Weekly political notes

Alex Ekwueme

Ekwueme’s Family Refutes Death Rumour
The family of former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, has dismissed the report that the elder statesman is dead. The family said the posts, which emerged on social media, on Tuesday, were unfounded, as the elder statesman is still alive and his health condition improving.

Ekwueme, was last week reported to have collapsed and admitted at the Intensive Care Unit of Memfys Hospital for Neurosurgery, Enugu State. Following his critical condition, President Muhammadu Buhari approved immediate medical treatment for the former Vice-President abroad. But news broke on social media that Ekwueme had passed on during the weekend in a London hospital, prompting the family to issue a statement that described the rumour of his death as wicked.

It is not surprising that a prominent Nigerian like Dr. Alex Ekwueme has become a victim of death rumour in the social media for the mere reason that he took ill and was hospitalised. Who is behind Ekwueme’s death rumour and what does the person want to achieve with it? Considering that Anambra election is close, could the death rumour be the handiwork of political mischief makers? Nothing can be ruled out as politicians are desperadoes and Ekwueme’s daughter is the running mate of PDP candidate, Oselaka Obazee.

Meanwhile, just like every other mortal, Ekwueme is susceptible to illness, but he does not deserve death wish because of what he stands for and represents. But who cares in a country, where mischief is a tool for survival.

It would be recalled that before now, some disgruntled and mischievous elements have, for reasons best known to them spread the death rumour of President Muhammadu Buhari, former Enugu governor Sullivan Chime, Chief Tony Anenih and others, on social media platforms and some gullible Nigerians fell for it.

Today, while Buhari, Chime and Anenih are alive and kicking, some of the peddlers of the death rumours may have succumbed to death through their own devices. That is the irony of life and death.

Despite the fact that social media platforms are veritable means of communication, death rumour is not a healthy habit to deploy so recklessly.

Anambra Guber: IPOB Posters, Handbills On Election Boycott Flood Streets
Posters and handbills allegedly produced by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), calling on Biafrans to boycott election in Anambra State and other states, have flooded streets and roads in Onitsha and its environs.

The posters had picture of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu with inscriptions like, ‘No election in Biafran land and Anambra State,’ and ‘Vote for referendum’ were pasted at strategic places, telling the people to stay indoors during the November 18 Anambra governorship election.

Police in the state had, last week, arrested two IPOB members with the posters in Onitsha, but, despite that, the group went ahead to circulate the posters and handbills, insisting that governorship election in Anambra State should be boycotted.

The group said the boycott would serve as civil disobedience, pending when a referendum will be conducted for exit of Biafra people from Nigeria.

It is hoped that the people of Anambra State will not be deceived or hoodwinked by IPOB’s latest tactics ahead of the governorship election. It is important at this point to caution IPOB members to stay away from the Anambra election and allow peace to reign.

IPOB members don’t have any constitutional right to disrupt the election, neither do they have any role to play in the election. So far they have lost faith in the country called Nigeria, it is their right to boycott the election if they so desired. But they should not attempt stopping anybody from coming out to vote, because they will not only be resisted, they will be dealt with by the powers-that-be. Southeast does not need another Operation Python Dance exercise soon.

Just as has been consistently stated here, Anambra State is still part and parcel of Nigeria and constitutionally, there is no place called Biafran land anywhere in the world today, including Nigeria. So, Anambra people should be allowed to peacefully choose their next governor in a free and fair election.
2018 Budget: Saraki, Dogara Talk Tough
Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara have warned against selective implementation of the 2018 budget, as well as reckless borrowings by the Presidency.

In his opening remarks, during the joint session of the National Assembly when President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2018 Appropriation Bill on Tuesday, Saraki minced no words when he declared:  “We must ensure that our borrowing is targeted at productive projects that will stimulate the economy. We must ensure real value for money in projects funded by borrowing, and make doubly sure that the projects are not overpriced.”

Dogara, on his part, said non-implementation of the budget was the same crime as corruption, while warning that the roll over of the 2017 budget would be predicated on how far the executive implemented capital components of the Act before end of the year.

Just as Nigerians are not too enthusiastic or expectant about the 2018 budget estimate presented by President Buhari because of the past experiences, they are also not carried away by the rhetoric of Saraki and Dogara.

Apart from their own budget allocation and constituency project fund, the leadership of the National Assembly has not done enough to make the executive implement budget to the letter.

So, it won’t be a surprise to Nigerians if the 2018 budget is poorly implemented just like the previous ones, despite tough talk by Saraki and Dogara. After all, many of Saraki’s colleagues are former governors that never implemented their states’ budgets to the letter while in office.

Buhari, Saraki and Dogara should be reminded that Nigerians are not interested in what they are saying right, but in what they are doing right. It should be leadership by example and not by lips service. People are tired of beautiful speeches and bandied figures called budget. They want actions and results that will reflect in their lives.

Obasanjo Will Kick If PDP Fields Atiku In 2019-Ardo
A former Special Assistant to ex-Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, on Local Government and State Affairs, Dr. Umar Ardo, on Tuesday said that former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, will work against PDP if Atiku is fielded as the party’s presidential candidate in 2019.

Ardo, who was Special Assistant on Research and Strategy to then President, ‎Obasanjo in 2003, said Atiku, a chieftain of the ruling APC is preparing grounds for his return to the PDP.

But Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe said it was ludicrous to accuse a man who is not a member of a party of plotting to hijack its structure.

Saying that Obasanjo has remained Atiku’s political albatross is like stating the obvious. This has been the situation since the duo parted ways after the 2003 presidential election. Perhaps, Ardo spoke from an insider’s experience. He didn’t’ mince words like politicians, but sounded prophetic and realistic.

Denial by Atiku’s media aide is expected, but that does not vitiate the fact in Ardo’s postulations. Atiku’s 2019 presidential ambition is no longer hidden. What remains to be seen is how Atiku will realise it, considering all obvious odds against him. As it is today, APC is not an available platform for Atiku to pursue his ambition in 2019. PDP is neither here nor there, unless something happens along the line.

Obasanjo’s stiff opposition against Atiku’s presidential ambition is not a thing of today. It has been there for over a decade now and it appears Obasanjo is not relenting. Even though Obasanjo has consistently said he has retired from active partisan politics, it is obvious that he is still influential in the polity more than some partisan politicians. If power is in God’s hands, both Atiku and Obasanjo can have their wishes, but God’s will must surely prevail.

El-Rufai Wants To Replace Teachers With Loyalists-Shehu Sani
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) on Tuesday, said Governor Nasir el-Rufai is all out to sack 21,000 teachers to enable him to employ “politically loyal teachers” that will work for him as polling agents in 2019.

Sani, who has been at loggerheads with El-Rufai, said the move stood condemned.

“It’s inhuman and the height of lunacy by a man who derives pleasure by inflicting suffering and hardship on others. How can a governor who blew over N10bn feeding school children only now realise that the teachers are incompetent?” he asked.

While it could be said that there are other ways El-rufai could have handled the issue of the so-called 21,000 unqualified teachers saga in the state, it might be unfair for Shehu Sani to accuse him of planning to replace them with his loyalists. The problem of Nigerian politicians is that they are always in the habit of politicising everything, including issues of development. Is Sani saying that El-Rufai should continue to retain the unqualified teachers to please the people and endanger the future of the children?

What should interest Shehu Sani is the manner of the evaluation of the teachers, which resulted in the disqualification of the 21,000. Was it a fair process and were the teachers fairly treated?

El-rufai on his part should ensure that such delicate policy issues are carried out with all major stakeholders having a buy-in. Such will eliminate the resort to petty politics and mischief from all sides.



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