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2023 PRESIDENCY: IF NOT TINUBU, WHO ELSE DOES THE CAP FIT?

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www.securenigeria365.com

By: Adémólá Òrúnbon

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, popularly called BAT, is a master strategist, generalissimo, who has dominated the politics of Nigeria’s commercial capital for over two decades, Tinubu, has long been overdue and expected to make a run for the country’s top job–his formidable political network, propensity for deal-making and substantial personal wealth give him a head start over many other contenders. In the 2023 presidential elections, Tinubu has been coquettish. After the latest rumpuses in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in which Tinubu and his allies seemed to lose out, he mocked those pundits who purported to know his political intentions.

“Indeed, to those who have been actively bleating how the President’s actions and the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting have ended my purported 2023 ambitions … Already you have assigned colourful epitaphs to the 2023 death of an alleged political ambition that is not yet even born.” That was the pronouncement and submission of Tinubu after the purported dissolution of National Working Committee (NWC) of the party after the NEC meeting of the ruling party, which was attended by PMB himself.”

Precisely, on the 25 June, the ruling party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had dissolved its National Working Committee (NWC) on which Tinubu and his allies had a clear majority and could choose the party chair. They lost that battle. Now the management is in the hands of a caretaker committee and state governors are battling to reassert their control over the party’s machinery. The general view is that Tinubu will run in 2023 but he has not announced any such intentions. This secrecy may be a new strategy given that he is facing serious rivals in the party and the government. Tinubu has not held an official position in government since his second term as Lagos governor, which ended in 2007, but his influence in national politics has grown.

The schisms in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), have led to the formation of at least two different camps: Nasir el Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State and Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transport on one side; and Tinubu, the national leader of the APC and deposed Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, on the other. Other factions within the party include senior party people such as Kebbi State governor Atiku Bagudu, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, Works Minister Babatunde Fashola. For now they are discreet about their ambitions but many have their eyes on the succession in 2023. Mind you, Tinubu is a former two-time Governor of Lagos State and he retains the mass support till date, with crowds of people gathering outside his mansion on Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, on a daily basis. They credit him with the social and economic progress seen in Lagos over the past two decades. They add that he has also ensured that progressive Governors run the state since he left the post.

Some of Tinubu’s notable achievements as Governor then include; improving the state’s waste management system and better incentives for civil servants (salary increases and better quality of working environments). His successor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, was responsible for the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Lite System, which ferries passengers in high-capacity buses on dedicated bus lanes. Also, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the immediate past Governor, was shut out when he tried to move away from Tinubu and his desires and instead of allowing him to run on the APC ticket for the second term, he was replaced by Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Governor Sanwo-Olu, the current Governor, another one of Tinubu’s picks, has been praised for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country’s most densely populated state.

Although Tinubu is widely loved in Lagos, his vast wealth and real estate holdings raise questions, especially amongst the critical and independently wealthy citizens. Most attention has focused on the operations of a company called Alpha Beta Consulting which was awarded a contract that gave it exclusive rights to collect taxes on behalf of Lagos State when Tinubu was governor. It was believed to also receive about 10% commission from the revenues collected. Many pro-transparency groups and opposition activists have demanded information about this group and its links with Tinubu and other politicians in the state. After being a two-time governor of Lagos State, he became known as the ‘godfather of Lagos’, handpicking his successors.

Under Tinubu’s tenure as governor of Lagos State, Alpha Beta Consulting was awarded the contract to collect taxes for the state on the recommendation of a committee whose members included the state’s then Attorney General Yemi Osinbajo (now Vice President), then Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Wale Edun and former Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Yemi Cardoso. But, all attempts by journalists using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to discover the terms of Alpha Beta’s contract with the Lagos government and its beneficial owners have been blocked by the State Government officials, arguing that the freedom of information only applies to the Federal Government. It is imperative to highlight Tinubu’s influence amongst the Area Boys–loosely organized gangs of street youth who roam the streets of Lagos. He is held up as a man of the people, often giving out free food to poorer Lagosians.

When the APC was formed–a merger of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC, headed by current President Muhammadu Buhari), and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA)–Tinubu was a key member, not even a key member but a key player in bringing together these parties to oppose the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2015 elections. After being a two-time Governor of Lagos State, he became known as the ‘godfather of Lagos’, handpicking his successors, as I earlier mentioned above. Those that stopped listening to him, or decided that they held all the power, were removed–as was seen with Akinwunmi Ambode, a one-term Governor of Lagos State who was pushed out in the State primaries ahead of the 2019 elections.

But, falling out of the good graces of both the people of Lagos State and the kingmaker of Lagos politics resulted in Ambode’s going from being the Governor of the country’s most thriving State to being hunted down by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in just six months he was replaced on the APC ticket for the gubernatorial elections by another Tinubu loyalist, current Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Tinubu’s current role is the national leader of the APC, a title that, although an honorific, gives him power and influence within the party structures. It is of note that Tinubu holds two chieftaincy titles: Asiwaju of Lagos and Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom in Niger State, in a country where traditional leaders are still widely respected, these Chieftaincy titles enhance his power and reach. Many younger politicians owe the success of their careers to Tinubu, notably Fashola, and Vice-President Osinbajo. His model has always been to encourage the younger generation.

Before the dissolution of the NWC, it was said that at least 15 out of the 20 members were loyal to Tinubu and Oshiomhole. Governors loyal to Tinubu include Ganduje of Kano, Masari of Katsina (President Buhari’s home state), Abdulrazak of Kwara, Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Abiodun of Ogun, and Oyetola of the State of Osun, amongst others. Some were asking questions about whether President Buhari wants to play a leading role in determining his successor, like Obasanjo did in 2007. Nobody knows the answer of this for now and certain, but people around Buhari are trying to make sure they are on his good side, hoping that if he does decide to influence the choice and the primaries, he will be on their side, but Tinubu has been on the verge of contesting the race for the fact that most of his allies had been on consultation tours to Alaafin’s palace and others stalwarts.

Although the Nigerian political system is meant to work in a way that the presidency rotates between a Southerner and Northerner in power–implying that Buhari the Northerner should be succeeded by a Southerner –the question of whether the APC’s next candidate will be a Northerner or Southerner looks far from resolved. Tinubu cannot succeed with support only from the South-west; he needs Northern votes as well. Will the eight million strong voters block that Buhari tapped into to stay with the APC, regardless of candidate, or will they go to a Northern candidate, regardless of party? For example, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the North-East state of Adamawa is likely to contest again for the PDP and fight for those eight million Northern votes. The collaboration between Buhari and Tinubu in 2015 involved the latter being tasked with bringing in the South-West votes and providing a Southern technocrat as the Vice-Presidential Candidate. When the APC vote count from the South-West for Buhari slipped, it seemed that Tinubu had become less important for him.

It’s unclear how far Tinubu and Buhari trust each other. And whether Buhari would support Tinubu as an APC candidate for the next presidential election. Buhari plays his cards close to his chest. Tinubu has not announced his decision to run for President in 2023, but it will surprise few if he does. Though Asiwaju Tinubu remains a local hero in Lagos, the country’s commercial capital. He would prepare his campaign with an acute strategic sense of the voter data and the political messaging, and Tinubu’s critical task would be to bring in allies from across the middle and the north to bolster his national reach–his deal-making in the past has proved effective but this would be his greatest test yet. But, whether Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is contesting or vying for the presidential election or not in this country, my submission still remains that he is worth voting for by the Nigerians in all ramifications. Indeed, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu must even contest for the number one position in this nation.

Òrúnbon, an opinion writer, poet, journalist and public affairs analyst, writes in from Federal Housing Estate, Olomore, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Can be reached via: orunbonibrahimademola@gmail.com, or 08034493944, 08029301122

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POLITICS

Buni Replies Akande, Says APC Membership Revalidation Constitutional

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The Chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, yesterday took issue with the former Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, over his criticism of the ongoing membership registration and revalidation.
Buni, responding to Akande’s Wednesday comments that the exercise is a needless and an unnecessary waste of funds, described the membership drive as a constitutional provision and a strategic measure by the committee to give existing and new members a sense of belonging.
However, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lauded Akande for exposing what it called the fraud in the APC’s membership drive.
Akande had described the exercise as an indefensible aberration leading to certain ugly perceptions.
He also described the exercise as a waste of money considering the economic situation of the country.
But Buni, in a statement yesterday by his Director-General, Press and Media Affairs, Mr. Mamman Mohammed, said the registration and revalidation would assist the party to generate a valid, accurate and up-to-date data on party membership to enhance and support its planning process.
He stated: “Since the initial exercise in 2014, the party has not registered new members nor updated the personal information of our existing members as provided for by the constitution.
“The registration exercise gives our new members a sense of belonging and the existing members will update their information while those who left the party will have their names removed from the party register.”
Buni added that the party has succeeded in building a new confidence among its members and reassuring them of new hope.
He noted that the focus of the caretaker committee is to strengthen the party through a bottom-up approach and to carry everyone on board.
According to him, the caretaker committee has reconciled many aggrieved members and factions across the country, including the Zamfara State factions among others and bringing in prominent politicians into APC, including the Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi.
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POLITICS

Omoyele Sowore And His Accomplice Needs To Learn From Bobi Wine Of Uganda

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By: Giwa Murtala Omotola
Music star turned grassroot politician stands as the strongest candidate challenging the 76 year old former rebel leader who seized power in 1986 and has held onto it since. The rebel commander was just 41 years old when he seized power, promising Ugandans security, a stronger economy and a better future. Bobi is the major and most popular candidate that has summoned the courage to stop the longtime President Yoweri Museveni’s bid to win a sixth term. Bobi had done more than enough despite a harrowing experience during electoral campaigns.
Before his entry into politics, Bobi Wine was a self styled “ghetto president”.
He grew up in Kamwokya, a slum in the centre of Kampala. It was when he was still in Kampala that he began making music, producing a number of reggae, pop and hip hop hits. But his music became increasingly political over time. In songs such as Rise Up and Freedom, he complained about corruption and called for change.
He didn’t go for the presidential seat first not because he was not popular then, he started as member of parliament in 2017 representing Kyadondo East, winning by a landslide in a bye election. He went there to gather influence and to have a voice before forging ahead. In a series of bye elections he campaigned for candidates who defeated hopefuls from the NRM.
Bobi have been singing for almost 20 years. He was very popular with his lyrics and styles, he has dropped numerous change messages through his ‘rab dhaba’ music style, So it’s as if he has been campaigning, all his musical career. His song Tuliyambala Engule (We Shall Wear the Victor’s Crown) has become one of the campaign’s unofficial anthems. Bobi have been aiming the seat for long, that’s the reason why he started from the grassroot.
He is different from Sowore and some other accidental politicians that cannot win a single polling unit not to talk of ward during election. Bobi wine party NUP has structures everywhere unlike Sowore a structureless politician. Bobi Wine party have members in the parliament, they won most of the bye elections in Uganda, Bobi Wine also emerge through bye election.
He established an independent tallying centre to check against potential rigging. Whereas some of the noisemakers don’t have polling unit agent, in my polling unit Sowore party don’t have polling unit agent, there is nobody to check if he was rigged out or not. You can only see him monitoring election on social media.
Bobi started his political career as member of parliament, his party have won numerous elections in Uganda. Most of our Youth in Nigeria don’t want to start from the grassroot, they want to be president overnight without proper permutation and adequate calculation. Bobi was not planning any revolution, he came out to defeat Museveni through the ballot not protesting on daily basis to disrupt public peace and gain unnecessary attention.
Upon our agitation for effective leadership and good governance in Nigeria, none of our politicians have single handedly ruled for 30 years even during military era there was change of leadership. Uganda deserve change in leadership there is no doubt about that, Museveni needs to step aside for another person to come on board. Its crystal clear that seeking re-election for another sixth term in office is a rape on African democracy.
It is widely believed that Museveni’s son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, is being lined up to take over from him. Kainerugaba is currently the commander of the Special Forces, which is tasked with protecting the president. The era of Museveni needs to end. Museveni want to turn Uganda to a monarchical state.
Finally, Sowore and his cohorts needs to have a rethink, they need to go to the grassroot like the way Bobi Wine is presently doing now in Uganda, there is no polling unit on social media, election can only be won through the ballot not media ranting.
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House impeaches Trump for ‘incitement of insurrection’

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The House voted Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time in a swift and bipartisan condemnation of the President’s role inciting last week’s riot at the US Capitol.

The House voted 232 to 197 to impeach Trump exactly one week after rioters forced lawmakers to flee from the very chamber in which they cast ballots in the fourth presidential impeachment in US history — and the first time a President has been impeached twice. Ten Republicans, including the House’s No. 3 Republican, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, joined all Democrats to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”
While impeachment won’t force Trump from office — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Trump won’t face his trial until after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in next week — the vote was a visceral response from lawmakers in both parties furious at Trump after a deadly pro-Trump mob overran Capitol Police, ransacked the US Capitol and put the lives of Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers in danger last week.
“We know that the President of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
The speed of the vote and the Republican support underscores the fury that lawmakers feel about Trump’s role inciting the rioters who overtook the Capitol, who were fueled by Trump’s months of false rhetoric about the election being stolen from him. Cheney’s statement was cited by impeachment supporters and detractors alike Wednesday after she charged that Trump “summoned this mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Cheney said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday that Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” urging the President to accept his share of responsibility and “quell the brewing unrest.” McCarthy, however, argued the House should create a bipartisan commission instead of impeachment.
“I believe impeaching the President in such a short timeframe would be a mistake,” McCarthy said. “No investigations have been completed. No hearings have been held.”
The division within the Republican Party starkly contrasts the House Democrats’ 2019 impeachment of Trump, when House Republicans were united in opposition. The Republicans besides Cheney voting to impeach Trump on Wednesday were Reps. John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Dan Newhouse of Washington, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio and David Valadao of California.
Rice, a Republican from a conservative district who was not expected to vote for impeachment, said in a statement after the vote that it was the President’s response to the riot that led him to cross the aisle.
“The President has not addressed the nation to ask for calm. He has not visited the injured and grieving. He has not offered condolences. Yesterday in a press briefing at the border, he said his comments were ‘perfectly appropriate,'” Rice said.
“I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years. I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But, this utter failure is inexcusable,” the South Carolina Republican added.
In the Senate, McConnell is not planning to bring the Senate back for a trial before January 19, meaning the trial won’t begin until Trump is out of office and Biden has been sworn in.
The majority leader said in a statement following the vote that a trial could not be completed ahead of Biden’s inauguration even if it started beforehand, and he wanted Congress and the executive branch to spend the next week focused on “facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power.”
In a note to his GOP colleagues Wednesday afternoon, McConnell wrote, “I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate.”
McConnell has indicated he believes impeaching Trump will make it easier to get rid of the President and Trumpism from the Republican Party, sources said Tuesday. McConnell is facing a delicate balance — a number of his GOP colleagues have made clear they oppose impeachment and the Kentucky Republican famously loathes anything that divides his conference, according to a source familiar with the matter.
But the source says McConnell is also keenly aware of the moment in history — and the moment for the Republican Party. McConnell’s shift against Trump has been apparent for those watching him closely. He cut off contact with Trump weeks ago and has made clear he has no plans ever to speak to him again.
For House Democrats, the disagreements that divided their caucus on impeachment in 2019 simply never materialized. Democrats quickly coalesced around using impeachment in the final days of Trump’s presidency to serve as a proper response to the President’s conduct and as a way to push for his removal from office before the end of his term, although that scenario looks unlikely.
Pence sent a letter Tuesday saying he would not seek to invoke the 25th Amendment as Democrats had urged, and Trump is not considering resigning.
Pelosi has brushed aside Republican efforts to take a different action, such as censure, in response to Trump’s role in the riot. She named impeachment managers on Tuesday evening, a team of nine Democrats who will be led by Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, ahead of a likely trial not long after Biden is sworn in. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said late Tuesday the House would send the articles to the Senate immediately.
Democrats only grew more resolute in their push to impeach Trump over the riot as more information has come out about the attack on the Capitol, including violent images of Capitol Police officers being attacked, and the death of a Capitol Police officer. Wednesday’s vote occurred while thousands of National Guard troops were present every nook of the Capitol complex ahead of next week’s inauguration, and they slept on the floors of the Capitol building the night before the impeachment vote.
After the House vote, Trump released a video statement calling for calm as the threat of new riots — which Trump said he’d been briefed on by the Secret Service — casts a pall over Washington. But he did not mention the historic impeachment that had occurred a few hours earlier.
Trump has showed no contrition for his role in last week’s Capitol riot, railing against impeachment on Tuesday in his first public remarks since the incident. A source close to the President said he’s not considering resigning.
“It’s been analyzed,” Trump said of his remarks last week to the crowd before the riots. “People thought what I said was totally appropriate.”

What the trial could look like

Wednesday’s impeachment vote will complicate the opening days of the Biden administration, both in his efforts to reach out to Republicans and because the Senate is likely to be tied up with a trial just as Biden is taking office.
In a statement Wednesday evening, the President-elect noted that “it was a bipartisan vote cast by members who followed the Constitution and their conscience,” before turning to the pandemic.
“This nation also remains in the grip of a deadly virus and a reeling economy,” Biden said. “I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”
Biden is still awaiting word on whether the Senate will be able to do an impeachment trial alongside Cabinet confirmation hearings and Covid-19 relief legislation. Aides say Biden and his team are working behind the scenes with Senate Democrats — and House impeachment managers — to keep the impeachment trial as swift as possible, although the length remains an open question.
Both Biden and Schumer have argued that the Senate will try to divide its days, so the Senate can confirm Biden’s nominees and consider Covid-19 stimulus legislation while also carrying out the impeachment trial.
House impeachment managers are just starting to lay out their strategy for the case they plan to bring and are wary about stepping on the first days of Biden’s presidency.
Several managers told CNN decisions have not been made over a key issue: Whether to seek witnesses and attempt to subpoena documents for the trial, which could prolong it.
But McConnell indicating he’s in no rush to bring the Senate back early into session, House managers have more time to begin their strategy sessions.
Raskin told CNN that they are still assessing whether to seek witnesses.
One possible witness is Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The article of impeachment references Trump’s pressure campaign against the official to “find” the votes necessary to overturn Biden’s win in the state.
Asked if Raffensperger would be called as a witness, Rep. Madeleine Dean, one of nine impeachment managers, said she didn’t “want to preview” the case and they were only just beginning organizational meetings.
Democrats, though, seem to be wary about starting the trial on the same day Biden is sworn into office.
“Certainly not,” Dean said when asked if it would be a good idea to start on January 20. “The President and vice president deserve (their day)… We have to restore a peaceful transfer of power which Donald Trump deliberately incited people against.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

Source: CNN

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