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2015 Presidency: The Odds

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As the February 14
Presidential election draws nearer by the day, and parties put finishing touches to their strategies to either retain or gain power, permutations as to which party waxes more or gains more ground are rife. As events unfold, there is little doubt that the race will be between the ruling Peoples’ Democratic  Party (PDP) and the leading opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC).
Following the emergence of incumbent president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) and  former Head-of-State, General Mohammadu Buhar (GMB), as the candidates of the PDP and APC respectively, the battle for Nigeria’s presidency has begun in earnest.
As expected, both presidential candidates have as much chances of emerging victorious as their followers chose to portray or make keen observers believe. One certainty, however, is that at the end of the day, only one aspirant will emerge. So, what are the odds  against, or in favour of the two presidential gladiators.?
For GEJ, there is no doubt that the catch phrase, “A breath of fresh air” that was the crux of his pre-2011 campaign that saw him coast to victory in the 2011 election seem to have fizzled out. So have all the goodwills and promises of a better Nigeria.
Pundits have expressed the belief that the disillusionment trailing the GEJ presidency garnered so much momentum because it basically originated from what is largely seen as within the inner chambers of the PDP, the very heart of the party caucus.
Key areas in which GEJ has been identified to have given a lackluster attention and hence deemed to have failed could be summerised into corruption and insecurity, and a major advocate in this wise is former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Being a key figure in PDP, whatever the former president says cannot be dismissed as mere frivolity. Comparatively, there is the belief that no matter what can be said about former President Obasanjo, he at least made some efforts against corrupt officials when he was in charge, even if such efforts were often viewed as sectional and tokenistic.
In his recent autobiography titled “My Watch”, Obasanjo said of corruption in GEJ’s first tenure; “under Jonathan we seem to have gone from frying pan to fire. If in the past corruption was in the corridors of power, it would seem now to be in the sitting room, dinning room and bedroom of power”.
The former president further drove his point when he alleged that incremenating corruption-related documents against a former governor was ordered to be removed from a file because the culprit was close to GEJ.
As a result of his perceived inability to address issues of corruption, therefore, many Nigerians, as amplified by the opposition, do not see GEJ as ready to fight corruption, which no doubt, has over the years proven to be the bane of Nigeria’s woes, both within and outside the shores of Nigeria.
The same reason is given for GEJ’s inability to secure lives and properties in his domain, as exemplified by the increasing and more deadly activities of the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, which had sent thousands to their early grave, and has held over 200 Chibok secondary school girls hostage since April 15, 2014.
In a summarizing manner, the founder of Adoration Ministry, Enugu Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, during his end-of-year mass on the eve of 2015, said GEJ had surrounded himself with very corrupt officials. As a result, the President, he said, has turned a blind eye to their corrupt activities while millions of Nigerians wallow in abject poverty and endless insecurity.
According to Mbaka, “Jonathan has ruled for six years. We need a change. NEPA (electricity) is not working because of corruption. The privatization of public companies has not yielded any fruit because of corruption.
“Jonathan surrounded himself with very corrupt officers who advise him. Nigerians are sick and tired of wasting innocent lives without government doing enough to stop the destruction.
“Up till now, nobody knows the whereabouts of the innocent Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram and we say we have a government that cannot guarantee the welfare, safety and security of the citizens.
“Nigerians are calling for change. We need change. We don’t want to move from bad luck to bad luck. Nigerians want to move from bad luck to good luck”, he said.
While acknowledging the stand by the opposition in a piece titled “Can Jonathan survive this blitzkriegs?”  in This Day, Simon Kolawole identified four categories of GEJ’s critics: Opposition figures and other political opponents; those who lost out in the political game; those northerners who are still bitter that Jonathan “hijacked” power after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010; and those who have neither partisan nor sectional sentiments against Jonathan as they are sincerely critical of certain aspects of his stewardship.
Kolawole had no qualms with opposition figures and other political opponents because they must do their bidding.
“There is no way APC would come out and praise Jonathan; that is political suicide. They want power. They want his job. Theirs is to say Jonathan or PDP has not done well and that if Nigerians give them a chance, they would do much better.
“This is a universal characteristic of opposition politics. You can argue that they do not always work with facts, but what is politicking? PDP would do the same if APC was in power”, he said.
For those who lost out in the political game, the writer observed that many politicians, who supported GEJ in 2010 and 2011, feel abandoned, “they feel like a deflated orange: squeezed, sucked and dumped. They feel Jonathan treated them to a one-night stand, whereas they wanted an affair.
“Some wanted appointments; others simply desired respect and recognition. But they are bitter that Jonathan jilted them after getting what he wanted. In no time, they became his sworn enemies”, he said.
The northerners who are embittered that GEJ hijacked their right after the death of President Yar’Adua feel so because they say when they conceded power to the South in 1999, they did it with the understanding that Obasanjo would do only one term. But he did the maximum two terms.
Consequently, PDP, as the ruling party, agreed to north/south power rotation every eight years. Unfortunately, Yar’Adua died prematurely.
“Jonathan took over and refused to let so. To some northerners, there is nothing Jonathan can do to make them happy. Even if he turns Nigeria to Dubai, their message is clear; Thank you and just get out of here”, he said.
The last category, which have neither partisan nor sectional sentiments against Jonathan are merely genuinely bothered at his handling of critical issues such as corruption and Boko Haram.
“In truth, Jonathan lost a lot of sympathizers  with the Chibok School girls’ saga, which turned into the  ‘Na only you waka come’ tragicomedy in the corridors of power”, Kolawole concluded.
As a word of advise, and in seeming appreciation of the political scenario, Kolawole noted: “It is not in the best interest of President Jonathan to lump all his critics together. As a leader, he has to sit down, analyse his critics and their criticisms, and work out his actions and reactions appropriately.
“He sure has millions of critics, like any other leader. People criticize with different motives. People have different agenda even when they are saying the same thing. Unfortunately, you will miss the massage when you lump everyone together and respond to every critic and criticism with cynicism and antagonism”.
As is usual with incumbency and opposition in politics, the weakness of the ruling government is what opposition latches upon to score its points, and the APC, seem to be doing a good job of it.
Against an allegedly “weak” GEJ,  the APC,  which is the leading opposition party, has fielded a perceived “strong” candidate in GMB, based on his track record. One key factor that constitutes a plus to GMB is his brief tenure as Military Head of State from the 1st of January 2004 to August 2005.
Alongside his second in command, late Major-General Tunde Idiagbon, GMB launched the popular War Against Indiscipline (WAI), through which they attempted to set a new road-map for the country’s politics.
They introduced strict economic and political policies that have been widely described as “Buharism”. It saw him refuse to adopt the IMF conditionality to devalue the naira. While his critics blamed him then for the resultant job losses, closure of some businesses, and decline in living standards, his admirers commended him for adopting unique economic measures that enabled his government to reduce inflation, curb import of needless goods and curtail crude oil theft.
Given his history as a leader with a strong character, GMB is also described as incorruptible and hence seem as the messiah that Nigeria needs to combat the ailing corruption-infested Nigerian economy.
Ironically, GMB’s critics also consider his strong personality as a minus, saying that he would not be a listening president like GEJ. But his followers have expressed strong feelings that the former Army General’s popularity is increasing by the day, and before February 14 where the pendulum for the presidency will swing to will be too glaring not to see in favour of the APC  candidate.
Moreso, as is popularly said,There is little doubt that Nigerians want to change, one that would loosen the stranglehold of corruption in the nation’s polity. What is, however, in contention is who represents that change so yearned for. Is it a repented GEJ, or a brand new GMB?

 

Soibi Max-Alalibo

Prof. Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman

Prof. Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman

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End Poverty, Okowa Urges Political Appointees

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has urged political appointees to be repository of ideas that will end poverty and social vices in the country.
The governor stated this yesterday, while inaugurating eight newly appointed Special Advisers at Government House, Asaba.
He noted that the times were difficult for Nigerians and that this was not the time for them to be lazy in their duties.
Okowa urged political appointees to commit themselves to more work to revive the economy and create opportunities for the younger generation.
He decried the high rate of youth unemployment which, he said, had driven many into self-help, leading to the current social vices in the country.
The governor said that his administration had created jobs through various empowerment programmes, which had greatly impacted many, with its great multiplier effect.
“Available records indicate that we have so far trained and resourced over 100,000 persons to become successful entrepreneurs.
“Yet, our cities and communities continue to brim with many youths who have yet to find succor, while some, regrettably, have chosen the path of infamy by embracing underhand methods to personal success that now pose danger to the rest of us.
“The signs are ominous and we cannot afford to play the ostrich or even be deluded into thinking that all is well. All is not well,’’ he said.
Okowa urged leaders to work with the consciousness that leadership was service.
“Service to the people for whom we hold our positions in trust. Thus, it is incumbent on appointees to devise means and methods of discharging their callings and responsibilities.
“Leaders and political appointees, at whatever level, should be repository of ideas that will proffer solutions to the problems of unemployment, poverty, anti-social vices, suspicion and distrust that breed inter-ethnic feuds in our communities,’’ he said.
 The governor stressed the urgent need for mindset reorientation among the people.
While congratulating the appointees, Okowa urged them to consider it their duties to connect with their communities and engage in regular advocacy that would remold the youth and set them on the right path.
“Where there is a will, there must be a way.
“This administration is of the belief that the stability, peaceful coexistence and prosperity of the state depend on ability to run an all-inclusive government, powered by men and women of competence, capacity and character.
“Hence the new Special Advisers are additional key resources in our governance team, painstakingly assembled to be architects and builders of a stronger Delta.
Responding on behalf of his colleagues, Mr Johnson Erijo, thanked God for the opportunity given them to serve the state.
He expressed appreciation to the governor for finding them worthy of the appointment, while pledging to work and sustain the Okowa-led administration’s agenda of service of the people.
The Tide  reports that the new Special Advisers are: Messrs Ignatius Ziakegha, Matthew Tsekiri, Chukwudi  Dafe,  Martins Okonta,  Dan Yingi, Ernest Ogwuezzy,  Johnson Erijo and Edward Ekpoko.
The Tide also reports that the appointment brings the number of special advisers in government to 16, following the devolution of the State Executive Council on May 18.
Meanwhile, the Delta House of Assembly has screened and confirmed additional 11 nominees as Commissioners in the state.
Those confirmed are Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, former Commissioner for Higher Education; Mr Chika Ossai, former Commissioner for Trade and Investment and Mr Basil Ganagana, former Commissioner for Energy.
Also confirmed is Mr Emmanuel Amgbaduba, former Commissioner for Oil and Gas. The others are Dr Mordi Ononye, former Commissioner for Health; Mr Ovie Oghoore; Mrs Bridget Anyafulu; Mr Solomon Golley; Mr Isaiah Bozimo; Mr Henry Dakota; and Mrs Jennifer Anderson.
The motion for the confirmation of the nominees was unanimously adopted yesterday, by the Assembly when the Speaker, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori put it to a voice vote and seconded by the Minority Leader, Mr Innocent Anidi.
The Tide reports that Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa on July 1, sworn in 18 confirmed nominees as commissioners.
The governor dissolved the state Executive Council on May 18.

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2023: Group Insists On S’ South Presidency

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A non-partisan advocacy group, South-South Presidency 2023 (SSP2023), has given reasons for insisting on the return of power to the zone in 2023.
The group, which ended its three-day delegates conference in Calabar, said there was need for a President of the South-South extraction to complete the zone’s tenure of eight years since it was truncated by massive gang up and that a South-South Presidency would stabilise the Nigerian polity.
In a 10-point communique signed by the National Protem Chairman of the group, Chief Diekivie Ikiogha, the Cross River State coordinator, Hon Ekpenyong Eyamba and others, the group said the South – South was blessed with competent and qualified human resource to take the country to another height and so should be given a chance.
They observed with nostalgia the deplorable state of the Calabar-Itu road and requested that the Federal Government should urgently fix it.
The group also frowned at what they described as the continuous intimidation, blackmail and harassment of politicians of South – South extraction.
The three-day conference climaxed with a visit to the Chairman of the State Council of Chiefs, His Royal Majesty Etinyin Etim Okon Edet at the Council of Chiefs Chambers.
At the Chamber, Chief Ikiogha called on the traditional institution to support the agitation of South – South people to produce the next president that would do four more years to complete the zone’s turn.
“By this arithmetic, South will do 18 years and when it goes to the north they will do eight years to add up to their tenure of 10 years which will be completed by President
“The South – South has an already constitutional four years which its ex president, Goodluck Jonathan can readily fit in,” he stated.
In his response, HRM Etim Okon Edet , who doubles as Paramount Ruler of Bakassi Local Government Area, said there was nothing wrong with a South – South producing the next president, saying the former president Goodluck Jonathan would be best fit to complete his tenure but feared whether the Bayelsa-born leader would be willing to throw his hat into the ring.
The Monarch said, “Yes, he is best fit to go and complete the four years remaining for South South regardless of any party. I will take the message to His Excellency, Governor Ben Ayade for his opinion.”
Among delegates who attended the Conference were Dr Princewill .W. Igbagara (Bayelsa), Engr. Ini Charles Udonwa (Akwa Ibom), Dr Didi Opiuyo (Rivers), High Chief (Major) A.O.Oputa (Bayelsa), Hon. Barr. Oyemah-Iwe Jahswill (Delta), Dr. Uwamose Amadasun (Edo), and Comrade Francis Etang of Cross River state , among others.

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar

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INEC Commences Physical CVR In Rivers

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers State has commenced the physical aspect of the Continuous Voter’s Registration (CVR) at the state office and in the local government offices.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity, Mark Usulor and made available to The Tide last Monday, July 26, 2021.
The statement however, regretted that due to the blockade on a stretch of the East-West Road by some persons, reportedly protesting about the poor state of the road yesterday, movement had been impeded along the route.
{As a result, some of our personnel and materials have been unable to arrive some of the local government offices of INEC to commence the exercise”, he said.
He listed the affected local government areas as follows: Andoni; Bonny; Eleme; Gokana; Khana; Ogu/Bolo; Okrika; Opobo/Nkoro and Tai.
“INEC Rivers State wishes to assure potential registrants in such local government areas that the exercise will commence in their locations later in the day and as soon as the situation permits.
“It also hopes that registrants in the affected areas avail themselves the opportunity to key into the physical Continuous Voters’ Registration as soon as normalcy returns back to the area.
It is worthy to note that INEC in line with keeping to its promises to ensure no one of age is disenfranchised introduced the CVR for all as well as those who wishes to change their voters’ card due to their present location as such it is pertinent for those concerned to take full advantage of this window of opportunity”, he added.

By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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