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Restructure Nigeria Now, Babaginda Tells FG

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Former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has proposed solutions to the current crisis rocking the country.

Mr Babangida lend his voice to those calling for restructuring of the country stressing that was not an option for Nigeria at this time.

In a message titled: “I am a Nigerian,” Babangida said the ongoing hate speeches in the country was what led to the country’s Civil War between 1967 and 1970.

The message reads in full

Nigeria, my dear country, is not a stranger to crisis, nor is she immune to it. In a profound sense, she can be said to have been created out of crisis, a nation state that will continue to strive to subdue and transcend crises. In over a century of its formalized colonial architecture, Nigeria has grown and made remarkable progress in the midst of crises.

The most tragic and horrendous episode in Nigeria’s history has been the 30 month Civil War of July 1967 to January 1970, in which many of our compatriots lost their lives. Indeed, many others also suffered terrible injuries of human and material dimensions. So, who really wants to go through the depth and dimensions of another Civil War in Nigeria again?

Who does not know that that Civil War was preceded and started by intolerance and a series of hate pronouncements, hate speeches, hate conducts and actions that were inflicted upon one another by the citizens? Today, with a deep sense of nostalgia, I still carry within my body the pains of injury from the Civil War: there is nothing romantic about war; in any form, war is bad, condemnable and must be avoided.
I need hardly say I am very worried by the current on-going altercations and vituperations of hate across the country by individuals, well-known leaders, religious leaders, group of persons and organizations. We need to remind ourselves that conflicts are not evidently the stuff of politics and governance, particularly so of democracy, hence we must apply caution in our utterances, body language and news reportage. The management of conflicts is the acid test of maturity, of mutual livelihood and of democratic governance. We cannot and we must not allow the current hate atmosphere to continue to freely pollute our political landscape unchecked.

Personally, I reject the proceedings of hate and their dissemination and urge my fellow citizens to strongly condemn the scourge and orgy of the current crisis which, in my view, is an outcome of vengeful appetites within the multiple contexts of our democratic governance and the profound inequalities that have distorted our social relations.

Nonetheless, it is not the place of leaderships to fuel and hype conflicts nor should we allow losers and gainers of our governance regimes to make pronouncements and threats that exploit our ethnic, religious and geopolitical construct. Democracy, anywhere in the world, is a work in progress; and one that is subject to constant evolution and debate.

The drums of war are easy to beat, but their rhythms are difficult to dance. Starting wars or political upheavals comes with the slightest provocation, but ending them becomes inelastic, almost unending with painful footages of the wrecks of war. I have been involved and its ripples are tellingly unpalatable, with gory details of destruction and carnage. I am a Nigerian, a citizen, patriot and concerned stakeholder. It is my strong belief that Nigeria can attain greater greatness if we all nurture our minds in the direction of building a nation, and accepting responsibility for its successes and failures.
We cannot deny or repudiate our progress at nation-building in spite of the limitations and challenges that we have continued to experience. As a people, we need a proper study and understanding of our history in order to correct the warped perceptions of our past so as to minimize the dangers of badly skewed stories of our democratic experience in governance; and to regenerate mutual confidence and uphold the tenets of living together as one country.

No one government or administration can provide all the answers to the myriad of problems and challenges confronting us as a country; no matter how determined, resolute, committed and motivated such a government is. The citizens have their roles to play, and their obligations to fulfill in order to motivate government in achieving its stated goals and objectives. Governance is a function of the leadership and the followership. It is a two-way traffic that demands certain responsibilities from those involved.

Of late, Nigeria has become so sharply divided with emotions running high on the least provocations. Once tempers are that high, the fault-lines become easily visible and with the slightest prompting, the unexpected can happen. But I want to believe that Nigerians are still their reasonable selves’, highly endowed in various skills and intellectually empowered to compete anywhere in the global arena.

As a Nigerian, I have had the rare privilege to benefit from robust relationships from different people across the socio-political divide; East, West, North and South. I have also immensely interacted with persons from all the numerous tribes, cultures and ethnic configurations dotted across the entire gamut of Nigeria’s expansive lands. I have made friends, built alliances, nurtured relationships and sustained linkages amongst Nigerians of all shades and opinions.

In fairness, Nigerians are great people. In those hours, moments and duration of friendship and camaraderie, no one talks about origin, geopolitical zones or even states. The issue of religion does not dictate the flow of discourse. We deal with ourselves based on our character and content, and not the sentiments of what part of the country we hail from.

The inalienable fact that Nigerians can live in any part of the country to pursue their legitimate aspirations is a strong indication that we have accepted to invest in the Nigerian project, and are no longer driven by mutual suspicion but mutual respect. That we have not fully realized our potentials as a great nation is not enough reason for us to want to demolish the foundation of our nationhood or rubbish the labours of our heroes past; both of which are borne out of our collective efforts to build a truly great nation, and great people.If we have repeatedly done certain things and not getting the desired results, we need to change tactics and approach, and renew our commitment. It is our collective responsibilities to engender a reform that would be realistic and in sync with modern best practices.

For example, restructuring has become a national appeal as we speak, whose time has come. I will strongly advocate for devolution of powers to the extent that more responsibilities be given to the states while the Federal Government is vested with the responsibility to oversee our foreign policy, defence, and economy. Even the idea of having Federal Roads in towns and cities has become outdated and urgently needs revisiting.

That means we need to tinker with our constitution to accommodate new thoughts that will strengthen our nationality. Restructuring and devolution of powers will certainly not provide all the answers to our developmental challenges; it will help to reposition our mindset as we generate new ideas and initiatives that would make our union worthwhile. The talk to have the country restructured means that Nigerians are agreed on our unity in diversity; but that we should strengthen our structures to make the union more functional based on our comparative advantages.

Added to this desire is the need to commence the process of having State Police across the states of the Federation. This idea was contained in my manifesto in 2010 when I attempted to contest the presidential elections. The initial fears that State Governors will misuse the officers and men of the State Police have become increasingly eliminated with renewed vigour in citizens’ participation in, and confidence to interrogate power. We cannot be detained by those fears and allow civilization to leave us behind. We must as a people with one destiny and common agenda take decisions for the sake of posterity in our shared commitment to launch our country on the path of development and growth. Policing has become so sophisticated that we cannot continue to operate our old methods and expect different results.

I also want to appeal to the Nigeria media to be more circumspect in their news reportage. They should always weigh the security implications of the contents of their news and the screaming headlines that stare us in the face every day, especially at this fragile period of our political emanations. The media play an important and remarkable role in shaping the flow of discourse. Their level of influence is also not in doubt, but as the fourth estate of the realm, it has a greater responsibility to moderate public discourse in a manner that will cement inter- and intra-cultural relationships. If Nigeria works, it benefits all her citizens; if it fails, it hurts all her citizens too. The media should be patriotic in its present engagements to berth a new Nigeria of our dreams.

On a final note, I really wish we see strength, determination, commitment and confidence in our diversities rather than adversities. As a heterogeneous country with flourishing skills and numerous endowments, we should dictate the pace in Africa and lead by example of what is possible amongst a people that are focused and determined to pursue common national goal. As a former Military President who had the rare privilege to travel around Africa to sustain the African cooperation through peace-keeping operations, I have come to the conclusion that nations are driven by a common ideal and not by the homogeneity of their race. I saw Somalia, such a homogeneous conclave yet one of the most troubled countries in Africa today. I saw South Sudan, which broke away from the old Sudan, but peace and stability have eluded them. Rwanda genocidal experience is not romantic either.

But a President from the minority ethnic group has repositioned the country to assume its pride of place in the comity of nations. That a people share common identity, language, history, doctrine, culture, mores and values is not synonymous with development, growth, stability and peace. When we went into peace-keeping operations in Sierra Leone, Somalia, Liberia and Congo, we had in mind to sustain oneness in Africa even though we are a continent of different countries all bearing different logos and identities. Our motivation was simply that we are Africans.

I am therefore appealing to the sensibilities of all of us, young and old, leaders and followers, groups and organizations, that in the interest of peace and stability of our country, we need to sheathe the sword. At 76, I have seen it all. I have seen war. I have fought war. And I have survived war, even though I still suffer the pains and injuries of war, it is part of the selfless sacrifice to keep the union afloat. We must build a country that is forward looking for our children and future generations of Nigerians. We cannot afford to toil with the destinies of the 170 million Nigerians by the shape of our discourse and the content of our interaction.

We must carry out conscious attitudinal orientation that will change the mindset of our youths and the held beliefs of the elderly. We must explore the therapies of dialogue and constructive engagements in our desire to make life more meaningful for our people. My friends cut across all regions, zones and states. I am proud to be a Nigerian because I see hope in the youthful population of Nigerians. I see remarkable skills and raw talents that can stimulate enterprise and innovations.

This is the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan, a month in which Muslim faithful have dedicated their lives to seek closeness to God, and forgiveness of their inequities. It is a month of penance; a month of prayer for physical, moral and spiritual rejuvenation, regeneration and rebirth. I urge my countrymen and women to use the occasion to look ahead with hope and renewed dedication to the service of our country.

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You’ve Nothing to Offer Nigerians, Only Insults, Akwa Ibom Gov Slams Tinubu

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Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, on Monday, replied the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, saying that he (Tinubu) always resorts to abusing and insulting people during campaigns because he has nothing to bring to the table for Nigerians.

He also said that despite being insulted by the former Lagos State Governor, he would prefer to allow peace to reign by ignoring him and focusing on helping install good governance to rescue Nigerians from their present woes.

Emmanuel spoke on Monday evening at Government House, Uyo while inaugurating newly appointed Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen and Members of Boards and Commissions, as well as a Transition Committee to ensure the smooth transition of power to the next administration.

Recall that Tinubu had during his rally in Uyo Monday afternoon, reportedly said, “Akwa Ibom, that boy wey bring Atiku here, wey de call himself Governor, tell him enough is enough! He lives in my backyard in Lagos, If no be say we be one, I would have driven him home. You see that mansion he is living, I would just use lizards, pigeons and scorpions to put him inside.“

But reacting few hours later, the Akwa Ibom State Governor said, “for the country to remain in peace, one party must ‘play saint’ and that is why he would refrain from replying Tinubu.

Emmanuel who is the Chairman of the PDP presidential campaigns said, “I also go to other states, and if you watch our campaigns, my principal (Atiku Abubakar) has never spoken about any Governor, he has never spoken openly about Asiwaju before.”

He added that it was unfortunate that Tinubu, who was granted state-owned facilities such as the airport, security, stadium, and a good atmosphere to come in and sell his manifesto, ended up coming to insult the integrity of over 7.9 million Akwa Ibom people.

The Governor wondered if it is possible for any Akwa Ibomite to go to Lagos that Tinubu stays or the actual state that he hails from, to insult Tinubu in like manner and still be allowed to safely return home, “but here our people at the stadium including some state governors just laughed and applauded him.”

“What makes him think he will govern Nigeria? If I reply him now, people will call me and say, haba oga you are not like that. But I will reply him one day. There is nothing like ‘emilokan’ (it is my turn) here, Nigeria is in God’s hands.”

He maintained further that despite being the highest revenue contributor to the federation account, Akwa Ibom State has not gotten a single kilometre of road from the APC-led Federal Government for nearly 8 years adding that the poor response from the Federal Government also caused the delayed commencement of the seaport in the state.

Meanwhile, the governor thanked the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries for accepting the onerous task of service, and urged them to see themselves as ambassadors and work towards raising the bar of leadership which would encourage productivity and promote good working relationship with subordinates in the service.

“This is one thing I promised Akwa Ibom people that appointment of Permanent Secretaries shall be totally on merit and not by mercy, let those that can do the work be given the opportunity. Permanent Secretary is not a promotion, it is an appointment on merit.

Governor Emmanuel also reiterated his commitments towards enhancing efficiency within Civil Service, noting that during his administration civil servants have been promoted on yearly basis.

He assured that before he exits office more Permanent Secretaries would be appointed into the service to fill vacant positions left by the ones who retired.

Addressing Chairmen of Boards and Commissions, Governor Emmanuel who described them as pillars in government, acknowledged their commitment particularly, Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection & Waste Management Agency, Prince Akpan Ikim, for winning laurels for the state through his outstanding performance in keeping and making the state the cleanest in Nigeria for five consecutive years from 2018 through 2022, and tasked others to create an impact that will stand them out.

In the same vein, the Transition Committee members were handed the task of ensuring a seamless transition of government to an incoming administration, and also verify all projects executed by the present administration.

The newly appointed Permanent Secretaries are; Mfon Inuaesiet Edemekong Esq., Dr. Stephen Effiong, Atim Chelly Okoko, Iquo Okon Abia Esq., Uwem Sunday Andrew-Essien, Isaiah Robson Ntekim and Emaeyak Nyong Akpan as Auditor-General for Local Government.

The Transition Committee has Mrs. Ekereobong Umoh -Chairman, Uko Udom SAN, Prof Augustine Umoh, Dr. Ini Adiakpan, Mrs. Nsemeke Daniel, Dr. Nathaniel Adiakpan, Mr Elijah Udoiyak, Mrs. Esther Inyang, Pastor Uwem Andrew-Essien, Mr. Isaiah Ntekim, Mr. Effiong Ekpenyong and Mrs. Bella Akpanya as members.

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PDP Condemns Attack on Buhari in Kano, Blames Tinubu, Ganduje

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The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council, has blamed the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the attacks on the convoy of President Muhammadu Buhari, during a visit to the state on Monday.

The spokesperson of the campaign council, Dino Melaye, who shared one of the videos from the reported attack, wrote, “The fight between Tinubu and Buhari is entering a new dimension. The attack in Kano was properly coordinated and funded allegedly by Asiwaju.

“The meeting to push Buhari to submission or face sponsored attack in the north was said to be hatched in Bourdillon. Me, I am busy with Atiku.”

A political activist, Deji Adeyanju, who shared another video of the reported attack, said, “They are showing Buhari and APC Shege in Kano and many northern states.”

Similarly, the PDP in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, on Monday also blamed Tinubu and the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the attack.

According to the party, the attack was designed to undermine the Presidency, cause confusion, trigger violence in the country, disrupt the conduct of the 2023 general elections “and derail our democracy having realised that he cannot win in a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.”

The statement read in part, “The PDP invites Nigerians to note how Governor Abdullahi Ganduje attempted to abridge President Buhari’s movement and even tried to stop him from visiting Kano State.

“More disquieting is the fact that the APC Presidential Campaign sought to humiliate and harm President Buhari while performing his official duties in Kano.

“It should be noted that the APC presidential candidate has been displaying open aversion and making inciting statements against President Buhari since Mr President’s declaration, in line with democratic best practice all over the world that Nigerians should freely vote for any candidate and party of their choice in the 2023 general elections.

“The apparent frustration of Asiwaju Tinubu to resort to encourage or condone violence is fueled by his entitlement mentality, that it is his turn to be President, despite his numerous ineligibility and disability baggage.”

Ologunagba reminded Nigerians about Tinubu’s infamous statement in London where he declared to his supporters that “political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte.”

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Organ Harvesting: Ekweremadu Battles for Freedom, Appears in Court Tuesday

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A former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, will on Tuesday appear again in court in the United Kingdom where he has been accused of human trafficking.

The lawmaker was in June 2022 arrested at Heathrow Airport in London after Staines Police Station received a report from a young man claiming to have been trafficked into the UK.

The young man, who made the report shortly after arriving in the UK from Nigeria, also alleged that he was made to undergo some medical tests, none of which he consented to.

Ekweremadu was immediately arraigned before a Magistrate’s Court for bringing a child into the UK to harvest his organs.

While the lawmaker had been in custody since June 23, his wife, Beatrice, who was arrested with him, was granted bail by a criminal court in London shortly after their arrest.

Monday (today) makes it 221 days since Ekweremadu was placed in the custody of UK authorities.

The case against the lawmaker which had been slated for May was later scheduled for January 31.

The 60-year-old, who denied the allegations against him, will again appear before High Court Judge, Mr Justice Johnson.

His daughter, Sonia, had on November 7, 2022, appeared in court to defend the accusation of trafficking a homeless man into the UK to harvest his organs for herself.

According to Daily Mail, the 25-year-old, who is battling a kidney-related illness, pleaded not guilty to the charge level against her when she appeared again in court on January 13.

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