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‘Democracy: All Hands Must Be On Deck’

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I think there’s no Nigerian that is not one way or the other a politician.  I would also like to see a situation where performance by the chairman is rewarded and non- performance is sanctioned. That should be the primary message to whosoever that is appointed.  It should be performance –based (and if the chairman is found wanting in any way, he should be sanctioned accordingly.

The waiting game for the appointment of an umpire for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, comes to an end this week, with the naming of the new INEC Chairman, However , names like Prof. Dora Akunyilli, Information Minister and Olisa Agbakoba, immediate past president of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and former president of the Civil Liberties Organisation ( CLO) had earlier crept up for the plumb job but Jonathan kept every one guessing. Nigerians too have reacted swiftly saying, the just- appointed umpire must not be a card-carrying member of any of the political parties or favour any party so as to guarantee the unbiasity of the umpire. 

A frontline member of the House of Representatives and chairman, House committee on legislative  compliance,   Hon Daemi Kunaiyi-Akpanah, while contributing to the ragging national discourse on the new electoral umpire made a strong case for strong character, as what the new umpire must not only posses  but exhibit before, during and after the 2011 election.

Kunaiyi – Akpanah, who spoke with The Tide On Sunday in Abuja was emphatic that the new umpire should be sanctioned if found wanting in the discharge of his statutory duty and should equally be rewarded if he plays according to the rules.  He advised the new INEC chairman to strive to live above board because to whom much is given, much is expected, especially since the cry for credible election has reached the roof top in the country, with everyone in the country and indeed the international community led by the United States insisting that the country should get it right with the 2011 elections. 

His word: “I think that in appointing people for sensitive positions, due consideration must be given to their character and whoever that is appointed must be able to live up to expectation at the ‘Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and carry out their function without fear or favour”.

Reminded that Nigerians were generally opposed to the appointment of a card-carrying member of a political party as chairman of the electoral body, he snapped, “I think there’s no Nigerian that is not one way or the other a politician.  I would also like to see a situation where performance by the chairman is rewarded and non- performance is sanctioned. That should be the primary message to whosoever that is appointed.  It should be performance –based (and if the chairman is found wanting in any way, he should be sanctioned accordingly”.

Kunaiyi–Akpanah contended that this should be so because democracy was fought for and won, and should therefore not be treated with levity.  The legacy of those he identified as “heroes of democracy”, he said, should be sustained, even with the 2011 election, while applauding all those that contributed in one way or the other in ensuring that democracy thrives for the past eleven years in the country. The Rivers State-born legislator, placed them in three groups.  First are those who have done what is right; under the democratic setting and strove to conform with the tenets of democracy. Next is the military – for making this democracy work by not truncating the process in their usual manner of staging a coup-de–tat, and lastly – “every one in our society; those who continue to question how they are governed”.

He charged the heroes of democracy not to relent in playing the roles they are known to have played these past eleven years as they have helped in no small measure in taking democracy to its present height in the nation.  Kunaiyi –Akpanah also advised that for democracy to attend greater height in the nation, all hands must be on deck in ensuring the success of the forth–coming general elections.

Kunaiyi-Akpanah also commented how Nigeria faired under its democratic experiment.   What are the gains and pains associated with this democratic practice? The frontline member of the House of Representatives and Chairman Committee on Legislative Compliance believes that the nation has faired well, although not without pains and sacrifice.  He said that the learning process which began eleven years ago is on course, although the nation has not reached the destination point. “Well, I think it (democracy) is working in Nigeria and there is progress. I believe we are making progress. I don’t believe it’s the destination yet for Nigeria, it’s (an ongoing) journey”.

Representing Akuku Toru/Asari Toru Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Kunaiyi-Akpanah delved into the system of government called democracy when he asserted that democracy is supposed to be a system that ensures that the people are winners in every sense of the word, and operates through three arms of government –Executive, Judiciary and Legislature to achieve its purpose.

Kunaiyi-Akpanah contended that, the only thing that makes a government democratic is the judiciary which job is to ensure that there are proper laws for good governance. When viewed against the backdrop, he said Nigeria could really be said to have faired well. “Nigeria has undergone tremendous strides; bearing in mind that the legislature is only eleven years old (although the other two arms of government have been in existence before the advent of democracy) and people are really coming to understand its true function in the sustenance of democracy”.

He said Nigerians were beginning to feel the impact of the most popular and globally accepted form of government as dividends of the system were being delivered to them and the people themselves were being carried along and made part of the process. The House chairman on legislative compliance insisted that, yes I believe that the electorate is beginning to see the impact of democracy. What ever that is going on in government, you (the electorate) can ask questions (unlike under the military). You make laws, you consult (the electorate), and public hearings are form of getting views of the people (and their input) before making laws. 

Kunaiyi Akpanah drew the attention to the issue of budgeting under the democratic setting, which he opined is fairly consultative in an effort to ensure that there is equity in the distribution of resources across the country during these past eleven years, adding that he thinks that the people are better off for it. What is the way forward for the nation’s democracy and the ace legislator answered “the most important thing we need in our country is to run a government of law and order, advising that in the years ahead, for the sustenance of democracy, the rule of law must be applied dispassionately to all segments of the society in such a way that even government should not be above the law, adding that, when sanctions are applied, those sanctions should not be applied selectively. 

He believes that if the laws of the land are applied without fear or favour, irrespective of whose ox is gored and the letter of the constitution followed to the later, the nation would begin to see more gains of democracy.

 

Justus Awaji, Abuja

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I’m Not Against Araraume’s Appointment – OBJ

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Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has condemned attempts by those he called “political busybodies” to drag him into issues bothering on the appointment of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as the chairman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC).
The former president who spoke through his lawyer, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, said stories on some social media platforms accusing him of being responsible for the “immediate suspension” of the inauguration of the new NNPC board of directors inauguration were false.
Some social media platforms had claimed that Obasanjo influenced the suspension of the board’s inauguration because he wanted Araraume to step down as chairman of the board.
But this was despite an explanation by the secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha, that the inauguration would be held at a later date.
Reacting however, Oba-sanjo’s lawyer, Abayomi, in the statement, said the former president was preoccupied with efforts to better the lots of Nigerians locally, internationally and economically and as such had no time for frivolities.
Abayomi said whatever misunderstanding between Araraume and Obasanjo had in the past was over and that both had been in touch with each other and would continue to do so in the interest of the country.

Describing Araraume as an astute businessman and leader who would certainly handle the NNPC well, the statement warned against attempts by certain individuals to drag Obasanjo into the conflict in Imo State politics.

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I Have No Link With APC – Fayose

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Former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose has described as “campaigns of calumny” by some aspirants, linking him with the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, as “dead on arrival,” pointing out that it will not guarantee anyone the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship ticket.
The former governor who reiterated his endorsement of the immediate past PDP chairman in the State, Otunba Bisi Kolawole, declared that he owed no one no apology as he was convinced that he (Bisi Kolawole) has what it takes to win the election and govern Ekiti better.
In a statement on Friday, by his spokesperson, Lere Olayinka, Fayose said those moving from house to house in Abuja, calling him names would by now be celebrating him and calling him “Saint Fayose” if they were the ones he was supporting.
The statement issued on Friday, read; “Linking me with APC and Tinubu in the desperation of some aspirants to clinch our party ticket, is dead on arrival.
“In and out of office, Nigerians can attest to my commitment to the PDP and opposition to the APC government in defence of the ordinary Nigerians.”
“We have seen sitting governors defecting to APC, but in and out of office, I remained steadfast with the PDP even in the face of undeserved harassments.
“When did visits and interactions of our political leaders across party lines become evidence of anti-party?
“As for the race for the PDP governorship ticket, I want to make it expressly clear once again that I have no apologies for supporting Bisi Kolawole.

“Those going from house to house in Abuja, looking for shortcuts to the governorship ticket should rather go back to Ekiti and seek the support of the delegates who will decide the fate of our party’s aspirants.
“To our party stakeholders, whenever they come to you in Abuja with tales by moonlight about Fayose, let them be reminded that I am not an aspirant, but cannot be wished away. They should rather go back home and seek the necessary support as all politics is local. No shortcut!
“Eni ifa o to si lo npe ni haram (It is those who did not get the endorsement that are calling it haram).
“If they were the ones I endorsed, I will be ‘Saint Fayose.’
“I want to make it expressly clear once again that I stand with Otunba Bisi Kolawole, without apologies because he has what it takes to govern Ekiti and with the support of God and Ekiti people, he will surely win.”

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Accountability’ll Be PDP’s Watchword – Ayu

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The National Chairman-elect of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prof. Iyorchia Ayu, has said the party under his leadership would remain accountable.
He also expressed preparedness to review the reports of various committees set up by the outgoing Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee and ensure that their recommendations were implemented.
Ayu said this while presenting the communique of the two- day national retreat held for newly elected NWC members and other party stakeholders, in Abuja, on Thursday.
In response to a question on the concerns raised by a former National Chairman of the party, Dr. Okwesilezie Nwodo, about the lack of transparency in the management of party funds by successive administrations, Ayu promised to be different.
Nwodo, who left office in 2011, had in a paper titled ‘Political Party Funding,’ which he presented during the retreat, said, “…today, we seem to have lost it. I handed over eleven billion in fixed deposits and eight hundred million in the current account when I left as National Chairman after seven months.
“I don’t see what was done with that money. Millions were raised to finish our National Headquarters; we don’t seem to have a trace of where all that money went. Our headquarters is yet to be completed. Today we don’t even have a party account.
“We have to get back to strict monitoring of our party accounts. Our internal audit department needs to be strengthened and supported by the party leadership.
“Very strict sanctions must be imposed on mismanagement of party funds; I suggest that we include inviting EFCC to probe erring officers and members and prosecution of those found culpable. This is the only way to create deterrent”.
Responding to a question on the subject, Ayu said, “by the time we come to office, accountability will remain our watchword and I want to assure all of you that we will run the PDP administration as transparently as possible.
“The outgoing NWC has set up different committees to look into different areas, we shall take up all the reports, review them, look at the facts and then attend to each issue according to the facts available to us.
“I want to assure you that we shall try to clean our house no matter who is going to be affected, we shall try to clean our house following due process and that due process also includes exhausting all internal conflict resolving mechanisms before we bring in any external intervention when we cannot resolve the issue”.
Earlier, while reading the communique, Ayu observed among other things that, “the terrible security situation in the country threatens Nigeria’s corporate existence, the collapse of national security has made Nigeria to begin sharing sovereignty with terrorist gangs and rogue elements.
“The lack of vision, capacity, ability and competence on the part of the ruling APC has driven Nigeria towards a failed state. Through incessant borrowings, the Muhammadu Buhari regime has returned Nigeria to the status of ‘a beggar and debtor-nation.”
In order to regain public confidence, the communique recommended that, “the incoming Ayu-led NWC of the PDP should hold periodic retreats and round-table dialogues to clarify its position on issues affecting the country, the NWC should commence sustained dialogue with the Nigerian Electorate before the next round of elections.

 

“The PDP should engage different segments of the voting population, especially to encourage youths and women demographics in the rescue.

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