissioner (i.e. Minister) for Petroleum and Natural Resources at 33 years (March 1976); Nigeria’s military Head of State at 41 years (i.e. on 31st December 1983) and Executive Chairman, Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund  at 52 years (March 1995).
However, the public’s generally favourable recollection of General Buhari’s stewardship probably relates to the fact that he had the rare privilige, at various times in his career, to have personally managed hundreds of billions (perhaps even trillions) of Naira of national wealth without any evidence that Buhari himself derived any personal benefit.
Unfortunately, the truth is that during General Buhari’s two most recent appointments, i.e. as military Head of State and as Executive Chairman, Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund, though he was the Chief Executive de jure (i.e. legally), General Buhari functioned more like a Non-Executive Chairman, while some other Buhari associate acted as the Chief Executive de facto (i.e. in deed).
For instance, General Buhari’s tenure is remembered for the unmistakeable imprint of Buhari’s then second-in-command, the then Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, the late Major General General Babatunde Idiagon, who was generally credited with being the effective leader of that administration; hence, the usual reference to that era as the Buhari-Idiagbon regime.
General Buhar’s stint as Executive Chairman, Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund was even more profound in the manner that the actual executive authority was effectively ceded to an entity called Afri-Projects Consortium. According to the Dr. Haroun Adamu-led Interim Management Committee that reviewed the activities of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund from March 1995 to May 1999,  a company called Afri-Projects Consortium reportedly wielded the “absolute power of initiation, approval and execution of all projects”.

The above referred Interim Management Committee commissioned Audit Report on the Accounts of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund as at the 30th June 1999 by KPMG Chartered Accountants; the Audit Report on the Accounts of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund as at the 30th June 1999 PriceWaterhouseCoopers Chartered Accountants; and several Independent Consultants also conducted a comprehensive review of the Bank Accounts of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund. The total value of projects executed was =N= 181, 975,000,000 (One hundred and eighty-one billion, nine hundred and seventy-five million Naira only).
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, Afri-Projects Consortium was directly found to have misappropriated =N= 2, 057, 550, 062 ( Two billion, fifty-seven million, fivehundred and fifty thousand and sixty-two Naira only). Other companies, many of which were reportedly linked to Afri-Projects Consortium, were found to have also misappropriated a total of =N= 9,600, 982, 386 (Nine billion, six hundred million, nine hundred and eighty-two thousand, three hundred and eighty-six Naira only).

Many discerning Nigerians are now worried that, if General Buhari, as a 41-year old much younger Head of State, who had the administrative advantage of governing by military fiat; and as a middle-aged 52-year old chief executive of a =N= 182 billion Naira fund, could not effectively exert his authority, what is the prospect that he will fare better as a 72-year old President, under the vicious grip of an acknowledged
predator named Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In fact, if General Buhari’s incorruptibility was the basis for his decisive electoral victory, then Nigerians expect the Buhari Administration’s anti-corruption campaign to be transparently executed. That would translate into re-visiting the pending “prima facie” cases against Jagaban Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Having already elected General Buhari, it is too late to undo what has already been done. As of today, we have elected as our incoming President, a reported paragon of integrity but one who appears to be another gentle leader, whose capacity to govern may be affected by his advanced age.
Fortunately, the nation might not be entirely helpless in this matter as there is a seemingly independent and upright Nigerian who not only enjoys the admiration of the generality of the public but also retains the confidence of President-elect Muhammadu Bauhari. His name is Pastor Tunde Bakare, the Serving Overseer of Latter Rain Assembly Church and former running mate to General Buhari in the 2011 presidential elections.
Yesterday, at a public event in Lagos, Pastor Bakare reportedly advised General Buhari to ensure that his reform cabinet comprises Nigerians of proven competence and integrity, regardless of their religion, ethnicity or gender.
This reminded me that there are still public servants like former Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Executive Chairman, Mrs. Ifueko Marina Omoigui-Okauru in Nigeria. I was delighted to see her on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) News yesterday night as a member of the Federal government delegation that met recently with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), President Madam Christine Lagarde in Washington D.C.
Mrs. Ifueko Marina Omoigui-Okauru would be an excellent candidate to succeed Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance. Available records confirm that this unsmiling, no-nonsense technocrat reformed the FIRS from a corruption-infested agency generating annual receipts of about N1.2 trillion in 2004 (when she assumed office), to an efficient, automated organisation with estimated collections of N4.6 trillion in 2011 (when her tenure lapsed). I was thoroughly impressed with her biography, which is available online at <>.
As Petroleum Resources Minister, one would like to see a “renowned  technocrat” like the eminent Nigerian petroleum engineer who helped transform Malaysia’s 100% government-owned and operated oil company, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) into a global conglomerate.
As the Technology Custodian (I have never heard this title in my life) and Technical Adviser to Petronas for many years, Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah greatly contributed to the corporation’s evolution into a world-class giant with total assets of US$ 161.47 billion (2014), revenue of US$ 100.74 billion (2014), total equity of US$ 89.29 billion (2012) and net income of US$ 21.91 billion (2012). Source: Petronas’ Wikipedia profile.
Incidentally, Malaysia’s Petronas was established on 17th August 1974 while the Nigerian National Oil Corporation, the precursor to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was established in 1971. If Malaysia and Petronas can succeed, why not Nigeria and NNPC?
Dr. Egbogah, who also has reportedly advised several national oil companies and governments worldwide, recently served as Nigeria’s Presidential Adviser on Petroleum Matters, in which capacity he is said to have made major inputs to the Petroluem Industry Bill that is stalled in the National Assembly. Dr. Egbogah’s intimidating curriculum vitae is also available online at <>.
Without any executive authority as presidential adviser, it is easy to understand why Dr. Egbogah’s impact was not very evident. However, suffice it to say that any Buhari Administration Federal Executive Council that does not have the likes of Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah and Mrs. Ifueko Marina Omoigui-Okauru would certainly not be complete. Of course, there are many other Emmanuel Egbogahs, Ifueko Marina Omoigui-Okaurus, etc in our midst.
Back to the main matter, it is my view that Pastor Tunde Bakare would be an effective bulwark against the machinations of Jagaban Bola Ahmed Tinubu, having previously experienced the latter’s unethical depravity.
Recently, Pastor Bakare revealed how, in the days leading up to the 2011 polls in which he was running mate to General Buhari, he was pressured by Jagaban Bola Ahmed Tinubu to pre-sign a resignation letter as the Vice President of Nigeria – a clear case of fraud, impersonation, forgery, etc.
Pastor Bakare claims that he refused to engage in the perfidy requested of him. This disclosure, if it is true, makes one wonder what manner of oaths, guarantees and vows General Buhari must have made, signed or given to Jagaban Bola Ahmed Tinubu as pre-conditions for receiving the critical political support and reported financial contributions from Jagaban Tinubu.
Given his reputation as a stickler for due process, transparency and accountability, Pastor Bakare would be an excellent candidate to head President-elect Muhammadu Buhari’s Transition Committee, and possibly thereafter as the Chairman of an ad-hoc Presidential Advisory Committee, similar to the one led by the inspiring late Professor Ojetunji Aboyade during the General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida presidency.
Democracy does not begin and end with the periodic, in Nigeria’s case 4-year, voting routine. It also depends greatly on the entire spectrum of citizen-to-government participatory interactions and institution-building that occur between election-day cycles.
Clearly, this President-elect needs help, urgently. Except General Buhari has an associate as disciplined, tough and honest as the late Major General Babatunde Idiagbon to assist him run his incoming government, then Nigerians (both the elite and the general public) must weigh in and support their leader-in-waiting to ensure that he succeeds .
Dr. Mohammed Sarki
April 21st 2015.

Has Muslim President-Elect Buhari Accepted Christian IGP Solomon Arase?

By Dr. Mohammed Sarki
On Wednesday 21st April 2015, the President, Commander-in-Chief, Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in exercise of his constitutional authority, dismissed Mr. Suleiman Abba from the office of Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force and named Mr. Solomon Arase (until then the Deputy Inspector General, Force Intelligence and Criminal Investigation) as Nigeria’s 18th indigenous Inspector General of Police (IGP).
As soon as the announcement of the above referred development was made,  the Muslim Rights Concern (which claims to advocate for the interests of all Muslims in Nigeria) vociferously protested, insinuating that the former IGP Abba’s removal must have been due to his nability or refusal to manipulate the recently concluded general election in favour of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Almost immediately, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie (himself a former IGP), now the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (the presumed mouthpiece for Nigerian Northerners) also decried the decision, suggesting possible foul play. Several questions arise.
What is it about Nigeria and Nigerians that makes us frequently resort to knee-jerk emotive behaviour ( in the manner of the recent bizzare rant by former Niger Delta Minister Elder Peter Orubebe against INEC Chairman Professor Jega) when what is required is logical reasoning?
Why is every issue assessed through the subjective (and mostly unhelpful) prism  of religion, ethnicity and gender? So if a Northern Muslim service chief is deemed to have been insubordinate to his Commander-in-Chief, the said individual should be allowed to retain his/her position, just to appease Northerners and Muslims – who, I must confess, represent two very powerful constituencies.
Have the Muslim Rights Concern, the Arewa Consultative Forum and other similar partisan groups paused to consider, even for a moment, that President Jonathan might have acted purely in the national interest, based on  certain information and considerations which may not be in the public domain?
While it is true that the general elections have been won and lost, Nigerians should not forget that the nation still has only one leader until Thursday 28th May 2015. His name is Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. He should be given the benefit of the doubt except and until there is irrefutable evidence to the contrary. Having said that, though, we must continue to hold the President accountable for all actions he takes on our behalf until his very last day in office.
Since President Jonathan’s unprecedented concession of defeat to the President-elect, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retired), there has been a deliberate attempt by many persons and interest groups to diminish the significance of the President’s gracious action.
The argument is that President Jonathan was pressured by the international community to accept General Buhari’s victory. This view was apparently, unfortunately first given public expression by General Buhari himself in the President-elect’s post-victory interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Wednesday 1st April 2015.
Such an uncharitable analysis seeks to detract from the noble gesture which, more than any other development in recent times, has restored Nigera’s standing within the comity of nations. Even, assuming there was actually concerted pressure by certain so-called foreign powers on President Jonathan, he could have decided to ignore same and toe the ignoble path. That he chose the way of honour will be to his eternal credit and the shame of all those who predicted an unfavourable outcome for Nigeria.
We were all reminded of the sheer magnificence of the President’s action by none other than the President of Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Mr. Alassane Ouattara when he visited Nigeria recently. Mr. Ouattara recalled how his predecessor, the now disgraced Professor Laurent Gbago vehemently refused to accept defeat in the November 2010 elction despite the active, diplomatic and military intervention of the United Nations and France respectively.
Given the foregoing, I was rather pleasantly delighted when General Buhari (who is a Northern Muslim) practically welcomed the appointment of the new acting Inspector General Mr. Solomon Arase who happens to be a Christian Southerner.
Today, i.e. Thursday 23rd April 2015, General Buhari’s position was communicated through his main megaphone, namely the All Progressives Congress (APC) spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who happens to be a Northerner (since he originates from Kwara State) and also a Muslim.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed thoroughly rejected the suggestion that the former Inspector General Suleiman Abba was a principled, non-partisan public servant. In the classic good-riddance tradition, Alhaji Lai Mohammed reminded all who cared to know that:
We do not know the reason for the sack of the immediate past IGP, but we have read, just like other Nigerians, that it might not be unconnected with the role he either played or did not play in the last general elections. What we do know is that the police force under the former IG was a major actor in the massive rigging and violence that characterized the elections in some parts of the country, especially in Rivers, Akwa Ibom Sokoto and Gombe states just to mention a few…
Therefore, the new Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, having also been embraced by President-elect Buhari, even if just for now, should quickly settle down to deliver on his constitutional public safety mandate to every Nigerian citizen.
Dr. Mohammed Sarki

The Fall of PDP And The Lessons

Buhari, Change is Actually an Active Verb

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SimonKolawolelive! By Simon Kolawole;, sms: 0805 500 1961

Months have slimmed down to weeks, and soon we will be counting days and hours to the historic change of baton between President Goodluck Jonathan and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. Soon and very soon, Buhari will start dominating the headlines: Buhari did this, Buhari did that. Jonathan will take the back seat, except he wants to be like that megalomaniac interloper in Abeokuta. The front-page pictures of the newspapers will be all Buhari. The subject of discourse by columnists and TV analysts will be Buhari. If the weather is too hot, it will be Buhari's failing. If a policeman collects N20 bribe somewhere in Ode Omu, it will be Buhari's fault. That's the way we are.
God save Buhari if the PDP propaganda machinery is half as effective as that of the APC: he would be in hot soup from the word go. But the PDP, as things stand, is crushed and in disarray, and it may take the party years to get its bearing. So Buhari should at least have some breathing space in the meantime. Given the global goodwill he enjoys — backed by his reputation as an honest and modest man — Buhari will likely be given a chance. Typically, electoral success produces the initial euphoria, followed by the honeymoon after inauguration. Next, the people begin to size up the new leader and, finally, the hard reality sets in. That's the way life goes.
Buhari won the presidential election promising "change". Now that APC has captured power, "change" must move from slogan to action. During the campaign, "change" was a noun, an idea, a jingle. "Change" must now function as a verb, an active verb at that. Verb, we were told in primary school, is a "doing" word. Active verb "does"; passive verb is "done". So Buhari must change Nigeria else Nigeria will change him. He must be the subject, not the object. If he does not "do", he will be "done" for. If he does not "change" Nigeria very soon, trust Nigerians to become nostalgic and romantic about the past. You'll start hearing: "Even Jonathan was not this bad!"
In Nigeria, we always think a former president is better than the current one. After all, it was suggested at some stage that Gen. Sani Abacha was better than President Olusegun Obasanjo. I heard arguments about how Abacha kept the exchange rate at N80 to $1 and how it had fallen to N120 under Obasanjo. While I would agree that Abacha and Obasanjo were alike on many counts, I wouldn't suggest Abacha, who spent five years torturing and murdering Nigerians, was better. However, if people could say late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua — who did virtually nothing — was better than Jonathan, then I have seen it all.
Three things will define the Buhari administration in its infancy: one, his first cabinet; two, his first decisions; and three, his first budget. Will his first cabinet be dominated by jobbers, losers and other hopeless nominees intended to settle political IOUs like Obasanjo's team in 1999? Will Buhari spend his first days in office reversing policies, instituting politically motivated probes and cancelling contracts like Yar'Adua did in 2007? Will Buhari's first budget be overloaded with overheads and subsidy payments like Jonathan's in 2011? These could end up shaping the direction of any administration. The morning foretells the day in many instances.
For Buhari to make a difference, he must start from his first cabinet. If he gets it right, he has a good chance of getting his initial decisions and first budget right. If he gets it wrong, he will have misappropriated his goodwill so quickly. One of the most enduring self-destructive traditions of new governments in Nigeria — and I include states as well — is the tendency to assemble cabinets that are heavy on regular politicians and light on men and women who have more than politicking to offer. The conventional wisdom is that the full-time politicians helped the president to power and he will need them for re-election. Hogwash. You only need a few full-time politicians in the cabinet.
If I were to advise Buhari, he just has to break with tradition. At 72, he has seen it all. He has nothing to lose. I don't think he is planning to build more houses or buy private jets or marry more wives. He can afford to throw himself into changing a system that has ruined us for ages. He has to put his feet down on the kind of cabinet he wants. He must resist the suggestion to transfer people from APC headquarters to the federal executive council. Those who have proved that they can manage party affairs very well should continue to do so — after all, APC still has a lot of electoral battles to fight. You don’t disband a structure that has served you so well.
In setting up his first cabinet, Buhari should insist on having nominees who must have more than politicking to offer. He should state the criteria. They must be men and women who have demonstrated competence in their fields and careers, not only in partisan politics. I would suggest that rather than getting one nominee per state, Buhari should request at least three so that he can have a choice and will be able to weed out those who are not fit and proper to be in his team. At every turn, he must maintain that only the best should be nominated so that he can have a quality shortlist of 36 ministers, as provided for in the constitution.
In my opinion, a ministerial nominee should be asked to prepare a brief proposal, stating their preferred ministry, highlighting the sector's problems and proffering the solutions. The nominee should then defend the proposal before Buhari and an interview panel. It will be very glaring if the nominee knows what he is saying or he is just a piece of matter seeking to occupy cabinet space. A tough nomination process will serve Buhari extremely well. If you have a competent team, your job is half done. All you need do is give them the political backing and the leadership needed to translate "change" from a noun to a verb, from slogan to action.
In 2003, Malam Nasir el-Rufai actually faced a panel chaired by Obasanjo, with Vice-President Abubakar Atiku and Chief Audu Ogbeh, then PDP chairman, in attendance. According to el-Rufai, Obasanjo asked him specifically: "If you are appointed FCT minister, can you restore the Abuja master plan?" El-Rufai responded: "Of course, I can do it if I get your backing because those violating the master plan are your friends!" At the end of the interview, it was clear to all that el-Rufai could do the job. We remember what followed. This shows the importance of screening, matching nominees with positions and allowing them to prepare for the job ahead.
If Buhari makes the mistake of appointing funny characters into his cabinet without a thorough fit-and-proper test, he should just forget about "change". We would return to the very thing we are trying to run away from — that system of patronage at the expense of Nigeria's development. The time has come for us to put our best feet forward. The cabinet must be dominated by bright minds who must understand the technocratic and political skills needed to deliver reform. If Buhari gets that right, it has the potential of ballooning his goodwill and sending a clear message to 170 million Nigerians that, indeed, something is about to happen.
And Four
Other Things...
I have noticed, with concern, threats by Nigerians to "retaliate" the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. I can understand the anger, worsened by the pronouncements of South African leaders who are too shallow to recognise the ramification of their tacit endorsement of the barbaric behaviour of these street urchins. However, we should not allow this uncivilised behaviour to change who we are. Nigerians, by nature, are xenophilic: we are very accommodating of foreigners. We should not allow them to infect us with xenophobia. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. That is what Apostle Paul said. Maturity.
Before his appointment as the inspector-general of police, Mr. Abba Suleiman came highly recommended. All I ever heard about him was that he was a thoroughbred professional, one who was above board and very straight. But there is something about Nigerian politics that keeps killing our best. His misadventure into trying to remove Aminu Tambuwal as speaker of the House of Representatives, even brazenly attempting to interpret the constitution — a preserve of the judiciary — damaged him. He has now been sacked, reportedly for almost turning himself into the ADC of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari after the March 28 presidential election. Opportunism.
Every African, every African leader should be ashamed of the Mediterranean migrant tragedies, which have claimed up to 1,700 lives this year alone — and a possible 30,000 overall by year end. The image of desperate Africans who sardine themselves into unseaworthy boats on illegal journeys to Europe breaks my heart. It is all the more saddening because most of the people on these boats are not running away from war or persecution. They just have this perception that they are better off as second-class citizens in a developed country. So what are we going to do about our continent? Distressing.
I hope I'm not getting too excited about this, but I never imagined that I would see an outgoing president and an incoming one — from opposing parties — behave so responsibly in the transition period. I've been impressed by President Goodluck Jonathan and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari so far. They've held several meetings and always come out with warm smiles. It could well be for the cameras only. It could well be that after May 29, it will be fire-for-fire and media war over legacy issues. But, please, let me enjoy this unusual moment in Nigeria's political history while it lasts. Gratifying.

Those Who Will Chart a Course for Buhari


Behold the men and women who will chart the course for the government of General Muhammadu Buhari, who assumes office on May 29. These men, made up of a blend of old and new generation, were chosen after weeks of consultation and character evaluation and were drawn from the country’s six geo-political zones to make up the transition committee
Ahmed Joda
The chairman of the 18-member transition committee, nominated by the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, and Ahmed Joda is an administrator, journalist and politician. He is a former permanent secretary in the Northern Nigerian public service, Federal Ministry of Information, Ministry of Education and the Federal Ministry of Industries.
He was among a class of super permanent secretaries in the 1970s that played a major role during the Nigerian Civil War. In the 1960s, he worked with Ahmadu Bello in the Northern regional government.
In 1999, he headed a committee on assessment of Federal Government parastatals and also a panel on poverty alleviation. He currently serves as the chairman of ABTI-American University of Nigeria, Yola and is the principal founder of Benue Valley Farms.
Joda was born in Girei in Adamawa State. He attended Yola Elementary and Middle schools before proceeding to Barewa College. In the 1950s, he attended Pitman College, London and gained practical experience in journalism while staying in Britain.
After completing his secondary education in 1948, he was admitted to Moor Plantation, Ibadan. He worked briefly at an agricultural centre in Yola before entering the field of journalism at Gaskiya Corporation, Zaria. He later worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission serving as the editor of NBC Kaduna and then joined the Northern Nigeria civil service as Chief Information Officer and later permanent secretary in the regional Ministry of Information. In 1967, he became a federal permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and subsequently moved to Lagos.
After, the civil war, he was seconded to the Ministry of Education when the ministry was involved in rehabilitation of facilities in the old East Central State, launching of the Universal Primary Education and the establishment of the Nigerian Universities Commission. In the mid 1970s, he became permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry at a time the Nigerian government was trying to launch a national steel programme. He has also served as chairman and board member of various bodies including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigerian Communications Commission, Pastoral Resolve, SCOA, Nigeria, Chagouri and Chagouri Construction, Flour Mills, Nigeria, and the Nigerian LNG.

Doyin Salami
Dr. Doyin Salami, the vice-chairman of the committee, holds a PhD from Queen Mary College, University of London.
He is a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria and had been a member of the Federal Government’s Economic Management Team.
He is currently a full-time member of the faculty at Lagos Business School (LBS), where he is senior lecturer. In addition, he is also an executive director of the UK-based African Business Research Ltd.  At LBS, he leads sessions in economic environment of business and had also served as director of programmes for five years until January 2005. Dr. Salami’s research interests include: issues in corporate long-term financial management; macroeconomic policy; corporate competitiveness and risk management; and characteristics of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
In addition to teaching, Salami is a consultant. His consulting activities included assignments for the Department for International Development (DFID), World Bank, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Presently, he is retained as a consultant by British American Tobacco (BAT), BGL Securities Ltd; Coca-Cola Nigeria and Equatorial Africa (CCNEAL), Kakawa Discount House and he has facilitated or participated in corporate retreats for Zain Nig Ltd., MTN, and African Petroleum Plc., among others.

Tam David West
Prof. Tam David West is a former minister of petroleum and energy under General Muhammadu Buhari  military government between 1984–1985, and  minister of mines, power, and steel under the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida (1986). He was eventually removed as minister and arrested by the Babangida regime for allegedly contributing to the economic adversity of the country. He was discharged and acquitted of these charges by Nigeria’s Special Appeal Court on August 8, 1991.
He had earlier served as commissioner of education and a member of the Executive Council of Rivers State (1975–1979), as a member of the 50-person Constitution Drafting Committee for the Federal Military Government of General Murtala Muhammed .
David-West was born in Buguma, Kalabari, in what is now Rivers State. He received his higher education at the University of Ibadan (1956-1958) and earned a BSc degree at Michigan State University (1958–1960), an MSc degree at Yale University (1960–1962), and a PhD degree at McGill University (1964–1966). David-West was consultant virologist and senior lecturer at the University of Ibadan in 1969 and was subsequently promoted to professor of virology in 1975.

Festus Odimegwu
Another member of the transition committee, Mr.  Festus Odimegwu, is a former Managing Director of Nigeria Breweries Plc and immediate past chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC). He replaced Chief Samaila Makama at NPC.
Odimegwu was an appointee of President Goodluck Jonathan after he helped to rally the organised private sector to support the enthronement of the Umaru Yar’Adua presidency in which Mr. Jonathan served as vice president.
He remained close to President Jonathan, who appointed him chairman of the National Population Commission. He however left the position in controversial circumstances after he made comments considered critical of a section of the country.
While at the Nigerian Breweries, he embarked on a modernisation programme that has further strengthened the distance between NB and its competitors.
He also served as a Director of Dangote Cement Plc until March 2012.  He served as Director of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc between 2004 and December 31, 2011. He served as Director of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc. He graduated with B.Sc Chemistry from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and M.Sc Brewing from Beriot Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.
He was Chairman & CEO, FS Group of Companies Ltd and a non-executive Chairman, Royal Lifestyle Services Group of Companies Ltd. Odimegwu was also a non-executive chairman of Quintessentially Nigeria Ltd.

Nike Aboderin
Nike Aboderin, a member of the committee is also a representative of the private sector on the transition committee.
Her private sector experience was majorly in the banking sector where she rose to the position of Group Head, Large Corporates at Skye Bank Plc in 2014. She also had a stint at Citibank Nigeria.
She was Special Adviser to the Ogun State governor between July 2011 and August 2014. She was a member of the executive council and was responsible for the trade and investment portfolio, reporting directly to the governor.
She was once Head, Treasury/ Financial Services of Premium Securities Ltd. (FBN (Merchant) Bank Ltd.)

Olawale Edun
Another private sector operator on the committee list is former commissioner of finance, Lagos State from 1999-2004. He has considerable experience in Economics and International Finance at national and international levels.
He worked at Chase Merchant Bank Nig. Limited (later Continental Bank Plc) – including spells at Lehman Brothers and Chase Manhattan Capital Markets, New York, USA and The World Bank / International Finance Corporation, Washington DC, USA .
He returned to Nigeria in 1989 as co-founder and executive director of Investment Banking and Trust Company (now Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc. He is the founder and current Chairman of Denham Management Limited (now Chapel Hill Denham Group). He serves on the board of African Paints Nigeria Plc, among others. He is also the Chairman, LiveWell Initiative, a health education and literacy non-government organisation (NGO) as well as Sisters Unite for Children – another NGO which assists street children.

Bola Adesola
Bola Adesola is a banker and a lawyer by profession. She joined Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited in 2011 as the managing director/chief executive officer. Her main responsibilities include the provision of leadership for the Group in Nigeria, through the development of overall country strategy/direction; the provision of leadership on corporate governance issues; and the achievement of the overall country’s financial and headcount budgets.
Prior to joining Standard Chartered Bank, Adesola served in senior leadership capacities in Citibank, Nigeria and Tanzania for a period spanning over nine years. She also served as Managing Director of Kakawa Discount House Nigeria and executive director in First Bank Nigeria, with responsibility for managing the business in the Lagos Directorate including retail, corporate and commercial banking.
Muhammed Hayatudeen
Muhammed Hayatudeen is remembered as perhaps, the first Nigerian bank managing director to turn around a sick and dying financial institution.
He used his wealth of experience in 1992 to transform the hitherto dormant Federal Savings Bank into a thriving commercial bank.
His effort led to the establishment of the now defunct FSB International Bank.
Hayatudeen is one of the moving spirits behind the Nigerian Economic Summit that has set the agenda for restructuring the Nigerian economy and putting it on a firm foundation. The Nigerian Economic Summit served as a precursor of the Vision 2010 where Hayatudeen also played a prominent role.
He had earlier worked in the Northern Nigerian Development Company where he retired as managing director. He set up a private consulting firm which he managed before coming to FSB.  He is an Economics graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria.
He served as member of numerous regulatory bodies such as the Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation (TCPC)

Abubakar Malami
Abubakar Malami, SAN, was born April 17, 1967 in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State. He attended Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto. Between 1995 and 1996 he worked as Magistrate II, Kebbi State Judiciary. He was a member of the Local Government Election Tribunal for the 2003 Election and National Publicity Secretary, Muslim Lawyers Forum of Nigeria - 2002 - 2004. He  served in various capacities including being a state counsel and magistrate in Kebbi State and teaching law at the Usman Dan Fodio University before going into  private legal practice. He was also the National Legal Adviser to the defunct  Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

Audu Ogbeh
Audu Ogbeh, an Idoma, was born on July 28, 1947, in Otukpo, Benue State. He attended King’s College, Lagos (1967 - 1968), then studied at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1969 - 1972)
He also attended  the University of Toulouse, France (1973 - 1974) before returning home to commence a teaching career at the Institute of Education, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1972 - 1976) and headed the Department of Humanities, Murtala College of Arts, Science and Technology (1977 - 1979).
Ogbeh began his political career in 1979 when he ran for office in the Benue State House of Assembly on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), becoming deputy speaker of the Assembly. In 1982, he was appointed Federal Minister of Communications, and later became Minister of Steel Development. His term of office ended in December 1983 when a military coup brought Major-General Muhammadu Buhari to power.
Ogbeh’s political influence  blossomed when  he was appointed National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in  2001 replacing Chief Barnabas Gemade. He held this position until January 2005, when he was forced to resign due to his criticism of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s handling of a crisis in Anambra State.  He returned to his farming career afterwards. As at 2009, he was chairman and managing director, Efugo Farms, Makurdi, and a member of Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships Incorporated, based in Philadelphia, United States of America. Ogbeh later became a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria ( ACN) and played a prominent role in the merger that gave birth to the APC.

John Odigie Oyegun
Chief John Odigie Oyegun was born on August 12, 1939 in Warri, Delta. He attended St. Patrick’s College, Asaba and proceeded to the University of Ibadan where he obtained Bachelor’s degree in Economics. Oyegun served as a federal civil servant and in various capacities as a development planner. He served in the Federal Civil Service for 13 years and  was appointed Permanent Secretary at the age of 36, thus making him the youngest at that time. In 1985, Oyegun retired voluntarily from the Civil Service.
The former Edo governor was to have his first taste of politics in 1992. After retiring from the Federal Civil Service, Oyegum. was elected the civilian governor of Edo on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) under the transition to democracy launched by the then Military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida between January 1992 to November 1993. Oyegun joined  forces with Pro-democracy activists who campaigned for a return to civil rule using the umbrella body of NADECO.  He later became a prominent member of the now defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and chaired the technical committee set up by the party to advice it on sensitive national issues. But in 2012, Oyegun parted ways with the ANPP and joined the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and shortly afterwards, they went into merger talks with ANPP, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). On June 13, 2014, the former governor was elected the first substantive national chairman of the APC.

Ogbonnaya Onu
Chief Ogbonnaya Onu was born on December 1, 1951 to a family of His Royal Highness, late Eze David Aba Onu, Eze Adul of Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi  State.
He obtained grade one with distinction in his West African School Certificate examination at Izzi High School, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State. He also obtained distinctions in physics and chemistry at the Higher School Certificate examination at the College of Immaculate Conception (CIC), Enugu. Onu went ahead to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos, graduating in 1976 with a first class honours degree in Chemical Engineering. For emerging tops with first class honours, Onu enrolled for his Doctorate degree in Chemical Engineering without passing through a Master’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley, United States of America.
Onu continued in  pursuit of  his academic career, taking up teaching appointment at St. Augustine’s Seminary, Ezzamgbo, Ebonyi state and later at the Universty of Port Harcourt. He was appointed the first head of the department of Chemical Engineering. He later acted as Dean Faculty of Engineering and was later elected into the Governing Council of the University. Onu has held many administrative positions and served on the boards of several establishments. He was President Raw Materials Society of Nigeria and Visitor, Abia State University, Uturu.
The APC chieftain began his political life in 1991, when he was elected first governor of the old Abia state. He later became the first Chairman Conference of Nigerian elected Governors in 1999. The former governor also emerged as the presidential flag-bearer of the then All  People’s  Party (later known as All Nigeria Peoples Party). He and other progressive politicians initiated the process of merger of a coalition of  opposition political parties in the country which has metamorphosed into the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi
Outgoing Rivers State Governor and Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, played more than just the role of an average party man in the success of the Buhari election. Amaechi, among others, was believed to have put in huge financial commitment to the Buhari campaign, aside buying into the vision of change. It is not expected, therefore, that he would be part of the Buhari presidency from the scratch.
Although from the South-south region as President Goodluck Jonathan, Amaechi, against the many labels of a traitor, greed and over-ambition, was the first to wage a potent war against his own, citing incompetence, corruption and orchestrated security to cow and intimidate the opposition. His idea of change seemed impossible ab initio; he however trudged on until the dream was realised on March 28.

Senator Hadi Sirika
Senator Hadi Sirika, a former pilot and senator from Katsina North Senatorial District, is currently the vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Millennium Development Goals (MGDs). A very close ally of Buhari, Sirika is one person who stayed the course, despite the menacing challenges.
Also a member of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Sirika always believed that President Goodluck Jonathan lacked the gravitas to run a complex nation like Nigeria but has a rather poor grasp of his brief and a number of topical issues. He has always hoped that whenever Buhari emerges president, things might begin to take a different turn. He is close and honourable enough to deserve membership of the transition committee.

Solomon Dalong
Fifty-one years old Solomon Dalong is the son of a retired Director of Health in the Taraba State Civil Service. Immediately after passing out from the Law School, he took up a job as Personal Assistant to the late Chief Solomon Lar. He was then appointed Adviser Emeritus to President Olusegun Obasanjo. This job lasted till 2003. In 2004, he took up an appointment with the Faculty of Law, University of Jos, as a lecturer. As a lecturer, he has had the opportunity of attending leadership trainings, courtesy of international human rights organisations.
In 2005, Dalong combined his job as a lecturer and study while pursuing a post-graduate degree in Law. His LLM programme successfully ended in 2007 and he was appointed Chairman of Langtang South Local Government Area the same year. His tenure as council chairman ended in May 2008. He then returned to the University of Jos. He made an attempt at representing Langtang North and South at the National Assembly but lost.
His condemnation of the political class is a family thing, as power abuse is said to irritate him. He is coming on board the committee on the strength of credibility and personal recognition.

Mallam Adamu Adamu
A renowned public analyst and columnist with Daily Trust, Mallam Adamu Adamu, to many, needs no introduction. He is a public commentator with a distinct style – fearless, educated and bold enough to express his views and opinions both locally and internationally. An indigene of Bauchi State, Adamu was one of the few who constantly criticised the government of former Governor Adamu Mu’azu, now the PDP national chairman.
Beyond his state, he has written on so many issues happening in other states of the country. He has also written so many times on international politics. He has been an ardent follower of Buhari for many years and was indeed, part of those who accompanied the General to Bauchi State during the 2007 elections to sell the candidacy of Governor Isa Yuguda as the then ANPP gubernatorial candidate.
By virtue of his relationship with Buhari, many see Adamu as anti-PDP. He was even said to have once boasted that if the 2007 elections were rigged, he would be on the street demanding for justice. Adamu was very critical of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He is on board on account of his relationship with Buhari, and he is secretary of the committee.

Boss Mustapha
Mr. Boss Mustapha was one of the governorship candidates in Adamawa State. Although he did not clinch the ticket eventually, he remains one of the architects of the APC success in the state. In fact, he was said to be one of those who enjoined many of PDP members to pitch tent with the APC.
He is said to have been shortlisted on the committee on the grounds of his contribution to the success of the party, in addition to fulfilling the quota requirement. He is also said to a strong believer of the Buhari project, a major factor said to have enhanced his membership of the committee.


Friday, 24 April 2015

Between Buhari And The Politicians

Fellow Nigerians, this is not an easy time in our country. The period of every transition from an outgoing ruling government to an incoming opposition administration anywhere in the world is always replete with soaking tension. This is exactly what has been going on since General Muhammadu Buhari defeated the incumbent President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. For a start, thousands of government and political operatives are about to lose their jobs. On the other hand, millions of applicants, qualified and unqualified, are anxious and eager to replace those thousands. It is only natural that it would become a do or die affair for those who see the political stage as the only way to sustain or enhance themselves.
 This is the season of the godfathers. I do not know how General Buhari plans to handle his first major test as a civilian President in waiting. The burden he is carrying now cannot be easy to contend with. It will not get easier when he is sworn in and becomes President because the weight of expectation would have increased multiple fold. Those days are gone when Nigerians kept their distance from politicians or failed to show active interest in who governed them. The manner the last election was won has made it mandatory for Nigerian leaders to realise that their citizen now plan to show more than cursory interest and concern about the colour of change they expect.
 The challenges would be daunting but not insurmountable. My appeal goes to the APC as the new governing party. They should not waste this opportunity of a lifetime. Nigeria has been kind to most of them. It is time to pay Nigeria back with love and selflessness. Buhari and Osinbajo will succeed if their party can relax its grip and help the President-elect search for a great team instead of harassing him into picking the worst of choices. It is impossible to appoint all who are qualified for the available jobs not to mention asking that unqualified people be given work on the basis of nepotism, greed or naked ambition. Our leaders should learn to take every situation as it comes. If you get the job, do it well, and if you don’t get it, there are many other ways you can be useful to your nation other than being in power or along the corridors of power.
 We must discourage the idea of thinking there is no life outside of government. Or that you can only make money when you are in government.  We must understand that government should not be an avenue for making money but a place where you are called to service.  In other countries distinguishing yourself in government is what opens the door afterwards to social acclaim and economic advancement.  But first, you must have been capable before being chosen and then you must excel at the task that you are given to execute.
 There is one vital point which must constantly be at the back of the mind of our incoming President in everything he does.  Nigerians did not vote him simply for the sake of change.  They voted for him because they want to see a real change.  A change for the better.  Nigerians whether at home or in the diaspora need a breath of clean air and they see Buhari as the catalyst for the kind of new revolution that they desire.  It will be tantamount to a waste of their time and effort at the polls for Buhari and his team to do otherwise.
 It is understandable if the power sharing formula is proving difficult and chaotic at this point in time but it must still be resolved speedily and amicably.  We can all have our say, which is the hallmark of democracy, but we cannot all have our way.  Now is the time for the President-elect to demonstrate the steel for which he is renowned and which was his major selling point to the electorate.  General Buhari cannot fold his arms in frustration because the political class are doing as they are wont to do by protecting their corner.  As the generalissimo, he should encourage and listen to strategy and tactics.  However as the Boss he must know that he is the umpire upon whom the final decision rests. Ultimately, the buck stops with the Commander-in-Chief and the success or failure of his administration will be judged by what he does and not what others did.
 For starters, the President-elect must let Nigerians know that he means business by the way he conducts himself during the transition period.  He must demonstrate that he is prepared to hit the ground running from the first day of his administration by leading from the front even now.  He is expected to act with military precision albeit in a civilian environment. This does not make him a dictator.  He should not be afraid to be tough because he has been so labelled in the past.  Those who voted for him want to see that hard part of him reflected in the government he heads.  They believe that is the only way he can stem the cankerworms of graft, waste, profligacy and impunity destroying Nigeria at this time.
 In this regard, all the solidarity visits must be toned down.  They are beginning to be an unnecessary distraction gaining him little credit in the eyes of the scrutinising Nigerians.  That is the way of the past and what Nigerians hoped would be curtailed if not eliminated by the tough unassuming General. The time has come to end the wild jubilations and face the brass tacks.
 Secondly, the President must be quick in assembling and announcing his transition team.  I shall reiterate my past my past suggestions about the principles that should underlie the composition of that team shortly.
 Thirdly, the President must act resolutely with respect to what is becoming the intractable problem his Party has with zoning positions in the National Assembly and by extension his cabinet and government.  He must not let the political class frustrate him at this early stage.  General Buhari is a fair and principled man.  He should let that guide him in his role as arbiter on this issue.  Nigerians are beginning to get jittery because of the rumours flying around about the difficulty the APC is having about sharing offices all around.
 Yes, there is a motley crowd of politicians, strange bed-fellows, making up the Party but the generality of Nigerians voted for the Party largely because of the mature and tolerant way it handled its primaries without rancour or bitterness.  Now is not the time for the APC to waste the goodwill and excitement generated by the clamour for change.  Its failure to come to agreement on what should be a simple matter is denting its image and making outsiders think that indeed nothing may change. Those who never wished them well are already hoping things would fall apart sooner than later. God forbid.
 In assembling a vibrant, skilled and visionary team to tackle the daunting challenges ahead, General Buhari must perform several balancing and dextrous acts akin to that of a deft ball juggler.  He has successfully performed the first act in his choice of Vice-President.  Prof Yemi Osinbajo is generally accepted as a perfect counter foil to the President’s age.  In addition he is a celebrated and highly accomplished and acclaimed professional with the same stern, exacting, and disciplined outlook to life as President Buhari. The combination promised by that ticket endeared both to their teeming supporters. If their right or left eyes would make them to sin they might have to pluck it. When the chips are down, Nigerians are not going to listen to whimsical excuses.
 The first balancing act that the President must now deal with in the medley of his frontline team is how to balance the age of his cabinet.  It is only natural that the General will want to include some old hands in his cabinet.  These are his contemporaries whom he has probably worked with in the past and knows that he can trust them.  It is unnatural to expect him to work only with young men and women.  He will only succeed if he has some people of his generation that he can turn to not just for the serious business of governance but also for the equally important down – time and relaxation mode.  Besides those of his generation will have the added advantage that being in the twilight of their lives you can expect that they will not have the kind of inordinate aggrandizing spirit and greedy proclivity that younger folks may sometimes have. Also they will be able to look him in the eye and tell the truth which younger members of his team may not be able to do either out of respect or fear of stalling their career progression.  The important thing is that the President-elect should know that such old hands should be in a tiny minority of his cabinet otherwise the younger generation may tune off.
 It is beginning to look like APC is not gender friendly where women are concerned and this perception must be reversed immediately.  Nigeria is blessed with enough competent, capable and honourable women who can wholly constitute a cabinet if given the chance.  Several of such women graced the outgoing government at one time or another.  It will be recalled that one of the positive spins during the election campaign was how the Government of President Jonathan was comprised of at least 30 per cent women.  Being gender unfriendly in relation to women also raises the haunting spectre of religion which General Buhari must strenuously avoid.   I would suggest that the President-elect ensures that he provides for significant representation of women in his cabinet not just because of their gender but because of their ability and credibility.
 Just like I have advocated that there must be a small dose of old hands in President Buhari’s government, so also must President Buhari make provision for youth.  President Buhari is in a prime position to know and appreciate what I am talking about because he was such a youth in the past who was given the opportunity of being in government and eventually leading this country. People of his generation served meritoriously as central figures in government in their twenties and thirties so what has gone wrong today?  I am assured that the youth of today are certainly better equipped than those of that generation because of the technological advancements that have occurred since then and so should be equally if not better able to serve competently in any government .
 The incoming President must also ensure that his government is not populated by the political elite alone. Any government which seeks to succeed anywhere in the world must create room for a lot of technocrats and specialists in their field to occupy cabinet positions and not merely act as advisers.  I am confident that it is this kind of change that Nigerians desire to see in the composition of the new cabinet.  Policy, strategy, vision and altruism are not the usual attributes of most politicians.  They are frequently more self-centred and their excesses will need to be curbed by technocrats who are simply keen on seeing the successful outcome of what they envisioned and implemented.  The political jobbers should understand from Buhari that the clime has changed and whilst they will be accommodated in the scheme of things it will not be at the expense of the Nation which is waiting on him to perform.
 Finally, General Buhari must not make the mistake of the immediate past government by appearing to take on the mantle of President of only one section of Nigeria where he comes from.  Notwithstanding that a particular part of Nigeria failed to support him in the election, he contested for and won the election as the President of a unified Nigeria. He should never forget this and must do everything to ensure that he is not seen as parochial either in terms of ethnicity or, equally importantly, on the basis of religion.  The religious issue is probably even more important given the hate campaign mounted against him as a purported Islamic fundamentalist before the elections.  His kinsmen and religious faithful must support him in this regard by not demanding of him any preferential treatment in his conduct of the affairs of the Nigerian State. What General Buhari must promote at all times is the secularity which is enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.  He must strive to douse the embers of distrust which has seemingly eaten deep into the social fabric.
 Even if nobody expects a miracle from the General people are expecting a difference for the better. If that is all he achieves in the short run, Nigerians will be patient and reasonable.  The accomplishments which he would work for, and that which the citizens ostensibly crave shall ultimately come in the fullness of time.
 So help us God.

The Dialectic of Hosa Okunbor's Politics and Ethnic Consideration.

 Francis Ehigiator
 The 2015 general elections have come and gone, but the ripples of victory and defeat that they have generated across the country have been so profound that they are yet to settle. For the first time in the annals of presidential elections in Nigeria, an incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, was defeated by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari.
 This has forced spontaneous realignments across the political landscape with a good number of politicians switching platforms. While a few gladiators dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the APC and vice versa before the March 28, 2015 presidential election, there was a gale of movements from the PDP to the APC after the defeat of President Jonathan in that election. Some founding leaders and members of the PDP who had benefited so much from the party in terms of elective and appointive positions left the party without as much as a whimper.
 With eyes, possibly fixed on the sharing of national cake in Abuja, principles took a whimsical flight. It was all a parade of absurdities and ideological somersaults for those who claimed to be guided by some form of political ideology. The development left those (especially businessmen) who have hugely invested their hard-earned resources in the development of the PDP and in support of elective office-seeking members, without getting anything in return, in a reasonable position to undertake a post-mortem and reach a decision on what next step to take.
 This is the position in which the political drum major and PDP leader in Edo South senatorial zone, where I come from, Captain Hosa Okunbo, found himself immediately after the March 28, 2015 Presidential and National Assembly elections. I am aware that Okunbo is a solid businessman in the billionaire league; he is, according to media reports, a good friend of President Goodluck Jonathan. This perhaps explains his decision to withdraw his support for the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Edo state in 2011 and give the same to President Jonathan and his PDP.
 Okunbo had stuck out his neck for his friend (Jonathan) in the March 28 presidential election in spite of pressure from many of his kinsmen and women to act like typical businessmen who would sponsor candidates of both the ruling and the opposition parties in the same election(s). He had chosen to act differently, preferring to publicly identify with the PDP and thus expose himself to the vagaries of the tension of political goals and objectives.
 His investments in the actualisation of the second term aspiration of Jonathan yielded results in Edo state. He was able to deliver his Edo south zone with the highest voting population to Jonathan. He won three of the four House of Representatives seats fair and square while the APC won the fourth in a controversial manner. Overall, Jonathan won Edo State but the victory was not enough to give him a countrywide presidential election victory. The new realities that crystallised after the March 28 presidential election were a mixed bag of sort: Jonathan and PDP lost the Federal Government; the PDP is not the government in control of Edo State; and interestingly, a Bini son, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, is National Chairman of the APC, whose party has just won the presidential election. What this presents to all Binis, although those in the PDP may not like it, is that their own is holding the most powerful and influential position in the ruling party whose government will swing into action on May 29, this year.
 This development and other forward-looking considerations coalesced into the strategic move by Okunbo to review his political beliefs, decide to support his brother, Odigie-Oyegun, to be able to win all the State House of Assembly seats in the April 11 elections. If Okunbo had wanted to go the whole hog, he would have won the seats for the PDP, but the question is, of what benefits will that be for a Bini ethnic nation in desperate quest for national accommodation and integration? He would have worked against the very objective of Bini development, liberation and transformation that he has over the years espoused, and for which he has exposed himself politically for possible “vicious attacks”. Now, an APC government is stepping in the saddle on May 29 while an APC government is already in place in Edo State. So, what else is there to fight for other than for all Binis to align with the present realities?
 Okunbo, from all indications, has keyed into these realities by supporting the electoral victory of Binis into the State Legislature on the APC platform. Indeed, with the role he played in the April 11 State House of Assembly elections, I believe it is time Okunbo rose above political differences to strengthen his commitment to the liberation and transformation of Benin ethnic nationality in the context of national politics.
 Having staked his reputation and business interests by not only exposing himself to politics but also taking up the position of PDP Edo South Senatorial Leader for the sole purpose of offering a strong voice and representation to the Binis (who has been largely short-changed and marginalised in terms of strategic appointments) in the Federal Government, all Binis irrespective of their political affiliations and tendencies should rally round Okunbo to accelerate the actualisation of the Benin agenda for rapid integration, accommodation, infrastructure development and transformation.
 This is the only workable and viable option that the Binis must embrace under the fast-consolidating leadership of Okunbo working in concert with Odigie-Oyegun and other well-meaning Bini leaders.
– Ehigiator, a public affairs commentator, contributed this piece from Benin City

Monday, 13 April 2015

Highlights of the approach of General Muhammadu Buhari's Incoming Government.

 At the LBS breakfast session held last week, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Director of Policies for APC, stood in for GMB.
 He talked about the following issues:
 1. 1.The cardinal agenda of the government and their over-arching themes will be SECURITY, CORRUPTION and UN-EMPLOYMENT; they believe that corruption has a very strong negative link to both security and un-employment.
 2. There will be no real action until around October, partly because the 2015 budget is GEJ’s and may be fully approved in April; the new government will seek to align the electoral and fiscal calendars to avoid this type of problem in future
 3. A cabinet will be announced very quickly, within one week of inauguration; anyone with a whiff of corruption or other tainting will not be on the cabinet; GMB’s body language will reflect zero tolerance for corruption
 4. Emphasized that the APC is not a conclave of cardinals but includes the good, the bad and the ugly; in Nigeria, the bad and the ugly can be the biggest electoral assets but GMB’s government will not interfere with law enforcement agencies or the judiciary even if APC members are involved
 5. The VP elect, did a lot of work as commissioner of justice in LASG and will bring this to a major revamp of the judiciary to complement anti-corruption drive and the rule of law; he will also anchor the economic committee
 6. The new government will continue with some of the programmes in the GEJ administration, which were successful, for example Agriculture, but there will be a stronger collaboration between FGN and the states
 7. A very LEAN government is the focus; this will involve resolving overlapping and redundant MDAs; largely in line with the Steve Oronsaye presidential committee report; this report was available to GEJ’s government but the will to implement it was absent
 8. Rather than strengthen key anti-corruption agencies like EFCC, ICPC and SFI, these are likely to be consolidated and a single entity will be made more effective
 9. Believe that CBN is getting over-burdened by developmental finance issues, at the expense of its core objectives; this will be changed
 10. Subsidy on petroleum products will certainly go and the industry will be reformed as a matter of priority in order to attract new investments
 11. While power reform has been commendable, and will continue, the approach will change. Transmission will be deregulated, regionalized and privatized in order to break down centralized transmission; issues of gas supply to Gencos will be addressed but the new government believes that DISCOs are the biggest bottlenecks presently; the government plan to add-on 4,000 MW of power every year and expect that output will be a minimum of 12,000 MW at the end of term of this mandate
 12. Think tank detailed work indicate that N3 trillion in savings can come out of plugged leakages; believe that the employment drive will be private sector led
 13. The government will allow market forces to prevail, including foreign exchange; debunked the view that GMB will use fiat to fix the exchange rate; however the government will keenly seek to protect the more economically vulnerable segments of the society
 14. There will be tightening of the tax noose but no tax rate hikes/FIRS will be strengthened and the LASG IGR template will be adopted at the national level
 15. While the infrastructure gap requires huge capital outlay which the government does not have, a master-plan will be developed; a situation where the recurrent budget is almost 80% and capital budget only 20% is not acceptable…(it does not appear detailed work has been done here….for example, they believe that un-employment is partly due to lack of skilled labour and hope to more actively engage the academic community to train for these skills…..but the tertiary institutions will need to be massively upgraded before they can compete )
 16. Advised that we read the APC manifesto, available on the website and also, the Steve Oronsaye reports

Friday, 10 April 2015

We Chose Buhari To Salvage Nigeria - Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, while addressing a crowd of APC supporters at the party’s presidential rally in Lagos, said he sacrificed his presidential ambition for Buhari… Who would help save Nigeria. According to Tinubu:

“People define patriotism as putting the country first but this is what the ‘Poverty Development Party’ refuses to understand. We chose Buhari not because Bola Tinubu is not interested in the Presidency. I am capable, competent, qualified, younger and richer but there comes a time that people must make sacrifices for their nation.
“I prayed that Nigeria would get better and we would not need a man like him (Buhari). But today, we are in a great crisis; we face a lot of challenges. When South Africa was in a great dilemma and was about to disintegrate, they called Nelson Mandela of 74 years old.
“He used his wisdom to save his country. When the United States was in economic depression, they called 73-year-old Ronald Reagan because he was frugal and incorruptible.
“When America was faced with depression and war, they called a retired General, Dwight Eisenhower, to rescue the country and the country was returned on a path of success. “When France was faced with war and economic depression, they called a retired General, Charles De Gaul, to rescue the country.
And added that whether Buhari presented a certificate or not, he was still qualified to rule the country.

“So what do we need now? Buhari. This is the time for us. General Buhari, whether you are qualified or not qualified, we are calling you to come and rescue us in Nigeria,