When the news hit the media that the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, gave a press release, calling the attention of the federal government to his fears towards the 2019 presidential election and beyond, it is not surprising that the media took a mere advice out of proportion.
Right to free speech is a fundamental human right and well recognised by the Nigerian constitution.
In the release, OBJ as he’s popularly called while stating his desire for a change of government, insisted that Nigerians must vote in his preferred candidate to replace the incumbent, President Mohammadu Buhari, and send the country back to the dark days better forgotten.
The question that one would have expected to be asked should have been whether this was because he loved Nigeria or there was a selfish motive behind it all. Why?
It is not coincidental that his preferred candidate happens to be the same person he once ruled the country with. This same preferred candidate is the one same OBJ had rubbished severally in the media as unreliable and even went to the extent of writing a book; dedicating substantial pages to why Alhaji Atiku Abubakar must never be allowed to smell power again.
I could remember an interview Chief Obasanjo gave a long time ago, when he was also faced with cries of non performance. He was asked why it was taking like forever to fix Nigeria based on his promise. Obasanjo answered, “As a farmer, I know where I can hit a storey building with a caterpillar and it would all collapse within few minutes. But it takes months to build the same without changing its specification.”
Obasanjo believed that many years of military misrule can’t just be undone with few years of democracy as it would take time.
This is the same belief of the Buhari led government. That 16years of the Peoples Democratic Party’s rule, where money meant for national projects were shared by the privileged few. The insurgency caused by Boko Haram which has been greatly decimated by our gallant men of armed forces would have been a thing of the past if PDP 16 year rule has not diverted the fund meant for standard arm procurement into few pockets.
President Mohammadu Buhari came into power with the believe that even though the corrupt elements had already done havoc to the national treasury, he could not comprehend extent of rot he eventually met.
So with the believe that you can’t build a solid house on a rotten foundation, Buhari, despite enormous expectations placed on him, decided to start rebuilding the foundation into a stronger institution for the country in his first term and hope to consolidate and erect a befitting edifice, where corrupt elements, insurgency, unemployment and many social vices would be things of the past.
And this is the next level.
– Ajose, wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.
Profiling the People’s Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, By Abba Dukawa
‘’The Contest for the Speakership of this 9th Assembly is now over and its time to move on. Our country is presently confronted with a myriad of problems and it is our responsibility as members of this institution to set aside political, ideological and other differences that may distract us from the assignment the Nigerian people have sent us here to perform. Whatever political party each one of us may belong, we must be conscious of the fact that Nigerians are truly desirous of good governance and are looking to us to be the agents that will through meaningful legislation combat security, poverty, corruption and other problems and contradictions that have held our country back and stunted our development. ‘’ Speaker Said
Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila returned to Nigeria in 2003 from U.S where positioned himself in the political affairs of Surulere constituency 1 where his constituents peoples recognized that they would be better served if he had a chance to represent them at the House of Representatives. He succeeded in ousting the incumbent member of the House of Representatives from Surulere constituency 1, and clinched his party’s nomination for the seat. Party leaders recognized his true commitment to party ideals and worked with him to emerge 2003 victorious at the general elections.
His performance in the House: He has demonstrated his true passion for issues concerning his constituents and Nigeria as a whole; he worked passionately to address matters of great concern to him and quickly earned a reputation as a true and brilliant legislator. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila had sponsored the highest number of Bills in the National Assembly amongst all the legislators. He was the first and only legislator to bring a motion on the floor of the House for the invocation of the doctrine of necessity, which led to the swearing-in of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as Acting President than.
Many do not knew the role he played in formation of APC in 2014, speaker Femi Gbajabiamila as the Leader of Opposition in the House of Representatives led his colleagues into the merger that gave birthed to the All Progressives Congress (APC). Under Femi’s leadership of the APC caucus in the House, the party increased its numbers, earning them the majority.
FIRST SHOOT AT THE OFFICE OF HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES SPEAKER IN 2015
On June 8 2015 House of Representatives speakership election, one of the events Hon Femi would be remembered for is his experience in the race for the office of the speaker of the House of Representatives. He had emerged as favored candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the position of speaker, and with a majority in the House of Representatives; he was expected to carry the day. On that day former of the House Mr. Yakubu Dogara and other “rebel” members of the APC slogged in with PDP members as opposition in the green Chamber in hotly contested election. But this was not to be so. Femi Gbajabiamila narrowly lost the election to the former Speaker Yakubu Dogara in an election which he described As an Act of God. Due to his wide acceptance within the party and his members, he was overwhelmingly elected Leader of the 8th House of Representatives on July 28, 2015.
As narrowly lost the election to former Speaker Dogara described it as an Act of God after four years three days, he has been emerged speaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The speaker Femi is a forth termer and Majority leader in the 8th house of Representatives After polling 281 votes out of 358 votes against Bago who got 76. Hon Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila emerged as speaker of the ninth national assembly Tuesday afternoon 11 June 2019.
In his acceptance speech said 9th Assembly under his leadership is going to be a House of reforms or if you like a reform Assembly. The reforms will be dished out piecemeal and at intervals so as not to shock the system. Moving forward therefore my dear colleagues, it will not be business as usual and we will be shaking the table just a little. We will be introducing various reforms that will reposition this institution but please rest assured that they will be for the greater good.
Early years and education: Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila was born on the 25th of June 1962 started his elementary education in Lagos at the Mainland Preparatory School at the age of four and proceeded to Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos in 1973 for his secondary education and graduated around 1978. After completion of his secondary education in Nigeria, he enrolled at the King Williams College, Isle of Man, United Kingdom for his ‘A Levels’ where he graduated at the top of his class around 1980. Upon his return to Nigeria, the young Olufemi was accepted into the University of Lagos, Nigeria for a three-year LLB (Bachelor of Law) degree programme. He graduated with honors in 1983 and proceeded to the Nigerian Law school and was called to the Nigerian bar in 1984. To further his education, Gbajabiamila decided to go back to school, this time in the United States. He attended John Marshall Law School in Atlanta Georgia where he graduated top of his class earning himself a Juris Doctorate.
Dukawa wrote in from Kano can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org
Race against public good, By Jerome-Mario Utomi
The out-of-the-ordinary political interplays and considerable uncertainties of the past weeks created by new and returning members of the 9th angling for principal positions in both the Senate and House of Representatives, have in a well-defined order exposed a systematised interest the Executive arm and the ruling party have in the 9th Assembly – a development attributable to the imponderable experience from the unfinished ‘war’ with the outgone 8th Assembly.
What, however, makes the present situation very disturbing is that an exercise like the election of principal officers which constitutionally remain an internal affair of the Assembly has suddenly against all known logic got characterized by national intrigue with non-members of the Assembly underlining the advantages, and otherwise of having a particular lawmaker in a given position.
To understand more fully, the objective of this piece, it is important to clarify that like the vast majority of Nigerians, I am not interested in who becomes the President or holds whichever position in the 9th Assembly, I am also in agreement with the wise words of Elie Wiesel, a Romanian-born American Jewish political activist and Nobel Laureate, that in every issue, people must take sides as neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. And silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented!
These facts notwithstanding, it is important that as a nation, we must ensure at all time that, ‘the means we take to achieving a defined intention must be as pure as the purpose we seek.
As an illustration, I read with real curiosity a remark credited to Senator Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe Central), announcing his decision not to contest the Senate presidency.
In his words; I should be able to appreciate the leadership coming from our elders. So in spite of all these calls, in spite of all the support, I have among my colleagues in the Senate, I have decided to in deference to the loyalty I have for his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and in deference to the loyalty I have for my party, the APC, in the interest of our party and the development of this country, in order to assist Mr President to deliver his promises, I have decided to respect his wish by not declaring to contest this senate presidency. Instead, I am supporting the party’s position thereby endorsing the candidature of Senator Ahmed Lawan.
Ordinarily, this should not have come as a total surprise as Senator Goje is at liberty to withdraw, and enjoys constitutional right to support any candidate of his choice. But there is in my understanding, something fundamentally new and different about the announcement.
Aside from the fact that what happens before the elections have a lot of influence on how the government treats its people, Senator Goje by his own admission that he dropped his ambition in deference to the loyalty for his excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and in deference to the loyalty for his party, the All Progressive Congress,(APC), has barefacedly confirmed the position canvassed by a leadership guru, Professor Sydney Finkelstein, that flawed decisions by leaders start with errors of judgment and fueled by the presence of inappropriate self-interest, distorting attachments and the presence of misleading memories.
Regardless of whether the decision which some has described as ‘statesmanly and patriotic’ was taken to achieve a particular purpose, the truth is that the world is in agreement that the survival of democracy depends on the rule of law. And the rule of law in turns depends on the respect each of the arms has for one another.
Admittedly, it is important for political office holders to respect Mr President and their political parties, but, I hold an opinion that the greater good/loyalty of any public office holder must go to the greater number- the Nigerian masses.
With the above fact in view, turning down support from colleagues who are convinced of your leadership capacity, just because of the so-called loyalty to Mr President and his party is but synonymous with robbing over 200million Nigerians their right to vibrant, more deliberative and productive 9th Assembly.
Notably also, if not errors of judgment and distorting attachments on the part of the Senator, he should have remembered that it was a similar relationship in the past that set the stage for situations in the Senate where constructive debates were given no chance and seen as unnecessary and divisive. Deferring political ideas and strategies perceived as destructive to the nation’s interest, open discussion is seen as a challenge to the leaders. And outspoken lawmakers, with a different set of ideas, values or organizing technique addressed as the enemy within.
As an incentive, instead of making loyalty to the President and the APC a reality to worry about, what needs to be the preoccupation of the members should include; how to make a difference for Nigerians of every social class and in every field of endeavour, how to do something worthwhile in the venerated space as well as how to internalize the advice by Senator Bukola Saraki, the immediate past Senate President, who during the valedictory service of the 8th Assembly cautioned thus;
‘My advice to whoever succeeds me is therefore along the same vein: be there for the people. Act in the interest of the average Nigerians, keep the legislature always at the behest of the citizens, let it be a people’s parliament. Whoever succeeds me, that person will still be a product of the 8th Senate. We did it together. Let there be continuity. When Nigerians cried out for help, we did not turn deaf ears. Where there was contention or strife, we were agents of peace and helped to find the way forward.
That, in my opinion, is the way to go.
For the 9th Assembly to, therefore, move forward there should be a small shift in policy that will guarantee a visible change. They urgently need to remember that there is little hope for us as a people until we become toughminded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truth, and downright ignorance. As any nation that produces softminded men purchases, its own spiritual and socio-economic death at instalment plan’.
I end in this manner; when asked to share his thought about leadership, Lee Kuan Yew, a one time Prime Minister of Singapore stated that; leadership is more than just ability. It is a combination of courage, determination, commitment, character and ability that makes people willing to follow leaders.
I think the 9th Assembly needs people with these attributes and more
Jerome-Mario Utomi (email@example.com) writes From Lagos.
Yahaya Adoza Bello and memories of Mohammed Abdulsalam Onuka, By Debo Alabi
Each time I see television reports, online videos and snippets from the actions, activities and pronouncements of Yahaya Adoza Bello, the governor of Kogi State, I cannot but draw comparisons between him and Mohamed Abdulsalam Onuka. Not many remember the latter, but he was a lieutenant colonel in the Nigerian Army, who was deployed to serve as military administrator of Edo State, during the administration of Gen Sani Abacha.
In a state brimming with top class military talent across the services at the time, Abacha favoured the young Onuka at the time and made him chief executive of one of Nigeria’s most politically sophisticated states. Just in case you have forgotten, Edo State is the home of Brig-Gen Samuel Osaigbovo, who as military governor of the Old Midwestern State, was easily one of the greatest success stories of the Yakubu Gowon dispensation. Edo State is also the birthplace of Admirals Augustus Aikhomu and Mike Okhai Akhigbe, who served at various times as Nigeria’s Number Two citizens, in the official designation of Chief of General Staff, CGS.
Onuka was famous for intemperate language, abrasive comportment and unbridled arrogance of power. He was brusque, brash and impulsive. He traversed the expanse of Edo State, with his trademark swagger stick, barking orders, spewing threats, sacking and dismissing workers in tow. He seemed overzealous to impress his masters in Abuja, who were even more discerning and genteel than he was, as the Abacha gang strove to legitimise itself in the immediate post ‘June 12’ era.
I cannot forget one of Onuka’s televised appearances on Nigerian Television Authority, NTA Network news, in the course of his visit to one of the many state-owned parastatals, sometime in 1994. I recall I was visiting a friend in his Oregun, Lagos accommodation that day and like the newsmen we are, we tuned to the news telecast to catch up with the day’s events. And there was the voice of Onuka belching out of one of the news reports, his eyes blazing like the furnace of the bronze casters on Igun Street, Benin City: ‘This is the last time I want to see things this way. The next time I have cause (to) come back here, you will see the redness of my eyes.’ Then he stormed out, military escorts and security personnel fawning over themselves to clear the way for him…
I don’t know if Abacha watched that Aminian dramatization by Onuka. I wouldn’t know if it was the CGS to Abacha, Lt. Gen Oladipo Diya who did. Better still, I can’t recall if it was the revered royalty in Benin, the Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, N’Ogidigan, Oba Erediauwa II himself who put a call through to Aso Rock, Abuja, seeking an end to the continued repression and mistreatment of his subjects by Onuka. What I know for sure is that a few days after that inglorious outing on national television by Onuka, his tour of duty as military administrator of Edo State, came to an unceremonious denouement.
Appointed as chief executive of the state on December 9, 1993, Onuka got the boot on September 14, 1994, after barely nine months in office. He was promptly replaced by a more mature, more charismatic, less noisy and controversial Bassey Asuquo, an army colonel. And trust the military with its punitive, if not vindictive reward for misdeamenour, Onuka was flung, with immediate effect, to the battlefields of Sierra Leone on a peacekeeping mission in a nondescript capacity. And that marked the beginning of the end of an otherwise promising career, the same pedestal on which the Hamid Alis, the Jafaar Isas, the Olagunsoye Oyinlolas and the Buba Marwas, among others, rode to subsisting national acclaim and relevance.
I have been checking Wikipedia recently and it tells me Yahaya Adoza Bello of Kogi State and Mohamed Abdulsalam Onuka, are indeed first cousins! Maybe herein lies the uncanny congruences and affinities in their destinies, persona, official carriage and administrative demeanour.
Yahaya Bello loves the military swagger stick. It is a part of his customary sartorial make-up. The only times I have not seen his walking stick with him, are in those short video clips of his boxing trainings where the gloves he wears, prevent him from adorning the stick. From the biography of him in the public space, he was most probably still in secondary school when his older cousin was military administrator and strutted about with that trademark stick. And he loved it.
Very much like Onuka, Bello was awarded the governorship of Kogi State on a platter of platinum. Here is a man who didn’t campaign to be elected governor, whose name was not on the ballot paper, who didn’t contest to be governor, but who was woken up by a phone call and presented the position as a fait accompli! Yes, Abubakar Audu, a two-time governor of the state and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was coasting home to victory in that November 2015 gubernatorial election, when the unexpected happened and he died just before the conclusion of the election. Against all electoral and political permutations, a strange legalistic invention to the effect that the runner-up in the primary election which produced Audu as candidate, become beneficiary of the votes cast for Audu, and by extension, ‘duly elected’ governor of Kogi State! And thus entered Yahaya Bello. Bello, before then was totally unknown in Kogi State.
Yes, he contested the APC governorship primaries in the state in 2015, but he walked away as soon as he lost. There is no record of him accompanying the campaign train of the APC in the build up to that election, because he was sore and bitter from his predicted loss at the primaries, and he opted to abstain from the process.
Onuka, his cousin, was as well an unknown quantity in the Nigerian Army, probably serving as Staff Officer or Battalion Commander in Bama or Bakassi, retiring to a bottle or two of kunu or Trophy lager beer at the close of work every day, before fate catapulted him to the leadership of Edo State.
And what has Yahaya Bello done with this fairy tale opportunity since his inauguration as governor of Kogi State in January 2016? He has striven assiduously, committedly and consistently to make the state the headquarters of national scorn and public opprobrium in all ways possible. Kogi State is easily the capital of mass suffering, pervading misery, palpitating insecurity, inestimable despondency and crippling despair across the country.
Workers’ salaries and emoluments are unpaid. Labour unions have been unanimous and consistent in saying that the salary backlog is in hovering around the 40-month mark. The civil service has been phenomenally degraded and debased such that permanent secretaries at the topmost echelon of the bureaucracy commute to work on motorbikes! Pensioners who gave their active and productive years in the service of state and country are deprived their gratuities and entitlements.
The economy of the state, largely powered by the civil service, is virtually crippled. Sales are low, businesses folding up. Many businessmen have indeed folded up and left the state. Hunger walks on all fours in the state, poverty has become a way of life. Kogi State today holds the infamous national medal for the state with the highest rates of depression, stroke and suicides.
Amidst such despair and hopelessness, ‘GYB Boys’ as the clique of like-minded characters around Yahaya Bello brand themselves, live in such grandeur and opulence, with contrasts so disturbingly sharply with the overall morass around and about them. They ride the choicest, automobiles adorned with women procured from tertiary institutions in the state, move about with bands of police escorts and live large like tomorrow will never come. They virtually talk down the people by their body language, as though saying: ‘This is our time, to hell with you.’ Kleptocracy is at its despicable best, even as a recent intelligence report indicated that an attempt to convert the sum of N7 Billion for a serving, top government official in Kogi State, to USD, was discovered, blocked and reported to the President.
Gangsterism, thuggery and lawlessness have become critical aspects of governance and statecraft by a governor so power-drunk he’s ever taking an aim at critics, enemies and antagonists, real or imagined. The Office of the Deputy Governor has been virtually abrogated and the powers transferred to the Chief of Staff. Even as the National Judicial Council, NJC, found no merit whatsoever in the governor’s petition seeking his summary removal, Bello has since instigated the pathologically genuflecting state assembly to orchestrate the ouster of the Chief Judge. Such is the reign of terror foisted on Kogi State by Yahaya Bello.
You descend into the lounge of your hotel in Lokoja, and you are greeted by gruff-looking, gun-wielding fellows in unfamiliar uniforms pacing about. They are operatives of the private army of the Bello government, christened the Kogi State Vigilante Services, whose very activities as they patrol in unmarked vehicles is a recurring source of trepidation for the people.
The recent general elections witnessed a new high in provocative, state-sponsored illegality and brigandage, where state appointees, notably commissioners, advisers and local government administrators personally bore arms and targeted hapless citizens, as they fell over themselves attempting to impress the Capone in the hall of infamy. This is the abyys into which Yahaya Bello has dragged Kogi State, in the last 40 months.
Traditional rulers who were once the conscience of the people, who spoke truth to power in the service of their subjects, have become an integral part of the propaganda machinery of the administration. Except for the revered Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Alhaji Abdul Rahman Ado Ibrahim (the paramount ruler of Bello’s home ethnicity by the way), who has been typically blunt and courageous in telling the governor some stinging truths, the others have been cringing and caterwauling before him, for fear of being deposed or not being presented their staff of office, for those who haven’t been installed.
Those of us who believe in the energy, the vibrancy, the resourcefulness and the creativity which the youth can bring to any sphere of human endeavour and have always canvssed youth inclusiveness, as well as members of the younger generation themselves, must be thoroughly disappointed and embarrassed by the below par outing of Yahaya Bello in Kogi State. Yet, our democracy has thrown up genuinely youthful bright lights across the political spectrum who left positive imprints on the sands of time. Donald Duke was 37 when he was elevated governor of Cross River State in 1999. His legacies still echo around and about the state. Nnamani Chimaroke became governor of Enugu State at 39, Bukola Saraki became chief executive of Kwara State at 41, we can go on and on with examples.
My mind just keeps going back to how people stroll into irredeemable oblivion, after handcrafting the mismanagement of providential opportunities, very much like Yahaya Bello.
There are loud insinuations that he may not get the governorship ticket of the APC at the August 2019 primaries. If the party desires to begin the process of salvaging whatever is left of its battered reputation in Kogi State, that would be strategically face-saving. Yahaya Bello is a grievously unsellable brand.
If the courts rule that his sack of Haddy Ametuo-led APC executive last year and his singlehanded installation of a new executive is null, void and of no effect like we’ve witnessed in Rivers, Delta and Zamfara states, that report card of his conquest in the last elections, culminating in two senatorial positions, seven House of Representatives seats and 25 State House of Assembly offices, becomes ash dust.
If perchance he survives these two landmines and confronts the rage of the people at the polls on Saturday November 16, 2019, not even the fear of guns, bullets and machetes will break the resolve of a people he has so Pharaonically suppressed.
And Yahaya Bello, head bowed, shoulder dropping, takes the long walk to join his ageing kinsman and mentor, Mohammed Abdulsalam Onuka, on the vacant, lonely roadway to Agassa.
* Debo Alabi is a public affairs analysts
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