It is no doubt normal, and, in fact, political, for politicians and political parties to seek ways of having advantage over their opponents. But, for the sake of decency and true democracy, for sanity to prevail, and for the general good of society, whatever advantage being sought need to not only be in accordance with relevant laws, but should also obey the 4-Way Test of the things we do, say, or think.
Specifically, the 4-Way Test requires of every human being to answer four key questions as a guide to whatever we do, think, or say at any given point in our interactions with other people. The questions are: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendship? And, will it be beneficial to all concerned?
It is in this context that, last Thursday’s appointment of Hajia Amina Zakari as the head, collation of election results for the 2019 Presidential election, and subsequent reactions against it, has called for the need to critically scrutinise the facts therein, in accordance with the spirit of attaining that level of democracy Nigeria deserves, especially as often propagated by the ruling party, the All Progressives Alliance (APC), and also act in accordance with the 4-Way Test.
Amidst calls from various quarters, most of which were from the opposition, for Zakari’s removal from the position, a few, most of whom are key members of the ruling party, dismissed the calls as an acceptance of defeat by the opposition, which they claim is merely looking for strands to hold onto as the February date for the 2019 elections draws closer.
The same few buttress their stand by hinting that after all, the said while there may not be any doubt as to the integrity of Amina Zakari, especially professionally, her relationship with President Buhari, as stated earlier, makes her partisan, and hence amounts to making her a person of unquestionable integrity in this wise. was first appointed as a Commissioner into the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan, hence placing her as the head of collation was not out of place.
What these few did not seem to consider, for whatever reason, is the fact that President Jonathan’s appointment of Amina Zakari as a Commissioner in INEC at a time he knew that Mohammadu Buhari, a co-contender for the Presidency, has close marital ties with her, only proves how democratic President Jonathan is.
The question is can such act of democracy by President Jonathan be compared to her appointment by President Buhari as head of collation of results for the Presidential election, or any other election for that matter, be compared, especially considering that virtually the entire country had rejected her in 2015 when President Buhari had first appointed her Acting Chairman of INEC? This brings to the fore the crux of the matter.
According to Premium Times, as published in its January 6, 2019 edition, Amina Zakari is the daughter of the late Emir of Kazaure, Husseini Adamu, who got married to Buhari’s elder sister, and Buhari was said to have spent part of his childhood in the palace where his sister was married. Ever since, that close relationship has been at its best.
In fact, it was also reported that former President Goodluck Jonathan’s appointment of Zakari in 2011 as INEC Commissioner was in response to Buhari’s appeal for him to have a representative in INEC as he prepared for his election to the most prestigious office in the country, which finally came to fruition in 2015.
Meanwhile, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), legitimately empowers the Senate, to confirm the nominees of the Executive President to INEC in Section 154 (1) and to remove in Section 157 (1). Relatedly, take note that Section 14 (2a) and (3b) of Third Schedule Part 1 strongly emphasises that: “a member of the commission shall – be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity.”
From the foregoing, since Nigerians are not even aware that Senate had confirmed her appointment in the first place, the question of how she got such sensitive appointment with about a month to the 2019 elections is another question requiring answer.
But while there may not be any doubt as to the integrity of Amina Zakari, especially professionally, her relationship with President Buhari, as stated earlier, makes her partisan, and hence, amounts to making her a person of unquestionable integrity in this wise.
The Daily Post of January 7, 2019 summed up the general feeling about Zakari thus: “Amina Zakari has obviously become a stumbling block in INEC since July 2015, when her appointment as the acting Chairman of INEC by President Muhammadu Buhari met stiff resistance and condemnation across the country over conflict of interest arising from her family affinity with the President”.
However, when the electoral umpire harkened to widespread calls for either her resignation or removal by redeploying her from being the head of electoral operations and logistics to head the Health and Welfare Committee on 11th October, 2018, it was highly welcomed.
Many viewed it as a direct response to several complaints against her, just as commendations poured in for the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, as many political parties, political actors and observers also saw it as a panacea towards credible elections.
For the INEC, as electoral umpire, to therefore choose to ignore these underpinnings and daringly reappoint her to a position as sensitive as head of collation of election results at this time, it can only reasonably point to one thing: that the ruling party considers who collates results very important, hence, only a trustworthy person can occupy that position, which ordinarily is the job of the INEC Chairman. Presently, judging by events, there is no better person than Zakari.
Moreso, the partisanship of Amina Zakari, especially her loyalty to President Buhari has over the years never been in doubt.
The Daily Post of January 7 puts it thus: “The partisanship of Amina Zakari in support of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) is so obvious and her recent interview in which she said Buhari is her leader shows that her loyalty is not to Nigeria but to President Muhammadu Buhari, her uncle who desperately seeks a second term.
“She has been repeatedly accused of influencing the outcome of several elections in favour of the APC, using her strategic position as the Director of Operations”.
Again, Zakari’s appointment recently is widely believed to be the last joker towards ensuring that incumbent President Buhari is returned, no matter what. It is also seen to be part of why the President refused to assent to the amended Electoral Act, which would have greatly checked large scale electoral fraud by limiting the ability of the Presidency to freely manipulate the electoral process.
A former presidential aspirant of the APC, who recently decamped to the PDP, Chief Charles Udeogaranya may have captured the unfolding drama as played out by INEC in its proper context in the following terms:
“In the worst act of election result falsification, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has taken first step towards announcing fake and fictitious 2019 election results by the appointment of President Buhari’s niece, Amina Zakari, as Head of INEC’s Elections Results Collation Centre”.
Presidency Lists Beneficiaries Of External Borrowing Plan
The Presidency has said that a total of 15 projects, spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, are to be financed with more than $4 billion from multilateral institutions, under the 2018-2021 medium-term (rolling) external borrowing plan.
President Muhammadu Buhari had requested the Senate to approve sovereign loans of $4.054 billion and €710 million as well as grant components of $125 million for the proposed projects.
According to the letter by the President, the sovereign loans will be sourced from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE).
The President’s request to the Senate listed 15 proposed pipeline projects, the objectives, the implementation period, benefiting States, as well as the implementing Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said a breakdown of the ‘‘Addendum to the Proposed Pipeline Projects for the 2018-2021 Medium Term (rolling) External Borrowing Plan,’’ shows that the World Bank is expected to finance seven projects including the $125 million grant for ‘‘Better Education Services Delivery for All’’.
According to the statement, the Global Partnership for Education grant is expected to increase equitable access for out-of-school children and improve literacy in focus states.
It further stated that the grant, which will be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Education and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), will strengthen accountability for results in basic Education in Katsina, Oyo and Adamawa States.
Other projects to be financed by the World Bank are, the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme for Results as well as the Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project.
The statement said, “The benefiting States for the agro-processing project are, Kogi, Kaduna, Kano, Cross River, Enugu and Lagos with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as the implementing ministry.
“The objective of the project is to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improve value addition along priority value chains in the participating states.
“Similarly, the World Bank is also financing the Nigeria Sustainable Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Katsina, Imo and Plateau States, for the next five years.
“The project, when completed, is expected to improve rural water supply, sanitation and hygiene nationwide towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for water supply and sanitation by 2030.
“Under the external borrowing plan, the World Bank-supported projects also include Nigeria’s Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Project (COPREP), under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“The project, which has an implementation period of 5 years, will respond to threats posed by Covid-19 through the procurement of vaccines.
“Furthermore, no fewer than 29 states are listed as beneficiaries of the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Arid Zone Landscape project, which is expected to reduce natural resource management conflicts in dry and semi-arid ecosystems in Nigeria.
“The benefiting states for the project to be co-financed by World Bank and European Investment Bank (EIB) are Akwa Ibom, Borno, Oyo, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Edo, Plateau, Abia, Nasarawa, Delta, Niger, Gombe, Imo, Enugu, Kogi, Anambra, Niger, Ebonyi, Cross River, Ondo, Kaduna, Kebbi, Jigawa, Bauchi, Ekiti, Ogun, Benue, Yobe and Kwara.”
Continuing, it said, “The World Bank is also funding the Livestock Productivity and Resilience project in no fewer than 19 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).
“The China EXIM Bank is expected to finance the construction of the branch line of Apapa-Tin Can Island Port, under the Lagos-Ibadan Railway modernisation project.
“The French Development Agency will finance two projects, which include the National Digital Identity Management project and the Kaduna Bus Rapid Transport Project.
“The digital identity project will be co- financed with World Bank and EIB.
“The Value Chain Development Programme to be financed by IFAD and implemented in Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun, Taraba, Nasarawa, Enugu and Kogi States will empower 100,000 farmers, including over 6,000 and 3,000 processors and traders respectively.
“The loan facility to be provided by European ECA/KfW/IPEX/APC will be spent on the construction of the Standard Gauge Rail (SGR) linking Nigeria with the Niger Republic from Kano-Katsina-Daura-Jibiya-Maradi with a branch to Dutse.
“The specific project title, Kano-Maradi SGR with a branch to Dutse, has an implementation period of 30 months and will be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Transport.
“The Chinese African Development Fund through the Bank of China is expected to provide a loan facility of $325 million for the establishment of three power and renewable energy projects including solar cells production facility Phase 1 & II , electric power transformer production, Plants 1, II, III and high voltage testing laboratory.
Fintiri Commences Work On PDP Nat’l Convention
The Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Fintiri, has commenced work.
Fintiri, who is also the Adamawa State Governor, assumed his new office at the PDP headquarters in Abuja, on Saturday, with a pledge to ensure a smooth convention for the party.
Fintiri’s Press Secretary, Humwashi Wonosikou, said in a statement that Fintiri had hit the ground running towards ensuring a flawless convention for the main opposition party.
According to him, he assumed duty at the PDP Legacy House Abuja, which is to serve as the secretariat of the Convention Committee.
He said the 2021 convention organising committee chairman expressed satisfaction with the state of facilities at the Legacy House and reiterated the determination of his committee to deliver a process that would produce an acceptable National Working Committee to lead the party to victory in 2023.
The Convention Committee, which has Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, as deputy chairman, was inaugurated on Friday.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP had earlier, on September 9, 2021, announced Fintiri as the party’s convention planning committee chairman, with Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde as Secretary.
2023: Group Warns Against Corruptible Candidates
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) in Collaboration with the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has taken its ongoing voter education to Epe, Lagos State, in the move to ensure a free and fair election in 2023.
The anti-graft group, in a statement made available to newsmen on Saturday, said that it had organised a one-day consultative meeting with residents of Epe division during which it warned them to guard their votes jealously in the 2023 elections and ensure that corruptible candidates would not be voted into power.
Presenting a paper titled, ‘Prioritising Anti-Corruption And Accountability Issues During The Upcoming 2023 General Elections In Lagos State’ at the chamber of Epe Local Government Area, CACOL chairman, Comrade Debo Adeniran, lamented that corruption had flourished so much in Nigeria and eaten deep into the country’s economy, hence the hardship and sufferings in the land.
He said the solution that Nigerian citizens could proffer to the menace was to ensure that frontline contestants for the office of the Governor and State House of Assembly would be to articulate their anti-corruption stance and plans to tackle corruption, improve transparency and citizens’ involvement and other governance challenges.
Adeniran said since the Nigerian constitution did not permit independent candidates to run for elective offices, the voters should vote for the political party, whose candidates would be accountable, transparent and genuinely fight corruption.
He condemned the rate at which lawlessness had been thriving in the country generally due to high levels of corruption.
He lamented the high level of youth’s involvement in cybercrime, popularly known as Yahoo-Yahoo, even as he described as worrisome the situation where many parents had been seeing the crime as legitimate work, noting that such parents encouraged and supported their children to succeed in the illegal work.
Adeniran maintained that if care was not taken, the soonest, corruption would be viewed and accepted as a normal way of life, and the future generation might not see anything bad in corruption.
He opined that the negative effects of that would destroy things far beyond the current hardship being experienced across the country.
Mr Adeniran also frowned at the rate at which kidnapping was fast becoming a money-making venture in Nigeria.
He pointed out that both the rich and the poor had become vulnerable to kidnapping, because some people kidnapped for ritual or to harvest organs, or to get the ransom and some others kidnapped for fun.
He said if the poor had known before now that they would be victims of kidnapping when the rich were the only targets, they would have taken necessary steps to end the illicit act.
He advised the people to be proactive in fighting corruption, stressing, “You need to take community action against anyone who wants to use your own lives to over-fatten his own.
“You have the right to demand your entitlements from your representatives in government. If you don’t speak against their reckless spending and corruptible acts now, they will eat up all your entitlements with theirs. Your power is your vote and by voting them into offices, you have given them all their needs.
“It is, therefore, their duty to serve you well; and not embezzle our general wealth.”
The CACOL chairman advised that in order not to be incorruptible, everyone must acquire skill as means of legitimate livelihood, explaining that since no religious book taught and encouraged people to get involved in corruption, it must be shunned by all Nigerians.
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