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‘GBADE OJO

With my recent sporadic media intervention on the warped form and character of federalism in Nigeria, I assumed I must have contributed to the ongoing polemic via-a-vis the imperatives of either political restructuring or secession as canvassed by the Biafrans.  However, when the Babel of voices on the kismet of Nigeria’s federal arrangement now takes a very dangerous dimension, I am compelled to lend my voice again.  The snag is the idea that confederacy could safe Nigeria; whereas, in the contemporary work no country is organized along confederal structure.

Tola Adeniyi, a respected columnist, surprisingly exhumed the spirit of late Bisi Onabanjo (of blessed memory) by canvassing confederation.  The idea which was first muted by the former Governor of Ogun State in the Second Republic (1979-1983) was basically borne out of frustration with the system.  A polity that basically threw up the likes of the late Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, eventually installed Alhaji Sheu Shagari as President; could be described as not working.  Same system tolerated annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential election result despite the fact that the election was a watershed in all ramifications.  The late business mogul got ‘sacrificed’ along the line.  That election marked shifting the ‘locale’ of power from the northern military oligarchy to civilians after decades of military junta holding sway. It was also a shift of power from the northern oligarchy to the south and equally an election that removed the toga of ethnicity and religious chauvinism in Nigeria’s body politik; but with impunity discountenanced a credible election, such a system cannot be described as a working federal structure.

In the words of Tola Adeniyi, the bane of Nigeria’s federal arrangement could be summarized thus “it was a marriage that was not canvassed, not negotiated not consented to that was the root, the father and mother of all the diseases that had plagued Nigeria since 1914”.  But this is absolutely reductionist. Between 1960 when Nigerian got flag independence till date, we ought as a country ought to have negotiated how we desire the ‘forced’ marriage to work.  Thus, it is imperative that we glaringly highlight the travails of the system for us to be able to recommend recipe.  This is the primary motive of this piece.

To start with, the degree of loyalty to the constitution, particularly the sections relating to formal division of powers between and amongst tiers of government is important to federal stability.  In as much as federalism is basically a juristic concept, much of its success or failure would depend on the extent to which the central and constituent governments define their powers, territories and other provisions in the constitution.  Its therefore not significantly amazing that since 1954, new constitutions were drafted in quick successions with none satisfying the yearnings and aspirations of an average Nigerian as if the only panacea for federal stability is the constitution, whereas in the words of Alfa Belgore, an eminent jurist, “the elite are making terrible encroachment into the constitution, simply because of personal selfishness”. Thus, any federal arrangement like Nigeria’s where the constitution is not taken as an upright and sacred document, which must be respected by all no matter how highly placed coupled with rare obedience to court verdicts, federalism definitely runs into troubled waters.

Be that as it may, the concomitant effect of military rule in terms of over-centralization has bastardized the virtues of federalism in Nigeria. What we have is more of a unitary system than federalism! One can easily recall that with 1954 Constitution, Nigeria began with a formal federal structure that was decentralized to accommodate the diverse ethnic groups.  For instance, each of the constituent federating units, known then as regions, operated its own regional constitution, police, civil service and judiciary. Each region even had a separate coat of arms and motto, distinct from those of the federation. Sadly, with the coming of the military, along with the command structure of the military, Federal Government acquired more powers to the detriment of the federating units. The first military putsch in 1966 abolished regional police. The federal military government went ahead taking over assets owned by the state or group of states like television stations, stadia and newspapers, thereby strengthening the Federal Government at the expense of the states in terms of asset ownership. This made the contest for political power at the federal level a lot more intense among the federating units, and it laid the foundation for many years of crisis of instability. Many other actions taken by the military junta no doubt exacerbated this emerging trend.

Nevertheless, the problematic nature of Nigeria’s citizenship is one other travail of Nigeria’s federalism which has in no small measure undermined the efficacy of the federal structure. Unlike India where there is no dual citizenship, in which case there is only one citizenship, and where the concept of a state citizen does not exist, on the other hand in Nigeria to be employed outside one’s ethnic base at state level is really a big ‘risk’ in the sense that such a person would bear the burden of a non-indigene. Indeed, there is a conscious notion of my state ‘or’ my home which affects every Nigerian who lives outside his/her state of origin and makes him/her go home to marry a wife, build a house or to vote. Even the dead are rarely buried outside their states of origin. The implication of this is that citizens’ allegiance to the federation is truncated because of the state’s preferential treatment of its citizens. A system whereby the country cannot effectively tackle the problem of citizenship negates the tenets of federalism. Harold Laski’s view is apt here “a state must give to men their dues as men before it can demand at least with justice, their loyalty”.

Another absurdity of federalism in this clime is structural imbalance. According to J.S. Mill’s law of federal stability “a federation is morbid if one part is bigger than the sum of the other parts”. It is not surprising therefore that Nigeria’s convoluting federal structure is indeed morbid. For analytical simplicity, in terms of land mass, the Northern region then had 71.0 per cent, Eastern Region 8.3 per cent, Western Region 8.5 per cent and the Mid-Western region 4.6 per cent. Thus, for the three Southern regions, the federal structure as constituted before state creations made it virtually impossible for the South to control political power at the centre, given the ethno-regional politics of the country without power ‘concession’ from the North! The South feared Northern political domination by population and land mass, while the North was equally afraid of the Southern edge in modern skills and western education. In such situation of asymmetric ethnic relationships, the federal arrangement can hardly be stable except with imbued virtues of justice, equity and fairness. If anything, the greatest travail of Nigerian federalism is the problem of asymmetric power relationship between and among disparate component units of the federation. The federation is rife with mutual accusations and counter accusations of domination and marginalization.

In a perceptive piece decades ago, John A. Ayoade, an emeritus professor of Political Science and an eminent student of federalism, noted that another absurdity of federalism in Nigeria is religious bias which has proved to be another form of poor power distribution in Nigeria. Despite informal mode of power sharing where if the chief executive is a Muslim, the vice or deputy is a Christian, but in the Second Republic (1979-1983) “country-wide Muslims obtained about 70 per cent of all executive and board positions”. This trend of insensitivity to federal character principle cum religious bigotry has robbed the federation of the needed sense of justice and equity for federal stability.

Perhaps the most potent and relevant to the Nigerian situation now is the inability of the polity to manage natural resources in a way that could enhance equity and development. Natural resources that ought to be a blessing, with warped fiscal structure, it has become a curse. The real problem in this wise is that of internal colonialism vis-à-vis resource management which permits the general expropriation of economic resources by the dominant group, their control of access to education and technological resources, cum their denigration of the culture of the subordinating section. When this is done as it is in Africa, federalism runs into problem and stress. It is not surprising therefore that only Nigeria retains the semblance of federalism in Africa even as bastardised as it is.

Conclusively, a consideration of the aforementioned travails of federalism in Nigeria no doubt should assist policy makers in thinking outside the box so that the fragile federal arrangement does not completely disintegrate. To rescue the system from drifting toward collapse, a quick review of the previous confab reports may be more appropriate.

.Dr. ‘Gbade Ojo is an Associate Professor of Comparative Politics, UNILORIN and currently serving as Chief of Staff to Governor of Oyo State.

VALENTINE OBIENYEM

On Wednesday, the 19th day of July, 2017, the man regarded as one of the best in governance, at any tier, in the annals of our country, turned 56. As usual, drums were rolled out by some of his admirers who believe excellence ought to be celebrated.

They contended that if for nothing else, it was a means of promoting merit as role models in name and indeed. In a country where even imbeciles garbed in purple fall over one another seeking attention, it is about time the society set up a clear template for granting honour to whom it is due.

In another vein, beyond panegyrics by his enthusiasts, most people will just wish him a perfunctory ‘Happy Birthday’.

In this piece, I set out to re-examine, through the memories of his tenure, what good governance is all about and to encourage Nigerians to look up to him as the man who came into governance through entirely different route, with an entirely different mentality and left it as nobody has done in the history of governance in Nigeria. For me, this is decent birthday present that would also instruct those in governance on the right way to go.

Born on July 19, 1961, Peter Gregory Obi started his life in the rustic city of Onitsha, and obtained his initial formal education in Onitsha and Nsukka. He has since attended some of the best tertiary institutions in the world in his thirst for intellectual insemination to boost his competences.

How shall we rank him? Which of us possesses so varied the Knowledge to understand him adequately?  As an experiment in perspective, let us see him through his dramatic entrance into government and what he did while there as distinct from business as usual.

Before him, news emanating from the State was not palatable at all. It was always stories of intrigues, squander mania, rape and rapine. Visions and memories of the State tormented all persons of goodwill; an involuntary gloom penetrated our souls, chilling their imaginations.

The Bakassi group and their co-predators worsened the situation as they turned our dear State into a vast Golgotha of carnage, an arena for horror, where her children tore and destroyed one another with the clear conscience of nature.

Concerned like other decent people, Peter Obi developed an urge to turn these barbarisms into civilization and this was what compelled him to seek election into public office.

He campaigned vigorously and was seen as the best candidate for the job. In many respects he was different: He was softened to tolerance by education and experiences as a top board-room man.

He relied on persuasion and effective marketing of his programme of action to garner support and votes. Alas, his opponents, hardened by the streets and subterfuge, stole his mandate.

Evidently, Almighty God always has special interest in Peter Obi’s affairs; and for every indignity he suffered, he came out stronger and as a reference point for the country and Nigeria-watchers.

By regaining his stolen mandate through the courts, he became a locus classicus in that regard, not just from the point of law, but from establishing a commendable precedent as the first Nigerian to have done so.

A study of the circumstances that led to that feat will easily show that it was due largely to the grace of God and his perseverance and ability to remain focused.

A few months into his tenure, some renegades in the State House of Assembly led by Hon. Mike Belonwu contrived his impeachment.

It was not hidden that the impeachment process that came to its peak on the visit of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, had some of its roots in the swelling resentment against his parsimony; how, rather than business as usual, he was using the resources of the State to work for the State and her people.

Consider one of the reasons why he was impeached: the House used to “add and share”; accusing him of re-building the burnt Government House with less than 50% of the actual money budgeted for that purpose. This may sound incredible, but it is true.

It was the mark of the rascality of the time that the house ended up impeaching him. Convinced of the rightness of his conduct in office, Peter Obi challenged the action of the House of Assembly in court; and set another record as the first State Governor to come back into office from impeachment.

As the Governor, he had many challenges, but as customary with him, his usually calm and thoughtful temperament often saved him from unsavoury situations.

Despite his convictions that the condition of Anambra required early decisions and quick implementation of policies, Obi, in the freshman year of his government, submitted himself to robust debate over the State’s many problems. He started with a profound bow to planning by establishing the Ministry of Planning.

He did not have to rush into new projects – mostly unplanned –  when there were many projects started by his predecessor which needed to be completed.

As a board-room guru, he subjected his decisions to the Executive Council [EXCO] for proper debate and consideration. He did this because he was the captain of the ship and was in control. Till this day, his erstwhile Commissioners recall their exhilarating times with him.

One of them is the highly-respected Dr.  Patrick Obi who revealed that the then Governor was often “Prolonging Council meetings, always returning to the question – Is this just? Is that useful? He subjected each question to exact and elaborate analysis”.

On Peter Obi’s capacity for work, the cerebral & forthright Professor Chinyere Okunna says: “I have never seen him tired, I never found his mind lacking in inspiration, even when weary in body.  Never did a man more wholly devote himself to the work in hand, nor better devote his time to what he had to do”.

He was yet to conclude his first term when elections were conducted. As far as everybody was concerned, that was his end. Dr. Andy Uba was already sworn in as the Governor before Peter Obi’s erudite lawyer succeeded in his tenure interpretation case.

I recall that as soon as Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN mentioned that, Femi Falana, SAN picked up the gauntlet and turned the matter into a forensic debate. Some intellectual charlatans have recently tried to appropriate the copyrights, but we have the records.

The end of that saga was the successful interpretation of the tenure matter, which induced another significant political earthquake – the staggering of elections in Nigeria. Peter Obi thus became a key architect of the overhaul of the political landscape in the country.

One of the major challenges of his tenure was the issue of security. Though the entire South-East was having security challenges at the time he assumed office, the case of Anambra was  horrendous as the State had little relationship with legitimate security agencies.

In the first instance, he restored this strategic relationship with those agencies; supporting them as no other Government in the State has ever done, including donations of over 500 vehicles, among which were Armoured Personnel Carriers  and Armoured patrol vehicles.

Reflecting on the far-reaching measures he took on securing the State, one has to admire Peter Obi’s ingenuity of compelling a society to improve its ways of protecting itself from crime and criminality, including armed robbery, kidnapping, and cultism.

For instance, while the likes of Ofe Akwu, Ngwu Ekeluomu, Osisi ka Ngwu were literally parading as unchecked despots of the underworld, he came up with a legislation which enabled the destruction of buildings used to keep kidnap victims.

To further enhance security, his administration provided at least one security patrol van to each of the 177 communities in the State as well as to various other organizations as markets and Churches.

When one of the dare-devil kidnappers, Evans, was caught recently, he confessed the truth that propaganda has held hostage for long: that it was Peter Obi that made criminals to run out of Anambra State because he made the place an operational hell  for them.

At another event when Obi was asked about security in Anambra State during his tenure, he replied rather cryptically in Igbo: “Woke nuchaa ogu, nwanyi enweluakuko” [“After a man fights the battle, the woman takes on the story”].

With his overall achievements, the State, which until his tenure was treated as a pariah, was opened again to the world. It was at this time that several Envoys of countries represented in Nigeria started to visit the State for collaborative projects and programmes.

These include: United States, Britain, Russia, European Union, South Africa, Belgium, Israel, The Netherlands and Canada. In the same vein, Development Partners such as UNDP, UNICEF, The World Bank, DfID, and UNESCO began to take active interest in the State.

Indeed, hitherto, many of them had nothing to do with the State.  Under the Obi administration, Anambra State was consistently adjudged one of the best States in development partnership and commitment to reforms for good governance.

Before his tenure, the manufacturing sector – not to be confused with commerce — was comatose. The few operators that hung on groaned under the debilitating effects of an uncongenial environment of bad roads, low patronage, excessive [and mostly illegal] taxation, insecurity, no government support, among others.

The Obi administration resuscitated this critical sector not by the inundation of propaganda, but by practical steps — including development of an Industrial Policy for the State, consultations with operators and concrete enablement for them — which yielded tremendous results and boosted the socio-economy of the State and environs.

Link roads, other relevant infrastructure and logistic support were provided for such vibrant manufacturing outfits as Innoson Vehicles, Chikason, Cutix Cable, Juhel Pharmaceuticals, Krisoral, Orange Drugs, EkuloGroup, and many others. The administration also attracted giant manufacturers like Intafact, INNOSON, Neimet, and Distel.

Among others, Innoson Group has continued to acknowledge that the patronage of the Obi administration ensured the survival of its vehicle manufacturing company – with the purchase of billions of Naira worth of vehicles and personal introductions to The Presidency and other State Governors.

Easily one of the unsurpassed attainments of Peter Obi was in education. Here, he achieved another first on January 1, 2009, with his return of schools to their original owner-proprietors – Voluntary Agencies, including Churches – with commendable results.

While the management of the schools was transferred to the agencies, the State Government retained the funding responsibilities, including capital projects, staff salaries  and emoluments, and other recurrent expenditures. Such was the impact of this momentous decision that Obi administration stabilized basic education in the State.

.Obienyem is media aide to former Gov. Obi

 

 

MICHAEL JEGEDE

Chief Victor Umeh, OFR, an accomplished estate manager, surveyor and valuer turned politician is 55. At 55, the former National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) can be said to have lived a fulfilled life, with his selfless service to humanity and invaluable contributions to nation building.

A God-fearing and compassionate politician, whose heart is filled with the milk of human kindness, Umeh, a worthy son of Anambra State, has put smiles on the faces of many, through his manifold philanthropic activities and gestures.

Dr. Amit Ray, an Indian author, it was who said: “Compassionate leaders know their stakeholders and address their concerns, their hopes, dreams and fears.” Umeh, the Principal Consultant, V.C Umeh & Co., a firm of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, has proved to be a compassionate leader by his constant show of concern for the masses and underprivileged in the society. He derives great joy from adding value to the lives of others.

Many indigent Nigerians who would not have found it easy to acquire education are today enjoying full-scale scholarship up to university level under the Victor Umeh Education Foundation (VUMEF), which was formally launched in 2007 to help advance the course of education among youths.

In 2016 alone, the foundation paid out over N10 million cash for one hundred and five undergraduates under its annual scholarship disbursement scheme. Others who benefited from the scheme last year were 12 postgraduate students and some secondary school students.

A beneficiary of Umeh’s scholarship programme, Miss Chinyere Ibekwesi, who has graduated, said the best thing that had happened to her life was to have benefited from the scheme. Ibekwesi made First Class in Statistics at Nnamdi Azikiwe University under VUMEF. According to her, “Each time I remember that I made a First Class Degree, tears would flow down my eyes. I didn’t know I could become a graduate in life, because when I got admission, I had no hope of any sponsor. When I got this scholarship I told myself that I won’t disappoint my God and VUMEF.”

Umeh’s benevolent spirit has equally seen him making handsome donations to charity and offering support for the execution of various church projects/programmes. A staunch devotee of the Catholic Faith, the ex-APGA helmsman was among some Nigerians recently awarded with the papal knighthood of the Sylvestrine Order. The Pontifical Equestrian Order of Saint Sylvester is one of the five Orders of Knighthood conferred directly by the Pope as the Supreme Head of the Roman Catholic Church.

It is usually bestowed on members of the laity who have distinguished themselves by their active involvement in the life of the church and engaged in acts that made great positive impact on their respective communities, societies, countries and the world as a whole. The well-deserved nomination of Umeh, a 1984 graduate of University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) for the papal knighthood, was evidently in recognition of his significant role in the advancement of humankind and enormous contributions to the Church of God.

On the political turf, Umeh, a Fellow of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, has come across as a colossus and a force to reckon with in the politics of Anambra State and Nigeria in general. As APGA’s national chairman he was a potent voice on salient issues of national interest. Of all the national chairmen produced by political parties in the country since the return of democracy in 1999, discerning observers see him as the most outspoken and assertive.

His journey in politics started in 1998 as a founding member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where he was elected State Treasurer of the party in Anambra State. He later joined forces with other progressive-minded politicians to form APGA in 2002. He was the party’s pioneer National Vice Chairman, South East and later became the National Treasurer before emerging the National Chairman.

As a courageous and strong-willed politician, Umeh, the Ohamadike Ndigbo, born on July 19, 1962, fought and won many battles that shook the foundation of APGA and wanted to bring the party down on its feet.  Despite the protracted leadership crisis that was tearing the party apart, he was still able to secure a number of electoral victories for his party in Anambra and some other states of the South East, as a result of his resilience, doggedness and sagacity. Even as he has handed over as the National Chairman of APGA since 2015, Umeh, an exemplary leader, remains one of the strongest pillars of the party, accorded due respect for his consistency, dependability, charisma and sincerity of purpose.

Umeh, a political strategist, has in his kitty over 20 traditional titles, several awards of excellence, including the National Honours Award of the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and an honorary doctorate degree award by Tansian University, in recognition of his contributions to human development. He has, at different times, been described in glowing terms by highly revered elder statesmen from Anambra State, in the likes of Dr. Alex Ekwueme, GCON, first elected Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Late Ikemba, Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu.

At a thanksgiving mass after the expiration of Umeh’s eventful tenure as APGA boss in 2015, Ekwueme described him as his son, noting that he (Umeh) had achieved greatness for Ndigbo at a young age. The elder statesman acknowledged the indomitable Igbo spirit in Umeh and enjoined him not to relent in the struggle for a better deal for Ndigbo in Nigeria.

After the 2010 Anambra governorship election, the Great Ikemba and Supreme Leader of APGA could not help hailing Umeh’s fighting spirit which saw the party breaking the second term jinx in the state with Peter Obi in the saddle then. The Biafran warlord had in a newspaper advertorial placed to eulogize Umeh said: “Kudos! The Might of a Warrior is tested only in Battle. I salute your tenacity, your courage and resilience… Congratulation to the hardest working party Chairman in the Federation!”

It is not for nothing that the people of Anambra Central have continued to remain resolute in their support for his senatorial ambition, in spite of the legal entanglement that has prevented the rerun election ordered by the Court of Appeal since 2015 from holding. However, his supporters believe he would scale through the unnecessary hurdles situated on his way to victory by his political opponents. For them, Umeh has never lost any battle in the court and this one would not be different.

In an article highlighting twenty reasons why Umeh is the best candidate for Senate to represent members of Anambra Central constituency, Hon. Chinedu Nkwonta, the Publicity Secretary of the Anambra State APGA had noted: “Ohamadike is predictable on issues of injustice, his position is naturally constant. He is an epitome of consistency in the defence of Igbo interest all over the nation and beyond. He spoke against the killing and maiming of Igbos in the North. He spoke against the deportation of Igbos by Lagos State government. He spoke against the injustices meted against the Igbo nation in Nigeria by the denial of a sixth State. He spoke against the sharing of National revenue using the Local Government numbers knowing that the South East has the least number of Local Governments in the country. It is on record that Chief (Sir) Victor Umeh’s short participation in the National Conference changed a lot of things for the Igbos.”

I urge Umeh, an outstanding philanthropist, to continue to do his best for the service of humanity as he clocks 55. Albert Pike, the late American poet, lawyer and soldier, once said: “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

I wish the APGA stalwart many more years of good health and God’s endless blessings and protection. Happy birthday, Ohamadike Ndigbo!

.Michael Jegede, a media professional writes from Abuja .He can be reached through  07065574368

For a better society.

HAKEEM BELLO

May 2017 was appraisal time of the mid-term of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in office.

Expectedly, much attention was on the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, as it controls the fulcrum, which the country’s development revolves around. While Power plays a vital role in its industrial development, Works (roads, bridges) facilitates the transaction of business and social activities across its boundaries and cultures while Housing gives both stability and security to its human resource.

There were, and there will still continue to be truths, half-truths, and outright falsehoods. Indeed, in a clime where some people earn political patronage or keep their positions by how savagely they can disparage the subject of this discourse, certain outlets and their tendencies have simply become predictable.

However, as C.P. Scott wrote in 1921, “comments are free, but facts are sacred.” The fact is that with a reputation built not on quick fixes but enduring solutions and far sightedness, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN, remains resolutely focused. As he turned  54 on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, it was still in tune with the spirit of mid-term assessment to look at what BRF has been doing with the tax payers time as a public officer.

Flag-off

The stewardship of Mr. Fashola at the helm of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing started in November 2015 when President Buhari inaugurated his Cabinet. Shortly after, the Minister held a media briefing where he outlined the Ministry’s focus in the three sectors. In Power, the promise was to increase power availability (Incremental Power), then advance it to steady supply and ultimately to uninterrupted supply nationwide. This he followed up with a Roadmap clearly setting out how he and his team intend to achieve this. In Works (Infrastructure), the promise was to increase road connectivity, decrease journey time and improve journey experience by completing on-going projects; and in Housing, it was to build acceptable and affordable houses for the citizenry. In summary: galvanize the economy through infrastructure development.

Power: Plants and all

Fact: at inception, the administration inherited 2,690 MW of power and only oversight through regulatory agencies instituted by law and on transmission of electricity which it is carrying out through the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN); the 26 power plants (23 gas and three hydro) having been privatized.

What’s being done to achieve Incremental Power? With provision of funds and determination to fulfill the promises made at the media briefing on Incremental Power, resuscitation of the 29 MW DadinKowa Hydro-Power plant in Gombe State should be completed in November, going by the assurance given to the Minister in March this year, by the project manager. The 132KV lines to evacuate the power are in place. The 40 MW Gurara Power Station is expected to finish in the first quarter of next year and with the arrival of its standardization equipment, the 10MW Katsina Wind Mill is expected to finish before quarter two. The diesel and gas dual fired 215MW power plant in Kaduna is also expected to finish this year.   There is also another Power Emergency Project that President Buhari approved for General Electric to give 240MW of power in Afam, Rivers State. It is also expected to finish this year.  The 40 MW Kashimbilla Hydro Power Plant, in Taraba State, has been revived and now 99 per cent completed. The works on the evacuation of power including transmission lines , switchyards and substations from the power plant to Takum, Wukari and the existing substation in Yandev is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2018 subject to availability of funds.

Work has resumed on the 700MW Zungeru hydroelectric power plant in Niger State, which was stalled by litigation for over three years .The nation moves closer to achieving power security with more alternatives to Gas fired plants. Work on the 450MW Azura Power Plant in Benin, was also stalled because the approvals and agreements required by the private companies to source for funds could not be signed for more than one year. President Buhari finally signed the required on assumption of office and this enabled the investors to commence construction. So also is the Mambilla hydro plant, which had been on the drawing board long before the coming of this Government.  The Minister in an interview with the Daily Trust last week explained that significant progress had been made in terms of project planning by working with various stakeholders and with a “No Objection “ certificate secured from the Bureau of Public Procurement on Monday 19th June ,work is set to commence on this long drawn yet all important project..

Energy Mix                     

Against the backdrop of the country’s vulnerability on account of its over reliance on a single fuel source –Gas- for Power, perhaps, one of the best things that has happened to the Power Sector since the present administration took office is the development of an Energy Mix.

Developed by the Ministry and unveiled at the National Council on Power Meeting held in Kaduna in July last year, the initiative has since set off a chain of activities on the diversification of the power generation. For example, the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) on behalf of the Federal Government in July last year signed Power Purchase Agreements with 14 solar power developers to produce over 1,000MW of solar power. As a follow-up, two of the developers, Afrinegia Nigeria Limited and CT Cosmos Nigeria Limited, on 13th April signed the Put/Call Option Agreements (PCOA). Co-ordinated by NBET, the PCOA is a key aspect of the PPA to deal with any premature termination. Afrinegia Nigeria Limited plans to deliver 50MW while CT Cosmos will deliver 70MW to the grid.  There is also a plan for a new solar farm in Jigawa State, which is under procurement and planning. It is expected to add a minimum of another 1,000MW to the grid. In conjunction with other stakeholders discussions are also in progress with two coal developers who will add significant coal power to the grid.

Individuals and businesses in the country are also being encouraged to partake in investing in small captive solar initiatives. The objective is to create an Energy Security for the country by diversifying the energy source. In addition, the policy encourages the siting of power plants close to the source of energy. At the Council meeting in Kaduna, a target of 2030 was set for the achievement of 55 per cent gas,16 per cent, solar, 15 per cent, large hydro project; 4 per cent, wind; 3 per cent, biomass and 3 per cent, coal. Government has led from the front in this aspect with the completion of the 1.2MW Clean Energy Photovoltaic System, a solar energy plant and first of its kind in Nigeria, to power the Lower Usman Dam power treatment plant, the main source of potable water to the Federal Capital Territory. Built in collaboration with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the project’s first phase, commissioned in August 2016, is producing 1.2MW of solar energy.

Policy actions

From the outset, Fashola, a firm believer in the sanctity of contracts, was not persuaded by call in some quarters for the outright cancellation of the privatization of the power sector. Rather, he believes that the process and the sector should be methodically reviewed and reformed. This is the sum and substance of the Power Sector Reform Programme, which focuses on introducing reforms, reducing losses in the distribution companies, enhancing the sector’s financial viability, increasing access to electricity services, and mobilizing private sector investment. With support secured from the Federal Executive Council, members of the National Assembly heading the Power Committees and the World Bank Group, the Programme is already being implemented, though many are still awaiting a “formal” launch. These policies include the inauguration of Commissioners for the National Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) and the Rural Electrification Agency Board on the governance side as well as  the  NBET’s  N701 billion two-year Payment Assurance Guarantee approved  to ensure that all those who generate power to the grid are paid .  The Minister has, in exercise of his powers under Section 27 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 directed NERC to permit four categories of customers to buy power directly from a licensee other than their electricity distribution companies, once they are dissatisfied with the performance of the latter. As Fashola puts it, “it is like going to Nestle to get your products directly instead of waiting for the distributor.” (Please visit www.nercng.org, on “Eligibility in the Power Sector”.)

Boosting transmission

In terms of transmission capacity over which the public continues to express much anxiety, although the Ministry inherited over 100 uncompleted transmission projects, TCN is expanding and maintaining the transmission lines and completing projects started before the privatization. It has paid contractors and obtained the necessary approvals for them to return to work. The projects include the Irrua and Okada Transmission Projects, both in Edo State; Itu-Calabar Transmission Line, Ikot Ekpene-Calabar, IkotEkpene-Alaoji, and Ikot-Ekpene-Ugwuaji Transmission Lines and the Damboa Transmission Power in Borno State which was stopped at the peak of insurgency.

Also shipping companies and warehouse owners, who kept custody of containers abandoned by unpaid contractors for almost a decade, have begun releasing them. In fact, the first batch of over 387 containers was released to the contractors due provisions made in the 2016 budget.

There is also a five-year plan to boost power transmission capacity to 20,000MW beginning from 5,500MW to 10,000MW in the next three years. The plan targets transmission capacity of 8,200MW by 2018 and 10,000MW by 2019. To achieve this, the Federal Government is working on actual numbers of transmission towers that would take the nation from 7,000MW to 20,000MW in each growth plan; how many kilometers of cables, wires, breakers and tons of steel would be required in each stage as well as securing Right of Ways, settle compensation issues and every other issue that could possibly impede the implementation plan. Meanwhile, 59 expansion projects are currently being worked on across the country.  The various transmission projects under the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) are also being completed.

As Fashola promised during the first anniversary of the administration, attention has recently been directed at rolling out the Rural Electrification Implementation Programme “to improve access to power for rural communities”. On 2 May, , the Minister inaugurated the Board of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and charged it with increasing access to electricity in the shortest possible time for the millions of Nigerian rural communities and villages as well as some urban cities yet to access electricity from the national grid. These communities lack access partly because the 330/132 KV and 132/33 KV lines (popularly called the high-tension wires), which the connection is often made through, run over long distances; the high cost of extending the lines to these communities, most of which are sparsely populated, and tariff being fixed, investment in them was not attractive. The Electricity Sector Reform Act, passed in 2005, set up the REA and mandated that the Implementation plan for rural electrification should be prepared within a year for Presidential Approval. That approval came 11 years late, with President Buhari’s stroke of the pen.  The implementation Plan which recommends a combination of grid extension and development of independent grids, using new technology such as solar, to make these communities, see light, so to speak, had been anchored on some existing projects such as the completion of over 2,000 uncompleted or abandoned grid extension projects which started life in 1999 as constituency projects.

Government intends to resuscitate six of the over 50 small hydro dams across the country and activate their power component, which, the Minister says had received Federal Executive Council’s approval, had also been advertised, and had received Expressions of Interest which were now being evaluated. The third anchor is the development of Independent Power Plants (IPPs) in 37 federal universities and seven teaching hospitals in rural areas and the building of independent power grids from there to connect adjoining rural and unconnected communities. The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tuesday, 20th June 2017 with eight (8) Federal Universities and one Teaching Hospital for the first phase of the Federal Government’s Energizing Education Programme (EEP) which is also being used as anchor for the electrification of rural communities in the areas where the tertiary institutions are located.

 Safe, smooth roads

It was in June 2016 that contractors were mobilized to return to   sites they had abandoned for over two years because of non-payment of contract fees. Today, work is going on in all states of the Federation in terms of road rehabilitation and reconstruction. Between February and April, the Minister had undertaken an inspection tour of these road projects in 34 States across the six geopolitical zones of the country. In the South-East, which was the first port of call, at least 600 kilometers of roads are under rehabilitation/ construction across the zone’s five states. They include the Enugu-Aba- Port Harcourt Expressway, which runs through Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Abia and Ebonyi States covering about 31 roads as well as construction of pedestrian bridges and flyovers, traffic signs and lights; the outstanding section of Onitsha-Enugu Road being handled by Reynolds Construction Company (RCC); Umana-Ndiagu-Adaebele-Udi Road in Ndiagu, Nsukka—Oboloafor -Ihamufu Road, Ninth Mile-Nsukka-Oboloafor Road, among others in Enugu State;Ohafia-Oso Road (In Ebonyi and Abia States: 11.7 km), Nnenwe-Uduma-Uburu Road, Section1 (14 km in Enugu/Ebonyi), rehabilitation of Abakaliki-Afikpo Road; Section 1 (20.5 km), rehabilitation of Abakaliki-Afikpo Road Section 11 (19.5 km) and Construction of Obubra-Ikwo-Onueke-Nkomoro-Agba-Ezekuna-Ogboji-Nara-Cross River Border Road (7 km), among others in Ebonyi;   Aba-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway (section 11), Umuahia Tower-Aba Township Rail/Road Bridge Crossing (56.1Km), rehabilitation of Lokpanta-Umuahia Tower (59.5km) and rehabilitation of Calabar-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene-Aba-Owerri Section 111: Ikot-Ekpene-IkotUmuoessien-Aba Road in Abia/Akwa-Ibom (43.2km), among others in Ebonyi while in Imo State, federal road projects currently on-going include the Owerri-Umuahia Road, Sections 1,11 and 111, the Ikot-Ekpene Border: Aba-OwerriDualisation Road Section 1, Phase 1 (11.26km), Mbaise-Ngwa Road Ohase 1 (14 km), Amanwaozuzu-Uzoagba-Eziama-Orie-Amakohia Road (10km) and Oba-Nnewi-Okigwe Road Section 11, among others. On the Second Niger Bridge in Onitsha, Anambra State, the contractor is working to re-mobilize to site, having stopped due to lack of payment.

In the North East, six federal roads are, among others, undergoing reconstruction or rehabilitation in Bauchi State, including the Suare-Azare, Azare-Potiskum Road, Ningi-Ajalokuna-Fudulamata Road, Jukun-Zaero Road and Zaero-Bassa-Ningi Road. In Gombe State, the two on-going road projects are the Gombe-Bauchi Federal Highway and the Gombe –Numan-Yola Road while in Taraba, Yobe and Maiduguri, the major roads under construction include the Kano-Maiduguri Dual  Carriageway that traverses three States. In the South-West the on-going road projects include the Ogbomosho-Oshogbo Road that connects Oyo State with neighbouringOsun, the Oyo-Ogbomosho Road that connects the State through to Kwara, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that connects Ibadan to Ogun and to Lagos and Lagos-Shagamu Expressway among others . Similarly, there are projects going on in the North-Central, the North- West and the South –South. When Fashola says the Federal Government is present in all States of the Federation, he means it because he has been on the roads to see the projects.

Affordable, acceptable houses

In the Housing Sector, construction of houses under the National Housing Programme has commenced in 33 states, which have allocated land for the purpose. And in line with the decision to build houses which will suit the climatic, socio-cultural and land use peculiarities of the people, the designs of one, two and three-bedroom bungalows have been adopted for the Northern states while the designs of one, two and three bedroom blocks of flats have been adopted for Southern states. In addition, the Ministry has also identified inputs such as doors, windows, tiles, paint and roofing materials that could be made locally and as earlier resolved by the Minister that only Made-in-Nigeria inputs will be used unless there is no local production capacity. To provide investment information for local manufacturers, the ministry has done some inventory of quantities of materials needed in the project. Based on that inventory, 22,288 doors; 27,849 windows; 3,502 water cisterns; 3,502 wash hand basins; 2,830 kitchen sinks; 261,299 sq. metres of floor tiles; 178, 680 Sq. metres of wall tiles; 561,119 litres of paints; and 342,960 Sq. metres of roofing materials would be needed in the first phase of construction which will also require 413,000 man days of skilled labour, and 440,000 man days of unskilled labour. This, of course, means continuous job for local manufacturers and artisans.

Job creation

The whole essence of the on-going infrastructure renewal, whether in the Power, Works or Housing sector, is, first, to stimulate jobs. This purpose has been achieved to a very significant extent. As announced by the Minister recently at an account of stewardship rendering Town Hall Meeting, the Ministry generated 193,469 jobs (9,000 direct and 60,000 indirect in Power; 17,749 direct and 52,000 indirect in Works and 13,680 direct and 41,040 indirect in Housing) while also empowering 542 local contractors during the 2016 budget year.

During his tour, the Minister engaged with these young men and women, working to deliver on the contracts, delivering service which will touch the lives of the greatest number of the people and in so doing restore the country’s economy to the path of growth and prosperity. On each of the stops Fashola would also dutifully deliver the message of his principal, President MuhammaduBuhari’s gratitude and commendation to the teeming young men and women for working hard to rebuild Nigeria and contributing to the economic recovery from a recession spun by several years of profligacy.

Incredible strength, work ethic

Whether sitting through grueling meetings to make peace and get projects or contracts (which had stalled for years before his assumption of office), moving from one power plant or Transmission station to chair going again, chairing the monthly meetings of the Power Sector Operators, in different cities and states or enduring hours of bus travelling by road to inspect roads, housing or power projects under his watch, Fashola displays a remarkable strength of character and intellect as well as energy. Often asked how he manages his naturally crowded schedule, the Minister would respond to the effect that he takes himself and any assignment he accepts seriously. Now, you can’t be focused without being serious and so, l am closing by wishing my boss many more years of focused service to our fatherland in sterling health. Happy Birthday BRF!

  • Bello is Special Adviser, Communications to the Hon. Minister of Power, Works and Housing

For a better society

“I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?” —Benjamin Disraeli Few political pundits gave him any slim chance to emerge as the gubernatorial flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the keenly contested race for the governorship of the Centre of Excellence.

And fewer still reposed confidence in him to articulate any virile vision to pilot the affairs of Lagos state, should he eventually achieve that political feat. But that was then, back in 2015 and this is now, midway in 2017.

Interestingly, some two years down the line, not a few of his die-hard critics have literally ‘eaten their words’.

What with Lagos emerging as the 5th largest economy in Africa and one of the top 100 most resilient in the world?

For millions of the good people of Lagos, it is a new swan song on their lips as they doff their hats for none other than the amiable, visionary, creative and resourceful, goal-getting Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

As the deluge of encomiums, plaudits and hearty felicitations from across the social spectrum greet his second year in office, it is worthy to highlight the leadership qualities that have stood him out in good stead.

The first of course, is adequately preparation for the onerous tasks of political leadership.

That is, mentally, professionally and physically . It is never a tea party or a walk in the green, airy park. No!

As Jack Welch succinctly puts it:“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

On growing himself, having graduated from the University of Lagos at the age of 21, Ambode did not rest on his oars.

He became a Chartered Accountant at the age of 24 with a Masters degree in Accounting. He founded Brandsmiths Consulting Limited.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and a Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management. He also founded La Roche Leadership Foundation.

Naturally therefore, these qualities have bolstered his leadership vision. In the words of John Maxwell:”A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. Good for him, part of the 27 years in the civil service he served either as an auditor or treasurer in 13 out of the 20 Local Government Councils.

For instance, he worked as an Assistant Treasurer Badagry LGA and also as an auditor in Shomolu LGA.

That was before rising to the enviable post of Accountant General in 2005 and subsequently as the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance. With such wealth of requisite administrative experience garnered over 27 years, Ambode has been able to identify the most worrisome economic challenges bedeviling the people.

He has amply demonstrated that he has a full grasp of the nuances of the financial transactions that could mitigate their pains.

Indeed, it is that capacity that made him to begin with the focus on security of the state.

Within a few months of coming into office, Gov. Ambode acquired 10 armoured tanks, three helicopters for aerial surveillance and policing.

In addition were two gun boats, 15 armoured personnel carriers, and dozens of Isuzu trucks.

These have largely contributed to the safety of lives and property of Lagosians. Also, his philosophy that a well lit Lagos could drastically reduce crime saw him light up at least 365 streets across the state.

Before clocking one year in office in May 2016 the government embarked on massive road construction and reconstruction.

These made possible the ‘114 Roads’ project where each of the 57 local councils in the state got two good roads.

These have since been surpassed. What with commuters enjoying modern bypasses at places such as Oworonshoki, as well as Alapere, Ojodu-Berger and Ile-Epo.

Recently, reinforced concrete fly-over bridges were commissioned at Abule-Egba and Ajah. The transformation in places such as Epe, Ikorodu and Badagry have upped the ante in people-oriented leadership.

For a better society

KAYODE AJULO

To say that Chief Senator (Dr.) Edwin Clark is an imitable icon, will be an understatement. He is not only a father of nations; he is also an enigma of detribalized intercontinental leadership.

His affection for Nigeria’s development dates back to his early 20s, when he served his primary constituency, Burrutu of the the Mid-Western Region as a headmaster and community development officer, giving significant contributions to the development of education and the mobilization of the people for community development.

He has served in various local, regional and national capacities, including as a Commissioner for Education, Finance and Establishment in the old Bendel State in the 70s, Federal Minister for Information and National Orientation during the civil war till 1975 when General Gowon’s regime was terminated; as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1983 and today as the indisputable leader of the Ijaw Nation, among others. Chief E. K. Clark is a father to all, and an alumnus of the Holborn College of Law, London. He was called to the Bar in England as a member of the Honorable Society of the Inner Temple and as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria over 50 years ago!

Chief Clark is not only a global asset in Public leadership, but a leader beyond borders and a nationalist par excellence. My relationship with Chief, as most of his associates and even family members fondly call him, started more than a decade ago when my professional competence as a lawyer was called upon to give legal effect to his leadership and anti-corruption causes, and I can say without mincing words, that knowing him has been of tremendous positive impact, in growth and development to my law firm, Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law and to my political engagements.

In Chief, I’ve found a professional and political father, from whom I have learnt to continuously maintain the quantum of social justice, without fear and favour.

I celebrate the living legend for his numerous achievements which he made without denting the course of his integrity.

I today, join the world at large to celebrate the man of the moment, the voice to the voiceless, the peace in turbulent storm, and the definition of a worthy patriot.

I salute the undisputed living father of the Ijaw Nation who is a unifying figure for all Ijaws at home and in the Diaspora. Standing for hope, fairness, faith, progress, justice and equity, words can neither adore you nor praises revere you enough for your immense contribution to our Nigeria, Africa and the world at large.

And I must say that I am most honoured to identify with you today on the celebration of a life of excellence and greatness at 90.

In the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 71, V18, “now that you are old and grey-headed, I pray that the Lord will not forsake you until you have shown strength to this generation, the strength to be true and upright, to be brave and honest”, through Christ whom you have served to the best of your ability throughout your life, Amen.

Happy Birthday, Chief, may your bright light shine on!

.Dr. Ajulo is the Principal Partner, Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law, Executive Director, Egalitarian Mission, Africa and was National Secretary, Labour Party

For a better society

PRINCEWILL ODIDI

You can teach a man anything and he learns and perfect in it, you cannot teach a man how to rule himself, that he has to learn from experience. (Ali Mazuri).

Is our democracy failing and our institutions non functional because we adopted a democratic process alien to our cultural systems of rule? Western democracy in itself is built on structures and a representative framework built on community input into governance. But this is hardly what is obtained in our clime.

American imperialism is the economic, military and cultural philosophy that the United States affects and controls other countries. It is further a believe that the rest of the world is underdeveloped because they are not practicing western democracy. And so whenever America liberates a people, they impose on them western democracy, a process we call American Imperialism.

Iraq and Libya prospered under autocracy. Today they have been reduced to rubble through American Imperialism. The current state of these countries today is history. American imperialism destroyed these countries.

The question today in nigeria is, have we learnt anything in our 57 years of democracy and independence? The current structure of our democracy is it really working for us? Our bureaucracy, Military, Security forces are they a representation of our dreams at independence? The Sectional agitations for cessation and independence is it a function of the failure of democracy or an expression of individual greed and private aggrandizement? Have we really learnt anything about democracy in 57 years of independence?

We go to the polls and elect leaders with so much hope and dreams, once in office, they become ineffective, confused, and out of sync with reality. Democracy was meant to have strengthened our institutions. Why is it taking us so long to perfect our democracy and governance structure?

Fifty-seven years later, we still believe the white-man should set the pace for us. Build our bridges, teach our children and in some cases, teach us his culture as done in Carnivals.

Have our elites learnt enough of perfecting democracy to export it to our rural villages or are traditional systems of rule gaining more traction and credibility even among the elites. Is there a relationship between the non functional nature of our society and democratic practice in our country?

Growing up local government councils were viable, chairmen executed projects, but today, Councils have been reduced to puppets of the governors. Are we developing or under-developing?

The failure of governance in Nigeria is it a function of adapting the white-mans democracy, or a disorientation of our native leadership styles, or a function of greed and selfishness on the part of our ruling class? Why do we find it difficult to evolve a credible ruling class capable of developing our country? Is there hope for our country or do we just resort to God?

I believe we can get it right the more our people are educated and enlightened. The best thing that western democracy bequeathed to Africa is democratic rule. At least we can change our leaders if we are not contented with their leadership. But whether the leader is stronger than the institutions to effect the change is the biggest challenge to African democracy.

Getting it right is not a choice, we must surely get there.

.Odidi wrote in from Atlanta, Georgia

For a better society

Osinbajo explains why Nigeria will not breakup

Dr Ezekiel Ikupolati, Bishop of Ijumu Anglican Diocese, has urged the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo to quickly scrutinise and sign the 2017 budget into law.

He gave the call during a press conference at Iyara, Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi, on Tuesday.

Ikupolati noted that the budget was long overdue for implementation, saying Nigerians are yearning for improved living standard.

The clergy man said, “Accent to the budget should not be delayed; full implementation must commence.

Another PDP Reps member, Adamu Kamale decamps to APC

“I want to advise the Federal Government to constitute post budget committee to monitor and supervise the implementation of the budget.”

He also called on the Kogi State government to pay the outstanding salaries and pensions of civil servants so as to reduce poverty and stem untimely death among pensioners.

This is coming at a time when the Presidency admitted that Osinbajo has received the 2017 budget and is studying the document.

For a better society

BREAKING: Doyin Okupe joins Accord Party after dumping PDP

Doyin Okupe, a former senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonatha, has explained why it would be hard for Nigeria to break up.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, had alleged of some top politicians “approaching officers and soldiers for political reasons”, a development which people believe could be a plot to overthrow President Buhari.

Commenting on the development on his Facebook page on Monday, Okupe said there were factors that make the break-up of Nigeria possible, but that it would not happen.

“Yes, again and again there are drums of war, rumours of coups and heightened cries for separation. Yet Nigeria will not break. I repeat as God liveth Nigeria is not about to break-up,” he said.

“Those who rely on what is seen physically and those who are not too knowledgeable about life may want to hold this assertion in derision. Yet there is more than meets the eye in matters that controls the affairs of nations and men.

“True, all the ingredients required to justify a dismemberment of our union are fully present: inequality, injustice, nepotism, corruption, deception, sectional neglect and lack of inclusivity, mutual distrust etc; fortunately or unfortunately it is not in the manifest destiny of this great Nation to disintegrate.

“To anyone who is discerning, it has been crystal clear that God has shown His guiding hand in the affairs of Nigeria since the June 12 debacle. God does not act in vain but for a purpose. It will be preposterous to assume that the purpose of God’s intervention in the affairs of Nigeria in the past 25 years is to lead us to a break-up.

“In truth the Nigerian experiment or marriage is grossly imperfect and obviously not working.

“The Nigerian union presents some of the outstanding features of a dysfunctional marriage”, he stated.

Okupe said there was sustained anger, mutual contempt and distrust, lack of openness and poor communication among the component parts of Nigeria.

“In recent times the health of Mr President has been a source of concern to all.

“But more importantly, the north is more apprehensive in view of the previous experience with late President Yar ‘Adua. But they are not willing to discuss this openly.

“Official handling of the situation suggests sectional protectionism rather than presenting a national problem seeking for a national solution. After all this is a president loved and voted for by nearly fanatical nationwide followers. Why should his adversity be born and protected only by a section or just a few disciples?

“On the other side are those, mainly southerners who gloat over the president’s health challenges and cannot wait for power to be handed over to the vice president and for the latter to actually assume the full status of the president, almost immediately. They rely exclusively on the provisions of the Nigerian constitution, totally ignoring the main and the central abiding political philosophy of power sharing in Nigeria.”

The former presidential aide expressed worry that there were serious and genuine fears across the divide, but that nobody was “ready or willing to discuss these fears openly or even within leadership caucuses.

“What we then get are heightened calls and counter calls for breakup of the country, calls for restructuring and official rumours of coups.

“This is not the way to develop a great nation. There is need for a unity of purpose, an abiding faith in the unity of the nation.

“There is an urgent need to develop a national platform from which we can nurture the emergence of an elite political consensus from where we can always look at our problems as national problems and bring about unified national solutions. Then and only then can our nation be on its ultimate journey to its divine destiny of greatness‎.”

For a better society

The Ijaws in Delta State on Monday came hard on the Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson, for claiming that former president Goodluck Jonathan’s five years in power was a waste to the Ijaw nation.

Agreeing with Dickson that Jonathan disappointed his primary constituency by not making effort to ameliorate the sufferings of the Niger Delta people, the Ijaws however averred that Dickson was part of the former president’s failure.

Recall that during the annual celebration of Ijaw hero, Major Adaka Boroh, who fought and died for the self determination struggle, Dickson regretted that the five-year period of the Jonathan administration was a wasted opportunity as it did not bring about the needed development to the state.

But reacting through Chief Alaowei Cleric, the Ijaws dared Dickson to boast of the projects he has proudly completed across Bayelsa’s three senatorial districts, if not the accumulated unpaid civil servants’ salaries despite the huge monthly allocations, the 13 percent derivations and the bailout funds.

Cleric said, “It’s very shameful for Governor Seriake Dickson to berate the former president in the media. What moral justification does Governor Dickson have to carpet former President Jonathan in such a despicable and unprintable manner?

“Jonathan’s government was not a waste at the time he single-handedly installed Dickson as governor of Bayelsa State; it was not also a waste when Bayelsa State was receiving huge monthly allocations to the envy of others during Jonathan’s tenure as the president of the country; and now that the political pendulum swinged against the man (Jonathan), Dickson brazenly came out to make such sarcastic remarks on his benefactor.

“It is true of the saying that one can easily know his true friends in time of trial.

“For purposes of record, Jonathan actually failed his Ijaw/Niger Delta people. Dickson and some of the former’s overbearing appointees from the region were the cause of his failure. Which people oriented project has the governor executed and completed in the state in spite of the uninterrupted huge monthly allocations to the state during Jonathan’s tenure.”

For a better society

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