The end of democracy in Nigeria

A dismally low turnout in the presidential elections revealed the fractured relationship between politicians and populace.

‘Like a marriage, democracy cannot survive without trust.’
‘Like a marriage, democracy cannot survive without trust.’ Photograph: Luis Tato/AFP/Getty Images

By Remi Adekoya

You know a democracy is in trouble when two out of three voters don’t bother to turn up for a presidential election. In Nigeria’s just-concluded presidential poll, incumbent Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected with the backing of 15.2 million voters compared to the 11.3 million votes his main rival Atiku Abubakar, was able to amass.

Although this gave Buhari 56% of the total votes cast, in a country with a population of close to 200 million, including more than 84 million registered voters, 15.2 million votes hardly qualifies as a huge mandate. The 35% voter turnout was down from 44% in the 2015 presidential election and way down from the 54% turnout in 2011. In fact, turnout for Nigerian presidential elections has been dropping at an alarmingly consistent rate since 2003. So why are increasingly fewer Nigerians feeling the need to vote in elections that decide the most powerful political office?

Poor organisation is one reason. The last three elections were all postponedat the last minute, causing frustration as well as suspicion that politicians were delaying things to perfect their rigging strategies. Voting itself often involves waiting long hours, in a cumbersome and inefficient process. For some, it’s too much hassle.

Then there is the ever-present fear of violence on election day. Indeed, violence erupted in several places across the country in this election. Politics is a high-stakes game anywhere; in Nigeria the rewards of victory are particularly high. Nigerian legislators are among the highest paid in the world, while the president controls a huge oil-money fuelled patronage system that can transform you into a billionaire overnight. Also, top Nigerian officeholders enjoy the highest prestige within society because they have money and power. Suffice it to say, the motivation to win is significant. Considering that the Nigerian state is too weak to have a monopoly on violence, some political actors take advantage of this and deploy it as a tool for competitive advantage.

‘The 76-year-old Muhammadu Buharii who governed highhandedly and often incompetently.’ Photograph: Reuters

Furthermore, this year’s choice between the 76-year-old Buhari, who governed highhandedly and often incompetently during his first term, and the 72-year-old veteran politician Atiku, who is widely considered corrupt, was hardly inspiring.

However, it is likely that the largest contributing factor to the extremely low turnout was the feeling that whoever won, nothing would change. The system is so corrupt that it makes no difference whether X or Y is president. Pew Research conducted last year showed that only 39% of Nigerians were satisfiedwith their democracy, 72% said most politicians were corrupt and 57% said no matter who wins elections, things do not change much. Only 38% felt that elected officials cared what “ordinary people think”.

And so here we are. The problem is that it is difficult for a system to maintain its legitimacy if only one in three citizens believe in it. This is the position Nigerian democracy now finds itself in. Buhari thus needs to keep his celebrations as short as possible and start focusing on restoring some faith in the system. A genuine and systematic effort to tackle corruption, including within his party, would be a good start. While having built a reputation of not being personally corrupt, during his first term Buhari was seen by many to have pursued a selective anti-corruption drive aimed solely at opposition politicians, while his own political friends conducted business as usual.

‘The 72-year-old veteran politician Atiku Abubakar, who is widely considered corrupt.’ Photograph: Reuters

For instance, one of Buhari’s main political allies, former Lagos state governor, Bola Tinubu, was flippantly unapologetic about the bullion vans, which many suspected were full of cash for vote-buying, photographed entering his premises on election eve. He said he reserved the right to give people cash “free of charge” if he so wished while denying that it was to buy votes. Incidents like this only fuel the cynicism of Nigerians, who see Buhari as hypocritical for turning a blind eye to such brazenness from his allies.

He also needs to make his second-term cabinet as diverse and competent as possible. Voter turnout was particularly low in the southern states where Buhari, who hails from the north, is seen by many to favour his kinsmen and those loyal to him in political appointments while competence takes low priority. Nigeria’s economy has taken a battering in recent years and it is vital that people see Buhari as putting the welfare of the country’s economy and its citizens above any personal or ethnic considerations and sentiments.

Like a marriage, democracy cannot survive without trust. The relationship between the Nigerian government and its people is broken. Apathy prevails. Trust is scarce. Buhari’s second term needs to be focused on tackling this lack of trust that Nigerians increasingly feel towards their political system. Otherwise, the future of Nigerian democracy looks very bleak indeed.

• Remi Adekoya is the former political editor of the Warsaw Business Journal

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Buhari’s victory is dangerous for Nigeria’s economy – Analysts

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has been declared winner of the 2019 presidential poll by INEC, the country’s electoral commission defeating his closest rival Atiku Abubakar with about four million votes. While the incumbent is currently being congratulated on his re-election by fellow leaders across the world, Bloomberg says his victory is bad for the Nigerian economy.

“If President Muhammadu Buhari wins another four-year term it will probably mean more political interference in Nigeria’s economy and slower growth,” research by Bloomberg Economics shows.

This sentiment was echoed by ratings agency Moody’s in a note shared with TheNerve Africa.

“Nigeria’s credit challenges remain and include a low growth environment, very high exposure to fluctuations in oil prices of government revenues and export earnings, weak institutions, and high levels of corruption,” said Aurelien Mali, Vice President at Moody’s.

Since 2015 when Buhari was first elected president, the country has been in dire economic strait, going into recession and slightly recovering at a time regional neighbours were posting impressive growth. Although a fall in oil prices took its toll on the nation, policy uncertainty under Buhari and his blatant disregard for the rule of law scared investors away. Worse, any time he is called into question over actions that are detrimental to the economy, he gets defensive. Last year, foreign direct investment into Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy dropped 36 percent to $2.2 billion. This decline saw Ghana overtake Nigeria as the country with the highest FDI in West Africa, recording an inflow of $3.3 billion. Nigeria also became the country with the highest number of poor people in the world, overtaking China. Unemployment also rose to 23.1 percent in the third quarter of 2018.  

President Buhari’s fight against corruption has also been less than impressive, with his party members facing allegations of corruption seem to be getting a free pass. It took more than two years of outcry and the nearness of the presidential poll for the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to arrest former Secretary to the Nigerian government Babachir Lawal who was sacked over corruption allegations. The governor of Nigeria’s Kano State had a key role to play in ensuring the state with one of the highest number of voters in the country support the president’s re-election bid, so when he was caught on video receiving wads of dollars, President Buhari, who was once known to abhor corruption was convinced the video must have been doctored. Governor Umar Ganduje repayed Buhari’s decision to look away with more than a million votes.

There are other members of President Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress who are under investigation or even undergoing trial for corruption, but were candidates in the just concluded National Assembly elections. Like the chairman of the ruling party said, once politicians join the party, their sins are forgiven. But not for long; Buhari’s re-election did not come easy. He garnered 15,191,847 votes against Atiku’s 11,262,978. He won 19 states against Atiku’s 17, plus the capital Abuja. This is despite the corruption-ridden label that seem to have stuck on the latter and his party, the PDP.

Thus, the president is expected to review his first term in office and strive to correct his mistakes and put the country back on a path of economic prosperity. Despite failing to fulfill his campaign promises, he was re-elected. That should count for something.

“The new Administration will intensify its efforts in Security, Restructuring the Economy and Fighting Corruption,” President Buhari said in his victory speech, although he believes a foundation has been laid to achieve improved security, fight corruption and grow the economy. But he seems to concede that nepotism reigned during his first term and so, he would correct this.

“We will strive to strengthen our unity and inclusiveness so that no section or group will feel left behind or left out,” he promised.

Regardless of what they think a Buhari second term means for the country, analysts see a better year for Nigeria in 2019. According to Bloomberg Economics, the opening of the Egina offshore oilfield operated by Total, this month and the Dangote refinery expected next year will deliver a near-term boost. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had also stated this in its Global Investment Trends Monitor released in January.

But analysts doubt his government would be able to build on gains from such projects. Bloomberg Economics expects Nigeria to keep losing ground in real GDP per capita against its peers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

One way to start well is ensuring it does not take him another six months from May 29, to set up his cabinet. The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is an important plan his government should see through; he needs to ensure capable hands are appointed to his cabinet to ensure the country benefits from the plan.

SOURCE: The Nerve Africa

Obasanjo vs Tinubu: 2019 is beyond Buhari and Atiku

By Mike Ikenwa

Many are expecting the 2019 general election to be, if not for anything else, the most closely contested presidential election in the history of Nigeria, but no, this is beyond Atiku Abubakar, the former Nigerian vice president, and President Muhammadu Buhari, a former Nigerian military general who defeated former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 General Elections to emerge as Nigerian president.

Just like President Buhari Mr. Atiku has contested in three elections to become Nigeria president but failed, and this time, winning the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket to emerge as the 2019 presidential election candidate is what seems to be his final push to Aso Rock, while President Buhari is gunning for his second term.

So many things are going to decide the outcome of the presidential elections, and yes, who is behind who is going to play a big role.

Prior to the 2015 PDP primaries which saw Atiku emerge as the flag bearer, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has criticized Atiku, who was his vice as president, calling him a corrupt politician and a ‘thief’, but what has changed, why has he changed his mind to support Atiku? This is where the politics comes in, and it’s bigger than Atiku and Buhari, it’s the issue of who should be the boss of Nigerian politics.

On the side of the President Muhammadu Buhari is Former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, a key player in the 2015 politics that saw the dethroning of a seating President and emergence of President Buhari as Nigeria’s president. Many have given Tinubu credit for the emergence of Buhari as president, but that’s not enough for Tinubu, who from all indications was not very satisfied with how he was treated by the president after the elections. The re-election of President Buhari as president will not just seal Tinubu’s place as a key figure when it comes to Nigerian politics, but will further make him the man to decide who wins and who loses Nigeria’s elections.

Tinubu has been accused of dominating South West politics and ruling the region by proxy, as seen in emergence of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode as Lagos state governor and emergence of Babajide Sanwo-Olu as 2019 governorship candidate of the APC in the state.

By staying back to support President Muhammadu Buhari to continue for another four years after such poor performance and run of government widely accused of corruption, tribalism and so much clamp down and destruction of the country’s democracy, it’s obvious that Tinubu want to expand his coast to other parts of Nigeria to become a leading political figure who no politician gunning for national post will neglect.

On the other hand, Obasanjo has a lot to lose if he continues to support president Buhari. After the 2015 presidential elections, one would expect Obasanjo to take credit for his support to APC and Buhari after he went to the extent of destroying his PDP membership card publicly and declaring his resignation from the party, but no, who want to talk about that? Not while Tinubu, who didn’t just form the coalition that brought Buhari in, but also put resources and man power to ensure Buhari’s victory is still alive.

Obasanjo being a smart Politian knows very well that continue support for re-election of Buhari would see him walking in Tinubu’s shadows and would quicken his death as a key political figure in Nigeria, going further to make him lose his place as one of the men that decides the outcome of elections in Nigeria, hence he declared support for his former number two and someone that did everything possible to make sure he doesn’t go for second term.

Let’s look at it this way. If Buhari wins, it’s the end of Obasanjo’s reign, and it’d go to the length of losing his respect and fame in Nigerian politics. Like they say, politics is a game of number, and a game of who commands who and who has the most loyal followership and support. Buhari’s victory will destroy Obasanjo’s fame and popularity and would install Buhari’s man, Tinubu as the next big thing in Nigeria politics, the man who decides not just what happens in the West of the country, but as far as what goes in and out when it comes to the national politics and its key players.

What if Atiku wins, that’s the biggest play for Obasanjo, and the death of Tinubu’s dream of expanding his territory to the national level. Buhari’s failure to win the presidential elections will force Tinubu to remain as the king of the West who doesn’t have much to say when it comes to the national level, and would even go to the extent of shrinking his popularity in the west, most especially Lagos state where he seem to be the hand that enthrones and dethrones whoever he wants at any given time – the end of a big dream.

Mike Ikenwa is a Nigerian digital media strategist, writer, Digital publisher and currently the host of The stream on Bloomgist Podcast. He is a contributor to Chichi-Nwa Africa and a former contributor to Afrivibes.

Suspension of Onnoghen: all you need to know

President Muhammadu Buhari has just sworn in a new Chief Justice of Nigeria after suspending current CJN, Walter Onnoghen.

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen

It is not clear if the president has such powers to suspend the CJN.

Mr Buhari said he removed Mr Onnoghen based on an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal dated January 23, 2019.

The new CJN is Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed from Bauchi State.

He was sworn in by Mr Buhari Friday afternoon inside the council chamber of the State House, Abuja.

The swearing was done after the president signed the new Executive Order 007.

JUST IN: President @MBuhari signs the Executive Order No. 007 of 2019 on the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, at the Council Chambers, State House, Abuja. pic.twitter.com/pkGc4Xyng3

— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) January 25, 2019

Justice Mohammed was driven into the forecourt of the president’s office at about 4:30 p.m. in a black Mercedes Benz C240 with number plate GWA:900FA.

The constitutionality or otherwise of the president’s action has sparked intense discussions among Nigerians with some commentators saying the country may have a constitutional crisis on its hands.

Mr Onnoghen had earlier today announced a plan to swear in members of the various 2019 election petition tribunals on Saturday, January 26.

The CJN said this through his media assistant, Awassam Bassey, on Friday.

Mr Onnoghen also described as absolute falsehood, the media reports that he resigned his office, following current allegations against him.

In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by Mr Bassey on Friday, the CJN urged Nigerians to disregard the rumour and added that he was still performing his role as CJN.

“There’s absolutely no truth in the rumours making the round that the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, His Lordship Hon. Mr Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, GCON, has resigned his office. It is fake news!

“The Hon CJN was in the office all through yesterday (Thursday) and sat in court. As part of his duties, the Hon CJN will be swearing in members of the 2019 National Assembly, Governorship & State Assembly Election Petition Tribunals tomorrow (Saturday 26th January 2019),” the statement said.

Mr Onnoghen is facing trial over alleged false asset declaration brought against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

The Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, has also requested that Mr Onnoghen resigns from office, following the various allegations.

The case, currently ongoing at the CCT was adjourned till January 28.

But the Court of Appeal on Thursday ordered the tribunal to suspend sitting, pending the discharge of current applications before it.

The Court of Appeal will give its verdict on the matter on January 30.

The appeals were brought by Mr Onnoghen who wants his trial halted, citing lack of merit.

Why I suspended CJN Onnoghen

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday announced the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, citing an order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

Mr Buhari also announced the appointment of the next most senior judge at the Supreme Court, Tanko Mohammed, as the new acting CJN.

In his speech announcing the suspension, Mr Buhari made reference to false assets declaration charges against the chief justice.

“Although the allegations in the petition are grievous enough in themselves, the security agencies have since then traced other suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars to the CJN’s personal accounts, all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law,” the president said.

Below is the full speech of the president while suspending Mr Onnoghen.

President Buhari exchanging handshake with Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed after the Later's inauguration as Chief Justice of Nigeria
President Buhari exchanging handshake with Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed after the Later’s inauguration as Chief Justice of Nigeria

ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, ON THE SUSPENSION OF HONOURABLE JUSTICE WALTER NKANU SAMUEL ONNOGHEN AS CHIEF JUSTICE OF NIGERIA AND SWEARING IN OF ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE, 25TH JANUARY 2019

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Fellow Nigerians,

A short while ago, I was served with an Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal issued on Wednesday 23rd January 2019, directing the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Walter Nkanu Samuel Onnoghen from office pending final determination of the cases against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and several other fora relating to his alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.

2. The nation has been gripped by the tragic realities of no less a personality than the Chief Justice of Nigeria himself becoming the accused person in a corruption trial since details of the petition against him by a Civil Society Organization first became public about a fortnight ago.

3. Although the allegations in the petition are grievous enough in themselves, the security agencies have since then traced other suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars to the CJN’s personal accounts, all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law.

4. Perhaps more worrisome is the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s own written admission to the charges that he indeed failed to follow the spirit and letter of the law in declaring his assets, citing ’’mistake’’ and ’’forgetfulness’’ which are totally unknown to our laws as defences in the circumstances of his case.

5. One expected that with his moral authority so wounded, by these serious charges of corruption, more so by his own written admission, Mr. Justice Walter Onnoghen would have acted swiftly to spare our Judicial Arm further disrepute by removing himself from superintending over it while his trial lasted.

6. Unfortunately, he has not done so. Instead, the nation has been treated to the sordid spectacle of a judicial game of wits in which the Chief Justice of Nigeria and his legal team have made nonsense of the efforts of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to hear the allegation on merit and conclude the trial as quickly as possible considering the nature of the times in which we live.

7. Whether deliberately or inadvertently, we have all seen the full weight of the Chief Justice of Nigeria descend on the tender head of one of the organs of justice under his control. There is simply no way the officers of that court, from the Chairman to the bailiffs, can pretend to be unaffected by the influence of the leader of the Judiciary.

8. Not only the trial court, but others have been put on the spot. Practically every other day since his trial commenced, the nation has witnessed various courts granting orders and counter-orders in favour of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, all of them characterised by an unholy alacrity between the time of filing, hearing and delivery of judgment in same.

9. The real effect has been a stalling of the trial of Justice Onnoghen, helped along by lawyers who insist that these orders, whether right or wrong are technically valid, and must be obeyed till an appellate Court says otherwise. No doubt, that it is the proper interpretation, but is it the right disposition for our nation?

10. Nigeria is a constitutional democracy and no one must be, or be seen to be, above the law. Unfortunately, the drama around the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria has challenged that pillar of justice in the perception of the ordinary man on the street. For it is certain that no ordinary Nigerian can get the swift and special treatment Justice Onnoghen has enjoyed from his subordinates and privies in our Judicature.

11. In the midst of all these distracting events, the essential question of whether the accused CJN actually has a case to answer has been lost in the squabble over the form and nature of his trial. This should not be so.

12. If Justice cannot be done and clearly seen to be done, society itself is at risk of the most unimaginable chaos. As a Government, we cannot stand by wailing and wringing our hands helplessly but give our full backing and support to those brave elements within the Judiciary who act forthrightly, irrespective of who is involved.

13. As you are all aware, the fight against corruption is one of the tripod of policies promised to Nigerians by this administration. Needless to say that it is an existential Policy which must be given adequate attention and commitment by all the three arms of government. The efforts of the Executive will amount to nothing without the cooperation of the Legislature and especially the Judiciary.

14. It is no secret that this government is dissatisfied with the alarming rate in which the Supreme Court of Nigeria under the oversight of Justice Walter Onnoghen has serially set free, persons accused of the most dire acts of corruption, often on mere technicalities, and after quite a number of them have been convicted by the trial and appellate courts.

15. Since there is nothing the Executive Arm can do after the apex court of the land has spoken on any matter, several of these individuals walk free among us today, enjoying what are clearly the proceeds of the corruption which for so long has defeated the efforts of this nation to develop and prosper.

16. It is against this background that I have received the Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal directing me to suspend the Chief Justice pending final determination of the cases against him. It also explains why I am not only complying immediately, but with some degree of relief for the battered sensibilities of ordinary Nigerians whose patience must have become severely over-taxed by these anomalies.

17. In line with this administration’s avowed respect for the Rule of Law, I have wholeheartedly obeyed the Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal dated 23rd January 2019.

18. Accordingly, I hereby suspend the Honourable Mr. Justice Walter Nkanu Samuel Onnoghen, GCON as the Chief Justice of Nigeria pending final determination of the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

19. In further compliance with the same Order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, I hereby invite Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed JSC, being the next most Senior Justice in the Supreme Court, to come forward to take the Judicial Oath as Chief Justice of Nigeria in an Acting Capacity.

20. Fellow Nigerians, we can only stand a chance to win the fight against Corruption, and position our dear nation for accelerated development when we stand together to contend against it.

Thank you and may God bless our country.

PDP, CUPP reject suspension

Some opposition parties have rejected the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen.

President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Mr Onnoghen on Friday and immediately swore in the next most senior judge at the Supreme Court, Tanko Mohammed, as the acting CJN.

The 1999 Constitution says a sitting CJN can only be removed from office by the president after at least two-thirds majority members of the Senate support such a move.

But Mr Buhari said he acted on an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, criticising the suspension. He said Mr Buhari’s action was a desperate plot to subvert Nigeria’s democracy days into an election in which Nigerians are set to vote him out of office.

The PDP through a statement by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbodiyan, rejected “the attempts by President Buhari to foist an illegal Chief Justice on the nation while the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen is still in office.”

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“PDP says Nigerians must reject the incendiary move by the President to forcefully suspend our constitution, annex the judicial arm of govt & open the nation up for full-blown totalitarianism to achieve his self-succession bid, having realised that he cannot win in the 2019 election.”

The party urged Nigerians to disregard the suspension and the latest appointment.

“There can be no two Chief Justices of Nigeria. Our constitution is clear on how a CJ is appointed and removed as such does not lie on the prerogative of the President. As such, we urge all Nigerians and the international community to recognize only Justice Onnoghen as the CJN.”

The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), in a statement by one of its spokespersons, Ikenga Ugochinyere, described the development as a judicial coup which must be resisted.

“This brazen dictatorial act is the latest action in the ongoing rape of our nation’s hard-earned democracy by those who dined with anti-democratic forces, and is symptomatic of the increasing desperation that President Buhari and the cabal pulling the strings as February 16, 2019 draws near.

“As far as the law of the land is concerned, Onnoghen remains the CJN. We will not recognise any other person who may be occupying that office illegally. Justice Tanko Muhammed us a usurper. The NJC must sack him. Lawyers must ignore him as long as he remains on that seat.

“The CJN can be removed from office either if he has been convicted or if under section 291 and 292 of the Constitution, the Senate affirms a request by the President to remove him by two-thirds majority vote. Buhari has dared Nigerians.”

CUPP also urged the CJN to stay put in his office. It said the president has no power to suspend him.

“The Senate should reconvene now and start impeachment process against the President for acting against the provision of the Constitution he swore to uphold.”

The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Donald Duke, also condemned the suspension.

The former Cross Rivers State governor who spoke through his twitter handle on Friday, condemned the presidency for “blatant and arrogant display of power exhibited.

“While I’m glad the Appeal Court upheld my constitutional right to contest for the office of president of our country, I’m shocked at the blatant and arrogant display of power exhibited by the administration in the removal of the CJN and shamefully, Justice Tanko Mohammed accepts to be sworn in.

“They attempted removing the head of the legislative arm now it’s the judiciary. Atiku is NEXT. Wait and see.”

The Court of Appeal on Thursday reinstated Mr Duke as the SDP flag bearer after it overturned a lower court’s jedgment which affirmed Jerry Gana as the candidate.

It should be recalled that the Nigerian Bar Association also described the suspension of Mr Onnoghen as an outright coup and a step towards anarchy and demanded its immediate retraction.

The NBA rejected Mr Onnoghen’s replacement by Ibrahim Tanko and called on President Buhari to immediately reverse the suspension to avert a constitutional crisis.

Fani-Kayode, El-Rufai, Ozekhome, others react to suspension

Femi Fani-Kayode, a senior member of Nigeria’s main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Friday called on the National Assembly to commence impeachment proceeding against President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr Fani-Kayode, a former federal minister, said Mr Buhari has now removed all doubts that he is “a fascistic monster” for suspending the Chief Justice of Nigeria without clear constitutional basis to do so.

The president on Friday afternoon suspended Mr Onnoghen, who has been facing false asset charges for two weeks. He said the judge had become a taint on the judiciary and he was compelled to take radical measures to ease him out of office.

Mr Buhari said he relied on an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal asking him to suspend Mr Onnoghen from office. The CCT is an arm of the presidency, and its judges are appointed by the president.

Mr Onnoghen denied allegations of asset declaration fraud but acknowledged forgetting to declare some asset. Mr Buhari said the judge’s admission was enough to remove him from office. He said someone of his stature should not be making a claim of ignorance, which is deemed inconsequential in criminal defence.

Legal experts are divided on the matter, with many saying the president has no powers to suspend a chief justice. Some lawyers, however, argued that the president was relying on a valid court order and could also have suspended the chief justice even without a court order.

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But none of the lawyers supporting the president cited any legal power for him to discipline the chief justice. The president himself did not cite any legal basis for his action. He said he only complied with an ex-parte order of the tribunal.

It was also unclear whether the tribunal could use an ex-parte ruling to suspend the chief justice. An ex-parte is an order granted by a judge before a defendant in a suit is able to enter defence, and it is often provisional.

Mike Ozekhome, a senior lawyer, urged Nigerian judges and lawyers to shun further activities as was done when former Pakistani President Perves Musharraf removed the country’s chief justice in 2007.

“This recent act is a big scandalous shame on the Buhari government, assuming it still knows anything called shame. It has tainted it with the paintbrush of odium, obloquy and international derision,” Mr Ozekhome said.

Mr Fani-Kayode, adding his voice to a flurry of reactions that have poured in since the development was made public Friday afternoon, said the action was unacceptable. He called on the legislature to begin impeachment process against the president.

“For a president in a democracy to suspend the CJN is totally unacceptable, a clear breach of the rule of law and the Constitution and a manifest violation of the principle of separation of powers. If anyone thinks that we are practicing democracy in Nigeria that person needs to have their heads examined,” Mr Fani-Kayode said.

“I call on the Senate President and the Speaker of the House to stop playing games to show courage and to begin impeachment proceedings against Buhari.

“That is the only way to stop this man from totally destroying our country and leading us to a civil war that may never end,” Mr Fani-Kayode said.

He also alleged that Mr Buhari was plotting to declare himself the winner of the presidential elections on February 16.

Mr Buhari’s controversial action comes barely three days after former President Olusegun Obasanjo said the president was plotting to perpetuate himself in office. He said his latest tactics bore the markings of the brutal and inglorious dictatorship of Sani Abacha in the 1990s.

Okechukwu Nwanguma of the Network for Police Reform in Nigeria also condemned the president’s action and called for immediate interventions from lovers of democracy

“The action subverts the Constitution and the principle of separation of powers. It undermines the independence of the judiciary and above all puts Nigeria’s democracy in peril.

“The credibility of the 2019 election will be compromised and democracy imperiled in the absence of an independent and responsive judiciary,” Mr Nwanguma said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES Friday night.

However, Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State and a key ally of Mr Buhari, said the president’s action was appropriate, praising the president for the timely intervention.

Mr El-Rufai said Mr Onnoghen has shown traits of corruption and should not be allowed to maintain a seat as the nation’s chief justice.

“SANITY NEEDS RESTORATION: About time this institutional gobbledygook and regionalization to justify admitted wrongdoing are confronted. Justice must not give way to legal gymnastics and absurd technicalities. I am solidly with PMB on this, as always!!” the governor wrote on his verified Twitter handle.

Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai@elrufai

SANITY NEEDS RESTORATION: About time this institutional gobbledygook and regionalization to justify admitted wrongdoing are confronted. Justice must not give way to legal gymnastics and absurd technicalities. I am solidly with PMB on this, as always!!Presidency Nigeria@NGRPresidentPresident Buhari this afternoon swore-in Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. #AsoVillaToday1,55417:51 – 25 Jan 2019Twitter Ads information and privacy1,105 people are talking about this

The president removed Mr Onnoghen despite a Court of Appeal ruling halting further actions against the top jurist by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The Nigerian Constitution at Section 292 said a Supreme Court judge can only be removed with the concurrence of two-thirds of the Nigerian Senate, which has a total of 109 members. But the legislature has not heard any matter about Mr Onnoghen, much less take action towards his removal.

BREAKING: Obasanjo, Buhari and Jonathan meet in Abuja – Photos

Less than two days after exchanging heated letters during which each called the other “sick”, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Muhammadu Buhari have met at the National Council of State meeting currently going on in Abuja.

From left: President Muhammadu Buhari; Senate President Bukola Saraki and former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the National Council of State Meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Tuesday
From left: President Muhammadu Buhari; Senate President Bukola Saraki and former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the National Council of State Meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Tuesday

In stark contrast to the pre-meeting events, the two leaders were photographed exchanging smiles on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Obasanjo had released a statement titled ‘Points for Concern and Action’, in which he likened Buhari to late dictator Sani Abacha over his alleged intimidation of the opposition and critics of his government.

Obasanjo had submitted that the people should not allow themselves to be deceived by Buhari for a second time.

However, Buhari responded via his spokesman Garba Shehu, saying Obasanjo needed the help of a “doctor” so he “could get well soon”.

Obasanjo returned the fireworks on Monday, telling the BBC: “Buhari is sick in the spirit, body and mind.”

In attendance at Tuesday’s meeting are former Heads of State Ernest Shonekan and Abdulsalami Abubakar, as well as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and governors of Lagos, Borno, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Plateau and Kebbi states.

Former chief justices of Nigeria and Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, are there as well

Full text: Obasanjo compares Buhari to Abacha as a dictator, says he’s planning to rig election

A former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Sunday criticised President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing him of plotting to rig the general elections.

In a statement he personally signed, Mr Obasanjo also expressed doubt in the neutrality of the electoral commission, INEC.

Read Mr Obsanjo’s full statement below.

POINTS FOR CONCERN AND ACTION

By

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

I am concerned as a democrat who believes that with faithful and diligent practice of democracy, we can get over most of our political problems and move steadfastly and surefootedly on the course of stability, unity of purpose, socio-economic growth and progress for all.

Democracy becomes a sham if elections are carried out by people who should be impartial and neutral umpires, but who show no integrity, acting with blatant partiality, duplicity and imbecility. For all democrats and those carrying out the process of elections, there must be the red line that must not be crossed in tactics and practices of democracy.

I personally have serious doubt about the present INEC’s integrity, impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and credible election. And if the INEC is willing, will the ruling party and government allow it? From what we saw and knew about Osun State gubernatorial election, what was conclusive was declared inconclusive despite all advice to the contrary. The unnecessary rerun, if viewed as a test-run for a larger general election, would lead people to expect incidences of deliberately contrived, broken or non-working voting machines or card readers, confusion of voters as to their voting stations, inadequate supply of voting materials to designated places, long line to discourage voters and turning blind eyes to favour the blue-eye political party of INEC because the Commission’s hands will be tied to enable hatchet men and women to perform their unwholesome assignment. The transmission and collation of results are subject to interference, manipulation and meddling. If the INEC’s favourite political party wins with all the above infractions, the result will be conclusively declared and if not, there will be a ‘rerun’, the result of which is known before it is carried out. I know that I am not alone in being sceptical about the integrity of INEC and its ability to act creditably and above board. But we are open to be convinced otherwise.

The joke about INEC would seem real. The INEC was asked if the Commission was ready for the election and if it expects the election to be free, fair and credible. The INEC man is reported as saying in response, “we are ready with everything including the results!” God save Nigeria! It is up to Nigerians to ensure that the redline is not crossed in safeguarding our fledging democracy. And if crossed, appropriate action must be taken not to allow our democracy to be derailed.

A friend of mine who is more credulous and who claims to be close to the Chair of INEC keeps telling me that INEC will retrieve its image and reputation by conducting the coming elections with utmost integrity and impartiality. I am not sure as I believe more in action than in words and in past record than in promise. The track record of the present INEC is fairly sordid and all men and women of goodwill and believers in democracy must be prepared for the worst from INEC and their encouragers and how to get Nigeria out of the electoral morass that the Commission is driving us into. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. A battle long forewarned does not embroil the cripple nor catch him unawares. A word is sufficient for the wise. The labour of Nigerian democracy heroes must not be in vain. Some men of God would hold President Buhari to his word on free, fair, credible and peaceful elections. I am a realist and I reiterate that I go by track record. Therefore, I am not persuaded by a track record of hollow words, impunity, insensitivity and ‘I-couldn’t-care-less’ attitude, or by the sanctimonious claims of any candidate and his campaign staff. I will only believe what I see. This is a time for vigilance to fight to safeguard our votes and defend our democracy. The price of liberty and sustenance of our democracy is eternal vigilance and appropriate reaction to ward off iniquities. We must all be ready to pay that price and not relying on hollow words of callousness. The derailment of Nigerian democracy will be a monumental disaster comparable to the disaster of the Nigerian first military coup.

While Nigerians must not allow such a disaster to happen nor take such an affront lying low, the international community who played an admirable role in warning INEC, of course, to no avail on the Osun State gubernatorial election and who have been warning all political parties must on this occasion give more serious warning, send more people to the field to observe and work out punitive measures against INEC and security officials especially the Police and politicians who stand to gain from INEC’s misconduct, which is obviously encouraged by the Executive Arm of Government and who must be held responsible for the violence that will follow. Such measures can vary from denial and withdrawal of visas from the people concerned and from their families to other more stringent measures including their accounts being frozen and taking them to International Criminal Court, ICC, if violence emanates from their action or inaction. Nigeria must not be allowed to slip off the democratic path nor go into anarchy and ruin. No individual nor group has monopoly of violence or gangsterism. And we must not forget that in human interaction, reactions are normally greater than action, though opposite.

It is no use, at this juncture, to keep lamenting about the failure, incompetence, divisiveness, nepotism, encouragement and condonation of corruption by Buhari administration as there is neither redeeming feature nor personality to salvage the situation within that hierarchy. You cannot give what you don’t have. Bode George put it bluntly in his statement of December 3, 2018 when he said:

“The other day, the Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo – a learned man, an enlightened person in all parameters – was seen at various markets in Lagos State and Abuja distributing N10,000 each to market women. What an absurdity! It was indeed an obscene display of executive recklessness and abuse of office. Pray, where did the money come from? Was it budgeted for in the appropriation law? In more civilised nations, Osinbajo would have been impeached and prosecuted for gutting our collective treasury.”

What an act by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria lawyer, number 2 man in the Executive hierarchy; and what is more, a pastor of one of the Christian movements led by a revered, respected and upright church leader, Pastor E. A. Adeboye. Osinbajo must have gone for, “if you can’t beat them, join them”. A great pity indeed and which makes people ask the questions, “Any hope?” Yes, for me, there is hope. Osinbajo has shown the human weakness and proved the saying that the corruption of the best is the worst form of corruption. His explanation that it was their government programme can only be construed to be very shallow and lopsided, if not an outrightly idiotic programme.

Traders in rural and sub-urban areas of Nigeria are many more than those in urban areas and they are much poorer than traders in Lagos, Abuja and other cities. They need more attention and greater help. Are they to be confined to the heap of perpetual poverty? What of those who are not traders? They are not entitled to hand-out and they can languish in penury? And what about millions who have lost their jobs in the last three and a half years? The timing is also suspect. Those who criticise the action are called evil but they are not evil as they know what they are doing and saying, and they love Nigeria and Nigerians not less than the likes of Osinbajo. They are not devils incarnate; they are patriots.

What is the connection between taking the number of PVC (Permanent Voters Card) of the recipient of the N10,000 doled out to ‘traders’ and the forthcoming election? There is something sinister about it, and Professor Osinbajo, of all people, should know that. With collusion of the INEC officials and card readers not made to work, anybody quoting the PVC number may be allowed to vote as the revised Electoral Bill was not signed. And if that happens all over the country, it will be massive rigging indeed. The Chairman of INEC must stand firm and carry out his duties with competence and unbending neutrality. Card readers must be used without fail and accreditation must be completed and number ascertained and made public before voting commences as was done in 2015.

Amina Zakari has become too controversial a figure to be able to give assurance of free, fair and credible election for INEC. President Buhari and her family have declared that there is no blood relationship but there is relationship through marriage and that is more than enough for the good lady to step aside. A judge does not sit in judgement over a case once he or she becomes a cause for controversy or one side in the case has strongly objected to the judge. Madam Amina Zakari should, in honour, stay out and not be seen as a source of contamination of the election. Otherwise, it will be difficulty to deny the rumour that she is being assigned to Collation Centre for one duty only – to write out figures that are not results of the voting in the field on fake results sheets without water mark or on genuine results sheets which she will have access to as a Commissioner. Amina Zakari is not the only Commissioner that can be in the Collation Centre. Let the INEC Chairman act boldly and impartially and prove his absolute neutrality and responsiveness to contribute to make the election peacefully free, fair and credible. His integrity needs to be transparently demonstrated.

We should remember that there had been reports of INEC sponsored rigging in the past, and also with INEC officials through collation and with officials being put in party coordinators’ dresses and working for the political party favoured by INEC and also putting the dresses of other parties on INEC-favoured parties and police uniforms on INEC-favoured parties to rig all the elections for the favoured party. Like all of us, INEC knows all these and it should devise means to make sure they do not happen. But will they? One way will be to only allow card readers to be means of authenticating voters and where there is no such authentication, it should mean no voting. The second is to use only identity cards with watermarks issued by INEC itself to party officials only for identification of political party coordinators, officials and agents and not political parties dresses or arm and wrist bands which anybody can wear for purposes of identification on election duty or function. Both the Presidency and the National Assembly must so far be commended for adequately providing funding as confirmed by INEC, and therefore funding cannot be an excuse for poor performance by INEC.

President Buhari and his hatchet men in the coming election think that the judiciary must be primed in their favour. Hence, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, has been harassed and prosecuted for non-declaration of his assets without following the Constitution and the law, just to make him conform or set him aside for a Buhari man to take over or act, as President Buhari and his people believe no stone should be left unturned to rig Buhari in. It seems to be a ploy to intimidate the judiciary as a whole in preparation for all election cases that will go before them. Where and how will all these stop? Typically, with overwhelming outrage and condemnation, we are told that the Presidency denied knowledge of the action. But the Vice-President told us that the President knew of the action on Saturday night for everything that has been prepared for Monday morning. Haba VP, it doesn’t happen that way. Nobody should take such measure against any of the four in hierarchy below the President or any of his ministers without his knowledge and indeed his approval. But if that can happen to the Chief Justice of the Federation, the fifth man in the hierarchy of government, without the knowledge let alone the approval of the President, then it speaks for the type of government we have which means the President is not in charge let alone being in control and no Nigerian must take anything for granted. We are all unsafe and insecure under such an administration. And enough of it! Buhari’s apologists will not stop at anything to try to cover up his administration’s inadequate performance and character. A constitutional liberal democracy cannot thrive without an independent and insulated judiciary from the executive and the legislature. Nigerians must wake up and stop these acts of wanton desperation tantamount to mental incapacity to run the affairs of Nigeria wholesomely.

Life and living are anchored on trust. But if I trust you and you deceive, cheat or disappoint me the first time, it is shame on you. However, if I allow you to do so the same thing for me the second time, I do not only have myself to blame, I must be regarded as a compound fool.

Buhari has succeeded in deceiving us the first time and we will be fools to allow ourselves to be deceived the second time. Buba Galadima, who knows Buhari very well as a confidant and National Secretary of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, the Buhari’s party before it joined in forming All Progressives Congress, APC, has warned us this time around that no matter what he promises, he cannot change his character and attitude. He describes him as inflexible, insincere, dubious, intolerant, never accepts responsibility when things go wrong and impervious to reason and advice for change. If you cannot change your mind, you cannot change anything is the assertion of George Bernard Shaw. Even when figures, facts and statistics are made clear to Buhari, he keeps repeating what is untrue, either because he cannot understand or for mischief purposes and that places him on the level of a pathological liar. He believes he can get away with impunity and deceit as he seems to have done on many occasions in the past. Buba Galadima’s position is well complemented by Dr. Auwalu Anwar on the APC, CPC, TBO and Buhari’s character and attitude in his yet to be launched book, “Politics As Dashed Hopes in Nigeria”. It is also a stunning revelation. Anwar clearly pointed out, “the brazen display of incompetence, insensitivity and irresponsiveness by delusional party, CPC, leadership at all levels”. Buhari was the leader of the party. Bola Tinubu’s statement about Muhammadu Buhari in 2003 is fairly prophetic, “Muhammadu Buhari is an agent of destabilisation, ethnic bigot and religious fanatic who, if given the chance, would ensure the disintegration of the country. His ethnocentrism would jeopardise Nigeria’s national unity.”

Junaid Mohammed was eloquent on the issue of nepotism. But if as we were told that Buhari is nepotic because he does not trust others, why should others trust him to continue to put their fate and life in his hand. Trust begets trust. They cannot be trusted for ‘sensitive’ appointment but they can be sent out to campaign for his re-election. Who is fooling who?

What is happening under Buhari’s watch can be likened to what we witnessed under Gen. Sani Abacha in many ways. When Abacha decided that he must install himself as Nigerian President by all means and at all costs, he went for broke and surrounded himself with hatchet men who on his order and in his interest and at high costs to Nigeria and Nigerians maimed, tortured and killed for Abacha. Buhari has started on the same path in mad desperation.

From available intelligence, we have heard of how Buhari and his party are going about his own self-succession project. They have started recruiting collation officers who are already awarding results based on their projects to actualise the perpetuation agenda in which the people will not matter and the votes will not count. It is the sole reason he has blatantly refused to sign the revised Electoral Reform Bill into law.

His henchmen are working round the clock in cahoots with security and election officials to perfect their plan by computing results right from the ward to local government, state and national levels to allot him what will look like a landslide victory irrespective of the true situation for a candidate who might have carried out by proxy presidential debate and campaigns.

The current plan is to drape the pre-determined results with a toga of credibility. It is also planned that violence of unimaginable proportion will be unleashed in high voting population areas across the country to precipitate re-run elections and where he will be returned duly elected after concentration of security officials as it happened in Osun State. We are monitoring them and we call on all democrats across the world to keep an eye on the unfolding anti-democratic agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is the time for preventive measures to be taken otherwise Nigeria may be presented with a fait accompli with impunity and total disregard of all pleas.
His scheme bears eloquent testimony to this road similar to Abacha whom he has praised to high heavens and as an arch-supporter and beneficiary from Abacha, he has seen nothing wrong done by him. It is clear from all indications that Buhari is putting into practice the lessons he learned from Abacha. Buhari has intimidated and harassed the private sector, attacked the National Assembly and now unconstitutionally and recklessly attacked and intimidated the Judiciary to cow them to submission.

I was a victim of Abacha’s atrocities against Nigeria and Nigerians – high and low. At the height of Abacha’s desperation for perpetual power, he did not brook any criticism because Nigeria was seen as his personal property. You must go along with him or be destroyed. All institutions for ensuring security, welfare and well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians particularly the Police, the Military and the Department of State Services (DSS) were abused and misused to deal with critics of Abacha and non-conformists with Abacha.

Today, another Abacha Era is here. The security institutions are being misused to fight all critics and opponents of Buhari and to derail our fledgling democracy. EFCC, Police and Code of Conduct Tribunal are also being equally misused to deal with those Buhari sees as enemies for criticising him or as those who may not do his bidding in manipulating election results. Criticism, choice and being different are inherent trade mark of democracy. If democracy is derailed or aborted, anarchy and authoritarianism will automatically follow.

Today, as in the day of Abacha, Nigerians must rise up and do what they did in the time of Abacha. Churches and Mosques prayed. International community stood by us Nigerians. I was a beneficiary and my life was saved. Well-meaning Nigerians took appropriate actions and made sacrifices, some supreme, some less than supreme but God had the final say and He took the ultimate action.

God of Nigeria is a living God and a prayer-answering God. Nigerians must cry out to God to deliver Nigeria. Here again, I have been threatened with arrest and extermination but I will not succumb to intimidation or threats. Maybe I should remind those who are using probe as a threat that I have been probed four times by EFCC, ICPC, House of Representatives and the Senate and Buhari has access to reports of these probes. But I have also challenged Buhari and the criminals around him to set up a probe on the same allegations and I will face such probe in public.

But I know that these criminals cannot withstand a Police inquiry let alone clinical probe on the past public offices they held. My fervent prayer is that President Buhari may live to see the will and purpose of God for Nigeria. My final appeal to him is to desist from evil with manipulation and desperation because evil has repercussion especially as man who should watch and be mindful of his self-acclaimed and packaged integrity. At the end of the day, those who goad you on will leave you in the lurch. You will be left alone, naked and unheralded. In defeat, which must be Buhari’s fear leading to desperation, he and his co-travellers can still maintain modicum of decency, and exhibit fear of God in their actions. We have been told that governance has been abdicated to a cabal. Now, campaigning has been abdicated to ‘jagaban’. And it is being authoritatively stated that he would not join any presidential debate. Nigerians will not allow the elections to be abdicated to INEC and Police to give us false and manipulated results. I personally commend the President for yielding to popular outcry to let the former Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, go when he is due as he had the track record and history of being assigned to rig elections for the incumbent. It was alleged that he was sent to Kano for that purpose in 2015. He was already deploying his Commissioners of Police on similar mission before his exit. We must all encourage the new Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to tread the path of professionalism, even-handedness, respect and new image for the Police.

While Nigeria must appreciate Buhari for the little he has done and allow him to depart for home in peace if he allows free, fair, peaceful and credible elections, we must also tell ourselves that Nigeria deserves better at this point in time than what Buhari is capable of offering. History will note that he has been there. Nigeria now needs a man with better physical and mental soundness, with an active mind and intellect.

Let me say again that Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians and exists for the benefit of all Nigerians and non-Nigerians who desire to live or do business in and with Nigeria. The attitude of “it is my turn and I can do what I like” with impunity will not last because Nigeria is created by God and it will outlive all evil machinations and designs against the overall interest of Nigeria.

Before I conclude, let me assert that the security situation has deteriorated with kidnapping everywhere and Boko Haram more in action and nobody should deceive Nigerians about this. With the teaming up of Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), Boko Haram is stronger today militarily than they have ever been. Boko Haram has also been empowered by the Nigerian government through payment of ransom of millions of dollars which each administration disingenuously always denies. With ISIS being liquidated in Iraq and Syria, Africa is now their port of concentration. Soon, they may take over Libya which, with substantial resources, is almost a totally failed state. When that happens, all African countries North of Congo River will be unsafe with serious security problems. The struggle must be for all West African, Central African, North African and most East African States. Nigeria has to play a vanguard role in this struggle as we have much to lose. This administration has reached the end of its wit even in handling all security issues, but particularly Boko Haram issue, partly due to misuse of security apparatus and poor equipment, deployment, coordination and cooperation.

Finally, those Nigerians that are being intimidated or threatened by this Administration must trust in God and stand firm. Tough times do not last forever, but tough people invariably survive tough times. This is a tough time for almost all Nigerians in different respects, but the people’s will shall triumph. All people who have registered to vote with their PVCs must never allow anybody or anything to deny or deprive them of the right of performing their fundamental civic duty of voting and sustaining democracy. Establishment of democracy and its sustenance is second to attainment of independence in our political life, leaving out the victory of the civil war. We shall overcome.

Buhari commits another blunder live on TV

Just a day after erroneously claiming at a campaign rally to have ascended power on May 19, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday committed another error at a campaign rally.

Speaking on Wednesday at the presidential campaign rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held in Lokoja, capital of Kogi State, Buhari had told the crowd: “I assure you that I am very aware of your appreciation of the efforts for what we were able to deliver since came in 19th of May, 2015.”

On Thursday, at the end of his speech after another presidential campaign rally in Warri, Delta State, Buhari was to hand over the party’s flag to the Delta State governorship candidate of the party,

However, he said: “I am handing over this flag of honour to our presidential candidate.”

When the man to his left corrected him, saying “gubernatorial”, Buhari responded with “to our senatorial candidate”.

Again, the man corrected him, saying “gubernatorial”. This time, Buhari said: “governortorial candidate”.

What we Learnt From Buhari’s debate at #NgTheCandidates

President Muhammadu Buhari and his second-in-command, Yemi Osinbajo were quizzed last night on their years in office and what they would do differently if given another four years to steer the ship of the state.

This happened at a televised town hall meeting tagged ‘The Candidates’ which took place at Sheraton Hotel in Abuja, courtesy of MacArthur Foundation.

These are 18 takeaways from the engagement:

Buhari The Goalkeeper, Osinbajo The Striker

The debate began with the President getting the initial questions, but Osinbajo was soon the one doing more of the talking — until the last 15 minutes or thereabouts of the two-hour show when Buhari finally came to life with some witty answers. But, overall, Buhari mostly scratched the surface of the questions, Osinbajo was the one who went in-depth; he was the one re-telling or re-explaining some questions to Buhari; he even answered some on his behalf, eventually prompting the moderator to cut him short at some point. Buhari may be the one manning the last line of this administration, like a goalkeeper, but it was evident yesterday that Osinbajo is the focal point, the striker.

Like Buhari, Osinbajo Adept At Passing The Buck

Though, as expected, the Vice-President was at his eloquent best, he refused to accept responsibility, on behalf of the current administration, for any problem presently confronting the country. He rather kept laying all the blame for our myriad national problems on the immediate administration from whom they wrested the reins of power.

Buhari Loves To Parry Questions

The President cleverly refused to answer a question on ‘selective’  fight of corruption. He rather took a walk down the memory lane mentioning two late people whose lives have no connection with the present. He acted liekwise when asked if he would accept the results should he lose the election.

Babachir Lawal Fired But Free

The President had no plausible reasons to give for not prosecuting Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), who was  fired for financial malfeasance. Buhari insisted there was no evidence to nail Babachir. But what manner of evidence could get him removed but did not earn him a reproof?

Mr President Is Hard Of Hearing

Not once or twice did we see Mr President crane his neck or strain his ears to properly hear what was totally audible to others present at the venue. In fact on a couple of times, the Vice-President had to put his mouth in the President’s ears. Is the President senile? Funnily enough, the first time the hearing problem became obvious was when a question was asked on the disability bill!

Some Governors And Local Government Chairmen Are Corrupt

Talking about primary education and the universal basic education(UBEC) intervention, the President said some governors and local government chairmen are corrupt and press should help in the fight against corruption.

People Are Encroaching On Cattle’s Routes

The President blamed the people — especially those in the South — for not giving herders and their cattle the freedom to roam through their land as spelt out in a certain first republic gazette. Again, the helmsman did not see anything condemnable in the herdsmen’s dastardly acts. Mr President’s message  is “ When a herd of cattle are marching on, Nigerians please make way for them.”

The Press Should Go To The North-East To Fight Insurgency

Buhari tasked the press people to help fight the Boko Haram insurgency. He wants them to not just do their reports from the cozy ambience of hotels in Maiduguri but take their time to nose around the cauldron of chaos in Monguno or Maiduguri as well.

9.2 Million School Children Are Fed Daily

Osinbajo claimed that about 9.2 million school children are fed by the Nigerian Government daily. The effort is to ensure  that the school children who are still in their formative years are not malnourished. Meanwhile, according to a report released  by the Universal Basic education Commission(UBEC) and supported by  the  one from  United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), 10.5million — the world highest number — are out of school. One begins to wonder why the government is not investing in efforts to bring these out-school children to school.

The Last Administration Emptied The Treasury

Mr. Vice-President, in his predictable blame-shifting game, laid the  genesis of the country’s economic crisis on the doorstep of the last administration. He said two tranches of money were withdrawn and squandered on election. The First tranche was $292 million and the second one N40 billion.

SURE-P , A Sham; No Sure-Fire  Way Of Ending Poverty

Goodluck Jonathan’s administration was again attacked by the Vice-President. Osinbajo said the Subsidy Reinvestment And EmpowermentnProgramme (SURE-P) was fruitless. He  asked: “Who can point to a single  beneficiary of  the  SURE-P programme?”. He claimed their social investment known as N-Power has been more effective in mitigating poverty.

N20billion Has Been Spent On Trader Moni

According to Mr. Vice-President N10,000 loans have been given to 20,000 petty traders to invest in their businesses and efforts are still ongoing  to enhance the scheme.

Unlike PDP, APC Is A Party Of The Masses

Mr Yemi Osinbajo said the core ideology and principle of the All Progressives Congress (APC) distinguishes it from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He insisted that though politics is an all-comers’ affair, the APC has not compromised its core principle and ideology which, is rescuing the masses from the abyss of poverty.

Buhari Doubts The Genuineness  Of Ganduje Bribery Videos

Mr. President believes the Kano State governor could not have been foolish enough to receive a bribe by himself and still be smiling while pocketing the money. He believes the videos might have been doctored using technology.

Buhari Can Talk For Himself

Kadaria Ahmed, the moderator, pleaded with Mr ‘Aaron’ Osinbajo to let  Mr ‘Moses’ Buhari talk for himself when asked a question on the Ganduje videos. Osinbajo was not just Buhari’s mouthpiece for most of the night, he was also his ears. He was the puppeteer pulling the strings while Mr President was the docile puppet.

Buhari Is Accustomed To Losing

Mr. President was asked if he would accept defeat should he lose the election. He said he lost successively in 2003, 2007 and 2011. However, he said losing the election is something close to impossible.

Buhari Won Three Previous Elections But Was Rigged Out

Mr President tacitly suggested that he was rigged out of the successive elections he lost until the last administration shot itself in the leg by embracing technology, which did them in. It is left to be known whether the President will take the bold step of signing the electoral bill, too.

Buhari ‘Dey Kampe’

Insisting he is fit to run despite speculations surrounding his health and his age, he urged people to take a look at the clip of hi  campaign in Kogi state. However, there is a short video that has gone viral showing how the resident nearly slipped but for the swift support of his security operatives.

Buhari explains why he wants another 4 years

President Muhammadu Buhari says he is seeking re-election in the 2019 presidential election to consolidate on his achievements in the fight against corruption, insecurity and to ensure economic development.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Town Hall meeting

Mr Buhari made this known at a town hall meeting tagged ‘The Candidates’ organised by the MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with NTA and DARIA media in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said the All Progressives Congress (APC) nominated him as its presidential candidate because he had delivered on the campaign promises of the party.

“We want Nigerians to remember where we were in 2015, where we are now and where we are going,” he said.

On allegations that the fight against corruption was skewed in one direction, Mr Buhari said the allegations were not backed with facts.

According to him, there is nobody who has been accused of corruption with evidence and we have looked the other way.

The president said he was being careful as people could not be easily arrested in a democratic government and taken to court without strong evidence.

He called on Nigerians to support the government and expose individuals, groups and companies involved in corrupt practices.

According to Mr Buhari, such people would be handed over to the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and we trust the system to follow up the matter.

Mr. Buhari urged the media to carry out intense investigation into Local and State Governments’ expenditure on education and expose bad governance across the country.

SOURCE: Premium Times