Weekly political notes
Presidency Raises Alarm Over Imminent Famine
The Presidency has warned Nigerians to brace up for an imminent famine by January 2017.
Specifically, the Federal Government has asked the Ministry of Agriculture to present a quick plan for the purchase of surplus grains to be stored in warehouses across the country, to save for the rainy day.
Also, the Presidency has urged religious and traditional leaders to prevail on grain exporters to curtail the exportation of grains and cereals. According to a statement made available to journalists, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made the disclosure in an interview he granted a Kano-based radio station, Pyramid Radio, on Monday.
Shehu said despite being Africa’s largest producer of grains, Nigeria risks famine from early next year, following a huge demand in the global market targeting the country’s surplus production.
“The huge demand for our grains in the global market is creating excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian grains across our borders. Unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of food by January next year,” he said.
The presidential spokesman said the Ministry of Agriculture had advised President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to draw the attention of all Nigerians to the issue, which if not addressed promptly, could lead to a shortage of grains by January.
Hahaha, which famine is the presidential spokesman talking about, when Nigerians are already experiencing famine. Maybe the government is pretending not to know that there is extreme hunger in the land and many families cannot afford three square meals per day. Is there any famine worse than what Nigerians are experiencing now? Even if there are abundant grains in the country and there is no money to buy it, why won’t the producers export them?
Constitutionally, exporters of the grains have not broken any law, because they are in agriculture and business to make money. Instead of raising false alarm, the government should do the needful, by promoting laws and policies that will support and encourage farmers to produce more grains for both local consumption and export. Thank God, there are still parts of the country, where grains could be produced in abundance, despite the menace of the herdsmen, which has made farming difficult; a monster the present government has continued to treat with kid gloves. A menace that has made diversification of the economy through agriculture a big challenge.
Atiku Plots To Destabilise Buhari’s Govt- El-Rufai
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, has accused ex-vice president, Atiku Abubakar of plotting to destabilise President Muhammadu Buhari because of his 2019 presidential ambition.
On Monday, Atiku, in an interview with Zero Tolerance, an in-house magazine of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused el-Rufai and former EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu of betrayal, even though he took them into ex- President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government.
El-Rufai, who was former Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja said: “Atiku has a record of “spewing outright lies” and that he has been involved in acts capable of destabilising Buhari’s government.”
He claimed that Atiku is desperate for power, as he is already thinking of running for Presidency in 2019.
Atiku should have known that with the interview, he has stirred the hornet’s nest. When it has to do with the diminutive Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, who hardly let issues go. Expectedly, El-Rufai has shown his true self with his reply to Atiku.
In his usual character, El-Rufai, instead of addressing issues Atiku raised, dabbled into the politics of 2019. After all, everything is accepted and could be used in political warfare. If not, of what importance is the allegation that Atiku is plotting to destabilise Buhari’s government and his plan to contest 2019 presidency? This is especially, when Atiku has not declared his ambition and El-Rufai has not shown evidence of such plot.
Wait a minute!!!! Is there anything legally wrong with Atiku planning to contest the 2019 presidency? He is a politician and a Nigerian with the constitutional rights to contest any election. Besides, he doesn’t need to destabilise Buhari’s government to achieve his political ambition. After all, the political space is big enough to contain all the players.
Is El-Rufai saying that the speculation that he is plotting to succeed Buhari in 2019 is also part of the plots to bring Buhari government down? If true, it means that El-Rufai is a kettle calling the pot black.
Senate Rejects Buhari’s 46 Ambassadorial Nominees
The Senate has rejected the 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari for approval.
The lawmakers, who said the list would be returned for re-submission and re-jigging, added that they rejected the list, because of over 250 petitions.
Some notable names on the 46 non-career nominees’ list rejected by the Senate are a former Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Mrs. Paulen Tallen; a former member of the House of Representatives, Usman Bugaje, former Deputy Governor of Niger State, Ahmed Ibeto and others.
It appears this is a season of rejection by the Senate. From the rejection of Buhari’s loan request to that of his non-career ambassadorial nominees. Are the rejections not becoming too many at a time? Hope, the Senate is not trying to use the rejection as a bargaining chip with the executive, having in mind some political misunderstanding. The action even looks more conspiratorial and suspicious, coming at a time the APC governors complained of not being carried along in the choice of the nominees and other appointments.
Meanwhile, when has petition become a reason not to confirm a nominee, especially when the merit or otherwise of such petitions have not been discussed? It appears the Senate is acting a script. What is expected of the Senate is to investigate the petitions and make public its findings. Unless the Senate wants Nigerians to believe that the petitions against the nominees are genuine and factual.
Sambo Dasuki Declines Offer To Attend Father’s Burial –FG
Minister of Interior, Lt-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), said former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) last Monday declined an offer to visit his late father, Ibrahim Dasuki, in an Abuja hospital.
Similarly, Dambazau said Sambo had declined another offer to be in Sokoto for the mourning of his late father. The Minister disclosed this in Sokoto on Tuesday.
“We had discussed with the Director-General, Department of State Security (DSS) and Sambo was offered to visit his late father on his hospital bed in Abuja. He declined and said he preferred to pray for him. He was also offered to be in Sokoto throughout the mourning period and he also declined, preferring to pray for his late father. That was the true situation,” Dambazau said.
What did the Federal Government expect Sambo Dasuki to do? To jump for momentary freedom, when he was refused bail granted to him by the court. No. Government should have known that with his background and experience, he wouldn’t succumb to such Greek gift from the same government that has trampled upon his fundamental rights. Moreover, his father’s demise is not more important than his total freedom.
However, of what importance is the minister’s explanation or did the Dasuki family asked him of their son’s whereabouts. If they did not, then the explanation is not necessary, unless government is using it as a publicity stunt. It is of note to remind the government that the manner it has handled the Dasuki case, despite court judgments is appalling and unconstitutional.
Presidency, NASS Strike Deal Over $30bn Foreign Loan, Constituency Projects
Facts emerged on Thursday why the National Assembly opted to give accelerated consideration to President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for N180 billion virement on 2016 budget. The lawmakers are likely to approve the virement next week.
The National Assembly leadership met on Tuesday to consider Buhari’s $29.96 billion loan request, as there were reports that the Presidency may have released N100 billion for the lawmakers to execute their constituency projects.
Perhaps, that was that spirit that informed the discussion of the virement request. Subsequently, the request was referred to the Committee on Appropriations and other relevant committees for further legislative action.
The unanimous adoption of the motion for Request for virement of Funds Appropriated in the Appropriation Act, brought to the floor by House Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, was the major fallout of Tuesday’s meeting of the principal officers of the Senate and the House.
According to a senior legislative source, who was privy to Tuesday’s meeting, it was agreed that the leadership of both Houses should ensure the virement request scales through.
He also disclosed that the leadership is most likely to push for a compromise on the President’s request for approval for a $29.96 billion loan.
“Principal officers from both the Senate and the House are aware of recent capital releases for constituency projects in deviation from the earlier stance of the executive that it will not fund intervention projects.”
So, with this, it is obvious that nothing has changed in Buhari’s change government. If not, why will the executive succumb to the National Assembly’s demand for funding of constituency projects after initial grandstanding?
It means that if the Assembly continues to have its way, the executive should be prepared to grant more deals before getting legislative support on official matters. No wonder some members of the Assembly complained recently that they are unable to recoup their campaign expenses. It is a public knowledge that constituency project is a conduit pipe to help the lawmakers corner public funds.
It will be recalled that since 1999, most of the constituency projects embarked upon by National Assembly members are either abandoned or shoddily executed. Meanwhile, despite the unconstitutionality or otherwise of the constituency project, National Assembly members have continued to use it to hold the executive at the jugular. Many had thought that it would be different under Buhari’s government, but it seems it is still business as usual, even when the economy is in recession. Who says anything has changed with this crop of people in the National Assembly!
N/Delta Group Storms Villa, Gives Fresh Conditions For Peace
A delegation of the Niger Delta Peoples Congress (NDPC) was at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja, on Monday, where they gave fresh conditions for peace during a meeting with Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. Elders from the region, under the auspices of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, had on November 1, met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, where they presented a 16-point demand to him.
The secretary of the Niger Delta Peoples Congress, Professor Benjamin Okaba, told Osinbajo that their visit was to re-affirm the submissions earlier made, prioritise their concerns and place them in clearer perspectives.
The group also demanded stoppage of further invasion of the region under any guise; unconditional release of all freedom fighters from detention, relocation of multinational corporations’ operational bases to the region and creation of at least 6,000 jobs for the unemployed and restive youths of the region.
In his response, Osinbajo said the problems in the region had always been there, saying if the elite in the regions decide to end the problems, the crises would be resolved.
If one may ask, of what importance is this group’s visit, if not to create the impression that there is no harmony among the groups in the Niger Delta region. Now that the vice president Osinbajo has given them a tall order, challenging the elite in the region to end the problems, will this group take up the challenge to seek ways to end the crisis?
Unless the groups in the region speak with one voice, which now appears difficult, the problems of the region may continue to linger. For now, neither the number of visits to the Villa nor the requests made to the government by different groups will solve the problems of the region.
Meanwhile, it is clear from Osinbajo’s assertion that the elite of the region is the source of the problem and solution of the area. So, the earlier they sincerely decide and tackle the problems, the better for the people of the region. Niger Delta elite over to you people. End the problems in your area, so that the government can resolve the crises.
Ex-Abia State Gov, Orji Kalu Joins APC
Ex-governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, has defected to All Progressives Congress (APC).
Kalu, a former chieftain of Peoples Progressives Alliance (PPA), had arrived the APC national secretariat on Wednesday and held a long parley with the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Kalu promised to deliver the entire Southeast to the APC. He said: “Let me thank my brothers in the National Working Committee (NWC) of this party for their efforts. Three of them have hosted me to dinner more than 20 times, while they were trying to dissuade me from going back to the PDP because they know that I am very close to Senator Makarfi and Senator Sherrif.”
While Kalu is very free to roam from one political party to another, there is something professionally wrong about flirting from one party to another, especially in this clime where politics is all about permanent interests.
No wonder, barely 24 hours, Kalu resigned his membership of Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), a party he founded and mismanaged for years, he defected to the APC. A master of political sophistry and rhetoric with limited political value, does Kalu have what it takes to survive in APC? How will he deliver Southeast to the APC, when he has lost senatorial elections three times in his Abia North zone since 2011?
Hope Kalu’s defection will not create more problems for the APC in the zone. However, why the hurried defection to the APC with the recent commencement of trial over his alleged corruption case, during the time he served as governor? If the umbrella could not cover Kalu before now, is it the scattering broom that will sweep him clean. This may be a herculean task, but time will tell.
Meanwhile, it appears that Kalu is back on a familiar political turf, whose end is uncertain. It will be recalled that Kalu has before 2011 polls tried to return to the PDP, by paying visit to then national chairman of the party, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo in Abuja. The efforts failed him. He repeated the same in 2015 and was resisted by the PDP members in Abia State, especially his successor and estranged godson, Chief Theodore Orji. That was how he was force to stay back in PPA, a platform on which he contested the senatorial seat election three times and lost.
APC Will Lose Ondo Without Tinubu- Timi Frank
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Timi Frank, has said the prospects of his party winning the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State is bleak without reconciling aggrieved stakeholders.
Speaking to journalists at a press conference in Abuja, on Tuesday, Frank said: “The party would lose if urgent steps are not taken to arrest the crisis of confidence that has pitched its leaders against each other. If we have to win the forthcoming election in Ondo State, we have to resolve the crisis that came with the governorship election primary. We have to carry everyone along and most importantly, we have to reconcile issues with the national leader of the party, Tinubu.”
While there may be urgent need to resolve whatever crisis is in the APC, Frank needs to be reminded that in 2012, with Tinubu’s unalloyed support, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu still lost Ondo governorship election as candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). So, APC losing the election again with Akeredolu as candidate may not be a big deal. Even in 2012, it seemed Akeredolu’s albatross was Tinubu’s support; as many believed that a vote for Akeredolu was a vote for the extension of Bourdillon Empire from Lagos to Akure.
However, there is no doubt that the outcome of the Ondo election will go a long way in determining the future of the APC in Southwest without Tinubu and his supporters. It is going to be a test case for the popularity of Tinubu and those that are opposed to him in the party and the zone.
Anambra Lawmakers Demand “Jeeps” To Support Gov’s Re-Election
It has been gathered that some members of the Anambra State House of Assembly have given Governor Willie Obiano, a condition to fulfill before they give their support his re-election next year, demanding that the governor must give them Toyota SUVs.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Mrs. Rita Maduagwu, however, denied that the Assembly’s support for the governor was conditional.
She said: “Those expecting that the executive and the legislature in Anambra will be at war will be disappointed. We will continue to work in synergy with the executive and deliver Governor Obiano for a second tenure.”
Spearheading the demand for Prado “Jeeps”, the Minority Leader in the House, Mr. Onyebuchi Offor, had at a forum accused the governor of neglecting the legislature. He described the condition of service at the House as deplorable. He alleged that the governor pocketed about N1.2b as security votes, monthly, describing it as unjust and unconscionable.
Nawaoo, Are these people lawmakers or deal makers? Under which law has the working condition of a state lawmaker include a provision of “Prado” Jeep? If the demand is true, it could be a clear exposition of the unbridled profligacy that has characterised governance and public office in the country. It is disappointing that instead of the lawmakers to demand for accountability and good governance, they are demanding for “Jeeps.”
What do we expect, when people instead of being voted into office, bought their ways into office. They will do anything to recoup their investments. If not, how will this class of people become lawmakers in the first place.
Meanwhile, if it is true that Governor Obiano takes the whole of N1.2b monthly as security vote, is it not time he explained to the Assembly members what he does with the money. Maybe that is why the House members are demanding their own share of the loot. Buy why now? Well, Obiano, the ball is your court. Are you buying SUVs for them or are you forgetting the second term bid? Or are you daring them, considering that they are not the people that elected you, rather you are the one that gave them the party platform to be elected?