Erstwhile military dictator, Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd) has warned President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow his own personal ambition for second term to override national interest.
IBB said, come 2019 and beyond, Nigerians should raise a new breed leadership with requisite capacity to manage its diversities and jump-start a process of launching the country on the super highway of technology-driven leadership in line with the dynamics of modern governance.
He called on Nigerians to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29, 2019, and collectively prepare the way for new generation (of) leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country.
In what appears to be a departure from ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s recent open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, IBB warned that his was not an open letter to the President, but that he had only shared his thoughts with “fellow compatriots” on the need to enthrone younger blood in the mainstream of national political leadership starting from 2019.
While expressing “fright at the “issues plaguing the country,” he said he was perplexed by the “gory” themes of killings that have engulfed certain parts of the country, from southern Kaduna to the western parts.
Babangida in a statement yesterday which was signed on his behalf by his media spokesman, Prince Kassim Afegbua said that the new leadership needed from 2019 upwards must be one that will ensure national unity and respect the nation’s diverse ethnic configurations.
IBB stated that the time has come for Nigeria to deliberately provoke systems and models that will put paid to the “recycling leadership experimentation,” while embracing what he called “new generational leadership evolution.”
He gave the qualities of the new leadership of his vision as one “with the essential attributes of responsive, responsible and proactive leadership configuration to confront the several challenges that we presently face.”
He declared: “In 2019 and beyond, we should come to a national consensus that we need new breed leadership with requisite capacity to manage our diversities and jump-start a process of launching the country on the super highway of technology-driven leadership in line with the dynamics of modern governance.
“It is short of saying enough of this analogue system. Let’s give way for digital leadership orientation with all the trappings of consultative, constructive, communicative, interactive and utility-driven approach where everyone has a role to play in the process of enthroning accountability and transparency in governance.”
While affirming the rights of President Buhari to vote and be voted for, Babangida said that Nigerians from May 29, 2019, should be led by a new set of leadership.
According to him, Nigerians should for now help Buhari to complete his term in 2019 and prepare the way for the new generation of leaders to assume the mantle of leadership.
He stated: “In the fullness of our present realities, we need to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29, 2019 and collectively prepare the way for new generation leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country.
While offering this advice, I speak as a stakeholder, former President, concerned Nigerian and a patriot who desires to see new paradigms in our shared commitment to getting this country running. While saying this also, I do not intend to deny President Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for, but there comes a time in the life of a nation, when personal ambition should not override national interest.
“This is the time for us to reinvent the will and tap into the resourcefulness of the younger generation, stimulate their entrepreneurial initiatives and provoke a conduce environment to grow national economy both at the micro and macro levels.
“Contemporary leadership has to be proactive and not reactive. It must factor in citizens’ participation. Its language of discourse must be persuasive, not agitated and abusive. It must give room for confidence building. It must build consensus and form the aggregate opinion on any issue to reflect the wishes of the people across the country. It must gauge the mood of the country at every point in time in order to send the right message.
“It must share in their aspirations and give them cause to have confidence in the system. Modern leadership is not just about ”fighting” corruption, it is about plugging the leakages and building systems that will militate against corruption.
“Accountability in leadership should flow from copious examples. It goes beyond mere sloganeering. My support for a new breed leadership derives from the understanding that it will show a marked departure from recycled leadership to creating new paradigms that will breathe fresh air into our present polluted leadership actuality.”
He added: “The next election in 2019, therefore, presents us a unique opportunity to reinvent the will and provoke fresh leadership that would immediately begin the process of healing the wounds in the land and ensuring that the wishes and aspirations of the people are realized in building and sustaining national cohesion and consensus.”
He lamented that Nigeria at 57 years after independence has continued to grapple with questions of leadership, while in the process losing the attributes that made it the giant of Africa at a stage.
“At 57, we are still a nation in search of the right leadership to contend with the dynamics of a 21st century Nigeria,” IBB said, adding that having been privileged to lead the country at one stage and having interacted with variety of Nigerians, he has no hesitation to conclude that Nigeria’s strength lies in her diversity.
He lamented: “But exploring and exploiting that diversity as a huge potential has remained a hard nut to crack, not because we have not made efforts, but building a consensus on any national issue often has to go through the incinerator of those diverse ethnic configurations.”
He further submitted that a lot depends on Nigerians, both as leaders and followers to get the right leadership mix, adding that these compatriots must, however, resolve to engender a Nigeria whose leaders must encapsulate the undiluted commitment to ideals that run a pluralistic society.
He said: “A lot depends on our roles both as followers and leaders in our political undertakings. As we proceed to find the right thesis that would resolve the leadership question, we must bear in mind a formula that could engender national development and the undiluted commitment of our leaders to a resurgence of the moral and ethical foundations that brought us to where we are as a pluralistic and multi-ethnic society.”
According to him, while Nigeria was on one hand “our dear native land, where tribes and tongues may differ but in brotherhood, we stand,” on the other hand, the country has continued to struggle with itself and stumbling in its quest to become a modern state.
Babangida lamented the growing violence in the society and called on the Federal Government to make necessary changes to the security apparatuses to bring it in line with the sophistication in crime in the polity.
He also advocated the adoption of State Police to complement the Federal Police.
He stated: “In the past few months also, I have taken time to reflect on a number of issues plaguing the country. I get frightened by their dimensions. I get worried by their colourations. I get perplexed by their gory themes.
“From Southern Kaduna to Taraba State, from Benue State to Rivers, from Edo State to Zamfara, it has been a theatre of blood with the cake of crimson. In Dansadau in Zamfara State recently, North-West of Nigeria, over 200 souls were wasted for no justifiable reason.
“The pogrom in Benue State has left me wondering if truly this is the same country some of us fought to keep together. I am alarmed by the amount of blood-letting across the land. Nigeria is now being described as a land where blood flows like the river, where tears have refused to dry up. Almost on a daily basis, we are both mourning and grieving, and often times left helpless by the sophistication of crimes.”
On the growing attacks by herdsmen in the states, Babangida asked the leaders to re-orient the herdsmen, adding that the growing culture of violence represents the extent of discontent in the society.
He said: “The festering nature of this crisis is an inelegant testimony to the sharp divisions and polarisations that exist across the country,” adding that the nation must collectively rise up to the occasion and do something urgently.
He further counselled: “If left unchecked, it portends danger to our collective existence as one nation bound by common destiny; and may snowball into another internecine warfare that would not be good for nation-building.
We have to reorient the minds of the herdsmen or gunmen to embrace ranching as a new and modern way to herd cattle. We also need to expand the capacity of the Nigeria Police, the Nigerian Army, the Navy and Air Force to provide the necessary security for all.”
The former military leader also stated that while the government has recorded a level of success in dealing with the insurgent Boko Haram, their activities are unrelenting. He said that he was advising as a professional that the battle is taken to the inner fortress of Sambisa Forest, rather than restricting the forces to responding to the insurgents’ ambushes from time to time.
He further submitted: “Due to the peculiarity of our country, we must begin community policing to close the gaps that presently exist in our policing system.
“We cannot continue to use old methods and expect new results. We just have to constructively engage the people from time to time through platforms that would help them ventilate their opinions and viewpoints.”
On restructuring of the polity, Babangida restated his earlier support for the agenda, adding that restructuring is an idea that the time has come.
He said: “Like I did state in my previous statement late last year, devolution of powers or restructuring is an idea whose time has come if we must be honest with ourselves. We need to critically address the issue and take informed positions based on the expectations of the people on how to make the union work better. Political parties should not exploit this as a decoy to woo voters because election time is here. We need to begin the process of restructuring both in the letter and spirit of it.”
He was unimpressed with the change mantra of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) so far, adding that he thought that the party, having adopted the change mantra would behave differently.
IBB said: we are still experiencing huge infrastructural deficit across the country and one had thought the APC-led Federal Government would behave differently from their counterparts in previous administrations. I am hesitant to ask; where is the promised change?”
Meanwhile, despite the fact that former President Ibrahim Babangida has denied an initial statement where he said to have asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the counsel by the former military Head of State as timely and another confirmation that Nigerians have agreed that the President and the All Progressives Congress, APC, have failed the test of leadership.
The party also hailed Babangida’s initial statement for picking holes in the recent attempt by the ruling party to embrace restructuring, years after failing to indicate any interest in same.
The party noted that General Babangida’s stand on the imperative for a dynamic, nationalistic and development-driven leadership is a function of the yearnings of Nigerians, adding that it completely captures the focus of the repositioned PDP for a better Nigeria.
National Publicity Secretary of the party , Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday said the fact that Babangida’s statement on President Buhari is coming on the heels of a similar one by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has further vindicated PDP’s position on the “ misrule of the Buhari administration and the APC.”
The party further described as an understatement, Babangida’s reflection that the Buhari administration and the APC have polluted the nation’s “Leadership actuality” stressing that it is not unmindful of the yearnings of Nigerians to use the platform of the repositioned PDP to propagate a new coalition that would return the much- desired new atmosphere in the polity by producing an acceptable President to Nigerians of all walks of life.
“It is now obvious to all that the time has come for all Nigerians to jettison all personal interests and divisive tendencies and rally forces under a truly national platform as now embodied in the PDP to rescue our dear nation from total collapse.
“In line with the new consensus for the election of a truly Nigerian President in 2019, the repositioned PDP is completely open as the epicenter of the much desired new broad-based political engagement of all Nigerians in their aspirations irrespective of creed, tribe or class.
“The repositioned PDP presents that credible platform, re-engineered with best democratic standards for unhindered accommodation of all interests from all parts of the country in our collective search for a new beginning.
“We therefore urge all Nigerians, particularly our leaders across board, to join forces with the PDP to once again return the nation to its pride of place as a thriving economy and a truly democratic nation come 2019,” the statement read.
Similary, a cross-section of Nigerians have criticised the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo panel for its decision to raise a committee to hold talks with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria in its probe of the herdsmen killings.
The committee, which was set up by the National Economic Council to “find lasting solutions to the increasing cases of killings by herdsmen across the country,” is headed by the Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Dave Umahi.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, had said this at the end of a meeting of the Osinbajo committee at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Federal Government’s plan to meet with Miyetti Allah, however, has drawn the ire of different socio-political groups in the country.
Among those who faulted the move by the Federal Government are the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere; the umbrella body for the Igbo, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Middle Belt groups.
Others are a chieftain of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Alhaji Mohammed Abdulrahman and a Niger Delta activist, Annkio Briggs.
The ACF does not, however, see anything wrong with the talks the Umahi committee is to hold with the cattle breeders.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
Buhari Seeks NASS’ Amendment Of PIA …Wants NNPC, EFCC Boards’ Confirmation
President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate, seeking an amendment to the recently signed Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
President Muhammadu Buhari also sought the House of Representatives’ amendments to the Petroleum Industry Act, including removal of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning from the boards of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
In the letter, Buhari wants an amendment to the new Act to allow for the removal of the Ministers of Petroleum and Finance from the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), saying that they can continue to perform their functions without necessarily being members of the board.
In the letter read, yesterday, during plenary by the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, Buhari is also seeking for the amendment to allow the Non-Executive Members to be increased from two to six in the national interest.
The President, in three other letters to the Senate, asked for the confirmation of nominees into the boards of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The three confirmation letters from the President were read in yesterday’s plenary by Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan.
In a letter dated September 16, 2021, Buhari stated that the request to confirm the chairman, chief executive and executive directors for the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority was being made in accordance with the provision of Section 34(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The nominees for confirmation into the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Board are: Idaere Gogo Ogan (chairman); Engr. Sarki Auwalu (chief executive); Abiodun A. Adeniji (executive director, Finance and Accounts); and Ogbugo Ukoha (executive director, Distributions Systems, Storage and Retail Infrastructure).
In another letter also dated September 16, 2021, the President while relying on the provision of Section 11(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, requested the Senate to confirm the appointment of four nominees as chairman, chief executive and executive commissioners to the Board of the Upstream Regulatory Commission.
The nominees are: Isa Ibrahim Modibo (chairman); Engr. Gbenga Komolafe (chief executive); Hassan Gambo (executive commissioner, Finance and Accounts); and Ms Rose Ndong (executive commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management).
According to the President, requests for the confirmation of the board’s membership were made “in order to fast track the process for the establishment of the commission”.
In the third letter dated September 17, 2021, Buhari requested the upper legislative chamber to confirm the appointment of the secretary and board members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He explained that the request for the confirmation of the nominees was in accordance with the provision of Section 2(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.
Those to be confirmed include George Abbah Ekpungu, secretary (Cross River); Luqman Muhammed (Edo); Anumba Adaeze (Enugu); Alhaji Kola Raheem Adesina (Kwara); and Alhaji Yahaya Muhammad (Yobe).
At the House of Representatives, the Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, read the cover letter attached to an executive bill presented to the House by Buhari at the opening of plenary, yesterday.
The proposals also include the appointment of non-executive board members; removal of the ministries from the boards of the two institutions; and appointment of executive directors to the boards.
The President’s requests to the House of Representatives are a rehearsal of the same demands he made to the Senate.
It would be recalled that the joint National Assembly committees that worked on the PIB had proposed five per cent equity share for the development of the host communities but the Senate-led the campaign for its reduction to three per cent while the House of Representatives approved the panel’s recommendation.
The conference committee set up by the presiding officers of both chambers in their recommendation, fixed the equity share at three per cent and was invariably approved by the National Assembly.
The development generated into controversy with senators from the South-South geopolitical zone kicking against it and asked Buhari to resolve the impasse by seeking amendment to increase the equity share to five per cent.
However, the new amendments proposed by the President did not address the concerns of the South-South stakeholders.
Rather, Buhari’s fresh request centred basically on the need to review the administrative structure of the Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
Buhari is seeking the senators’ approval to increase the numbers of the non-executive board members of each of the regulatory agencies from two to six, in order to capture the six geopolitical zones.
He said, “The Petroleum Industry Act 2021 provided for the appointment of two non-executive members for the board of the two regulatory institutions.
“I am of the view that this membership limitation has not addressed the principle of balanced geopolitical representation of the country.
“Therefore, I pray for the intervention of the 9th Assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of our national unity.
“Needless to add that this amendment will provide a sense of participation and inclusion to almost every section of the country in the decision making of strategic institutions such as oil industry.
“If this amendment is approved, it will now increase the number of the non-executive members from two to six that is one person from each of the six geopolitical zones of the country”.
The President also removed the Ministers of Finance and Petroleum Resources from the board of the two agencies.
He said the two ministers already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations.
He said, “They can continue to perform such roles without being in the board.
“It is also important to note that administratively, the representatives of the ministries in the board will be directors – being the same rank with the directors in the institution
“This may bring some complications in some decision making, especially on issues of staff related matters.”
Buhari added that the appointments of the executive directors who would be in charge of the seven departments in the NMDPRA should not be subjected to Senate confirmation since they are civil servants who were promoted in the course of their career.
He said, “The Act has made provision for seven departmental heads in the Authority to be known as executive directors.
“Their appointment (according to the PIA) will also be subjected to Senate confirmation. These category of officers are civil servants and not political appointees.
“The Senate is invited to note the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments.
“This will ensure effective management of the regulatory institutions through uniform implementation of public service rules for employees of the authority.
“In the future, these positions will obviously be filled by the workers in the authority.
Buhari said the proposed amendment would also increase the membership of the board from nine to 13 members that is representing 44 per cent expansion of the board site.
He said, “This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve the expected policy contributions”.
By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Emohua, Three Kalabari LGAs Partner On Joint Security
The Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Dr Chidi Lloyd, has met with his counterparts from the three Kalabari-speaking local government areas; Degema, Asari-Toru and Akuku-Toru, to review the security situation along the Emohua-Kalabari Road, and plan strategies for a joint network to checkmate any infractions in the security of the LGs.
The meeting, which was held at the instance of Lloyd at the headquarters of Emohua Local Government Area, followed the recent abduction of an expatriate attached to Lubrik Construction Company; the contractor handling the construction of Trans-Kalabari Road by yet to be identified gunmen.
The chairmen of Akuku-Toru, Degema, and Asari-Toru LGAs, Hon Roland Sekibo, Hon Michael John Williams, and Hon Onengiyeofori George; respectively, in their separate remarks, commended Lloyd for initiating the process for a partnership to improve the security of lives and property along the Emohua-Kalabari Road, which presently calls for concern.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting which lasted for hours, Lloyd said the meeting condemned the abduction of the expatriate staff, who was supervising the construction work being executed by the Rivers State Government on Trans-Kalabari Road.
The council chairmen also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate by his abductors, as well as the apprehension of the masterminds of the reprehensible act by security agencies.
The meeting further agreed to set up a local security outfit with members drawn from the four local government areas to support the security agencies in providing effective security along the Emohua-Kalabari Road.
Lloyd said the meeting was also expected to be hosted concurrently amongst the four local government areas, with a view to strengthening the relationship between the LGAs as well as the promotion of the socio-economic development of the area.
The chairmen also appointed Hon Lolo Ibiene to serve as their rapporteur.
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