By Ibrahim Isah
Online and offline, discussions on the forthcoming Senatorial contest in Kogi East have revolved around two economists and former bankers both with intimidating credentials, enthralling pedigrees but varying capacities to represent their people and deliver on campaign promises. While Dr. Victor Alewo Adoji is running on the platform of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Alhaji (Dr.) Jibrin Isah is running on the platform of the All Peoples Congress (APC).
Earlier Senatorial contests, especially the last two have happened with little or no fuse about the candidates. It was majorly about the Party platform and it the quality or capacity of the candidate. Clearly, the allure form party supremacy had foisted minions and non-performers on the constituency and the constituents who are ultimately the net-losers.
With increasing political awareness, great access to information via various social media channels, escalating impoverishment and shrinking population of politically apathetic, political Parties realized they needed more than just the platform to win elections. It was for this reason that the APC leadership in the State and Kogi East in particular co-opted and worked tirelessly to ensure that Jibrin Isah emerged as its Kogi East Senatorial candidate. It was not that rosy for Victor Adoji as his former Party, the PDP, chose to offer its ticket to the seating Senator, Attai Aidoko, without holding a primary election either in defiance or as an act of impunity. The thinking is that considering the dismal performance of the APC in the State, anyone who gets the ticket of the main opposition Party in the State could be said to have won the Senatorial election. That has turned out to be a huge miscalculation considering the hundreds on PDP members who dumped the Party not necessarily to join the APC but in support of Jibrin Isah.
However, Victor Adoji’s emergence on the ADC platform re-channeled the hemorrhage of PDP members in favour of the ADC and some APC members. Those who have not openly moved have only stayed back to achieve two things one of which is to be beneficiaries of the largesse that has been touted by the divisional party chairman and promised by the PDP candidate, Senator Attai Aidoko.
In a survey of fifty (50) people each across the nine local governments of Kogi East, Ninety Five percent (428 respondents) categorically said they would either vote for Victor or Echocho. Three percent (13 respondents) said they would vote for Amade Edime while less than one percent (4 respondents) said they would vote for Attai Aidoko.
When the question was reversed along Party lines, Fifty One percent (229 respondents) said they would either vote for PDP or APC. Thirty Two percent (144 respondents) said they would vote for the ADC, Five Percent (21 respondents) while another five percent (21 respondents) said they would vote for APDA.
Evidently, two variables (personality and party platform) would play significantly in how the electorates would make their choices in the forthcoming elections especially the Kogi East senatorial election. But, more than any other factor under consideration, the personality of the individuals would play a bigger role.
In the coming days, weeks and months, the involvement of the Igala elite class, various interest/pressure groups, affiliations and accessibility will do a lot to either shift or tilt the balance in favour or against any of the two leading candidates. Issues like the quality of their manifestoes, their performances during the various debates that would be organized as well as the pedigree of influencers they deploy would count a lot in endearing them to the electorates.
There is also the waning influence of major stakeholders across the two leading Parties in the Eastern flank of the State. Findings from the survey also revealed that, most of the youthful members of the parties see their elders as working only for themselves and their pockets and are not ready to take any orders from those they say have compromised hiding behind the doctrine of “Party id supreme” or in expectation of political appointment of contract.
While we could not get access to the membership registers of the two leading Parties to know the total members of both parties in Kogi East, we are told that the total number of Party members in both parties cannot be up to a hundred thousand. That is less than fifteen percent of the voting in Kogi East. Impliedly, most of those who decide the outcome of elections are not Party members but non-partisan voters. It follows therefore that the forthcoming election is going to be form, size and shape more about the personality and less about the Party platform.
In the final analysis, the Kogi East Senatorial election is a two-horse race between Dr. Victor Alewo Adoji of the ADC and Dr. Jibrin Isah of the APC and in the end, it comes down to the very little things beyond the scope of money, thuggery, window-dressing and godfatherism.
– Ibrahim Isah wrote from Idah, Kogi State
NNPC and the fuss over staff re-deployment, By Gbenga Adeleke
It’s hardly tenable that any enlightened interest could question the rationale for the announcement of staff retirement and re-deployment at a public institution the way the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) did last week.
The NNPC last week announced the retirement of 11 senior management staff and redeployment of 19 others in an exercise it described as statutory. Most of those redeployed are to replace those exiting the Corporation into retirement by end of May and early June.
But there have been insinuations about the exercise in the media, and some have questioned while the GMD did it at a time of transition for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Some have even read ethnic interests into the exercise.
I am sure the Group Managing Direction, GMD, of the Corporation, Maikanti Baru, who must have initially felt relief being able to get the approval for the retirements and redeployments at once(considering his busy schedule), must be bewildered by grumblings in the media over the exercise. The frustration was almost palpable in a press statement issued by NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, explaining the exercise.
He described the staff movement as “normal replacement and backfill exercise” to bridge the gap occasioned by impending retirement of some management staff of the corporation, among others. He stressed that the process followed extant rules and that such replacements were always effected before the final exit of the concerned staff.
The NNPC spokesman said it was usual for the corporation to obtain approval on replacements of retiring staff ahead of schedule. He said this was the case with the recent exercise that takes effect as at when the retiring staff departs at various times within the period. Ughamadu said the exercise was effected to ensure uninterrupted operations of the corporation in achieving its mandate and urged members of the public to disregard any insinuations.
It certainly beats the imagination that some vested interests would not see the exercise for what it was- an administrative effort to promote efficiency and prevent lethargy. While it is not always a surprise that some Nigerians would be skeptical about NNPC figures or operational efficiency due largely to the unsavory history of the Corporation, it must be the height of pessimism(or even mischief) to ask questions about an administrative action that did not breach any law or public service rules.
It is quite obvious that the retirement of these officers will open up gaps in the management of some important Strategic Business Units and Commercial Strategic Units of the corporation. This undoubtedly calls for urgency in proposing competent staff within the corporation for promotion to fill up those vacancies. Only an indolent management would allow a vacuum to be created at such strategic units of the Corporation.
It is quite instructive that the faceless critics of the NNPC action are not concerned about those retired.
The grumbling, as is to be expected, must be coming from those whose sense of entitlement had been hurt by the exercise. These are NNPC senior staff who had hoped to reap from the retirement of others, but who were, in the wisdom of those at the helm at NNPC, not suitable yet for the offices.
This is why there is such desperation to discredit the exercise as a promotion of cronyism and ethnic interest by those who had waited in the wings, and perhaps lobbied to no avail for those positions.
It is almost a rehash of the sentiments usually expressed by mischief makers anytime the Nigerian military announced new promotions and posting. The military often found itself having to explain that its exercise was a routine activity which carried no sentiments.
While the NNPC is not the military, those who alleged the exercise did not follow due process have not stated what rules were breached. And those who claimed the redeployment favoured only a section of the country have not mentioned those who were suitable for the appointments but were bye-passed.
It is pathetic that a promotion exercise at a profit-driven public institution such as the NNPC would be viewed as if it were political appointments. Anyone who has cared to look through the list of those recently redeployed would appreciate the thoroughness of the selection process. These are positions requiring special technical and administrative skills. No one has said any of those redeployed was not suitable for the position appointed.
While one cannot claim to know the level of competence of those appointed, we must have faith that those who carried out the exercise knew what they were doing. The NNPC has only one group managing director and the bucks stops at his table. If the GMD has to respond to queries on simple administrative actions from his table like staff redeployment, what right have we to demand efficiency from NNPC?
The fuss over the redeployment is a storm in a tea- cup. It is simply noise making, and it helps no one. The question any serious-minded Nigerian must ask on the exercise are few and simple. First, did the exercise follow extant corporate guidelines of the Corporation? Two, are those retired due for retirement within the month or two or three as required by the rules? Three, are those redeployed to fill the expected vacancies qualified and competent? Is the approval for the redeployments beneficial to the efficiency of NNPC or not?
So far from what is available in the media, the answers to these questions are positive. If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, it goes without saying that any insinuation about other ulterior or exterior motives must be what it is: mischief!
The NNPC under Baru has earned our confidence, even if it’s in a small way, and we must give him the benefit of doubt. In a first of its kind in recent times, the NNPC was able to detect fraud in its operations and stop it. Through fraud and forensic investigations of activities of its subsidiary groups, the NNPC was able to save $1.6bn that could have gone to the Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Nigeria Limited. This is already in the public domain.
The companies were fleecing NNPC’s flagship Upstream subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and the Corporation got an award against them to refund 1.6 billion dollars to the NPDC. Incidentally, the NPDC is among companies affected by last week’s redeployments.
Baru was the second Chairman of the NNPC Anti-Corruption Committee in 2004, and as GMD he’s ensured all staff of the corporation and its various stakeholders were educated about NNPC’s corporate policies and the various anti-corruption acts in the country in order to avoid fraudulent transaction.
This is why the frenzy over the redeployments is meaningless.
Adeleke writes from Lagos
Babatunde Fowler: The zero sum game in political appointments, By Abubakar Ismail
9th Senate Presidency race: Why Danjuma Goje is the man to beat
At no time since 1999 has the race for the senate presidency been so competitive in a robustly healthy manner. Unlike in 2015 when some ambitious senators-elect ignored the ruling party’s zoning arrangement for the National Assembly, this time senators-elect are sticking with the party.
Barely a month before the inauguration of the 9th Senate, the race for the senate presidency is too close to call. Although the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, had zoned the seat to the North East and anointed Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State, returning and new senators are yet to officially endorse hm.
If the APC expect a coronation for Lawan when the next senate is inaugurated, it may be in for another shocker as it was in 2015. This is because whether the APC admits it or not, the emergence of Bukola Saraki as senate president in 2015 showed that legislators want to choose their own leaders and may not tolerate a third party doing that for them.
This is why in my opinion, despite the choice of Lawan by the party, forces in the National Assembly and outside of it have thrown up other candidates for the throne. Alli Ndume, the senator representing Borno Central was the first to challenge the choice of Lawan as soon as it became public knowledge after senators-elect met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Villa shortly after the general elections.
Ndume, as expected, boasted he was the most qualified person for the position and that he enjoined the support of his colleagues. But a few days after he declared interest, some senators and groups started calling on Danjuma Goje, a senator from Gombe, to declare interest in the senate presidency. These senators worked underground to sell the candidacy of Goje to all the senators-elect.
Goje was a two- term governor of Gombe State who transformed the infrastructure of the state. He put Gombe State in the national limelight with his aggressive performance as governor. His cool-headed, progressive leadership style endeared him to the electorate who fondly called him “Limamu Change” (leader of change).
Among leaders of the APC in the north, no one did more for the party than Goje. Despite the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,was in power in his state, he staked everything to ensure the people voted APC in the presidential election of 2015 and 2019. It is a mark of high he is in the estimation of his people that he has won re=election to the senate twice.
The fact that he is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation is a strong indication that his colleagues in the senate hold him in high esteem. Unlike Ndume who has remained a controversial member of the senate, Goje has remained focused on his legislative duties and keeps a clean record. It is incredibly admirable that Goje has also managed to avoid getting involved in any legislative scandal despite heading a critical committee.
This is why it is not surprising that he is the only senator from the north east that has been endorsed by different groups and individuals who are not in the national assembly. The support he has enjoyed from people and groups outside the national assembly clearly show that the people strongly believe he is the only one among the three contenders who could properly represent their interest in national affairs.
If the APC is smart, it should give Goje all the necessary support to ensure he becomes the senate president in June. The party should be thinking of 2023 and the leaders who could ensure victory for the party in all zones of the country. Clearly, none of the three contenders have the political clout of Goje in the north east zone. Given him the senate presidency would help APC consolidate when Buhari is no longer in the equation. This is what smart parties do to keep their party in power.
Several groups including the North East Consultative Forum (NESF) and five other groups in the geo-political zone, had endorsed Goje and asked him to declare his intention to contest for the office of the Senate president.
The groups including North East Elders Mobilization Forum, APC national youth caucus, Borno Discussion Circle, Gombe Political Associations and North East Youth Awareness for good governance, urged Goje to run.
The group followed up with a letter to the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on their endorsement of Goje. In the letter, dated 17th April, titled: “North East stakeholders endorse Goje,” the conveners, Barrister Mustapha Saidu and Alhaji Bello Ambo, commended APC for zoning the Senate Presidency to the North East.
They said the zoning of the position to the geopolitical zone was a confirmation of the party’s commitment to reward hard work, following the zone’s contribution to the party’s victory in the just concluded general elections.
“Following very wide consultations among stakeholders, party members and North East Consultative Forum and after careful assessment of his contribution to the party and Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration, we hereby present to you, Senator Muhammad Danjuma Goje as the choice of the people of the North East for the Senate President of the 9th Assembly.”
Since that letter became public knowledge, no group or individuals in the north east has contradicted the claims contained in it.
Feelers from lobby groups in the national assembly show that Goje is the man to beat in the race for the senate leadership. More and more legislators are said to be jumping on the Goje train. His admirers are impressed that he has an unblemished administrative and legislative record after so many years in governance. Not many are able to pull this off.
Compared to Lawan or Ndume, Goje would undoubtedly bring prestige and integrity to the office of the senate president. These are the attributes the next senate president must bring to the office if the national assembly wants to be taken seriously by Nigerians and the world.
-Mr. Anufor writes from Abuja
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