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By Azuka Onwuka

The incumbent governor of Edo State and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Godwin Obaseki, was declared the winner of the Edo State election on Sunday by the Independent National Electoral Commission. From available reports, the election was adjudged well-conducted when compared to the standard of elections conducted in Nigeria in recent years. In addition to being free, fair and transparent, it was violence-free.

INEC deserves commendation for that. The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), should also be commended for not allowing INEC, security agents, and thugs to influence the election as had occurred in some states in the past. The Oba of Benin should also be commended for all his efforts to make the key contestants and their supporters toe the line of peace. The United States of America deserves some commendation for announcing, a week before the election that it had imposed visa restrictions on some Nigerian politicians who undermined democracy in the November 2019 elections held in Kogi and Bayelsa states. And most importantly, the Edo people should be commended for not allowing themselves to be used as tools for violence.

However, if Nigerian political leaders and public officials were doing what they should be doing, there would be no need to commend them for doing what they are paid to do. It is like showering an employer with praises for paying the salaries of staff at the end of the month. However, in today’s Nigeria, politicians are praised for paying salaries on time. It is used as a part of political bragging rights by politicians, because many state governors owe salaries.

The reason Edo State held its election last weekend was because its electoral calendar changed under the presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007. Perhaps, because of Obasanjo’s military background, his actions showed that he believed that power did not fully belong to the people. He believed that the President knew what the people wanted better than the people themselves, and sometimes the President should decide who should win an election and who should not, based on the intelligence available to the President.

Therefore, in 2007 when Mr Adams Oshiomhole, erstwhile Labour leader, contested the Edo State election, Obasanjo, through INEC, decided that Oshiomhole should not be declared the winner. All through the administration of Obasanjo, Oshiomhole as the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress was his biggest irritant. He called out Nigerians on strike several times to protest different policies of Obasanjo, especially increase in the pump price of petrol. On a number of occasions, after Labour had paralysed economic activities for a while, Obasanjo would be forced to make concessions.

When Oshiomhole decided to join politics, the masses were fully behind him. The tenure of Chief Lucky Igbinedion as Governor of Edo State was considered by many to be mediocre. It was believed that he became the governor because his father, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, who held the title of Esama of Benin and was the founder of Igbinedion University, was a powerbroker in Edo State. Chief Tony Anenih, also known as Mr Fix It, was also considered the biggest political force in Edo State. They were all in the PDP and allies of Obasanjo. Oshiomhole was seen as the candidate of the masses who would uproot godfatherism in Edo State and transform the state.

Oshiomhole had started as the candidate of Labour Party, which was new then. But before the election, he reached an agreement with the Action Congress of Nigeria and became its candidate. When the election was conducted, INEC declared Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor winner of the election. But many people felt that Oshiomhole was the true winner. Oshiomhole sought legal option and he was declared the winner in November 2008. Because he was sworn in on November 12, 2008, Edo State’s governorship election calendar changed.

In 2006, Peter Obi had earlier had his electoral mandate restored by the election tribunal in Anambra State. In 2003, he had contested as the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance and won, but INEC (under Obasanjo) declared the fourth candidate, Dr Chris Ngige (then candidate of the PDP), the winner. Obi went to court and got his mandate back after three years. However, after spending just one year in office, he was told that he had exhausted his tenure. He was replaced by Senator Andy Ubah. Obi went to court again and the Supreme Court ruled that his four-year tenure should start to count from the day he was sworn in. That was a landmark judgment.

Ondo and Osun states also hold their elections outside the national timetable because in 2007 Obasanjo and INEC tampered with their results by declaring the wrong candidates winners. Bayelsa and Kogi states also have different dates for election because of annulment and death respectively.

As a retired military man like Obasanjo, Buhari has done better than Obasanjo on the conduct of elections in some respects, but his electoral record is still low. There have been high electoral violence and voter intimidation by security agents and thugs sent by godfathers. What makes him different from Obasanjo is that he chooses the elections to interfere in and the ones to keep aloof from.

But unlike under Obasanjo when the judiciary had its independence intact, the judgement of the judiciary under Buhari is viewed with suspicion and distrust, since Buhari breached the constitution and got the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, removed in January 2019, despite the fact that the CJN is the head of the Judiciary and the third arm of government. Justifications of all kinds were given for that aberration. The most shocking court judgement was the sacking of Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State in January and the declaration that the person who came fourth in the election (Senator Hope Uzodinma) be sworn in.

Therefore, even though Obaseki has been declared the winner of the Edo State election, everyone should not take it for granted that he will be the governor of Edo State for the next four years. The Supreme Court has to endorse the result released by INEC for it to stand, unless Obaseki’s opponents decide not to challenge the result in court.

Furthermore, some lessons need to be learnt from last weekend’s election in Edo. Even though the election was between the candidates of the PDP and APC, it was actually a referendum on Oshiomhole as an aspiring political godfather in Edo State. The masses supported Oshiomhole to end the reign of godfatherism in Edo State. Oshiomhole boasted that he retired men like Anenih and Igbinedion from Edo politics. Yet, he wanted to become the godfather himself. He was rejected by the people. Earlier this year, he was removed as the Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress. His tenure was characterised by highhandedness, military language and controversy. For a Labour leader who fought against impunity, Oshiomhole was a disappointment. He did not bring in anything positively different into politics to show that he was from a different background. His removal as the APC National Chairman was also seen as a sign that he had fallen out with Buhari. This factor is also adduced as the reason Buhari kept aloof in the Edo election and allowed the wish of the people to hold.

Edo people also rejected the interference of external people in their politics. The external politician most affected by that was Chief Bola Tinubu, who made an unnecessary broadcast from Lagos State, asking Edo people to reject Obaseki, their governor. Such was seen as meddlesomeness. Edo people did not want to feel that someone somewhere would control their governor and their state.

Nigerian political journey has been unpredictable. Today, it takes a step forward; tomorrow, it takes two steps backward. What happened in Edo State was a big step forward. Such should be sustained. But Nigeria should not depend on the goodwill of the President to get transparent elections.The country needs truly independent electoral laws and body as well as judiciary. That will ensure that the people’s belief in the ballot is at its peak.

— Twitter @BrandAzuka

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El-Rufai sacks 99 political appointees



El-Rufai sacks 99 political appointees

Governor Nasir El Rufai has said Kaduna state has started implementing its rightsizing policy by disengaging 99 political appointees, but is yet to disengage any state civil servant.

The governor disclosed that only agencies connected to the local government system have disengaged staff and these include the 23 local government councils, SUBEB and the Primary Health Care Board.

El-Rufai who made the disclosure at a media chat with some Kaduna-based broadcast journalists on Thursday night, explained that the disengaged political appointees constitute 30% of political office holders.

‘’So far, 99 political appointees have lost their jobs but we have not commenced rightsizing civil servants. We want to be fair with regards to civil servants. We had earlier promised that before we reduce the size of the civil service, we will start with political appointees and we have done that,’’ he said.

The governor who spoke in Hausa, said that the rightsizing of civil servants will still go on as planned because of dwindling revenues that is accruing to the state government from the federation account.

El Rufai explained that the rightsizing commenced with political appointees because their details are clearly known, making it more straightforward to disengage them.

‘’However, civil servants with question marks on the veracity of their data have to be given a chance to clear the doubts before any action is taken on them,’’ he clarified.

The governor said that his government has employed 11,000 more workers in the health sector, Kaduna State University as well as primary and secondary school teachers across the state.

The governor disclosed that it is a fallacy to allege that the salaries of political appointees account for the bloated personnel cost of Kaduna State Government.

‘’In March 2021, the salaries of these political appointees amounted to N259 million , while civil servants were paid N3.13 billion, aside from costs related to state contributions to pension, accrued rights and other personnel costs. So, it is false to insinuate that political appointees are the ones that guzzle most of the state’s resources,’’ he said.

Justifying the rightsizing of the public service, he said that all states and the federal government are affected by this shortfall of revenue and some states have even reverted to paying the old monthly minimum wage of N18,000.

‘’Kaduna State cannot continue to use 84% to 96% of our revenues to pay salaries of less than 1% of the population. The rest of our people, all 99% of them, need better schools, hospitals, water supply, roads, markets and support for agriculture to make a living outside government,’’ he said.

The governor however promised that Kaduna state will not reverse the N30,000 minimum wage that it has started paying.

“We are the first government, federal or state, to pay the minimum wage. We will retain the minimum wage of N30,000 and the consequential adjustments that gave most of our civil servants a 66% salary increase. We will also retain the minimum pension of N30,000 monthly.

“The unified Local Government Service continues to pay the minimum wage, even though they varied the consequential adjustments for their workers below the level for state civil servants,’’ he added.

The governor also promised that the state will still fund free education from primary 1 to the SS3, adding that ‘’we have directed our Ministry of Education to find ways of ensuring that we sponsor students for WAEC exams, the same way that we sponsor them for NECO. ‘’

El Rufai emphasized that basic education is a priority for Kaduna State Government because ‘’we see it as the bedrock for equality of opportunity.’’

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By Oladimeji Ramon

A group, the Federal Social Democrats, says the credibility and integrity of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have been diminished by the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 20.

According to the group, the Lekki incident has eroded the admiration that Sanwo-Olu won with his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group, in statement on Sunday signed on its behalf by Olutola Mobolurin, also condemned the harassment of #EndSARS protest leaders through the freezing of their bank accounts and stopping them from travelling outside the country.

The FSD’s statement was titled, ‘Statement by the Federal Social Democrats On the #EndSARS Movement and Violence in the Wake of Lekki Shootings.’

The group said, “Governor Sanwo-Olu, who before now has been credited with responsible and energetic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has by this one act lost his credibility and integrity for many. He has a big task in regaining the confidence of the public and youths; his credibility gap surrounding what happened at the Lekki Toll Plaza is not helped by the insensitive bluster of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the governor’s residence stating that those who were injured and presumably those who died had questions to answer.”

Though the group condemned the destruction of public assets and looting that trailed the shootings at the Lekki tollgate, it said the mayhem pointed to the alienation of a large number of youths from society by government.

It said, “The so-called hoodlums are the youths that have been denied any stake in society by the self-dealing and state capture that have characterised governance over the last 30 years. Millions of our youths have been uneducated, unemployable and with no meaningful social safety net. Even for the millions who are educated and skilled, long-term unemployment has been their experience in the Nigerian prebendal political economy that serves primarily the interests of public office holders and their cronies.

“Some of the ‘hoodlums’ responsible for the trashing of Lagos are the youths and ‘the toughies’ that many politicians have over the years employed to subvert the democratic process through intimidation of voters and perpetration of violence during elections.”

The group said the organisers of the #EndSARS protests deserved commendation for the resourcefulness, transparency and accountability which they demonstrated.

The group condemned “the growing reports of compilation of names of the assumed leaders and facilitators of the protests for government reprisals.”

It said, “Those that are being targeted are reportedly being prevented from travelling outside Nigeria while accounts of some have been frozen. This is hardly the hallmark of a democratic government that is interested in dialoguing with the youths or learning positive lessons from the #EndSARS protests. It is also a violation of the spirit of government’s acceptance of the 5 for 5 agenda. The President should stop all these acts of witch-hunt.”

The FSD solicited support for the Lagos State Government to rebuild and replace the vandalised public assets.

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A man who never put tribalism, religion or differences in his work…. True to his calling to serve our nation without influence of any politician. Not an Igbo man but he speaks Igbo in a way you will be mesmerized and full of laughter whenever he speaks.. He will tell you “Nwannah why disobeying the law?”
People say police is not your friend but in this man I disagree with that notion. In him, i immensely believe that police is a friend when you meet the good type…. The person I am talking about is my Honorable CSP. RABIU GARBA, the DPO of Fegge Police Station.

Yesterday the youth was rampaging looking for Police Station to burn down. When they troop to his Fegge Police Station with gallons of fuel and weapons, most of his men was grip with fear, Behold !, when he came out, the Chants of the angry youths Change from
” We no go agree oh we no go agree oh” to
“DPO Garba you be our friend,
DPO Garba You be our man”

He addressed then properly, lectured them all and changed their perspective towards embracing calmness.. If you know him well you will know he can lecture very well from every angles of courses, law to Biology , physics to Science, religion to culture, he is the master of all… We fondly call him Professor Rabiu, Onye Nkuzi. Tears nearly fall from my eyes, tears of Joy and appreciation of a good man still serving and existing in Police.

This is a Police man i have ever see who believe that hardworking pays. He is a police man and a Farmer as well. He is a Police man and a Civil Engineer. He is a Police man and a Lecturer as well…

To me, I am encouraging all police men and woman to emulate this Young man and learn from his Public relation skill. Because I strongly believe Public relationship should be practiced to serve the public interest, to develop mutual understanding between organizations, the neighborhood and their publics.

As a Psychologist, i have noticed that without publicity there can be no public support, and without public support every nation must decay.”

DPO Rabiu Garba we all know was the man who single handedly build a Borehole water for the people of Fegge Where his station is situated without donations from the public. If i lie verify from anyone you know living in fegge.

He also Organized Sports event for the youth at fegge Stadium where he normally engaged them in Table Tenis playing competition after work.. He walks among all without gun, knife or tear gas because he does his work diligently without corruption. So no fear of the mob.

He attends many church events he is been invited for around onitsha which shows his sense of unity.

When police do bad we mock them when we see one doing good pls my brothers and sister let us encourage that one as to lift his or her spirit to do more because ndi ba anyi is na Etoo dike na nkem omeru omekwa ozo….

DPO Rabiu Garba anyi Oha nile. No wonder people once cried when you wanted to leave to another Station. How i wish we have thousands of police men and women like you, the Police institution would have been so harmonized…..keep up the good work. Good market sells itself in the market…

No wonder Odumeje cherish you so much.

Thank you once again for the way you handled the youth matter yesterday which resulted to zero casualties at Fegge District…

Honourable Ozoigbondu na Umuoji. ( Odoakpa ward 7 Youth Mobilizer and Organizer)

Pls read and Share to appreciate a good work.

EndSARS #uprising #Lekkitollgate #policebrutalityawareness #PoliceReform #anambra #onitsha #DPO #Ndigbo #hausa #yoruba #IgboAmaka #channelstv #AITLIVE #AriseNews #NTA #abcnews

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