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APC Zoning Arrangement, A Knot Too Tough To Untie By Bala Mohammed

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Yesterday, Wednesday 14/04/21, the social media was awash with a breaking news about a new zoning arrangement for the ruling APC, come 2023.

But no sooner than the social media release, the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party, came out with a counter statement, distancing itself from the zoning arrangement list in circulation.

According to the disowned list, the presidential ticket is zoned to the South, Vice President – North, Senate President – South, Deputy Senate President – North, while the Speaker – North and Deputy Speaker – South.

For the National Working Committee zoning, the list showed that the north will produce the National Chairman, National Secretary – South, National Treasurer – South, Financial Secretary – North, Legal Officer – North and Welfare Officer – South.

Whether true or false, the disowned arrangement is a reflection of the political pulse of the country, and the APC would find it as a knot too tough to untie.

Since the annulment of the June 12 election of 1993, the election that was adjudged to be Nigeria’s freest and fairest, and one that was cancelled by the then President of the day, Gen.Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Nigeria has been struggling with stress, in search of solution out of the precarious and politically entrapped position it found itself.

The predicament had resulted in many political experiments, with the then acceptable, even though not the best, being the idea of power rotation, between the geographical north and the geographical south.

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Following the death of General Sani Abacha in 1998, his successor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, began the transition process, which led to Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999. The ban on political activities was lifted, and political parties were formed in accordance with the constitution, which was styled after the pattern of the second republic of 1979.

Cashing in on the sentiments that followed the June 12 annulment, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, founded in 1998, by members of numerous groups and organizations, including the G-18 and G-34, moved to the north, and in it’s first presidential primary election held in Jos, nominated former military leader Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who had just been released from prison, and who happens to be from the same state with late MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12 election, as the presidential candidate in the elections of February 1999.

Obasanjo, in consultation with the party’s strategists, quickly picked Atiku Abubakar (then Governor-elect of Adamawa State) and a former leading member of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, as his running mate. They won the presidential election easily, and were inaugurated on the 29th of May 1999.

Using the same sentiment of power shift, the PDP held sway for 16 years, until the 28th of March 2015, when the party was defeated by the opposition APC, and Muhammadu Buhari became the President.

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But still, the political problems continued, mostly rotating around the same pendulum of power shift, with restructuring as a recurring weapon of threat.

The argument of the advocates for the power shift and the clamourers for political zoning is that, for the practice of liberal democracy to be peaceful and successful, the mechanism for power-sharing must not only oscillate between north and south, but be seen to be ethno-regionally balanced.

Short of calling for the introduction of the policy of one country two systems, many political pundits believe the power shift arrangement, which, although seen as an elites’ strategy to negotiate continued participation in the political process and access to the national wealth, is the only panacea for maintaining peaceful political order in Nigeria today.

So for the ruling APC, it is a knot too tough to untie now.

Some adventurists are of the believe that, by virtue of it’s numerical strength, the north can retain power, through a negotiated alliance, but methinks that too is too tough to try.

Many APC stake holders, including Governors like Mallam Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state, Aminu Masari of Katsina state and Professor Babagana Zulum of Borno state, are openly in support of power shift to the south.

According to Governor Aminu Masari, the Southern region of the country should produce the next President, arguing that a non-northerner should succeed President Buhari in 2023, in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.

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Masari’s position trailed the views of other APC chieftains, who have maintained that there is an agreement on zoning, amongst whom is the former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume. Senator Ndume said the retention of the presidency in the North in 2023 would amount to a third term.

As for the Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, it would be ungentlemanly for power to remain in the north, so the APC must heed the advice and keep to previous agreements made to shift power to the southern part of the country in the next administration.

Even non politicians, like the respectable former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, have joined the clamour for such power shift. Gen. Gowon is calling for both zoning and rotational presidency among the six geo-political zones. He said, rotating the office is key to peace, tranquillity and development, suggesting that Nigeria should henceforth, have two vice presidents, saying that one of them should come from the zone producing the President and the other elected into power during the presidential election.

Yes, the APC can disown the statement on paper, but in the real sense of things, it is a reflection of the political pulse of the country, and a knot too tough to untie, I think.

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Opinion

HOUSE OF REPS:Ankpa, Olamaboro, Omala Who is next? (Olamaboro)

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In an ideal democracy, the rotational formula is very sacrosanct in other to protect the involvement of the minority in a country, State, Senatorial district, and federal constituency respectively.


Ankpa federal constituency in kogi state has been maintaining this rotational formula since the country returned to a Democratic system of government.
In 1999, honorable Abimaje Muazu from Ankpa local government was elected and happened to be the first rep member after the country returned to democracy.
In 2003, senator Attai Ali Aidoko from Olamaboro local government was elected and was still reelected in 2007 consecutively, after the completion of his second term in 2011, Hon Idris Muhammad Ibro from Omala local government was voted massively based on the principle of rotational method which the good and loving people of Ankpa federal constituency has been maintaining.

In 2015 Hon. Hassan Omale from Ankpa local government was elected, during this period, all the major political parties zoned their party tickets to Ankpa local government to enable them to produce the next house of rep member, it was then that distinguished Hon Hassan Omale of all progressive Congress (APC) emerged victoriously in the general election.
Hon Hassan Omale lost reelection but despite that APC, PDP and other major political parties still zone their party tickets to Ankpa to enable them to complete their second card, it was in that contest that honorable Halims won on the platform of All Progressive Congress (APC) who is currently the member representing Ankpa, Olamaboro and Omala federal constituency at the green Chamber. based on the historical background given thus far, Ankpa local government has ruled for 12 years leading above olamaboro and omala local government respectively since the returned to democracy.
Standing on the history given below it is now unmistakable that it is the turn of olamaboro local government to produce the next House of Representatives member in 2023 because olamaboro local government has never against the zoning formula and this has created love, conformity, and purposeful leadership among the three local governments that made up the federal constituency.
As the 2023 election draws nearer,we appeal to all the major parties in Ankpa federal constituency to zone their party tickets to Olamaboro local government to enable them to produce the House of Representative member to continue with the zoning strategy that has been in places to keep going if this zoning method is maintained there will be compassionate and again there won’t be any means of politics of one-sided or dominance but uniformity
Let us all termed with this reality for the refinement of our federal constituency.

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God bless Ankpa federal constituency.

God bless Kogi State.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Abutu Silas Ojochenemi

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What Have We Done For the Next Generation?, by Hassan Gimba

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Our next-generation may not know what our generation knew, may not have what we had. We have failed to give them what the previous generation gave us.

The peace and tranquillity we knew, the comfort and ease we had, the security and brotherhood we enjoyed, the careful laying of the foundation for our future we witnessed – all these we have failed to transfer to the next generation because we have thrown away the baton.

The problems of Nigeria are such that you get lost when talking about them. Where do you start from? The betrayal of confidence by leadership that much hope was placed on? Or is it the systemic and systematic decay in its affairs? The “me first” attitude of its people that see the country as milking cow? Our lack of seriousness over what we should be serious about?

In Chinua Achebe’s book The Trouble With Nigeria, published in 1983, he professed that the only trouble with Nigeria is the failure of leadership.

He wrote that with outstanding leaders, Nigeria could resolve its inherent problems, such as tribalism, lack of patriotism, social injustice and the cult of mediocrity, indiscipline, and corruption.

However, Joseph F. Mali, in his A Quiet Revolution: Some Social and Religious Perspectives on the Nigerian Crisis, thinks differently. He thinks corruption and failed leadership are not at the heart of the Nigerian crisis. He opined that though corruption and misrule have done terrible harm to the country; they are by-products of something in the same way smoke is the by-product of fire.

The real trouble with Nigeria, says Mali, “is the lifestyle of profound selfishness the people and their leaders have in common”. And the nation still bleeds because of this evil, he said. Unless Nigerians cure this (disease), he maintains, no system of government is likely to succeed. “In vain do Nigerians seek political solutions as long as selfishness remains their credo!” Since Nigeria’s problem is moral, Mali insists, the remedy must also be ethical. He proposes A Quiet Revolution as a cure for Nigeria’s ailment. This revolution is not a silent coup to overthrow the Nigerian government. It is not a French-style rebellion with masses on the streets and peasants in the country put an end to centuries of absolute monarchy. Rather, the Quiet Revolution is an interior change, an individual transformation. As long as this change has not happened, Mali declares, it will be difficult to repair and restore Nigeria.

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This is quite in tandem with the Qur’anic verse that says Allah (SWT) changes not the condition of people until they change what is in their hearts. Here, the verse is widely quoted out of context by people wanting to give their idols in power excuses. People don’t just wake up and at same time say: “We must change.” He always gives them someone who sensitises and organises them by leading them as their guide. Such a person is the leader; even the greatest revolutions and mass uprisings in history have guides, so it still comes back to the question of leadership.

God sends prophets to lead people to cleanse their hearts and become new. One by one, people change internally and get transformed individually, as Mali said, and collectively a changed society is born. There is always one who is the society’s mirror..

In July last year, I wrote on this page “God raises the living out of the dead and brings forth light out of the dark, He raises from among a people their type who leads them from deprivation to well being. Out of the palace of the Pharaoh, He raised Moses (AS); out of the family and society of idolaters, He brought forth Abraham (AS), and out of the heathendom of Arabia He revealed Muhammad (SAW).

“Chaka the Zulu founded the Zulu Empire and led them for twelve years before he was assassinated on September 22, 1828, He moulded his people into a dominating fighting force never seen before in southern Africa. Mao Zedong, known as Chairman Mao, was the founding father of The People’s Republic of China and laid the foundation of what China now is. You can go on and count leaders who changed their people and their countries’ fortunes by leading by example. Cuba’s Fidel Castro was one; we also had Muammar Gaddafi from Libya, Dr Martin Luther King who raised the consciousness of Blacks, Dr Muhammad Mahathir of Malaysia and Mahatma Gandhi of India.

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“These leaders raised the consciousness level of the people and changed them to better human beings, by being what they wanted their people to be. They did not look their people in the face condescendingly and patronisingly, point a finger at them singing “change” while they indulged in the vices of yore. Mao viewed such leaders as “swollen in head, weak in legs, sharp in tongue but empty in belly.”

Perchance this is one reason in 1999, years after he published his work, and despite Mali’s treatise, Achebe still maintained that Nigeria’s problem is that of leadership. He had returned to the country after a decade overseas receiving treatment for a back injury sustained in an automobile accident. At his home in the South East, he met with Cunliffe-Jones to discuss the Nigerian crisis. Achebe’s view had not changed at all. He reiterated his old message: “If poor leadership caused the problem then, it is still the case today.”

Someone once explained our social and political reality: “those in power enjoyed the oil money while most other Nigerians languished in poverty. The masses, he said, could be described as innocent sufferers, like the biblical Job, or the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. (Nigerian masses) watch their leaders ruin the nation but could do nothing to stop them”, he concluded.

Unfortunately, the quality of leadership seems to dwindle, deteriorating by the day despite Nigeria being more populated than forty years ago when Achebe wrote his political polemic. We have more professors, more PhDs, more professionals, more intellectuals, more exposure, more enlightenment – more everything. Yet we have regressed so much concerning providing quality leaders and leadership in the country.

Because of this dysfunction in providing formal leadership responsive to yearnings of people, tribal quasi-irredentists and jingoists have appeared on the landscape, setting the agenda.

The South-East produced Zik of Africa, Eton College-trained Ojukwu, Kingsley Mbadiwe of the Timber and Calibre rhetoric and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary fame. It also produced Alex Ekwueme, intellectual giants like Chuba Okadigbo, etc. Now it has a Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

The South West sired Obafemi Awolowo, Adelabu Adegoke, Lamidi Adedibu, MKO Abiola, Lateef Jakande, Adeniran Ogunsanya, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, etc. But now it is Sunday Igboho after Ganiyu Adams.

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The North? The North that produced Aminu Kano, Hassan Usman Katsina, Shehu Shagari, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Waziri Ibrahim has no one now, sadly. It has been searching since the demise of the Sardauna of Sokoto 56 years ago.

The lack of leaders who love this country has been our problem. While current crop of leaders had the best of everything, they have not improved on what they got for those coming after them. The great public school system that groomed them is no more. They prefer to send their children abroad for tertiary education and private schools for their primary and secondary education. The American government recently said about 14,000 Nigerians pursuing graduate and undergraduate degrees across communities in their country spent $501 million (about N190 billion) last year. And this is just America!

The public health system that took care of them while growing up is a shadow of itself as private hospitals and clinics have taken over. The leaders now indulge in medical tourism, spending billions of naira in hospitals abroad. In 2016, Price Waterhouse Coopers in its report stated that Nigerians spend $1 billion annually on medical tourism. It also said that 60 per cent of it is from oncology, orthopaedic, nephrology and cardiology patients.

When the world was virtually locked down this time last year because of Covid-19, the average Nigerian patiently waited for conditions to ease. He believed that having realised our incapacity, Nigeria will witness massive developments in its health and education sector and an aggressive drive on food production. Good leaders would also think that way.

It is unfortunate our generation has not replicated for the next generation what last generation did for us. Instead of even giving them peace to do for themselves what we failed to do for them, we are bristling and threatening to push them into turmoil. Turmoil and uncertainty. We better retreat because the path we are treading will not stand us well in the books of posterity.

If we have failed in taking care of their welfare, we should not fail in securing their lives in a united Nigeria and giving them peace to thrive.

Hassan Gimba
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Nigeria’s perennial recession; a result of policy somersault.

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Nigeria will predictably be in recession for a long time. When you keep doing the same thing and expect different results, you will need to check yourself.

It appears we are not in a hurry to live in the reality of the 21st century with others.

I sometimes wonder why we like to put the cart before the horse as a country. There has never been a time when we did anything that was not opposite of what everyone else was doing. Fundamental economics teaches that before you stop importation, you need to have put in place import substitution strategy, and get them working properly before attempting any grandstanding.

Then again, timing is very important in making policy decisions. You cannot wake up from the wrong side of the bed and declare things banned.

It is as insensitive as it is unconstructive.  People have often questioned the reasons for some government policies in Nigeria.

What is more heart breaking is where some ‘supporters’ get the kind of shameless illiteracy with which they defend retrogressive policies. Let us start with the Covid-19 decisions of the government.  As the pandemic was biting hard, incomes were shrinking. That was when we suddenly woke up to ban in a commando style,  a whopping 41 imported items, among which were foodstuff and other consumer goods critical to every day survival.

That is not all o. The people were losing jobs in droves. That means that purchasing power was falling rapidly and the country trapped itself in stagflation. Prices were skyrocketing and there was no purchasing power in the hands of the people. To my surprise, some people who I thought ‘know book’ were  just falling my hands in the halleluya praise singing in honour of the courage with which the government was ‘tackling’ the economy. We would argue it until I had a headache. At some point I couldn’t tell if it was the argument that caused the headaches or the useless virus that trapped all of us in our homes.

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Puerile arguments were advanced in support of the government. I took a look at my then none months old baby and asked her if at that age she could disgrace her father by saying such a meaningless thing. One of the headless statements was that China closed their borders and started agriculture. And boom! They became greater, the China you know today. I was torn between laughter and sorrow.

The story that they did not verify is that China’s maximum ruler, chairman Mao Zedong, threaded the communist path. He closed the boarders and decided on a pilot execution of certain apocryphal economic policies. He closed the Chinese borders to neighbouring countries. And then starvation set in.

Chairman Mao’s decision led to one of the most catastrophic man made starvation in human history which left between 15 to 55 million people dead, and hundreds of people malnourished. That happened between 1959 and 1961. Zedong had no choice but to immediately take steps to reverse the policy.

But ridiculously, that policy was what Zedong called the Great Leap. By 1962, China having seen nwe, reversed themselves and opened their borders. They started an industrialization policy that embraced the domestication of technology. They started to produce for export.

It is the same as Nigeria’s great leap that happened in the midst of a world wide devastation. But wait, who exactly did Nigerians offend that is so unforgiving? Nigeria wanted to leap. Two things happened. She leaped in the darkness of a pandemic with its eyes wide shut! Where did we land? In a circle of inflationary pressures.

First, we ought to have had a solid import substitution plan before talking of shutting down importation. We do not have mechanised agriculture. We want to produce rice for a population of 200 million people with hoes and cutlasses on an unyielding soil. We have no reservoirs where we store excess grains for time of scarcity. What am I even saying, we do not even have enough. Where are we getting the excess from? We might as well be wasting money building silos.

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Even the ones planted are being eaten by the holy cows. Private investors in agriculture have had their farms vandalised by cattle which roam across the country. The famine loving government has encouraged the increased devastation of the farms by failing to call the vandals and bandits to order.

People have abandoned the farms and run away to join the army of the hungry parading the streets in the cities to hustle for the little that’s available. That’s a double whammy. No money and the prices of food are high.

The north east and north west of Nigeria used to be the producer of grains and spices. But not anymore. Boko Haram has killed and maim many a farmer, destroyed promising Micro, Small and Medium Scale businesses like sales of rice, onions, fish etc that accompany farming. They have turned large swaths of thriving villages and towns into desolate, uninhabited lands. The best you get in such places in Borno, Yobe and environs are Internally Displaced People’s camps. Even when those at the camps Internally Displaced People’s camps. Even when those at the camps attempt to do little fishing here and farming there, they are traced to the camps and killed. The survivors have become dependent on the lean resources instead of the contributors that they used to be.

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On all fronts, Nigeria is scoring abysmally low. In the midst of the confusion called policy, the youths decided to make themselves happy by trading in cryptocurrencies.  The government, like the proverbial village people, followed them there and blocked the channel.

Foreign exchange from that sector has been blocked. This is while the entire world is running towards digital currencies o. Big companies have started accepting Bitcoin as payment for their products, the risks not withstanding. Tesla is a major example. Nigeria nko? They banned it. This is digital currency. Then we have a Digital Economy ministry which knows next to nothing about how to rein in the volatility of digital currency. And some bishops, youths etc had the effrontery to carry placards under the hot Abuja sun to assault our collective intelligence that Pantami is doing well as the head of that ministry.

Nigeria will continue in this damnable trajectory unless things change from the anachronism it has adopted as a state policy to what the world has embraced. The worldview of the government is annoyingly too narrow.

May  Nigeria quickly realise that like the ostrich, it is burying its head in the sand while the entire body is outside. Very soon we will be forced to look inwards. The increase in prices are eroding profits and people are getting thrown out of jobs. The current unemployment rate in Nigeria is 33%. Nigeria is among the first three most terrorised country in the world. Nigeria took over from India as the poverty capital of the world in 2019, according to the Austria based World Poverty Clock and The World Bank in separate reports, with 1 person sliding into abject poverty every six minutes.

To be continued.

Alex Agbo is a writer and an economic researcher based in Lagos.

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