Former Military President and one of the founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida has cautioned that the party’s national chairmanship position for which, its election has been billed for December 9, 2017, is not for sale.
The ex-head of state gave the caution in a statement signed on his behalf by his spokeman, Prince Kassim Afegbua, in Minna, the Niger State capital, yesterday.
Babangida said he was alarmed at and displeased with the level of money politics which aspirants to the position have engaged, warning that the party must produce a national chairman who must be proven to be a man of “stature, discipline, character and commendable conduct to breathe fresh air into our party and not persons whose political relevance is the product of naira and kobo bargain across the counter.”
He advised the party to “tread on the path of caution and common sense, conscious of our recent history of avoidable political crisis” in choosing who becomes the national chairman, saying the approach of monetizing the process, “in my humble view, defeats the whole essence of participation, free choice and voting which are the essential attributes of any democracy without inducement and outright manipulation.”
Babangida also said that “rather than de-monetize the electoral process to provide ample room for more citizens’ participation, the idea of monetizing the process and trying to “procure” party positions defeats merit, offends good conscience and blurs fair play.”
He said, following the failure of the party to win the 2015 election and the recent leadership tussles that rocked the party that “one would have thought that…individuals would have put to rest their selfish and egocentric interest and pursue goals and objectives that bear true testimony to the ideals of the founding fathers….”
The former military president said instead, “the sound bites of monetization of the process are utterly demoralizing and benumbing.”
Babangida, however, urged that leaders of the party “irrespective of their political interest would allow reason and level playing field to prevail in the overall interest of the party.”
The statement fully reads thus: “In the countdown to the Saturday, 9th December, 2017 convention of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), as founding fathers and stakeholders, we need to collectively assure Nigerians and our teeming members that we have indeed learnt our bitter lessons.
“Following the defeat of the party in the 2015 election, it is incumbent upon us as leaders and stakeholders to use the opportunity of the convention to sober reflect on the challenges confronting us, identify our flaws and seek plausible ways to correct them in order to come out stronger in subsequent elections.
“An elective convention presents as it were, a rare opportunity and veritable platform to elect in a holistic manner a credible, tested, down-to-earth and truly urbane candidate with enough stamina, distinguished character and national acceptability who is driven by incurable optimism and passion for a united Nigeria.
“At this point of our political history as a party, we need a national chairman who is driven by uncommon initiatives, creativity in ideas and a rich content of character to lead and stabilize the party in line with the laudable ideals of the founding fathers of the party.
“Such an individual must possess national recognition to be able to galvanize political opportunities and transform them into tangible outcomes in our democratic engagements.
“When we were conceptualizing the idea of the PDP at formation, we had in mind a party that offers platform for all Nigerians in their pursuit of legitimate political aspirations.
“The choice of her motto; ‘POWER TO THE PEOPLE’ was in sync with our clear objective of recognizing the people as the repository of power.
“In any democratic engagement, the people decide the outcome of elections through popular and inclusive participation.
“The monetization of our electoral process is disturbingly eroding that power which should ordinarily reside in the people.
“In the last few days, I get frightened by the monetary consideration that is likely to dictate who emerges as the national chairman of our great party rather than what the people truly want.
“The discussion is more on the side of heavy monetization of the process and ultimate “procurement” of the position of the chairman by the highest bidder.
“This approach, in my humble view, defeats the whole essence of participation, free choice and voting which are the essential attributes of any democracy without inducement and outright manipulation.
“I wish to plead that we tread on the path of caution and common sense, conscious of our recent history of avoidable political crisis.
“At 76, and given the benefit of hindsight, my role both in context and content; is now more of advisory one to enhance any altruistic democratic process to elect credible leadership at various levels of representation.
“Rather than de-monetize the electoral process to provide ample room for more citizens’ participation, the idea of monetizing the process and trying to “procure” party positions defeats merit, offends good conscience and blurs fair play.
“At this critical stage of our political secretions, we need men of stature, discipline, character and commendable conduct to breathe fresh air into our party and not persons whose political relevance is the product of naira and kobo bargain across the counter.
“We need a national chairman that would not bend to the vagaries of individual selfish interest but one who is strong enough to apply the rule of law without fear or favour.
“We must begin the process of interrogating processes that lead to outcomes and not just the outcomes.
“We must interrogate our leadership recruitment process and encourage our delegates to exercise the power of their thumbs in making their preferred choice among the candidates. “Good name cannot be bought with gold or silver. Good name is the sum total of the individual’s conduct in his trajectory and his overall assessment through life’s enduring journey.
“On the strength of this, I wish to make a passionate appeal to our members, party leaders and the members of the convention committee to be fair and just to all, and allow the process to produce a national chairman that would truly represent the conscience of the party.
“I do subscribe to the idea that consensus building, collective bargaining and constructive engagement are some of the ingredients that nurture any democratic process; such ingredients should be given enough room to flourish in order to birth credible and truly representative leadership.
“Our party, the PDP, must re-invent and re-enact itself on account of her recent history of factions and fractures. The new leadership must therefore be one that enjoys the confidence of the majority stakeholders and members in order to have a seamless transition.
“To achieve this template, such a chairman must be the outcome of delegates’ election without manipulation and inducement.
“One would have thought that after the 2015 dismal outing, followed by months of leadership tussles, individuals would have put to rest their selfish and egocentric interest and pursue goals and objectives that bear true testimony to the ideals of the founding fathers; but the sound bites of monetization of the process are utterly demoralizing and benumbing.
“It is my strong belief therefore that leaders of the party irrespective of their political interest would allow reason and level playing field to prevail in the overall interest of the party. I wish the party a successful and peaceful convention on Saturday, 9th December, 2017,” he added.
RSG To Clamp Down On Illegal Private Schools …Approves Amendment Of State’s Education Law ….To Provide Stiffer Penalties, Sanctions On Breach Of Govt Policies On Education
The Rivers State Government has taken concrete steps to check the illegal proliferation of sub-standard private schools, with the consolidation of two extant laws in the state.
Addressing journalists after a State Executive Council meeting presided over by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, Rivers State Commissioner of Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said that the state government would continue to improve the quality of education in the state.
He said: “Council today approved the amendment of the Education Law in the state by consolidating Rivers State Education Law Cap 47, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria (1999) and the Rivers State Education Private Schools Law Cap 48 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria (1999) under one legislation.
“This is to provide for stiffer penalties, sanctions to prevent the breach of government policies on education as contained in the extant laws.
“Council took this decision to check the present situation of indiscriminate proliferation of private schools in the State without compliance with basic requirements with respect to standards, curriculum, content and facilities.
“The overall goal is to ensure the development of quality education in line with the New Rivers Vision of the present administration.”
The council approved the dissolution of the Petroleum Monitoring Task Force in the state.
The State Executive Council advised members of the Public to stop dealing with the dissolved Task Force.
The Rivers State Executive Council warned motorists against indiscriminate parking of vehicles in front of Port Harcourt Mall.
He said henceforth, motorists who park in front of the Port Harcourt Mall would be sanctioned.
The commissioner stated that the Rivers State Executive Council appealed to residents of Port Harcourt to bear with the state government on the ongoing construction of three flyover bridges and other roads.
US To Place Visa Restriction On Nigeria, Six Others …We Won’t React To Speculation -Presidency
The United States President, Donald Trump, is set to add Nigeria and six others to a new list of countries on America’s visa restriction, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
According to the report, Nigerians would not be barred from entering the country but would not be issued with certain types of visas.
The Trump administration plans to roll out its expanded travel restrictions on Monday, marking the three-year anniversary of the initial travel ban Trump signed on his seventh day in office, sparking controversy at the beginning of his term.
Unlike the initial travel ban list of 2017, most of the new countries don’t have majority-Muslim populations.
Several of them, however, have had relatively higher rates of their citizens overstaying visas in the US, according to DHS data.
The report reads in part, “The Trump administration plans to add seven countries to a group of nations subject to travel restrictions, including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, along with others in Africa and Asia, according to administration officials who have seen the list.
“The new restrictions would apply to travellers and immigrants from Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. The countries wouldn’t necessarily face blanket bans on travel to the US, but could have restrictions placed on specific types of visas, such as business or visitor visas, administration officials said.”
Nigeria could be on the list because it has a high rate of persons overstaying their visas.
In the 2018 fiscal year, 24 per cent of Eritreans on business or visitor visas overstayed their permits, along with 15 per cent of Nigerians and 12 per cent of people from Sudan.
Those compared with a total overstay rate in the category of 1.9 per cent.
According to WSJ, some countries could be banned from participating in the diversity visa lottery program, which awards green cards to people in countries with low levels of immigration to the US.
Trump has called for an end to that programme, saying it lets undesirable people into the US, and he has proposed reorienting the existing visa system toward skilled workers instead.
Nigeria had already been barred from participating from the lottery programme over six years ago.
The officials said the list isn’t final, and last Tuesday, the White House was still debating whether to include one or two of the countries.
The Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to request for comment.
The State Department declined to comment.
The administration has said its policy restricting travel is necessary to prevent potential acts of terrorism, as countries on the list don’t adequately vet their travellers to the US.
The first order, which banned travel to the US by most residents of seven majority-Muslim countries, was struck down by a federal court and withdrawn.
Going Too Far…
In his first broadcast to Nigerians after his longest stay away from the country on medical vacation during his first tenure, President Muhammadu Buhari used this expression “going too far…” The issue was that during his absence there were some agitations to rekindle Biafra, restructuring, etc. So, it became necessary to warn such agitators that they were going too far. Nigerians had expected in vain to hear their President say something about his prolonged health vacation and other matters relating to it, but something else was more important.
Perhaps, some well-meaning Nigerians may not be going too far in drawing the attention of the Federal Government to certain issues that should be of concern to a responsible leadership. Two of such issues were raised in The Tide newspaper, Wednesday, January 8, 2020, namely: “Nigeria Now Fulani Republic” (Page 6) and “You Are Fanning Embers of Civil War, Kuka Tells FG” (Page 7).
Alaigbo Development Forum (ADF) condemned the recent Federal Government’s Visa Free Policy for Africans. Chairman, Central Planning Committee of ADF, Dr. Onyi Gbiyie, called for thorough examination of an alleged January 13, 2018 call by National Movement of Fulani in Nigeria, “for all Fulani in Africa to prepare, get armed and come over to Nigeria for an immediate and inevitable Jihad 9war) ,“ Has this a connection with the Visa Free Policy for Africans?
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kuka, was quoted as saying that “The Federal Government is using different methods to achieve the same goal of Islamic dominance…” He went on to say: “if the people in power don’t do enough to integrate Christians, then they give oxygen to Islamism. If they have countries where everybody in power is Muslim, then you give vent to the idea that Islam should be supreme.”
In the Guardian newspaper of August 27, 2009, one Edwin Madunagwu wrote as follows: “if the ruling classes and blocks continue to behave as if Nigeria is their property and Nigerians are their slaves – to exploit as they wish – and if popular – democratic and Pan-Nigerian forces cannot remove them from power, then a fate worse than disintegration will befall us.”
It is a historical fact that religion is often co-opted and used as an instrument of power hustling and influence peddling. Those who pursue such strategy for political purpose rarely go too far before they encounter bitter challenges. Neither can a peaceful and stable polity come about through subterfuge.
It does not require the crafting of a bill on hate speech to reposition Nigeria or get maximum support of Nigerians. Neither should the settlement of the Fulanis in diaspora take some clever forms that would create some animosity in the country. Those pursuing such projects by subtle means would not go too far before they would encounter oppositions.
Why was it considered expedient to disburse the sum of N100 billion to the Miyetti Allah group by the Federal Government, when Ruga project could not fly? Similarly, why was IPOB considered so dangerous to warrant declaring it a terrorist organisation, while repentant Boko Haram terrorists are being re-cycled into the Nigerian armed forces?
Did the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) go too far by asking “how many Christians are heading any of the security agencies in the country”? Or did a former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, go too far when he raised an alarm about possible moves to Islamise and Fulanise Nigeria? Surely, a man in that position must have some reliable intelligence reports to be able to make such a weighty allegation.
If there is anything going too far in Nigeria, it is the joke in some quarters that Nigerians have become so gullible, malleable and docile that they can be recolonised. It is true that the military laid the foundation during several years of intervention in politics, but it would be false to assume that a state of docility can remain so indefinitely. One may not be going too far to ask if the nation’s armed forces are truly neutral, nationalistic and democratic in temperament! Also include the security apparatus.
To go too far is to do things in excess and cross the line of decency with impunity. Political chicaneries and religious zealotry can be taken too far when compulsion rather than conviction becomes a means of winning the minds of people.
Even the Holy Quran stresses this issue of a free volition, saying: “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error. Whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks.”
The origin of the “Arab Spring” began with the use of compulsion and intimidation to win popular acceptance. It was a proof of the truth that taking the docility of the masses too far and the use of the instrument of intimidation, can be counter- productive. There come a time when the merchants of power can run short of ideas and when prevailing tools of coercion can no longer perform magic. It is usually then that the deficiencies and hidden agenda of power holders can come to light. Things would fall apart!
The issue of one group taking an undue advantage of another group considered as weak, docile or conquered, can create instability in society. Be it in economic, political, religious or a combination of many forms, domination is a factor that raises tension. It is quite worrisome that the issue of resource control in Nigeria is not being seen as the basis of social justice. The use of “gun-boat diplomacy” of which the Ken Saro-Wiwa saga is a reminder, would not always be a winning streak.
A highly placed elder statesman said that the treatment given to Niger Delta people should not be taken too far. Those who lead others should go far enough to feel the pulse of the mases.
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