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Can Tinubu’s Ministers Deliver Nigeria?

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By Eric Elezuo

On Monday, August 21, 2023, President Bola Tinubu will swear in 45 men and women, who by fait accompli, have been screened and cleared by the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Godswill Akpabio-led Senate. The soon-to-be ministers will be mandated with the task of bringing to fruition Tinubu’s plans of renewing the hopes of Nigerians, towards bringing them out of the eight years quagmire of past president Muhammadu Buhari, which has inadvertently continued three months into the new administration.

But analysts, stakeholders and observers in the Nigerian political system have argued on the potential of the nominated ministers and the real intentions behind their selection to work in with the Nigerian leader.

A cross section of Nigerians, who had earlier expressed hope at the coming of the ministers, many weeks after inauguration, have expressed disappointment however, noting there was nothing spectacular among the nominees, and wondered why it took so long to recycle the same individuals already known to the public. They argued that it was a list of known friends and loyalists of the president, adding that the president is using sensitive positions for nation building to say thank you and massage the ego of loyalists, who played one role or another to ensure the his emergence at the Presidential polls.

In Tinubu’s list are nine immediate past governors including former governor of Rivers State, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who fell out with his party, and did all he could to scrape Rivers State for Tinubu; a victory that most Nigerians have dismissed as dubious. But Wike has been paid for his efforts, first, as a ministerial nominee, and now as a the substantive Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Wike is seen as a voracious politician, who can hold his own in whatever circumstance either by omission or commission; legitimate or otherwise. It is therefore, on this background that his appointment into ministerial position is necessary, and more important to be seconded to Abuja, where Tinubu failed to obtain 25 percent vote, which many believe is mandatory for anyone else to be declared President. The matter is however, subjudice asnit is being contested in the court of law presently.

Stakeholders have not minced words in claiming that Wike’s allocation of Abuja as a ministerial duty is Tinubu’s way of consolidation should there be a rerun as regards his inability to obtain 25 percent in the previous election.

“It is not hard to imagine that Tinubu needed a strong and voracious politician like Wike in Abuja to consolidate his chances should the court nullify his election and order a rerun.

“The same situation goes for the recycling of old politicians in sensitive ministeries. The reasons are not farfetched; the president needs them to achieve an opportunity to legitimize his government through the polls if the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal should void the 2023 presidential election. So, this list of ministers are not in anyway programmed to resuscitate that ailing economy, but to be on ground for the hatchet job in case a rerun I’d needed. It is not out of place therefore, to say that Tinubu is already anticipating a discrediting of his government another a rerun,” a stakeholder, who craved anonymity told The Boss.

There’s also the immediate past governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, who is said to be the handyman of one of Nigeria’s most notorious leader, late General Sani Abacha while he looted the country. On discovery, Bagudu demanded and was paid a whopping $110 million (N33.6 billion) for helping Abacha to loot the nation. Today, Bagudu is saddled with a sensitive position as the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning. No one remembered the part he played in the Nigerian economic woes other than he is a member of the APC and an allied of Tinubu.

According to Nicolas Ibekwe in a 2019 write up, “Court documents revealed that Mr Bagudu was the gas that powered Mr Abacha’s extensive money laundering operations.

“Working with some members of his own family, top members of the regime and Mohammed, Mr Abacha’s eldest son, prosecutors claimed the governor used an intricate network of phoney companies to siphon several millions of dollars from government treasury into offshore bank accounts operated by himself and the Abachas.

“The money-laundering operations Mr Bagudu ran on behalf of Mr Abacha are well-documented in suits filed in the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey, a British Crown dependency in the Channel Islands.

“But what many Nigerians may not know was that Mr Bagudu, who now enjoy immunity from prosecution by virtue of being a governor, was once arrested for his role in the Abacha money laundering enterprise and spent six months in a US federal detention.”

Observers have asked how would men, who are only answering the call of political exigencies, deliver Nigeria from its economic stranglehold or help Tinubu translate his promise of renewed hope to reality having already taking decisions in the last three months that have further plunged Nigerians and the economy into abyss of hardship and suffering.

There’s also the former governor of Zamfara, Bello Matawalle, who supervised the worst form of insecurity and poverty in his state during his four years stewardship as governor manning the defence ministry though in deputy position. Stakeholders have asked what is he bringing to the table other than membership of the ruling party.

Other former governors, who made the ministerial appointment are Simon Lalong of Plateau State, Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, who was until his appointment, the senator representing Ebonyi central district, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, and Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State. The former governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, narrowly missed out, owing to some security reports that proved very difficult to overlook.

A majority of the general public are of the opinion that the list consists of campaign managers awaiting a possible rerun and/or consolidate a reelection come 2027.

There are the appointees representing Cross River State and Delta State, Betta Edu and Festus Keyamo, respectively, who were said to practically lobbied for the positions. What can one do when he has to beg to get a political position. Keyamo, on his part, who was a minister of state in Labour and Productivity ministry for eight years is yet to pinpoint a major achievement of his ministry. His Special Public Works Programme which proposed to engage 774,000 Nigerians, and gulped N52 billion, is still shrouded in mystery  and a subject of battle between him and the National Assembly till date. Today, he has been reappointed.

The full list of the ministers and their designated positions are

  1. Minister Of Communications, Innovation And Digital Economy: Bosun Tijani
  2. Minister Of State, Environment And Ecological Management: Ishak Salako
  3. Minister Of Finance And Coordinating Minister Of The Economy: Wale Edun
  4. Minister Of Marine And Blue Economy: Bunmi Tunji-Ojo
  5. Minister Of Power: Adebayo Adelabu
  6. Minister Of State, Health And Social Welfare: Tunji Alausa
  7. Minister Of Solid Minerals Development: Dele Alake
  8. Minister Of Tourism: Lola Ade-John
  9. Minister Of Transportation: Adegboyega Oyetola
  10. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Anite
  11. Minister of Innovation Science and Technology, Uche Nnaji
  12. Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Nkiruka Onyejeocha
  13. Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy
  14. Minister of Works, David Umahi
  15. Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo
  16. Minister of Youth, Abubakar Momoh
  17. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu
  18. Minister of State, Gas Resources, Ekperikpe Ekpo
  19. Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri
  20. Minister of Sports Development, John Enoh
  21. Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike
  22. Minister of State, Housing and Urban Development – Abdullahi Gwarzo
  23. Minister of Budget and Economic Planning- Atiku Bagudu
  24. Minister of State, FCT- Mariga Mahmoud
  25. Minister of State, Water Resources and Sanitation- Bello Goronyo
  26. Minister of Agriculture- Abubakar Kyari
  27. Minister of Education- Tahir Mamman
  28. Minister of Police Affairs- Ibrahim Geidam
  29. Minister of Foreign Affairs – Yusuf Tuggar
  30. Minister of Interior- Saidu Alkali
  31. Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare- Ali Pate
  32. Minister of State, Steel and Development- Maigari Ahmadu
  33. Minister of Steel and Development- Shuaibu Audu
  34. Minister of Information and National Orientation- Muhammed Idris
  35. Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice- Lateef Fagbemi
  36. Minister of Labour and Employment- Simon Lalong
  37. Minister of State, Police Affairs, Inman Suleiman
  38. Minister of Special Duties- Zephaniah Jisalo
  39. Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation- Joseph Utsev
  40. Minister of State, Agriculture and Food Security- Aliyu Abdullahi
  41. Minister of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy- Hannatu Musawa
  42. Minister of Defence- Muhammed Badaru
  43. Minister of State for Defence- Bello Matawalle
  44. Minister of State, Education- Tanko Sununu
  45. Minister of Housing and Urban Development- Ahmed Dangiwa

While a cross section of Nigerians have criticized the list in its entirety as an assemblage of political stalwarts in readiness for a political rerun of the 2023 presidential or in readiness for reelection in 2027. Whichever way, it is obvious that this set of ministers may have little or no impact on the economy and wellbeing of the nation and its people.

“The body language is already so negative; what to expect is therefore not farfetched,” an analyst confided.

However, one thing is certain; by Monday, the administration of Tinubu will assume a sort of shape notwithstanding. Nigerians will therefore, have to wait to see if the shape will be monstrous or angelic.

Can Tinubu’s ministers deliver Nigeria? Time will tell.

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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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