Since 1960 when Nigeria gained her independence from colonial rule, one major challenge that has continuously threatened the growth and stability of the oil-rich nation is the entrenchment of democratic culture. The military had had cause to intervene in the governance of this nation because of the inglorious activities of the political elite most of whom are more concerned about the looting of the nation’s treasury at the expense the masses.
It is against this background that the year 2013 has witnessed political upheavals that are detrimental to the sustainability of the nation’s fledgling democracy which was hard-won in 1990 by combined efforts of pro-democracy and civil society groups, the Nigerian press as well as other sections of the society after the military had severally scuttled democratic processes in the country. We shall therefore, review some of the events that shaped the nation’s political landscape in the out-going year.
Rivers State Crisis
The Rivers State chapter of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been riddled with crisis following the controversial court ruling that replaced Chief G. U. Ake-led executive with that of Bro. Felix Obuah. Subsequently, the leadership of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council was suspended for alleged corruption by Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, in compliance with the resolution passed by the State House of Assembly.
Angered by this development, five anti-Amaechi lawmakers in the State Assembly attempted to impeach the Speaker of the House against the wishes of their colleagues who were 27 in number and in majority. This resulted in a free-for-all fight which compelled the National Assembly to take over the functions of the House.
Although an Abuja high court recently ordered that the House should resume its legislative work, the National Assembly has appealed against that ruling. It is also pertinent to note that Governor Amaechi has taken a harder step by dissolving the leadership of Obio/Akpor Council.
In fact, the political class in Rivers State has been polarized between Governor Amaechi’s faction and Hon. Wike’s faction said to be working for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan.
In May, this year Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was re-elected as the chairman of Nigeria’s Governors Forum by securing 19 votes against Governor Jonah Jang’s 16. However, the presidency turned a blind eye to Amaechi’s victory by recognizing Governor Jang as the chairman of the forum. The aim, it is believed is to create division in the forum to whittle down Governor Amaechi’s influence in relation to the 2015 general election.
Registration of APC
The merger of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) was formalized following its registration by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as All Progressive Congress (APC).
The ruling PDP was unsettled by this development even though it publicly expressed support for the merger. However, African People Congress (APC) and All Patriotic Citizens (APC) have gone to challenge the registration of All Progressives Congress by INEC, claiming ownership of the acronym.
The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) has been engulfed in crisis following power tussle between Chief Victor Umeh and Mazi Okwu as both lay claim to the national chairmanship of the party. Initially, Mazi Okwu was enjoying the support of the only APGA governor in the country, Mr Peter Obi of Anambra but he was abandoned by the governor who later reconciled with Chief Umeh a few weeks to the gubernatorial election in Anambra State. The court is yet to rule on the APGA matter.
PDP Convention Crisis
Shortly after Governor Amaechi was re-elected the NGF chairman he was suspended by the National Working Committee of the PDP for alleged anti-party activities. But Nigerians were of the view that his suspension was borne out of the fact he defeated the preferred candidate of the presidency (Governor Jang) in the NGF election.
Governor Amaechi’s suspension set the stage for unbridled crises that have destabilised the party. Members of the party that were not on the same page with the presidency were labeled as rebels and were suspended and dismissed from the party for spurious reasons. During the special convention of the party in August, this year some chieftains of the party who were dissatisfied with the impunity being exhibited by the national leadership staged a walkout and formed a new PDP.
Return of Gov. Suntai
Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State returned home, having spent 10 months in Germany and United States where he received medical treatments for the injuries he sustained from a plane crash in Adamawa State. His return generated political crisis between his supporters and the deputy governor’s.
It was alleged that the deputy governor wanted his boss impeached because of his ill-health so as to assume office as the substantive governor of the state. With the intervention of then National leadership of the PDP, the deputy governor was therefore, directed to continue as the Acting Governor pending the recuperation of the ailing governor.
The gubernatorial election that was conducted in Anambra State on November 16, this year was fraught with irregularities. Indeed, it was the worst election conducted by the Attahiru Jeja-led Independent National Electoral Commission since it came on board. Both local and international observers expressed dissatisfaction with shoddy exercise as the INEC chairman equally admitted the obvious irregularities.
It was for this reason that the three major candidates in that election (Senator Chris Ngige of APC, Hon Tony Nwoye of PDP and Chief Ifeanyi Ubah of LP) boycotted the supplementary election in the disputed electoral units, insisting that the governorship election should be cancelled for a credible exercise. They have also gone to court to challenge the outcome of the election.
Defection of PDP Governors and Legislators
Following the crisis in the PDP former chieftains of the party, five governors and 37 members of House of Representatives recently defected to All Progressives Congress (APC). Consequently, the APC is now in majority in the House of Representatives.
Sacking of Ministers
The President sacked eight ministers who were either nominated by or loyal to governors that are not comfortable with his leadership style.
Obasanjo’s and Jonathan’s Letters
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his 18-page letter took a swipe at President Goodluck Jonathan on sundry issues that bordered on ineptitude, integrity and security. The President replied his benefactor’s letter with the inference that the pot is calling the kettle black.
…Urges Ondo Gov To Shelve N2bn Gov’s Lodge Project
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has advised the Ondo State government to shelve its plans to build a new governor’s lodge at the cost of N2 billion in the interest of the state.
Mr Fatai Adams, the state PDP Chairman said this when he spoke with newsmen at the state party secretariat in Akure, yesterday.
Adams expressed concern over mass resignation of doctors in the state due to poor remuneration.
“We are seriously alarmed by the unfortunate resignation of over 109 doctors from the state public service over the inability of the government to pay their due salaries and hazard allowances as at when due.
“I’m sure you will all recall that Ondo State was the destination for medical tourism in the South West because of the first class service delivery found here under the PDP administration.
“According to the Nigerian Medical Association records, no medical house officer has been employed by the state government since 2019, a situation that is responsible for the poor services rendered in the hospitals.
“The present administration has a backlog of unpaid salaries of workers, it is proposing to build a N2 billion new governor’s lodge in Akure. This is not only ridiculous but the surest evidence that the government has completely lost direction,” he said.
Adams added” “Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Oluwarotimi Akeredeolu’s predecessor built a very befitting governor’s Lodge in 2013, a few years before Akeredolu assumed the reins of government.
“To spend N2 billion of tax payers money on another lodge at this time is the height of callousness and wastefulness,” he said.
Senators Rate 9th National Assembly High
Senators on Wednesday at plenary commended the 9th National Assembly at the mid-term assessment of its performance in the last two years.
The lawmakers, who spoke during a special session to mark the second year anniversary of the 9th Senate, commended the various legislative interventions of the National Assembly, especially on security, economy and governance.
The lawmakers, who spoke included the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC-Kebbi); Deputy Leader, Ajayi Boroffice (APC-Ondo); Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi (APC-Niger), and Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi).
Others were Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC-Kwara); Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue); Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu); Solomon Adeola (APC-Lagos), Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC,-Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun (APC-Ogun), and Suleiman Umar (APC-Kwara).
The rest were Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo (APC-Bayelsa); Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP-Ondo); Istifanus Gyang (PDP-Plateau); Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi); Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo); Nora Daduut (APC-Plateau); Jibrin Isah (APC-Kogi); Abdullahi Adamu (APC-Nasarawa), and Francis Fadahunsi (PDP-Osun), amongst others.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in a speech delivered at the special session, said 742 bills were introduced by the ninth Senate in the last two years.
According to him, out of the total number of bills introduced during the two sessions of the Assembly, 58 have been passed, while 355 bills have gone through first reading.
Contributing, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the realignment carried out on the budget cycle by the National Assembly was to insulate businesses and the economy from going into recession.
Deputy Whip, Sen. Aliyu Sabi, said: “As we celebrate two years, we are guided by the legislative agenda.
“The unity of purpose which we have worked for, has enabled us to achieve those great strides.
“The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) is a testimony on how the National Assembly has been able to work in unity in the interest of the nation.
“We need to work together to find common grounds to problems that beset the country,” Abdullahi said.
In his own remark, Sen. Garbriel Suswam, said: “Inspite of challenges and shortcomings, the 9th Assembly had taken major steps to achieve some of its legislative agenda.”
He said that the executive has been intransigent in implementing the resolution of the National Assembly.
He appealed to the Senate President to ensure that the Electoral Bill presently before the National Assembly was passed transparently, while accommodating provisions for the use of electronic card readers and electronic transmission of results during elections.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi, on his own part, described Executive-Legislative relations under the ninth Assembly as a good one.
The lawmaker, who called for the introduction of State Police, to curb rising insecurity in the country, also advised that the constitutional review exercise, be used to bring the South East region at par with other parts of the country.
Sen. Solomon Adeola similarly said that the Senate had on two occasions rescued Nigeria from a looming economic crises when it slid into recession.
He added that such a prompt response was extended by the National Assembly to the issue of insecurity amid its recommendations to the Executive arm of government, which were aimed at tackling the spate of insecurity faced by the country.
PDP Inaugurates E-Registration Committee
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday inaugurated e-registration Committee to facilitate electronic registration of its members nationwide.
The committee is Chaired by the Governor of Edo, Mr Godwin Obaseki, while Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State is the Vice Chairman.
The party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at the inauguration of the committee in Abuja, said that the e- registration was a project dear to the party and had been on the card since 2010.
Secondus said that the party decided to digitalise its membership for proper database, due to its size, reach and to move with time.
“When we say that PDP is the largest party in the continent, we are not grandstanding but stating the obvious.
“There is no nook and cranny of this country that you won’t find PDP members.
“In 2019 general elections, the PDP was the only political party that fielded candidates in all the positions: Presidency, Governorship, Senate and House of Representatives and in all the 36 states’ Houses of Assembly.
“Even in states where we are not in power, our members still out number even the ruling party in such states.
“We are the only party since inception in 1998 that has been consistent in name, motto, manifestos and logo,” he said.
Secondus said that reports available to the party across the country showed that many more Nigerians want to join PDP and that the exercise would provide them such opportunity.
Secondus advised members of the committee to use their wealth of experience to deliver on the mandate assigned to them.
“In appointing you as the Chairman of this project, the party took into consideration your background and your love for data and record keeping.
“We have absolute confidence that you and your team will deliver in this assignment that is expected to update the database of our party across the country.
“Membership registration into our party is a continuous programme, what we are embarking on is to digitalise it for proper analysis of issues.
“The place of women and youths in our party cannot be over-emphasised and this programme is going to help toward proper planning in our party,” Secondus said.
Obaseki, in his remarks promised that the committee would reach out to PDP members across the nation.
He promised that the exercise would be all inclusive to the men and women, especially youths who were living in the digital world.
Obaseki said the committee would leverage on the existing platform of the party and produced a membership register that the party would be proud of .
“It is very worthy that our party being a big party has decided to digitalised membership and position the party to take over in 2023,” he said.
The party’s National Organising Secretary, retired Col. Austin Akobundu is the Secretary to the Committee, while the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan; Agbi Emmanuel, Prof. Wale Oladipo, Sani Kutigi, Cyril Maduabum and Hon. Austin Opara will serve as members.
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