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Umar Mohammed Bago, Man With Passion For Service

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-Why He Wants To Be Reps Speaker 

Umar Mohammed Bago is not just another member of the Federal House of Representatives, he is a man that has the wherewithal and the qualities of a leader of the 21st Century, whose antecedents show that he could turn a stone to bread and bring water out of the rock. 

The people of Chanchanga  Federal Constituency in Niger State knew better,  when they voted for Bago to be their representative in the House of Reps in 2011  and repeated the same in 2015 and 2019. 

Bago has since proven the be the best man for the job with the way he has influenced development to the area and touched the lives of the people in the constituency. 

The 45-year-old politician is an alumnus of the Federal Government College, Jos and he graduated with a degree in Political Science from Uthman Dan Fodio University,  Sokoto and holds a Post Graduate Diploma. 

His educational career continued as he went ahead to obtain Masters Degrees in Management, Business Administration and Finance and he is an alumnus of the prestigious Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. 

Bago cut his teeth in banking at the Central Bank of Nigeria, United Bank of Africa, Standard Trust Bank (STB), FCMB,  and Afribank. 

As a member of the Federal House of Representatives, his experiences are for the records. 

He was a member of the House Committee on Banking and Currency,  Appropriation and Communication Technology,  Defense, as well as Loans and Debts. 

He has also served in other committees such as National Planning and Economic Development,  Media and Publicity,  and he is a member of several civil societies and donor agencies. 

In 2015, Bago was made the Chairman of the House Committee on Maritime,  Safety,  Education and Administration. 

While some of his colleagues could not boast of making differences in the green chamber,  Bago has so far moved 20 motions on the floor of the House, sponsored 15 bills and co-sponsored several others. 

The people of Bago’s constituency are living testimonies of his people-oriented empowerment programmes and constituency projects. 

The cerebral nationalist is well travelled, exposed,  urbane and speaks Nupe,  Hausa and Yoruba fluently.

Bago is one of the politicians that have no baggage and people believe that the House of Representatives deserves such a politician to be it’s leader. 

Some of his thoughts have become reference points for those, who believe in quality leadership and progressive minded politicians. 

Bago once stated that “I observed with continued amazement and curiousity that the issue of equity in geopolitical balancing  as enshrined in the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, has not been seen and taken seriously rather the issue of capacity and competence is being touted.

“The question is capacity and competence in what? To move motions and bills? Chair committee sessions? Educational background? Party loyalty? humbly speaking; if these are the indices to define capacity and competence, I am very qualified.”

Bago  believes that if its the job of Speaker that “we are talking about, the Speaker will not be moving motions or Bills. Only Speaker Yakubu Dogara had moved a bill on the floor of the house of representatives in recent history of the house over the last twenty years.”

He stressed that a great speaker could  not emerge from disdain for the constitution with which he will be sworn in, adding that the capacity and competence must be situated within constitutional prescriptions. 

“Lastly the Speaker must enjoy earned confidence of members out of his relatability capacity and quotient 

“An effective Speaker must be able to ride on provable ability that every member  and stakeholders will find comfort  and accommodation in him, by reputation. 

“I am called Mr.Relatable because this is what my life embodies and it did not start with the aspiration to be Speaker,” he said. 

Bago was quoted to have said that the demand for equity is at the “nucleus of my aspiration before my nature as a very relatable personality or my capacity and competence,  and so demanding  for equitable treatment is not about indulging or being gratuitous to the North Central, rather its fact based and well earned, not frivolous; from the facts that the North Central zone gave our party the third highest votes at the 2019 Presidential election, to the zone never had a speaker of house of Representatives in 20years since 1999! 

“These are facts! Of course in the mix is the need for a youth inclusion at that level of our political administration; these are claims that are real making my aspiration legitimate, fair and just…”

He said further that “I just watched the Seun Okinbaloye’s Politics Today and saw how the North Central geopolitical zone asking for equity was dismissively and condescendingly referred to by my colleague Hon. Abdulmumini, when he said there are other positions “within” the house leadership that the North Central can be “given”, affirming that south west zone(lagos) that gave our party 2million votes and has Vice President of Nigeria by entitlement should also get the Speaker House of Representatives while Northcentral geopolitical zone that gave APC/President Buhari 2.4million votes should settle for Chief whip?Or Deputy Whip..etc! My heart bleeds…”

He maintained that a zone that in 20 years had never produced Speaker or Deputy inspite of huge support for APC…where is equity, justice, fairness that the Nigerian constitution  and that of APC prescribed. 

“A case of a father of six openly showing favouritism to a child out of  the six, in a six bedroom  house is giving two rooms to the favourite child and asking four others to take the remaining four rooms and sending one child to go and stay in the boy’s quarters, even when he has been a good child… hmmm…May God bless Nigeria…” he said. 

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My Civil War Experience – IBB

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In this interview monitored on Channels Television, former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, reflects on his experience during the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War. He also bares his mind on the unity of Nigeria and the need for quality leadership in the country.

Experience of the civil war

I was a very young officer just trying to become a captain in the Nigerian Army. When the war broke out, I was away on a training in United Kingdom. We stayed there for a very short period and then we came back. I was posted to one division in the Nigerian Army. We served together with people from other parts of the country, and then suddenly, you discover that you are fighting against one another. I can recall a case of one of my very good colleagues; we faced each other and I saw him die. It was very a horrible experience for a young officer at that time. It was tragic that somebody with whom you trained together, went to India Military Academy together, and suddenly, in July of 1967, we found ourselves fighting one another. It was a very pathetic experience. It is something I pray we never experience again in this country.

Thoughts on fighting against former colleagues

That showed us how things can go wrong in the running of a country. There were some civil disturbances that began to manifest at that time. Immediately after independence, elections were not going properly, there were riots in various parts of the country. These culminated into the civil war. The leadership at that time believed very strongly that nothing should be done to break the unity of the country and we were all brought up and trained to believe that we should be able to defend the integrity of the country. So we resisted any effort to disintegrate the country because of our training and political indoctrination.

Reaction to end of the war

Yes, I got a sense of relief. I was somewhere in Ukigwe when my commander, General TY Danjuma, brought the news to us that the war was over. It brought a sense of relief. What I wanted to do immediately I heard the war was over was to reach out to my colleague who was fighting on my front. I trained with him in the Nigeria Training College, Kaduna, as we used to call it then. I really wanted to see him so that we can shake hands. He eventually turned up and we greeted ourselves, talked about our days as cadets and so on. And then, jokingly, he asked me ‘Ibrahim, is it you fighting me’ and I also asked him, ‘Amos are you fighting me’. But today we have every reason to thank God because none of us was killed during that war and we become friends again.

On the policy of Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (Three Rs)

I think we were informed enough to know that quite a number of countries in the world – we studied military history – went through civil wars and that afterwards, they came back together, settled down and integrated the people into the main stream of the society. This is what was in our minds and fortunately our head of state then. General Yakubu Gowon brought the Three Rs. He was a passionate believer in the unity of this country. So I think having finished the war, since he said there is no victor and no vanquished, we quickly began to adjust to remaining as Nigerians.

State of the military after the war

It was small in size. When we started, the military was not more than five battalions, not up to 10,000 soldiers. By the time the war was over, we had 250,000 because of the obvious mobilisation. So from a small number of 10,000 to 250,000, the immediate problem was how to reorganise the army into a much more manageable size, cohesive, well-trained and well-oriented for the purposes of building a stronger nation.

Perception of Nigeria’s unity among his contemporaries

The way we saw it, the unity of Nigeria, as far as we were concerned, was an article of faith amongst my generation. Nobody would like to see this country go through another civil war, nobody will like to see this country disintegrate because we will be unfair to those who put their lives on the line and died for the purpose of keeping the country one. So if we let it go, we will not be fair to them. Millions of thousands of people were killed and maimed. Some were permanently disabled. So we will not be fair to those people who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country, that is why we are so passionate about the unity of this country.

The Three Rs 50 years after

Well, quite frankly, I think we did well. Again, if you compare other countries that went through a civil war, you will find out that we have done reasonably well indeed because the war finished in 1970. We had a military government from 1966 to 1975. Another military government took over from 1975 to 1979. We had a civilian government from 1979 to 1983. We later had a military government from 1983 to 1984 and from 1984 to 1993. We succeeded in keeping the civilian administration in place. This is all thanks to the military for it’s determination to install a democratically elected government in the country.

On NYSC and Unity Schools as a means to foster integration

To a certain extent, I think we have succeeded, especially with the NYSC programme because, most of the people who went into NYSC are students from universities and other tertiary institutions. They were intelligent enough to read about what happened at the time. They were able to go through history and even mingle. So it was quite easy. It is a very good thing that it was done at that time. So if you find the generation of 1973 up till now, they are mostly very strong believers in the unity of Nigeria. So that is one thing that those polices succeeded in doing. At the secondary school level, students, at a young age were taught about the country and the civil war. So they grew up with history of the country in their minds, so I think it was good for the country.

On the post-war Nigeria and pressure on government to enhance national unity

I think old habits die hard like they say. There has been this tendency to recline and go back to the old habits. If you find yourself in politics, for example, people tend to recline into their own cocoon because we didn’t have what I will call a re-orientation on what politics is all about. We didn’t do much in trying to get people indoctrinated through political interactions and so on. So the moment you reintroduce politics, the first thing that came to our minds was what political parties and systems used to be before the civil war. People saw that as a starting point and once you see that you could hardly change it.

On Rwanda’s post-war integration model

In the case of Rwanda, I will say that it is leadership. They have a very strong person as a leader who believes very strongly in that country and therefore would like to see the country united. It is the leadership that can change the whole environment.

On whether the Rwanda formula can work in Nigeria

If you get a strong leadership at the national and state levels, I think we should be able to do it.

His experience on managing Nigeria’s diversity

I think you should build supporters who believe strongly in what you are trying to do. We tried it with NYSC and Unity schools. I think we did not push it hard. We should have pushed it harder so that we will have people who attend unity schools together not having problems interacting with one another. So that they don’t have to return to their cocoons saying this is where I come from. I think we allowed it to slacken a little bit.

Creation of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja to ensure cohesiveness

I think we did. Don’t forget that the whole idea of Abuja came about in 1976 by General Murtala Muhammed. He had a vision because of the sheer size and ethnic groups in the country. He wanted to keep the country one so that they can have something to call their own such that everybody belongs to it. I think the idea was good and the whole concept came about in 1976. Those of us who came after Murtala Muhammed believed very strongly that that vision was the correct vision for the country and so we pursued it, including the civilian regime. Shehu Shagari tried to make it realisable. And when the military came because we believed in it strongly, we made sure that it remained what it was designed to be.

The place of military in Nigeria’s unity

You cannot convince me for example that this country should break. I would not talk to you for a long time because I know that people died in keeping the country one. I got maimed keeping the country one. So my generation will always insist that this country remains one. We fought for it, we know the consequences of war, we know the pains people went through. It is not too much demand on us to keep the country together.

On how leaders inclined to unity of Nigeria can emerge

The whole thing depends on the leadership election. One of the things I would loved to see is that if you want to pick a leader, you should be able to assess his thoughts about the unity of the country, that he will not jeopardise it and he will try to use everything within his power, legitimately to make sure that the country remains one. We have more than 200 million people in this country. My generation and the generation below mine will always believe in this country and they will move this country forward.

Nigeria’s unity after his generation

My generation is committed and they will use everything possible, including applying logic and advise to make sure that the country remains United.

On military and civil relations

Immediately after the second world war, the military became more civilized and more educated. There is a need for us to understand that the soldier knows that he is supposed to be obedient to the democratically elected government because it represents the people. I can tell you now that only a stupid soldier will think of a coup because it is no longer in their psyche. It is no longer acceptable in Africa, West Africa and in the whole world generally. So the soldier is intelligent enough to know that if he does that the country will be ostracised from the community of nations. For example, the people you want to represent will rise against you in your own country so it is no longer fashionable to stage a coup.

On deepening national cohesion, reconciliation and reintegration

Our selection of leadership is the most important thing. By this I mean leadership at all levels be it political, military and economic. Once this is done and every sector believes in it, I think we will have no problem.

On success of federal character principle so far

To some extent I think it worked because, it created some sense of belonging and balance in what government strives to do. But you cannot carry it on to a ridiculous extent. You cannot take a mediocre to do a job because of federal character. It shouldn’t be so. We have now reached a stage where in every part of the country and in any community, there are graduates and professionals. So you cannot sacrifice quality in the name of federal character and put an unqualified person in a position.

On his administration and legacy
belong to Winston Churchill’s school of thought when taking about about historical legacy. He said history will be fair to him because he is going to write it himself. So maybe because I share that view, I will write my legacy by myself, and I believe God will lead me. So I want to write by myself so that history will be fair to me.

On the current state of insecurity in the country

I think a lot needs to be done quite frankly because if what we read in the papers and hear on radio is true especially in most of those areas that we assumed that the security situation has been stabilised. I read in the papers of the young governor of Borno State telling the defense minister that there are still few places that people can’t go in the state. He said so because that, at least, will give the military high command some way of thinking. The governor is the security officer of the state and he knows the people. There are a lot of challenges. What they need to do is to get a lot of intelligence. It looks to me that there are people who are thinking for the insurgents. There are people who think for them. We need to find out those who are thinking for them, leading them and supplying them with weapons, and put a stop to that. That is probably the way I access it.

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Buhari heading to London for a summit — first foreign trip in 2020

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President Muhammadu Buhari will on Friday depart Abuja  for London to participate in the inaugural UK-Africa investment summit scheduled for Monday. 

Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, said the summit is expected to bring African leaders, international business chief executives, heads of international organisations together “to create new partnerships that will deliver more investments and jobs” in Africa and the UK.

“Apart from highlighting new perspectives on UK-Africa Partnership for Prosperity, issues of Sustainable Finance and Infrastructure; Trade and Investment; Future African Growth Sectors and Clean Energy and Climate,
are expected to dominate presentations and discussions during the Summit, ” he said in a statement.

“With the expected take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in mid-2020, the London investment summit will provide Nigeria with the opportunity to project itself as a leading investment destination for new industries.

“In addition, the summit will deepen Nigeria-United Kingdom investment ties post-Brexit given that Africa currently represents just two percent of British trade activity, with Nigeria accounting for only 10 percent of that total.

“The Nigerian delegation to the investment meeting will further showcase what the Federal Government has done through policies and legislations to improve the investment and business climate in the country.”

According to the statement, Buhari will also hold a meeting with Prince Charles, head of the Commonwealth, in Glasgow, Scotland, as well as a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and heads of multilateral organisations.

Among the governors who will accompany the president are Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Muhammad Yahaya (Gombe) and  Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).

The ministers are Geoffrey Onyeama (foreign affairs), Nìyí Adebayo (industry, trade and investment), Zainab Ahmed (finance, budget and national planning).

The remaining people in the president’s delegation are: Babagana Monguno, national security adviser and Ahmed Abubakar, director-general of the National Intelligence Agency.

The president is expected back in Abuja on Thursday. This will be Buhari’s first foreign trip in 2020.

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Sylva: FG making plans for fuel at N97 per litre

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Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources, says the federal government is working to make fuel available at N97 per litre, using the compressed natural gas (CNG) as an option to premium motor spirit (PMS).

CNG is a fuel that can be used in place of gasoline, diesel fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). It is used in traditional gasoline/internal combustion engine automobiles or specifically manufactured vehicles.

Fielding questions from reporters at his office in Abuja on Thursday, the minister said the common man would not notice that subsidy on PMS has been removed when they have CNG as an option.

“If we are thinking of reducing pump price for fuel? I could easily say yes and I’m sure all of you wonder why I am saying that,” he said.

“We are thinking of giving the masses an alternative. Today we are all hooked on PMS, what we want to do going forward is to see that we are able to move the masses to CNG gas.

“CNG unit for unit costs less than even the subsidised PMS. Per litre the subsidised rate of PMS is N145/l. CNG will cost N95 to N97/l that is why I could say we want to reduce the cost of fuel, that way when we are given an alternative Nigerians will not notice when the subsidy on PMS is removed.”

The minister said he is hoping that the petroleum industry bill (PIB) will be passed by the national assembly before May.

According to him, the PIB “has taken us back for too long.”

“We are very ambitious about the PIB and we are hoping that it will pass before May this year which is the first anniversary of this administration and second tenure of this government,” he said.

“We are counting on the excellent relationship between the executive and the legislature but I must say that it is a hope and that is why I am mobilising the support of all of you. We are also mobilising the support of the national assembly and everybody else in the industry.

“Let us build a consensus around the PIB because the PIB has taken us back for too long, it has held us down for too long and we need to get it passed quickly. It is taking us a while to tidy up because we want to take every interest on board.”

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