Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja National leader of the All Progressive Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the former interim chairman of the party, Bisi Akande are currently at the Presidential Villa to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari. President Buhari had, earlier, met with former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar. The president’s meeting with the Gen. Abdulsalami…
On Wednesday, the Senate finally bared its fangs. The Upper legislative house had read the riot act to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct and conclude all rerun elections in Rivers by December 10, 2016 or it will suspend plenary in protest. Yes, the Senate’s action is commendable. The Senate is right that the non-conclusion of the elections in Rivers can no longer be tolerated. It is right to say that whatever is the matter should be resolved and the needful done.
It is only being fair to Rivers State that such an action was taken. Currently, the state is not represented in Senate, since rerun senatorial election has not been done in the state. Also, the state is not fully represented in the House of Representatives, since there are still pending elections. What this means is that the state is losing out at the National Assembly and, therefore, needs such help as the Senate has rendered with the threat.
I do not believe that the non-conclusion of elections in Rivers has anything to do with security. As senators observed, elections had held, in the past, in areas where there was higher security threat than Rivers. For one, at a time when Boko Haram’s activities were at their peak, in 2015, general elections still held. And there was no security breach whatsoever. What the government did was to face the challenge and addressed the issue. In doing this, elections were, first, postponed for six weeks within which period the military pounded and pushed Boko Haram into the Sambisa Forest, where it was confined. And elections did hold in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. Recently, in Edo State, the world was told that the governorship election was first postponed because of security threat. The issue was addressed and election held. If the government really believes that the issue in Rivers is security, it should create the environment for security, peace and stability. After all, security is in the purview of the Federal Government.
To be sure, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has always said that the non-conduct of the pending elections has nothing to do with security, but political. Recently, he told architects, who held their conference in Port Harcourt, that the state was secure for investments and elections. He had also told the Nigerian Guild of Editors, which held its annual conference in Port Harcourt last August, that security was not a major problem in the state. He told the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which also held its conference in Port Harcourt also last August/September that the state was secure. If groups are confident enough to hold conferences in Rivers, doesn’t it say something positive about security?
Now that the INEC has fixed December 10, 2016 to conclude the elections, the commission is beginning to do justice to Rivers State. The commission should extricate itself from the messy and pernicious political tangle in Rivers. Indeed, it does appear that some people from Rivers do not want the pending elections to hold, for fear of defeat and, therefore, frustrating them. This underlines the selfishness of politicians. These politicians only think about themselves and give no damn about collective interest of the state, as a corporate entity and Rivers indigenes, as a people.
However, the Senate should know that it is not only in Rivers that there are pending elections. I am surprised that nobody talked about Anambra State, for instance, where the Anambra Central Senatorial election is yet to be concluded. Agreed that the Anambra situation is not directly the fault of INEC, but that of politicians, who, in the bid to assert their so-called fundamental rights, are depriving the people representation, persuasive appeal is needed to get the impediments removed. Indeed, the Anambra Central issue is not only pathetic but also smacks of selfishness. Yes, the Court of Appeal, in the case brought before it by Chief Victor Umeh of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) had nullified the election of Senator Uche Ekwunife of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and ordered a rerun. The court went a step further to declare that since the candidate of the PDP was not validly nominated, the political party should not field any candidate in the rerun. The PDP had gone to court to challenge this and the matter is pending before the Supreme Court. One of the bones of contention is that PDP wants to present a fresh candidate, which raises a question as to whether this is possible in a rerun poll.
I had expected the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who moved the motion on Rivers rerun, to have also mentioned Anambra. The PDP case has delayed the Anambra senatorial rerun because of the political party thinking about itself and ignoring the fact that the state is losing out over non-representation. The Senate should, therefore, go beyond threatening to suspend plenary. Despite the fact that the INEC has fixed a date for the elections, the Senate should join in finding a political solution to whatever is amiss. It does appear that there are still pending court cases relating to Rivers rerun elections, just as in Anambra. The Senate could get the political parties to persuade their members involved to withdraw the cases. The Senate could also appeal to the judiciary to handle the pending cases with dispatch, so that the coast would be cleared at every angle.
If the Senate suspends plenary, it does not solve the problem of pending rerun elections. Leadership is about solving problem, not lamentation, threats, which look empty and cowardice. Indeed, if the pendency of elections subsists and Senate goes on “strike,” this could only mean cowardice, as such action has not produced representations for the senatorial and federal constituencies so affected.
Buhari’s $29.9bn loan request and South East
FOR a man who has sworn to be fair to all, and who said that he belonged to everybody and nobody, it will, indeed, be shocking if President Muhammadu Buhari would exclude a section of the country in development projects.
Currently, there are insinuations that the list of projects to be executed with the $29.9 billion loan the Federal Government seeks excluded South East. Coming at a time when bad roads are everywhere in South East, when federal infrastructure in the zone are obsolete and dysfunctional and when there is need for new project, among others, if this is true, it is most unfair. If this were true, would anybody blame those who say that President Buhari has rabid hatred for the South East and Igbo people?
Indeed, if it is true that the South East was excluded, Igbo leaders in the All Progressives Congress (APC) need to give the people some explanations. Also, Igbo personalities in the Federal Government have a case to answer. What are they doing if their zone is excluded from “dividends of democracy?” At this rate, how would they convince the Igbo to align with APC, if the government is depriving them of the benefit of government?
Indeed, what is it that the South East has done wrong to be out of favour when others are favoured? That they did not vote much for APC is not a capital offence. It is politics. After elections, politics ought to be dropped, while governance takes over. Unfortunately, as it concerns the South East, political persecution is becoming their portion.