Hajia Inna Ciroma is a deputy national chairmanship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The former PDP National Woman Leader, Minister of Women Affairs and wife of former Finance Minister, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, speaks on her vision and mission for the party. ONYEKACHI EZE reports
Why are you running for the office of Deputy National Chairman (North) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and what do you think you can bring on board?
First and foremost, I know the dreams of the founding fathers of the party. The G-34 that championed the party’s formation came up with a robust policy, the idea of having a nationally acceptable party, a grassroots party and that was why the name of the party was Peoples Democratic Party and it had an umbrella as its logo. The umbrella means that it can cover everybody. So, I know the ideals, I know the reasons why this party was formed. Now, we are having some challenges, I feel that I have what it takes to help reposition our party.
After 16 years in office, the PDP lost power and it is now struggling to get it back. How do you think the party can regain power?
First and foremost, everybody knows that PDP is the party to beat. PDP was the party that was formed by Nigerians and it has no coalition, it is standing on its feet, it is a party that is everywhere in Nigeria. That is why we were able to be in power for 16 years. And I can tell you very proudly that PDP has done so much for this country. Those who will tell you that PDP has done nothing are just playing politics.
We know what PDP did in 16 years, we know where we are coming from, we know where we were in 2015. Therefore, after testing the difference of PDP not being in power, Nigerians are now saying ‘we have made a mistake.’ Propaganda was used, a lot of others things were used to push PDP out of power. They capitalized on so many things, insecurity, corruption, all sort of things. Have these things changed?
I can tell you that Nigerians have seen the difference. In fact, I think it was good for PDP to have lost that election because now we are feeling the pinch and Nigerians are now asking for PDP to come back. So, I can assure you that by 2019, God willing, the party will come back.
Do you think as a woman you have the capacity to withstand the rigours of the office of the Deputy National Chairman and the toughness to withstand intimidation from men?
Do I look like who would be intimidated by anybody? I don’t think so. As for the rigorous of the job, I can tell you that I have learnt this job since I was young. When I married my husband, they had just formed the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). They called it National Movement then before it became NPN. So, I can tell you that I grew up in the political system. I knew when my husband went out for meetings. I used to tell people that a politician can only succeed if his wife supports him, and I can tell you that I will succeed because my husband is supporting me.
I have been the National Woman Leader of this party. Apart from that, I am a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT0. Therefore, I can tell you that I have paid my dues. I can tell you that I am ready to take up this challenge and members of the party will not regret giving me their votes to be in that particular position. In fact, I feel that I will assist in so many ways in improving this party since I know its history, I know the challenges it has gone through and I know what we are going through right now and I know the problems nationally, what Nigerians are going through. I assure you that I will do my job as it should be done.
What kind of PDP do you want to see and what should be done to ensure that it is able to return to power?
The PDP is a family. That is why when crisis erupts in the party, people will be jittery and run to here and there wondering what should be done about it. But we usually come together in a room, lock ourselves and settle our differences. What I want to appeal for is that the PDP must be united. We must be united because Nigerians are asking us to unite, so that we will be able to take back power. Therefore, what PDP needs to do right now is to ensure that there is no acrimony, there is no disruption. Power as we all know, whether you are a Muslim or a Christian, comes from God. God gives power to whoever he wishes and He takes it away from whoever He wishes. It is not a do-or-die affair.
How confident are you of a positive outcome of the convention?
Once we are able to come out of this convention feeling that everybody’s interest has been taken care of, I can assure you PDP will emerge stronger. Nigeria’s interest is first, then the party’s interest because we must protect our country. How do we protect our country? We must ensure that our democracy survives. How can democracy survive? We must have competing interests – the political parties. And in these political parties, we must have one, two or three persons that are capable of providing alternative to government because the opposition party, it is regarded as government in waiting.
Zuma: Bleak future after power
He survived eight previous attempts to remove him as president, but he caved in at the ninth time. Will Jacob Zuma face the music after his inglorious exit or not? WALE ELEGBEDE writes on the uncertain future of the once-upon-a-time charismatic leader
He is simply known as Jacob Zuma but his middle Zulu name is Gedleyihlekisa, which translates “one who smiles while causing you harm.” But with his premature resignation last week, it appears that the smiles on his face have ceased.
Piling up scandals upon scandal in his nearly a decade tenure, last week’s resignation of Zuma as the fourth president of South Africa wasn’t exactly a surprise to many, but the big puzzle was how and why it took so long. In a 30-minute national television address, the scandal-tainted Zuma said he had “come to the decision to resign as President of the republic with immediate effect.”
His party, the African National Congress (ANC), had threatened to eject him from office via a parliamentary vote-of-no-confidence. But with these words, he dropped his mandate “I have come to the decision to resign as the president of the republic with immediate effect.
No leader should stay beyond the time determined by the people who they serve. No leader should seek an easy way out simply because they could not face life without the packs that come with the political office. I do not fear exiting political office.”
He noted further that, “I did not agree to exit with packs and benefits. It is my party that placed me before the representatives of the people to be elected. It is my party that availed me to serve on basis of the Constitution.
“I respect the prescripts of the constitution on how we enter and exit political office. I must accept that if my party and my compatriots wish that I be removed from office they must exercise that right and do so in the manner prescribed by the constitution.
I fear no motion of no confidence or impeachment.“I thank citizens of South Africa for the privilege of serving as president since 2009. It has been an honour that I will cherish as long as I live. I wish to thank members of the cabinet, deputy ministers, and the whole government.”
Cyril Ramaphosa, an anti-apartheid activist, trade union leader and businessman, who was until last Thursday, Deputy President but ANC ‘sPresident, was subsequently inaugurated in Zuma’s stead as the fifth president of South Africa. Born on April 12, 1942, in Nkandla, a rural hamlet in KwaZulu-Natal province, Zuma had an extraordinary political journey despite his humble beginning.
Popularly called ‘JZ’, the uneducated youngster was raised by his widowed mother. He joined the ANC at the age of 17 and became an active member of its military wing – uMkhonto we Sizwe, in 1962.
Convicted of conspiring to over-throw the apartheid government as a member of the ANC military, Zuma spent his 20s in jail alongside Nelson Mandela for the alleged crime. When he was eventually released in 1973, Zuma fled to Mozambique, which is a neighbouring country to South Africa, and there he recruited and trained young South Africans to fight in the ANC’s underground movement.
Perhaps, he got inclined to armed struggle following the time he spent in Russia as a guest of the Soviets. His return to South Africa in 1990 collided with when the political ban was lifted on the ANC and he drew support from trade unions and other parties with his gospel of wealth redistribution from rich white South Africans to poor blacks.
Expectedly, his populist policies gained ground and he became popular. He was subsequently elected the ANC’s deputy president and by 1999 he was the deputy president of the country. Zuma, who said his “education” was at the feet of the elders on Robben Island, became Thabo Mbeki’s deputy in 1999, when Nelson Mandela declined a second term.
He had looked fine and had appeared to be headed to succeed his boss, as the latter had successfully succeeded Mandela, but the cookie bust in 2005 when Mbeki sacked him.
His personal financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was found to have bribed Zuma to win a $5 billion government weapons contract. Interestingly, Shaik was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but fraud charges against Zuma were dropped on a legal technicality. But like a cat with nine lives, Zuma bounced back.
With Mbeki falling out of with members of ANC, it was an auspicious time for Zuma to have his pound of flesh on him. He skillfully seized the moment and cut his way to the presidency with the assistance of ANC Youth League and Cosatu. He first ousted Mbeki as the president of the ANC in 2007 and 18 months later, president of South Africa. When questioned on his supposed influence in the removal of Mbeki, he said: “I was one of those who said we should not recall Mbeki, because we would create a bad precedent. Of course, I was defeated by the majority.”
But with time, Zuma’s presidency began to deteriorate as he was increasingly becoming both politically and morally corrupt. Notable among his unforced errors was the usage of government funds amounting to $20 million for renovations of his sprawling family estate. On the general stead, Zuma presided over an era of increasing economic inequality, with high unemployment and extreme poverty in the country.
His infamous rape trial is still fresh in the minds of South Africans. For many people all over the world, it was a painful trial to watch. Although he was acquitted of the charges, his infamous defence for having sex with an HIV positive woman still remains a classic for any day.
He admitted knowing the health status of the victim, but said he had a shower after the exercise, implying that he washed away whatever could have infected him. Already, analysts have sketched several scenarios for Zuma.
These include prosecution over series of corruption charges and then securing a presidential clemency from his successor, Ramaphosa. Zuma may also face charges over state corruption arising from his links to a controversial Indian business family, the Guptas.
There are reports that the National Prosecuting Authority is going to recommend that some of the charges against Zuma be reinstated, having lined up more than 200 witnesses to testify against him. He also is likely to face 18 main charges of racketeering, corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and fraud related to the arms-deal corruption involving his former financial adviser – Schabir Shaik.
South African media has reported that Zuma’s sons have extensive business interests in Dubai and have received personal guarantees from the UAE’s leaders. What it means is that Zuma and his family would likely be beyond the reach of South African prosecutors in the sunny emirate.
Some also averred that he may also quietly disappear into retirement in his home province of Kwa-Zulu Natal – or even skip the country. Whilst there is a high probability that Zuma may soon have his day in court, one thing is however clear, he might have quit the presidency, but he is by no means gone from the South African political arena.
APC reconciliation: Kalu urges Tinubu to fast-track process
…canvases support for state police
Former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has lauded the appointment of the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as chairman of the party’s National Reconciliation Committtee, but urged him to accelerate efforts at reconciling aggrieved members.
Kalu said there could be no better time for Tinubu to carry out the onerous task given the confidence President Muhamadu Buhari reposes him in bringing some feuding members of the party on the path of reconciliation.
Fielding questions from reporters on arrival from Abuja late Sunday night at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), Ikeja, Lagos, Kalu said it does not augur well for a serving governor and a minster, who are members of the ruling party to have political difference at a time they should be galvanizing support for Buhari’s re- election bid. His words:” I have reported this to the highest authority of the party that it is not proper for a governor and a minister in Oyo State to go two parallel ways.
It is not to the benefit of the President and neither is it to the benefit of the party. It is not the benefit of Nigerians; the synergy needed to accelerate cohesion in the ruling party will not be there.
“We need to thank Mr. Presidentfor his wisdom in giving the mandate to the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu , the opportunity to reconcile members of the party.
I am very excited that such a thing is happening and I am confident it will be a good beginning for my brother and friend, Tinubu to execute the reconciliation task very well. I am confident Tinubu will be blunt to settle feuding members of the APC.”
Kalu reaffirmed that Buhari is ready to run for 2019, unless he is convinced otherwise on the grounds of health. He said President, whom he described as an honest man will tell Nigerians at the right time whether he will seek re- election or not.
He said: “Buhari is an honest man, if he is interested in running, he will tell Nigerians that he will run. We pray that his health gets better and that his doctors give him a clean bill of health. You know Buhari is also a man of conscience, if he feels his health will not allow him to seek re- election; he will not go ahead.
But, if he feels he is capable of running, he will seek re-election. “Whatever Nigerians are taking about at this early stage, it is his decision, it his right, he is entitled to second term. Buhari is working. Have you seen the Second Niger Bridge, it is being constructed, so you see that though things are difficult, it could be better.” Kalu said though the people of the South-East have been cheated in many ways, the Buhari administration will provide a window for new beginning.
“Other parts of Nigeria have been cheating us since 1960, but today the issue is that we must build national cohesion. The problem with Nigeria is inability to build national cohesion by all stakeholders.
We are still talking about tribe, where people come from, what people think about their religion. “We need to impress it on all Nigerians that we need a country where all stakeholders feel a sense of belonging.
Not minding where they come from or where they live, they should feel at home wherever they are. The earlier we have that sense of belonging the better for all of us.” The former governor added that it would be the right thing to allow the South- East take a shot at the presidency in 2023. He said the call for Igbo presidency in 2023 by some political gladiators in the North, only resonates with the principle of fairness .
“It is the right thing to do; igeria is built on a tripod, when you allow the South- East to have the presidency by 2023, that will be the end of the civil war. The South- East has had the Chief of Army Staff, the Inspector General of Police. So it is only natural for the zone to have the presidency.
“No man has the capacity to divide this country; the country will fight such a man. It is not possible, so the fear in the minds of people that the Igbo are pushing for secession only amounts to imbalance in perception.
“Take a look at Lagos State, the Igbo have over 50 per cent of investment here, go to Abuja, it is almost 70 per cent. So, where are the Igbo going to? All these things are just blackmail. We should stop blackmailing ourselves.
An Igbo president will bring prosperity to Nigeria, because they have the capacity for business and investment in areas outside their homeland.” On the statement credited to Alhaji Junaid Mohammed that the elite in the North will not support Buhari’s bid for a second term, Kalu said there is nothing to worry about elite conspiracy, as Buhari will get the support of the masses. “If the elite refuse to support Buhari, the masses will support him. The elite are few in number.
Those who will support Buhari are the masses and who sincerely believe in Buhari. “By my assumption, If President Buhari had 12.5 million supporters in the last general elections, there is an additional 10 million supporters in the bank.
That is what we call reserve, it is still there, he said” Kalu said the time is ripe for the endorsement of state police affirming that he had canvassed the model since 1999 when he was elected governor of Abia State. Citing the model adopted when he was governor, Kalu said state police alongside other security agencies will deal with some criminal activities while the federal police handles very serious security infractions. His words: “State police should be able to handle local issues.
It will be very difficult for anyone to use state police to intimidate aggrieved political opponents. The state police commissioner should not be appointed by the federal government, but should be directly elected by the people.
“State police will not be anybody’s stooge. Sincerely, state police will be part of the ingredients that will complement Nigeria’s unity and democracy. “Let me sound a warning to governors that will use state police for their own selfish end, because the law is not so strong.
The laws of Nigeria should become strong; we should not be above the law. The beauty of any country is the independence of its judiciary, absence of such independence is arbitrariness, it is a dead end.
“Whenever there is recklessness on the part of the executive arm of government or rascality of the National Assembly, the judiciary serves as a check. Our judges should stand up to defend democracy and the peoples’ right.”
Kalu further said government needed to have a second look at issues bordering on open grazing and cattle colonies, which he according to him, is a disincentive to farming even as he called for a ban on palm oil importation into the country. On the ruling by the court, which restored his degree awarded by the Abia State University, Kalu said it is needless to discuss such issues, because he challenged the infraction by the Abia State government, which withheld his certificate.
“I went to court to challenge the maltreatment, I did not go to fight anybody with any weapon, I could have gone to fight, but I went to court to challenge the infringement on my right. This is what I want all Nigerians to be doing. The sanctity and strength of the judiciary is a strong pillar for Nigeria’s democracy.”
Agina-Ude: How to boost anti-graft war
A rights activist, Mrs. Ada Agina-Ude, is the Executive Director of Gender and Development Action (GADA). She speaks with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, on the anti-corruption war, women participation in politics and governance
Why did you pick interest in activism and how long have you being involved in defending the rights of the people?
By nature, I am somebody who is always on the side of the underdog. I don’t like seeing people suffer or face injustice. I cannot stand injustice. So, I have always had that urge to be on the side of people suffering any form injustice. That is one of the reasons why I decided to be an activist. Somehow, it is my area of interest. I decided to lend my voice generally for human rights in Nigeria and specifically for women, and I have been on it for over 20 years.
Considering what it takes to be a human rights activist in Nigeria and the consequence of fighting for the right of the people, are you not afraid of your life?
In every endeavour, there is always a risk. So, we pray to God and also believe that if you are doing what you know is right, you will have some fear, but the fear will not be too much. In my opinion, I think a majority of the people like what we are doing. I don’t really envisage too much danger because of the support we are getting. There is also support on the part of government like the support we are getting presently for working with the relevant agencies against corruption. So, what would be anybody’s reason to attack someone, who is helping him to achieve his agenda?
You are a member of Movement Against Corruption (MAC), what is your take on the anti-corruption war as being championed by the present administration?
My organisation has always been part of the fight against corruption in Nigeria. We belong to several groups that are committed to the fight against corruption, but we joined MAC because we believe there is a new dimension to the fight against corruption. The war against corruption has been going on for many years and apparently, there is still a gap somewhere. Even though I won’t say we have not achieved anything, we have not kill corruption and sound the death nail on the canker worm.
I believe the present government is fighting corruption. The only problem that I personally have and I have also had few people voice out, it is that we should apply a uniform standard, so that it will be clear to everybody concerned that there is no kind of discrimination or double standard in the fight. I know that there is a lot of commitment to the fight corruption, but we are expecting a greater achievement.
President Muhammadu Buhari is a symbol of the fight against corruption in Nigeria. Even if there is not much he can do as a person like going into the battle field or trenches; his presence alone as the president of this country and as somebody that most people within and outside Nigeria see as incorruptible is a plus to the war against corruption. And because we cannot say he has a skeleton in his cupboard, we see his own commitment to fight against corruption as genuine. So, he is going to inspire a lot of people.
What major areas do you think the Buhari administration should focus on?
The President should focus on the economy, fight against corruption, education and health. These are areas we have been hammering on for long because they are the areas we feel that government should direct attention to. But we are also aware that the problem with resolving some of these issues is also corruption because if a budget that is set aside for a particular sector is misused , there is no way you can achieve as much as you expect in that sector.
What is your take on non-implementation of 35 per cent affirmative action and the demand for increase in the number of women in elective positions?
The affirmative action that women are fighting for is affirmative action on elective positions. In many countries that have actually attained very high level of women participation in governance, they have used affirmative action in elective positions. So, that is the one we are fighting for. Our problem has always been women in parliament. How can we look at party processes so as to open the space for women to be elected into states and National Assembly? These are the areas that worry us too much. We need increase in number of women in elective positions, we need affirmative action.
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