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Politics Wednesday

Politics Wednesday page 1 cover contd page 3 and page 4. cover pix- Ogiemwonyi, Buhari
Buhari: Time of reckoning is here- Ogiemwonyi
With Buhari, there is a new dawn
Buhari should not have any sacred cow
Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi was the Group Executive Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and a former Minister of State for Works between 2010 and 2011 in the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
In this interview with TITUS AKHIGBE, the All Progressives Congress, (APC) chieftain speaks on what to expect under a Muhammadu Buhari presidency and other issues affecting the polity. Excerpts:

Now, the presidential election result has been announced and General Muhammadu Buhari is President-elect. The expectations of Nigerians that he would perform are very high. Do you think he will not let us down?

I have 99 percent confidence that the man elected president by Nigerians will perform. In a simple language I see him as the messiah that we have all been waiting for. I see hope and a new dawn in Nigeria. I see the locust days gone forever in Nigeria. It is definitely the Lord’s doing that this man emerged to take Nigerians to the Promised Land. It’s something that we must celebrate.

There is so much corruption in Nigeria. You must have seen some of it while in the public service. How will you advice General Buhari to tackle corruption?

We have laws in Nigeria. We have institutions to check corruption. But the truth is that these institutions were not allowed to work. First, we must strengthen these institutions – ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission); EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission); the Police Force etc. So, by the time we strengthen these institutions such that there will be no sacred cow, the rule of law will prevail, if you’re guilty… I see the President-elect as a man who believes purely in the rule of law. It is for Nigerians to support him because in the process, we might get to some areas where people will want to be spared but we’ll encourage Mr. President-elect that there should be no sacred cow. Whoever is corrupt should face the music because this country is blessed but it got to a point where about three percent of Nigerians were sucking this country dry. So the time has come for
reckoning and whoever is found corrupt should not be spared.

Personalities all over the world have been giving kudos to President Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat in the presidential polls ahead of the announcement of the final results. What is your opinion about this?

What was his option? What option had he? It was so obvious that he had lost the election. I think by the time he called the President-elect we had probably heard 90 percent of the poll result so there was no option for him than to concede defeat. People said he conceded defeat in magnanimity but what was his option? He had no option than to throw in the towel.

The results of the presidential and national assembly elections held in Edo State on March 28 contrary to expectations swung in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But the situation was reversed in the house of assembly polls held two weeks later. What was the reason for this?
Many Nigerians were not too sure that Jonathan could be defeated. They were so concerned about the incumbency factor. But I tell you that what happened was that Nigerians were fed up in view of the various ills that bedevilled the country – corruption (the highest we have seen so far), insecurity, poor economy, bad power situation etc. Everything was going downwards. So, Nigerians voted for a change. That is the truth. Then for the April 11 elections why a reversal? Many of us came out to speak publicly. You’ll recall that we held a press conference on the 6th of April telling people the need to align properly. That Edo State will never again be in opposition. The Edo people listened and many other groups came out with that same slogan “we’ll never be in opposition” and people realised the benefit of having a government at the centre in their states. Edo people wanted to be in the scheme of things. Definitely, once we are properly now aligned with the centre the benefits are enormous. I am very happy that Edo State did. The Middle Belt did; the Yoruba with their high level of literacy saw the need. I am happy that the Edo people did too.

President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari and the National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun have said that they will not welcome defectors to the party. What is your opinion about this?

Again, the issue of the defectors, people are probably looking at the area of integrity, people should be firm, people should be principled. Having said that, I should say we should open our doors to those who are coming. We should welcome them. But they should realise that they are coming after the rain has fallen. Like the Benins would say: “if you want to fetch water you should fetch it when the rain is falling.” You should not fetch water when the rain has stopped falling. The time people could have joined the party was when the struggle was on with high level of uncertainty.

Which of the serving ministers would you recommend should be retained by the in-coming administration?

They say that when the head is bad then everything would be bad. The government of President Jonathan was sick so probably only two or three people in his cabinet can be said to have performed. But I cannot judge some of them because I am not an expert in the area they served. For instance, I understand the Agriculture Minister performed well. In the oil and gas sector where I have my experience, Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, performed dismally. She encouraged high level of corruption with impunity. Despite the high caliber of staff in NNPC, (Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation), she never allowed them to perform. She was madly in-charge. She should be held accountable for the lapses in the oil sector. I am supporting that NNPC’s accounts should be audited. Let her face the music.

Since you joined the APC you have been instrumental in stabilising the party in Edo State. In a year’s time the state governorship election would be held. A lot of people are now asking that what role will Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi play when the chips are down?

You’ll recall when I joined the party in November last year, there was a high level of uncertainty of the future. I told them I was coming to support the party to win elections. Thank God, today, the future is clearer. Talking about the future, in democracy the people’s will always be done. So, am looking at the future with certainty but when it comes to making the decision that who and who will go for elective position like the governorship, the people will decide. There are many competent people. It is people’s decision. That is democracy.

Tactically, the governorship position of the APC has been zoned to Edo South and the two visible candidates are you and the deputy governor, Pius Odubu, and both of you are from Orhionmwon, how will both of you work together?

I don’t like politics of exclusion. Nobody has told me that only myself and the deputy governor are in contention. What I heard from the party is that the governorship has been zoned to Edo South and the zone has eminent people. It is made up of seven local government areas and there are competent people from these areas. When we get there, the people’s will will prevail.

Politics Wednesday page 1 brief, contd page 2 pix- El Rufai, Ramalan Yero
How we will deliver our election promises, by El-Rufai
The task of rebuilding Kaduna for us all – El-Rufai

The dreaded 2015 general election have come and gone. Never in the history of Nigeria was election fought with intensity of what the country witnessed like war. Giving Nigeria’s position in the world affairs, particularly as it affects African countries, the world attention was shifted to Nigeria.
About five years ago, it was predicted that Nigeria would break up after the polls, hence the heightened fears that the election generated. But perhaps, because God is a Nigerian, the election was decided peacefully.
With this development, political analysts opined that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria and that the threatened disintegration of the country, even if it will come, may not be in the nearest future.
In every contest, there must be a looser and a winner. Be that as it may, losers and winners of the elections have emerged. And while the losers are licking their wounds and counting their loses, winners who have been celebrating their victories are now being occupied by the thinking of how to deliver election promises for posterity, as they prepare to step into the shoes of their predecessors.
Kaduna State, one of the oldest of its kind in Nigeria and of course, the political/administrative headquarters of the northern region, is one of the states in which governorship election was conducted. Not less than four candidates came out contesting against the incumbent governor, Dr. Mukhtar Ramalan Yero of Peoples Democratic Part (PDP) who wanted a second term.
Like in many states, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP were the major contenders. But the election was decided in favour of APC’s candidate and a household name in Nigeria, Mallam Nasir El’Rufai, a former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Courtesy of the electorate, the game changer, El-Rufai, humbled Governor Yero by polling 1,117,635 votes against 485,833 votes scored by incumbent Yero, to emerge winner.
As the results that trickled in, Governor Yero sensed failure and decided, in a sports like manner, to call and congratulate his arch rival, El-Rufai even before the final results were released and winner publicly declared by the INEC. The outgoing Governor did not only concede defeat, but pledged to work with his successor in the overall interest of the state.
With the outcome of the election, the 16-year government of PDP has been uprooted in the state. Consequently, Yero has transferred the burden of leadership to El-Rufai, a disciple of “change” which debuted on March 28 at the federal with a stopover in Kaduna on April 11, 2015.
Reacting to the political development, 16 years after the birth of this Republic, El-Rufai noted that the pattern of voting during the election in Kaduna signified unity, the desire for development and growth. Therefore, he dedicated his electoral victory to the people of the state as according to him: “the outstanding victory we achieved at the polls on April 11 happened only because you came out in numbers to cast your votes and waited patiently to protect your votes until the results were announced. Dear compatriots, you have spoken with a loud voice for change.
“On behalf of the APC, we express our profound gratitude to you for investing in us, your hopes for the future. You voted massively to elect General Muhammadu Buhari as president of Nigeria, and you saw fit to send two APC senators and 11 representatives to the National Assembly. On Saturday, you completed the job by electing me, an APC governor, and a more than two-thirds majority of the state House of Assembly members. We thank you for this vote of confidence and promise to be responsible custodians of your mandate”, he vowed.
It appears El-Rufai is not oblivious of the fact that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’. Therefore, in accepting his victory as governor of Kaduna State, he pledges to do all that is humanly possible to move the state forward. “As soon as I am sworn into office and constitute a state executive council, we shall begin work to meet your expectations of positive change.
“In undertaking our campaign, we stuck to the issues doggedly, exposing what is wrong and outlining our plans to change them. We engaged in competitive campaigning and banter but never insulted or abused any person or official. For us, it was a grueling campaign as we engaged with ordinary people across the vast swathes and divides of our state.
“The campaign period is now over. We have no time to exult in our victory. There is so much to do to make Kaduna great again. We need to begin the hard work of change. As leader of the APC Kaduna Change Team, I assure you that we shall do our best to restore Kaduna State to a state that works for you” but “we shall be doing so under serious constraints”, apparently lamenting the financial state of the state as according to him, “our state is heavily indebted at a time when oil prices are low”.
Consequently, the Governor-elect regretted that “our state has not seen significant development in the last eight years” and therefore stressed the need for his government to “work twice as hard with half the resources of the last eight years just to catch up with our neighbors”. Thus, “we must be disciplined, focused and prudent to do so”, he charged.
Speaking further, he said “we are aware of your justifiably high expectations of our government” and affirmed “we will do our utmost best to meet them. But we shall need your patience, sacrifice and support”, as according to him, the administration will embark on reforming the state institutions, “to instill culture of probity that insists on value for money, that ensures that government procurement occurs at the most cost effective level and encourages personal responsibility.
“We will do whatever is humanly possible to fulfill the promises in our manifesto, the Kaduna Restoration Programme that we have published, circulated and discussed with diverse constituencies of the state. Our commitment to transparency will manifest as we reform the public sector to be an efficient deliverer of services.
“The APC takes seriously its responsibility to build a harmonious society in Kaduna State. We are committed to fostering a secure, peaceful environment that gives the confidence to all the residents of the state to make the most of their talents. We will uphold the rule of law and the equality of concern for all citizens. We intend to work with all communities in Kaduna state without fear or favor”.
In the believe that “we are all equal partners and stakeholders in this state”, he said as the new administration is set to take off, “there will be no discrimination in Kaduna State on the basis of gender, ethnicity or religion. Appointments and nominations into the incoming cabinet and government will be primarily on the basis of integrity and determined strictly by competence, capacity and capability.
“We shall be a listening government, and we shall be decisive in implementing our agreed agenda for change. We shall lose no time in reforming education and healthcare, local government, the public service and leading the processes that will create jobs and economic opportunities for our people”, El-Rufai assured.
Recalling events in the build up to the elections, he praised all the leaders and supporters of both APC and PDP who ensured that the peace accord we signed before the elections was observed in most of the state. “That is a reflection of the new Kaduna we want to build – a place where whatever differences of opinion that we may have are resolved peacefully, with mutual respect and dignity. It also reinforces my conviction that human life is too valuable to waste simply because of political differences or ideological affiliations”, he noted.
No change is possible without necessary sacrifice. Thus, while paying tribute to citizens of Kaduna State for giving their time, money and even lives to make the political change that took place possible, El-Rufai prayed for the souls of those that lost their lives to thuggery to rest in perfect peace.
Of specific appreciation to the Governor-elect, was the democratic understanding and political actions of Governor Mukhtar Yero and Vice president Namadi Sambo. According to him, at exactly 3pm on Sunday, April 12, Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero phoned to “congratulate the APC for its victory in the elections, and pledge to work with us to make Kaduna great again. This was followed by a congratulatory letter later in the day. Vice President Namadi Sambo also called in the evening to convey his best wishes. I thank them for these acts which have put the interest of the state above partisan politics”.
Already, consultations between El-Rufai and Governor Yero on the transition process to ensure that the machinery of government does not suffer between now and when the new government takes office, is in progress. And as the people of Kaduna state are anxiously waiting for the promised dividends of democracy, the governor-elect strongly declare: “we will hit the ground running. Change has come. The work of rebuilding Kaduna State begins immediately”, adding: “everyone of you has a role to play. We must work together to make the change real and lasting, so that together we can make Kaduna great again”.

Politics Wednesday page 1 brief contd on page 4 Pix- Jonathan, Buhari, John Odigie-Oyegun
Wind of Change indeed
Its real of wind change
Indeed, from all indications, a Wind of change has started blowing across the country for real.
When the All Progressives Congress (APC) proclaimed Change as its focus and slogan, not a few people were of the view that it was the usual mouthing of slogans by politicians without any commitment to its real essence.
On not a few occasions, spokespersons of the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had rubbished the party over the slogan claiming that there was nothing to be changed but the personalities in the APC themselves.
However, since the historic Presidential election of March 28, it appears the change being clamoured for is already being ushered into the country.
With the victory, by a large margin of the APC Presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the wind of change started to blow when in a rare show of statesmanship, incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan conceded victory even before the final results were announced.
For the first time in the history of Nigeria, a sitting president lost election and called the President-elect to congratulate him over his victory. That singular action by President Jonathan brought Nigeria back from the precipice thus ensuring the achievement of change.
As if that is not enough, in Oyo State, the APC made another history when the incumbent governor, Senator Isiaka Ajimobi broke the jinx of a second term in the state. In the political history of the state, no elected leader has ever won an election for the second term in office. Even heavyweights like late Chief Bola Ige, Lam Adesina, Adebayo Alao-Akala- all lost in their second term bid.
Another area where the wind of change came is in Kaduna State where former FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai won election and defeated the incumbent governor, Ramalan Yero.
This is the first time since the 23 June 1981 impeachment of a progressive governor, Alhaji Balarabe Musa that another progressive governor is coming into government. Besides, Yero, who is the PDP candidate conceded defeat and congratulated El-Rufai, an APC candidate over his victory, even before the final results were announced.
Besides Kaduna, in relatively conservative states in the north, like Katsina, Sokoto, Niger, etc, the wind of change has swept the progressive force into power for the first time in the history of the north regarded as the home of conservatives.
With this hopeful start, the APC cannot but ensure the continuation of good things into the country with the wind of change as to do otherwise may be interpreted as a false start and would be disastrous for the country if it reverts back to the old order of doing things.
Let the wind of change blow in every area of Nigeria especially corruption. This will usher in a new lease of life into the country.
There is however a glimmer of hope that this wind of change will not lead to one-party dictatorship especially with the mass defections of the leading party’s chieftains to the rave of the moment, the APC. Obviously, if this happens, it might be threat to real democratic tenets.
The wind of change must allow and tolerate a virile opposition which will enable our democracy to thrive and be strengthened against any undemocratic elements.

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