THE three-time Deputy President of Senate and former Speaker African Parliament, Professor Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, last Tuesday, assembled the creme de la creme of Enugu politics from all the 17 Local Governments of Enugu State.
At a very posh hotel in Enugu, at what he dubbed a ‘ Breakfast Meeting ‘, the boisterous Senator, decked in Igbo traditional Isiagu attire and cap to match, made it very businesslike. It was interactive after buffet meals, and had to make his historical delivery laced with such effervescence, keeping his audience spell bound with rapt attention.
The opening prayers set the stage of the high octane gathering and what to expect. The pastor was audacious and said inter alia, that the Heavens were happy with the host. He committed him to the protection of God and urged the revered Senator to put forward his hands and he did what was common in Pentecostalism, the ‘impartation ‘on his two palms. He wound up the prayers by ordering the guests to shout a thunderous Alleluah 13 times for the Biblical Wall of Jericho to collapse, thus committing him to God for the journey ahead, in becoming the next Governor of Enugu State.
The Senator speaking extemporaneously reeled out his plans for Enugu to make it an Eldorado of a place that would become the pride of all and a cynosure of all eyes not only from the African continent but the entire world. He dwelt on the economic perspective, social, cultural and making the youths gainfully employed by industrialisation policy, amongst others.
“I was four years when the war broke out and after my secondary school, taught briefly at the popular St Vincent’s Secondary School, where the burning interest of becoming a lawyer caught up with most teachers in the college. My interest had been in the sciences but my colleagues whipped up the passion for law.
“Six of us teachers sat for the exam, but I was the only one chosen then. On completion of my law degree, and going to Law School in Lagos, had planned to open my law firm in Jos but the uprising then, made me to return to Enugu along Ogui road and had my chambers there. The present Governor, His Excellency Dr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, had his Insurance firm close to my office. We have been friends for over 30 years.
Daily, we ended up at a local restaurant where we dined together and exchanged pleasantries and banters. Our two wives collaborate and that is why I laugh at people who think we are at daggers drawn. As this meeting wind up, I am moving straight to Orba in Nsukka Governor’s country home to wish him compliments of the Yuletide season.
“In my political journey, I had twice been recommended for Ministerial appointments by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, but the Governor then Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani did not want to release me because he felt I had greater assignments to do for our people back home. I personally took the letter and ferried the man who later became Minister in Obasanjo’s government from Enugu State, Chief Dubem Onyia to Abuja. With all modesty and humility, I am not looking for work, I am not desperate, but seeking a greater opportunity to work with all Enugu people and stakeholders on our program of action, that would turn Enugu State into the economic and tourist hub of not only Nigeria but Africa.
“We need to position our state so much so that any visitor coming to Nigeria for the first time cannot beat his or her chest as having seen the country in its entirety, without coming over to Enugu State. We would build on the foundation laid by the present Governor and employing the methodology of Creative Thinking and Opportunities to achieve our goals.
They are achievable and attainable. If you are a creative government there are several things you can circumvent and pull surprises. A couple of days back some progressive minded young men came to me with proposals of automobile manufacturing. My take is no one on earth manufactures vehicles but what prevails is assembling.
“What is needed is to upgrade and assemble. The China example readily comes to mind. Every Chinese family is encouraged to produce one or more parts in a larger Assembly Vehicle family. This way everyone is busy and contributes to the economy and equally earns a living. Owing to my vast experience and travels, I have the Singaporean model to fashion out. There is the latest Carbon Credit that rules the world and even our God given crop of Ogbolor crops are in high demand in far away Norway. Pity, no statistics of road networks that are either bad or done in Nigeria ditto electricity power supply in the country. Insecurity and kidnapping are bye products of terrible state of bad roads, which makes innocent Nigerians fall prey to bandits and kidnappers.
“There is Autoband Roads in Germany, with cars and vehicles doing a steady 120-160 mph , making it impossible for any attack by hoodlums because the road is first class. This is my thought and plan for Enugu State. I am amazed that not up to five states in the country have factored new industries to employ the tens and thousands of our young ones out of school. Once we provide jobs, the rate of insecurity would drop drastically. Dubai was a backward nation 25 years ago, had to loan its first aircraft from Pakistan, today the story is different the profit making Emirates, tell the success story. We have a gold mine on our hands in Enugu via tourism. Potentiality of tourism is better imagined. Enugu is the back bone of cinematography, pioneering the Nolywood film making industry. A Film Village would be a foreign exchange earner, just as Europeans rake lots of hard currencies with their film industry.
“Enugu has always been peaceful and a place to treasure, but unfortunately with the hype on politicking, it is sadly degenerating to an unfortunate hooliganism. If the epitaph on the former Governor Sullivan Chime is to be written, there will be a sizeable chapter devoted to his stamping out completely thuggery and banditry in Enugu State. Sadly it has resurrected and it is returning with such venom. All we need do is to raise the quality of our arguments and not resort to vile speeches, and show of physical assault in the quest of political power. Our forefathers that created Enugu State Chief C C Onoh, Barrister Enechi Onyia, Chief Charles Abangwu, to name but a few, conceptualised a state where we all would be happy , there would be no discrimination since we have a common language, culture and inter related.
“My dream is to foist on Enugu people, the Singaporean model of both economy and social relationships. In Singapore there are Indians, Chinese and Malaysians, that country had challenges but quickly conquered and solved that blemish. By the Grace of God, we shall together build a City State not a fractured state. Not one where brothers would be threatening their brothers and sisters that they would dangle cutlasses. We have said NO to banditry and thuggery and will never return to such dangerous oddities again in Enugu State by the grace of God. I will engage more of our people; engage the youths and women and intensify collaborative efforts at dialogue and emphasising on competence, capacity to deliver, and disabuse disunity,” Ekweremadu said.
Speaker after speaker paid glowing tributes to his humility, heart of meek of human kindness by floating an Ikeoha Educational Foundation which has continued to help and assist students by providing them scholarships to study but at home and overseas. One particular guest, who had arrived from the United States of America, had shared the strong sentiments expressed by some Igbo in the Diaspora. They hold strongly the views that if only Enugu State will replicate what happened in Anambra State last November and getting it right to elect a very competent and vast experienced technocrat politician, in their very words ‘Ala Igbo’, would have hit it 100 percent set for development.
Some others urged the Senator to take special interest in insecurity and kidnapping in particular areas of the state, which he promised to take up, including undue and incessant harassment of Oganiru Social group and those associated with him. The end of year get together of what can pass for Senator Ike Ekweremadu indicating that he would throw his hat into the ring as soon as the curtain is drawn, had in attendance top political pundits from the state, including the Minority Chief Whip, erudite Toby Okechukwu, members of the National Assembly, State House of Assembly, Chairmen of Councils, the academia, women and youth groups.
It painted a picture of the Shakespearean verses. Remember Caesar, remember Mark Anthony, the proletariat converging to listen to him speak, his cathecism of knowledge and speech. It was Shakespear’s Hamlet that epitomised the true situation ‘Take me, Take a King, Take a King, take a Soldier. Senator Ekweremadu conversely had told his beloved Enugu people, to “take your son, take competence, experience and proficiency; take me, to the famed Lion Building at Independence Layout seat of government, come 2023.” Let philosophers therefore be kings like the Roman Jews, one would unambiguously say.
Dr Ugwu is a public analyst and author
Amended Electoral Act 2022 As The Unsung Game Changer
Article by Hashim Suleiman
My stead in public service has thus far thought me that majority of Nigerians do not care to know much about the provisions of the country’s laws. People are more about bandwagons and clichés which says it’s always been done like that before and it must continue.
One of the factors that led to this mentality is peoples familiarity with the military autocratic era when rules or laws are usually not obeyed nor understood. Such mentality is the major bane of the Nigeria’s public service today.
Majority of my colleagues know I write articles and do public speaking but all along they’ll always ask that as a public servant I was not supposed to participate in politics or do public commentaries. Such concern was basically all over the public service and it has sort of limited dreams and aspirations as well as innovations.
People are forced to bottle up whatever progressive tendency they’ve got for unlawful and unfounded narratives. But trust that I always educate anyone of them that came with such concern by letting him or her know that the laws of the land do not stop the public servant from participating in politics. Imagine that all along people never knew that a public servant could only resign a month to elections in the event that he or she emerges candidates for an election.
It took the recent arguments about resignation or not of a public servant owing to the recently signed 2022 electoral act amendment to know the position of the law on this public service issue.
I’m bringing up this narrative to lead us to understand how much Nigerians don’t know about their laws nor knowing how to utilize them to their advantage. In fact, let me tell you for free today that the smartest of the Nigerian politicians are those who invest heavily in judicial research with a view to exploring them for electoral victories, ask Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who allowed PDP to goof in Ekiti and Osun in 2007 but quietly utilized the provision of the Nigerian laws to reclaim both mandates, legendary right? Yes that’s what you get when you pay attention to details in a democracy.
Let me now get into the crux of today’s episode by letting all know that while certain appointees of Nigeria’s president didn’t even wish that the electoral act was amended at all, but it had to eventually happen because the President had been boxed into a corner that bordered on his integrity and promise of delivering a free and fair election for 2023.
Remember also that the President had to reject the amendment of the Act twice in 2018 leading to the 2019 elections. Consequently, there was no way he could have rejected the recently amended one even though his kitchen cabinet never wanted it.
However, it was after I had studied a bit of the amended Act that I understood the concern of those who opposed it and honestly I wonder why it is unsung amongst the polity. Firstly, the Act has to a large extent addressed the issue of imposition of candidate through consensus means.
The National Assembly in its wisdom to ensure those wishing to cash on their closeness to Mr President to obstruct the passage of the bill do not get away with it introduced a caveat which says in a situation of consensus all other aspirants that have indicated interested have to submit a signed agreement to the said consensus. Any other arrangement outside this arrangement will be prone to litigation and a very ripe one at that.
This is why those candidates who are premising their ambitions on someone’s endorsement will get it wrong for as long as other candidates have bought forms. It only took the respect that the aspirants for the APC National Chairmanship had for Buhari to avoid a truncation of the National Convention or better case force an indirect or direct primaries.
The little drama that happened on the podium of the Eagle Square on the convention day should point to this.
Further provisions that have unsettled politicians and wannabe’s is the issue surrounding resignation of political appointees before becoming active participants. This provision has become the most popular but the victims don’t wish it to be amplified because they think they think they could marshal out some shortcut but knowing Nigeria’s political terrain, I will not advise anyone to take risking not resigning before becoming active in the game, especially if the Appeal Court has not made a ruling on the matter before prescribed statutory political calendars.
The shift in dates for conduct of primaries and a need to conclude all controversies and litigations resulting from them on time is another major game changer. In another one month, the nation would have had an idea who candidates are and also left with ample time to engage, interrogate and challenge such nominations if need be.
Issues around recognition of the usage of electronic means of voting and transmission of results is another major change to the Act that politicians would not know how to manipulate. Even if they have to, you can imagine the economic implications of manipulating digital procedures.
There are also issues around announcement of results under duress and conduct of INEC staffs in elections amongst many others.
In view of the foregoing, it should be evident to every right and strategy thinking politician that the game will not be the same anymore ranging from the Primary to Secondary elections.
The only saving grace is appropriate investment in strategy which must encompass strategic communication and rule of law as most priority of all.
Interesting times ahead.
[OPINION] Security Challenges: The Crucifixion Of Nasir El-Rufai
Nasir El- Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, is guilty by association. First is his close association with Muhammadu Buhari, the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who is not particularly popular in a section of the country. Another is El-Rufai’s membership of the hated All Progressives Congress (APC).
The most painful “crime” for his traducers, was El-Rufai’s prominent role in the unprecedented defeat of an incumbent president, which was not shy about mobilising Christian and southern bastions of support for its continuity. Worse for them, was El- Rufai’s effrontery to tongue-lash Goodluck Jonathan, over his very poor handling of the Boko Haram security challenges.
For the traducers of El-Rufai’, it doesn’t really matter that Citizen Nasir El-Rufai’s pointed critique of President Goodluck Jonathan’s handling of security was validly made. And that the critique cannot be turned against Governor El-Rufai who is not the president and does not have the powers of that office and the leverage he expected Jonathan to deploy.
Only a biased mind would fail to acknowledge that as governor, El-Rufai has done everything that a state governor without a military and police can do. The reality is that El-Rufai is just the glorified “chief security officer” of Kaduna state. Nor do his traducers realize that trying to judge El-Rufai, as if he were the president, and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, is like comparing oranges and apples.
Nigerians are living witnesses to the public humiliation of Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos state, by the police officer. What Sanwo-Olu went through, is the lot of the governors, the so-called chief security officers. Rotimi Ameachi, as Rivers state governor, had a police commissioner that was uncontrollable and openly disrespectful.
Given this background, it’s not surprising that no other governor in Nigeria is viciously called out like Nasir El-Rufai is usually savaged, whenever there are security breaches in their states. Though many of the governors are beneficiaries of the Buhari tsunami, because they said absolutely nothing in public about their darling Jonathan, the traducers of El-Rufai have excused inaction, and they can even host terrorists in the government house. If El-Rufai, had dared to host a terrorist, like Aminu Masari of Katsina state did, he would have been a dead man. Not even the governors of Niger, Katsina, and Zamfara states, whose security situation can’t by any means be compared to that of Kaduna state, attract any condemnation.
Since Monday when the Abuja-Kaduna train was unfortunately attacked to date, the video of El- Rufai criticising former president Goodluck Jonathan, has been trending. And it is being used against him in a manner that suggests retaliation. But are those posting the video denying the fact that Goodluck Jonathan woefully failed in his responsibilities as the president? No! Because privately some of them have owned up that it’s payback time for El- Rufai’s strident criticism of Jonathan and his association with President Buhari.
But whether El-Rufai’s traducers like it or not, there is no governor that has given the security challenges the attention that El-Rufai has nor put forward concrete proposals of how the terrorists can be defeated. The only snag is that Nasir El-Rufai is not the president, who the constitution has solely bestowed the coercive power of the state in, so he can only continue to lobby Abuja to do the needful.
El-Rufai remains the only governor that established a special purpose ministry of internal security in 2019 at the beginning of his second term, to coordinate the various agencies, in reaction to the increasing security challenges. No other impacted state has reacted to the problem as El-Rufai did.
From 2007 to 2021, El-Rufai vigorously led the campaign to designate the bandits as terrorists to enable the military legitimately go after them without fear of international criminal court indictments. Ever far-sighted, El- Rufai, in the last few years, has been pushing for the massive recruitment of 774,000 youths (1,000 per local government area) into the security forces, to enable them to crush the terrorists. Clearly, the less than 200,000 strong armed forces, are overwhelmed and overstretched by the various crises confronting the country. The recruitment will, apart from increasing the boots on the ground, reduce unemployment amongst the youthful population.
The one reason why the terrorists are winning and will continue to win is because of the limited numbers of boots on the ground, coupled with the fact that they are not well equipped and lacking in the technology that can make their limited numbers count, and not because El-Rufai criticised Goodluck Jonathan.
In the words of Mallam Nasir El- Rufai: “None of the military services, nor other security agencies has been suitably expanded in numbers and equipment for over a decade since the insurgency in the north-east pushed things to a new low. This country does not have enough soldiers, uniformed police and secret police to project state power across its vast swathes, particularly the forests”. This is the real issue that his traducers should have spent their precious time addressing, rather than being fixated on his attack on Jonathan, which beyond demonising changes absolutely nothing.
He has equally been canvassing for the establishment of state police, which the national assembly just threw out for no justifiable reason other than perceived fear of misuse, which safety controls would have taken care of.
The other proposal by El-Rufai is for the military to carpet-bomb the forests which are providing refuge for the terrorists. Yes, the forests will be destroyed, but they can be replanted like Nigeria reconstructed the destroyed infrastructure during the civil war. He said: “I have always believed that we should carpet-bomb the forests. We can replant the trees after. Let’s carpet-bomb the forests and bomb all of them. There will be collateral damage, but it’s better to wipe them out and get people back to our communities so that agriculture and rural economies can pick up”.
Again from experience, he has been canvassing for the setting up a theatre command for better coordination of operations in the north-west zone and Niger state.
To crush the terrorists, El- Rufai has also been canvassing for better funding for the armed forces and the security agencies. He should know because he buys, fuels and maintains the operational vehicles of the Nigerian Police and the Civil Defence Corps, without his intervention, they would have long been grounded. Kaduna state also pays N1,000,000 to the immediate family of any law enforcement officer killed in active duty.
His traducers are not interested in understanding why previous military operations in Kaduna state and other north-west states awfully failed, only his demonisation matters. Were they, they would have known that it is because the armed forces lacked the requisite manpower, to launch military operations simultaneously in all the troubled states. The military to date hasn’t refuted this fact, which the Chadian military hierarchy has equally derided the Nigerian military over. There is no doubt only massive recruitment will give them that capability.
El- Rufai’s critics need to understand that his suggestions on winning the war against terrorism are a holistic package and that every item in the package is well thought out. We must stop deluding ourselves, that half-measures will restore normalcy. Nigeria is technically at war. And only a strategically coordinated all-out offensive against the terrorists will give us the results we desire.
El-Rufai’s situation reminds one of the fate of Cinna in Julius Caesar, by Williams Shakespeare. The poet Cinna, had, unfortunately, run into the mob seeking out the conspirators. Being a poet, he attempted to engage them wittily, which only further angered the already enraged mob. Even though Cinna wasn’t their intended target, he was nevertheless killed, for “his bad verse”, despite his protests that he wasn’t Cornelius Cinna, the conspirator they were looking for.
El-Rufai is a victim of an organised mob and mobs like we know lack the capacity to reason because they are usually angry and worked up. The only problem is that their anger is usually misdirected, as in this case, against El-Rufai. The scene in that epic work; the mob mentality, violence, and outright intimidation of anyone with opposing viewpoints, is not any different from the situation in Nigeria today.
The majority of those hounding Nasir El-Rufai over the security challenges confronting Kaduna state, and other states of the north-west and Niger state in the north-central zone, are unfortunately not interested in a solution. Playing politics with the security situation, with the deeply traumatic events, shows how divided we are.
Like a prophet, he has shouted himself hoarse to a nation that is not willing to listen to constructive proposals on the way forward. El- Rufai has creditably discharged his responsibilities to his country by putting forward a package of proposals for Nigeria to implement, the choice is ours. El-Rufai’s traducers can continue to hound him while massively misjudging the security challenges.
To his traducers, who look forward to El-Rufai insulting Buhari so they can absolve him of his “numerous” sins, they should perish that thought. It will never happen.
Saraki, Tambuwal, Bala Mohammed Form Unity Team
A former Senate President, Dr Bukola Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State on Monday visited the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, to consult him over their presidential ambitions.
The trio said they were in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, as a team to hold private discussions with Ortom in furtherance of their ambitions as well as in the interest of the country.
Saraki, who addressed Ortom on behalf of the team, disclosed that they decided to form a unity team, mainly to enable them reach a consensus among themselves in the days ahead.
He stressed that they took the initiative to work as a team without anybody forcing them to do so, adding that it became necessary because thee country was too divided by personal interests.
He said, “I’m here today with my two brothers, the governor of Sokoto State, His Excellency, Aminu Tambuwal and of course, the governor of Bauchi State, His Excellency, Bala Mohammed. We are here today as part of our ongoing consultation of three of us who have shown indication to aspire for presidency under our great party.
“We, on our own about couple of weeks ago felt that in the interest of our party as well in the interest of our great country that we should be able to come together and find a consensus among us.
“Our interest is very little compare to our country’s at this time when it is in its very defining moment. I believe only our party can rescue this country from where it is today and those of us who are aspiring are committed to ensure that we find somebody who will unite us whom we will all support. That’s a better way to unite the party and reduce the rancour in the process.
“To do that, we must also carry along key stakeholders of the party, leaders in the party like you and that’s why we are here today. Three of us alone cannot win and deliver; it is all of us and that’s why we feel that at this very stage of our deliberation, leaders like you must be part of it. That’s why we held a private discussion for you to know that we are very serious about this.
“The seriousness comes from our total belief that it’s the unity of our party. All of us are eminently qualified to lead this country; it’s about us ensuring that we put the country first and that is why we are here.”
Saraki thanked the Benue State governor for the fruitful discussions they had, noting that “we’re confident and encouraged by your comments that what we are doing is in the best interest of our party and for our country.”
He added, “Our plan is to see the other colleagues across the country. We’re hoping today to see you and two other governors and also tomorrow some others.
“We are committed on PDP winning. Any of the aspirants is eminently competent to rule this country and lead this country. But whoever that person is, he needs all of us. That is what is priority, not whether Aminu is President or Bala or Wike or Anyim or Waziri; no! It is what will make Nigeria better and we believe it’s the PDP platform.”
Responding, Governor Ortom eulogised the trio, describing all of them as eminently qualified to be the president of Nigeria, adding that, “these two leaders (Saraki and Tambuwal), Nigerians can testify that during their time that they did very well and delivered on their mandate, so I’m not surprised today they are coming out for presidency. My brother, Mohammed, who we were colleagues together at the administration of President Good luck Jonathan, he is also eminently qualified and I’m very happy.”