with Yemi Adebowale; email@example.com
This week, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State added a prickly dimension to the hitherto clandestine moves by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to dubiously remove the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu. He declared through one of his aides: “He (Ekweremadu) will soon be ousted from office with the assured victory of the APC in the Imo.North Senatorial rerun poll.” Because of extreme desperation, Okorocha even forgot that the Senate has a ranking rule that will not favour the purported APC senator coming from Imo North after a crooked re-election.
The National Chairman of the APC, John Oyegun was also on Channels Television about two weeks ago and spent the bulk of his time lamenting the emergence of Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President. He said, almost 14 months after Ekweremadu’s victory, he and his party were still pained. Oyegun added that the party would never accept Ekweremadu as the deputy president of the Senate. “I think the thing that rankled us the most was the election of Ekweremadu as the deputy Senate president. Saraki is a member of the APC, much as the main line of the party would have wished a different result and a different scenario. But we all find it very, very difficult to accept the emergence of a PDP person as his deputy,” stated the APC national chairman.
Of course, the leadership of the party has been doing everything possible to frustrate the deputy Senate President. For over a year now, they have been using state resources and personnel to intimidate and harass this innocent man. He was even arraigned alongside the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki for a ludicrous forgery allegation; it was obviously part of a well co-ordinated plot to finally hound Ekweremadu out of his position. It was even alleged this week that one of the things on the agenda of the APC governors who met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja was how to remove Ekweremadu. This plot has clearly been taken to a ridiculous level.
So, what offence has the deputy Senate president committed to warrant these unprecedented assault, insult and harassment? When has it become a sin, to contest and emerge as the deputy Senate president in a widely acclaimed free and fair election? When did it become a crime for an opposition Senator to emerge as the deputy Senate president? This is what democracy is all about. There is no law restricting this position or any other executive position in the National Assembly to members of the ruling party. Legislators have a right to elect whoever they deem fit, into any position. This is a fact the ruling APC is struggling to live with. As a result, the ruling party has rolled out all sorts of missiles against Ekweremadu.
It is even more painful when one recalls that the APC celebrated the then speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, when he dumped the PDP on which platform he emerged as the speaker, for the then opposition APC. This cowboy called Tambuwal transferred another party’s mandate to the APC and many of them clapped for him, saying that it was good for democracy.
Just as Ahmed Makarfi, the interim chairman of the PDP noted: “Even the APC as a party and President Muhammadu Buhari (before his election), variously and robustly defended the constitutionality and imperativeness of bi-partisan legislative leadership during the defection of Tambuwal to its fold while in opposition without relinquishing his position.
“We, however, want to make it clear that the APC has no constitutional or moral grounds to be displeased with Ekweremadu’s emergence or to go this ridiculous length to harass, intimidate, embarrass, and malign him and the institution of the Senate on account of a position to which his colleagues, cutting across party lines, elected him in a transparent and televised election in line with Section 50 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.”
Lai Mohammed, who was the spokesman of the APC, also celebrated Tambuwal’s defection. He said: “I must say that this historic development means that our democracy is growing by the day and it is dynamic. We think that having the head of the legislature from the opposition party makes for a balanced setting in government and it is good for democracy. Those who are saying this has not happened before and that Tambuwal should step aside as the Speaker do not have the backing of history and the Constitution.” That was Lai Mohammed. Suddenly, he and his party are behaving as if the victory of Ekeremadu lacks the backing of the constitution. They are behaving as if our democracy is no longer growing.
This witch-hunting of Ekweremadu by the APC must stop. His emergence as the deputy Senate president is consistent with the law and practice in a presidential system of government everywhere in the world. Nigeria can’t be different. The Nigerian Constitution requires (only) that the President of the Senate or his deputy be elected by members of the Senate from among themselves.
For Okorocha, I urge him to concentrate on fixing the decaying infrastructure in his failed state and spend quality time working on how to pay the traumatised Imo civil servants instead of persistently thinking about how to bring down Ekweremadu. One of the deputy Senate president’s aides was apt last week when he remarked: “If Okorocha was not able to secure a principal office, even deputy majority whip, for the two House of Representatives members from Imo State, it is left to imagination how he would be able to appoint a deputy president for the Senate. He is on a wild goose chase. He (Okorocha) and APC leaders in the South-east should preoccupy themselves with ending the invasions and killings of our people by purported herdsmen, gross marginalisation of Ndigbo in the distribution of opportunities and the blessings of democracy as well as the worrisome trend of inconclusive elections.”
Senator Garbai and the Task Ahead
One of the high points of the recent reshuffle of Senate Committee Chairmanship was the emergence of Senator Baba Kaka Garbai (APC Borno Central) as the Chairman of the Rules and Business Committee. Of course, this is the engine room of the Senate. The position is usually reserved for well-bred professionals, with a high-level of political maturity. The choice of Garbai is appropriate. This Prince of Borno is expected to reflect a high-level of finesse in the operation of this strategic Committee. Garbai, highly refined, cool, calm and always calculated, brings to this position, wide-ranging experience spanning the public and private sector. He was the commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in Borno State for four years, where he played a key role in easing the effect of terrorism on the people of the state. Garbai also served at the National level as a Director with the National Investment Promotion Council, NIPC.
A Word for Governor Ambode
Abductions, violent robberies and killings have never assumed this frightening level in Lagos State. The last three months have been horrendous. This is the third time I will be writing on this, yet, there is little result. The aerial raid on the terrorists’ hideout in Ikorodu yesterday was heartwarming. There is the need to do more. As at press time, a first-class traditional ruler in the state was still with his kidnappers. Communities in Igando, Iba, Ikorodu West and Ikorodu North are worse hit by this menace. It is a shame that people are being forced to pack out of their homes in areas like Agbede, Isawo, Igbo Olomu, Ita-Oluwo, Odon Nla, Asolo, Oke-Oko, Pacific Estate, Ikejiobi Avenue, Ewedogbon, Fatoki, Obadore and Egan; yet, there is a state governor here. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode must raise his game and nip in the bud this menace. Insecurity in Lagos must be reduced drastically. I am scandalised that several weeks after this menace reared its ugly head, the military is yet to start playing a major role in the patrol of these crisis areas. Of course, we all know that the police are incapable of handling the situation. Ambode must get the support of the military high command, to ensure that soldiers are deployed to the troubled areas. The good thing with Ikorodu is that there is a military barracks nearby. All they need is instruction from Abuja and logistic support from the Lagos State government. Ambode must act now; he must act very fast to assuage the traumatised residents of these troubled areas. Already, there are refugees in Ikorodu. This is a big shame in the centre of excellence.
Boko Haram’s Attack in Guro Gongon
The attack on Nigerian soldiers by Boko Haram terrorists in Guro Gongon Village, Borno State on 20th July 2016 was depressing. The calibre of equipment recovered from the extremists, after the ambush was repelled by the military, also leaves much to be desired. According to an official statement, “The recovered items include one gun truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun, a MOWAG armoured personnel carrier, one rocket propelled grenade tube, one light machine gun, three AK-47 rifles and motorcycles.” An unknown number of Nigerian soldiers were declared missing and 19 others with three members of civilian JTF were wounded. The fact that the terrorists had the audacity to ambush our soldiers with high-quality equipment is a confirmation of my earlier piece on why Internally Displaced Persons can’t return home. I am shocked that a purportedly dismembered terror group is still operating with an armoured personnel carrier. Just on Thursday, UNICEF suspended aid deliveries to Borno, after an attack on its humanitarian convoy in Bama. On the same day,
The MultiNational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF), finally captured Damasak town, in Northern Borno; yet, the Buhari administration said no Nigerian territory was under Boko Haram’s control. May Allah continue to protect our gallant soldiers.
Godwin Obaseki’s Comical Promise of 200,000 Jobs
There is nothing desperate Nigerian politicians will not do or say to get to power. As usual, it is already happening in Edo State as the battle to replace Adams Oshiomhole thickens. Godwin Obaseki, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the September 10 governorship election in the state, has promised to create more than 200,000 jobs, if elected. Obaseki made this pledge at his recent rally at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin. He said the focus of his administration, if elected, would be job creation. First, I can’t fathom how he would create 200,000 jobs in four years. I very much doubt if even his mentor and outgoing governor, Adams Oshiomhole was able to create just 100 jobs in his almost eight years as the governor. The Edo State civil service is already bloated. Obaseki needs to be reminded that it is not the business of government to create jobs, but to create an enabling environment for the private sector to do this.
The other day, I also heard the APC candidate saying, at a rally, that he would bring broadband to Edo State and create jobs with the internet, if elected. I hope he is not talking about “419” jobs here. Again, I doubt if there is any state without broadband connection in Nigeria. Our politicians should stop this kind of silly promises. The desperation to win elections is getting to the extreme.