The year 2014 has come and gone leaving trails of intrigues of monumental proportions. Among the surprises of the year, were the party primaries which saw some of the president’s confident men losing the governorship ticket of their states. This is one of the picks of 2014.
Knowing the awesome powers of a Nigerian President and Commander-In-Chief, it is almost unthinkable that he can be refused anything. In fact, a President does not need to ask for favours before getting them.
So powerful, a President’s name alone opens doors, generates compliance and indeed guarantees, approval of sorts. In the political realm, those believed to have a President’s ears are feared, adored or even worshiped.
Therefore, if a minister in a President’s cabinet resigns to contest for a higher political office, the conclusion is that such ambition must naturally enjoy that President’s support and approval. Some could even conclude that being the President’s men, to challenge them in any political battle shall amount to a perilous political voyage.
When therefore, some Ministers of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s Executive Cabinet chose to test their popularity in their various states, by contesting the governorship primaries on the platform of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the President’s own political party, very few Nigerians thought that their choice would amount to the proverbial dog with a big bone in his mouth, and goes after its shadow in a deep-well, in belief that that in the well must be bigger. But that was what the outcome of the primaries in some states boiled down to.
They were seven in all who attempted a replay of the dog and bone drama. Labaran Maku was Minister of Information and a successful one at that. The others are Samuel Ortom, Minister of Trade and Industry, Musiliu Obanikoro, Minister of State for Defence and Emeka Wogu, Minister of Labour.
The others are Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, Minister of Health and Dairus Ishaku, Minister of State for Niger Delta. Of the seven ministers who resigned, only the Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike made it through the party primaries successfully.
But what should push polished professionals like Dr Chukwu, whose level-headedness, expertise and sense of duty successfully halted the spread of Ebola in Nigeria and Maku whose flawless oratory and convincing power of debate makes him more suited for the information minister or the classroom? It was all known that both indeed enjoyed the President’s respect because they were dutiful, but when they decided to contest the governorship the principal let them go.
Strangely, the President is also the leader of the political party on which platform the ministers sought tickets. As a leader generally perceived by the party faithful as well performed and unanimously adopted as lone presidential candidate, not many thought that Jonathan can be refused anything.
The Ministers themselves must have concluded that the mere mention of the President’s name or the mere thought that they work with the leader of the party, would be enough to frighten and scare away any competitor from the contest. At worse, even if they lost, the President could influence the outcome in their favour, after all, they all sought his approval to quit the cabinet in pursuit of more juicy political package.
But as it turned out, President Jonathan appeared too busy to put a word cross to the handlers of the primaries in various states or urge other contenders to drop their dreams. Or did the President consider the ministers’ resignation a good radiance to bad rubbish?
It is really unimaginable that men like Onyebuchi Chukwu, Labaran Maku and Obanikoro could fall the way they did without any extra help from the President, considering their perceived loyalty to the President and exemplary sense of duty.
In the case of Maku, his good governance tour of projects embarked upon by the media to showcase projects by both the Federal and state governments gave him so much visibility, even popularity that must have pushed him unto the governorship race. But who ever imagined that a man like Obanikoro whose popularity in Lagos, many boasted was a threat to opposition politicians, could be swept away with such ease as done in the state of excellence.
The President himself may be as surprised as many others, who believed that at least five of the ministers, if not all of them will come out victorious. But the question is, what if they had won?
Would the Presidency not be fingered for influencing the outcome? Won’t the National party executive be accused of doing the President’s bidding rather than ensuring a level playing ground for all? Would such outcome be considered credible enough to not generate petitions and complaints? Even bad press?
Now that the opposite is true what should be the likely conclusion? That the President is a true democrat, leader and father to all and should naturally not favour anyone against the other? That the party requires men and women popular enough to win primaries before going into general elections, could that be the President’s avowment? Does it confirm President Jonathan’s assurance that he would do nothing to influence the electoral process?
Stretched a bit further, could the fate of the ministers be seen as a verdict on the Presidency in the affected states? Or were the ministers, simply Abuja politicians who were considered strangers by their people whose mandate they sought? Were they unusually too distant until the primaries? We may never know.
But their experience indeed reminds many of the proverbial dog with one big bone in its month but out of greed goes after his shadow only to lose what he already had and at great risk to its life.
In a country where, none ever seeks elective office, as everyone is often persuaded by his or her people to lead them, it’s hard to tell which people actually persuaded the ministers to resign in pursuit of the unknown.
Where from will they now draw the required confidence and credibility needed to win souls for their former master, if they would? Or would they not feel abandoned now and do same to their principal?
Whatever their discretion does not matter now because they disobeyed the natural injunction of looking deeply before leaping. If they had, they probably would have remained relevant as ministers and not wasted resources on a perilous political journey that has led to nowhere but failure.
That may be part of the beauty of democracy, but what I found troubling is the list of ex-governors-to-be preparing to head to the Senate, some of them after nearly eight years in office. What do the governors really want that the executive positions they held failed to provide them? Or is the Senate the new third term for governors, since all of them cannot be President or Vice?
Truth is, considering the awesome influence of a state governor, seeking a Senate seat while in office cannot be as difficult as an Abuja based politician seeking office in his state.
But they indeed are an impediment to democracy as there is not likely to be any level-playing ground for other likely contestants in a state where they remain judges in their own cases. That indeed is what is playing out following the outcome of the various primaries in the major political parties.
While the parties consider such candidates as potential election winners others who may harbor same ambition may feel short changed or intimidated by the high credentials of such serving governors.
My Agony is that Governors in Nigeria are today the most influential with so much powers over all other arms of government, the state assemblies and the judiciary, and can do any and every thing to achieve their every ambitions, within their states. They are unlike the ministers who lept without looking.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
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.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
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.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
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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