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Saraki, Dogara, Tinubu and National Assembly Leadership

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To Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s stand on the incoming Ninth National Assembly leadership is informed by what they called “selfish reasons”. But former President Goodluck Jonathan’s aide Dr. Sanya Awosan disagrees with them. In this piece, he lauds Tinubu for putting party first before self, and standing by the APC’s choice for Senate president and Speaker.

In their responses to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s recent public statement on why he is backing President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s choice of Senator Ahmad Lawan and Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila for the positions of Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives, respectively, the duo of Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, appear to completely miss the critical import of the APC National leader’s intervention.

Obviously reacting to the widely-peddled insinuation that he is trying to ‘impose’ a particular leadership on the National Assembly, Tinubu vehemently and unambiguously dismissed this view. He argued that in supporting Lawan and Gbajabiamila, he is only acting in the best interest of both President Buhari’s government and the APC. He cited the hardly disguised hostility of the National Assembly to the Buhari government under the leadership of Saraki and Dogara as being a critical factor in the inability of the administration to perform better than it did in its first term.

Tinubu cited the persistence of such widely-condemned practices as budget padding, arbitrary diversion of funds from critical projects to those of the legislature’s fancy as well as avoidable delays in the budgetary process in the National Assembly under Saraki and Dogara’s leadership as some of the reasons why a change of leadership in the National Assembly is not only necessary but urgent. The APC National Leader was also understandably actuated by his desire to ensure that his party avoids this time the lapses that enabled Saraki and Dogara to emerge as leaders of the 8th Assembly in 2015 against their choices of the party.

Let me quickly say here that I am not writing as a card-carrying member of the APC. Indeed, as Senior Special Assistant on Public Relations to President Goodluck Jonathan, I identified proudly and with firm dedication with the PDP. Even when I served with the PDP administration, I never hid my admiration for the energy, intellectual and strategic resourcefulness and unrivalled sense of sacrifice that Tinubu commits to any party to which he belongs. I always wished that PDP could have somebody like Asiwaju who passionately believed in the ideology and philosophy of the party and was fully, uncompromisingly and self-sacrificially committed to its cause even without necessarily holding any formal position in the party hierarchy.

Of course, I am saddened that Dr Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara were among those who defected from the PDP before the 2015 polls and thus weakening the PDP and contributing significantly to the defeat of the then ruling party in the 2015 presidential elections by the newly emergent APC. Ordinarily, a fledgling party like the APC should not have been able to defeat a formidable ruling party such as the PDP, which had been in power for 16 years, within such a short time of its formation. Alas, the likes of Saraki and Dogara in company with other defectors from the PDP at the time placed their own personal ambition above the interest of their party and did not mind helping to ensure its defeat at the polls.

It is instructive that failing to realise their personal ambitions within the APC, the defectors from the PDP quickly again defected back to their previous party hoping to weaken and destabilise the APC and possibly contribute to the defeat of the APC in the 2019 polls. I am happy that this did not happen not because I love the APC but because I cherish the emergence and consolidation in Nigeria of a viable, solid, cohesive and enduring party system, with party members passionately supporting their party’s programmes and values rather than perpetually being peripatetic political vagrants traversing from one party to the other in pursuit of elective political office by all means and at all costs with negative implications for the stability, efficacy and effectiveness of the dominant political parties.

This in my view is where Asiwaju Tinubu differs. In all the parties with which he has been involved from the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the Action Congress (AC), and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to the APC, Tinubu has always demonstrated an uncommon fidelity and commitment to the best interest of any party with which he identifies. It is noteworthy that Tinubu has not held any office since serving out his two-term tenure as Lagos State governor in 2007. He has not sought to be elected to the Senate as has become the fad with governors moving from various state houses to the Senate at the expiration of their tenures. Asiwaju has not sought to be National Chairman of his party or Chairman of its Board of Trustees (BOT), both positions of great influence that he would be perfectly entitled to seek. Yet, it is indisputable that in terms of investment of time, energy, resources and intellect to promote the interest of the party, nobody can rival him within the APC.

It is most certainly for this reason that party members across various tendencies defer to Tinubu as National Leader even when such a position does not exist in the hierarchical structure of the APC. This is indeed most amazing as the APC is only just striving to overcome deep internal schisms to evolve into a cohesive political organization. Yet, across all intra-party divides, Tinubu’s leadership role and contributions are widely acknowledged, accepted and respected.

Saraki and Dogara portray Tinubu’s support for his party’s candidates for the leadership of the 9th Assembly as an entirely personal affair without any link to the political party to which he belongs. They write as if Tinubu is synonymous with the APC and vice versa. Nothing could be most misleading from the point of view of an objective analyst. The APC is simply too large, still largely organizationally-inchoate, suffused with competing factions and tendencies for any individual to single-handedly foist his choice for any position on the party. Could Tinubu have foisted his choice for the leadership of the National Assembly on the APC both in 2015 and 2019?

This would imply forcing his choices on the party including the APC leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, the powerful governors’ forum as well as Senate and House of Representatives caucuses of the party and the APC’s regional power structures. If any individual could perform that feat, he should surely be described as superhuman. By this kind of exaggeration of Tinubu’s power and influence within the APC, Saraki and Dogara mystify the APC National Leader and clothe him in the illusory garb of a deity.

In any case, if indeed Tinubu’s support for Lawan and Gbajabiamila is due to his 2023 presidential ambition as stated by Saraki and Dogara, in what way will the offices of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives avail anybody in a national election? Yes, these are influential offices. But despite Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara supporting Atiku Abubakar’s presidential bid in the 2019 election, how come the latter was still defeated at the polls? It seems to me that Saraki and Dogara exaggerate the influence and electoral potency of the offices they currently occupy.

Does the support of the Senate President and Speaker necessarily translate into the support of the entire National Assembly or even legislators of the ruling party for any presidential aspirant? It is unlikely that a political strategist of Tinubu’s calibre will harbour any such illusion.  Can anybody guarantee that once the Senate President or Speaker emerges, they will automatically support any preconceived candidate for the office of President? This kind of simplistic submission betrays a gross misunderstanding of the nature and dynamics of power and politics in contemporary Nigeria.

Did Tinubu conjure the allegations of budget-padding or arbitrary transfer of funds from critical projects to those of the legislators’ fancies out of thin air? To the best of my knowledge, it was a member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin, who brought the term, padding, into the popular consciousness. Not only did he accuse his colleagues of budget-padding, he swore an affidavit in court to buttress his point. It was Senator Shehu Sani from Kaduna State who first revealed to the public the outrageous monthly take-home allowances of his National Assembly colleagues to the consternation and alarm of the nation.  And a number of Ministers have had cause to decry the arbitrary transfer of funds by legislators from critical projects such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to just name one to other projects of their fancy.

Eminent Nigerians such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo,  Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi, and Professor Itsey Sagey (SAN)  are on record as severely pillorying the proportion of national resources expended by the National Assembly as well as the opacity in the management of the National Assembly’s finances. Asiwaju Tinbubu was, therefore, not saying anything new in this respect. He was only re-stating what has been in the public domain long before now.

The term ‘budget-padding’ has become a generic term for describing the assortment of alleged financial infractions perpetrated in the management of the National Assembly’s finances. True, these perverse financial practices predated the tenures of Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara.  However, on assumption of their respective offices, they promised to enhance transparency and accountability in the management of the National Assembly. Did they do enough in this regard? Certainly no. The good thing is that with Asiwaju raising this issue, the next leadership of the 9th Assembly will be forced to take concrete and decisive steps to address and rectify these lapses.

Saraki and Dogara place the blame for incessant budgetary delays at the feet of the Executive, particularly, non-cooperating Ministries, Departments and Agencies which consistently failed to meet specified timelines for defending their budgetary estimates before the respective committees of the National Assembly. If true, this is most condemnable. But did the duo of Saraki and Dogara as leaders of the National Assembly do enough to sensitise both the presidency, the MDA’s and indeed the general public to these critical issues? I am afraid it is difficult to answer in the affirmative. Once the National Assembly was aware of its budgetary timelines for the fiscal instrument to be passed on schedule, it should have cried out to the public once the various dates were being approached with no necessary action by the MDA’s.

The widespread negative perceptions of the National Assembly obviously in my view must have informed Asiwaju Tinubu’s assertions, which Saraki and Dogara vehemently resented and disagreed with. But it is significant that a sizable number of members of the 8th Assembly were not re-elected to go back to the National Assembly, which implies that an appreciable number of Nigerians are not convinced of the superlative performance of the National Assembly as portrayed by Saraki and Dogara.

Could Tinubu have been influenced for his stance on Saraki and Dogara by the alleged role of the Senate President in preventing the emergence of Tinubu as Vice- Presidential running mate to Buhari in 2015? I am not a member of the APC but this does not sound to me as a plausible argument. How much influence within the emergent APC did Saraki have at that time to have played a major role in the emergence of Buhari’s running mate? Was he in Buhari’s inner cycle? If so, how come he could not get the support of Buhari for his Senate President ambition within the APC and had to take the fraudulent route to bag the position?

If he successfully prevented the emergence of Tinubu as Vice Presidential candidate on religious grounds, how come he could not get a Christian Vice- Presidential candidate of his own for Buhari with Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Tinubu’s nominee, being picked for the office? Again, if Saraki ever worked against the perceived Muslim-Muslim APC presidential ticket, as he claimed, was it not self-serving, characteristic of his politics, as a Muslim-Muslim presidential pair would have automatically sounded the death-knell of his own Senate President’s ambition? I think trivialities like that should simply be disregarded in serious discourse.

For me, the issue of internal party discipline and cohesion is one that transcends partisan divides. It is in the best interest of political parties, the political elite and Nigerians as a whole that we have stable and viable political parties, comprising dedicated members who are passionate about their parties’ programmes, Ideology and values. And one way of ensuring this is through adherence to the dominant parties’ position on the choice of leadership of the National Assembly whether the majority party is PDP, APC or any other party at any given point in time. That to me is the critical import of Asiwaju’s intervention.

Sanya Awosan (Ph D), a political analyst, was Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Public Relations to President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Nation

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Politics

Delta APC crisis: Emerhor withdraws case against Omo-Agege, Ogboru faction

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The protracted division bedeviling the Delta state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was on Monday laid to rest with the leader of one of the two factions, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, calling the truce.

Delta APC got enmeshed in 2018 when the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on assumption of office sacked the Olorogun Cyril Ogodo-led state executive counci, inaugurated by former National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and replaced it with Prophet Jones Erue-led executive council.

The Ogodo-led faction, which is represented by the Mainstream Delta APC group under the leadership of the 2015 governorship candidate of the party, Olorogun Emerhor, had gone to court to reclaim its mandate, winning its first outing at the Federal High Court in Asaba and had proceeded to the Supreme Court in pursuit of favourable judgement.

However, in a statement on Monday, July 15, Emerhor, said his faction, considering the high stakes that had risen with recent developments, especially the election of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as Deputy Senate President had chosen to withdraw from pursuing the case.

“During the pendency of our Supreme Court appeal, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, the main impacted person, should our appeal succeed at the Supreme Court, was sponsored by our National APC and Federal government and was elected the Deputy Senate President (DSP) of the Nigerian Senate. Since this event a lot has happened.”

“Your leadership has come under intense pressure to terminate the appeal at the Supreme Court in order not to jeopardize the standing of the DSP at the Nigerian senate. This pressure has come from elders, leaders and Clergymen of Urhobo nation, from well wishers and family members of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, from APC party leaders of the South South, and indeed, from the Presidency.

“Recently, on Tuesday, July 11th 2019, myself and Chief Cyril Ogodo had audience with the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osibanjo on the matter to chart a way forward.

“Upon the election of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as the DSP, and with the reach out from the various interested persons mentioned above, your leadership has indeed agreed, in its usual reconciliatory manner, to seize the opportunity to again push for a party reconciliation and unification deal that can produce a win win situation for Delta APC and properly position it.

“Our earlier terms for Party exco harmonization and sharing of Federal appointments to all groups in Delta APC were once again put on the table as the panacea for bringing lasting peace to APC Delta State. Unfortunately, even with the best efforts of those who intervened to seize this moment as a last minute effort to bring peace to reign, again no traction was achieved.

“At the same time, our case in the Supreme Court suffered a set back. As against securing an accelerate hearing consequent on it being a pre-election matter, the suit is currently adjourned to October 14, 2019. It has been in our contemplation for the case to come to a closure in July 2019 and allow peace and unification come to Delta APC at last.

“Under the above circumstances and in full recognition of the pressures that have been brought to bear and also in appreciation of the legal arguments as to whether we could still achieve the objectives of the suit when it comes up in October or not, your leadership has decided and indeed unconditionally agreed to withdraw our appeal from the Supreme Court by filing a notice of discontinuance today Monday July 15th, 2019.

“Your leadership believes this is for the best. We have fought a good fight and even good fights must come to an end! We don’t need to fight on till October and beyond! We don’t need to force others to the table anymore and or forever.

“I, therefore, on behalf of the Mainstream of APC in Delta proclaim an end on our part in the factional fight for the control of APC in Delta State. We also seize the opportunity to recognize Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as our Senator and congratulate him for his election as DSP of the Nigerian senate. We in the same breath, recognize and congratulate other elected legislators of APC in Delta State.

“We do this with zero expectations from those who are now the ‘victors’. We will, however, be wildly surprised if they seize the moment and strive for the unification of the party in the interest of a stronger Delta APC.

“I also wish to seize the opportunity to thank all members of the Mainstream of Delta APC, and the Ogodo led Exco in Delta State for your unalloyed loyalty, support and resilience in the face of daunting challenges throughout the period of our contending for a winning APC in Delta State. As I said earlier, even a good fight must end one way or the other. I thank you all,” Emerhor said.

The Witness

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Lagos Matters

Sanwo-Olu Transmits Name Of Commissioners, Special Advisers To State Assembly For Screening

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In fulfilment of his election promise to accelerate his administration’s development agenda, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Sunday, transmitted a list of Commissioner-designates to the House of Assembly for ratification.

The list contained twenty five names, who are to assume duty as Commissioners and Special Advisers upon ratification by the legislature.

A statement by the Governor’s Deputy Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said Sanwo-Olu carefully picked the nominees based on their cognate experience in their respective professions.

The list, Akosile said, comprised names of technocrats and politicians, who understand the challenges of the state, noting that the painstaking and laborious selection process was aimed at constituting the best team that will serve Lagos in line with the agenda of his administration vision of delivering a city-state that will rank among the top most liveable cities in the world.

The statement said: “We took our time to pick the best hands for the tough job Lagosians have elected us to do. The nominees for the twenty five Commissioner and Special Adviser positions include women and men who have made their mark and at the zenith of their professional callings.’’

Governor Sanwo-Olu’ media aide stated further that the current list is first batch, saying that consultation was going on with regard to the complete number of the cabinet members.

He further disclosed that the new cabinet would be unique, because of its diversity. Quoting Governor Sanwo-Olu, he said Lagos would continue to take the lead in innovation, gender-balance and youth inclusion in the administration of the State.

“We have a blend of youth who are under 40 among nominees for Commissioners and Special Advisers. Women too are well represented in the list. We believe Lagos deserves the best and we cannot give the people anything less than that,” the statement said.

Breaking down the list of nominees, there are 17 men and eight women that will be sworn in as members of the State Executive Council. Also in keeping his promise of millennial’s inclusion, Governor Sanwo-Olu included youths who are in their early and mid-thirties in the list of nominees.

The State House of Assembly is expected to carry out a screening of the nominees to set the machinery of governance in full swing.  

Below are names of the nominees:

1.     Mr. Rabiu Olowo Onaolapo

2.     Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo

3.     Prof. Akin Abayomi

4.     Dr. Idris Salako

5.     Mr. Tunji Bello

6.     Mr. Gbenga Omotoso

7.     Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka

8.     Mrs. Bolaji Dada

9.     Mr. Lere Odusote

10.   Dr. Frederic Oladeinde

11.   Mr. Gbolahan Lawal

12.   Ms. Adekemi Ajayi

13.   Mr. Femi George

14.   Dr. Wale Ahmed

15.   Mr. Moyo Onigbanjo (SAN)

16.   Mr. Hakeem Fahm

17.   Mrs. Ajibola Ponnle

18.   Engr. Aramide Adeyoye

19.   Mr. Segun Dawodu

20.   Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf

21.   Mr. Sam Egube

22.   Ms Ruth Bisola Olusanya

23.   Princess Aderemi Adebowale

24.   Mr. Tunbosun Alake

25.   Mr. Afolabi Ayantayo

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Politics

Tinubu, Akande, Osoba, Fayemi, Others Storm Ondo To Reconcile APC Feuding Members

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Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Southwest were in Akure, the Ondo State capital yesterday to reconcile the party’s feuding members.

On the peace team were former Lagos, Ogun and Osun states governors Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Aremo Segun Osoba and Chief Bisi Akande as well as Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi.

They met with Governor Oluwarotimi Akredolu and other critical stakeholders of the local APC at the Heritage Hotel.

The meeting was at the instance of the host governor, it was learnt.

Other party stakeholders at the meeting were former Ondo Deputy Governor Alhaji Alli Olanusi; a governorship candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the last governorship election, Chief Olusola Oke; former Osun State Regional Integration Commissioner Bola Ilori and Isaac Kekemeke, among others.

Akeredolu, it was learnt, will be seeking the APC ticket for a second term after the expiration of his four-year tenure next year. The governor has not made his ambition public.

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