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Weekly political notes

By Samson Ezea
18 February 2017   |   2:52 am
The National Working Committee, (NWC) of the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, has set up a peace and reconciliation committee to intervene in the crisis affecting some of its chapters across the 36 states.

Babatunde Raji Fashola, Minister of Works, Power and Housing.

APC Sets Up Reconciliation Committee
The National Working Committee, (NWC) of the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, has set up a peace and reconciliation committee to intervene in the crisis affecting some of its chapters across the 36 states.

The party said it is disturbed by the internal crises in its state chapters.“Concerned by this ugly trend and as part of preparation for its non-elective National Convention which is expected to hold not later than April 2017, the NWC has decided to set up the committees to resolve all outstanding issues in order for the party to have a united front going to the convention,” APC said in a statement by its spokesperson, Bolaji Abdullahi, on Monday.

Even though, the reconciliation committee is long overdue, considering the internal bickering in the APC since it took over government, the timing is suspicious and an afterthought. Why the move for it, just few days after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) announced planned merger with other parties to defeat the APC in 2019?

Of what need is the committee, when the APC national leadership has for long played the ostrich over crises rocking the party at the national and state levels? It seems the party leadership is putting the cart before the horse. Why not a committee to resolve the crises at the national level and among its national leaders, before looking into the state chapters?

Is the party leadership saying that all is well with it at the national level, despite the verbal war between it’s national chairman, Chief John Oyegun and one of the party’s prominent leaders and former governor of Lagos, Senator Bola Tinubu sometime last year? The party leadership should be mindful of the fact that any peace move without adequate consultations and inclusiveness from the top could amount to treating symptoms of a disease, instead of it’s root cause.

Fashola Disowns N2bn In Ministry’s Budget
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, on Wednesday disowned N2 billion in the budget of his ministry, saying that it was inserted by the officials of the Ministry of Finance. He said this during budget defence before the Senate Committee on Lands, Housing and Urban Development. 

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Barnabas Gemade has queried the provision of N2b in the budget of Housing Ministry for “Regional Housing Scheme.”  The project is tagged FMOWP99934089. 

Gemade asked: “What is this provision of N2billion for?  What is regional housing scheme? Where is it taking place? What is happening? Have you seen it on Page 18?” 

Responding, Fashola said: “It is not our project. It is a Ministry of Finance initiative. They said that they want to do what they called … It is not from us.”

In his reaction, Gemade said: “But you are here to defend this budget in totality.Fashola then said: “That is what has come. I am explaining to you now, sir, on how it comes into our budget. That is not what we submitted. We didn’t submit that proposal.”

While Nigerians await Adeosun’s explanation, Fashola’s response is a clear confirmation of lack of synergy in President Buhari government. This is not the first time something like this will happen and may not be the last. So Nigerians are surprised, but will like to know in clear terms what the inserted N2bn is meant for.

Whether it is a continuation of the budget padding tactics in a different version or a move to raise and conceal money for 2019 general elections, it is over to Madam Finance, Adeosun. Fashola has washed his hands off it like Pointus Pilate.

But one wonders how Finance Ministry gets involved in this, when it is neither that of National Planning nor Budget Planning. Or did the Finance Ministry at any point usurped the powers of the other ministries to introduce sums in their budgets?

The challenge now is how far the NASS committees can go to ensure that other ministries’ budgets do not carry injected sum like theN2bn found in Fashola’s ministry.

Anenih To PDP: Forget Presidency
Until After Buhari’s Tenure
Former Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, on Tuesday counseled the PDP to forget about the presidency until after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.

Speaking when the leadership of the Jerry Gana Strategy Review and Inter-party Affairs Committee visited him in Abuja, Anenih said it was very shameful for members of the party to be struggling for the presidency and other elective positions, when the party was not yet in order.

Commenting on the challenges, Anenih said reorganisation of the PDP should be the main focus.
“When Buhari’s tenure finishes, we will know who takes over from him. When he finishes his tenure, there will be more conventions on both sides and God will lead us to choose somebody who will help Nigeria,” he said.

Anenih said selfish interest landed PDP where it is at the moment and advised the party leaders to organise a convention that would lead to the emergence of credible leaders who can offer constructive criticism to the APC.

“PDP should have been in power now, but everybody wants to be a presidential candidate, national chairman… It is never done.”Not many incurable optimists and power mongers in the PDP will agree with Chief Anenih’s narrative, considering that anything is possible in Nigerian politics. But Anenih’s position is informed by his political experience, exploits and sagacity that cannot be wished away by anybody.

Again, there is no doubt that having been a very influential PDP leader in the last 16 years, Anenih understands the party and its challenges better than the present party leaders. But unfortunately, Anenih is a major contributor to the PDP problems with his introduction of all kinds of undemocratic practices into the party affairs, especially in the conduct of party primaries and general elections. It is not surprising that he is now a solution provider, offering tips on how to move the party forward. What a repentant “Mr Fix It” that can no longer fix a fallen party.

It is now left for the present PDP leaders to take and implement Anenih’s fatherly advice, by commencing immediately the reorganisation and repositioning of the party with good ethos and people-oriented manifesto, whose provisions must be strictly adhered to by all members.

Enugu: Ugwuanyi Floors Ayogu
Eze At Appeal Court
The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Wednesday dismissed the appeal by the former governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 general elections in Enugu State, Senator Ayogu Eze, seeking to upturn the emergence of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as the candidate of the party nominated at the December 4, 2014 primary election in the state.

The court in a judgment delivered by Justice Peter Ige, dismissed the appeal for lack of merit as well as lack of locus standi by Eze, whom the court said, admitted in his affidavit, that he did not participate in the primary election conducted by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP.

The court also held that the High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit ab initio, since Eze did not qualify as an aspirant and was therefore not entitled to challenge the outcome of the primary election as provided in Section 87 (9) of the Electoral Act.

He explained that in line with the Electoral Act “the aspirant must be an insider, somebody who participated in the primary authorised by the party. 
“The appellant admitted he was aware that another primary was conducted by Asara Asara, but that he did not participate.”

The judgment is no doubt a big relief for Governor Ugwuanyi, who is also Ayogu’s kinsman from Enugu North zone. Coming at a time all entreaties to Ayogu to let go the legal tussle in the interest of peace, unity and development of the state fell on deaf ear, it is now left for Ayogu to decide whether to proceed to the Supreme Court or listen to the voice of reason.

This is especially, when it is obvious that with the judgment of the Appeal Court, nothing different may emanate from the Apex Court if approached on the matter. But it is often said in political parlance that it is not yet over, until it is over. Besides, Nigerian politicians are die-hard optimists, especially when it has to do with election matter.

The choice of action on this matter now is solely that of Ayogu. Whatever decision he takes, will determine where history will place him.