In November 2020, I wrote a piece on the state of healthcare in Kogi State and the Confluence Advanced Medical Diagnostic Imaging Centre (CAMDIC) that was meant to be the beacon of modern healthcare not only in Kogi State but in the wider North Central geopolitical zone.
What had triggered my interest at the time was that the Kogi State Commissioner was on national television crying over the wanton destruction and looting of expensive medical equipment and supplies from the Kogi State Central Medical Stores by EndSARS protesters in late October 2020.
My initial gut instinct was to yell at the looters on television and wondered why those Nigerians who cannot run to India, UK or the US for their medical care when confronted with routine health challenges are the same ones who could steal, loot and destroy expensive critical life-saving medical equipment and supplies.
On arrival in Lokoja, I was dismayed to learn that the Diagnostic Centre that was almost completed and close to being commissioned was caught up in a bureaucratic quagmire that had lasted many years under the same administration from whom the equipment was destroyed.
Like myself, millions of Nigerians have seen a new video making the rounds on both conventional and social media that came out of Kogi State about 2 weeks ago. An angry Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state was giving a public tongue lashing to the Chinese contractor, the Commissioner of Works and you guessed right, the Commissioner of Health. The visibly irritated Governor had come on an assessment tour of the work done on this massive new project in the same hospital premises where the moribund Diagnostic Centre still stands as a COVID-19 Isolation Centre. The Governor who was marking his own script gave it a big, fat “Zero”. He went further to ask the Chinese contractor if there were similar buildings or projects in China. The answer to that question is obviously “No”.
The Chinese government would not tolerate such a building and such level of shoddiness. This is because, in China, incompetence has consequences. Serious consequences! The Chinese government does not joke with incompetence. Remember that President Xi Jinping is an Engineer by training. He makes sure every infrastructure meets standards, unlike what many Chinese firms deliver in Africa and Nigeria in particular. The days of Chairman Mao are gone, and so is the corruption and incompetence of that era. The difference in Chinese diligence is crystal clear in the China of today.
As a journalist and a Nigerian, there are many issues to ponder as we think through the process where hard earned Kogi State money and resources are being squandered in large amounts in order to achieve what GYB himself, assessed as Zero. Zero…
His Excellency, GYB is aware of the critically important Diagnostic Center project next to the premises of the Kogi State Specialist Hospital. It therefore beats my imagination to understand why abandoning this diagnostic Center which was severally praised, if completed, would have ranked among the best in the country with the quality of equipment sourced for it.
It is unfortunate that the Governor wanted to give world class standard of projects which l presumed is the “GYB STANDARD” as he said in the video but it appears the lieutenants around him do not share this vision.
Instead of the world class standard equipment for the Diagnostic Centre being installed and put to good use, they were stored for years until the Medical Stores where they were kept by the Government were vandalized and looted. Equipment worth many billions of Naira destroyed and consumed by civic rage. Sadly, these equipment and supplies were never used to save the lives of Kogi people. It is amazing that no one could whisper to the Governor that this project should be completed as quickly as possible but by some unusual logic, the Governor was advised to embark on another massive project either as renovation of the existing hospital or as a huge administrative edifice.
It is not in doubt that the diagnostic Center should rather have served as a bedrock and necessary support to existing hospitals in the state.
A big question again begging for answers is if truly the Honorable Commissioner of health, Saka Audu was genuinely crying or it was a farce as l contemplated in my first piece titled ‘ medical diagnostic center Lokoja: good idea turned white elephant’ A genuine cry certainly will not allow such Zero job to be undertaken under the crier. His Excellency, l belief deserve better than this.
By some stroke of genius, Kogi State now has two white elephants standing side by side at the Kogi Specialist Hospital in Lokoja. Hopefully, this is not the medical tourism the Commissioner of Health wants the State to attract.
It is high time that His Excellency, the Next Level Governor and the youth ambassador went all out to undertake comprehensive audits and assessment of all projects in the state, that appear botched, Not only in the health sector but in all his laudable projects across the state so he will not be bitten twice. His achievements in Kogi, and the way and manner he handles issues like this at the state level may be the leveler for his far fetched presidential ambitions come 2023. Many concerned Nigerians are watching!!!
The Ninth National Assembly and Electoral Act 2022
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:
(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.
(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
Principled Political Choices are not Betrayal
– 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
EKITI 2022: Time to Place High Premium On Reward Mechanism
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.
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.
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.”
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
Official: José Peseiro now Super Eagles Head Coach
ShareThe Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has appoint Joeé Santos Peseiro as the new Head Coach of the national team after...
Ekiti Central 2023 Elections: I will not take my unopposed ticket for granted – Sen. Bamidele
Share The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, who also doubles as Chairman of Southern Senators...
NISS hails Oyetola on security intervention, making Osun model of socioeconomic development in Nigeria
Share…says govt’s genuine intervention across sectors incredible The National Institute of Security Studies (NISS) has commended Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of...
SANWO-OLU ASSURES LAGOSIANS OF ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY
Share Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has assured Lagosians that the State will continue to sustain its enviable status as the...
2022 UTME: JAMB RELEASES RESULT
ShareThe Joint admissions and matriculation board JAMB has released results of the 2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination UTME. A statement...