Friday, January 31, 2014

60% of Atiku's Supporters Want Him to Dump PDP for APC;

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar Thursday spoke for the first time on why he declined to heed the plea to run against former President Olusegun Obasanjo during the 2003 presidential, the Oyo State Capital, election.
Atiku, who was responding to remarks from one of the participants in Ibadan during the South-west zonal consultative meeting with his political associates on the offer by All Progressives Congress (APC) to join the party, said he refused to contest against Obasanjo, to whom he was deputy then, on moral ground.

He faulted claims that his best chance to have emerged as the president was in 2003 when stakeholders in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) egged him on to contest against his former principal.
Doing so then, he added, would be going against the position the PDP had earlier taken at a caucus meeting to retain the presidency in the South.
He said his ambition, and indeed that of any politician, could not be realised in negation and commitment to party decisions.
“Yes, I may nurse legitimate ambition but I am not the kind of person who will want to climb the political ladder because an opportunity cheaply presents itself. You don’t have to stand in the way of commitment to party decisions because you stand to benefit from an infraction,” Atiku said.

A snap vote taken at the end of the South-west leg of the consultative meeting showed that 60 per cent of his supporters voted for him to dump PDP for APC; 29 per cent wants him to defect to Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), while 11 per cent wants him to remain in PDP.

Before the commencement of the consultative meeting, which continues with the North-east stanza, billed for Bauchi today, Atiku on arrival in Ibadan, had headed straight to pay a courtesy visit to the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, in his office.
He said his visit to Ibadan was in continuation of his consultation with associates in response to the invitation extended to him by the APC in December, last year.

He also recalled his link with Ibadan, a city that he said held fond memories for him.
“My most memorable days in my civil service career were in Ibadan. So, I say this is a kind of a home-coming.
“Anytime I come to Ibadan - either for politics or personal reasons - I come back with a lot of memories. But much more than the memories, I am more fascinated by the new things and developments that I see in Ibadan. I want to say that since the Ajimobi administration took off, there have been positive changes in the city of Ibadan in terms of infrastructure development,” he added.
Responding, Ajimobi said not many politicians in Nigeria could match the democratic credentials of Atiku.

The governor extolled the former vice-president, whom he described as a “broad-based, principled and consummate politician.”
He said: “He has a personal touch to his relationship and sometimes you wonder if he has ever been the vice-president of this country.”

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Former Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau yesterday defected to the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), saying he left the All Progressives Congress (APC) because of injustice in the party.

Shekarau announced his defection at the end of a meeting of stakeholders of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the state, held at his Kano residence.
During the meeting, which was attended by hundreds of supporters from the 44 local government areas, the former governor said they were all cross carpeting to the PDP.
Shekarau, who was among founding APC leaders, had been sulking since the national headquarters proclaimed governors as party leaders in their states. This gave his long-standing political rival, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, a chance to upstage him in the party’s affairs.

The national headquarters as well as other party leaders in the state made some reconciliationefforts, but the former governor insisted that there was injustice that must be remedied.

Shekarau’s defection yesterday came days after his Sokoto counterpart, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, also left the APC for PDP, protesting the emergence of his rival, Governor Aliyu Wamakko, as party leader in the state.

At the gathering of supporters in Kano yesterday, Shekarau set the defection ball rolling when he enumerated the various challenges he encountered in APC and then asked his followers to suggest a way out.

Former chairman of Doguwa Local Government Area, Alhaji Shehu Maigari, spoke on behalf of the stakeholders and then moved a motion for the defection to PDP.
“We have realised that there won’t be justice and fairness in APC and as such I’m suggesting that we should collectively move to PDP,” he told the crowd.

Maigarai was seconded by secretary of the defunct ANPP in Gwale LGA, Yakubu Musa Hausawa, who also alleged injustice in APC. At this point, Alhaji Ghali Sadiq asked the crowd whether they supported the motion, and they unanimously chanted “mu na son PDP!”, meaning “we want PDP!”
Responding, Shekarau said with the endorsement of the motion, they were all moving to PDP. 
“We are moving en masse, collectively and one-in-all to the PDP. With this development, we are calling on all our supporters, admirers and well-wishers to dissociate themselves from APC and join our brothers and sisters in PDP to move the country forward,” he said.
“When we were working for the formation of APC, we agreed that the interim leadership of the party should be given six months to organise the party. It was agreed that they should use the first three months to register members and the last three months should be used for the conduct of party election and convention.

“They have not done this, instead they took unconstitutional decisions. We wrote petition complaining about the way things have been done. They didn’t acknowledge receiving it and they have not responded to it six weeks after we sent it to them.
“The case is the same in Sokoto, Kwara, and Adamawa where disgruntled PDP governors have joined the party. We are not against anybody joining the party but what we want is fairness.

“It is against this that stakeholders of defunct ANPP unanimously agreed that we should denounce our membership of APC.”

When contacted by telephone, PDP state caretaker committee chairman Dr. Hassan Kafayos said the former governor and his supporters would get fair treatment in PDP.
“We are going to be just and fair to him in PDP,” he said.
“Malam Shekarau is equal to those of us that have been in PDP for long and we are going to carry him along in all our activities. 

He will contribute towards the success of PDP in 2015.”
In his reaction, Governor Kwankwaso, through a spokesman, said Shekarau’s defection will not make any difference.
“His defection is a good sign that PDP is a crumbling house. We are not the ones that pushed him out; he left on his own because of his personal ego and aggrandisement. With this defection, Nigerians will know who is really a democrat,” said Jafar Jafar, a spokesman for Kwankwaso.

“If being a former governor is the yardstick of becoming the leader of a party, then Senator Kabir Gaya should be the leader of APC in Kano, but it is not. Over 90 percent of Shekarau’s supporters are with us and as such his defection won’t make any difference in the political calculation of Kano State.”

Meanwhile, National Assembly members of the defunct ANPP from Kano, who are now in APC, have said they would not be following Shekarau into PDP.
Senator Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya told Daily Trust he had earlier pleaded with Shekarau not to leave the APC because that is where he belongs.

“He left contrary to the advice of his people. He is alone and he is on his own because nobody went with him. Only one member of the State House of Assembly followed (him). All of us in the National Assembly are in the APC,” Gaya said.
Gaya also said he was too “big” to follow Shekarau to the PDP because Shekarau met him in the defunct ANPP.

“May be he (Shekarau) likes being in the opposition because soon PDP will become opposition in Nigeria,” Gaya added. The 11 House of Representatives APC members from Kano also re-affirmed their allegiance to APC.

“We wish to make it categorically clear today that, we are not leaving the APC for any political party. We have sacrificed a lot and have come a long way in the struggle to emancipate our people from the bondage of PDP misrule,” the Kano APC Reps caucus said at a news conference in Abuja yesterday.

“(We) will not look back, or backtrack, we will not look sideways, we will not leave our beloved APC for anything else,” said the caucus, in a jointly issued document read to journalists by Rep Abdurrahman Kawu Sumaila. 

They urged the APC leadership to remain transparent and provide a level-playing field to all party members.

Other lawmakers in the caucus are Tijjani Abdulkadir Jobe, Usman Adamu Gaya, Haruna Musa Fatahi, Muhammad Sani Rano, Lawan Shehu Bichi, Abdulsalam Adamu, Badamasi Ayuba Danbatta, Nasir Baballe Ila and Nasir Ali Ahmed.

Why I Didn’t Follow G-5 To APC- Gov Aliyu

The Niger State governor Babangida Aliyu has said he did declined to move to the All Progressives Congress (APC) with his G5 colleagues, because his conscience was always with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

This comes as the former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Baffarawa, yesterday formally declared for the PDP and criticised the APC as not having any formal members to boast of.

They both spoke at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja. While the Niger State governor led party stalwarts from the state to pay a solidarity visit to the chairman, Bafarawa came to openly declare his membership of the PDP.

Governor Aliyu, while recounting why he did not join his colleagues to APC said, “I led a protest which came to be known as G-7. It was not intended to kill the party and move away. Many people asked me, ‘you led the group how come you did not move’. I didn’t move because my conscience, understanding and my position is with the PDP. And I believe that in 2015 PDP will form the government.”

The governor further hailed the emergence of Mu’azu as chairman of the party and noted that the travails he went through after his tenure as the governor of Bauchi State prepared him for his new office.

He said the return of Mu’azu had brought hope to the party and members can hold their heads high, adding that the challenges faced by the party will make them face elections in 2015 in a better shape.

Meanwhile, former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, said the APC did not have members since its creation six months ago.

He said: “As far as I’m concerned, there is no member of the APC in this country. This is because you cannot be a member of any political party without membership card. For the last six months that the party was formed, up until now nobody has a membership card.”

Govs Storm PDP Secretariat

The national secretariat of the PDP came alive yesterday as the party’s governors stormed the party to show solidarity with the new chairman, Adamu Mu’azu.

The governors had previously shunned the secretariat in subtle protest against the regime of the former chairman, Bamanga Tukur who was removed two weeks ago.

The governors who visited the secretariat include those of Akwa Ibom Abia, Delta, Gombe, Katsina, Kebbi, Bayelsa, Kogi, Taraba (deputy), Niger, Cross Rivers, Kaduna, Plateau, Sokoto (deputy). Governors of Bauchi, Benue and Enugu were however absent.

Playing host to the governors, the national chairman cautioned them against rumour mongers, advising them to be patient with the party’s leadership at this time. He further pleaded with them to help appeal to the defected five governors to return to the PDP.

He said, “As you know, our governors are our garrison commands in our various states. We are very happy with them and we are very proud of them.

“But we want to appeal to them to particularly be patient at this moment of our history. You will see what you do not like and you will hear what you do not like and the rumour mongers around are working but God will always guide us.”

He noted that in a big family like PDP, there is bound to be conflict but the ability to resolve it is what matters most.

“I therefore want to appeal to you to please speak to your colleagues to come back home,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the governors, their chairman and governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Godswill Akpabio, assured the chairman of their unalloyed support.

He said: “On behalf of the 18 PDP governors and we are hoping that, with your intervention and the intervention of the NWC, that number will be increased by bringing back some of our brothers who crossed over to the other side.

“We are very certain that under your able leadership, the party can only wax stronger. As field commandants in our various states, we are here to pledge our unalloyed support to the NWC under your leadership and also our unalloyed loyalty and support to Mr President, President Goodluck Jonathan.”

Atiku’s S’South Associates Split between APC and PDM

Associates and political leaders of former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the South-south geo-political zone were yesterday split between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) as preferred platforms in place of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The leadership and stalwarts of the APC had following a courtesy visit to Atiku on December 18 last year invited him to come and join the opposition party.
Atiku had assured them that he would consult widely with his associates before taking a decision on the matter.

Subsequently, he had commenced extensive consultations at home and abroad and last week stepped up the tempo with consultative meetings in Kaduna, Abuja and Enugu.
A snap vote at the end of Atiku's consultative meeting with his associates and political leaders in Benin City, Edo State, however, showed a near-tie by the attendees in their choice of a party to defect to.

At the end of the vote, which followed the well-attended Atiku held with his associates at the Protea Hotel, 47 per cent were inclined to his movement to the APC as against 48 per cent for PDM.

Only five per cent wanted his continued stay in the PDP.
Atiku had in his remarks at the meeting, recalled that his political struggles, which commenced during the military regime, had always been about advancing the cause of democracy.
He noted that the PDP, which he co-founded was now a shadow of its past and had little regards for promoting internal democracy.

"I do not have any problem remaining in the PDP but it appears that the PDP has a problem with me remaining in the party. I am not invited to BoT, NEC and caucus meetings that I am statutorily qualified to attend," Atiku told his associates.

Noting that the decision to defect was one of the most difficult political decisions he had to make, the Turaki Adamawa said it was imperative that he consults with his associates, who have over time made good the support base he had.

He assured them that the decision he would make at the end of the consultative process would be predicated on the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.

"The most important thing is the future of Nigeria and its people and not about (me)," he said.
Atiku, who had consulted with his supporters and associates in the North-west, told Governor Adams Oshiomhole during a courtesy call on the governor yesterday that the consultation was a follow-up to the visit of the APC leadership to him in Abuja last December. The former vice-president stated that it was at that occasion the party requested him "to come back home," adding: "I look forward to doing that this afternoon."

He commended the governor for his good work and urged him to continue in that direction.
He also described Boko Haram's killings in Adamawa State "as unfortunate".
Atiku also held private a meeting with the interim National Vice-Chairman (South-south) of the APC, Chief Tom Ikimi, at his residence.

The consultations continued today in Ibadan, the Oyo State Capital, with a stakeholders’ meeting for the South-west associates.

Meanwhile, Responding, Oshiomhole said the former vice-president had enormous capacity to interact and engage without bitterness, adding that he learnt a lot from him as a labour leader.
According to him, that Atiku is consulting, shows he is keeping his words, pointing out that in every liberal democracy, there are two parties because there are two broad ideas- left and right.
The governor said in Nigeria, the forces were not different and were made up of those who want the status quo to remain and those who want change.

He added that unless there was a fair balance within the two forces, the expected change would not come.

Oshiomhole, however, warned that in politicking, Nigerians should recognise that it was all about the country and prayed God to guide the former vice-president to take a decision would be in the best interest of the country.

Babangida Denies Writing Jonathan

Former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, has denied media report that he, like former President General Olusegun Obasanjo, has written a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan on the state of the nation.

Babangida, in a statement yesterday by Mr. Kassim Afegbua, denied the report, which he described as “outright blackmail journalism and a sad commentary on the journalism practice.”
In the statement given to THISDAY in Minna, Niger State, Babangida denied issuing any statement titled: “Your aides are misleading you; IBB warns Jonathan,” published in an online publication.

“To state the least, this is outright blackmail journalism and a sad commentary on journalism practice; a profession that I hold dear to my heart.
“Let me also state without mincing words that I did not issue the said statement that is flying around the social media on behalf of IBB,” the statement added.
Afegbua also stated that Babangida did not authorise anyone to write the statement, adding that since he left to be the Special Assistant to the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, Babangida had not officially appointed a spokesman.

He said: “I declare with all the emphasis at my disposal that General IBB did not authorise anyone to issue any statement on his behalf let alone crediting same odious statement to me; Prince Kassim Afegbua. Even though General IBB has not officially appointed a media spokesman since I left, my acceptance of the offer of special adviser by my governor automatically removes me from being General IBB’s spokesman, a position I so cherished and a personality I so admire.

“It is, therefore, bad journalism for one obscure, good-for-nothing, unprofessional platform such as the Global Villa Extra, to fabricate a statement and credit same to me, not only to mislead the public but cause disaffection amongst the personalities involved.”

He explained that it was not in Babangida’s character to take up issues with leaders in such a pedestrian manner as reflected in the so-called statement credited to him.
“This rebuttal becomes instructive to put the records straight and disabuse the minds of our numerous followers, friends and associates who may come across this statement in one way or the other,” he added.

According to him, ‘When I called the local mobile telephone number of the online publication: 08165076156, no one answered my several calls. In fact, the receiver from the other end was cutting my calls. When I called the international number, 00912407041545, a receiver from the other end who refused to disclose his name, expressed shock at my declaration. He did promise to instruct his co-conspirators to remove the tissue of concocted lies from their site. As at the time of writing this rebuttal, he has not done so.”

APC: Presidential Ticket Open to All Zones

Contrary to expectations that the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may zero in on a particular geopolitical zone for its presidential candidate to contest the 2015 general election, the party has actually thrown the race open with a view to fielding the best from any part of the country, THISDAY has learnt.

Irrespective, the North-west and North-east geopolitical zones are already locked in a battle over which of the two zones would clinch the APC presidential ticket.

A reliable party source, who spoke to THISDAY on the condition of anonymity, said the party is not likely to zone the presidential ticket to any part of the country in the light of the challenges that come with limiting the chances of other eminently qualified persons in the race.

“Who do we really have in the North-east that can confront the monster of this election? Well, I can’t tell. But I know it is beyond the platform; the candidate plays a major role.

“I know our former presidential candidate, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, comes from the zone. But as we speak, who is that prominent person that is sellable from that zone as a presidential material? I still can’t seem to place my hand on anyone.

“But that is not ruling out the zone from the contest because there will be a primary and the race will be open to all the zones. We’ve not even considered zoning much less narrowing it down to a particular zone. But I can tell you for certain that there will be a primary and it will be open to all,” the source said.

However, while some people believe that the party’s leadership might be looking the way of the North-west because of the clout that Major-General Muhammadu Buhari is believed to have in that part of the country, there is a growing clamour by APC members from the North-east to clinch the presidential ticket.

Whilst previous efforts by the likes of Mallam Adamu Ciroma and Professor Iya Abubakar at the presidency failed during the Second Republic, some political leaders from the zone are said to have intensified efforts by scheming to use the APC platform to make it to the presidency.

The North-east, which comprises Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa and Taraba States, has never had a president or military head of state, save for the late Sir Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister, in the First Republic, who hailed from Bauchi State.

A source privy to the move to position the region for the APC ticket noted that “those who aspired to the presidency from our zone in the past were prevailed upon to drop their ambitions by some respected elders,” adding that the latest move is being spearheaded by some elders from across the North who are of the view that the North-east is being unfairly treated in the scheme of things in the country.

Thus, if successful, he argued that it would be part of the effort to re-integrate the North and mend broken fences created by the feeling of lack of equity among its various peoples.

He said since the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had been ruled out in the scheme to actualise the North-east presidential dream, the opposition APC has become the alternative platform.

Apart from Ribadu, who was the defect Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) presidential candidate in the 2011 presidential election, persons like former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, should he defect from PDP to APC, and former Lagos State military governor, Gen. Buba Marwa, are likely to indicate interest in the nation’s top job on the APC platform.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Constitution Review: House Seeks Amendment to Impeachment Process for President, VP

The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution yesterday submitted a report proposing an alteration to Section 143 of the constitution with a view to removing ambiguities in the process of impeachment and removal of the president and vice-president from office.

The amendment to the impeachment process is one of the 17 proposals submitted to the House by the ad hoc committee chaired by Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha.

In its proposal, the ad hoc committee recommends that the provisions of Section 143 should be amended to allow impeachment process against the president or vice-president to proceed once at least one-third of members of the House of Representatives have signed a notice of any allegation written against either the president of his deputy.

This is provided that the offence of the person targeted for impeachment is detailed, specified and a copy presented to him by the House speaker within seven days of the receipt of the notice.
Also, any reply to the allegation(s) against the person about to be impeached should be communicated to the legislators.

A fortnight thereafter, the House shall resolve, without recourse to debate, whether the allegations should be probed or otherwise, giving due consideration to the weight of each allegation of gross misconduct; and voting on the same “in accordance with the rules and procedure of the House of Representatives.”

According to the proposal, the president or vice-president stands removed once the allegations so considered by the House are served on him by two-thirds of lawmakers.
“Notwithstanding the removal of the office holder from office under sub-section 8 of this section, the Senate may, by simple majority, vote to prohibit the person so removed from holding any position of trust or public office in the future,” the ad hoc committee proposed.

It also provides that “no proceedings or determination of the National Assembly or any matter relating thereto shall be entertained or questioned in any court.”

Other proposed amendments to the constitution by the ad hoc committee are: alteration to Section 4 of the constitution to provide immunity for lawmakers for words spoken or written at the plenary or at committee proceedings; alteration to Section 6(6) of the constitution to allow for the justiceability of some parts of Chapter II of the constitution and alteration to Section 25 of the constitution on the definition of citizenship to include all persons indigenous to communities now forming part of Nigeria.

It also proposed a Bill for an Act to provide for national social integration of the country and alteration to Section 56 of the constitution to guarantee freedom of speech and legislative actions of members of the National Assembly.

In addition, it called for an alteration to Section 67 to secure compulsory attendance of the president to deliver a State of the Nation Address to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and alteration to Section 81(3) of the constitution to include the national security agencies and the Nigeria Police in the first line charge of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

It also proposed an alteration to Section 85 and 125 of the constitution to ensure accountability and transparency in the management of the finances of all statutory corporations, commissions, authorities, agencies, including all persons and bodies established by Acts of the National Assembly or laws of a state House of Assembly and to further enhance the efficiency of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation or of a state.

The ad hoc committee also submitted that Sections 89, 241 and 242 as well as 277 and 282 should be altered too, in addition to Sections 285, 292 and amendment to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps Act, to provide for financial contribution from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to enable the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) carry out its functions.

Giving a synopsis of its work, Ihedioha stated that the House had referred some bills to the committee for further legislative input.

“The committee treated most of them which formed part of the report submitted to the House in July, based on which the House conducted the votes on amendment to the constitution on 25th July, 2013.

“A few of the bills were omitted during that exercise; some were stood down as they did not undergo public hearing while a few others were referred to the committee after the voting had taken place.

“As a result, the leadership of the House and the committee thought it wise to conclude work on those bills before setting up a conference committee to liaise with the Senate for harmonisation purposes,” he said.

Tambuwal: Why I Will Not Leave PDP

APC loses another legislator to ruling party
• Both parties even at 173 House members each

Party Number of Lawmakers

PDP 173

APC 173

LP 6


AP 3

Muhammad Bello and Jude Okwe 
For the second time in one week, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, has been at pains to provide clarification on his party affiliation, stating that it is not in the character of his politics to abandon a political party just because it is in crisis.

Speculation had been rife for several weeks that Tambuwal was preparing to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party on which he was elected into the House of Representatives, to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

THISDAY had also exclusively reported that the speaker was preparing to announce his declaration for the opposition APC on Tuesday, January 21 when the House resumed from its yuletide recess, but a court order obtained a day before his planned defection by the PDP against him and other leaders of the lower chamber stopping a leadership change stopped him in his tracks.

However, in an interview in Akamkpa, Cross River State Monday evening, the speaker said rather than abandon the PDP midstream, he would prefer to remain in the party to help fix its problems, as that was the hallmark of a politician with principles.

The speaker’s comments coincided with the loss of another APC legislator to PDP yesterday, bringing the number of PDP and APC House members to 173 apiece, while the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has five members, Labour Party (LP) – six, and Accord Party (AP) – three.

Tambuwal stated categorically that he remained a staunch member of the ruling party and had no plan to defect from it either now or in the near future, as one of the qualities of a good politician is his ability to weather the storm.

The speaker was in Akamkpa at the instance of his colleague representing Akamkpa/Biase Federal Constituency, Hon. Daniel Asuquo, who empowered his constituents with motorcycles, sewing machines, scholarship awards and skills acquisition, among other benefits.

Tambuwal maintained that even though some PDP members had defected to the APC, his membership and faith in the PDP remained intact, noting that defection at the National Assembly as currently being witnessed was a two-way thing because some had left the PDP while others were joining it.

“Defection is on two sides. Some members are defecting to PDP while others are defecting to another party. Just recently, a member of the defunct ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria) defected to the Labour Party and members of other parties defected to PDP.

"But the whole party could not stop five governors from defecting. For you to lose governors in five states is quite challenging but I am sure the new chairman of PDP has the capacity to stabilise everything going wrong in the party,” he said.

On his political ambition in the 2015 general election, the speaker said: “I have no intention of declaring until when the time is ripe, but I have committed all of that to Almighty God for Him to guide my footsteps.”

He expressed confidence in the ability of the chieftain and stalwarts of the PDP to resolve the crisis that has engulfed the party, saying the new national chairman had demonstrated a new spirit that would bring about reconciliation and urged all to support Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu to succeed.

He commended Cross River State Governor, Mr. Liyel Imoke, for his initiative and also for stabilising the PDP in the state, adding: “The Cross River State caucus is a wonderful family in the National Assembly.”

Commenting on the implementation of the budget, he said the duty of the legislature was to appropriate funds, while that of the executive is to utilise the estimates approved accordingly.

“It is not our responsibility to implement budget but we facilitate the passing into law of budgets,” he added.

He commended Asuquo for the elaborate empowerment programme in his constituency, saying the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Interior had taken the right steps so far in alleviating poverty in his constituency.

In a related development, the effort by the APC to wrest the majority status and leadership in the House of Representatives suffered a setback yesterday when it lost one of its members from Nasarawa State to the PDP.

Hon. Haruna Joseph Kigbu jettisoned APC for the PDP, saying his decision to quit his former party, which has other legislators from his state and is the only state where the erstwhile Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) clinched the governorship election, was based on wide consultations.

The defection letter read at plenary by Tambuwal elicited excitement from some PDP members who chanted the party slogan as the announcement was made.

Kigbu’s defection was the second from APC in the last two weeks, as two other party members from Adamawa State, Hon. Titsi Ganama and Hon Haske Hananiya, had defected to the PDP.

PDP in turn had also lost one more of its members on the same day to APC, while the solitary member elected on the platform of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) also crossed carpet to APC.

Nyako, Marwa, Gundiri Resolve Political Differences

Adamawa APC interim committee inaugurated 

There seems to be an end in sight to the power tussle in the Adamawa State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) as the three main gladiators in the state have resolved to sheathe their swords.

Adamawa State Governor, Alhaji Murtala Nyako, governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Brig. Gen. Mohammed Marwa and his counterpart in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr. Markus Gundiri, who had been at loggerheads over the control of the party machinery in the state yesterday resolved to work together.

Marwa and Gundiri had teamed up to fight the decision of the APC national leadership that Nyako, who last year defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the opposition party, should be the party leader in the state.

But the three party leaders told stakeholders at the inauguration of the party’s interim state executive committee, which held at the Government House, Yola that they had decided to put aside their political differences to resolve the lingering crisis in APC in the interest of the party and Adamawa people.

Nyako, while addressing the stakeholders, comprising members of the three legacy parties that coalesced to form the APC and those who defected from PDP with him, said the trio had decided to work together to defeat the PDP in the 2015 general election.

The governor told the gathering that after a meeting, which lasted several hours on Monday with Marwa, Gundiri and representatives from the APC headquarters, they had agreed to abide by the tenets of the party, which are based on fairness, equity, justice and internal democracy.

He commended APC interim Deputy National Chairman, Alhaji Aminu Masari, for his maturity in resolving the political differences between him, Marwa and Gundiri, adding that he has proved to be a great politician.
In his remarks, Marwa said they had resolved the crisis in the party in the state and commended Nyako for displaying a sense of maturity at the meeting by admitting his mistake, which led to the disagreement in the party.

Marwa added that they had forgiven Nyako and agreed that he should lead Adamawa APC.
“We are happy with the actions of the governor and we are ready to work together without sentiments attach to our struggles,” he said.

Also responding, Gundiri expressed joy that they have been able to resolve their differences to prove wrong those who had said it would be impossible for the three of them to work together.
According to him, it will be a surprise to many people that they agreed to recognise Nyako as the leader of the party, saying that they did so because of his sincerity and the maturity he displayed at the meeting.

He said although the party’s national leadership had given the governor five slots in the interim state executive committee, he only filled two slots.

In his speech, Masari said he was in the state to supervise the inauguration of the interim committee whose members are saddled with the responsibility of mobilising, sensitising and supervising the registration process of the party.

He said he was happy because the party had been able to resolve the problem in the state chapter of APC and called on the new committee to carry everybody along to end crisis in the party.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Case for a Ministry of Rural Development

Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have several parastatals, agencies and departments, but only one department, the Federal Department of Rural Development, is solely dedicated to rural development.

To a large extent, Nigeria’s rural development strategies have been mainly targeted at the country’s agricultural productivity. Though, majority of Nigeria’s rural dwellers are peasant farmers; rural development should go beyond agricultural productivity. It should also be directed at the development of human and natural resources; rural road, energy, education, culture, social order, and political awareness. This re-direction will make rural development in Nigeria conform with the global concept of rural development- “quantitative change or uplift in the standard of people in the rural areas, brought about through integrated approach, by both governmental and non-governmental agencies and the people themselves”.

The federal government of Nigeria has recently launched the second phase of the Rural Access and Mobility Project tagged “RAMP-2”. The RAMP-2 is aimed at opening up rural communities across the country within six years, through the construction or rehabilitation of 800km of rural roads and 65 numbers of river crossings in the four states of Adamawa, Niger, Enugu and Osun. The World Bank and the French Development Agency are financing the project with about $242.71 million.

The Mobility Project is a good initiative. However, for the project and other rural development programmes to be more effective, Nigeria’s rural development approach should be systematic as well as systemic. Systematic in the sense of using both reductionism and holism, while systemic in the sense of remodeling the three known rural development strategies (the technocratic, reformist and the radical).

Many countries have tried the three rural development strategies; some countries have recorded some success while others, colossal failures. The objective of the technocratic strategy is to increase agricultural output within the framework of capitalist ideology. The reformist strategy aims at redistributing income and increasing agricultural output. While the radical approach with socialist outlook; its objective is a complete social change, redistribution of political power and factors of production.

As earlier suggested, Nigeria’s rural development approach should be systematic -employing reductionism and holism. Using reductionism, this implies the RAMP-2 and other rural development programmes and projects would target one, two or a few rural communities in each of the 774 local government council of Nigeria at a given time. And using holism, selected rural communities will be equipped with basic rural infrastructure -school, water supply, electricity, health facility and sanitation, agricultural implement and extension service.

Good facilities and infrastructure can be built in rural areas; but maintenance of such could be a problem. Taking cognizance of the insufficient funds and near absence of government administrative machineries in rural Nigeria, the best solution is community involvement. Government facilitates education, culture, social order, and political awareness and provides the basic infrastructure. And it hands over the responsibility of maintenance and care to the community. Considering the peculiarity of most Nigerians when it comes to managing public resources and trust, extra measures will have to be put in place to avoid mismanagement and abuse. These measures could include legislative protection and guidance, governmental checks and balances, occasional inspection and evaluation. Facilities should be provided for manageable units of the community so as to avoid giving excessive control to community heads, who could take advantage by imposing some illegal levies or taxes on such facilities.

The current system of rural development in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development focuses too much on the country’s agricultural productivity to the detriment of the development of human, social and natural resources. And this is traceable to rural development being under the Ministry of Agriculture. For Nigeria to efficiently develop and execute a viable rural development strategy, the responsibility of coordinating rural development should be withdrawn from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. And a new ministry should be created solely for rural development. The proposed ministry should be made to function differently from what obtains in the present system. However, whether Nigeria’s well-known bureaucracy and politicians will allow for a different approach to the running of a ministry is a big question. Nonetheless, new and more productive ways of doing things must be recommended.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rural Electricity Agency Suspends MD

Trouble is again brewing at the newly resuscitated Rural Electrification Agency (REA) as its managing director, Mr Kenneth Achugbu, has been suspended with immediate effect by the supervisory board which appointed Mr Mohammed Abubakar Wasaram, the most senior director of the agency, as the acting managing director.

Achugbu’s suspension was decided by a seven-to- two votes by the nine members of the Board under the chairmanship of Senator Jonathan Zwingina at a meeting held at the REA headquarters in Abuja yesterday.

The REA was revived in 2012 after being scrapped for two years by the former administration over allegations of corruption and mismanagement of funds meant to extend electricity to rural areas.

Addressing journalists shortly after the meeting, Zwingina disclosed that the Board decided to suspend the former MD because of poor projects execution and failure to implement the agency’s budget between 2012 and 2013.

He said, “The managing director of the agency, Mr Kenneth Achugbu, is hereby suspended from his duties with effect from January 21, 2014, and his case shall be referred to the minister of power for further necessary action.”

But when contacted, Achugbu told LEADERSHIP that the Board has no right to suspend him, adding that their action was motivated by selfish interest aimed at embarrassing him.

He alleged that the delay in the budget implementation was caused by the board which wanted to hijack the agency by pressuring him to pay money for projects not done, a situation that prompted him to petition the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), adding that before the issue was resolved, the year was almost over.

“The Board does not have the right to suspend me; they are suspending me because of their interest. Something will be done about it once the minister of power comes back. I have called the ministry’s permanent secretary,” Achugbu told LEADERSHIP.

According to Zwingina, the N3 billion earmarked for new projects in 2013 was not utilised and therefore mopped up at the year ending for inability to execute projects with the funds. Similarly, he said of the N7 billion released in 2013, “the management of the agency was again unable to utilise the funds. Indeed, over N4 billion was mopped up by the end of December 2013,” he said.

Oyinlola may regain position in PDP –Investigation

Suspended National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, may soon regain his seat at the national secretariat of the party.

Investigations by our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday indicated that this was one of the possibilities of the reconciliation move to be embarked upon by the new leadership of the party.

Apart from Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State, a former National Auditor of the party, Mr. Bode Mustapha, may also be brought back to his position.

If the move succeeds, the present occupants of the positions, Prof. Wale Oladipo and Adewale Adeyanju, secretary and national auditor respectively, may lose their positions.

Oyinlola was reinstated by the Court of Appeal after he was removed by an Abuja Federal High Court, but few days after the landmark judgement, the National Working Committee of the party under the leadership of the former National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, announced his suspension from the party

Apart from him, the party also suspended a former Acting National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje; a former National Deputy Chairman of the party, Dr. Sam Jaja; and PDP former National Vice-Chairman, North West, Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure.

The four men were later summoned to appear before the party’s Disciplinary Committee headed by Dr. Umaru Dikko.

None of them appeared but the committee went ahead to recommend their expulsion from the party.

However, a member of the National Working Committee of the party, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the mood in the party favour the return of both Oyinlola and Mustapha.

Asked how this would be done, he said the party was at liberty to withdraw its appeal against the case won by the former governor or wait for the Supreme Court to rule on the matter.

He said, “You know he won the case against us at the Court of Appeal and we are appealing the case. We may discontinue the appeal and also lift his suspension which has not been ratified by the National Executive Committee of the party.

“We will wait and see what will happen. But that is the mood in the party now. We need total reconciliation.”

It was also gathered that the party would soon find a way of reaching out to former President Olusegun Obasanjo to appeal to him to reconsider his stand not to take part in the activities of the party anymore.

Shekarau Agrees to Meet Kwankwaso over Kano APC Crisis

The presidential candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the 2011 elections, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, Tuesday said he was ready to meet Kano State Governor, Alhaji Musa Kwankwaso, to resolve the lingering All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership tussle in the state.

Speaking when the 44 local government chairmen and secretaries of the defunct ANPP, who paid him a solidarity visit at his Mundubawa residence in Kano, Shekarau said he was ready to enter into dialogue with Kwankwaso, but on condition that it would be at a neutral ground.

According to him, “I have no ill feelings or grudge against any member of the party, but what I am demanding for is justice, whereby all members of the party is given equal opportunity so that the party can move forward and wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.”
The former governor said if such a dialogue must hold, it should be at a neutral ground, but not at the Government House between the Interim Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, Kwankwaso and himself (Shekarau).

Shekarau, who expressed dismay over the lukewarm attitude of the APC for failing to treat and take action over his two-month old petition he personally presented to the headquarters of the party in Abuja, demanding justice to prevail over the leadership of the party.

He recalled how he worked assiduously for the merger of the legacy parties to materialise, noting that: “I headed the 21-man ANPP committee, shuttling between Kano to Abuja for six months during the merger process, at the end of it the party seems to be creating disharmony among its members.”

In his petition, Shekarau had rejected a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the five defected PDP governors and some APC leaders that the respective governors in their states were the automatic leaders of the party.

The former governor also assured them that whatever decision he arrived at after the consultations, he would not hesitate to consult them.

In his address, the spokesman of the council chairmen and secretaries of the defunct ANPP, Alhaji Mukhtari Bagudu, said: “We shall be in support of whatever decision the former governor wishes to take in respect of the lingering APC leadership tussle in the state.”

Dangote Mulls Buying Oil Blocks for Refinery Complex

Crude oil output may drop by 300,000b/d, says NNPC

Dangote Group, led by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, is considering the purchase of oil blocks as international companies plan to sell onshore assets in Nigeria.

The company, which has interests from cement to sugar, needs to secure a supply of crude oil and a “substantial amount of gas” for a $9 billion oil refinery and petrochemical complex it plans in South-west Nigeria, Group Executive Director, Devakumar Edwin, said in a recent interview in Lagos. He said the company also needed energy for its cement plants in Nigeria.

“We’re seriously thinking of investing in oil blocks both for gas and oil,” Edwin was quoted by Bloomberg as stating.

“We’ve started talking with some companies which are divesting from onshore,” he said, declining to name them.

International oil and gas explorers including Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron are selling onshore and shallow-water fields in Nigeria amid persistent violence and crude oil theft in the oil-rich Niger Delta, with smaller Nigerian companies taking their place.

Dangote “will require feed stock for the refinery,” Pabina Yinkere, the head of research at Lagos-based Vetiva Capital Management Limited confirmed by e-mail yesterday. With its “aspirations of becoming a global cement name, and the importance of energy in the cement production process, this could serve as a complement in the long run.”

Dangote Group believes it can manage unrest and aggrieved communities in the region with corporate social initiatives, Edwin said.

“We know the terrain much better, we know the risks and we believe that the risks can be managed. “The primary risk is people blasting your pipelines. I wouldn’t like to go and invest in a block which is totally inland and then I have to start buying inland pipelines,” he said.

Armed attacks mainly in the delta’s swamps and shallow waters have reduced Nigeria’s oil output by 29 percent between 2006 and 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Although the violence eased after thousands of fighters accepted a government amnesty offer and disarmed five years ago, a surge in oil theft by gangs tapping crude oil from pipelines pushed output down to four-year low last year. Nigeria pumped about 1.9 million barrels of crude a day last month.

Dangote’s complex will include a 400,000-barrel-a-day refinery, a 2.8 million-metric-ton urea plant and a petrochemical factory to produce polypropylene, used to make plastics. The company plans to expand the refinery capacity by another 100,000 barrels, Edwin said.

Nigeria relies on fuel imports to meet most of its needs due to mismanagement, poor maintenance and aging equipment at its four refineries. Dangote’s refinery will cut fuel imports for the country in half, according to the company.

In a related development, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has warned that Nigeria’s daily crude oil output may drop by about 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) from its current 2.4 million barrels per day (mbpd) following new reports of breach on some of its major pipeline network.

The Group Managing Director of the corporation, Andrew Yakubu, made this disclosure yesterday in Abuja during a briefing with journalists on rising challenges of gas supply to the country’s thermal power generation companies in Abuja.

Yakubu in a lucid clarification of NNPC’s constant challenges with crude oil production vis-à-vis pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft stated that each time it made a breakthrough by repairing breaks on its pipelines, another devastating case suddenly rears up, thus giving it the constant job of replacing its pipelines and completely militarising its pipeline rights of way.

The latest attacks, according to NNPC, have always been along its Nembe Creek, Trans-Forcados, Trans-Niger and Tumidaba-Brass pipeline network, all of which convey crude oil to oil terminals.

“Each time an effort is made, we experience some improvements in crude oil production but again, like you heard earlier, the gain we make is always short-lived by another wave of attack. In fact, as we speak, two days ago, on that same trunk line, we got another report that nine locations have being breached along that line and this is the frustration we are facing.

“This will deprive us of the much needed revenue to the Federation Account, and the impact of this is pinching because there is no month that we don’t have challenges in the Federation Account allocation, as this certainly goes a long way to aggravate the situation,” Yakubu said.

He further stated: “In fact, only recently, we got up to 2.4mbpd but with the recent vandalism last two to three days ago, if we take out Trans-Niger, we will be down by another 150,000bpd and if by any chance the Nembe Creek comes in again for whatever reasons, we will be down again by about 300,000bpd. That is the sequence of depletion in production capacity and by extension, the much desired revenue to the Federation Account.”

Yakubu said that means that Nigeria’s daily crude oil production figure would drop to about 2.1mbpd from 2.4mbpd. He however did not say when the production depletion would likely be restored.

“What we are experiencing on the crude oil pipeline is worse than what we experience on the gas pipeline and the cost of doing that is huge. In fact, for most of the lines – both the crude oil supply and distribution lines – we have fully militarised them.

“From Arepo to Atlas Cove they are fully covered by a whole detachment of police, from Warri to Benin are military personnel who are reclaiming all the rights of way for us, and all these costs are associated with what it takes and these are unrealisable flows from the challenges we face in carrying out our operations,” Yakubu explained.