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Surulere chairmanship race: Asiwaju painted in bad light by Gbajabiamila’s undemocratic utterances

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By Manny Ita

It is a popular cliché in Nigeria that politics is a dirty game and perhaps the reason is not far-fetched. However, the great achievements of progressive nations of the world today were recorded with politics very much in pole position.

Some introspective breeze blew to mind George Orwell’s Animal Farm satire, which dutifully showed how quickly the collective resolve to fight for the common good can upon assumption of power by proponents of such struggle, diminish into the fight for self, and I couldn’t help but grimace as my stomach churned at the fact that a man many Nigerians just as I hold or held (not so sure again) in very high esteem, who  stands as the ultimate voice for the Nigerian people, and supposedly a beacon of democratic norms, should come out in full public glare to negate the very principles that earned him his enviable seat, with undemocratic pronouncement in an autocratic manner, asking duly qualified chairmanship aspirants of Surulere Local Government Area to step down for his choice candidate, worsening it by saying it was all an order from the chairman of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed.

I speak of no other than Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives Femi  Gbajabiamila, who reportedly pressured aspirants vying for chairmanship and councillorship positions in Surulere Local Government Area of Lagos to step down for his protégés, indirectly saying NO to fairness, inclusiveness of youths in governance, equal opportunity et al, considering the fact that his choice candidate for Chairmanship of the historical but decaying Local Government,  incumbent Vice Chairman Sulaiman Bamidele Yussuf, who has at different times within the past 18 years been counselor and supervisor under various administrations in Surulere Local Government Area, has very little to show for all his years of service.

Gbajabiamila, according to an audio recording of his meeting with chairmanship aspirants of Surulere Local Government clearly instructed the aspirants to step down for his choice candidate, saying it was an “order from above”.

Specifically, the Nigerian fourth citizen said, “Leaders at the topmost echelon of the party, when the list (of aspirants) emerged, beckoned on me. They said, ‘Mr. Speaker nine aspirants are vying for chairmanship position in your constituency, which is untoward”, adding that, “We cannot be from the same family and not able to talk to ourselves. Stones are not used in purchasing party nomination forms; I do not know the aspirants have such money as to be able to purchase nomination forms in their numbers and they would be saying there is no money.”

“Though we know we are practicing democracy, but, on the other hand, it is a shameful thing to have aspirants in such numbers. It will turn friends into foes.

“It does not augur well to see nine chairmanship aspirants file out for the primaries because such development portends unforeseen consequences. We must find how to streamline the number of aspirants.

“This is an order, and you all know where such order is coming from. You all know that I have just one leader (Asiwaju Bola Tinubu); I don’t have two. And, this is the way to go”.

The Speaker should have tried to align his utterances to the paramountcy deserving of his exalted office.

As far as public opinion goes, these utterances paint the Asiwaju in very bad colours because the All Progressives Party stands for positive change, but perhaps even more so, because a wide section of Nigerians believe the Asiwaju is loaded enough to navigate Nigeria out of the woods, with 2023 in view towards which cause progressive minds and youths form a potent force to be reckoned with.

It will be recalled that the very politically savvy Bolaji Ahmed Tinibu has unapologetically remained a stalwart of sensible democracy in the country. He fiercely stood at the forefront of the fight to terminate military rule and enthrone democracy in our country; a cause that resulted in his going on exile, but from where he continued coordinating efforts under various platforms towards returning Nigeria to democracy; efforts that ultimately paid off to the benefit of all.

The more I kept thinking about it, the more I tried not to become despondent about the sincerity of certain sensitive ranks amongst our leaders to effect ground sweeping changes, although bitterly ashamed that someone widely considered a liberating light should so  unabashedly display symptoms the very skeletons we’re desperately trying to expunge from the national cupboards. Is all the talk about change then simply poppycock or a dud cheque unlikely to ever be cashed?

To further throw light on the embarrassing scenario, supporters of Yussuf under the auspices of “Awalokan” (meaning “It’s Our Turn”) according to report said they were confident Yussuf would freely dole out public funds and other patronages when enthroned as chairman, while the Speaker himself allegedly promised juicy appointments and contracts when he assumes office as governor of Lagos State in 2023.

Triggered by the Speaker’s words, as I contemplated the entire scenario, with particular emphasis on the socioeconomic prospects that Surulere holds, my mind wandered to what the name Gbajabiamila could possibly mean, intuitively sensing there just had to be something dodgy about that name.  Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to do some digging, and BOOM! My hunch was darn right. Names sure have meanings. According to my finding, in Yoruba language, the name Gbajabiamila means one who, while fighting, pretends to be separating a fight.

It just fit in perfectly. I could belabor the fact  proving the deduction of that name by analyzing further with respect to the subject matter, but I bet you’d rather there’s no need.

By trying to circumvent due process in the build-up to Suru-Lere Local Government election for personal gain, with carrots in hand, Gbajabiamila who has been representing Surulere Local Government Area in the House of Representatives in the last 18 years, cast aspersion on the CHANGE mantra of the APC and indeed his suitability as chief voice of the Nigerian people, under a regime with an avowed mandate to stamp out corruption.  Attributing the directive to the Chairman of the party should hold a gravity that himself as a trained man in law should understand perhaps better.  Championing sweeping changes and reforms, at least within the sphere of his influence would have cut the Speaker a much more appropriate and appealing picture, more so given that the clarion song for change propelled majority of Nigerians to sympathize and come out massively to vote for the very party that the Speaker represents.

Alas it probably gives one a sneak peek of his swan song when his tenure draws to a close.

I would not say the  virtues of dear Gbaja have been vitiated by the privileges of his exalted office, but to try to influence due process of an election from the vantage point of his high office and then attribute his action to an order from a rare democratic titan fighting to ensure Nigeria becomes the pride of all, is to say the least uncharitable and petty.

In a bold reaction to the Speaker’s action, Idris Aregbe who is the Lagos State APC Youth Organizing Secretary and whose popularity among youths, women and children counts in no small measure to his favour, affirmed he would rather take his chance at selflessly serving the people than succumb to the juicy carrot of contracts and patronages being dangled.

Another aspirant, Bamidele Hussein, former Executive Secretary of the council rejected Gbajabiamila’s call to step down, admitting she had discussions with the Speaker, but dismissed rumor she agreed to step down for Yussuf.

As it is said, all it takes for evil to succeed is for the voice of reason to be silent. Nigerians want positive change and so do the people of Surulere. It was time for that change, in which inclusivity is paramount.

And I sincerely think the name of our own dear Asiwaju needs to be divorced from these inconsiderate utterances spewed in that unholy meeting.

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POLITICS

Stop making mockery of the exalted Office of the Governor, Eze to Wike

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Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze has again, given a sharp retort and squarely discredited claims by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, that Nigeria’s Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, has failed to attract a project to the state, as a cabinet member of the Buhari/APC government since the administration came onboard in 2015.

The Governor who spoke in a reception organized to formally receive a former Rivers APC Chairman, Dr. Ibiamu Davies Ikanya and others, into the People’s Democratic Party, vowed to put in his resignation should the Minister name a federal project he has attracted to Rivers State since he assumed office.

Wike also alleged that Amaechi claimed he sold a Dash 8 aircraft purchased by former Governor, Dr. Peter Odili administration, to the Government of Cross River at the cost of $6million, but failed to account for the proceeds of the transaction.

The very controversial Rivers Governor had equally claimed to have attracted many projects to Rivers State while he served as Minister of State for Education under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

But reacting to the irking gasconade, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze said the Governor’s sense of ratiocination may have been grossly impaired by his unreasonable fancy for aqua vitae and warned of a possible deterioration of his cognitive orientation and public mannerism, even as he continues to slip deeper and deeper into the bottles.

It would be recalled that Gov. Wike had made similar vow; sometime in 2020, staking his position as Governor and in reply Eze listed over 13 projects to counter his bunkum, but in his usual carriage, he still continue to parade himself as the Governor of Rivers State, yet to put in his resignation.

In a statement made available to media houses in Port Harcourt, the party chief described Wike’s comment as the delirious rant and rave of a man whose sense of fair judgment has been obscured by his very hostile and  tendentious opinion laced with habitual hatred against the Minister of Transportation.

Although the comment is lacking apparent gravitational pull to qualify for a response, coming  from an avowed incorrigible bigot who has not entertained any new thought in years, Eze said a response was necessary to assuage the minds of those who may have been attracted by his venomous outrage.

“For sometime now, I have stopped making any comment on how Governor Nyesom Wike administers Rivers State but the more I resolve to keep quiet the more the Governor continues to act in such a manner unbecoming of a State Governor and to keep quiet under such an environment is not in my character”. Eze said.

On the Governor’s allegation that Amaechi sold a Dash 8 aircraft purchased by former Governor, Dr. Peter Odili administration, to the Government of Cross River at the cost of $6million, but failed to account for the proceeds of the transaction, the party Chief said such comment is utterly misguided and unfortunate, coming from a man who was an Aide and a key player in Amaechi’s government.

Eze pointed out that Wike is feigning ignorance of the facts of the matter in a bid to justify his unending malicious schemes and satanic artifices against his benefactor Amaechi.

Putting the records straight, Chief Eze said it beats one’s imagination to learn that Wike appears to have forgotten that Amaechi sold the Dash 8 Aircraft purchased by Dr. Odili to complete funds to acquire the Bombardier local man which he (Wike) has been using since 2015.

He called on the Governor to leave Amaechi for once and focus a bit on governance and strive to receive sense to address the myriad of challenges facing the State, adding that trying to compare himself with Amaechi is a dream far from reality.

“Let me once again bring to the public some of the projects that Amaechi have influenced to Rivers State which I know that Wike will gloss over and continue shamelessly to parade himself as the Governor of Rivers State contrary to his threat to resign if Amaechi can name a single project he has attracted to the State.” The party chief stated.

On projects attracted to Rivers State by Amaechi Eze said:

  1. The fact still remains that Amaechi pushed for the construction of the 39km Bonny Bodo road and it’s two creek bridges including the bridge over Opobo channel at a whopping sum of 120 billion naira. This gigantic bridge is comparable only to the 2nd Niger bridge project.

  1. The Port Harcourt International Airport that was described as one of the worst Airports in the entire world which renovation was frustrated by the PDP Government when Wike was a Minister stands today as one of the best Airports under Amaechi as substantive Minister of Transportation.

  1. The Soku Oil well supported by Wike to be ceded to Bayelsa has been returned to Rivers State.

  1. The Ogoni Cleanup exercise which was described as impossible by the PDP administration where Wike served as junior Minister is currently in progress.

  1. With the influence of Amaechi, the East West Road abandoned by the PDP administration is currently ongoing and will soon be completed.

  1. Under Amaechi as the best Minister of the decade, Cargo ships now berth in Onne Port, thereby increasing economic activities in the state, shoring up the state’s revenue and creating more employment for Rivers people. This clearly shows Amaechi is not resting on his oars.

  1. The Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail line which is being negotiated shows Amaechi is bringing development home.

  1. The Calabar through Port Harcourt to Lagos rail line will soon commence.

  1. Amaechi as the Minister of Transposition influenced the setting up of the Maritime University in Oron, where many Rivers sons and daughters are already employed and engaged.

  1. He Influenced the setting up of the Naval Intelligence and Logistics College at Ubima.

  1. Bonny and Warri deep sea ports have been approved.

  1. The Ajaojuta- Itakpe- Warri rail line covering about 320km and cutting across the entire Niger Delta was commissioned in 2020, with hundreds of Rivers State sons and daughters employed. Both the Delta, Edo Governors including the President were full of praises for the tenacity and administrative prowess of Amaechi in achieving the feat.

  1. Amaechi as Transportation Minister has dredged the channels and today the Port Harcourt port is alive. Meraks shipping can confirm that cargo landing at PH has increased by 50%. If Wike has eyes he should have seen that trucks queuing for containers are now stretching to the Rivers State Govt House.

  1. Amaechi has influenced human capital development through appointment and employment of hundreds of Rivers State sons and daughters into various Federal Establishments though Wike never believe in human capital development so this to him is not an attractive project.

  1. Amaechi in collaboration with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, President Buhari and others influenced the ongoing rehabilitation of the moribund Port Harcourt Refinery which Wike in conjunction with others abandoned during their inglorious regime.

16, 17.& 18 Eze added that apart from the above feats, that almost six years after Amaechi left Rivers State as governor, he is still vomiting money for the state, by facilitating the refund of N79 billion to Rivers State from federal projects executed by Amaechi and Peter Odili’s administrations, the release of $400 million for work in Ogoni under the clean up exercise, among others including the flyovers, roads and others projects that Wike may have used the largesse which Amaechi saved and resent to Rivers State.

Eze said Wike is one Governor who has failed in all indexes of performance and thus, he knows nothing about development and related terms in government.

With the listing of over 17 federal projects that Amaechi brought to Rivers as Minister one expects Wike as a matter of urgency to address the public and put in his resignation letter if he still had any integrity. With this Eze gives Wike 2 weeks to resign or face editorial series on his lies and political dishonesty that will explode in his face

 

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POLITICS

DEMOCRACY DAY: Lets Stand for Democracy Today, Even More Tomorrow- Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu

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On this day, I join with all Nigerians in commemorating Democracy Day. The book of the life of this nation has many chapters already written and many more yet to be written.

One of the most profound and inspiring accounts that shall be written of our nation’s history will be the chapter on how we moved from the darkness of authoritarian military suppression into the light of democracy and the establishment of popular government based on the sovereign will of the people.

On this memorable day, we mark, with respect, and honor the sacrifices that have allowed democracy to come to pass. We also celebrate in anticipation of a future in which our democratic institutions, concepts and practices take firmer root; transforming this society from what it is to what it can be.

The pages of our national book inexorably turn. We have seen and experienced much. Victory and setback have entered and exited. The departure of friend and foe we have witnessed. The song of peace and unity we have sung as one national family while others have pounded the drums of war and hate. Laughter and sorrow, we have known.

Through it all, our gaze has remained fixed as if it were focused on a star in the firmament. Our road has remained certain for it is the only road we can reasonably tread. We have moved toward a better Nigeria and a greater democracy.

This path has not been without peril. There are many who care not for the journey we take. They embark on a different trek for they hold to a different concept of governance and of the relationship of government to the people.

They do not believe in a nation where every person therein has substantive rights, freedoms and liberties as God intended for all of his human creations regardless of place of birth, ethnic origin, social station or religious creed. These people hate democracy and despise you for choosing democracy over them and their oppressive ways.

They are violent and coldhearted. They love nothing, save the destruction of the happiness and peace of others. They will not go away quietly or in consideration of the compelling logic of democratic governance.

Instead, they set us up in hopes of laying waste to the good society we seek to build. They levy terror against us in vain hope that their violent impositions might cause us to lose our way. They raze villages, destroy homes assault and kill innocent people. They even attack important symbols of a just society including religious institutions, schools of learning and INEC offices as if they can snuff out, through violence, mankind’s will to worship God, seek knowledge or engage in participatory governance.

However, with all that they do, they will not succeed. In trying to pluck a democratic and just society from our hands they are as mistaken as they are evil.

Our democracy was not here established to be destroyed by the terrible likes of people such as these. Those who sacrificed their lives for democracy did not give of themselves so that we would be turned back by terrorists or by those who seek to tear the nation asunder just so they might imperially rule over some small part of it.

Despite the troubles we face, and those troubles are serious, we must stand up for democracy lest we shall find ourselves falling to oblivion. Democratic good governance offers the only reasonable solution to the challenges confronting Nigeria.

Thus, we must stand for democracy today. We must stand for it even more tomorrow. Ask this question 10, 20, 100 years from now, the answer must remain the same: the people of Nigeria stand for democracy and stand against that which would chase democracy from our land.

Thus, we stand against those who traffic in insurrection and violence. We stand against those whose commerce is bigotry and hatred. We contend against those who would render the people ignorant and poor.

We stand for a better way. We celebrate Democracy Day not only because we have come far but to help give us the social fuel and encouragement to continue onward because we have farther to go and even greater things to achieve as one nation and one people.

On this day, let us remember MKO Abiola whose victory in the June 12th 1993 presidential election was stolen from him. Yet he remained steadfast and surrendered his own life so that we all might enjoy the democratic victory that was taken from him. Without his historic effort and sacrifice, this day would not be democracy day. It would be a downcast and disappointing one. Let us also remember all others who also sacrificed so much to bring democracy to this land.

We best honor these people not by reciting their names but by injecting the spirit and hope of democracy into our words and deeds. In becoming better democrats, we also become better at being Nigerians.

I wish all of you a meaningful and happy Democracy Day.

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POLITICS

June 12: PDP Condemns APC, Buhari’s Clampdown on Peaceful Protesters

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemns, in the strongest term ever, the violent clampdown by agents of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhamamdu Buhari on Nigerians who are peacefully protesting on Democracy Day.
The party describes the brutal clampdown on citizens on Democracy Day as a sacrilegious demonstration of APC’s aversion to democracy as well as its barefaced repugnance towards Nigerians, particularly in their demands for their rights.
It is awkward that the APC and President Buhari, who were allowed their freedom when they protested in 2014, would turn around to subject Nigerians to actions of inhumanity including the use of firearms against the people, as being witnessed today.
It is instructive to note that President Buhari, in his supposed Democracy Day address, failed to rein in his security operatives despite the cautions by the PDP. This places the culpability for whatever befalls Nigerians, in the face of the violent attacks by security agencies, on the APC as well as Mr. President’s desk.
The PDP is not surprised that in his over 20 minutes speech, Mr. President never made any commitment towards upholding the democratic tenets of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of association and right to peaceful protest, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and our statutes, from which he, as APC candidate, drew huge benefit in 2014.
Our party is cataloguing all the infringements which the APC and President Buhari are rudely imposing on Nigerians and we urge all global democratic institutions to take note of the violent infringements and clampdown on democracy in Nigeria by the APC.
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