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Weekly political notes


Senate President Bukola Saraki

Buhari Ordered AGF Malami To Meet With Me, Ensure My Reinstatement – Maina
The embattled former chairman of the Presidential Pension Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, on Tuesday, said his reinstatement started with a meeting with the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a video aired by Channels TV on Monday, Maina, who is wanted for alleged corruption, explained how the current administration held meetings with him and returned him to the civil service.

In his first public comments to a mainstream media, Maina appeared to imply the president merely feigned ignorance to pacify a roiled public as he was not only in the know about his reinstatement, but he ordered it.

Maina said he initially decided not to return to work, despite a court order reinstating him, because some people in the past administration did not want him back.

Even though, Maina is truly embattled; it is not enough reason for the Buhari government that secretly brought him back to the country, promoted and reinstated in the civil service to now be avoiding him like a plague. The government’s stance on the serious allegations and issues Maina raised, including the one that has to do with Buhari’s alleged role in reinstating him is very suspicious and worrisome.

It has once again put question mark on Buhari’s integrity and his government’s sincerity in the corruption fight. If it is true that Buhari was in the know of Maina’s reinstatement, why order his sack and arrest? Is just to pretend that all is well? And till date Maina has neither been arrested nor prosecuted? Now, who is deceiving who and who is telling Nigerians the truth?

It is high time Buhari government listened to Maina and allowed him to tell Nigerians publicly what he knows about the fraud in the pension fund. There may be inconsistencies in Maina’s disclosures, but such could be streamlined by giving him support and protection to enable him say what he knows. It is so disturbing that Buhari and his cabinet members, who were allegedly indicted in Maina’s reinstatement saga are behaving like people that have things to hide. This is not good for the government’s anti-graft war.

Anti-corruption Agencies Looting Recovered Assets-Saraki
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has alleged that proceeds of corruption recovered by the Federal Government are being looted by the anti-corruption agencies.

The senate president blamed anti-graft agencies for making it difficult for the federal government to convince other nations to return looted funds.

Saraki said this at a one-day strategic retreat on Tackling the progress of anti-corruption bills in the National Assembly, on Tuesday, in Abuja, where he reiterated that many assets recovered were relooted by the anti-corruption agencies. He was represented by the Deputy Senate Leader, Ibn Bala Na’Allah.

“Nigeria is finding it difficult to convince other nations to return funds looted from our treasury. This is because of other nations’ exasperation over the management of returned assets.”

There is nothing new in Saraki’s allegation, considering that he is in a position to know. Besides, many Nigerians had before now expressed concerns on how the anti-graft agencies have not been able to properly account for recovered loots and assets. Even some who were stripped of their ill-gotten assets after being indicted and prosecuted by the anti-graft agencies have been raising alarm on how their seized assets are being diverted. Successive governments ignored the observations and complaints for no other reason than some influential members have benefitted from the relooting of the assets. Nothing seems to have changed now.

No wonder, a former chairman of the EFCC who was accused of relooting recovered assets and loots was appointed head of a police crime unit in Lagos. This was after he was investigated and indicted by the Senate.

Although, Buhari government belatedly set up a committee to audit recovered assets, one wonders where the committee will start from, considering that since the return of democracy in 1999, assets recovered by anti-graft agencies have not been accounted for.

2019: I Can’t Be Deceived With VP Position –Wike
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared he would not be deceived by the antics of political jobbers who continue to propose a 2019 vice presidency position for him.

The governor stated this on Tuesday, while commissioning ultra-modern faculty buildings for the Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Faculty of Management Sciences at the Rivers State University (RSU).
“Nobody will use the position of the vice president to deceive me into wasting the funds of Rivers State. Our funds will be used to develop Rivers State.”

Wike urged Nigerians to be part of the process to achieve the right leadership for the country in 2019.

Is Wike saying that if he is offered a guaranteed vice president’s slot in 2019, he will not grab it with two hands? Wike is a typical Nigerian politician who loves power. He is not different. Besides, his antecedents are known. He should play well to hold on to his seat come 2019.

Nigerians know it is a tall order for PDP to return to power in 2019. So it will be suicidal politically for Wike to accept a vice president slot on PDP platform, when he is not sure of the party’s victory in 2019 elections. It is like moving from certainty to uncertainty. So, it is more convenient for Wike to seek second term as governor than gamble with vice-president slot of PDP in 2019.

I Won’t Leave APC With Atiku-Adamawa Gov.
Adamawa State Governor Mohammad Jibrilla, popularly called Bindow, has laid to rest speculations that he is billed to follow former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The governor, said this, on Tuesday, when he spoke with newsmen at the Presidential Villa after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

He also said Atiku’s defection could not affect the electoral fortune of the party in the state.

The governor, who said he was in the Villa to brief President Buhari on the security situation in his state, added that Atiku is mature enough to take any political decision.

Jibrilla’s response was expected of him, considering that he understands politics well. Nobody expected a contrary answer from Jibrilla. Even if Jibrilla will join Atiku in PDP, he is not expected to publicly own up now. He knows the consequences of putting the cat before the horse in politics.

Meanwhile, nothing constitutionally stops Jibrilla from remaining in the APC and at the same time supporting Atiku’s presidential ambition in PDP. It is a possibility in politics, but not without a price. Just like Atiku, Jibrilla is mature enough to take political decisions. After all, nothing is cast in stone in politics. President Buhari; don’t be carried away by Bindow’s assurances, considering that 2019 is still far and anything is possible in politics.

Nigerians Are Divided, Country Not Working– Ekweremadu
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, on Tuesday lamented that Nigeria is daily splitting along ethnic and religious lines and that the country, as currently constituted, is not working.

He said this at the 2017 Annual Conference and Induction Ceremony of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC) tagged, “Myth and Reality of Agitations: The Place of Consensus Building” in Abuja, where he said that the division is not only becoming wider by the day, ”but gradually destroying the future of the country.”

“As a nation, however, we have to tell ourselves the hard truth. Nigeria, as currently constituted, is certainly not working well. Nigerians are not only dangerously split along ethnic, religious, and sectional lines, the gap is widening on a daily basis.

“The trend of insults and divisive verbal attacks traded by younger ones against one another’s ethnicities, sections, and religions on the social media on every matter do not also inspire any hope of a brighter future.”

What Ekweremadu failed to acknowledge is the role of the political class in dividing Nigerians. It is of note that Nigerians were not divided like this until the buildup to 2015 polls, when divisive politics and hate speeches took centre stage. The politicians deployed all sort of gutter language to pursue political power at the expense of the country’s unity and peace.

The political leaders by their actions and inactions are responsible for the glaring and unprecedented division among Nigerians today. Unfortunately for the people, the political class is always united in pursuit of political power. Unless Nigerians reason together, the elite conspiracy by the political class against them will continue unhindered. This is especially now that preparations for 2019 polls have started in earnest.

Buhari Didn’t Direct Us To Clear Salary Arrears Before Christmas– Govs
The 36 governors under the umbrella of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) on Wednesday denied reports that President Muhammadu Buhari has given them matching order to pay workers salary arrears before Christmas.

There was discordant tune between the Chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum and governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, on whether President Buhari ordered that salary arrears should be paid before Christmas.

While Okorocha said the order from the President was to clear the salaries with the expected payment of 50 percent Paris Club balance, El-Rufai said the Paris Club refund was not enough to clear salary arrears especially for states that were owing, as there was no additional money to be given to such states apart from their fair share of the refund.

Kudos to some state governors who are paying workers regularly and shame to their colleagues, who waited for President Buhari’s order to pay salaries. But when has payment of workers’ salaries, a statutory obligation of state government become an achievement in governance?

How much is workers’ salaries that state governors cannot pay, but the same governors can easily waste public funds in white elephant projects and jamborees? It is very shameful and disheartening that some state governors, who are owing backlog of salaries and arrears, despite collecting Paris club and bailout funds are already secretly planning for 2019 polls. Governance has been relegated to the back seat, while public funds are being expended on political jamborees.

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