– 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
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
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
PMB AND THE FUTUROLOGISTS
It’s the beginning of a year, and it’s that time you hear all sorts from futurists, prospectivists, and foresight practitioners.
The Good Book tells us of the 5-fold Ministries of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers. These are offices into which God has called some people, to lead, guide and comfort His people. Unfortunately,however, some people have decided to call themselves, and they go about, running riot all over the place with guess work, divination, and outright falsehood, all to beguile the people, pass themselves off as somebody, and ultimately make filthy money.
Since he became leader of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has been an object of the futurologists. They have come up with tons of predictions, many of which went wide off the mark, hitting the crossbar.
Many times, they have virtually killed him. Many other times, they have deposed him through the 2019 election. They have foreseen sickness, death, empty seat at the Presidential Villa. But year after year, month after month, President Buhari continues to do his duty to the country, and to his family. He remains constant like the Northern Star.
Yes, typical of a human being, he can be sick and indisposed from time to time. We remember 2017, when President Buhari was practically unavailable between January and August, with only intermittent returns to the country in-between. Human beings, prince or pauper, President or manual laborer, can be ill, can recover, or can even die. What eventually happens is a matter of mercy from God Almighty.
“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Romans 9: 15). President Buhari has obtained mercy, compassion, in plenitude, and many a false prophet is frustrated. Even angry. All their prognostications have failed, and the next thing is to write a book on them, like Prof. Wole Soyinka did. ‘Requiem for a Futurologist.’ Many so-called prophets are tricksters, artificers, swindlers, charlatans, scoundrels.
I had cause to take up a mountebank sometime last year, when he said the President’s jet would crash at the last quarter of 2021. What was his intention? Patronage. That the President should send emissaries to him with bags of money, so he could pray and stave off the tragedy. Prayer contractor! The President was particularly busy with international travels at the period the ‘prophet’ mentioned. USA, Ethiopia, Riyadh, Glasgow, London, Paris, Durban, Dubai, Turkey, and many other places. Did any accident happen? Not even an incident. That is where God is different from man. He has mercy on whom He will have mercy.
That was what the marabouts did to Sani Abacha, that he remained holed in Aso Rock. Between November 1993 and June 1998 that he was head of state, you could count both local and foreign trips he made on the fingers of one hand. There was a time plenty hype had been made on his visit to Oyo State, to commission the Asejire Water Scheme. The State was agog with expectations, and a holiday had been declared. Only for Abacha not to show up. He had been caged by the futurologists.
At another time, he had been confirmed to visit Lagos, to commission projects, including the Marwa Gardens, in Alausa area of Ikeja. Col Buba Marwa was a star, a poster boy of the administration. Visiting Lagos would have been good for Abacha himself. And all was set. The city had been put under lockdown. At the last minute, Abacha refused to show up. Caged again by the horizon scanners, who always see negative, never anything positive.
It was said that in the few times the head of state ventured out of the fortress called Aso Rock, he would lock up all the Service Chiefs at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, until he returned. So that they wouldn’t be able to effect a military coup while he was away. Whether the story is true, or apocryphal, I don’t know. What I sure know is that the day Abacha’s time was up, it was simply up. “There’s no armor against fate.” (James Shirley).
What we learn from the antics of the prophets against President Buhari is that no man ever has the final say. God is the ultimate decider. If man says anything, and God has not concurred, then nothing happens. Let that man move from mountain to mountain, praying that his prophecy should come to pass, it would be like beating a dead horse. Sheer waste of energy.
Serve your God. Show malice to none. Plot and do no evil, and let’s see the negative prophecy that would come to pass against you. That’s an eternal lesson we learn from our President.
Like I said at the beginning, the prophetic ministry is divine, ordained by God. “By a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.” (Hosea 12: 13). But let nobody begin to posture as if he has the final say, the power to foretell, and it remains inviolable. Only God has the final say, and He is full of mercy and compassion.
I used to open my doors to one young prophet years back. I liked his knowledge of Scriptures, and ability to pray fervently. Whenever he asked for an appointment, I obliged. Of course, I didn’t always believe everything he said, but I was helpful to him in ways I could. Till about this time of a certain year. Maybe he felt it was time for him to finally have me under his armpit, control my life totally. So he came with a number of frightful prophecies for that year. I listened to him calmly, and he left. The Good Book says; “But he who prophesies speaks to men for their edification, encouragement and comfort.” (1 Corinthians 14:3). He had come to do otherwise.
That was the last he has seen me till date. He has phoned hundreds of times, begged, pleaded, made requests, I’ve not obliged him once. He attempted to merchandise with the gift of God, and he picked on a wrong man. So also do these prophets pick on the wrong person, when they come attempting to cow and frighten our President.
In about 17 months, President Buhari would land safely, as God wills. He would finish his tenure in a blaze of glory, and retire to Daura to tend his cattle. That is the prayer of millions of good people. Let no so-called prophet attempt to hoodwink or browbeat us to the contrary. Who has the final say? Jehovah has the final say.
*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity
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