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What manner of third force?

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What manner of ‘movement’ is being launched today in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)? Can the coalition fly? What are its prospects? Can it overtake the discredited Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and abort the dream of the crisis-ridden All Progressives Congress (APC) to retain federal power in next year’s elections?

In the opinion of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Muhammadu Buhari administration has failed. President Buhari, he advised, should not seek re-election next year. Also, both the APC and the PDP should not produce his successor. His reason: the two parties have outlived their usefulness.

Obasanjo’s remedy is that only a coalition of ‘willing’ Nigerians can salvage the country in 2019. As his associates throw up the ‘Third Force,’ can the new group make a difference? Will it change geo-political calculations? Does the so-called ‘Coalition for Nigeria (CN) offer hope?

Indisputably, Dr. Obasanjo may have done a scanty spade work before unfolding his agenda. Thus, the movement is springing up in a hurry, barely a week after he released his highly inflammable “special statement.” Unlike the PDP, which metamorphosed into a virile party from the G-34, and the APC, which came into existence after critical deliberations and agreement involving the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and sections of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and PDP), the CN emerged from Obasanjo’s bedroom.

Observers believe that the new political group may be facing a gloomy future. At birth, it is jaundiced. Nigerians were taking aback by its composition. It is the same of the same. There is no line of demarcation. There is no fresh blood. It is still the old wine in a new bottle. In the final analysis, only aggrieved acolytes of the former leader are involved in the new show. Thus, public enthusiasm is waning.

He who comes to the equity must come with clean hands. The key leaders of the CN are politicians who were associated with PDP’s 16 years of failure. These men of yesteryear shared in the blame for the impunity that had characterised governance. The spent forces, rejected party functionaries and disgruntled PDP stalwarts are seeking relevance. But, Nigerians are not assailed by collective amnesia. Since the motivation is from Obasanjo, many credible Nigerians may distance themselves from the enterprise because of the former president’s perceived history of personal agenda and self-interest decorated in the garb of public yearning and aspiration.

Do the arrowheads parade intimidating credentials of honour and integrity? What ideology is driving them? The proxy leader is a beneficiary of election rigging, who was kicked out by the temple of justice for vote stealing. He will be working in tandem with a vocal scholar and an expert in prevarication from the Northcentral, a former governor from the Southeast struggling to bounce back into reckoning on the false platform and another ex-governor from the Northwest, who is standing trial for corruption.

The implication is that, although Obasanjo has used his stature to swing public opinion against the Buhari administration at a time Nigerians are protesting the mishandling of farmers/herdsmen clashes in Benue and some other states, his message may not be swallowed hook, line and sinker as no credible alternative platform is being offered to compete for power with the two main parties.

Since the CN is made up of PDP leaders, what can they offer that the PDP has not offered? Are CN members the messiahs Nigerians are expecting? How popular are they in their states? Can Dr.Obasanjo successfully mobilise the people of his ward in Abeokuta during elections? Who will listen to the new foot soldiers? Can the coalition become a formidable party? Can it even meet the criteria for registration by the electoral commission before next year’s polls?

If Nigerians feel that the third force may not lead them to the promised land, they may start to have a rethink. In fact, many critical minds are re-dissecting Obasanjo’s statement. Although the Benue killings left a sour taste in the mouth, the government has not completely failed the nation in the area of security. The recent killing of troublers of peace in the Southsouth, including ‘Gen.’ Don Wanny, meant that a lip service is not paid to security. Besides, Boko Haram is being pummeled.

Also, many now realise that Obasanjo’s comment on the economy is not totally true. While it is true that Nigerians are complaining about hardship, it is not because the government is closing its eyes. Experts have pointed out that a significant leap has been recorded in the government’s bid to revatalise the economy. The nation’s foreign reserve is increasing. The forex regime is attracting investors. Electricity is becoming stable. Efforts are on to revatalise the railways. More importantly, there is prospect of food security. The Buhari administration’s achievement in agriculture cannot be ignored. Today, rice importation is becoming a thing of the past.

Will Nigerians close their eyes to these achievements and prospects and risk their future in the hands of an inexplicable coalition teleguided by Obasanjo?

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Opprobrious NASS And The 2019 Budget-By Gabriel Ikese

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The ideal of popular election of Legislators is generally regarded as admirable. Yet the selection process does not always permit the widest possible choices. And that has been our albatross here in Nigeria. The legislature is expected to reflect the electorate’s preferences, but that is in the Whiteman countries, not in our clime. In the 8th session of the National Assembly, it is rarely the case. If you followed the antecedents of our lawmakers and the trajectory of the NASS, you will obviously smell the dead rat.

In saner democracies around the globe, the legislature is an institution of reputable model for discipline and patriotism. It is the sanctimonious fulcrum of any working democracy as showcased in the America system. Legislators were embodiment of untainted character with high level of integrity, uprightness and moral decency. But that is clearly not our portion as the difference is miles apart.

Perhaps for the enormity of our sins against God the Father, He decided to inflict us with such pains, not with epidemic disease as alluded to by Governor Yari of Zamfara State, but allowing this 8th class of Lawmakers to represent us. The 8th NASS appears to be completely deficient of any sterling qualities and became the cynosure of chronic legislative rascality, demonic impunity and financial impudence.

Another budget session is here again, and the NASS has begun to manifest the usual symptoms of chronic insensitivity and unpardonable cluelessness. They are poised to throw up another frivolous mischief to undermine the 2019 budget process even before it is laid on the floor of the combine congress. The recurring acrimonious uproar that accompanied the passing of our budgets over the past 3 years is regrettably appalling.

Members of the House of Representatives at plenary has threatened to boycott the anticipated presentation of 2019 budget estimate by President Muhammadu Buhari over an alleged comment by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma. The dignity of our lawmakers has greatly eroded. Their insensitivity to the plight of citizens is obviously very legendary.

Members could not choose a better time to demonstrate their folly, but when government is trying to consolidate on the progress at sustaining the economic growth with a sound budget proposal for 2019. They decided to lash on a frivolous and unsubstantiated allegation to sabotage the smooth passing of the 2019 Budget proposal. This irritating arrogance is the height of insensibility without even batting an eye lid to the reality of the plight of Nigerians that are dependent on the budget for sustenance and development.

The House dissipated so much energies and time discussing irrelevant and baseless allegation by a Minister accusing them of the delay in the presentation of the 2019 Budget. It is a surprise that the House would threaten to frustrate the budget process on a mere allegation that is largely irrelevant, and has not compromised the content of the 2019 budget.

Members were so serious that they vigorously amplified a derogatory word that the Minister LIED on television. It is an unparliamentary word that the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, carefully avoided in his response. To support their frustration, a member went further to cite Order Six, Rule 14 of the laws of the House alluding to a breech on his privilege and that of the House, and claiming that the Minister portrayed members of the NASS as “irresponsible people before Nigerians”.

Our lawmakers are good with their imaginations. If that is the line of thinking, then I will support any reasonable action that will prove the correctness or contrary of this line of thought. The Hallowed Chamber should not accommodate irresponsible characters that would bring the legislature to disrepute. With all seriousness, member should probe what perception ordinary Nigerians hold of their integrity. And would also probe their conscience and take a good look at the mirror. Perhaps, they will get answers that would satisfy their curiosities.

Be that as it may, the alleged remark by the Honourable Minister should not be enough reason for members to boycott the Budget presentation by the President. Such action would not only be irrational, it will be illogical and unpatriotic. Doing so will only confirm the allusion that members are indeed irresponsible and insensitive to the realities of the adverse effect a further delay in passing the 2019 budget could cause the economy.

Our budgets cannot continue to suffer unnecessary and avoidable delay after presentations. The primary responsibility of NASS is to make laws, such as the proposed 2019 budget, which will help to grow the economy. Lawmakers cannot be lackadaisical in passing the budget for whatsoever reason. Presenting the 2019 budget proposals in December should not be an excuse to delay the passing of the bill within reasonable time. 2017 and 2018 budgets were presented November, fairly reasonable time frame but still lingered for over 5 months at the National Assembly.

Members of the legislature should be patriotic enough to put aside personal interests and frivolous allegations from any quarters for the overriding national interest in passing the budget expeditiously. With commitment and adequate capacity, the budget can be passed in 30 working days. Hon Sergius Ogun, representing Esan North/East Constituency, said on National Television that the Nigerian Financial Intelligent Unit (NFIU) bill was passed in 8 working days when the Egmont Group suspended Nigeria and threatened expulsion from the group over lack of autonomy. Therefore there is no reason the 2019 budget bill will not be accorded with such attention and speed.

It is sad that lawmakers would value treachery over integrity and flex muscles over issues of absolute irrelevance. While the budget bill lingers, 71 members of the House of Representatives seek to change the system of government from presidential to parliamentary model in Nigeria. Again, if you ask Nigerians, it is another exercise that would end up in futility. The legislators can easily be predicted. The bill is another channel to corruptly enrich themselves like previous constitutional amendment exercise at the Senate.

The 8th NASS is endowed with remarkable quantity of mischief and insatiable financial lucre. The House sold us a dummy with an orchestrated agenda to deliver legislation in aid of development and reforms aimed at improving conditions of living in Nigeria. That was a fluke. Monetization took over legislative intellectualism and selflessness in lawmaking process in the country. Their arrogance and fastidious desire for luxuries has turned NASS into a chamber of business, which is akin to the biblical Holy Temple of Jerusalem converted to the House of trade and commerce by its entrusted custodians.

NASS members should embrace attitudinal change with the right mindset in the overriding interest of the country. The 2019 budget proposal should be expeditiously considered and passed in record time as a test of integrity and attestation of a responsible legislature. This would change the negative perception of lawmakers and the hallowed institution of the National Assembly.

Ikese writes from Jos

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Nigerian Military And The Act Of Victory-By Richards Murphy

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Sun Tzu, the Chinese war veteran, strategist and tactician of world repute, throbs military leaders with this enriching warfare philosophy. Its catchy phrase prescribes thus; “What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.”

I know some Nigerians would be surprised at what prodded me to begin the exploration of this piece with this enthralling wisdom of Gen. Sun Tzu. It’s because Sun Tzu remains the most coveted encyclopedia of war shrewdness ever exposed to mankind.

Tzu was somewhat magical, if not prodigiously extraordinary in thoughts and actions. No frustrations or setback of the enemy ever dissolved his resolve and determination to win. It is the innate inclination of a soldier.

Of course, many of us have read the military exploits and adventures of this great Chinese military celeb. All over the world, craggy military officers, who aim at victories in battles, imbibe his wisdom and style in combats. They are inspired by his combat wits, tenacity and valor. They strive to emulate him.

And for three years and more, Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin knows, he is not just the super engine room of President Muhammadu Buhari’s counter-terrorism war in the country. But the march to terminate the reign of Boko Haram terrorism is an assignment, which must be won and splendidly.

His mien all the times, tells me, the CDS cum military strategist is less concerned by setbacks in the counter-insurgency operations. But he is a thousand times concerned with extracting the victory from terrorists, at the cost of anything.
It is indubitable that anywhere wars are fought; there are countless entrapping impediments and challenges, which can cancel even an already won victory. But careful deployment of uncommon wisdom and the utilization of every resource at your disposal earn you the victories.

And I believe, there is no military rendezvous in warfare, which victory comes easy and smooth. Despite Sun Tzu’s versatility in warfare and acclaimed expertise, not all his victories came on platter gold. To be candid to myself, I have a passion for this warrior. What he never consented was a weakened spirit at the battlefront.

At all times and in all circumstances, he was confident victory would descend at dawn undeniably and kept cracking the hardest of nuts. And truly, he got the results in his favour.

But in the course of the usually stiff struggles peculiar to the trenches, I don’t want to believe there were no depressing moments’ or the unexpected never happened, such as troops vehicle accident or death on the warfront. But Tzu’s sheer determination and the courage to succeed kept the candle burning to a victorious end.

I see a facsimile of this resilience in Gen. Olonisakin. When any of his troops is mowed down in battle by enemy forces, it gives him sleepless nights. But it has never enfeebled his determination to the point of surrendering to the enemies of his troops and the nation. Instead, it spurs more grandeur planning and deafening confrontations of the enemies more vehemently.

Throughout the time, I keenly observed the actions and dispositions of the CDS in the engagement of Boko Haram insurgents; no challenge or setback in the prosecution of the war has slackened his pace and focus even for a minute. This is reason the Nigerian military has sustained the winning streaks against terrorists. Insurgents attacks on military formations has now bubbled by a personal revenge in the hearts of troops.

That’s the lesson taught troops by the archetypal Gen. Olonisakin. As a true and inveterate Military General, coordinating and leading counter-terrorism operations in Nigeria deemed one of the world’s most difficult wars has been his passion to end a glorious career.

The CDS has conditioned the minds of his troops to have their eyes fixated on victory; and only victory, at all times, regardless of any obstacle. The CDS knows the whiff of victory is what keeps an Army or a troop going in a battle.

I am glad they have not deviated from this path of glory. And troops have lived it and appear even better at their most tormenting moments; which outsiders like me fear a possible retreat. This is the victorious side of our military, unknown to many of us.

I have observed consistently that whenever Boko Haram terrorists roar against our troops, with such gusto, reenacting their triumphant past, the insurgents deployed for the missions hardly escape unscathed.

We may not know. But many of us have not heard the voice and braggadocio of Boko Haram factional leader, Abubakar Shekau for a long time now. The last time I heard about him was six or so, months ago, when he led his rebellious sect members in tempting Nigerian troops.

The insurgents were not only munched en mass by Nigerian troops, but their Kingpin, Shekau quite possibly escaped with severe injuries. Some reports claim, Shekau has hoed himself in the Cameroonian caves and mountains recuperating. It’s possible he must have died in the course of treatment.

The only factional Boko Haram leader still flexing feeble might is the Musab Al Barnewi faction. But I am sure, fragrance of his day of reckoning have polluted everywhere in the Northeast. I know his waterloo is also near.

And it is one conviction, which has persistently obsessed Gen. Olonisakin. He knows he can do it; the troops are confident that Al Barnewi cannot escape their swords, no matter the hardness of the bulwark he erects around himself.

With ground and air troops at his effective command and control, the CDS is pretty sure, the enemies have; but little chances of survival. Only time is the dividing factor, which he also knows would soon decide in the favor of Nigerian troops and Nigerians. The CDS like the veteran Tzu is aware, “What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.”

Like Sun Tzu, the CDS knows too perfectly that; “When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing.”

I appeal to Nigerians to look beyond the outward when assessing our military. We are bound to see the treasures embedded in them which are envied by the world. We must be proud of our possession and our military assets in these troops.

The military gentleman and unstinting professional officer, Gen. Olonishakin is eager to handover to Nigerians the crown and medal victory over Boko Haram terrorism. I read his lips and feel the yearning of a leader who wishes to accomplish this feat as his parting gift to Nigerians before his retirement.

Gen. Olonisakin knows he has an edge over the terrorists, by leading three arms of the Nigerian military. But the insurgents can only dream of repressing or even defeating the Nigerian military.

It’s clear to me, coordinating the security operations across the country, the CDS adheres to Tzu’s caution that “Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization.” We shall keep praying for their success fervently.

Murphy is a security consultant based in Calabar.

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Taraba N450m Presidential Campaign Fund: Why Was His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Targeted- By Omar Al-Farooq

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The case involving the former Acting Governor of Taraba State and the APC Gubernatorial Candidate His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi, former Speaker Taraba State House of Assembly Mark Bako Useni and former Minister of Labour and Productivity Sen. Joel Danlami Ikenya by the EFCC for conspiracy and violation of financial regulations contrary to Section 18(a) and 16(2a) of the Money Laundering Act 2011 as amended at the Federal High Court Jalingo has comes up for arraignment today.

Two of the three defendants so far accused by the EFCC Hon. Mark Useni and Sen. Joel Danladi Ikenya were present in the court while His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi was absent for not been duly served. The case was therefore adjourned to January 15, 2019 for arraignment.

In a mix reaction on this development, political pundits and interest groups across Taraba State were saddened by the fact that the case can be mention and commence with the available two defendants present in the court but adjourned or re-adjourned to another date to enable His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi to appear before the court.

While for his opponents, it is a disappointing day after working assiduously and tirelessly to see that the Incoming Resident Governor of Taraba State His Excellency,
Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi was in their assumption be disgracefully arraigned, prosecuted, convicted, jailed and substituted as the standing bearer of the APC for 2019 Taraba State Gubernatorial Election by the court today.

It may interest all Tarabans to know that, this is not a case of siphoning state treasury or diversion of fund meant for Taraba State for the execution of projects that has direct bearing to the development of the state or to the lives of its citizens. This is a case of a N450 million 2015 Presidential Campaign Fund sent by the former President Goodluck Jonathan to facilitate his campaign and election in Taraba State and it involved so many personalities in the state. But why is it that His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi is the ONLY TARGET even when the other two defendants are present in the court?

It is glaring that, all attempts to label His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi as corrupt and cover others in Taraba State has fallen flat in the face of emerging facts surrounding the investigation of the N450M Presidential Fund.

At the time when the N450 million Presidential Campaign Fund will be send to Taraba State for Presidential campaign in March 2015, His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi as the Acting Governor of the State then refused to used Taraba State Government Account to received the money neither does he used his personal account to received the money as he has nothing to do with the money. The then Minister of Labour and Productivity Sen. Joel Danlami Ikenya and the then Speaker of Taraba State House of Assembly Hon. Mark Useni Used their personal accounts in receiving the money. They are the ones who signed and collected the fund from Fidelity Bank before proceeding to Taraba State Government House for distribution as can be seen on RECEIPT OF PAYMENT attached hereto.

EIGHT (8) Man SHARING COMMITTEE was set up to distribute the money across Taraba State which include the following:-

  1. His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi- The then Acting Governor and now APC Gubernatorial Candidate, Taraba State
  2. His Excellency, Arch. Darius Dickson Ishaku- The then PDP Gubernatorial Candidate and now Executive Governor of Taraba State.
  3. Hon. Victor Bala Kona- PDP Chairman, Taraba State
  4. Sen. Emmanuel Bwacha- Senator Taraba South.
  5. Hon. Joel Danlami Ikenya- The then Minister of Labour and Productivity and now APGA Senatorial Candidate, Taraba South Senatorial District
  6. Rev. Jolly T. Nyame- Former Governor, Taraba State.
  7. Hon. Anthony Manzo- Former Senator, Taraba North
  8. Hon. Mark Useni- The then Speaker, Taraba State House of Assembly and currently a member in the State Assembly.

Investigations revealed that during interrogation by the EFCC, Sen. Joel Danlami Ikenya and Hon. Mark Useni (not Sani Abubakar Danladi) admitted that they have signed and received the money for onward distribution as directed by the President Jonathan Campaign Organization. The money was distributed collectively by the Distribution Committee to the 16 local governments in the state.

So, the question that comes to the mind of every right thinking man is that:-
-Why is it that the case is coming up now after when His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi became the APC standing bearer for 2019 Taraba State Gubernatorial election while investigations on the matter was concluded two years ago?

-Why was the outcome of the investigation lopsided and restricted to only three members of the eight man committee?

-What special role did His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi played that his name deserved special mentioning and his presence in the court the only concern of his opponents from within and outside of his party?

-Why is it that His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi remained the only target even when he did not signed, received and distributed the money?

-Why is it that the remaining five members of the committee are not involved in the trial?

-Is it not a smear campaign by his co-contestants for the gubernatorial seat of Taraba State to tarnish his image and block him from becoming the Governor of Taraba State?

-Are those politicians pushing for the arraignment and prosecution of His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi not more corrupt than him?

The signal in this scenario is crystal clear and within the knowledge and understanding of every right thinking Taraban that, it is a case of cheap blackmail and character assassination against the persons of the former Acting Governor of Taraba State and now the hopeful incoming Resident Governor as well as the APC Candidate for the 2019 election His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi by some section of the politicians in the state to stop him from vying the gubernatorial seat of Taraba State.

His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi is a law abiding citizen who is willing to make himself available to any court and to answer any charges on the N450 million 2015 presidential campaign fund sent to Taraba State as he has nothing to do with the money.

What is paramount at the moment is for the gubernatorial candidates to showcase their campaign blueprint to the teeming masses of Taraba State irrespective of their region, tribe, clan, religious and political party affiliations. Stabbing, back-biting, horse-trading and victimization can not move the state forward, it will only succeed in polarizing the state further.

Let us be guided that, this very particular case has no any connection whatsoever with his candidature neither does it have any legal impediment that can warrant his substitution or barred him from contesting the gubernatorial election of Taraba State as there is no any extant or relevant law that provided for such. On this note, for those who are waiting to substitute him on the basis of this case are just wasting their time and misleading their gullible supporters. And for those who are afraid of facing him in the 2019 gubernatorial election, let them know that their conscious does not lied to them that he that they are afraid of, is the one who can consume them.

Tarabans, let us not be distracted. For Taraba State to be indivisible and dependable state for all its citizens were peace, unity and unconditional development can flourish, we must support and vote for His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi as Governor Taraba State under the platform of APC.

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