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Even God believes in PDP, nobody can intimidate us – Jonathan

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Ex-President Jonathan

Former President Goodluck Jonathan says nobody can intimidate members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), because “even God believes” in them.

Speaking at the party’s non-elective convention in Abuja on Saturday, Jonathan said PDP achieved “a lot” in its 16 years of leadership and is poised to do more.

He said the main opposition party’s achievements and policies have been acknowledged and replicated not only in Africa but in other countries of the world.

The immediate past president said: “This experience is not limited to the PDP in Nigeria alone. I have gone round most African countries and I have seen that when a ruling party loses power, it somehow affects the party.

“So the PDP, if anything, has remained strong. We should thumb our chest and I can tell you that we are ready for 2019. The PDP is indeed back to reclaim its position as the party to lead Nigeria to greatness.

“Our joint development strides are there for every Nigerian to see. As I have said before, we in the PDP are doing very well and the elections we conducted in this country were accepted globally. We are a party that is determined to place Nigeria among global standards.

“People always want to diminish the PDP. It is difficult to intimidate us. We have done well from the time of Obasanjo to Yaradua and to my time. So nobody should intimidate us.”

“I was told that some people were insinuating that if PDP stayed in power, our economy would have stumbled. We had a strong team that steered our nation’s economy. Our good works have been looked at not just by Nigerians but by other countries of the world.”

Jonathan listed some prominent achievements of the party to include the YouWin entrepreneurship programme, agricultural innovations, general economic management and policies aimed at fighting corruption.

“So many youths benefitted from the programme (YouWin) and if you read in the papers, the world bank did a study of the programme and said it is the best,” he said.

“We may not have done very well but even in the fight against corruption, we came up with innovations because of our strong policies topmost among them being the treasury single account (TSA).

“I am here to reassure you that nobody can intimidate the PDP. I believe in the PDP, even God believes in the PDP. You can see the weather today. This is August 12 and there is no rain because God wants us to celebrate the PDP.”

He said although the PDP has gone through a crisis, it is ready to “reclaim its position” in 2019.

“We are ready to present ourselves to Nigerians in 2019. We are ready to take over and to take over the presidency,” said Jonathan.

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Enters the new ‘Mr. Fix It’

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The recent appointment of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to head the ruling party’s national reconciliation committee ahead of the 2019 general elections, has sparked debate over whether the former Governor of Lagos State is the new ‘Mr. Fix It’ of Nigeria’s politics, FELIX NWANERI reports

 

Former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih, is one man blessed with the uncanny ability to navigate the murky waters of politics with ease. The Iyasele of Esanland, bestrode the nation’s political space like a colossus for decades, exhibiting exceptional political skills, little wonder he earned the sobriquet “Mr. Fix It.” But, his admirers and adversaries’ as well have missed those sneaky political skills for which the former Minister of Works, who once served as police orderly to the first Governor General of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, is known for.

Anenih called it quits with politics at the launch of his book entitled: “My Life and Nigerian Politics,” on November 26, 2017, when he declared: “I am persuaded that I have no more ambition nor any point to prove in politics. I am, therefore, glad to declare that, from today (Saturday, November 26), I shall be withdrawing from active partisan politics.

I shall, however, continue to avail the country of my experience, give suggestions and offer advice, as a statesman.” No doubt, Anenih had nothing to prove again in politics, having seen it all in the power game, which informed why he had to take a bow at 83, when the ovation was loudest. His political career, which spanned decades, saw him holding several positions including state chairman of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) from 1981 to 1983a and national chairman of defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) from 1992 to 1993.

Anenih was a member of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) The PDM, a political group pioneered by former Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, General Shehu Musa Yar’adua. The group later fused with others to form the PDP in 1998 ahead of the country’s return to civil rule and he served as deputy national campaign coordinator of the party’s presidential candidate, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s in the 1999 elections. He was appointed minister of Works after the party won the presidential poll. Anenih was back in 2003 to coordinate Obasanjo’s presidential campaign.

After helping “fix” a second term for the former head of state, he became chairman of PDP BoT. While there is no doubt that the exit of the Esan high chief from an indulgence that gave him fame has really been felt, it seems that another “Mr. Fix It” has emerged on the political scene.

He is no other person than a former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Also blessed with uncanny ability to identify political as well as electoral assets, there is no doubt that the former governor laid the foundation of the transformation that has seen Lagos – Nigeria’s former capital and commercial hub – once ranked among the filthiest cities in the world into a mega-city of repute. But, many may wonder how the man popularly referred to as Jagaban by his admirers, has been to navigate the murky waters of politics and still remains afloat over the years, when most of his contemporaries have glided into political oblivion.

The answer is not farfetched. Tinubu never saw politics as a profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.

From regional to national politics

Tinubu limited his politics to South-West, where he called the shots prior to the 2015 elections. But he reasoned after the 2011 elections that if a former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, who contested the poll on a relatively unknown platform – Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) could poll 12 million votes without much resources and national appeal; he is the man to be pushed forward for the 2015 elections.

That calculation explained his support for Buhari the APC national convention in December 2014, where he mobilized other party stakeholders and governors to ensure that the former head of state picked the then opposition party’s presidential ticket ahead of other aspirants with huge financial war chests and more established political structures.

He had before then persistently spoken of his readiness to join hands with all like-minded people to enthrone a government that will work for the generality of Nigerians no matter the cost. Perhaps, part of the cost was letting go of his grip of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which merged with Buhari’s CPC, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), factions of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) to form the APC in 2013.

Before then, there was an attempt by Tinubu and Buhari to forge an alliance to oust the then PDP-led Federal Government in the 2011 general elections. The deal would have seen the defunct ACN under Tinubu’s leadership and Buhari’s CPC present a joint presidential candidate but it failed at the eleventh. While several factors were adduced for the botched bid, both camps later resolved to put aside the disappointment of 2011 and work for the formation of an alliance that would give PDP a run for its money in 2015. Personal interests were jettisoned this time.

This, perhaps, informed why Tinubu rejected Buhari’s offer of running mate. He reportedly turned down the offer after consultations with party chieftains on the effect of a Muslim/Muslim ticket on APC’s chances in the presidential poll. But, there could be no compensation more than allowing Tinubu to single-handedly nominate his former Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo for the position of vice president.

And as true party man, he (Tinubu) did not his inability to get the vice presidential ticket to affect his resolve to see the PDP voted out of power. He was in the forefront of the Buhari campaign train, which for the first time since the former military leader started vying for the office of president in 2003, traversed the length and breadth of the country, canvassing for votes.

Many also said then that he was among the major financier of the APC presidential project. To many political observers, Tinubu was the reason for the inroad, which Buhari made in the South-West as his political dynasty spreads across the six states that make up the zone. The APC’s victory in the presidential election opened a new vista in Nigeria’s political history.For the first time, an opposition party defeated the ruling party.

Twist after polls

The belief after the inauguration of the APC led government on May 29, 2015, was that Tinubu would have the ears of the President given his contribution to party victory at the polls. It was also expected that he would have a say in the choice of party members from the South-West, who would be join the presidency in whatever capacity as he has over time demonstrated the ability to identify political as well as administrative assets.

This was however not to be as none of his ministerial choices was considered. Tinubu was said to have rooted for his former Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Wale Edun, to take charge of the Finance ministry, but Buhari looked the other way, opting for the immediate past governor of Lagos State and Tinubu’s successor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, as Lagos State representative in the federal cabinet. Another attempt to get Buhari to consider Edun, who hails from Ogun State for the state’s slot failed. Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who enjoys a close relationship with the President, resisted the move to have the top banker pick the slot.

Tinubu also failed to stop former Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi from being nominated as minister. The APC national leader was said to have rooted for one his loyalists to pick Ekiti State slot, but again, Buhari opted for Fayemi, who was Director of Policy of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation. While Tinubu was unable to have his way with ministerial appointments, some of his loyalists however got appointed into other key positions.

They include Dr. Babatunde Fowler (Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service – FIRS); Mr. Sunday Dare (Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management, National Communications Commission – NCC); Mrs. Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire (Senior Special Assistant on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Senator Babafemi Ojudu (Special Adviser on Political Matters to the President). Edun, who missed out in the ministerial appointment, was later inaugurated as chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), Trust Fund for Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) for the implementation of the United Nations Environmental Report (UNEP) on Ogoniland.

The politician as statesman

Despite the disappointments, Tinubu’s support for the Buhari presidency never wavered. Like a statesman, he demonstrated that what preoccupies his mind is not the security of his seat, but that of the nation. This, he did through continuous expression of support for the administration even when most Nigerians started losing confidence in its ability to deliver on electioneering promises.

The support, notwithstanding, the APC national leader however ruffled some feathers last year, when he reportedly declared that he would run for the presidency in 2019. Speaking during the inauguration of Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu as governor of Ondo State, Tinubu said he will not rule out the possibility of running for the office of president, but emphasised that it will only happen if there is a vacancy in the presidency. His words: “You see there is nothing wrong with such ambition. It depends on the timing and the environment and what political leadership dictates.

I will not brush aside such an aspiration. It has been historical even that Buhari tried first, second, third, and fourth before he got it. “Resilience, determination, and clarity of purpose; maybe as a senator, maybe as a president, you cannot rule it out. How can I rule such a thing out, the opportunity to service my country, but you only do that when there is a vacancy.” Noting that there is no way he will reject an opportunity to serve the country, he averred: “How can I rule such a thing out, the opportunity to service my country? But you only do that when there is a vacancy.”

Expectedly, meanings were read into his statement. While some insinuated that he has already set machinery in motion to vie for the country’s top job, others said he is likely dump the ruling party for another platform to actualise his ambition. But, Tinubu, swiftly came out to debunk the claim, saying he would rather support President Buhari. He said those, who misconstrued his comment to mean that he will contest the 2019 presidential election are out to pitch him against President Buhari.

“As long as that patriotic and committed man named Muhammadu Buhari holds and seeks to hold the mantle as our president, then Asiwaju Tinubu stands behind him in unwavering support and confidence. “Asiwaju Tinubu remains faithful to the mission of progressive reform and change that President Buhari, he and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have started.

Tinubu was instrumental in the formation and success of the APC. His toil and efforts helped establish this government. He is not one to tear down something he laboured so dutifully to build,” a statement from his media office said.

Tinubu walks his talk

While some analysts reasoned then that Tinubu may have sold a dummy to test the political waters ahead of the 2019 general elections, a political school opined that it would be fool-hardy for the Buhari camp to accept the former Lagos governor’s rebuttal for its face value.

Members of this school pointed to Tinubu’s political sagacity and ability to read situations to know when to throw his hat to the ring. But despite the haze, the APC national leader insisted that he remained committed to the Buhari administration.

He stuck to his word that he has not held any meetings for any such presidential campaign and is not contemplating any such meetings, saying that “it makes no sense that he would abandon the party that he worked hard to build in order to enter the dilapidated building the PDP has become.”

The APC national leader put paid to the rumoured ambition and perception of a rift between him and the President in October last year, when they met in the State House, Abuja at the eve of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party. Tinubu, after close to an hour meeting with Buhari, described the perception of a rift between them as “fake news.”

He reiterated that he has confidence in the President and his meeting with him was fruitful and productive. He added that the claim of the existence of a cabal in the presidency was mere gossip. To buttress his claim of a smooth relationship with Buhari, Tinubu, who said he had never shied away from expressing his mind and even rebelling when necessary, added that APC was on course.

“I just met with the president. Our discussion was fruitful, productive and it was about the country and leadership as a whole. And that got him excited and happy,” he said. On the speculations that he was not in good terms with the President and dissatisfied with the way things were being handled by the presidency, including being sidelined by the so-called “cabal,” he said: “Fake news.

I have confidence in this President. There is no doubt about that. We worked hard to bring about this government.” He added: “There are certain things that are unpredictable and those are things that can lean themselves to gossip, insinuations and all of that. But, once you create leadership and it is functioning, you don’t have to baby-sit that leadership unless there is a loss of confidence and I don’t have that. “You know me, I’m not known to shy away from speaking my mind and rebelling if it is necessary and taking charge of things that I believe are necessary. What is the myth in this leadership thing? What is this cabal? It’s a myth.

We are the party of the people, for the people and by the people and this is a democratic environment. “Each of us has our roles to play and that is why we are playing it. I don’t believe in the myth. I believe in confidence building, the trust that we have in the president. In the journey of democracy, you are going to have twists and turns. You are going to have conflicts.

The conflict resolution mechanism is inbuilt in how you handle your party and the governance. “Can you go back to 16 years of the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party)? The APC government is on course and will remain on course and we will remain focused on those necessary things pertaining to development, welfare and progress of our people. “It is not easy to face the challenges and the well that was dug – the sinkhole that we inherited – we are sorting that one out gradually.

So, with a few steps, we will find happiness and development in the future of our country.” When asked about the clamour by some groups that he should support Buhari’s re-election, Tinubu said: “Do not discuss that with me.” Tinubu was later to accompany the President to the 5th European Union-African Union Summit in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, late November.

Rescue mission as party’s goodwill dwindles

No doubt that Tinubu was sidelined by the government he helped to put in place, but as the euphoria that greeted the Buhari administration erodes given the fact that it is yet to turn things around as it promised, he has been called to duty once more. With cost of living on the rise, most Nigerians are finding it increasing hard to meet their basic needs.

This has forced even those who supported the APC in the last elections to kick-start the campaign for an alternative ahead of the 2019 elections. Among APC’s friends turn foes include former President Olusegun Obasanjo; ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar; fiery preacher and Buhari’s running mate in the 2011 presidential election, Pastor Tunde Bakare; Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sunusi II; Enugu based Catholic priest, Rev Father Ejike Mbaka; former presidential candidate and professor of Political Economy and Pat Utomi. Obasanjo, for instance, not only carpeted Buhari for non performance, but told him to go home and rest instead of contesting the 2019 presidential election.

In a special statement titled “The way out: A clarion call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement,” the former president said Buhari has already given his best and should consider a deserved rest instead of running for Presidency again. His words: “The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us today.

“President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country.

“His place in history is already assured. Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7. “I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service. President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.”

The former president was joined by former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, though a chieftain of the PDP to insist that Buhari must leave office in 2019. Babangida, who reflected on the state of the nation in a statement titled “Towards a national rebirth,” said: “In the fullness of our present realities, we need to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29, 2019 and collectively prepare the way for a new generation of leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country.”

Fear of the unknown spurs reconciliation committee

With pressure coming from respectable former leaders and the internal wrangling in the APC, at a time President Buhari is set to declare his re-election bid, the option open to the ruling party is to first put its house in order. This may have informed why the President opted for Tinubu to head the APC National Reconciliation Committee, which he charged to resolve disagreements among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states of the federation. A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President, Garba Shehu, which announced the committee, read in part:

“As part of on-going efforts to improve cohesion within the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari has designated Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to lead the consultation, reconciliation and confidence building efforts. The assignment will involve resolving disagreements among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states of the federation.”

The master strategist at work

While many have cautioned Tinubu to be wary of being used and dumped for the second time, the APC national leader believes that as a loyal party man, he is duty bound to answer his party’s call to duty at all times. Against this backdrop, he has already hit the ground running in his assignment, which the APC leadership described as a welcome development, and requires one with a great deal of political skills and experience to handle. The APC national leader, who at a meeting with the party’s NWC members in Abuja last week, acknowledged that the goodwill the party enjoys among Nigerians is dwindling, however assured that his committee will seek opinions and advices on the various complaints in some of the troubled state chapters of the APC to reconcile aggrieved members and reposition the party.

His words: “We worked hard to victory, we have never governed before, but we won the confidence of Nigerians to govern. We have a desire to really serve the country to change and reform the country; it is not easy to have those changes implemented.

Like instant coffee, we have to grow it, we have to face challenges. “I sympathize with us and wish we equally look at ourselves, since we won the elections, the expectation was very high and the goodwill was extremely high, but where are we today?” He explained why the government and the party seemed not to have made much impact, saying:

“The challenges faced by the government and the president are enormous. It is only because people are not paying attention to the various statistics that are available. We have to push that, but I won’t touch that yet. The challenges of reform and re-engineering of the finances of this country, stopping corruption and challenging the status quo is there, it doesn’t go away over night.”

Taking the fight to the opposition

Tinubu is not stopping at reconciling aggrieved members of the APC and ensuring that the party goes into the 2019 elections as a united house, he is taking the battle to the doorsteps of those opposed to Buhari’s re-election. Reacting to Obasanjo and Babangida’s opposition to Buhari second term bid, he advised the former leaders to join what he described as the “retirees club” and be collecting pensions.

He spoke with State House correspondents shortly after he and a former interim chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, met the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. While saying he does not address “those shadows,” the former Lagos State governor also urged Obasanjo and Babangida to allow the present crop of leaders to move the country forward.

His words: “I don’t address those shadows. We should let our former presidents join retirees’ club and take pensions, but they can participate in our politics if they are interested. It is a free world but this freedom is not served a la carte.

They should allow us to move our country forward. It is a challenge to every Nigerian.” Despite the challenges he admitted were facing the ruling party, Tinubu said APC would still win the 2019 elections.“You are asking me an obvious question. I belong to this party. My commitment is to this party.

We have a better chance and we are strongly determined to prosecute the elections in a most transparent and democratic manner and we will win.” On the assignment given to him by Buhari to reconcile aggrieved party members, he said: “I feel greatly honoured with the confidence that the President has reposed in me, which is a very strong political challenge. We have started in earnest. He has given me the free hand to put confidence and trust in the party. “Democracy is about conflict resolution. You can’t do it without resolving conflicts.

We can’t build it without understanding the conflicts and sources where we are coming from. But we want to leave the country with a legacy. “It’s not about Mr. President. That is what he’s telling the country. It’s about our country and no other choice to democratic tenets than through political party platforms.

He is one of those rare beings around the country and Africa, who had experienced both worlds: he fought a battle to save Nigeria and came to politics to save Nigeria. Very rare people have such an opportunity in their lifetime and that’s what we talk about legacy, and where we have all the challenges, do what we should do. I am enjoying the challenges so far.”

No doubt, Tinubu, has fought and won many political battles, but Nigerians are waiting to see how the APC leader will navigate the political the space once more to ensure victory for his party and most especially, President Buhari in the 2019 elections, as many believe that the APC abandoned the principle on which it rode to power.

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PDP, Igbokwe, Okechukwu, Aka-Bashorun, Garba: Our verdict on Tinubu’s committee

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A cross section of stakeholders, who spoke on the task before the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu-led All Progressives Congress (APC) National Reconciliation Committee expressed optimism and doubt over the committee’s ability to accomplish set objectives. WALE ELEGBEDE reports

 

His political experience’ll make him succeed – Igbokwe
Mr. Joe Igbokwe is the Publicity Secretary of the APC in Lagos State
I believe that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will succeed in this latest assignment of unifying the party for the task ahead. He has not been known to have failed in any assignment given to him.
He is well respected across Nigeria by leaders in East, West, North and South.

The question to ask is where is the position? Even if we go to an election with this present position we are as a party, we are going to win.
Asiwaju is one Nigerian that has risen above primordial sentiments and ethnic preoccupation in dealing with other Nigerians. He holds chains of chieftaincy titles in the East, West, North and South of Nigeria. He has been tested and therefore can be trusted; he commands great followers everywhere including every institution in Nigeria.

I also believe that his vast knowledge and experience in matters of governance understands very well the arts of rules of engagement and rules of dialogue. His pedigree as a leader of leaders is incontrovertible; he has built and encouraged thousands of leaders across Nigeria and they can be found everywhere you go.

For me, I know that his greatest asset is his deep compassion and empathy for the poor; the man simply lives for humanity and unbelievably generous. Above the goodwill that he enjoys, he is a tactician and logistician who understands the nitty-gritty and dynamics of Nigerian politics and I am sure that he will bring to bear this great asset in the discharge of this or any other national assignment

Tinubu is a wrong man for the right job – Aka-Bashorun
Segun Aka-Bashorun is a former vice chairman, Kosofe local government, Lagos State and a chieftain of Pro-National Conference Organisation (PRONACO)
I think his choice for that assignment can be likened to a wrong person at the right time.

Tinubu would have been a right person if he was not the one with the major dispute. But since he is the one that majorly has an issue with the affairs of the party, then he is a wrong person for the tough job of reconciling the party.
Already, the feeling and opinion of people about the task given to him indicate that he might not succeed. The fact that he is a major complainant and he is now told to handle the complaint of everybody; I think is ironical.

Interestingly, while he has the job, there are people already calling for the resignation of the National Chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun. Those calling for the resignation seem to be Tinubu’s boys and they are already going about that Odigie-Oyegun must resign. So, what is the reconciliation all about?

If they are sincere, they should at least have allowed the reconciliation to be concluded before doing that. In any case, he should have called them to order immediately. Tinubu himself must first swallow all the discontent that he has before overseeing the grievances of other members of the party.
I think he is the wrong person to be employed to this job. I also feel it’s a ploy to humble him. He was intended for a good reason. So many members of APC are angry and that is why you see various groups, caucus, and factions.

APC members will listen to him – Okechukwu
Osita Okechukwu is a chieftain of the APC and Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON)
Tinubu is one of the architects that forged the merger called the APC. He was there from the beginning, he is a veteran. He is one of the few Nigerians that when he comes to negotiate on your table, you can’t turn back and say he was bribed.

Most importantly, Asiwaju himself knows that the critical foundation that President Muhammadu Buhari is building on infrastructure is the way to go in terms of future industrialization of the country, in terms of providing jobs for the Nigerian people and bringing foods to the table. So, I believe that he is in a better position to succeed. It might not be to 100 per cent, but I believe to a greater extent. I know that members of the APC will listen to him. He is not new to such task and he will get the needed result.
What is happening in APC is not crisis per se, but intra-feuds, which normally occur in every human association. Some of them are ego based, some are ancient grudges and some are frictions, which could be traced to the fact that APC is a polygamous household with many mothers and one father. But, my happiness is that Asiwaju as a veteran stands on a good stead to reconcile the feuding parties and different tendencies, more so, when Mr. President has mandated him to select his team.

Asiwaju, more than any other leader of our great party, knows the imperative of mending all fences at the eve of an election. He knows the faux pas. I remember vividly how Asiwaju in cohort with General Shehu Musa Yaradua of blessed memory and host of others reconciled similar impasse in the 90s with Chief MKO Abiola at Alhaji Kwande’s residence in Jos during the Social Democracy Party (SDP) primaries. Without such fence mending Chief Abiola and by extension the progressives couldn’t have won the 1993 presidential election.

No doubt, Mr. President is truly a convert democrat and like most converts he is passionate about reconciliation, which is the only missing link to the 2019 presidential victory; that most pundits posit is ours. The peace process has commenced with Asiwaju as the Grand-Trouble-Shooter (GTS).

Tinubu’ll unite the party – Garba
Alhaji Lawal Garba is the National Chairman, Forum of Patriotic APC Members
Asiwaju Bola Tinibu is capable of reconciling aggrieved members considering his political clout and commitment to the ideals of the party. The mass of the electorate are still with us and they will vote for the party again in 2019.
The three years of APC as the ruling party have been eventful, innovative, creative and inventive; the party has transformed various sectors of the economy. It has championed the ongoing anti corruption crusade, agricultural revolution and promotion of security nationwide. These are what we want the party to consolidate after the 2019 elections.

It’s politically inconsequential – Ologbondiyan
Kola Ologbondiyan is the National Publicity of the PDP
There is widespread disenchantment and indignation across the nation resulting from hunger and the inability of the Buhari Presidency to provide the people with basic necessities of life, which they had always enjoyed in the past.
Nigerians are therefore waiting to see how Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who has also openly expressed his concerns and disapprovals on the mismanagement of the economy and whose large constituents are direct victims of the ineptitude, impunity, nepotism, dictatorial tendencies, corruption and insecurity that has characterised the Buhari Presidency, will now turn around to preach that all is well and attempt to sell a practically bad product to the nation.

It is instructive to further state that the desperate move by the Presidency to politically prey on individuals is mere foolhardiness and a totally decadent approach to pitch key leaders against the people on an issue that has already been thrown overboard.

The PDP therefore finds APC’s attempt to reconcile its dwindling ranks as laughable, cosmetic and politically inconsequential.
It will interest the APC to know that Nigerians are already rallying with the repositioned and rebranded PDP as we are poised to present a credible, competent and reliable candidate through a free, fair and transparent presidential primary.

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FG owes A’Ibom N140b for road rehab, says Inyang-Eyen

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Mr. Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Works, in this interview with TONY ANICHEBE sheds light on some issues surrounding the activities of the state government

 

Information has it that billions of Naira spent by the last administration on federal roads in the state have been refunded?

Let me take it from this angle. If we are currently doing 40 road projects in Akwa Ibom State and the Federal Government has refunded one kobo to us, we would be doing 80 new roads. The Federal Government is owing Akwa Ibom State about N140 billion from genuine approvals and when we met over the matter they agreed after verifications to pay the first tranche of N70 billion, pending the completion of other ongoing jobs. But as we speak now not a kobo has been refunded. We are still hopeful as the state government keep getting assurances from Abuja that the money will be paid. The governor was able to do so much because of prudent management of resources. For instance, before now much funds have been wasted through payment of compensations, but presently we have eliminated the middle men and compensations money goes directly to the beneficiaries.

 

Again through prudent management, funds earmarked for compensations of properties are now reviewed to the barest acceptable level leaving more funds for the actual road constructions. The secret of the ongoing massive road construction is prudent and transparent management of funds at our disposal. The governor is so keen on doing more for the people that rumour of abandoned projects being peddled by critics is unfounded. We are doing a massive 45 internal roads in Uyo

 

 

Talking of abandoned projects, the two major roads always on peoples’ mind are the Uyo – Ikot Ekpene road and Enwang – Etebi road started by the immediate past administration. What is their fate?

 

It was not just those two we heard. We inherited Eket – Ibeno road leading to Exxonmobil QIT which we have finished and nobody is talking about it anymore. It is 20km of dualized road. The only snag there was that the Exxonmobil said they contributed N8 billion on the road construction which I debunked. The N8 billion was the palliative meant to be paid to the core communities of Ibeno, Esit Eket, Onna and Eket communities for oil spills from their platform. Eket – Etinan road was also inherited at almost zero point but if you take a ride through it, you will enjoy yourself. Now to your question, Etebi – Enwang was not abandoned but not funded for a season.

 

There was a contractor and technical partner involved in the project making it difficult to know who to hold responsible but we have resolved the issues, now we have one line of communication. God helping us the road will be commissioned soon without the bridge because the bridge which is 1.1km will take more time to be completed however, work is ongoing at the road project site now. It gets me amazed when people say that Uyo – Ikot Ekpene road have been abandoned. When the Udom Emmanuel’s administration came on board, the job was still ongoing, the problem was that the contractors could not bring down buildings on the right of way because monies earlier earmarked for compensation have been exhausted. We were not in a hurry to jump into the issue because compensation is a delicate thing. We have to take time to verify who was paid and who was not paid. However, we have started paying compensation along the road again and work has since resumed even as we are talking, payment of compensation is ongoing there. If people have said that the work was not going at maximum speed, I would have agreed but that it was abandoned was absolutely false.

 

 

You spoke about eliminating middle men in the payment of compensation, why did you do that and how are you handling the outcome of that decision?

 

When the governor sent me to this Ministry, he made it clear that everything surrounding compensation must be made open and transparent and every loophole sealed. Before now, the valuer was paying and we stopped that. Again, the issues of compensation was transferred from the Ministry of Lands to the Ministry of Works so that once we pay we take the right of way. So we get valuers which we call consultants and ask them to value and send the report to us. Then we in the Ministry will go for verification, filming and documentation.

 

We take time to see if what they did is in the tandem with best practices, because if you value a bungalow for N20 million and one storey building for N15 million, we will question your professional integrity. Then we will send the valuers report to the payment consultant who will go round and ensure that all the recorded codes on properties are genuine before payments are made directly to property owners under video and still camera coverage. The beneficiary and about five people will sign to authenticate the process. The five people include the beneficiary, his witness, consultant contractors etc.

 

Using this more transparent process, we eliminated middle men who strived to truncate what we are doing but failed not even their petitions and blackmails could stop us. The process has made those advised to take us to court to see no justifiable reason to do so. What this new system had succeeded in doing is to ensure that if one person is entitled to one naira for his property he gets his money directly without a third party and that too save more money for the government. It is not business as usual here.

 

 

As the administration began payments of compensation along the new dualized Uyo – Etinan and Etinan – Ndonuyo roads for structures, we observed the sudden emergence of over 200 shrines, grave yards and tombstones along the said roads. Were compensations paid too for them?
In fact, even most buildings we saw along Etinan – Ndonuyo and Uyo – Etinan roads emerged overnight because the buildings were without foundations. Some are mere block works without doors and windows and many without roofs. What we did was to demolish all. Along Awa – Ukat – Asom in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, we have over 1000 tombstones and shrines along there and we were asked to pay one million each, we wiped all of them out without paying a dime. We don’t pay compensation for such things.

 

People who buried their dead along the right of way, more than 20 years ago asked us to pay for the tomb stones; we don’t pay for such things. We only pay for genuine buildings. The entire land within the state belongs to government. If, for instance, you bought a land for N100 million and have a structure of N4 million on it, when government needs the land for overriding public interest, we pay for the cost of the structure and the land reverts to government. The money belongs to Akwa Ibom people and must be prudently managed and accounted for. For all we are doing, we do to justify our conscience because God is watching and people are watching too.

 

 

 

Talking about the impact made on the lives of the citizens by the government through your ministry, can we know them?

 

Well in Uyo, the state capital, about 45 roads are ongoing. We are doing massive road networks in the city in such a way that you don’t need to come to the major roads to get to your destination. We are also remodeling Oro nation; over eight roads have been done in the first instance under emergency intervention. When the governor commissioned the first set of roads, he ordered for a second intervention with an additional eight roads and massive erosion, intervention in the area. We hope to commission the second phase during the third anniversary of the governor’s administration.

 

Again, we are intervening in a major ravine in Oron which is threatening major households within the vicinity. Go to Eket city today and see from Atabong road up to the post office, you will see the remodeling beauty of the city. The phase two will go up to marina area of the Eket. The problem here is that the job is not as fast as I wanted because there when people received their compensations to vacate their buildings, they still foot-drag slowing the pace of work.

 

They make us look like bad people who came to take away their properties.

 

 

Today eight major roads are under construction in Eket and we have added additional eight roads, making it 16 roads going on in Eket. People will ask what of Ikot Ekpene, we all know that the area benefitted immensely from the immediate past administration. So what we are trying to do is raise the status of other Senatorial Headquarters too, like Eket, Oron and Uyo. So rather than concentrating on Ikot Ekpene, we move in to other areas under the district like Ini, Ikono, Obot Akara, Oruk Anam council areas etc, to give those communities a sense of belonging too.

 

 

Do you think that Governor Emmanuel has done enough to deserve a second term?

 

Yes! Akwa Ibom people will massively vote Governor Udom Emmanuel for many reasons. Emmanuel has tried to reach out to communities yearning for development over the years. For example, Ini Local Government Area has not had a road since 1999 but the government has not just given them a good road, but one that links the state through Obotme to Arochukwu in Abia State over a distance of 14.7km with a bridge. Today you can drive from Akwa Ibom to Arochukwu in Abia State very comfortably courtesy of Governor Emmanuel.

 

 

Now go to Obot Akara Local Government Area which was neglected, Emmanuel has taken dividends of democracy to them too. When the former Deputy Governor Engr Ekpeyong appealed to the governor that their roads were impassable with children unable to go to schools again, he responded with a 6.41km of roads with two bridges linking the area to Enwere Azu in Abia State. You can now access our neighboring states through there.

 

The truth is that many communities crying over neglect before now are smiling with good road networks. Mkpat Enin Local Government Area has also benefited immensely. Akwa Ibom people will vote Governor Emmanuel because development have spread to every nook and canny of the state. People get projects because they truly need them and not out of political consideration. In Oruk Anam Council Area, four new roads are ongoing. In Akwa State University Obio Akpa campus, a 5.1km road is under construction and the entire community has been linked up. People want good road network and they have been given that by the governor. Economics 101 states that for you to have industries, you need good road network for accessibility to the source of road materials and to evacuate goods.

 

We have dualized roads from Airport Road to Okopedi in Okobo council area. From there we got CCECC firm to break through a thick forest to do another 15 km road to Uya- Oro, the terminal port of the East West Road.

 

From Uyo, we are working to dualize road from Ikot Oku Ikono to Etinam. There is a dualized the road that is going to Ndonuyo to East-West road, and to the left through Etinan Institute. There is another dualized road that empties you to remodeled Eket town. We are about to award Abak – Ekparakwa – Eket road. These will give people many options into the state without any hassles. If you are a voter and a governor in two and half years achieved all these in one sector, then you will agree with me that the governor has genuine vision for the state. My governor should be the best governor in road infrastructure in Nigeria.

 

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