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New Ministers, Expectations And The Nation

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The Acting, president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Tuesday April 6 inaugurated the newly reconstituted Federal Executive Council after the confirmation of the ministerial nominees by the Senate.
The new ministers took charge at a period Nigerians considered as very critical to the progress, advancement and socio political transformation of the country.
The ministers include Shekh Ahmed Abdullah – Agriculture, Awodele Najeem Adewale – (state) Agriculture, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze – Aviation, Jibril Martins Kuye – Commerce & Industry, Josephine Tapgun – state Commerce & Industry, Prof. Rugayatu Rufai – Education, Abubakar Mohammed Culture & Tourism, Bala Mohammed – FCT, Olusegun Aganga – Finance, Odein Ajumogobia SAN – Foreign Affairs, Suleiman Bello – state Health, Prof. Dora Akunyili – Information & Communications, Labaran Maku – (state) Information & Communications.
Others are Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) – Justice, Emmanuel Iheanacho – Interior, Humphrey Abah (state) Interior, Chukwuemeka Wogu – Labour & Productivity, Musa Mohammed Sada – Mines & Steel Dev; Elder Peter Orubebe – Niger Delta Affairs, Mrs. Deziani Allison – Madueke – Petroleum Resources, Adetokunbo Kayode – Defence, Murtala Shehu Yar’Adua – (state) Defence, Nuhu Somo Wya – state Power, Adamu Waziri – Police Affairs, Muhammed Abubakar – Science & Tech, Ernest Olulabode – Special Duties, Yusuf Sulaiman – Transport, Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi – Youth Dev. Josephine Anenih – Women Affairs, Shamsudeen Usman – National Planning Ibrahim Isa Bio – Nat. Sports Comm. Sanusi M. Dagash – Works, Chris Ogiemwinyi – (state) Works, Nduese Essien – Lands, Housing & Urban Dev., John Odey – Environment, while the Acting President heads the Power ministry considered very critical towards achieving the administration’s goal of increase power supply generation in the country. For Nigerians, the new ministers have a lot of challenges to tackle before the 2011 general election.
However, the challenges before the Acting President and the Federal Executive Council are quite daunting and require patriotism, commitment, transparency and courage to deliver the much-needed goals of the administration within the short period left for this administration.
Perhaps the Acting President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan captured the concern of Nigerians when he told the new ministers to see their assignment as a sacred commitment to serve the nation without fear or favour.
He further charged the ministers to be transparent, accountable and act at all times with good faith in the interest of the nation and Nigerians.
But the Rivers State Chairman, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), N.N. Naazigha-Lue has spoken of the need for the Acting President and members of the Federal Executive Council to courageously face the monumental problems facing Nigeria and proffer solutions to them.
Such challenges as the Niger Delta problem, power generation, rising crime rate, unemployment, religious crisis, electoral reforms including the war against corruption are considered crucial issues to be addressed.
Comrade Naazigha said that “if the Acting President and the Federal Executive Council can sincerely address these myriad challenges, then Nigerians can be better off in terms of better standard of living.”
Already, Jonathan has designed a performance benchmark agreement for the ministers to evaluate their performance and goals delivering in accordance with the policy thrust of his administration.
Barrister Cornelius Dibia says the respect for the rule of law is being abused by the federal government.
According to him, agencies of government like the EFCC should be given the necessary support to intensify the war against corruption and prosecute cases pending in court with all seriousness by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Meanwhile, Dickson Effiong of the University of Port Harcourt, tasks the new foreign minister, Odein Ajumogobia to positively project the image of the country within the comity of nations.
Dickson also reflected on the recent comment by the Libyan’s leader, Muhammed Gaddafi that Nigeria should be split along religious lines, saying it is a direct interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation and therefore violates the necessary African Union charter protocol. Going by the seriousness of Gaddafi’s comment, Dickson said the federal government should intensify efforts at ensuring the political stability of the nation even as it works towards restoring confidence of Nigerians in the administration and the Nigeria project.
Nigerians are also expecting the ministers of Petroleum Resources, Police Affairs, Works, and Information and Communications to play critical role in the development of the nation. According to Ben Nwakama Osa, senior lecturer at the Abia State University (Port Harcourt Study Centre), the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke should rise to the challenge of making petroleum products available through the collaborative efforts of the independent marketers.
The university don said that the incessant petroleum scarcity leading to long quenes at the various filling stations should not be the order of the day in Jonathan administration.
Osa stated that the nation’s refineries must be resuscitated to a functional capacity by the minister.
Also speaking, Dr. Suany Obilor of the Mercy’s Clinic, Port Harcourt advised the Minister of Police Affairs to immediately address the deteriorating security situation in the country, adding that “a situation where armed men and kidnappers have taken over does not augur well for the security of Nigerians”.
The medical practitioner told the minister to face the challenge of his new assignment with determination to stem the tide of insecurity prevailing in the nation.
Nigeria’s deplorable road conditions across the nation need to be fixed. According to Engr Saka Tetenwu, the roads are now death traps to travellers, and Nigeria can not afford to waste her citizens.
The Minister of information and communication has the onerous tasks of adequately publicising and informing Nigerians on government programme and polices.
Certainly, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Time is not on the ministers’ side. They have the onerous task of making the remaining part of this administration a transformatory period. They must fulfil the social and moral contract with the people.
Tough national assignment, no doubt! All the ministers must stand on the side of history to give a new meaning to good governance. Nigerians do not expect anything less than a functional road network, improved agricultural production, addressing some of the major challenges in the oil and gas industry to boost national economy and fast-tracking rural development.
By and large, the size of the portfolio is not important to deliver quality services. What matters most is the contribution of each of the ministers in moving the nation forward. The ministers have the opportunity within the little period left to see what positive impact they can bring into the system or be messed up at the end of the day.

Philip-Wuwu Okparaji

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Okowa Sends Names Of 18 Commissioner- Nominees To Assembly

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has forwarded the names of 18 nominees for appointment as commissioners to the state House of Assembly for screening and confirmation.
The names of the nominees were contained in a letter read by the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, during plenary of the Assembly in Asaba, yesterday.
The Tide reports that Okowa on May 18, dissolved the State Executive Council.
The 11 former commissioners that have been re-appointed and their portfolios, incelude: Mr Charles Aniagwu, Information, Dr Barry Gbe, Economic Planning, Mr Julius Egbedi, Agriculture and Mr Lawrence Ejiofor, Culture and Tourism.
Others are:  Mr Ifeanyi Egwuyenga, Youths Development, Chief Arthur Akpowowo, Urban Renewal and Chief Festus Ochonogor, Housing, Mrs Flora Alanta, Women Affairs, Mr Churchill Amagada, Lands, Chief Fidelis Tilije, Finance and Mr Chris Onogba, Environment.
The seven new nominees are:  Mr Jonathan Ukodhiko, Mrs  Evelyn Oboro, Mr Noel Omordon, Mrs Rose Esenwu, Princess Shola Ogbemi-Daibo, Mrs Kate Oniawan, and Mr Johnbull Edema.
The speaker directed the nominees to forward 35 copies each of their Curriculum Vitae to the office of the clerk of the assembly on or before June 21.
He called on the nominees to appear for screening and confirmation on June 22.
The Assembly, yesterday, also screened and confirmed the appointments of Justice Theresa Diai as the Chief Judge of Delta State as well as Justice Patience Elumeze as President of Customary Court, Delta State.
The confirmation of the nominees followed a motion moved by the Deputy Majority Leader of the Assembly, Mr Oboro Preyor.
The motion supported by Mr Emeke Nwaobi, member representing Aniocha North Constituency in the state Assembly was unanimously adopted by the Assembly, when it was put to a voice vote by the speaker.

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Anambra Guber: CLO Calls For Level Playing Ground

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The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), an NGO, has urged political parties participating in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra to ensure free, fair, credible and generally acceptable primaries, devoid of acrimony and manipulations.
The Chairman of CLO, Anambra, Mr Vincent Ezekwueme, made the appeal while speaking with newsmen in Enugu, yesterday.
Ezekwueme urged political parties to adhere strictly to the principles of participatory and constitutional democracy; thus ensuring the tenets of internal democracy.
According to him, it is pertinent for party leaders to be honest, transparent and selfless in the conduct of their various primaries.
He urged political delegates to the various primaries to get it right by voting for the most credible, God-fearing, articulate and most qualified candidates that would render selfless service to the citizenry.
The CLO boss advised party delegates to vote with their conscience and conviction, devoid of monetary inducement or influence by political leaders and stakeholders.
“CLO decries with great disdain any attempt to impose candidates on the delegates or unjustifiably screen out or bar some candidates from contesting after collecting outrageous nomination and expression of interest fees, to pave way for emergence of anointed or favoured candidates.
“Significantly, it is only justice that will precipitate credible elections and guarantee peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the elections. This is the best and greatest yearnings and aspirations of all Anambrarians.
“Let all the stakeholders work harmonious with patriotism and selflessness for the conduct of free, fair and credible primaries and the November 6 governorship election,’’ he said.
Ezekwueme noted that any party that could not conduct free and fair primaries would be unable to guarantee and ensure a free election in the main gubernatorial contest.
The CLO boss, however, appealed to all the political parties to zone their governorship candidates to Anambra South Senatorial Zone.
“This appeal is in the spirit of justice, equity, morality and good conscience in tandem with the zoning formula propagated by former Gov. Peter Obi and which has helped douse political tension in the state.
“We commend the unique wisdom and political sagacity of Obi and we implore Anambra political gladiators and stakeholders to respect the zoning arrangement for the interest of peace and unity,’’ he said.

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Ayade And The APC Albatross

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Like Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State before him, Prof. Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State, did not take many by surprise when he eventually broke camp with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and pitched tent with the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party at the centre on Thursday, May 20, 2021.
A pointer to the fact that Governor Ayade had long signaled his romance with the APC was evident in the statement of welcome by a party chieftain and one-time leader of the 7th Senate of the Federal Republic, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, when he noted that Ayade had “consciously navigated the ship of governance in sync with the APC-led Federal Government”.
Of course, for a long time, close watchers of the Cross River State Governor had noted how he had openly expressed admiration for the president and leader of the APC while overtly distancing himself from every criticism by the PDP, his party then, against the Federal Government and the ruling party. In fact, it was even obvious to casual observers that all was not well between Ayade and the PDP when he became consistently absent in the meetings of his fellow governors on the platform of the party and other high profile party engagements.
However, there has been some interesting political developments in Cross River State following the defection of the state Chief Executive, and leader of the PDP until that select group of APC governors and other top ranking party leaders stormed the Government House in Calabar to receive him into their fold. Buoyed by the gathering of members of his cabinet, members of the Cross Rivers State House of Assembly led by the Speaker, some National Assembly members from the state, Chairmen of local government councils and their councilors, and other stakeholders in the state including Dame Princess Florence Ita-Giwa and High Chief Asuquo Ekpeyong, Prof. Ayade boldly declared that by virtue of the event of his detection, Cross River State had become an APC state.
As if to prove the point that there could not be another party, particularly the PDP, without the government that he leads, the governor ordered the annexation of the PDP state secretariat and convert all its property into the use of the APC just two days after. Responding to the turn of event at the party secretariat, Christian Ita, Chief Press Secretary to the governor said the PDP could not claim to be the ones to continue to occupy the property as the rent was paid by the governor. He said the rent for the said property was only renewed recently by the same PDP that has now totally collapsed into the APC.
“The same officials of PDP who occupied the property when it was secretariat of the PDP still occupy it, having switched allegiance and moved to the APC with the governor”|, he said.
In a swift reaction, the PDP Federal Lawmakers and Stakeholders Forum in Cross River State dissociated themselves from the governor’s move. Addressing a press conference on Friday, May 21, 2021 in Abuja, the forum pledged to remain in the PDP and declared Cross River State as a stronghold of the party.
“As far as I know, till date, the National Assembly caucus remains intact. I don’t see any of us leaving. We are legacy members of the party who have been in this party for the past 15 to 20 years. So, we are not going anywhere”, Senator Geshan Bassey who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers said, accusing Ayade of not consulting them but insisting that even if he had “we will not follow him”.
On the same occasion, Senator Liyel Imoke, former governor of the state, on behalf of the PDP Stakeholders Forum in Cross River described Ayade’s defection as regrettable, even though not unexpected.
According to Imoke, an overwhelming number of Cross Riverians remains resolute with the PDP, emphasizing that “our key stakeholders, members of the national and state assemblies, and strategic grassroots mobilisers are still members of our great party. We, as a party, therefore, remain virile and strong. Our shell remains uncracked”.
Imoke said “We understand that the people of Cross River, who have stood firmly with the PDP since 1999 and other lovers of the state are deeply disappointed by this move made by a governor, who has won all his elections under the platform of the party. Given the overwhelming support which he enjoyed under the PDP and the fact that PDP has undeniable strong grassroots in the state, we affirm that Cross River remains a PDP state”.
As developments have shown, Governor Ayade may not have had the support of all his close functionaries in his voyage as he has had to offload not less than four of his commissioners and a number of aides believed to still be loyal to the PDP.
In a press statement signed by his CPS/Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, the governor, relieved the appointment of Mr Mike Usibe, Commissioner for New Cities Development; Rita Ayim, Commissioner in charge of Women Affairs, Mr Asu Okang, Commissioner for Information and Ntufam Donatus Etim, Commissioner for Climate Change and Forestry.
On the part of the PDP, the regrouping of forces, especially the return of the likes of former governor Donald Duke, has not been without hitches.
Recently, the state caretaker committee chairman and secretary of the party were constrained to issue a warning to party stalwarts to restrain themselves from unguarded statements capable of causing division among their ranks. “The party will like to caution all stakeholders that this is a time for rebuilding, restoration and reconciliation. It is not a time for trading blames.
“The larger purpose of the development of Cross River State should remain our unwavering focus and should insulate party stakeholders from all other distractions”, the statement said in reaction to unauthenticated social media post by Ex-Governor Donald Duke accusing his successor in office, Senator Liyel Imoke of running a dictatorial administration.
The party, however, commended the courage of former governor Duke for returning to the party at such a time as this, hoping that his return would further strengthen the party to face the new threat posed by the APC and Governor Ben Ayade.
“We congratulate His Excellency Donald Duke for finding the courage to re-join the party on whose platform he twice contested and won elections as governor of Cross River State.
“It is our firm belief that his coming back to the party is not only indicative of the party’s strength in the state, but more importantly, will help in rebuilding a strong and virile party”, the statement said.
Prof Ben Ayade may have left the PDP but it is difficult to say if the PDP has left Cross River State. With the regrouping of battle-tested war horses in the state under the umbrella, the governor and his new party may have to work extra hard to dislodge the deep roots of the PDP in the state.
Asked how the governor’s move will affect the fortunes of the PDP in coming elections in the state, Senator Imoke said. “I think in the past, you would see that states that have that type of strength, irrespective of a defection, tend at all times to remain strong. There’s a reason for that. What you perceive as power will determine how you lead. If you perceive power to be a political party, then you will be moving from one political party to another, but if you understand that power ultimately is the people, and that it belongs to the people, you’ll appreciate that it’s not about the party.
“PDP in Cross River State has always been about the people and I think we still remain about the people; so the party has endeared itself to the people and as such a movement by the governor does not, of its own, translate to the people moving into another political party because they have already identified strongly with the party-the PDP. It is sort of like what you have in the United States and other countries where there are strongholds – a state like California, it is defined as a Democratic stronghold. Cross River State is a PDP stronghold”.
Even Ayade himself is without a doubt that Cross River State is a PDP stronghold but for how long this stronghold will hold is what is now being put to test as the governor has already made inroads into the traditional institution from whom he has extracted the same commitment and support they had always given to successive governors and their political agenda.
However, politics is about politicians and Victor Ndoma-Egba tells Ayade: “As you join us in the progressives fold, my expectation is that your coming will enrich our internal democracy and I enjoin you to be consultative, inclusive, democratic, transparent and accountable because these are the hallmarks of the All Progressives Congress family. I also expect that your presence in the APC will further strengthen the party and improve our electoral fortunes in Cross River State”.
Ndoma-Egba’s expectations are not just his expectation and those of the members of the APC in Cross River alone, they were the same expectations of the party faithful in Rivers State in 2015 and the ones in Edo State through the reign of Adams Aliu Oshiomohole. Whether the APC members in the Peoples Paradise will have a different experience remains to be seen.
What is certain is that the South-South region has not been a welcoming environment for the APC and it does not appear as it is ready to change that disposition just yet because of Prof. Ayade. He may just soon find out that what could flourish in the Southeast may require humongous effort to sprout on South-South soil.

By: Opaka Dokubo

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