Monday, 15 September 2014

APC ticket: Buhari, Atiku set for war

buhari atiku war 


Loyalists in fight-to-finish mood

Former Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari seems to be the most preferred presidential aspirant as the All Progressives Congress (APC) goes for convention between October 16 and 18 in Abuja.
But sources said some self-proclaimed party chieftains who are scheming for Buhari should be ready for a showdown with loyalists of another top shot, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who is set to declare on September 24
Checks at the weekend revealed that the party is, however, in a dilemma on how to go about the primaries such that who­ever fails to clinch the ticket among other contestants would not rock the boat. Other contenders, who are equally formidable and strong in terms of popularity and follower­ship are Atiku, Governor Rabiu Kwank­waso of Kano State and former Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki.
A party chieftain, who doesn’t want to be named said, “on our card is Muham­madu Buhari,” enthusing that, “with a level playing field the party has promised all the contenders, he will emerge victorious and fly the party’s flag for 2015 presidential election.”
He, however feared that, “if money even­tually becomes the determining factor for the contest, Buhari may find it a bit difficult wooing higher percentage of delegates to his side where the likes of Atiku and Kwankwaso are involved.”
Another top member of the party, who spoke with Daily Sun in Osun State yesterday introduced a new dimension to the discussion when he stated emphatically that, “take it or leave it, APC was formed with the main objective of using Buhari as our 2015 candidate to win the northern votes.”
According to him, his credibility was what the nation needed at this point in time to liberate the country from the crossroad it finds itself today. He said “dropping him may weaken the party as some members, who believe in him may leave the party.”
The source, however, expressed concern over Buhari’s age which he said might throw the party into crisis after the first term in office, reminding that, “at above 70 now, if he is to spend two terms in office, he would be about 80 years.”
He said, “in that wise, the party may decide to persuade him to withdraw for younger aspirants, who have age on their side to face the rigours of governance at that level.”
If that eventually happens, Daily Sun­learnt that the race will be between Atiku and Kwankwaso, who are younger and also have reasonable electoral values.
Atiku won Adamawa State governorship election in 1999 before the then presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, picked him as his running mate. Kwankwaso is serving his second term.
It was further learnt that whoever becomes the candidate would likely have Buhari’s endorsement.
Meanwhile, moves by certain APC leaders to push a consensus deal to enable Buhari, former presidential candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), emerge as the candidate is already causing disaffection within the party.
But a party source told Daily Sun that certain self-proclaimed leaders in the party are scheming to ensure automatic ticket for Buhari to the consternation of other aspirants.
A source further expressed concern that those angling for automatic ticket for Buhari are being cowed by his die-hard loyalists who are insisting that “it is either Buhari or nothing!”
But the source revealed that the other aspirants are smarting for a showdown with those who believed that Buhari candidacy is a settled matter.
“The idea of “automatic adoption” of Buhari or any other aspirant for that matter is undemocratic and could destroy the foundation and the credibility of the APC.”
He recalled that the success recorded by the main opposition party with the adop­tion of the modified open direct primaries for choosing its governorship candidate in Adamawa State for the October 11 election has given confidence to the leadership that it is a preferred option for choosing its candidates for the 2015 elections.
Reacting to the insinuation of automatic ticket for his boss, media aide to General Buhari , Mallam Yau Darazo, told Daily Sun that he was not aware of such plot. “Where did you hear that? Well, I am not aware of that,” he queried.
Also reacting, National Publicity Secre­tary of the party, Lai Mohammed, said no candidate would be imposed as presidential candidate of the party. “There is no provi­sion for automatic ticket in our party. I can tell you that we shall conduct a transparent convention, where our candidate would emerge,” he said.

source jimi disu bolg



Friday, 12 September 2014

Call for Jega’s removal tears North, South apart

Junaid Mohammed and Edwin Clark

In this piece, JOHN ALECHENU takes a look at the controversy generated by the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission to create additional polling units.
As the 2015 general elections draws near, the action or inactions of the Independent National Electoral Commission is sure to attract public attention.
It therefore did not come as a surprise that the commission’s decision to increase the number of polling units from 120,000 to 150, 000 has generated more than a passing interest from a section of Nigerians.
Several interest groups have viewed the timing and motive of the exercise with suspicion. Perhaps the greatest attack yet has come from the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly.
The group which boasts an array of elder statesmen such as: Chief Edwin Clark, former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme and Senator Femi Okorounmu, felt so strongly about the issue that it demanded the resignation of INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
Presenting the group’s position at a press conference in Abuja, on Wednesday, Okorounmu described the creation and allocation of 30,000 additional polling units as “shocking and indefensible.”
He accused Jega of attempting to justify the creation of the additional units by claiming that it was for the purpose of decongesting the polling units ahead of the 2015 election and easing the logistic challenges of the commission during the elections.
He said, “As plausible as these reasons may sound to the architects of this voodoo and arbitrary allocation of polling units, the people of southern Nigeria and indeed the Southern Nigerian Peoples Assembly view this invidious act as a script perfectly crafted for Prof. Jega to implement, in continuation of the well-known hegemonic agenda, by the enemies of our hard won democracy.”
Okorounmu stressed that the people of southern Nigeria were not only appalled but strongly reject Jega’s claims and averment used to justify the decision.
According to him, whatever persuasions may have motivated this decision, it was orchestrated to give the North a clear political advantage over the South.
Members of the group recalled that the current 119,973 polling units were delineated on the premise of 73 million registered voters prior to the 2011 general elections.
They further argued that it was the same INEC, which based on perennial claims of ghost voters, introduced the Automated Finger Identification System.
The AFIS system reduced the registered voting population from the 73 million registered voters to 57 million.
This coupled with the distribution of Permanent Voter Cards the group said, was expected to usher in a new regime of free, fair and credible elections.
The group said instead, the electoral management body decided to “assail our sensibilities” by saying a reduced voter strength of 57 million registered voters need more polling units of 150,000 as against 119,973 polling units when the total registered voters were reportedly 73million.
The group also picked holes in allotment of the 30,000 new polling units which it said was clearly skewed in favour of the North where Jega hails from.
Specifically, the group accused the commission’s boss of pursuing an ethnic agenda by marginalising the entire southern Nigeria by allocating 21,615 polling units to the North as against 8,412 to the South.
A breakdown of the registered voters and the polling units according to zones revealed that the North-East which had 10,445,510 registered voters in 2011 and 16,859 polling units, is to have 5,291 units added to it.
The North-Central which had 10,573,968 registered voters and 14,979 existing polling units is to benefit from an additional 6,318 units.
North-West with 18,607,496 registered voters currently has 29,961 polling units, is to have 7,906 units added to it. The Federal Capital Territory with 892,628 voters and an existing 562 polling units is to have an additional 1,200 units.
The South-East with a total of 7,178,185 voters which currently has 15,529 polling units is to have an additional 1,167 units.
The South-South with a current voting population of 9,486,718 and 17, 710 exiting polling units, is to have 3,087 units added to it while the South-West with a voting population of 13,188,864 with 24,673 existing polling units is to have an additional 4,160 units.
Okorounmu queried the logic behind this distribution in the light of current realities.
According to him, if the South-West with a voting population of 13,188,864 had 24,673 polling units when compared to the North West with a voting population of 18, 607, 496 and 29,961 polling units, what then is responsible for the 47 per cent disparity in the number of new polling units?
One of the poignant questions being asked in some quarters include: how come the North-East zone an area from which people are fleeing in droves due to the Boko Haram insurgency, is receiving additional polling units than any of the zones in the South?
In response, Jega described criticisms against INEC’s decision to sanitise the polling units structure ahead of the 2015 election as unjustified.
He observed that the criticisms were based largely on an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory, that the commission has done a disproportional distribution of the polling units across Nigeria which was aimed at foisting the dominance of one section of the country over the others for political advantage.
He said the suspicion was quite understandable, albeit regrettable that, given the low level of public trust in governance institutions in our clime, and the acrimony that attends to the “distribution” or “allocation” of virtually anything in our country, people tend to view every policy decision with some suspicion.
Jega cautioned that as Nigerians we must be careful not to reduce patriotic causes to primordial biases.
He explained that INEC’s decision to re-configure the structure of polling units as well as create additional ones was driven by the need to reform and improve upon the electoral process for free, fair, peaceful and credible elections in 2015 and beyond.
The INEC boss insisted that there was no sectional or parochial agenda in this decision.
He said the basic aim of the exercise the commission was presently undertaking was to ease the access of voters to the ballot box in the 2015 general elections and beyond.
The chairman of the election management body said the creation of additional polling units would help in decongesting over-crowded ones and dispersing voters as evenly as possible among all the units.
This, he also said, would help the commission locate the units more effectively within commuting distances of voters, given that movement is usually restricted on election day.
He also noted that the additional polling units were required to make room for the split of large ones such that they have on average of 500 registered voters.
Jega said “The present structure of polling units was created in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria, which created 120,000 polling units and 8,809 wards (Registration Areas).
“This structure of polling units has been used for the 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011 general elections. We are all witnesses to the congested polling units on election days in 2011 and since then in many parts of the country.
“From 1996 to date, there has been an exponential growth in Nigeria’s population; and there have been severe demographic shifts resulting from new settlements in major urban areas.”
He further explained that in 1996 when the current polling unit structure was put in place, the estimated population of the country was about 110m.
However, by 2006, after a national population census, the population rose to 140 million. In 2011, when the voters’ registration was undertaken, the population was estimated to be about 160 million.
Today’s estimates put Nigeria’s population at around 175 million. This, he said, represents nearly 60 per cent rise in the population since 1996.
These factors, he argued, have among other things, translated to over-crowded polling units and the fact that some established settlements have not been captured under the existing polling unit structure which was evident during the 2011 general elections and other elections thereafter.
This rise in population, with corresponding increase in the number of eligible voters was clearly manifested during the 2011 fresh voter registration exercise, he added.
For now, political parties have refrained from making a comment about the dispute as some of them claim to be “studying the situation.” However, a fresh disagreement emerged on Thursday as northern politicians kicked against the call for the removal of Jega
A Kano State delegate to the just concluded National Conference, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said the call had exposed the people of the South-East and South-South as ingrates who lack a sense of decency.
According to him, the call by the group was an attempt to blackmail the Federal Government. He said although he was not Jega’s fan, he did not agree that Jega should be sacked for the reasons cited by the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly.
He said “I don’t for a moment care for Jega and I have never commended his performance in INEC, but this just shows people like Jega that people in the South-South and in the South-East have no sense of gratitude, they have no sense of propriety, they have no sense of decency and in their own calculations; they believe everybody outside their tribal enclave is a tool to be used and dumped.”
He further noted that if indeed Jega deserves to be sacked, he should have been sacked a long time ago but not for the reasons adduced by the “South-South irredentists and tribalists like Chief Edwin Clark.”
According to him, the moment someone like Clark runs down somebody, it shows that the man is doing his job. He explained that whatever the circumstance, Chief Clark is the last person to demand that somebody should be sacked.
Mohammed said if people have genuine concerns about the distributions of these additional units it should be taken up with INEC and whoever was found guilty should be dealt with.
“The SNPA lacks the moral ground to form itself into judge, prosecutor and jury on matters affecting an election which they have a stake in. If the government gives in to this blackmail, it should be prepared to give in to more blackmail from other sections of the country,” he said.
Copyright PUNCH.

Politicisation of Boko Haram insurgency, bane of Nigeria’s anti-terror fight (2)

Being paper delivered at Portcullis House, House of Commons, London by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, National Publicity Secretary, All Progressives Congress, APC, on Monday
PHASE Three: This is where things started to fall apart between Boko Haram and politicians/government officials in Borno State. Available reports point to some sort of disagreement between the group and some politicians following the 2007 elections (e.g. over monthly stipends payable to the group). This was followed by recurring clashes between Boko Haram members and the local police, especially over police harassment and arrest of Boko Haram   members.
One of such led to the massacre of over a dozen police officers in July 2009. This triggered a large-scale security operation as ordered by President Yar’Adua in Borno, Yobe and Bauchi states. It is estimated that over 1000 suspected Boko Haram members were killed or summarily executed by security forces, including Mohammed Yusuf and his in-laws in this operation. In the aftermath of this crack down, some members of Boko Haram leadership escaped and regrouped outside Nigeria, and linked up with other Salafist groups in the Sahel.
Abubakar Shekau
Abubakar Shekau
Phase Four: This covers the ‘hardening’ of Boko Haram as it was transformed into an ultra-violent, insurgent Salafist group. Remnants of Boko Haram reportedly joined up with salafi-jihadi groups – such as the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – and underwent insurgency trainings in jihadi camps in Northern Mali, and Mauritania. From September 2010, Boko Haram commenced violent attacks to mark the onset of the current insurgency. It started with high profile targets such as the Nigerian Police headquarters, United Nations country office, police and military facilities, prisons, mosques and churches, banks, schools, government offices, telecommunication masts, markets and lately local communities.
Phase Five
This covers recent dynamics of Boko Haram insurgency, including the emergence of splinter groups, and the sheer increase in the Boko Haram’s audacity, including the kidnapping of more than 200 Chibok school girls (that internationalized the insurgency), the take-over of entire communities and towns; the declaration of a Caliphate and hoisting of its flags in attacked communities. In short, the Boko Haram insurgency has changed from what it was before, and it is at its fiercest level, as yet.
The Politics of Boko Haram
I have carefully chronicled Boko Haram’s evolution to counteract the rationale of PDP-Jonathan Administration failed attempt at linking it to the APC.
What is the PDP’s logic and rationale for linking the APC with Boko Haram?
This is based on a faulty logic of presuming that the APC is a sectional (Northern), as opposed to a national political party, that the APC is made up predominantly of Muslims, that it is a North/Islamic party; and therefore the APC must directly or indirectly support and sympathize with Boko Haram; and finally that Boko Haram is a Northern and Muslim plot to resist and challenge a Southerner-Christian Jonathan Presidency.
This position is inconsistent on several fronts. First, Boko Haram climaxed during the reign of Late President Yar’Adua, hence could not be a Northern plot against a Southern-Christian president. The 2009 security operation  which led to the death of over 1000 members of Boko Haram was ordered by a sitting Northern-Muslim president!
Second, it was the PDP, from 2009 till date that transformed Boko Haram from   a movement into an insurgent group, from a moderate Sunni group to a Salafist-Jihadi franchise, from a local group with localized (socio-economic and cultural change) agenda to an international violent jihadist group.
Third, while it is true the APC is the number one grassroots party across Northern Nigeria, but so also is the case in substantial parts of Southern Nigeria. The APC is a proper Pan-Nigerian party that reflects the ethno-religious and cultural diversities of Nigeria. The APC has functional structures across the 774 LGAs, and 36 states plus Abuja. As a matter of fact as of today APC has seven state governors from the Northern part of Nigeria and eight from the Southern part of the country.
Complex diversities
Fourth, the APC is neither a Muslim nor a Christian political party. I make bold to say that it is impossible to have a religious political party in Nigeria because of the complex diversities in Nigeria. APC, like the PDP has Christian members across Northern Nigeria, and Muslim members across Southern Nigeria. Moreover, it is absurd to still think of Nigeria in a simplistic North equate Muslim, and South equate Christian prism.
Fifth, the APC is neither ashamed nor proud to acknowledge the socio-economic and political abyss that made the emergence of such a deadly and evil group like Boko Haram possible in the first place, and the crass leadership failures and ineptitude that transformed Boko Haram into a killing machine.
It is the APC’s acknowledgement of the underlining socio-economic and political conditions that is misinterpreted by the PDP as APC’s ‘sympathy’ for Boko Haram. The truth must be told, Boko Haram, similar to other ethno-political militias in post-1999 Nigeria, emerged against the backdrop of deepening poverty, social-economic deprivations, corruption, poor governance, police brutality and governance failures under the PDP since 1999. It is no coincidence that the northern half of Nigeria, including the northeast corner (Boko Haram base), are the poorest in the country.
A 2010 assessment by the National Bureau of Statistics reported the national poverty rate was 60.9 per cent, but it was 77.7 percent for the northwest and 76.3 per cent for northeast, compared with 59 per cent for the Southwest.
The World Bank also noted that economic growth and opportunities were not equally shared by different parts of the country, that growth was fastest in southern and middle agro climatic zones, with much slower growth in northern states. This  has resulted in the largest number of poor people residing in the northern part of the country.
Sixth, Alh. Ali Modu Sherif, and all known persons directly or indirectly implicated in Boko Haram are members of the PDP or persons serving or with close ties to the Jonathan presidency.
Finally, the President Jonathan-PDP’s political manipulation of the Boko Haram has to be understood as part of its ‘poker-like’ calculus for clinging on to political power ahead of the 2015 elections.
How is the PDP doing and using this? In essence, how is the PDP benefitting politically from the Boko Haram insurgency?
This is in at least six ways:
The PDP is using the Boko Haram crises to launder the battered image of the Jonathan presidency by securing attendance and participation for President Goodluck at important international summits and meetings. Curiously, Boko Haram has now become a way of getting the international community to talk and meet with President Goodluck Jonathan, and gain international media coverage.
The PDP is also using the Boko Haram crises, especially the #Bringbackourgirls campaign, to   blackmail opposition groups, impose emergency rule in states and areas controlled by opposition political parties, harass and restrict media freedom (through military clampdowns), and for justifying illegal activities.
Constitutional responsibilities
The Boko Haram crisis is readily used by the PDP to rationalize the Jonathan Government’s abdication of its constitutional responsibilities, including visits and assistance to areas affected, effective response to kidnappings and abductions (e.g. the GEJ government was silent over the Chibok girls kidnaps for over 15 days).
The declaration of emergency rule, massive increases in spending on security without correspondent impact, has become a political gimmick by the PDP now being counted as the GEJ achievement in promoting peace and security.
The PDP is actively politicizing the declaration of emergency rule. For instance, the PDP government is ever quick to propose and declare emergency rule in areas controlled by opposition political parties, but not in PDP-controlled states even where the scale of violence, killings and destruction are similar. For example, despite incessant violence, killings, displacement and destruction in Taraba, Benue and Plateau (PDP controlled states), the PDP has been quick to discount the possibility of a full scale emergency rule in the above mentioned states, however it is quick to impose emergency rule in non-PDP states at the slightest episode of violence.
Finally, the status quo favours the PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan. Why? Boko Haram affected areas and indeed the Northern region are APC strongholds, hence Boko Haram crises, the declaration of emergency rule and general atmosphere of insecurity in the North are likely to affect voting (low turnout due to displacement). There is already talk of cancelling elections in some areas in the Northeast, all plots designed to minimize President Jonathan-PDP electoral losses in the North and enhance the likelihood of a PDP victory.

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source :-   Vanguard News - Latest updates from Nigeria, including business, politics, entertainment, fashion, health, technology, naija lifestyle

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Guardian] NECO Records Best Results in Six Years

 52% pass June/July SSCE at credit level
• Over 69 per cent make English, Mathematics
AFTER six years of dismal performance by its candidates, the National Examinations Council (NECO) Wednesday announced that 52.29 percent of persons who sat for this year’s June/July Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) passed at credit level in five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics.
   Announcing the result yesterday in Minna, Niger State, the NECO Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Promise Okpala, said that 74.30 percent of the candidates made five credits and above generally.
   According to him, of the 989,622 persons who registered for the examinations, only 978,886 candidates eventually wrote the examination, which covers about 76 subjects. Giving a breakdown of the result, Okpala said that 72.58 percent scored credit level and above in English Language while 69.49 percent made similar grades in Mathematics.
   In sciences, 72.86 percent of candidates that sat for Chemistry had credits, 69.38 percent of Physics candidates had credit levels while Biology candidates registered 67.83 percent credit grades.
   Okpala noted that beyond the cost of running the examination, insecurity in many parts of the country grossly affected the council’s logistics operations during the school-based examination.
   According to him, “in spite of the challenges facing the council, I feel highly elated that the conduct of the 2014 SSCE examinations was a huge success.”
   He added that the council’s efforts at reducing examination malpractices paid off, as only 0.44 percent of candidates were involved in malpractices, and “this low level of malpractice was an eloquent testimony to the painstaking efforts the council has consistently made to eradicate examination malpractice.”
   Meanwhile, 16 schools were de-recognized for three years while six supervisors and one invigilator were blacklisted for their involvement in examination malpractice during the case in view.
   An analysis of past results showed a steady improvement over the past three years, with NECO posting the best result in the current year.
Source. Guardian

El-Rufai: Patriot or troublemaker? ---- by Bayo Olupohunda

There is something puzzling about the character of Mallam Nasir el-Rufai that will confound even the most veteran of personality profiler. Who is the man, el-Rufai–a patriotic Nigerian or a rabble-rouser? From being a top apparatchik in the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to a self-styled social crusader and an unrelenting critic of the Jonathan administration, the man whose aliases range from the “Giant”, to “Demolition man” and “Mr Controversy” has defied all explanations. His fierce and merciless criticisms of President Goodluck Jonathan have made him the most “hated” Nigerian alive by the Jonathan’s Presidency. Not that the President has been blameless though; his style of administration and a catalogue of embarrassing gaffes by his team have often exposed them to derisive shellacking by detractors. But el-Rufai seems to be in a class of his own. Something tells me we have yet to see the best or worst of the “certified ruffler of feathers” (his own words)
How has el-Rufai metamorphosed from his position at the commanding heights of decision making to the murky waters of being a government critic? Those who know the political trajectory of el-Rufai know that he has always treaded the minefield of controversy. Indeed, he was the enfant terrible of the Obasanjo administration. Now, it appears he has found his calling; for no single individual has rattled the President than Nasir el-Rufai. Since he began his “one man riot-squad” against the Jonathan administration, his vicious criticism of the President and his policies has been unmatched. In spite of personal attacks, el-Rufai has refused to back down on his frequent stinging jibes at the administration. Really, I get the impression that el- Rufai is a nocturnal and daytime stalker. He seems to constantly watch the government to slip up. Like the hungry crocodile that lies in wait at the riverbank, he pounces once his prey strays out of line. His social media pages are his weapons of attack.
But his criticisms of Jonathan have also come at a great personal discomfort. The personal attacks seem to be a fulfilment of the Yoruba proverb that, “a child who keeps his mother awake crying at night will also not experience any sleep”. For his critics, the line between destructive and constructive criticisms is often blurred. He has been attacked for having a personal vendetta to settle with the “Jonathanians”, a contemptuous term he coined to describe the President and his team. He is constantly under attack by the supporters of the President. When his daughter and son died recently, the losses were said to be “punishment” for his criticisms of Jonathan! It was that bad. While these attacks often cross the lines of decency, they however mirror the level criticisms and public discourses have descended to in our country today. Really, opinions are divided as to the motive of el-Rufai.
This has prompted the question: What does el-Rufai want? Are his criticisms borne out of love for country or is he just a nuisance? While it may be hard to isolate el-Rufai’s criticism of the Jonathan Presidency in the general context of widespread disenchantments with this administration, some have accused him of sometimes being overboard in his criticism. Recently, it was el-Rufai who brought to the attention of Nigerians how the findings of the Australian negotiator, Dr. Stephen Davis, had indicted a former Chief of Army Staff and, a former Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, as the sponsors of Boko Haram. The revelation, which was first made known on Arise TV almost went unnoticed until el-Rufai posted it on his Facebook page. Then, like a wild bush fire, the report went viral. The former Army chief in retaliation labelled el-Rufai “a commander of Boko Haram”. Curiously, as el-Rufai took the beating, the author of the report walked away unscathed. But el-Rufai has swum in more troubled waters. Once, he risked the ire of some Christian leaders with a tweet about Jesus Christ. A Fatwa was declared on him.
El-rufai also once retweeted a tweet deemed abusive of the President which carried an image of Jonathan kneeling down and praying to God to put an end to all Nigeria’s problems. In the image, the President was dubbed as incompetent and clueless for seemingly “outsourcing” his responsibilities to God. But one interesting feature of el-Rufai criticism of Jonathan is that he is not always the author of the tweets and updates that target the President. But once they appear on his social media pages, they soon assume new meanings and a life of their own. At those times his critics who are often self-appointed supporters of the President will reach for his jugular. It is what the Afro beat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, called, “roforofo fight”. The protagonists often fight dirty, using unprintable words-until the next episode.
Having broken into national limelight as one of the top enforcers of the Obasanjo’s government, el-Rufai seems to have had his future role cut out for him. He has stayed in our national consciousness since the years he held top government positions first as the powerful czar of the Bureau for Public Enterprises, an agency responsible for privatising moribund and big government conglomerates, and later as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory where his exploits in enforcing the Abuja Masterplan earned him more enemies than friends. He also became an influential member of Obasanjo economic management team. After the collapse of the Third Term agenda, he was so powerful that he was briefly touted to succeed Obasanjo. After Obasanjo left power, his detractors sought to take their pound of flesh. He was hounded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. He faced a barrage of probes from federal legislators. He recently went underground after being sought by the State Security.
In his controversial book, “The Accidental Public Servant”, which chronicles his tempestuous years in the government of Obasanjo, he told the story of his opposition to his principal’s Third Term agenda. In the book, el-Rufai narrated his opposition to the plan and how he made both covert and overt moves to scuttle an agenda he considered as morally wrong. While it has been widely acknowledged that the Jonathan administration has failed to live up to the expectations of Nigerians in many areas, many have asked if el-Rufai has the moral high ground to criticise a party he was a part of for eight years. Just like el-Rufai, Nigerians have continued to criticise the President’s handling of corruption, insecurity and lack of leadership at critical moments. But does el-Rufai’s criticisms personify this widespread anger and discontent with the Jonathan’s Presidency? Is he the right person to oppose this government?
Certainly, el-Rufai is unravelling before our eyes. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president is morally treasonable to the American public”. <> Is el-Rufai taking his own version of criticism too far or did Jonathan ask for it?
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Tinubu may back Buhari for APC presidential ticket

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

There are indications that other presidential aspirants in the All Progressives Congress may be asked to step down and support former Head of State, Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as the party’s consensus candidate for the 2015 presidential election.
Reliable sources in the party, told our correspondent that this was the position of many leaders of the party including former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is arguably the party’s most influential leader.
Though the party has maintained that it will conduct a transparent presidential primary election, which would give all the aspirants a level-playing field, some of its leaders said they are currently considering choosing the candidate via consensus to avoid bitter conflicts that may arise from a keenly contested primary.
The spokesman for the party in the South-East, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, who confirmed this, said the general notion among leaders of the party was that Buhari should be chosen as the party’s candidate through consensus — an option that is permitted by its constitution.
Okechukwu debunked rumours that some people within the party were planning to convince Buhari to drop his ambition and support younger aspirants.
He said, “Buhari is not under pressure to drop his ambition. And I don’t think anybody who wishes the APC well will want to convince Buhari to step down. If we go through primaries, none of the other aspirants would be able to beat Buhari. In fact, now we want to go for a consensus to avoid bitter rivalry within the party. That means the other aspirants would be convinced to step down for Buhari.”
One of Buhari’s associates, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, who was the national publicity secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, told our correspondent that the achievement of the former head of state in the 2011 presidential election stands him out as the most qualified for APC’s presidential ticket.
Fashakin, noted that Buhari was the only living Nigerian that is a threat to President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid, adding that the APC would be shooting itself in the foot if it gives its presidential ticket any other aspirant.
He said being a pragmatic politician, Tinubu would not support any presidential aspirant other than Buhari.
He said, “Tinubu is a political pragmatist. He knows very well that the only man that can win the presidential election for the APC is Buhari. All he needs to say is ‘if you want my support, show me that you can bring 12 million votes.’ So, we are certain that Tinubu will support Buhari, because he is the only one that can guarantee 12 million votes for the APC. Tinubu has made a lot of sacrifice to bring the APC on board, so he will not do anything that will thwart that effort.”
He described the other presidential aspirants as opportunists who did not contribute much to the building of the APC but are seeking to benefit the most from it.
“I learnt that one of our senators asked one of the people who are jostling for the APC presidential ticket whether it was proper to go to somebody’s house and insist on occupying the master bedroom. Where were they when Buhari dissolved his CPC to form the APC? Now that the house is built they want to pick the master bedroom. It doesn’t work that way,” he said.
Copyright PUNCH.

Nigeria is at war – Catholic Church

The Catholic Church says, given the state of insecurity in the north eastern part of the country, it is clear that Nigeria is at war. The church lamented that despite the situation, Nigerians are moving on as if nothing is happening.
Executive Secretary of the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria, Fr. Evaristus Bassey, told journalists in Calabar, Cross River State on Thursday, that it was sad that people were more interested in elections in 2015 than the growing state of insecurity in the country.
He said the foundation is the humanitarian and human development wing of the Catholic Church in Nigeria.
Bassey said, “We need to change our lifestyle to reflect the times. We need to know that Nigeria is in a war situation. We need to lend a helping hand to the people out there.
“We can’t go around eating and drinking when people don’t even have a place to sleep. Even our girls have not been brought back. We are gradually forgetting about them and in the midst of this, people are still talking about things like campaigns. It is tragic.
“Thousands of people have been displaced. People are living in the hills. People have no food to eat and they are living in fear of their lives. Churches have ceased to be places of worship but places of refuge for displaced people.
“The church in the Northeast is under serious pressure and they need our help. We need to spare for our brothers out there who are suffering not just of the Catholic faith but anyone out there in pains.
“The tragedy is that the rest of the country is moving on as if nothing catastrophic is happening. Politicians are gathering, multi million naira parties being thrown, and everyone is carrying on with business as usual.
“Is it that we have heard so much about Boko Haram that these happenings are no longer news but have become normal daily narratives?  But imagine being a refugee in your own country ! Imagine running for hours for safety. Imagine not being certain if you would eat for days. Imagine having to sleep in the hills for days and weeks.
“This is not a time to apportion blame. But the fight against Boko Haram is not a wrestling match, it is a competition of fire power. Thank God our military has woken up to the reality that this is something that needs confronting with all military arsenal.
“As Boko Haram is tackled in one area, they open up in other areas. The military needs a broad based strategy to confront them. The military have realized it is serious and I think they are doing well. The president should bring in international community to carry out credible investigation to get to the root of the matter,” he added.


Schools Resumption Controversy….Vanguard

THE  initial announcement by the Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau that all schools nationwide should resume on October 13th 2014 over the Ebola Viral Disease outbreak had sparked off a wave of reactions, with stakeholders in the private schools sector coming out heavily against it.

The Minister called a meeting of state commissioners for education and it was agreed that schools should be reopened on Monday, September 22nd 2014.
This decision was taken as a way of accommodating the interests of those who would not want the school calendar to be overly disrupted and the other side which insists that the Ebola outbreak must be brought to a complete halt before schools can reopen.
As much as we understand the concerns of those who say that no outbreak should bring human interactions and livelihood to a halt, we insist that it  is better for us to err on the side of caution. The authorities must uphold the safety and welfare of the children and by extension the rest of the family above any other narrow considerations. Schools should be reopened when it is confirmed that the outbreak has been effectively arrested.
The Ebola outbreak is a serious national emergency, and Nigeria has been commended from all corners of the world for the way it has handled its containment. These included the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the New York Times in an editorial. Part of the reason for this achievement was that the nation closed ranks and eschewed cheap politics while tackling the problem. If we had done the same in our war against the Boko Haram insurgency we would have triumphed over it long ago.

Having set a new resumption date, the state and federal ministries of education should focus all their energies towards ensuring that when the children return to school, all strategies outlined towards safeguarding lives will be in place. These include the training of desk officers to handle suspected Ebola cases in all schools, the distribution of equipment and the provision of funds to ensure that all agreed Ebola containment programmes are carried out to the letter.

Above all, parents and teachers must also brace up for hands-on engagement in inculcating the hygienic practices necessary for the eradication of the outbreak in the pupils and students in record time. The observance of preventive measures is very crucial, as prevention is better than cure.
We must also redouble efforts towards the development of cures and vaccines for Ebola. Since it is a tropical disease that pops out of the forests from time to time, we should not rest on our oars until vaccines and cures are developed. We must lead the way in this search.
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Paying to serve the nation: NYSC’s insensitivity….Guardian                                      


HOW much longer can Nigerians endure insensitivity and oppression by their own government? This is the pertinent question as the vicious cycle of government departments and agencies revelling in a culture of impunity continues, especially for the simple reason that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has for ever looked the other way. While the citizens are abused and dehumanised, not once has such insensitivity attracted any sanction, hence the culture reigns.
    The newly introduced policy of money-for-call-up letters imposed through a dubious biometric-enabled on-line registration of prospective corps members requesting each to pay N4,000 is the latest of such indefensible, insensitive, illogical and most irresponsible plans ever contemplated by any government. As planned by the management of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the scheme is the height of insensitivity to the plight of the average Nigerian youth already traumatised by a poor but rigorous education system and who even face a bleak future in the labour market. To facilitate payment, a prospective corps member is directed to use “any bank’s ATM card or the PIN vending option”. Participants have an option of online registration or collection of letter from school this current year but the enforcement of N4000 payment option starts next year with ‘Batch A’. By any logic, it cannot and should not stand. President Jonathan must today order the immediate reversal of this scam.
   In saner environments, the extortionist tendency of public officials is enough to cost a government re-election. The country is gradually inching towards an era of the youth standing up for their rights in a civilized way if the leaders are leading them as they are, on a mission to nowhere.
   Barely six months ago, the world was shocked by the avoidable death of scores of enterprising graduates across the country spearheaded by the Ministry of the Interior through a scandalous recruitment exercise credited to Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) that was hardly intended to recruit genuine applicants among the more than 700,000 candidates who reported at the suffocating centres to write tests. Many were trampled to death, many more suffocated to death. Months after, the minister and his collaborators are still on their seats. That was not the first incident of NIS job-hunting centre made a death zone. A Comptroller- General was earlier forced into retirement on similar grounds.
   What the NYSC has just embarked on is a dangerous, fraudulent journey that must be terminated immediately. The simple deduction is this: whoever initiated the scam is not fit and proper to be in the service of the Federal Government. This brazen robbery aimed at self-aggrandizement by some public officials must be the last by NYSC or any other public agency for that matter.
   It is doubly sad that the NYSC had the audacity to even advertise its bizarre, fraudulent intention to extort money from poor graduates who struggled through school and are just trying to find their feet. The on-line registration charge is a serious national embarrassment. What could be more than the ridicule the management is subjecting itself to, rationalising the plan by saying it will create opportunity to print multiple call-up letters by corps members (in case of loss or damage) and make them enjoy “accelerated camp orientation processing” at the orientation camps. What a warped thinking in the 21st century! Is this not a tacit admission of a cumbersome procedure the agency had been subjecting corps members to in all of 41 years of the scheme’s existence.
    For a scheme in which the Federal Government picks all bills, what exactly forced the NYSC management into this, or better still, what does the management plan to do with the hundreds of millions of naira to be raised every year at an average of 100,000 enlistments? It is certainly bizarre for anybody to make it mandatory for Nigeria’s sons and daughters to pay to serve their country.
  Also, from where did the NYSC management derive the legal cover to charge the fee? There is a law that established the scheme, so any alteration to the service operations ought to also follow an established due process. The NYSC is challenged to make public the due process it followed before the irrational decision. Or, is the government weary of funding the scheme and has found a convenient way to get the agency itself fill the gap? Nigerians deserve an explanation on this underhand deal.
   So much effort has been made by critics of the scheme in the past to justify the scheme’s cancellation, an argument that has often been countered by the nobility of the scheme and its original intention as a unifying power in a large and diverse nation.  Now, the NYSC is further playing into the hands of those who believe it has outlived its usefulness.
   Suffice to say that nothing, absolutely, nothing must be done to derail the lofty dreams of the founding fathers to promote unity and cultural unification enforced through Decree No. 24 of May 22, 1973. The scheme has served and is still serving a useful purpose. If there are gaps in its operations now, all stakeholders can meet and consider a review. Turning it into a commercial venture, even an exploitative one that feeds off the vulnerability of innocent Nigerian children, however, is unacceptable.

PDP, APC are desperados by Ochereome Nnanna (Vanguard)

WE have a very poor quality democracy. Our constitutional order is in shambles, which is why within fifteen years we have already held two constitutional conferences to try and correct the makeshift 1999 constitution hurried assembled by the departing regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The most telling evidence of our highly compromised renascent democracy is in the political parties that have operated it. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has not only been in power at the federal level for all these fifteen years, it has also dominated at the state and local government levels. It has lost and regained members as the electoral cycles come and go, but has remained largely unchanged as the most dominant political force in the land.
The opposition parties have fared far worse. Today, we have the All Progressives Congress (APC), a newly-formed coalition of regional parties of the North and West, trying to leverage on the over-bloated population and voter registration figures associated with the North and West to snatch power from the PDP. Since 1999, the opposition parties have formed all sorts of coalitions, alliances and mergers in their efforts to upstage the PDP, to no avail. In 1999, it was the North’s All People’s Party (APP) and the West’s Alliance for Democracy (AD) that started the effort.
It was the most incredible political magic ever conjured in Nigeria. Two mutual enemy political parties, whose promoters were in the trenches fighting each other to the death just a few months before, came together, spurred on by the lust for power. The APP was the conservative section of the Northern oligarchy which promoted General Sani Abacha’s aborted life presidency ambition. The AD was the political offshoot of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) which fought Abacha and agitated for the revalidation of the June 12 presidential election won by Chief Moshood Abiola.
AD leaders did not mind that the APP leaders were behind the annulment of the June 12 presidential election. They did not care that the APP leaders were responsible for the reign of terror levied against the South West for fighting against a barefaced insult meted to one of their sons. It was none of their business that these people knew what happened to Abiola. All that mattered was that the APP (the bigger party) was willing to allow the AD to take up the presidential slot while they (APP) would play the second fiddle. It did not occur to them that it is against the law of nature for the tail to wag the dog, as it is against the reality of politics for a smaller party to lead the bigger party in a coalition. Ideal democracy is always a game of majority rule and minority rights. Anything short of that is a scam. It is bound to end in tears, sorrow and blood for someone.
The APP held its 1999 presidential convention in Kaduna and a political dark horse, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, was elected as its presidential candidate. Onu was actually a political bellhop manipulated by the Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi faction of the APP to emerge. On the other hand, the AD held its primaries in Ibadan, an event I covered as a reporter. Chief Bola Ige, the founder of the Party had expected to be picked, but he was dropped because of his perceived regional outlook. AD needed someone who was more nationally acceptable, and Chief Olu Falae got the nod. Ige was not amused. His ploy for taking the AD out of the PDP which he co-founded collapsed in Ibadan. It was partly responsible for his decision to join President Olusegun Obasanjo’s cabinet as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, a post in which he was brutally murdered and no one, till date, has been brought to account for it.
The final political abracadabra took place, when the APP presidential candidate, Onu, was shoved aside by Shinkafi, who accepted to stand as Falae’s running mate. A man who did not contest for the APP’s primaries became its representative in the combined presidential ticket. It was the first of the series of failed North/West alliances concocted in a bid to dethrone PDP, which has always posted the advantage of being the most widely-spread national political party.
The opposition parties have always demonstrated uncommon desperation to grab power from PDP through North/West alliances. These have not produced desired results and may never do so because they  are up against a non-ethnic or religion, or region-tied nationally spread ruling party. The day the opposition tones down desperation and puts away deceptive regional calculations to build a nationally relevant political platform, they will become far more competitive. Up till now, the opposition has shown it is not relevant to the Minorities and the South East zone. Any political party that is irrelevant to the Minorities will never win the presidency. And any political party that has strong religious, ethnic and regional outlook will never become relevant to the Minorities. Those who have ears let them hear.
While the opposition has been desperate to snatch power from the PDP, the ruling party has also responded with desperation to hold on to power. The PDP is a party of “everything goes”. There is no moral parameter of eligibility for PDP membership. So long as you can help in winning elections in your area, just walk through the door. It does not matter if you are a convict, murderer, sponsor of terrorism and crimes against humanity. Come to PDP. You are welcome to the umbrella.
There is a red carpet reception waiting for you. If the widely acclaimed “father” of Boko Haram, Alhaji Nmodu Sheriff (SAS) can make such a triumphant entry into PDP, what else do you want me to say? Remember, Sheriff’s Borno State was the only one out of the 36 states and the FCT that did not give President Goodluck Jonathan 25 per cent in the 2011 presidential election. Surely, with Sheriff inside the PDP basket, 25 per cent or more is assured in 2015.
Power is the name of the game in our renascent democracy. The lust for power has bleached both PDP and APC of any unique identity. APC is actually mimicking PDP. APC is now zoning offices. How can you win by copying the original? Can you become bigger than D-Banj by copying D-Banj? PDP is open to all sorts questionable characters of politicians. So is APC. In  fact, if you are in PDP you are a thief, rogue and robber. But once you cross into APC, you become a “progressive” (they pronounce it as PRO-gressive). Whatever that means.
Meanwhile, there is no clear-cut PDP or APC way of doing things. There is only a ruling party but no opposition. Nigerians have no choice but to follow individuals, not parties. Vote for a candidate of your choice. There is no political party to choose from. PDP and APC – political parties? Please don’t make laugh!
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