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I fought three wars, yet Army denied me benefits – Ex-female Major

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Roseline Eyetan, a female soldier who retired as a Major and was a beneficiary of the Mamamoni Empowerment Programme, speaks with AJIBADE OMAPE on her experience in the military and life after retirement

What is your background?

My name is Eyetan Abosede Roseline and I am from Edo State. My parents are also from Edo State, and I got married to a Delta man from Itsekiri. I am 62 years old;I went to school for the little while that I could afford because I did not grow up to know my parents. I was told that my father died when I was at the age of three years old and my mother died when I was about nine years old, so I lived with my mother’s sister, who took care of me. I am the only daughter of my mother out of four children. My story is long and if I start to talk today, I will be in tears. I went through a lot during my youthful age and by the time I got married I went through a whole lot of stress because of my husband’s accident while on a peacekeeping mission in Warri. We managed the situation with a prosthetic leg for about three to four years.

How long have you retired from the military?

I can’t remember because the whole journey was troublesome; it should be about five to six years now that I have retired from the military. I retired as a Major in the Nigerian Army. It was immediately when I was commissioned as a Major that my husband had the accident from the mission to quell the crisis in Warri that he was a part of.

How many children and grandchildren do you have?

I am a happy mother of four wonderful children. I have three girls and a boy to the glory of God and my children have also started getting married and giving birth to my grandchildren. I am also a lucky grandmother of three lovely grandchildren. I have two female grandchildren and one male grandchild.

How did you meet your husband?

I met my husband when I was undergoing training; he saw me and asked for my name and details, and he then asked if I would like to get married to him; I couldn’t say no because I was in uniform so I said yes for him to let me go. When I was later posted to the Defence Ministry in Lagos, I met him there again but when he asked if I remembered him, I denied it even though I did. He followed my cousin to the house in Surulere one day, and on seeing me, he remembered I was the one he saw from the third floor in the Defence Ministry and that was how he said to me that he liked me and would want to get married to me; I asked him to tell my aunt who was my foster mum at that time even though I already had someone in mind to get married to. My aunt went on and made some spiritual findings and advised me to get married to him.

Two months after I started the Mamamoni empowerment programme, on October 12, 2021, when we came back from church around 8pm, I asked that we do our devotion because I was about to sleep, and he stayed back to watch the 10pm news, after then he came into the room and began to call Stella, one of the girls who stayed with us at home, I responded to him then he asked us to gist so we began conversing till it was past midnight. I asked him to join me and wish our first daughter a happy birthday; we prayed for her and wished her a happy birthday, after which he said he wanted to sleep so I put off the light and went to sleep, but not up to 10 minutes, my spirit told me to put on the light and immediately I did, I noticed my husband holding onto his chest and writhing in pain.

I immediately sprinkled anointing water on him, and he then coughed and came around; he asked to use the restroom so I managed to wear his prosthetic leg for him and assisted him to the restroom; when he was done, he prayed for me and that was the moment I noticed his unusual behaviour. I then picked up my phone to call my first daughter, but before she got to the house he had already passed away. It was very painful because he was a very caring husband and I grew up with him. He gave up at exactly 12.35am on October 13, 2021. I went back to Mamamoni after the funeral and mourning processes.

What year did you join the military?

I honestly cannot remember but I know that I joined at a very young age. I think I spent over 20 years in the Army. It is my husband who could remember most of those details because he was always keeping records.

Was your husband also in the military?

Yes, my husband was also in the military; he was a Lieutenant Commander in the Nigerian Navy. He led a team of naval soldiers on a peacekeeping mission to Warri, he then got injured in battle and lost a leg, and he retired in 2014.

Now that you have retired from the military, how is life?

I am just managing life right now; it is not easy; right now, the country is very tough and it is only by the grace of God that we are alive; bad leaders are affecting the country a lot; if we have good leaders, we will not have too many people saying they want to travel abroad. So let me just say I am managing; I am only praying for sound health.

How many years did you serve in the military?

By my calculations, I must have spent a total of 26 years in the Army before I resigned when my husband had an accident in the peacekeeping mission he went for

During your time in the military, were you ever in the field of operation?

Yes, I was on the field and I fought in some wars. I took part in two to three wars. The very first war I fought was the Liberian war, and out of 350 battalions, I was the only woman there and I survived it. I think it was in 1995, but I’m not sure because it has been a long time and my husband used to keep records for me; then the second war I fought was the first Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State, we were about 11 ladies who were with the men, and we had 285 in the battalion and out of the 285, only 96 survived it and among the 96 who survived, I am among. The last one was in Jos, Plateau State; although I was hit by a bullet in my hand during the battle, after the bullet hit me, it went through and killed two persons behind me; I believe I am very lucky to have escaped. I know God loves me so much and he has a big package for me and I know he will do something. So I have fought three wars for Nigeria.

How did you hear about the Mamamoni Empowerment Foundation?

I was taking my grandson to school when I saw something about it; I went ahead to drop him off at school and went back to read more about it; I then discovered that it was free so I told my husband about it and I decided to enrol for it. I spoke to my husband about it and he supported me wholeheartedly. I could not pass a thread through a needle before, but ever since I started the Mamamoni programme, I have been able to sew dresses for customers.

What was your dream job before you joined the military?

I did not think of doing anything else; I just wanted to join the Army although I have always wanted to own a daycare centre so that I can take care of little children because it is what I like.

Why did you choose to join the military?

I just liked the military; I ran to join the military, and the day we finished training, I ran away and people started looking for me, but the day I came home people were shocked to the point where they started pouring sand on my body thinking that I was a ghost. They were surprised that I joined the military, but I told them that I just liked it.

Did your parents support your decision to join the military?

My parents were not alive to decide for me. My aunt was not even aware because I did not seek her permission before I ran to join the army.

While in the military, did you sustain any injuries from attacks or operations?

I was shot in Jos; the bullet hit my hand, but it killed two people who were behind me on the battlefield; it was really scary and I know that God was the one who saved me that time.

Do you have any regrets about joining the military?

Yes, I am not happy; I am not happy that I worked very well for them and served the Nigerian Army and was not compensated because my file was not signed. I fought at least three wars but nothing was given to me. I was told to return to service, but I cannot because I am already aged strength is not on my side any longer, and again, I don’t have the money to bribe them. The last time I went there, I was asked to bring N500,000 to get my file signed. We even pleaded and negotiated for N300,000 and they agreed, but I realised that the staff members who operate in that department are frequently changed and I didn’t want to risk losing that amount of money, so I decided not to pay any money. My children advised that I should leave them and hope for something good to happen. And besides, most of the people in the top offices now are from a particular part of the country and it is a real problem if you do not understand their language.

During your time in service, did you experience any form of sexual harassment by your male colleagues and senior officers?

Yes, most of those senior officers are very promiscuous, and if they approach you and you refuse to have a sexual relationship with them, they will make sure you are taken away from any department like the filing department and salary department where you will be privileged to make extra income and post you to a department where you will only be dependent on your salary and they will make your time there a very terrible one. So, who will hear that a married woman like me with children is into such a dirty act? It would be a shame; one of my senior officers, who was a colonel, frustrated me and he is one of the reasons why I even resigned. I told my husband and my husband warned him against posting me without valid reasons and my husband always strove to post me back whenever my superiors posted me to a difficult place.

Would you want any of your children or grandchildren to join the military?

I will not mind if any of them want to join the military. As for my senior daughter, she said she would like to join the Navy but wants to join abroad; even my only son wants to join the army as well but he also wants to join either the US or Canadian army. I do not advise anybody to join the Nigerian Army because it is peanuts they will get; if you go through the Nigerian Defence Academy, your salary will be around N170,000; if you join with just a secondary school certificate, your salary will be N48,000; it’s just the uniform that commands respect, the take-home salary is nothing to write home about. It is not encouraging at all.

Now that you have learned fashion design, are you going to build a fashion brand?

Yes, I want to build a place; I would love to buy more sewing machines so that I can teach as many people as I can because I was equally trained. So, it is something I am willing to do and I know it is just a matter of time; things will work out very soon.

What other skills or trades are you looking forward to learning?

During the Christmas period when my children gave me money, I bought materials and sewed clothes that I sold to people with little gain. If there are resources to do business, I will look for other things to do. I enjoy sewing clothes for people to sell. I sewed three pieces of school uniform for a woman’s kids and she was impressed with my delivery time and also with the outcome of the work, and she willingly paid me a total of N15,000 and I was surprised. So, I will do other things when I get the capital.

Credit: PUNCH

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Tinubu’s first year: How lack of proper planning denied Nigerians gains of fuel subsidy withdrawal policy – Hon Teejay Yusuf

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…says quality of representation at national legislature has dwindled

Hon Teejay Yusuf, an economist, former NANS executive at the national level in the 1990s, represented Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency of Kogi, in the 7th, 8th and 9th HoR, a vibrant lawmaker on the floor of the House. In this chat with Naijablitznews Associate Editor, Gloria Ikibah spoke on President Bola Tinubu’s first anniversary, politics of fuel subsidy withdrawal, poor representation at the upper legislature and other national issues, excerpts.

President Bola Tinubu just clocked one year in office, how will you assess his administration so far?
That’s why from day one I promised myself never to contest if I can’t satisfy those I am going to represent.

You’ll be coming, you’ll make this promise, and what have you. And I remember very well, I told God, if you know that I’m going to be like that, and the narrative will be like, after he won, don’t let me win the election. So I don’t want to be part of those statistics.

So it was so bad that it is now becoming a normal narrative in Nigeria that those clichés come for election, and after election, they’re dumped in the dustbin.

So one year, you can say you have one, two, three ministers who have shown character of presence. Like I said, I had an interview a few days ago. I said, one major, major policy somersault that was a good thing to do, but was not properly articulated and managed was subsidy removal. So that took away whatever gain they would have gotten.

I remember I told people that in 2012, on Sunday, January 8, House of Reps came out with a motion against subsidy removal. I moved that motion.

And I articulated then that I’m not opposed to subsidy removal, I’m an economist. But there are processes to removal of subsidy, and there’s no country in the world that doesn’t subsidize.

But it is wrong to subsidize fuel, because you enrich and empower the rich more, and you impoverish the poor, when you subsidize fuel. But you now take subsidy into education.

A man on salary of N30,000, who’s transport from Nyanya to work, used to be N100, subsidy removal would take it to like N150, or N200, or N300.

But he should have a gain by saying, the school fees of my child is being taken care of. He’s aware that if he goes to hospital, that certain things are being taken care of.

So that’s how you do it. So take the effect. In economics, there’s a so-called ripple effect, bandwagon effect. So these things are normal.

When you hear economists define economics as social science that study human behaviour. So the behavioural pattern of an English man, it’s not the same with a Yoruba man.

My mother is a market woman. Fuel subsidy removal, it means that transport from market to market has increased. How goods will increase? She’s not waiting for interest rate. She has no time for analysis.

So until we put these things into perspective, we will not get out of this thing. Our democracy, our policies must take it to cognizance who we are as a person.

My solution would have been, President Tinubu, you know you are removing subsidy. I have a one-year plan. By December 2024, there won’t be subsidy.

But before then, by April, there will be buses out. By so, so, so, there will be this. Not that you take away fuel subsidy, you are now planning palliative. You are not beginning to do palliative. It should have been in place. So the moment you take it off, you pump in, so that this effect will not affect other areas.

Look at it, you took it out, the moment you took it out, look at what’s happening. You are now struggling to manage it and what have you.

That’s why I say, I don’t know who counseled him. I assume it’s a thorough breed politician who should have had this plan on ground for subsidy so that’s why I couldn’t, I would have said oh Eldorado but unfortunately, he’s a lie if I ever say that.

There are those who believe that what the President is doing is just like somebody who planted some crops and require some time to grow and so we are yet to get to the time to harvest. So are you part of those who believe that the time to harvest is still ahead?

It is natural that there is seed time and harvest. But if you do not plow your ground well, don’t you know what is called stunted growth? Yield can be in 30, 40, 60, 100%. So what kind of yield?

It is the suffering going to be in same measure with the result we are getting? I just analyzed something for you now.

And there’s no way, I was trying to say something of recent. There’s nowhere in the world that you have economic policy from IMF and World Bank being adopted in total in an economy and it works.

You have a responsibility to gather your own good eggs, to analyze and domesticate it. I just analyzed behavioural pattern. I told you about interest rate and my mother.

If you remember, I used to tell you then, I told IBB. When IBB said, all policies he has applied failed. Eskor said, no, all policies known to you, that you have not tried our own policies.

So I don’t agree, it’s human nature naturally, you want to build hope. Those who are saying that are trying to encourage themselves because discouragement can bring despondency and a lot of things.

So it’s good for the polity to hear those kind of things. But I don’t have high expectation.

I look at the dollar fluctuation, what have you. It’s only in Nigeria, that the dollar fluctuates. A lot of places, a lot of others, even when Zimbabwe was crashing, economy, you see how dollar rate was sustained for one month.

But in Nigeria, 10 o’clock is one naira. By three o’clock, it’s only in Nigeria. Go and check, there’s nowhere in the world they have those kind of fluctuation. How?

Simple; it’s only in Nigeria that some people does speculation on their business. They don’t go to transact anything. All they do is they buy dollar, keep to sell. It’s only in Nigeria.

So there are things that are common. It’s only in Nigeria that subsidy removal puts more money in the hand of governors. States who were taking four or five billion are now taking 11, 12, 13, 15 billion.

And an average Nigerian is not looking at the state money, we are all focusing on the national. Nobody is questioning that. So you find states buying dollars, this causes dollar fluctuation.

A lot of state governors buy dollar every month when they get their allocation to store wealth. That’s part of the challenge here. It’s only in Nigeria.

It’s only in Nigeria that the federating unit will come to Abuja every month to share money. There’s no federation anywhere in the world where such is practiced.

Canada is almost like us, multilingual, large, whatever, they have oil. There’s nowhere the central government allocate oil blocs in Canada. The regions allocate, pay tax to the centre. You are taxed according to what you are expected to have.

But in Nigeria, we all gathered here at the table. So how do you promote ingenuity? How do you make people think outside the box when they know they are getting a handout every month?

NLC is talking about minimum wage and what have you. Yeah, it’s good to have minimum wage, but in a good ideal federation, you don’t have the same rate everywhere.

You go to some area of Canada, you are paid seven times more than the other side, but you pay more tax. VAT, everything is higher in those areas. Housing is higher in those areas. The other side, because you are, the ideal of a federation is that each component unit is at liberty to grow at its own pace and based on its capacity. So we have unitary confederation.

You were a former lawmaker. Now, sometimes when during your own time, maybe when the Executive is coming up with inconsistent policies, the lawmakers will use the instrumentality of lawmaking to correct them and do checks and balances, too. Sir, do you think that this 10th Senate has helped the president to stabilize the economy? And how would you rate the 10th National Assembly?

I was supposed to be part of the 10th National Assembly, I ran for Senate. But those who know me will know that I’m not saying this because I’m not there.

Even as a PDP member, I was standing on the floor against certain policies of PDP. So that’s when APC came.

When you take oath of office, it’s not an allegiance to your party. It’s an allegiance to the nation, when you say, you will commit yourself to the good of that, and you swore an oath to that constitution.

So the 10th Senate, not just the 10th Senate, but any parliament in the world that cedes a right of choice of leadership to the Executive will not be able to perform optimally.

They are supposed to work together, Parliament and Executive, but there’s some degree of independence, when your legitimacy as a leader comes from your members, when you know that you can come in as a Speaker or Senate President and go back as a normal member, because first among equal. But when what sustains you belongs to the other arm of government, it can never. So it didn’t start from the 10th Senate, it started from the 9th Senate, National Assembly.

Going back to your 7th Assembly. You guys, on your own, made Tambuwal…

In the 8th Assembly, look at the contest between Dogara and Gbaja. APC anointed Gbaja, they were both of APC, we stood our ground and elected Dogara.

So, even when you have genuine, passionate, patriotic desire, the environment cannot allow you to operate because you have leaders who are looking around their shoulder not to be seen as being paying evil with good because somebody extended olive branch to help you.

Even when that decision you would take would be of good to the Executive, you don’t know how they would take it. So you now find people on the floor who want the Executive to see them as being good boys.

And to me, being a good boy is speaking truth. If you claim you love me and I’m heading to the ditch and you keep pampering me and I enter the ditch, or you stop me, I don’t like it, but you save me from the ditch. Tomorrow I’ll sit back.

I tell people, my mom, I lost my dad in primary school and my mom was a very tough disciplinarian, so bad that she would be traveling, I would be praying for her to die, not to come back because once you report me, there’s no question I’m the bad person.

So in those days growing up, if your friend wants to fight, you fight nah, why will I report? They will say no, don’t fight him, go and report him. I’ll start begging, because she will not ask question.

So these days when people now see me, oh, T.J,, you have ethics, values and what have you, I say “na beating they carry arrange me”.

So you can imagine if she had not done that, I would have been of best, a very strong bus conductor somewhere today.

So what you don’t understand is that the truth you don’t tell will discipline you tomorrow as a nation.

So the 10th Assembly to me, has not been able to be what it should be because of the manner it came.

And it’s unfortunately too, I’m sorry, the quality of men and women who are being recruited from Nigerian society, so it’s a reflection of where we are as a people, our values. So they didn’t come from Ghana, they are Nigerians.

So the quality has been on the decline. Every year, those who are coming are well ill equipped. And the expectation of Nigerians, too, because they are misplaced, put pressure on them not to do the right thing.

An average Nigerian once you win election is about, my wife gave birth yesterday, my children’s school fees and what have you. But when they are criticizing, they talk about the road. But when they are engaging you, they talk about those things.

So they say the things that make people feel they want development, but when they engage you, it’s about the personal benefit. And once you cannot throw that largess you are not a good man.

So the man who wants to do a good job, will now must be in the good book of the Executive to get things, so I have resources to take it. So that’s why you find a lot of good men lose election and don’t come back.

Sir only yesterday, the Senate passed a law to re-introduce the old national anthem. Is that the kind of decision we’re looking at this point in time?

I sincerely want to defer a bit, inasmuch as there are a lot of burning issues. But if in their wisdom, they look at it that the present national anthem does not really project us.

As a student union leader, we used to sing the older national item. We don’t sing the present national unit present. In fact, we even rebranded it.

I remember in 1992, IBB came to University of Jos to launch a programme. We made sure that Maiyegun was the president then and this my friend that just left now, was NANS President in 1990. The tall guy, Segun Maiyegun just took over then.

And we remember IBB sat down, settled down, we brought Maiyegun in with him when IBB was already sitting. We sang our own old version. Nigeria, we failed thee, our own dear sovereign land, hunger and death are reigning, in mournful mood we stand, Nigerians are sad to mourn, our suffering motherland. We changed Nigeria we hailed it to Nigeria we failed thee.

So at that time, we were convinced that this arise does not project us and that it’s not inspiring enough; so if they feel that, I’ve not really, really taken time to see it but to just say, it’s not. It is in the midst you are solving the big problem.

You see, no nation make tangible progress without some form of indoctrination.

An average American just believe America is the best. They’ve not gone anywhere, they don’t know anywhere. In fact, in their subconscious, PhD holder believe that Africa is just one small place and people live on trees because that is the indoctrination that has been given.

So I am of the opinion that as people, from primary school, let’s teach ethics and value and indoctrinate ourself. These bad things, we can’t change it at the top.

So maybe it is their own cosmetic approach to try to do these things, I can’t totally condemn it because it’s the rise o compatriot that inspiring or do we go to the old way? I don’t know. But I think we need some reorientation as a people.

But I don’t think it should be at the top. It should start from school. A child should know that, hey, I have a responsibility to make Nigeria a better place that I can lay my life to sacrifice. Do you have such? No.

An average Nigerian is thinking how to get out of this country. In fact it is only in Nigerian people make money and go and spend it abroad.

You are a leader, you have demonstrated that severally in the House of Reps and in other capacities. We can’t just keep lamenting, we need solution. How do we, all of us cannot embrace the “japa syndrome”. How do we take Nigeria out of the woods?

It starts from the family, our family value. I just told you about my growing up, how my mom would beat us. Do we have such discipline now? Are churches, mosques teaching those values again? You can’t give what you don’t have.

The politics, the politicians, the bankers, the doctors are a microcosm of the macro society. They are a reflection of who we are.

So what is the role of government? The government, that’s why I proposed, I supported Jonathan’s proposal for single six term of 30 years rotation, since we have six geopolitical zone, it goes around.

Because when you come into office, the first one and a year plus, or a year plus you are trying to stabilize, appointment, what have you. Second year, you are starting to get your rhythm to governance.

But at the end of that second year, by third year people are already talking about your election. You have no governance, so the next two years. So it means that a four years tenure, you work for one and a half years; two and a half years is politics.

Once you win the second term, you come in and start to stabilize again. By the time you are in second year, they remind you, you are leaving office. How can do, you must help yourself?

So in eight years, the best you can get is three and a half years or three years of governance. And look at the humongous amount you spend in election.

That’s what I say and to help us build trust and confidence such that election will not be where you come from, where you don’t come from. Let’s have this rotation first of single term of six years.

So build confidence that zone A knows that he will come to us. Zone B, so if you like when it is your tenure, do us shege, it will come to us; so until you build that confidence now.

For now, I tell people, that’s why I keep telling people who say PDP, I’m a PDP man. But PDP cannot nail his own policy on the head and expect to reap from it.

2014, Jonathan had won 2011 election. Yaradua was the president who died, he finished his tenure and what have you and the North felt, no, Obasanjo did this eight years. Yaradua was doing its time, he is going, no, PDP must give it to the North.

And five governors plus Atiku led that revolt, went to APC, got to APC, he didn’t get the ticket but he was still committed to that agenda, supported Buhari to become president.

Buhari now did eight years, he said he wants to be president. How does it sound if after eight years of Tinubu let’s assume now, a Southerner says he wants to be president? How does it sound? Because our election is still on where you come from and what have you.

Is that why people are saying that PDP is gradually going into extinction?

I disagree with that. A party with 13 governors cannot be going to extinction.

APP, that joined to form APC, had only one governor at that time. CPC had only one and this one; a party with 13?

The ambition of those governors is enough to keep the party, their ambition alone. They will want to re-contest now. Or let’s assume six left, remain seven; seven governors?

So when people say, yes, we are not taking our rightful place. The last election to me, we threw it away.

I believe 2019 that we won, that we were robbed. But this last one, we bungled it.

So until we come back to the drawing board, teach ethics and what have you, and lead by example. It should not be that today because it suits you, this is good, tomorrow it doesn’t suit us, it is not good.

If we say it should be the turn of the North in 2015, it should be the turn of the South in 2023. That’s what it should be.

So our children should not just hear what you say, they should see what we do, so as to imbibe those cultures and those values, and know that this are no go area.

So when we evolve that’s my suggestion, after those things, you can now be focusing on wherever you come from, your capacity, if you are the best man, if you want to do 100 years, do it.

But we are not there yet. We are deceiving ourselves if you say we are there. We are so divided by where you come from. That’s where we are, for now.

The call for a shift from Presidential to Parliamentary system of government. What is your take on this?

I would want to reserve my comment about that. I see it as, yeah, it’s political. Parliamentary is more accountable. But would you have equity in the present distribution of legislation, if we are to do parliamentary?

Kano has 24. Jigawa 16 that is 40. Old Oyo, comprising of Oyo, Osun, Oyo 13. Osun 7, all together 21 and Ibadan was acclaimed to be the biggest city in West Africa. “No be human dey there”; so old Sokoto, Zamfara, so this dynamics will come to play in those things.

The idea is good but do we have the tools now? No. I talked about our cleavages, ethnic nationality, and what have you.

Will I feel secured if I don’t have a voice there as a Kabba man from Kogi? And they did not give me. Or let’s say an Isoko man from Delta, if the parliament as constituted, will an Isoko man find himself in a place there?

So, we must look at all these things. So, it must go with standing reforms of our politics. And we have to take something off the constitution.

We did, in a little way, I shouted. Everything should not be in the constitution. The name of local governments in constitution, in state assembly, we wanted to correct Ibarakpa was wrongly spelled, people voted against it. They assume they want to create another local government, just the spelling.

So, there are certain issues that should not be, even local government creation should not be in the constitution. States should be able to do that.

Allocation to me that we’re even fighting now should go to local government and what have you. We should have law.

Kogi state is getting N10, if they like, have 100 local governments; there’s a procedure, there’s a law, how they will share it, it must go to them.

Development in pre independent and early part of post-independent, local governments were doing work, why? Because they own their allegiance to the people and they know what will happen.

But now, and for us Nigerians elites, we over focus on the centre, it’s good, it’s not good again. We leave the states.

I just told you just now, after subsidy removal, most states got triple what they used to get. Has anybody turned the search light on those states?

So, why we not see the ripple effect of those things in life of the people so as to cushion the effect of subsidy; why are we not seeing them?

So, I have never in any way deceived myself that I have monopoly of wisdom, I know it all and what have you. My belief that with the privilege of my relationship, I have some ideas, I can sell.

And human development will naturally, devolve with time. You make mistake, you correct yourself.

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Interview

2027: Atiku must sacrifice ambition for PDP to come back to power – Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf

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Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf, lawmaker, who represented Kabba/Bunu Ijumu Federal Constituency, in the Ninth Assembly, in this interview with Sunday Sun warns Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate in 2023, on pursuing his 2027 presidential agenda with Atiku Abubakar’s support, saying that it would be at his (Obi’s) own peril.

Yusuf also said that the only way for the PDP to return to power is by correcting the “injustice” done in 2015 by returning power to the South.

The former lawmaker also criticised President Bola Tinubu’s first year in office, saying that he performed below average, citing the administration’s policy on fuel subsidy removal as the sole reason, among others. Excerpt:

We have read about all sorts of crises and decampment in the PDP both at the national and state levels. What is really happening in the PDP?

It is the normal trajectory of a political party that is not in power, experiencing conscious effort by its factions to focus on gaining power. An example of this is the All People’s Party (APP) in 1999, which was a significant opposition to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), but eventually disintegrated. In our current political landscape, there is a tendency for individuals not to remain loyal to their party when it is not in power. This loyalty was evident when the Alliance for Democracy (AD), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) merged to form the All Progressives Congress (APC) and successfully challenged the dominance of the PDP. As history shows, individual parties may struggle to compete with a dominant party like the PDP, but through strategic alliances and mergers, a stronger opposition can emerge. Currently, the PDP, despite being out of power for nearly a decade, remains a formidable force with significant support, including 13 governors. The party is experiencing internal dynamics as members plan for the 2027 elections, with ambitions to create a new political landscape. While uncertainties exist within the APC regarding potential defections, the PDP is seen as the primary challenger to the ruling party due to its established structure and support base. In essence, the PDP’s current position reflects a common phase for political parties outside of power, where internal reorganization, strategic planning, and alliances are crucial for regaining political relevance and challenging the ruling party.

But most Nigerians are disappointed that PDP is not offering strong opposition like it should because of the crisis, the latest being Edo State, your members are decamping en masse from PDP to APC. What is that issue that cannot be resolved?

In the realm of politics, the adage “every politics is local” holds true. The dynamics within the Edo institution are notably distinct. A recent example involves the former Deputy Governor of Edo State who sought the PDP ticket, but was unsuccessful. Feeling marginalised within the PDP, he returned to the APC, his former party. This scenario exemplifies the prevalent trend of defections in Edo. In situations where electoral outcomes and personal ambitions collide, individuals may perceive a lack of fair treatment, prompting them to switch allegiances. While in many regions, individuals typically address grievances within their party, in this particular context, political defections are commonplace. Those of us who resist this norm are sometimes viewed as rigid. However, fostering a robust ideological discourse within political structures is essential for the advancement and consolidation of democracy. Although progress in this regard is still lacking, it is crucial for the growth of democratic principles. While acknowledging the presence of factionalism within the PDP, it is imperative to recognize the need for ideological clarity in political movements. As we mark 25 years of democracy, it is vital to draw inspiration from nations with centuries of democratic tradition and strive to uphold the rule of law as the cornerstone of our political landscape, ensuring fairness and equality for all.

You mentioned that earlier a merger made APC to become a stronger opposition and eventually wrest power from the PDP in 2015. Will you prescribe the same for your party, the PDP?

It is not out of place. It was contemplated in 2019 strongly and I was even a member of that committee that looked at it, but there was now a request for tinkering with the name. And some people were too emotional with the name PDP they didn’t want to tinker with it. In 2023 some people came up with this same idea too, so it will always come up. I believe that if we strike the right chord some will join and what have you. Until ambitions are defined or subjected to basic equity, the unity of purpose of a nation and what have you. If anybody’s ambition becomes larger than the nation’s interest, we will remain where we are. Remember in 1999 PDP came and Obasanjo became the president, he did eight years. Odili ordinarily would have won the primary of PDP in 2007. He was to most I mean, I’m not God, but it seems as if he had canvasses and what have you, he was more acceptable to everybody. But in the wisdom of those men, knowing that after Obasanjo’s eight years power should return to the North, Yar’Adua emerged. Yar’Adua did three years plus and died. Jonathan, his vice president stepped in. He ran for the 2011 election and won by 2013, 2014, there was agitation in the North that it must be there turn. The agitation was led by about five or six governors arrowheaded by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. I mean, I remember the Eagle Square PDP convention, where they staged a walkout, that they felt it’s the turn of the North. That Obasanjo having done eight years, and Yar’Adua having done only three years, it was their turn. That is why we need to put these things into perspective that our politics as are today, you cannot divorce religion, ethnicity and those things away from it. And understanding this decide to zone not to geopolitical zone … when people make those assertions, manipulating the facts, I laugh. PDP zone presidential ticket to North and South. We have six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. It is the responsibility of the South to decide whoever emerges from there. PDP national chairman was zoned to the Northern zone not North-central. And Ayu emerged. Senator Ningi was contesting from Bauchi. Shema was contesting from Katsina. North-central was able to streamline to Ayu alone, while other zones had more people and that was how Ayu emerged. So, that’s how the consensus was built. But nobody zoned to the North-central, it was zoned to the North. So, presidential candidacy is always zoned to either North or South. And the North in 2014 felt it must be their turn and some people left PDP and went to APC. That’s why PDP became an opposition party. Even when Alhaji Atiku Abubakar did not get his ambition fulfilled by becoming APC candidate, he stuck with APC for Buhari to emerge because he was convinced it was the turn of the North. In 2019, PDP realising that, hey, is now in the North, no Southerner contested Port Harcourt primaries because it was zoned to the North and Atiku emerged. I believe he won that election. But the legality is that Buhari was declared. I might be wrong, but I believe Atiku won the election in 2023. The North has had eight years with Buhari and so PDP in his wisdom, zoned chairmanship to the North so that the presidential candidate will come from the South. People who wanted to contest vehemently opposed that zoning of chairmanship position. I remember the NEC meeting. I’ve never seen Alhaji Atiku Abubakar so angry that he opposed it because of his ambition. The NEC meeting is done in two phases. The first meeting is open, where addresses are made and what have you. The next is behind closed doors after the press had gone. But Unfortunately, he was so angry that he forgot we were still on the first phase of the meeting and went into the main issue of zoning. But people pushed that it was zoned to the North. And then it came to the presidency…because when I hear him say, if it’s zoned to the Southeast… I heard him say several times that if the presidency is zoned to the Southeast he would not have contested. No. It’s a misrepresentation of truth and fact. The presidency was supposed to be zoned to the South, but Atiku mobilised his structure to make sure it was not zoned to the South. For the first time, PDP could not zone the presidency. I was also a member of that committee, former Benue governor, Samuel Ortom chaired that committee. I followed every activity, each state produced somebody on that platform and Alhaji Atiku Abubkar mobilised every of his supporter, who were on that platform to make sure it was not zoned to the South. So, when it became obvious that it could not be zoned, the party left it open, that’s why he could contest. So, for him to now say if it was zoned to the Southeast…. Zoning is not cast in stone. There are processes of zoning and there are meetings. So, when he truncated that process, he made sure it never happened. Now, he is coming out today and saying if it’s zoned to the Southeast, he would not have contested. So that those who do not have information, who are not privy to the workings of the party will assume and follow gullibly such assertion. It’s not right. The PDP should have zoned the presidency to the South in 2023. Some people argue that Buhari was of the APC and ruled for eight years and PDP is a different party and must not toe the same line on the zoning, but the question is, which country did he govern? Is it not Nigeria? So, the argument is that after APC through a northern candidate has ruled for eight years, should the PDP zone the presidency to the North again? But we are not yet there and we should get to where you come from, your religion should not be determinant of who emerges as president of Nigeria. But we will build trust, confidence where those things become the order of the day, the colour of your skin, the choice of your world, the choice of your association does not determine who or what you will become. But your competence, your capacity should determine that, but we are not there yet of a truth, let’s not deceive ourselves. Even APC after the tenure of Buhari zoned to the South. So, the truth of the matter is that, PDP goofed in not zoning to the South. Because certain cleavages were very strong and entrenched made sure it never happened. I don’t like when such cleavages and interest are now coming out to say, I would not have contested if it is zoned to the Southeast. We didn’t zone to the Southeast. We zone to Southwest, or Southeast, we zone to South.

Are you saying he’s dishonest in his assertion this time and are you saying Peter Obi should not take him seriously?

If he takes him seriously, it is at his own peril. I might be wrong, but Obi knows why he left PDP, forget about all what people are saying. I’m aware of what happened after 2019. And don’t forget that in the same breath, Atiku said PDP will determine. So PDP will determine on Obi who is no longer in PDP? No, let’s be sincere with ourselves. See, it is a mind game. 2027 is coming and so this is marketing strategy. So, gullible people listening to him will say, aha! This man would have buried his ambition if this had happened. I don’t believe it is coming from him, but I believe his strategists are the ones coming up with those things for him to say. See, the last NEC meeting of the PDP, people thought it was about the national chairman, it’s a lie from the pit of hell. It is about 2027. There are going to be congresses in about 20 states and all of a sudden people are just saying the chairman must go, the chairman must stay. Ayu had been there for this long and the house did not sit down and say this is a replacement of Ayu and it was stopped. Because a NEC meeting was called and certain interests felt that if this NEC meeting was held and congresses are conducted without my man as chairman, it might affect my ambition. And then all of a sudden, there was agitation that the national chairman must go. Hey, the chairmanship position was not even on the agenda. But every media house and everywhere, it was about the removal of the national chairman, as if the meeting was about the national chairman. So, what they wanted to do was to coerce the party into taking such a decision. So, as to install somebody that will allow him to make reasonable roads for their 2027 ambition.

President Tinubu will be one year in office on May 29. Nigerians have reacted to all sorts of policies he has churned out. And already the talk about 2027 has begun, can PDP with all its internal crisis give APC a run for its money?

What PDP should do is simple. Go back to the foundation of the principle and policy of the party and zone presidency to the South now. There must be a sense of equity, members must feel that you are a part of a system that recognizes that you deserve to be respected. Tinubu is just privileged, he is fortunate to have won. I have conviction that if we had done it right, Tinubu wouldn’t have emerged, PDP would have won the last election. But we bungled it. So, the only thing we must do is to go back to where you missed it, you can’t be pretending that something is not wrong and you assume things will be right. See, people can bottle up and keep quiet, but that does not mean they are happy with what is going on. You can’t satisfy everybody, but let it be seen that equity is displayed. Buhari has done eight years, the presidency should have gone to the South, if they had done that, it would have reduced all these skirmishes in the party. Whoever is contesting the 2027 election should come from the South and let’s see what will happen. But if we do not do that, we are still hiding behind one finger, pretending if they zone to the Southeast, I will not contest, we are only deceiving ourselves. The mark of a good leader, the mark of a respected patriot is that even when it does not fit or suit your desire, but because the right thing is to be done, you allow it to be. So men and women should rise to the responsibilities of showing character in the PDP. Everyone must realise that this party, some people are gone, some still will go, but it will outlive all of us. The only thing that Nigerians will value us and respect us for, is when we bequeath to them a viral party that can challenge the APC. Because the moment a ruling party does not have a strong party that can challenge them, we have left the people with no choice and it will be so disastrous. That’s what happened in the last election and if we don’t take time it will happen again. Obi will come from here, others will come from there and they will take a chunk, it will be too easy and APC will walk away with victory. It is not rocket science. I tell people to go and study the 2011 Jonathan election. Jonathan was of PDP, to tell you how ethnicity and religion determines our result in the election. But Jonathan’s vote to win 2011, 81 per cent came from South-south, Southeast and Middle Belt. Let me give you Northeast states that produce PDP governors, but voted against PDP in presidential elections. In fact, PDP did not have 10 per cent in Kano and Bauchi and we had PDP governors. We had PDP governor in Sokoto, we had PDP Senators and House of Representatives and yet, PDP did not have upto 25 per cent of the votes cast. Also go and study the 2015 election, 79 per cent came from that block for Jonathan. So, our election is still being determined by those things. People should divorce emotion and go get this data, look at it you will know the pattern of our election.

You said Obi should trust Atiku at his own peril, what do you mean by that?

Well, Obi is a politician and he has ambition. He is meeting a seasoned politician who is saying that if it is going to Southeast he will not contest and you’ll go to the bank with that? Like I said, PDP doesn’t zone to the Southeast, but to the South. And in the same breath Atiku said, PDP will determine… will PDP determine for someone who’s not in PDP? No. So, that’s why I’m saying he can choose to take to the bank all that Atiku has said, it’s his prerogative.

You are sounding as if Atiku is out to destabilise the party if things don’t go his way and he has said he is not retiring from politics any time soon?

I don’t subscribe to those who say he should retire. He has a lot of experience that we can still tap from, but must he be the candidate? What we are lacking majorly in PDP presently is that we do not have that person whose interest is to build harmony and unity and he can fit into that. If Atiku drops his ambition today, he becomes a rallying point. Unfortunately, Obasanjo that was doing that has left active politics, Jonathan did not step in. PDP is not a party that can be owned by one individual. No, but let’s have somebody that people can defer to. When there is an issue we need somebody who understands it’s not about his interest, but about the interest of everyone. That’s what we’re lacking. So, I don’t subscribe to him retiring, I subscribe to him playing that role to make sure that PDP gets it right. When people expressed surprise with my position, I said I cannot deny the fact that I benefited from the PDP. I’ve run the election four times in the PDP, I won three. If I didn’t have that platform, maybe I would not be here. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar cannot deny the fact that the PDP has been too good to him. He won the governorship election before swearing in, he became vice president for eight years. We cannot write the history of Nigeria without remembering him. But it is not in my place to tell a man not to pursue his ambition. I remember in 2012 I granted an interview to the late Andrew Jaiyeola of Thisday. My response to his question was, Jonathan should sacrifice his 2015 ambition for the unity and peace of Nigeria. And people came for me, saying how could you? I saw it at that time. I supported Jonathan, but I felt that with him emerging in 2011, there was a lot of agitation in the North and the insurgency that was coming up, I believe that it was motivated by that assumption that power has been captured from us. I said he was eminently qualified to run for a second term, but for the peace and unity of Nigeria he should sacrifice it. I remember June 12th or 13th when that publication came out, people were reporting me everywhere. What’s your business? What do you want to prove with this? But if you look back now, don’t you think it would have been noble if that was done. If power was zoned to the North by PDP in 2015, we would have been in power by now. So, I’m saying the same thing that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should sacrifice his ambition for the PDP to come back to power. It might not look popular, but I remember very well when I granted that interview in 2012 it was not popular and it’s still not popular today.

Again Tinubu’s one year in office, how would you rate his administration against the backdrop of his policies so far?

I will rate him below average for one major reason. I think there’s this virtue that every leader deserves to have, courage. But in showing courage you must have empathy and you must be strategic. In an attempt to show courage on subsidy, I think it was wrongly timed and was not well processed. I think that he would have given six months to one year before announcing when the subsidy will stop and then roll out certain policies deliberately. Like I said in 2012 when I moved the motion against the removal of subsidy under Jonathan, in the House of Representatives, and in that motion, I said I’m not opposed to subsidy removal. I’m an economist, but that the manner it was done. I said there’s no nation that does not have one subsidy or the other. But subsidizing fuel is a wrong strategy for us. Let’s transfer the subsidy to education, agriculture. Let it be that a child that is born today, his or her parents does not have any fear of how he’s going to go to school. That way, the government is taking the burden off the family when subsidy is taken off. When food is produced in excess, the government buys and let it go at subsidized rate so that the lowest cadre level of the society can eat. That was my position in 2012 and is still my position now. So, I feel the government was tactless or not too strategic in that approach of removing subsidy. If you observed that is why lot of things came crumbling down, because the system was not ready for it. That’s my major reason for rating them below average. Because it has a ripple effect. There’s what is called the bandwagon effect in economics. One determines what happened to the next. My mother is a market woman. She does not know anything about interest rate, but she knows that when the price of transportation increases the price of her goods must increase. The thing just went boom and we just realised that somebody who feeds his family with N30,000 for a month now feeds his family with that amount in one week. So, this government after the effect of that pronouncement now started thinking of how to help the person. They should have thought of how the consequences of this action will affect the people and plan ahead. It is now we’re launching buses, it is now we are doing food palliative. It should have been with available for the people. The same should have happened in the transportation sector, with the buses already in place and routes mapped out to take the pressure off the people. I still insist fuel subsidy does not benefit the poor, but the rich. Remove subsidy and put it in things that will benefit the people.

Credit: Sun Newspaper

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INTERVIEW: Introduction of Child Rights Curriculum In Nigerian Universities Will Take CRA to Families – Dr Obiorah Edogor

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…says implementation of CRA in Nig is far below average

Dr. Obiorah Edogor, is a Mass Communication lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Anambra State and Child Rights Advocate, in this chat with Naijablitznews.com Associate Editor, Gloria Ikibah, he spoke extensively on why the university domesticated Child Rights Reporting into its journalism curriculum and the general studies course as UNICEF worked with the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to include the course in all of the unbundled Mass Communication courses, called JMS Journalism and Media Studies 403” and that the course would empower journalists-in-training with the capacity and understanding of the issues around child rights and how to report them.

Hear him:

What do you mean by child right curriculum?

Child rights curriculum is the outlined educational programmes which are to guide the teaching and learning of everything approved to be taught concerning the natural entitlements and privileges that every child should have or enjoy as a human being.

Why did you introduce it in the university system, one would have thought it will be in secondary school?

I feel that it was introduced in the university system as the best place where those who would learn it could easily put it into practice. The lecturers could research different dimensions of it, and the university students with their level of maturity would be guided by it.

The students could also take the messages back to their homes more than the secondary school students. However, it is not out of place to have it in secondary schools, too.

Of what benefits is this curriculum to the achievements of the implementation of the Child Rights Act?

The curriculum will be useful towards achievements of the implementation of the Child’s Rights Act 2003 because it is the easiest way to teach the students about the contents of the CRA of Nigeria. It is a way of making students have knowledge of their rights and responsibilities as provided in the CRA 2003.

How will you score the implementation of the Act in Nigeria?

I will score the implementation of the Act in Nigeria very poor because of the different concerned individuals and the relevant government agents’ lackadaisical attitude toward practical protection of the rights of the child in many angles.

How many universities have introduced the child rights curriculum?

I don’t have the exact number of universities that have introduced the child rights curriculum in Nigeria, but I say that every department of Mass Communication in Nigeria is expected to have introduced from 2019, because it was part of the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard which all mass communication stakeholders including lecturers selected from different universities, representatives of different communication regulatory bodies and relevant international organisations prepared for teaching undergraduate programmes of mass communication as directed by the National Universities Commission (NUC).

However, I must emphasise that Nnamdi Azikiwe University is one Nigerian university that has done exceptionally well with regard to the implementation of child rights reporting and education curriculum. The university Senate has approved introduction of child rights courses in the General Studies Unit, faculties of education, law, and the social sciences. That’s why I facilitated UNICEF partnership with the university to train the lecturers who would teach the newly introduced courses in the university.

FIRST PUBLISHED ON July 23, 2023

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