2017: The year of opposition? – By Yemisi Adegoke

On January 20, 2017, the 45th President of the United States of America will be sworn in. For the first time in history, the president will take office with no prior political or military experience.In a few months time from now, the British Prime Minister will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, formally starting the UK’s exit from the European Union. Although both these incidents have tinges of a dystopian/end of days novel, they also mark the beginning of a new era in Western politics.Research shows that the vote for Brexit was driven by fears over immigration and by those who felt marginalised by wider society, while Trump’s ascension has been attributed to economic woes, a ‘rebellion against the elites’ and a ‘whitelash against a black president’. Despite the numerous reasons, the choice of change was a clear one. But neither of these potentially cataclysmic changes has come without fierce opposition.

Following Trump’s victory, protests broke out in major cities all over the US, a Change.org petition urging the nations Electoral College to elect Hilary Clinton instead, garnered 4.6 million signatures, making it the largest petition in the history of the platform. Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate raised a staggering $7.3 million dollars to force vote recounts in key states.In the aftermath of Brexit, thousands of Britons ‘marched for Europe’ through central London, 4.1 million signed a petition for a second EU referendum, the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon warned the government that Brexit could trigger a second independence referendum and a legal challenge was mounted against the government to ensure a Parliamentary vote to trigger Article 50.

These acts of opposition haven’t changed either outcome. In the US, the protests fizzled out, the Electoral College voted for Donald Trump, the recounts didn’t succeed (in Wisconsin the results showed no evidence of voting irregularity and the other two states rejected the recount effort). In the UK, the petition for a second referendum was rejected by the government. Nicola Sturgeon conceded that a ‘soft Brexit’ would quell the need for another independence referendum and the government is currently appealing the court ruling.

What these incidents have done is galvanised those unhappy with where their respective countries are headed into taking some form of action. Whether it makes a major impact or not, such actions are a powerful reminder of democracy at work. And it’s not just the West.

In July last year, Zimbabwe engaged in a nationwide strike to protest corruption and unpaid salaries. Zimbabweans across the country ‘stayed away’ meaning businesses were closed and shops and schools didn’t open, grinding the country to a halt. It was described as ‘the biggest strike action since 2005’. In South Africa, students continued their fierce and at times violent protests against a proposed hike in tuition fees.

Nigeria hasn’t quite faced a Brexit or a Donald Trump conundrum yet, but things are unarguably tough. Tougher still with an administration unwilling or unable to communicate its plan for the country. In terms of changing the presidential outcome, there’s little to be done until 2019 but acts of opposition from peaceful protests to petitions, could make a difference. Instead of the usual ‘Suffering and Smiling’ approach, perhaps 2017 is the time for something different, as the saying goes ‘Don’t mourn, organize.’

Smaller political parties, for example, have a massive role to play in holding the ruling party to account. They might not win elections, but they can have big impact on who does and set national discourse. While the two dominant parties trade members and insults, it’s the job of the other 38 to highlight what they’re ignoring.Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate in the US raised more money for the recount effort than she did for her own presidential bid. She rallied people for a collective cause despite the fact it may not necessarily benefit her personally (she has said donors will decide what happens to surplus recount money).

2015 may have marked the beginning of a change in the way Nigerians engage with politics by voting out an incumbent who was no longer working, but as global events show, it’s not just elections that determine how a country moves forward. Now is the time for Nigerians to take note.

#Aleppo Evacuation Delayed, Opposition Blames Pro-Assad Militia

The evacuation of rebel-held eastern Aleppo was delayed on Wednesday and, while a war monitor said the reason was unclear, an opposition official blamed Shi’ite militias allied to President Bashar al-Assad for the hold up.

A ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia, Assad’s most powerful ally, and Turkey ended years of fighting in the city and has given Assad his biggest victory yet after more than five years of war.

Officials in the military alliance fighting in support of Assad could not be reached immediately for comment on why the evacuation was delayed.

Sources on Tuesday had given different expected start times for the evacuation. A military official in the pro-Assad alliance had said the evacuation was due to start at 5 a.m. (0300 GMT), while opposition officials had been expecting a first group of wounded people to leave earlier.

However, none had left by dawn, said a Reuters witness waiting at the agreed point of departure. Twenty buses were waiting there with their engines running but showed no sign of moving into Aleppo’s rebel-held eastern districts.

“There is certainly a delay,” said Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory, a war monitor.

Officials with Aleppo-based rebel groups accused Shi’ite militias backed by Iran of obstructing implementation of the Russian-brokered deal. The pro-opposition Orient TV cited the negotiation committee in eastern Aleppo as saying there was no clear reason why the wounded had yet to be evacuated.

Assad has been backed by an array of Shi’ite militias from across the region in his campaign for Aleppo.

Read More: reuters

BREAKING: Opposition candidate leads vote count in Gambia

Opposition candidate, Adama Barrow, is in the lead after almost 75 per cent of votes had been counted in Gambian presidential voting, threatening President Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year-rule, the electoral commission said on Friday.

Mr. Barrow, who has the support of seven political parties, has won 22 out of 53 constituencies or 138,148 votes in Thursday’s presidential polls.

According to the commission, incumbent Mr. Jammeh won 14 out of 53 constituencies or 126,587 votes.

Report says the election is won by a simple majority in the poverty-stricken West African nation, which largely relies on peanut exports for trade income.

Gambians on Thursday voted amid a shutdown of all internet and telephone lines, which raised fears of Mr. Jammeh planning to hijack the election.

Meanwhile, the lines were expected to remain disconnected until Sunday.

Mr. Jammeh, a former army colonel who came to power during a 1994 military coup, has been ruling the Islamic Republic with an iron fist.

He is running for a fifth five-year term against two other candidates.

The two candidates are Mr. Barrow, a businessman popular with the country’s largely unemployed youth and Mama Kandeh, the leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress, the only opposition party that did not join forces with Mr. Barrow.

Ironically, all three candidates were born in the same year, 1965.

However, the capital, Banjul, remained calm on Friday, in spite of a heavy security force presence.

We Are Not Suppressing Opposition – Kwara State Government

The Kwara State government on Tuesday debunked claims that it is clamping down on opposition elements and censoring the media in the State.

In a statement issued by the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Kamaldeen Ajibade, the State government said as a firm believer in freedom of expression and the rule of law, it welcomes constructive criticism based on fact.

The Commissioner noted that people have the freedom to criticize the government and hold it accountable for its campaign promises.

He, however, said that such freedom does not give anyone the opportunity to deliberately spread falsehood against the government in a way capable of causing public incitement.

Barr. Ajibade explained that what the government had done was to petition the Police against falsehood peddled by certain opposition politicians in the media.

He noted that as required by law, the Police had invited the individuals to defend themselves as part of its investigation.

According to him, if by the end of its investigation, the Police recommend the prosecution of those individuals, it is the responsibility of the Office of the Attorney General to take a decision on whether to prosecute or not.

The Commissioner, therefore, dismissed insinuations that the State government is trying to silence the media or clampdown on opposition figures within the State.

He said anyone who criticizes the government based on verifiable facts has nothing to worry about, saying the government will continue to welcome constructive criticism and feedback from the people.

Barr. Ajibade, however, added that the government will continue to frown at any attempt by any individual or group to incite the public against it or otherwise disrupt public order.

EFCC Detaining Fani-Kayode After Meeting Bail Conditions, Silencing Of Opposition- Aide

Jude Ndukwe, aide to erstwhile Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, on Tuesday, decried that despite meeting the bail conditions set by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Fani-Kayode was still being held by the anti-graft agency.

Ndukwe in a statement condemned the continued detention of the former minister by the EFCC, describing it as a tactics to keeping key and vocal members of the opposition out of circulation without due regard to Nigerian laws.

The statement read: “This tactics of keeping key and vocal members of the opposition out of circulation without due regard to our laws and or harass them with charges that cannot stand the test of judicial requirements has got to stop. The sweet smelling savour of democracy will be polluted when the opposition is stifled.

“The continued detention of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode in EFCC custody for this long, despite meeting his bail conditions goes a long way to show that this fight is not about corruption after all, but all about silencing the opposition.

“We condemn in very strong terms these acts of intimidation and harassment and request that he (Chief Fani-Kayode) be released forthwith, even as we call on all well-meaning Nigerians to know who to hold responsible should anything untoward happen to Chief Femi Fani-Kayode!

“This act of executive rascality, at a time when Nigerians are groaning more than ever before over the economic hardship inflicted on them by this administration, is needless. It will achieve nothing but will only lead to a puerile end.”

Credit: vanguardngr

‘I’m Not Interested In Becoming PDP Chairman’ — Bode George

A former Deputy National Chairman of   the   Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief   Bode George says he has no ambition of becoming the next chairman of the party. Bode George He, however, advocated the need for the PDP to zone the chairmanship position to the South West saying the region remains the only one that has not got the position since 1999. George said this when he addressed newsmen shortly after his return from an overseas trip. He also called on the interim national chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sherrif to honour his word to handover to an elected chairman at the National   Convention on May 21 this year.

The PDP leader, in his address entitled: ‘Our Party at crossroads’, argued that the national chairmanship of the party should be zoned to South West now. Faulting speculations of his interest in the chairmanship position, George said “I have no plan, no ambition, slide or straightforward looking for it” He however said that a lot of his friends, elders of the party have been saying that if the position is zoned to the South West they will push him for it. He said they are saying this because “you know we are in opposition, there is no Villa any more, no president from our party. Therefore management of the party must be different, it has to be serious strategic thinking, intellectually bias to reasoning and discourse and network with the people for you to take decision.”

George said: “On the issue of national chairmanship, based on the spirit of equity and fairness which is the foundation and principle upon which our party was build by our founding fathers, the South West deserves the national chairmanship now. This is the right and proper thing which must be done. The South West is a significant zone for the Nigeria federation which cannot and must not be treated with levity.” Frowning at the delegation that went to the party’s National Executive Committee, NEC, that the South West was not interested in the chairmanship position, George said he was sad of the development.

While he faulted the delegation for not consulting with the elders of the party in the South West before making the remarks, he said “My reaction is that when we started the journey to rebuild the PDP in the South West, none of those people was a member of the party. None of them. Some of them along the line, they jumped on board the ship.”   ‘, the constitution, the foundation , the wherewithal which attracted them to join the party, they had no understanding. How can anybody in a family be washing his dirty linen in the market? It is like one is bringing curse home. Let them come and tell Yoruba people that they don’t want something good for them   and see what would happen.” They were even saying that the chairmanship should remain in the north. Are they really Oodua sons?

Buhari Is Not Sick, He Only Went To Rest – Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says contrary to opinion held by some people, Buhari’s five day vacation is for him to rest and that he is not sick . Adesina who was a guest on Channels TV yesterday night, said Buhari had worked for eight straight months since he assumed office and needs rest

“Any man can fall sick, old or young, but the president is not sick, the president is well. The president has worked for more than eight months non-stop, and he felt it was time to take a respite and he asked for six days leave and he did it the proper way. He communicated it to the national assembly, handed over power to his deputy and nothing is wrong with that.”he said

He denied claims that Buhari’s vacation appeared sudden.

 “Do you go on vacation because you are sick? You need respite from time to time and when you think it is time for respite, you take it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with his state of health. “Nigerians have been lied to for so long that they are now finding it difficult to believe the truth and that is the problem. You have told the truth yet they did not believe it because they have a carry-over of those who have lied to them for many decades but this government will not lie; it will tell the truth.”?he said

Offor Honest: Before PDP Decimates

People have often accused APC of being unprepared for governance. The same can be said of the former ruling party, the PDP. The PDP never envisaged their electoral loss, a party that once boasted that it will rule for 50 years never made plans for the eventuality of a defeat in the election.

PDP’s delusion of grandeur and arrogance does not stem from its sterling performance in the 16 years it held power. As a party that has mastered how to win elections, the last election could have been easily written in their favor but for the goodness of the former President who placed Nigeria above his personal ambition.

Today, we do not only have a seemingly unprepared party as the party in power, we also have an unprepared opposition. As a party built on patronage, many PDP members have ditched the leaking umbrella to seek shelter and patronage with the ruling party. PDP’s plight is made worse by the intolerance of the ruling party and EFCC’s onslaught against her members who used their prime positions to feather their nests.

Some would opine that PDP deserves all that is happening to her as a payback for her many years of poor governance. The truth however is that the death of PDP will hurt our democracy. Our democracy needs a strong opposition and no party is better suited to provide a formidable check on the ruling party, than a party that has held power and understands its intricacies. As a party that understands the workings of government, the PDP is better positioned to critically analyze the policy of government and give informed criticisms when the need arises.

For PDP to avoid the impending decimation, it must look inwards and reform. For starters, PDP must show remorse for the atrocious way it mismanaged its opportunities while in government. PDP’s defeat did not just occur in the last election, only a delusional optimist would not have noticed the handwriting on the wall. Lack of internal party democracy, disregard for party constitution, poor performance of elected public officers, arrogance of elected officials especially governors and endemic corruption, were responsible for PDP’s descent from the Olympian height.

To survive and play its role as the main opposition, PDP must accept its new role and readjust to the realities that come with it. Nothing captures the need for an urgent shakeup in the PDP like the salacious revelations indicting key NWC members of fraud in the #Dasukigate. PDP does not need this kind of negative publicity at such a time when it is trying to recover from the shellacking it received at the polls. Those indicted should step aside for the sake of the party’s image.

PDP needs to revamp its image and to do that, she needs fresh faces unencumbered with questionable credentials. A party that parades cerebral minds like Frank Nweke Jnr, Nuhu Ribadu, Jimi Agbaje, Sen. Ben Murray Bruce, Akin Oshuntokun, Donald Duke et al, should not look too far to find the right people to reposition the party.

PDP can set standard on how oppositions should engage government by setting up a shadow cabinet to scrutinize government policies and offer better alternatives when they fall short of global best practices. Already, one would have expected the leading opposition party to have started benchmarking the promises of the APC against their bogus promises during campaign. PDP can turn the heat on Buhari’s government by publishing its achievements in the first months of the past dispensation and benchmarking it against that of the present government.

Going forward, a new identity, focus on the younger generation and a possible merger with smaller political parties, are options the PDP must explore. Being in opposition goes beyond issuing disjointed press releases and criticizing government at every slightest chance. The people’s democratic institute (PDI) should be activated as a think thank policy Engine room, churning out policy alternatives that will best that of the ruling party.

The PDP governors are the best chance PDP has for a comeback. Many Nigerians looked to Lagos for inspiration when APC was the opposition party. Fashola’s occasional interventions dubbed ‘my takeaways’, contrasts markedly with Fayose’s occasional outbursts and makes more sense too. The PDP will need its governors to put up a class act and give Nigerians something to yearn for if Nigerians are to give them another shot at the Presidency.

Democracy is weakened in the absence of strong opposition. Nigeria will be better served if the PDP stays alive than dead. I wish PDP all the best as it seeks to rise up from the rubbles of defeat.

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

Tear Gas Released By Opposition In Kosovo Parliament

Nigeria is hardly the only country with an occasionally lively Parliament as these pictures prove. Kosovo’s parliament is debating a bill to grant ethnic Serbs more power. Opposition members don’t approve of the deal so they set off tear gas in the parliament chambers in protest.
Glauk Konjufca, of the main opposition Self-Determination Movement Party, said party members would not allow sessions to be held until the government renounces its deal with Serbia and Montenegro.

In the past three months, the opposition has disrupted parliament with tear gas, pepper spray, whistles and water bottles. The ruling government has accused the opposition of trying to come to power by force.

10 Influential Party Chieftains Who Can Help Rally PDP Into A Viable Opposition- Report

Following the fall of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the March 28 presidential election, the party will automatically assume the role of opposition at the centre as from May 29 when the All Progressives Congress will assume power.

The 17-year old PDP will also be in opposition in 23 other states controlled by either the APC or the All Progressives Grand Alliance. The governorship elections in Abia, Imo and Taraba are still outstanding. For now it is certain that the PDP will be in power in 13 states, APC in 22 and APGA in one.

Analysts say going by the outcome of the elections, the hitherto ruling party will definitely not be the same again. The PDP, whose former national chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, as well as the outgoing first lady, Patience Jonathan, had boasted will rule for 60 years, is already witnessing mass defections across the land.

In the last three weeks, many PDP faithful have dumped the party for the APC with several others threatening to do so. In Ogun, Jigawa, Gombe, Edo, Kaduna and Delta, the story is the same. For instance, in Ogun 1,237 PDP members reportedly dumped the party. The outgoing deputy governor of Jigawa, Ahmad Mahmud, the majority leader of Gombe State House of Assembly, Mamman Alkali, PDP candidate in the 2012 Edo State governorship election, Charles Aihiavbere, are some of the defectors.

With the resounding defeat at the polls, there are calls by PDP members that the party should be overhauled. Some have even demanded the resignation of the leadership, notably the National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu. Thus, in the post May 29 era, the following are influential party chieftains who have the charm, the resources and the staying power to rally party members across the  country and transform the party into a viable opposition capable of dethroning the APC from power in subsequent elections.

1. Goodluck Jonathan: Arguably, Mr. Jonathan is the greatest beneficiary of the party since its formation in 1998. Though little known before he joined politics, Mr. Jonathan, 58, has been a deputy governor in his home state, Bayelsa and later governor between 1999 and 2007. He was elected vice president in 2007, became acting president in 2010 and president from 2010 till date. He leaves office on May 29, 2015. As president, Mr. Jonathan has been the leader of the PDP since 2010.

However, under him the party’s popularity nosedived. In 2013, for the first time in the party’s history, five governors dumped the party for the opposition in one fell-swoop, a development that compelled many to describe the president as being politically naïve. Not many were surprised the way he was going anyway. Out of power, beginning from May 29, Mr. Jonathan, who is likely to retire to his village, Otuoke (in Bayelsa State) or Port Harcourt, where he spent his adult life before going into politics, would remain a member of the PDP. It is unthinkable that he would defect to another party.

Therefore, he is expected to play a major role in restructuring the party into a formidable opposition force. However, playing this role may be difficult for the president as he might be busy with international engagements. It is expected that by conceding defeat the manner he did and presumably conducting credible elections, international bodies might give him key assignments from time to time. Mr. Jonathan will also be one of those with deep pockets to revamp the soon-to-be-opposition party.

But there are those who believe  that Mr. Jonathan does not have the charisma and the political sagacity to provide effective leadership for the party. However, in the absence of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo from the party, Mr. Jonathan will definitely become the number one personality in the party. He is likely to assume the position of chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees in the months ahead.

2. David Mark: He is the outgoing Senate President. Mr. Mark, 67, is another beneficiary of the PDP structure. Before the return of democracy, Mr. Mark, a retired army brigadier-general, had been military governor of Niger State and communications minister. He has been in the Senate on the platform of the party since 1999. He chaired the Committee on Banking and Currency in the Senate.

In 2007, he became the Senate President. He is perceived to have performed creditably in that position. Since he assumed office, stability has returned to the upper legislative chamber. Mr. Mark, who won election for the fifth time in the March 28 election to represent Benue South Senatorial District, has already given indications that he would not leave the PDP. “I have heard by way of rumour in the social media that I am decamping to APC. Social media is awash with that. If I will be the last man standing I will remain in PDP,” Mr. Mark said at a church service to mark his birthday earlier this month.
“The rumour is just an unnecessary fabrication and I even heard that one of the papers yesterday had it as headline. The media men must please make sure they investigate cases before they begin to publish it. Nobody has spoken to me from APC. I have no reasons whatsoever to leave PDP, no reasons. I have risen to where I am on the platform of PDP. PDP has a manifesto and I believe in it.”

Describing those who are leaving the PDP as fair weather friends of the party, Mr. Mark said, “When PDP bounces back in few years in the next couple of elections or next election they will come back again to PDP.”

Clearly, Mr. Mark has enormous resources that he could deploying in helping the party get back on its feet. He has the charisma and is regarded as one of the wisest men in the party told. He has in the recent past helped in the resolving intra-party crisis and reconciling party members  across the country.

3. Godswill Akpabio: He is the outgoing governor of the oil-rich Akwa Ibom, a state he claimed to have “uncommonly transformed”. The 53-year old Mr. Akbabio however became a force to reckon with when he became Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum in 2013. He recently won election to the Senate to represent Akwa Ibom North West. Although he will be in the opposition in the upper legislative chamber, Mr. Akpabio will certainly play a key role in repositioning the PDP, especially the huge financial warchest he is believed to have amassed over the years.

4. Sule Lamido: He is the outgoing governor of Jigawa State. Mr. Lamido was a founding member of the PDP. He was a member of the G18 and 34, which fought the self-succession plot of former Head of State, Sani Abacha. The G34 later metamorphosed into the PDP. He contested the governorship election on the party’s platform but lost. He was to serve as foreign minister in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration between 1999 and 20003. He assumed power as governor in 2007 after staying four years out of political office. However, his party lost the state to the opposition APC both in the recent presidential, governorship and legislative elections. It is believed that Mr. Lamido, will be one of the rallying points of the PDP in the post-Jonathan era.

However, some can bet that it will not be so as his heart is allegedly in the opposition while his body remains in the PDP. Those who hold this view may not be far from the truth. Mr. Lamido was among the seven PDP governors who canvassed a new order in the ruling party under its former chairman, Bamanga Tukur. The others were Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Rabi;u Kwankwaso (Kano), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), who was later impeached. However, when five of the G7 governors dumped the party in 2013 for the APC, Messrs Lamido and Aliyu remained in the PDP.  Mr. Lamido, 67, might be the PDP point man in the North.

5. Adamu Mu’azu: He is a former governor of Bauchi State. He assumed duties as national chairman of the ruling party in January 2014 when the party was in turbulence. Popularly called the “game changer,” the fortunes of the party appear to have further dimmed under him. For the first time in 16 years, the PDP lost woefully in a general election. Under Mr. Mu’azu’s watch, the party lost the presidential power to the APC in the March 28 election as well as several PDP states in the north. It is on record that despite his boast that the PDP would win 24 states in the governorship election, the party lost its earlier strongholds, namely Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Bauchi (his home state), Benue, Plateau, Niger, and Adamawa. Although, there are calls for his resignation, Mr. Mu’azu instead has been assuring that the PDP would bounce back. “We are humbled by the 28th of March decision of many Nigerians and promise never again to let you down. We will
reform our
party,” he said. “We have learnt some very useful lessons with the March 28th elections and we want to assure Nigerians you will see a new PDP.”

6. Liyel Imoke: Mr. Imoke, 54, is the outgoing governor of Cross River. He was a senator in the botched Third Republic. He has also benefited hugely from the PDP in this dispensation. He had served as power minister in the Obasanjo administration before becoming governor in 2007. Although many expect he would remain relevant in the rebuilding process of the party, there are those who believe his below average performance as governor may rob him of the moral foundation to be a credible PDP salesperson.

7. Olusegun Mimiko: The Ondo State governor started out on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy. He served as health commissioner in the state. He later moved to the PDP and became SSG before he moved to the centre where he served in the Obasanjo administration as Housing minister.  However, he defected to the Labour Party on whose platform he ran for governor in 2007. Although the PDP was declared winner of the election, the Court of Appeal later ruled that it was Mr. Mimiko that won the election. The governor, who is serving out his second term next year, has since returned to the PDP. It is believed that his return to the PDP was in anticipation of getting a federal appointment if the party returned to power. Although, the APC won the presidential election in Ondo State, Mr. Mimiko is likely to stick with the PDP and might play a key role in reforming the party. He might be one of the key figures around which party members in the Southwest could
rally and seek direction.

8: Ken Nnamani: He was Senate President from 2005 to 2007. An indigene of Enugu, Mr. Nnamani is currently the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission. He is a respected PDP member and could be the rallying point of the party, particularly in the South East.

9. Jide Omokore: He is a chieftain of the PDP. He is businessman from Kogi State with interests in oil trading and exploration, marine, haulage service, steel, dredging engineering and property. Mr. Omokore had once been profiled by Forbes Magazine as “High net-worth billionaires in Nigeria.” He once donated N50m to the Kogi State Government as aid to victims of the flood disaster in 2012. Although he is not known to have occupied any political office, he has been of immense support to the ruling party. Mr. Omokore is tagged in some quarters as a business front for some public officials but that could not be proved at this time. He is one of the party’s most consistent financials. It however remains to be seen whether he would continue to fund the party now that it is in the opposition.

10. Olusegun Obasanjo: Like Mr. Jonathan, Mr. Obasanjo is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the PDP machine. In 1998, he was brought out from prison where he was serving jail term for alleged coup plotting and was elected president the following year. Mr. Obasanjo ruled as a democratically-elected president from 1999 to 2007. He had been military head of state from 1976 to 1979.

After he left power, he became Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees but quit the position in 2012 in order to “have a bit more time to devote to the international demand on me.” He further said resigning from the position would afford him more time “to give attention to mentoring across the board nationally and internationally in those areas that I have acquired some experience, expertise and in which I have something to share.”

Mr. Obasanjo however shocked many in February when he directed a fellow PDP man in Abeokuta to tear his membership card thereby signalling his exit from the party. The action was the peak of his anger with the party he was once led. Before his membership card was torn, Mr. Obasanjo had virtually stopped attending meetings of the ruling party apparently because of his grouse with Mr. Jonathan who he once wrote a letter criticising his style of governance. He is currently not a member of the PDP neither is he a member of the APC, which at some point wooed him. However, there are indications that he might return to the ruling party. After a meeting with Mr. Jonathan at the time, the outgoing governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, had assured that PDP would beg Mr. Obasanjo to return to the party.

“When a father is angry with his children, the children should beg him. Baba is more than a party man. He is an icon, a national symbol and a leader and inventor, a creator of all the institutions today in Nigeria from the president to the governors, who are his own sons, are all his creations.”

“And so when a father is angry with his children, we will only say we are sorry to him. But then, we cannot be renounced for whatever it is…….We might have made some mistakes, but abandoning us is not the solution because the country is first before anything else. So, he is our Baba even up to the president.”

It is not clear however if the party has begged the former president. Should he return to the PDP, Mr. Obasanjo will be one of the rallying points in the quest to revamp the party ahead of future polls.


APC Lawmakers Oppose Obanikoro’s Ministerial Screening

Eighteen senators of the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Thursday opposed the nomination of Musiliu Obanikoro by President Goodluck Jonathan for a ministerial position.

The lawmakers cited Mr. Obanikoro’s alleged involvement in the rigging of the Ekiti elections as a reason for their decision.

The APC senators led by minority leader, George Akume, alongside Sani Saleh representing Kaduna central; Ojudu Babafemi representing Ekiti central senatorial district and Danjuma Goje representing Gombe central, disclosed their stand to journalists on Thursday.

“Obanikoro is not qualified to hold public office based on his antecedent,” Mr. Babafemi said. “It is our position that such a person is not qualified to hold public office and we are going to oppose that.

Read More: premiumtimesng.com

My Oppositions Would Be A Part Of My New Government If Elected – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has said he will open the door for new people, including those who oppose now, to join his administration and serve Nigeria if he finally wins the race to return as the country’s president on March 28.

Likewise, the president has pledged to hunt down the Boko Haram insurgents, whose operations he acknowledged, had caused collateral destruction of lives and property in the North-east in particular.

The president expressed the view in a document that emanated from a meeting he held with Strategy Group, a forum of trusted northerners and southerners on February 14.

As contained in the document, the president said he would inject new blood into his cabinet if re-elected, saying the door “will be open for new people to join me and serve including even those who oppose now.”

The document addressed diverse challenges currently confronting the North at large, citing the scary poverty kid, which it acknowledged, had aggravated the operations of the Boko Haram insurgents.

The document said: “It is true I lost of time in dealing with this problem. This was because I listened to advice to try several tracks and not just the military option. We tried the political and negotiation track.

“It did not work. Now I am going for an all-out assault in conjunction with our neighbouring countries and other helpers. We shall hunt them down so we can provide a more secure future for our citizens in these areas. I thank our courageous men and women in the armed forces for their sacrifice.

“I understand the poverty problem of the North. I see the destruction of lives and property caused by Boko Haram. Once we drive out Boko Haram, I shall personally take charge of a rebuilding programme for the North-east. I have already put instruments in place and will use them.

“I have PINE, Save School Initiative, Greenbelt and Victim Fund among others. I shall use these instruments to improve lives and livelihoods and give our citizens in these areas a better future,” the document said.

The document, also, detailed the feat the Jonathan administration in power sector, noting that his government “has pushed further on power than other government. We have privatised the sector so that new and better owners and managers can help us.

“But I know power has not improved to the extent we want. This is largely due to lack of gas and pipeline vandalisation. My plan is to tackle this through employment of technology to help deter and detect vandals.

“I am also diversifying power sources, already mainly to hydro so we are not dependent on one source. We are building massive dams such as Kashimbila, Zungeru and Mambila to help us. I plan to exploit coal as well.”

It incisively x-rayed the effort of the administration in the fight against corruption, noting that his administration had convicted more corrupt officials than any administration since return to civil rule in 1999.

The document rolled out how the Jonathan administration had been using modern platforms and technology to fight corruption, which it said, reflected in the rating of the Transparency International.

“I am committed to fighting corruption. Contrary to the misinformation you get, this administration has achieved a lot on this front and the Transparency International rating for Nigeria is better now than it was a decade ago. I acknowledge and accept we still need to improve.

“We are far from where we need to be. But we have fought oil subsidy fraud, pension fraud, fertilizer fraud and cleaned these up. We are using technology to build electronic platform to manage our finances and personnel payroll and stop leakages there. This is the way we must go in the future.

“I plan to put in place the institutions and systems to stop leakages. The EFCC has made many more arrests and convictions in this administration than ever before. I respect the rule of law and people are punished if found guilty,” the document quoted the president saying.

Olusegun Obasanjo: Whose Side is He On? – By Lagun Akinloye

Last November at the popular Ake Arts & Book Festival held in Abeokuta, Ogun State, former president Olusegun Obasanjo described the achievements of the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration as being “below average”. Obasanjo, while acknowledging the personal role he played in Jonathan’s emergence as president, absolved himself of any blame stating, “I will not take responsibility for his performance.”

Obasanjo’s comments were just one of many in recent times aimed at denigrating his former protégé and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a party he once led but who have now turned him into a peripheral figure.

Having been openly courted by the opposition party the All Progressives Congress (APC), Obasanjo continues to reaffirm that he is still a member of the PDP but as a former president, he is a father to all.

The former president knows the political game better than most and by accommodating and fostering friendships with leaders of the opposition, while simultaneously acting as a rallying point for disgruntled elements within the PDP, Obasanjo hopes to preserve a comfortable seat at the front row of the election gallery as Nigerians head to the polls on February 14.

From the outside looking in

After leaving office in 2007, Obasanjo attempted to maintain his influence within the PDP, strong-arming the party into picking him for the highly prominent role of chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT). This allowed the former president an ideal vantage point over party matters but would eventually put him at loggerheads with Jonathan, with the latter refusing to do his bidding on issues including ministerial appointments and how Nigeria’s oil wealth is distributed.

Further cracks in their relationship emerged as the Jonathan administration actively followed through with clandestine plans to whittle down the influence of Obasanjo on party matters. Obasanjo, in an attempt to save face resigned from the position of BOT Chairman in April 2012, describing the move as one that will enable him to fulfill his duties as statesman both locally and internationally.

Those loyal to the former president were slowly eased out of the PDP’s inner caucus with the help of the newly reconstituted National Working Committee (NWC), the decision making organ of the party, in February 2013. The move saw Obasanjo’s chosen political appointees replaced with those more favourable to Jonathan, with similar actions replicated in appointment of party officers in Obasanjo’s own geo-political zone of the South-West and his home state of Ogun.

Dancing with the opposition

In December 2013 Obasanjo played host to the national leader of the APC and former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu. Tinubu arrived at Obasanjo’s residence with a retinue of APC chieftains including their recently picked 2015 presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari. Tinubu extolled the virtues of the former president, praised Obasanjo for the role he has played in “building the nation” and lamented that the country was divided now more than ever. He concluded by urging the former leader not to shy away from speaking the truth whilst stating “we are resolved and determined to rescue Nigeria and we want you as navigator.”

Obasanjo thanked his guests for their visit but reaffirmed that he remained a card carrying member of the PDP, describing himself as an “Incurable optimist” and totally committed to the well-being of the nation. Obasanjo had some encouraging words for the opposition leaders stating that their emergence on the political stage had enhanced democracy in the county and encouraged them to play politics without bitterness and rancour.

Playing the game

Obasanjo’s parlay with APC’s leadership was curiously followed by an 18-page letter accusing Jonathan of failing to deal with the many problems facing Nigeria, including corruption, piracy, kidnapping and oil theft with Obasanjo declaring Jonathan “morally flawed” in his bid for re-election. The president dismissed his attack as “reckless, baseless, unjustifiable and indecorous”.”

Not satisfied, Obasanjo went on to release his autobiography in December 2014 in which excerpts described the president as a self-centred politician “who thinks less of the country and fraternises with corrupt and questionable characters.” The president’s men attempted to block the book’s release via a court order but the former president defied the injunction ruling by an Abuja High Court and went ahead with its unveiling.

But in a surprise move, a rapprochement of sorts took place on January 5 after photos were taken of Obasanjo attending the wedding of Jonathan’s adopted daughter. This was followed with a meeting at Obasanjo’s hilltop mansion the next day with Jonathan in attendance alongside prominent Christian religious leaders who would possibly act as mediators between the former allies.

The meeting was said to have broken down with Obasanjo refusing to throw his support behind Jonathan over his past transgressions as he once again welcomed the APC leadership and Buhari into his home only a few hours after the president’s departure. The APC, who were on a campaign stop in the former president’s home city, Abeokuta, paid him a courtesy call with Buhari stating that he had come to solicit his support and wise counsel. Obasanjo to the delight of his visitors declared “I’ll support the best candidate irrespective of party”, thus adding more confusion to his actual political stance and loyalty to the PDP.

But as the weeks draw closer to what will be Nigeria’s most keenly contested election since the return to democracy in 1999, the posture and leanings of Obasanjo, still a much revered and respected personality in both local and international political circles, will be watched closely as the question still remains, whose side is he on?

Lagun Akinloye

Credit: africanarguments.org

South Africa: Opposition Nixes Report on President

South African opposition parties have rejected a report absolving the country’s president from financial wrongdoing in the upgrades of his personal home.

Opposition parties on Wednesday released their own report calling for President Jacob Zuma to be removed from office. They also demanded a criminal investigation and that Zuma pay back a portion of the more than $20 million in state funds used to improve his rural homestead in Nkandla in the Kwazulu-Natal province.

On Tuesday evening, a parliamentary committee released the findings of its investigation which cleared the president. The opposition walked out of that committee last month.

The investigation began after South Africa’s government watchdog, the Public Protector, released a report concluding that Zuma inappropriately benefited from state funding.

Credit: Yahoo News