Weekly political notes

Niger Delta leaders

Niger Delta leaders

Osinbajo In N’Delta, Says Region Long Neglected
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo led a Federal Government delegation to the Niger Delta on Monday and lamented that the geopolitical zone had long been neglected. He said most of the developmental initiatives embarked on in the past by successive governments had not achieved the desired result in the region.

Osinbajo, however, assured the people that with the needed co-operation, unity and collaboration with all the stakeholders, the present administration would bring about the much-expected infrastructural development in the Niger Delta.

While it is true that successive governments neglected the Niger Delta, there is nothing new in Osinbajo’s narrative. It is the usual rhetoric of government officials that has not changed anything in the region over the years.

What was expected of Buhari’s government before Osinbajo’s visit is to unveil the action plan for the region that will be quickly implemented. In short, implementation of such plan should precede the visit. That is the only way peace could be achieved in the region.

But unfortunately, President Buhari’s approach to the crisis in the region has been more of stick, without the carrot. As it is now, no amount of persuasive speech as delivered by Osinbajo will calm frayed nerves in the Niger Delta without concomitant development.

Meanwhile, Osinbajo and his boss should be mindful of the fact that time is of much importance to them as they search for solution to the problem in the region, especially as it has become obvious that the success or failure of their administration is dependent on what comes from the region. The reported blowing of pipeline in the region by militants less than 24 hours after Osinbajo’s visit, even though it was denied, may be a sign that the visit was of no significance.

Reps Grill Adeosun, Udoma On Forex Crisis, Rising Inflation
Members of the House of Representatives, on Monday, grilled the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, on the free fall of the naira against the US dollar and the rising inflation in the country.

The lawmakers said the economy remained bleak and had not shown signs that the measures the Federal Government claimed it had introduced to take the country out of recession, were picking up.

Adeosun and Udoma had appeared before the House Joint Committees on Finance, Appropriation and Aid/Loans/Debt Management to defend projections in the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.

The lawmakers raised several issues, including the “clear and huge disparity” between the official rate of the naira and the street or parallel market value.

For example, while the government’s pairing of the local currency against the dollar for the 2017 budget is N305/dollar, the street rate is “almost N500/dollar.”

Lawmakers also noted that while inflation had hit “18 per cent,” the government projected that inflation would be 15 per cent in 2017.

The lawmakers should spare Nigerians this unending drama of grilling Adeosun and Udoma. Didn’t they grill them before now without the desired result? Of what importance is the exercise, when it is known that it will not be different from the previous exercise? The lawmakers should better dissipate energy on finding solution to the economic mess. Besides, forex crisis and rising inflation is no longer news to Nigerians. Overcoming the recession, through whatever means, will make more meaning to the people. Having known the causes of recession, what Nigerians want now is the way out, not the causes.

It is obvious from the disposition of Adeosun and Udoma that they are overwhelmed and bereft of ideas on how to tackle the economic crisis. Even though, there had been calls for cabinet reshuffle, it behoves President Buhari to do the needful before Nigerians run out of patience or die of hunger.

Rerun: Court Declines Wike’s Request To Stop Police Probe
Nyesom Wike of Rivers State on Monday failed in his bid to restrain the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris from investigating complaints, allegations, petitions of crimes and various acts of criminality during December 10, 2016 rerun elections in the state.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole, in a ruling rejected an ex-parte motion by Wike, which was argued by his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN).

Justice Kolawole said some constitutional issues regarding the powers of an executive governor of a state were raised in the motion and needed to be addressed. The Judge refused Wike’s request for an order setting aside the IGP’s letter to Wike dated December 20, 2016.

Instead, Justice Kolawole ordered that the defendants–the IGP, the State Security Service (SSS) and a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Damian Okoro to appear before him on January 30, 2017, to show cause why the relief sought by the Governor should not be granted.

Wike had urged the court to grant an order of interim injunction restraining the defendants or their agents from enforcing or executing the matters contained in the letter written to governor him by the IGP on December 20, 2016.

While the move by Wike to stop the probe is democratic and constitutional, the motive appears questionable. Why the move to stop the probe instead of supporting it? Wike’s fears are known, but police report is not a final verdict, considering that it could be challenged in the court.

Besides, Wike should have known that stopping police from investigating a reported case of crime in a democratic setting is a difficult task. Having set up a Panel of Inquiry to look into the crisis that characterised the rerun, Wike should also allow the Police to do their job.

After all, it is expected of the Nigeria Police to do a thorough job, devoid of witch-hunt and vendetta, knowing the backlash that may trail the outcome. The Police should be mindful of the need to avoid politicising the matter or allowing politicians to hijack it. Apart from this, proper investigation into the alleged crimes during the rerun will help to unravel those behind it and forestall future occurrences. So, if the probe is well carried out, it will be to the advantage of the people of the state and the government. If it is skewed, it may create more political crisis again.

Kaduna Has Lost Over 20,000 People To Crises- El-Rufai
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has lamented the killings that have taken place in the State, saying no fewer than 20,000 lives have been lost in various crises in the State since 1980.

He said it was also regrettable that in over 35 years and after many crises, nobody had been prosecuted for the killings.
El-Rufai who spoke when he received a delegation of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which paid a solidarity visit on him at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House Kaduna, said the enforcement of the law and prosecution of perpetrators remained the solution to killings with impunity and vowed to prosecute those found to be behind the recent killings in Jema’a, Zango-Kataf and Kaura local council areas of the state.

The delegation was led by the NBA President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), included the Vice President, Caleb Dajan, national executive members and other prominent lawyers in the state.

It will not be surprising if Nigerians, especially the people of Southern Kaduna disagree with El-Rufai on the number of those killed. This is because the figure looks questionable and inaccurate. Perhaps, what the governor has announced is just estimate, while a panel could be set up to ascertain the number.

Well, it is hoped that El-Rufai will live by his words, by prosecuting those behind the recent killings in the Southern Kaduna. El-Rufai should be reminded that the recent killings in Southern Kaduna, which looks religious and ethnic, should be stopped forthwith and the perpetrators punished. Anything to the contrary will not convince Nigerians that the government is sincere in dealing with the barbaric killings in the state.

Kanu’s Release: Ohanaeze To Work With IPOB, MASSOB
The new leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Wednesday, said it will harmonise activities of the pro-Biafra groups to ensure that their agitations are not violent.

The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation also said it will throw its weight behind detained Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu to facilitate his unconditional release.

Anambra State Chairman of Ohanaeze, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, who made this known in Awka, the state capital noted that the struggle for the realisation of Biafra should now be a matter of using the brain and not violence.

“Ohanaeze will strive to bridge the gap between the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) because we are not prepared to lose any life.

What a good talk and step by the new Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership. It is now left to see how synergy will be built between the promoters of the Biafra agitation and the individualistic tendencies of their leaders.

Also of note is the new Ohanaeze leadership’s decision to work for the unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu. This could be an unprecedented move. It is unlike the immediate past leadership of Ohanaeze and other prominent Igbo leaders, who distanced themselves from Kanu and his travails.

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