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Kwara 2019: The shape of things to come

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By Femi Olabisi

Not so many saw it coming. Weeks before October 1st, observers and the general public had their eyes fixated elsewhere. None had thought the Kwara State PDP governorship pendulum would swing to the direction of the young, brilliant and energetic lawmaker representing Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency. Saraki It took many by surprise that 49-year-old Hon Razak Atunwa with an intimidating profile in private and public service emerged the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the 2019 governorship election.

His emergence no doubt is a testament to the believe that excellence, no matter how hidden, will surely shine above its obscurity. Atunwa is not a novice in public service, neither is he an opportunist who has come to take advantage of his youthfulness to win election at a time the nation is clamouring for the emergence of younger and intelligent political players to take over from the older generations. Even the most fervid partisans and opposition members would never deny the fact that Atunwa is a right candidate and would make a good and effective Kwara Governor.

From his antecedents, the Federal lawmaker has shown a strong command of the issues, he has demonstrated a good record of private and public service leadership, and he is seasoned in politics and governance within and outside Kwara state. After his 11-years of sterling and active law practice following his bagging of Masters Degree from the University of East London at the age of 25, Atunwa dipped his feet into the murky waters of politics at a relatively young age of 36 when he was appointed as a Commissioner for Land and Housing in Kwara state in August 2005, from there we moved to become the Commissioner for Information and Home Affairs, Commissioner for Works and Transport and Commissioner for Finance (from 2006 to 2010).

At a time when youthfulness, match with experience, exposure and capability to deliver has become the resume line to seek political power in the present dispensation, Atunwa no doubt has all that is needed in his arsenal to run his policy-centric governorship campaign. His active service in four different ministries in Kwara state and his emergence as the Speaker of the State House of Assembly (2011-2015) and his present position as a federal lawmaker where he chairs the House of Representatives Committee on Justice, have in no small measure armed him with the immense knowledge and experience needed to continue with the implementation of good Governance master plan initiated by the government of Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki in the state of harmony.

Coming into office, Atunwa will not have to waste years struggling with understanding the governance of Kwara State, he has been part of the system and he knows where to start from. This surely makes him a formidable and credible candidate to lead the next government of Kwara state. Given how exceptional Atunwa, a licensed pilot certified in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, has been in the previous and present political office he held, it is obvious that his Kwara First campaign, hinged on human capacity development for everyday Kwarans, local content development to drive inclusive growth, and massive investment on health and Education infrastructure, will transmit Kwara to the next level of development and consolidate on the progress of the past and present. Pundits have also posited that Atunwa will definitely live beyond the hype, his intimidating profile, years in the making of a formidable political player in Kwara and national politics to be a stellar leader in Kwara state. Kwara is fortunate to have Atunwa at this time, he would definitely be good at the job when he eventually wins.

Olabisi is an Ilorin based public affairs commentator

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COLUMNISTS

An Aggrieved Postponement

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By Anikulapo Macmillan

We feel the blitzkrieg, that the postponement is because of incapability to conduct an election. It seems that we don’t know that our anguish is becoming a lunar disgrace. This is insalubrious to our umpire. Indeed, this is intentional. As our election becomes a sordid implication in the eye of other Africa countries. So, we have failed woefully as Jack London described in a prerogative way, to his writing: ‘’ when we fail to define integrity that is when we fail to understand our strength’’ it is so painstaking that we have begun to oeuvre on something that is shameful.

The electoral umpire on February 7, 2015 shifted the conduct of the last general elections by six weeks to allow the military to secure the North-East from Boko Haram attacks. The elections, scheduled for February 14 and 28 were later held on March 28 and April 14.

This is Nigeria. A nation that is so melodramatic with her dealing. Prof. Attahiru Jega postponed the election because of insecurity. But now the same umpire comes with a flimsy excuse. It is in Nigeria that we the electorate don’t know that our vote matters. It is our right. And such right is not supposed to be infringed. Thus, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood has failed because he is the same man that releases the time-table of the election to be held on February 16, 2019. So, this election postponement is a disdain to discern our civic duties.

I was ashamed of the country. However, we fail to perform election that has been anticipated in our history. This is like a farce.  Even a provoking decision, that comes during the eve of the election. And it dinged the society to a cesspool of autocracy. Hear him: “Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the Commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.

“Consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23rd February 2019. Furthermore, the governorship, state House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) area council elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019.

Everything comes like this in a country that is incontrovertible with failure. I wonder why, INEC has not done this measure before fixing the date. I seriously feel that we have failed in what is adjunct, to good governance. Meanwhile, we should not lurch our togetherness to an election that will be a comet. It is a comet because it will come and go.

Perhaps, two weeks before the election, INEC should have told Nigerians what is wrong. And if truly, the logistic story is not somewhat crooked; then we should not believe that it is rigging. Probably, the grind of an election is that we need to identify our conscience. To be structured. So, election supposes not to be frenzy.

Well, if the logistic story is seemingly not a lie, maybe we should then believe it to be a blab of ensuring that there will be voters’ apathy. In this same vein, election needs to identify its preparedness. And it is the responsibility of the umpire to have ensured that the electoral process is not tolerance to misfortune. Which is, like the political theory; nothing comes easy without the choice of willingness.

Also, I begin to think, if card readers could be burnt, that mean the electoral umpire is not careful enough to hold an election. It is a failure to the government and Nigerians. That election sensitive material can’t be secured or is it that we still play with election incredibility at this era of our 21st democracy? Yet, we call free, fair and credible election, when the precedent to the election is feed with malicious trickery for a candidate to win the election.

I feel the groan of many voters who come to vote. I feel the pain of our NYSC members who are ready to serve their fatherland with patriotism. In fact, it is now I know that our government is not ready to put thing in place because INEC should have known before now that the election would be postponed. This is what makes me to feel the pain in different discretions. Is it that INEC plays with the electoral act to its selfish interest or to favour a candidate?

Nevertheless, this is a process to our mandate.  It is even our choice and decision to bring a new government in place. But we have allowed INEC to hide underneath an Electroal Act which goes thus: ‘’ Section 26(1) of the Electoral 2010 (As Amended), says: “Where a date has been appointed for the holding of an election, and there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date or it is impossible to conduct the elections as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies, the Commission may postpone the election and shall in respect of the area, or areas concerned, appoint another date for the holding of the postponed election, provided that such reason for the postponement is cogent and verifiable.”

And lest I forget, this column has become an eye opener to Nigerians that our only choice is revolution. It is not that we should fight ourselves or to lynch but to read our constitution. Because what INEC has done is a way for us to call the umpire a fabulist. It is a precocious adventure that has misplaced us to less regard. Election should be held with respect but; in Nigeria, we hold election with different kinds of speculations. Shame!

I still say that we are Nigerians but we fear to ask the truth: Is it that INEC can’t conduct the election? Well, be that it is may, the election is a comet of song. A victory of vindictiveness or an offing of lies, that comes to us in a vehement operandi.

Then we need to know that our right is to vote for our candidate before INEC wins us again with its hypocrisy. I still worry on this election brute in my own case. Not that I have forgotten what the late novelist, Chinua Achebe wrote in his famous short story: the man of the people. But this particular folksy character needs to tell us another party to Achebe’s story.

I think we deserve a nation superior than INEC despondency. We need a system of electronic voting that won’t fierce us again with logistic lie in 2023.

 

@Babatunde_Mac

+2348076926109.

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COLUMNISTS

Pendulum: Four Years After, We are Back to Square One

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BY DELE MOMODU

Fellow Nigerians, how time flies indeed. About four years ago, we went through this very ritual, though the election was shifted by six weeks, for reasons we believed was an excuse to get the ruling government better prepared to consolidate its grip on power. Before long, the six weeks arrived, and there was no hiding place. Even as I write this, many doubting Thomases still believe the APC government is not sincerely ready for today’s Presidential election and that it may still spring a surprise on us. Thus, there have been unconfirmed stories of the elections being postponed for a matter of days because of logistic problems. For my own part, I doubt that the authorities will act in such a cavalier manner, particularly as there are numerous local and international observers and world media around. All eyes are on us.

As you know already, my people are never short of conspiracy theories. These have been fuelled by strange events and activities that are occurring very close to E-Day! For example, there have been reports of sporadic fire outbreaks in a few INEC centres, very strange indeed when one considers the proximity of such fires to the election date. However, I have not seen much coverage explaining the magnitude of the respective conflagrations. We have also read reports of some sample ballot papers being found inside many sacks in Kano. Again, no one has come out to explain what any sane human being could be doing with sample ballot papers. The main thing is that PDP is being treated to mind-games in this high-stakes plot, the end of which no one can predict.

Say what you will, I choose to trust two key people in the whole of this election saga. The first is the Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who has already attained the peak of his academic career and would not want to taint and end his distinguished life as a fiendish villain despised by all and treated like a maggot. So far, Professor Yakubu and INEC have managed to acquit themselves well in the preparation and run up to these general elections. They may have blotted their copy book particularly with regard to INEC’s role in the Osun State governorship elections but as this is one of the election cases currently trundling through the courts, I will say no more. It would be the height of foolishness and foolhardiness on his part to lower the bar as set and measured by what his immediate predecessor, Professor Attahiru Jega, achieved with a resounding ovation, barely four years ago. I refuse to imagine that Professor Yakubu would sacrifice his personal reputation and remarkable life, for politicians whose lives have almost expired.

Two. The other important man I choose to trust, almost blindly, although I know little or nothing about him, is the new Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who recently took over from the querulous, cantankerous and rambunctious Ibrahim Idris who fought more battles against real and imaginary enemies than he tackled the horrendous security challenges in the land. I have taken time to watch and study Adamu, as meticulously as possible, in the short time since he has been appointed acting I-G. and I’m reasonably convinced that he is educated, intelligent, smart, charismatic and cosmopolitan. I am unsure about some of the decisions he has taken, one relating to the re-deployment of Commissioners of Police in Ogun State. It seems to me that this decision is in good faith and is made because of the disgraceful way in which street urchins and thugs were brought into the arena to hurl stones at the President and other APC leaders during the Presidential rally in Ogun State.  This was a remarkable show of shame orchestrated to serve the interest of an opposition candidate and shows the real tragedy that has befallen APC, as the general elections loom. It is inconceivable that the Police would not take steps to ensure that the mayhem that occurred that day is not allowed to repeat itself during the elections. For me, it would be a calamity if it turns out later that I have wasted all these superlative adjectives on another recklessly irresponsible police officer. It is always a pity seeing some overzealous people throw decorum to the winds in order to please a god with feet of clay. Time will tell.

For whatever it means, and because I bear him no grudge, I have said it numerous times, and reiterate, that I personally like President Muhammadu Buhari. His personal attributes particularly his discipline and abstemiousness are worthy of emulation. He has demonstrated in the past that he is a credible person, although that has been put to question by some of the actions that his government has recently been taking. There is a hint of desperation to cling to power which does not augur well for our country or indeed the President himself.  I therefore will wish, and pray, that President Buhari meant every word he uttered in his various promises to the nation that he’ll execute free, fair and credible elections starting from today. I have no reason to doubt him. He is acclaimed as a man of integrity. This is the time for him to prove that he is indeed a man who is passionate about Nigeria and means his word that the country will not be broken up and Balkanised.  God has been very kind to President Buhari and his family. He practically returned from the dead less than two years ago and has somehow managed to steer the ship of State from then till today. Nigerians have not complained too much about the situation they found themselves. Rather, as is typical, they prayed for the restoration of good health to their President and their prayers were answered. Therefore, if Nigerians reject him at the polls, in a free and fair contest today, or whenever it pleases the almighty INEC, he should thank Allah for the uncommon opportunity and grace given to him for the second chance to serve Nigeria as it’s supreme ruler. He should go home in peace, to enjoy quality time with his gorgeous wife, beautiful children and adorable grandchildren. The Presidency is nobody’s personal property or fiefdom. He should take solace in joining the commendable and enviable company of other incumbent Presidents in Africa, like Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, who made no fuss before accepting defeat in good faith, no matter the secret pains. President Buhari should remember to call his successful opponent, most likely, Atiku Abubakar, and offer his best wishes. I promise, this gesture will turn out to be an icing on Buhari’s cake for final retirement. His apotheosis would also have been guaranteed instantly.

On the other hand, if Atiku Abubakar, fails in a free and fair contest, he should accept his destiny with equanimity. I can understand that it would be a difficult time for him because it has been a long arduous journey for him to eventually land the presidential candidacy and ticket of a mainstream party. It is natural that he and his supporters will feel very disappointed having worked extremely hard to defeat and unseat President Buhari. Atiku should take solace in the fact that he has fought a good fight. His campaign has proceeded in a decent manner and he has concentrated mainly on the issues and not allowed himself to be dragged into the gutter politics that has sometimes been employed against him by some of his more overenthusiastic and fanatical opponents. Atiku must accept that in every contest, only one person can win. As long as the election is free and fair enough, the over-all interest of the country must be considered. Besides, there are remedies already embedded in the electoral act if there has been any unfairness. Justice may tarry, but it will come eventually, no matter how much people may try to manipulate the system and the judiciary.

My only worry is about President Buhari’s footsoldiers. From their utterances and body language, it is obvious that they are spoiling for war and are only ready to go down fighting. They do not seem to care about the outcome of free and fair elections as long as their candidate does not lose. They have boisterously announced to the world, and the President himself has echoed them, that no one can unseat him. That statement may be considered condescending and outrightly arrogant and capable of pouring petrol into the raging fire.

This is very sad because only four years ago, we witnessed the public ignominy suffered by Elder Peter Godsday Orubebe who was busy throwing tantrums like a baby while results of the contest between Buhari and President Jonathan were being announced. It was such a show of shame. Why would the government that came in after that disastrous melodrama repeat the same nonsense? Indeed, on reflection, it seems to me that this Government has in recent times been following the same path to perdition that the PDP and Jonathan followed towards the end of that administration.  It is like history repeating itself.  There is a surreal element of déjà vu playing out. It is my hope that the same silly season and scenario does not repeat itself come the final collation and announcement of results. Nigeria cannot afford such shame and indignity again.

What is wrong with some of the young folks in APC who behave as if they can’t find other things to do expect government work? And because of their own personal avarice and self-aggrandizement, they are unconcerned about the greater good of the greater number of people and their country. No one should ever think of setting Nigeria on fire again. Nigeria has been too kind to these people, and they should, please, leave Nigeria in peace and not in pieces.

From where I stand, I can see very clearly that whatever happens, whenever this election is held, now or in the near future, the ruling government is clearly in trouble and the ruling party has virtually collapsed, with almost no hope of redemption in sight. A house divided against itself that still wishes to stand tall may be mere wishful thinking. APC has abdicated governance and its leadership has started behaving like Emperors and conquerors. The in-fighting is so much that we no longer know who is actually in charge. In all honesty, how can a party that can no longer direct its own affairs, and a President who seems to be clueless about how to maintain party unity, discipline and loyalty, and is apparently not in charge of virtually anything, ask for people’s votes in good conscience? Such a party cannot deliver good governance, much more the change that was promised four years ago. However, it is ultimately the people’s choice as to which road they want to traverse.

From Lagos to Ogun to Adamawa to Imo to Rivers to Zamfara to Kaduna to Delta, it has been one tale of woe or the other. And it all boils down to the refusal of party chieftains to act as true democrats. What is worse, the party has rubbished some of the key figures that brought it to power, many of who have since returned to where they came from, PDP. The major assets that brought Buhari to power have all collapsed and it mainly liabilities that can be seen all around.

The day of reckoning is here. The People will have their say. The contending gladiators must also ensure that the People must have their way. Their choice must prevail no matter whose ox is gored. Nobody is bigger than Nigeria.

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COLUMNISTS

Spectrum: Election, A New Beginning

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Anikulapo Macmillan

Nationwide, we have seen motley crowds, when politicians throw hypocritical words to each other. Indeed it is still interesting when, political parties, begin to impose threat on each other on who will win the poll. So, everything is diffident, here; as we fail to understand that politics is surprisingly a practical.  Even George Orwell, in his 1984, novel described a political system that is related to ours; because we fail to understand the truth than the prejudice.

With the reactions, I have seen from the APC and the PDP, I then wonder what is their different. What has made them the choice of an average Nigerian? Is it that they are telling us the truth or what American essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson identified as ‘’ words are signs of natural facts’’

They wear different colognes but they are still the same people. Their conveyances to mega rallies in the country have shown vividness to win with all sorts of tantrums. However, it was on the rostrum, when one of the presidential candidates was saying gibberish. Well, they all say what is vouchsafing from the monies they have given the crowds at the rallies. It is in Nigeria that I have seen politicians promising what can’t be done in four years. Though, it is politics.

The election is bringing different promising and un-futuristic agenda. During the 2015, we were of the drama, and such drama is still being played now like a classic novel title: Great Expectation. Our vote was crammed. Election should be based on maturity but we fail to keep the tenacity up right. We fail to vote for our credence.  Unfortunately, as I saw one of the PDP rallies, I began to mock myself, that Nigerians are gullible— aptly, what came from me was this: ‘’ therefore, we become a dunce, to the lies of a party that has failed for 16 years’’ frankly, what was the achievement of the PDP?

Even the APC, is a party that has turned his rallies, to an avenue to forgive those who are backlists to become saint. The APC, in one of its rallies, the party chairman, had spoken in a croak voice, that anybody that joins the party will be forgiven. Hence, this kind of political crumpet should make Nigerians to vote for their choice.

As the 2019 election comes, Nigerians want a society where they can identify problems without a cumbersome lie then we need to vote wisely. The vestry of anguish in this society has made us to become cupidity; and for this, we have sold our vote for lies.

So, vote with woe. Take yourself with passion. To listen to the presiding officer or any of the assistant presiding officers to check your name from the voter register and listen to instructions. These are the voices we need to create that can make our vote count. Politics in this era is for you and I, to benefit what we are born to enjoy. We just need to grow; out plough, or faceless taut.

Election is for you to grow a seed of your pain in someone’s heart; maybe by wish or paucity. Meanwhile, let vote for our own future in a positive way.  As I do think that we know that Buhari and Atiku are failures to our economy. One is sluggish and one is corrupt. This further bear me in mind, that we have not noticed that; our inequalities are possessed with debauchery.

 

Spokesman, El Rufai

He is a governor, but, last week, he acted in a new dimension to his profile. For instance, his scurrilous statement is prowess to this administration. He has definitely become a griot of politics. It is a kind of character in the novel of American novelist, Robert Penn Warren. Thus, what he said is presumably, the factor of our politics when political parties run for intervention with foreign envoys.

So, the presidency has seen the opposition parties to lobbying for help. I saw Kaduna state governor political temerity on a live programme that was aired on the Nigeria Television Authority, (NTA) and hear him: ‘’those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person to come and intervene. They would go back in body bags because nobody would come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country”

In 2015, Nigerians should recall that the APC had a rigorous meeting with the US and nobody knew maybe the American government helped in that election that brought Buhari to rule—with what, I would call a draconian rule, because since, he emerged the government has monopolised the institutions to work in its philosophy.

Well, as for me, I do not see anything wrong from what El-Rufai said. Since we all know that political parties are finding ways to win this forthcoming election that is dice. It is an election that we redefine the profligacy and mendacity of the country.

And, El Rufai’s statement is that Nigeria does not need any foreign intervention in her election. Indeed, we should hide above all sentiment, what he said, is not a political talk, but a reality. That it is bad for Nigerian politicians to seek foreign help when it comes to politics.

Yet, we have forgotten that Nigeria is a sovereign state that controls her own territory without external force or comment. Despite, the fact that El-Rufai and his party members are scared of an imminent defeat— however, that does not mean, Kaduna governor is corrigible; to what he had said.

We should know that, election in this part of our own claims, is filled of hocus-pocus. It is a system of lies and all sorts of espousal that is wrong to how democracy ought to be practiced. Therefore, whenever, I read story, that identifies Nigeria politics to be shamble, I laugh. Not that I laugh because of this irascibility of our political ideology, but because we don’t know how to practice politics that is beneficial to the populace.

That means that our so called politicians have forgotten that election will come and go, and the citizenry will stay to understand their tenacity. Not those kinds of politicians that come to rallies and begin to disparage themselves. Fine, it is sacrosanct here. But, El-Rufai’s statement is a warning to foreigners since our political parties have seen succour in interference.

Though, a society that is intervening with foreign envoy, such society will be in disarray. The society will be left with anguish and blames. Even those wounds will continue to linger forever. If Atiku or Buhari are the men to vote for then; their associate, need to understand that El-Rufai has spoken what supposes to be said in this political tension we are in.

We need to know election in this country is not a do or die affair. Politicians are acting like politicians but we citizens need to act like citizens because a politician is fighting for his/her own interest. They are fighting for impunity and hubris. Like what a British essayist wrote in one of his essay. And I deeply apologise for not remembering the title of the essay. But the lines go as follow: ‘’nobody is deterring to make choice than the populace who know how to determine their future without a magic wand of lies’’

We need to vote for our conscience not for a thousand naira that will be given to us by party agents at the polling station. We need to perform our civic responsibility as Nigerians not as cowards who do not know the true benefit of democracy. Are we enjoying the dividend of democracy in Nigerian? If you know the answer then vote for who you think won’t make you and your children not to be remorseful in the next four years. A stitch in time says nine. A future we want is for us to fight for a new society.

 

@Babatunde_Mac

+2348076926109

 

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