This is not the best of times for former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who is battling to extricate himself from the accusation that he sponsored hoodlums to attack the #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate. Of course, his image seems to be on the nosedive since after the incident.
When youths trooped to the streets about three weeks ago, protesting against police brutality which they codenamed #EndSARS, not too many gave them the chance to go as far as they went until when the protests had rapidly spread across the country and nearly paralysed the nation.
The Lekki Toll Gate, a significant route in Lagos was completely shut down by the protesters who occupied the axis for 24 hours every day. Similar thing was happening simultaneously at the various Government Houses in the South-West and by last weekend, movement and businesses were brought to a standstill by the youths.
At a point, a source said one of the former governors in South-West led a delegation to President Muhammadu Buhari alleging that Tinubu was the one behind the protests.
Shortly thereafter, a Northern group, Miyetti Allah, issued a threat to Tinubu alleging the national leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) was the brain behind the protests, while, at the same time, some admirers of the protesting youths also pointed accusing finger at Tinubu alleging that he tried to engage hoodlums to thwart the peaceful protests.
The situation degenerated penultimate week when shooting at the prostesters was recorded at the Lekki Toll Gate, and in spontaneous actions, hoodlums, who must have been waiting to strike took advantage of the situation to take over the streets and attack all the businesses associated with Tinubu.
Before the mayhem, Tinubu himself had issued a statement to clear his position on the protests where he acknowledged the fact that the country had witnessed massive protests by youths in different cities, which were ignited by widespread disenchantment with the gross human rights abuses, including torture, extortion, harassment, intimidation, and even extra-judicial killings of Nigerians by members of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
He aligned with the protesters demanding fundamental police reforms. This, according to Tinubu, is in sync with national aspiration in our national anthem, “to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.”
But he also pointed out that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had acted with commendable dispatch by not only scrapping SARS but also accepting the five-point demand that triggered the protests, which according to him, shows a laudable sensitivity to the grievances of the youths.
He said it was only fair that the government must be given the chance to implement the reforms demanded by the protesters. Tinubu’s argument was that all the demands could not be done instantaneously by the waving of a magic wand. He had said, “If the government had not implemented promised reforms in the past, the swiftness with which it has responded to the demands of the protesters this time around shows that there is a positive change by the government, both in attitude and of a new sense of urgency.”
He strongly appealed to the protesters to sheathe their sword, saying they had made their point and government had also shown commitment to grant all the demands.
For Tinubu to have now become the central figure in the crisis and being accused from both ends is a puzzle that must be unraveled.
Two days after the protest ended with soldiers allegedly shooting at protesters, at the Lekki Toll Gate, Tinubu in a media interview denied sponsoring anybody to attack or shoot at protesters. In the video making rounds on social media Tinubu praised himself as “the Jagaban of Lagos”. Since the end of his tenure as governor in 2007, Tinubu has played key roles in the emergence of three other governors that have come behind him. However, the recent governorship election in Edo State and the loss by his party painted Tinubu as a man losing ground. Before the election in Edo, Tinubu had appeared on air and openly canvassed votes for his party, while castigating the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki for not swearing in APC legislators in the Assembly. He described Obaseki’s action as unconstitutional and called for his rejection at the polls. With all the political war chest Tinubu mobilised to Edo, his party was trounced by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This not only painted Tinubu as losing popularity, but the PDP victory made a political statement that the West was losing its traditional grip on Mid-West State, which Edo symbolised.
Until Adams Oshiomhole came to power in 2008, Edo State had been a PDP enclave. Oshiomhole’s victory was attributed to his alliance with the West, especially Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). With the stranglehold of the West broken on former Mid-West in the last Edo elections, it’s believed that Tinubu’s influence has whittled down.
Pundits are waiting to see how the scenario pans out ultimately from now till 2023, when Nigeria conducts another general election. In a fashion typical of Yoruba hew-and-cut brand of politics, the intrigues surrounding the former governor of Lagos State’s exploits in politics reached a crescendo last Tuesday, when an angry mob set ablaze businesses and investments that were allegedly linked to him.
While some analysts were of the view that his (Tinubu’s) ambition to contest the 2023 presidency was the reason why his political rivals master-minded the plot to wreck him financially, others hold that the arsonists attacked TVC, The Nation Newspaper, Oriental Hotels and other establishments to demonise him before the electorate.
Apart from his dominance of Lagos politics in spite of bitter oppositions within and outside his platform, Tinubu also joined forces with other politicians across the length and breadth of Nigeria to merge and form a mega party APC in 2014.
In 2013, the parties that made up APC were Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and some disgruntled members of PDP led by Chairman of the splinter group, Kawu Baraje.
In 2015, APC, at its presidential primary held in Lagos, allegedly at the instance of Tinubu, President Muhammadu Buhari emerged as the party presidential candidate with the support of the national leader.
The choice of Buhari’s mate also degenerated into subtle crisis within the party as Tinubu was said to have shown interest in running a joint ticket with Buhari, He was, however, given the privilege to appoint his choice candidate as Buhari’s running mate, which brought in the incumbent Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
The politics that also surrounded the 2014 presidential primary of APC did not go down well with Atiku and other PDP members that joined the merger.
Baraje, who led splinter group in PDP to the APC and the likes of Saraki, Atiku and others were not comfortable with the kind of political power Tinubu wielded in the ruling party and at different point in time, majority of them returned to their former political platform, PDP.
His involvement in the 2016 governorship elections in Ondo State and the one of 2018 in Osun and Ekiti states also created misgivings between Tinubu and APC Governors.
Tinubu’s desire to ensure one of his cronies, James Faleke inherited the governorship ticket when the party’s candidate, Kogi State, Alhaji Abubaka Audu, slumped and passed on few hours before the announcement of the result of the 2015 gubernatorial poll in Kogi did not materialise as a result of intrigues within the APC.
Tinubu was also caught in the political intrigues of who should succeed the pioneer National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun when the position became vacant in 2018.
Tinubu later backed former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole to succeed Odigie-Oyegun. Some aggrieved members of the party later pointed accusing fingers at Tinubu that his plan was to use Oshiomhole to take over the machinery of the party.
As at the end of 2018, almost all the political beneficiaries of the national leader had separated camps with him. For instance, when President Buhari appointed Tinubu to lead the Reconciliation Committee to resolve all the crises in the party, the likes of former governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, Governor Fayemi, erstwhile National Legal Adviser of the party, Muiz Banire, Governor Akeredolu among others had severed relationship with Tinubu.
While Amosun saw himself as the leader of the party in Ogun State and would therefore, not succumb to the dictates of any Lagos godfather, Governors Akeredolu and Fayemi allegedly had grouse with Tinubu over their governorship ambitions. Just like Banire felt that the national leader sacrificed him to bring in Babatunde Ogala
By the time the 2019 elections were concluded, APC had been factionalised into different camps, a development that subsequently led to the suspension and later removal of Oshiomhole.
No sooner Buhari was re-elected for second term in 2019 than preparations for 2023 election began in the APC. Political permutations became intense and Tinubu again surfaced in the midst of the controversy. Although, he has not officially declared interest to run in 2023, some stakeholders, however, see him as a threat to be dealt with as soon as possible before it is too late.
Perhaps, that must have been part of the reasons some governors on the platform of the party insisted on the exit of Oshiomhole as national chairman.
After Oshiomhole’s exit, Tinubu was accused of plotting to impose another stooge in the person of former Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi. This development caused disaffection between Tinubu and Ekiti State APC, which argued that the position of deputy national chairman earlier occupied by Otunba Niyi Adebayo, current Minister of Trade and Investment, should not be ceded to Oyo State’s Ajimobi. Ekiti APC refused to budge as it threatened court action if Gbenga Aluko was sidetracked to favour Ajimobi. The aftermath was the emergence of the Mai Mala Buni caretaker committee.
APC, PDP Bandy Words Over Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request
The ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have argued over President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval to borrow $4 billion and €710 million to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.
Recall that the president made the request in a letter he addressed to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in reaction to the development, cautioned the NASS against approving the request, saying it could set the country’s debt profile skyrocketing without a feasible repayment plan.
With the approval to borrow $8.3 billion and €490 million loans by its legislative body barely two months ago, Nigeria’s debt profile risks reaching over N40 trillion.
“More alarming is that the debts that APC is hanging on Nigerians are for nebulous projects whose scopes, utilities, locations and contractors are largely vague; a development that validates apprehensions of a huge swindle on our nation at the expense of innocent Nigerians, including generation yet unborn.
“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation.
“The APC knows it will not be around after May 29, 2023. That is why it is pushing our nation into a deeper economic quagmire with foreign loans, which are largely diverted to the personal pockets of their corrupt leaders,” the opposition PDP said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Tuesday.
But responding to the PDP’s criticism, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday, said the loans are for “the good of the country” and well-being of the citizenry.
The ruling party also accused the opposition party of looting foreign loans obtained during its 16 years rule rather than spending on infrastructure and economic growth as, according to it, Mr Buhari-led government is doing.
“It was in PDP’s era that loans to fund power generation, purchase arms and ammunition to fight a raging insurgency were misappropriated and diverted to fund PDP activities; and the borrowed money ultimately found its way to the pockets of cronies, friends and family members of administration officials. Nigeria is still servicing a $460 million loan taken from China to fund a phoney Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) contract awarded in August 2010.
“Nigerians should also reflect and recall that the PDP had in its 16 years of misrule pushed the country into a dark ditch of insolvency, and a period in which most state governments could not pay workers salaries, not even the minimum wage, or settle contractors’ bills and cater for patients in hospitals, to name a few,” the APC interim National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, said.
A’Ibom Gov Signs Anti-Open Grazing Law
Akwa lbom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has signed into law a bill to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches in the state.
The Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, with the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uko Udom (SAN), presented the bill for signing on Wednesday at the State Executive Chambers, in the Governor’s Office, Uyo.
The governor, after signing the bill into law, stated that the new law was no respecter of persons irrespective of status or calibre.
He instructed relevant authorities of government to ensure that the law was implemented and enforced to the letter with strict compliance, stressing that, culprits must be brought to book accordingly.
The new law will promote modern techniques in animal husbandry, prevent the destruction of farms by wandering cattle while reducing clashes and killings between herders and farmers in the state.
It will also promote international best practices in livestock administration, regulation and control in the state, among other things.
The state Assembly passed the bill on Tuesday, and the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, directed the Clerk of the House, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to communicate the decision of the House to the Governor for his assent.
Also at the Executive Chambers, the Speaker who was accompanied by the Leader of the House, Udo Kierian Akpan, and the Clerk of the Assembly, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to the signing ceremony witnessed the inauguration of two C\committees by the Governor.
The committees are the Akwa Ibom State Gender Based Violence Management Committee, chaired by the First Lady, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, and Akwa Ibom State Road Safety Management Committee, chaired by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo.
NASS S’East Caucus Moves To Reconstruct Federal System
Members of the South East Caucus of the National Assembly have resolved to join hands with other patriotic Nigerians across regional, religious, political, and ethnic divides to reconstruct a federal system where the rights, happiness, and prosperity and those of unborn generations are guaranteed.
Making their feelings known in a communique issued at the end of an extraordinary meeting held at the Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja last Wednesday, the law makers said the topic of the meeting centered on review of developments in the South East, particularly the security situation in the region vis-à-vis the sit-at-home orders by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and the detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“We expressed solidarity with our people of the South East over the marginalisation of the region in the scheme of things within the Nigerian commonwealth. The Caucus feels the pains of our people and their quest for equity, justice, and protection of their lives and property in every part of the country. The Caucus, therefore, resolved to continue to fight for a level-playing ground and an enabling federal system where Ndigbo are able to develop their homeland at their own pace and equally pursue their happiness and actaulise their enormous potentials in every part of the country, unmolested.
Reviewing the sit-at-home orders by the IPOB and the mayhem some nefarious elements have seized the opportunity to visit on the lives, properties, and psyche of the people, the Caucus equally reviewed and rued the incalculable economic losses and hardships these have brought upon the region.
They, however, condemned in strongest terms the disruption of the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in some parts of the South East, particularly the incident at Comprehensive Secondary School, Nkume, Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, where the English examination organised by the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC, on Monday, September 13, 2021, was ruthlessly scuttled by armed men, who chased away the students, teachers, and examiners before setting ablaze motorcycles belonging to the teachers.
“This is certainly not who we are as a people. On the contrary, we are a people, who have always cherished and encouraged learning from the ages. We are a people that fully appreciate the place of education in the liberation and enlightenment of the human mind and the socio-economic and political emancipation of a people”.
The South East legislators equally condemned in strongest terms the incessant killings in the South East, adding “This must stop immediately. We call on the security agencies to unravel the culprits behind these wicked acts and ensure that they are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
“ Noted with delight that IPOB has called off the Monday sit-at-home order and resolved to ensure that nobody uses them as façades to bring ruination on Igbo land.
“ Call on our people to go about their lawful businesses and enjoin our governors and the security agencies to rebuild confidence in our people by not only ensuring the security of their lives and properties, but also ensuring that our people feel safe as they undertake their legitimate businesses.
”Elaborately discussed the issue of Mazi Nnamdi and resolved to intervene. To this end we resolved to set up a committee to constructively interface with relevant stakeholders, the Federal Government and its relevant agencies towards finding a political solution. We will keep Ndigbo abreast of developments in regard.
“Appeal to our people not to allow anyone to destroy the South East region. The post-war South East was not built through government patronage, but largely by the sheer determination and sacrifices of our people, who refused to resign to fate or bow their heads in defeat.
“It is in Igbo land that you easily find hospitals, schools, roads, and other social amenities built by individual or communal efforts of the people, home and abroad, through the instruments of the town unions and other community organisations such as the age grades, Umuada, etc.
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