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Weekly political notes


Nigeria’s senate president Bukola Saraki

Medical Trip: Buhari Has Not Violated Any Law-Senate
The Senate on Tuesday said President Muhammadu Buhari has not violated the law regarding his long absence from duty.

In a statement by its spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Sabiu Abdullahi, the Senate said: “The president has broken no law and therefore we do not see any justification for this diversion and noise making. The sponsors of protest for his resignation are merely seeking cheap publicity at the expense of the peace of Nigeria.

“We, in the National Assembly, are satisfied that there is no vacuum. The Federal Government is working. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is providing the required leadership. So, there is no reason for the protests.”

There is some element of truth in the Senate’s position, considering the provisions in section I45 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution as amended. It is unfortunate that it was the same National Assembly that amended this section 145 at the peak of the late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua’s health saga that nearly plunged the country into political crisis.

But instead of stipulating the time lag on when a president or governor can stay out of duty after handing over power to his deputy, the National Assembly left it open ended for reasons best known to them.

As it is today, Buhari may not have broken any law, because the constitution is silent on how long a president or governor can stay off duty after handing over. So, it appears there is nothing one can do, not even Charly boy and his cohorts who are protesting.

Even if Buhari could be removed through other means, of which the Senate is expected to play a major role, its position has shown that the lawmakers may not be handy or willing to do so. But morally, the onus lies on Buhari and his cabal to do the needful and save the country further tension and embarrassment.

I Believe In Restructuring-Osinbajo
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday said at no time did he describe those calling for the nation’s restructuring as ‘political jobbers.’

The acting president said this in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande.

Akande said Osinbajo had expressed support for state police based on the community policing model and had advocated for devolution of powers and fiscal federalism.

He said his principal was surprised at media reports quoting Chief Ayo Adebanjo as saying that the Acting President described agitators of restructuring as political jobbers.

Osinbajo should be reminded that as a renowned pastor, he ought to have known that there is a huge difference between belief and reality. Yes, before now, he may have believed in restructuring, but his actions and inactions so far have proved otherwise, especially since he became acting president.

Nigerians understand his predicament and challenges, considering that he is doing everything possible not to offend his boss and the cabal, who are benefiting from the status quo. But it is hoped he knows that he cannot be under his boss forever. After all, 2019 is coming closer.

For this obvious reason, matters of the moment should not be Osinbajo’s utmost priority, but that of posterity and betterment of the country. The agitation and the call for restructuring are not dying down and may not soon. It has come to stay and the country cannot be the same again, no matter how long it takes. The call for restructuring is a double- edged sword that must be handled with care.

Corruption Fuelling Agitations In The Country-Magu
The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has blamed corruption for the various agitations to break up the country.

He made this known on Wednesday during a courtesy visit to the management of Daily Trust Newspaper in Abuja.

Magu said the agitations were caused by corruption, noting that the greedy still want to continue plundering the nation’s wealth.

He lamented that corruption is fighting back and the corrupt are being celebrated, adding that some of them have taken over a section of the media.

He said there was no better time to end corruption than now that there is the political will to do so, “If we don’t do it this time around, just forget it.”

Magu’s narrative lacks specifics, having failed to state how corruption fuels present agitations. Corruption may have been fighting back, because it has not been institutionally and transparently tackled. The anti-graft agencies appear to be more engrossed in media trial and shadow chasing than proper investigation and diligent prosecution. No wonder the agency has lost some high profile corruption cases in recent times.

Even the recent brickbats between Magu and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN) over how to handle some prosecutions was a pointer that all is not well in the graft fight.

Saraki Returned Pension Payments-Kwara Govt
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has stopped collecting pension and returned all payments made to him, the Kwara State Government has announced.

A statement by Isiaka Gold, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), on Wednesday said Saraki stopped collecting the payment since August 2015 and had returned all he collected prior to that time.

Earlier, Mr. Saraki had said he had returned the pension paid to him by the state government, following criticism of former state governors collecting pension while holding new political offices.

But Mr. Gold said Saraki, on his own volition, considered the morality of the situation since he is still a serving senator and “chose to abandon his legal rights.”

Hmmm, Kwara State government!!! Nigerians, especially the people of the state will like to see financial evidence and records of how Saraki returned the pension he has collected. It is not enough to say that Saraki has returned them with any substantial evidence. Maybe Kwara State government still thinks that all Nigerians are gullible.

So, Saraki has been collecting pension, even as a serving senator and the state government and Saraki kept it secret and remained quiet until people let the cat out of the bag. But who blames the state governor who happens to be Saraki’s godson.

Now that Saraki has owed up to collecting pension as a serving senator for years, what happens to other ex-governors, now senators that are also collecting pensions from their states? When are they going to return theirs even if only for them to issue statements and stop collecting?

It is highly immoral for ex-governors, who plundered state resources for eight years, owing salary and pension to be collecting pension, even if it is their legitimate entitlement.

Newly-Registered Party, APDA Erupts In Crisis, Suspends Dokpesi, Nwanyanwu
Leadership crisis has erupted in the newly-registered Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA), with the suspension on Tuesday of three of its key leaders.

Those suspended are the proprietor of the African Independent Television, AIT, Raymond Dokpesi, Dan Nwayanwu and Mainassara Ilo.

Their suspension was announced via statement issued on behalf of the National Working Committee (NWC) by its National Secretary, Emeka Okengwu.

The action followed the sack of the party’s National Working Committee earlier on Tuesday by the National Executive Committee of the party.

Dokpesi, Nwanyanwu and Ilo were accused of holding “illegal” national executive council meeting of the party during which they suspended the national working committee.

Some may say this is too early. But this is not surprisingly or unexpected, considering that party politics in Nigeria is not only a big business, it is all about the selfish interests of the politicians and not about the people.

Again, since the electoral law gave the party leadership the power to decide its candidates for elections, irrespective of the outcome of primaries, crisis and conflict of interests will continue to afflict political parties. This is why independent candidacy should be urgently considered and included in the electoral laws. That is if the political conspirators, who are great beneficiaries of the present system allow it to see the light of the day.

Atiku Abubakar

2019: PDP Moves To Woo Obasanjo, Atiku, Others
The PDP on Tuesday inaugurated a reconciliation committee headed by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his Gombe State counterpart, Ibrahim Dankwambo.

The party also inaugurated the convention and disciplinary committees, headed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and Chief Tom Ikimi, respectively.

The event took place at the ‎Chida Hotel, in Abuja, where the National Caretaker Committee Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, told the reconciliation committee to see to the return of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senate President Bukola Saraki and many others.

While inaugurating ‎the three committees, Makarfi said; “reconciliation is a gradual thing but we must do it with all sense of sincerity.”

With this move, PDP just like other major political parties has shown that nothing has changed in its recruitment process. Why wooing Obasanjo, Atiku, and Saraki again, even when Obasanjo had openly tore his membership card, Saraki and Atiku have defected to the ruling APC? Are there no other credible Nigerians that the party can bring into its fold to boost its chances of bouncing back to power quickly? Besides, how possible and soon can the party reconcile Obasanjo and Atiku, whose differences have lingered for years.

It seems the party leadership has not learnt any lesson from its recently resolved crisis. From every indication, Saraki and Atiku are nursing presidential ambition in 2019. Is it not likely that if they return to the PDP, their ambitions will plunge the party again into another crisis? This is especially as the party has before now zoned its 2019 presidential ticket to the North.

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