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Ndume: The court keeps hope alive



Like a cat with nine lives, Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South) seems to be bouncing back to political reckoning given last week’s declaration of his suspension by the Senate as illegal and unconstitutional by a Federal High Court, FELIX NWANERI reports



The senator representing Borno South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Ali Ndume, is in the news again. This time, the former Senate leader, who was in March suspended by his colleagues for failing to do due diligence before bringing up two issues before the whole house, had a Federal High Court in Abuja declare the suspension illegal and unconstitutional. Trouble had started for Ndume, when through a Point of Order, he brought to the notice of the Senate, an allegation of purchase of a bullet proof Range Rover Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) worth N298 million by the Senate president, Bukola Saraki.

He also called the attention of the Senate to the issue of certificate scandal involving Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West). Relying on Senate Standing Orders 14 and 15, which deal with the privileges of senators, Ndume urged the Red Chamber to thoroughly investigate the allegations because they had portrayed the apex chamber in bad light as well as subjected it to public ridicule.

He said the allegation over the purchase of the SUV had prompted insinuations that it was the vehicle’s alleged seizure by the Customs Service that led to the perceived persecution of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd) by the Senate.

The upper legislative chamber consequently directed its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to look into the allegations. However, Saraki and Melaye were cleared of the respective allegations by the Senator Samuel Anyanwuled committee, while Ndume was handed six months suspension. Ndume, who is a ranking senator, was faulted by the committee for his inability to follow laid down rules on investigating a matter before bringing it up on the floor.

The drastic resolution of the Senate against Ndume came in spite of pleas by some senators that the chamber should show him mercy as a first offender, but majority overwhelmingly approved his suspension. But for the intervention of some senators, who amended the initial recommendation of the committee, the Borno senator would have been suspended for 181 days (a year). Anyanwu, who presented the report of the committee, told the Senate that Saraki’s name was not mentioned anywhere in the bill of lading or any document whatsoever connected with the importation or purchase of the SUV. According to him, the respondents at the investigative hearing attested that the Senate president did not import any SUV as claimed in the reports in an online medium, which Ndume made reference to. He also told the Senate that the report was fabricated with the intent to embarrass the Senate president, the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly.

The committee also observed that Ndume did not conduct due diligence on the report before bringing the matter to the floor of the Senate. It noted that as a former Senate Leader and a ranking senator, he was expected to have weighed the consequences of the allegation and carefully investigated it before present-ing it. On the allegation against Melaye, the committee stated that Kogi senator obtained a first degree in Geography from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.

The report noted that, having failed to cross-check facts before presentation at plenary, Ndume could not be said to be a patriotic representative of the Senate, and should be penalised to serve as deterrent to others.

Consequently, the committee recommended that the Senate do suspend him for “bringing Senator Dino Melaye, his colleague, and the institution of the Senate to unbearable disrepute at this time of our national life, when caution, patriotism, careful consideration and due diligence should be our watchwords.”

The committee also recommended that the suspension should take effect from March 29 to last for six months, after it was amended from 181 days earlier recommended. When the matter was put to voice vote, the yeah had it and the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the matter, announced that the suspension has been reduced to six months. He added that the punishment would serve as a deterrent to those who indulge in rumour peddling and other indecorous behaviours that could undermine the integrity of the Senate and its members.

The Senate’s decision was however faulted by Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), who described it as the height of the serial illegality in the Senate. Some other analysts, reasoned that it was obvious from the verdict of the Senate that Ndume was punished for his previous offences against the Red Chamber.

They cited the tone of some of his colleagues, who said that he had been working against the interest of the Senate before the issues he raised against Saraki and Melaye. For instance, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North), particularly pointed out that Ndume was the one, who attacked the Senate on its resolutions on the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engr. Babachir Lawal; Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu and the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali. No doubt, there could be some substance in Nwoboshi’s claim, but Ndume’s indifferent position against that of a majority of his colleagues on the respective issues is understandable given the way he was removed as the Senate leader.

In what many described as a parliamentary coup, the Borno South senator was shown the way out as the Senate Leader and Senator Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North) nominated to replace him immediately.

Ndume was innocently conducting the business of the Senate on the day of his removal (January 10) as the majority leader until about 12:45 pm, when he reportedly stepped out of the chamber to observe his prayers within the White House at the National Assembly complex. Unfortunately for him, by the time he was done with his prayers, he returned to the Chamber to continue with the business of the day only to discover that the place had been deserted.

His colleagues had hurriedly executed their “coup” and quickly vacated the hallowed chambers to avoid any pandemonium, in case Ndume returns and decides to reclaim his position. Lawan, no doubt, was the preferred candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Presidency for the office of President of the Senate, a proposal, which its abortion by Saraki’s emergence triggered an impasse that shook the ruling party to its foundation. As a contestant for the Senate presidency alongside the incumbent, Saraki , Lawan was recommended by the leadership of the APC for the post of Senate Majority Leader, following his failure to clinch the Senate presidency but was rejected by the APC North-East caucus.

After the party’s calculation failed, its leadership and the presidency made several desperate attempts to persuade Ndume to step down for Lawan as Senate leader, but the former insisted that God gave him power and only God can take it away from him. However, the same APC Senate caucus, which backed his emergence as majority leader, pulled the rug off his feet over what the lawmakers described as antagonistic posture exhibited by Ndume against Senate’s decisions on critical issues. Ndume, however, swallowed the bitter pill and moved on with his legislative duties before his suspension.

But, like the cat with nine lives, succour came his way last week, when Justice Babatunde Quadri, who ruled on the suit he instituted against his suspension, held that the 90 legislative days’ suspension is illegal.

The judge said the suspension “is a violation of his right to fair hearing and freedom of expression as guaranteed by sections 36 and 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 7(1) and 9(2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, 2004.” While, it is relief for Ndume, it is not yet Uhuru as the Senate has appealed the ruling

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Bagudu’s initiative has revolutionised agric sector – Kebbi SSG



Secretary to the Kebbi State Government (SSG), Alhaji Babale Umar, speaks in this interview with Ahmed Idris on the revolution in rice farming in the state


How would you assess the three years of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government in Kebbi State?


Senator Atiku Bagudu, who is the 4th executive governor of Kebbi State, is a visionary leader whose preoccupation is to make things better. Indeed, when he assumed office, his penchant for reengineering and revitalization of the state took him to all the 21 local government areas and interacted with his people. He visited schools, health institutions and met with the farmers in their farms to assess the challenges been face in the different sectors.


What he saw in the schools were appalling. From the students’ hostels, classrooms, laboratories and even the food served was dehumanizing. The governor also accorded priority to the power sector because the epileptic power supply in the state then pitched the people against the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) because it strangled small scale businesses. But the story is different today as the state capital is enjoying regular power.


He has also addressed the issue of infrastructure. Today, all schools in the state are undergoing proper rehabilitation and furniture, computers and sports equipment have been provided for conducive learning and teaching.


To further ensure good and sound education in the state, the governor joined his counterparts in Sokoto and Zamfara states in setting-up a committee of eminent scholars led by Prof. Attahiru Jega, which recommended the establishment of Ministry of Higher Education. This led to the creation of Ministry of Higher Education in Kebbi State to take care of tertiary education.


The governor has continued with all road projects started by previous administration as exemplified by the on-going major construction of urban roads in the state capital hitherto neglected by previous regimes.


Meanwhile, new roads have been constructed to bring succor to residents, especially Aliero Quarters and Bayan-Kara areas. So, Governor Bagudu is a politician endowed with wisdom and who cherishes collective decision in the course of governance.


What about the health sector, what is the government doing to improve health institutions in the state?


Worried by the state of facilities in the general hospitals and concerned about the health and well-being of the people, Governor Bagudu has made concerted efforts to improve on facilities and personnel.


The main aim of the interventions is to reverse the ugly health indices bedeviling the state through conscious harmonization of interventions and partnership. Indeed, one bold step taken by this administration is putting in place of mechanism for actualizing the policy of healthcare under one roof.



The administration has deployed mobile health teams with support from the European Union and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to deliver services such as treatment of minor ailments, immunization, birth registration and health promotion to strengthen community linkages and uptake of integrated PHC services through outreaches to 225 hard to reach settlements as part of the state governments’ commitment towards achieving Universal Health Coverage of the Federal Government.


As part of its commitment to women and children’s health, state government sponsored free cancer screening activities as well as engaged America doctors for free treatment across the state. It also facilitated the accreditation exercise for the upgrading of the School of Health Technology, Jega, to a College of Health Sciences through the procurement of the needed facilities.


In an effort to bring health care service delivery closer to the people, the government renovated the maternity ward, labour room and the ANC unit at the Argungu General Hospital and also paid its counterpart funding for Measles, Cerebrospinal Meningitis, Maternal Newborn and Child Health Week and EU- UNICEF MNCH programme in the state.


The administration has also fulfilled the criteria set by the World Bank to access $1.5 million grant for saving One Million lives programme as well as the lunching and distribution of EU -MNCH drugs and commodities to herald the commencement of the intervention.


Kebbi State is now the leading state in agriculture. How was it able to achieve this feat?


Being a state blessed with many agricultural and agro allied potentialities, Governor Bagudu saw an opening to positively impact on the sector and put smiles on the faces of both large and small scale farmers. He came up with strategies to provide inputs and expertise as well as invite agencies and companies to partner for the overall development of the sector. For turning Kebbi to the largest rice producing state in Nigeria, the governor was aptly appointed Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Rise and Wheat Production.


The governor initiated an agricultural revitalization, transformation and diversification drive through partnership with the Bank of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The sustained effort to develop the agricultural sector has attracted investors from far and near. Kebbii State has become a model and a hub in rice and wheat production and sales that attract the attention of many individuals, companies and states across the country.


A landmark is the partnership between Lagos and Kebbi states on rice value chain, which produced the LASKEB. And with the pre-commissioning of WACOT Mill recently, the investment effort of the governor has placed Kebbi second only to Kano in rice milling in the whole of the North-West.



To consolidate on the gains recorded in dry season rice farming and improve output in wet season, Governor Bagudu entered into partnership with Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Zamfara states and the Moroccan government to receive the supply over 300,000 tons of fertilizer.



The administration also procured for distribution to famers, 100 tractors, 1,000 Oxdrawn ploughs, 100 rice threshers and 100 motorcycles for agricultural extension workers.



The agricultural transformation drive for income and job creation led the state government to empower several vegetable growing communities to produce more to meet the Kebbi- Lagos Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and also encouraged more than 20,000 farmers to produce soya beans, a potential the state has not harnessed. The administration is encouraging livestock production.


The Ministry of Animal Health has spent about N21 million on vaccines to guard against the spread of Anthrax and hemorrhagic septicemia to the state. The ministry has also constructed a modern artificial insemination center and procured essential equipment.


To improve provide market to fishermen in the state, the government constructed an international fish market in Yauri Local Government Area and also rehabilitated the Birnin Kebbi main abattoir, while a grant of N28 million was given to the ministry to establish and manage modern fish ponds across the state to encourage fish farming.



What has the government done to revamp the education sector in the state?


Repositioning of the sector has been the main concern of the governor. In fact, primary, secondary and tertiary Intuitions were the first places he visited upon assumption of duty. His assessment gave birth to a robust master plan for a complete overhaul of the sector.


Accordingly, he mobilized professionals from the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, to review educational development in Kebbi State and provide expert advice with a view to taking appropriate steps to promoting education in all ramifications.



This led to the establishment of the Ministry of Higher Education to coordinate the operations of tertiary education in the state. A blue print was developed for the ministry to cater for vocational and technical needs of students in the state, in addition to the payment of WAEC, NECO, Arabic and NABTEB examination fees for all JSS three students.


More than N4 billion was also spent by the administration for the renovation of schools, provision of furniture as well as training and retraining of secondary school teachers to enhance their performance. Additional classrooms were constructed and there was renovation of schools across the state as well as provision of furniture and instructional materials.


The sum of N5.2 billion was approved for the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) for the rehabilitation of 25 junior secondary and primary schools.


Another N100 million was also released fur the purchase of tables and chairs for pupils and students in line with the administration’s resolve to provide conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning. The state government also released N145 million for the construction of a 500- capacity female hostel at the Adamu Augie College of Education, Argungu.


The administration also ensured the payment of tuition fees and other charges for government sponsored students in various tertiary institutions at home and abroad.


How has the state government been able to tackle security issues in the state, especially those arising from herdsmen/farmers clashes?


To ensure security of lives and property of all citizens in the state, the Bagudu administration participated in a joint security operation covering the Kamuku/ Kuyambana forest involving seven states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Niger and Katsina. In an operation code name ‘’Operation Sharan Daji” involving the Nigeria Army, Police, Air Force and other security operatives in a combine operation that rid the state of cattle rustlers and halted criminal activities like kidnapping.



Through operation Sharan Daji, a number of cattle were recovered and returned to the owners with hundreds of suspected criminals arrested and cache of arms and ammunition retrieved. On the issue of Kidnapping, especially in Kebbi South Senatorial District, the present administration has through the efforts of security operatives tackled the menace.


Today, farmers in the area go about their businesses without any fear.


Realizing the importance or peace to the development and progress of the state, the administration of Governor Bagudu has resolved the age long border dispute between Benin Republic and communities in Kebbi State and also wadded into herdsmen/ farmers disputes across the state by identifying and institutionalizing the old cattle routes and grazing reserves.

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APC’s support for restructuring, height of deception – Makarfi



Makarfi: PDP not threatened by third force, Obasanjo’s coalition

Senator Ahmed Makarfi is the former Chairman, National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The former Governor of Kaduna State, here, speaks on the state of the nation and his party’s readiness for the 2019 general elections, restructuring and insecurity, among others issues. TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports


The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was enmeshed in crisis ahead of its National Convention and there were still some skirmishes after the December convention. Can you tell us the progress the party has made so far?

Well, not many people gave us a chance before the convention. Many thought the party was going scatter from the Eagle Square, but that did not happen. But that does not mean there was no fall-out of the convention. After any convention, there must be issues arising from the conduct of such exercise. So, it is not different that PDP has some minor issues after the convention, but it is gladdening that the party remains solid, remains united and one.


Before the convention, we anticipated that some issues may arise, that was why we set up the reconciliation committee, which moved to work immediately after the convention. The current leadership also set up other two committees which consist of the Seriake Dickson committee and the other one led by former principal officers of the National Assembly to reach out to the aggrieved and to bring them back on board and to integrate them in a bid to provide a united front.


To also provide a strong and virile opposition to the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is in power, we have covered a lot of grounds, but that does not mean to say there are still no issues, but I am not in a position to know what those outstanding issues are because I am not the national chairman of the party now. I have left as chairman, but I continue to give advice in areas, where I am needed and I am also handling issues I can handle on my own just to bring unity into the party without necessarily having recourse to the current leadership.


The current leadership has been meeting with relevant organs of the party, the governors, National Assembly members, former governors, former ministers, formal and non-formal organs of the party in order to forge the way forward for the party. So, I am sure the party is set and working so hard to be a virile opposition.


It is being said in some quarters that PDP has not shown enough confidence and direction to convince Nigerians that the party is set to take over power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 general elections. How prepared is the party for the polls?



No serious party will want to continue to remain as an opposition party. The role of any opposition party is to take over power and that is what we have set our eyes on right now. And I want to thank APC for actually making our job easier and I continue to pray that APC continues to make our job easier as we move closer to elections. I do not pray Nigerians continue to suffer and that is why I believe Nigerians will make the right choice by voting out the party in power.


As to our preparations, all I can say is that we are doing all that is legally and politically doable to achieve our objectives. It would be inappropriate for me to give a hint of we are doing or what we are planning. It will amount to someone publishing his war plans before going to the battlefront. You have as well committed suicide before going for the war.


We keep our plans to our chest but be rest assured we are used to the politicking and we shall leave no stone unturned.


It is believed that your leadership intentionally threw away the entire South-West bloc from achieving its aim of clinching the chairmanship of the PDP, which was an agreement reached at the Port Harcourt convention. This seems to be causing disaffection in the South-West zone and the party seems not to be on the ground at the zone. How do you reconcile all these putting in mind South- West is very key come 2019?


I want to disagree with you in your assertions about states of the South-West. First, there was no intention of throwing away the South-West or any other bloc from any part of the country. And by the time we went to the convention, there was no political arrangement from the South as to where the chairman of the party should come from.


We came in May and a convention was scheduled for August in Port Harcourt, the PDP met in Port Harcourt and micro-zoned the chairmanship of the party to the South-West before August last year.



When we went to Port Harcourt, because of interference from government, that election could not take place and our tenure was extended for a year. When we were approaching the December convention, the North met and politically discussed among themselves and maintained the micro-zoning.


The South met and they could not agree on the micro-zoning.


Before every convention, you meet, discuss and also take certain decisions. The unity that existed from the South before the August convention disappeared before the December convention. When they met, they could not agree.

Then they met again and agreed on all other positions except two positions which are the chairmanship and the deputy chairmanship.


And they left that decision among themselves and even the South-East excused themselves from it, but the South-South and the South-West could not agree. And when they could not agree, the South-West and South-South decided that the convention should decide who becomes the chairman and deputy chairman. Failure of a certain part to sit down and agree should not be seen as the rest of the country heaping something on somebody.


Nobody directed the North to meet and maintain what they have done, I did not ask them, it was not in my position to do that and nobody stops the South from agreeing on certain terms. Failure to agree was what threw the race open and politics is an issue of negotiation. So, they came to the convention divided, campaigning against each other and in politics, when you are campaigning against each other and you want the rest to give you power, it becomes more difficult. So really, it was a local failure because the remaining part of the country had their agreement intact.


But I think they did not see a reason to unite before they decided that the convention should determine who emerges. It was at the venue of the convention when the election was about to start that some of them started going round to say they now have a consensus candidate, while some others started going round disclaiming there was such agreement.


So, in such confusion, who do you blame? You cannot blame anybody. Be that as it may, no part of this country should be taken for granted.


Except you don’t understand the politics of Nigeria, that is why you will expect to win elections on the convention ground.


Before you get to the convention ground, all the alliances have been formed and you will know whether you will or lose before getting to the convention ground. You may not have the leadership of the party, you may end up having what is even more than the leadership of the party.


As chairman of the party, you have limited powers even when your party is in government. Can you tell me how powerful the chairman of APC, John Odigie-Oyegun is today?


I think where people should look up to is the executive because that is where policies are formulated and executed and that is where the interest of people you represent can be taken care of.


Apart from the Dickson committee, I know there is another committee being led by Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo with Dr. Bello Haliru and David Mark. They are complementing what others are doing just to ensure peace and accommodation in the party.


When you mention that the party is absent in the South- West, I disagree with that. For me, you have to go gradually to achieve peace, anything you rush into, especially where there is sharp division, you are bound to fail.


So, the party is very conscious of these problems and we are doing all we can to harmonize. I can tell you that you will know our strength as a party when the elections come.


Nigerians should stop looking at the big picture of ceremonial things, those things don’t win elections. You don’t go by the crowd to win elections. In 2015, which crowd we did not have as a party. Did PDP not lose elections? So, don’t be carried away by the crowd that attends a rally.


Till date, many still feel the over-bearing influence of the governors in the PDP was part of the reasons why the party lost in 2015. It is also believed that such played out in deciding who emerged chairman of the party at the December convention. Being a former governor and a major player in PDP, how do you react to this?



Well, going back to the 105 elections, the North expected to have the ticket, to some, that matters. But even at that, our language was not so polite in the campaigns.


The manner and language some of our members used in campaigning for 2015 was insulting to a certain part of the country.


Also, the party structure was not used for campaigning rather an arrangement using Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) was used for the presidential campaign. And TAN was just a motor formulated by some people to impress those in power, it was not something structured, PDP is a structured party down to the village level.


To now abandon that asset and use something superficial, naturally there will be problems because it discouraged some people while some others became nonchalant. I can tell you that some governors were not even aware of how campaigns were going on and no governor was sitting in the campaign council. When you blame the governors, I can tell you that not even the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum was in the Presidential Campaign Council.


These factors contributed to losing the elections, not that APC won, but PDP threw away the elections. There could have been difficulties or challenges, but if we have acted differently, there was no way we could have lost the 2015 elections.


If we are talking about the states, I can say yes but on the presidential, there was no question of over-bearing influence by any governor, especially as I mentioned, no governor was in the Presidential Campaign Council.


They were basically expected to be on-lookers until you visit their states to campaign. They made a mistake. Going forward, the PDP has only 11governors, so the people are working together with the governors we have and the governors are also showing their support. I have not seen where they are showing overbearing influence on anybody.


Right now, you won’t find that in PDP because the situation is completely different, we know that and we are making use of all the assets that we have, whether governors, former governors or former ministers, we respect the views of all who can add value to our party. We are not ignoring all those who are in the position or that has the capacity to help.


Recently, the APC stated that the party is now for restructuring after it initially rejected the idea. Many believed it is because elections are approaching. Where does your party stand on the issue of restructuring?


I addressed a press conference when this matter came up. I said that the APC is now like a chameleon changing colours. All I can say is that, right from the beginning, we in PDP are for restructuring. Besides that, the Governor of Kaduna State and the Chairman of the restructuring committee of the APC, Nasir el- Rufai said on a national television that restructuring is not important.


The following day, I featured in the same television stattion and said all the conferences that were initiated for the processes were done by the PDP because it was during Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan some of the conferences were done and some of the recommendations bother on the issue of restructuring.


I also said restructuring means different things to different people, the starting point is to narrow down the understanding and proceed stage by stage because there are things you can do immediately, some on a short-term and some on a long term.


Several of this issues being raised today is because of several issues happening within the country right now and we have to be sensitive about them. I believe running away from this issue of restructuring is like running away from reality.


For a party to say because it wants to win elections, it has changed its position is the height of deception and it is for Nigerians to take them for who they are, people who will do anything just to remain in power not because they mean it.



Is PDP threatened by the political gimmicks of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, especially with his third force?


We don’t feel threatened by the Coalition of Obasanjo. I can tell you that most of them are friends and associates. They said they are not a political party, time will tell. If they turn out to be a political party, we will see how it plays out. Obasanjo himself said anytime they turn to a political party, he will seize to be a member.



My take on it is like in the United States, where you have independent candidacy, you have the Democrats and the Republican, then you have an independent candidate who looks at a candidate and decides where to swing at the last minute. That is what I feel it is, time will tell what their aims are.


What is your take on the re-ordering of elections by the National Assembly?



The position of the law is clear on this. It is not what is passed, but what is signed that becomes law. If the President signs it, it becomes law.


We passed the same law during my time at the Senate and then a court said it was unconstitutional and that it was the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that has the power to do that. If that is the case, so be it.



But for me, I think my take is, PDP should prepare to win no matter how elections are ordered. To think that elections should be ordered this way or that way is a lazy way of approaching elections.




Whichever way it is ordered, we should campaign and work. I believe strongly that anyhow the elections come, PDP will win. So, we should concentrate on the main issues and not through any short-cut.




Worried by the way they are being treated in APC, there is speculation that some PDP members who defected prior to the 2015 elections are planning to return to the PDP…


If they don’t like those who left PDP to join them to help them win, let them throw them out. And those who want to come back to the PDP are free to come back. We also wish those who want to join PDP to come; it is a free will. They will be welcome back to the PDP. Even if Bola Tinubu will come to PDP; let him come to PDP, we will take him. PDP is open to all.



On the issues of Herdsmen ravaging the country, what do you think the APC -ed government should do to tackle the issue?



I believe this issue has assumed a dimension, which is alarming and all hands need to be on deck to address it. This is a problem that is ravaging the North-Central and southern part of the country. When I was governor, this problem was rampant in my area, but people did not know. It was similar to what is happening now; though the ferocity was quite different.


The proliferation of arms was not there, just cutlass and arrows. The influx of some of these people because of free movement of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has also made it difficult and it has complicated the matter.


Therefore, we must look at this matter critically. The Federal Government has talked about the issue of the colony, but colony as a word sounds offensive. Colonization to me means domination.


Ranching sounds business, anybody can go into ranching and you do business where it is feasible, you cannot do business where it is not feasible. So, we have to begin with the policy of modernisation of ranching, where it is most feasible at this time and re-orient and re-indoctrinate the herdsmen. It will take time but it is doable, modernize their profession, give them some level of education, give them incentives to make them change their ways and methods.


Anything to achieve peace is not a waste. I am not saying they should reward them for criminality or illegality; I am talking of domestic herdsmen who are Nigerians. They should assist them to modernize their practice.


Then, on the issue of free movement by ECOWAS, if people will be crossing our borders and killing and maiming people all in the name of ECOWAS free movement, that is absolutely wrong because every life is important and in the spirit of ECOWAS, we should not continue to waste lives.

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POLITICAL NOTES: Politics and the power of religion



Should religious leaders play active role in politics or refrain from stepping into the political sphere?


This is one question that has defied a definite answer over the years, perhaps, because Nigeria is a country made up of diverse religions.


While it is the right of every citizen as provided in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) that: “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests,” many have insisted that religion should be separated from politics.


But, there is a political school, which argues that if celebrities could enjoy political expression, such should not be denied of religious leaders.


This school insists that religious leaders should be entitled to political comments like any other citizen in free societies. According to its members, politics is not bigger than religion, and so, if dabbling into affairs of the state is going to make the difference for the people; religious leaders should influence it smartly.


They further argued that religion being the driving force of politics all over the world, to separate them may be the most difficult task. Examples were cited of the considerable political influence by Muslim clerics in countries like Iran as well as political dominance of the Hindu Nationalist Party in India despite the fact that the country is a secular state.


However, there is another political school, which believes that religious leaders should not dabble into politics on the conviction that doing such will amount to hypocrisy, especially as it concerns their teachings. To members of this school, the Church/Mosque and the government are two separate offices and should not be joined.


The fear of this school is the danger of allowing politicians smuggle religion into the nation’s politics. It was argued that the interest of the country and its people would be better served if religious leaders ensure that religion is taken away from politics and by ensuring that politicians do not drag politics into religion.


As the debate rages on the participation of religious leaders in partisan politics, it should however be noted that the separation of religion and state does not mean that those who are religious cannot vote or exercise their right to free speech.


To many, religion remains a driving force for the masses, as affinity exists between adherents and their leaders though the real danger is with those who choose to preach prejudice.

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