To start the process of re-steering the ship of the Nigerian state to the right path, businessman, rights activist, and 2019 Presidential Candidate, Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has urged Nigerians to elect the best candidate, irrespective of ethnic and religious colouration in 2023.
Olawepo-Hashim, who regretted that the country’s value system has regressed exponentially, said side-stepping and sacrificing competence and ability to deliver on the altar of zoning in producing President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in 2023 would be counter-productive to the polity.
According to him, zoning or rotation may not foster national unity and development, adding that the country needs a good president from any region who was prepared and capable of mid-wifing socio-economic development of the country.
In a chat with journalists in Lagos, yesterday, the former presidential candidate said those who want power must construct a national platform and build a national consensus behind their programme.
He said that Nigeria needs a president that will unite the country, secure it, and transform her economy from an under-developed one to a modern productive economy.
In 2023, he said Nigeria’s president “should not be based on tribe, religion or region but on an ability to support the all-round social and economic development and provide sustainable employment for Nigeria’s massively unemployed hands.”
Olawepo-Hashim stressed that “Nigerians from every corner are always ready to vote for a good president when they see one,” arguing that without zoning in 1993, the late Chief Moshood Abiola got votes from Kano against Alhaji Bashir Tofa, his main opponent, who hails from Kano.
He said, that in 1999, “despite the fact that President Olusegun Obasanjo’s home base, the South-West, did not vote for him, he still became president based on votes from the other five zones”.
His words: “The talk of zoning of the Presidency is, therefore, a false narrative, divisive and inimical to national development. It is our turn president makes leaders escape accountability because when he is questioned, the so-called ethnic-based supporters and constituents would gather to say ‘you cannot touch our man because it is our turn.’
“This phenomenon is dangerous for national unity, cohesion, and national development. More importantly, rotating the president is a pedestrian diversion from the current subject of devolution and decentralization of power from the over centralized centre to the federating states in Nigeria.
“Nigeria would not just become a just and equitable federation, simply because a southerner is exercising the over blotted power at the centre.
“It will be more equitable and efficient when the powers are devolved more to the states, regardless of who occupies the office of the President.
“Most of the people talking of how Obasanjo, a southerner became president in 1999, were not in the PDP. They are oversimplifying issues. I was one of the conveners of the PDP in 1998. I know the proper context for what was done. It was not as if other people from other zones did not contest against Obasanjo. Alhaji Abubakar Rimi from Kano and Dr. Alex Ekwueme from Anambra contested against Obasanjo in 1999.
“In 2003, Chief Barnabas Gemade from the North contested against President Obasanjo. Ditto for Buhari in 2015. Chief Rochas Okorocha from the South-East contested against him.
“The emergence of any particular leader or presidential candidate at any time is usually a product of intense horse-trading, negotiations, and bargaining, not outright zoning to any particular region.”
FG Sets Up To Recover Illegally Refined Crude Oil
In a bid to block revenue leakages, the Federal Government, yesterday, inaugurated an Inter-Ministerial Committee to tackle illegal refining of crude oil in the Niger Delta region of the country.
Members of the committee, who took their oath at the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, were drawn from the Ministry of Defence, the Nigerian Army, the Navy, Defence Headquarters, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), as well as from the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Environment, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).
The Solicitor-General of the Federation (SGF), and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Umar Mohammed, who represented the AGF at the event, said the major mandate of the committee, was “the recovery of illegally refined petroleum products (crude oil) in the dug-up pits found around the creeks of the Niger Delta”.
According to the SGF, “In line with the policy of the current administration on security and economy, as well as the preservation of the environment from negative hazards.
“The office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, in collaboration with all stakeholders, have put in place a mechanism for effective and efficient management of illegally refined products recovered from dug-up pits found around the creeks of the Niger Delta.
“This mechanism was agreed by the relevant stakeholders and submitted to the Attorney-General of the Federation, who considered and approved the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the purpose of implementing the Mechanism known as Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) For the Recovery of Illegally Refined Petroleum Products (Crude Oil) in the Dug-Up Pit found around the creeks of the Niger Delta”.
The SGF said the Federal Ministry of Justice would coordinate the process and the Secretariat of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.
“The responsibility of the Inter-Ministerial Committee is to detect, report, evacuate, assess and ensure transparent disposal of the product with due consideration to the environment.
“The Inter-Ministerial Committee shall be guided by the SOP, developed for the project.
“The content of the SOP is drawn from the provision of the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019.
“It is my hope that the proceeds from this exercise will be a source of additional revenue for the country”, the SGF added.
FRSC Threatens Sanction Against Fleet Operators Over Speed Limit
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) says it will sanction any fleet operator found sabotaging the implementation of the Speed Limit Device.
Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi said this during the 2021 annual safety managers retreat yesterday in Abuja.
The retreat aimed at sensitising safety managers on the implementation of the Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme to attain best practices in fleet operations.
The theme of the retreat is: “Assessment of Speed Limit Device Implementation in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges”.
Oyeyemi, represented by Deputy Corps Marshal, Motor Vehicle operations, Mr Hyginus Foumsuk, said that the corps would also sanction Speed Limit Device vendors identified for complicity.
The corps marshal expressed concern on the spate of road accidents and needless loss of lives, especially involving fleet operators.
“These, according to many experts investigations, could have been avoided if the concerned safety managers had been responsive in their duties,” he said.
Oyeyemi said that recent findings by the corps have also revealed a low level of compliance on the installation of Speed Limit Device and associated sharp practices among some fleet operators.
He noted that these practices included tampering with Speed Limit Device and connivance with vendors to deceive enforcement operatives.
This, he said, was with compliance certificates without actual installation of the device, calibration above the approved speed limits and others.
According to him, these shall no longer be tolerated as the corps will not hesitate to sanction violators henceforth.
Oyeyemi urged relevant stakeholders to address the decline on the proper vehicle maintenance as well as implementation of the passenger manifest by fleet operators and the drivers’ recruitment policy.
“We all know the essence of the passenger manifest and the significance of its proper implementation. You are therefore urged to take these issues seriously in the interest of safety.
“Passenger manifest is considered pivotal, thus its enforcement should continue along other traffic offences to compel the needed compliance. It is therefore pertinent that strict adherence to the existing policies be sustained,” he said.
“There is need for fleet operators to introduce improved practices to ensure the safety and comfort of their passengers in compliance with traffic regulations.
The Director-General, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Mr Babatunde Irukera, commended the efforts of the corps on road safety.
Irukera noted that injury and fatality on the road were caused by speed, describing speed as a catalyst, aggravator and mitigator.
He urged motorists to take cognisance look into installing Speed Limit Device to avoid road traffic crashes and save lives and property.
He, however, assured FRSC of the commission’s support to punish violators, saying that excessive speed attracts a penalty.
Sokoto Assembly Approves 2021 Virement Request Of N155m
The Sokoto State House of Assembly yesterday approved Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s request of N155 million virement warrant on some capital projects in 2021 approved budget.
This approval followed the consideration of a letter by the state governor presented at the plenary by the Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Achida.
Alhaji Bello Ambarura, the All Progressives Congress (APC) leader in the assembly, had moved a motion asking the lawmakers to consider the request at its plenary session.
Ambarura said that the request was necessitated by the present administration’s commitment to addressing a number of developmental projects.
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