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2015: After Opposition Merger, What Next?

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At last, after months

of intense negotiations, four opposition political parties last Wednesday resolved to float a new political party. They called it “All Progressive Congress” (APC). It is on this platform they hope to pursue their avowed determination to wrest power from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 general election.

The four parties that make up APC are the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

A statement read by Chief Tom Ikimi of the ACN to newsmen after the merger said “At no time in our (Nigeria’s) national life has radical change become more urgent. And to meet the challenge of that change, we the following progressive political parties namely ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC have resolved to merge forthwith and become All Progressives Congress, APC, and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity.

“We resolve to form a political party committed to the principles of internal democracy focused on serious issues of concern to our people, determined to bring corruption and insecurity to an end, determined to grow our economy and create jobs in their millions through education, housing, agriculture, industrial growth and stop the increasing despair and hopelessness among our people”.

On Tuesday, preceding Wednesday’s declaration of the merger, ten opposition Governors were hosted by Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fasola. It was a meeting in which all the t’s and i’s of the merger were crossed and dotted.

After the meeting, while responding to a question on whether the merger talk is about unseating the PDP, the Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulazziz Abubakar Yari said it is about how to “fix Nigeria in the right perspectives”.

According to him, it is a question of asking if the people have been happy since 1999 till date when the PDP has been in power. “If the contrary has been the case then the leaders are duty bound to drive the people aright.

“We believe that the PDP has not done enough.  We have the idea, the knowledge and the progressive intention to move the country forward. So, if you say that we are going to move PDP out of power, yes we are ready to do that, God willing”, Governor Yari said.

Expectedly, this merger did not come on a platter of gold; it had gone through lots of criticisms and counter criticisms, accusations and counter accusations, particularly, given the benefit of hindsight of previous mergers.

It had, in fact, as in the case of iron, gone through the raging furnace, which must have made it real, feasible and achievable, at least from the perspective of the pioneers.

From all indications, the opposition seems to have been guided by the words of the great inspirational writer, Napoleon Hill, when the said “You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be”.

This feeling was perhaps also re-enforced by one of the great speeches of former United States President, Abraham Lincoln, who noted that “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just”.

The opposition has so far justified its quest for power with one key promise: to wrest power from the PDP for the interest of the country, a phrase that has become sine qua non with every aspirant to the Presidency.

Now that the merger has come to fruition, supported by the Independent Electoral Commission, what is the next step? What is the new thing the opposition has that the rest of the country has not seen or heard? What are those things they have to offer that would, with reasonable effort, better the life of the common man?

Most of all, how do they hope to change Nigeria to the point that every law abiding citizen will have his/her due in whatever way you look at it, different from the now hackneyed “when we come on board”, which now means “when it is my turn to take my share”. This is the crux of the matter.

The questions that readily come to mind are “how have these opposition parties fared in their states”? Can they genuinely say they had fared better than the party they oppose?

The challenge is also on the ruling PDP. In the words of party’s national chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, “the idea of a strong opposition party is a welcome idea to PDP as it would serve as a call to action”. The question is, to what positive extent can this be true?

The reality is that promises of such Eldorado are obviously not new to keen observers of what could easily be described as the Nigerian melodrama, in which key actors in governance are guided more by selfish than common interest in most of their decisions. The result of which is why the country’s development had been somewhat of a highly boring merry-go-round.

The reason for this situation may not be far from the possibility that those who aspire to rule are guided more by what Martin Luther King Jr  meant when he said “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but because conscience tells him it is right”. They seem to apply this principle without adapting it to the Nigerian stage.

Aspirants do not also seem it necessary to reason like Cyrus the Great, who said “All men have their frailties; and whoever looks for a friend without imperfections, will never find what he seeks”.

Above all, what can we, both individually and as a country, achieve if we do not imbibe the words of the great mahatma Ghandi, who expressed the belief that “Where there is love, there is life”.

It, therefore, may not really make any difference whether the opposition wins the presidency or not in 2015 if they cannot make similar difference where they currently find themselves.

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Sanwo-Olu Signs Anti-Open Grazing Bill Into Law

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, signed the bill to prohibit open cattle grazing and trespass of cattle on land in the state into laws.
With the law, Lagos has joined some states in southern Nigeria that have anti-open grazing laws in place.
The law is coming more than two weeks after the September 1 deadline set by the Southern Governors Forum for states.
The governor also signed the Lagos State Domestic And Sexual Violence Agency Bill, into Law.
Meanwhile, the state government has said it is committed to tackling the menace of drug abuse frontally to reduce the ravage among youths in the state.
Sanwo-Olu stated this on Monday at the Lagos House, Ikeja, during a courtesy visit by the delegates of Anglican Communion Church of Nigeria, led by the Archbishop Metropolitan and Primate, Most Reverend Henry Ndukuba.
Sanwo-Olu said his government was building a massive rehabilitation hospital at Ketu-Ejirin to tackle drug abuse, adding that his administration would  partner with the Church to ensure that the people lived a better life.
He said governance started from the leadership of spiritual homes, noting that government and church can jointly build a community that would outlive all, while restating the commitment to improve the movement of people on road, water as well as building rail infrastructure to make Lagos a livable city.
Speaking earlier, Ndukuba thanked the governor for partnering with the church in the welfare of the people and commended him for his outstanding performance in tackling Covid-19. 
 Also present at the courtesy visit were the Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Tayo Ayinde, Secretary to the State Government, Folashade Jaji, Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotoso, among other dignitaries.

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Okowa Tasks NASS On True Federalism

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Delta  State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has called on the National Assembly to embody in the 1999 Constitution being amended, true federalism and independence of Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
The governor made the call on Monday at a nationwide sensitisation on the review of the existing revenue allocation formula held at Unity Hall, Government House, Asaba.
He explained that an independent RMAFC would carry out its functions independently, including laying its proposals directly before the National Assembly for approval.
According to the governor, the current practice where recommendations of the commission are presented to the President has led to the non-review of the revenue allocation formula since 1992 as no President demonstrated the political will to forward the amendments to the parliament.
He commended RMAFC for ongoing sensitisation of the states before a zonal exercise where recommendations from the states would be received.
“For quite some time a lot of talks have gone on in the revenue allocation and it’s very unfortunate that in this country we are still operating a revenue allocation formula that was actually reviewed in 1992.
“As we look forward to a new revenue allocation formula, we hope that you come out with something that is fair, justifiable and equitable.
“But, the challenge is that when you have done all this work, you are going to eventually, by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, lay this before the President and the President ought to lay it before the National Assembly.
“There is a challenge there and there has always been a challenge there, because what is there in our laws that will ensure that the President lays the recommendations of RMAFC before the National Assembly?
“We hope that the National Assembly takes a look at this amendment because RMAFC is supposed to be an independent commission, a commission on behalf of all federating units and component parts of the federation.
“They cannot tie your hands; the constitution ought to be amended to enable chairman of RMAFC to directly lay before the national assembly whatever review it has come up with so that nobody stands it down,’’ he said.
Okowa stated that the National Assembly must do what was right because “a nation is a nation.

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Reps Query Presidential Committee Over Assets Seized From Past Leaders

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The House of Representatives on Monday ordered the Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC) on Landed Property to produce reports of all assets seized from former Nigerian leaders.
Members were more particular about the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, whose property and money were recovered by the Federal Government. 
 The chairman, ad-hoc Committee on Abandoned Property, Ademora Kuye, said the House wanted a report on all assets seized from Nigerian leaders in and out of Nigeria, particularly Abacha.
He said this when the Executive Secretary of PIC appeared before the committee in Abuja.
“We need to know the state of those property and to also know if the property have titles of deed,’’ Mr Kuye said.
The committee also queried the sale of federal government’s assets held in trust by the PIC.
Mr Kuye said the committee discovered that some of the property the PIC claimed to have sold were either not sold or were not paid for, contrary to claims made by the PIC.
He added that some of the seized houses which the PIC claimed were vacant were still being occupied.
He directed the PIC to furnish the House of Representatives committee with up-to-date reports of federal government’s assets sold, amount realised from the sales, those yet to be sold and those under litigation.
Mr Kuye also asked that the PIC must state the amount of money remitted to the federal government from the sales with evidence of remittance, adding that all assets pointed out to the committee but not included in its first report should be forwarded to the House of Representatives committee.
Responding to Mr Kuye’s submissions, the Executive Secretary, PIC, Bala Samid, stated that some of the people occupying government quarters had refused to vacate them.
He added that as soon as the occupants were approached for payment or to vacate the houses they went to court to obtain injunctions restraining the PIC.
“We approached the federal government to report them and the federal government said that we should give them time”.

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