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OPINION

9th Senate Presidency race: Danjuma Goje is the man to beat

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9th Senate Presidency race: Danjuma Goje is the man to beat
Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje
By Sebastian Anuforo

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 an 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 northeast 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 geopolitical 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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OPINION

Festus Keyamo: Amazing story of his journey to the top

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One of the major problems the Nigerian nation is facing is the PhD syndrome. In Nigeria, everybody is a PhD holder. By this, I mean Pull Him Down syndrome, once you have access to a dilapidated computer and you’re able to manage its keyboard, then the coast is clear to indulge in self gratification by yelling some nonsense down a hole. Like they say, Nonsense is so good, only, because common sense is so limited.

It is the twilight of another democratic assembly and again, as expected, errand boys, employed by political opponents have began the usual mudslinging games. Some attention seeking political jobbers, in a bid to impress their paymasters have started throwing gauntlets, looking for victims where there are none, just to steer the body polity-a case of kettle calling pot black.

A typical example is a fictitious article making the rounds where a self-harm writer of an article titled, ‘Keyamo’s Reward’ spuriously conjured his deliberative polling on one of Nigeria’s gifted young men with exceptional intellectual ability, Barrister Festus Keyamo, SAN.

The sad thing is, the problems of this generation are its dramatic personae. We don’t ever see anything good in ourselves. The writer, though gave credence to the brilliance and intellectual capacity of the legal luminary, Festus Keyamo, like all hatchet men, he didn’t forget the primary briefs from his sponsors- to weigh-in, undermine and subvert the sterling and exemplary career status the young man, Festus Keyamo has laboured to build over the years.

Maybe he should be reminded that excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.

Those who have followed the footsteps and career mastery of the youngman will not be surprised the way he has emerged so far. He, is a product of dedication, doggedness and gradual result of always striving to be better, in actual fact, excellence, to Keyamo, is not a skill, it is an attitude. His likes are rarely found and more rarely valued.

The writer did not forget how he has nurtured a blossoming career from that super genius youngman who hails from a humble background and how he was able to walk tall amongst scores of brilliant legal team at the late Gani Fawehinmi’s chambers to earn himself the ‘Gani Boy’. If the dead do look back for real, the late legal icon, Chief Fawehinmi will be proud of what he has become at the moment and if it’s that easy, the mischievous writer too should have been able to step into the shoes of the famous Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Shoyinka but obviously, wicked and envious people never see anything good in greatness for envy is pain at the good fortune of others.

He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration, the youngman has prepared himself for this job long ago right from his civil rights activism days to his relentless battle at the legal field.

His sins must have been his willingness to accept to serve his fatherland and they’ve forgotten that, the worst disservice to any nation is the act of winking in the dark. We now live in a world where politics has replaced philosophy, there’s no way you can make a difference if you continue to bark from behind.

Leadership is the ability to have a compelling vision, a comprehensive plan, relentless implementation, and talented people working together. It is however, not by chance that the C-in-C, President Mohammadu Buhari had had the vision to choose someone whose cerebral influence, oratory prowess and over bearing personality was able to break the enemy’s camp without fighting during the last presidential election.

There’s no doubting the fact that, guided missiles from misguided men are expected at this point in time, from those cowards who now play victims to circumstances they created.

Jite Usman Writes from Akoko Edo, Edo State Nigeria

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OPINION

Ministerial Nomination: Godwin Jedy Agba, best man for petroleum ministry

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Godwin Jedy Agba

One of Nigeria’s very experienced energy administrators, Mr. Godwin Jedy-Aba, is a minister-nominee of President Muhammadu Buhari. And there is, understandably, song and dance in the quarters of those who know the capacity and experience of the nominee in the oil and gas sector. But for those who crave the enthronement of mediocrity to aid and abet the culture of incompetence or the regime of laissez faire in the management of the petroleum sector, the prospects of Jedy-Agba emerging as Buhari’s choice for the critical sector cannot resonate well with them.

Regardless of the prognosis of possibilities or otherwise, Jedy-Agba is one of the few “technocrats” in a list that has been largely dubbed “political” by critics. Notwithstanding his previous temperate, restrained and strategic foray into partisan politics, his accomplishments and exploits as an astute administrator have not diminished a bit. His administrative savoir faire and legerdemain had been writ-large in his public service trajectory from which he retired at the NNPC.

While the likely portfolio that would be assigned to the Prince of Obudu from Cross River state is not the subject of this piece of writing, it is, however, not in doubt that Buhari has made up his mind about using the few “technocrats”-like Abubakar Malami (SAN), Sunday Dare (journalist) Osagie Ehinare (consultant physician) et al, in his list to man some specialized ministries to demand value for knowledge and experience.

And, if this is the intendment, then one does not need a crystal ball to guess where Jedy-Agba, a former Group General Manager (GGM), Crude Oil Marketing Division (OMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will likely be assigned: perhaps, not far away from the petroleum ministry. While it is unlikely the President will hands off his direct control of the Petroleum Ministry, as the substantive Minister-in-charge, he will need a brilliant and effective minister of state who can be saddled with all the basic responsibilities of the ministry without caving in.

If the politics of administration is played with humility and wisdom, a minister of state can enjoy the privilege of full control with the confidence of the President to boot. Nothing suggests to the contrary that Jedy-Agba cannot be trusted to deliver on a presidential mandate with tact and precision. That will be in spite of the salacious narratives by detractors and traducers who are on a voyage of upending a luminous epoch that beckons.

With President Buhari’s commitment to consolidating on the achievements of his first four years in the saddle, attention is focused on experience. The president appears unprepared to gamble with “untested hands”. He is greatly seeking to make a better impression in his second term of office. To do this, he cannot afford to put square pegs in round holes. Buhari cannot afford to deploy a learner who cannot take the pressure off him in the administration of the critical petroleum sector.

Besides, time is of the essence. While the nation is waiting to see the ministers hit the ground running, critics are also waiting to feast on the administration’s mistakes.Viewed from any angle, Jedy-Agba is a good pick who could help the administration to weather the storm in the entire oil industry. That is why the malicious media campaign against him has been thick. His traducers know that he cannot be stopped when he gets cracking in delivering on any mandate.

Sadly, we are in a season where traducers who masquerade as critics, are wont to sacrifice everything – knowledge, capacity and accomplishments – at the altar of contrived criticisms in the guise of seeking the promotion of perfection in the land of sinners. This is not unexpected. However, the ninth Senate is urged not to entertain needless distractions in the screening and confirmation hearing of Jedy-Agba.

But of course, while the law must take its course where and when it is activated to do so, a phony media campaign to smear someone who has never been questioned or prosecuted by any anti-graft commission, must never be dignified as something worth scrutinizing or countenancing. President Buhari was an appointee of the late General Sani Abacha. Hundreds of millions of dollars that were taken out of Nigeria during that regime have been recovered from the late dictator and his family; but, this cannot, in anyway, qualify or translate as an indictment, simply because Buhari served under Abacha.

Unfortunately, the merchant of the smear campaign against Jedy-Agba cannot grapple with the fact that he was a top official of the NNPC, who could not escape working with a Minister of Petroleum. It is therefore disingenuous and wicked to think that everyone who has anything to do with Deziani Alison-Madueke, in the line of duty, is guilty as opined in the media. This is distasteful and uncharitable. This concern is not just about Jedy-Agba alone but it is also inclusive of everyone who had previously worked with Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Interestingly, in all the corruption cases filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) involving Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, there is not one in which Jedy-Agba has been listed as a party, whether separately or jointly with her. This is a matter of judicial records for anyone to verify. In addition, the sponsors of this narrative about his involvement in large scale corruption under Diezani Alison-Madueke should also have known that the security agencies must have subjected the nomination of Jedy-Agba to due diligence checks before the final pick.

This nomination, for Jedy-Agba, is a spring board for bouncing back to a familiar terrain of service, having worked for several ministers as a Personal Assistant and in different other capacities between 1985 and 1995. He is perhaps one of the most versatile nominees with requisite administrative experience, who once worked at ministerial level. For decades, he had acquitted himself creditably and meritoriously without scandals. He is indeed a great addition to the Buhari’s team. It is going to be difficult to cut shady deals on his watch behind the government, whether or not he is sent to the petroleum sector.

It is therefore not impossible that the people behind the smear campaign against Jedy-Agba are among the notorious oil mafia and cartel whose deep backend activities and shady deals are threatened by this strategic nomination. Jedy-Agba knows the oil industry like the palm of his hand, and his likely headship of the sector or as a minister of state to Buhari is bound to ruffle feathers and put an end to some underhand dealings. The level of opaqueness in the management of public finance in the oil industry in Nigeria has continued to be worrisome. This could thus be another tough call for an administration that has committed itself to fighting corruption.

It could be recalled that Jedy-Agba’s onerous tasks as Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, NNPC had put him in a good stead to manage a complex terrain. He was responsible for liaising with Crude Pricing & Technical Evaluation Section on Price movement and other input data for market reports. He also monitored and analyzed consumption of other energy types, terms of cost availability and relative impact on world petroleum supply/demand balance. Jedy-Agba was simply vast and deep; and was capacitated enough to handle his huge responsibilities.

The campaign of calumny will not be over even after the senate screening and confirmation hearing. To be sure, those behind the sponsored malicious media reports are likely to shift their attack to the specific – calling on the president, not to appoint him as a Minister of State for Petroleum, while playing up their unsubstantiated allegations. Regardless of the shenanigans, Jedy-Agba remains a wonderful pick.

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OPINION

Tasks before Kyari in turning around NNPC, By Abba Dukawa

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ALL eyes are now on Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Male Kolo Kyari in turning around the fortunes of the Corporation and also need to make the company to be runs in very transparent ways.  In view the challenges before him in whirling the NNPC to practice the best norm in the world oil industries.  There is need for Kyari, to focus his attention on the implementation of the findings of the audit reports of the NEITI which has severally indicted the NNPC of operational maleficence. Nigerians were expected see that his nicked mane of Mr. Transparent really translated into the way he will tackle on poor transactional transparency, as NNPC had over time recorded differences in actual volume of crude oil lifted and actual volume of production NEITI stated.  

A recent World Bank report had shown that Nigeria spent N731 billion to subsidizes petrol consumption last year. The report had explained that within the year under review, Nigeria’s oil sector declined in productivity, ending on 1.9 million barrels a day (mbd) production mark as against the government’s hope of 2.3mbd.

In April 2019, Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) in its publication of National Oil Company Database, place NNPC as one of National Oil Companies (NOCs) with record challenges of transparency.   There is need for Kyari to initiate a see-through process in management of the corporation’s operations and also making it more profitable. It’s hardly and even became part of NNPC tradition not disclosed its net income from core revenues; capital and operational expenditures; cash flows from operations; total assets worth to public.

Saudi owned of National Oil Company ARAMCO raked in profits of £85 billion in 2018 as most profitable company making more than Apple and Google combine. Aramco raked in more cash than global ITC giant companies, Apple made roughly $60 billion, while Exxon Mobil made roughly $20 billion). The Wall Street Journal reported. ARAMCO revealed details of its finances for the first time since it was nationalized in the Seventies as part of a push ahead of its first bond sale.

Nigerians expected to see Kyari turning around the fortunes of NNPC into rakes profitable national oil company through openness, transparency and accountability. Establish a concrete economic Diversification plan with a concrete path to a post-oil future for Nigeria, based on emerging global trends.

This plan, akin to the Saudi Arabian government’s economic diversification plan, should include a clear strategy with interlinked policies – trade, industrial, fiscal – and far-reaching structural and governance reforms of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that could include partial privatization (with share listed on the stock exchange for purchase by ordinary Nigerians and not by Government- Related cronies).

The uncanny tasks before GMD are to turn around the nation’s nation feeble refineries remained terribly poor in operation and mostly constituted a deficit to NNPC cash flow. This decades problems placed the NNPC as a mere trader in the oil industry as against its potentials as a national oil company capable of establishing and running profitable ventures in the Upstream  and Downstream sectors of the industry. Finding a lasting solution would in many ways be a plus to Kyari and his team.   Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation recorded losses in the region of N551.46bn between January 2015 and December 2018. The Corporation repeatedly failed to meet projected profits as its subsidiaries, particularly refineries, running cost at the headquarters and other arms left whopping deficits.

 

Things you need to know about Kyari

Male Kolo Kyari was appointed to head production sharing contracts management in the Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD). Also led the team that proposed and managed the Direct Sales And Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangement of petroleum products from 2016 till date replacing the Crude Swap Arrangement. Under his watch, the Crude Oil Marketing Division has recorded noticeable transformation in the management and sales of the various Nigeria’s crude oil grades via an infusion of transparency and automation of the processes.

He contributed to reconcile alleged loss of $48 billion and established actual status of transactions involving NNPC in 2014. Malam Kolo Kyari pursued the determination of the tenure of the Amenam/Kpono carry arrangement with potential savings of over $1 billion; he also revised and initiated the process for the redetermination of the Applicable Fiscal Regime for the Addax PSC with potential shortterm savings of $1.6 billion. As the group general manager, crude oil marketing division. He created systems to ensure maximum transparency and accountability of crude oil and gas sales in the industry. He was the supervisor of production sharing contract for the NNPC.

Mr. Transparent’ he was one of the major people that came up with the NNPC’s commodity trading initiative. This initiative makes it possible for the government to know those who are buying the country’s crude and at what prices, and how much has been made. Kyari led various teams in developing the petroleum industry bill (PIB) that redefined the government’s take in production sharing contracts with oil companies. He was the secretary of the FG INTER-AGENCY team that coordinated the creation of the current basis of the fiscal and regulatory framework of the PIB.

He  is  unionists, per excellent and he is  fearless  toward welfare of his follows members and Kyari popularly called ‘Grand Chairman or Mr Transparency by other  comrades in the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) often refer to him as a comrade after he was group chairman of NNPC PENGASSAN.

Male Kolo Kyari won four awards, namely: GMD Prize for the Overall Best Performance for NNPC Management Development Program; GED CS Award for Best Performance in Leadership; GM Group Learning Division award for Best Project work, NNPC Management Development Programme; and Examiners award for 1st Runner-up for Effective Presentation.

Dukawa a public commentator and can be reached at abbahydukawa@gmail.com

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