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As We Await Jega’s Imperfect Elections In 2015 – By Peter Claver Oparah.


By Peter Claver Oparah

I don’t know what was probably on the mind of Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently when he warned Nigerians not to expect a perfect election from his INEC in 2015. I am yet to fathom what message he wanted to send by that apparent admittance of failure before he sets out to deliver what Nigerians have rightly termed a crucial election that will make or mar the fragile country. It is not as if most Nigerian expected a perfect election; not from INEC and most certainly, not from Jega’s INEC that delivered an untidy farce in 2011 and had been delivering more egregious parodies in states it had conducted elections since that sordid show in 2011. Perhaps the high point of Jega’s incapacity to conduct elections in Nigeria was the November 16, 2013 tragedy in Anambra State which merely worked from an answer to a pre-determined question. The nationwide condemnation trailing that anti-climactic election jolted Jega, first to admit the infractions that besmirched the so called election while curiously approving the outcome (as is traditional with his questionable objectivity) and now, to seek to prepare us for the worst in 2015.
Yes, Jega wants to lower the high expectations Nigerians have built for a credible election in 2015.  Yes, he wants to pre-offload the seeming massive umbrage that awaits him should he play a predictable script of mismanaging the 2015 election to favour those that tele-guide him on the job. Yes, Jega was creating a convenient alibi for the predicted failure his INEC plans to shock Nigerians with in 2015 but I don’t think we should allow him such a cheeky escape route. Come to think of it, when did Jega wake up to the reality that his INEC cannot deliver a perfect election after he reveled in the syndicated applause that attended his abhorrent conduct in 2011? When did he wake up to realize that indeed, his INEC, with its present composition and carriage cannot be trusted to deliver an election that will even compete within the regional standard obtainable in West Africa? I ask the last question because Nigerians, I know, will certainly hail Jega and swathe him in flamboyant allure should he deliver an election that nears the standard obtainable in Ghana or even Benin Republic.

After his appointment, Jega was to embark on an expensive voter registration exercise that involved the capturing of the personal data of eligible Nigerian voters. From its face value, that looked a sure bet towards dealing with the virus of multiple thumb printing, which riles the country’s electoral process. It also stood to verify the authenticity of declared results for whenever the thumb printed votes come in contact with the captured data of voters, there is bound to be a scientific filtering to separate the actual votes from the fake votes. What should shock Nigerians was the first observation from curious Nigerians that there was no central server to store the cumulative data captured all over the country. That meant there was no base for the expensive data Jega captured at every polling booth in Nigeria. Also the deliberate manipulation of the voters’ register, as seen in the elections in Ondo, Anambra and Delta Central Senatorial constituency points to the fact that the data that were collated has been seriously compromised and cannot be trusted to form the cornerstone of credible election in Nigeria. Again, there was no known relationship between the data captured and the votes cast. On election day, one needs to present merely his temporary voters card for possible identification and nothing more. What really was the essence of the thumb print that was central to the voters’ registration? With this lacuna, desperate politicians were to corner all the ballot papers and in some cases, one person thumb printed as much as twenty booklets and all were accounted as real votes in the 2011 sham of an election. This was the magic behind the history-breaking 90 to 99 per cent votes the PDP appropriated in the South East and South South States in 2011.

Jega is being clearly mischievous by his latest warning to Nigerians not to expect a perfect election in 2015 and every Nigerian must tell him in unmistakable terms that we expect nothing more than a perfect election from him. If he cannot deliver, let him quit in time for the country to have for herself an election umpire that is ready to claim responsibility for his actions. Yes, let it be clear and candid that we will not accept any more of Jega’s farces again. I can attest that Jega’s INEC cannot conduct a credible election because Jega is too indebted to those that appointed him than disappoint their schemes to corner every election in Nigeria by hook or crook.

It has been the mantra of those that support the entrenchment of fraudulent elections in Nigeria to argue that there can no prefect election. Again, they freely charge that election losers in Nigeria can never accept defeat. These positions have been proven false by the conduct, outcome and reactions that trailed the June 12 1993 presidential election. Truth is Nigerians know a credible election when they see one and whenever it occurs, even losers will accept the outcome. Perfectness is a relative word and that elections are deemed perfect does not mean it is free from error. Nigerians know this and when they demand a perfect election, they want an election with minimal errors and not one that is deliberately schemed as a farce. A bigger truth is that apart from the 1993 presidential election, all other elections held in Nigeria have been mere concoctions put in place to dupe the electorates and further the ends of corruption and bad governance.

As it is now, Jega’s INEC is fully packed with leading PDP members. The rest are mere nominees of the PDP and President Jonathan. One wonders how a credible election can happen with the upper deck of INEC populated by members of a political party that had sworn to retain power till eternity through every available means. The process and procedures of elections are mere malleable tools at the hands of the PDP to arrive at pre-ordained ends. No foundation for credible election is built on such partial foundation and that is one of the burdens Jega carries and why Nigerian elections remain perpetually shambled with deliberately erected bulwarks stalking it at every end.

But this country has a well thought out report on electoral reform, as recommended by the Justice Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reform Panel. The panel is comprehensive enough as to remove most of the bulwarks that stand between Nigerians and credible election in its report. For understandable reasons, the ruling PDP sabotaged the report because while it stands to guarantee a free, independent and credible electoral organ and process, it threatens the plot by the PDP for perpetual fiefdom. The party rather prefers a system where we wobble through highly manipulated elections, executed according to its wills and by people of questionable integrity and party mercenaries. It rather prefers a situation where it enters the game both as a player and referee. It is within this pliable template that we locate Jega, his shoddy conducts so far and his frustration that gave vent to the recent warning. The question every Nigerian, especially the opposition must ask is whether we must continue to endure the process that threw up Jega and makes room for all his failures and still threaten us with future failures?

Methinks every Nigerian must rise up and tell Jega that we expect him to conduct a credible election in 2015 or find the exit door, if he feels he cannot guarantee that. We have collectively borne the brunt of fraudulent elections far too long that we cannot put up with another deliberately fabricated ruse in 2015. In fact, he should muster the courage and tact to steer off the way so as to enable the country address its electoral woes by strictly applying the Uwais Electoral Reform Panel Report. This must be made clear to Jega and the opposition should ensure that Jega is perpetually kept on his toes so as not to once again, dump another electoral charade on the country’s doorstep in 2015.

Peter Claver Oparah
Ikeja, Lagos.

E-mail: peterclaver2000@yahoo.com

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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How Ministers, Presidential Panel Pressured Jonathan To Sack Indicted Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah – PREMIUM TIMES.


 

Disgraced former Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Stella oduah
By Ogala Emmanuel

President Goodluck Jonathan fired Nigeria’s former aviation minister, Stella Oduah, indicted in multiple corruption cases, in response to an overwhelming local and international pressure, spiced by an unprecedented campaign by fellow cabinet members, PREMIUM TIMES has reliably learnt.

The former minister was sacked Wednesday alongside her counterparts in the ministry of police affairs, Caleb Olubolade, and Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe in a surprise cabinet shake-up. The minister of state for finance, Yerima Ngama, was also fired.

Multiple government officials and security sources said the decision to fire the aviation minister, Mrs. Oduah, whose tenure turned out the most controversial with serious cases of corruption and breach of public trust, was taken by Mr. Jonathan weekend, after reviewing extensive local and foreign concerns on the implication of retaining her.

Officials said the minister was considered so much of a liability on the administration that beyond external pressure, colleague ministers and members of a presidential panel that investigated her for corruption led the effort to convince Mr. Jonathan to fire her.

The cabinet members argued that Mrs. Oduah’s continued stay in office, despite a ground swell of evidence of corruption against her, was inflicting further damage on an administration widely accused of undermining Nigeria’s relative gains in the war against corruption.

At the forefront of that effort, our sources said were ministers, led by one from the South-East and another from the South-West, who considered Mrs. Oduah’s continuous presence in cabinet as a slight on their integrity and international profiles.

The ministers led an internal pressure group which persistently pressured Mr. Jonathan to demand Mrs. Oduah’s resignation.

Members of the presidential panel that indicted her formed the second pressure group that called for her removal. Members of the committee include former head of service of the federation, Sali Bello, National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and Air Vice-Marshal Dick Iruenabhere.

The final influence, our source said, came mainly from local and international media that consistently projected Mrs. Oduah as the face of corruption in the Jonathan administration.

“The pressure was too much on Oga,” a close aide of President Jonathan told PREMIUM TIMES. “He had thought about ignoring the pressure and possibly keep her till December but the pressure group kept pushing. Some ministers even started signalling that they would quit the administration if Stella was allowed to remain. The president had no choice than to act. He didn’t want any more embarrassment.”

Our sources said the President had planned to fire the controversial minister in January but later developed cold feet, triggering a new wave of pressure from officials who wanted her removed.

Mrs. Oduah’s troubled tenure hit notoriety last year after it became public she compelled a government agency under her watch to purchase two armoured cars for her use at an inflated cost of N255 million. The contract was neither budgeted for by government nor advertised publicly as required by the public procurement law.

Mrs. Oduah has consistently denied any wrongdoing, claiming the identified infringements were committed by her subordinates at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, whom she directed to “do the needful”- a phrase she implied as a directive that officials should follow the law in any transaction.

An investigation by the House of Representatives found the former minister culpable in the car deal and urged Mr. Jonathan to remove her from office.

The president refused to act, as he did on similar recommendations concerning other ministers considered corrupt, including the petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The presidential panel Mr. Jonathan tasked to conduct a separate investigation into the car purchase also indicted Ms. Oduah, accusing her of approving a contract that exceeded the threshold of her authority as a minister.

“The panel laid the fact before the president, it was his call to take action,” a source familiar with the work of the presidential panel told PREMIUM TIMES. “The panel members kept pushing that action should be taken even though they did not explicitly recommend Oduah’s sack in their report.”

While he confirmed receipt of the report of the presidential panel, Mr. Jonathan failed to make the document public amid intense widespread call for the removal of the minister, his close political ally.

Our sources said the administration came under even more intense pressure after separate investigations by PREMIUM TIMES, and news website, Saharareporters, established that Mrs Oduah falsified her qualifications.

A PREMIUM TIMES investigation found her to have lied about her qualifications in the resume she presented to the Nigerian senate for her confirmation hearing. She claimed a non-existent university awarded her an honorary doctorate.

The government did not comment or act on the finding.

But as the burden of retaining her in government grew, colleague ministers and members of the panel pushed hard to have Mrs. Oduah sacked, intensifying their lobby mid-January, our sources said.

The effort was however countered by another lobby group which succeeded in buying more time for the embattled minister.

The group reportedly advised the president that should he decide to drop her, she should be fired with the minimum humiliation possible.

It is based on that counsel that she was asked to resign alongside three other colleagues, our sources said.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Tribalism Is Like Biting Your Father’s Genitals: Dokubo And Other Tribalists.


By Peregrino Brimah

The heading of this piece may read strange, but some of the parties it primarily refers to will know its source. The original quote is, “He who calls for `Asabiyyah (nationalism/tribalism) is as if he bit his father’s genitals.” Also, “He is not one us who calls for `Asabiyyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who fights for `Asabiyyah or who dies for `Asabiyyah.” “One of us,” here means, “a Muslim,” these quotes, being Hadith of the prophet of Islam (p).

There is no denying the disdain for tribalism by the prophet of Islam. In other narrations, of fighting for tribalism he said to “leave it, it is rotten.” Again he is narrated to have said, “…Behold, Allah (God) has removed from you the arrogance of the Time of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) with its boast of ancestral glories. Man is but an Allah (God)-fearing believer or an unfortunate sinner. All people are the children of Adam, and Adam was created out of dust.” More references can be found on Zawaj website (http://www.zawaj.com/editorials/nationalism_ahmed.html).

Mujahid Asari Dokubo claims to be a Muslim, but according to these narrations, not only he, but all other northerners and other Nigerians, who clamor for and prescribe tribal based fire and blood regardless of the interest of the nation’s masses, simply for the best and most decent, progressive and non-corrupt leadership, are “not Muslims,” and are rotten people who are so low, they nibble and bite to chew their parents genitals.

A Muslim will never fight for tribalism or nationalism. It is one people and one world, all made from dust. All that separates people is their fear of God and their good and Godly behavior.

The New Testament likewise does not favor tribalism. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

Many of us pray for and seek a day and a world without borders and without indigenship and ethnic regulations for leadership. A world where a Kenyan man’s son can become president of America, the world’s most powerful nation (That day has come already in America, but the reverse obtains today in political Nigeria).

The concept of tribalism is very foreign to Africa. Many great writers have penned and typed articles on this fact. When we look back at our ancestors, the one thing that defined pre-colonial Africa is the integration not only of citizens but of leaders too.

King Jaja of Opobo, Jubo Jubogha was an Igbo man from Orlu, who was assimilated into and became leader of Ijaw Opobo in Rivers/Akwa Ibom.

General Murtala Mohammed’s father Pam Iyatus from Vom in Plateau state was a Berom man, who assimilated into Hausa Kano and Murtala is recognized today as a Hausa hero, over his Berom ancestry.

Malam Umaru Altine was a northern Fulani man who was the first elected as the Mayor of Enugu; he was again re-elected to serve a second term.

There are tons more examples.

Indeed in pre-colonial Africa, all it took was to migrate into a new territory and prove your diligence and character to be fully accepted, acculturated and be eligible not only for ethnic citizenship but even to lead the nations.

We have Nigerian origin Yoruba chiefs in Ghana, Sierra Leonean politicians and chiefs in Nigeria, Nigerian top government officials in far away The Gambia and so on.

What is happening to Nigeria now as a few of us are so embroiled in dirty, filial genital cannibalistic tribalism is un-African and will actually make our ancestors turn in their graves. Those of us who wear tribal regalia and claim tribal loyalty would actually be discarded by our for-fathers as illegitimate offspring of their great hospitable and progressive legacies.

It must be added that there is a space for ethnocentrism. However this is only useful as regards competing with the positive achievements of those who came before us, to do better than their records; not in tribalism feats, defaming and disgracing what they valued and promoting what they rejected.

In an earlier article, “The Devil Was the First Ethnocentric,” I presented how by refusing to bow for Adam, the devil was the first to portray such shameful behavior, and is the father of tribalism and ethnocentrism. The devil had argued that he, made from fire should not bow for Adam, made of “mere” dirt. The devil was discarded into the pits of hell for such repugnant behavior.

Nigeria’s empty political elite, the enemies of the nation and the 168 million poverty ridden, humiliated masses, have copied a page from the colonial books, by taking advantage of, and festering tribal sentiments as a weapon to secure their inutile holds on power.

Nigeria needs good leaders, short and simple. Regionalism or disintegration is a legitimate quest if raised and sought respectfully and without direct and indirect celebration of, sponsorship and promotion of death; but promoting tribal based leadership is cheating as long as it is one nation and murderous.

The likes of Dokubo Asari, and others north, south, east and west, who argue to cheat Nigeria of its much needed race to recovery and development, by promoting rotational-presidency and ethnic selection and re-election of candidates, are in African terms, abominable inheritors of our great ancestors. Spiritually speaking, they are cannibals, who thrive off of eating the testicles of their fathers.

Written with contributions from Doctor Amadi Jnr. of Muslims Against Terror.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah
http://ENDS.ng [Every Nigerian Do Something]
Email: drbrimah@ends.ng Twitter: @EveryNigerian

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Lobby for confab delegates intensifies.


confab ctt

ABUJA—FOLLOWING last Thursday’s release of  modalities for the proposed National Conference, an intense lobby by politicians and other people, who want to be nominated as delegates has ensued.To be part of the 492 wise men and women to be saddled with the task of reshaping Nigeria, some serving commissioners are currently pressuring their state governors for a slot. According to the modalities, each of the 36 state governors is expected to nominate three delegates. The presidency, which is expected to nominate about 70 delegates is also being pressured, Vanguard gathered. Already, some ministers considered to be in President Goodluck Jonathan’s good books are being bombarded with phone calls by people angling for a seat at the confab table.The civil society organisations, political parties, ethnic nationalities and other stakeholders are not left out. Many of them will hold crucial meetings on the issue this week.Leaders of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) will meet today to deliberate on whether or not to participate in the conference. APC is one of the five parties slated to nominate 10 delegates.The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which is in support of the conference, said it would meet to nominate its two delegates, once it gets a letter from the Federal Government on the matter.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said last week that it would convene a meeting soon to pick its nominees just as the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) urged all stakeholders to send their First Eleven to deepen deliberations at the conference. President of the South-East, South-South Professionals of Nigeria (SESSPN),  Mr. Emeka Ugwu-Oju, who disclosed that the group will also meet this week, to take a position on the dialogue modalities, said “it will be sad if the governors nominate their houseboys as delegates because their states and geo-political zones will lose out. They must endeavour to nominate people who can represent their states well.”Meanwhile, to get the proposed dialogue going, the Presidency will, this week, write stakeholders, who are expected to nominate their delegates on or before February 20.A presidency source told Vanguard, yesterday, that the Presidency will look at the issue today and start writing the letters to drive the process.The disclosure came as the World Igbo Congress (WIC), the apex organization representing Ndigbo all over the world backed the stance of the Professor Ben Nwabueze-led Igbo Leaders of Thought that the modalities released by the government did not meet the expectations of most Nigerians for convening a confab that will address the multifarious problems of the country.Asked if APC would take part in the conference, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party’s interim publicity scribe, said: “The party will meet tomorrow (today) to take a decision on it” and declined further comments.Select your delegates, prepare agenda, FG tells Nigerians
The Federal Government advised the various interest groups in the country to prepare their agenda to be presented at the conference rather than dissipate energy on whether the President Jonathan administration had a hidden agenda.Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Alhaji Ahmed Ali Gulak, said “we have to advise every interest group that has the interest of Nigeria as its agenda to go and do their home work and take it to the national conference. We have a feeling that those attacking the proposed conference are those who have nothing to offer and would be the first to jump up to claim that the other ethnic groups have outsmarted them.”According to Gulak, the Federal Government has no other agenda than “to secure the peace, stability and unity of the Nigerian state. As the government in power, the Federal Government, will not abdicate its responsibility and allow anarchists to take reins of the country. We are committed to the welfare of Nigerians, the President swore an oath to accomplish these things. It is an open agenda which is not the subject of the conference.”He continued: “We want people to do their home work and present their best team because when they fail to do so, they will not blame the President for their failure.”APGA ‘ll participate –Umeh
Speaking on the conference, APGA  National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, okayed the modalities and assured that the party would participate in the exercise.His words: “APGA will participate in the conference. We support the modalities released by the government. We cannot miss this opportunity of helping to save the country. The Nigerian situation is becoming very serious and the national conference has become imperative. Let people come together, let’s dialogue, look at Nigeria and things that are making the country unstable and find solutions to them. We are happy with President Jonathan’s commitment to the National Conference.”Asked when the party would nominate its delegates, he said: “We are waiting for the letter from the Federal Government. When we get the letter from the Federal Government, which is the official line of communication, we will meet and pick our nominees.“We welcome the programme for the conference. We urge all Nigerians to participate. The Federal Government has made it a broad all-inclusive conference. All segments of the society are involved. Those opposing the national conference are not patriotic enough. We cannot pretend we can get our acts together without dialogue.”On whether the requirement of 75 per cent majority of delegates to resolve contentious issues would not undermine the exercise, Umeh said: “The conference will proceed with the unity of Nigeria as no-go area. Other things will be discussed. There are open wounds, which only the truth and good conscience will heal. There are issues that will be tabled and people will see the glaring injustice. If delegates at the conference fail to address such open wounds, it means clearly they want Nigeria to divide. Only unreasonable people will oppose good demands.”Youths seek more slots
Meantime, Nigerian Youths, weekend, protested 18 slots given to them, saying if truly the conference is to reposition the future of Nigeria, 18 delegates cannot represent over 60 percent of the country’s population.
Consequently, a group known as Re-Orientation Advocates of Nigeria (RAN) tasked the Federal Government on the nomination of more youths. The President of RAN, Mr. Charles Folayan in a statement in Abuja, said the reserving 18 slots for over 70 million youths was unacceptable.According to him, “We agitated earlier for 30-50% representation in our communiqué at the National Youth Summit on Peace and Security held in November last year, we are also very much concerned on how the government is going about it even now that the youth council is in crisis as giving priority to any faction of the council will be out of place.“The president had earlier said that the conference is meant for the younger generation, so the selection of the younger generation must not only be credible, but also significant, we are so much concerned that the number stipulated on the plan for the youth is insignificant. Youth group should be given up to 100 delegates not 18.”WIC backs Igbo Leaders of Thought’s stance
Picking holes in the modalities, Engineer Obi Barth Oyibo Thompson, a member of WIC Board of Trustees, said: “Although there are defects in the modalities released by the Federal Government, the World Igbo Congress supports that Ndigbo should participate in the proposed National Conference.”He advised against Ndigbo boycotting the Confab, but rather should go there and insist on the terms  of association of Ndigbo with other nationalities as articulated by the Prof Nwabueze–led Igbo Leaders of Thought. “The Igbo predicament in Nigeria is a challenge to the conscience of all ethnic nationalities and geo-political zones or Regions in Nigeria. It is a moral wound, inflicted over a long time by injustice, that must be cured. What is important is the quality of Ndigbo representation and that is why Igbo Leaders of Thought are going ahead to complete the task of articulating the Igbo position. There is nothing absolutely sacrosanct as to how an existing Constitution may be replaced by a new one.”Obi Thompson  advised that “although nobody should go to the conference to seek dissolution of Nigeria, it should be emphasized that the right of self determination is a fundamental sacred human right. The Conference should therefore be about discussing conditions whereby it is attractive for each stakeholder to happily and freely exercise this right within the framework of one sovereign Nigerian nation.”On selection of South-East delegates, Obi Thompson said  “nobody is contesting the collectively cherished ideal of Ndigbo speaking with one voice through Ohanaeze” but since the issue of leadership of Ohanaeze appeared currently subjudice, a  better approach might be a conciliatory process whereby all other socio-political cum cultural groups come together with all factions within Ohanaeze for the purpose of selecting their delegates.On Igbo support for President Jonathan, he said: “If the Conference successfully gives birth to a new Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Jonathan would have built for himself a formidable and appreciative constituency across the length and breadth of Nigeria whose support will overwhelm the combined opposition of APC and PDP and sweep him into land slide second term victory. The President should note that our objective is to ensure that he succeeds in this undertaking. If he achieves this, he becomes the undisputed father of modern Nigeria, thus sharing the same spot of honour in our history as accorded to Sir Herbert Macauley and Rt. the Hon. Nnamdi Azikiwe, as the genuine protagonists and patriots of a true and sincere One Nigeria.”This is another jamboree –Tsav
Speaking on the confab in Makurdi, the Benue State Capital, former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, said  it is “another jamboree by the federal government that would serve no useful purpose.”
According to him, the conference will serve as a conduit pipe for wastage and siphoning of the nation’s scarce resources.His words: “The proponents of the conference are only doing it to distract Nigerians from the avalanche of challenges that we face as a people. As far as I’m concerned, the conference is a misplaced priority. The critical problem facing the country and derailing its growth and development is nothing but corruption which is the reason why we are all lamenting and crying in this country.“How can anyone suggest the convocation of another conference in Nigeria when the recommendations of previous ones that were held by past governments in this country have not been implemented. The bane of the development, peace and progress of this country is corruption, if this is tackled every other thing will fall into place.“How can a government that encourages high level corruption convince Nigerians that it is sincere with its policies and programmes when we all know that people who have been declared wanted for corruption charges are being daily celebrated by this administration. As far as I am concerned, the Jonathan’s conference will not be different from the previous ones, nothing new will come out of it. In fact, it will provide a basis for looting and another reason for wastage and drainage of the nation’s scarce resources.”Ex-minister advocates six-year single termAhead of the conference, former Minister of Science and Technology, General Sam Momah, has advocated for a six-year single term in office  for the president and governors.Noting that after every four years the government spends huge sums of tax payers’ money to conduct elections at the expense of the needed socio-economic development by the people, he said apart from huge costs of conducting the elections,  the “ four-year term does not give any executive enough room to complete or conclude any programme it starts. In Africa, no incumbent loses an election, even though it happens, it is difficult, because he makes sure he spends state money to win that election. So, if he knows he has a single term he does his best and leaves.”He further stated that issues the national conference would address had overtaken the constitution amendment by the National Assembly, since the constitution amendment was temporal, but he urged the National Assembly to continue with what they were doing as it was their assignment.”
BY  HUGO ODIOGOR, CLIFFORD NDUJIHE, PETER DURU, GABRIEL EWEPU & CALEB AYANSINA.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Mallam Okorocha Governor Imo State APC ‘ll sweep poll in Southeast.


 

Governor-Rochas-Okorocha-02

Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha has assured that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will sweep the poll in the Southeast in next year’s elections. He said Ndigbo see the party as a credible alternative to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Speaking at the weekend at a reception for the APC National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, at the Orlu Township Stadium, the governor urged those interested in the liberation and progress of the Igbo to support the APC and remove the PDP from power.

He said PDP has no place for the Igbo and enjoined them to ignore the insinuation that APC is a Yoruba party. Okorocha added: “You should ask them how many Igbo occupy sensitive positions in the Federal Government. The only Igbo Service chief was removed. This shows PDP has no plan for Ndigbo”.

 

According to him, APC is a party of true democrats committed to a change, adding that it would give all zones equal opportunity to realise their aspirations.

He restated that he did not leave the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for personal aggrandisement, but because he realised that the party lacked spread and acceptability needed to achieve the Igbo agenda.

The APC candidate in the last governorship poll in Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige, said other Southeast states, still under PDP, were in bondage and needed to be rescued.

He lamented that Imo, ruled by the APC, is better than Anambra in terms of infrastructural and human capital development.

“You can see new cities emerging in the state, such as Orlu and Okigwe because of the ingenuity of Governor Okorocha. This is what APC will do in other states,” Ngige said.

Source: Radio Biafra.

2015: Jonathan deserves NO re-election, says Kwankwaso.


Gov-kwankwaso-03

As President Goodluck Jonathan prepares for his re-election next year,  Kano State Governor, Dr. Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso has warned that Jonathan  is not qualified to contest for presidency in 2015.
According to the governor, any attempt by Jonathan to run in the next  poll will amount to a third term in office, which is not acceptable to  most Nigerians.
Kwankwaso, who spoke to journalists in Abuja, yesterday, advised  President Jonathan to take urgent steps to solve the raging insecurity  challenges in the North-East and stabilise the Nigerian economy and take  a  bow from governance in 2015, when he would have attained the  eight-year maximum limit stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution.
The governor argued that contrary to the President’s position that  his tenure started in 2011, the true position remains that he actually  started serving as Nigeria’s President in 2007 and would have completed  his eight years in 2015.
Describing any third term bid as a taboo, Kwankwaso pointed out that  Jonathan and those urging him to run in 2015 could never justify such a  move, which runs contrary to the clear provisions of the law.
The governor said: “Jonathan is not qualified to contest election  again in 2015 going by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.  Third term is not acceptable to any part of Nigeria and the time limit  stipulated must be respected by all Nigerians.
“I am sure Nigerians will kick against a third term whether by Jonathan or by any other person in this country.
Mr. President would have completed his eight years in office by 2015.  He served as Vice President for two years, Acting President for two  years and is doing another four years, which will terminate in 2015.
“But those advising the President are pretending that his tenure  started in 2011. I saw them on television the other day trying to argue  in that direction, but they can never be correct. I am not a lawyer, but  I know that two plus four plus six can never be eight.
VANGUARD

Source: Radio Biafra.

Jonathan, Igbos, And The Second Niger Bridge By Frank Onia.


 

By Frank Onia, PhD

The standard criteria for decisions on infrastructural deployment include need, available resources, competing demands for finite resources, alignment with related infrastructure, incubatory foundation for progressive deployment, social benefits, political patronage, economic benefits, minimization of stress and hardship for the citizens, potentials for stimulating overall economic development, balancing considerations, replacement of obsolete infrastructure, need to embrace emerging and efficient technology, etc, etc. When viewed from an objective prism and against the backdrop of the itemized criteria above, it is long overdue to replace the Niger Bridge at Onitsha, which has verifiably and universally been identified as a deathtrap. This bridge was constructed in 1963, and is the ONLY link between the South-East of Nigeria and the rest of the country (towards the West). This bridge serves as the ONLY access point to Anambra, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Benue, and Plateau States, when you approach from Lagos, and, indeed, all the states that formerly constituted the Western and mid-Western Regions, as well as from Abuja and segments of the North.

It is trite to mention that this bridge handles the highest concentration of vehicular traffic in the country, and has served this purpose progressively and exhaustively for fifty years! The exponential growth in population and number of vehicles in the country in the past five decades have added to the pressure on the bridge, with the result that it is nearly collapsing, with the attendant risks for human lives, economic activities, mass psychology, and national development. Citizens from the Eastern parts of the country are the most itinerant in the country, with the evident implication that tens of millions of individuals make frequent trips to their homeland, relying on a safe passage through this same bridge. This assumption of basic safety has been denied them perennially for several years, and is currently being toyed with even further. The significance of this bridge is emphasized during the festive period at the end of each year, when millions of people are trapped and delayed at the bridge for several hours in what should, otherwise, be pleasurable commutes back home. As a country, we have witnessed this for several decades and have failed to do anything about it. When any attention has been paid to the need to replace and expand this bridge, it has been suffused with empty promises, vacuous platitudes, cheap politics, and exploration of the underlying potentials for corruption. The Obasanjo civilian administration played games with the need to replace this bridge for eight years, ensuring that new promises were recycled as elections approached. And, yet, nothing was done.

While the South East, as a Region, contributes very significantly to the development of Nigeria, especially outside Igboland, there is NO single Federal Government institution or semblance of infrastructure in the entire Region. Even though Igbos and their brothers from the South-South are among the most widely-traveled people in the world, there is NO worthy international airport in the larger Region, thereby forcing residents of the Region/s to travel to Lagos or Abuja, before they can travel overseas. Professor Chinua Achebe was involved in a ghastly motor accident near Awka, Anambra State, because he had to travel overseas from Lagos, even though he then resided at Nsukka in Enugu State. This accident cost him his limbs, paralyzed him for life, and hastened his relocation to the United States, where he died many years later.

There are thousands of others who have lost their lives in a similar manner; the additional cost and inconvenience involved in these unnecessary local travels are best imagined, as such travelers must stay in hotels, eat, utilize local transportation, and incur sundry expenses in (mostly) Lagos and Abuja, purely on account of a deliberate State policy to punish Igbo people for whatever reason, While Igbos easily dominate the trading and commercial sectors of Nigeria and West Africa, there is no discernible effort to dredge the River Niger at Onitsha, to enable port activities. The only federal “investment” on River Niger has been the deliberate channeling of the water to the Northern parts of the country, for irrigation activities, while the Onitsha end of the River has been drying up in the  past 20 years, thereby impeding fishing, subsistence farming, and overall economic growth. While Abuja, the North, and other Regions of the country, continue to attract comparatively-significant infrastructural investments and upgrades (for example, the hundreds of billions of Naira being spent to expand the access road from the Abuja airport into the City, as well as the scandalous budget of over N55 billion for the erection of a mere City Gate in Abuja), it is clear that holding the South East down is a Directive Principle of State Policy in Nigeria. No other conclusion is possible from the continued neglect of the Niger Bridge, and the criminal disrespect with which the belated redemptive measures are being packaged. It is noteworthy that the Federal Government funds projects in Abuja and elsewhere directly and does not charge tolls on those roads.

In a society like ours, ethnic agitation for legitimate attention is entirely understandable, hence the tone and tenor of this submission. When our statecraft develops to the stage of objectivity, justice, and fairness, then, possibly our micro-national identities may become muted. The Jonathan Administration has failed both the South-South and South-East by its singular failure to provide basic infrastructure in the two pivotal Regions. The fact that the so-called East-West Road remains uncompleted after all these years, while humongous budgetary allocations have officially been designated to its conclusion, should remain a source of embarrassment for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, well after his stay in office. Pray, how did a treasonous impostor like Mr. Ibrahim Babangida manage to utilize both federal funds (from oil sales!) and oil futures to build a new federal capital city in Abuja, when the man who literally owns the oil cannot construct the road leading to his hometown, even with a democratic mandate? Shame has only one definition.

As it pertains to the need to construct the second Niger Bridge, a categorical imperative, the same Jonathan Administration is being clever by half, by concessioning the bridge to that veritable purveyor impunity and corruption in Nigeria, Julius Berger Construction. This initiator and exemplar of corruption in Nigeria has since announced that the 1.8 kilometer bridge will cost them N100 billion to construct, as a justification for the sweetheart deal extended to them by Jonathan and his Administration, whereby Julius Berger will install three toll gates on that bridge in perpetuity, ostensibly to recover their “investment”. Knowing Julius Berger and Nigeria, this project will eventually cost N200 billion on paper, when completed. Julius Berger did not bring any foreign investment whatsoever when it left its decrepit office in Wiesbaden, Germany, to emerge on Nigeria’s shores 40 years ago, on the private invitation of the late Major General Shehu Musa Yar Adua, number two man in the erstwhile dictatorship of the perennial fumbler and dissembler, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, which lapsed in 1979.

Let it be made clear that a bridge is a road with its foundation in water. Nigerians need to be aware that the same Julius Berger has just paid penalties to the United States Government totaling tens of millions of dollars for specific cases of corruption it perpetrated in Nigeria. The United States Government, which was not victimized, benefited by way of this penalty payment by Julius Berger, while this construction company that has been at the forefront of corrupting public officials in Nigeria for the past 40 years, neither paid any penalty or compensation to the real victim, Nigeria, nor is it being blacklisted or censured in any way.

Rather, successive Nigerian Governments continue to reward Julius Berger with heavily-inflated contracts, responsibility for maintaining strategic locations like the Aso Rock Presidential Complex and the National Assembly. The same company is constructing the new residences for the Vice-President, Senate President, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, projects that have already gulped close to N60 billion on paper even before completion. To deepen the culture of impunity and complete the psychological humiliation of the illustrious Igbos of Nigeria, the Jonathan Administration, which owes the South-East a second Niger Bridge as well as tangible federal presence, has mortgaged the entire East to Julius Berger by criminally acquiescing in the perpetual exploitation of the teeming people under a most suspicious and fraudulent Concession Arrangement. Where else in the country is a whole Region held prostate and captive in this manner? Where else is the ONLY bridge leading into a Region casually assigned to a criminal enterprise for the exploitation of citizens who have no alternatives?

In this, it must be stated that Jonathan and his Administration are playing a script already tested and fine-tuned by Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Governor Fashola of Lagos State, wherein residents of the Lekki axis have effectively been hemmed in and subjected to unnecessary and usurious toll charges each time they either access or exit their homes, despite the very significant contribution these residents make to the much-vaunted Internally-Generated Revenue of Lagos State. It is significant that the same Julius Berger is the partner to Messrs Tinubu and Fashola on the bridge toll exploitation project linking Ikoyi and Lekki Phase One. Yet another toll gate ensures that you also cannot get to Lekki from Victoria Island without feeding Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his crony, Fashola’s, insatiable greed and appetite.

It is very clear from this single example that both the PDP and the APC (seeking leprous and blind navigators) are the same in philosophy, orientation, and content; both are fraudulent and self-serving devices.

If our dealers must feel entitled to collecting both public revenue and IGR, and yet charge the citizens for token infrastructure provided in their areas of jurisdiction, all in an environment of opaqueness, arrogance, impunity, and absence of citizen input, it might well be better to sack all governments and share the revenue of the country among the citizens, who are perpetually burdened with the direct provision of basic services, for which Governments exist in the first place. In all of this, these dealers feel perfectly justified in magisterially cornering significant chunks of State resources under various guises, notably the poorly-christened Security Votes.

Regarding the second Niger Bridge, there is NO WAY that a 1.8 km bridge of the best quality, together with immediate access roads, will cost up to N10 billion, yet, we are told that the initial assessment for the bridge is N100 billion. Why must Julius Berger be the only company handling all these projects? What process leads to these awards and appointments? Why are competent and established construction companies all over the world being frustrated from accessing the Nigerian market by Government Officials protecting this small German company, with a small office in their home country? Are they not aware that the unrivaled access given Julius Berger’s engineers and staff is a grave national security risk? What is the role of the National Security Adviser and the DG-SSS, in guiding the government appropriately? Are people now so incompetent or corrupt that they neither know nor care that sophisticated Intelligence Collection devices are installed in all these sensitive locations, with the downloading and processing taking place at the Julius Berger Operational Headquarters at Life Camp, Abuja, under the able supervision of German Intelligence Officials – all of this intrusive and aggressive collection against Nigeria paid for Nigeria. What a country!

Given the identified urgency of the need to construct the second Niger Bridge, you would think that, in the absence of common sense in high places, senior government officials of Igbo origin would be easy and strident advocates of the Federal Government swiftly constructing the bridge as its duty to the people, with an apology to the citizens for the delayed implementation. Some of the referenced officials are the Coordinating, Supervising, and Overseeing Secretary to the Federal Government, His Massive Excellency Mr. Anyim Pius Anyim; the so-called Coordinating Minister of the Economy (in hubris-free English, the Minister of Finance), Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Viola Onwuliri; the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu; the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha; the Chairmen of the Works Committees in both the Senate and the House of Representatives; the crisis-ridden and inflated Supervising and Coordinating Minister of Aviation and its Parastatals, Ms Stella Oduah; the immediate past Army Chief, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika; the recently-relieved Chief of Naval Staff; Vice-Admiral Dele Ezeoba; the Director-General of the so-called Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Mr. Emeka Eze – whose village roads have all been tarred by contractors executing Federal Government contracts; 15 undistinguished Senators from the South East; several dishonorable Members of the House of Representatives; the five state governors of the South-East; ex-this and ex-that, etc, etc.

Even if the objective case fails to penetrate thick skulls, surely the selfish and symbolic motive of garnering solid Igbo votes should impel the urgent construction of that overdue bridge. I say this because expectations have been grossly lowered in Nigeria, to the extent that a 1.8 km bridge could guarantee you bloc Regional votes. Mr. Jonathan could even extend the tokenism by naming the new bridge after Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, in a symbolic gesture of connecting the erstwhile Biafran heartland with the rest of the country. The identified officials are rather satisfied with having Julius Berger construct private homes for them in Abuja and their remote villages, in a well-oiled program of corruption, collusion, and compromise. The definition of shame has still not changed.

If all of this fails, what stops the Governors of the South-East from reducing their greed quotient by utilizing their so-called Security Votes (since kidnappers have taken over the Region anyway!) to construct this vital bridge for their people, and then heap the necessary propaganda guilt on the Federal Government that has been permanently negligent and wicked towards Igbos? The failure to do the right thing, and at the right time, is the bane of the Nigerian society. The complacency of the Nigerian society is yet a latent contributing factor to the charade that is called governance in Nigeria.

Let it be clear, though, that Julius Berger, or any other company so-called, should not be allowed to exploit the people under whatever Concession Arrangement involving a critical piece of infrastructure like the second Niger Bridge. Their so-called investment should and will come to nothing. A bridge built on a fraudulent foundation MUST fall. Citizens must begin to demand their due dessert from pretenders to the throne. A life of surrender, conditioned by endless prayers and exploitation by clerical purveyors of hope, will not suffice in this case.

Mr. Jonathan, his handlers, and cronies from the South-East and South-South still have very limited time to reverse themselves, as well as their deeply-offensive and odious ineptitude and policies, by directly and quickly completing the East-West Road and the second Niger Bridge, without further ado and delay. They could, as always, collect multiples of the real contract value as bribe; someday, the United States Government will extract penalties from the complicit Construction Company. In other countries where non-strategic infrastructure have been concessioned out, the Government acts as the protector of the citizens, setting standards, aggregating public interest, achieving optimal costs, minimizing waste, setting the tariff, and defining the time-frame for toll collection. In Nigeria’s case, both the Government and the so-called Concessionaires are a united usurious entity, exposing the citizens unduly to endemic exploitation. In any case, competing and several alternatives are provided before roads are tolled. Not in Nigeria. Our dealers will do well to study the Latin American model, to understand how this program works.

I have discussed with a wide range of Igbo professionals in Nigeria and overseas, and they are in unison regarding the egregious insult involved in the structure being proposed by Mr. Jonathan, his Minister of Works, and their Administration. They affirm that, rather than accept the so-called concessioning of the Niger Bridge, Igbos should be allowed to float a Municipal Bond or contribute among themselves, to construct the bridge. The implication of this would be a final severance of whatever psychological link Igbos have with Nigeria. It is common knowledge that Igbo people have typically taxed themselves to provide electricity, water, roads, schools, etc., in their communities, through a well-honed self-effort system. They can also construct this short bridge that will save their lives, without the involvement of their politicians and their mentors in Abuja. In the case of the second Niger Bridge, let it be made very clear that the Igbos will not forget or forgive the perpetuation of marginalization, exploitation, and insult under any arrangement that involves the erection of toll gates on that bridge. Indeed, that bridge shall not stand, under the Jonathan paradigm, and Mr. Jonathan will do well not to delude himself that he is guaranteed of Igbo votes in 2015.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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