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OPINION

Nsima Ekere: The promise of a new Akwa Ibom, By Ubong Effiong

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There are few politicians with his spirit. Everywhere he goes and everywhere he speaks, the atmosphere is ablaze with love and hope. Unlike the typical politician, he seeks votes with the humility of a servant and the responsible mien of true leaders.

In this season of political acrimony, mudslinging and hate speeches, Nsima Ekere, the Akwa Ibom State Governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is a chunk of good news that we must relish.

Last Sunday at Cardinal Ekandem Catholic Church Uyo, Ekere’s essential personality was in full display. In a move quite unfamiliar in this clime, Ekere smashed bitterness and acrimony under his feet and embraced his main rival in the March 2ndgovernorship election-Udom Emmanuel, the incumbent governor of the state, shortly after service. The two were locked in a warm embrace that was long enough for the congregation to soak in.

It was a move that electrified the atmosphere with joy and jubilation. A rare display of camaraderie by political gladiators in a state where threats of thunder and rainstorm were common campaign vocabularies. The crowd that gathered to watch the rare spectacle felt a joy akin to that of beholding something that one had waited so long to see.

Ekere spoke after the embrace when he urged the Church to pray for the state and the political process so that it could be devoid of violence. “It’s not about APC. It’s not about PDP. It’s about Akwa Ibom State. And you know that God knows the end from the beginning. So, even as we stand here, God knows who the next Governor will be. And so, all we have to do as Christians is to continue to pray.

“So, please, pray for us, sir (Bishop), pray for the political process. We need peace and we need security. We do not need to spill the blood of any Akwa Ibom child in the course of these elections.” Ekere however used the occasion to alert of plot by some desperate politicians in the state to bring in thugs to disrupt the political process and cause widespread violence in the state. He called on the Church to fight and defeat such plans with prayers.

It was a promising moment for the state, and the significance of the day was not lost on the incumbent who also deserved commendation for providing the right environment. Governor Emmanuel also took his part in the historic occasion. Taking a cue from Ekere, he said: “Let me also say here, I want to join my faith with what my brother(Ekere) has said, at the end of the day, it is not about us. It is about the soul of the state. It is about the destiny of this state.

“Whatsoever we do today as government, it is for the destiny of Akwa Ibom State. Everything we do in this state today is about the future of our own children.”

The import of the moment was also not lost on the Church which provided the venue for the historic meeting. The Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Uyo, John Ayah referred to the two governorship candidates as children of the church and declared the Catholic Church would be neutral in the forthcoming elections.

He said: “I wish to state it very clearly that the church doesn’t stand in preference to one party against the other. There are my sons who are in PDP. There are my sons who are in APC. They all belong to me.”

Senator Godswill Akpabio, immediate past governor of the state who has been at loggerheads with his successor, was also part of history. In the spirit of true leadership, he also exchanged greetings with Governor Emmanuel, who is believed to be his political god son, after the ceremony.

Akpabio, also a politician who espouses peace and strongly believes in the guidance role of the Church, said prayers by the Church would ensure peace before and after the elections in the state. Akpabio who is popular called the “Uncommon Transformer” for his achievement as two-term governor of the state, urged the people to embrace peace.

Ekere, who is the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), kicked off his gubernatorial campaign late last year with a public lamentation of the backwardness and poverty that had swamped the state in recent years. He said he had come to make Akwa Ibom great again and promised to reverse the trend with his five-point vision for economic prosperity: infrastructural and rural development; education, health and social protection; security; and governance and infrastructural reforms.

Ekere also said when he first indicated interest to contest the 2019 governorship election, his desire was founded on the need to offer the state a new vision for collective prosperity and promised to domesticate in the state all Federal Government social intervention programmes if elected governor next year.

He had stated: “Our government will launch a N20 billion to fund and raise a critical mass of transformative entrepreneurs (TEs) who will use and innovation to grow the private sector and create wealth,

“Best practice Indian models of TE development will be put in place. About 3,000 TEs will be produced and empowered every 6 months in the State,

“In four years, we would have created 24,000 TEs who in turn will stimulate the economy and create no less than 120,000 jobs.”

He promised to improve food security in the state by harnessing the value chain for major food and cash crops such as oil palm, cassava, fruits, and seafood, stressing that his goal would be to create policies, implement the Graduate Farmers Scheme to enable self-sufficiency in food production by 2023.

In a region where youths are taking to militancy and crimes, Ekere’s plan holds the promise of a developmental vision that is youth-focused. He said his government, if elected, will promote the participation of 15,500 Akwa Ibom Youths annually in farming and as extension agents, promising that the Extension services will be revived and made an important unit of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Akwa Ibom State may well be on a march to becoming an economic hub that is set to rival the neighbouring Rivers State. But March 2nd would show whether the people of the state have bought into his vision.

– Effiong wrote in from Uyo

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OPINION

Atiku’s US Trip: So much ado about nothing, By Tunde Ajose

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For good watchers of the Nigerian politics, one thing has come to stay in our political experiment at getting it right in this country and that is the ability for smart politicians to easily sway the electorates with mundane issues.

The campaigns are no longer issue based but media sensationalism.

Latest of such was the sudden appearance of the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the United States of America! Then one begins to wonder why the opposition would think such is the needed magic wand to win the election.

And the euphoria may not be unconnected with the report that Atiku was barred from entering the States because of his fraudulent nature but the question is, why would any serious opposition believes such action would immediately translate into winning the Aso Rock.

One would have wondered why Atiku has chosen to travel with the current senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki? Could it be that he actually traveled under the diplomatic immunity of Saraki’s official delegation?

Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity that ensures diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country’s laws, but they can still be expelled.

We need to be circumspect as we move forward as a nation and be more discerning. The current government of Nigeria is focused more than before in ensuring that Nigerians, regardless of the class or status has a befitting country they could fall back to and call a home.

It is quite obvious that while the opposition are playing to the gallery, the presidential campaign organisation of president Mohammad Buhari is busy rolling up its sleeves and getting down to fields where the real electorates are and connecting with them.

This past week especially has been full of activities for the president despite his age. Within a spate of two weeks, Buhari had sat down to two interviews in-between journeying from the length and breadth of the country in getting the message of hope down to the people.

The president does not rely on his privilege as an incumbent, but insisted on talking to his people and ensuring that Nigerians are united as they go to polls come February.

No one is in doubt that his message also resonates well with the citizens as they troop out en masse to welcome and listen to what he has to say. With the multitude of crowd recorded today as he presented the gubernatorial flagbearer of the party to the good people of Delta State and the ovation that greeted it, there is no doubt that Buhari is truly loved.

As we count down to the elections, Nigerians need to bear it in mind that the 2019 election is about building on a new foundation which the present government has been able to achieve in the first four years and giving the solid foundation out to the marauders to destroy along with the better forgotten 16years in power.

If Atiku is in the United States today, there is no way the intelligence agencies of the federal government of Nigeria would not know about it.

 

Tunde Ajose, a political commentator, writes from Lagos.

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OPINION

Red alert on Kogi 2019 elections, By Omahi Umar

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2019 Kogi elections may end up being the bloodiest and the most rigged election in the history of Nigeria. This is not a question of being an alarmist. It is rather because the incumbent governor, having failed woefully in governance has principally resorted to the use of security agents to rig and manipulate the outcome of the elections in favour of the ruling government.

A taste of what to expect in the elections in Kogi has started manifesting. In the Kogi Central Senatorial District where the governor hails from, members of the opposition are now harassed, harangued, maimed, killed and kidnapped on regular basis. The latest victim is one Enesi who was recently killed by armed men while several others went missing in recent night raids and hunts for men of the opposition parties in the Kogi Central.

In the same central, it is an open secret that the houses of Commissioner for Water Resources, the Commissioner for  Local Government and many of the local government administrators have now turned armouries where a huge number of sophisticated guns and ammunitions are off-loaded at nights purportedly by “men in uniform” unchallenged. It was being speculated that over 3000 assorted automatic weapons have been acquired by the governor and hidden in different locations across the state. The state local tabloids and social media have the news of the governor vowing that he was ready to kill anyone who stands on his way in the coming elections.

The Kogi East will definitely be a battleground of sorts too. It is the home of the all powerful Chief of Staff who has vowed to deliver his constituency to the governor at all costs. Recently in Idah, many vehicles belonging to Atai Idoko were destroyed by APC members while on campaign rallies. Pockets of violence from Kogi East are reported on daily basis and will be on the increase as we approach elections. The most troubling aspects of this violence is that they are often committed in the glaring eyes of security agents who choose to look the other way while these crimes are being perpetrated.

It has been rumoured that the Ogohi of Anyigba’s palace is the armoury for Eastern Kogi with brother, the administrator of Dekina Local Government, Alhaji Isiaka and Alhaji Ahmed, the Kogi East Zonal chairman of the APC as field commanders.

The Western Senatorial District appears calm as of today but we believe it is an uneasy and heavily pregnant calm.  This Senatorial District is the home place of Dino. The governor is betting it everywhere with his life that he would rather die than allow free and fair elections  that would produce Dino. Since Dino enjoys cult followership in these areas, the modus operandi here will be to scare away many people from voting units so as to allow for heavily falsified results against Dino and Atiku.

The number of militants in training in Kogi is becoming very scary, worrisome, alarming and really frightening. The men of the Vigilante Service are now being secretly trained on the use of sophisticated weapons. The first batch of about 1000 men and women have passed out. Currently at the Lokoja Stadium, there are over 700 vigilante men/women in camp undergoing military training for the elections. Police and military uniforms are smuggled into the state for use in the elections.

Apart from this number being trained in the state, reliable information is that over 1000 militants are currently undergoing training in Yobe State for Kogi elections. The whole stories are really very worrisome.

The intention is to kill and harass opposition members as much as possible. It is also intended that many strong opposition members would be kidnapped prior to the elections. Information is that many should be scared away from voting, especially in the opposition strongholds.

By and large, the elections in Kogi may witness tales of anguish and failures except urgent steps are taken to counter the devilish plans of the state governor. The goings on in Kogi State must be exposed to the whole world by all means possible. This is a situation where a stitch in time will save nine.

 

  • Umar wrote in from Lokoja, Kogi State
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OPINION

Wait! Before you vote Atiku, By Musa Mohammed

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While the clamour for change in government from president Mohammodu Buhari to Atiku Abubakar may have been something that has taken over the national discuss and rightly so as the elections draw near, it may be noteworthy to pause and reflect on the character of the prospected replacement.

The big question on our mind should be can we trust Atiku? What really is the new thing he is coming to offer bearing in mind he was once the number two citizen of this great nation for 8years? If we insist the position of a vice president is not as powerful as the president, haven’t the achievements of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo knocked out such narrative?

The Nigerian vice president has proven times without number that he is as useful as the president of Nigeria and records are there to show for it. Where are the achievements of Mr. Atiku?

If you ask Nigerians, most of what they would remember about his days in office would be the national assets he sold to his colleagues and the long running battle he had with his principal, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Aside from the fact that there should be no vacancy in Aso Rock, Osinbajo is more presidential than Atiku. Don’t take my words for it, below were some of the things his then boss said and wrote about him chronologically.

2003 “I regret picking Atiku Abubakar as my vice”.

2004 “I can no longer work with Atiku, his integrity is in question “.

2005 “Atiku cannot be trusted “.

2006 “Atiku cannot escape justice over corruption cases ”

2007 “Do not vote Atiku he is corrupt”.

2008 “Atiku is a corrupt leader”.

2009 “Nigerians can never forgive Atiku”.

2010 “Atiku is not an option to leadership in Nigeria “.

2011 “I have never seen a leader as greedy as Atiku “.

2012 “Nigerians should pray for leaders imbued with integrity not Atiku “.

2013 “Atiku should apologize to Nigerians over his political sins”.

2014 No political party with the aspiration to assume leadership should think of Atiku”.

2015 “Nigeria has grown beyond a corrupt leader like Atiku”.

2016 “I will never reconcile with Atiku “.

2017 “I never knew Atiku was this corrupt ” “I can never be on the same page with Atiku. God forbid!”.

2018 January to August “God will not forgive me if I support Atiku “.

2018 August “Atiku has the capacity to save Nigeria’s economy from collapse”.

If such verdicts could come from Obasanjo who was his direct boss, what doubts should Nigerians have in rejecting such bad market and move on to the next level with the present administration bearing mind that Obasanjo once said, “As an engineer, I know a point I can use tractor to hit and a storey building would come down within few minutes, but it would take years to erect such.”

Nigeria is undergoing transformation. The administration of president Mohammodu Buhari has used his first term to lay a good foundation for him to start building on in 2019 and it only make sense to key in.

God bless Nigeria.

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