Police invite Edo Labour Party, guber candidate, Akpata over attack at UNIBEN

The candidate of the Labour Party, LP, in the forthcoming September 21, 2024 governorship election in Edo State, Olumide Akpata has been invited by the State Police Command over alleged security breaches, involving shootings at the University of Benin, UNIBEN, last Friday.

The Command’s Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, disclosed this to newsmen in Benin City,

Nwabuzor said the invitation was served on the LP gubernatorial candidate by investigators in the Political Desk Session of the State Criminal Investigation Department, CID, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

The Labour Party gubernatorial candidate, however, alleged that the attack was orchestrated by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state as well as the State Government to assassinate him.

The command’s image maker further explained that the invitation of Olumide Akpata was part of the investigation initiated into the crisis by the police Command.

When contacted, the State Chairman of the Labour Party, Kelly Ogbaloi, who confirmed the receipt of the police invitation, said he was not in Benin when the letter was delivered but assured that he would honour the invitation.

According to him, Olumide Akpata is our candidate but UNIBEN invited him to honour him on a personal note. I didn’t sign a surety of his safety there. I don’t know why the police are equally inviting me to come along with Olumide Akpata.

“The police ought to have done their background investigations, his being honoured by UNIBEN had nothing to do with our party secretariat. So, I don’t know why I am being asked to come along with him to the Police Command Headquarters in Benin, however, I will honour the invitation”, he said.

Meanwhile, the Edo State Government and the authorities of the University of Benin had in separate statements condemned the attack on the Labour Party Governorship candidate.

A statement by the Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Osa Nehikhare while condemning the clash, said an investigation is ongoing on the issue.

Nehikhare, also warned that the state government would not tolerate violence or this sort of irresponsible behaviour which was associated with the visit of Mr. Akpata to the institution.

“The Edo State Government condemns in the strongest terms the violence associated with the Labour Party candidate, Mr Olumide Akpata’s visit to the University of Benin on Friday, April 12, 2024.

“Claims and counterclaims have been made by Mr Akpata and the Student Union Government (SUG) of the University in statements issued by both parties on April 13, and an active investigation is ongoing on the issue.

“The Edo State Government, however, warns in the strongest terms that it will not tolerate violence or this sort of irresponsible behaviour which was associated with the visit of Mr Akpata to the institution.

“Government has the primary responsibility to ensure the security of lives and property in the State and will spare no effort to ensure that anyone who breaches the peace, no matter how highly placed, will face the full weight of the law.

“We hereby call on all Edo people to go about their lawful businesses without and allow relevant agencies progress with their investigation into the said matter”, he stated.

On its part, the management of the university described the incident as unacceptable.

A statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the University, Dr Benedicta Ehanire, said the management has set up a Committee to investigate.

Ehanire said the committee, headed by Professor Frederick Ekhaise, has one week to submit a report to management.

“The Management of the University of Benin has condemned in strong terms reported violence during the visit of the Edo State Labour Party‘s gubernatorial candidate, Mr Olumide Akpata, on invitation by the Senior Staff Club of the Institution.

“The violent incident, allegedly perpetrated by some students, is unacceptable. Consequently, Management has set up a Committee to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the violent action”, she added.

Oyo State Govt Demolishes Yoruba Nation Building After Attack

The Oyo State government has demolished the building where the Yoruba Nation agitators are operating from in Ibadan, the state capital.

The building, located on Toye Oyesola Street in the Ibadan South West Local Government Area, was demolished on Wednesday, 17th April.

The demolition follows an attack on Saturday by the Modupe Onitiri-Abiola-led Yoruba Nation agitators on the Oyo State secretariat in Agodi, Ibadan, which was, however, thwarted by a joint team of security operatives, including soldiers and police operatives.

According to Punch, the demolition exercise was confirmed by the Special Adviser to the Oyo State Governor on Security Matters, CP Fatai Owoseni (retd.), but he directed further inquiries on the matter to the State Commissioner of Police.

“You can get more details from the Commissioner of Police,” he simply said.

N15tr Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway absolute necessity, says Ashimolowo

The Senior Pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) London Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo has backed the N15tr 700 -kilometre Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project of the Federal Government, describing it as a “necessity.”

Ashimolowo, who hinged his support for the road project on its strategic economic importance and location, said about 60 percent of the businesses in Nigeria take place in Lagos alone while the Southwest, South – South and South -East regions, which he reckoned as “Nigeria’s basin of wealth,” lamented that roads in these regions remained largely impassable.

He noted that the coastal highway when completed will decongest traffic on Lagos – Ibadan, Lagos – Ore expressways respectively, fast-track movement of goods and persons and bring about accelerated growth and development in the South and rest of the country.

The renowned international preacher spoke with newsmen in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital after delivering his sermon on Monday titled ” The mark of a good man,” being his homily at the 60th birthday celebration  of the Founder and Lead Pastor of Victory Life Bible Church International, Apostle Lawrence  Achudume.

Ashimolowo advised the Federal Government not to neglect the need to also fix the existing deplorable federal roads in parts of the country while working on the ongoing Lagos – Calabar coastal highway.

He also urged the government to cut down cost of governance, devise other belt – tightening strategies to make funds available to help the poor and consider the  Kenneysian economic model which entails government making companies to produce in excess while the government buys the surplus for distribution to the poor.

According to him: “Personally, I will actually favour that coastal road because 60 percent of businesses done in Nigeria are done in Lagos alone and the Southwest, South – South and South – East are the basin of Nigeria’s wealth yet the roads are impassable. 

“I think it is anachronism that the previous government did road to Niger to bring little or nothing. I think the coastal road is a necessity as long as there is balance while they’re doing that(the Lagos – Calabar coastal highway), they are repairing the other ones also.

“People who seemed to be blessed should not leave everything to the government. You cannot close your bowel of mercy (to the have nots), there  is need in the land, there is a lot challenges in the land. Nigeria is a funny place even if the prices of petrol and dollar come down, prices that have gone up may stay up. Reach out, touch somebody, bring out something even if you have to give them little here, little there.

“And to our leaders, please do all you can to bring down the cost of governance. Cut down the previous system of doing things. Look for ways to create some tightening of belts to help the needy, practice Kanesian economy, it is where government makes companies to over produce and the government buys the excess to give to the poor.”

On the birthday celebrator, Ashimolowo described Achudume as a learner and teacher who bears the mark of a good man with God’s presence resting on him, as evidenced in his intimacy with God.

According to him, the grace of God radiates  around Achudume.

Achudume described himself as a man helped by God and corroborated Ashimolowo’s position that he (Apostle Achudume) is someone who enjoys a special grace that keeps radiating around him.

“I am a man helped by God. I know where I’m coming from. I know where I would have been and I know where God has taken me.

“What would I say, but that God has helped me, that is the summary of my life.

 “One thing I can remember  is that the ifa oracle had told my great grand mother that the man( Lawrence Achudume) will not serve the  God that they serve but will serve the white man’s God ( Christianity) and it began to work out.There are challenges on the way until we get to where we are.,” he stressed. 

He praised his wife, children and congregants for being  strong  pillars of support.

He said: ” If my wife and  church members had given me problem, I would have died by age 40. God has blessed  me with wonderful people and I owe them a debt of love after the birthday celebration.”

The birthday celebration also witnessed the launch of an autobiography by Apostle Achudume titled ”  The  man helped by God.”

I collected $3m cash for Emefiele – Dispatch rider tells court

A dispatch rider, Monday Osazuwa, dazzled the Special Offences Court in Lagos with revelation on Friday when he narrated how the embattled former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, instructed him on different instances to collect the sum of $3 million cash in tranches.

Osazuwa, who was led in evidence in chief by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), told the Court that he had been a dispatch rider at Zenith Bank since 2001 before joining the CBN as a contract staff member in 2014.

The witness, who testified before Justice Raman Oshodi, said he was later appointed as a senior supervisor (full-time) in charge of recording and filing documents while working in the CBN Governor’s office in Lagos.

He stated that when he collected money for his boss (Emefiele), he would take it to his residence at Iru Close, Ikoyi, Lagos.

“The highest amount I collected was $1m, all in cash. Some weeks later, the businessman also called me, and I collected $850,000, $750,000, and $400,000 in cash in different tranches.

“I have never been rewarded, paid, or given anything. I was doing it out of faithfulness, and he knows it, but he never once said, ‘Take this,” the witness said.

Recall that the EFCC arraigned Emefiele on Monday, April 8, on 23 counts bordering on abuse of office.

He is being tried for alleged abuse of office and fraud to the tune of $4.5 billion and N2.8 billion.

US ex-Ambassador bags 15 years jail term for spying on American govt

Former United States, US, Ambassador to Bolivia, Victor Manuel Rocha, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for spying on the American government for over a decade.Rocha spied on the US government for Cuba.

On Friday, Miami-based US District Judge Beth Bloom sentenced Rocha after accepting his guilty plea on two counts, including acting as an agent of a foreign government.Rocha was also fined $500,000 with maximum penalty allowed.

In December, the former US Ambassador was indicted in a case that Attorney General Merrick Garland described as “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the US government by a foreign agent.”

Speaking on the matter, the Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said:“Today’s plea and sentencing brings to an end more than four decades of betrayal and deceit by the defendant.“

Rocha admitted to acting as an agent of the Cuban government at the same time he held numerous positions of trust in the U.S. government, a staggering betrayal of the American people and an acknowledgement that every oath he took to the United States was a lie.”

Rocha served as ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002, held high-ranking posts in several embassies and even the White House during the Bill Clinton administration over his more than 20 years in public Service.

Remains of Otunba Abimbola Davis For Internment On Thursday

The remains of Otunba Abimbola Mosobalaje Davis, who passed-on at 66 years, on Friday, last week, will be interned this Thursday.

According to the burial arrangements released by the family, on Wednesday, by 10:00 am, there will be a Ceremonial Tee-Off and Planting of Tree at Ibadan Golf Club in honour of the deceased.

It said by 10:00am on Thursday , interment at Eternal Home Cemetery on Km 25, Ibadan — Motunde, Afijio LGA, Oyo state.Davis, until his death last week, was the Akinrogun of Ibadan Land.

Survived by wife, children and grand children .

DICKSON TARKIGHIR AT 55: A STUDY IN DOGGEDNESS

By Tunde Olusunle

Many of his kinsmen and friends had a good laugh the day he was inaugurated into the eighth assembly of the House of Representatives, June 2015. Most probably unsure how to pronounce his surname, the Clerk of the “green chambers” as the lower deck of the national parliament is described, opted for a spontaneous improvisation. Rather than set his tongue against his teeth, the Clerk after correctly pronouncing his first names settled for a simpler Takiri! By some coincidence, Tivlumun Nyitse my brother from our university days and cousin to Takiri and I watched the live telecast of that ceremony together.

We had a very sumptuous laugh and called to congratulate him later that day. We reaffirmed he would have to don his new “baptismal necklace” for times to come and could hear his guffaw in the background. He took it in good spirits and has never made a fuss about it.

Dickson Dominic Tarkighir on that occasion was inaugurated as Member Representing Makurdi/Guma federal constituency of Benue State. I have been privileged over time to have met and developed relationships with sections of the Benue State middle class and political elite.

I had encountered the amiable George Akume, (incumbent Secretary to the Government of the Federation), and the departed Ogirri Ajene his deputy, when they both governed the state between 1999 and 2007. Governors, (and their deputies when assigned), regularly had engagements in the State House where I functioned from under the Olusegun Obasanjo/Atiku Abubakar government. As “groundsmen” in Aso Villa, there was always the possibility of meeting dignitaries at that level.

They were equally delighted to have you as a “strategic ally.” I’m also a friend of the affable Gabriel Torwua Suswam who succeeded Akume as governor in 2007 and Samuel Ioraer Ortom who took over from Suswam in 2015.

Four friends have also impacted my integration into Benue State where I’ve developed a broad network of friendships and acquaintances. Nyitse, my classmate since my first day in the University of Ilorin who is presently an associate professor of journalism has been most catalytic in this regard. He served as Permanent Secretary in the Benue State civil service for about 10 years and commands quite some respect in the Benue system.

Through Tony Olofu, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, (AIG) with whom I went through the National Youth Service Corps, (NYSC) in Imo State between 1985 and 1986, I’ve also made friends from that sociocultural space. Shiaondo Aarga, alumnus of the University of Ilorin like Nyitse and I who also retired Permanent Secretary in Benue State, has also aided my acculturation. Shima Ayati was my colleague in the Obasanjo/Atiku government and we remain best of friends today.

I met Dickson Tarkighir through Tivlumun Nyitse when Nyitse was Permanent Secretary, Government House Administration, (PS-GHA) in the Suswam administration, almost two decades ago. Tarkighir was Managing Director of Triggar and Gibbons Ltd, an advertising and logistics support service company which was foraging for business opportunities in Benue State.

I was a regular face in Benue State those years because I had a consultancy liaison with the government. Tarkighir’s outfit may rightly be described as the precursor of electronic billboards in Benue State. Tarkighir had successfully experimented with the concept in Kaduna and found new grounds in his home state. Nyitse’s office was the engine room of the Suswam administration which processed the governor’s instructions and conveyances to the various ministries, departments and agencies, (MDAs).

The personable, outgoing Tarkighir was a regular caller in Government House, Makurdi ensuring alignment between the vision of government and the electronic copies that were displayed for public consumption.

A multitasking entrepreneur, Tarkighir had previously setup Dasnett Mobile Services Ltd, with the coming to be of GSM services to Nigeria over 20 years ago. He impacted the entertainment space of Makurdi the Benue State capital by establishing a classy, integrated nightclub and services outfit. Located at the very heart of Makurdi, he christened it District 4 Lounge. Its ancillaries included a functional restaurant and a bakery.

He developed it into perhaps the most sought-after hangout in the city, a preferred destination for high octane visitors to the state, previously pampered ostensibly, by mouthwatering options in bigger cities. Tarkighir is a notably hands-on executive whose presence and subtle guidance of his staff on reminds of the doting style of Ken Calebs-Olumhense, the iconic proprietor of Niteshift those good old days in Lagos.

Governor Gabriel Suswam took special note of Tarkighir’s exertions and innovative strides and engaged him as Senior Special Assistant, (SSA) on Industries, in 2009. He was reappointed in 2011 following Suswam’s reelection. Tarkighir resigned his appointment in 2014 to contest for a seat in the federal parliament.

He dared unfamiliar grounds in his quest for the House of Representatives office when he defected from the better established Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP), to the fledgling All Progressives Congress, (APC). He triumphed at the polls as part of the countrywide tsunami which displaced the PDP from the centre of national politics at the 2015 general elections. It seemed well advised therefore that he took the gamble of defection to and running on the platform of the APC.

Despite being a first timer in the congress, Tarkighir was proactive. First, he was keen on learning the ropes. He was listed to serve in nearly a dozen committees of the parliament which was good for requisite exposure. He was in the appropriation; defence; petroleum (downstream); population; navy; health services; Niger Delta affairs; inter-parliamentary; integration in Africa and the ECOWAS parliament committees in the House.

With the hindsight of creeping unemployment in the country, he advised that the 25,000 ghost workers discovered by the federal government at the time, be replaced with genuine job seekers. He imposed upon himself the responsibility of unearthing vacancies in MDAs and assisting his primary constituents wherever he could. He soon donned the alias of “Mr Employment” amongst his constituents as attestation to his efforts.

Tarkighir sponsored several bills and motions. Agonised by the ravaging Fulani incursions into his state for example, he sought the creation of a cattle ranching department in the federal ministry of agriculture. He also sponsored bills on healthcare; internet security; need for special attention for hydroelectric power producing areas, among others.

His motions encompassed those requesting support for his flood-devastated constituency; the need for the rehabilitation of the Makurdi-Gboko federal highway and the imperative for the declaration of a state of emergency on deadly attacks by herdsmen across the country. Tarkighir prosecuted a plethora of projects in his constituency for the betterment of the lives of his people.

Solar-powered street lights; electric transformers; boreholes; sewing machines; cassava processing equipment; submersible pumps; bicycles; tricycles and laptops were some of the life-improving accessories he availed his constituents. Medical outreaches were organised for mass enlightenment, even as skills acquisition programmes were also prosecuted.

Tarkighir equally facilitated the completion of the Akaakuma dam, and the construction of residential quarters for the divisional police officer in Gbajimba within his constituency, and a primary school in Ngban in Guma local government area. Tarkighir didn’t win reelection in 2019. He refocused on his core entrepreneurship concerns always never forgetting the adage about charity beginning at home.

He rehabilitated and expanded his District 4 model through which he rescued a few more youths from the hungry streets. “I’ve been there, Oga Tunde,” he tells me about his experiences growing up, his mien suddenly sobering. “It’s not easy out there.” Dickson Tarkighir won the Makurdi/Guma federal constituency seat at the 2023 polls and has since returned to the 10th Assembly of the House of Representatives.

He was born April 12, 1969 in Makurdi and attended St. Thomas Primary School, Ibume between 1976 and 1981. He proceeded to Nongov Community Secondary School in Tse-Kyo, in Guma LGA. He obtained a bachelors degree in business administration from the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State in 2003.

He thereafter consolidated his thirst for knowledge in this specialty by earning a masters also in business administration from the Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU), Zaria, in 2008. An indomitable quester for new vistas, he previously cut his career dentition with Mojo Electronics, Umuahia, Abia State, between 1988 and 1991.

He also worked in the Kaduna station of the now defunct Okada airlines from 1992 to 1995. These were cross-country toughening experiences which have profited his worldview.

Tarkighir chairs the House of Representatives Committee on “Constituency Outreach,” created early in the life of the Fourth Republic in 2003. Among other responsibilities the committee exercises supervisory oversight on the implementation of Zonal Intervention Projects, (ZIP) by members, and addresses the interests of congressmen.

In the ranking of House committees in the order of importance, Tarkighir’s brief is adjudged a “Grade A” outfit. He is reportedly the first parliamentarian from the north central geopolitical zone to chair his present brief. Tarkighir speaks impeccable Hausa which privileges him in our still largely parochial ethno-politics. He is happily married and blessed with children.

Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (FANA)

El-Rufai prepares to fight Tinubu dirty in two courts

The immediate past governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is preparing to fight President Bola Tinubu in at least two courts, Saturday Vanguard can report.The prospects of the battle are to be staged in the courts of the land where El-Rufai expects to clear his name of the allegation of being a security risk, and also in the court of public opinion where political actors expect him to be a major barricade to the president’s re-election in 2027.

The stage for the coming battle follows what both friends and foes of the former governor assert as his public humiliation by the Tinubu administration of being a security risk unfit for ministerial office.In a way that has garnered public interest, Mallam as he is fondly referred to by his close associates, has excited the political class with gyrations across the North in the last two weeks.

Besides two public meetings with the Social Democratic Party, SDP chiefs, the former governor has consolidated his identity with the political opposition with a visit to the suspended lawmaker representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District, Senator Abdul Ningi.The proclivity towards the opposition follows what friend and foe describe as the public humiliation served on the former governor.

El-Rufai according to multiple sources despite his immense contributions both strategically and financially to the emergence of Tinubu as president had pledged not to serve in the new government.The former governor had reportedly preferred a sabbatical in academia.He was, however, courted by the president with a plea to help revive the energy sector. Even before his ministerial announcement, El-Rufai it was gathered had started laying down plans and processes to tackle the sector.

His preparation flowed from his years as director-general of the Bureau for Public Enterprises, where he was involved in the energy reform programmes of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.However, to the shock of all El-Rufai was dropped during the Senate ministerial screening on the claim that he failed security clearanceThe shock of the failure to get a security clearance numbed several political actors given his strategic role in moving the hands of Northern governors to back Tinubu ahead of the All Progressives Congress, APC convention. Besides, it was gathered that the former governor played key roles in facilitating the election of the president in some Southwest states not controlled by the APC.

A senior government official from one of the Southwest states on the condition of anonymity said:“He played a key role in funding us in my state and I can tell this because I was personally involved,” the official from one of the Southwest states said.Besides the significant contribution as attested by the official from the Southwest State, El-Rufai in the twilight of the Muhammadu Buhari administration also shocked many with his decision to, along with others challenge the Federal Government over the naira redesign project of the federal government.

Defending why he opposed the Buhari government on the naira redesign policy, El-Rufai had claimed it was meant to instigate the polity against the APC by those around the former president who failed in their bid to stop Tinubu from getting the presidential ticket.“They also sought to achieve any one or more of the following objectives: create a nationwide shortage of cash so that citizens are incited to vote against APC candidates across the board resulting in massive losses for the Party in all the elections.”

However, despite his stellar role in helping Tinubu to power, a source close to El-Rufai disclosed that the camp of the former governor believed that it was wrong for him to have been so publicly humiliated and to have been tagged a security risk.One of the confidants of the former governor told Saturday Vanguard:“You think Mallam will allow this tag to abide on him? I can assure you that he is going to clear his name in court.

El-Rufai is a man who has many contacts internationally and he is not one to allow his reputation to be smeared by the reason given by the Senate of being a security risk,” the source said in revealing the prospects of court action to enable the former governor to clear his name.Besides the resort to the court of law, the former governor it was gathered is also mobilising to play a role against Tinubu in the court of public opinion ahead of 2027.

Whether El-Rufai would stand as a candidate or mobilise against the president in 2027 in the same way he did in supporting him in 2023 is, however, a matter that is yet to be determined.Saturday Vanguard reports that the strategic facilitation provided by El-Rufai to Tinubu came after he had in the past lampooned Tinubu as a godfather. He had at a lecture in May 2019 averred that it was possible to defeat the godfather of Lagos.A year later at a webinar to commemorate the 63rd birthday of Rauf Aregbesola in May 2020, El-Rufai had said that Tinubu was not his man.

NYESOM WIKE AS CROSS-BORDER DISTRACTION

By Tunde Olusunle

Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT), is an extremely lucky man. The fact that he has remained a permanent fixture at various levels on the nation’s political canvas has been very well established. From the nondescript corners of a local government chairman and chief of staff to his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi in Government House, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Wike has consistently hugged the klieglights of provincial and national politics.

As President in 2011, Goodluck Jonathan appointed Wike his Minister of State for Education. He subsequently functioned as “Supervising Minister” of the ministry when the substantive Minister resigned to pursue political interests. Wike went on to become governor of the affluent Rivers State, a very important extension of Nigeria’s socioeconomic tripod, Lagos and Kano being the other two. Delta, Ogun, Oyo and Kaduna states could as well be the second concentric ring of the nation’s socioeconomic expansion. Wike has therefore featured in the politics of the Fourth Republic for a quarter of a century now.Wike did well in the development of salient infrastructures in Rivers State.

Nigerians were periodically entertained by live telecast of the commissioning ceremonies of many projects built by his administration. Roads, flyovers, bridges, educational facilities in tertiary institutions topped the list of the attainments of his regime. Professor of law, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN) and immediate past Vice President Yemi Osinbajo beaded Wike with the glowing moniker of “Mr Projects” to underscore the former Rivers State helmsman’s exertions in that sector. Politicians and political figures of all hues queued for opportunities to headline participation in the inauguration of these projects.

They were allegedly assured generous honoraria supposedly denominated in foreign currencies from Wike’s vaults courtesy of his oftentimes impulsive and reckless philanthropy. Nigerian politics has no doubt been kind to Wike. From the little-known Port Harcourt attorney who barely practiced before launching into politics, Wike reportedly has grown a very deep pocket during his years as a most privileged public servant. In the flux and frenzy which attended the conclusion of the presidential primary of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) in May 2022, Wike pitched for designation as running mate to Atiku Abubakar. The first Vice President of this republic won the primary, while Wike was runners-up.

The imperative for geopolitical balancing impelled the choice of Atiku’s running mate from the South South zone. Sources close to Atiku have suggested that Wike purportedly offered to fund the presidential campaign to the tune of N50 Billion if he was chosen! If this presumption has any validity, it may offer a glimpse into how Wike has prospered in the last 24 years.

Wike has openly acknowledged that he worked against his party the PDP and its candidate Atiku at the February 2023 poll. It was his chance to pay Atiku back for overlooking him in the choice of running mate as the more sober, level-headed Ifeanyi Okowa immediate past governor of Delta State was favoured. Having incinerated his “father’s house,” the PDP literally on which platform he grossed prominence and prosperity, Wike latched on to tailcoat of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) who was pronounced winner of the largely controversial election.

He developed spontaneous fraternities with as many close associates of Tinubu as he could, all to ensure that he got appointed into the emerging administration at the time. Wike covets the high stool. He is an undisputable power monger who has been so soaked in the soothing sauna of high office that he cannot conceive of existence outside of the power ring.

From campaign dais ahead of the general elections in 2023 to his countrywide consultations ahead of the PDP presidential primary two years ago, Wike was almost psychotic about the “power of the pen.” In this instance he was not referring to the proverbial mighty pen of the journalist but that of an elected official especially a governor or president. He is obsessed with the the appurtenances of office notably unfettered access to the public till, fawning security details around him, not forgetting the protocol architecture. He loves the official lectern and those oftentimes meaningless live television interviews.

Wike doesn’t cut the image of someone who can survive outside of public office. Wike seems to have transposed his verbal incontinence and rambunctiousness from the provinces to the capitol. He is so all-knowing that he wouldn’t make himself available to meet with the senator representing the FCT, Ireti Kingibe, which he superintends on behalf of the President. But he will spontaneously obey parliamentary summons when seeking consideration and approval of his ministry’s budget.

Wike actually fancies himself some kind of “Michael Jackson” who is sought by many but who chooses those to dance for. The Tinubu government had barely settled last year when Wike in November 2023, blew the bugle of the 2027 presidential election. Blabbing as usual during his self-serving television appeared, he restated his commitment to the success of the Tinubu government. To this extent he would subsume his ambition for the presidency in 2027.

Last February at a thanksgiving service for Barinada Mpigi, senator representing Rivers South East, Wike re-echoed his November trailer on 2027. He boasted about his uncommon political wizardry which had coalesced the APC and the PDP into a unified bloc in Rivers State. He assured the 2027 polls will be a walkover under his marshal plan. Wike’s overly narcissistic politics is the variant rejected by the Yoruba adage to wit: *a ki je meji ni aba Alade.* This translates as “you are at liberty to choose between roasted yam or the boiled one in Alade’s hut. You are not permitted to savour both at once.” Wike’s amphibious political brinkmanship reminds of *Janus* the double-faced god in Greek mythology. *Janus* is at once the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality and endings, concurrently!Not content with his primary responsibility as FCT minister, Wike has been an agent of destabilisation in Rivers State his last duty post. He claims he single-handedly installed Siminalayi Fubara former accountant-general of the state as his successor, yet he wouldn’t allow him a breather to operate.

In Wike’s most recent interview on Channels Television, he restated the fact of being Fubara’s benefactor. He said he was correct insisting on a “50/50 sharing” of political offices and freebies between him and Fubara. Wike re-echoes the lines of Louis XIV of France and Navarre” on April 13, 1655, that *L’Etat, cest moi,* which translates as “I am the state.” He is the de facto owner of Rivers State as it were. The entire gamut of Wike’s political structure while he held sway in *Brick House* was initially wholly imposed on Fubara.

This was before Wike’s recent proposal of a “50/50” template. It has also been alleged that Wike left instructions for the remittance of a particular percentage of accruals from the internally generated revenue, (IGR) of the state to him in person. He is not satisfied with his implied derivations from his outpost in Abuja which budgetary allocation has for the first time in history reached and surpassed the N1trillion mark! Wike’s voluptuous consumptiveness must be supplemented by spin-offs from Rivers State strong rooms! Wike purportedly exercises monarchical control over the two aircraft belonging to the state.

For daring to dissent with some of these stifling terms and conditions, Fubara has been serially threatened with impeachment by the Wike segment of the Rivers State parliament. These and other developments have largely unsettled governance in the state, its pulse hallmarked by unending palpation.Wike is at daggers-drawn with the political establishment in his state. He has disowned the most eminent first governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili who provided the springboard for his political ascendancy back in 1999.

He is at war with elders in his state notably Rotimi Amaechi his predecessor; Celestine Omehia, governor for a few months before Amaechi and Abiye Sekibo, a former transport minister. He is sparring with Austin Opara, a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives; Lee Maeba, a former senator and Uche Secondus, a former national chairman of the PDP; Tele Ikuru, deputy to Amaechi, among others. Not much of Chibudom Nwuche has been seen around Wike these days, so it is just possible both men have parted ways.

Wike has brushed aside key opposition elements in the state notably Tonye Cole who many assumed would have been favoured by Tinubu as the eyes and ears of Rivers State in the federal executive council. This is the kind of polarisation Wike’s belligerence and uncouth manners have bequeathed on Rivers State and its politics.I decidedly described Wike as an extremely lucky man in the very first sentence of this essay. He is serving in the administration of a President whose capacity for restraint and accommodation can only equate the legendary thick torso of the hippopotamus.

I served in the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo and I can speak for the limited elasticity of his patience with any public official whose focus and pursuits ran counter to the core objectives and focus of his administration. Such an official was unceremoniously shown the door. Obasanjo it was who began the culture of requesting public servants keen on elective office to resign and concentrate on their ambitions.

He also released senior appointees desirous of coordinating his own reelection in 2003 for instance from his cabinet. Wike must be put on leash with immediate effect. He is neither an exemplar of the “renewed hope agenda” of the the APC under which he presently serves, nor the PDP’s “let’s make Nigeria work again” theme. Rivers State is too important to the socioeconomic life of Nigeria to be pocketed and unsettled by the malevolent desires of a control freak.

Rivers State is the undisputable second place holder to Lagos in IGR aggregation for example. Beyond accruals from the federation account therefore, Rivers State capably augments such earnings with its IGR, in the provision of services and development for its people. Wike’s knee must be forced off the neck of Rivers State so the geopolitical entity can breathe. The FCT is in the grips of security and developmental challenges while Wike is trying to be a “Minister-Governor,” under a President, Commander-in-Chief. Come to think of it, the FCT minister is the face of government in many ways.

As minister of the capitol, Wike is the first port of call of many diplomats, respected international figures and eminent statesmen. I will be reluctant to honour a scheduled meeting with Wike if I only just watched his petulant interview on global television.

Tunde Olusunle, PhD is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (ANA)

AS ATIKU FILLS IN FOR A MALFUNCTIONAL OPPOSITION

By Tunde Olusunle

Doubts aside, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP), is yet to recover from its loss to the All Progressives Congress, (APC), at the 2015 polls. The PDP lost the presidency and also had its numerical strength shrunken in government houses, national parliament and state assemblies across the nation. For a party which was on a smooth sail during the first 16 years of the Fourth Republic, operating from the trenches of opposition was a tough job.

Olisa Metuh the ebullient attorney who had held several important positions within the hierarchies of the PDP gave a voice to the party in its earlier months until he was arrested by the APC government.

Kola Ologbondiyan stretched the frontiers of opposition spokesmanship within the limits of his capabilities when he took over Metuh’s brief late 2017, until the end of his tenure of office. Ologbondiyan’s successor, Debo Ologunagba a barrister like Metuh, however, has not as yet approximated the noise decibels of some of his predecessors.Ologunagba may, to some extent, be excused though.

There are suggestions to the effect that some of his colleagues in the National Working Committee, (NWC) treat Ologunagba as an “outsider” to the establishment. Fiscal support for the running of the bureaucracy, engagements and activities of the PDP are said to be slow in coming from governors elected on the platform of the party.

Extant practice was for governors elected on the platform of the party to pool resources for the sustenance of the entity. It is not unlikely, however, that the grabbist proclivity of previous leaderships of the party, the festering opacity and lack of accountability might have dissuaded PDP governors from aggregating resources for the upkeep of the party.

Who would have imagined that PDP would be in prostrate penury today with the billions of naira realised from the sale of nomination forms ahead of the 2023 general elections? There were indeed expectations to the effect that the strategically located, purpose-built secretariat in the heart of the Abuja would be completed and occupied by the party’s officials. The onus lies on Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and his colleague Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers, chair and co-chair of the PDP governors forum to rally their colleagues to mitigate the party’s descent into the abyss.

Why won’t they sacrifice a fraction of their humongous “security votes” to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply to the platform which catapulted them to their present pedestals? A political party with 13 sitting governors should not be a pushover. What was the spread of the political parties which coalesced to birth APC in 2013? The recent interactions between Nasir El Rufai, immediate past governor of Kaduna State; the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, (LP) Peter Obi and the Social Democratic Party, (SDP), must also be deeply concerning for the PDP.

The Labour Party has been engulfed in a hydra of leadership combustion and indeed ownership even as the courts recently reassigned the ownership of the party to the Nigerian Labour Congress, (NLC). It will be shameful and catastrophic if PDP finds itself clutching at the straws behind yet another possibly brewing “coalition.”

Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former Vice President is ever mindful of the adage to the effect that “a woman cannot deliver her pregnancy in tethers in the marketplace when an elder is present.” This, more than a proclivity to bring down the establishment, propels his activism and vocal audibility in the public domain. Robbed time and again of his evident electoral triumphs, he has refused to give up on his birthplace.

Even in his 70s, he took time off to study for a masters degree at the prestigious Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom in his eternal quest for self-development and indeed redevelopment. It would seem that the Olusegun Obasanjo/Atiku Abubakar combination are irrepressible knowledge questers. Obasanjo also returned to school, the National Open University of Nigeria, (NOUN), where he studied biblical theology, going all the way to earning a doctorate! Sadly, the good works of the Obasanjo/Atiku tag team which represents the most glorious times of Nigeria’s all-round boisterousness, was painfully reversed less than a decade after they exited office. Nigeria’s immediate past President, Muhammadu Buhari could not as much as present a West African Examination Council, (WAEC) ordinary school leaving certificate all through his eight years in office.

The whole world acknowledges Nigeria as a nation abundantly blessed with multidimensional competence and intellectual capital. Many Nigerian technocrats are holding their own in the global arena. Curiously, Nigeria is also one country where a first rate academic, a professor of law who is also Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN) to wit, was subjugated under a President without basic credentials! Atiku desires to keep apace with contemporary dimensions in world politics and economy to help him build informed perspectives on a wide spectrum of issues.

He believes this country has the wherewithal to reinvent itself for the benefit and convenience of all and sundry. He is pained by the slurs, the avoidable failings, flailings, foibles which has characterised statecraft, particularly in the last decade. “Change” was the horseback on which Buhari rode into office in 2015. His two terms of four years each in office, however, principally impacted retrogression to pristine eras on Nigerians. Bola Tinubu whose chant was *emi lokan,* (it is my turn), and “renewed hope” has brought famine, hunger, inflation, heightened insecurity to the land.

Only the mute at birth will not speak to these realities even in the closets of their homes. There has been a tendency towards the deification of the archetypal Nigerian president a trend which was accentuated during the Buhari years. Don’t we recall that photograph of the immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege kneeling to shake hands with Buhari the day he, Omo-Agege was inaugurated? Shockingly, serving opposition governors individually and collectively credited President Bola Tinubu for their victories in the Supreme Court.

The belief is that Nigeria’s imperious presidency holds the power of life and death literally. Mohammed Umaru Bago of Niger State scurried to Abuja within hours of concurring with Peter Obi’s criticism of Nigeria’s receipt of grains from war-torn Ukraine. Black-bearded Bago was pictured grovelling on the Persian rug on the floor of president’s office as he sought parole for his “slip of tongue,” identifying with Peter Obi’s clear-headed position.

The systematic reconstruction of the persona of the president into a virtual monarch is being consummated under Tinubu. It is preposterous the fact that public officers at that level who were supposedly elected by their constituents cannot take a position different from that of the *Oga at the top.* The parliament too continues to squirm and grovel before the all-powerful president, raising parliamentary servitude to legendary heights.

It is the kind of acquiescence which gradually throws up emperors and despots. To the understandable discomfort of the incumbent administration, however, Atiku has beaten a distinctive part. He has followed the government “bumper to bumper,” to approximate the lyrics of a song of the same title sang by *Wande Coal* one of Nigeria’s popular artists every step of the way. He’s ever pointing out the government’s drawbacks.Atiku has unfailingly highlighted missteps of the incumbent government as they perilously impact the citizenry. Last August for instance, Atiku queried the blurry $3.3Billion emergency crude repayment loan facilitated by the African Export-Import Bank for the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd, (NNPCL). The money was reportedly procured to support the naira and stabilise the foreign exchange market. Atiku sought full disclosure of the terms and conditions of the deal.

The former Vice President has also lashed the Tinubu system of embarrassing Nigeria at every opportunity on the global podium no thanks to its profligacy especially with regards to Nigeria’s wasteful “over-representation” at global events. Atiku has also criticised Tinubu’s spontaneous policies as bereft of critical reasoning, causing sadistic pain, anger and despair to the people. He alluded to the impulsive removal of fuel subsidy on Tinubu’s inauguration, a proposal which was not captured in his prepared inaugural address.

Atiku noted that such policies have fuelled skyrocketing inflation creating more misery for the generality of the people. Inflation has since pole-vaulted past the 30 percent mark, casting a palpable pall on the visage of the nation. Atiku chided Tinubu and his aides for squeaking and shrieking about the comatose economy inherited from the preceding administration. Atiku noted that since Tinubu like Buhari are of the same politica party, they inevitably carry the same “DNA!” For Atiku, Tinubu’s perpetual whining is evidence that APC lacks the wherewithal to redeem Nigeria.

According to Atiku: “Tinubu came into office unprepared and his men have found a pastime blaming the economic woes of the country on previous governments. Tinubu and his economic team must swallow their pride, admit their false steps and failures and follow those who understand the issues.” More contempraneously, Atiku has bemoaned the accentuation of killings and bloodletting under Tinubu. Nigeria he noted “has become a killing field” under the present government. Atiku referenced the recent murder of villagers in Rafi local government area of Niger State by suspected bandits who invaded the community and left a trail of blood. The sadists levelled 21 unsuspecting country folks in that incident. In less than 10 days, over 30 soldiers and policemen have been killed in Delta State alone by suspected riverine militants. Atiku railed at the complacency of the Tinubu system under whose watch the Nigerian narrative has become “one day, one calamity.” Computations by the media indicate that within the first 10 months of Tinubu’s superintendence, 7000 people have been killed. This averages at 700 Nigerian casualties every month. Atiku has been vindicated by the concurrence of senators from the 19 northern states about the disturbing wave of kidnappings and killings in the north. They want a decisive termination of the trend.

As Nigeria slides blindfolded into a one-party state, no thanks to the enormous powers of a chief executive operating the suspect and serially criticised 1999 Constitution, Atiku continues to point the way to the imperative of multi-partyism. It will almost amount to centuries lost for our nation and our people if our own brand of democracy as experimented over the last quarter of a century only breeds “civilian despotism” at the end of the day. *Lagbaja* the masked and famous Afrobeat artist reminds us in one of his classics, that “even the crab despite the hardness of its shell always keeps its eyes open in readiness for the adversary.”

This is the attitude Atiku exhorts we collectively adopt and not misconstrue democracy and politics as the business of those who desire public office. That is where real danger lies.*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (FANA)*