Like most other states in Nigeria, especially those being governed by an opposition party, transactions between Rivers State and the central authorities in Abuja have often left the former with the short end of the stick.
Even in the years when the state belonged together with the central government, the reallocation of some crude oil wells to neighbouring Akwa Ibom State did not go without some grumbling down here. Related to that was the Federal Government’s premature release to Bayelsa State of about N17 billion from an escrow account for the contested Soku oil field in 2014 when the matter was still pending in court.
Added to these was the long overdue rehabilitation of the Aba-Port Harcourt end (Section 4) of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Road for which work is now ongoing. Until now, remedial work on this road had come in the form of shoddy patching, leaving motorists and their passengers frustrated, mostly during the rainy months of the year when any previous earth work would have been washed off.
The Federal Government’s recent flag-off of a $3 billion rail project from Bonny Port through Port Harcourt to Maiduguri was said to reduce pressure on the nation’s roads. It is for the rehabilitation and reconstruction and reconstruction of the Eastern Railway with a narrow-gauge line that links major cities across 14 southern and northern states.
But Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, is not impressed.
“I hear people came to Rivers State to flag off narrow gauge (rail line) when the world is talking of standard gauge. What they are giving Rivers state is narrow gauge because I challenged them to show us what they have done for the people of the state.
“So, what they will do is to come and say okay, since you are complaining, let us come and give you that narrow gauge.
“Instead of giving us standard gauge to Maiduguri over which they are making noise, Rivers State, the Treasure Base of the Nation, the state from which they got the money to produce their President; it’s toward the end of their administration that they come and tell us of narrow gauge rail line,” Wike mocked while commissioning a link road in Aluu, recently.
Still on transportation, work is ongoing on the N120.6 billion Bodo-Bonny Road initiated by the Nigeria LNG Limited and jointly financed by the Federal Government. Conceived about 40 years ago, construction work on the project was flagged off by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in 2017.
Also recently, the Federal Government made a refund of N78.9 billion to the Rivers State Government for the amount spent in executing some federal projects in the state, including Port Harcourt-Owerri Road and roads leading to the federal housing estates in the state. In appreciating this gesture, Governor Wike was reported to have invited President Muhammadu Buhari to visit Rivers State.
The Federal Government’s approval of $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery has generated mixed reaction in the state. Some stakeholders like the Independent Petroleum Marketers of Nigeria (IPMAN) believe that such rehabilitation would help put an end to fuel importation. Executive Chairman of IPMAN, Comrade Joseph Obele, was said to have projected that the government’s move was capable of generating 25,000 jobs when completed. He said it would open up businesses within the host communities while also ensuring the availability of quality products unlike what is being imported currently.
But Governor Wike is not convinced. He thinks that the approval smacks of politics because, as he put it, similar promises had been made in the past, particularly during election transition period that never materialised. Speaking on Channels Television, he said: “I am not going to jubilate because the Federal Government said they have approved $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery. Thank God they said so, but let us wait and see the outcome of it at the end of the day.”
Completion of the N16 billion new head office of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), 25 years after its construction began, is one Federal Government action that not only excites Rivers people but also people of the entire Niger Delta region. Joining the commissioning by virtual conferencing, President Buhari said: “Today, we are handing over to the Niger Delta, a befitting Head Office Complex for present and future use. Consequently, huge yearly rentals would now be saved and deployed to other areas of need in the region.
“I commend the management and staff of the NDDC for staying the course and keying into the reform agenda of our administration.”
However, governors of oil-producing states don’t seem to be happy with the Commission for shutting them out of all the happenings in the interventionist agency. And this is even after their inauguration into the Commission’s Governing Board. The hint came from Governor Wike while addressing members of the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC, led by its Chairman, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, who paid him a courtesy visit in Port Harcourt, recently.
In addition, people of the region have continued to express worries over the apparently unending forensic audit being conducted on the NDDC, leading to the delay in inauguration its substantive board.
Another area of the Federal Government’s engagement in Rivers State is implementation of the United Nations’ Environment Programme (UNEP) Report. The Buhari administration had, on assumption of office in 2015, indicated interest to give the Ogoni Clean-up Exercise a fillip after years of apparent inactivity. But there have been arguments back and forth between major Ogoni groups and the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (HYPREP), the agency responsible for carrying out the exercise, as to the pace and quality of job accomplished so far.
The government had, at various times, been accused of playing politics with the Ogoni clean-up project as its involvement has come mostly far and between. Only days ago, the Minister of Environment, Muhammed Abubakar, reportedly flagged off in Bori the construction of N6.4 billion water facilities across Ogoniland where he announced that, in addition to the six water projects, eight more were on the way. Abubakar listed beneficiaries of the first phase projects to include Bori in Khana LGA; Barako, B-Dere and K-Dere in Gokana LGA; Korokoro in Tai LGA; Alesa and Ebubu in Eleme LGA. Given the slow pace of work, it’s really not likely that anything new will drop on the project soon.
Reacting to the incident, factional President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Nsuke Fegalo, said: “We thank our President, Muhammadu Buhari, for the decision to commence the Ogoni water project and call on him to extend his gesture to other communities in the Niger Delta who also suffer similar pains and deprivations like us, the Ogoni people.”
It is already well known that the Federal Government has, since 2016, made provision in its yearly budgets for the sum of N500 billion to finance its Social Investment Programme (SIP). This is to say that, as at the end of 2020, government had spent N2 trillion on its N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer, Home-Grown School Feeding, Tradermoni, Marketmoni and other schemes covered by the project. Whereas people in states selected as pilot cases have continued to enjoy this social safety net, Rivers people get a sniff of any of these only close to general election time when such items are used as political baits.
This experience is further illustrated with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme through which many peasant rice farmers in the north and some other places across the country have since been transformed into multi-millionaires. On realising that certain forces in Abuja appeared to be using politics to deny Rivers State access to agricultural loans offered by the nation’s apex bank, the state chief executive raised the matter with the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, during the latter’s visit to Government House, Port Harcourt.
“Please tell the Governor of Central Bank to remember us too; that we are part of Nigeria. When we applied (for Anchor Borrowers loan), they said this loan was N5 billion. We have applied for more than one year now. They said we should bring this and that…” Governor Wike complained.
The Governor was reported to have, in like manner, pleaded with the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, to return the Cabotage Services Department of his Agency back to Port Harcourt.
“We had a Cabotage Department here in Tombia Street (New GRA); your people moved it to Lagos. Is there any offence that Rivers State has committed against Nigeria?
“You may know, I don’t know of any offence any person can say we have committed,” he said.
In his speech, the NIMASA boss announced his Agency’s award of foreign scholarship to 10 Rivers’ school leavers to study marine engineering and marine architecture. He also pledged to assist in tackling the menace of maritime insecurity in order to encourage investors come to the state.
Jamoh also requested from the state government land to build an office for his organisation in the riparian state. According to him: “I want to request the Governor to give us a strategic land where we will build an edifice that will show the presence of maritime regulatory agency in this second largest maritime state of the country.”
During the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria last year, the Federal Government was reported to have released fund for the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to establish testing laboratories. This was in addition to the government donating money to assist Lagos State, Kano State and the FCT authorities to fight the pandemic.
Of course, with the Port Harcourt, Bonny and Onne Ports serving as entry points for foreigners into Rivers State which also harbours expatriate staff of multinational oil and construction firms, it was expected that the authorities in Abuja would have considered that the state stood the risk of recording high cases of the dreaded disease. And as such, any allocation of money and equipment to fight the pandemic ought not to have been denied the state. Therefore, the building of COVID-19 laboratories in Lagos, Ogun and Kano States and failing to situate any in Rivers State was enough to anger the government and people of the oil-rich state.
Speaking while receiving the then new Commissioner of Police, Mr. Joseph Mukan, who visited him in Government House, Port Harcourt, Governor Wike accused the Federal Government and the NCDC of playing politics at a time all hands needed to be on deck to fight a strange disease that was ravaging the world.
“There must be a collaboration to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. NCDC is building laboratories in Lagos, Ogun and Kano without building any in Rivers State. This is a state that is exposed to several foreign and local visitors with no single federal intervention.
“When oil companies write to change crew, we insist on knowing their status. If they continue to politicise COVID-19, Nigeria will suffer it,” he warned.
Of all the areas where the Federal Government appeared most insensitive on an issue concerning Rivers State was in the matter of environmental pollution as exemplified by the black soot menace. Whereas the government had deployed its security agencies in the form of joint Army, Police and Navy task forces to tackle illegal oil thieves and refiners, it was discovered that these outfits were often compromised by the culprits. And when arrests were made and stolen petroleum confiscated, the task forces preferred to burn such stolen crude in the creeks, thereby adding to the fumes that steadily emanated from the many undiscovered illegal distilleries. These were finally carried over by the wind to pollute the nearby human settlements.
At a seminar/workshop organised by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), a number of participants, comprising academics, environmentalists, traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the oil and gas sector blamed the black soot on the inability of the Federal Government to repair the nation’s refineries and guarantee steady supply of petroleum products.
Finally, other areas of Federal Government’s positive actions in the state include the Afam Fast Power Project which construction started in 2016 and which seeks to expand the existing Afam Power Plant by an additional 240MW at the cost of $186 million; completion of the new terminal building of the Port Harcourt International Airport at Omagwa; and the renewed effort to resume work on the East-West Road.
Other observed infractions were the politicisation of security in the state by way of frequent changes of police commissioners which some have counted to be about 15 times in just six years; and the alleged use of the then F-SARS Commander in Rivers State, Mr. Akin Fakorede, to try to influence the outcome of the 2019 General Elections in the state.
By: Ibelema Jumbo
Worsening Food Crisis In Nigeria
Hunger is widespread and chronic in Nigeria, and its prevalence is one phenomenon that statistics cannot fully capture, not even the Global Hunger Index (GHI), does justice to it. Statistics deals with numbers, but hunger deals with humans. Relying on quantitative data alone to assess the state of hunger in Nigeria is the worst mistake anybody could make. Quantitative data and analysis only show patterns and spread of hunger without delving into the experiences of those affected and its influences on their existence in all ramifications. Therefore, as bad as the statistics are, they are still child’s play compared to the rich information from qualitative data chronicling the dehumanising experience of many poor and hungry Nigerians. Combining quantitative and qualitative data paints a horrifying picture of Nigeria’s food crisis and hunger.Twenty five (25) million Nigerians were said by UNICEF to be at high risk of food insecurity in 2023, this was a projected increase from the estimated 17 million people who were at risk of food in 2022. Humanitarian organisations fear that more people may be affected.
Hunger is the major problem affecting the Nigerian masses now. According to the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr Matthias Schmale, “the food security and nutrition situation across Nigeria is deeply concerning. “Those who visited the Nutrition Stabilisation Centres (NSC) filled with children, said “those Children fight to stay alive”. Children are the most vulnerable to food insecurity. There is a serious risk of mortality among children attributed to acute malnutrition. The number of children suffering from acute malnutrition was estimated to increase from 1.74 million in 2022 and 2 million in 2023.Worse still, it is estimated that 35 million people are currently critically facing food insecurity.The present predicament of Nigerians never seems to be real until people realised that a “Congo” of Garri now costs between N1,900 to N2,500 naira, depending on the place you are buying from and the type you have to buy.
There is a systematic downfall in the economy, and those at the receiving end of its manifestation are the masses. Well, some may say that it is too early to judge the government of President Tinubu, but when starvation becomes a point of reference, they might just make an exception for that rule.”A government is a failure if it has not been able to fulfil its primary duties and its published agenda, it is useless if its people suffer endlessly from starvation. Recently, the video of a man who was caught in agony and lamentation attracted people’s attention. He was in the market to buy a “Congo” of rice but was told that it now costs N3,500.The man started crying, lamenting the harsh condition and confused as to what he and his family would eat. He had just N1,800 with him, and only God knows how much effort he had to put together to get that amount. Some people tried to locate the man to give him some money.
Bodija market in Ibadan, Oyo State, has a reputation for cheap consumable commodities, and the cost of food products there, is considered slightly reasonable. However, this reputation is no longer possible as basic commodities now cost even more than they could be imagined. A lady lamented having bought her usual loaf of bread for 500 naira three weeks ago, and within that period, it had skyrocketed from N800 to N1, 200 and now at N1, 500 for a loaf that is as light as foam. Beans and other cheap foods that have been saving people experiencing poverty are no longer affordable. The cost of a “congo” of beans has risen to between N2,500 and N3,500 depending on the location and type. It is not only the price of the common foods that has risen, it is the same case for other staple foods. Today, a sachet of water costs around N50, and one barely see a bag of it at anything less than N300. This leaves the people to drink unclean well water or find their drinking water through other sources.
The price increase was expected, but it seems that the progression of price increase for food items is at a higher rate than the supposed inflation. The economy is imploding and affecting the livelihood of the Nigerian citizens.First, the excessive price of petrol within the range of N700 to N1000 across the nation has an impact on the final prices. In addition, the roads have become outrageously insecure, with different stories of kidnapping, highway attacks, terrorism, and other vices.These have jointly jacked up the calculative cost of production, and the masses are paying heavily for it. The above reasons affect business, and most importantly, the irregular supply of power has become another foundational cause of the hike in prices and yet the government is still threatening to hike electricity tariff. Today, many small and medium-scale businesses do not have access to a stable power supply, and in some cases, the tariffs are so outrageous to the detriment of the business. They, therefore, resort to generating their power, which causes another extra cost.The result is that the products keep increasing in price as the costs skyrocket.
Another factor is the decline in the value of naira to dollars. The dollar is the major currency for international trade, and many of the household items in the country are imported. This means that the prices of those commodities in Nigeria are expected to increase the more with the value of dollars, causing difficulties for the citizens. So, when a market woman insults people in the market for negotiating lower prices for her wares, it is not because she is merely disrespectful but because she believes you are ignorant of the costs of putting her products on the market. What would N30,000 minimum wage do in the current economy? There is almost no average-class individual in the country as the condition affects every social stratum. Nigeria produces about 8.4 million tons of rice, but it is still not sufficient for consumption in the country. During the past administration of President Mohamadu Buhari, policies that discouraged the importation of rice and some other products in Nigeria in a bid to encourage local production were made, and that was one of the starting points of suffering and starvation in Nigeria, because the development made the price of local rice increase by 200 percent.
It is worthy of note, that such policies were a product of hypocrisy, foreign rice is not good for the poor Nigerians but foreign medical care is good for the Nigerian political elites. Currently, the prices of local and foreign rice are not too far from each other. This is because the price gap that would have been made necessary has been reduced by other local and internal issues fighting against local productions. It means that the government must make efforts to first increase the production of local items as well as ensure that there is an unhindered channel of distribution of the same across the country. Poverty cannot be eradicated without collaborative efforts between the Federal Government and the State Governments. Agricultural schemes and strategies are not the sole work of the Federal Government, as eradication of poverty should be the watchword of every reasonable government.
State-wide agricultural strategies and blueprints that would reduce the propensity of hunger and starvation in each state are important. It is a known fact that the food insecurity in Nigeria can be traceable to the relentless wave of attacks against farmers in Nigeria by armed groups in the last decade which has hindered critical food supplies and has pushed the country deeper into a devastating hunger crisis.Increased attacks against farmers across parts of the country have led to displacement of people, market disruptions and loss of livelihoods. Armed groups killed more than 128 farmers and kidnapped 37 others across Nigeria between January and June 2023 …
To be continued.
Inabo is our regular contributor from Radio Rivers, Port Harcourt.
Candidacy Imposition Syndrome In Nigerian Politics …Bane Of Democratic Process
Democracy is commonly defined as “the government of the people, by the people and for the people”. It is instructive to observe that the emphasis in the definition of democracy is “the people”. In this regard, having any electoral process without true participation of the people being sincerely involved, makes democracy authoritarian and authoritarianism is an attribute of bad governance. It is pertinent to underscore the significance of political parties in a democratic process. Political parties are no doubt, the only vehicles of social mobilisation wherein an electoral process passes through, to have people elected into political offices. The idea of godfathers deciding who become leaders of the people is not only undemocratic but ungodly. Democratic system is a social system of government where majority carry the votes and not the reverse, where godfathers impose their stooges on the people for personal gain. It has been argued that candidate nomination at party primaries has been characterised by infractions of sorts, such as the abuse of internal party democracy. For instance, there is the privatised party structure where a candidate’s nomination is guided by a mixture of personal or factional interests, while on the other hand, candidate’s nomination is considered an addition of elected executive authorities, defined as “leader”.
Party caucuses and “leaders” most often exercise power at their discretion and are unencumbered by rules, usually subverting party rules through personal directives. The imposition of candidates does not only weaken the legitimacy of candidates but also encourages the use of violence as the prevailing alternative for elections. This is because democracy ought to begin from the parties and how they choose their candidates for the election proper. If the candidates are not chosen in line with tenets of democracy, then the political space would be corrupt and no true democracy can thrive. Internal democracy is strategic to the avoidance of imposition of candidates on the party. Ideally, every candidate interested in an elective office should be given the opportunity to test his popularity within his party by a democratically conducted primary, which will produce the most popular candidate for the election proper. Any infraction to this democratic practice is injurious to democratic norms and principles.
In Nigeria, imposition of candidates on the party by some influential leaders usually called cabals and godfathers has become the rule rather than the exception. This practice has spelt doom for many political parties and even their candidates whose political ambitions had been truncated un-democratically in preference for some sacred cows. Political godfathers and party tin gods go practically low wire as they pick and chose favoured candidates and god-son at will without any concern for the good and progress of the party. Observation shows that such godfathers prefer their sorogates and criminals to popular candidates. It is worthy of note that imposition of candidates cuts across all strata of the political parties. Recent experience has shown the tendency of this evil practice to cause the disintegration of political parties and to breed bad blood and discontentment in the rank and file of the parties.
This practice is a threat to democracy as it does not give room for party members to aspire for the main election. Another dimension to the imposition syndrome is the practice whereby certain candidates who feel shortchanged in one party crossover to another party only to be given the opportunity to vie for elective posts or offered attractive jobs over and above hardworking and loyal old party members. This also breeds frustration and acrimony in the system. This development is a breach of the fundamental human rights of party members and in turn deny them the right to elect candidate of their choice. The bane of Nigeria’s party politics since 1999 is the infraction of imposition of surrogates by party godfathers which has not allowed democracy to flourish in the political parties.
The spate of imposition across Nigerian political parties destroys democratic governance. It is a practice that is capable of shaking the belief of members in their party and in its internal mechanisms. It is a direct affront to democracy which reduces the game of polities to a process of sheer selection, godfatherism, favouritism and particularism. The present development where certain politicians abandon their original political parties only to join other parties and seek governorship or other positions almost immediately is indecent. It should be completely discouraged. It is well known that the hallmark of internal democracy is that candidates should emerge from the process approved by the constitution of the party and the electoral law of our country. Whenever there is imposition, it brings about a questionable candidate and it is averse to the electoral law of Nigeria.
When imposition prevails, it would continue to scare credible people from coming into politics. This being the challenge, there would be lack of credible participants in the political space. This imposition is responsible for the sorry state of the Nigerian nation, when one looks at some of those in the parliament most times, such that those imposed are unproductive; this is why they cannot contribute meaningfully to uplift internal democracy. It is the reason many may ask; how do we expect to grow with this type of lawmakers as a nation? Such incompetent people are even found in the executive. It is possible that this class of politicians is not prepared for the task, but they love the glamour of the offices they hold and because they know how to play the dirty game, their political parties would impose them on the good ones.
Imposition should be eradicated to allow internal democracy thrive. Instead of just fostering candidates on the people, Nigerians must ensure that candidates are nominated through primaries except for cases where aspirants unanimously agree that a certain person should be their candidate. Nigerians without questionable track records should be allowed to come into leadership positions, and that is the only time the nation can see growth and development in governance. If you allow the plurality of opinions to reign, eventually someone would come out who would represent electorate better. If Nigerians, as a nation, want to enjoy the benefits of free thinking, free space, true representations and true democratic devident, then there must be room for the people’s wishes to thrive. It is proper for the umpire to provide favourable atmosphere to contest while there should be automatic ticket.
It has been observed that any time candidates are imposed, they end up being self destructive because the people you either rigged out or rigged in to do your bidding may not live up to the mark you set for them. For those who impose candidates with the aim of using them to collect money or for other less noble purposes, when they break out, you have to part ways. It is pertinent to place on record that those who have the privilege of occupying leadership positions today will one day give account of their stewardship to man and God, one cannot be man and God at the same time. Democracy thrives only when people choose their leaders by themselves. That is why Section 87 of the Electoral Act makes provisions for direct or indirect primaries; that is with a view to entrenching internal democracy and restoring power to the people.
Section 87 of the Electoral Act from sub section 1 to sub section 11 states thus; “(1) A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.(2) The procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct or indirect primaries. (3) A political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party.(4) A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall adopt the procedure outlined below: (a) In the case of nominations to the position of President, a political party shall, (i) hold special conventions in each of the 36 States of the Federation and FCT, where delegates shall vote for each of the aspirants at designated centres in each state capital on specified dates.
(ii) a National Convention shall be held for the ratification of the candidate with the highest number of votes. (iii) the aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting in the 36 states of the federation and FCT, shall be declared the winner of the presidential primaries of the political party and the aspirant’s name shall be forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the candidate of the party after ratification by the national convention. (b) In the case of nominations to the position of governor, a political party shall, where they intend to sponsor candidates: (i) hold special congress in each of the local government areas of the states with delegates voting for each of the aspirants at the congress to be held in designated centres on specified dates.
(ii) The aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting shall be declared the winner of the primaries of the party and aspirant’s name shall be forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the candidate of the party, for the particular state. (c) In the case of nominations to the position of a senator, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly, a political party shall, where they intend to sponsor candidates: (i) hold special congresses in the senatorial district, federal constituency and the state assembly constituency respectively, with delegates voting for each of the aspirants in designated centres on specified dates. (ii) The aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting shall be declared the winner of the primaries of the party and the aspirant’s name shall be forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the candidate of the party.
(d) In the case of the position of a chairman of an area council, a political party shall, where they intend to sponsor candidates: (i) hold special congresses in the area council with delegates voting for each of the aspirants at designated centres on a specified date. (ii) The aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting shall be declared the winner of the primaries of the party and the aspirant’s name shall be forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the candidate of the party. (5) In the case of a councillorship candidate, the procedure for the nomination of the candidate shall be by direct primaries in the ward and the name of the candidate with the highest number of votes shall be submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the candidate of the party.
(6) Where there is only one aspirant in a political party for any of the elective positions mentioned in sub section (4)(a), (b), (c) and (d), the party shall convene a special convention or congress at a designated centre on a specified date for the confirmation of such aspirant and the name of the aspirant shall be forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the candidate of the party. (7) A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall clearly outline in its constitution and rules the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting.(8) No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate at the Convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of nomination of candidates for any election.
(9) Where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of this Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate for election shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue. (10) Notwithstanding the provisions of the Act or rules of a political party, an aspirant who complains that any of the provisions of this Act and the guidelines of a political party has not been complied with in the selection or nomination of a candidate of a political party for election, may apply to the Federal High Court or the High Court of a State, for redress. (11) Nothing in this section shall empower the courts to stop the holding of primaries or general election under this Act pending the determination of the suit.” Under direct primary, people vote for aspirants of their choice from ward, local government areas and state levels to determine the candidate of the party.
Under the indirect mode, party members are supposed to elect delegates to represent them from the ward level up. A political party does not belong to any individual or clique of individuals. That is why imposition robs the people of the right to freely choose. That is why bad governance is common in the polity. Political godfathers continue to thrive in their business of determining who rules and worse still, who does not rule. In Rivers State, for instance, it is now a known fact that it is one godfather that determines what happens. The question therefore is; why must most powerful politicians in the party want to hijack the structure? The reason for hijacking the party structures is because they know that the election will not be free and fair and if the primaries are not free and fair, one could be rest assured that the main election cannot be free and fair because people are desperate to grab power and loot the treasury.
In Rivers State for instance, there is a faction which belongs to certain power brokers who have produced all the candidates for different elective positions and still want to remain perpetual oracles that must be consulted before anything can happen; but this is undemocratic. Politic is meant to be the social engineering for development but has rather turned out to be conduit pipe for embezzlement of public fund at the expense of the electorate without any form of accountability. The reason there are unpatriotic politicians who do not care about development of their people and locality is traceable to the single fact that they are not the choice of the people but were imposed by their god fathers for personal gain. Imposition of candidates on the electoral process must stop, if democracy must grow. The time to act is now.
Inabo is a regular contributor from Radio Rivers.
Wigwe: One Death Too Many For Rivers
Death is inevitable. The Bible’s King David described it as “the way of all humans”. It is the way everyone will go through. It is gateway to eternal life either in heaven or hell. Death, in the words of the erudite and literary scholar, Williams Shakespeare, “is a necessary end that will come when it will come”. It is non discriminating, favours no person and works at its pace. So the occurrence of death is no more news. It is only news when it happens in an unfortunate and dastardly circumstances and least expectancy which more often causes devastation and trauma to the bereaved. Such as the transition of Dr. Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe. Dr. Herbert Wigwe reportedly died on the night of Friday, February 9, 2024 when the helicopter he boarded crashed near the border city between Neveda and California en route to Las Vegas.
The Late Wigwe who hails from Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area of oil-rich Rivers State, Nigeria, was born on August 15, 1966. Until his uneventful demise on that Black Friday, Dr. Wigwe was Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Access Holdings Plc. Facts gleaned from his biography revealed that the Rivers’ successful business mogul had a degree in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State. He also bagged a Master of Arts in Banking and Finance from the University College of North Wales (now Bangor), and a Master of Science (MSc) in Financial Economics from the University of London. The late Wigwe was a philanthropist and exceptionally diligent in his career. He started his career at Coopers & Lybrand, Lagos, as a management consultant, and later qualified as a Chartered Accountant. After a stint at Capital Bank, he joined Guaranty Trust Bank where he spent over a decade working in corporate and institutional banking, rising to become the Executive Director in charge of Institutional Banking.
He also served as the Chairman of Access Bank Ghana Limited, Access Investment & Securities Limited, Central Securities and Clearing System (CSCS). He was the Chairman of Access Bank (UK) Limited until his demise. In 2016, in recognition of “his exemplary role in the society and contributions to youth development”, the Boys’ Brigade (BB) inaugurated Herbert Wigwe as State Patron for Lagos State Council. The diligence and sterling entrepreneurship qualities of the late Wigwe earned him several meritorious awards. In same 2016, he was named Banker of The Year, separately, by The Sun and Vanguard newspapers.
That same year, he founded The HOW Foundation, a non-profit organisation. In October 2022, in recognition of his enormous contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria, Former President Muhammadu Buhari conferred on him, a national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON).
His avowed commitment and determination to replicate his entrepreneurship prowess in the younger generation and drive sustainable development of the Nigeria’s economy within the sphere of his influence informed his decision to add value to the Nigeria’s rducational system. The deceased is the mastermind of the establishment of the Wigwe University located at Isiokpo, Rivers State. The university is expected to kick off in September 2024. Following the demise of Wigwe which is adjudged a colossal loss to Ikwerre Ethnic nationality, Rivers State, Nigeria and the business community in the United States, the Isiokpo Ancient Kingdom has announced eight days mourning period for the death of the Late Bank Chief, Herbert Wigwe. A statement by by his Royal Majesty, King Blessing A.N Wagor , the Wagidi XL,Nye Nwe Ali Isiokpo Ancient Kingdom, “ has directed eight days of mourning period” for their illustrious son whose tragic death occurred along with his wife and son in the United States of America on Friday night.
According to the statement, the eight days mourning period begins on Wednesday 14 to Wednesday 21 February 2024. All shops in the area are to be closed from 8am – 4pm during the period of mourning. The statement added.
For his part, Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara expressed shock and sadness at the news of the demise of Dr. Herbert Wigwe, his wife Chizoba, son and others, describing the incident as a monumental disaster. Governor Fubara, on behalf of his family, the State Government and people of Rivers State commiserated with the Wigwe’s family over this unfortunate incident, urging them to be comforted by God’s assurances of His love and outpouring of global sympathy on this deep pain and loss.In a statement by Boniface Onyedi, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Rivers State on Media, the Governor said “there are no words to convey how terrible these losses are, and the state and indeed Nigeria will miss an unassuming, iconic and accomplished illustrious son of Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“Rivers State and the Nation are in tears because it would be extremely difficult to understand this sweeping loss of a family involving a strong pillar, accomplished banker and philanthropist with tentacles in the education sector”, the Governor said, noting that the prestigious Wigwe University which he pioneered must not be allowed to die.”Dr. Herbert Wigwe rose to become one of the most outstanding African financial sector leaders and global figure who superintended over the impressive growth of the Access Bank Group, and also established the Wigwe University in Isiokpo, the headquarters of Ikwerre Local Government Area with a 60 per cent local and 40 per cent expatriate faculty population” the statement said. Miffed by the sudden death of one of its illustrious sons, the President General of Ogbakor Ikwerre Cultural Organization Worldwide, Eze (Barr.) Godspower Onuekwa, has urged the United States Government to unravel and explain to Ikwerre people in particular and Nigerians, the actual cause of the death of Mr. Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe.
Speaking at the palace of HRM Blessing Wagor, the paramount ruler and Nye Nwe Ali Isiokpo, the President-General assured Isiokpo people that Ogbakor Ikwerre was behind them. He said there must be an autopsy to verify the actual cause of his death and that Ikwerre people will not sleep until the cause of his death is made known. Eze Onuekwa was quoted as saying that a day will be fixed for all Ikwerre sons and daughters to march the streets of Ikwerre land with black clothes, with all shops and offices closed. He stated that after that, Ikwerre people will visit the governor of Rivers State and ask him the next line of action before writing to President Ahmed Bola Tinubu. The President-General of the Ogbakor Ikwerre delegation to Isiokpo include, members of the National Executive Committee of Ogbakor Ikwerre, among others.
Recalling his meeting with Wigwe, Nigerian billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, expressed shock over the death of Wigwe, and said “Wigwe hosted me and Aliko Dangote”.
Otedola, in a post on his verified X handle on Sunday, February 11, 2024, recalled how the Rivers-born prominent banker hosted him and Aliko Dangote in his new house in Lagos. He said : “I am shocked and saddened to hear of the loss of a banking genius, Herbert Wigwe, his dear wife Chizoba and first son Chizi. Exactly two weeks ago Herbie and his wife hosted myself and Aliko to dinner at his newly built home in Lagos. I will cherish and fondly remember my memories of time spent together with him over the years. Herbie, we will all miss you. Your legacy will live on forever.”
My heartfelt condolences go out to his children Tochi, Hannah and David. I pray God comforts them during this tragic time. No doubt the vacuum the death of Wigwe has created in the banking industry, economic and education sectors cannot be easily filled up. But God is All- Knowing yet offers no explanation for his actions. We will understand it better when we see him.
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