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Why EFCC was not allowed to step into SGF Lawal’s case – Adesina

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In this interview, Mr Femi Adeshina, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, discusses the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Engr. David Babachir  Lawal, and the Director General, National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Amb. Ayo Oke, from office. Adeshina says Nigerians should expect a  thorough investigation by the three-man investigative panel headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The interview, which was first aired on Channels TV, also touched on the on-going anti-corruption fight. Excerpts:

Who is the Presidency?

That takes me back to school days when we were taught rhetorical questions and what we were told was that rhetorical questions don’t need answers.

So I see it as a rhetorical question. We don’t see it as such. You issued a statement that President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into allegations…. made against the SGF, Mr.   David Babachir Lawal, in the award of contracts….. You issued that statement. The Presidency is used by people when they are referring to statements coming from that office. Femi Adesina There are certain things you cannot do unless it has the buy-in of the President – there are certain things you dare not do.

Things like what?

If the President is the one that is running the country, then everything you do, particularly the key things, must have his buy-in.

When we say the Presidency, who do we refer to?

Well, I must return that to the media because, most times, when anybody talks – it could even be a presidential aide – they attribute it to the Presidency.   It’s a media issue.

How?

I mean attributing everything, even when a Personal Assistant to the President, when he does something or tweets something, it is attributed to the Presidency. I don’t think it should always be like that though if I was actively in the media I would probably do the same thing. I just understand what is being done and I know it’s a media way of doing things. So, that question of ‘who is the Presidency’, talk to it’? Well, if we must get an answer to that question, then we must get it from the SGF who said it.

Why?

Because he asked it.

The President ordered the suspension of the SGF and the DG, NIA, pending investigation.   The puzzle is that why must the President lump the SGF and the NIA DG together, because the SGF has had his issue since December last year, but the NIA matter is very recent. Why?

There’s the saying that a matter is not fully settled until it has been permanently settled. You’ll notice that the SGF’s matter had been running.   It is in the interest of the SGF himself that the matter be permanently settled.   He has had a career in engineering before deciding to come and serve his country.   It is in the interest of the electorate that voted this government into power because this government was voted-in on the promise that it would revamp the economy, fight corruption and secure the nation.

So, why did it take government so long?

So long is relative. You remember that there was a resolution from the Senate that he should be removed but the President said due process was not followed and that due process must be followed and after that…

That position of the President was considered by many as pre-emptive and that it wasn’t the business of the President at that time to say what he said?

The Senate wrote the President and not the Committee, and what was expected upon receiving the letter was to have since suspended the SGF or tell him to step aside for proper investigation but that was not done. That was the feeling of some people and, as a feeling, it may not be right. The President is a man who does things after really considering all sides; he’s a man who errs on the side of caution.

Yes, Mr. President takes his time when it comes to people around him?

That’s not true.   He takes his time in everything and he, too, has said it. When he was Head of State in 1985, he was 42years and did things like a 42-yr-old. But now he’s 74 and he does things like an old man that he is – sees all sides, hears all sides

So, what is the speed then that has informed the suspension of the DG of NIA?

It is a running issue and it’s a major issue and you know that that volume of money hasn’t been seen anywhere in the country before and it’s a matter that you cannot allow to just run without any response.   And remember, it was not even done immediately.   It’s been in the public domain for more than a week.

So, we get a  letter from the Senate to the President and it takes four months to act, and now you say the President had to take his time and on this he immediately acts?

The two issues are not commensurate.   You cannot compare the two.

That’s why people are saying why lump them together?

It’s because there is an investigation committee that has now been instituted and the team can look at both issues and that’s why it’s done together now.

What changed at this time and having written the Senate and not acting, why setting up a panel now to investigate and suspend him?

Mind you, the President did not clear the SGF.   He merely said due process was not followed.

The President, according to what his statement to the Senate suggested, was that he wasn’t in the mood to remove the SGF, so what has changed between that time and now?

He has just now been asked to step aside for an unfettered investigation and the outcome of the investigation will determine what follows next and it   is very important that the investigation is done for the sake of the people involved.  If not resolved, it would be like an albatross that will hang on their necks.

Is this committee going to factor into the report of the Committee about the N2.5billion meant for the IDPs in the North East and other reports from the Senate which indicted the SGF?

The Committee is going to look at the gamut of all the issues so that they can come out with a conclusion that is fair, just and right.

Why wasn’t this matter referred to the EFCC (in the case of the SGF) and then the DSS (in the case of the NIA DG)?

It’s a matter of procedure by government. If government feels this is the way we want to go about it, so long as it is legal, then there is nothing wrong with it.

People are now asking, how deep is corruption in the Presidency?

You  don’t  need to single out the Presidency.   There is corruption everywhere and the Vice President has said it before that there is corruption everywhere.

There’s the feeling that there’s renewed vigour in the fight against corruption based on the suspension of the SGF.

The conclusion may have been right that it is a resetting of the anti-corruption war, but, in reality, the anti-corruption war had been there and it had been going on.   The feeling now is just because  of  the weight of the persons involved – the SGF and the NIA DG. You  don’t  necessarily judge something by the volume of noise. Yes, I saw a lot of excitement but, being an insider, I know what is going on.

Okay, why were these people not arrested as the judges whose house were broken into?

Allegations  don’t  amount to indictment.   These people have allegations against them.   No prima  facea case has been established against them yet.

Oh!  So were prima  face cases established against the judges before their houses were broken into?

The circumstances are different because a number of things were found in the houses of the judges that were indicting.

But the Senate, too, had found a number of indicting instances against the SGF; yet nothing happened.   They raised huge questions?

The Senate’s decision cannot be final.

Yes and nobody was  saying the Senate had the final say but nothing was done then?

Matters have to be investigated

Yes, investigated, but people are asking, why now?  

I recall the President’s statement saying that he had gone through what the Senate had sent to him and that a committee had investigated the allegations of the Senate and he came to certain conclusions.   His investigations were more about the process of the Senate’s work and not the meat of what happened in PINE.

You know, after writing that letter, the President travelled two days after. You’re right.   But there was an Acting President?

Yes, as an Acting President, he had powers to do certain things and you heard from the Vice President himself that there were some things he still referred to the President and may be that is one of the issues.

Why is the EFCC not the one looking at the SGF’s matter?

If it gets to that point, the EFCC can then look into it.

What is the side of the NIA’s matter that you can tell us because there are many sides to it?

This is the biggest volume of cash that has ever been recovered, so you can expect so many types of stories, with people laying claim to the  money. The investigation will unravel that.

Does the  money belong to the NIA?

That is the claim.   But  don’t forget that the Rivers State government, for instance, is also laying claim to  that money.

Will the Rivers State government be invited?

If necessary. When the committee completes its work in 14days as announced, its report will be released.

Will the public be privy to it?

The first thing is, the President set up the committee, it will report to the President and when the President has studied and decides to announce what the decision is, the public will then have it.

Why should people believe that anything credible can come from this committee?

These three gentlemen who have been appointed to investigate the matter are as credible as you can have them in Nigeria, and, I believe, they will do what is just, what is fair and what is right.

Some people are still of the view that this committee’s work is dead on arrival because of the personalities involved and the arm of government involved and, therefore, suggest that an independent panel should be set up to investigate the matter?

It’s an opinion and those who have preferred the opinion have a right to do so, but it  doesn’t mean it is the best thing.

To further strengthen the earlier question, people scoff at the idea of the panel because when the judges were going to be dealt with, it was so swift but now that it involves people in the Presidency, we are being told about one panel made up of the same Presidency people.

In fact, they add that it goes against the grain of fairplay?

That  question is prejudging things. What if the panel concludes its work and they are not cleared. Nigerians should let these men of integrity do their work without any kind of prejudice. When the results are out, we can then review the process.

Source: Vanguard Newspapers

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Abia 2019: Why Ikpeazu Won with a Landslide

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By Jude Ndukwe

The March 9 governorship poll has come and gone in Abia, and the people have since moved into post-election mood and activities. They have also since resumed their normal businesses after the rigours of what was an intense campaign period for some and simply a test of popularity for others.

The final result as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is as follows: PDP: 261,127; APC: 99,574; APGA: 64,366

The good news about the governorship election in Abia is that while some other States are still at it, grappling with needless violent deaths of not few Nigerians starting from when campaigns were flagged off last year, the conduct in Abia recorded no violence.

The free, fair, transparent, credible and violence-free conduct of the election in Abia State can be attributed to the peaceful and gentlemanly nature of the governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, who does not see any election as a Do-or-Die affair but simply the exercise of the people’s rights to freely choose their leaders. Despite all the shenanigans of his opponents, the bitterness of their campaigns, their twisting of facts to suit their warped narratives, their belligerent posturing etc, the governor never replied in kind. He was rather busy telling the people what he had done and the need to reelect him so as to continue to take Abia on the path of irreversible prosperity.

Abians are peace loving people. That is why the State has remained one of the most peaceful States in Nigeria under Ikpeazu, and it showed during the election, so that no matter how good one’s manifesto is, belligerent posturing put them off. After their ugly experiences in the past, there was no way Abians were going to elect anyone of bellicose nature to lead them and cause bitter divisions among them based on party and or tribal lines, entrench crime and criminalities and turn the state to a breeding ground for hoodlums. So, it was only natural that they queued behind Dr Okezie Ikpeazu who has been able to restore Abia to a State of peace which Abians earnestly craved for before the coming of the incumbent.

It is instructive to note at this point that in a report  by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), for election-related killings between November 16, 2018 to March 10, 2019, while neighbouring States like Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, recorded 2, 1, 8, 55, 4 and 2, respectively, Abia recorded no single casualty.

The massive infrastructural development taking place in Abia is another factor that got Ikpeazu an easy reelection. With 74 road projects completed and over 90 others of strategic importance to the people and the State ongoing, Abians knew that they have never had it so good and reelecting Ikpeazu based on this was a no brainer.

Having constructed 4 new Model Schools, 359 new classroom blocks, and renovated about 70 of them across the three senatorial zones of the State, the educational sector of Abia received a massive boost under the governor to the extent that the State sits with pride atop all other States of the federation in WASCE in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and still counting, and could not be dislodged by others no matter their resources.

Abia has remained the only State throughout the federation where all her primary school pupils are fed in school every school day. While the federal government feeds children of Primary 1 – 3 nationwide, Abia feeds her pupils from Primary 4 – 6, despite her lean resources, thereby making her the only State of the federation where all her primary school pupils are fed every school day.

The result of this massive investments keep showing in the result the State posts every year in WASCE and other external exams.

This investment has also seen the State owned university, Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU), improve massively in the National Universities Commission (NUC) ranking, from 96th when Ikpeazu assumed office in 2015 to currently being in the first 10.

The revolution in agriculture where over 4 million high yielding tenera palm seedlings have been distributed to farmers is another factor that has endeared the governor to Abians of all status. Government-supported mushroom farming, poultry clusters and local rice production have all empowered many Abians.

The infrastructural development of the state and the peace she is enjoying under Ikpeazu have also given massive boost to the governor’s objective of attracting foreign investors to the state. The Enyimba Economic City, EEC, which is the governor’s prime investment creation and already labeled the “Dubai of Africa” by global investors has already attracted massive foreign direct investment to the extent that the World Bank rated Abia as the third most preferred investment destination for foreign investors after Abuja and Lagos in that order, for the last quarter of 2018.

The deliberate policies put in place by the Ikpeazu administration for Ease of Doing Business have also earned the state a rating as the fifth best state in that area, hence, giving the State the needed edge above others for investors.

Also, Dr Ikpeazu’s commitment to SME development in the State has earned him several awards including one from the federal government even though he is of a different party from the government at the centre. He has been aggressively leading the “Made in Aba” campaign to a huge success to the extent that the military and some paramilitary organisations have ordered for thousands of pairs of booths from Aba entrepreneurs. This is in addition to the fact that the government of Ikpeazu sponsored thirty of the Aba shoe and other leather works manufacturers to China to enhance their skills and acquire the requisite modern technological know-how to improve both quality and quantity of their works. The thirty young entrepreneurs have since returned and are in the process of cascading down their newly acquired knowledge to others back home. This is more so as the governor has acquired the needed advanced shoemaking machines for their use.

There have been revolutions also in the health sector where medical facilities are now easily accessible to all citizens of the State just at the dial of a number in the Dial-a-Doc Telehealth Initiative. This is particularly beneficial to the aged who might not have the strength to visit a health facility and are either attended to via telephone or visited by the mobile medical staff of the state. These are all in addition to 4 new General Hospitals built by the governor and strategically located in different parts of the State in addition to the already existing ones.

There is hardly any sector or population group in Abia State that the governor has not touched directly. It is therefore not surprising that long before the March 9 governorship election, Dr Ikpeazu had received a gale of endorsements from notable groups including political blocs, religious groups, traditional rulers, civil servants, artisans, traders, entrepreneurs, professional bodies, student and youth groups, women groups etc.

Among all the contenders, it was only Dr Okezie Ikpeazu who ran a comprehensive and energy sapping campaign that took him round all the 17 local government areas of the state despite his extremely tight schedule as governor. His wife, Deaconess Nkechi Ikpeazu also took to the streets vigorously campaigning for her husband from one local government to the other. While all these were on, the other candidates locked up and made themselves comfortable within the confines of their air conditioned campaign offices without reaching out to the people even if in, at least, five local governments of the 17 in the State. Throughout the campaign, a majority of Abians could not reach nor interact with them in person. They cordoned themselves off from the people and only made feeble attempts to reach out to the electorate through the media and social media which, most rural people where the bulk of votes come from, do not even have easy access to. While Ikpeazu was busy selling himself, his programmes and projects to the people in person, and even featured several times on all the radio stations in Abia State in no holds barred phone-in programmes, others were relying on “federal might” and “red eyes” for magic! Tragic!

From the foregoing, no objective political observer would be surprised at Ikpeazu’s landslide victory at the last governorship poll.

His case was even made easier by the Charter of Equity as bequeathed by Abia’s founding fathers which stipulates that, for the sake of fairness and peace, the Abia State governorship should be rotated among the three senatorial zones of Abia North, Abia Central and Abia South. Having taken their own turns from 1999 – 2007 (Abia North through Orji Uzor Kalu), and from 2007 – 2015 (Abia Central through Senator T.A. Orji), it was only fair and just that the people of Abia South where Ikpeazu hails from be allowed to complete their own eight years of two tenures as did his predecessors. This is more so given the achievements of the incumbent which have more than justified the Charter.

There was no way Abians were going to jettison the Charter just to satisfy the selfish yearnings of few politicians who hail from the same senatorial zones that had already taken their turn at the governorship in the past. That would have been a recipe for disaster in the State. To avoid such a political catastrophe, Abians overwhelmingly rejected the other contenders and stuck with Ikpeazu in order to preserve the sanctity of the Charter of Equity that has been an effective template for the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the other in the state, hence, Ikpeazu’s landslide victory at the polls had long been foretold by political historians and scientists, and unfolded as expected based on the variables enumerated above and even more!

An attempt by anyone to challenge this people-oriented election in court will court the people’s anger against such a person and will further diminish the little of what is left of the person’s image before the people.

jrndukwe@yaho.co.uk; Twitter: @stjudendukwe

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Gov result: Ladi Adebutu loses polling unit to APC

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A factional governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State, Ladi Adebutu, has lost his polling unit to the All Progressives Congress.

Adebutu, who adopted the Allied Peoples Movement’s governorship candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, voted at Ward 5 Unit 4 Wesley Nursery and Primary School, Iperu, Ikenne, Ogun State.

At the end of voting in the governorship election, the APC scored 197 votes, while the APM polled 75 votes.

The PDP and ADC polled 6 and 2 votes respectively.

In the House of Assembly election, the APC polled 190 votes, while the APM polled 75 votes.

The PDP and ADC polled 8 and 3 votes respectively.

Our correspondent observed Adebutu questioning some of his agents shortly after the announcement.

He later drove out of the polling unit as APC supporters hailed Abiodun.

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Hamzat wins polling unit in Epe with landslide

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The Deputy Governorship candidate, Dr Obafemi Hamzat of the All Progressives Congress, has won his polling unit with a landslide.

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