LP, NNPP’s failed ‘marriage’
(Short Takes On Political Events Of The Week)
Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s appearance in a Channels Television programme, Politics Today, sparked concerns about the health of the much talked about merger or collaborative arrangement between his party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Labour Party (LP), which has former Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi, as its presidential standard bearer.
Appearing on the programme on Sunday July 3, the NNPP presidential candidate disclosed that he rejected to be running mate to his LP counterpart, Obi, stressing that apart from being more experienced in politics, Obi’s followership was limited to a particular geopolitical zone.
Expatiating on his electoral calculations for the 2023 general elections, the former Kano State governor declared, “it will be difficult for the Northern voters to vote for a presidential candidate from the Southeast because they are not comfortable with most of the things happening in the South, especially in the Southeast.”
He explained that the issue of who becomes prospective Vice Presidential candidate was the knotty, which the proposed merger between NNPP and LP could not untie.
“The major issue, as it stands today, is the issue of who becomes the president and who becomes the vice president and I believe this is the time really to advise, especially those who are positively behind the candidate of the Labour Party; that for me, I have seen an opportunity for the Southeast to be relevant in the next dispensation. In PDP, they are completely out, and also in the APC. The only opportunity now is the NNPP,” he disclosed.
While noting that he was currently jobless, Kwankwaso ruled out the possibility of becoming Obi’s deputy, noting, “if anybody from the Southeast under this circumstance becomes the presidential candidate of our party or any other party, the implication is that because of activities and many other issues that are real on the ground, Northern voters will certainly go for northern candidates in another party… it is not whether I like it or I don’t like it, the facts remain that everybody will lose. He will lose, I will lose.”
But, in a counter punch, Obi, appearing on the Arise Television Morning Show, said the NNPP presidential candidate was still living in the past.
“The comment from my respected elder brother, Kwankwaso, is the reason why we have 100 million Nigerians living in poverty; the reason why we have 18 million Nigerian children out of school.
“It is the reason why we have over 55% of Nigerians on the under or unemployment ladder. It is the reason why Nigeria is unsecured, because rather than vote for competence; we choose to vote for incompetence based on a primitive consideration of ethnicity and religion.
“What we’ve chosen to do in this country is to consistently hire vehicle drivers to fly the Nigerian airplane instead of hiring qualified pilots. My commitment is, let us campaign and deal with issues of the problem of the country.”
It was based on the nature of the exchanges between the two presidential contenders that Nigerians learnt that the proposed marriage for electoral convenience between LP and NNPP had hit the rocks. Perhaps from the experience, Obi, who is five years younger than Kwankwaso said he would prefer a younger running mate.
President Buhari Entangled In Kuje Correctional
THE attack on Medium Correctional Centre in Kuje, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja within the week provided President Muhammadu Buhari an immediate instance of declining security in the country.
When the President visited and witnessed the devastation caused by the security in the facility, he wanted answers to some critical questions: “How did the defences at the prison fail to prevent the attack? How many inmates were in the facility?
“How many of them can you account for? How many personnel did you have on duty? How many of them were armed? Were there guards on the watchtower? What did they do? Does the CCTV work?”
Like many Nigerians, the President said he was disappointed with the intelligence system, wondering, “How can terrorists organise, have weapons, attack a security installation and get away with it?”
Government officials that were in the President’s entourage included the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, and the Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Agboola Gambari.
Although President Buhari and his entourage were received and guided round the facility by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr. Shuaib Mohammad Lamido Belgore and the Controller General of Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Haliru Nababa, he demanded “a comprehensive report on the incident.”
The highpoint of the jailbreak was the escape of high profile terrorists numbering 63, who were profiled as Boko Haram insurgents, whose presence in the facility was said to have prompted the attack. As 400 inmates and the 63 Boko Haram commanders ran away after a section of the security fence was bombed-out, the the Controller disclosed that the records office was set on fire.
The cheering news, according to the Nababa, was that the records were not entirely lost, since according to him, they had been backed up. It was perhaps on that note that the President embarked on his pre-planned trip to Dakar, Senegal.
That decision stoked speculations that the attack was a well-rehearsed script with official collusion, especially against the backdrop of allegations that some 24 soldiers guarding the place were moved few hours before the attackers struck.
Many Nigerians felt that the President would have stayed back to get answers to his questions and ensure that those accused of dereliction or complicity were isolated and sanctioned.
But, in a statement, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, contended that the government couldn’t stop working because of such an attack. He stated: “The Presidency wishes to use this opportunity to react to mounting criticism of the trip to Dakar, Senegal by the President, and to stress that Governments don’t stop working because nations face terrorist threats.
“To cancel the trip to Senegal would mean that the terrorists are successful in calling the shots, something that no responsible government in the world will allow.”
Whatever happens that President had come face to face with reality and his verdict of disappointment resonates with Nigerians’ about the insecurity enveloping the country.
‘Virgins’ In The Villa
UNLIKE in 2015, when he mounted the saddle and wasted six months before constituting his cabinet, President Buhari, last Wednesday assigned portfolios to the seven ministers he nominated as replacement to those who left the cabinet to pursue their political ambitions for next year’s election.
The President fulfilled his promised to appoint new ministers, but also continued the cabinet reshuffle be hinted at earlier in the year as an incremental process.
The fresh ministers, who were earlier screened and cleared by the Senate included, Ikechukwu Ikoh, (Minister of State, Science and Technology); Umana Umana, (Minister of Niger Delta Affairs); Udi Odum, (Minister of State, Environment); Ademola Adegoroye, (Minister of State, Transport); Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub, (Minister of State, Works and Housing); Goodluck Opiah, (Minister of State, Education) and Nkama Ekumankama, Minister of State, Health.
From the posting, it was apparent that Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom and Rivers States got Minister of States in place of substantive ministers they had at the inception of the administration.
In the ensuing swap, Senator Adeleke Mamora, became Minister of Science and Technology, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, also upgraded as Minister of Transportation, while Sharon Ikeazor and Senator Gbemisola Saraki retained their statuses as Ministers of State, but on new posting to Niger Delta and Mines and Steel Development, respectively.
In his remarks, the President declared: ‘‘As I assign you portfolios, therefore, I expect you to carefully study your sectors, take wise counsel, reach out to key stakeholders, consult and collaborate with older cabinet colleagues and focus on driving key programs already initiated by this administration. Above all, be loyal to your President and your country.’’
He explained that the reassignment of portfolios is aimed at reinvigorating certain sectors, where the government desires to accomplish improved results noting, as “this administration is now on the home-stretch of its second term, more work still needs to be done in diverse areas of the economy and national life.”
President Buhari admonished the virgin ministers to consult and collaborate with their older cabinet colleagues and focus on driving key programmes already initiated by this administration.
Barkindo’s Mortal Homecoming
BY the time he was flying back to Nigeria, the former OPEC Secretary General must have told his colleagues that he was going home. But, that homecoming ended up as his final journey back to the land of see-him-no-more.
The former Secretary-General of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, was in Nigeria to apprise President Buhari that he would be completing his tenure by July 31.
At the Presidential Villa that fateful Tuesday, Barkindo told the President that it was an “honour of a lifetime for you to have given me the opportunity to serve as OPEC Secretary-General Number 28. I’ll forever remain grateful.”
While appreciating President Buhari for his assistance and guidance, the former OPEC Secretary General stated: “I recall vividly that when I assumed office in the summer of 2016 in Vienna, oil prices had dropped to below ten dollars per barrel. It was very obvious to me that it was beyond OPEC alone to handle.
“I recall that I consulted with you on telephone, and I benefited, indeed, drank from your deep knowledge of OPEC affairs. And we were able to steady the oil market.
“Throughout the period I served, I benefited from your tremendous goodwill. Everywhere I went in this world, both within OPEC and outside, the first person that Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings ask for is you. They say, ‘how is my brother, President Buhari?’ I, therefore, benefited from this charisma of yours, the international gravitas you have, and it made my job much easier.”
On his part, the President, while describing him as a worthy ambassador of the country, noted that his “time in charge of the affairs of OPEC has been a very challenging one for the global oil industry.
“Oil producers were finding it difficult to come together to address challenges that were crippling the oil market. Not long after, the world was faced with the COVID-19 pandemic that sent crude prices spiralling down at an alarming rate. You showed incredible leadership to rally industry players and pushed through the turbulent times.
“There is no doubt about your efforts in putting together the Declaration of Cooperation which is the largest in the history of OPEC and the global oil industry and also the longest in duration in the history of the organization. This was a herculean task.”
Barkindo’s sudden demise at the point of his meritorious service left the world, especially the petroleum community in Vienna in shock.