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SWINGING ALONG WITH THE PENDULUM by @joshuaotene April 14, 2015

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The 2015 General Election has ushered-in a new exciting epoch in the political memoirs of Nigeria. For the first time in our checkered history as a democratic nation, an incumbent president habeen shown the way out of office via the power of the ballot. Also for the first time since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), self-acclaimed largest political party in Africa, has suffered a humiliating defeat in the hands of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) at practically all levels of electoral contest. It is therefore clearthat the political power pendulum in Nigeria has switcheddirectionsthe effects of which will become more evident after May 29th2015.

 

However even prior to the official handover date, the effects of the historic swing of Nigeria’s power pendulum have begun to manifest. Far withdrawn from the thought of political existence as an opposition party figure at least for the next four yearsPDP bigwigs across the nation startedto cross-carpet in droves to the APC barely days after the result of the presidential poll was announced. Following the gubernatorial election of Saturday 11th April, in which the APC consolidated its position as the ruling party by claiming victory in majority of the states, there is likely to be an avalanche of decampments to the APC in the daysahead

 

Students of politics and all keen observers of the dynamics of power would concur to the notion that power is transient’. Power is also dynamic and if there is one lesson Nigerian politicians must learn from the 2015 Election, it is that political power rests with the electorates and they can confer it on trust to whomsoever they deem worthy. Indeedthe PDP has suffered electoral defeat but contrariwise, the loss presents an opportunity for the party’s membership to return to the drawing board and ask itself some pertinent questions. How well did we utilize the enormous powerentrusted into our hands by Nigerians in the last 16 years? Where did we get it wrong, and how can we navigate our party out of the marshlands it icurrently enmeshed in?

 

But rather than working together to reposition the PDP to win back the hearts of the electorate towards future electoral conquests, the power mongers in the PDP are betraying their insatiable lusts for political influence by clinging tenaciously to the pendulum of power and swinging freely along with it in the direction that it goes. The ex-PDP members that are currently trooping unabashedly into the APC should probe themselves on what their true motive is for deserting the party that they only recently swore allegiance to. Apart from the expected mourning resulting from the tragic electoral loss, there is presently no internal crisis within the PDP to provide even the subtlest of excuses for its members to decamp to the APC.  This will therefore confirm that the decampees areinfluenced only by their avarice and thirsts for power and all the lucre that accompanies political power.

 

 

 

Recall that President Goodluck Jonathan’s timely congratulatory message to the President-Elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) several hours before the final set of election results were announced at the International Conference Centre, venue of INEC’s National Collation Exercise, has been widely adjudged as one of the highpoints of the Jonathan administration.  Even the fiercest antagonists of President Jonathan could not but own up publicly to the fact that the relative peace witnessed across the country after the presidential poll, a complete departure from history, was largely attributable to the gallantry displayed by Mr. President in conceding electoral defeat and the subsequent broadcast message he sent to his teeming supporters, urging them not to thread outside the ambits of the law in seeking redress if they harboured any reservations about the election results.

 

Despite the torrent of plaudits that have greeted President Jonathan’s sportsmanly disposition to the election, theflurry of secret (or even open) condemnations that Mr. President must have to contend with from stratums of his party membership, his kinsmen and teeming beneficiariesremains incontestable. After 16 consecutive years in the mainstream of power and all the associated trimmings, it is not impossible to find PDP members that would choke (or almost choke) at the thought of being stripped of all the bounties and privileges they are currently enjoying. Again, there are others whose ethnic, social or religious affinities to President Jonathan has over the years given them unfettered access to numerous dividends of democracy, dividends which ordinarily do not trickle down to the common man on the streets. 

 

But as repugnant as the reality is, PDP (and of course its many beneficiaries) has found itself in opposition politics and it is a fate that the party and its teeming members, especially those that have benefitted enormously from its good fortunes, must embrace wholeheartedly. For our democracy to continue to take roots, there is need for virile and vibrant opposition party to be in place. A viable opposition will not only put the incumbent on its toes, but also provide an alternative to the electorate in subsequent elections. However the APC cannot deter interested individuals from joining its fold. As a political organization, the APC must uphold the tenets of freedom of association as enshrined in our constitution. But the statement credited to the President-Elect, Gen. Buhari, that the recent decampees will not be offered appointments into his cabinet is quite commendable. It should sound a clearwarning to intending decampees that they cannot have their cakes and eat them.

 

For the political power that they so covet, our politicians must be willing to pay the right price. The ‘change’ slogan that many Nigerians are basking in today was made possible through the diligence and sacrifice of a few people, who weathered the turbulent storms of opposition politics for 16 solid years! The President-Elect, GenMuhammadu Buhari stands tall on the list of the pillars of contemporary opposition politics in Nigeria and thereforedeserves to be its leading beneficiary. Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu also runs atop the list of champions of opposition politics in Nigeria. The efforts and sacrifices of these two,among other men of conscience and principle, have altered the equation in Nigeria’s political landscape today.

 

Although it is often argued that majority of Nigerian politicians do not uphold clear-cut philosophies, I am of the view that the seeming lack of political philosophy on the part of our politicians is attributable to the low level of the nation’s political maturity. I have argued that time and events will eventually shape Nigerian politicians, as well asthe electorate along party philosophies. This is so long asthe country does not slide into a one-party state. With time and further realization of the power of the ballot, the parties will be compelled to fine-tune their philosophies and also educate the electorate on these philosophies. It is then that we can have issues-based politics, rather than the politics of primordial sentiments that we are currently practicing.

 

For instance in the United States, being the democratic model which Nigeria appears to be emulating, the issue of politicians decamping across political parties has not been a matter of reckoning in recent years. This is because in the US, it is easy to identify politicians with the party manifestoes that they stand for. The conviction of an average American politician vis-à-vis party manifesto has made party loyalty a transcendent issue within any particular family. With the passage of time, I am optimistic that the culture of democracy in Nigeria will rival that of the US. But that time can be shortened considerably, if only our politicians would stick to objectivity, principle and character, and quit oscillating with the pendulum of power 


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NOT SO SOON NIGERIA by Okey Onyejekwe April 5, 2015

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The certificate issue almost led to a constitutional crisis on the eve of the Presidential Election. General Mummadu Buhari has consistently maintained that his High School certificate was in the custody of the military. He was scorned and vilified by the PDP. Several Radio, TV and newspaper advertisements ran, days on end, calling him a liar, a cheat, an illiterate. Presidential spokespersons, namely: Dr. Doyin Okupe, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and Dr. Reuben Abati all took turns to ramp up the “Certificate-gate”. They saw this as their ace against Buhari. As all these efforts failed to resonate with the public, they engaged all manner of surrogates to file lawsuits hoping to find any willing and purchasable judge who would disqualify Buhari. The man himself possesses unassailable integrity and honesty, tested over decades. There must be a thorough investigation on how some in the military became complicit in this travesty. There must be accountability.

Meanwhile, Jonathan is being hailed now as the “New Mandela” of Africa for conceding defeat after he was rejected by the Nigerian electorate. I am astounded and feel insulted that we are being sold a bill of goods that a Statesman status is conferred by simply conceding an electoral defeat. Never mind that the new “Statesman” presided over a totally failed and massively corrupt administration, coopted all the security agencies to thwart the democratic process in many despicable ways at every step of the way; trying to stop the use of PVCs, Card Readers (designed to eliminate all forms of electoral fraud), including violence and massive vote rigging on Election Day. In the South-South and South East States, in full view of the security agencies, polling officials were video taped filling out ballot papers and result sheets. Bags and bags of dollars from public coffers were doled out in public view to many “ethnic brokers” to buy votes. Paradoxically Nigeria just recently made the dubious list of “extremely poor nations”, with over 70 % rate.

In Ekiti and other States, touts were recruited and given military and police uniforms to intimidate and brutalize voters in order to assure victory for the ruling party.
The world watched a last ditch effort by the incumbent party to derail our democracy. While the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega was announcing the last batch of the election results, lo and behold, [Jonathan’s] former Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, [Elder] Godsday Orubebe, appeared and held the nation/world hostage in an orchestrated last ditch ploy to stop the announcement and render the election inconclusive. They expected the security forces to engage him and all hell would break loose in the room and then his touts in the Conference Center, outside and in the States were ready to cause mayhem. Thanks to the steel disposition of Jega, Nigerians will be telling a different story today. Mr. Orubebe was not a lonely wild wolf on the prowl. He was acting from a script, which came out of a meeting held the previous evening and chaired by PDP elder “statesman”, former Minister Edwin Clark, also a political Godfather of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Apologists are arguing that President Jonathan deserves to be hailed as a Statesman for saving Nigeria from violence and also for setting an example for Africa on how to concede when defeated. Some are even more bizarre to suggest that he should be awarded a Nobel Prize! Obviously, Nigerians are glad that he, egged on by the insane sycophants and self-centered praise-singers, did not act foolishly in an attempt to truncate the process. But having said this, please let us not get carried away, totally out of context and proportionality. The incumbent created a situation ante, which led to a context in which the whole world was forced to hold its breath.

The question we must ask is this: when you contest an election and you lose, are you not supposed to concede? Why is this an extraordinary feat deserving of a Nobel Prize, regardless of his extremely anti-democratic record leading to the elections? Incumbents in other African states have lost elections, conceded and left office in Benin twice. Didn’t President Diouf of Senegal lose and concede to Wade? Didn’t President Wade of same Senegal lose to Macky Sall and conceded? Didn’t President Thabo Mbeki bow out, without a whimper when he was defeated by Zuma in the ANC convention? Incumbent parties have lost elections in Ghana and all hell did not break loose. Come to think of it, didn’t President Olusegun Obasanjo, a military Head of State, hand over to a civilian regime in 1979? It is even more noteworthy for a military regime to voluntarily surrender power to a civilian dispensation, given its monopoly of the instruments of violence, than from one “democratic” dispensation to another.

I can understand it when the Western world hails Jonathan’s concession as an earth-shattering event because in their usual condescending way, they don’t expect higher standards from us. Foreign observers will usually adjudge African elections to be “free and fair, by African Standards” no matter how flawed. We are often judged by a minimalist threshold. But it is more painful when we ourselves begin to tout the same nonsense and judge ourselves by the same threshold and expect to be taken seriously.

This whole issue has become a total distraction from what was a courageous and remarkable effort, against all odds, by the Nigerian electorate to reclaim their mandate. That should be the real story, not on President Jonathan’s concession whose administration and party, had turned the whole electoral process into a war like exercise in which they were determined to hang on to power by any means necessary. Nigerians must continually ask how we got to this point where we are willing to award a Nobel Prize just for conceding a defeat. It is because we are relieved that we averted a conflagration because the incumbent was determined to stay on by hook or crook? Or because when pressured by the “big boys” and the enormity of the defeat he did the right thing at the nick of time, especially after the “Orubebe Show of Ignominy” had failed? We are glad nevertheless.

Some are claiming that he could have clung on to power had he chosen to hang on. I argue that every action of the administration, including the postponement of the election, leading to the election suggest otherwise. The electorate had spoken thunderously and the world community, in unison, had warned, in no uncertain terms, that the will of the people must not be subverted. Most of the average members of the security agencies would not have acquiesced in any forlorn attempt at foolishness. Evidence: The president lost decisively in the polling units in the Army and Police barracks, as well as those in Aso Rock, the seat of power. The appetite for Change was voracious and insatiable.

We must not forget that many were brutalized, imprisoned, even died before, during and after the elections just for daring to exercise their constitutional rights, in what is supposed to be a democracy. We must not forget that these are the real heroes before we are affected by collective amnesia in the quest to move on quickly and forget the ugly past. Not so soon please! We cannot say “Never again”, if we chose the convenient path – The Big Lie!

Professor Okeychukwu Onyejekwe was African Governance Expert at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

ELECTION 2015: TIME FOR REAL CHANGE April 3, 2015

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Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”– (Abraham Lincoln; Civil Right Activist, Lawyer & 16th U.S. President; February 12 1809 – April 15 1865

PRESIDENT Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan rode into Nigerian national consciousness upon the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua on May 5, 2010 after a protracted illness. Jonathan’s ascension  to the Presidency was not without rancour but the Nigerian masses, intelligentsia, Labour and a voluble section of the political class stood by him as he served out the late President’s term of office. When he stood for the Presidency in his own right, most of us supported him against retired General Muhammadu Buhari. His rag to riches or rather a shoeless kid to a Doctorate degree and to the leadership of the world’s most populous black nation won the heart of most Nigerians including this writer. Here was a man you could trust to be on the side of the impoverished Nigerian masses. Events over the last five and a half years of Jonathan Presidency have proven most of us wrong and President Lincoln right – Jonathan withstood his childhood adversity but doesn’t know what to do with power!

    The Nigerian masses were tired of Military Rule and their recklessness. We decided that democracy, with all its faults, was the way forward. Thus we chose the Presidential type of Government. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been the Party in power since our current democratic dispensation, which started in 1999 with the coming to power of President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo. Obasanjo was the choice of the Nigerian establishment. He was a relic of the past Military misrule having been a Military Head of State between 1976 until he voluntarily returned power to a democratically elected government in 1979. That singular action cemented Obasanjo’s place in Nigerian history. Obasanjo’s return to power in 1999 as PDP’s candidate was to most Nigerians the better of two evils. In fairness to the man, his government stabilised the polity, negotiated us out of the crippling Nigerian  debts , recreated the Nigerian middle-class, introduced the now familiar mobile  phone system , refurbished Nigerian University Teaching Hospitals, established the anti-corruption agencies such as Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) etc. Under him, Nigeria regained some international respectability.

    The coming to power of PDP’s YarAdua/Jonathan was to herald a much acceptable phase of Nigerian democracy. Both of them were young and well read. Both were scientists and were hailed as our bridge to the future. With the passing of Yar’Adua, the mantle of leadership soon fell on the unprepared shoulders of Jonathan and the rest, as they say, is history. One struggles to pin down a significant achievement to Jonathan’s Presidency. This amiable man under the Fedora hat just doesn’t know how to exercise the enormous responsibility and power entrusted to him. I reluctantly agreed with a friend who labelled him Shagari Mark 2 in reference to the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari who also ran Nigeria aground in the 1980s. Under Jonathan, the poverty level has climbed to excruciating levels; criminals have been given Presidential pardons thus allowing them to contest for elective offices; the oil subsidy criminals are  roaming  around and contributing to his campaign  funds; the universities were shut for almost a year while the students roamed the streets; the unemployment rate is at a record level; the much promised improvement in  electricity generation and supply haven’t happened; the anti-corruption agencies have been emasculated, and properties and lives are no longer secure. Most importantly the security and corporate existence of our nation are being threatened by Boko Haram.

   The next Nigerian election is just around the corner in February 2015. The Peoples Democratic Party has Jonathan as its Presidential candidate. It is the belief of this writer that the PDP as a Party in power since 1999 has run out of ideas. One wish to point out that Ghana, a smaller version of Nigeria with similar problems started democratic practices around the same time as Nigeria. She has succeeded in changing her ruling parties on three occasions since then and she is better for it to the extent that a lot of Nigerian businesses relocated to Ghana. Nigerian students now flood Ghanaian universities in search of educational stability lacking in the Nigerian universities. The situation in our dear Nigeria is now hovering perilously towards the Zimbabwean situation. Even the megalomaniac President Robert Mugabe who ran Zimbabwe aground took a potshot at Nigeria’s failings! That’s how low we have sunk. 

    The question is – can we continue like this? The honest answer is NO! This writer was one of those against General Muhammadu Buhari in 2011 on account of his military past. Time has changed and one must change with it. Buhari was a Military Head of State between 1983 and 1985. He was known to be highly disciplined, honest, hardworking and incorruptible. He was a no-nonsense soldier who valued the security of our nation above everything else as can be attested to by the Maitatsine Islamic militants. Buhari served as a military governor, oil Minister, Chairman of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Military Head of State and Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund. To a criminally minded person, these were avenues to amass wealth but not a Buhari. He retired a decent poor man for which he is now derided by a Jonathan’s crony in the person of Dr. Doyin Okupe. Buhari is a statesman and not a politician. According to Lincoln, “a statesman is he who thinks in the future generations, and a politician is he who thinks in the coming elections.” That is the difference between Buhari and Jonathan. Buhari has offered himself for election in 2015 as President to save his country from impending calamity. For the first time, one thinks that Nigeria needs and deserves to give Buhari a chance to turn her fortunes round come 2015.

• Bamigboye is a Consultant Gynaecologist based in the United Kingdom.

Election 2015: Nigerian democracy comes of age by Vincent Bamigboye April 2, 2015

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“We don’t vote for people because they are the exact embodiment of our values, but because they are likely to be the most responsive to them.”

– Charles M. Blow (American Journalist; 11 August 1970 – Date)

ELECTIONS allow democratic nations a chance to celebrate the rebirth of values of popular representation of the interest of the people. Nigerians have, through the recent 2015 General Elections, celebrated this important aspect of democracy. More importantly, the loss of an election by an incumbent Nigerian President in Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to an opposition candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, signifies the coming of age of the Nigerian democracy. While congratulating Muhammadu Buhari, one must thank President Goodluck Jonathan for living up to his oath of office and promise that he would conduct a credible election. This is to his eternal credit and history will forever be kind to him. We Nigerians are very religious people; thus one can say that God has been very kind to Dr. Jonathan. He has scored so many firsts that one has almost lost count – first Nigerian President from the South South; first southern minority elected President; first Nigerian President with no shoes while growing up, etc. Jonathan is on his way out with our prayers and gratitude ringing in his ears. This is no time for recriminations. This is a time for celebrations by the generality of Nigerians. We have every cause to be happy.

A few years ago, an American think-tank  came up with the notion that our nation is at a risk of a cataclysmic breakup come 2015. Neither this group, nor the generality of Nigerians, ever envisaged that the dreaded year 2015 would be the year that elections would be held. To worsen our situation, the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists made life very difficult for Nigerians especially in the North eastern part of the country through mindless attacks. They were intent on not only disrupting our hard-worn democracy but creating divisions as well as instigating a possible civil war in the country. Thus the fact that the elections were held, winners emerged and were generally accepted, represent small victory for our beloved Nigeria. For these, and much more, Nigerians of all backgrounds deserve praise and congratulations. We now call on all the candidates to call their men and women to order. The country had witnessed some caustic pronouncements over the last one year or so. We put that down to exuberance in politicking, although it has been at a great cost to our relations as well as the economy. Fear of a possible post-election mayhem has led to capital flight and loss of investments. However, we must accept this as the pains of democracy at its infancy.  The time now is for healing the wounds and engaging in nation-building. We owe it to future generations not to orchestrate upheavals that would set our nation backwards.  One

congratulates and welcomes our new President, Muhammadu Buhari. One remembers his time as a Military Head of State way back between December 1983 and August 1985. One wishes to remind him that this is no time to fight old battles. He should forgive and forget for the sake of Nigeria. The world of the 1980s has changed remarkably. The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Sudan have all disintegrated. Our country share similar fault lines with these aforementioned countries, not least because of religious, ethnic and relative poverty. You, General Buhari has been accused of being a religious bigot and an Islamist. Most of us do not believe a word of this, hence we voted for you. Moderation is the part to toe Sir. Leave religion to the individual and his / her God. We fought for democracy and Press freedom. We know there cannot be a renewal of that notorious Decree 4 but we want a moral rebirth all the same. One would want to see Boko Haram wiped off the map. Our military should be empowered and provided to protect us. One wants to see the excesses of all those ethnic militias or paramilitary organisations curtailed. The economy would have to be developed to absorb these people in productive and legitimate ventures. The new Nigeria we believe you can build, you will build, must accommodate all of us.

Finally, one wishes to call on those of us who have no political affiliations that the job of shaping the nation and the behaviour of its politicians is only half done. We should let the new government know that desperate individuals or political opportunists have no place in civilised government. The corruption and profligacy that characterised the last government must never be allowed in this or any other Nigerian government at any level. The security of our nation must never be allowed to be jeopardised by any group however powerful. We should be ready to put the new government under strict watch. We voted for General Buhari, not because he is a saint, but because we think he is likely to be more responsive to our national aspirations and yearnings. Our democracy and freedom were won with the blood and sweat of great Nigerian nationalists and these must be protected. Echoing the words of the immortal President Nelson Mandela of South Africa – never, never again must our beautiful and fertile country Nigeria be allowed to degenerate to the levels we had witnessed in the last six years when a group was completely excluded from the governance and all good things seemed to flow in the direction of a particular ethnic grouping to the detriment of others. Nor must we allow or encourage the oppression of one group by another. • Bamigboye, a consultant gynaecologist, lives in the UK

Abuja Peace Accord must be worth their wordings – Muhammadu Buhari March 27, 2015

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GMB PRESS STATEMENT – “The Abuja Peace Accords Must Be Worth Their Wordings” – March 27, 2015

On Thursday, March 26th, President Goodluck Jonathan and I signed a new accord reinforcing our commitment to violent-free elections.

The new accord is a follow up to the Abuja Accord which we signed, along with nine other party leaders, on Jan. 14th 2015, to show our commitment to free, fair and credible elections in our dear country.

I take these accords very seriously, and this has reflected in the issues-based campaign which I ran all through the period of electioneering campaign, despite the provocative and sleazy campaign directed at my person and my party.

But recent developments across the country, ahead of Saturday’s elections, run against the contents and spirit of the peace accords.

For example, the ink with which we signed the new peace accord had barely dried when we started hearing reports of violence directed against members of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as glaring acts of harassment and intimidation being carried out against the opposition by security agents across the country.

Shots were fired at the convoy of the Director General of my Campaign Organization, His Excellency Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, in Rumuolumeni, Obio Akpor area of Port Harcourt, a few hours after the second peace accord was signed, leaving two persons injured.

I do hope this is not a confirmation of the information reaching my party that some notorious security agents have been deployed to Port Harcourt to restrict the movement of Gov. Amaechi.

In Ondo State, a serving APC member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Eniolorunda Omosule, was arrested and detained by the police for no reason other than to keep him away until after elections, while we have heard reports of an alleged meeting in Ibadan between the Commissioners of Police in the South-west and PDP officials.

In Imo, we have read of how more than 30 armed mobile policemen were unleashed on some APC youths at Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area, with the policemen firing indiscriminately, smashing doors and windows and arresting some of the youths, while there are alleged plans to deploy troops clothed in DSS uniforms to the South-west to help the PDP to rig the elections.

These are worrisome developments, more so because they involve security agencies, which are supposed to be neutral and professional in carrying out their constitutional duties of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians, irrespective of their party affiliations.

I remain committed to the two peace accords which we signed to ensure free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections on Saturday and on April 11th, and once again I urge all my supporters to shun all acts of violence, even in the face of the worst kind of provocations.

However, the wordings of the accords must mean something if indeed they are the paper they are writing on. The new peace accord we signed on Thursday called on INEC and all security agencies ”to ensure strict adherence to their constitutional roles”. This is the minimum requirement for us to have credible elections. When those who are being paid to protect Nigerians turn around to unleash violence on them, it portends great danger for the polity.

With less than 24 hours to the Presidential elections, I call on President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately call the errant security agencies to order, in the spirit of the peace accords. The President should make it clear that any security agent who engages in acts that are inimical to the success of the elections will face the full wrath of the law. 

General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR
Presidential Candidate
All Progressives Congress (APC)
Abuja, March 27th 2015

Muhammadu Buhari: Nigeria’s turning point towards a greater future March 24, 2015

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The unprecedented rise of Muhammadu Buhari, whose incorruptibility and integrity remains unquestionable, is not only an indictment of the failure of leadership under Goodluck Jonathan but a validation of the visionless leadership that has remained elusive of the present administration. Indeed, the rise of the son of Daura is a reminder of the combined hopelessness that has engulfed Nigeria for the past five years. Reasonably, and for any avoidance of doubt, President Jonathan’s campaign should have been based on his numbers (his sterling performance) rather than the propaganda employed against Buhari’s past.

Muhammadu Buhari is flawed. Politics, for learners, is not a field of sainthood, and the repeated human right abuses under his otherwise forgettable past are constant reminders of our failed humanity. Countless times he has been asked to decry many of the decisions he took while a Military Head of State; all of the times he has showed he stood by most of those decisions. I do not totally absolve him of all his past decisions; however, given the state of the nation years ago, given the crime and untold corruption in 1983; any patriotic leader (with absolute powers) would go to lengths, even if it entailed death sentences; to rid the society off criminals.

Nigeria needs leaders who represent the interest of the people and not that of a select cult. Indeed the President Nigeria needs today is one who can make crucial decisions in important times of our nation and stand by it. Goodluck Jonathan is not only bereft of this, he unashamedly boasts about it. Countless irreverent statements from him lend credence to my views.

Recently, Jonathan declared that he underestimated the dastardly wicked group Boko Haram. The terror group, whose main mission is to eradicate western education, had led carnage against the Nigerian people, killing over 17,000 within a spate of 4 years (source). All happened under Goodluck Jonathan, a president who had the highest expenditure of security to the tune of over 4trillion in 5 years. What has Nigeria got to show for this? Our valiant army have been repressed and demoralized under Goodluck Jonathan, and only recently, (under a combined collaborative country effort SOURCE) have they truly started repelling Boko Haram and reclaiming many Nigerian territories captured by Boko Haram.

Every form of public outcry against insensitivity of leadership has led to suppression of democratic freedom, castigation and public defamation by the attack dogs of Goodluck Jonathan. It took a little over 3 weeks before the President publicly accepted that the militant Boko Haram Group kidnapped Chibok girls. Till date, 219 of them remain captive. As part of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, I have witnessed untold embarrassment from the Nigerian Police; the same sworn to protect the people. Precisely on May 28, 2014, I was part of a group of patriots who were beaten by hirelings under the watchful eyes of the Nigerian Police. On other occasions, our place of assembly, the Abuja Unity Fountain, was cordoned off despite previous notification given for assembly.

Any utilization of public funds without accountability is a form of corruption. Transparency and accountability, a crucial hallmark of governance, regressed under Jonathan. He rebuffed attempts to declare his assets; he defended ceaselessly the corrupt allegations peddled against the sitting minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Maduekwe. She presided over the fuel subsidy scam (about N3trillion), and NNPC remains a milking cow under her watch. Despite this and other corrupt issues, efforts by the public to prevail on the President to relieve her of office have failed. More worse is the fact that the President (with his late predecessor) inherited a healthy purse, now squandered, from former President Obasanjo. Till date, the nation remains in dark regarding how those funds were spent.

About 400,000 barrels of crude is stolen everyday in Nigeria, the sale of which would not only arrest many of the dire conditions of living in Nigeria, but restore broken infrastructure where they exist and build needed ones. Today, Nigeria’s medical and educational tourism is not only ridiculous but also shameful for a nation with such unbelievable resources and potential.

Nigeria today unfortunately has the highest total number of out-of-school children in the world; 10.5 million to be precise. Rather than embark on wholesome policy reform and revamp the educational sector through good governance practices, Mr. President appointed politicians who served his political interests. Like some of his predecessors, the academic community suffered industrial strikes that resulted in lull of academic activities for months. I have visited two of the newly formed universities; they, at best, are glorified secondary schools.

Our health sector plummeted. Late President Yar’adua promised 6 geo-political world-class health institutions to cater for the increasing needs of Nigerians. Today, they remained, as usual, failed promises. The maternal and child mortality rates in Nigeria are record high globally. Efforts by the world to bring Nigeria’s leadership to this dire condition has been met with stiff and outright condemnation rather than critical thoughtfulness and reflection on health policies and their genuine implementations.

I do not support Buhari because he is Muslim nor do I reject Jonathan because he is Christian. My choice is based on their proven competence and character of leadership. The tragic story of Nigeria is that the people have long been suppressed and lied to under the guile of religion and ethnicity. Given how vehement we line behind religion and ethnicity, it is ironic there are no Christian roads, or Muslim hospitals; neither are there Christian deaths or Muslim carnages. Deaths caused by terror and lack of infrastructure (health, good roads, first aid, amongst others) is consequences of bad leaders; whether Christian or Muslim.

The gradual acceptance of Muhammadu Buhari shows considerable progress within our political terrain; that our political discourse is centering on issues and a reminder to the bandwagon of religious and ethnic bigot who have condemned Nigerians to woeful leadership in the past should take heed. Steadily, the days of puerile sentimentalism are ebbing.

Goodluck Jonathan’s five years is summarily the story of bad leadership: failed promises, indecision and purposelessness. For someone who lacks empathy and who has failed to exhibit strong character in the face of adversity; he has shown that he cannot be trusted with the emergence of Nigeria as a nation worth boasting of. True, Muhammadu Buhari might not be the best candidate to restore the pride and glory of Nigeria to its true height; but he, today, represents the better candidate and the most important force to begin the reconstruction of the broken foundation and the redirection of our nation to the path of true greatness and awaken this sleeping giant from its deep slumber.

‘Seun Fakuade

@seunfakze

GENERAL BUHARI’s TOWNHALL MEETING WITH PROFESSIONAL WOMEN March 19, 2015

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TEXT OF KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC), GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR, AT TOWN HALL MEETING WITH PROFESSIONAL WOMEN ON MARCH 19TH 2015 IN LAGOS

 Nigerian women have always played a visible and competent role in nation building. In addition to their various activities, which sustained communities in pre-colonial times, they also played key roles in the struggles for independence and the political processes that followed. However, these very important roles, whilst widely documented, have not been fully appreciated.

 

In 1995 the 4th United Nations World Conference on Women took place in Beijing, China. The conference was unprecedented, both in terms of its sheer scale, and in its outcomes. It represented a new dawn in the search for gender justice and equality, and it gave women around the world a serious political, technical and analytical tool with which to demand for accountability from governments and institutions responsible for advancing gender equality globally.

 

Twenty years after Beijing, women in Nigeria have not fully benefitted from the promises made by governments at the Beijing conference. There is still discrimination against women in public institutions and in the private sphere, and women still lack the same freedoms as men, particularly in the fields of education, economic empowerment and political participation. Nigeria still has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, and there are now very alarming rates of violence against women and girls. Due to the activities of agents of the Boko Haram insurgency, we have seen hundreds of our daughters and wives kidnapped, killed and displaced.

 

I am on a mission to restore Nigeria’s fading glory and reposition our great nation on the path to greatness. I am however aware that this will not be possible without addressing the needs and concerns of those who constitute half of the population of this country – women. No nation can prosper without a commitment to the empowerment of women and girls. As the father of a number of beautiful, promising young women, I should know what it means to want the very best for my own daughters. I do not expect any of my daughters to live unfulfilled, with their talents wasted and ignored, suffering discrimination at every turn, and rendered second-class citizens all because they happen to be female. 

 

An APC government, under my leadership, is therefore committed to the following:

 

a)          Ensuring that gender is mainstreamed throughout all the government’s commitments in key areas such as the economy, education, health, security, good governance, power, agriculture and other areas of national development.

 

b)         Implementation of the 2005 National Gender Policy, which serves as a roadmap for the promotion of women’s empowerment and gender equality in Nigeria. So far, there has been no political will to implement this very critical framework.

 

c)          Promotion of anti-discrimination legislations and policies to afford women equality and equity, especially in employment, education, housing and entrepreneurship.

 

d)          We shall commit ourselves to merit based Affirmative Actions to level the playing field for women, and provide them with opportunities to be part of decision-making and governance at all levels.

 

e)          We will include Gender as a component of the Federal Character.

 

 

f)           There will be strong political will to promote Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality through dedicating the required financial, human and technical resources toward this goal.

 

g)          We will make a concerted effort to empower women in rural areas, who constitute the majority of the Nigerian women.

 

h)          We will insist on legislation to ensure a woman’s right to own and inherit property on an equal basis with men.

 

i)            We will enforce legal protection for the rights of the girl-child in all areas of religious, social and economic life, protecting her right to dignity, shelter and choice.

 

j)            My administration will have zero tolerance for violence against women and girls.  We will provide women with greater legal protection from all forms of violence and sexual harassment, and there will be a commitment to the implementation of all existing legislation on violence against women.

 

 

k)          We will improve and strengthen support for women in all sectors of the economy, through access to capital, training and skills acquisition. We will also ensure that women have better access to capital and credit facilities for their businesses.

 

This is an abridged presentation of what I have in store for Nigerian women; there are, of course, many other important issues I am sure you would like to see addressed. I believe that the most important commitment I can make to Nigerian women is that they can count on strong political will from my administration, to ensure that women’s rights are safeguarded and protected. We will not be an administration that only empowers a token number of women who are in no way representative of the vast majority of women in this country. Ours will be an administration that will consciously and consistently provide opportunities for as many women as possible, bearing in mind that our nation’s development depends on this strategy. We will promote a culture of peace and a respect for the fundamental human rights of women and girls. 

 

Ours will be an administration that firmly believes that women hold up half the sky. 

 

My vision is for my daughters, and your daughters, to enjoy a world in which discrimination will be a thing of the distant past. It might be a long journey, but with your support and votes, we will be on the right path together. Nigerian women have been promised so much for so long. I stand before you now to make a solemn promise that I will not take you or your votes for granted. After all, it is impossible for me to clap with one hand.

 

Thank You.

 

Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd.), GCFR

APC Presidential Candidate

NIGERIA’S NATIONAL SECURITY by Muhammadu Buhari March 18, 2015

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TEXT OF SPEECH DELIVERED BY GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC) AT THE TOWN HALL MEETING ON NATIONAL SECURITY IN ABUJA ON WEDNESDAY, 18TH MARCH 2015

 

At no other time in our history has the issue of security been brought so urgently to the front burners like now. The security of lives and properties of our people have been so wantonly violated; the very territorial integrity of our nation has been violated, and the scale of violence and crime that we could only imagine many years ago have become the daily reality that we live with. 

 

The primary responsibility of any government is the protection of lives and properties of its citizens. The aggregate of several factors have made this task a lot more difficult in recent years. However, no government can hope to enjoy the trust and respect of its citizens as long as that government continue to fail in this all important responsibility to its citizens. Indeed, security is the very essence of the social contract between the people and the government. 

 

In seeking to tackle our security challenges, we have to embrace a holistic definition that enables us to see security as freedom: freedom from fear and freedom from want.  This is the intention of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution when it states in Section 14(2B) that the security and welfare of the citizens shall be the primary purpose of government. 

 

I completely align myself with this perspective, as I believe that poverty, deprivation, inequality and injustice remain potent threats to national security.

 

I intend to embark on a comprehensive Security Sector Reform, which will include among others, the long overdue governance challenges in these sectors, which limit their effectiveness. I am committed to ensuring that Nigeria’s Security Institutions and agencies discharge their mandates in conformity with the rule of law, fundamental human rights, civil and liberties of Nigerian citizens. These are rights guaranteed in our constitution. I also believe that a bad and corrupt government is as much danger to national security as armed robbers, kidnappers and terrorists. Improving governance in all our institutions will be a major component of my Security Sector Reform. 

 

No doubt, the biggest security challenge that we face today is that of terrorism in the hands of the so- called Boko Haram. Understandably, our response to this unprecedented threat to our national security has been characterized largely by the use of force. And let me commend our Armed Forces for the recent successes that we have recorded against the Boko Haram. 

 

However, experience has shown that even as we step up military actions against these terrorists, we must also begin to explore other approaches that would bring a total and final end to insurgency in our country. My approach will be multidimensional, combining the use of force with robust assessments of the key drivers and ingredients of this insurgency, including proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, the booming trade in narcotics, smuggling as well as other cross-border crimes.  We must rebuild and strengthen our customs and immigration to make them more efficient in policing our borders, which are currently so porous, thereby allowing criminal gangs and terrorists to bring weapons into our country at will either for the purpose of terrorism or for other criminal activities, including oil bunkering in the Niger Delta, kidnapping in the South East or Armed Robbery in the South West. We must re-focus our foreign affairs relationship in a concentric circle, prioritizing our relationship with them, thereby ensuring that our neighboring countries do not provide safe havens to terrorists.

 

We must continuously engage, consult and cooperate with our neighbors, the entire West Africa sub-regional and the international community on matters of security. Let me take this opportunity to thank Chad, Niger and Cameroon in their ongoing efforts to assist the Nigerian troops in combating the Boko Haram Insurgency. 

 

However, no matter what we do, we must ensure that the kind of disgraceful experience we have had in the last couple of months does not ever happen again. We must ensure that the military is always equipped and ready. I find it personally embarrassing to see that a band of thugs and terrorists were better equipped and better motivated than our military. Under my government, this will never be allowed to happen. We will equip our military and we will provide the right incentives to give their very best in defense of their fatherland. 

 

We will also ensure a refocus of our internal security infrastructure. The Police and the Department of State Security (SSS), must be re-oriented to focus less on regime security and more on citizens security. They must always remain professional and above politics. This is the only way to win the confidence of Nigerian citizens. We will ensure that these two institutions, along with other such agencies are aligned to function together under a new security architecture that guarantees TOTAL security for our country. 

 

In conclusion, I will like to emphasize that the TOTAL security concept will touch directly on improving the quality of lives for our people, expanding opportunities and reducing inequalities. Even if we have the best Military and Police in the world, we would not be able to guarantee security in our country as long as 53 per cent of our youths remain unemployed and 70 per cent of our people continue to live below the poverty line. These are all the issues that my party, the APC and myself are committed to. It is along this line that we have promised a “Marshall Plan” for the North East of Nigeria as the best guarantee of ensuring that never again will our country experience the kind of human tragedy that is currently going on in that part of the country. 


I thank all of you once again for coming here today. I am confident that with God on our side, we can make our country safe and great again. 

 

Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

APC Presidential Candidate

Femi Fani-Kayode Campaigns for the APC February 24, 2015

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New Ad Alert: Femi Fani-Kayode Campaigns for the APC, Jonathan Won’t Like This| WATCH http://omojuwa.com/2015/02/new-ad-alert-femi-fani-kayode-campaigns-for-the-apc-jonathan-wont-like-this-watch/

REGIME OF CONFUSION AND UNBRIDLED DECEITS by @eggheader February 13, 2015

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REGIME OF CONFUSION AND UNBRIDLED DECEITS

by

Egghead ODEWALE

Last Wednesday (11/02/2015), the President in a media chat with selected journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja attended to questions bordering on various issues that affect Nigeria and the polity. If anything, rather than clear the air around the issues raised, the president merely succeeded in adding to the confusion and aiding the distrust that already pervade his administration. Particularly, through his own whims and grimaces, he offered Nigerians another opportunity to re-assess his sentiments and the thinking around government quarters with respect to those important national issues.

JEGA’S TENURE

Even if Mr. President is no longer disposed towards Jega, he should be told that he cannot remove the latter from office until the expiration of his tenure on June 30. While responding to questions during the media chat, President Goodluck Jonathan opined that he held constitutional powers to appoint or remove the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega. He said, “…if you ask Jega, he would tell you. I appointed all the Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners in INEC. They are my appointees. So, if I feel that Jega is not good enough for obvious reasons, then I can by that provision of the constitution, that gives the person power who appointed him the power, to remove him. But I have not told anybody that I am going to remove Jega”.

I think it is unfortunate that despite all the years spent in public service, which invariably is his main claim to suitability for the highest office, Mr. President continues to commit such solecisms on issues that draw obvious references in the Constitution of the Federal Republic as well as from legal texts, history and tradition in public office.  To wit, the Constitution is clear on the powers for appointment and removal of the INEC Chairman and head and/or members of other federal agencies duly listed in S153, Chapter VI, Part I(B). Listed at S153f, amongst 14 other federal agencies (S153a-n), the Commissioners at INEC, including the Chairman (S161) “may only be removed from that office by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed for inability to discharge the functions of the office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) or misconduct(S161d)” as clearly enumerated in S157 of the same chapter of the Constitution.

With all the human and financial resources at the disposal of Mr. President, one would expect that he has unhindered access to the best advice or ideas that you can imagine. He should, by now, know that once nominated, ratified by the NASS and appointed into office, it has gone beyond his powers to sack any of the Commissioners at INEC, including the Chairman. What do his aides viz: Attorney-General, Special Adviser (Legal) and his personal lawyers, tell him with respect to his powers in this instance? I wish that he be so reminded and that he must immediately withdraw his embarrassing comments but also ensure he guarantees the tenure of office of the INEC Chairman and his Commissioners. This call has become imperative in light of the coordinated orchestrated attacks on the person and integrity of Prof Attahiru Jega by the President’s men, friends and party.

I am sure that Nigerians have not forgotten how the president in two instances overreached the powers of his office in the removal of former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, and the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. This is a man who claims not to apply more than 40% of the powers of his office yet has consistently misapplied or misappropriated such Constitutional powers. A president who touts separation of powers should be mindful that the exercise of certain powers are subject to the ratification of the relevant arms of government. Despite being a major beneficiary in both instances, if the removal of Salami and Sanusi did not cause him enough political heartache, Mr. Jonathan would know that the country is at that point where the inkling of any unwarranted suspicion of the electoral process can inflame tenebrific clouds over the nation. My reproof is for him to price the crisis very well before he procures it.

INEC AND MILITARY DO NOT CONSULT THE PRESIDENT

In another instance and in a clear attempt to scorn S158(1) of the Constitution, Mr. President intoned what seemed like a complaint stating “In 2011, INEC didn’t consult me.” May I make it clear to Mr. President that the ‘I’ standing for ‘Independent’ in INEC is not a pejorative affixture but one whose ramifications have been stated and founded a backbone in S158(1) of the Constitution. Sir, INEC is not expected to consult you more especially when you have a vested interest and you’re a contestant in the elections. Nonetheless, this does not in any way preclude you from providing all necessary administrative supports to ensure hitch-free elections as against the slipshod manner in which your security chiefs have reprobated relevant provisions of the Constitution.

Contrariwise, the same is not correct for the conduct of the Service Chiefs who seemed to have turned the president to not more than a ‘figurehead’ Commander-in-Chief by his own admission. In the selfsame chat, the president suggested that, “I am not the Chief of Defence Staff that wrote the letter…. the security services did not consult me. Of course, I was not consulted and did not want to be consulted”. With no other person than the president who should double as the Commander-in-Chief now openly admitting that he was not consulted before the security advisory to abort the initially proposed February elections was passed to INEC, one must be deeply worried that the security services no longer subscribe to or are no more under the firm control of civilian authorities as expected in a democratic dispensation and as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

Whereas the Chairman of INEC claimed during his infamous press conference that he received a security caution from the NSA, President Jonathan has not apportioned that claim to the Chief of Defence. Staff. We are left as a nation with nothing more than frenetic jitters to demand the truth with respect to the author, nay Constitutional coupist(s), of the missive that eventually occasioned last Saturday’s involuntary postponement of the elections.

It should bother all men and women of good conscience that the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) and the Service Chiefs have become too powerful that they contumaciously usurp provisions of the Constitution and contemptuously disregard constituted civilian authorities and no less than the man in whom the sovereignty of Nigerians has been vested till May 29th, 2015. By his own very admission, President Jonathan has not only demonstrated his infirmness to continue to hold office as the President and Commander-in-Chief but also exposed the NSA and Service Chiefs as abusing their offices and irresponsibly abdicating the lawful security tasks assigned to them thereby making them, incompetent to continue in their offices.

Of course, the president showed a deceitful befuddlement when he later admitted that, “as Chief Security Officer, of the Federation, I have an idea” of the memo sent to subvert the original plans toward the February 14th national elections and February 28th state elections. This development where the president vacillates or prevaricates unsurely publicly, has given rise to a situation contrary to known practice where it is now the NSA and Service Chiefs who give assurances with respect to the ‘inviolability of next advertised dates’ of the General Elections.

USE OF GOVERNMENT RESOURCES FOR CAMPAIGN

With all gusto, President Jonathan declared, “In 2011, INEC didn’t consult me (before shifting the election). If they had consulted me, I wouldn’t have wasted my time and government resources. For any trip I make, I know what the government spends”. This is a clear testimony from Mr. President that he has been applying government resources to his political campaigns. Whether in periods of surplus or time of austerity, such wanton misapplication of official resources for Mr. President’s personal political activities is totally uncalled for. If for nothing, this puts additional unnecessary pressure on dwindling government resources.

One would expect Coordinating Minister for the Economy (CME), Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to immediately commence the implementation of her austerity measures from such wasteful endeavours that eat into government expenditures.

I think it behooves a punctilious leader and one who has the interest of his people at heart to do away with such unnecessary draw-downs on public funds.

MORE REASONS FOR POLLS SHIFT

If the inconsistency of the NSA’s original claims for the calls for polls shift with those of the service chiefs who claim inability to protect the polls was anything to go by, Mr. President debunked all of these when he asserted that “Yes, the Boko Haram is there; but also the tensed factor in the country. When INEC came up with the dates for elections, there was no much threat and the security agencies saw a lot of red points and they believed elections should be shifted, otherwise the whole country would go into flames”.

A president who has already claimed not to be consulted in serious matters of national security declares that some other “tensed factors” was responsible for the polls postponement, then we may begin to demand further explanations; what items constitute these tensed factors? This latest suggestion is an unambiguous confirmation of what we have always maintained that Mr. President and his band of appointed security chiefs take Nigerians for a ride as they wish. Nigerians are reminded how the clamour for polls shift started with the NSA under the pretext of rate of PVC collection, then to the irresponsible claim that the security agencies cannot guarantee security for the elections and now the president himself cited tensed factors. At some point, the government through the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), resorted to scaremongering when Mike Omeri avows of plans to blow up polling units across the country. A threat to which his government’s only response to avert the envisioned carnage was to collect signatures from Nigerians across all 774 Local Government Areas

Nigerians should demand to know the truth as these indications call for concern regarding the genuineness of the new dates announced for the elections. Nigerians are already exasperated and having to endure a grueling campaign schedule is bad enough. President Goodluck Jonathan and his men should save the nation the distressing troubles of going through this cycle again, because suddenly, the electoral developments have become a déjà vu reminiscent of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s series of aborted transition programmes. Nigerians are forewarned to beware

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