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Beyond A Fragile Consensus …My Worries For Candidate Atiku

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FRED06121003When the long awaited outcome of the search for a consensus Northern Candidate to check serving President Goodluck Jonathan’s quest to continue in office beyond 2011 was formerly unveiled, and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerged the chosen one, several thoughts clouded my political consciousness.

The first was the question of its workability, considering the fact that the Northern part of Nigeria is not a registered political party and so lacks the constitutional power to field a candidate. Another is the flawed meaning of the word ‘consensus’, when, there are several other presidential aspirants from the same Northern part of Nigeria that can never be bound by the decision of the Mallam Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF).

There are former Military Head of State, Gen Mohammadu Buhari who has repeatedly dismissed the zoning principle as not only retrogressive of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and of course, Kano State Governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekaru who believes that he is the most stainless of the pack of Nigerians eyeing the Presidency of Nigeria.

What all these translate into is that even if Atiku Abubakar wins the PDP ticket at the expense of President Jonathan, the North will require another search for a consensus candidate to stop any other Southern candidate, from any other political platform to successfully impose an internal PDP arrangement on Nigeria and Nigerians.

Most unlikely as these appear, a greater obstacle to an Atiku emergence as flag-bearer of the PDP is, to the former Vice President’s inadvertent disregard for the warning against how not to hate an enemy; that if one must hate an enemy, it must be done in a manner that can make future reconciliation easy and potent.

It is in appreciation of this fact that George Chapman in the Alphonsus warned, “Trust not a reconciled friend, for good turns cannot blot out old grudges”. If you are tempted to dismiss this viewpoint as undue generalisation, even ungodly, you are entitled, but knowing what politics is like in Nigeria, very few can be depended upon to do any less.

Here is where my major worry over a likely Atiku success in the PDP is truly rooted.

In 2007, following countless irreconcilable differences between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and himself, Vice President Atiku abandoned the PDP that he laboured hard to build along with others, and contested that year’s presidential elections on the platform of the then Action Congress (AC).

Visibly hurt by what the vice president considered political betrayal that denied him the PDP ticket, Atiku went all out to paint his former party in countless dull colours, and fell short of calling the membership of the PDP a family of thieves that meant no good for Nigeria and her peoples.

Apart from soap box attacks on the PDP, with the promise to sweep away the rot it represented, Atiku placed newspaper advertisements that were so destructive that they depicted the mindset of a determined and principled politician that would find no reason to return to such devilish fray.

In one such paid advertisement in The Guardian Newspaper of April 9, 2007, Atiku said of the PDP:

“PDP means Poverty Development Party…

PDP would continue to deceive Nigerians and therefore voting for them would mean another round of hardship”.

But in a move that shocked many, Atiku this year, returned to the same party and resolved afterwards to seek ticket to fly the same party’s ‘useless flag’ as presidential candidate. Which political party, no matter how forgiving and benevolent would give away its pricest treasure  the presidential ticket to such repentant returnee, within less than a year? Even the highly respected, principled and unrepentant apostle of fairness and equity, would not grant such request if the positions between Atiku and the PDP were reversed. I stand to be corrected, but it is undoubtedly a moral issue that would expose the party to bigger ridicule by other competing political parties.

Take for instance, Atiku emerges presidential candidate of the PDP and other political parties decide to reproduce all of Atiku’s smear attacks on his own party, what better arsenal would other parties require than those the candidate himself gave to his opponents.

Atiku strikes me as a goodman, who shares others’ problems and seems ready to render help to others when required. He strikes me as one who is fearless, bold and determined to achieve whatever he believes in. Indeed, the former vice president appears to me one of the very few respectable political leaders that is equipped and qualified to contest the presidency of Nigeria.

It is therefore, no surprise that he has endeared himself to several people who have come in contact with him and should naturally feel compelled to return his favour. Even among some serving PDP governors, there are those who would naturally like to stand by Atiku, not necessarily because of zoning or rotation as Mallam Adamu Ciroma makes Atiku appear. It is instead for the man’s lofty antecedents, his leadership qualities, his ability to stand for what is right and his drive to have power with which to serve.

All these qualities notwithstanding, Atiku’s decision to leave the PDP for the sole purpose of contesting for president and returning to the same party he variously vilified, for the sole purpose of becoming president, strike me as missteps of a desperate kind.

Even in these days, when traditional medicine dealers, those we knew years ago as Native doctors, prescribe all manner of despicable therapies like cow urine, one’s own urine and even a dog’s urine for the treatment of various ailments, none is known to have prescribed one’s own vomit as remedy for any medical condition.

If Atiku had remained in the PDP after late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s victory at the 2007 primaries; if Atiku had not embarked on such destructive smear campaign against the same political party which ticket, he today seeks; if Atiku had not returned to the PDP and instead nurtured the AC, now Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) with four governors, the Turaki would have been seen as an ideologue, a man of strong character and a principled democrat, but his hasty political decision of 2007 depicts him otherwise; and questions his honour, integrity and his motive to grab power.

My Agony is that Mallam Ciroma and other wise men who screened all four presidential candidates of Northern extraction in the PDP: former Military President, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, former security adviser to the President Aliyu Gauso, Kwara State Governor Saraki and former Vice President Atiku, did not consider all these as worrisome enough for a consensus ticket.

Methinks they should because some party elements have started raising the question, “Atiku, what do you now want in the PDP?” And for the right reasons.

Nothing would have been my answer, if I were Atiku, and stay put in ANC to avoid risking, swallowing my own vomit.

For integrity sake. For Honour Sake.

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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