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Assessing Lawan’s unrivaled accomplishments in two years

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SENATE-PRESIDENT
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan
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By Ezrel TABIOWO

Whilst going through the news feed of my social platforms on Friday evening, an analysis written by a Senate Correspondent of an online platform, Premium Times, on the performance of the Ninth Senate under the leadership of Senator Ahmad Lawan caught my attention.

It reads: “In two years, Lawan’s Senate records more failures than successes”. Though I felt a sense of outright disagreement with the caption of the report which I perceived as strongly biased, I nevertheless decided to read its contents for very obvious reasons.

1. To determine the rationale behind the writer’s position;

2. To examine the strength of arguments in reaching what I perceived to be a rather misleading conclusion;

3. To establish and understand the parameters used in coming to such erroneous judgement; and

4. To understand the reporter’s level of competency and professionalism

As one who has covered the proceedings of the upper chamber in the last 10 years under the strict supervision of very meticulous line Editors, I learnt to avoid falling for the temptation to skew analysis in my weekly column to only reflect my personal thoughts or opinion on a matter devoid of supporting facts.

In other words, my credo as a Reporter at the time was to live up to the ethos of what Helen Sissons considers “Good Journalism” in the book titled ‘Practical Journalism: How to Write News’.

For Sissons, “Good Journalism requires accurate writing”, as carelessly written reports can mislead the audience. With respect to the analysis by the Premium Times reporter, it brings to mind what then ought to constitute Good Journalism? In response, I would say, the provision of accurate facts.

Now, let us examine the parameters used and facts provided by the reporter in reaching such misleading position. In essence, what were the highlighted facts suggestive of the purported failure of parliament within the context of the analysis? For the purpose of clarity, I advise that due attention be given to parenthetical observations in the following paragraph.

The reporter gave them as follows: Approval of Executive Loan Requests; Checking Excesses of Executive Appointees and Colleagues (not recounting the Senate’s summons on the Health Minister during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the Former Service Chiefs and IGP over lingering insecurity and many others); Holidays and Lateness (again, not disclosing the number of times the Senate bent its rules to sit beyond 2pm and most times till 4pm or the circumstances of the pandemic which compelled the upper chamber to adjust plenary sessions from three to two sitting days in a week); Budget Padding (in this instance not taking into consideration that the National Assembly has the legislative and constitutional powers to review executive requests in this regard); and Checks and Balances (which by the way makes no reference to, or recourse to the efforts of the Legislative Compliance Committee of the Senate).

What I find even ludicrous on the other hand is that these purported failures were made to tower above the outstanding legislative accomplishments of the Lawan-led Senate in a way intended to undermine the achievements of the Ninth Assembly.

Much as journalists are expected to hold government accountable as the fourth estate of the realm, such responsibility must not be seen to trample on objectivity, foster bias, or suppress truth.

This takes us to the bigger question, what then is the objective approach to assessing the performance of the ninth Senate in the last two years?

My response: an objective approach that juxtaposes the Senate’s accomplishments side-by-side with its legislative agenda to measure whether or not the upper chamber has indeed lived up to expectations. Only a newbie or rookie to parliamentary reporting would attempt to do otherwise.

How to assess the mid-term performance of the Ninth Senate

When Senator Ahmad Lawan threw his hat in the ring to contest the Senate Presidency a second time in 2019, he very much went for it fully prepared with a robust legislative agenda.

Tagged: “A National Assembly that Works For Nigeria”, Lawan’s clearly defined agenda remains the first ever seen from any candidate contesting the Senate Presidency since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999.

He also was the first candidate ever in Nigeria’s history to take his campaign round media houses across the country in a bid to sell his Senate Presidency and as well seek the support of the media as partners in having a National Assembly that works for all Nigerians.

His legislative agenda targeted the following key areas: Security, Economy, Criminal Legislation Reform, Public Finance Management Legislations, Youth Unemployment and Substance Abuse, Standard of Education, Healthcare Services, Social Safety Net, and Constitutional Amendments.

Other aspects include: Independence of the Legislature, Electoral Reforms, and Reviving the Real Sector and Infrastructure.

While delivering his 2nd Anniversary speech during a special session last week, the Senate President announced that the upper chamber in the last two years passed 58 bills out of 742 bills introduced.

Surprisingly, some analysts like the Premium Times reporter jumped at it and fell for the nonsensical and shallow approach which adjudges the success of Parliament by the number of bills passed as against those introduced over a specified period of time.

They however fail to realize that the actual success of parliament is measured not by the number of bills passed as against the number introduced, but by their numbers spread across the legislative agenda in meeting with the expectations of citizens.

The 58 bills passed in the period of two years by the Senate addresses and touches on critical aspects of the economy, security, public finance, employment, education, healthcare and so on.

Education

On the 7th of July 2020, the Senate passed a landmark legislation which criminalized sexual harassment in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.

With the passage of the Sexual Harassment bill, the Nigerian government would be fulfilling part of its obligations undertaken through the ratification of the United States Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

The upper chamber during the last two years also passed bills to upgrade some polytechnics across the country such as the Yaba College of Technology and Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, into full-fledged Federal Universities.

This is not to mention the passage of bills to establish new tertiary institutions across the six geo-political zones of the country as well as put an end to discrimination between First Degree and HND holders by employers.

Healthcare Services

In its bid to improve healthcare services across the country, the upper chamber considered several bills and passed some seeking to upgrade Federal Medical Centres to University Teaching Hospitals.

Among such bills is one passed on June 1, 2021, seeking to establish the Modibbi Adana University Teaching Hospital, Yola in Adamawa state.

The Senate also on May 19, 2021, passed a bill for an Act to provide the legal framework to establish Federal Medical Centres in the country, as well as equip and maintain them to provide facilities for diagnosis, rehabilitation and treatment in medicine.

The upper chamber also approved the establishment of the National Dermatology Hospital, Garkida, Adamawa, State.

The bill seeks to revive an international hospital that would specifically focus on the treatment of leprosy, skin cancer and other skin-related diseases.

In addition, the Senate on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, passed for second reading the Public Health Emergency Bill, 2021, and referred same to its Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases for further legislative work.

The bill seeks to repeal the obsolete Quarantine Act 1926 and provide an effective and efficient legal and administrative framework to address challenges from a sudden outbreak of infectious diseases.

It also seeks to facilitate the provision of funds and accountability mechanisms to contain the spread of dangerous infectious diseases, as well as prescribe offences and punishments for violations associated with the control and management of such diseases.

Economy

The ninth Senate in contrast to past assemblies since 1999, passed the most impactful legislations targeted at strengthening the Nigerian economy.

It recorded a significant feat with the restoration of the nation’s budget cycle to the January – December timeline which before now was an unbreakable jinx.

The restoration of the budget cycle by then ninth assembly saved Nigeria from an economic recession during the first quarter of this year.

The move is expected to turn around the fortunes of the country’s fiscal plans and boost local and foreign investors’ confidence in Nigeria’s economy.

In a similar attempt, the upper chamber also passed the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act (Amendment) Bill 2019 which defied all attempts by previous assemblies to amend since is enactment.

The bill which has since received presidential assent pushes Nigeria’s revenue figure accruing from International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the country from $150 million (USD) to $1.5 billion (USD) annually.

Also passed was the Finance Bill 2020 which, specifically, amended 17 key aspects of the extant laws.

They are: Capital Gains Act; Companies Income Tax Act; Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act; Personal Income Tax Act; Tertiary Trust Fund Act; Customs and Excise Duties Tariff; Value Added Tax Act; Stamp Duties Act; and Electronic Transaction Levy.

Other areas amended include: Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act; Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority Act; Oil and Gas Export Processing Zone Act; Crisis Intervention Fund; Unclaimed Funds Trust Fund; Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020; Fiscal Responsibility Act; and Public Procurement Act.

President Muhammadu Buhari, had in a letter dated 25th November, 2020 said the passage of the Finance Bill would support the implementation of the 2021 budget through key reforms in taxation, customs, excise, fiscal and other laws.

Given these achievements, I daresay that the Senate President reserves the right to constantly remind Nigerians about his milestone accomplishments which before now were unrealisable under previous assemblies since 1999.

Youth Unemployment

Disturbed by the growing number of unemployed youths in Nigeria, the Senate President in his legislative agenda identified this as a challenge and has remained focused in ensuring its reversal through legislative support to executive requests.

Drawing from the cordial relations between the Executive and National Assembly, the exit strategy identified by the Buhari-led Federal Government to address youth unemployment targets the provision of critical infrastructures that would create jobs for the thousands of young Nigerian graduates churned out by universities across the country.

However, getting the support of the National Assembly would require its approval for loan requests from the Executive to finance the implementation of such critical infrastructures and projects.

In one of such moves last month, President Buhari while seeking the upper chamber’s approval of donor fund projects under 2018-2020 borrowing plan in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, dated 6th May, 2020, explained that same would enable projects listed to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), French Development Agency (AFD), Islamic Development Bank, China EXIMBank, China Development Bank, European Investment Bank, European ECA, KfW, lPEX, AFC, India EximBank and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

He added that the projects are geared towards the realization of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan that cut across key sectors such as Infrastructure, Health, Agriculture and Food Security, Energy, Education and Human Capital Development and COVID 19 Response efforts in the six geo-political zones of the country.

There are yet other numerous achievements or issues addressed by the Ninth Senate in just two years which the Premium Times reporter either inadvertently forgot or mischievously left out in her write-up probably to justify her biased conclusion.

Ezrel TABIOWO is the Special Assistant (Press) to the Senate President.

Ezrel TABIOWO, FIMC, CMC, Fsca

 

 

 

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Opinion

The Ninth National Assembly and Electoral Act 2022

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National Assembly Complex
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By Ola Awoniyi

The happy ending of Electoral Act No.6  2010 (amendment) Bill 2022, which was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on February 25 after much apprehensions, reminds one of the Petroleum Industry Bill, aka PIB.

For almost two decades, the PIB was at the National Assembly, during which time it changed in shape and contents, and became an enigma too difficult for the parliament to handle. It took Ahmad Lawan’s Ninth National Assembly to deliver the bill from its “demons” and get the President to sign it into law, ending decades of frustration. Today, we now have the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.

Like the PIB, the electoral reform bill had been languishing at the National Assembly since 2017. It was eventually passed in November 2021, amid noise on the mode of transmission of election results.

But President Buhari declined assent to the bill and instead sent it back to the National Assembly in December 2021, precisely on the eve of the commencement of the lawmakers’ Christmas and New Year recess.

That was not the first,  second or even the third time of its forth and back movement within the Three Arms Zone of Abuja.

The same bill was denied presidential assent thrice during the Eighth Assembly, a casualty of the frosty relationship between the Executive and that Assembly.

It is therefore good news for Nigerians and lovers of democracy that the President finally signed the bill into law on Friday, 25th February, 2022, marking the fourth time the electoral law was repealed and re-enacted since the return to democracy in 1999.

However, the back and forth movement of the bill this time around, before the eventual presidential assent on Friday, is significant for how it underscores the beauty of democracy and the health of that system in Nigeria.

While appending his signature, President Buhari said “the current bill comes with a great deal of improvement on the previous Electoral Bill 2021…From the review, my perspective is that the substance of the bill is both reformative and progressive.”

The successful birth of Electoral Act 2022 thus provides another opportunity to appraise the Ninth National Assembly and its responsiveness to the yearnings of the Nigerian people.

It has been exciting watching and listening to even the most critical civil society groups in the country applauding the National Assembly for a job well done and President Muhammadu Buhari for finally assenting to the bill.

There have always been very interesting comments about the Ninth National Assembly under Ahmad Lawan. Some of them have been complimentary, taking into account the many jinxes it has broken to improve the Nigerian legislative environment.  Some try to put things in perspective, noting the high and the low points.

But some others have been deliberately venomous. To this category of public commentators, the Ninth Assembly is a rubber-stamp and has done no good. Some of them go as far as calling for it to be scrapped, forgetting that parliament is the fulcrum of democracy. In fairness to them, their dark view of parliament is not a recent or sudden affliction. They also had nothing complementary to say about the previous Assemblies.

However, this piece is not a specific response to the views of any of the stated tendencies. Rather, it is to record the extent this Ninth Assembly under Ahmad Lawan has gone to deliver an electoral law that for the first time in our recent history arrived to almost universal applause.

To start with, the Ninth Assembly made the electoral reform bill a top priority in its Legislative Agenda, which was launched at its inception in 2019. This decision was not just informed by the importance of the bill to the integrity of our electoral process and democratic governance. The lawmakers were also determined to avert a repeat of what happened to the bill in the previous dispensation.

The bill, which essentially was an amendment to the law made in 2010, suffered a monumental setback on about the eve of the 2019 polls, largely due to the cat and mouse relationship between the Executive and the Eighth Assembly. That era was characterised by distrust between the two arms of government. The rest is now history.

This time around, everything was done by the National Assembly to ensure the bill passed and assented to. But nobody anticipated that its passage would be this dramatic and exciting.

The drama notwithstanding, the entire process projected the Ninth Assembly as an institution that rose above the ego and political, sectional and other sentiments of its members to do the will of the people they represent.

Some observers may probably find it difficult to agree with this view. That is expected. But I stand to be corrected.

From the moment the Executive sent the bill to the National Assembly, work began in earnest. At a point, members of the public became uneasy at the length of time it took the relevant parliamentary committees to report back to plenary for the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill by each of the two Chambers.

It was during that clause-by-clause consideration that the first hurdle showed up. This had to do with the mode of transmission of result.

The drama was gripping in both Chambers. At some point, the House of Representatives had to adjourn sitting to invite experts to elucidate on the subject matter.

The Senate too was not spared of drama. Calling for a division to determine issue is provided for in the standing rules but this is rarely invoked. This time, in the midst of tension, it was invoked by the Senate Minority Leader, as his last card. But it failed to achieve the intended result.

Both Chambers eventually scaled through the hurdle after rowdy sessions. The contending parties and interested members of the larger society heaved a sigh of relief, thinking the matter had been resolved before the parliament adjourned on Sallah recess. But the feedback from the Nigerian people would not allow the lawmakers to rest until there was a recomittal of the bill immediately after they returned from recess.

The Senate had to adjust its earlier position on some clauses and also concur with the House, especially on the modes of transmission of election results and primaries by political parties.

The Senate had initially voted Direct or Indirect mode of primaries but was persuaded by the House to limit it to only one option by deleting the indirect option. They had thought that would deepen democracy but some Nigerians saw it as self-serving.

President Buhari too felt it was unfair to deny political parties options for their primaries. For this reason in particular, Buhari withheld his assent and sent the bill back to sender with explanations. That was the first time Buhari would send back a bill passed by the Ninth Assembly.

This development undoubtedly provoked fears that, with electoral reforms, history was about to repeat itself. Political pundits were sure that the bill was destined for a second death. The insinuation was that the APC-led Federal government was afraid of electoral reforms that feature electronic transmission of results.

But this Assembly had a promise to keep. All that was needed was further consultations with the Nigerian people. This they did during the Christmas and New Year recess.

On their return from the recess, the lawmakers amended the bill to provide three options by which the political parties can conduct their primaries.They went a step further by prescribing how to conduct each mode of the nomination process to forestall possible abuse.

For the Senate, that was about the third time of shifting position to get the bill passed. This was a clear demonstration that the Ninth Senate and indeed the Ninth Assembly are people-centred in their primary responsibility which is law-making.

They have demonstrated flexibility, sensibility and sensitivity to the yearnings of the people they represent. It is this approach to their national assignments that has now given the country a new Electoral Act ahead of the 2023 polls. For the Ninth Assembly, this is a promise made and promise kept.

President Buhari too has demonstrated good faith by appending his signature to the bill despite his reservations about a particular clause that affects political appointees. Buhari did not hide his discomfort about an aspect of clause 84 of the new Electoral Act which bars political appointees from voting as delegates or being voted for at a convention or congress of political parties for the purpose of nominating candidates for any election.

Buhari’s observation that the provision, in his opinion, contradicts the provisions of the Constitution, would have been enough reason for him to withhold assent again. But he opted against that, due to the cordial relationship between the National Assembly and the Executive.

It is however very doubtful that the avowed critics of the present dispensation will see it this way. It is on record that Buhari acted in the same manner on the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 and the 2022 Budget.

Here is precisely what the new Electoral Act 2022 says on interesting issues like voting devices, mode of transmission of election results, mode of selection of nomination of candidates by political parties and the fate of serving political appointees:

Ballot boxes and voting devices:

Clause 41:

(1) The Commission shall provide suitable boxes, electronic voting machine or any other voting device for the conduct of elections.

(2) The forms to be used for the conduct of elections to the offices mentioned in this Act shall be determined by the Commission.

(3) The Polling agents shall be entitled to be present at the distribution of the election materials, electronic voting machine and voting devices from the office to the polling booth.

(4) Polling agents who are in attendance at a polling unit, may be entitled, before the commencement of the election, to have originals of electoral materials to be used by the Commission for the election inspected, and this process may be recorded as evidence in writing, on video or by other means by any Polling Agent, accredited observer or official of the Commission.

(5) A Polling Agent who is in attendance at a polling unit, may observe originals of the electoral materials and this may be recorded as evidence.

(6) The Commission shall, before the commencement of voting in each election, provide all election materials for the conduct of such election at the polling unit.

Clause 50(2): Subject to section 63 of this Act, voting at an election and transmission of results under this Act shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission.

Nomination of candidates by parties:

Clause 84(2): The procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct, indirect primaries or consensus.

Consensus Candidate:

Clause 84(9):

(a) A Political Party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate.

(b) Where a political party is unable to secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the purpose of a consensus candidate, it shall revert to the choice of direct or indirect primaries for the nomination of candidates for the aforesaid elective positions.

(c) A Special Convention or nomination Congress shall be held to ratify the choice of consensus candidates at designated.centres at the National, State, Senatorial, Federal and State Constituencies, as the case may be.

Political Appointee not Eligible as a Voting Delegate or Aspirant

Clause 84(10): No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.

 

Ola Awoniyi is Special Adviser on Media to the Senate President

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Opinion

Principled Political Choices are not Betrayal

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Babafemi Ojudu
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– I was already made before I met Asiwaju.

By Babafemi Ojudu

I have seen a statement made by me, many years ago, to celebrate the 60th birthday anniversary of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu making the rounds. Yes I did make that statement. And more of such will come in my autobiography. We, together, have seen good days and bad days.

I and Bola Tinubu have come a long way and we have been there for each other. So let no one use my acknowledgment of his good deeds and my refusal not to support him in his bid for Nigeria presidency to portray me as a betrayer.

Tinubu remains my leader and I will forever cherish him and the contributions he made to my Organisation during our fight against the military.

He however knows I don’t follow the herd. I make my choices based on very rigid parameters . He will tell you I am very Independent in my actions and ways.

As a third year university student my dad chose to be in NPN. I never considered the fact that he fed me and paid my school fees to join him in a party I despised. I went to UPN and became a youth leader.

Tinubu will tell you that whatever and whoever Ojudu is committed to is in for 100 percent commitment. Reasons I did rather faced torture and possible death in General Sani Abacha’s detention than reveal certain things they wanted me to reveal about him.

The idea that everyone who has related with Tinubu and disagrees with him on this Presidential bid is a traitor and a betrayal is puerile. Many of us, his associates, were not made by him as you also want the world to believe.

We were already made before meeting him and in the cause of relating we gave one another a helping hand. As far back as 1992 when I came to know him I was already one of the editors of a popular news magazine with a good standing too in the civil society. I walked out of my job when our billionaire publisher (Chief MKO Abiola) requested I and my colleagues to apologize to General Ibrahim Babangida over a story critical of the regime. That was 1992.

When I left that job, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, a man whom I was indebted to greatly (gave me a scholarship in my school days alongside King Sunny Ade) invested in my publishing platform (The News, publisher of PM news). The same one that was consequential in the battle to bring democracy back to Nigeria.

At the conclusion of that struggle, Chief Fawehinmi insisted we seat out politics. Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu disagreed with this notion, and I did as well. Against an obvious choice to blind loyalty, I went along with Senator Tinubu even serving severally in critical roles as he assumed the Governorship position. My actions angered Chief Gani so much he asked that I repay his investments. Guess what? I gladly did.

So if my principled stance against NPN, against IBB and against “siddon look” was not betrayal of my father, Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi respectively, why would my principled stance against our leader present ambition be.?
So, on this matter of 2023 I wish him well but I cannot in good conscience give him my support or cast my vote for him in the coming primary. It is my right. I am above 60 years of age for God sake. I almost died seeking this inalienable democratic rights, held up in detention and severally tortured. Your god is not my god.

Let no one think he can browbeat or blackmail me to do what does not go with my conscience or my ideals. Enough of your phone threats and embarrassment of my family members.

I know Tinubu. I respect and adore him. Many of his latter day supporters do not even know him. If they do, they won’t resort to emotional and physical blackmail. When Tinubu decided to go against Afenifere and the Yoruba elders in 2003 by not supporting President Olusegun Obasanjo, he wasn’t betraying the Yoruba nation or a traitor to Afenifere. He made a choice and history has been his judge. Let history be my own judge too. When he supported Chief Olu Falae against Chief Bola Ige , our respected leader, who for him to emerge candidate of Alliance for Democracy in Lagos, no one shouted betrayal.

For the irritants who have been sending threat messages or calling to abuse me for not supporting Tinubu, do know that is not democracy. It is something else. I spent my youth years fighting autocracy and intolerance of the military and I am still willing and ready, even now, to stand up for what I believe , even if it will cost me my death. Enough said.

 

 

Senator Babafemi Ojudu writes from Abuja

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Opinion

EKITI 2022: Time to Place High Premium On Reward Mechanism

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Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele
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By Ahmed Salami

Without any further change in date, come January 27, members of the All Progressives Congress in Ekitii state will file out to elect their candidate for the June 18 governorship poll. This is one action that is expected to be decisive, dispassionate and accurate to avert repeat of the past mistakes.

An ardent and inquisitive follower of the trajectory of political participation of the progressive party through many of its metamorphosis in Ekiti, would decipher that the APC is now confronted with the confounding issue of either allowing a repeat of the sordid past or break the continuity jinx that had been found unattainable since 1999.

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele  and Governor Kayode Fayemi

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele and Governor Kayode Fayemi

Going by history, this is the third time the party is faced with taking critical decision regarding succession in politcs. It is expected that members should get it right by not being impetuous, emotional and arbitrary in taking actions.

The first time this situation happened was under Otunba Niyi Adebayo in 2003. The party failed in the succession battle and the scar was so deep that it trailed the party for seven years for it to get healed.

The second time was in 2014, when Governor Kayode Fayemi was seeking reelection. The party again failed in the succession bid before staging a dramatic return in 2018.

The 2022 therefore affords the opportunity to again test the party’s might and dexterity to be able to respond to situation and make a success of it. That makes any decision taken on January 27 so pivotal either to the success of the party or its undoing .

The party members are now burdened by the crisis of how to make an option among the array of contestants that have shown interest for the plum seat and the best that can serve the interest of the party and boost the realisation of the succession is the Senator representing Ekiti Central, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (MOB)

In the coming election, APC shouldn’t take Ekiti people for a ride or underrate their ability to act strange again as they did in 2003 and 2007.

Ekiti is a closely knitted enclave and they take political decision almost in unison. Once the decision is taken in Ado Ekiti, it reverberates to all the other towns and that makes it expedient for APC members to listen to the opinion in town and feel the mood of the people.

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele

Without trying to Lord my opinion on the party, let there be conduct of an independent opinion poll today for APC members, one would realise that Ekiti people are largely for Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele.

Governorship is not won in Ekiti without a rich history of political participation. In 1999, Otunba Niyi Adebayo was able to weather the storm by riding on his father’s crest to stardom. We could all attest to how the late Major General Adeyinka Adebayo opened up Ekiti as the Governor of the old Western Region . This actually buoyed his son’s popularity and acceptability in the 1999 election.

Even in PDP, former Governor Ayodele Fayose was busy traversing every nook and cranny of Ekiti for three and half years offering many services to Ekiti people before he became a household name and won the 2003 election.

The incumbent governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, became so loved and popular among Ekiti people because of his industry, dexterity and steadfastness in the way he prosecuted the judicial war against the PDP for three and half years before he was accepted by the electorate. By history and action, Ekiti people loved those who made cognate sacrifices for a course or people before gaining relevance.

Except we are deceiving ourselves, MOB remains the only aspirant in APC, who has contributed so hard and had made the right sacrifices for his name to be resonating across Ekiti.

Since 2003, he has been one of few financing the party and making the right connections with traditional rulers, religious leaders, youth groups, party leaders and ordinary Ekiti to galvanise support for APC.

Except the party no longer values members’ contributions, they shouldn’t have forgotten by now how MOB saved them from disgrace and opprobrium after losing in 2003. It became a slogan at a point for Fayose while deriding the APC that the party would soon go into oblivion, because no strong financial backing. But Senator Bamidele came and removed the derision completely.

In one swell swoop, Senator Bamidele in 2010 donated seven buses to the then Action Congress in one day when the ruling PDP could not boast of any. This substantiated how committed and loyal he has been to the progressive party.

The most memorable of his contributions was how he was shot in 2018 while fighting with Governor Kayode Fayemi to relaunch APC back to reckoning in Ekiti. He had a close shave with death and was saved through divine intervention. Against all odds, the party went ahead and defeated the PDP, which was the ruling party then.

While in Lagos as a Commissioner, his office was like a rendezvous for Ekiti indigenes, especially members of his political party. He used the opportunity to facilitate contracts for them among other helps to improve their wellbeings and ensured their stay in the progressive fold.

As a member of House of Representatives between 2011 and 2015, Senator Bamidele facilitated over 90 projects to his Ado/Irepodun/Ifelodun federal constituency, while also helping over 100 graduate to secure jobs among over 3,000 constituents he empowered through skills acquisition.

This time now, he has promised that he would uplift the party and bring a paradigm shift to the economic facet of Ekiti, through job creation, encouragement of commercial farming, fighting corruption and allow the party members take absolute ownership of the party for the benefit of all if given the ticket.

To corroborate the fact that he has the knack to actualise the foregoing, the Senator had in two years at the Senate sponsored bills to attract two higher institutions to Ekiti as a representative of the people.

Since he began his campaign, he has not abused anyone. He even made it clear that his friendship with Governor Fayemi remains inseparable. This signposted that he was not desperate to get the ticket through crook or do or die means.

On the impending party primary, Bamidele said: “APC members must open their eyes very well. We must not allow ourselves to be enslaved to moneybags. We shouldn’t allow anyone to enslave us or buy our conscience, so that they can perpetually hold us hostage.

“Let us vote for a candidate that can win election easily. One that is acceptable to Ekiti in terms of character, integrity, competence and trust. A governor that can uplift Ekiti and bring positive change. Someone who can earn Ekiti the expected respect and one who won’t act as an opportunist”.

Senator Bamidele is a global citizen, who has carved a niche for himself as one politician with focus on selfless service delivery and attraction of democracy dividends to the poor citizens to upgrade their standards of living.

He has provided scholarship for thousands of Ekiti undergraduates and post graduate students, generate employments for many graduates, empowers widows, women, and unemployed youth for self-independence.

Without being exaggerative, as of today, Senator Bamidele has provided trainings in blockmaking, fishery, confectionaries,
poultry, soap making, sewing and others to over 4,000 constitutents in Ekiti Central. The records are there and those feeling skeptical can check all these facts.”

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele

Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele

Without sounding immodest, Senator Bamidele deserves the ticket, because he is the most experienced among the APC aspirants and the highest financier of the party during the time of lull.

This is the time to repay good with goodness. Time to show that APC places high premium on reward mechanism to serve as morale booster to members. They should reward this man with the governorship ticket this time to show that good deeds and loyalty to a party have a huge gain.

 

 

 

 

Ahmed Salami, A.
Media Consultant and Political Analyst writes from Abuja

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