Prior to his 2015 electoral victory, President Muhammadu Buhari had contested for the presidency thrice (2003, 2007 and 2011) and lost on all three occasions. But by 2015 when he made the fourth attempt that eventually enthroned him as the nation’s latest horse rider (apology to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo aka ‘Ebora Owu’), his popularity had soared to an all time high. The chant across the country was simply: ‘Sai Baba’. Except, perhaps, for the Late Chief MKO Abiola in the annulled 1993 presidential election, no presidential candidate in the country’s political history had garnered so much extensive approval.
A couple of factors were responsible for the change in Buhari’s political fortune. First, his predecessor, the Lucky One, had squandered all the goodwill that offered him the presidency. Second, Nigerians saw in Buhari a man of spotless integrity who could be entrusted with the nation’s treasury. Third, Nigerians believed he could decisively tackle the nation’s mounting security problem. Fourth, the coalition of political parties that formed the APC gave Buhari a better platform than he previously had. Fifth, Nigerians were simply fed up with then ruling political party and were willing to give Buhari a chance.
So, Buhari rode on the back of all these aforementioned dynamics to become, perhaps, the most widely elected President in the nation’s political annals. But then, in a funny twist of events, the once famous Buhari, who can never do any wrong, has suddenly become a villain. Suddenly, the man Nigerians love to hail with the chant of ‘Sai Baba’ is literarily being slain on a daily basis, curiously by his erstwhile fanatical promoters.
Just recently, fiery Lagos Pastor and a top notch Buhari’s advocate, Tunde Bakare, held a State of the Nation parley at the headquarters of his church in Lagos. The verdict? Buhari has failed the country. In quick sequence came Buhari battering from across the country. Various organisations and individuals that were once avowed Buhari’s backers have suddenly become his strong critics. Indeed, a famous priest who once predicted Buhari ascendancy to the presidency recently warned him not to take Nigerians for granted.
At the home front, the President isn’t equally finding things easy as the First Lady was once alleged to have said that she wouldn’t campaign for the President’s re-election except he puts his political house in order. The latest in the catalogue of anti-Buhari sentiment, currently pervading the country, came from no other source than the self-acclaimed ‘Conscience of the Nation’, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Now, the question is: How did the President fritter away the goodwill he so much enjoyed at such a critical moment as this? Why is Nigerians’ patience suddenly running out with the president? Well, like every such intricate socio-political issue, the answer to the questions is multifaceted. For one, the president is perceived by many to be too slow in his handling of salient national matters. It took him about six months to put in place a cabinet while appointing members into the various boards of national parastatals took him much more. This is just to mention a few instances.
Also, the President has been broadly accused of engaging in unconcealed nepotism. It has been alleged that the sacred cows in his government are his kinsmen who are largely untouchable. The President has also been accused of favoring those from his part of the country in terms of appointments. In this case, appointments into top national security posts have particularly been alleged to be lopsided.
Additionally, the President’s handling of the tricky killer herdsmen’s question hasn’t been too convincing. While speaking on this particular subject, Pastor Tunde Bakare accused the President of gross bias. He cited the example of how the military were swiftly deployed to fish out Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB gang. He wondered why same speed was not employed in the case of the Benue genocide where hapless people were gruesomely murdered. All over the country, herdsmen are becoming a nuisance and great security threats, but there seems not to be an all out onslaught against them. The insinuation in many quarters, therefore, is that the President is not willing to tackle the knotty issue because ‘his’ people are involved.
Now, in-spite of recent decline in the President’s approval rating, if he wishes he could still warm himself back into the hearts of his disgruntled compatriots, especially the masses who so much believed in him. For one, the President needs to become swifter in his handling of urgent national matters. His recent assertion that he needs to take his time in taking certain decisions doesn’t really suffice. A man whose house is on fire does not have the luxury of time. Swift decisions and actions must be taken on critical national matters to move the country forward. What we need at this critical time in the country is strong leadership. Shrinking from taking the right decisions and actions at the appropriate won’t do the country much good.
Also, the President must be wary of sycophants whose stock in trade is lies and deception. They are hypocrites with self-seeking agenda. They did same with Abacha. For the right price, they can wine and dine with the devil himself. Therefore, the President needs to be discerning with the kind of stuffs such people feed him with. He needs to pay more attention to what his critics are saying. In most cases, critics are better than sycophants.
Equally, the President needs to be more visible. Nigerians want to see and hear their President. It has often been said that President is a man of little words. No! This shouldn’t be the case. He is the leader of a nation of over 170 million people and they are eager to see and hear him. He needs to allay their fears. He needs to say things that would encourage and inspire them. He needs to sometimes move out of the Aso Rock to relate with the ordinary Nigerians. The Vice-President did this quite well while the President was away on medical treatment. He needs to engage the people on several burning national issues. There are several platforms through which this can be done.
Finally, the President must allay the fears of Nigerians on the allegation of bigotry being leveled against him. He must see the entire country as his constituency. After all, his mandate is a pan-Nigerian one. Thus, he must not be seen to favour one section of the country at the expense of the other. In the words of former Senate President, late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo: ‘If you are emotionally attached to your tribe, religion, or political leaning to the point that the truth and justice become secondary considerations, your education is useless. Your exposure is useless. If you cannot reason beyond petty sentiments, you are a liability to mankind’.
For the President, the clock is ticking and time is running out. History would not be kind to him if he squanders the unique goodwill upon which he rode to the presidency. We have had enough tales of failure. He cannot afford to fail!
Ogunbiyi wrote in from Ikeja, Lagos
Kogi East Senate: The risk of PDP choosing Attai Aidoko, By Idris Omahi
Jim Rohn, an American author and motivational speaker once said, “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
This seems to be the dilemma of the people of Kogi East Senatorial District of Kogi State. From one political dispensation to another, they have been forced to settle for an ordinary representation in the National Assembly – the kind that has added very little or nothing to their quality of living.
Another season of decision making is fast approaching; a season where making the wrong choice of who will represent them this time around will consign them to yet another four years of perpetual retrogression. So, as the buildup to the general elections gathers momentum, the people of Kogi East Senatorial District are praying; those who know how to fast are resorting to that. But the prayer point is that God should bring a messiah (or messiahs) who will speak for them confidently at the National Assembly and the district will bounce back to reckoning.
The name, Senator Attai Aidoko, is not new to those who have followed the politics of Kogi State for close to two decades. If not for anything else, he will always be remembered for representing Kogi East at the National Assembly for 16 years (House of Representatives – eight years and in the Senate for another eight years) with nothing to show.
He had earlier represented Ankpa/Omala/Olamaboro Federal Constituency from 2003 to 2011. And the people have said the only dividends of democracy accruing from his representation are seeing his fine face when another election season is approaching, and of course, listening to political sweet nothings when their votes are solicited the next time.
They have said between 2011 and 2018 (going to 2019), they have searched and searched, and continued to search, but the senator cannot be tagged with any meaningful development in any part of Kogi East Senatorial District, not even with his influence as chairman, Senate Committee on SEGS.
One of his townsmen summed up their frustration recently. He was quoted as saying, “The only stream sustaining our community and the neighborhood and is about four kilometers away. Aidoko is far from our challenges because he only comes here in the night and disappear before dawn since he became a senator. As you can see we have no potable water, no electricity and other basic infrastructures.”
Even the boys are not smiling at the moment. Igala youths recently spoke the minds of the entire youths of the district. According to them, the senator is a liability on the good people of Kogi East and he has no political relevance in both the region and at the national level. The youths are crying out, very loud at that, that as the longest-serving federal lawmaker from Kogi East, he has serially failed them “in terms of good legislation, provision of amenities through constituency projects and youth empowerment.”
They continued by saying, “We can’t continue to wallow in this politics of stagnation where some wicked few individuals will gather together to oppose everything that is good for our land.
“Our region has suffered so much neglect despite the fact that we have several opportunities to develop, but we have been suffering so much neglect because of the attitude of some of our leaders.”
The Kogi East people are going, albeit caps in hands to God, to the gods, and to whatever power they believe in, to yarn some miracle intervention of sorts, so that as the Peoples Democratic Party is choosing its candidates in Kogi East, they should settle with a quality candidate who will better their lots, who will be their voice when other brand-new senators take their hallowed seats in the hallowed chamber.
Anything less than a suitable candidate will attract rebellion from the voters, and the people, especially if the current occupant gets the ticket. You see, the people have been bitten more than twice. Who knows, they may be shy the next time they are bitten. Even as they do not trust the All Progressives Congress promise-and-fail kind of politics, chances are that they may rather feel comfortable with it by offering their protest votes to an APC candidate possibly coming from Dekina or the Idah axis of the zone. If for any reason the incumbent senator returns to contest on the platform of PDP, chances are Dekina/Basa will go for APC, Idah Federal Constituency will go for APC and Ankpa/Omala will go for APC. Though, this will bring a new chapter of failed promises, it could be the last resort just to teach the party delegates a lesson.
PDP in the Kogi East is in need of a new face who can energize their base. There is so much anxiety at the moment because the current occupant as a product is not strong enough to move market for the party in the face of the electorate. Just think of it, he has never won the primaries. He gets the ticket through the back door.
Another burning issue that may consume the PDP in Kogi East is the marginalization of the Idah axis of the zone. Kogi East Senatorial district has nine local government areas and three federal constituencies. They include the Idah axis: Idah, Ibaji, Igalamela/Odolu and Ofu; Dekina axis: Dekina, Bassa and the Ankpa axis which consists of the Ankpa, Olamaboro and Omala.
The choices before the political class and the electorate are between progress and retrogression, unity and disunity, equity and inequity; and of course a wide prospect of prosperity for millions and not just the elite few.
Between 1999 and 2003, Dr. Alex Kadiri, a Dekina citizen was elected into the senate. Senator Nicholas Ugbane also from Dekina succeeded Dr Alex Kadiri and served in the senate for eight consecutive years. The zoning formula favoured Dekina yet again in the race for Lugard House which led to the emergence of Captain Idris Wada as governor of Kogi State.
Similarly, Ankpa Federal Constituency has also been largely favoured since the return to democratic rule. Alhaji Ibrahim Idris governed for nine years. Senator Attai Aidoko, another native of Ankpa Federal Constituency has been in the National Assembly since 2003.
Barr. Dangana Ocheja was elected in 2011. His representation was truncated by Attai Aidoko Ali through the judiciary after just six months. The implication is that since 1999, Idah Federal Constituency (comprising Idah/Ofu/Igalamela-Odolu/Ibaji) despite its massive voter strength has not produced a senator. This clearly indicates that equity has been conspicuously overlooked in favour of marginalisation.
One may argue that several indigenes of Idah Federal Constituency were beneficiaries of high-profile political appointments. But we need to remember that an appointment is a prerogative of the chief executive and is not necessarily a true representation of the desire of the masses.
Back in 1999, President Obasanjo appointed Dr. Eyitayo Lambo and Bayo Ojo as Minister of Health and Attorney General and Minister of Justice respectively. Both were from Kabba town. The office of the deputy governor today is the outcome of a doctrine of necessity by the powers that be and not a product of consensual agreement by Igala political stakeholders. Deputy Governor Simon Achuba was forcefully shoved down the throats of the people and they were forced to swallow without complaints.
The clamour for a Kogi East senator of Idah extraction has never been this deafening. It is a major topic of discussion where two or more are gather. If the leaders of the PDP in Kogi State are serious about balancing this highly lopsided senatorial representation in 2019, and are also serious about retaining the massive votes of Idah, Igalamela-Odolu/Ofu/Ibaji citizens, then, they must act quickly and smartly to exterminate the political oppression, subjugation and marginalisation that has been handed down on these politically sensitive people for so long.
Idah Federal constituency has one of the largest voting population in Kogi State. Collection of PVC in the four local government areas has been impressive. If the leadership of the PDP is thinking about zoning the senate to another constituency besides Idah in 2019, they should have a rethink. Several able-bodied individuals with vast experience and impeccable records of hard work, honesty and credibility are very ready and willing to join the senatorial race in 2019.
The “systematic marginalisation” of Idah Federal Constituency must be brought to a halt. The recycling of “expired” familiar names with dismal performances in the senate must also stop. Fresh ideas, fresh approach and better results in 2019 are what the Kogi East people demand and Idah Federal Constituency has a large pool of intelligent, honest and hardworking persons that are ready, able and willing to do the job.
The people know this. The party knows this. Apparently, our distinguished senator himself is well aware. That explains the reason he has been going from pillar to post, seeking crude means to actualize his dream of going back to the senate to warm the seat on behalf of the Kogi East people. Perhaps that was the motive behind his alleged enlisting of more than a dozen propagandists to carry out a smear campaign so as to truncate the ambition of other leading aspirants in the race.
A whopping N20 million, according to reports was given to a party chieftain to facilitate this smear campaign. And part of their briefs was to make the party hierarchy see other leading aspirants as impostors and agents of the opposition and this involved writing several anonymous letters to some party stakeholders.
The leaders of the party are aware of Aidoko’s desperation, that is why they said no to an automatic ticket for our dear senator. They rather expect Senator Aidoko to test his popularity and make his achievements open doors for him if he has done well for his constituency. But the senator is not resting in his oars.
He is making every effort to return to the senate and elongate the suffering period of Kogi East people. This time, the people will resist him with their precious votes.
– Omahi, a political analyst writes from Idah, Kogi State, Nigeria. 081222016330.
The future of Kogi East and Victor Adoji’s aspiration, By Omachi Achor
A call on FG to sack Funke Osibodu’s BEDC for gross incompetence, By Zik Gbemre
Mrs. Funke Osibodu, Managing Director/CEO, BEDC
We have countlessly reiterated the fact that the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), has proven over the years that they do not have the financial capacity and technical expertise to manage and distribute power within the States under their jurisdiction, especially within Warri and environs of Delta State. When a so-called power distribution company depends on its consumers to buy transformer and electric wiring apparatus before they will distribute power to them, then something is wrong.
In fact, it has been noted that since one Mrs. Funke Osibodu took over the affairs of BEDC in the four States under them, which includes Delta, Edo, etc., no single transformer has been given to any Community. Rather, it has been individuals, who have donated transformers to various Communities for the BEDC to distribute power to them. They also do not have concrete electric polls, feeder pillars, etc. in their offices to address power issues affecting their customers. It is being alleged that as at today, over Seventy Thousand (70,000) pre- paid meters that were supposed to be given to consumers, are locked up at one Nekpen- Nekpen complex in Benin, Edo State.
As a result of this, many, including us, are resisting and calling on the Federal Government and relevant authorities in the Federal Ministry of Power, to stop/deny the renewal of BEDC as a power distribution company. BEDC should be sacked and shown the way out as a power distribution company. And the Federal Government should take over the BEDC and run it with a Federal Interim Power Distribution Management Board, pending when a capable distribution company is directed to takeover after due assessment, due diligence and financial capacity of the new company must been satisfactorily carried out.
It is obvious that the BEDC came on board because they thought that they had the capacity and capability to distribute power. But now that it is apparently clear that they do not have such capacity and capability, the best option is for the Federal Government to take over the BEDC and run it for some time before they get another company that can deliver as expected. We all know that power is key to the development of any country, hence we cannot have mediocrity and inefficiency in the delivery of such a vital public service, by the BEDC. How can supposed power distribution company be waiting for its consumers to buy transformers for them to use for distribution of electricity?
All those consumers that are connected to 33kv lines in Warri and environs for instance, were the ones who bought transformers for BEDC to work with. Some big hotels and rich individuals/landlords in some layouts in Effurun-Warri, had to buy the transformers that were used by BEDC to hook them up to 33kv lines. The question is, how many people can afford to buy transformers to be installed for their own use, and at the same time, pay for the power supply to the BEDC who cannot provide the said transformers.
Is that what is obtainable in other civilized societies? Should this be encouraged as the norm? Obviously not! The Federal Government and relevant authorities need to investigate the activities of the BEDC and they will ascertain the above stated facts. As such, we urge that the BEDC should be sacked as requested. It is in the best interest of the Nigerian people living and doing businesses in the States under them.
Gbemre writes from Warri, Delta State
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