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2023: Nothing wrong if another northerner succeeds Buhari – Ango Abdullahi

Ango , candidate
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Convener of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Prof Ango Abdullahi has pooh-poohed the view that a Northerner should not succeed President Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s president, insisting that Nigeria’s laws do not oppose such.

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In an interview with PAUL ORUDE in Bauchi, the former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria said Nigeria should try the parliamentary system again since the presidential system has failed to move the country forward. He spoke on other issues of national importance.

It’s politics season now. Are you satisfied with the way the campaigns are going on now? Do you think the candidates are addressing the issues?

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Well, indeed it is campaign season and before the campaign season, something must have given birth to the campaign season, meaning here that the various political interest groups or political parties in whatever nomenclature have decided to go to the electorate to canvass for their consent to occupy certain political offices which if you like could start from a counsellor through State Legislative Houses, through structures like governors, National Assembly and eventually the apex, the presidency.

You know the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is supposed to regulate and guide all these and so on. It is INEC that will supervise primaries according to the rules and regulations and so on. And eventually, at the end of the process, there will be a candidate who will emerge for a particular office starting with the presidency down the line.

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If I am to start from there, l will say I will not be satisfied and l have expressed this position that lam not satisfied with the system that is being used now to bring up candidates for election and eventually candidature for elections translate into executive responsibilities from President down. I had criticised the system as unsatisfactory and unsuitable for the country. It has not served our interest very well.
Particularly, I have criticised the mistake the country made by adopting the presidential system of government. And this is what we are struggling with now. We tried the parliamentary system for only five years. We disbanded it or it was disbanded by some people without consulting Nigerians.

Eventually we are forced, more or less forced, to say that we should go and borrow presidential system whether from France or from America. And that we have done from 1979 when President Shehu Shagari was elected under the system.

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And now for almost 24 or 25 years, we have been trying the presidential system of government and l wonder if those who criticised the parliamentary system have something to say whether it was worth our while to change from the parliamentary system.

We tried it for only five years, and we have tried the presidential system for almost 25 years and yet things are not working. And so for me the real crisis facing Nigeria today in terms of its politics or so called democracy and so on is the fact that the system is not working and l have argued very strongly along with many of my friends who believe in the same thing.

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I remember when l discussed this subject l always call back or recall my personal friend and classmate Dr Ibrahim Tahir, a good political scientist and sociologist who had insisted up to his death that Nigeria has made a mistake in abandoning parliamentary system and jumping into presidential system that doesn’t fit our history, doesn’t fit out cultural set up, doesn’t fit our economic systems and so on and so forth.

And that’s why for 24 years now, we have been groping in the dark and this country has not made the kind of progress that one would have expected it to make under any reasonably good political system. But this country has not made that kind of progress that l would like to recommend or commend in relation to the political system we are using.

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So that’s where my problem starts. My problem is with the system. So the system has thrown up people who are virtually recycled from 1979 to date.

It’s a system that keeps recycling politicians or if you like leaders under the system that has not added value to the development of the country in all indices, under any indices you want to discuss the progress of Nigeria you find out that the country has not made that progress that you like to commend and attach to the system that it has used for the last 24 years. So this campaign, to me, is recycling a system that has failed for the last 24 years.

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From what you have said, you are pessimistic about the future of Nigeria as it were

Of course l am. I am still an advocate that Nigeria still needs to re-examine itself politically and we have to really, realistically be honest and say have we succeeded with the presidential system that we borrowed from America or somewhere else that we have tried for 24 years visa vis the parliamentary system which we used for only five years, which our fathers have successfully used in really setting up a presidential system of government that we are asking for now.

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You people talk about restructuring and true federalism. We had it and yet it was destroyed from 1966 on and that’s where we are now. So I want us to go back to the drawing board and have another look at what we were and where we are now and where we want to go in the future.

Let’s look at the candidates for the forthcoming general election. Are they really addressing issues? And then what are the thoughts of the northern elders concerning the leading presidential candidates?

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Well, you are a journalist. You must have been looking at the candidates in their various campaign rallies, in their various statements whether maybe on the television or newspapers and so on and you find out all of them are talking about the same thing.

So you can say there is no difference between the candidates. There is no difference in terms of really addressing issues facing Nigeria. There is no difference. They talk about the same thing. The ideas that will push Nigeria forward are not within the system in which they operate and that’s why they keep pushing themselves.

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And if you look at many of the so called candidates or politicians that are running round the country, many of them have been members of various political parties at one time. So if you take each and every one of them individually and examine their historical antecedents in terms of politics, he was in party A last year and is in party B right now.

Before you realise it, maybe next year he is in another party. So what in most cases they are chasing is to chase a targeted ambition of being elected either as president, as governor or as senator and so on rather than targeting an ideological position concerning the people of the country, meaning concerning the voter or the electorate.

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They make no distinction – even the voters themselves. I am being confused by the so called campaigns because we hear the same thing from each and every one.

What are some of these things they say that are almost the same?

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Well, each and every one says l want to do something about security, each and everyone says l want to do something about economy. A dollar which is equivalent to about N900 now, I want to do something about that.

They want to do something about all manner of things, education, transportation and so on. Where are the roads today in Nigeria? Look at the main trunk roads, where are they working?

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So this is what they keep saying and this is what they really should be doing. The problem is that nobody is arguing about them. We have problem of insecurity. We have many problems but the issue is, are these problems being addressed? Take the National Assembly for example, what are they debating on? Go and listen to the debate.

Are they really debating some of these fundamental matters that affect the population? Is it security? Is it poverty? It’s whatever but what they are concentrating on is each group seeking how to manoeuvre to get the support of the electorate so that they get whatever position they want.

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Take for example a situation where a two-term governor is supposed to finish at the end of eight years but before he finishes he is the one who will anoint his successor and this is something they consider normal. He will them carve out the constituency which he will use to be a senator.

Go and check the National Assembly, how many of them were governors? And how many of them have manoeuvred to become a senator? And one can understand why. This is the place where laws of the country should be made and these are the place you are supposed to find guidance in terms of the direction the country will go.

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And when a group of governors who have failed in their respective states, financial abuse, human rights abuse, and so on, the best way to protect themselves is to become members of the National Assembly so that they can do what they want to do to protect their crimes in the past. Nigeria is being referred to as the capital of poverty in the world.

And have you been following what kind of remunerations members of the National Assembly are being paid? What are the remunerations of senators? What are the remunerations of a member of House of Reps? What are the remunerations of the governors and so on and so forth?

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Do you hear them discuss the minimum salary of N30, 000 for a Nigerian worker with family when people are seen, l have no evidence on this, but I understand that a senator collects N30 million a month. A member of the House of Reps collects N25 million monthly or thereabouts.

And yet these are the chambers where in terms of equity and justice public reward system is discussed. And public reward system means the ordinary worker from a cleaner to a messenger to a teacher in primary school to a teacher in secondary school and so on should get at the end of their services.

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And you find that N30,000 is a major problem for workers to receive a month at their respective places of work whether federal or state. And yet the people who are making the laws are making laws that suit them. They don’t care. They are not discussing this now.

And if you are not discussing this you are not really discussing serious security problems, unless you are addressing yourself to poverty problems meaning a failed economy where there is so much poverty everywhere, where the youths are unemployed, where even children are not in school.

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And you expect peace? Short time and long time? You must be joking. These are issues they should be discussing but they are not discussing this. They are discussing how to win election and carry on.

In fact, some of them are discussing that they want to carry on with what they have inherited either from their governors in the case of the state or from the president in case of the president. They’re not discussing some of these fundamental areas that really keep the peace and happiness of society.

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And as long as this is not done, you can’t expect the kind of peace they are looking for, the kind of comfort and the kind of long sleep they want to have in their mansions and so on. This cannot happen. As long as these children cannot find jobs, they will be in the bush.

Some of them are already in the bush and they are not discussing issues that will bring these boys out of the bush and keep them either in school or keep them employed usefully in many areas of the economy.

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How is the Northern Elders Forum guiding the average northern on what and what issues to consider before voting?

Well this question should perhaps be directed to the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed. And he has been doing an excellent job in terms of making a case for good governance in the country, for security in the country and for virtually everything that has gone wrong in the country.

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And l think I have seen his last political statement in which he said that it was a mistake that so and so was elected in 2015 and so on and so forth. Buhari is a Northerner, but we stand on a platform which is supposed to always look at things objectively and say the truth.

It could be painful from time to time, but the truth can never fail you. As long as you stand on it, you shouldn’t regret anything you say or any action you take. So what we are advocating is that if the country is going through difficulties, the baseline is that there is failure and must not be voted for president.

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I was a founding member of the PDP and l was one of those who authored its manifesto. There is no law that l know of that you can associate with the constitution of Nigeria whether l have a right to contest for an election at any time; whether l have a right to vote at anytime.

So all this talk about a northerner has just finished, a Nigerian had just finished and another Nigerian, whether from the desert or from the lagoon, could come forward. If he is a good material, everybody should vote for him.

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This is what we said in our various advocacy discussions which Hakeem is very good at. He said that, yes, there is no law stopping me from contesting election unless that law for example in the constitution which says that l cannot run for president beyond eight years continuously.

That one l know, but there is nowhere it says l cannot run for president because my brother, sibling – and l am talking here about blood brother – was president, or somebody coming from my village has become president before, or from my town or from my area.

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The legal system does not speak about that. These are some of the problems we have in the country today. We don’t seem to really respect rules and regulations that should bring all of us to understand where we are in terms of difficulties, in terms of efforts to correct things.

But now, when you insist that another northerner, no matter how qualified, cannot offer himself for election, this is denying him a right which is guaranteed in the constitution and you are making emotive campaigns that such a person should not be voted for in certain areas of this country

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That is actually dividing the country and this will not take us anywhere. The Northern Elders Forum has spoken on good governance and always insists that Nigerians should seek to understand from those who are looking for their votes.

Who are they? What have they done? And what can they do for the benefits of those who they want the votes from? I hope that they will veer away seriously from this, because this is not going to help the country if they keep talking about things like this. Yes, Buhari has finished. Fortunately, I don’t belong to any camp.

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I checked the APC manifesto and constitution. There is nowhere in APC manifesto or constitution which says that somebody cannot contest election because of the issue of rotating between the north and south somewhere. So l think it’s a very unfortunate state of mind and it’s injurious to Nigeria now and even more injurious perhaps in the future unless something is done.

Do you think INEC can refuse to be used by politicians as we approach the 2023 general election?

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Well, it’s like saying is it possible for the police to run away from corruption on the road, or is it possible to stop corruption in our judiciary? These are human beings that have been given one responsibility or the other that have to deal with members of the public.

Members of the public who are dealing with them have divergent interests. Unfortunately, because of this divergence of interests, the rules don’t seem to matter. Meaning here that if someone is desperate to get something, he doesn’t care about the rules that should stop him from getting it but rather get outside the rules to get it.

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Our only guarantee is that you constitute an INEC where the members of the INEC or the people you select can withstand those corruptive pressures coming from people with vested interests coming with divergent interests. This is why l feel a bit worried talking about INEC.

Talking about INEC, there should be only one INEC in the country. There shouldn’t be any so called independent electoral commission in the states. See what is happening in the states. Just take local government election in the states. What the governor wants is what that commission he appointed has to bring.

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Niger State has just done local government elections. Except two local governments out of 25, others returned the party of the governor in the local government elections. So if there is any major change apart from the one that l worry about the presidential system versus the parliamentary system, it’s the same thing. Most critical needs in terms of promoting democracy of this country should have one electoral commission.

This electoral commission should have one register throughout the country. And even when there is election at the local government level, it is its responsibility to set up the committee or the body that will go and conduct that. It’s just like Supreme Court.

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If there are cases, they set up committees that will hear the case and the same thing with INEC. The Central INEC and the only INEC we should have should be able to not only keep the voter registration updated, conduct all elections by assigning people to do it in the states. But as long as there will be independent electoral commission in states, there will be no democracy.

What’s your take on the redesign of the naira notes by CBN? Is it a good development?

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It’s a good development. The Central Bank is responsible for our monetary policies and they are the ones to guide, help government in terms of how to manage the economy. Central banks are critical, central to how the economy should run.

And that’s why you need competent people in the Central Bank. I once, during my participation in Obasanjo’s government, raised an alarm when an accountant was elected to be governor of CBN.

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An accountant is supposed to be in companies where there is loss and profit account. Economists have responsibility for designing policies that guide the totality of the economy of the country and the development of the country relating to that economy.

That’s why a competent economist is always key to how the Central Bank can keep an eye on the economy of the country. You can see what is happening. I was in office as VC and was travelling.

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From time to time, l needed travellers checks, foreign exchange, estacode and so one. One naira from the University to support my trip would fetch one dollar 40 cents. This is 1986. Only recently one naira was equivalent to one dollar forty cents.

And N1.20 kobo was equivalent to one pounds sterling. Today, just these few years, if l want a dollar, if l go to the black market, I will go with N900 to get one dollar. lf l go for the official rate, that is if l have somebody that will help me for whatever reason, it’s N460 to one dollar.

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So you ask yourself, really when will this change? I am not pessimistic but on this l am. Because when the first devaluation took place, l was in the office as VC of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU). l called social scientists to come and explain to me the meaning of the devaluation.

I can’t claim to know economy and so on, but l had to face this question in meetings and so on. Of course they came and after a short meeting, one of them who eventually became an economic adviser said this first devaluation which devalued our naira five naira to one dollar was the beginning of the destruction of the Nigerian economy. And only God knows when it will stop.

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And this prediction has turned out to be true. Today, N900 to one dollar? And you don’t produce anything that you sell to make your economy acceptable? So the question you journalists should be asking is, when will this change? As long as our economy is at this level, not too far above this level, we don’t have much hope.

This is how l feel, almost hopeless as far as the economy of this country is concerned. The governor of the Central Bank to my mind has failed. As a honourable man, a honourable professional, if he finds out that it is the political system that will not allow him to correct things, he should resign, because it is all the politics that you see on ground today that is responsible for what you see in the economy and all the corruption.

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Now it’s a good policy that they either want to design or change the currency so that people who have stolen money and kept them in their toilet tanks and the bush wherever have to bring it out to change it to the new.

Some indication are there that, yes there are signs, even on the foreign exchange, that the naira is gaining because money is pouring out from where it has been hidden.

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If these people who had stolen money had brought it out and invested it into the economy in terms of creating employment opportunities for our youths who are now in the bush hunting other people down for ransom and so on, all this perhaps would have reduced.

But unfortunately, the politicians who have stolen the money and their cohorts are just there with the money, hoping that they will buy votes. How do you get good leadership from people who buy votes?

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What can you say about the security situation of the country, with the recent security alarm raised by US, UK?

The country is not secure. There is insecurity everywhere – from the bush, from the road, from your house from everywhere. And of course governments that have diplomatic relations or economic relations with Nigeria and so on have a duty to always alert their citizens depending on the information available to them.

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So those countries that issued those alerts must have the information that l don’t have. But we share with them that there this insecurity but how to protect their citizens is up to them to define, even if they have to tell their nationals not to go to a particular place.

The level of the advice depends on the security challenge their nationals are facing in the country. It’s so sad that everything seems not to be working.

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Do you think the insecurity might scuttle the forthcoming elections?

I hope not, but it could. For example, l saw the president on another interview two days ago and he raised all these issues and he tried to assess himself in terms of how well he has fared going to eight years.

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I saw the interview and it’s such a pity that he must feel disappointed. But how about those he has assigned in the case of security chiefs, people in security here and there and those in charge of the economy and so on. He cannot run the country alone.

He has to work with others. He’s working with the National Assembly, he’s working with the executive ministers and so on. The point is that if you appoint, you should also keep your ears and eyes open. Should there be complaints, you check.

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If these complaints are true, you take measures which may be punishing those who did that or removing officers who have failed to discharge their responsibilities correctly. So it’s not enough to say l have service chiefs, l have police chiefs, ministers in charge of the economy and so on.

As the leader, the bulk stops at your table and if anything goes wrong, the minister will fizzle away. You wouldn’t hear his name, but you will continue to hear the name of Buhari.

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And this is what is happening with him now, even though a lot of the failure is being done by those he assigned to carry out certain functions that should have helped his government. (SUN)

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Interview

There’s no division in Afenifere – Ebiseni, Secretary

Afenifere
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Sola Ebiseni, the Secretary General of Yoruba socio-political organisation Afenifere, claimed in an interview with Arise TV, which was monitored by SEGUN ADEWOLE, that Afenifere remains one despite its most recent troubles

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Akure meeting not an Afenifere meeting

The meeting in Akure was not an Afenifere meeting, but it was a blessing to both Afenifere and Pa Fasoranti. I’ll tell you this: in Pa Fasoranti’s house, we have a tradition.

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When an important guest is to visit Fasoranti, he will call some of us, his immediate political children, some of us who are residents in Ondo State. I have been there several times.

My links with the Fasoranti family

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By the way, I am almost like a member of the Fasoranti family. He trained my children, and they lived in his house. My children went to his school, and the boarding house for his school is just a gate that separates it from his residence. My children lived with him.

I know the inner workings of Pa Fasoranti’s house. When there was an important guest to visit Baba, he would call some of us around.
The normal faces we see are Chief Olu Falae, Bashorun Olugbafa, Chief Korede Duyile, and some of us within the place; we will welcome the guest. That does not translate to an Afenifere meeting.

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Akure meeting a blessing in disguise
Why do I say it is a blessing in disguise? Pa Fasoranti was appointed leader of Afenifere in November 2008, on the death of Abraham Adesanya.

It was in that same year that those who went to Fasoranti today separated from Afenfiere and formed what they call the Afenifere Renewal Group and never had anything to do with Pa Fasoranti throughout his reign from November 2008 to March 16, 2021.

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They never had anything to do with him, as a matter of fact; they set up several dissident organisations to supplant his leadership.
How is that a blessing?

Fasoranti the rejected cornerstone

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On Saturday thereabout, they now came to the same Fasoranti they never accepted as a leader. They worshipped at his altar, removed their caps, and allowed him to place his hands on them in repentance.

What they have come to do is repentance. What they have come to do is admit that they erred. Normally, Fasoranti invited some of the people that sat with him. It was not an Afenifere meeting. How is it therefore a blessing to Afenfiere?

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Before now, the impression had been created that Afenifere was not relevant in the scheme of things; Afenifere could not dictate for Yoruba; Afenifere could not do this or that.

However, surreptitiously, they are going through the background to seek the face of the same Afenfiere because they know that the soul of the Yoruba nation resides in Afenifere.

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How Fasoranti handed over to Adebanjo
In 2015, Pa Fasoranti wrote to resign. It was this same group of people that harassed the old man to the point of giving up.
Fasoranti is an old, retired principal who mentored so many people, and he has the appeal of a Pope; he cannot hurt anyone. It got to a stage where he could no longer take the nonsense from these people who (later) came to him in recompense, and he said he was giving it up.

He tendered his letter of resignation, saying he could not have it any longer. It was Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Olaniwun Ajayi, and co. that came around and said, “No, you are our leader, stay. Don’t allow these dissidents to force you out of office. His resignation was never accepted by his lieutenants.

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How Fasoranti chose Adebanjo
On March 16, 2021, Chief Fasoranti invited all of us to a general meeting of Afenifere, which would have been held on the 30th of March, being the last Tuesday.

We were all there. Everybody was shocked. Baba started reading a prepared speech to us, and towards the end, if I could quote him right, he said Chief Ayo Adebanjo stood out because of his efforts as a staunch member of the Afenifere, whose name is now virtually synonymous with Afenifere, a defender of the Yoruba course, and an avatar of the Awolowo school of thought.

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He (then) set a task before us. Baba (Fasoranti) mentioned why a section of the country from the north would consistently want to monopolise power, against the south, which had been resisting.

At 95, I am unable to continue. To that end, I have found a man who has been in the trenches all his life. Chief Ayo Adebanjo now takes over from me, and he will be assisted by a deputy, Oba Olaitan. He charged us, saying, “Please, give them more support, as you have given me. But I remain Afenifere for life.

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How decision-making works in Afenifere
Baba never said I would remain the Afenifere leader, or whatever else they are quoting now. And since then, the structure of Afenifere has been that decisions are taken at three major levels.
The national executive committee that prepares the agenda for the national caucus, and then the general meeting of Afenifere, which is its congress.

From that day on, all meetings shifted to Ayo Adebanjo, at whose instance those meetings were held, and he presided over those meetings in his house.

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Fasoranti didn’t change meeting venue
A lot of statements were credited to Baba, and while they were going viral, in order not to destroy Afenifere, Baba now issued a statement through his Personal Assistant, whom we regard as his son.

The statement said it had come to the attention of Baba that some statements credited to him were appearing in a section of the media, particularly on social media.

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Baba wishes to say that he never said Chief Ayo Adebanjo is no longer the acting leader of Afenifere, nor did he say meetings should come back to Akure.

Akure parley wasn’t an Afenifere meeting
As I told you, the meeting that was held was not an Afenifere meeting. The notice of that meeting was issued in the name of a WhatsApp group, Conscience of Yoruba Nation.

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Those who expressed political inclination at any time were gathered in the WhatsApp group and my brother, Kola Omololu, said he was the Director General.

He issued a meeting and told people that we are going to hold a meeting in respect of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s presidency, and Pa Fasoranti has agreed to preside over the meeting.

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The duration of that meeting was 11am to 1pm, two hours. My brother, I told you here that there was one that was debated from July 29, 2021, to September 27, 2022; 14 months of debate compared to two hours of jamboree.

Is that an endorsement? Baba has the power to bless anyone. I give you an example. In 2019, Afenifere endorsed Atiku Abubakar. Several others still came and Baba prayed for them.

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Why Afenifere endorsed Peter Obi
Fasoranti, in his handover speech, said one of the tasks confronting us is to stop a section of the country from dominating Nigeria.

Look at the domination from Shehu Shagari, Yar’adua to Buhari. Can’t you see a section of the country? And if you come to the south, you see it from Shonekan, Obasanjo, and professor Osinbajo down the line, and you now say Yoruba lo kan? How do you run a country like that?

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What will happen in 2023
Let me tell you what will happen in 2023. If the presidential candidate of the PDP wins, you will have created an impression in this country that, notwithstanding your feelings, a person of northern extraction can be president of Nigeria no matter what anybody says.

If the presidential candidate of the APC wins, you will now have a trajectory of rotation between the Yoruba and the Fulani. Peter Obi’s candidacy is a revolution to change Nigeria.

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It is part of the restructuring that Nigeria will be restructured in such a way that every ethnic nationality will have a sense of belonging. (PUNCH)

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Interview

PDP crisis: Wike only asking for equity and justice – Sam-Daddy Anyanwu, PDP chief scribe

PDP
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The National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Sam-Daddy Anyanwu, is one politician who knows where the dry and fresh bones of Nigerian politics are buried, having served in various political positions.

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Fielding questions from journalists in Abuja, the opposition party’s chief scribe addressed a whole lot of issues bedeviling his party, including its bright chances of winning the 2023 presidential election, his readiness to sacrifice his position to restore peace in the party, giving assurance that the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, will not abandon PDP for any other party. Excerpt:

Why have you not joined any other party apart from the PDP?

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When APGA was formed and Owelle Rochas Okorocha took away Ikedi Ohakim, they wanted me to join APGA, but I refused. When they formed APC, I was among the three musketeers in the House of Assembly.

There was nothing Rochas did not do to buy us over to the extent that he went to Iwuanyanwu, brought and offered me N100 million to buy me over to join the APC, but I told him that I am not a political prostitute.

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I made it clear that no matter the situation, I want to remain in my party, the PDP because things must certainly turn around one day. Since I joined politics in 2000 till date, I have not thought of joining any other party. I have remained constantly with the PDP.

It is in PDP that I contested and won the Senate. At the upper chambers, I was the first fresher to be given Committee Chairman on Ethics and Privileges when nobody wanted to touch it because they believe that it is not one of the juicy committees.

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Interestingly, my concern was not what may be coming out of that committee, but how I can make impact for the world to know that somebody like me is existing.

I did my best in that committee and became the first Senate committee chairman to receive award from colleagues and the first to be given standing ovation in the red chambers for my activities in that committee.

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I used the committee to bring succour to many Nigerians. I wanted to return to the Senate, but what happened now belongs to history. God used good men and my friends like Governor Wike, Ugwuanyi, other Southeast governors and leaders to nominate me as National Secretary of the PDP zoned to the region.

When it was micro-zoned to Imo, they resolved to get a strong-willed person since the state is an APC one. But my choice didn’t come so easy especially from those who saw me as their political enemy.

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Even as the National Secretary, it is not my plan because my training and experience is to run and win election. I told them during the Imo PDP stakeholders meeting that nobody should think that the position is the end of my political career because it is just coma, not full stop. It is only when someone dies that we can put full stop.

Will you contest the Imo governorship election when the window opens?

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I have looked at Imo State and felt that when they open the window for governorship, I will still have a shot at it. I have done it before, and I will try and do it again.

It is not because I am hungry for power, it is not that I am not financially comfortable, but because I feel that the most important thing in life is to ensure that hungry Nigerians get succour.

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Some of us that have come out publicly are overwhelmed with demands from people who will make you cry after reading their text messages over what they are going through.

My interest in Imo is to bring a new life to the people to make them happy even if they have not eaten unlike what we see today where nobody is happy both the rich and poor.

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The blood of young men has been wasted. There are villages today you cannot get a young man below 40 years. All that are left are elderly men of 80 years and above. The young men have all ran away because of insecurity.

The situation is man made that can be avoided and stopped. There is hopelessness in Imo. I know that making them happy is not a rocket science, but about articulation of ideas. It is about interest, and resolution to make the people happy.

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At the appropriate time, I may consider bringing that happiness to the people of Imo when the window for election is open. But right now, I am the National Secretary of the PDP. Like every other political party, we are going through some turbulence.

What has been helping you to manage a troubled party like the PDP?

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By character and by conduct, I work very well under pressure and regardless of the circumstances; I don’t lose focus or my mind. I know very well that in everything in life, there must be a distraction.

Even while reading in your library, your child can distract you. I don’t create enmity. I make sure that the people around me are happy.

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As somebody close to Wike, what is his mindset about his next plans for the party?

Let me say that I am not God to know anybody’s mindset. Again, Wike is a man of his own; I can tell you that for sure because he is my good friend and will continue to be my friend.

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However, our friendship does not mean that I control what he does or predict what he will do next. He has, however, maintained that he is still in PDP and I know that he will not go anywhere.

He is not fighting our presidential and vice presidential candidates, Atiku and Okowa, but he is asking for equity and justice. He is not a pretender; he says out his feelings.

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If he is angry, he displays it and if he is happy, it will also reflect on him too. Let me confirm to you that Wike does not backbite, neither will he work to destroy the PDP.

Are you ready to sacrifice your position as National Secretary if the restructuring Wike is demanding is granted?

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We must know that the PDP NWC is a product of the constitution of the party. If there is going to be any restructuring of the NWC, it is going to come through a mini convention.

As a matter of fact, as a Christian and a peacemaker, even if it means resigning my position for peace to reign, and especially for the PDP to win this presidential race, I will gladly do it.

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I know that such sacrifice will not be too much for the party because I know that I will certainly leave the position one day.

What are your fears for PDP in the 2023 presidential election?

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To be honest with you, what I can say is that the election is not going to be business as usual. Election is no longer what it used to be in the past. You know that in the past when you get PDP ticket, you can go home and sleep.

But it is no longer the same today because lots of interests are coming up and new political development has also evolved. All I pray is for our party to win, but we need to work very hard, we need to be together, there should be understanding, there should be tolerance, and there should be sacrifices to be made.

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If we can achieve all these, I can sleep and wake up with hope that victory is sure for the PDP next year. I know that there will be no peace in a quarrelsome home.

How deep can the crisis in the Imo PDP affect your mission to contest?

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Imo PDP ought not to be divided in the first place. Human being has whatever interests they want to protect. The major problem we have is someone with an entitlement mentality. Party is not run that way. We call it a party because it is for everybody.

We should also eschew this mentality of using advantage against people. As the National Secretary of the party, all the state chapters of the party in Nigeria are under me. But I am aware of the biblical verse that a prophet is not honoured in his home.

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There are areas that will require a sledge hammer and at other places, you use a light weapon like a broom. We have to understand that we need to work together. Divided we fall and united we stand.

We must know that if we don’t kill bush meat, there will be nothing to share. If God forbid, PDP loses the presidential election tomorrow, nobody will talk about ministerial, and other positions because it will be a case of to your tents O’Israel.

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But, if we succeed and win, everybody will feel the impact. We must work together in most of the state chapters where factions still exist. As for the Imo PDP, I want to strongly believe that before the governorship primary, things would have gotten better.

The truth of the matter is that Imo is predominantly a PDP state. But the problem is that Imo people are resisting constant display of arrogance by an individual, insisting on running for the same position when there are so many other people.

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What the insistence means is sending the wrong signal that PDP does not have other people qualified to contest the position.

What people are demanding is for the party to allow a level playing ground so that the candidate can emerge through the love of the people to brighten the chances of PDP winning if it runs against the ruling party in the state.

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However, I can never predict doom for a party I am in charge of its affairs. I am already optimistic that the PDP is going to win the next governorship election in Imo State. I also believe that there is no crisis that cannot be resolved.

The process of reconciliation is in progress, and I want to assure you that we will team up with whoever gets the ticket of the party. One thing is to get the ticket, but another is to win the election. The era of business as usual is gone.

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People want to choose who they want. We have to eschew sentiment in picking who holds the party’s ticket. We must field candidates that can win elections.

This idea of boardroom conspiracy, backstabbing, blackmailing, and gossip to get the party’s ticket has far-reaching consequences. We must know that politics is local not played in Abuja.

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As for the fears that tendencies of the candidates polarising the party with loyalty to either Wike or Atiku will affect our state party chapter, I will say that as the National Secretary of the PDP, I belong to no camp.

Wike is my friend, Atiku is my candidate and friend too because we knew each other before now even when I first ran for governorship. My job is to play the role of statesman to bring people together.

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It is on record that Wike is not in enmity with Atiku and the party, he has his own message he is sending. It does not mean that anybody who associates with him is an enemy of the party.

What will the PDP be campaigning in the face of the animosity from the other parties against 16 years of PDP administration?

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On the campaign weapon and instrument that we are going to use to reach Nigerians, I want to ask you a simple question of whether your condition is better now under APC era than few years ago under the PDP?

Things are no longer normal in the country. APC came with change mantra, they actually changed, but they changed to worse situation. It is just barely eight years since the PDP left power, but everything has degenerated.

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Look at insecurity in every part of the country. Can those using buses to travel to Kaduna, Imo and other parts of the country during the PDP era try it now? People don’t go home again in Imo and Anambra and if they must, it will be with a battalion, but even sometimes they still kill despite the fortified security.

Nigeria and Nigerians were more secure under the watch of the PDP than under the APC. This is a country where Nigerians have taken the protection of their lives into their hands and that is why many states are now forming combatant security outfits.

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The security agencies seem to be overwhelmed. What is the rate of unemployment in Nigeria today compared to the PDP era? Most Nigerians can afford to send their children to schools abroad under the PDP era, but it has become unaffordable to many today.

What is the exchange rate today compared to when the PDP was in power? Look at the humongous level of corruption going on in the country today. What about the vessel carrying several volumes of crude oil burnt down?

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Are you worried about the incremental losses PDP has recorded in the Southeast which hitherto was the stronghold of the party?

What is happening in the Southeast also happened in the Southwest. Before now the whole of Southwest was APC, but today PDP has Oyo and Osun states.

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Let me assure you that PDP is determined to regain all the states in the Southeast apart from Anambra that the election has been held and that is structurally an APGA state based on Ojukwu factor.

As for other states, how are you sure that our brother and friend, the Ebonyi State governor, will not return to his party? In Imo, we are working hard to reclaim the state.

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By our calculation, we are working hard to ensure that by the end of the elections, PDP will claim four states in the Southeast. I know very well that the South Easterners love PDP very well.

They prefer PDP to other parties, but I also know that things have happened over the period, especially about the manners of fielding candidates. If a party brings out a good product in a sellable candidate, people will buy it.

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Interview

INTERVIEW: How ex-beauty queen became Abuja Bolt driver who makes N150,000 monthly shares experience

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When many Nigerians are struggling every day to get paid employment due to the rising unemployment rate in the country, such could not be said of Mercy Nandak Daze, an ex- beauty queen who is now a female Bolt driver in Abuja. She told FRANCESCA IWAMBE in this exclusive interview that she make about N150,000 every month from driving bolt, excepts.

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A brief introduction
My name is Mercy Nandak Daze from Plateau state . I was born and raised in Plateau State, did my primary and secondary education in the Jos but presently base in Abuja and a student of Open University. Out of five children I’m the youngest child of my father.

Growing up
While growing up I always love to do things with my hands, I want to be get value for my time thats why I’m a serial enterprenuer. What makes me a serial entrepreneur, I model, an ex-beauty queen, a body modifier, fashion designer, a youtuber and also I partner with bolt/uber.

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How it started
I really love the idea of been paid for the simplest things i do . My journey to partner with bolt/uber was a drive i hard for the business. I admired it alot because its a business that is convenient for both genders and also give you the opportunity to meet great people and gives you time to do other things because you are your own boss. Partnering with uber/bolt has given me alot of exposure from a different angle and l love this business. I know what I’m doing, I’m not answerable to anyone, I work at my convenient and pace, of course I’m enjoying my job.

How do you handle male customers/Admirers
When you walk into my car I try to make you understand that this is my office so I expect you to respect me. Of course I’m the one in charge and what ever contract we have won’t last more than 1hour depending on the services and I also have the right to terminate the contracts at any time of course, I am always careful to abide by the code and I expect my customers to do same.

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Advise to ladies out there waiting for white collar job
If partnering with bolt/uber is a business you can do, why not, we need more ladies out here I promise you the job is fun.

Any naughty experience in the course of the work?
In life no matter what you do, you must come across the good, the bad, and the ugly. So everyday when I set out I prepare my mind for anything but I also pray not to meet evil.

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Any regrets venturing in the job?
I don’t feel some kind of inferiority complex at all . This business gives you back what you worked for . So if you work for less you will get less at end of the month but if you worked for more you will definitely get more . So its actually the average of nothing less than N150,000 every month. Some people even make upto N500,000 , so it all depends on the work you put in.

How do you unwind
After making my daily target I will be happy and proud of my self , so when I get home I shower ,get something to eat then Netflix and chill with a sweet wine or cocktail.

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Pix caption: Ms Mercy Nandak Daze, Ex beauty queen, serial enterprenuer now a bolt driver

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