By Adrian Awoyele
I read Pa Ayo Adebanjo’s interview in The Punch newspaper on 25 February with so much relish. But it was the elder statesman’s submission on President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration that caught my attention.
It is wise that when an elder speaks, the younger generation listens. This is because, not only does Pa Adebanjo have loads of experience and wisdom but also because he has a vast knowledge of Nigeria, past and present.
It is with that respect that I would like to tackle the issues Pa Adebanjo raised in his submissions not just because it has to be done but because if it is not done it may be taken by a few who don’t have the clearer picture as “truth”
I’ll tackle the issues he raised one after the other, starting with President Muhammadu Buhari’s inaction on herdsmen.
What then is being done about security? The approach of the government has been to deploy mobile police forces to troubled areas and also both the army and air force, the Nigerian Army formations and units in Benue State for example, especially 72 Special Forces Battalion, have consistently maintained Forward Operating Bases at the flash areas covering Guma, Logo, Katsina-Ala and Agatu Local Government Areas.
The operation has the generic name Operation MESA, but it is nicknamed Operation ZENDA in Benue State. The Army had within the last few days scaled up the size of troops and equipment in Agatu, Guma, Katsina-Ala and Logo Local Government Areas of Benue State.
The Army also recently deployed troops at Awe and Tunga Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State, in order to monitor and block the gaps that were presumed to be used as staging points by armed herdsmen to attack communities in Benue State.
Additionally, troops of 93 Battalion, Takum in Taraba State, also occupy blocking positions as well as maintain constant liaison with troops in Benue State.
Furthermore, the command and control structure of the Army formations and units in Benue and contiguous states have been reorganized.
Accordingly, more troops were deployed and the Commander 707 Special Forces Brigade was reassigned to Taraba State for effective command and control of troops operating in the entire Benue/Taraba general area. And next week, the Nigerian Army will flag-off Exercise AYEM AKPATUMA, to checkmate the activities of armed bandits and militias in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and environs.
The killings on herdsmen is condemnable no doubt but to say the Federal Government is aiding and abetting them is not true.
Only last week, the Benue State Government jailed three herdsmen for open grazing without an objection from the Federal Government, this is proof that Buhari’s government wants an end to the herdsmen debacle. Not only has he deployed the Inspector General of police to Benue, he has deployed also droves mobile police forces, army and air force to troubled areas with a view to end the attacks but also to bring peace to these areas, but to stem further tide of the herdsmen menace on neighboring states. This deployment as had been read in many national dailies has accounted for a drop in the aggression seen as regards the herdsmen issue
Worthy of note also is that President Buhari has set in motion a new Committee to rebuild communities affected by herdsmen-farmers violence, and in doing so he appointed His Excellency, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; which further shows the importance Buhari attaches to resolving the issue. The committee is expected among other things to find ways of providing welfare and other needed facilities to ameliorate the resultant effect of the crisis.
Like many Nigerians, Buhari’s appointment of northerners as security heads was raised by Pa Adebanjo. The argument he posited and this same line of reasoning has been raised by other persons without recourse to the fact that the hierarchy of these security institutions existed way before Buhari and if the hierarchy had these officers in cue should the president just jump the constituted authority because he wants to satisfy quota? Truth be told had all these high-ranking officers in the DSS, Police and Army were non-northerners would Buhari have simply promoted northerners and made them head?
Would he have promoted a Major in the Nigerian Army just because he was from Daura, Katsina state and made him Chief of Army Staff? I don’t think so. All these men were next in line for these appointments so they got it.
The case of the CJN is one of key reference, when it got to confirming Justice Walter Onnoghen, the president just towed the line because the current CJN was the next in line it didn’t matter whether he was from the South-South; it was the hierarchy that mattered not his place of ethnicity.
On the issue of Buhari’s integrity, it is pertinent to note that he inherited Nigeria in a bad state, given the maladministration of the previous government.
To put things right, he needed to start from the scratch. He needed to tackle the principalities and powers that had held sway and needed to put his feet down on some matters.
At Buharis inauguration Nigerias foreign reserve was at an all time low, that even the worlds global lending organisations advised that it was unhealthy to lend Nigeria any money. Quite a few nations were not interested doing any business in Nigeria. We were like a nation suffering from leprosy.
Today, Nigeria’s savings has since soared, trillions have been garnered from anti-corruption campaigns and agencies like JAMB have begun generating billions of naira for the economy, Nigerian Customs has generated all it did in over 7yrs in under 2yrs not to mention many others.
On restructuring, Pa Adebanjo said anybody opposing restructuring is an enemy of Nigerian unity. Quite frankly, I do not think this government is opposed to some of the issues raised on restructuring.
President Buhari himself set up a panel within the All Progressives Congress, APC, to dispense with the current pseudo-federal structure.
The panel made sweeping recommendations to save the fragile polity through true federalism.
Essentially, the APC Committee on True Federalism proposed the devolution of powers to the federating units and a measure of resource control. In line with this, it recommended state police, which is to operate “alongside the federal police” and each force with its own defined areas of authority. The committee views the current Exclusive Legislative List, which has 68 items, as a bastardisation of federalism. That is a good judgement.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said more than once that he is support of having state police in Nigeria. He believes this will help improve the security measures that are already in place in Nigeria. Even President Buhari has never opposed restructuring, he only believes that the time for it is not now.
Like millions of Nigerians know, Buhari is not given to much talk, so if he keeps quiet on certain issues, people regard it as negligence or an I don’t care attitude.
Pa Adebanjo’s stance against President Buhari was long before he was elected President in 2015.
In his interview with Punch he said, “Before he (Tinubu) supported Buhari, I shouted. My interview was published: ‘Don’t vote for Buhari. If you vote for Buhari, you will regret it, particularly you people from the West’. They said I got money from (former President Goodluck) Jonathan. I said, ‘I know what you people don’t know’ because a lot of people, who were Buharists at that time, were between the ages of 30 and 40. All of the things I was recounting that Buhari is guilty of, they were not born (to witness) then (1983-1985); those who were born then were teenagers, so they couldn’t appreciate it.”
Perhaps, the elder statesman never gave President Buhari an opportunity to succeed. But more importantly, was the call for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to resign because restructuring was not implemented.
Osinbajo is not only Buhari’s deputy but also one of the main players in this government.
He quelled the restive Niger Delta militants after holding meetings with them, he engineered creation of modular refineries in Nigeria and has repeatedly stated this government’s readiness to improve the general wellbeing of Nigerians.
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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