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Ekiti APC and the need to Choose the right Governorship Candidate in 2022



Mr Biodun Oyebanji and Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele

Oluseyi Olubanjo

It is hoped that the All Progressives Congress, which is the ruling party in the State, would get it right again this time by ensuring that it’s decision in choosing a gubernatorial candidate is informed by objective considerations and ingenious political thinking rather than primordial sentiments, sectarian affiliation and crude political intrigues.

Coming to terms with the dynnamics of political reality and strategic planning towards electoral victory, it is essential that the APC leadership in the State should ensure that the most popular, widely accepted, profoundly marketable and well experienced candidate emerges at the party’s governorship primaries coming up on 22nd January, 2022.

The People’s Democratic Party, which is the main opposition party in the State is already getting it’s house together, leaving no stone unturned to dislodge the APC in the ensuing contest. The likes of Chief Segun Oni, a former Governor of Ekiti State are already jostling for the PDP ticket, wanting to stage a comeback to Oke Ayoba Government house. Given the fast- approaching 2023 presidential polls, the PDP in Ekiti and Osun States are not likely to take chances at all in the forthcoming 2022 gubernatorial elections.
They may likely end up taking the most strategic measures in ensuring the emergence of popular candidates with a view to dislodging the APC in the two respective States.

The strategic implication of this to APC in Ekiti and Osun States and the rest of Southwest is that the leadership of the party should not only put it’s house in order through genuine reconciliation, by placating all aggieved factions and also by ensuring a level playing field for all contestants during the party primaries early next year.

In the array of the APC gubernatorial aspirants in Ekiti State, Sen. Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (M.O.B) is the most outstanding personality truly deserving worthy of the party’s guber ticket this time around.
Firstly, by next year, Sen. Bamidele would be gunning for the Ekiti State Number One Seat for the third time. He contested for the seat in 2014, and he did same in 2018 after which he became the Director-General of Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organization when JKF was running for a second term in office. In the wake of his emergence as the Chief Stretegist of the JKF campaign, Bamidele was involved in a ghastly shooting incidence that almost claimed his life, but for the favour and benevolence of Almighty God.

Given his penchant for the service of his people in Ekiti State as well as his profound vision to further help in transfoming their living conditions, Bamidele is, once again, throwing his arms in the ring as a well experienced and widely acceptable contender.

Bamidele is not a green horn in Nigerian politics of today. He is not a light-weight gladiator waiting to ride on someone else back in determining his fate for electoral victory.
As a loyal and reliable party man, he is not only prepared to submit to the direction and democratic guidance of the party leadership in the state but he is also ready to join hands with all relevant stakeholders and progressive forces in ensuring that the APC coasts home to victory in the 202 governorship election.

Bamidele’s political pedigree and professional carriage is what is urgently needed for the APC in Ekiti State to defeat any other party’s candidate at the June 18, 2022 guber poll.

Currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and equally the Chairman of the Southern Senators’ Forum, Bamidele is a shining light and trail blaizer in the upper chamber of the 9th National Assembly. He is a Member of the Body of Benchers, Nigeria, a foremost student and youth leader and a prominent human rights activist during the dark heinous days of military dictatorship in Nigeria. He was on several occasions incarcerated and held incommunicado by the successive military junta before travelling to the United States of America on political exiile.

Bamidele has been in the prestigious legal practice over the last three decades. He is a lawyer without border; a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, American Bar Association, New York Bar Association and International Bar Association. He is a Fellow of several professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Chartered Institute of Public Administration and Local Government as well as the Chartered Institute of Management Consultants.
An Award-winning parliamentarian of no mean stature, Bamidele was also a three term member of the prestigious Lagos State cabinet between 2002 and 2011.

He is a thorough- bred progressive politician with consummate energy for grassroots politicking.
Owing to his profound political maturity, his Omoluabi kind of “easy going” attitude and strategic dynamism, Bamidele has carved a niche for himself within the political circle as a reliable and dependable bridge builder between the town and gown, between the old and the new breed of politicians as well as between the leaders and the led.

An astute visionary and well-traveled technocrat himself, Bamidele remarkably has what it takes to sustain the progressive trend and consolidate the good works and giant strides of the Fayemi administration. His credible personality, outstanding professional competence, his great international exposure as well as his superlative political networking skills and affliation across the nation would readily open innumerable doors of favour and goodwill for Ekiti State if he becomes the next Governor of the State.
Ekiti State is ripe for large scale industrialization and is in dire need of an aggressive, vision-driven actualizer whose primary objective is to open up the State for foreign direct investment, mass scale commercial activities and technological innovation through the optimum utilization of the State’s teeming human and material resources.

This calls for the rejuvenation of a new legal regime to provide an enabling environment for private sector-led economic growth accompanied by rapid infrastructural development, agricultural revolution, sustainable peace and security.

Bamidele’s unusual wealth of experience as a seasoned lawyer, foremost federal lawmaker and well- accomplished administrator, .has prepared him over the years for these ensuing tasks of governance in Ekiti State.
What he needs and is presently craving for is the unanimous support of the party leadership, critical stakeholders and all the members and stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress in Ekiti State to fly the party’s ticket in June next year.

Sentiment apart, given his unmatched political pedigree, his great administrative acumen, his profound preparedness for service, his invaluable Contributions to the enthronement and sustainability of democracy and good governance in Nigeria right from his tender age as a university undergraduate as well as his readiness to deliver the development deliverables to the good people of Ekiti State, Bamidele is obviously the best man to occupy Oke-Ayoba Government house come October 2022 when the next Governor of Ekiti State would be sworn in, all things being equal.

Bamidele’s aspiration is to create a new, united, prosperous, peaceceful and virile Ekiti State where the lofty dreams nurtured by it’s founding fathers and for which they worked so hard for it’s creation almost three decades ago could come to reality.

He is persuaded that the attainment of these laudable goals lies in the enactment of an atmosphere of new understanding, new vision, new determination and a new spirit that requires the genuine integration and enduring input of all stakeholders in the collective rebirth of our dear State.

His Manifesto Booklet, ‘Ekiti Charter of Prosperity’ more than any previous blueprint, emphasizes the need for every citizen of Ekiti to see himself or herself as a moral agent for the urgent rescue and elevation of our dear State from the status of a civil service State to that of an industrialized centre and hub of commercial activities.

Bamidele is seeking to re-invent governance, engender freedom and democratic ethos, create jobs, eradicate poverty, build infrastructure, sustain businesses, secure lives and prosperity, re-enact the essence and value of peaceful co-existence among Ekitikete and restore the lost glories, hope, faith and confidence of our people.
This he pledges to undertake by dedicating his talents, his time, his resources and his unusual wealth of political, legal and administrative experience in ensuring that these lofty goals are realized, to the utmost benefit and prosperity of Ekiti people.

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Ahmad Lawan: The Doyen of Nigerian Parliament @64



Senate President Ahmad Lawan
Senate President Ahmad Lawan

By Ola Awoniyi

Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the Distinguished Senator representing Yobe North Senatorial District of Yobe State, turns 64 on 12th January, 2023. Within those almost six and a half decades, he has seen it all, especially in public service. In just about five months from now, he will conclude his tenure as the 14th President of the Nigerian Senate and sixth consecutive session in the National Assembly.

Lawan has been around for so long in Abuja that it is easy to assume he was never elsewhere. Yet, his earliest work experience was in the academia, and it lasted long enough for him to bag a Doctorate degree in Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) before yielding to the pull of partisan politics in 1998.

In that calling, Lawan has clearly made his mark. And not just because he attained the dizzying height of third in the order of succession. People see politics as a dirty game. But Ahmad Lawan does not see it that way. For him, politics should not change the core beliefs and principles of an individual. Service to the people should be the driving objective of partisan political practice. And whether in politics or elsewhere, Lawan believes one’s yes must mean yes.

This has, in no small  measure, paid off for Lawan in his almost 25 years in politics, 24 of which has been as a federal lawmaker. A member of the pioneer class of the National Assembly of the Fourth Republic, he was first elected in 1999 to the House of Representatives from the Bade/Jakusko Federal Constituency of Yobe State. He was re-elected to the House in 2003. But in 2007, Lawan crossed over from the Green Chamber to the Red Chamber as the Senator for the Yobe North District. He was re-elected to that Senate seat in 2011, 2015 and 2019.

If you know what it takes to win elections in Nigeria, you would appreciate that what multiple winners like Lawan have accomplished is no small feat. His numerous reelections underscore that his constituents appreciate the quality of representation that he has been providing to them in Yobe North District.

The life of a politician is not all gloss as it may sometimes seem. Election is not a tea party. A parliamentarian in particular needs very hard work to get a return ticket from the party. In Parliament, getting the support of colleagues for  motions and bills requires deep knowledge and passion for the subject; focus and temperament. It is actually an extra burden if you are a Presiding Officer in parliament. Success or failure at every stage has its implications.

No wonder, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, the outspoken Governor of Kaduna State, at a recent public function in Abuja, said he has no intention of seeking a seat in the National Assembly like many former governors now do.

Speaking as chairman at the second edition of the “Distinguished Parliamentarian Lecture” organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies(NILDS): the governor said:

“The Legislature is one branch of government I know I can never function. The hardwork needed to convince people to support even your motion is something some of us have no patience for. You know management in the Executive is very straightforward. It is very hierarchical and once you are a governor, your word is almost law. But in the Legislature, everybody is equal and there is no management that is more difficult than managing your equals. I don’t envy Mr Speaker and the Senate President at all because their job perhaps is the hardest job in this country. Managing equals is difficult.”

Despite the difficulties, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan has shone at the National Assembly since its inauguration in 1999. Lawan is today one of only two lawmakers remaining in the National Assembly from the 1999 set. He has also attained the most enviable of heights in his many years of service at Parliament, becoming “first among equals” in the Upper Chamber, which is the very pinnacle of the hierarchy in the parliament of any democratic society. That makes him the Doyen of the Nigerian Parliament.

In his three and a half years as the 14th President of the Senate and Chairman of the ninth National Assembly, he has set a high standard for whoever will be his successors. He has demonstrated the value of parliamentary experience as a prerequisite for election as a presiding officer for the Upper Chamber.

His experience of more than two decades in parliament has made him an encyclopedia on the inner workings of the National Assembly. Lawan has the standing rules at the tip of his fingers. When any of his colleagues raises a Point of Order, he would ask the colleague to specify which order. But before the text is read out, Lawan already knows the provision and its applicability.

As “first among equals,” Lawan knows the importance of fairness in the conduct of the affairs in plenary. Even though the majority will always have its way, the minority must have its say as well.

Lawan knows the value of a bipartisan Legislature. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the job of a Presiding Officer is to know when to hit the gavel and when not to. As one of Lawan’s aides, I heard him say, many at times, that he had no choice but to hit the gavel or rule in favour of a majority voice vote even when he held a different view to the voice vote. That is democracy.

Lawan also knows the value of promoting harmony between the Legislature and other arms of government, particularly the Executive, without compromising the independence of the Legislature.

Lawan has seen it all in Parliament. From my vintage point of observation, I quickly realized that he did not become the 14th President of the Senate and Chairman of the Ninth National Assembly by happenstance. It was the result of long years of self-preparedness, self-discipline, consistency, perseverance and tenacity of purpose.

Those attributes are essential for success in any endeavour and Lawan obviously learned that very early. And wherever he goes next, they will accompany him and pave the way for more success.

As I wish the Sardaunan Bade a happy 64th birthday, I also wish him more success in his future endeavours.

***Awoniyi is Special Adviser on Media to Senate President

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Predictable Budget Cycle: A great Legacy of Ninth N’Assembly



Senate President Ahmad Lawan
Senate President Ahmad Lawan

Ola Awoniyi

Shortly after his emergence in 2019 as the 14th President of the Senate and Chairman of the Ninth National Assembly, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan promised to ensure the 2020 Appropriation Bill was passed and signed into law by the President before the end of that year. That promise would have sounded outlandish in many ears and many would have dismissed it outright as a flight of fancy induced by Lawan’s euphoria of electoral victory.

Going by precedent under the Fourth Republic, there were valid reasons for such scepticism.

By 2019, it had become normal for the Appropriation Bill to come into law not earlier than the first quarter or even in the middle of the budget year. This was in spite of the apparent injury the delay was delivering to government’s annual spending plans and the economy.

How to reset the budget cycle or financial year to run from January to December as was the case in distant past had confounded and beaten the previous National Assemblies. But that was not for lack of efforts on this part of the federal lawmakers. Session after session, they visibly worked to instal a steady, reliable and predictable January to December budget cycle. That just didn’t happen, for many reasons.

However, with great determination, strategic thinking and multipartisan cooperation in the Chambers, under a new milieu of effective collaboration amongst the Arm of Government, the Ninth National Assembly achieved the feat on first attempt in December 2019!

The impacts of timeous passage of Appropriation Bills on budgetary performance, governance and the general economy have been severally articulated by economic experts.

Even at the best of times, the Nigerian economy has needed every positive effort it can get for revamping it. The COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia/Ukraine war and sundry local challenges make such efforts even more imperative now. Imagine, some of the advanced economies are already reeling in or tottering at the edge of recession.

Of course the Nigerian economy too slid into recession twice in recent past. But on each occasion, it quickly pulled out. The quick recovery was significantly enhanced by the effective collaboration and proactive interventions of the NationalAssembly.

It is on record that the performance of the budget has improved under the new stable cycle to such extent that the performance numbers are now almost hundred percent.

This is one of the achievements for which the Ninth Assembly has not been granted the deserved credit.

Instead, the doubting Thomases and mocking birds did not immediately stop laughing. Even while some acknowledged the feat, they doubted it could be sustained.

However, it has. In 2020 and 2021. And now again, the Appropriation Bill 2023 was passed by the Assembly on 28th December, 2022.

According to the Senate President, it would have been passed even earlier, before the lawmakers went on Christmas recess, but for some problems that emanated from the Executive in the process of preparing the Appropriation Bill. Those problems, later resolved through collaborative efforts, delayed but did not frustrate timeous passage of the Bill.

Therefore, President Muhammadu Buhari signing the Appropriation Bill 2023 into law on Tuesday 3rd January, 2023, which was the first work day in 2023, is historic. Not just for the National Assembly but for the country at large.

Yet, it is particularly historic for the Ninth Assembly because that is its last Appropriation Bill as its tenure ends in June this year.

It is noteworthy that the virus of late passage of Appropriation Bills year in year out had infected even state Houses of Assembly. But with the action of the Ninth Assembly setting good example at the national level, the trickle down effect has encouraged a turn around in the process in the states too. Many state governments have embraced this new culture at the national level and those that were not doing well before in that regard have taken the new cue from Abuja.We have seeing virtually all state Governors signing Appropriation Bills before the end of the year.

There is yet another innovation that has been entrenched in the country’s financial system by the Ninth Assembly. This has to do with the practice of approving the Finance Bill side by side the Appropriation Bill. The Finance Act provides the support base for an effective implementation of the Appropriation Act through some major reforms in fiscal policies of the government.

For instance, the 2022 Finance Act, which was passed same day shortly before the 2023 Appropriation Bill was passed, is to facilitate amendment to some fiscal laws as the Capital Gains Tax, Company Income Tax, Customs Excise Act, Federal Inland Revenue Service Act, Personnel Income Tax and Stamp Duty Act.

The Ninth Assembly has made it a tradition to pass this piece of legislation alongside the Appropriation Bill and this is another legacy that the succeeding Assemblies must sustain. All these feats are made possible by the effective and efficient collaboration between the National Assembly and the Executive arm of government.

Also, through this cordiality, the Ninth National Assembly has accomplished all the items in its Legislative Agenda months ahead of the expiration of its tenure in June. It may also be difficult for some people to believe, but this Assembly has passed more Bills than any other before it. The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, noted recently at a public gathering that President Buhari has signed more Bills into law that were passed by this Assembly than any of his predecessors had done under any Assembly.

The tenure of the Ninth Assembly under Ahmad Lawan’s watch has less than six months to run out.
However, its legacy and work rate guide us to expect more accomplishments from it until its last day.


*Awoniyi is Media Adviser to Senate President

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Was Lawan a stranger to Nigerians before his emergence as Senate President?



Senate President Ahmad Lawan
Senate President Ahmad Lawan


By Ola Awoniyi

I might have titled this piece: “Re: Once again, most legislators will not return to National Assembly,” because it was prompted by an article under that title written by the highly respected academic, rights activist and columnist, Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, and published by some media outfits on Friday, 17th June, 2022. However, I decided otherwise because Prof. Ibrahim’s commentary, as usual, made many points that I consider valid and thus have no issue with.

But an aspect of the article is capable of leaving the reader with a wrong impression, and that is what I have set out here to correct.

Which means this piece is actually not a rejoinder, in the full sense of that word, to the  article by the good Professor.

Just an amendment to it, as they would have described this effort of mine in Parliament.

The focus of Prof. Ibrahim’s article was the stranglehold of state governors on their political parties in their states and how this continues to reflect in the high turnover of lawmakers, especially in the National Assembly.

The writer mentioned the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, as one of a few lawmakers who have had long tenures in the National Assembly, despite the harsh political atmosphere he observed.

His misstep was in how he explained Lawan’s survival.

Prof. Ibrahim wrote: “The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, is the most spectacular exception that breaks the rule.

He has been in the National Assembly since 1999, first in the House of Representatives and subsequently in the Senate.

For some reason, successive governors of Yobe State have always given him the green light to stay on.

I wonder why? Could it be linked to his style and record of being unobtrusive and inconspicuous as a legislator  who did nothing and was therefore perceived as non-threatening?

What is clear is that until he became the Senate president, hardly anyone noticed him.

He was discovered when he became Senate president three years ago and then broke the Richter scale of political ‘arrivism’ when the APC chairman announced him to be the ‘presidential’ choice of President Buhari.”

I would have ignored it if those assertions were made by an undistinguished writer.

But they are hard to overlook in the well-read column of a Professor of Political Science who is universally respected for the fairness and profundity of his opinions.

It is a typical of the columnist to claim that Lawan was unknown prior to his emergence as the 14th President of the Senate in 2019, because that claim is not true.

And it is not fair to say Lawan was “an unobtrusive and inconspicuous legislator” as of 2019.

Those claims left me curious because, more than most people, Prof. Ibrahim is in a position to know better.

He knew Lawan was the choice of his party,

the APC, for election as Senate President in 2015, based on his reputation as one of the most effective and better known opposition lawmakers in the Fourth Republic by then.

Of course, Prof. Ibrahim would remember that Lawan was the Senate Leader before his emergence as Senate President.

So, how can the Senate Leader be “unobtrusive and inconspicuous”? Even if a person was randomly appointed to the position, the role would haul him out of obscurity.

Aside from the presiding officer, the next most visible in parliament is the Majority Leader, who leads in championing the cause of their party’s government.

The Majority Leader harnesses support for executive bills and government policies in parliament.

Parties hardly assign such a critical role to a greenhorn, talkless of an “unobtrusive and inconspicuous” member of parliament.

And Lawan did not step into that position from darkness. Before his election to the Senate, he had spent two terms of eight years in the House of Representatives, where at different times he was privileged to chair critical committees like Agriculture (2003-2005) and Education (2005-2007), despite the fact that he was in the opposition at those times.

Such committees are usually chaired by members of the majority party in Parliament, so it is a reflection of what his colleagues thought of him to have accorded him those privileges.

At the Senate, to which he was first elected in 2007, Lawan held the very important chair of the Public Accounts Committee for eight years(2007-2015) and the Defence Committee for two years (2015-2017).

All those were before he became the Senate Leader. Does that profile fit the description of the “unorbtrusive and inconspicuous”?

I cannot understand why Prof. Ibrahim tried to serve his readers the impression that a man with such resume and history in Parliament was unknown before his emergence as the President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly. Did he forget Lawan’s political journey out of

Lawan spent 10 years in the academic and acquired a doctorate in Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System before he ventured into politics in 1998.

That year, he was elected the pioneer vice chairman of the defunct All People’s Party (APP) in Yobe State and in 1999, was the Secretary of the Electoral Committee of the APP National Convention which held in Abuja.

As I was quick to say at the start, I have no quarrel whatsoever with the focus of Prof. Ibrahim’s said article of June 17, which addressed two phenomena that have become a malaise that needs to be checked for the growth of democracy in Nigeria.

One is the system that allows state governors to unilaterally determine who become party officials and candidates for elections. The other is the high

turnover of lawmakers in our legislative assemblies, especially in the National Assembly, as captured by the current situation whereby about half of senators did not get their parties’ tickets for the elections.

On those points and for his usual well-grounded interventions, I salute the good Professor.

Awoniyi is Special Adviser on Media to Senate President


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