Category Archives: Guest Columnist
Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State lost a significant amount of public respect and goodwill in June 2013 with his display of immaturity at a dinner with President Jonathan hosting two visiting Heads of State. The Governor arrived late, after Mr President was seated, and further attempted to breach more protocol by approaching his boss. He was dutifully checked by the security aide and asked politely to return to his seat. In diplomatic and Government settings, this breach of protocol is a faux pas.
This singular action by the Governor was a clear indication of a self induced hypnotic delusion of relevance in the history of governance in Nigeria. His further egotistical approach to issues continued with his latest decamping to the opposition party after participating in obvious anti-party activities, and his sham outing at their inauguration event in Porth Harcourt. which he considered successful in terms of turnout. His decamping came after his daily shenanigans bordering on infantile tantrums and false alarms over his security, to claims of being denied access to Government House. In the meantime, his security aide and supporters like Chidi Lloyd played out brutish gangster-type violence on Nigerians while he kept playing the role of victim in his well orchestrated reaction to the rule of law asking questions.
Today, the latest episode of the Governor is his recent reproach of a traditional ruler over the laters fatherly and respected opinion on the Presidency`s approach to finding peaceful solutions to a forced lingering dispute between two states, over right of ownership of oil wells.
The story goes like this. Shell Petroleum (SPDC) operated an Oil Well(Soku) in Rivers State and it was named after a community where their operational base was situated, not named after the immediate host community. This seems to be normal practice with SPDC, and indeed the popular Oloibiri oil well is not situated in Oloibiri but in Otuabagi village in Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa State.. The room for Governor Amaechi`s mischievousness comes from the creation of Bayelsa State. In creating the new state and mapping out boundaries, Soku Oil Well is located in Bayelsa State, not Rivers State. This fact is irrefutable and backed with legal documents. So why is Governor Amaechi laying claims to Soku Oil Well?
The name Soku belongs to a community in Rivers State some ten kilometers as the crow flies away from the Oil Well. It is at Soku that the operational base of the Oil Well is located. The immidiate communities of Oluasiri, Etukekiri, Ijawkiri, Fredkiri, Adokonikiri etc are all in Nembe LGA of Bayelsa State and are captured under electoral ward 13 consituency of Nembe LGA of Bayelsa State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). There are legal documents and submissions from committes of well respected and qualified Nigerians cutting across Geopolitical zones, ethnicity, religion, and tribe showing and stating clearly that Soku Oil Well belongs to Bayelsa State.
For the avoidance of doubt, this issue has been properly addressed and findings documented by the Obasanjo administration in 2004 when Governor Amaechi was Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly and President Jonathan was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State. Surely, the Governor is aware of the truth and the true position of the Soku Oil Well. So it is clear and unambigous that Soku Oil Well belongs to Bayelsa State and is indeed on Bayelsa land. Now, what does Governor Amaechi hope to achieve with his deliberate blindness? What are his expectations from neighboring communities that have an unfortunate but not uncommon history of disagreements in the past, after his improper remarks about the traditional ruler?
It is obvious to most observers that Governor Amaechi is no longer in control of his actions. No sane member of a family throws stones at his home and expects to sleep peacefully in it. Having carried out his ill advised but personal decision to decamp, it seems he has promised more than he can deliver to his new bed mates in the opposition party. It is also obvious that he is being spurred on by people who have nothing to lose in the event of a breakdown of law and order in the erstwhile restive Niger Delta communities that are all linked with a fine thread of cultural affinity. It is expedient on the press therefore to take up this challenge and make it crystal clear to readers, listeners and genuine seekers of as much of the truth as possible that Governor Amaechi is a drowning man clutching at straws.
When people understand that communities in the Niger Delta have been enjoying relative peace and harmony since the brokered Amnesty peace deal, they may now appreciate the negative aspect of outside influence in the scheme of things in the region as it attempts to create tension, unease and violence once again. This plot hopefully has failed as it is simply dead on arrival. Amaechi may continually provoke sentiments with his deceptive role of a harangued pussy cat that does nothing more than mew and purr at feeding time which is however far from the truth. He is stoking already dying embers of mistrust hate and deceit in the Niger Delta and in particular, Bayelsa State, which has successfully overcome dire security situations and maintained a steady confidence from the populace for close to two years.
Amaechi is associating with disgruntled politicians who have everything to gain from chaos and blood letting of innocent people in the Niger Delta. As the Niger Delta is Nigeria`s soft underbelly in terms of the resources derived from the land, it is wise to put the entire region on alert. The shoddy arrangement that is the supposed ACN led administration of Governor Amaechi is toying with madness on an unprecedented scale. The best example of this is what is playig out in Southern Sudan today where brothers are about taking up arms against each other, not for idealogical differences but simply because leaders are not sincere enough to avert violence.
This is certainly what Governor Amaechi represents; destruction. Amaechi has no right, title or legal claim to Soku Oil Well and he is spoiling for violence simply because he has likely promised his new party, “Oil money” which unfortunately is not his to give out. Kindly take time to read the below document and make up your own mind as Amaechi is hellbent on creating chaos and anarchy ,all because of his perceived greed and lust for political relevance.
Ejiro Eghagha, writer , social commentator.
There is a city in Southeastern Mexico located on the Caribbean Sea. In 1970, there were less than a thousand people living on this beautiful Peninsula. There had been disease outbreaks, issues of sea piracy, and a fair share of drug trade in the area in the past and like every other place faced with such negative situations, populations dropped and the place was more or less bare.
However, the Mexican Government saw the future of Tourism quite early and in a bid to attract foreign investors to the naturally beautiful Islands and Peninsula, financed the first nine hotels in the area. That city is Cancun, and today it is arguably one of the top ten destinations for visitors worldwide. Tourism in Cancun is not just a business, it is a lifestyle that sustains over 12,000 hotel rooms and attracts more visitors than The Bahamas, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.
Major challenges facing development in Cancun included its distance to Mexico city, which was over 1,000 miles away, lack of trained manpower to sustain development of Tourism and a dearth of modern transportation including a functional highway to open up the area. This aside, Cancun rose out of nothing and is something spectacular today. Cancun and Dubai have one thing in common. Nobody believed anything good could come out of both.
Back home here, on the Islands of Bayelsa State, there are major issues of connecting roads for easy access to tourist sites. as well as security concerns that are thankfully being tackled head-on by Governor Dickson`s administration with glaring results in over just a year in office. Then again if you have not been to any of the Islands, you may not understand why waterway transportation needs to be seen as a viable option to road transportation.
After visiting three Local Government Areas in Bayelsa State, Brass, Nembe and Ogbia as part of Governor Dickson`s Thank You Tour, it is evident that the Dickson Administration has keyed in to a salient fact about Tourism development. Yes, we all need infrastructure and signposts of modernity, but before all of that, we need education. We need enlightened people to take over managing our long term investments. In this regard, Bayelsa State has laid down the building block properly. There is no doubting the effort of the Government to boost the education sector.
This, is a major and futuristic plus with international scholarships, infrastructure development in schools and partnerships with foreign institutions to train Bayelsan`s, and expose the few who will benefit from educational exchange schemes and programs to the possibilities of development seen around the world.
Also, if this administration takes tourism seriously as it has shown early promise already, heavy investments in Hotels and Resorts on a couple of Islands will be inevitable. In as much as the State capital is booming with construction works of all sorts, the future of business and commerce in Bayelsa cannot be excluded from the Islands.
Beautiful Bayelsa is one part of the Niger Delta that holds so much promise for the future. If only we the people can be brought up to speed with the implications of peace and security. Government cannot do it all alone, we the people have to embrace peace and develop security. We have to manage our communities better.
Governor Dickson is faced with an enormous task of delivering first class facilities as a platform for attracting real investors. It is surmountable. It is do-able. It is very possible. However, it will take some investing in educating the people about a future based on peace and security, and making us understand and appreciate how Local Government Areas can have over a hundred standard hotels operating at good capacity and thus provide employment and commercial boom for the Islands.
Bayelsa State Government seems to be on track with the suggestion by the Governor that a Stadium is proposed for BrasS LGA. That Stadium will require support services of hotels and restaurants in the long run. Another Island will need hotels and restaurants to support Africa`s largest Aqua Tunnel if built for example, or the biggest hotel in the Niger Delta area with accompanying entertainment options. We only have to dream big and put our minds to achieving big feats.
I dare say a visionary leader can not do without intellectual and experienced support from his team. This thankfully is not lacking presently in Bayelsa State. There is every reason to believe in the future of the state therefore. It will be enlightening to see the potentials of other LGA`s in the state and I look forward to the next phase of the Thank You Tour with eager expectations.
I look forward to beautiful Bayelsa, The Glory of All Lands.
Ejiro Eghagha. Writer, Social commentator
16 September 2013
By Olu Adekunle Snr. – Public Affairs Commentator
to democratic principles, is a task that is only achievable by a generous dose of divine favor. Otherwise, it is at best an uphill task that seldom meets with success.
My assertion is based mainly on the premise that the incorporation of several ethnic groups into a single political entity means bringing together the basic problem of conflict, which stems as a result of man’s varied wants, perceptions, opinions and insatiable nature. Group loyalties often supercede the established concept of a common identity thereby undermining the collective interests of a multi-ethnic society or nation.
Nigeria as a nation where political, ethnic and religious interests are guarded jealously is such a society where governance under a democratic setting is often tasked to the limit. Our history is replete with instances where sentiments have been whipped up in the direction of these three groupings, with the ultimate aim of exerting influence on the outcome of whatever may be the issue of the day.
Like every other society upon the face of the earth, Nigeria too has passed through phases of change in the quest to fulfill our collective needs. Some argue that these changes have not been for the benefit of the common man, while others believe that only those in the corridors of power have gained; but what the heck, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. The truth of the matter as has been evident before us is that the masses have almost always been preoccupied with the struggle for daily survival and could not be bothered by much else. At least that was the case before 1999.
In her 53 years of independence, Nigeria has been ruled by both civilians and the military with the latter intervening mostly on the purported basis of misrule by the former. The period of military rule ( spanning a greater part of the 53 years) is best remembered as an era where widespread corruption and conscious effort to undermine due process, the rule of law, transparency, accountability, and efficiency in government were the order of the day.
With the death of General Sanni Abacha former Nigerian Head Of State, Nigerians rightly rejected the military and opted instead for a return to democratic rule where the people would be free to decide for themselves who would govern and represent them at all levels of government. This agitation became a reality on May 29, 1999.
It was the expectation that democracy would increase the role of the ordinary people in the system and ultimately provide them the much touted ‘dividends of democracy’.
Fourteen years after in 2013, this is undoubtedly Nigeria’s longest romance with democratic rule. Whether it has met with expectations is a matter for future discourse. However, at this juncture and in view of the drama playing out at the higher levels of the polity, one is compelled to call to question the ambitions of our leaders and the role of political parties which in one way or another affect the political stability.
It is my thinking that the task of leaders is to help societies. They are expected to provide direction of effort towards achieving society’s goals. Leaders are also expected to bring out the best in all of us. As history has clearly shown,
a society without talented and committed leaders will retrogress or at best remain stagnant. This is most true of Nigeria where many of our civilian as well as military leaders, are selfishly caught up in the pursuit of personal goals at the expense of the national interest.
The scarcity of selfless, non-corrupt and committed leaders has contributed to the sociopolitical and economic predicaments facing Nigeria today. Although we cannot expect to have an endless succession of great and extraordinary leaders, recent events have shown that most of those in leadership positions across the country today are yet to fully understand what leadership and representation are all about. They seem bent on extinguishing the light of democracy shinning in Nigeria. They seem incapable of settling the political and economic crises that periodically confront us.
The recent crisis engulfing the ruling Peoples Democratic Party is a good example of the lack of virtue on the part of most of our so-called leaders. Though the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has in many people’s opinions performed creditably, it seems an irony of sorts to find that his greatest critics and detractors are found within the party fold. Several Governors led by former Vice President Atiku recently disconnected themselves from the main PDP and went ahead to create what is now known as the New PDP.
Though only flimsy and generally unclear reasons were given for such an extreme move on the part of Atiku and his group, altercations between both factions only succeeded in heating the polity to alarming proportions. Nigerians now more politically enlightened than ever were initially shocked by the development. They however quickly adjusted and in what I call an unbiased assessment of the situation, concluded that Atiku and his fellow travelers were a disgruntled lot whose grievance stemmed from perceived obstacles in the way of their selfish pursuits.
In order to prevent the country from being torn apart by attendant sentiments, many stakeholders in the Nigerian project including past leaders and the leadership of various democratic institutions have waded into the matter. Three weeks on, the conflict is yet to be resolved. The Atiku group have however issued conditions for a truce which are at best laughable and indicative of the fact that men of means in this country can hold the entire country to ransom at their leisure. It also calls to question the place of the politician and the party in sustaining political stability or otherwise in Nigeria.
Political parties are by all standards one of the most outstanding and distinguishing elements of modern government and are reputed as the drivers of democracy. In other words, democracy is unthinkable in the absence of viable political parties. They are also expected to participate in the political socialization of electorates, contribute to the accumulation of political power, facilitate recruitment of political leadership, and serve as a unifying force in a divided polity.
After a review of current trends in party activities especially the PDP and Atiku debacle, I believe that some politicians and political parties have become more of a liability than an asset in the country’s quest for political stability.
TO BE CONTINUED.
RE: RIVERS SINKING INTO ANARCHY
OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR AMAECHI
May God’s grace and good health be multiplied to you.
I was alarmed to no end to read the above caption in the TheNation (Monday, September 9, 2013). My dear Governor, for three whole weeks I had mulled over the idea of writing you an open letter on the current drift in the governance of our dear Rivers state under your watch. I was a bit wary about writing to you, lest I be accused of writing under the instigation of “Abuja Politicians” or “Oga and Madam at the top from Aso Rock.” I am now at liberty to express my views on the very issue you are quoted to have raised in the media.
Sir I wrote an open letter to you 4 years ago on the colossal verbal barrage you had unleashed on the irrepressible Okrika people and their highly cosmopolitan-Kalabari brothers. I am happy to say that at the moment, whatever recriminations or xenophobia you may harbour against them is no longer exhibited in that raw and vengeful manner we observed then. Thank you Sir. I also made it clear in that piece that in-spite of my misgivings I had to admire your pluck, adroitness and political savvy in the way you blind-sided the formidable Odili political machinery to set up a platform of your own, upon which you rode all the way to Brick House.
Permit me, Your Excellency to say bravo to you on the many road projects you have undertaken in the state. The new schools are icons in an apt aesthetic learning environment. I can assure you that decades after your tenure, no one can forget the fact that AMAECHI WAS HERE. Again my Governor, I say bravo!
I am compelled at this point, to bring to your notice, in case you have missed the glaring fact that Rivers State is, in your own words sinking into anarchy because of YOU. By your own words and actions, you have begun to tear down what you helped to build up.
This is how:
KNOWLEDGE OF TIMES AND SEASONS: The word of God tells us “to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccl 3:11. KJV).Is this the time to be standing side by side with a few “Northern Governors” whose clear demand is that the presidency of Nigeria should be plucked from the South-South back to the core North? Is that what you (ChibuikeAmaechi) want at this time? Have you at this time become a “Northern Governor”? Even those who believed you were fighting for “justice” against the Presidency which was “witch hunting” you, merely because you won the NGF election, are beginning to wonder. Is this the time to identify with Atiku, Tambuwal, Nyako, Kwakwanso, Lamido, Aliyu and Wamakko? At this time and in this season of anomy President Goodluck Jonathan is discussing peace with “New PDP” and reaching out to resolve disputes. Are you also doing the same here in Rivers State? For you is this a time for peace or more war?
KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR PLACE AND HONOUR.As governor of Rivers state, you are our light, our father and leader. You are the symbol of our collective existence and the repository and exhibitor of our honour. I have in the last 6 years of your administration continued to wonder if you have acknowledge of your place in history and the honour due your high office. I know you do crave the image and reputation of a man who is “fearless” and ”frank”. Others may rather see you as lacking in reverence, ill-tempered and brash; hardly the virtues expected in a leader. Sadly Sir, you have failed to see the nobility of manner and edified elocution due your high office.
Truly assert that any governor of Rivers state should rank in dignity with any African leader at the least!
WHAT ABOUT ABE, PETERSIDE, LLOYD AND OTHERS? My dear Governor, do you realize how carelessly you have frittered away the political chances and careers of those who have stood by you? You have immunity, but do they? Will you not spare a thought for Senator Magnus Abe, Congressman Dakuku Peterside and other allies of yours who may be nursing political ambitions for 2015? How will your current endless battles in and outside the state affect their chances? You enjoyed 8 uninterrupted years as speaker of the RSHA under former Governor Odili. However within 6 years of your own tenure as Governor, first RSHA was embroiled in a contrived “AUSTRALIAN SEX SCANDAL”. Next the former Speaker Tonye Harry got the boot. Now Otelamaba Dan Amachree the new speaker has no house to preside over! Where Sir, is your staunch Ally Hon Chidi Lloyd? Your ADC, ASP Debewari Seimokumoh has since been declared a “deserter” from the police force. For him there will never be the completion of a glorious career and a commendable retirement. Your CSO, Tony Iwelu’s career is also aborted. From the former Rivers state PDP Exco led by Ake, to NGF, only God knows what else has suffered an inglorious desolation because of their association with you. Please look back and see the wasted careers you are leaving in your wake!
In case you have not realized it, I have to point out to you that you lasted longer in politics until you became governor because though Odili fought more and harder battles, He knew when to fight and when to make peace. He never risked the careers and future prospects of his men. That, my Dear Governor is the mark of a leader of men. These days you are ensconced in Abuja fighting to impeach President Jonathan or stop his perceived 2015 bid. It seems you have become an “Abuja politician” yourself. Your Excellency, your place is here with us your people. Return home and put your house in order. At least you will agree with me that the governmental institutions and political associates of your Northern-Governor-friends are intact.
RIVERS STATE IS DRIFTING. Rivers state has become rudderless and as you rightly pointed out anarchy has slipped into our land. It has nothing to do with President Jonathan, his wife, Wike, Obuah or Mbu. As you said years ago in one of your expansive moments, The buck stops of your table. You must, at this time, muster the moral fibre and courage to retrace your steps and make peace in your state (Rivers).Now is the time to reverse the current state of ennui. Again I wonder how you as a governor will work with the National Assembly as the new legislative arm of Rivers state government. Please resist the temptation to consider with glee that now you and Mr President work with the
Senate and House of Representatives as their chief executives. Just ponder how you can pass you fiscal demands through a National legislature not elected by Rivers people. How can you pay civil servant salaries more regularly and on time? Our dear state is paying a heavy price for this crisis. For example which investor foreign or local will come to a state which its own governor says is sinking into anarchy? Should the interest and cooperate survival of 7 million people be sacrificed for one man’s interest? RIVERS STATE SINKING INTO ANARCHY? Well there is only one man I know who swore an oath, with a Bible in his hands to fix it. You!
Thank You my dear Governor
I remain yours truly
VICTOR BURUBO, Pst.
- [Gist] :Presidency, G-7 Meeting Deadlock Over Amaechi (2hotblog.com)
- PDP expels Amaechi’s 14 commissioners (tawwabbalogun.wordpress.com)
PDP AND THE REFORM OR ‘RETURN’ GROUP?
“No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment for the patch pulls away from the garment and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled and the wineskins are ruined but they put new wine into new wineskins and both aree preserved”. – Mathew 9:16-17
The Holy book couldn’t have been wrong and there is no better way to explain the actions and inactions of some members of Africa’s largest ruling party, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The above quotation from the scriptures captures the scenario being created by the recently formed group known as the PDP Reform Forum, whose agenda according to the group is to reform the party which is said to be drifting. Well, nothing could have been better for a political party which has held sway for a period of eleven years at the presidency and controls about twenty-eight out of the thirty-six states of the Nigerian state. But I have my reservations as it concerns the name and path chosen by this group of political big wigs in the PDP from different states as there is no known face of reform amongst the group. While parading the names and faces of those involved in the new arrangement, one cannot wonder then that the group is largely made up of those who are disgruntled or aggrieved with the powers that be in their different states. There is hardly any known face of those who are at home with the incumbent governors and the leadership of the state excos of the party in the said arrangement. It looks more like the coming together of those who have one score or the other to settle with their state chapter of the party. This informs the need, and I suggest that rather than go by the name, Reform Forum, it should rather be Return Group or Returnee Forum.
While I agree that the ruling PDP has areas where the party needs to seriously look into, more so as it concerns the much talked about electoral reforms, the truth is that one doubts the level of sincerity amongst the members of the group. In actual sense, the group should consider as a matter of urgency, self-reformation first so that they would be able to reform the party. Let us take a closer look at the issues before the party and what may have incensed this oppositional stance by those who once controlled the party machineries.
In Imo State, the former governor, Chief Achike Udenwa must take credit for being used by the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo to frustrate the chances of Senator Ifeanyi Ararume from becoming his successor at the 2007 polls, despite the fact that both Udenwa and Ararume belong to the same Party and were mutual friends, until their relationship went sour. Ararume, in what would have crowned him ‘the face of the struggle’ in the fight to stop the indiscipline within the PDP, had gone to court, thus defying the powers that be in the party as well as the party’s constitution. He fought so hard and was lucky to have the supreme court decide the matter in his favour prior the April 14, 2007 governorship polls, but he was again stopped by Obasanjo and Udenwa who in turn defied the decision of the apex court, and played the worst kind of anti party activity by asking party members and the electorates to throw their weight behind the candidate of the less known Peoples Progressive Alliance, Ikedi Ohakim, who eventually won the election. The party since then failed to sanction both Obasanjo and Udenwa, rather Obasanjo was rewarded with the position of the party’s Board of Trustees Chairman, while Udenwa later became a Minister. The question is whether Udenwa deserves to be leading the struggle on the reform agenda of the PDP? Does it not also beat the imagination of people that both Udenwa and Ararume have teamed up again all in a bid to stop the incumbent governor, Ohakim, who committed what I consider the worst political suicide by defecting from PPA to PDP where he is now seen as a political neophyte despite his huge financial war chest?
Senator Ararume in any case, deserves to belong to the group to ensure that there will not be a repeat of the 2007 scenario which destroyed his near-His Excellency status. But am worried that he is romancing the same people who caused him the loss of several millions of naira , eventually stifled his voice and wiped his name out of the ‘Nigerian Guinness book of records’ as the symbol of the struggle to correct the injustice within the PDP. On the other hand, ex-governor Achike Udenwa must fight to stop Ohakim’s second tenure since both men no longer see eye-ball to eye-ball, no thanks to the issue of who gets what from the state’s meager allocation. This is a picture of the reformers in Imo PDP!
As for the Deputy Chairman of the group, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Bello Masari, one can understand his frustrations and his sudden appearance on the political stage, more so with the exit of former President Umaru Yar’adua, who was said to have imposed a stumbling block against the ambition of Masari to be governor of their home-state, Katsina. Yar’adua was said to have ensured that Masari does not make it to the seat of power. This angered the former speaker who now sees the exit of Yar’adua as an opportunity to re-launch himself to relevance within the Katsina PDP. Again, this is a case of an aggrieved party member who never bothered about reforming the Party while he was the nation’s number four man. Masari was the Speaker when Nigeria had a golden opportunity to amend about 104 sections of our flawed 1999 constitution excluding one which has to do with the tenure of the President and Governors. A reformer in principle, in truth and spirit, should have resigned, and that would have placed him as a leader of the new face of reform in PDP and the nation as a whole. Some argue that Masari was instrumental by virtue of his position, in stopping President Obasanjo from serving a third term. To a reasonable extent, this is correct, but it shocks me again that he is now working in the interest of Obasanjo who wanted Ogbulafor out at all cost, as a way of making him pay the price for stopping his (Obasanjo’s) nominee, Sam Egwu, from assuming the position of the Party’s National Chairman. Again, I think its all about interest and not about what they truly believe in.
The sudden message of ‘Reforms’ being preached by these politicians in the PDP is rather for the purpose of re-capturing power at all cost. Those who lost out of the political power game see this is an opportunity to return, if nothing else, impress upon President Jonathan that they have his interest at heart – 2011 Presidency! Mr. President needs to look beyond these claims if he must not be short-changed at the last-minute as former Gov. Odili was badly bruised by his mentor and a man he called ‘Father’-OBJ. The same forces are at play again, and it takes only the Solomonic wisdom and that of Nebuchadnezzar who sought the interpretation of the writing on the wall, for President Jonathan to escape the impending doom.
Former Senate President Ken Nnamani, having received accolades and a new leadership status courtesy of his role in shooting down Obasanjo’s ambition to continue in office beyond the constitutional mandate of a maximum of two tenures, does not really impress me with his new role as the Chairman of the Reform Group. This definitely is the bane of the South East in the political equation of our country. When it comes to such roles, someone from this part of the country must ‘lead’. One may argue that Nnamani is the right person to talk about reforms within the PDP, yes, I agree. But I must point out that Nnamani led the group that blew a once in a life time opportunity for Nigerians to draft a people’s Constitution and not the one hurriedly packaged by the Military. It was wrong for the National Assembly then to throw into the thrash can other sections of the Constitution which needed to be amended after an extensive research by the Constitutional Conference. A total of 105 areas were identified by the Conference of which tenure elongation was just one. I doubt if Nigeria in the next decade will have such an opportunity again. Funny enough, these persons were part of the cabal under Obasanjo when he grossly violated the party’s constitution in the process of choosing officers of the party as well as the party’s candidates for the general elections. Not even his deputy for eight years, Atiku Abubakar was spared of Obasanjo’s rod. Others include former governor of Bayelsa State, DSP Alamieyeseigha, former governors of Rivers and Ekiti, Peter Odili and Ayo Fayose, just to mention but a few.
Some of these men, have decided to learn their lessons the hard way, while some still bask under the euphoria of being yesterday’s men who would change their tomorrow by way of compromise. I think it’s rather a wise thing to do, to be like dog that leaks its wounds, rather than be like the dog that goes back to its vomit.
The case of Rivers State is rather pathetic. It is not out of way for some aggrieved politicians in the ruling PDP to seek for ‘reforms’ since they were in the game for eight years and understand the way these things work. The hue and cry over marginalization by those referred to as ‘Abuja Group’ who form the present day PDP Reform Forum from Rivers State who have tasted power, emasculated the opposition and stifled voices of dissent both within and outside the PDP is better described as a joke. I think it is rather the fear of what they know that has compelled them to toe the path of opposition, than the sincere quest for reformation in the PDP. The emergence of Governor Rotimi Amaechi as the governor of the state after a ten –month legal battle against his party, (PDP), INEC and the then sitting governor, Barrister Celestine Omehia, has in no doubt further polarized the party and led to a PDP opposition group within the PDP. It would be recalled that Amechi had earlier won the party’s primaries with over 6000 votes out of the 7000 votes cast, but was eventually stopped from carrying the party’s flag by the then President and leader of the party, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo had declared at the South South Zonal rally of the party that Amaechi ‘s candidature had developed a ‘K-Leg’ , meaning that he (Amaechi ) would not be allowed to contest the governorship election as the candidate of the PDP. When this did not go down well with Gov Odili, and after several efforts to convince Obasanjo failed, Odili then moved to pick Celestine Omehia as a substitute for Amaechi, an action which was not only illegal (since Omehia did not participate in the primaries nor purchase the form for expression of interest), but was sort of belated since he (Odili) had actually encouraged Amaechi to go to court to challenge the action of the party. But when Odili was threatened by the party for supporting Amaechi‘s legal action, he decided to withdraw his support for him, since Omehia had emerged as his candidate. This move by his political godfather had irked Amaechi who remained resolute on his stance. Emboldened by the principle of justice and fairness, Amaechi defied all entreaties and sought to right the wrongs of the party. He was expelled from the party while the matter was at the Appeal court. That did not deter him. After a ten- month legal battle in spite of Omehia’s five-month stay in office, Amaechi with the help of the Judiciary (the Supreme Court) set the pace for the true reformation of the PDP. He single –handedly challenged his party which at that time had totally drifted.
Having remained consistent, he thus became the new face of reform in practical terms within the PDP. Till date, many of those who were disgusted at his emphatic position are yet to accept him as the governor of Rivers state, having been declared the actual candidate of the PDP for the April 14, 2007 governorship election. They have repeatedly said that the Supreme Court nay the Judiciary erred. Is it not then surprising that the same persons who have disregarded the supreme judgment of the apex court are those at the fore front of the change in PDP? For daring to challenge the party‘s National Working Committee, the ‘reformer’s were suspended from the party, and they immediately proceeded to court to again challenge the decision of the party. Is it right then for those who do not believe in the Supremacy and infallibility of the Court to again go to the same Court to obtain judgment? Who will enforce the judgment if it falls in their favor? These are the questions that need to be answered?
One of the key players in the reform forum is Dr. Abiye Sekibo – former SSG to Gov. Odili and a former Minister of Transport under Obasanjo. Abiye is one of the most avowed critics of Amaechi’s emergence and governance. He has not hidden his hatred for Amaechi. He is a member of the Reform Forum and a leader in the Rivers PDP ‘Abuja Group’. Others include Celestine Omehia and Austin Opara, who is said to have been the worst hit when he was asked to step-down for Amaechi by Odili, a night before the Primary elections.I agree with a friend of mine who said they need a platform on which they would re-negotiate their way back to the party in their various states before the next elections. For the sake of the party, the state chapters of the party need to re-absorb them if only they would change their name to PDP RETURNEE FORUM OR PDP RETURN GROUP! Let me end by quoting the National Secretary of the PDP, Baraje Abubakar Kawu, “after gaining relevance through the platform of the party, members of the reform forum are now seeking to reform the same party”. He further stated, “we believe that they have totally lost touch. It is only after they have fully re-integrated themselves in their constituencies that we can begin to consider their electoral value as well as, their reformatory value”. “They need to totally reform themselves before they can call for the reform of the party”.
The people must not forget that before a change can be made in the Party’s constitution, a convention must be held. The question is, how many of these men and women who belong to the reform group will make the delegate list that will participate in the convention? I sincerely think that the person or persons who should lead the fight for reforms in the party must be someone or those who dared to challenge the party’s leadership when it grossly violated its constitution and that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not those who kept mute or chickened out when they were threatened by the EFCC. A reformer must be one who was not afraid of speaking the truth even in the face of intimidation and threat by the powers that be. Chikena!
“There is great wisdom in reserving one’s decision’s as long as possible and until all the facts and forces that will be potent at the moment are revealed”…Winston Churchill.
As much as I admire his style of writing, I am afraid Idowu Akinlotan’s extreme and oft-times pessimistic views on the Nigerian project are deserving of some response if not for the sake of argument than possibly to dislodge the influence of his biased write ups on psyche of many Nigerians.
His column PALLODIUM which features on the back page of the Nation newspaper on most Sundays is one that I usually look forward to because I had up till now considered him as one of Nigeria’s foremost opinion moulders and critical analysts.
In the past few months, I have had reason to question my dedication to his column. My position stems from the fact that he seems to be losing his credibility and objectivity as he makes to address issues of national interest. It seems to me that the fiery columnist now prefers to use his pen as a weapon with which he so zealously castigates the person of President Jonathan. His persistent criticism of the administration’s every move smirks of the handiwork of one who is carried away by a deep hunger for recognition or perhaps he is playing out a script designed by the so-called opposition to run the reputation of the administration aground.
The PALLODIUM is not only losing its objectivity but is also beginning to serve as a platform for the expression of misguided opinions capable of misleading the less discerning amongst us. I personally have issues with most of his opinions and though I may not be as gifted as Akinlotan in the use of words, I take it as a personal mission to speak out against his use of the column to continually defame the Jonathan administration. I am not a political office holder nor do I belong to any party. I am first and foremost a Nigerian, who from the depth of my heart realize that Nigeria may not achieve that greatness we all dream about in my life time. I am however encouraged to hope for the best at least for posterity’s sake. The situation we find ourselves in is an intrinsic part of many a nation’s history. With conflict or strife, we may be moved to take each other for granted to the detriment of our unity and the democratic process.
My disappointment in Akinlotan is further accentuated by the fact that his lines of argument are often biased and taken from a unilateral point of view. Seldom if at all are his criticisms constructive. Rather the venom his words carry reveal a person who is gradually making a name for himself as a national irritant. I am now forced to see him as dancing to drum beats of the opposition; namely the ACN whose views I believe PALLODIUM really represents.
This write-up was occasioned by his recent article in the Nation’s publication of Sunday, May 19, 2013 where he so despairingly centered on the issue of the recently imposed state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States. Not only did Akinlotan describe the initiative as being superfluous, he also had this to say about President Jonathan; “President Jonathan, I have argued does not need a state of emergency to take the measures he has just adumbrated. But none in the National Assembly will have the heart to tell him that. I am persuaded that indeed the proclamation reeks of offensive politicking. The Northeast is anti-Jonathan and will stay so until 2015 and beyond. The President does not have any emotional attachment to these states and could care less what they feel as he said when he reluctantly visited them in March. Judging from his anger as he read his speech in a tremulous voice on Tuesday, Dr. Jonathan was evidently tormented by his private demons and was intemperate, unstatesmanlike and full of unnecessary fury. His supposed fierce mien was not as some imagined a ploy to display presidential toughness; instead it betrayed his boyish instinct for sophistry, his rustic impulsiveness and his burgeoning ruthlessness and dictatorial tendency”.
While Akinlotan argues that Jonathan doesn’t need a state of emergency to take measures, he failed to proffer an alternative. I ask him though; Did President Jonathan not attempt to reach out to the insurgents? Did he not time and again appeal for them to lay down their arms and state their grievances? Though he initially opposed the idea of granting amnesty to ‘ghosts’, did he not later buy wholeheartedly into the initiative? While the amnesty idea was being fine-tuned, the Bama incident came up and Jonathan was blamed for what was deemed the excesses of the Nigerian security forces. Shortly after, there was a massive reprisal by the Boko Haram insurgents which resulted in the death of many innocent souls including a number of security personnel. Of Borno State’s 27 local government areas, the insurgents were said to be in control of no less than 20. Nigerian flags (a symbol of our sovereignty and unity) were pulled down and replaced by unknown ones. For me and I believe a majority of Nigerians, that singular move was an affront and assault on our territorial integrity. In the face of all this, what was the President supposed to do? Was he to sit down with arms folded while the wanton killing of Nigerians and destruction of properties continued?
Has Akinlotan forgotten so quickly that the people of Odi did far less harm before former President Obasanjo ordered the tanks to be rolled out? When the same President Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in Plateau State, was the carnage up to half of what Boko Haram have wrought? When a state of emergency was declared in Ekiti State again by Obasanjo, were the reasons for it so compelling? Why then must Jonathan’s declaration be different? Why the attendant criticisms of a course of action that is clearly within his powers to enforce especially as it is in response to an armed threat to our national security?
The activities of the Boko Haram insurgents have led to the crippling of the economy of an entire region and have adversely affected the way of life of the people. How can the likes of Akinlotan hold the views they do on the declaration of a state of emergency by President Jonathan. He goes further to downplay what is on record as one of Jonathan’s greatest speeches made before the elders and prominent citizens of both Borno and Yobe States during his visit in March. Was he (Jonathan) not right to advise that he would them (the elders) responsible for continued bloodletting in the affected states? Do we not all know that many of those so-called elders interact with the insurgents? How I ask were his words out-of-place? Is Jonathan expected to go fedora cap in hand pleading with the insurgents while countless Nigerians are mowed down by bullets on a daily basis. Surely not! His stand on the matter and the declaration of a state of emergency are in order. His firmness and perceived fury are equally in order. By daring him, the insurgents dared the rest of us.
There must be peace in the land at any cost. We may not be residents of the affected states but wherever one lives in Nigeria, one lives from one day to the next under an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. How can we progress under such a shroud? I do not hold brief for President Jonathan and do not necessarily agree with some of his policies. However, he is my President and I owe him my allegiance. While I will exercise my right of expression to the fullest like Akinlotan so fitfully does, I will (unlike him) be mindful to do so in a manner that makes way for solutions that will lead to sustained development and lasting peace.
To describe the state of emergency declared by Jonathan in the affected states as offensive politicking is rather cruel. How can Akinlotan say in one sentence that it is politicking and in the very next line insist that “the President does not have any emotional attachment to those states and could care less what they feel”. I ask Akinlotan; what then is President Jonathan doing it for? He might as well leave the region to fend for themselves since he doesn’t care for their votes or support should he decide to run for a second term. Or is his action meant to assuage other parts of the country and win their sympathies and support towards a second term dream? Come on now Mr. Akinlotan sir; you can do better than that. My introductory quote made by Winston Churchill is meant to give you a perspective on leadership that I believe you lack. I do hope you will learn from it and mete out less disrespectful invectives at our leaders.
I am equally irked by Akinlotan’s attempt to dress the ACN in the clothing of saints. In a write-up filled with so many paradoxes, he had claims that a day after the Jonathan’s declaration the ACN spontaneously denounced the declaration and was in fact playing politics with the issue of insecurity. According to him, the ACN much more than any party did well to publicize its initial opposition to emergency rule and went ahead to describe the party’s leadership as realists. For me this was a huge joke. What in their declaration makes them realists? The same ACN who consistently described Jonathan as being weak and un-presidential in his approach to issues. When he did eventually stand up to the occasion they were the first to cry foul! Who if I may ask are the ones playing politics. Wasn’t the opposition’s initial objection to emergency rule born out of the fear of losing those states and subsequent votes come 2015? After the opposition’s outing in Borno State earlier this year where they doled out cash gifts to the state governments what else have they done to follow-up in the quest for sustained peace in the region?
It is my personal opinion that people like Akinlotan give the Yoruba a bad name. With the likes of him, I am not surprised that politically inclined opinions emanating from the Southwest are often dismissed with a wave of the hand. It seems we play to the gallery every time.
This write-up is not aimed at causing any dissention. Rather it appeals to the minds and hearts of all Nigerians to give peace a chance. We cannot afford to play politics with every national calamity. We are all responsible and should put love for country first. Nigerians must wake up and stop being used by the few who do not have our interests at heart. My brother egbon Idowu, please endeavor to preach more of tolerance and peace in your articles. The power of the media is great and a misapplication of perspectives could lead to dissentions even you cannot predict.
God will surely see us through.
OLU ADEKUNLE Snr.
- Breaking News: Military commence massive aerial bombardment of Boko Haram camps in Borno (mojidanisa2.wordpress.com)
- Three Nigerian states under lockdown (aljazeera.com)
- Nigeria army imposes curfew on city (bbc.co.uk)
- Nigerian army begins raids on Boko Haram in Borno (sheyeagbede.wordpress.com)
- Borno State Update: Troops Capture Boko Haram’s Camp (9jabasket.wordpress.com)
- Nigeria relaxes curfew in northeast (worldbulletin.net)