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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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2023: May 29 Handover Sacrosant – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday reiterated his commitment to handing over leadership to an elected president on May 29 next year, saying that his term in office will end on that day in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In a brief remark tothe Minister of National Education, Pre-School and Sports of the Kingdom of Morocco Mr. Shakib Ben Musa, who visited the State House as Special Envoy of King Mohammed the VI, President Buhari said his term of office will end with the inauguration of a new president in May next year.
He, however, said that he will study the message sent and respond accordingly, giving assurances at the same time that he will continue to cherish and strengthen the very warm and cordial relations between the two countries.
Accompanied by the resident representative of the Kingdom in Nigeria, Mr. Moha Ou Ali Tagma, the Special Envoy reiterated to the President the friendship and solidarity of the King, the government and people of Morocco with Nigeria.

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NNPP Blasts Tinubu Over Absence At Town Hall Meeting

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Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, has taken a swipe at the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for refusing to honour invitations on debate, saying that it was an indication that he has nothing to tell Nigerians or he does not have the power to rule the country.
Addressing journalists on Monday in Abuja, the NNPP National Chairman, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali said that the APC Presidential candidate should endeavor to appear for Nigerians to hear him and his blueprint for the country, asking  him to come for  debates and  say something, even if it may not be clear.
According to him, the media should interrogate all the presidential candidates as we inch closer to the 2023 Presidential election, adding, that “the NNPP would continue to engage patriotic individuals and organisations that share our vision and mission to rescue Nigeria and save democracy in the country. For the avoidance of doubt, our Party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party will not in any way be coerced or blackmailed to fulfill somebody’s inordinate ambition to rule Nigeria by all means.”
Recall that the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar; the NNPP candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso and that of Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi had featured on Sunday night at a town hall meeting organised by Arise TV, Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, in partnership with Vanguard Newspapers, Premium Times, Daily Trust, Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, and Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Abuja, where Tinubu was conspicuously absent again.
According to him, the NNPP as the Third Force has finally arrived against the backdrop that Nigerians were tired of excuses and the culture of blame games by the APC, adding, “like what happened yesterday, the 4th of Dec 2022. Apart from Arise TV, the CDD, highly respectable organisation and virtually all the media organisation in the country, so this is an open forum. It’s very clear. So why can’t you go and talk, say something, even if it’s not clear, people will get something out of you but you preferred to jet out of the country.
“So this is a different issue. This is not the first time, not the second time, it has been like that. You can assume that most of them do not have the power to rule the country. Two, they are also ashamed of what they have done. You can’t call yourself the leader of a party for eight years and now you want to rule the country, you cannot come and tell Nigerians what you have done during the eight years. You are the leader of the party because, you have, for the first time, in the history of the country, a President is different, and the leader of the party different.
“Now the person who is invited is the person who is the leader of the party, come forward, you say no, he is out of the country. So people are waiting for him, if he doesn’t come for debate, he will come for election.”

 

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Police Arrest Four Over Attempt On Senator’s Life

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The Niger State Police Command, on Monday, said that additional facts had emerged following the arrest of four suspects in Minna, the State capital, over the failed assassination attempt on the Chairman,  Senate Services Committee, Senator Sani Musa, All Progressives Congress, APC, Niger East.
In a statement, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Niger State Command, explained that one of the suspects confessed further that the hoodlums led by the said Sherrif, presently at large, trailed the Senator to his home in Minna.
Recall that Senator Sani Musa on Saturday narrowly escaped assassination by unknown gunmen in his Minna residence, and four suspects were immediately arrested in connection with the incident.
It was gathered that the incident happened on Saturday night, just as the  suspected assailants were said to have trailed the Senator, who is seeking his second term into the Senate in 2023, from Abuja to his residence along the popular Old Alheri Clinic Road, Tunga area in Minna.
Unknown to the assailants, Senator Musa had returned to Abuja in the afternoon before they invaded the house in the night.
DSP Wasiu Abiodun said, “Reference to the Commands’ earlier press release on the unfortunate invasion of  Senator Sani Musa residence, Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District.
“Niger State Police Command wishes to state that additional facts emerged in the course of investigation, as one of the suspects confessed further that the hoodlums led by the said Sherrif, presently at large targeted the Senator to his home in Minna.
“The hoodlums suspected that he could be at home, having attended a coronation ceremony at Kagara on the same date and to possibly kidnap him.
“Fortunately, the gang met his absence, broke into the house and ransacked the residence in the pretence of the purported search execution in the residence.
“However, investigation is in progress, as effort is on top gear to apprehend other members of the gang and further development will be made public.”

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