Hard truth at Senate’s security summit
CHUKWU DAVID reports on the National Security Summit organised by the Senate, which provided Vice President Yemi Osinbajo the opportunity to make clarifications on the proposed grazing reserves and clamour for state police
The Senate recently organised what it termed “National Security Summit” to brainstorm with the relevant security agencies and stakeholders in order to proffer solutions to the worsening security situation in the country.
The summit was conceived as an intervention by the apex legislative chamber towards addressing the deteriorating and widening insecurity across the country. The need to hold the summit became imperative following the January 2018 killings in Benue, Adamawa, kaduna and Taraba states.
When the senators resumed plenary from their Christmas and New Year recess on January 16, the first thing they did was to raise concern over unprecedented security challenges in the country, with escalating killings and wanton destruction of lives and property in some parts of the federation.
The Senate took a comprehensive look into the ugly and disturbing trend and came up with a number of resolutions. One of the decisions of the lawmakers was to impress on President Muhammadu Buhari to rise up and tackle the threatening situation or resign his position as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
The lawmakers, who accused the President of appointing many incompetent persons into his cabinet, urged him to sack all members of his cabinet and other appointees, who are not living up to expectation.
They also called for the sack or resignation of heads of security agencies, who could not live up to expectation in respect of containing the worrisome insecurity in the country, particularly those who have demonstrated partiality and ineptitude in their mode of handling the security challenges.
The anger and frustration expressed by the legislators, while considering the report of the Senate ad hoc committee on the review of the nation’s security infrastructure as well as a point of order raised by Senator Shuaibu Lau (PDP, Taraba North), on killings in Taraba State by Fulani herdsmen.
Adding to this was another point of order by Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, who also brought to the notice of the Senate incidences of kidnapping in Taraba State and the gruesome murder of a member of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Hosea Ibi, who was killed even after his family paid a ransom of N25 million to his captors.
Also disturbing to the Red Chamber was the report by Senator Kabiru Marafa, who informed the Senate earlier that he had received phone calls from his constituents in Zamfara Central, that some armed bandits invaded the area and abducted some people and demanded for ransom.
Marafa told the Senate that sixty per cent of Zamfara State is now being controlled by foreign mercenaries. He further alleged that the mercenaries are known to the state government.
Against these backdrops, the Senate resolved to convene a national security summit to consider the various security challenges in the country, with a view to proffering short, medium and long term solutions to the menace.
The summit was eventually convened at the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Conference Centre, in the nation’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. It was a two-day programme spanning Thursday January 8, and Monday 12.
President Muhammadu Buhari was billed to be the special guest of honour, but he was absent and did not send any of his cabinet members to represent him.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who graced the occasion, did so in his personal capacity as he acknowledged that he had to honour the Senate’s invitation.
Declaring the summit open, Osinbajo spoke on two critical issues currently bogging the nation, which have actually proven to be major problems confronting successive governments, the present administration and the people of Nigeria in general.
The issues border on call for the establishment of state police and the much-talked about establishment of ranches, grazing reserves or cattle colonies.
In addressing these hydra-headed issues that have provoked a lot of divergent views and agitations within the polity in recent times, Osinbajo unequivocally lent his voice to other Nigerians, who have been calling for the establishment of state police in the 36 states of the Federation, as the only pragmatic and effective means of tackling the menacing problem of insecurity in the country.
He also stressed that based on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the Federal Government has no such powers and would never seize or forcefully take any lands from the states for the purpose of establishing cattle ranches or grazing reserves as being insinuated by many apprehensive Nigerians.
Commenting further on the security challenges in the country and the efforts of government to solve the problem, the vice president however, admitted that there were instances where security agencies had failed to properly and urgently respond to security issues, noting that some basic challenges inhibited the efforts of security agencies to adequately secure the country.
According to him, the Nigeria Police Force with the current centralised structure is too defective to be useful in combating the worsening security challenges in the country. He also stated that in the interim, the number of police personnel must be increased reasonably to be able to match the frightening unfolding insecurity in the country.
The number two citizen however warned Nigerians not to allow the present insecurity situation in the country to assume a religious dimension as he said that the present administration is doing everything within its powers to drastically reduce insecurity and give Nigerians a peaceful, habitable country.
His words: “The nature of our security challenges is complex and known. Securing Nigeria’s over 900, 000 sq km and its 180 million people requires far more men and material than we have at the moment. It also requires a continuous reengineering of our security architecture and strategy. This has to be a dynamic process.
“For a country of our size to meet the one policeman to 400 persons prescribed by the United States (UN) would require triple our current police force; far more funding of the police force and far more funding of our military and other security agencies. We cannot realistically police a country of the size of Nigeria centrally from Abuja. State police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go.
“We must intensify existing collaboration with our neighbours in the Chad Basin by strengthening security especially at border communities to prevent the movement of small arms and disarming armed pastoralists and other armed bandits who go through our borders day after day. We must avoid the danger of allowing this crisis to degenerate into religious or ethnic conflict. This is the responsibility of political, religious and all other facets of our leadership in Nigeria.”
On the efforts of government to resolve the frequent herdsmen/ farmers clashes in the country, the vice president said that the presidential committee handling the matter, of which he is the chairman, had been consulting with the stakeholders to proffer lasting solutions to the situation.
He said that the committee has also been working to see how to ensure that there is a plan for cattle breeding and rearing which would take into account, contemporary methods of doing so in other parts of the world.
Osinbajo further allayed the fears of Nigerians on insinuations the Federal Government under President Buhari was planning to forcefully take over lands from the states to establish cattle ranches or grazing areas, noting that the Constitution of Nigeria has vested the lands in the state governors.
He said: “We are also, with the collaboration of states and the governors of Benue, Plateau, Adamawa and along with seven other governors, have constituted the working group which I chair, where they have been seeking to proffer solutions to some of the problems associated with farmer/herdsmen clashes, but in particular, how to ensure that there is a plan for cattle rearing that takes into account, contemporary methods of doing so in other parts of the world.
“All stakeholders agree that we must now develop new ideas to prevent clashes between herdsmen and farmers; in particular enabling the cows and herders to become more sedentary. It is obvious that the physical movement of cattle in an endless journey on the move, must now begin to take a different shape. We cannot afford it even from the economic perspective, there must be another way.
“There is also a clear sense which I think must be appreciated, that the Federal Government cannot dictate to states what to do with their land. This is so because the Land Use Act of 1978 puts land under the control of governors on behalf of their states.
“Also, the Supreme Court in the case of Attorney General of Lagos State versus the Attorney General of the Federation in 2004, held that use of land resources and permits for such use, lie firmly in the hands of state governments. Even for use of federal lands in the states according to the Supreme Court, building or development control permit must be sought from the governors of the states.”
He however, pointed out that in some northern states, there are gazetted grazing reserves, which he noted had been degraded and are without pasture or water especially in the dry season, stating that there was the need to secure the routes leading to the grazing reserves in the states where they existed.
He said: “In several states, especially in the North, there are duly gazetted grazing reserves. A majority of these grazing reserves are degraded and are without pasture or water especially in the dry season. Grazing routes leading to these reserves must also be secured. The grazing reserves to be effective and operate effectively, should operate as ranches or livestock production centres on a commercial basis. The ranches will have adequate water from boreholes, salt points and pasture.
“The locations would serve both as forage points, but also centres for providing extension services to boost animal care, feeding and veterinary facilities, and even abattoirs. Because the ranches are commercial ventures, cattle owners will pay for its use.
“It is important to note that by and large, in consultation with stakeholders, all agree that where adequate provision is made on a commercial basis, there is no reason why there won’t be cooperation to use those ranches because there are both economic and social benefits for everyone, including herders.
“Aside from states that have gazetted grazing areas, so far about 13 states have agreed to allocate 5,000 hectares of land for the ranching or livestock production. We must emphasise that in arriving at any of these decisions in the states, the states, Federal Government and all of the stakeholders have to seat together and work out solutions that will benefit everyone. This cannot be done by fear or force, people have to work together to ensure that there is adequate consultations.
“Let me reiterate, that on no account will any lands be seized or forcefully taken to create these ranches or grazing areas. All insinuations to that effect should be disregarded. No one is giving land to herdsmen, as is being falsely alleged. Instead, it is in our view that states that are willing and which have set aside land for development should cooperate with willing investors into commercially viable, government-supported ranches or livestock production centres for commercial use.”
On his part, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, argued that the present security challenges in the country were deteriorating as a result of lack of political will on the part of the leaders at various levels of governance, to live up to their responsibilities towards protection of lives and property of citizens.
He urged Nigerians particularly those in positions of authority to shun those tendencies that threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria and stressed the need to work together in search of solution to the insecurity in the country.
He noted that the summit was not designed for blame-game or to attack anybody, but to sincerely proffer solutions to the worrisome security challenges in the land, stressing that the security of lives and property of the citizenry is the primary responsibility of government.
He said: “This is not a summit to trade blames neither is it convened so that any person or entity can take credit. We just want solutions, solutions only. That is all Nigerians require of us. The Summit brings together a wide spectrum of stakeholders including political leaders; security policy makers; governors, who are chief security officers in their states; security and intelligence chiefs; key persons in the nation’s security architecture; regional and socio-cultural groups; traditional rulers; civil society organisations (CSOs) and others with strong, persuasive insights into the problem.
“We in government must therefore do everything in our power to ensure that Nigerians are safe from harm, and their livelihoods and belongings protected. It was envisaged that the summit would provide a platform for critically examining the problem of insecurity, to help collate views and ideas in aid of the search for solutions. It is most reassuring to see us all here – people together – coming together to come up with a national response to a grave problem confronting our nation.”
Saraki posited that the country is currently in urgent need for a leadership that could douse tension and reduce ethno-religious, political and economic barriers.
“What our country needs at this time is leadership that will work to douse the flames and reduce tension in the land. It is essential that we lower the barriers in our actions and rhetoric, and refrain from playing politics with a crisis situation in which Nigerian lives are being lost, tragically and needlessly, on a regular basis.
“We have the capacity to bring about a change in this situation, to end the violence and bring succour. We have the capacity. But, do we have the political will? I dare say political will is what is required; and it is my hope that we shall marshal it as a legitimate instrument against this problem. Indeed, there is no reason why that should not be the case.
“There can be no denying the horrific reality in many parts of our country today. People who should be neighbours are turning on one another and taking up arms. These attacks and reprisal attacks are an intolerable cycle of hell that must be broken. Killings, kidnappings, mayhem and general lawlessness cannot be the new normal. We must take this country back and restore order,” he said.
While President Buhari, 36 state governors, ministers and traditional rulers were conspicuously absent from the summit, all the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris graced the event.
The absence of the President, members of the Federal Executive Council and the state governors from such critical summit, when Nigeria is in dire need of peace has already provoked insinuations that the effort of the Senate in convening the meeting might end in futility.
Some analyst are saying that the summit was not acceptable to Buhari and his men at both the federal and state levels, while others are of the opinion that the Senate ventured into an area that is purely an executive jurisdiction and might have offended the President, who might not openly express his reservations about the summit.
Again, on the positions canvassed and declared on the establishment of state police and the no intention of government to seize or usurp powers of the states over lands for grazing reserves respectively, have been viewed as a political strategy towards winning the support of the already disenchanted masses for the 2019 presidential elections.
Some of those who are doubting the sincerity of the Federal Government on the issue of state police, say that as a lawyer, Osinbajo knows that creation of state police is a constitutional matter, which might take a very long time to achieve, and should have been brought to the National Assembly for constitutional amendment long time before now.
However, whatever the reality is, most Nigerians are desperately watching to see how things will unfold in the government’s handling of the issues of state police and the menacing activities of Fulani herdsmen in the country even as the 2019 general elections are fast approaching.
APC reconciliation: You’ve my full support, Oyegun tells Tinubu
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, yesterday said the party’s national leader, Bola Tinubu, has his “fullest” support on his reconciliation assignment.
An online news portal, TheCable had reported how Tinubu wrote a scathing letter to the national chairman of the party accusing him of sabotage.
“Instead of being a bulwark of support as promised, you positioned yourself in active opposition to the goal of resuscitating the progressive and democratic nature of APC,” the letter read.
But in his response sent to an online news portal, TheCable yesterday, Odigie-Oyegun was silent on the allegation of sabotage raised against him.
Odigie-Oyegun said: “I thank you for your letter dated February 21, 2018, for your prayers and good wishes for my health. I wish you the same and pray that our good God keeps you strong and grants you His peace,” Oyegun wrote in the letter dated February 23.
“Let me once again formally congratulate you on the peacemaking assignment Mr. President has entrusted you with.
“It is most challenging but I believe you will ultimately justify the confidence reposed in you by Mr President. In this, you have my fullest support.”
Oyegun sent copies of the letters to President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the House of Representatives.
Tinubu to Oyegun: You are frustrating APC’s reconciliation
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) assumed a new twist yesterday as the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, accused the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun of frustrating the reconciliation effort initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari. Tinubu, who heads the APC National Reconciliation Committee, made the claim in a letter he personally signed and addressed to Odigie-Oyegun, dated February 21. Copies of the letter were forwarded to President Buhari; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
The APC national leader particularly accused Odigie-Oyegun of seeking to undermine the mandate given to him by the President to reconcile aggrieved members and ensure party cohesion by engaging in dilatory tactics. His words: “Drawing from your behaviour in Kogi, Kaduna and with regard to the state chapter assessment requested, I am led to the inference that you have no intention of actually supporting my assignment. Instead, you apparently seek to undermine my mandate by engaging in dilatory tactics for the most part.
“When forced to act, you do so in an arbitrary and capricious manner, without the counsel of other National Working Committee (NWC) members and without regard to our internal procedures.” The former governor of Lagos State, who recalled that the APC was established as a party of internal democracy, lamented that its internal institutions have been actively undermined or allowed to atrophy. According to him, the spirit of a new and better Nigeria that guided the APC to unprecedented electoral success has been steadily replaced by the bankrupt and ruleless ways that brought the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) low. He said: “Since the election, there have been several reports of lack of openness and fairness which have led to internal crisis in some of our states.
There have been allegations of self induced crisis resulting from merchandising of internal processes. We all must agree that the party was bound to suffer growing pains but not to the extent of losing part of the substantial goodwill that brought us to power.
“However, that which concerns me has little to do with the manner by which the party is growing. What concerns me is the manner in which the crisis is developing that can lead to serious erosion of party cohesion and confidence.
Were I alone in this concern. I would discount my observations as a sign of my own misperceptions or infirmity. However, I stand not alone in this worry. My grief is shared by so many party members that I would not be accused of exaggeration if I said substantial party leaders are worried about the course of our vessel.
“I believe it was from this sober concern that President Muhammadu Buhari recently appointed me to lead the consultation, reconciliation and confidence-building efforts in our party. Upon the appointment, I gave the president my word that I would work diligently and objectively to achieve the goal set before me.
“In this vein, my first port-of-call after receiving this assignment was our party’s National Secretariat to present myself before the National Working Committee (NWC), with you as one of its members by virtue of your position as Chairman of the party.
“During my interaction with the NWC, I enjoined its members to freely express their views concerning the state of the party at the national, state and local levels. I listened attentively to the views of every member of the NWC present. On your part, you promised unalloyed support for my mission. Consonant with that vow, you said you would provide all Information at your disposal and you vowed to act as a liaison between me and the state party chapters.
“At that very meeting, I announced I had formally started the assignment handed me by President Buhari. I offered to keep you abreast of my work. I said that I wanted the NWC to be like an informal advisory council and board to me in the discharge of this presidential mandate. “Unfortunately, the spirit of understanding and of cooperative undertaking to revive the party seems not to have lived beyond the temporal confines of that meeting.
I assure anyone who cares to know that this positive spirit of cooperation did not meet its demise at my hands. “My position was and is that we can only restore the party by resolving its current deficiencies in an unbiased, neutral manner that allows us to strengthen our internal democracy by annealing those internal institutions and processes vital to such internal fairness. I stated this position then and still hold to it with all sincerity.
“Yet, disappointment greeted me when I discovered that you had swiftly acted in contravention of the spirit of our discussions. Instead of being a bulwark of support as promised, you positioned yourself in active opposition to the goal of resuscitating the progressive and democratic nature of the APC.”
Tinubu further accused Odigie- Oyegun of contributing to worsen the crisis in some state chapters of the party through unilateral decisions. He said: “As a party, we have strived to be the best, present hope for the nation. Yet, your goal appears to be something of a lesser pedigree in our discussion.
You personally mentioned Kogi, Kaduna, Kano and Adamawa states as places afflicted by serious party issues given your assessment. These were states where I believed cooperation between you and I should have been intense and detailed. Instead, you have taken it as your personal mission to thwart my presidential assignment in these key states. “In Kogi, you rushed to the state to unilaterally inaugurate a new slate of state officials, parallel to the officials already heading the state chapter of the party. While this may place you in significant affinity with those parallel officials you handpicked, this machination suggests no improvement in the welfare of the party in Kogi or at the national level.
This usurping of authority exacerbates conflict and confusion; it does not resolve them. “It is my understanding that your dissolution of the duly-constituted state executives and the hurried naming of the above-mentioned caretaker group was not approved by the NWC. This arrogation of power sets you at variance with members of the NWC as evidenced by National Publicity Secretary Malam Bolaji Abdullahi s statement condemning your improper and unusual action.”
Tinubu also blamed Odigie-Oyegun for the lingering Kaduna APC crisis, saying the eruptive state of affairs is a direct and proximate result of the inability of the party under his leadership to follow the dictates of the party constitution and regulations to arrive at a result that all may agree was rendered objectively and in harmony with the principles by which this party was founded. On the imperative of time over his assignment, Tinubu insisted that the national chairman make available to him the status reports and all other pertinent information regarding the state chapters without further delay if the President’s mandate is to be achieved. He advised Odigie-Oyegun not allow personal issues he has with him to affect the party’s fortune. His words: “You may have personal qualms with me.
That is your right as a human being. However, you have no such right as the chairman of this party. This party belongs to all of its members. You have no greater claim on it than any of the rest of us. Whatever personal qualms you may have with me are secondary at this point. “You have a moral and professional obligation as the party chairman to act in the party’s best interests. Your hurried and unilateral actions belie the important agency you hold for the party.” “I beg that you refrain from taking any more improper unilateral decisions with regard to the national and state chapters of the party.
As the chairman of the party you must ‘work within the confines of the duties and responsibilities enumerated under the party constitution. You must not stretch beyond them. If you continue to do so, I fear you may undermine the party in no small degree. You may well cause internal fractures and dissension difficult to repair yet visible to all. I fear this can undermine our goodwill with the electorate and make the approaching challenges to the party materially more difficult than they need to be.
“As the chairman of this party, you should not want this to be your legacy As a member of this part from its inception, I don’t want this to happen to the party and I don’t want such an awful thing to be your legacy.” When contacted by New Telegraph last night for his reaction, the APC National chairman said he will reply Tinubu very soon.
2019: Gale of endorsements for Ambode
Even though he has not officially declared interest to run for a second term, it has been a gale of endorsements for Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, from different groups and individuals across the state, Muritala Ayinla reports
In Lagos, the progressive beat goes on 32 months after the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was sworn as the fifth executive governor of the state. In spite of the obvious economic challenges in the country and dwindling allocation from the Federal Government, which has practically forced many state governments from functioning, Lagos under the Ambode administration has stood out. Projects are springing up across the state just as the tempo of governance is advancing.
Efforts towards ensuring safety of lives and properties, which are the fulcrum of any government, are being enhanced with infrastructure that directly and indirectly affect the lives of the residents and boost the state’s economy.
Consequently, to some residents and politicians in the state, there is no vacancy at the Alausa seat of power. They of the view that the various ongoing developmental projects embarked upon by the governor across the state are worth earning him a second term. Others have categorically urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to bother conducting gubernatorial poll in the state, saying doing so would amount to a waste of resources because Lagosians are determined to return Ambode to power come 2019.
From Lagos West to the East and Central senatorial districts of the state, the songs are the same with rallies and conferences to announce support for the Epe-born former Accountant General of the state. The beats of solidarity with the governor are the same across the five divisions namely: Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja, Lagos Island and Epe.
The echoes of “Ambode Lekan si” (Ambode for one more term) are taking over major functions and political events in the state, with party stalwarts singing solidarity songs to express their interest in the second term project.
Only recently, members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Federal House of Representatives from the state endorsed the governor for a second term in office, citing the massive infrastructural development and his strides in all sectors.
The APC caucus in the House led by the Majority Leader, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, who presented a letter to the governor at Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja, asking him to re-contest in 2019, said the decision to unanimously endorse him for a second term was as a result of his brilliant performance in office in the last two and half years.
He said: “We are members of the House of Representatives of APC caucus from Lagos State. We all came into Lagos today to perform a very unique an sacred duty; something we did not take very lightly at all; something we deliberated over a couple of days ago and we spoke with one voice.
“Because of the strides of our amiable governor in the last two and a half years in governing the state; because of the things he has done across board, across all the local government areas, across different sectors, we sat together and we decided without a dissenting voice to seek his audience and endorse him for re-election in 2019 as the Governor of Lagos State.”
The House Leader, who described the endorsement as history repeating itself, as the caucus was the first to endorse the governor for election in 2015, said it was instructive that there was not a single dissenting voice in the decision to support Ambode for re-election.
“So, we are here today as stakeholders across all the local governments and federal constituencies of the state to present a very unique letter to our governor seeking for him to run again in 2019. We will give him unflinching support and have him re-elected overwhelmingly as governor in 2019.”
The Badagry Division of the APC and the 10 local government chairmen in the area had before then threw their weight behind the governor’s re-election bid. The council chairmen are those Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo -Odofin, Ojo, Badagry and their counterparts in six Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) – Iba, Oriade, Ifelodun, Oto-Awori, Badagry West and Olorunda.
The chairman of the party in the division, Chief Rabiu Oluwa and Mr. Abdul-Fatai Ajidagba of Ajeromi-Ifelodun, who spoke on behalf of the party chieftains and 10 council chairmen, said Ambode was adopted as their sole candidate because of his achievements in the past three years.
According to them, the governor’s total dedication to duty coupled with the enormous developmental projects and his desire to make the state a better place to live, automatically earn him a second term in office.
Ajidagba said: ”Talk about commerce and industry, good health care delivery, good roads across the state, quality education and prompt payment of workers’ salaries and arrears. In our division too, we can see the records, the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Badagry Deep Sea port and other road projects. These are some of the things that placed the governor ahead of his contemporaries nationwide.”
Also leading thousands of Ejigbo/Oshodi-Isolo, Ikotun residents to endorse the governor, the state Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef, said conducting the 2019 gubernatorial election in the 36 states of the federation would amount to wasting the country’s resources as some political office holders, who had performed, could be returned unopposed.
According to him, in states where the incumbent has a cutting edge over others, or where the electorate indicated the incumbent should continue, the electoral commission should spare them of the rigour of election.
He said: “The reason is that in those states that there is need for election, the aspirants have started indicating their interest. Also, aspirants for the Presidential election have also started making their stance known to the electorate. But for Lagos especially, we are yet to see anyone who has indicated intention to contest for the governorship position. So, conducting election in such state will result to waste of the country’s resources.”
“The Federal Government should conduct referendum on whether to conduct election in some states. Conducting in some states would lead to wasting resources. We need to look at states, where the incumbent has cutting edge advantages. Any state, where the people can come together and decide that their governor should continue in office, such state should be spared of the rigour of going to the poll again. If we embark on such act, the governor will be able to work hard because he or she now knows that the social contract he signed with the citizens must be respected to the fullest.”
Chairman of the Liberal Minds Grassroots Forum, Mr. Leke Adekoya, who spoke on of Shomolu-Bariga residents at a meeting organised by the group, said that only the continuity of government in the state will sustain the dividends of democracy, which Lagosians have been enjoying since the inception of Ambode-led administration.
Also emphasising the stance of the party chieftains in Lagos East senatorial district, the senator representing the area, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, said the people of Epe, Ikorodu, Ibeju Lekki and other areas in the Lagos East are committed to the re-election of Governor Ambode.
The gale of endorsements, notwithstanding, the leading opposition party in the state – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – has said it would defeat Governor Ambode in the 2019 poll, even as it decried what it called “gross violation of the Electoral Act” by those calling for the re-election of the governor.
The party’s spokesperson, Taofik Gani, who made the boast, called for the disqualification of the governor for allowing his supporters to violate the Electoral Act through solidarity rallies and events, especially the three million-man match organised by a group in the state.
Gani, who was reacting to the state’s Commissioner for Home Affairs (Abdul-Lateef) statement, said Lagosians are wise and can never be deceived.
But, the commissioner in a swift reaction to the PDP’s claim said Governor Ambode is more concern about ensuring that the Lagosians have the best in terms of having dividends of democracy.
His words: “I want to assure Lagosians that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode will not be distracted by the statement by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The governor will not be distracted by political Lilliputians whose current retrogression has compelled them to operate as dysfunctional silos.
“Akinwunmi Ambode is irrevocably committed to the completion of all on-going projects in the state. He has just presented before the Lagos State House of Assembly a budget size of N1.046 trillion worth the size of about nine states of the federation.
“Where does he have the time to respond to them if he has committed himself to the completion of Agege Pen Cinema flyover in nine months? He has said the Oshodi world class transport interchange, which comprises of pedestrian bridges, shopping malls, CCTVs which will regenerate Oshodi into becoming a world class business district will soon be completed.
“Where does he have the time to respond to worthless statement from a failed party when he has committed himself to the completion of the Oshodi International Airport Road in 15 Months, imagine the governor that is busy looking for how to build four stadia in the four regions of the state?”
“The projects of Ambode will campaign for him. Lagosians are the most enlightened, the most informed people who are witnesses to the unprecedented infrastructural renewal being witnessed in Lagos state.”
While the governor has remained silent amidst the endorsements, arguments for and against as, his deputy, Dr Idiat Adebule, who reacted to endorsement by the Badagry Division, said the support will motivate the governor to continue to prioritise the growth and development of the state as well as continue making the needs of residents a top issue.
Receiving the endorsement letter from leaders of the division, Adebule said: “Population is what drives election and Badagry Division has the population. Therefore, this endorsement means a lot to the governor. The endorsement will motivate him to continue to prioritise the growth and development of the state as well as continue making the needs of residents a top issue.”
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