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The Osinbajo I Know Is Not A Christian Bigot- Dr Balkisu Saidu

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By Dr Balkisu Saidu

 

Before the permeation of social media, I was one of those who believed in and re-echoed the popular saying that “the only way to win with a toxic person is not to play.” To this end, I found silence to be a very potent tool in dealing with some extremely wicked and deliberate acts of provocation exhibited through concoction and spread of falsehoods and apparently implausible stories.

I have since realised that, in this day and age of fake news and cyber propaganda, it is important that lies and misinformation, no matter the motive of the initiator, are countered and records set straight. Amongst the recipients of the falsehood could be some innocent consumers who will benefit from having true facts presented. Allowing fake news to linger may create the impression that there could be some element of truth in what was propagated.

It is for the foregoing reasons that when the write up credited to one Dr Musbau Akinbode titled “Osinbajo’s Stealth Christianization Agenda”, which has been circulating of recent in the social media, was brought to my attention, I opted to respond. Although no date was ascribed to the write up, it appears to be a rehash of several baseless allegations made in the past against the Vice President, many of whom have been debunked with apologies issued by unsuspecting media houses misled into publishing some of the concocted stories.

The new twist in Dr Akinbode’s write up is the allegation that the Vice President is implementing a “Christianization” agenda and in that wise none of the appointments made by the Vice President from persons of Yoruba extraction were given to Yoruba Muslims. This allegation reminded me of a similar baseless claim made in 2017 by one Dr. Ismaila Farouk, which Akinbode referred to, alleging that the selection of personal staff of the Vice President was skewed in favour of “his Yoruba ethnic group.”

Those fuelling the orchestrated and surreptitious narrative immediately backtracked when confronted with facts and a long list of Northerners, from tribes other than Yoruba, working in the office at the time including, among others, Mrs. Maryam Uwais (Special Adviser on Social Investment, from Kano State); Ambassador Abdullahi Gwary (Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs, from Yobe State); my humble self (Senior Special Assistant on Legal, Research and Compliance Matters, from Sokoto State); Mr. Ismaeel Ahmed (Senior Special Assistant on Social Investment, from Kano State); Mr. Bege Bala (Special Assistant, BPE, from Kaduna State); Abdurahman Baffa Yola (Special Assistant on Political Matters); Mrs. Susan Chagwa (Special Assistant on Household and Social Events, from Adamawa State), etc.

Certainly, some of the listed allegations made by Dr Akinbode are objectionably and glaringly malicious and even laughable, unlikely to be believed by any discerning follower of the rise and actions of the Vice President. For example, the Office of the Vice President is like a mini-Nigeria. The level of diversity accomplished in the office reflects all segments of the society – geo-political, ethnic, religious, gender and youth representation.

It is therefore inconceivable for anyone to suggest marginalisation or, as Dr Akinbode puts it, “Christianization” in appointments and religious bigotry. To the specific point of appointment of Yoruba Muslims, Dr Akinbode may wish to know that, even amongst his personal staff, no less than ten Yoruba Muslims were appointed to work for the Vice President including his next in command and the highest-ranking officer in the Vice President’s office, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. AbdurRahman Adeola Ipaye. Other Yoruba Muslims who work, at various times, in the office include Distinguished Senator Babafemi Ojudu (Special Adviser on Political Matters); Dr Mariam Masha (Senior Special Assistant on Internally Displaced Persons); Ms Lanre Shasore (Senior Special Assistant on Planning and Coordination); Mrs. Olabisi Ogungbemi (Special Assistant on Political Matters); Yusuf Ali (Special Assistant on Power); Mr Mohammed Brimah (Special Assistant on Job Creation); Mr Mukhtar Tijani (Special Assistant on Power); Ms. Lolade Abiola; and Mr. Akanni Rahman.

A leader known to suspend meetings to enable Muslim participants perform prayers; known to rescue Muslim orphans and provide them with shelter and educational opportunities that safeguard and promote their religious practices; known to host Breaking of Ramadan Fast (Iftar) with Religious Leaders and Muslim communities from across the country; known to timeously intervene in the resolution of thorny inter-religious issues with potential for escalation can certainly not be said to be promoting any particular religion.

Also, the allegation of “Christianization” in the appointment of some named individuals to various positions in Government is indicative of a complete lack of understanding of how Government appointments are made or a deliberate attempt to distort facts and mislead unsuspecting public. Save for Mr. Kayode Pitan, who was appointed by the Vice President as the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry to take over from Mr. Waheed Olagunju, who was serving in acting capacity, all the other persons named by Dr Akinbode were appointed by the President in the exercise of his constitutional powers.

The calibre of the persons is not in question. In terms of accomplishments, these are pacesetters in their respective industries. For example, Mr. Ben Akabueze, the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation served more than two terms as Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Lagos State and was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NAL Bank Plc. (now Sterling Bank Plc.). He has also served as Special Adviser to the President on National Planning.

Mr Alex Okoh, the Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, an Alumnus of Harvard Business School and former Managing Partner, Ashford & McGuire Consulting Ltd.; is a quintessential Banker and Financial Advisor who as the Managing Director/CEO of NNB International Bank led the transformation of the bank from a comatose state into a leading commercial bank in Nigeria. He has worked with various banks within and outside Nigeria including Nigeria International Bank Limited (Citibank); United Bank for Africa Plc.; Citibank New York; Fidelity Bank London; Swiss Banking Corporation, Zurich; and Grindlays Bank, Zimbabwe. His first tenure recorded tremendous transformation of the Bureau leading to his reappointment by the President.

Before the appointment by Mr. President of Mr Okey Enelamah as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment in 2015, the Harvard University graduate, Baker Scholar and Loeb Fellow has had a tremendous successful career in investment banking and with Arthur Anderson (now KPMG Professional Services), New York and London offices of Goldman Sachs, Zephyr Management. He also founded and served as CEO of the African Capital Alliance (ACA).
Clearly, even on the appointment of Mr Pitan, the author is not questioning the qualification of Mr Pitan, imaginably considering his robust academic training (including at American Graduate School of International Management, Arizona, USA; London Business School; and Haggai Institute, Singapore) as well as his decades of corporate and banking experience.

These appointments were based purely on merit. The only problem with the appointments, according to the author, was their religion. Save Dr Akinbode is suggesting that persons being considered for appointments into Government positions must denounce their religions, it is unclear why the religious leanings of the appointees should be in issue. Recall that similar allegations were made against appointments of equally deserving and competent Muslims with claims of “Islamisation” being bandied around. Such divisive rhetoric and adverse language are dangerous to Nigeria’s unified harmonious existence and should be resisted and rejected by all.

The Osinbajo I know has been nothing but absolutely and uncompromisingly loyal to his principal, earning him several public and private commendations and additional responsibilities from the President, including the management of the Economic Sustainability Plan, credited with facilitating the “unexpected exit” of Nigeria from one of the worst recession cycles to hit several nations of the world. The man, Osinbajo, seeks no accolades. It is therefore not every action taken by him in support of persons facing challenges that will end up on the pages of newspapers. Just because Dr Akinbode is unaware of these interventions should not be a basis for dehumanising the Vice President.

Additionally, it is evil and reprehensible to drag the person of Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo into whatever malicious campaign the author is mounting against the Vice President. This is a humble and compassionate woman, who has conducted her humanitarian and philanthropic activities in a well-guided and detached manner away from any Government activities. It is unacceptable to have persons of integrity be subjected to such ridiculous acts of scathing and baseless attacks. Clearly, the purpose of this is to cause annoyance, hatred, and ill will against the family of the Vice President. Luckily, Nigerians can see through these malicious, baseless, smear campaigns, mounted by dishonest and shady individuals.

While the main preoccupation of the Vice President is the discharge of the mandate resoundingly given to their ticket under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, may I remind Dr Akinbode that power is not in the hands of any individual to give or take, but in the hands of Almighty Allah; and He bestows it upon whom He wills. Please refer to the Holy Qur’an, Chapter 3 (Surah Al-Imran), Verse 26.

I sure hope and pray that a time will come when Dr Akinbode and his likes will realise that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is as authentic as he presents – he is a humane, compassionate, detribalised patriotic Nigerian, who is committed to the service of Nigeria and Nigerians in a fair, honest, transparent and accountable manner. And, while we spare time to respond to these and similar unfounded allegations, the Vice President never allows mischief-makers and peddlers of fake news to distract him from his main preoccupation: service to Nigeria.

Balkisu Saidu,* is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Legal, Research and Compliance Matters, Office of the Vice President. She writes from Abuja.

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Atiku Hails Judgment on Full Financial Autonomy for LGs, Says It’s a Win for Nigerian People

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections, and a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has hailed the judgment of the Supreme Court, ordering that henceforth local government allocations be paid direct into various local government accounts, saying it is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The Waziri Adamawa made his views public via his social media handle, saying categorically that “I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.”

He wrote:

The judgment of the Supreme Court earlier today affirming fiscal autonomy to local government councils in the country is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The court’s ruling is a step in the right direction and a major corrective action in greasing the wheels of national development across the country.

The decision by the Federal Government to consolidate disbursements of local councils’ revenues into the state government accounts was a decision that was borne out of politics of hasty compromise.

I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.

I also share the belief that fiscal autonomy to the local governments should not be limited to revenues from the Federation Accounts, but indeed, should apply to Internally Generated Revenue from the respective local government authorities.

Many of our states, especially those in the ultra urban areas with high density economic activities, have become notorious in muscling local councils from generating revenue on items that border on motor parks, outdoor advertising, rents and many more.

The verdict of the court is in tandem with the core functions of the Supreme Court as an arbitration court between and among governments. -AA

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Supreme Court Grants LGAs Full Financial Autonomy

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that the 774 local government areas (LGAs) be given a full financial autonomy across the federation.

A seven-man panel of Supreme Court Justices led by Justice Garba Lawal delivered the ruling on Thursday, July 11, 2024.

The apex Court initially heard the suit between the Federal and State government on the autonomy of local government on June 13 and reserved judgment.

The suit marked SC/CV/343/2024 was filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), and it sought full autonomy and direct fund allocation to the 774 local government areas (LGAs) in the country.

Fagbemi requested the Supreme Court to order that funds for LGAs managed by caretaker committees appointed by governors, rather than elected chairmen and councillors, be withheld.

However, the 36 state governors, represented by their attorneys general, oppose the suit on various grounds, including their argument that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case.

In its ruliing on Thursday (today), the Supreme Court ordered that full financial autonomy be granted to the LGAs, recognizing them as an independent segment of the federation.

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Wike vs Ireti Kingibe: Time to Stop the Bully

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By Eric Elezuo

It is an understatement to say that there’s no love lost between the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Nyesom Wike, and the Senator representing the FCT, Mrs. Ireti Kingibe. Their relationship has turned more soured than the proverbial cat and rat. In fact, both cannot see eye to eye, in as much as they are saddled with the same responsibility of promoting and developing the FCT.

While Kingibe, one of the four female senators in the Senate, is operating on the mandate of the people, having been duly elected under the Labour Party in a well contested election in the 2023 General Elections, Wike is an appointee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

No one has been able to explain the origin of the beef between the two political figures, but source close to The Boss, has said that differences in political affiliation may have triggered the initial animosity before it blossomed into full time hatred and cross verbal attacks, leading to the bullying of the Senator.

Senator Kingibe had complained earlier in the life of the administration that the FCT has shun all her approaches to synergise for the benefit of the Abuja residents, since she’s a direct interface of the people as an elected representative. But Wike, in his response tackled the Abuja Senator, asking her to stay away from him that he does not wish to be friends with her.

Wike had lambasted the Senator, accusing her of blackmailing him instead of communicating her problems through the right channels or better still focusing on her oversight functions.

He stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, stating that the lawmaker is aggrieved because the Senate President snubbed her for the position of the Senate Committee on FCT.

“I don’t want to be personal…she’s the Senator for FCT. She went around saying ‘oh, oh Wike is busy scraping roads…I should leave the roads till when the potholes come?” Wike said.

“Somebody wants to be your friend and you say ‘I don’t want to be your friend. Is it by force?’ The problem is that she wanted to be Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT and the Senate President said ‘I’m not giving you’.

‘What are you going to supervise me? You cannot supervise me. What is her interest, that I must see her? If I have a problem I’ll go and see her. I don’t have a problem. Nobody can intimidate me. Look, I was a Minister before. I became a governor of one of the most important states in Nigeria and she thinks that the only way you can bring me down is to go to Channels, TVC, saying the Minister is not carrying me along.

“I don’t have the back to carry. It’s not about blackmailing. Do the right thing. You know her problem? She ran election with my friend Philip Aduda and she sees me taking Philip everywhere instead of her being the Senator. Should I abandon my friend because he failed election?” Wike queried.

However, while the Senator has refused to stay bullied, Nigerians have said that time is now to tame the bully, and save the bullied from any further acts of disrespect.

Kingibe has made it clear however, that she is not in any interested in the friendship of Wike, who she only knows from a distance, but in working together to answer to the needs of the FCT residents, whom both of them have been mandated to serve at the moment.

Speaking on Arise News interview, the Senator reviewed as follows, taking into cognizance that Wike addresses her as one, who claims her senatorial role:

“That’s what he says. I am the senator, but he said in interviews that I claim that I am the senator of the FCT, and he is not obliged to deal with me. But I am saying that by sections 122 and 124 of the Evidence Act, he is bound by the judicial notice of the occupier of the seat of the senator of the FCT.

“I am also saying that section 24 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, imbues on him a duty, that is, the honourable minister, (I am not calling any names because anybody who is the minister is bound by those same laws and duties) to abide by the constitution, to respect all its ideals, institutions and legitimate authorities entirely.

“So just the same way that some Nigerians would have voted for the president, and some would not have, but as soon as he is declared the president, he becomes the president for everybody, and nobody can pick and choose who would rather be the president. And therefore, same applies to all offices regardless of party or any other position.”

She added, “Please what constitutes friendship between two people who have never met each other? I have never sat in the same room with the minister except in the senate committee. So how does friendship arise? Why would I want to be the friend of somebody I do not know?

“The truth of the matter is that the minister refuses to speak or communicate in any way with the senator representing the Federal Capital Territory. So, how are the wishes and the needs of the people to be communicated to him? Please tell me if you know a way.”

Responding while inaugurating the construction of Mabushi Bus Terminal, Phase I, in Abuja, came hard on the senator for her remarks threatening to unseat her as a serving senator in the next election.

Referring to her as a nameless person, Wike asked her to go hug the transformer, in a most derogatory attempt to inform that she does not matter in the scheme of activities in the FCT.

Wike said: “I overheard somebody in Arise this morning. Unfortunately, I hear the person is a member of National Assembly and it is unfortunate I say so. With all due respect, what you don’t know, you don’t know, what you know you know, and the good thing for you is to tell people you don’t when you don’t know, then people will educate you.

“The Honorable Minister of State and my humble self have not been in office for more than 11 months and the person is angry that they are praising us. If you don’t want to or you are angry about that, go and hand yourself in a transformer. If we have done well, we have done well. If we haven’t done well, we haven’t done well. I’m proud to say that in the short time that Mr. President has appointed us, we have done well.

“You said there are no hospitals and there are no hospitals. You, as a legislator, what have you done? How many bills have you sponsored for us to improve our education and health sector?

“I challenge that legislator. If you are very popular, 2027 come and run under Abuja, we will fail you. Do you think that what happened last time, will happen again? It will not happen again. Luckily for me, I am the FCT Minister now. So that is my territory and I’m not afraid.

“So, People should be able to come out and be able to accept the truth. We are not begging for anybody to become our friend, we have so many friends that we cannot even carry along. So how can we go and beg people to become our friends? We are not interested in that.

“If you are angry that people are praising us, by next year your BP level will go very high because the praises you would see would be too much.”

Many legislators were at the event, and they clapped for the minister at the remarks.

In another commissioning activity, the Senate President was on hand to deliver a speech, but ended up talking down on his colleague.

“I saw one of the legislators on television talking about you (Wike) and mentioning the fact that she was not carried along.

“Well, she is a member of the Senate. Once a decision is taken, she is bound by the decision. So, please ignore every distraction (from her) and be rest assured that no matter what you do, not everyone will praise you. Others will still try to find faults,” Mr Akpabio told Mr Wike, who was beaming with smiles.

Many other Senators were present at the event.

But Nigerians have come hard on the FCT Minister for his unguided utterances against an elected public officer, who is also a septugenarian, accusing him of lacking respect and playing God in the affairs of men.

In their response, the Labour Party, FCT branch, accused Wike of falling out of line, saying that Kingibe did nothing  y calling his attention to main needs of the Abuja residents.

The FCT chairman of the party, Comrade Diugwu Chukwuemeka, said by Wike’s outburst, he showed that he is not at home with the peculiarities of the FCT, nothing that the area is a conglomeration of different persons from across the length and breadth of the country.

“Does he not know that he is a tenant in FCT merely appointed by  the president and  if Mr. President decides to remove him, he will be removed without any ceremony,” the LP chairman queried.

On his part, the National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr Ajuji Ahmed, described Wike’s attack on Senator Kingibe as verbal violence.

He said that Wike does not have the power to stop other politicians’ re-election because he is not the one that brought such politicians to the office in the first instance.

“That (the attack) amounts to verbal violence because there is no reason why he (Wike) should do that. He is not in the LP. It was LP that elected her. He has nothing to do with LP and he is not the entire electorate of the FCT. There is no way somebody can stop someone from being re-elected in three years time. It’s not a savoury statement.”

Also speaking, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA), Chief Chekwas Okorie, also described the verbal exchange between Wike and the FCT as bad.

He appealed to the two public officers to sheathe swords and collaborate for the overall progress of the FCT.

“For me, it is all politics. But it is unfortunate that they allowed their political differences to affect their service to the people.

“The senator representing FCT represents all Abuja and the entire Abuja has one FCT minister.

“It is the National Assembly that presides over Abuja. One would have expected the two to work together. But it is bad that they are fighting each other,” he said.

However, in total condemnation of Wike’s bullish approach to the administration of the FCT and attacks on Kingibe, the women of Abuja have held a protest, asking that Wike be checkmate in his untoward utterances against Kingibe.

“We, the Concerned Women of FCT, Abuja, are therefore calling on all women in Abuja to rise against Wike’s antics,” the women noted.

While Nigerians expect the legislators to come to the rescue and support of their colleague, the contrary is playing out, encouraging Wike’s bullish attitude. But Nigerians are stepping out of their comfort zone to curb the menace.

Nigerians also understand that Wike’s bullish stance extends to his Rivera State primary constituency, where he is slugging it out with the incumbent governor of the state, Mr. Siminalayi Fubara, over the control of the state. The state has,  in recent months, been a subject of political intrigues and violence as the parties fight for supremacy.

But time will tell.

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