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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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Mbaka Disowns Prophesy On Bayelsa Governorship Contest

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Popular Enugu-based Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, has disowned a viral controversial prophecy on the Bayelsa State governorship contest.

It would be recalled that there were reports at the weekend that claimed that Mbaka had prophesied that the current governor, Duoye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), would not last beyond two months in office. He was quoted to have said in the prophesy that another person from a different political party, not the APC, would mount the saddle.

But the priest has now come out to disclaim the prophecy, attributing it to people who would want to pull him down at all costs.

Mbaka’s reaction was contained in a statement made available  by Ike Maximus Ugwuoke, the Media Chief, Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria.

The statement reads in part, “Our attention has been drawn to report in a section of the media that spiritual director of Adoration Ministry, Fr. Mbaka has prophesied that the newly sworn-in Governor of Bayelsa State, Diri Douye will stay in office as Governor for only two months. The report alleged that he predicted this in ‘Delta State at the ceremony to mark the birthday of his friend and colleague who clocked 68 years’.

“For the sake of justice and fairness we challenge the originators of this false and mendacious report to mention the name of the so-called Fr Mbaka’s friend and colleague whose ceremony he attended in Delta State.

 “The truth is that Fr Mbaka has not even been in Delta since this year. Fr Mbaka has never at any time, place or circumstance made any prophecy about Bayelsa or who becomes the Governor of the state or his duration in office. The report is obviously the handwork of mischief-makers and wicked idiots who are on demonic and satanic assignment to damage Fr Mbaka’s reputation and brand him a false prophet.”

 “Fr Mbaka has been preoccupied with the charitable and miraculous works God has been using him to do in the ministry. He has been immersed in thanksgiving to God for the fulfillment of his prophecy on Hope Uzodinma becoming the Governor of Imo State and so he never attended any such ceremony in Delta State or anywhere else where he could have made such prediction as alleged by these satanic agents. During Fr Mbaka’s Sunday mass today, he refuted this report himself publicly at the altar. Those who impersonate Fr Mbaka on the media should be careful, else they are attracting the wrath of God upon themselves.”

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Kano Matters

Kano Politics: The Prince, Commander, and the Comrade. Are they really untouchables?

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By Adamu Aminu, Kano

Even during the Roman Empire, gladiators were given outstanding priority by the Kings of those days, based on their bravery, courage in battlefields.

And also, perseverance, undivided loyalty and taking daring task during difficult times of fighting for continuous survival on the monarchical throne, were among the yardstick to promote any warrior to the much deserving position as a reward to acknowledge his bravery.

What had happened in those days is seemingly synchronic with what is presently transpiring in today’s Nigerian politics, particularly in Kano, my exalted state, which is not an exception in this regard.

The notion which strongly affirmed that ‘Only the daring deserved the jug, full of sweet-marmalade in the time of victory’.

It was seen by many political pundits, that the daring credibility and allegiance catapulted the trio to become front-bencher in the Khadimul Islam, kitchen cabinet, such as;Prince, Emir’s grandson.

  1. Prince, The Emir’s Son
  2. The Comrade
  3. The Commander.

That might even be the rationale for people branding them as prolific in terms of popularity and influences.

But the questions were already put by some analysts, meant to corroborate the reportedly said impression, as follows;

  • Why do such threesome command much attention in this regime?
  • was it for their hustle during 2019 polls, that led to his triumph?
  • Or was it due to their unflinching allegiance to the governors through thick and thin of his political journey?
  • Why did they deserve to be seeing and call by many, as untouchables and indispensable in the present dominion of Khadimul Islam?

It is obviously known that every one good turn deserves another, and nothing happens spontaneously on a silver platter, without any cause or efforts.

But based on superficial perspectives, many including myself thought that these trios are Khadimul Islam right-hand’s men, who in the past took the bull by the horns, for the present state government of scaling through.

Firstly, let’s take the prince – who is the current party chairman, famously known for his fire-brand, pomposity and often wearing sternly-face to justify his bonafide royal background.

A one-time state commissioner of environment, who is lucky to have bumper to bumper proximity with his excellency, the ‘ Khadimul Islam.

A man whose everyone within the party is trying to avoid loggerheads with him in as much as you need ‘ Khadimul Islam ‘ to back you in your political aspiration within the party, an instance where the only ex-federal house member of Kiru/Bebeji, Hon. Kofa would give full testimony of this man strong influence in the party.

The Prince, presumably said, his contributing factors help the ‘Khadimul Islam ‘ forced the leader of Kano red-cap ideology movement into impromptu retirement from politics.

Secondly, the commander, fondly called ‘ Yaki sai da Kwamanda ‘ a young, light, -complexion politician who is believed to have built a solid base of influence in Khadimul Islam government.

The man raised not only with a silver spoon but with a political spoon in view of the key positions holding at his tender age.

The man whose courage during 2019 gubernatorial polls had his name dominated newspapers headline – also had his half-bared physique went viral all over, all in all, out-war to salvage his party from political nose-diving.

Thirdly, Mr Comrade, the present state Information commissioner. The flamboyant, comrade with dandyish disposition since from youthful heyday.

The man among the three formidable, who was certain of being among the list present state executive members.

A man who has been with ‘ Khadimul Islam ‘ for quite some decades, whose allegiance to him is undisputed. The comrade, who had in the last year run from pillar to post, tried to protect his master’s dignity originated from Daily Nigerian posted video scandal.

The Comrade who is said to be always on alert, keeping sleeves rolled up, walking tip-toed, staying wary in anticipation of any issue that may give his long-time master a sleepless night.

As the proverbial phrase goes on saying “One good turn deserves another” this might be the reason, why the threesome political companions turn out to be Indispensable and untouchables within the Ganduje’s led government.

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Conduct fresh election in Bayelsa, APC writes INEC

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh governorship election in Bayelsa state. 

The supreme court had nullified the election of David Lyon, candidate of the APC who was declared winner of the election in the state in November.

The apex court asked INEC to issue certificates of return to candidates of the party with the next highest number of lawful votes and with the required constitutional geographical spread in the election, and on Friday, the commission declared Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor-elect. 

But in a letter, Adams Oshiomhole, chairman of the APC, told INEC that Diri did not meet the requirement and that a fresh election should hold.

‘‘In the said judgement of the Supreme Court, the candidature of our governorship and deputy governorship candidates were nullified and the commission was ordered to issue fresh certificate of returns with the highest number of votes and with the required geographical spread,” the letter read.

‘’It is however to be noted that the Supreme Court did not void the votes that our party polled at the election and the implication of this is that the votes of the All Progressives Congress must be reckoned with in determining whether any other candidate polled majority of lawful votes cast in one-quarter of at least two thirds majority of the state.

‘‘We have reviewed the judgement of the Supreme Court and we are of the firm opinion that the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party cannot be issued certificate of return and or sworn in as the Governor and Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State respectively.

‘‘We are aware of that section 179(1)(b) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria mandatorily requires a candidate for an election to the office of governor of a state to have not less than one quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two thirds of all the local government areas in the state before the candidate can be deemed to have been duly elected as the Governor of the State. This mandatory requirement was affirmed by the supreme court in the judgement under reference.

“From the results announced and duly published by the commission, it is clear that no candidates meet this mandatory constitutional requirement, including the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party who only managed to poll one quarter of the votes cast in only five local government areas.

“The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party or any other candidate whatsoever, none satisfies the requirement of one quarter of the votes cast in at least 2/3 of the local government areas in the state as required by the supreme court judgement further request that a fresh election be conducted by the commission for the office of the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State.”

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