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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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Ahead 2027: Pro-Tinubu Group Sets Up Structures In APC

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The Mandate Movement (TMM), a pro-President Bola Tinubu group in the All Progressives Congress (APC), has set up 37 structures in a bid to enlarge its membership base across the country.
The structures consist of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
The national leader of the movement, Cardinal James Odunmbaku, made this known in a statement, explaining that the move became necessary for the ease of administration.
Cardinal Odunmbaku, in the statement, noted that this move was a precursor to the preparations for the 2027 general election.
He stressed that the move aims at ensuring that the APC has strong dominance across communities and towns in every part of the country.
He advised those to be appointed as state coordinators to be more effective in mobilising new people into the ruling APC.
The APC chieftain also used the opportunity to appeal to Nigerians to be patient with the President Bola Tinubu’s administration, assuring that the government was taking steps to address the harsh economic challenges.

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Benue APC Crisis: Court Sacks Acting State Chairman

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The recently suspended Benue State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Austin Agada, has been reinstated by a Makurdi High Court presided over by the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Maurice Ikpambese.
Recall that Mr Agada was earlier in the month suspended from office by another Benue High Court in Aliade presided over by Justice Lilian Tsumba following an ex parte motion filed by Mr Moses Agaba against him and the APC after his Ihaje Ward I Executive in Ogbadibo Local Government Area had passed a no-confidence vote on him and also suspended him for alleged anti-party activity.
The suspension was immediately followed by the inauguration of Mr. Benjamin Omakolo from Igoro Ward, Apa LGA as the acting State Chairman during a State Executive Committee meeting of the party presided over by Governor Hyacinth Alia.
However the crisis in the party took a dramatic turn Monday when Justice Ikpambese reinstated Mr. Agada while ruling on a motion by the embattled chairman seeking to set aside the interim order restraining him from parading himself as  Chairman.
After listening to the arguments of counsel to Moses Agaba, Mr. Johnson Usman, and that of Innocent Daagba, who appeared alongside Richard Ayilla, George Ushongo, Daniel Sorkaa and John Ifer who appeared  for Mr. Agada, Justice Maurice Ikpambese vacated the order restraining him from parading self, function and acting as the Chairman of the APC in the State.
Justice Ikpambese ruled that “under Order 39, rule 3 of the Benue State High Court Procedure Rules, 2023, the lifespan of an interim order is seven days, and since the order was issued on February 2, 2024, it has elapsed by law.”
Justice Ikpambese nullified the appointment of Benjamin Omakolo as acting Chairman and any other appointment made from February 2, 2024.
He accordingly struck out the motion seeking to set aside the interim order of February 2, 2024, as “it has been overtaken by events.”
The matter would be assigned to another Judge by the Chief Judge who would hear it on its merit.
Reacting, the APC State acting Chairman, Mr. Omakolo dismissed the reinstatement of Mr. Agada saying “whether the order restraining him (Agada) from parading himself as the Chairman is vacated or not, the fact that he has been suspended by his Ward still places a ban on him to be able to function as APC Chairman in Benue State. “And it will interest you to know that in the court ruling today, no matter concerning my person or role as the acting Chairman was mentioned.
“So, I still remain the valid acting State chairman of the APC in Benue State. I remain the one who pilots the affairs of the APC in Benue State and the APC family takes instructions and directives from my office as the acting Chairman of APC in the State.
“And even that wrong vacation that was done in the High Court has already been appealed. The person that took him to court has appealed the judgement because it is not correct in law for a High Court to restrain another High Court, a court of coordinate jurisdiction. I have long assumed office as the acting Chairman of APC in Benue State.”

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There’s No Changing Bayelsa Gov’ship Result – Diri

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Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has said that the November 11, 2023, governorship election in the State has been won and lost and cannot be changed through subterranean moves of his main rival in the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the incumbent governor winner of the election and presented certificates of return to him and the deputy governor-elect, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, on November 17, 2023.
Diri, who spoke on Monday during the first year memorial service of his late father, Pa Abraham Diri, at the St Peter’s Anglican Church, Sampou, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area, said the subpoena to the police to testify as witness at the election petition tribunal by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, was diversionary, a waste of time and an exercise in futility.
He said the acceptable standard was the election result declared by INEC and not that of the police.
His words, “they are bringing a police report. They are bringing a police commissioner to come and testify in the election tribunal. We have crossed that bridge long ago. Just as we stopped them from rigging, we will stop them again.
“If you want to subpoena anybody, let it be INEC, which conducted the election and declared the results. The police are in charge of security.
“Let us be steadfast. Our second tenure will be better than the first.”
The governor eulogised his father for laying a solid foundation for him and his siblings.
According to him, his father was being celebrated a year after his death because he left good legacies that were speaking through him and his siblings.
He said: “His impact upon our lives, his children and relatives, is unspeakable. That is why I believe in giving the best education to children, so that whether you are alive or not, they can stand anywhere. I urge fellow Bayelsans to give their children good education.
“What we are doing today is to appreciate God and celebrate the life of our father for what he has done in our lives. Our father guided us very well. All his life was how to discipline and give what he had to society.
“Those of us in leadership as president, governors, Speakers and other positions, let us know that there is a legacy we should leave, which will speak for us when we leave this world.”
Speaking on the topic: “What will you be remembered for?” Rev. Funkuro Amgbare, Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Izon of the Anglican Communion, noted that Pa Diri was being remembered a year after his death because he impacted positively on his children and the society.
He admonished all to live a life worth remembering by maintaining their integrity.

 

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