Weekly political notes

Itse Sagay (SAN), has asked the Federal Government to obey court orders regarding the detention of embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd); and the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

Sit-At-Home Order Grounds South East
The sit-at-home directive issued by agitators in honour of their colleagues killed in the struggle for the realisation of Biafra Republic recorded a huge success in the South East and parts of South South regions on Tuesday.

In Enugu, human, vehicular and economic activities were at a standstill with many residents remaining indoors. The massive compliance shows the increasing popularity of the quest for Biafra that began 50 years ago. What is needed to stop the agitation is not force that would lead to the loss of more lives and property, but the tackling of the injustice and inequality that gave birth to it.

Apart from a few banks and government offices that opened for business, several other institutions including schools, markets and shops were closed. Workers of the various ministries were seen in their offices offering skeletal services, while public schools sent their students and teachers back home.

It is not an overstatement to say that the remembrance was a right step, considering the number of innocent souls and their properties that were wasted during the war. The compliance is a sign of an unprecedented and evolving unity among the people of the Southeast and their sympathisers in their quest for a more equitable and fair Nigerian federation. It could be said to be a signal to those opposed to the Biafran dream that anything is possible.

Since the commencement of the annual sit-at-home order from the days of Chief Ralph Uwazuruike-led MASSOB, the compliance level has never been like that of Tuesday. This may be a beginning of new dawn in the Biafran struggle.

Now that the sit-at-home exercise is over, the questions are; what next for the struggle and its agitators? Will they wait for another May 30 to sit at home or devise another approach to keep it in the front burner for the next 256 days? This is especially as it has become obvious that the realisation of the dream goes beyond annual sit-at-home order and protest.

My Relationship With Buhari Is Cordial-Saraki
Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki said on Tuesday that his relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari remained cordial, despite false claims in some social media.

He made this known when the National Executive of the Islamic group, Jamaatu Izalatul Bidiah Wa Ikamatus Sunnali (JIBWS) led by its President, Mohammed Jingiri visited him at the National Assembly.

Saraki debunked allegations that he and the Senate are working against President Buhari. “I want to assure you of the good cooperation between the legislative arm and executive led by President Muhammadu Buhari. Since the commencement of this Senate, I think we had about 196 requests from President Buhari for confirmation of his nominees and we have confirmed 185.

“I think we have only rejected 11. By mathematics, that is over 90 per cent. I want to assure you there is a lot of noise, you will see in the newspapers, radio and social media, please, be assured that the two arms of government are working closely together more than in past sessions of the Senate.”

Nobody has said that he/she is in doubt of the level of personal relationship that exists between Saraki and President Buhari, even though it could be subjective and relative. But there seems to be some doubts regarding the relationship between Buhari’s government and the Senate, Saraki leads. The doubt might have emanated from the frosty relationship between both arms since 2015, despite that they are of the same political party. A development many believed was responsible for the slow pace of governance so far.

Besides, Saraki should be reminded that Senate’s confirmation of Buhari’s nominees is not enough to judge the cordiality of the relationship between his Senate and Buhari’s government. It goes beyond that. Despite the denials, Nigerians expect a better relationship anchored on the principles of checks and balance, not the ongoing cat-and-mouse relationship.

Ekweremadu’s House Raid: Court Remands Whistle-Blower In Prison
A Federal Capital Territory High Court, Gudu, on Tuesday, ordered that a false whistle-blower, Ahmed Echodo, be remanded in Keffi prison in connection with the recent raid on the official Guest House of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu in Maitama, Abuja.

Men of the Nigeria Police were said to have on May 27, stormed and searched the building after which they took the steward, Mr. Oliver Ogenyi, whom they met in the premises to the Inspector-General of Police Special Square office in Guzape District, Abuja. He was later released.

The police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, had denied reports that the police raided the guest house and that the Force had nothing to do with the operation. 
“I have inquired from all our investigation units and they all said they did not know about the operation, they did not carry out the raid, so we are not involved in the raid on the guest house,” he said.

However on Tuesday, the force admitted that it was misled by Ahmed Echodo and Maiwa Adamu (now at large) in carrying out the operation.
 The offence is said to be contrary to Section 97(1) and 140 of the Penal Code Law.

This development is not unexpected, especially when everybody has become a referee without training and whistle is readily made available. It is feared that the whistle could be subjected to abuse at anytime. That may be what has happened. Even so disappointing is the fact that the Nigerian Police, which is supposed to look before leaping, fall prey to the fake whistle-blower.

Instead of investigating thoroughly before going public, the Police embarrassed itself by putting the cart before the horse. It shows how uncoordinated the Force is. Now that the Police have discovered that it was misled, is there anything wrong in apologising to Ekweremmadu? Until the whistle-blowing policy becomes law, more of these embarrassing incidents will be witnessed.

AGF: No Amount Of Agitation’ll Lead To Restructuring
Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has advised those campaigning for restructuring of the present federal structure to stop dissipating their energy as no amount of advocacy or agitation would lead to restructuring.

The AGF, who admitted that reforms and modifications of institutional arrangements, systems and processes were normal in federations world over, said such were not done in single swoop as being advocated by some.

Speaking at the Think-Tank Conference on “Federalism and challenges of dynamic equilibrium in Nigeria: Towards a National Strategy,” organised by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS), in Abuja, on Tuesday Malami posited that mega changes are not healthy for federations.

“Change is a gradual exercise, which must be democratic and subjected to legislative and administrative processes as provided by law. We must use democratic means to reform our federal system. We need to recognise that both federalism and democracy are mechanisms for managing diversity.

“Indeed, while federalism provides the institutional framework for managing diversity, democracy makes possible the negotiation of diverse identity claims, by providing them with representation, voice and political mechanisms by which their competing claims are balanced and reconciled, ” the AGF said.

He said at present, restructuring required amending the constitution to accommodate referendum or, in the alternative, a constitutional amendment to the 1999 constitution, which, in this case, must be supported by majority of legislators in 24 States of the federation as enshrined in section 9 of the Constitution.

Not many will like AGF Malami’s view, especially advocates of restructuring and true federalism, but it cannot be ignored either. It may be his personal opinion, but it is not different from that of the government of the day.

If Malami’s position is anything to go by, it simply means that restructuring will not be possible without the amendment of the constitution to accommodate referendum and others. It is not likely that those calling for restructuring are not aware of this constitutional provision. What remains is for government to instigate discussion in this regard, where views will be collated into bills for the amendment of the constitution.

In that case, Malami should assure Nigerians that his brothers from North, who are in majority in National Assembly will wholeheartedly support a referendum bill to restructure the country, if presented?

It will be a welcome development if Malami in continuation of his constitutional advocacy for the restructuring of the country presents a referendum bill to National Assembly through the executive. This will be a litmus test of his sincerity towards achieving a better Nigeria in line with constitutional provisions.

Obey Court Orders On Dasuki, El-Zakzaky, Sagay Tells FG
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has asked the Federal Government to obey court orders regarding the detention of embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd); and the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

Sagay said this while reacting to calls by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for the release of Dasuki and El-Zakzaky. The senior advocate advised the Federal Government to either obey the court order by immediately releasing them or to appeal the orders.

The only thing new in this narrative is that it is coming from Sagay, a man who has been more of Buhari’s government’s mouthpiece in recent times, than a human rights advocate. It seems Sagay has realised that there is life after serving Buhari’s government and there is need to speak truth to the power. Thank God, the chicken has come home to roost.

It is not too late for Sagay to rediscover himself and advise his principal to toe the right path in order to save his government and sustain the country’s constitutional democracy. Sagay, if sincere should go beyond mere advice and ensure that justice is done on the matter. He knows what to do.



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