APC Leaders in Make or Mar Meeting Today over Direction of Government October 30, 2017 #ThisdayNews

UNGA 173

 

APC Leaders in Make or Mar Meeting Today over Direction of Government

October 30, 2017 #ThisdayNews

Ahead of tomorrow’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party’s national caucus will hold crucial talks with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa today, THISDAY has learnt.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of a growing disenchantment among party leaders and the rank and file over perceived marginalisation by the president who they accuse of sidelining them in the appointments he has made since he assumed office in 2015.

THISDAY, however, gathered that Buhari and his loyalists might seek to use the leadership meeting to try to secure a badly needed vote of confidence for his administration.
Securing the confidence vote has become very necessary in view of the president’s unconcealed interest in running for a second term in office in 2019.

Among those expected to attend the crucial meeting are the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun; the National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu; Senate President Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara; all the APC state governors; and former interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar might not attend the meeting as his media aide, Mr. Paul Ibe told THISDAY that he was outside the country.

A lot has happened in the APC in the last two years, leaving the party largely polarised and appears to be on the brink of implosion.

Most of the political gladiators in the party have either clashed over competing interests or engaged in verbal exchanges over the handling of issues relating to the party and its administration.

The APC administration led by Buhari has also come under sharp criticism from both within and outside the ranks of the party for what many described as the poor handling of the affairs of government.

While some APC stakeholders have accused the president of not carrying them along in terms of appointments, other Nigerians especially from the opposition have criticized the administration for its alleged bias in its anti-corruption war, sectionalism and poor performance, among other issues.

A top party member who spoke to THISDAY at the weekend said that the battle line has been drawn between the pro and anti-Buhari elements and that the meeting at the Presidential Villa promises to be a heated one.

For instance, the source said the National Working Committee (NWC) led by Oyegun, which has long been alienated from the president since his medical trips to London is expected to ventilate its grievances at the meeting.
It further was learnt that the NWC would be leading a protest on the poor funding of the party’s operations, which has been blamed on the president.

Another issue that might come up during the meeting is the complaint by the Atiku that he has not been carried along by the Buhari administration and the party.

Party leaders who spoke with THISDAY yesterday in confidence said that the meeting is crucial to the survival of the party.

An aggrieved member of NEC said: “APC is at a point of rebellion and an unmanageable stage, and the grenades are about to explode,” adding: “If we refuse to take critical decisions at the meetings, we will have missed the huge opportunity to save our party.”

He explained further: “Our party members are not happy with the current state of affairs in our party and government; they worked and laboured to install a government but those who are currently being appointed in key positions of government today were not with us during the campaign.

“The danger I am seeing, which many of those surrounding the president are apparently not seeing is the coming national convention of our party that will commence in February next year.

“In the past few years, the party structures at all levels were rendered useless; they were used and abandoned. Are you going to remove them and elect new members, thinking they will be happy? That will be the end of APC.

“They said the leadership of the party is not active and as a result some governors and senators want the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun removed for selfish political motives.

“My question is: Do they expect the national chairman to start fighting the president on the pages of newspapers? Do they expect him to start shouting, when he has access to the President?”

Throwing more light on the difficulty the national chairman and his colleagues have going through, the NEC member said they had informed Buhari in the past about sorry state of the party, “telling him that the leadership of the party was not happy”.

The growing discontent in the party also found expression in last weekend’s outburst by one of the president’s close associates, the Comptroller-General of the Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), who lamented that the administration was increasingly losing grounds due to the infusion of people who did not share his vision or never took part in the journey to get to the corridors of power.

Ali had said: “Let me say here without fear of being contradicted that I think half way through the journey, we are losing our core values. We are losing our vision and mission and I think that the idea of our being here today is to look critically at what we need to do to get back on track.

“There is no doubt that we have derailed because we are not doing what we say we want to do. Why is it so? We need to find an answer to that. If we do not find answer, then what should we do to get us all back on track?

“We owe this great nation and the 180 million Nigerians the duty to give good governance. Good governance is what they voted for and good governance is what they expect and deserve.”

A chieftain of APC in the FCT chapter, Alhaji Tijani Abdullahi Markafi, said that topmost on the agenda of the meetings slated for today and tomorrow would be the need for urgent reforms in the area of party discipline, finance and organisation, saying the party would need to agree on an effective reward system for stakeholders on account of being members of the party in government.

According to him, “During the 2015 elections, Nigerians – young and old – who voted en masse for APC were certain that President Muhammadu Buhari’s leadership would save the country from the throes of the misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“In fairness to the new administration, it addressed itself to the onerous task of rebuilding the country and delivering on election promises which were largely hinged on curbing corruption, restoring the economy and security of the nation.
“However, there are different perspectives on the extent to which it has successfully tackled these challenges. While spokespersons for the government are beating their chests on how successfully interventions have positively affected the situation, opposition elements have remained unimpressed.”APC Leaders in Make or Mar Meeting Today over Direction of Government

October 30, 2017 #ThisdayNews

Ahead of tomorrow’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party’s national caucus will hold crucial talks with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa today, THISDAY has learnt.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of a growing disenchantment among party leaders and the rank and file over perceived marginalisation by the president who they accuse of sidelining them in the appointments he has made since he assumed office in 2015.

THISDAY, however, gathered that Buhari and his loyalists might seek to use the leadership meeting to try to secure a badly needed vote of confidence for his administration.
Securing the confidence vote has become very necessary in view of the president’s unconcealed interest in running for a second term in office in 2019.

Among those expected to attend the crucial meeting are the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun; the National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu; Senate President Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara; all the APC state governors; and former interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar might not attend the meeting as his media aide, Mr. Paul Ibe told THISDAY that he was outside the country.

A lot has happened in the APC in the last two years, leaving the party largely polarised and appears to be on the brink of implosion.

Most of the political gladiators in the party have either clashed over competing interests or engaged in verbal exchanges over the handling of issues relating to the party and its administration.

The APC administration led by Buhari has also come under sharp criticism from both within and outside the ranks of the party for what many described as the poor handling of the affairs of government.

While some APC stakeholders have accused the president of not carrying them along in terms of appointments, other Nigerians especially from the opposition have criticized the administration for its alleged bias in its anti-corruption war, sectionalism and poor performance, among other issues.

A top party member who spoke to THISDAY at the weekend said that the battle line has been drawn between the pro and anti-Buhari elements and that the meeting at the Presidential Villa promises to be a heated one.

For instance, the source said the National Working Committee (NWC) led by Oyegun, which has long been alienated from the president since his medical trips to London is expected to ventilate its grievances at the meeting.
It further was learnt that the NWC would be leading a protest on the poor funding of the party’s operations, which has been blamed on the president.

Another issue that might come up during the meeting is the complaint by the Atiku that he has not been carried along by the Buhari administration and the party.

Party leaders who spoke with THISDAY yesterday in confidence said that the meeting is crucial to the survival of the party.

An aggrieved member of NEC said: “APC is at a point of rebellion and an unmanageable stage, and the grenades are about to explode,” adding: “If we refuse to take critical decisions at the meetings, we will have missed the huge opportunity to save our party.”

He explained further: “Our party members are not happy with the current state of affairs in our party and government; they worked and laboured to install a government but those who are currently being appointed in key positions of government today were not with us during the campaign.

“The danger I am seeing, which many of those surrounding the president are apparently not seeing is the coming national convention of our party that will commence in February next year.

“In the past few years, the party structures at all levels were rendered useless; they were used and abandoned. Are you going to remove them and elect new members, thinking they will be happy? That will be the end of APC.

“They said the leadership of the party is not active and as a result some governors and senators want the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun removed for selfish political motives.

“My question is: Do they expect the national chairman to start fighting the president on the pages of newspapers? Do they expect him to start shouting, when he has access to the President?”

Throwing more light on the difficulty the national chairman and his colleagues have going through, the NEC member said they had informed Buhari in the past about sorry state of the party, “telling him that the leadership of the party was not happy”.

The growing discontent in the party also found expression in last weekend’s outburst by one of the president’s close associates, the Comptroller-General of the Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), who lamented that the administration was increasingly losing grounds due to the infusion of people who did not share his vision or never took part in the journey to get to the corridors of power.

Ali had said: “Let me say here without fear of being contradicted that I think half way through the journey, we are losing our core values. We are losing our vision and mission and I think that the idea of our being here today is to look critically at what we need to do to get back on track.

“There is no doubt that we have derailed because we are not doing what we say we want to do. Why is it so? We need to find an answer to that. If we do not find answer, then what should we do to get us all back on track?

“We owe this great nation and the 180 million Nigerians the duty to give good governance. Good governance is what they voted for and good governance is what they expect and deserve.”

A chieftain of APC in the FCT chapter, Alhaji Tijani Abdullahi Markafi, said that topmost on the agenda of the meetings slated for today and tomorrow would be the need for urgent reforms in the area of party discipline, finance and organisation, saying the party would need to agree on an effective reward system for stakeholders on account of being members of the party in government.

According to him, “During the 2015 elections, Nigerians – young and old – who voted en masse for APC were certain that President Muhammadu Buhari’s leadership would save the country from the throes of the misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“In fairness to the new administration, it addressed itself to the onerous task of rebuilding the country and delivering on election promises which were largely hinged on curbing corruption, restoring the economy and security of the nation.
“However, there are different perspectives on the extent to which it has successfully tackled these challenges. While spokespersons for the government are beating their chests on how successfully interventions have positively affected the situation, opposition elements have remained unimpressed.”

MainaGate: EFCC finds £6m pension cash in UK bank!!! – Yusuf Alli, The Nation

 

Maina: EFCC finds £6m pension cash in UK bank

 

Anti-graft agency seals off more houses traced to ex-task force chief in Abuja

Detectives have traced about £6m pension funds to a  United Kingdom bank  account  being managed by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation(OHCSF), The Nation learnt yesterday.

The cash is being suspected to have been tampered with by some government officials.

Two former Heads of the Civil Service of the Federation(Engr. E. Okeke and Prof. O. A. Afolabi) reportedly did their best to protect the funds from being tampered with.

Also yesterday, it was learnt that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) had seized more houses believed to be owned by the embattled ex- chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms Task Team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina. He is one of the signatories to the UK bank account.

Besides, a former EFCC operative has been quoted as saying that he was prepared to speak up on how a minister contacted him to protect Maina.

But the operative said he would do so on oath if President Muhammadu Buhari raises a Judicial Commission of Enquiry into the mismanagement of pension funds.

At least N2b is said to have been misappropriated. There are other funds, which are believed to have been stolen.

A former chairman of EFCC allegedly collected funds for a foreign trip from Maina. But a fact-sheet has debunked the claim.

The purported N5,476,000 estacodes remitted to the former EFCC chairman  was actually paid into an account in a first generation bank, according to sources close to the investigation of the multibillion naira pension scandal.

The EFCC has continued its manhunt for Maina. It has located more of his assets.

A source said: “Our detectives have linked a large farm in Keffi to Maina and we are going to invoke Interim Assets forfeiture Clause in the EFCC (Establishment) Act.

“We have also sealed off two of the suspect’s houses at No. A5 B. Close and No. 9A  in Kado Estate in Abuja. We have located some houses in Maiduguri too.

“So far, we have taken possession of the houses in Abuja and Kaduna.”

There  was a twist yesterday following the release of a fact-sheet, which states that no former EFCC chairman collected N5,476,000 for overseas trips from Maina.

The document said: “It is hereby stated categorically that the former EFCC chairman never received any payment whatsoever in respect of any trip in OHCSF/Police Pensions and neither embark on such trips.

“That Estacode payments to the tune of N5,476,000 purportedly made for the Executive Chairman  was discovered to have been paid into the First Bank acct. No. 4033010067733 belonging to one Christian Madubuike who is an account clerk with Police Pension office (PPO).

“The money was subsequently withdrawn from his account and handed over to Mr. John Yusuf  (AD Accounts PPO). However John Yusuf admitted receiving the monies but claimed that he remitted same to Abdulrasheed Maina.”

Meanwhile, the EFCC traced about £6m pension funds to the UK  and uncovered 66 pension accounts in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation(OHCSF).

There was suspicion that the £6m might have been tampered with by some government officials, who are now pension suspects.

The top source added: “The EFCC has done enough in unraveling pension fraud syndicate in OHCSF, Presidential Pension Reform Task Committee, Police Pension funds and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) check-off dues among others.

The source said: “It is certainly a huge racket by civil servants some of who are still in the system. For instance, our team uncovered  £6m pension funds in an account in the UK. The money was  for the payment of the pensions of some British colonial officers who served in Nigeria.

A report on the said account in the UK said: “In respect of the Federal Government 6million pounds sterling investment in the U.K with Crown agents, it is worth noting that the information was discovered as a result of a search executed in the residence of Dr. Shuaibu  Sani Teidi during the course of our investigation.

“Dr. Shuaibu Sani Teidi failed to disclose the account during his handing over when he was leaving the Head of Service. Mr. Charles Bornant was invited and he confirmed that Dr. Shaibu did not disclose nor include the account in his handing over. Investigation into the account is still ongoing based on relevant information at our disposal.

“During the course of investigating fraud in the Pension office of the Head of Civil service of the Federation (OHCSF), a search warrant was executed in the residence of Dr. Shaibu Sani Teidi (former director Pension Accounts) where a laptop was recovered. From the analysis of the computer laptop, a document captioned “Report of the visit to Crown Agents Investment United kingdom” was discovered. The document reveals the nature of the investment made by the OHCSF with Crown Agents Investment, UK (copy attached).

“The Investment Account was brought to the  attention of the OHCSF via a letter with reference No. CR:3000/EFCC/ABJ/EGFED/PEN/VOL.1/375 dated 18th February, 2011, while requesting for the following information:

  1. List of Pensioners in Diaspora and their payment point(s)
  2. Records of remittances of funds to all payments point

iii. Details investment of pension funds with Crown Agents Financial Services

“On receipt of our letter the OHCSF made further enquiries and responded to us via a letter dated 22nd February, 2011.

“The following facts emerge from our Investigation.

  1. a) That the OHCSF maintained an overseas investment account with Crown Agent Investment Management United Kingdom titled “Nigeria Federal Civil Service Pension Fund”;
  2. b) That the current Management agreement was drawn on the 23rd of May, 1990, attempt was made to review it between 20th to 22nd January 2009;
  3. c) That the Crown agents have a representative in Nigeria;
  4. d) That the market value of the Fund as at 31/03/2011 was GBP 6,275,176.80;
  5. e) That Engr. E.O Okeke (Head of Service)   and Dr. S.T Shuaibu (Director Pension Accounts) were the signatories to the account between 30th July, 2007 and 6th July, 2011.
  6. f)  That Prof. O.A Afolabi (Head of Service) and Abdulrasheed Maina (Head Pension Task Team) became signatories of the account on 6th July,2011 after our discovery;
  7. g)  That the current signatories to the account were only updated in July 2011, several years after Engr. E.O Okeke retired from Service and Dr. S.T Shuaibu redeployed from OHCSF. Dr. Shuaibu failed  to properly hand over to his predecessor;
  8. h)  That the former Head of service Prof. O.A. Afolabi instructed that the total sum of GBP36,717.68 should be remitted to the Nigerian High Commission office in London for the payment of the outstanding and subsequent pension due to the expatriate (colonial service) pensioners.

”Our investigation revealed that the NUP are entitled to 1% only of the total monthly pension as Union Dues, which is being paid by the OHCSF on monthly basis. In view of the above, the OHCSF confirmed that the total amount entitled to NUP between 23rd of April, 2008 and 10th March, 2011 is N780,000,000.00. However, it was discovered that the Union connived with Dr. Sani Shaibu to inflate the figures by N1.5billion.

“Hence, they were paid the total sum of N2,290,593,322.35 (N2.3billion) from the OHCSF within the period. The President and Secretary of the NUP, Alh Ali Abatcha, and Eleder Actor Zal confessed that they returned the inflated amount to Dr. Shuaibu. The case has been charged to court.”

BUHARI, NIGERIA’S ONLY CHOICE IN 2019 – FAYEMI — 28th October 2017

PMB@BEST.

BUHARI, NIGERIA’S ONLY CHOICE IN 2019 – FAYEMI

— 28th October 2017

Indeed, he still answers to the name W-O-R-K-A-H-O-L-I-C and  has evidently stayed faithful to the credo of ‘knowledge and service’ emblematized by the “Awo” cap he dons.

The unique hull-shaped cap, itself a metaphor of plumbing and navigating the depths of intellectual waters and ideas for direction to the way out of the national conundrum was popularized by the great thinker, sage and statesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, of whom John Kayode Fayemi is a second generation disciple.

The interview appointment with the Mines and Steel Development Minister was billed for after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, October 18. Although the FEC meeting reportedly normally lasted till about 3.00pm, it was concluded early on this occasion, due to a scheduled trip by President Muhammadu Buhari to Turkey on that day.  Fayemi was thus back at his office in Wuse II by 1.00pm.

The Saturday Sun arrived the Ministry shortly after the minister came back from the Aso Villa.  You would think with his boss off the scene, he would seize the opportunity to let down hairs and relax.  Not Fayemi!  He returned only to bury himself in work, extinguishing the tiny hope of an early day beginning to glimmer in the reporter’s mind and rekindling memory of a similar experience he had with the Ekiti-born scholar years ago, when he was governor of the state of Fountain of Knowledge. Then, Fayemi had serially shifted granting an interview, initially scheduled for the morning till 6.00pm and again 12 in the night.  The interface eventually held at breakfast, the next morning because of his busy table!

Back in Ado Ekiti then, he was also reported to have often, when, travelling filled the booths and backseats of his official vehicles with files, which he treated in transit. With his industry and resourcefulness, the Political Scientist and Security expert was actually believed to be leading Ekiti  on a path of progress that may have been irreversible if it had continued. As Minister, aides said Fayemi had not really changed much.  He is dubbed the “triangular minister” as his daily itinerary revolves round the villa, his office and home in  Maitama part of the federal capital, always working and retiring late, without room for leisure!

Perhaps, the Spartan life of Fayemi is both understandable and justified.  Here is a minister with, arguably the most challenging portfolio in Nigeria’s drive to diversify and steer its economy from long albeit precarious dependence on oil revenues. Situation in the industry was foggy when he assumed office in October 2015, there was lack of accurate geological data as to the quantum, quality, locations, etc of solid minerals, record of volume of export, while illegal operations were rife  in the business. Due to this and the artisinal level and haphazard nature of operations therein, the sector only contributes 0.3 percent to the nation’s GDP instead of an estimated N8 trillion in annual income it should fetch.

It is Fayemi’s lot to overhaul the sector and make it another major, if not the chief money spinner for Nigeria, as well as turn around the stories of states owing workers salaries and abandoning work on development projects sites due to piling contract debts.

The reporter’s mission to Fayemi on this fateful day, however, was not about his ministry or the economy.  It was to sound him out on a number of political issues concerning him and speculated moves to draft him to contest the 2018 governorship election in his home state, Ekiti, or so the reporter thought.  He had been happy when the minister consented in a telephone conversation to a more-than-a-year-old request for an interview.  On the reporter’s mind were sundry issues including Fayemi’s famed remark on some “unfinished business” in Ekiti, alleged strained relationship with his political mentor and All Progressives Congress (APC) leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President Muhammadu Buhari and 2019, as the president’s confidant, the minister’s probe by the Ekiti State House of Assembly and later Governor Ayodele Fayose’s government over alleged financial misappropriation among others. Imagine the shock when his Special Assistant on Media, Yinka Oyebode during a pre-interview briefing incriminated these among other culprit questions on politics that are “no-go areas”!

The reporter was already wondering how he would justify the expenses for the trip to Abuja, for this threatening flop, more so as Femi Babafemi, the Saturday Sun Editor, had, during a phone call shortly after he arrived the minister’s office, reminded the news reporter to “grill him (Fayemi) very well,” on agreed issues; when all persuasions fell on Oyebode’s deaf ears.  Adamant, the media aide explained: “No political questions please.  We will appreciate it if you ask questions about the ministry’s activities and the economy, which are within the immediate purview of the minister.  That’s the important job he has at hand now.  We have found that when you grant interviews on politics, you’re likely to be misconstrued. Different people will read different meanings to what he (Fayemi) said, or did not say. Besides,  from experience, we have found it’s a source of distraction, because the people, (apparently referring to the Peoples Democratic Party and government in Ado-Ekiti), will latch on what was said and use that to engage you, issuing statements, that we are forced to react to, to which they again react… and before you know it, you’re locked in controversy for the next two, three weeks. We don’t have luxury of the time for that.  It is said that you don’t fight with a pig, because if you do, you will get muddied, but the pig will enjoy it.”

Dr. Fayemi would not help either.  When the journalist was finally ushered before him at about seven in the evening for the interview, he gave a ‘sorry, brother, can’t help you’ look and shrug after exchanging pleasantries and explaining why he backed his spokesman’s position, against the reporter’s protestations.

Despite his reserve and cautiousness, during the interview, which began on the agreed precints, a seemingly innocent and innocuous question on the APC/PMB administration’s apparent failure on the economic front to lift Nigerians out of the pit of misery and suffering more than two years down the line ‘fortuitously’ launched the conversation on the path of The Sun’sjournalist’s original mission. The reporter had wanted to know if, against the backdrop of Nigerians’ wails of anguish at not seeing the impact of the government’s ‘change policy’, the minister felt his boss and party would still be embraced in 2019?

The question appeared the needed bait to get the tiger in Fayemi to leap out of the cage.  He bristled up in fierce defence of the APC, Buhari and his government, declaring that Nigerians don’t have a choice in 2019, but to stick with the president, if he elects to run for a second term.  According to him, it would be monumental tragedy if, just when the nation is about to come out of the wilderness into the promised land through President Buhari’s effort, Nigerians should demand a return to Pharaoh’s Egypt. He admitted  knowing that Nigerians still experienced hardship, but blamed this on massive looting and the previous spendthrift PDP government, noting that things couldn’t be expected to be rosy with a $30 per barrel economy under Buhari, as against over $100 per barrel economy of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

The discussion having effectively turned political, the reporter pushed his luck to ask more and more questions, watching Oyebode where he sat in a corner, in observer’s status, wince, as his boss damned his earlier reservations and unrestrainedly fielded the questions by SATURDAY SUN’S YINKA OLUDAYISI FABOWALE.

Your counterpart in the Works and Power Ministry, Babatunde Fashola recently explained the focus of this government’s economic policy, as being to invest in infrastructure to stimulate growth in and have multiplier effect on the productive and other critical sectors. In what way is your ministry keying into maximizing the actualization of this promise?

We’re already actualizing the promise; we’re working with the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing to identify who are the quarry owners in areas where roads have been earmarked for construction and linking them to the ministry. So, that it’s easier for them to make their services available to the contractor who has been successful in getting the particular road, ditto for cement products, ditto for other raw materials that are produced by people in our sector. But we are even taking it beyond that. We’ve just given out two critical concessions on bitumen for asphalt production to two companies in Ondo State. And also gave them 18 months deadline to put the processing plants in place. So that, that market that we have lost to imports- (because 80 per cent of the bitumen in this country comes from outside, yet we have bitumen reserve here), now stays in Nigeria and we substitute that import. This will reduce the amount of foreign exchange going into that and we make money for our own people locally. Those are the kinds of steps we are taking to take advantage of what minister Fashola was talking about.

But, Nigerians’ trust in President Buhari and the APC would seem to have ebbed, if not totally gone, with government’s apparent failure to make positive meaningful change in their lives. Despite talks of exiting economic recession, wails of frustration, suffering, distress and pangs of hunger are still in the air. What do you say to this?

Well, I hear this from a lot of people. But at least for those in the mining sector, I don’t think it’s a fair commentary. The bulk of the expenditure that this administration has undertaken, if you were to take last year, 2016, for example, this country spent 1.2 trillion on infrastructure- Ministry of Power, Housing, Transportation. If you really disaggregate that expenditure, you’ll discover that a significant portion of it has gone to miners in one form or another. Cement from LAFARGE, Dangote, BUA, limestone from different parts, quarries supplying the road construction efforts, bitumen and so on and so forth. And that is money that has come out of no money.

Let’s face reality. I’m not gonna bullshit you. President Buhari’s most attractive quality is his integrity. That is what most Nigerians voted him into office for. I don’t think he has lost that. But the reality that I was referring to is, President Buhari is no magician. You cannot move from a $100 per barrel economy in a mono product economy to a $30 per barrel economy, (That is almost 60 per cent off), and if you have a 60 per cent drop in a revenue base, what are you supposed to do? But look at how he has shored up this economy. We are spending more now on infrastructure than the Jonathan administration that had a $100 per barrel economy spent on infrastructure. So people should do the numbers and not be emotional about it. Yes, I know that oftentimes you can fall victim of propaganda or gullibility or all manner of things, but people should really reason it out. Our President with his team; we’re squeezing water out of stones! That is what this administration is doing. Yes maybe there was exaggerated expectation of our ability to turn things round. Maybe we even over promised. But, I didn’t think we did. I was in charge of policy for our campaign. I cannot tell you that we over promised anything. We always said that things were going to be tough. I recall my debate with Charles Soludo in the heat of the campaign. And these were the issues that we highlighted. We didn’t say that things would overnight change for us in the country. There were clearly things that we could do a lot better, but we cannot be accused of lack of sincerity of purpose. This administration cannot be accused of lack of effort. We cannot be accused of misappropriation or mismanagement because the little that we have we are putting it to great use. We are increasing revenue to the coffers of government, there’s greater accountability in this administration, people are not pilfering resources the way they used to. And we’re delivering. Let’s just look at the numbers. Confidence has returned to this economy. Fitch ratings are now encouraging investors back into Nigeria. Security has returned to the Niger-delta. What this administration has achieved in the North-east was almost unimaginable two years ago.

I think Nigerians should by and large see the effort this government is making. But you are always going to have a few who either out of mischief or ignorance that has really prevented them from really knowing what to do decided to resort to propaganda that is ultimately self-defeating to them.

But with the prevalent sentiments among Nigerians do you see them still embracing your party and President Buhari if he decides to seek reelection in 2019?

Well, indeed I’m not so sure Nigerians have a choice in that. Because when they look at the evidence before them and you see the mess the party on the opposing side is in, Nigerians would be doing a huge disservice to themselves, if they were to leave certainty for uncertainty. Because it is clear that this pathway is going to lead to greater resources available to Nigeria over the long term. Yes, Nigerians may be impatient. I do see strength in that, but Nigerians also need to be careful not to put themselves in a situation where they would regret taking a step that would ultimately be self defeating, if they were to fall for the propaganda, that ‘ah things are so bad’; I don’t believe so. Yes, things are tough for our people, but we need to step back and reflect on where this country would have been if the Jonathanians were still in office. Let’s even check the records. We are being unfair.

When we came into office, 33 states were not paying salaries out of 36. I was a governor under the Jonathan administration. The Jonathanians were selective in the management of this country. You are either with us or against us, that’s their dictum. If you’re with us you get ecological fund, if you’re against us you don’t get. If you’re with us you get agric support from Central Bank, if you’re against us, we don’t give you. That’s what they did.

Under President Buhari even the character who calls himself governor in my state gets bail-out funds, budget support fund, gets Paris Club fund from a president that he abuses daily. That is a value- driven leader, that’s what you get when you run a government based on ethical values, you may not be able to put a tangible benefit to that. But ultimately it gives for an enduring democracy.

You alluded to Governor Ayodele Fayose just now. The governor seems to have taken the initiative away from the APC with respect to the governorship election coming up in the state next year and 2019. He’s the face and number one voice against the APC both nationally and his domain. And your APC would seem to have conceded the free run to him. Worse still APC in Ekiti State appears divided as it were. Now 2018 will soon be here and next 2019, how do you wean the state off his influence with such scenario?

First and foremost I think it is important to be factual in what one says and not become a victim of misperception. When you say APC is divided; I don’t know what you mean by that. APC in Ekiti is united, focused and has a clear direction. We have only one executive. We have a lot of people with ideas…, if that  is the reason why you refer to it as divided…

(cuts in) Multiplicity of power centres…

No, there are no power centres. There’s only one power centre in Ekiti. We have an APC executive, that’s the only power centre we have in Ekiti. We have many people, who, because they know this is the party to beat in Ekiti and this is the party where you can exercise your democratic rights and freedom to express yourselves, are expressing themselves; expression of opinion and dissent is not division. It’s only in Nigeria that we see expression of dissent or opinion as division. There is no faction in Ekiti APC. We have several people who have expressed interest that they want to be this or that. Even that is legitimate. And as I have argued consistently, you cannot talk about wanting to be governor when there is no race. You can have your hidden intentions, but you cannot be an aspirant if you have not formally picked a nomination form and met all the necessary relevant requirements, at best you are great mobilizers for our party and we have several mobilizers in Ekiti. We don’t have aspirants, to the best of my knowledge and understanding of the law guiding electoral practice, which was why in Ekiti, the Resident Electoral Commissioner had to come out to warn those who are parading themselves as aspirants, pasting posters and all that to stop it, because the whistle has not been blown. So if that’s what you see as division. I’m afraid you’re wrong.

But this was how a similar thing that cost the party the previous election began to build up when at the end of the day you get to a point of  irreconcilable differences.

Would you rather we shut people out, like they are doing in the PDP in Ekiti? And impose a candidate? Is that what you would prefer? We are APC. I sit here on the credibility that I built as the person who conducted the presidential primaries for this party, that produced candidate Muhammadu Buhari. And you would never see our president support undemocratic act; he said it not once not twice, that he would not be associated with imposing anybody anywhere. Let a thousand flowers bloom; we are not Fayose. We would not impose anyone in this party. If you’re 40 vying for this or that, it may not be the best. But who even said that we’re going to have 40 people vying for governorship in Ekiti? Frankly what you have are pretenders to the throne. Until people pick up nomination forms, I do not consider them aspirants to this party. So don’t misconstrue robust debate, expression of interest, dissent, different and diversity of opinions as division in the party. It is not the same. That’s one.

Then your second issue, about Mr. Fayose having a free run; I don’t know what you mean by having a free run. Mr. Fayose has had a free run entertaining himself and entertaining Nigerians, but most discerning Nigerians can see the difference between the hype and the product. That’s what I believe. Again it is an extension of those values that I say are the guiding principles driving APC as a party. Yes, you’re right there are enormous powers at the federal level. If our President were to choose to behave the way Mr. Fayose behaves to the opposition in Ekiti, harassing, intimidating, illegally locking people up, he wouldn’t have anywhere to run to, because he had no capacity to confront the enormous capacity of the powers at the federal level. But President Buhari would not even behave as if whatever Mr. Fayose is saying is relevant. Fayose says he wants to be president of Nigeria. It’s his legitimate right, but let him first go; as I say, there are pretenders and there are real people. The matter is his party, PDP to deal with. If they find him most qualified to produce a platform that would win them presidency, good luck to PDP. But look at what is happening to him in Ekiti now.   Overnight you say you have a candidate for the office of the governor in Ekiti. You just go and check what he has done to his party in Ekiti. But then, for us our eye is on the ball. And I can assure you that Fayose can try everything he wants to try. He can make all the noise he wants to make. His party would be history in Ekiti. And this is not empty boast, it is not aimless boldness. We will rescue Ekiti from him. APC would take Ekiti from him legitimately. And I can assure him that he would end up in an appropriate place also legally and legitimately.

Now there are talks that you’re being pressured to run for 2018. How true is that and what’s your reaction?

(Laughs) Being pressured. What does being pressured mean?

That you are being persuaded to contest

Well, clearly there are Ekiti members of the APC who recalled what government used to be like when I was in office. Who recalled what I did for every single community in Ekiti State. What I did for teachers, civil servants, the universities and all of the various aspects of our 8-point agenda. People recall what we did for infrastructure development, for education in the state, for health care, for agriculture in the state, people have fond memories of what we did within the space of four years we were in office. And if such people choose to reminisce and believe that having encountered what our people would call water and oil, they clearly know the difference, they’ve seen the difference, between the time when salaries were paid 25th of every month without fail and a time when they don’t even know when salary would come. They’ve seen a difference between a government that prioritized the welfare of the elderly and give them a stipend every month, and a government that does not care a hoot whether they lived or died. They’ve seen the difference between a government that said ‘this is Ekiti; regarded as fountain of knowledge. No more miracle centres here, we would be a product of our own hard work’; placed a laptop on the desks of each and every student; made the school atmosphere much more conducive than it has ever been in the state; recruited teachers, doctors, lecturers, fixed virtually all the roads in the state; started a youth and commercial agriculture programme. So do you think it’s wrong if such people then express an opinion that ‘we think our lives would be better served if we were to have this person returned to office to help steer the ship of the state in a much more positive direction’. They are entitled to their opinion. But I have a job and I am busy. I’ve been saddled with a major responsibility of government; with regards to diversification of the economy. And it would be unthinkable of me to walk away from that job midstream without any justification for doing that. I love Ekiti. I am an Ekiti man. And I will make myself available for the service of Ekiti. However that would only happen with the concurrence of my principal.

The chummy relationship between you and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was believed to have been strained at a point and even lingered after that. How true was that speculation and what’s the situation now?

I think normal news don’t sell. And what I mean is, news that is not sensational, not excitable and all that. What sells is negative news. Asiwaju and I have no problem. What you defined as chummy is not less chummy except for the fact that Asiwaju tends to spend considerable amount of time outside of Nigeria now than he used to at that period you referred to. And also I have a responsibility to the Nigerian nation. Asiwaju is one person who understands what this job entails. He has been involved at the highest level so he knows that out of sight is not always out of mind. And we too cannot accuse him of forgetting us because he is attending to maybe his business interest or other interest by working round the clock outside the country. I don’t think people should read meaning into what is not. Frankly Asiwaju is somebody of repute in our party. Asiwaju is somebody-those of us that are close to him have the highest regard for and that’s not going to change by the vicissitudes of political life and even if it ever got to a point of any disagreement, Asiwaju is one person I know who cherishes robust debates. It’s natural for people who don’t have any story to hold on to speculate, to conjecture, to assume that some things are not right. But to me there’s no story there.

How do you compare your experience on the present seat with when you were governor?

Well, I get asked this question pretty often. As governor I was minister for everything. I was minister for works, power, housing, education, health you name it, because I had to supervise everything my commissioners were doing in that regard. But do not forget that I was dealing with one tiny state of 2.3million people. The flip side of that was that yes, I had a portfolio now to cater to the expectations of 180 million people. So if you compare 2.3million people to 180 million people there’s a mismatch there. But don’t forget that governors are heads of federating units. They have enormous powers. They can make things happen. I am part of a team as a minister. So one of the things you must learn to do as a minister is be a good team player, because if you’re going to succeed, you have to take your memorandum to the federal executive council, debate it, enlist the support of your colleagues, ensure that there’s a rational argument to justify what you want to do before you get it approved. I didn’t need anybody to do that with me as governor. Whatever I want to do as governor, I could do. And then direct the relevant officials to go and implement. There are processes systems and procedures in place; there are at the state level too but I’m sure you get the point I’m making. It is different terrain and a different institutional framework.

Post Views: 21

FacebookTwitterGoogle+WhatsApp

M.  © 2017. All Rights Reserved.

 

Copyright: The Saturday Sun Newspaper

JKF – AFFIRMATIVE STATEMENT ON THE EKITI STATE COMING 2018 GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION…

“But then, for us our eye is on the ball. And I can assure you that Fayose can try everything he wants to try. He can make all the noise he wants to make. His party would be history in Ekiti. And this is not empty boast, it is not aimless boldness.

We will rescue Ekiti from him.

APC would take Ekiti from him legitimately. And I can assure him that he would end up in an appropriate place also legally and legitimately”…..

– JKF, Oct. 2018

WHEN GATEKEEPERS BECOME THE PROBLEM : THE MAINA CASE – PROFESSOR OKEY

Prof Okey: WHEN GATEKEEPERS BECOME THE PROBLEM :THE MAINA CASE

The  Maina saga raises a number of issues which should not be ignored.  For many people who are aware of Maina and his antecedents , the news of his freedom , let alone reinstatement into the Civil Service and posting to the Ministry of Interior , of all places, was like a thunderbolt. Many were in utter belief and consigned it to the nearly over filled Dustbin of FAKE NEWS! But it was not fake news and the hydra headed labyrinth is yet unfolding , albeit painfully.  During the last Presidential campaign,  Maina was a poster boy for our anti corruption campaign against GEJ and the PDP, particularly when he resurfaced , from nowhere after he was supposedly on the run , to be part of GEJ’S entourage . Maina was the man who was supposed to “clean up the mess” in the pension program of a few  outfits , particularly  the police pension fund.  He got raving headlines for “recovering” a lot of loot and was then dubbed the “crusader ” against rampant corruption in the pension schemes . Alas, it was too good to be true as private bank accounts he opened in the name of his siblings and himself , with the connivance of bank executives were discovered. He had embezzled and siphoned billions of pension funds to these illicit accounts. He was charged and was on the EFCC  and INTERPOL “most wanted” list.
Maina is definitely not a person who can sneak in back into the country without alarm bells tolling loudly and repeatedly!! How could this have happened?
This raises some fundamental problems.  From the swift response by President Buhari asking for his “disengagement” from the Civil  Service as well as an administrative inquiry into this mess, it will  suggest that he was blind sighted by this saga. In societies where systems and institutions work as they should,  this is not even a matter that should come to the president’s attention.  Maina  would have been picked up as soon as he came out of hiding  (if he was ever in hiding) and in no way would he have been reinstated. But ours is not a normal dispensation , by any objective standards.  I part company with those who question why PMB was not aware of this unfortunate and embarrassing incident before it became public knowledge. I know our political culture is less about institutions and systems but about bestowing omnipotence to the mortals who occupy our political space.  How do we expect him to be aware of everything that happens , especially personnel issues at the level of Deputy Director. But as I said earlier Maina is no ordinary folk. We cited him during the campaign as one of the reasons why the APC deserved a chance! Yes we did!
My question : How in the world did no one alert the president about all the Shenanigans surrounding this sordid affair. No one thought it serious enough to raise a red flag? What kind of communication channels exist that cannot prevent the President from being blindsighted? I have always resisted the urge to blame subordinates when things go wrong because the “buck” stops with the leader ultimately.
Did self appointed “gatekeepers” and praise singers take it upon themselves to shield the President from the “inconvenient truth ” in their ever present quest for survival and relevance to the detriment of the person they are supposed to serve? Not a single person deemed it a matter of urgency to alert  the president or his trusted aides? Or is it the case that communication channels have been so constricted to ensure that only a few can penetrate? Either way the president and the Nigerian public have not been well served.
Something went awfully wrong here and this is equally an important line of inquiry from which lessons must be drawn. There is a credibility gap presently , which can be bridged with opening up communication channels to ensure that leaders are not shielded from the information they need to make the right decisions! Gatekeepers can be a leaders nightmare!!

 

Professor Okey writes from Abuja. Nigeria