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Opinion

POST-2023 NIGERIA: SHOULD A NATION CONSCIOUSLY ELECT A SICK PRESIDENT?

By Law Mefor

Nigeria practices presidentialism, and in a presidential democracy, the nation rests on the shoulders of one man. Health is therefore of major concern in determining the electability of a candidate. This gives no room for arguments. All public offices, the office of the president inclusive, demand occupiers who are sound both in body and in mind. This is necessary so that efficiency and proficiency will be brought to bear in the discharge of responsibilities of the office.

Nigeria is one county where the unthinkable happens all the time; a nation where many citizens for primordial reasons sleepwalk into quagmires and live for another decade blaming others for their self-inflicted injuries. It does not matter to such Nigerians what calamity such choices portend as long as the man propped up is from their parts of the country.

The English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic, Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name, George Orwell, in his characteristic lucid prose, made an eternal statement about citizens and bad governance. George Orwell had many Nigeria in sight when he said: “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims… but accomplices”. The 2023 presidential election has presented yet another opportunity for backward politics and the dance of the absurd is already in the swirl. And not much is being discussed today about the agenda for the next president or government.

Every role has job characteristics and specifications. The role of the president of a country is not an exception for any reason. The job of Nigeria’s president is perhaps the most stressful. What is more, most other jobs have individuals sparring with the incumbent. The role of the vice president is by far too subdued to be taken as a real sparring partner in discharging the onerous job of the president under the Nigerian constitution.

What this means is that the President of Nigeria is essentially on his own, and would have to outsource his or her presidency if the job will be done where he or she cannot due to health or degree of incapacity. Without focusing essentially on the agenda for the next president of Nigeria, let us dwell on the theme – can the nation consciously elect a sick, integrity-challenged president in 2023?

One of the conditions for recruitment into public offices in Nigeria is health. Yet, the INEC guidelines for the selection and fielding of candidates have no provision for health status. This is a serious omission. Even if it does not form a condition for disqualification, the nation needs to know who they are staking their future with.

There are no serious jobs where the health status of the intending staff is not sought. Footballers and other sportsmen and women pass medical tests before they are engaged. But for a more serious job of the president, the health status of the aspirants and candidates of political parties is treated with levity.

Yes, the job of the president is not a boxing contest. But it certainly requires very serious physical and mental exertions, and a president with a degenerative health condition can only get worse in office and cannot perform optimally and sometimes cannot perform at all as a consequence.

Surprisingly, some well-placed Nigerians have tried to make light of the implications of the poor health of an aspiring president. Some have argued that nobody is immune to ailments. This argument may be tenderable for a president whose health condition becomes obvious or develops while in office. Even at that, one of the conditions for removal of a president or governor from office is health. The Nigerian presidential line of succession is the set order of Nigerian government officials who may become or act as President of Nigeria if the incumbent president becomes incapacitated (serious health conditions), dies, resigns, or is removed from office (by impeachment).

Nigerians must note that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic (as amended in 2010) usurped the powers of the National Assembly in the originating process of the declaration of the permanent incapacity of presidents and vice-presidents of Nigeria. According to section 144(a), the first step in the process is a resolution passed by a two-thirds majority of all the members of the Federal Executive Council.

To begin with, members of the Federal Executive Council are appointed aides of the president. Any of them raising a motion for the passage of a resolution for a medical probe of the president is almost impossible. It is like biting the fingers that feed one. This makes that constitutional provision inoperable. What is more, the National Assembly, which constitutes the representatives of the Nigerian citizens, is not empowered by the 1999 constitution to initiate a medical probe against an ailing Nigerian president.

Since the Federal Executive Council cannot raise a motion against the Nigerian president on health grounds, and the National Assembly cannot either for the reason that it lacks the legal authority to do so, the citizens will have to take preemptive measures: they have to elect candidates they can see from human basic reasoning to be healthy. If such a person when elected falls sick or even dies in office, the citizens can live with it because they didn’t see it coming.

The three major presidential candidates – Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, and Bola Tinubu – are all over 60 years of age and therefore past their primes. But their health conditions are in plain sight and citizens cannot, therefore, feign any ignorance or afford to indulge in fatalism that what will be, will be.

Recall it was the health condition of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua that brought the convulsion the nation’s democracy is facing at the moment. It was later discovered that Yar’Adua had a renal condition, which relapsed when he came under the pressure of the office of the president of Nigeria. For such an extreme chronic health condition and with benefit of hindsight, Yar’Adua, though an exceptionally good man, was not fit for the job, and Obasanjo who practically foisted him in Nigeria later said he didn’t know about Yar’Adua’s health condition. “Let God punish me if knew”, was how Obasanjo defended his action in that regard.

Yar’Adua’s deputy, Dr Goodluck Jonathan had to finish the residue of his tenure and went for a fresh term, which he won. Jonathan’s determination to go for a second term infuriated the north, which felt robbed and it led to the groundswell of opposition and paved the way for the coming of the APC and the sweeping of PDP away from power.

Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari who took over from Jonathan is himself not enjoying excellent health. Buhari had to spend over 200 days in a London hospital for a yet–to–be demystified ailment, which he still manages. There is no doubt that Buhari’s performance, despite his avowals and good intentions, has been seriously impeded by his health. It is also obvious that to survive the office, the man has to outsource much of the responsibilities of the president. Evidence of this is seeing the president frequently telling Nigerians, “I am not aware”, thus creating the vacuum for an unelected cabal to take charge on his behalf.

Social Psychology research is conclusive that a leader’s performance directly correlates with his or her health. Since this is the case, the question is: can the nation consciously elect a sick President? Nigerians should shine their eyes and vote wisely. Before allowing themselves to be swayed by Atiku’s ‘experience matters’, Obi’s ‘change mantra’, or Tinubu’s ’emi-lokan'(it’s my turn), they must first check out their health conditions to avoid four to eight years of sorrow, tears and blood.

The nation’s experience with Yar’Adua and Buhari has shown beyond any doubt that health is a major determinant of the performance of a president in a presidential democracy, especially in a nation like Nigeria with very weak or non-existent institutions.

• Dr Law Mefor, a Forensic/Social Psychologist, is a Fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought and can be reached via Tel.+234- 913-033-5723; Twitter: @DrLawMefor; email: drlawmefor@gmail.com.

 

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Opinion

Whither Safe Schooling in Nigeria

By Igboeli Arinze

Despite their declarations in 2014 and 2015, and the agreement that there is need for policy makers and the would be authorities to ensure the protection of schooling and the education of our children and wards, it is safe to say that the Nigerian State is indeed miles apart from implementing either of the Safe Schools Initiative and the Safe Schools Declaration.

 

Following the disturbing kidnap of girl students at the Chibok Girl’s Secondary School, Chibok by members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, and the outrage such an act generated all over the world, policy makers all over the world came together to figure out how best to ensure that children at schools are physically and psychologically protected from all sorts of attacks.

 

Since then, there has been countless attacks against students particularly those within the NorthWest and NorthEast regions of the country. Nigerians will in anguish remember the numerous attacks on the various schools in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in which over 3,500 children were alleged to have been abducted. Perhaps, seeking to emulate Boko Haram these new breed of terrorists have added attacks on schools to their activities seeking to embarrass the government in a manner similar to how the Chibok saga much embarrassed the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

 

Even recently, the Federal Capital Territory had to close all schools after it had received intelligence reports that terrorists were planning attacks on a number of schools within its region, this was immediately followed by Nasarawa State which owing to its proximity to the FCT did not want to be taken unawares by these terrorists.

 

One cannot imagine the trauma that has been visited upon these students , their teachers and parents, even in such events where these children have been returned, there are tales of horror as to what these children did go through in the hands of their captors, with many getting dissuaded from further attending school. On another hand in other states like Zamfara, schools were shut for over eight months, this again puts the education of these children on hold , stymieing their academic progress.

 

These are thus enough reasons for the authorities be it at the Federal, State and Local Government levels to give enough attention to the Safe Schools processes.

 

As schools are set to resume there ought to be a convergence of policies between the various authorities, the security agencies and the various communities towards ensuring that these schools and their wards within are protected.

 

There is need for these authorities together with the various institutions and agencies to critically identify issues and factors that may hamper its implementation. Factors such as lack of funding, scarce logistics, poor equipment and the issue of under policing can be identified as such critical factors.

 

Again, the apparent collapse of security and the spread of these violent attacks from the NorthEast region to the Northwest and now the North Central has also hampered one of the key policy initiatives which is to move students from regions of high risk areas to schools within safer parts.

Another component of the safe school initiative is the ensuring that children and wards displaced and are found in internally displaced camps continue to receive quality access to education despite their present predicament, I cannot ascertain for now if this major component of the Safe School Initiative is been implemented as a majority of stories received makes immense reference to the poor states of these camps, how the government intends to implement such a component in such poor states leaves much questions to be answered .

 

Last of these components is the initiation of the such safe school models in 10 schools each in the three most devastated states affected by the insurgent attacks, this too has largely not been implemented owing to issues such as funding, this is despite the budgeting of funds for its implementation, For example in 2021, the National Assembly earmarked over $20 million for its implementation funding proposed and budgeted for the initiative in February, 2021. Only to find out that the funds were never domiciled in the Ministry for Education which ought to have primacy over such funds in which together with the various states would have employed such funds to tackle the issue, prompting Senator Ahmed Lawan, the Senate President to declare that such an initiative was programmed to fail.
One cannot disagree with the Senate President and even if one wants to disagree the continuous attacks on schools in the North gives vent to such an assertion, this indeed is very sad.

 

With Nigeria having about 11 million pupils out of school, it is enough to say that we are already tinkering with fire amidst dry gun powder should we pay no heed to the issue of safe schooling . It is akin to leaving these children behind , children who’s only crime is their desire to get an education, its about time we sit up!

 

Igboeli is the publisher of Anambratimes.com

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Opinion

Second Niger Bridge And The Revulsive Attempt At Revisionism (1)

 

By Igboeli Arinze

One would have naturally dismissed the latest antagonisms against the Buhari led All Progressives Congress administration, since it is an election year and owing to our checkered nature of our politics, it is suitable for many to throw in the kitchen sink and cast the present administration in the light of having failed, even in the face of glaring successes these children of hate, reared by their deep seething rage against an administration that has done so much with so little, will stop at nothing to belittle and undermine any of these achievements, attempting to do such on the platter of revulsive revisionist thinking.

Their latest target has been the Second Niger Bridge which after many years of what NdiIgbo will term “Cherekambia” promises made out to the people of the SouthEast Region about the promise to build a Second Niger Bridge to help ease transport flow from the East to other parts of Nigeria by road transport by successive civilian and military administrations.These promises which were made amidst much fanfare saw each administration somewhat falling over each other in their desire to make such promises they very much intended to break! From that of the late Shehu Shagari who not only promised us a Second Niger Bridge but also a new sea port in Onitsha to successive military administrations that followed it and then back to the civilian administrations who went on to use the bridge as campaign poetry. Most notable amongst these civies were the Olusegun Obasanjo administration who never hid his disdain for NdiIgbo and the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Now while Shagari may be pardoned for toying with our hearts owing to the very fact that he was overthrown three months into his second tenure, the others cannot benefit from such magnanimity as they had ample time to deliver on their campaign promise but for lack of political will did not!
All Obasanjo could do was to flag off the project five days to his leaving office, this meant that the Yar Adua administration and not that of Obasanjo would construct the bridge at the cost of 58.6 Billion with a six lane set of roads and a toll entrance. The project was also to take a public private partnership dimension (PPP) for which 60 percent of such funding was to come from the proposed contractor, the Gitto Group while counterpart funding was to come from the Federal Government which was to provide 20 percent while both Anambra and Delta States were to match such with 10 percent each .
The bridge was however one to nowhere as the Yar Adua administration could not evolve neither policy nor one brick to the proposed project site in his near three years as president with his eventual demise while in office.
Goodluck Jonathan did not fare better, not even with his inserting Azikiwe into his set of names. In 2011, during his presidential campaign rounds told the whole world that he would deliver to NdiIgbo the Second Niger Bridge before 2015 or he would go on self exile! 2015 came and it looked like a one chance promise as by 2014, President  Jonathan perhaps thinking that Nigerians suffered from cataplexy was at the  same point in which he made that pronouncement to flag off its construction from which all NdiIgbo and Nigerians saw was a proposed map of the bridge
without any corresponding works on such a bridge as well as how it would be funded.
These children of hate did not at that point in time raise hell with Jonathan for his presumed failure in delivering on his campaign promise. They did not express their now misplaced anger as they are doing now on a man who rode to power with the bulk of votes coming from the SouthEast Region.Neither did they focus their fury on the systemic collapse of public infrastructure as was witnessed all over the SouthEast,no! President Goodluck Jonathan was a man then who could do no wrong, and like a King without no clothes a number of Igbo leaders swirled to the dance of shame, basking in the euphoria that they were properly dressed whereas they appeared naked and naiveSeco to a number of us.
It never dawned on them that for near four years, the Goodluck Jonathan administration had not deemed it fit to deliver on his promise or at least make a head start . Rather with Jonathan having the 2015 elections in mind, he had only come again to whip up the voting sentiment from the region towards his proposed reelection. It did not matter that the cost of the bridge had been inflated, nor did it matter then that a tolling arrangement was in the offing  while the same administration had built bridges for free in other parts of the country with no tolls.
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Features

On Soludo’s 100bn Loan Request

 

Kate Uchegbu

 

Following the request by Governor Chukwuma Soludo to the Anambra State House of Assembly seeking its approval of a loan of 100 billion naira for the state, anambratimes.com has gathered that the request has been generating a lot of outrage from citizens of the state as well as from members of the opposition party.

 

According to the letter, which was read by the Speaker of the Anambra House of Assembly, Hon.Uche Okafor, the loan facility will be for the construction and refurbishment of key infrastructure in the State.
But members of the opposition have pooh poohed the idea of a loan and have based their discomfiture on a number of reasons. For example, the lawmaker representing Dunukofia State Constituency in the Anambra House Assembly, Hon. Lawrence Ezeudu told our correspondent that there was need for the Soludo administration to give a breakdown of the loan request to the people so that Ndi Anambra could know what specific set of infrastructure the loan was being sought for.
Ezeudu who is also a candidate for the House of Representatives seat for the Anaocha, Njikoka and Dunukofia Federal Constituency, noted that he had no challenges with the present administration taking a loan in order to reposition the state of infrastructure in Anambra, he however stated that there was need for the administration to give a breakdown of projects it intended to tie up such monies to.
Also speaking on the subject, Chief Chibuxor Obiakor, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC told AT that the Soludo administration should give a breakdown of the specifics of such a loan which he said would then help determine whether it was worth it. Obiakor stated that it was not enough for the administration to just announce that it was going to take the sum of a N100Bn but to tie such a request to specifics. Such as the number of roads, bridges, schools and hospitals etc such an amount would likely cater for.
Obiakor explained that such a gesture would help in ensuring that a misappropriation of such funds does not occur given that the previous administration had also taken loans for a number of reasons and yet Ndi Anambra were yet to feel the impact of such loans previously taken.
He emphasized that if such occurred then it would be easy for the House of Assembly, communities and citizens to effectively monitor the deployment of such a loan.
A former member of the House of Representatives who opted for anonymity wondered why Soludo was seeking a loan when he had earlier told Ndi Anambra that the state was in a good financial state.
There are a number of other fears concerning this loan such as the alleged lack of clear repayment plan and the state’s rising debt profile, are among these fears.
For example, the state’s debt burden stands at N100.732 billion and can be broken down to its domestic debt standing at N59.013 billion while  its foreign debt stands at $115.886 million. Is it thus wise to add another 100 Bn to the state’s debt burden? 
However many are afraid that with the body language of the state house of assembly, it may not critically examine such a request which would help address such fears as expressed by a majority of citizens.
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Features

Anambra Central Senatorial District: Its A Squaring Of Old and New Foes

 

Tony Okonkwo

 

As the 2003 race draws nigh, elections into the National Assembly will also be keenly contested by the big parties such s the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and the People’s  Democratic Party PDP each seeking to control both chambers of the legislature in order to ensure that the legislative agenda of each party is implemented should  either of these parties win a majority of seats.

 

Failure  of either party to do so could spell doom for the losing party should it emerge victorious  at the presidential  elections, as the party with the majority  of seats could go on to block the agenda of the executive branch and frustrate its implementation.
Our nation’s democratic  history is filled with such happenings, particularly in the first and second republics for which  the ruling parties then had to enter into an alliance of sorts with certain members  of  the opposition in order to ensure a smooth sail for the ruling party. The Nigerian People’s  Congress, NPC was to enter into an alliance with Zik’s National Convention of Nigerian Citizens NCNC with Obafemi Awolowo’ s Action Group as the main opposition. In 1979, following the National Party of Nigeria NPN’s failure to win an effective majority in the National Assembly, it formed what was then known as an “Accord Concordiale” with Zik’s Nigerian People’s Party, NPP. This was however not the case in the short-lived third republic and the fourth republic.
Anambra like every other state has three Senatorial Districts namely, Anambra North, Anambra South and Anambra Central. Each zone has seven local government areas each from which a senator must emerge from. In Anambra South, it will be a battle royale between four major contenders, namely Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji(APC)  Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, (YPP) Chris Uba (PDP) and Hon Chris Azubuogu(APGA). For the Anambra North Senatorial District it is Barrister Ify Anaezonwu (APC) Tony Nwoye(Labour Party) Stella Oduah(PDP) and former First Lady of Anambra, Ebele Obiano.
For the Anambra Central Senatorial District, it is going to be a war of known foes and new faces as four candidates will be going for the broke come February 23, 2023.
For the likes of Senator Victor Umeh, former National Chairman All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and Senator Uche Ekwunife of the PDP, the 2023 elections will be the third time both opponents will square it off. Both faced each other in 2015 with Ekwunife routing Umeh or so the public thought until Umeh challenged the process by which Ekwunife had emerged as a Senatorial candidate and successfully  had the Appeal Court in Enugu order a rerun which also  barred the PDP from presenting a candidate in that election. Umeh was to later go on to emerge as a Senator after a tortuous process in the courts, however by 2015 he again faced Uche Ekwunife in the 2019 elections losing again. Umeh was to attempt getting the APGA ticket for a third straight time but was to lose to Hon Dozie Nwankwo. Umeh feeling betrayed by certain forces in APGA’s leadership quickly moved to the Labour Party where he will now do battle with Ekwunife , Dozie Nwankwo and Kodilichukwu Okelekwe for the Anambra Central Senatorial Seat.
Ekwunife being the  incumbent has been a veteran of a number of electoral battles having represented the Anaocha, Njikoka and Dunukofia Federal Constituency in 2007 and 2011 respectively.  Matter of fact in the 2011 contest she had seen off Nwankwo in that election before a court ordered a rerun which saw her trouncing Nwankwo a second time. Ekwunife posseses a worthy grassroots hold and also has a sterling legislative career, combining this with her well planned campaigns has seen her win again and again at the polls. However, Ekwunife may not have it rosy this time around as she will have to campaign without a Peter Obi by her side, as the former Anambra State Governor has always backed Ekwunife at the polls. For example in 2019 his nomination as running mate to Atiku Abubakar spurred Ekwunife to victory , today, Obi himself is running  for president on the platform of the Labour Party this may swing a number of votes that have traditionally gone Ekwunife’s way to Umeh who will definitely inherit from his new found partnership with Obi in Labour Party. This is not to say that Umeh will find it easy. He will be running against his former party which has a new leader in the person of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, Governor of Anambra State. Soludo in seeking to impose his party’s hegemony in Anambra will definitely attempt to deliver APGA’s candidates in all of the elections, using  APGA’s  structure and his goodwill as a fresh governor, this may rub off negatively on Umeh as he would have to contend with APGA in the seven local government areas.
Besides that Hon Dozie Nwankwo would not also be a push over for either Umeh or Ekwunife. While not possessing a sterling legislative career like Ekwunife, Nwankwo boasts of a massive political structure and deep financial pocket to match the duo. He also posseses the much needed experience in electioneering which may come in handy and will likely enjoy the support of the state government’s  machinery.
For Kodilichukwu Okelekwe of the APC, it will not be in the interest of the other contenders to write him off. Okelekwe is definitely not a green horn having jostled for the Senatorial ticket in 2015, nearly upsetting the apple cart then. He will be bringing to the race his years of experience both in the private and public sectors as well as boast of the support of the ruling party, which may decide to throw the kitchen sink and do everything to win some seats in the SouthEast region.
While the elections are some eight months away and campaigns yet to formally begin, the Anambra Central Senatorial District race will definitely be a memorable contest to watch out for with the auguries silent on which way the pendulum will definitely swing.
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Opinion

Kuje Prison Attack: It’s About Time We Break The Pattern (1)

 

By Igboeli Arinze

No serious country would have watched the news about the attacks on the Kuje Custodial Centre and not feel a tinge of shame. No nation would watch the news and not ask questions about how a rag tag army of misguided religious zealots stormed a prison located within the Federal Capital Territory and then go on to have a field day by releasing their comrades who were held in that same centre. Any nation that does otherwise has no business existing and perhaps should need another bout of colonialism.

 

Such occurrence remains a blight on the security architecture of the nation and calls to question not only the effectiveness of the security architecture but also the efficiency of those who manage such architecture as well as the integrity of such architecture. The Kuje prison attack is one attack too many and is slowly helping to demystify the nation’s approach to security as presently witnessed.
The question then should be where do we go from here ? Who should bear the brunt for the laxity witnessed before, during and after the attack? Which heads should obviously roll for such a national shame that has made us the laughing stock of the comity of nations? If Kuje could fall in so short a time and with little or no resistance by members of the security personnel found there is it not possible that such could be replicated in other areas of immense import to the Nigerian nation? With airports , schools, shopping malls, embassies military barracks and bases lying at the mercy of these terrorists? It may be that we have been running on a wrong road and may very much need to break such a pattern!
President Muhammadu Buhari while breaking protocol to visit the centre following the attack just before he headed to Senegal lamented on the failure of our intelligence services to help detect, plan and foil the attack. Had the intelligence units being up and doing they would have marshaled the resources adequately needed to repel such an attack, probably nip it in the bud before the bandits arrived in Kuje. While understanding that the war against terrorism is much of an asymmetric war and thus puts conventional intelligence gathering under much strain, there is still the fact that for such an attack to have occurred in the FCT, there must have been a build up and coordinated movements of men ,materials and arms between their bases and Abuja, how our security agencies with such intelligence failed to nip this in the bud before these terrorists struck is indeed alarming. Now the DSS has come out to say that they got such notice of an impending attack and passed it to the “necessary authorities” The question is who did the SSS pass the information to ? Did the institution feel that it was enough to have passed such to the leadership of Kuje prisons only? Was the National Security Adviser briefed? If he wasn’t then we need to ask why? If he was then we ask what steps did he take to prevent all of this from happening.
Again, what sort of policy sees the remanding of terrorists in one single facility? I mean what kind of security text books or manuals are these guys reading or implementing? What sort of security architecture accommodates these kind of criminals in one shared space where they can easily have access to each other?
Finally, the fact that these terrorists had a field day and could with ease move within the correctional facility and release their comrades goes to show that the Nigerian security architecture is saturated with fifth columnists and persons sympathetic to certain causes both domestic and foreign that seek to much undermine the territorial integrity of Nigeria. When President Goodluck Jonathan cried out while he was president that Boko Haram has infiltrated his government and had recruited their acolytes into the government then and security agencies,many of us thought that it was merely his incompetence that was speaking. Today, while still not taking anything away from such incompetence, recent events suggest such a statement to be true.
While we await the comprehensive report as ordered by President Buhari, it is important to draw the attention to our authorities to the glaring fact that whatever pattern presently being used by the security outfits of our nation in its bid to tackle insecurity is not effectively working and there is indeed dire need for a rejigging!
With the continuous news of kidnaps and attacks which have led to the loss of lives of our citizens and the reduced confidence in the ability of our security agencies to effectively protect the lives and properties of the citizenry, the present authorities need no auguries to know such.
Igboeli Arinze is the Managing Editor of HawkEye Communications, publishers of Anambratimes.com
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Features

My Takeaways From The Various Presidential Primaries (2)

 

 

By Igboeli Arinze 

The APC Primaries was the much heralded event of all the primaries, asides from it been the ruling party, it paraded the biggest array of aspirants, big names in the nation’s politics, the likes of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo,  Governor David Umahi, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Rochas Okorocha, Governor Badaru and Emeka Nwajiuba had all indicated interest  in succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari.

With the PDP concluding its own primaries, all eyes turned to the ruling party alongside the accompanied accoutrements of prophecies of doom and foreseen implosions. A number of hack journalists had even alleged that there was a gang up against its National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, others shouted to the rooftops that there was no way the North would allow the South have its way with the ticket. Matters were not also helped when the likes of Governor Badaru and Ahmed Lawan declared for the Office as well as the emergence of Atiku Abubakar.
These conspiracy theories were however fueled by the continuous shifts in the dates scheduled for the primaries. Everyday a new theory would evolve as to how Buhari had endorsed one particular candidate and how the same Buhari had just endorsed another. There were stories of how the party had disqualified ten aspirants and how the party had arrived at a false consensus.
However things began to take shape when news reports filtered in that the Northern Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress had agreed to support a Southern Candidate.
In a statement signed by 11 Governors, they said it was a question of honour for the APC and that after President Muhammadu Buhari had completed his eight years in power it was the turn of the South to take its shot at power.
But there happened to be another twist to the convention, a rumor had somewhat found vent that the party had settled for Ahmed Lawan, such a pronouncement was to mar a number of permutations as well as unsettle the party, since all the aspirants had settled for an elective contest and anything short of such would cause an implosion and do the party’s electoral chances a certain level of damage.
But like the heroes of this nascent democracy, the Northern Governors stuck to their guns and there would be no going back. By virtue of such an act these governors had helped save the APC as well as preserve the fabric thinly holding the nation’s stability!  This was one big takeaway from that convention, and that was the fact that there was or there is still some honour in our politics. The Northern Governors could have used the superiority of numbers and the latent excuse that democracy gives to have one of their own elected as the APC candidate, but understanding that the Nigerian project is bigger than anyone  or region chose to bury such aspirations and allow the South produce a president.
The primaries itself was a carnival of sorts and the drama that ensued could make the producer of the famous political series ‘House of Cards’ grin with envy. As a number of aspirants began to step down for Bola Ahmed Tinubu with that of  Governor Kayode Fayemi and Senator Ibikunle Amosun as the bellringing exemplars it became obvious that the election was for Bola Tinubu to lose and win he did!
Another big takeaway from the APC primaries was the fact that all politics is local or should I say regional! While the SouthWest seemingly appeared to close ranks and see a sitting Governor and serving senator put away their aspirations for one of their own ( Despite the fact that the trio, Bola Tinubu, Fayemi and Amosun were not prior to that period the best of friends) the SouthEast played theirs like some circus. We had an Orji Uzor Kalu playing the perennial spoiler as he rooted for Lawan, while we had a David Umahi, Emeka Nwajiuba and Ogbonnaya Onu in the race. Again, it did appear that asides from Umahi, the rest of the SouthEast aspirants were banking on an “anointing” of sorts, while their fellow aspirants traversed the nation, seeking the support of the delegates.
When such an anointing failed to come we saw what I call a melodramatic appearance by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu,  who bellowed out the words “Where is the justice? “ decrying the non decision of the party to zone the ticket to the SouthEast Region. While many may have agreed with Ogbonnaya Onu’s stance, one other takeaway from the APC Primaries is that power is taken and not served a la carte.
Lastly, Tinubu’s acceptance speech as well as his conciliatory visits to his fellow aspirants should as always suggest to many Nigerians that politics is about interest alone and there are no permanent friends nor foes. Such a move has helped managed the fallouts of the primaries and  paved the way for him to unite the APC and meet the PDP in the polls where it should  be all about issues and the party’s relative performance in power.
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My Takeaways From The Various Presidential Primaries (1)

 

By Igboeli Arinze

By now, a number of political parties would have concluded on who would bear their presidential flags in the forthcoming general elections come 2023. Now, while a number of these parties have succeeded in meeting INEC’s rescheduled deadline. It is obvious that except there are a few upsets, the forthcoming elections, particularly that of the presidency would be at most a two party race, not even Peter Obi’s move into the Labour Party, will help change much. However, we are sure that Nigeria and Nigerians will experience a new high within our political process, one the country can hopefully build upon for a better polity.

 

The People’s Democratic Party, PDP produced an Atiku Abubakar, a Fulani from the NorthEast and one time Vice President of the Federation. A perennial presidential aspirant cum candidate since 1993, Atiku’s decision to run for President this time around portrayed him as one without principles and desperate for power. This same Atiku had in 2011 insisted on the zoning of the presidency to the North in order to maintain the sacrosanctity of PDP’s zoning arrangement. He had even contested the primaries suffering a resounding defeat at the hands of the then incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan. Matter of fact, Atiku’s decision to quit the PDP for the APC was borne on the body language of Jonathan to again seek another term in office. He however criss crossed back to the PDP, picking up the ticket but losing again to the incumbent in President Muhammadu Buhari. This time around, Atiku withstood every sensible and just clamour for the PDP to zone the presidency to the South, following the near completion of President Buhari’s eight years in office. Sadly, Atiku was to have his way beating Nyesome Wike, the present sitting Governor of Rivers State at the PDP’s convention. Atiku’s emergence was due to the lack of Southern Solidarity as SouthWest and South South delegates allegedly cast their votes for Atiku. Not even the maverick like decision of Governor Tambuwal to step down for Atiku pricked his Southern counterparts, they sold Governor Wike out and ended the hopes of the PDP producing a Southerner for President.
For Governor Wike, history will be kind to him. Wike was the brave face of the South in that convention, even though he lost due to the evil machinations of his Southern counterparts. Unlike some politicians who much preferred to chicken out of the race a few days to the primaries after grandstanding at some mausoleums, Wike, became the symbol of the South in the PDP attempting to match Atiku, man to man.

 

The PDP primaries witnessed a heavy dollarizarion of the process as a majority of the party’s aspirants engaged each other in an all out scramble for the votes of their delegates, a sad reminder that our democracy is still the play thing of the rich and mighty.

 

The primaries of the Labour Party was to follow suit, and with the entry of the former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi into the party, following his chickening out from the PDP’s race on the alleged story that the process had been heavily monetized. Yet in his bid to portray himself as a saint with one watch and two shoes, our Hong-Kong /China exponent forgot how he nicked the APGA ticket in 2003, supplanting in a manner even the Medici’s would be ashamed of the would be winner of that primaries in the person of Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu, the current National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress, ADC.

 

Even at that, I can boldly say that Obi’s decision to quit the PDP was a political blunder, his name on the PDP ticket would have bolstered the party’s chances at the polls and would have dealt a more serious blow to the APC’s desire to retain power. Obi’s choice of the Labour Party makes him a king in a small fiefdom as elections are not won on the platforms of social media or on ethnic rabble rousing. Elections are won via party structures, which are built over the years and political climes like Nigeria, have not afforded media creations or myths like Obi the opportunity to blossom beyond their immediate spaces, the likes of Azikiwe, Awolowo, Aminu Kano and Nuhu Ribadu are classical example. Even the incumbent in Muhammadu Buhari experienced such trends until the formation of the All Progressives Congress which had a national outlook.

 

The biggest upset did not occur in the two political parties but in the small ones, with a Kingsley Moghalu losing to an unknown Dumebi Kachikwu. Moghalu, who had featured brilliantly in the 2019’elections was hoping to do an encore in the 2023 elections only to lose to Kachikwu who happens to be the younger brother to Nigeria’s former Minister of State for Petroleum Ibe Kachikwu.

 

Igboeli is the Managing Editor of Anambratimes.com

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For Charles Amilo. (1945-2021)

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil; Death closes all: but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done, Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.”- Alfred Tennyson, Ulysses

I was at a wedding of the sister to an associate of mine, angry at the non presence of palm wine, I was obviously bitter as I had earlier served notice on this associate of mine that one would care for the drink of the gods as I wasn’t agreeable with the green bottles he lavishly supplied to my table even when we were on the cusp of seeing the Old year off and welcoming 2022 when I received a call informing me of the demise of a one time Member of the Old Anambra State House of Assembly, commissioner for information and present Chairman of the board of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede, a father and a man who was like a friend, Chief Charles Amilo. Udobodo Enugwu Ukwu.
I was immediately jolted by such news as I had earlier planned to go and pay him a visit in the new year, he had been sick and after seeing him in October last year where he had gifted me another big box of Coffee, we discussed a number of issues including his health and how he was pulling through, little did I know that such a day would be my last to see him.
I pay homage to one of Anambra’s finest politicians, scholar, encyclopedia of knowledge and image maker. I like Mark Anthony over the pyre of burning wood, much akin to the sorrows of losing such a man, yet but seek to extol the man, Chief Charles Amilo, sorry he was not a mere man, he was one of the Titans, the last of them, a model even in the cold ground.
Amilo was born in 1945 and like every young lad had his primary and secondary education in the Eastern Nigeria region.As a brilliant mind, Amilo was to attend the University of Nigeria, Nsukka from 1967  to 1974  where he obtained a degree in Microbiology. Seeking further the golden fleece,Amilo went on to obtain a Masters Degree in Rutgers University from 1976 to 1978.
With the first stanza of the retirement of soldiers to the barracks, Amilo was elected as a Member of the Old Anambra State House of Assembly during the 2nd Republic under the platform of the National Party of Nigeria., NPN. One of the shining lights of that House, Amilo was to distinguish himself across party and legislative lines that he was gifted with another term. Using the gift of garb, oratory and a rich knowledge of the nation’s history, Amilo, effusively weighed in on several debates and helped the House pass numerous motions and bills.
Again, in the botched Third Republic, Udobodo participated in the politics of that era, ensuring that the likes of Chukwuemeka Ezeife emerged as Governor of Anambra State. By 2005, with the heightened battle royale between Governor Chris Ngige and his estranged godfather , Chris Uba, there was the general consensus that the gains of the then Ngige administration was not been marketed positively to the public. A quick search of capable hands were sought and within days the name Amilo was all over the place,  his nomination was to follow suit and Ndi Anambra began to feel the difference.
I will always remember my first meeting with Chief Amilo in Awka,circa 2009. Amilo candidly listened to my request to join the Chris Ngige Media Machinery that was been set up for the 2010 polls, that was after he had read some of my articles then in the dailies. Amilo not only ensured that I was appointed into the media committee, he also sought to give me the neccesary encouragement then as a young man,
Today, I am a voice heard because of the opportunity he gave me, I recall how I would reach out to Amilo and he would bellow ” Ah, I just read your column in the Nation, well done Arinze” I can only say that it was his words of encouragement over the years that landed me such an opportunity and many more because he, Amilo believed much in me.
Amilo was an encyclopedia of knowledge; history and politics were at his beck and call, I still remember the numerous times he would regale us with stories of the 1st Republic’s politics,  the alliance between the NCNC and the Action Group to form the United Progressives Grand Alliance, UPGA and the Civil War. I recall the day, he and ECJ Nwosu had a fierce but yet friendly and enlightening argument on who won the 1983 guber elections in old Anambra. Amilo against all voices present that day and entitled to comment vehemently insisted that it was C.C  Onoh’s NPN, his party that had won; much to Kpakpando’s angst who countered that it was Jim’s NPP that actually won.
One key trait of Amilo was his loyalty to causes he believed in. Amilo’s loyalty was not only to those who occupied offices as is the present trend, nope, Udobodo would always stick with his principles as well as his friends, both young and old. A clear example was his relationship with Chris Ngige, who after leaving office saw a huge majority of his lieutenants seeking new camps, Udobodo stuck with Ngige, despite the latter’s notoriety for clannish politics and even when it was not favourable to him (Amilo). This makes him a shining example to our youth,for in an era where many switch parties at the speed faster than light, Udobodo in his Herculean manner remained steadfast to his principles.
As I write this piece, I mull over our last meeting, where I had frank discussions with him, I shudder that he is no more, that sonorous voice and gentle soul that would always seek peace even with his identified enemies. I yet again recall the numerous times he would call me to admonish me on some of my exuberances, particularly that quick temper or righteous anger as I would style it and he would simply say, “I did not teach you this way”. Indeed, he was like a father figure to many and a man of many parts, Amilo was an enigma and it is my hope that he will find peace with his creator.
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