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Zamfara: 2023 Presidential Ambitions and the Callousness of Northern Leaders

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By Jude Ndukwe

Barely 4 weeks after the 2019 general elections for which winners are yet to be sworn in and for which dusts in several places are yet to settle, northern leaders, through their usual forerunners, have rather very prematurely and inconsiderately started overheating the polity again by trying to sell the idea that the presidency of the nation would remain in the north come 2023 despite them having completed two terms of four years each through President Buhari (or Atiku Abubakar should the courts declare him winner following his petition on the matter).

First, it was Yari Shettima, President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, who was being clever by half in an interview with a newspaper by declaring that Buhari has failed as president, therefore, his presidency does not represent the north, and that based on that, the north would present a candidate that would represent its interest in the far away 2023 presidential election despite the conventional rotation of the presidency between north and south for the purpose of equity, fairness and justice without which there can never be peace.

Following that was the immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir David Lawal, who also echoed Shettima’s stance by saying that it is not compulsory north must cede power to the south in 2023. This is also in spite of the need for every region to have a sense of belonging in the leadership of the nation and respect the principles of zoning and rotation which made both leading parties zone their presidency to the north, an action which was fully respected by other eminently qualified personalities from other zones by not contesting in the presidential primaries of the two leading parties.

As if taking a cue from these two northern leaders, and betraying the suspicion that they must have been sent by the organized leadership of the north to test the waters by selling this preposterous idea at this time, Junaid Mohammed, Second Republic legislator added his voice to the controversial call by making far reaching spurious accusations against the southeast, blaming them for voting for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar at the last election as if Atiku is no longer a northerner like Buhari and that the Igbos were left with a choice between two northerners. Mohammed should have known that having been presented with two choices by the north, they would certainly go one way or the other, and that whichever way they go, the Igbo would still have pitched their tent with a northerner be it Buhari or Atiku.

And this narrative of always trying to futilely crucify the Igbo for their political choices has to stop. This is democracy and it is the best form of government because it is based on the freedom of people to express their political choices freely without facing a backlash for it. The same Igbo the Mohammeds of the north like to label for not following a particular pattern of voting during elections voted for Atiku, a northerner, despite the presence of another eminently qualified Igbo son, Kingsley Moghalu, on the platform of the YPP, just so the principles of rotation and zoning of the presidency especially between the two leading parties in the country are not only respected but also preserved.

Rather than being vilified for this, Ndigbo should be applauded for their respect and love for the nation which, more than any other ethnic group, have shown greatest dedication and commitment to nation building.

However, this is not the crux of this piece. Its crux is how northern leaders are so shameless in canvassing for 2023 presidency when their region is on fire and ravaged by the worst insecurity since the post civil war era. How could any responsible set of leaders be talking about a 2023 presidency that is so far away when their men are now daily being kidnapped, randomly killed on a regular basis, their women raped, maimed, abducted, forcefully married out to strangers in distant lands by their abductors, and most of them brutally killed? What manner of irresponsibility and heartlessness make these leaders turn their focus on politics when their children have become endangered species and a waste to the world because of social malaise of crime and criminalities including drug abuse bedeviling them? Most times, because of the incessant violent crimes in the north, these children are made orphans. Even those of them who manage to make it to IDP camps because of the continued deterioration of security situation in that zone have their rations and benefits stolen by their leaders, as it is in the “Grasscutter” case. Sadly, Babachir Lawal is one of those mouthing a northern presidency in 2023!

From Benue to Plateau, from Adamawa to Taraba, from Borno to Yobe to Zamfara etc, whole villages are being sacked by armed bandits in a manner that suggests we have no government, or that northern presidents always produce the most abysmal performance in office as presidents.

So what is the essence of shouting northern presidency in 2023 when the north has remained the most diseased, the most poverty-stricken, the most illiterate and the most backward in every indices of human development even when the north has had the largest share of the presidency since independence till date? What is the benefit of the presidency to the north that it keeps insisting on holding on to power when facts have shown that the country especially the north suffers the most whenever they have one of their own in power? It is not that these northern leaders do not know what to do actually, their problem is knowing how to do it. Pray, how can you be expending billions of naira in a vain search for oil in the north when that amount could have been channeled to agriculture where the zone has its comparative advantage over other regions and employ thousands of youths in the process while turning Nigeria to a major export country for agric and agro-allied products?

These northern leaders should know that the people of the southeast they so much love to victimize for their political choices are not too interested in the presidency other than voting. If the presidency comes to them, fine. If it does not, Ndigbo cares less because the great and modern cities of Awka, Nnewi, Onitsha etc were built by the efforts of the Igbo with little or without federal government assistance. Today, about 1,000 shops and still counting at the humongous Ariaria International market, Aba, enjoy 24 hours uninterrupted power supply to boost the entrepreneurship output of the people. How many cities in the entire north can boast of the infrastructural development and facilities of Awka, Nnewi, Onitsha, Ohafia, Abiriba, (which are also known as “Small London” because of their modern architectural edifices), Enugu, Abakaliki etc. All these cities have been built by the Igbo spirit which travels far and wide and brings home its experience and wealth to bear on their people and immediate society with or without federal government intervention.

The only international airport in the entire southeast was the creation and construction of the Igbo people. Whatever the Igbos have built by themselves today, was built under the assumption that if they do not take care of themselves, nobody will do it for them, hence, the thriving spirit driving them.

The Igbo talk of marginalization only as humans who feel cheated about a system deliberately skewed against them in order to keep them down. But since after the civil war, despite the paltry twenty pounds given to each of their fathers to start life again after the civil war, and despite their properties seized, the Igbo have risen from the ashes of life like the ancient Phoenix to overtake other zones of the country in terms of development but for federal government presence and huge interventions in one or two places of these other zones.

The fact is that even if the nation is run based on self-government for each region and Abuja as beautiful a city as it is, is given to the north as part of their land to manage, Abuja would deteriorate so badly in just five years that the squalid Zamfara of today would be a magnificent town compared to it.

Rather than keep clamouring for a presidency that has brought more curses than blessings to the north, and arrogantly talk down on others, the north should look inwards and see how it can turn the misfortunes of its children roaming the streets aimlessly and hopelessly into something beneficial to them and the nation. A situation where the north produces the president, SGF, Ministers of Defence, Interior, Petroleum, Heads of the Army, Air Force, Police, Civil Defence, Customs, Immigration, Prisons, NSA, EFCC, Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives and so many others, yet, have grown worst in insecurity, economy, education etc compared to other regions speaks volume of the fact that power without sense is senseless!

Northern leaders should eat their humble pie and admit that they are woeful handlers of power which they have only used to further impoverish their region, and learn from the Igbos they so much love to vilify, how to use the power of intelligence to advance the cause of their people.

jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk; Twitter: @StJudeNdukwe

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SANWO-OLU REVIEWS ADMINISTRATION’S STRIDES

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has highlighted key components of his administration, which he said are aimed at delivering his Greater Lagos vision.

The Governor named education, security, improvement of infrastructure as well as upgrading of the environment as some of the sectors his government will invest in to achieve a greater Lagos.

Governor Sanwo-Olu made the revelation while answering questions as a guest on Channels television’s flagship programme, Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.

While enumerating the success story of his administration in the last 196 days, the Governor said a lot of achievements have been recorded in the area of security of lives and property of the residents.

The Governor said: “At a period like this – going to the end of the year, criminal activities are usually on the increase because people want to do things to make quick money. We are working on salvaging the situation. We have a new Commissioner of Police who has hit the ground running from the first day he came in.

“You heard of the unfortunate incident of an expatriate that was stabbed to death by domestic staff recently. I was up till 2am last Friday because we were tracking the suspects. The Commissioner of Police led the team and we were able to apprehend the two suspects.

“Policing and security come in two ways. It comes with intelligence.

What kind of information do you have prior to or after the event. You really don’t know who has a criminal tendency by mere looking at their faces. We must have more men out there on the streets and we must have ability to be able to respond when there is a distress call.

“That’s why we keep increasing the number of vehicles we provide for them. We keep supporting them with a lot of communication gadgets. We keep saying to them that whatever they need to be able to respond when the distress comes, which is often sudden, we’ll give to them. When we do the analysis, it will be an issue of how well we are able to track and get the perpetrators of these acts.”

The Governor reiterated his administration’s commitment to adopt technology to combat crimes and reduce them to the barest minimum.

He said: “One of the things we realise is that security is also going tech. You need a lot of technology and devices to monitor crimes, and whilst we are doing a lot of hard things, we are also building up technology. Next year, we are building a new Control and Command Center as part of our Safe City project and Mega City security deliverables. We are going to bring to Lagos all those security measures you see in developed Nations.

“At the first phase, we will install about 2,200 high definition cameras across the State. From a CCTV, we can view, review, monitor and track incidents as they happen. We will also train officials. These are some of the things that will happen in the first quarter of next year”

On the issue of the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), the Governor said: “The NURTW is a national body of the Nigerian Labour Congress. It is a registered trade union organization.’’

“Like other unions, they are under the supervision of the State government. We regulate and supervise them. And we have warned that they could be proscribed if they don’t conduct themselves well.

Sanwo-Olu spoke about the State government’s plans for the construction of the 4th mainland bridge, saying his administration will make use of private equity to achieve the project.

“Two weeks ago, we advertised for the expression of interest from construction firms around the world for the 4th mainland bridge project. Our total budget for next year is about $3 billion and that’s the highest in the country. The 4th mainland bridge, from the design, we have seen that it is a 37 kilometre road. We cannot handle it alone so we are going to use private equity.

‘‘We have advertised. We have the alignment, we have the right of way and all of the biometric study.  Let everyone worldwide come and play a role.

The Governor also spoke extensively on his plan for the education sector, saying the state government is determined to elevate the status of the primary education to a very competitive level

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LAGOS INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY TO BE AFRICA’S BIGGEST INNOVATION HUB – SANWO-OLU

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Lagos State Government’s investment in technology and innovation is a deliberate effort to position the State as key player in global technology space, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said on Monday.

The Governor said his administration’s financial commitment to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is to make Lagos Africa’s foremost centre of innovation by harnessing local capabilities in developing tech solutions that would reduce the State’s reliance on foreign tech inventions.

Sanwo-Olu spoke while receiving the management team of Oracle Africa Group who came on a courtesy visit at the Lagos House in Alausa. The team was led by the Group’s Country Director, Mr. Adebayo Sanni.

The Governor said the recently approved seed capital of N250 million was particularly aimed at enhancing young people’s innovative skills and empowering them to be tech solutions providers as the world progresses in digitisation.

He said: “Technology has gotten to a stage where we all need it to leapfrog and enhance accuracy in governance. As a Government, we have always promoted technology to take the lead and be a strong enabler for us to deliver on our promises to the people.

“We are taking steps to further collaborate with partners that will strengthen our capacity to be big player in global tech space. We just concluded a two-day Art of Technology where we announced the establishment of innovation research council and N250 million seed capital to support young innovators locally.

“We are not looking at what is going to be our immediate benefit by this investment; rather we want to create a robust technology culture that will give young people opportunities to explore their innovative skills in bringing about tech solutions and applications we can use to advance our service delivery.”

Sanwo-Olu acknowledged the technical support offered by Oracle Group to stabilise processes in the State’s civil service and in promoting accountability in administrative process. The Governor, however, said the relationship between both parties must be consolidated to boost the capacity of the State Government and keep it abreast of the latest technological solutions developed to ease processes.

Sanni described the two-decade partnership between Lagos Government and Oracle Group as “mutually beneficial”, noting that Lagos is one of the IT firm’s success story in deploying technology solutions to improve governance.

He said: “Lagos State is one of the places we use as an example globally in terms of what we have done in helping governments transform their business using technology. Oracle wants to consolidate on this partnership and make commitment that will help Lagos State sustain its growth.”

Sanni assured the Governor that the IT firm was willing to review and build on its technical assistance to the State Government for improved service delivery, while also promising to boost the capacity of the current administration in using data to take predictive analysis of situations across the State.

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TAMBUWAL BEGINS DISTRIBUTION OF N4BN MICRO-BUSINESS INCENTIVE FUND TO SOKOTO SME OPERATORS

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The Sokoto State Governor Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has flagged off the disbursement of N4 billion micro business incentive fund for the state small and medium scale business operators.

The exercise, which will come in stages, will be sustained for the next four years, according to the governor.

Governor Tambuwal made the pronouncement at Balle and Tureta, in Gudu and Tureta local government areas respectively where the state’s Micro Business Incentive Fund (SMBIF) was flagged off.

Speaking at the centres, where N20, 000 grant each was distributed to 1000 persons, Tambuwal vowed that the fund will get to the remaining 21 local government areas in the state.

The governor informed that the gesture is aimed at assisting the less privileged persons and small scale entrepreneurs in the state, towards improving their businesses.

He explained that the distribution will not be discriminatory as both males and females will benefit from the programme in equal measure.

The governor urged the beneficiaries to use the money judiciously.

“This is just the beginning. As we have started here today, I assure you that it will surely get to the other remaining 21 local government areas. We will not discriminate in the disbursement and enjoin all beneficiaries to make judicious use of the grant for the good of self, family and society,” Tambuwal said.

In his remarks, the state’s Deputy Governor, Alhaji Manir Muhammad Dan Iya, said the beneficiaries were selected from all the 23 local government areas in the state as directed by the governor.

Alhaji Dan Iya thanked the governor for giving the cabinet members the opportunity to serve and execute various developmental projects across the 23 local government areas in the state.

Participants at the events were full of praises and thanked Governor Tambuwal for starting the scheme in their towns.

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