There is a popular Igbo proverb which aptly captures the imperative of stocktaking after a major occurrence.
Since the recently concluded national convention of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), party loyalists and Nigerians have been reflecting on the event.
The PDP convention has received critical reviews from stakeholders and Nigerians at large because of the party’s stature as the largest party in Africa.
However, what cannot be taken away from the party was the peaceful atmosphere that characterised the convention and election of its national officers.
At the election, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja from Rivers State was elected Deputy National Chairman of the party, an achievement that has brought the state into the centrestage of the party’s and Nigeria’s politics.
The reverberations of this landmark achievement continues to be felt since the conclusion of the election as appreciative party men, associates and people from the South-South geo-political zone continue to send congratulatory messages to the newly elected PDP Deputy National Chairman.
Clearly, the Rivers State Governor, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, deserves commendation for throwing his enormous weight behind Dr. Jaja, an articulate and experienced administrator who promises able representation for the South South zone at the centre.
A golden fish, they say, has no hiding place. Since he admirably pioneered the establishment of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC), conducting an election that was applauded by all across party divides, Dr. Jaja had moved on to various other state and national assignments including being National President of the Nigerian Referees Association.
Over the years, he had built a reputation as a stakeholder in the development of Nigerian sports, being a board member of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).
He had also made tremendous contributions to the development of the nation’s commerce and industry as a respected member of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA).
Dr. Jaja also shares the concerns and aspirations of leaders and elders of the South-South zone, being a member of the South-South Leaders and Elders Forum.
Therefore, for those who know his endowments and antecedents, it was just a matter of time, for him to get to this centrestage.
Dr. Sam Sam-Jaja has come on board the national PDP executive at a time the party is at a cross-roads, where many issues critical to its continued viability need to be resolved.
Some of these challenges include the following.
a. Unity in Rivers PDP: Since charity must begin at home, the Deputy National Chairman would be expected to work with Governor Amaechi, the leader of the party in Rivers State and others, to ensure that the state chapter remained a reference point for others in the South-South zone in issues of party discipline, cohesion and unity.
b. Internal Democracy: The spate of discordant tunes within the PDP prior to the party’s just-concluded national convention is not altogether unexpected in a political party as large as the PDP. Afterall, freedom of speech and right to hold divergent views are core ingredients of a democratic culture.
However, it is obvious that at National, State and Local Government levels, incidences had repeatedly occurred which rubbished discipline, due process and constitutionality in the party. Thus, the call for the entrenchment of internal democracy had become louder within the party in the recent past.
The Deputy National Chairman has his job cut out here, as he, working with the Chairman and other officers and organs of the party, would be required to put back the party on the path of discipline and constitutionality.
c. Ideology/Identity: Many political analysts have argued, right from the inception of the nation’s current democratic dispensation on May 29, 1999 that there were very little to choose from the present political parties in terms of ideology and strength of character.
Indeed, 12 years down the democracy lane, the PDP still cuts the image of an assemblage of politicians united by the common quest for power because of its dividends than a party built on ideology that would enhance social development.
With Dr. Sam Sam Jaja and other egg-heads and experienced men at the helm, it is expected that, like other popular political parties world-wild, the PDP will evolve a unique and refreshing identity anchored on ennobling ideology.
d. Equity and Justice: These may not clearly be divorced from the issues of internal democracy. But it is pertinent to highlight them because any human relationship or assemblage not anchored on equity and justice is bound to fail.
In political parties across the country, the process of the selection of candidates for party offices and national general elections had, in most cases, devalued equity, justice and due process, resulting in prolonged litigations and even casualties at elections which turn violent.
Therefore, incidences of candidate imposition, favouritism, thuggery among others, are undemocratic tendencies which the new PDP national leadership, of which Dr. Jaja has become a key actor, must be deleted from the party’s lexicon.
e. Fiscal Federalism: it is no longer in doubt that, for Nigeria to make speedy progress in its quest to become one of the world’s greatest economies, the principle to apply is fiscal federalism. The South-South Governor’s Forum has also thrown its weight behind the principle.
Indeed, states must be encouraged to generate and manage their resources as well as develop at individual paces while contributing appropriate quota to the federal coffers, as was the case in the early post-independence era.
The largest party in Nigeria must show patriotism and commitment to national development by accepting this reality and encouraging its structures at all levels to bring fiscal federalism to fruition.
f. 2015 Polls: For most political parties and politicians, the end of one election marks the beginning of preparations for another. The recent convention and election of PDP national executive should be seen in that context.
The party has at different times described itself as a “moving train” “One Big Family” and the party destined to rule Nigeria for 50 years.
While this is arguable, what is important is how the more than a decade of sustained democratic experience and electioneering had impacted and refined the election process in Nigeria.
While the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is expected to improve on its past performances as electoral umpire, the political parties, especially the ruling PDP, would also be looked upon to display democratic ideals worthy of emulation.
As the party prepares for the 2015 general elections, its leaders would be expected to sensitise officials and members across the country on the need to win fair and square. It is the only way to remain the popular and respected party in Nigeria.
g. President Jonathan’s Programme: President Goodluck Jonathan has initiated a number of policies to promote the welfare of Nigerians and the economic growth of the nation. He had also adopted a number of interventionist programmes to improve the parlous condition of the people of the Niger Delta who bear the pains of oil and gas exploration and exploitation from which 90 percent of the nation’s revenue is derived.
The Deputy National Chairman of the president’s party (PDP) would be expected to build a fraternal relationship with Jonathan. This will enable him to constantly remind the president of the need to bring his programmes and promises both to Nigerians and the people of the Niger Delta, to reality. A tall agenda it may seem, but the people have chosen the right person for the job.
Congratulating Dr. Jaja on his election in an exclusive interview recently, former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ike Chinwo said his (Jaja’s) election is a blessing to the South-South geo-political zone, expressing confidence that the PDP Deputy National Chairman will contribute to the growth of the party and the nation.
“Dr. Jaja, apart from his contributions to politics in Rivers State has contributed to the development of sports in Nigeria and I am sure he will perform creditably in this new assignment”, said Chinwo who represented Obio/Akpor federal constituency in the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2011.
Another political stalwart who commended Dr. Sam Sam Jaja’s election is Prince Tonye Princewill, who described the Deputy National Chairman’s election as a good omen and able representation for the people of Rivers State and the PDP in the state.
Princewill, leader of Princewill Political Associates (PPA), who joined the PDP from the Action Congress of Nigeria, ahead of the 2011 general election, said “what we need now in Rivers State is a cool headed, articulate and visionary leader which Jaja represents”.
In his contribution, Dr Imoru Kubor, a political heavyweight from Bayelsa State, said Dr. Jaja’s elction is a welcome development not only for the PDP in Rivers State but also for the people of the South-South zone.
Kubor, who left the PDP to join the Change Advocacy Party (CAP) on which platform he contested the February 8, 2012 governorship election in Bayelsa State, challenged Dr. Jaja to help formulate policies that would build a better and united Nigeria.
Dr. Sam Sam Jaja is the founder of the Vanguard of Opobo Nation (VON), the foremost political association in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State and a platform that had continued to contribute to the victories of the PDP in all elections in the state.
PDP Caucus Demands Prosecution Of NCC Officials
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caucus in the House of Representatives has called on the appropriate authorities to arrest and prosecute officials of the National Communications Commission (NCC) for claiming that electronic transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is not possible in the country.
The Tide reports that NCC officials led by Executive Director, Ubale Maska, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umaru Garba Danbatta, while testifying before the House, on the adoption of electronic transmission of results from the units, claimed that the 2018 Technical Report of the NCC showed that only about “50 percent of the polling units had 3G while 49 percent had 2G network and below.”
But the PDP Caucus Leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, said the NCC officials lied to Nigerians while on oath and as such, must be prosecuted for allegedly misleading Nigerians.
Chinda said the NCC officials “cleverly sought to rely on 2018 data in 2021, when they knew or ought to know that internet penetration has advanced substantially in Nigeria since 2018.
“Indeed a perusal of NCC Website even today shows that the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 (P .33) says that by September 2019, the ‘Spread of 3G/LTE’ had reached 74.2 percent in Nigeria,” the PDP caucus added.
“We call on the prosecuting authorities to immediately arrest the officials of the NCC, under Prof. Danbatta and all those who procured Ubale Maska and other officials to lie under oath to be investigated and where found culpable, be brought to justice by standing criminal trial, he said,”.
Onochie Makes Case For True Federalism
An elder statesman, Dr Nnamdi Onochie, has again told the Federal Government to come up with a blueprint on true federalism, to address worrisome fault lines keeping Nigeria divided.
Speaking with newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday, Onochie lamented that Nigeria would continue to wallow in problems until political leaders mustered courage to address endemic problems holding the country down.
Former colonial masters, Britain amalgamated Nigeria in 1914, to give birth to Africa’s largest nation but 107 years down the line, the country has been engulfed in various problems, making the country not to realise its potential to the fullest.
According to Onochie, the way out is for the government to implement true federalism as an article of faith to ensure equity, fair play, justice and equality of all ethnic nationalities in the country.
“Unless the path of equality of all states, as they stand today, is guaranteed without contestation, Nigeria will continue to contend with divisive tendencies and the centre will never hold to build a united indivisible nation.
He reiterated that recurring problems in the country had highlighted the inevitability of genuine federalism to be implemented by government, to make Nigeria truly great to achieve the set goals of its founding fathers.
“I have earlier suggested that government should convene a Peace and Reconciliation Conference of all shades and creeds of Nigeria by October 2021, to map out the path of stable devolution of all functions in the Exclusive List of the 1999 Constitution.
“The sooner these recommendations are implemented the better for the corporate entity of Nigeria, because no one is excited with current developments threatening the existence of Nigeria from day to day.’’
Onochie, who was a former Nigerian envoy to Algeria and the Philippines, argued that true federalism would address some endemic problems tearing Nigeria apart, including banditry and restiveness in some parts of the country.
He criticised what he described as parochial tendencies displayed in the National Assembly on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, saying that displaying partisanship in critical issues would never promote unity and national integration.
The political stalwart reiterated that he stood for one Nigeria and that he would continue to campaign for Nigeria not to disintegrate as he gets set to offer himself to serve in the highest political office in the upcoming general elections.
On the directive by the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to media houses not to report kidnappings, killings, maiming and other nefarious activities of terrorists, bandits and insurgents freely and openly, Onochie described the directive as draconian and totally at variance with global democratic tenets.
“Nothing should be done to tamper with the freedom of speech as spelt in the constitution to deny Nigerians their freedom of free speech, expression, association and other rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as Amended).’’
He described press freedom as the bedrock of democracy, saying that Nigeria should copy values that promote development and sustain nation building “to make the nation respected in the comity of nations.’’
“Nigerians and the international community must be made to be fully aware of the gains of a free press, rather than allowing the NBC to gag the civil space and disallow media houses from performing their duties as the fourth estate of the realm.”
Onochie, a polyglot, who was a former Commissioner for Special Duties in Delta has been campaigning for Nigerian unity and for separatists in parts of the country to drop their agitations and say farewell to disintegration.
INEC Registers 752,011 Voters In Three Weeks
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that 752,011 eligible Nigerians have completed the online pre-registration as fresh voters in the last three weeks since the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) commenced online on June 28, 2021.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye, said in Abuja, that in the last 21 days as at 7am on Monday, 19 July 2021, INEC recorded an average of 35,810 registrants per day.
According to him, out of this figure, 562,254 (74.7per cent) are youths between the ages of 18 and 34; and that in terms of gender, 493,128 were male while 369,188 were female.
He said that detailed distribution of registrants by states/FCT, age, occupation and disability has been uploaded on the commission’s website and social media platforms.
“The commission wishes to reiterate its earlier decision that because of the declaration of Tuesday, 20 and Wednesday, 21 July 2021 as public holidays by the federal government, the commencement of physical registration is now rescheduled to Monday, 26 July 2021.
“Online pre-registrants who booked for appointment to complete their registration physically between Monday 19 and Friday, 23 July 2021, will be notified within the next few days of the new dates for their appointments. They may also visit the portal (https://cvr.inecnigeria.org) to choose a new available date and time, if they so desire,” Okoye said.
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