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End Of Saraki’s Charmed Political Life By Peter Claver Oparah

19 March 2019 - 9:13am


And so, Bukola Mesujamba Saraki’s charmed political life came to an abrupt end during the 2019 general election. Like a scary nightmare, Saraki’s political life ended just the way it began. It is certain that even with so many tell-tale signs of the fatal predilection he met in the general election, Saraki never believed that he would be crushed the way he was crushed in February and March. Come to think of it, the clearest foreboding of his impending political eclipse came last year when a candidate he sponsored for a National Assembly bye-election in his native Kwara was humiliatingly defeated in the election. Ostensibly to save face, as is traditional with politicians that want to live in denial, Saraki alleged his man was rigged out in an election that was as clear as the sun. He even went to his National Assembly to initiate a futile inquest on how his candidate was defeated in the election.

Again, leading to the election, Saraki was subjected to daily ridicule by common Kwara people who heckled and booed him at every public function and rally in Kwara. Video clips of how Kawarans chased him about with shuts of ‘ole’ ole’ made the rounds in the weeks before the election. It was so apparent that the falcon no longer heard the falconer. It was all written everywhere that Saraki would face an uphill task re-enacting his boastful legacy of being the sole determinant of who gets what office in Kwara; a noisome boast he and his chaperons were so immodest to drop at every street corner. From what ordinary Kawarns did to Saraki and his subalterns on the streets of Kwara during the campaign, it was so clear that the people of Kwara were so desperate to yank off the yoke Saraki had placed on their necks for so many years. Sorry, it was not him that placed that yoke. His father did and even as people complained of the late Saraki’s yoke, they did not do so with the repulsion and vehemence they loathed his son’s inheritance of that legacy.

When my friend, Dr. Abimbola Olufeagba told me sometime last year that he and his fellow Kawarans were determined to end the Saraki stranglehold on the state, I didn’t totally believe the possibility exists for such tall order. But as the election approached, and with my interaction with other noble Kwara people, I knew that Saraki stranglehold would be broken with an emphatic verve. What could be more emphatic than the way this task was done in the two elections held during the 2019 elections where Saraki and his cronies were dealt a total and comprehensive defeat that will resonate for years to come? It was so sweet, so aromatic, so exciting, so refreshing not only for the people of Kwara but for other Nigerians that have lived to experience the Bukola Saraki nuisance in our politics especially in the past four years.

Saraki believes he lives a charmed political life that is so impregnable that he could sleep inspite of thunder. He believes that the gods blessed him with such extra sense that he could withstand any tempest and rise from any political plot stronger. He believes that he is a special creation furnished with the faculty to last longer and flower more than anybody else in the murky waters of Nigerians politics. Even as his plot with the PDP to steal the Senate Presidency was ordinary, he believed it was a deft masterstroke only creatures like him could pull off. He believed that President Buhari’s own naïve impression about the National Assembly leadership and his quaint insistence not to intervene in the NASS leadership was his birthright, reserved for only special beings like him. I gathered that Saraki is a huge patron of marabouts and this must have strengthened his belief that the gods made him specially for Nigerian politics.

As Senate President, Saraki was a leper whose multifarious corruption indictments rubbed off so negatively on the national assembly but he cared no hoot so long as he retains his charge of the NASS leadership. Even with the humiliating scenario of a Senate President that was constantly exchanging his seats between the leadership of the national assembly and the docks, Saraki wasn’t bothered and was ready to drag the National Assembly down in one big heap of shame and infamy so long as his personal cravings were satisfied. His cravings for power was insatiable and he believes God created the Sarakis for this purpose. Saraki managed to weave through the hugely corrupt Nigerian judiciary to get himself a questionable acquittal for his corruption charges and managed to maintain his tenous hold on the National Assembly and that provided enough bullets for him to try further expeditions in the Nigerian politics.

He dreamed of being the President of Nigeria and led a band of malcontent members of the National Assembly to dump the APC for the PDP as the 2019 general election approached. This act was wildly celebrated by his supporters and members of PDP and its allies as the homecoming of the talisman, equipped with the magic to walk PDP back to power. For the many enemies of the Buhari and APC government, it was the masterstroke they need to see the back of a regime that has sat tightly on the treasury and denying them the gluttonous feast they were having before Buhari suddenly interrupted their party in 2015. Saraki basked in the light of this artificial glory. He was hoisted as the smartest politician Nigeria has produced and his mouth dripped from all corners to self-celebrate and glory himself. In the height of this glory, he even told distraught PDP members in Lagos to come for a tutorial on how they can defeat the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in Lagos!

Saraki believed that he had worked hard enough to go further in politics and get the highest office in the land. He launched a presidential bid and hit the roads with his campaign that he is the best suited and the divinely ordained to lead Nigeria. He talked and boasted. He threatened and gloated. He told those that had massed around him that he possessed the talisman to see Buhari off the seat of power and restore the glory of the fallen PDP. They cheered and basked and petered confetti on him. In one of his careless talks, he boasted of how he supervised the cut in the budget for critical infrastructures as the Senate President and promised a queer Eldorado if he eventually becomes president. At this time, many members of the PDP saw him as the magician that will deliver them from the deep miasma their loss of power shoved them into in 2015 and for this, he became their instant poster boy. He relished every bit of this temporary allure as it lasted.

Saraki was to lose the PDP presidential ticket to an Abubakar Atiku who unleashed a blitzkrieg of slush dollars on PDP members at their convention to cart away the party’s presidential ticket and re-ignite the alluring past of free loading which the party supervised while in power. That was an abridgment of the assured rise of Saraki’s charmed political life but he quickly shook this off to become Atiku’s chief campaigner in his desperate bid to see the end of Buhari’s reign. He and Atiku formed a Siamese twin that were ruled by the passion to take over power from Buhari. He continued running his mouth and celebrating his genius till the elections happened and he was dealt perhaps the most humiliating defeat any politician could get when he not only lost his senate seat but had his candidate, Atiku comprehensively defeated by Buhari in his own Kwara State. What more, all Saraki’s candidates for the governorship, national assembly and state assembly elections in Kwara were summarily defeated in what could be seen as the fatal crushing of Bukola Saraki’s charmed political life. In fact, Saraki was so demolished in a manner that he will never rise again in Nigerian politics! Though he had latched unto the popular cliché of being rigged out but it is certain that he would not prove how he was rigged out which shows his limitation, contrary to the loud impression he and his supporters have created of him being the smartest politician in Nigeria. Truth is that Saraki is no more than a hare-brained and weightless opportunist who exploited the fault lines in Nigerian politics to steal the mandates of the people and gain huge from that. 

At the end of the day, Saraki’s defeat should offer very great lessons to others who have been beneficiaries of the system and have refused to be humble about it. Saraki was like that legendary tiny bird that lost himself after a sumptuous meal that he challenged his god to a fight and got totally destroyed. Rather than being a story of an impregnable charmed life, Saraki’s is a story of an anti-hero who got carried away by his dubiety and eventually got disentangled. The end of the Saraki politics is a historical tragedy of epic proportion, which has been etched in the history books of Nigeria for the coming generation to learn from.

 

Peter Claver Oparah

Ikeja, Lagos.

E-mail: peterclaver2000@yahoo.com

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VIDEO: Nigerian Soldier Taunts Boko Haram To ‘Come Out And Fight’

19 March 2019 - 9:11am


A short video of a Nigerian soldiers taunting Boko Haram members by inviting them to battle is currently trending on social media site Instagram.

The video was uploaded by a soldier @official bennision, who has a history of sharing military-related videos.

“Boko Haram, come let’s fight,” a soldier could be seen bellowing out in the video.

“If you don’t come out to fight, we won’t leave here. So you have to come so we can fight to finish. Alahu Akbar!

"I thought you said you have power. You should come out so we can fight. If we don’t fight, we won’t leave. You hear me? If you don’t come out to fight, we won’t leave here. Allahu Akbar!”

As the soldier ended his call for fight, a second soldier could be heard in the background saying: “They haven’t seen anything yet.”

SaharaReporters could not independently establish when the video was recorded or the exact location of the scene.

On Monday, Boko Haram insurgents laid siege on Michika in Adamawa State, shooting sporadically as hordes of residents escaped to the mountains to take refuge, and even having the audacity to enter a filling station to refuel some of their cars.

They eventually looted and vandalised the town, also bombing Union Bank, the only surviving bank in Michika.

Video of Nigerian Soldier Taunts Boko Haram To ‘Come Out And Fight’ Nigerian Soldier Taunts Boko Haram To ‘Come Out And Fight’

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JUST IN: UNILAG's Creative Art Department Is On Fire

19 March 2019 - 8:48am


The Creative Art Department of the University of Lagos, Lagos, is currently on fire.

The fire emanated from the generator house of the department.

Two buses carrying fire-fighters have been deployed to the department to battle the fire.

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EXCLUSIVE: How Ajimobi Lost His Bid To Install His Principal Private Secretary As Next Oyo Speaker

19 March 2019 - 7:18am

Had Abiola Ajimobi, the outgoing Governor of Oyo State, won his Oyo South senatorial election, he would have gone all out to ensure the emergence of Seyi Adisa, his 34-year-old Principal Private Secretary, as Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly.

However, Ajimobi lost the election, polling 92,579 votes while Kola Balogun, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), polled 105,720, meaning the speakership project was well and truly over even before it had actually begun. 

Had he won, though, there would have been one final hurdle: Adebayo Adelabu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the state, would have kicked against it, as he wanted Asimiyu Alarape, a former Speaker of the assembly between 1999 and 2003, who had also been a member of many political parties, including the National Republican Convention(NRC), United Nigerian Congress Party (UNCP), All Peoples Party(APP), Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Alarape had also been Special Adviser on Political Matters to Adebayo Alao-Akala, the Governor of Oyo State between 2007 and 2011.

Adisa, Ajimobi’s choice for the position, was one of just five APC assembly candidates to have won their elections out of the 33 constituency seats on offer. The Afijo State Constituency representative was aware he was Ajimobi’s pick, which was one of the reasons he went about his campaign confidently, sometimes bullishly even.

He once told journalists in late 2018: “Those with whom we are in the race have no moral value to withstand me. They are political burdens and cannot defend much less win their polling units in their various wards in Afijio.”

If both Ajimobi and Adelabu won, the speakership battle would have been very interesting, considering Adisa eventually discovered that Adelabu’s camp worked against him during his election. All that would matter little now, since the PDP is the next assembly’s majority party.

Three different sources in Ajimobi’s government confirmed to SaharaReporters that his plan for his post-governorship life was to adopt the Bola Tinubu model.

“He thought he would win his senatorial election and he would start playing his politics like Tinubu’s, such that everyone would start taking instructions from him,” one said.

Another said Ajimobi had already kick-started the process, once discouraging his cabinet members from working for Adelabu should he become Governor.

“The Governor called his cabinet members one month to the election, at the end of their normal executive council meeting,” another source said.

“He asked who among them would love to work with Adelabu if he won. All of them kept quiet, not knowing what Ajimobi had in mind. One of them, Professor Isaac Ayandele, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Efficiency, raised his hand, and said he could.” 

Ajimobi’s response, SaharaReporters was told, was: “Don’t you know you’re way older than Adelabu? You’re older than that boy; you can’t work with him.”

SaharaReporters also understands that had Adelabu and Ajimobi both won, they would have clashed over not just the speakership but many other matters, as Adelabu believed he was coasting to victory without the input of party leaders.

So confident was he of victory that his best friends already constituted themselves into a group called ‘Friends of the Governor’, before the election. 

“They were so confident of victory they already set the criteria for admittance of people into the club,” SaharaReporters was told. “Unfortunately, Adelabu did not go round to woo Oyo APC leaders because he believed that Oyo State was too important for Tinubu not to win at all costs.”

As exclusively reported by SaharaReporters on Sunday, Adelabu and Ajimobi — as well as Oyo APC governorship aspirant Joseph Tegbe and Communication Minister Adebayo Shittu — are set to battle for a sole ministerial ticket in President Muhammadu Buhari’s next cabinet.

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Nigerian Govt May Increase VAT To Fund New Minimum Wage

19 March 2019 - 6:26am


Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and National Planning, has given indication that the government may need to increase Value Added Tax (VAT) to fund the new national minimum wage.

He stated this on Tuesday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance at the hearing to deliberate on the new national minimum wage of N30,000 approved by the Senate.

The Senate had approved the new figure at its plenary on Tuesday.

Speaking before a panel led by Senator John Owan Enoh, Udoma noted that the Technical Advisory Committee on the minimum wage would submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari during the week.

“The current minimum wage of N18,000 is really too low. It is difficult for workers to manage on that amount. The President supported a review but it is important that as we are reversing it, we should be able to fund it. It is in the light of this that we would be coming to you (Senate), because there may be the need to make some changes, especially the VAT, in order to fund the minimum wage once it is announced,” he said.

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BREAKING: In Line With Court order, INEC Halts Collation Of Bauchi Gov Election Results

19 March 2019 - 6:24am


Breaking News

Breaking News Sahara Reporters Media

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has halted its scheduled collation of results for the governorship election in Bauchi State.

Professor Ibrahim Abdullahi, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), announced the decision of the commission on Tuesday at a press conference.

The commission was scheduled to continue the collation exercise for the governorship and state house of assembly elections held on March 9, 2019, which was later declared inconclusive. See Also Breaking News BREAKING: Court Stops INEC From Collating, Announcing Bauchi Election Result 0 Comments 2 Days Ago

The collation centre was attacked by thugs during the announcement of the results. However, an investigative committee set up by INEC disclosed that duplicate and original registration area result sheets containing the outcome of the elections were available.

The collation process for Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area (LGA) was scheduled to continue on Tuesday, March 19, 2019.

However, a court order issued on Tuesday, after a suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, directed INEC to halt the process.

In line with the court order, the commission has halted the collation process for the governorship election, noting that a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday would determine the announcement of a new date for the exercise.

However, INEC said it would go ahead with the collation of results for the state house of assembly elections.​

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Buhari Meets With Tinubu, Akande in Abuja

19 March 2019 - 6:21am


President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, played host to Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Also present at the meeting was Chief Bisi Akande, a chieftain of the APC.

The meeting held on Tuesday at the State House, Abuja.

Also present at the State House when Tinubu and Akande were in the premises was Aminu Masari, Governor of Katsina State.

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Boko Haram Carts Away Foodstuffs, Bombs 'Only Surviving Bank' In Adamawa Town

19 March 2019 - 5:36am


The Union Bank in Michika town of Adamawa State has been bombed and looted, SaharaReporters can report.

SaharaReporters had reported on Monday night that suspected Boko Haram terrorists in their droves were on the rampage in Michika town, forcing residents to take refuge on the mountains.

The residents, who returned to their homes on Tuesday morning, met a looted and vandalised town, with Union Bank suffering the worst devastation.

Patience Kilba Kwache, a resident, said: "We returned home this morning to see that our foodstuffs had been carted away by the terrorists. We lost two of our aged fathers due to high blood pressure. Our only surviving bank (Union Bank) was robbed. Food items taken, but no one was shot to the glory of God.”

Colonel Sagir Musa, Acting Director, Public Relations of the Nigeria Army, issued a statement saying the terrorists had been repelled.

According to the military, calm had been restored to the town.

The statement read: “Boko Haram terrorists met their waterloo and suffered heavy casualties yesterday evening, 18 March,  2019, when they attempted to infiltrate Michika in Adamawa State.

"At about 7:20 pm, gallant troops of 115 Task Force Battalion deployed at Lassa in Borno State received a distress call from vigilantes at Maikadiri village on movement of suspected BHTs along Maikadiri–Shuwari en route Michika.

"The troops immediately organized blocking positions and swooped on the terrorists which led to exchange of fire. The terrorists attempted to escape but were intercepted and suppressed with heavy volume of fire.

"Consequently, the gallant troops with reinforcement from 143 Battalion Gulak engaged the terrorists on Two Front Coordinated Attacks. The BHTs were completely routed by the troops, neutralizing many of them, while others fled in disarray due to superior firepower.

"As a result, they hastily evacuated most of their corpses under the cover of darkness. The entire area has been dominated by own troops and the situation is completely under control.

"Items captured from the terrorists include one Ford vehicle, two Toyota Starlet vehicles loaded with foodstuffs, one motorcycle and one tyre inflating machine.”

Noting that it would continue to monitor the situation on Tuesday, the statement added that “Calm has since returned to the city and inhabitants of the town are hereby enjoined to report the presence of strange faces in their localities and go about their normal businesses.”

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Nigeria 2019: Eshu Laalu As Polling Agent By Reuben Abati

19 March 2019 - 5:17am


Reuben Abati
Reuben Abati

Here is yet another account of what I saw in the politics of Ogun State and Nigeria. One of my early teachable moments was the realization that you are required to dress like the people whose votes you are looking for, and operate at that level, be like them, connect with them. When the 2019 political struggle began, I used to attend meetings wearing suits. Party members looked at me suspiciously. I couldn’t miss the glances, the whispers, the murmurs but I couldn’t quite figure out what was amiss until one Sunday afternoon, I arrived at a scheduled meeting all suited up.  As soon as I stepped in, I thought I overheard someone saying quietly: “Even on Sunday evening!” I didn’t think that comment was meant for me. Whoever said that was probably talking to someone else. The pieces soon fell in place when one of our apex leaders accosted me: 

“Deputy, e ma de ku asiko yi o. E ku igbiyanju. Oro kan ma ni mo ma fe ba yin so.”

“Go ahead sir.”

“N se ni mo kan de ti e n wo kini na. O dabi e ni pe, you don’t like to dress like us. I see you don’t wear Sokoto and Buba, or any traditional attires. You just like these white man’s suits”

“Of course, I have caftans. But I prefer to wear suits for work and formal meetings,” I responded. 

I also tried to explain that I was just coming from a television programme. 

‘Ha ha. Okay. But e joor sir., for this our campaign, you have to take it easy with these your suits oh. In politics, you must always look like the people you want to lead and speak like them. That is the only way they can feel comfortable with you. E joor sir oh. Si so okun mo orun  ni igba gbobo  yi fe po ju. Please do something about it. In this part of the country, a politician cannot go about wearing ties. Lai kii se aja!” 

Of course, my wardrobe went through a quick transformation. I no longer heard any complaints or whispers, or murmurs. I had adjusted. I made friends very quickly. But that was not all. Our principal, Senator Buruji Kashamu operated mostly during the campaigns, from his Lagos office and his office in Ijebu Igbo. The latter is the Omo Ilu Foundation headquarters, a sprawling multi-purpose complex, sitting on about three acres, complete with a hall large enough for over 5, 000 persons, in addition to an open pavilion, offices and a row of chalets with about 20 rooms. Omo Ilu Foundation, founded in 2010, is Senator Kashamu’s philanthropic organization and political structure through which he provides help for orphans, widows and the indigent.  We either met in Lagos or in Ijebu-Igbo, and given my position as his running mate, I was constantly present at meetings and activities.  It didn’t take a while before the Senator noticed that I always came alone. I didn’t travel in a convoy. I didn’t have a retinue of hangers-on. One day, he called me aside and told me:

“Dokita, why are you always walking alone? A politician does not walk alone. In politics, you must have your own team.  You must have your own followers. You must have your own structure. I am going to help you set up your own structure and you can recruit your own followers over time. That is how to play politics. You can’t be going about alone. Politics is about people, strategy, hardwork.”   

In no time, I had my own team and till the campaign ended, I never walked alone. Bouncers, security men, campaign vehicles, a team of drivers and assistants, party associates, advisers, supporters, family friends, consultants etc. My house became a beehive of activities. In Nigeria, a politician is not expected to close his doors.  Men, women trooped in. People I had not seen in the last three years showed up. They sat in the compound, some came into the house and took over the sitting rooms. The house of a politician must have a ready supply of food and drinks. The house was soon flooded with cartons of assorted drinks. Dry gin. Schnapps, Brandy. Beer. Whatever. Some politicians insist that politics is better when it is fueled with the engine oil of alcohol. I had an inner crowd of regulars, male and female. At certain times of the day, someone will raise his hand and say: “De-pu-ty, e fun wa ni amala!  Maa-anu n –fa-gi.”  Time to eat! I never got a chance to meet this ever-hungry Maaa-nu, the apocryphal carpenter of the stomach!  

These are experienced politicians who have been here and there. Some of them have participated in virtually every major political party since the return to civilian rule in 1999. They know every key political figure in the State. If you want to know your great grandmother’s biography, she may have died in the 15thcentury, you just join politics, you will hear stories about your ancestors who you never knew ever lived. Interacting with those veterans, I received much education about local politics. They know everyone and their habits. There was never a short supply of anecdotes about the public and private habits of prominent Ogun State politicians, their wives and concubines, children and the underground network that seems to be a strong and dominant factor in Nigerian politics. People came in and out, sometimes staying till 12 mid-night. Even if I slept off, they would stay on and have their own conversations. It was a diverse, motley crowd. They argued oftentimes, over this or that, but I admired their dedication, knowledge, experience, their energy and commitment. They have all become part of an emerging political ecosystem around my space. Only a few days away from Abeokuta, I miss them already: the women and their creativity with songs and ideas, the men and their knowledge of the terrain.  

I got a rude shock however, in December, when one of my new friends started pestering me to give him money to buy a ram.  

“Ram?  Se iyawo yin sese bi mo, e fe se ikomo ni?,” Has your wife just put to bed and you need support for the naming ceremony?, I asked.

“No. Rah – rah o, deputy, a fe fi se etutu ni.  We want to use the ram to make sacrifice of protection for you. You need some protection.” 

What sacrifice? I couldn’t figure out what the man was driving at. But he was persistent. 

“It won’t cost you a lot of money. Just the money for the ram and something on top. You are our own Governor in Ogun Central as far as we are concerned. Many people have seen you. They are talking about you. We also have enemies within the party. There are cases in court. The party people in Abuja don’t like us. As your own people, we have to protect you. Nothing must happen to you. You can be sure the Ijebus will also protect their own son.” 

I waved it all off. December is a delicate month. That is when people use all kinds of trick to get  money for the festive season. January is even worse: school fees have to be paid in January. I told the man I was not interested in any ritual sacrifice. The blood of Jesus is sufficient for all Believers! He didn’t argue. He left quietly.  But he came back two days later, imploring me to give “Unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”. He said I should realize that Nigerian politics is like a Dinner with the Devil and that I would need to acquire a long spoon of my own if I was serious about getting a seat at the table. Before his return, another person, who described himself as a Good Samaritan, had also called to say he was bringing to me a charmed waistband which I should tie around my waist any time we were going out for campaigns. I rejected the offer. I told the man I had no plans to become a shamanist because of politics. Our conversation ended in the shape of an argument with him telling me that I didn’t know what I had put myself into. 

“Do you know what all those other people you sit down with have under their clothes? Deputy, Oju lasan ko se politics ni Nigeria yi oh. You must fortify yourself. You need ayeta (local bullet-proof charm), okigbe (protection against machete cuts) gbetugbetu (all-purpose Yoruba charm), awise afogbohun,, ma-y-e-hun (charms for commanding persons), eyonu, atewogba (charms for popularity and acceptance)…after the waist-band, we still have a lot to do. Agan ni kini yi, ko se da gbe! A jo ma gbe ni. We are in this thing together. Anybody whose friend is disgraced is the one who has been disgraced.” 

I was not scared, but I was worried that 21stcentury Nigerian politics was beginning to sound like a return to the inter-tribal wars of the 14thCentury. 

I wasn’t going to part with a penny for any amulet or sacrifice. I was left alone for a while. We organized political activities: visited key stakeholders, communities, arranged consultation meetings, we stormed the town and other parts of our Constituency. The women and my wife had their own group. They focused on markets and house-to-house campaigns. The only thing that worried me was that each time we went to some places, some members of the opposition will later call me to complain that they heard I was spending money and giving people gifts. I would deny of course but they would then proceed to mention the exact place, the person visited and what exactly happened. I became worried. I concluded that there was need to be very watchful. On more than one occasion, persons came to me to show me lists of voters, numbers of Permanent Voters Cards and the phone numbers of their owners. They claimed the voters were under their direct control and they could deliver entire wards and local governments.  They needed money to mobilize the owners of the voters’ cards. It sounded strange to me. I didn’t play ball.

Before long, one of my self-appointed protectors came and said he would like me to go to a church somewhere in Abeokuta. According to him, every politician had already visited the church and whatever the man of God pronounced would come to pass. I refused. If the man of God had already promised every Gubernatorial candidate, victory, why bother?  

The battle for the protection of my soul and life in politics later reached a peak when one of the initial protectors returned to say that even if we did not do anything, we needed to send Eshu on errand, and he had identified the Eshu in the Igbein quarters of Abeokuta as the most potent agent that will ensure our victory in the 2019 Gubernatorial polls. I tried to fence him off by showing off my knowledge of the Yoriuba belief system and traditions. I even chanted the panegyric of Eshu, the trickster-god, the two faced, Janus member of the Yoruba pantheon. “Eshu Laalu, onile orita, ogirimoko okunrin, a ba ni wa oran bi a ri da, elekun n sun ekun, Laaroye n sun eje…”  Eshu is usually regarded as the equivalent of the Devil, but Yoruba Traditional Thought identifies him as an oxymoronic agent for both good and evil, an attribute translated as drama, form, antonym, and performance in Femi Osofisan’sEshu and the Vagabond Minstrels.  The man was not interested in my anthropological, hermeneutic analysis. I even told him that in actual fact, the most potent Eshu in Egbaland is in Imo, not Igbein and I told him… I was trying to pass a message across. The man flared up. 

“Eshu Igbein is very strong. If you give it what it wants. It will stand up and go out and deal with our enemies. It will bring us all the votes in Ogun State! It will go to every polling unit and vote.”

“Is it Eshu that will vote or the people of Ogun State? Is he a human being? Does he have a voter’s card?”, I inquired.

“Deputy, you don’t know this Eshu. After sending him on errand, you can’t come home straight. Otherwise, it will follow you. You must have a special, spiritual bath. Even then, three days later, it will still come to this house to give you a sign to show that he is already working.” 

“I don’t want Eshu to come here,” I said emphatically. 

“After he has worked for us, once you give him what he wants in return, he will go back. He is our best bet.” 

Olawale Folorunso and Bode Sowunmi who were with me and who had been listening to the argument over the proposed recruitment of Eshu as a polling agent eventually intervened. Bode Sowunmi wanted to know if the Eshu could survive in a compound with interlocking tiles and air conditioners and whether he would occupy one of our rooms. Wale thought the whole proposal was bizarre. Bode asked:

“Okay, Egbon, if you believe so much in this Eshu, why don’t you go and do the ritual and send Eshu on errand on behalf of Dr Abati and Senator Kashamu. You are a politician yourself and you are all in this campaign together. Dr says he doesn’t want Eshu in this matter.” 

“I am not the one running for Governor. I can’t spend my own money. Anybody that wants to be Governor must be ready to give Eshu his due,” the man insisted. 

I refused.

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Southern Kaduna Indigenes Protest Against Massacre By 'Herdsmen', Condemn El-Rufai's 'Deafening Silence'

19 March 2019 - 5:11am


Hundreds of Southern Kaduna indigenes have stormed Abuja to protest the incessant and gruesome killings of their members in Kajuru Local Government Area (LGA) by persons suspected to be herdsmen.

The protesters were clad in black T-Shirts on which '#StopTheKajuruMassacreNow' was inscribed .

They converged on Unity Fountain, where they condemned the “deafening silence” of Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, on the massacre in Adara communities in the state.

They also demanded the immediate release of their leaders who have been in detention for over a month, just as they urged the international community to intervene by prevailing on the government to end the senseless killings.

Details shortly...​

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Days Before Supplementary Elections, Buhari Meets With Security Chiefs Behind Closed Doors

19 March 2019 - 5:05am


President Muhammadu Buhari is currently presiding over a security briefing.

The meeting is taking place behind closed doors at the State House, Abuja.

Babagana Monguno, National Security Adviser; Brigadier General Mansur Dan Ali, the Defence Minister; Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police; Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff; Yusuf Bichi, the Director-General of the Department of State Service (DSS), as well as Ahmed Abubakar, the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), are all in attendance.

The details of the meeting were not clear at the time of this report, however, it is coming days before the supplementary polls scheduled for March 23, 2019.

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Dear Pius Adesanmi By Sesugh Akume

19 March 2019 - 4:24am




Dear Pius Adesanmi,

Last Wednesday, 3 days after you took wings and flew to the great beyond, as you're aware, your family met in Abuja at Unity Fountain to celebrate your life and times, and the great impact you have on us all and generations yet unborn. These memorials have been held and are going on in various cities in Nigeria and across the world, I was privileged to attend the very first one, in Abuja, even though another held same day in Ibadan at your alma mater.

The event didn't go on without the usual hitches. The police the then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo deployed to Unity Fountain in 2017 to prevent citizens from freely exercising their civic rights to clamp down on and stifle our civic space are still there, they insisted that the memorial couldn't hold. This particular candlelight event was themed 'The Power of Civic Space', this worst police force in the world as usual blind to irony missed the point, as expected. We were gathering to celebrate a patriot who preached (and preaches) about the sanctity of our civic spaces and why we must pay whatever price to keep them so, and not dominated by jackboots as the intention is. Here they were with their jackboots. Well, needless to say, our event held, and was very successful.

The organisers had earmarked speakers on various aspects of your stewardship. For instance, with regard to your being a writer we had various persons speaking about the various genres you deployed: poetry, satire, nonfiction, etc. Your kinsmen were present including your paramount-ruler-elect, and classmates from Titcombe, and just everyone from all walks of life. Nigeria united. Someone said, and I heard, that 'only Pius could've done this, uniting everyone.'

As the tributes were going on Aisha Yesufu, one of the organisers on their behalf,  asked if I could speak on you and good governance. That was a tall one, because in my view that's the centre of all your life endeavours (aside from your devotion to family), how was it possible to do this in 3 minutes and make any meaning, also noting that I was to do it extemporaneously? I didn't want to fail you by turning it down nor to do a shoddy job either, I understood the gravity but I agreed to do it. It remains a singular honour to be called. 

After 1 or 2 speakers it was my turn. Here's what I said in 3 minutes or less (because no one reminded me that that my time will soon be up, I was able to say it in a few sentences, and leave):

'Pius Adesanmi whom we've all gathered here to honour has been described as a man of many parts, he remains a writer, teacher, humorist, satirist, pan-Africanist, post-colonial Africa scholar, literary giant, and all that but aside from his family life he was over and above all a social and good governance advocate. Everything he ever said or did was aimed at creating for us a modern, just, and equitable society that works for all, this was his singular ambition. He wasn't a poet, writer, scholar, and so forth for its sake. He wanted Nigeria and Africa to be where the rest of the world is, and saw no reason why we aren't and no even on that path. That was what gave him sleepless nights.

'In 1983, Chinua Achebe wrote "The Trouble with Nigeria" wherein he theorises that Nigeria's first and singular problem is leadership, bad leadership. This is found in the very sentence in the book. Adesanmi however stretched this further, that the trouble with Nigeria (and indeed Africa) is governance, bad governance. What's the difference? Governance has two parts: the leaders and the led, the demand and supply sides, the officials and those whom they serve, or are supposed to serve. So whereas he never spared the one-percenters his famous koboko, which they so deserve, his other koboko was for the rest of us, the citizens who tolerate and enable bad governance by not demanding good governance, but rather enabling impunity, mediocrity, and incompetencbe. Some even worship the people in authority, instead of the other way round, if it comes to that. Remember it's demand and supply. No demand (of good governance) no supply. Low demand, low supply. High demand, high supply. That's how it works. The problem however is we don't even know what good governance is, what it looks like and how it should be. It's been so for generations. So he used humour, satire, drama, poems, songs, imagery, different forms of pedagogic styles and tools drawing examples from Europe, the US and Canada to teach how life is lived, how normal humans function. He regretted that we were uninformed, misinformed, disinformed, and deliberately, so. So he taught us on topics of citizenship, the rights, responsilities, and role of citizens are; civics, how society functions with active citizen participation, on not giving up our civic spaces to be dominated by those who so hoped; to an aversion for mediocrity; of actions and consequences, and so forth. 

It appears we all haven't been listening, he got fed up. We moved from one low to another. He was in an abusive relationship with Nigeria and Nigerians, it was a struggle loving her/them even though they both clearly aren't deserving and ready, but was unable to let go. In his very last article on Saturday, 9 March of his weekly opinion piece 'Injury Time', in the 'Tribune' he expressed frustration at all of us saying (that's when I read from the phone in my hand):

“...A thousand years from now, archeologists would be interested in how some people called Nigerians lived in the 20th and 21st centuries. If they dig and excavate, I am hoping that fragments of my writings survive to point them to the fact that not all of them accepted to live as slaves..."

'That wasn't the first time he said this. However, these were his last wprds in his last op-ed. He ran his race. He did his part. The best way we can truly celebrate the life, times, and legacy of Pius Adesanmi is to attain what he strove for but never got in his lifetime: a Nigeria that works for us all in our lifetime. Please repeat after me, "Nigeria must work in my lifetime." Again. Again. Let's be committed to this, all of us. We mustn't all be geniuses and as talented as he was. We don't have to. Whatever we do, let's be the best we can at it, and deploy it in playing our role as citizens o make Nigeria work. Let's all make Nigeria work in our lifetime.'

Dear Pius, so much happened, so much happened. Your friend Omo Baba Oloye showed up. You won't believe, but the senate president, Bukola Saraki was in his very best behaviour. He spoke for the 2 minutes allotted him, and no more. He used a few sentences and that was it. He made a lot of meaning. He said he never heard about you until your passing. He saw the eulogies everywhere and kept wondering who you were to have mobilised so much grief across the entire spectrum. He said he was there to honour a 'great Nigerian' and very talented, that you deserved it. He said on his way there he was told you were very scathing of him, but well, it didn't matter, those were your views and beliefs, they in no way take away from your greatness, talent and love for Nigeria.

Your senator, Dino sang 2 songs in English and 'Yoyoba'. He said he may have been the worst victim of your koboko but both of you interacted well whenever you met, on phone and inbox. You were a good older brother to him. I don't doubt him, I know it's something you'd do. Recall ours that day, after your lighthearted, effervescent, fond and rather endless discussion with Mrs Fayemi, when I reminded you of 'Gulag Ekitilago' and other ferocious koboko whipping on she and her husband as wife and governor of Ekito, and so forth. You said but it was nothing personal, even she and her husband know it. That you'd do same today if the need arose. We laughed, but that was true. Same way I know you could demolish Dino, based on principles, but still be fine with him, or anyone for that matter, because there's no bitterness or anything personal in this business. So I believed him. He said the criticism helped him. For him, it generally curtails his excesses, and used the opportunity to tell us Nigerians that we fear too much. As long as we can't look at Muhammadu Buhari in the face and tell him he's wrong, look at Dino Melaye and tell him he's wrong, we will remain in the wilderness. So much more happened that day.

It was a very touching evening. When we were through with the tributes as it got dark we had a candlelight procession round the fountain, came back, respectfully laid our candles and closed for the day. No one who was present was the same.

NB: Before I go, one little detail you may like. After everyone left few others stayed back to clean up and clear the venue of water bottles, candles, small chops packs, polythene bags, etc. Some said the cleaners would clean up the next morning, but it wasn't a good idea to honour you and leave the venue filthy and disorganised. Rest in perfect peace. We who are yet here will continue with the legacy and pass it on for generations. You live forever in our hearts.

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BREAKING: Court Stops INEC From Collating, Announcing Bauchi Election Result

19 March 2019 - 4:20am


A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from collating the figures from the electoral exercise held in Bauch state on March 9, 2019.

Issuing the ruling on Tuesday, Justice Ekwo Ejembi gave the judgment on a suit filed on the matter.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate in the state, incumbent Governor Mohammed Abubakar, had filed a suit challenging the commission on the legality of the collation exercise, which was scheduled to continue today.

The development is coming barely 24 hours after Abubakar visited President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, during which the Buhari had supported the Governor’s decision to go to court.

The collation exercise was scheduled to continue on Tuesday.

Details later...

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‘Something Is Fundamentally Wrong With Us’ — Daniel Responds To Criticism of His Exit From PDP

19 March 2019 - 3:53am

Gbenga Daniel, former Governor of Ogun State, has a message for those criticising and “emotionally blackmailing” him since announcing his exit from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP): “something is fundamentally wrong with us as a people”.

Since announcing his exit on Saturday, Daniel has come under pressure from forces both within and outside the party, with some even making it a point to reprimand him. 

“I am over 60 and have been a workaholic all my life,” Daniel said in response, in a statement forwarded to SaharaReporters by his media team. 

“I was listed by the then National Concord as one of 50 most fascinating businessmen in Nigeria in 1990 as CEO of Kresta Laurel Ltd. Before then, I was the first black DMD of a multinational conglomerate where I worked. 

“My company Kresta Laurel at 25, three years ago, remains the only ISO-certified in Nigeria; I became the youngest Yorubaman to take a chieftaincy title in Ile-Ife at age 32, over 30 years ago. I became Governor at 47 and left at 55 after eight years of governance some eight years ago. 

“In all my life it’s been work, work and work; and in the political arena it’s been the most thankless and insulting of all my life’s endevour.  Even to voluntarily step back, which ordinarily should be applauded, it’s more insult. 

“I think something is fundamentally wrong with us as a people. When politicians fail to leave, it’s complaint galore from the younger generation. This one decides to step back at the peak, having successfully navigated Atiku Abubakar to victory before handing the baton to another DG and having successfully helped others to emplace a seating Governor, you people have issues with that. Tell me, what exactly do people want?”

The PDP has not yet formally taken a stand on Daniel’s resignation; however, this could happen at an emergency meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) scheduled for today.

 

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BREAKING: Nigerian Senate Approves N30,000 As New National Minimum Wage

19 March 2019 - 3:50am


The Nigerian Senate has approved N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.

The approval came subsequent to the submission of the report of the ad hoc committee set up to review the minimum wage. The committee was headed by Senator Francis Alimikhena.

The decision was taken at the plenary session on Tuesday.

A request was also made to the Nigerian government to submit a supplementary budget, which would include the structure of the new national minimum wage.

The House of Representatives had also earlier approved the new figure as the national minimum wage.

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Okorocha Was Adjudged Highest Property Owner In Imo And Abuja Before Becoming Governor, Says Spokesman

19 March 2019 - 1:32am



Rochas Okorocha, the outgoing Governor of Imo State, has been adjudged highest property owner in Imo State and Abuja before he became governor.
The Governor has, however, denied allegations by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state that he made a withdrawal of N17billion from the government purse in four days.
In a statement signed on Monday by Sam Onwuemeodo, his Chief Press Secretary, Okorocha called on Emeka Ihedioha who won the March 9 governorship poll in the state under the PDP to show proof that the alleged withdrawals were made.
According to Okorocha, Ihedioha is “just being smart politically, but political smartness is different from having the capacity for leadership or governance".
He continued: "Where in Imo State, with a meagre Federal Allocation and Internally Generated Revenue, can one get N17billion to withdraw? He is coming to become governor with the only income he made at the National Assembly, because prior to his going to the National Assembly, he never did any paid job. And he is trying now to blackmail a man adjudged to be the highest property owner both in Owerri and in Abuja many years before becoming governor.
“He has not said anything about free education, urban renewal and other sensitive people-oriented programmes and policies of the Rescue Mission Government in the state. He is only talking about money and property. A man who failed as a member of the House of Representatives won’t do magic as a governor.
“He should also know that with what Governor Okorocha has achieved, Imo people won’t entertain any excuse from him. If he likes, let him talk about Rochas Okorocha from now till when he will leave as governor.
“After May 29, 2019, he has every right to probe even the food Rochas Okorocha and the family ate in Government House.

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I Visited Buhari To Discuss Security Apparatus For Supplementary Elections, Says Lalong

19 March 2019 - 1:06am


Simon Lalong, Governor of Plateau State, says he visited President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja to discuss the security apparatus for the supplementary election scheduled to hold in the state.

Lalong, who visited the President on Monday, said the scope of the meeting was also focused on the menace of cattle rustling facing the state. 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had chosen March 23 for the supplementary elections in Adamawa, Kano, Sokoto, Benue and Plateau states.

Speaking with pressmen after the meeting, Lalong said: “So far, so good, we have had very peaceful elections. We are coming back for a supplementary election. I will like INEC to conduct a peaceful election and so we will like the security apparatus to be on the ground in the state. That was my briefing to Mr. President.”

When asked if he is anxious as the date for the supplementary elections draws close, he said: “How can I be when all the votes that were cancelled were my votes? These were areas that I won. There was no need for cancellation but then as a lawyer, I still want to comply with the rules. I don’t want to be talking about infringing on the rules when the elections result is very clear.”

Speaking on the cattle rustling which occurred in the state last Thursday, during which more than 100 cows were displaced by suspected local militia close to College of Accountancy in Kwall, Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, he added: “That was why I said I am concerned about security. Usually, it starts like that; they start rustling and killing cattle and the next thing you will hear is that it is farmers herders’ crisis."

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PDP Says 400 Witnesses, 20 SANs Set To Challenge Buhari's Victory At Election Tribunal

19 March 2019 - 1:00am


The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says 400 witnesses are set to testify at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to challenge the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the just concluded presidential poll.

This was disclosed after PDP and Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate, filed a petition before the Tribunal on Monday evening.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Atiku Abubakar polled 11,262,978 votes and was defeated by Buhari, who got 15,191,847 votes in the February 23 election.

Emmanuel Enoidem, National Legal Adviser of the PDP, who spoke to journalists after the petition was filed, said more than 20 Senior Advocates of Nigeria would represent the party and its candidate.

The petition is in line with INEC's directive that all petitioners must present their disputes 21 days from the date of the announcement of the presidential election result.
 

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We Won't Present Certificate Of Return To Okorocha, INEC Insists

19 March 2019 - 12:42am


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that its decision not to present certificate of return to Rochas Okorocha, the outgoing Governor of Imo State and senator-elect still stands.

Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, stated this on Monday.

According to Okoye, the commission stands by its decision because the Returning Officer for Imo West senatorial district election had disclosed that the declaration was made “under duress”.

"Yes, we’ve made it clear on why we didn’t present any certificate of return to him (Okorocha). If you look at our website, we said the declaration and return were made under duress and that we are not going to give any certificate to any person who procured a return under duress," he said.
 

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My Assets Declaration Forms Have Been Tampered With, Says Onnoghen

19 March 2019 - 12:40am


Onnoghen in court

Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), has alleged that his Assets Declaration Forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) have been tampered with by agents of the Nigerian government.

Onnoghen made the allegation on Monday at his resumed trial on alleged fraudulent declaration of assets before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja.

The said documents are the CCB Assets Declaration forms of 2014 and 2015.

The prosecution having called its 1st witness, James Akpala, a Senior Investigative Officer with the CCB, had sought to tender the said documents in support of his evidence against Onnoghen.

However, when the documents were shown to the defendant, Onnoghen through his counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), told the Tribunal that a careful look at the documents showed that they had been tampered with.

According to him, the 2014 form has become loosened, part of it mutilated and has become blue in a way.

Awomolo said a similar observation was made on the 2015 form, with some duplications and omission of some pages.

“We have some reservations on the documents. We will not object in the interest of justice, but we have reservations that would be addressed at the end of the day,” the senior lawyer stated.

Akpala in his evidence-in-chief, told the tribunal that the CCB on January 10, referred a petition written by the Anti-Corruption and Research Database Initiative to his team for investigation.

The witness said that on the strength of the petition signed by one Chief Dennis Aghanya, he visited Onnoghen in his office at the Supreme Court, during which a cautionary statement was obtained from him, while letters were also written to the Standard Chartered Bank for account details of the defendant with the bank.

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