Politicians by their very nature tend to evoke a lot of passion more than the rest of us and not many more so than Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State in recent times.
He is the 15th governor of Rivers State and the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, who was re-elected for a second term in 2011 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
In December 2013, he joined the opposition party, All Progressives Congress, APC.
Governor Amaechi is our guest on this edition of ‘View From The Top’.
He speaks about his administration, legacy projects, the controversies around his style of leadership, the Rivers State crisis, the APC and his plans after completing his tenure as governor. He predicts a stormy 2015 in Nigerian politics.
Delegates at the ongoing National Conference have resolved the impasse over the voting modality for reaching a decision at the conference.
The delegates adopted a 70% majority voting requirement, as against the two-third and three-quarter that was proposed.
This was a key decision taken as the delegates resumed for the third week of the conference.
The delegates also rescinded an earlier decision to have delegates in committees pick their chairmen and deputy chairmen.
The conference resolved that the chairman of the conference would now be responsible for these and will try to ensure that the principle of federal character is maintained.
Series of unresolved arguments had delayed the take-off of real deliberations on issues at the National Conference, two weeks into its inauguration by President Goodluck Jonathan on March 17.
This led to the setting up of the 50-man consensus group by the delegates, to discuss with the principal officers, so as to resolve the impasse.
According to the Deputy Chairman, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, while presenting the report of the outcome of the group’s meetings.
The committee met on the March 25 and 26 and had cordial deliberations as they worked in harmony to develop and put into effective use, the spirit of consensus with the national interest at heart.
“At the conclusion of deliberations, members reached a decision to amend Order VI Paragraph 4, XI paragraph 2 and XII paragraph 4 (e) as follows:
“In the case of failure to reach consensus, the matter shall be decided by majority vote of 70 per cent of delegates present and voting.
“That is the recommendation which that committee is bringing to you, distinguished delegates,” Akinyemi said.
The recommendation having been greeted with unanimous approval of the delegates, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, representing the Former Senators’ Forum, moved for the adoption of the motion, which was seconded by former Akwa Ibom Governor, Victor Attah, representing the Former Governors’ Forum.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, on Thursday, March 27, at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, held an interactive meeting with the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (Umbrella body for Fulani Herdsmen).
The meeting which comes as the first of a series of meetings already planned by the Forcewas part of deliberate and elaborate efforts by the Nigeria Police Force to bring to an end the lingering crisis between herdsmen and farmers in some parts of the country,
According to a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, the essence of the meeting was to find an alternative dispute resolution mechanism geared towards finding a lasting solution to the lingering crisis.
The IGP called on the leadership of Miyetti Allah and other relevant stakeholders to cooperate with the Police in this regards. The IGP further reiterated that in addition to the ongoing crisis management measures and the core law enforcement strategies already being implemented by the Force in the affected areas, there was need for the Police to meet with stakeholders and parties to the conflict so as to bring an end to the crisis.
On their part, the Miyetti Allah delegates assured the IGP of their readiness to cooperate with the Government and the Police in finding lasting solutions to the problem.
Consequently, a committee was constituted which has the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Operations as Chairman. Other members of the committee include: the President, the Secretary-General and three other members from Miyetti Allah, as well as the President and the executives of Farmers’ Associations and community leaders of the affected areas.
The IGP charged the committee to visit all the affected states to liaise with Police Commands and to consult with the Governors and stakeholders in the affected states with the view to entrenching peaceful co-existence.
Also in attendance at the meeting were the Deputy Inspectors-General of Police in charge of Training and Operations Departments respectively, Principal Staff Officer to the IGP and other Senior Police Officers.
The wife of Anambra State Governor, Mrs. Ebele Obiano, has reiterated the availability of free maternal healthcare for pregnant mothers who register in any of the government hospitals in the state.
She made this known when she visited a lucky mother who was delivered of a set of quadruplets in Awka. She said that expectant mothers in Anambra and everywhere deserve quality healthcare and attention during pregnancy in order to curb the high incidence of maternal mortality.
Mrs Obiano had visited the home of Mr. and Mrs. Princewill Oluchi to see the quadruplets and it was joy all through as the four babies and their mother were all hale and hearty.
Wife of the governor decried the birth of the babies in Enugu as all costs would have been borne by the State Government had they been born in Anambra. She, however, announced the commitment of the present administration towards maternal health.
“In this era of high infant mortality rate we are grateful to God that the children were born safely and in good health. I therefore call on all pregnant mothers in Anambra, to start taking advantage of the free delivery approved by His Excellency the Governor of Anambra State for pregnant women at no cost”, she said.
Mr. Oluchi, by profession, is an event manager from Abia state, while his wife from Ogbunka in Anambra state is a housewife and they had been without a child for six years until when she was delivered of the set of quadruplets.
Alongside the State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Obiano presented several items and a cash gift to the couple for the upkeep of the babies and their mother.
Sports Analyst, Nnamdi Obanya, believes that the allegations made against Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi, might just be moves by the Nigeria Football Federation to frustrate the environment in order to justify its desire to hire a foreign coach.
Obanya, who was speaking on Sunrise Daily on Channels Television acknowledged an earlier statement by the NFF that they had no plans to sack Keshi, but they had also been found out planning to bring in a foreign coach to “assist Keshi”.
He further validated his suspicion of a frustration game by the NFF by highlighting the inconsistency in their decision to hire a foreign coach when they had just sacked one of Keshi’s assistants, Sylvanus Okpala, owing to lack of funding to accommodate more wages for the technical crew.
Keshi has insisted that he needs Okapla back in his team and has complained that the NFF has been sitting on his request, with Okpala also having taken the NFF to the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
Obanya stated that the queries and public statements are being made about minor issues, explaining that issues concerning the details of Keshi’s leave approval and itinerary should have been an internal query and not one for the pages of the newspapers.
He believes that getting all these issues into the media might be a deliberate attempt by the Federation to make Keshi look bad, also noting that the tones of communication from the NFF lately have been showing a level of hostility.
He particularly berated the NFF for saying the coach was not solely responsible for his own team selection and going further by asking him to come and defend his selection of players. “I think a coach is meant to present his list and not defend it”, he said.
Obanya revealed that a source had said that Super Eagles striker; Ikechukwu Uche had been frozen out of the Super Eagles as payback. The source, according to him alleged that Uche was one of the players used by the NFF to complain about Coach Keshi’s tactics as a way of casting doubts on his capacity and consequently justifying his removal after AFCON.
He noted that the NFF does not really know their role and are therefore focusing on other people’s jobs. He said that if they knew their own jobs, few months to the World Cup, Nigeria should have had proper marketing, branding, travel arrangements and other things in place, instead of disturbing Keshi.
He also mentioned the issue of TV Rights, explaining that a situation where the Nigerian national team is playing a friendly game abroad and Nigerians have to search all over the web for different sites that would stream matches showed that the NFF was not doing its job.
A Constitutional Law Analyst, Collins Okeke, feels that Nigeria’s ongoing National Conference is “doing ok” and not as badly as Nigerians see it.
This, he said on Channels Television, in spite of the series of unresolved arguments delaying the take-off of real deliberations on national issues, two weeks into the conference’s inauguration.
He explained that having brought 492 people with different backgrounds and orientations together to deliberate on ideas to move the country forward, “It is expected that there would be conflicts, disagreements, fears, worries and I think the secretariat of the conference are doing their best to see how to resolve these differences.”
Okeke, like many other Nigerians, however, also has issues with the composition of delegates at the conference, complaining that the selection process was not transparent but he believes that what was most important was “getting them to do the right things.”
He agreed with the school of thought that the generation of delegates was too old.
“I think there is something wrong with having old people represent a country that is now populated by more young people. It doesn’t make sense, especially when you take into consideration, the fact that some of these old people have ideas that they’ve concretized and that’s going to be very difficult for them to change.”
On the view that the Nigerian youth who is known to have been starved of quality education for decades, lacked the intellectual capacity to provide quality contribution at the National Conference, Okeke said that indeed there is a question mark on the ability of the youths to provide meaningful contributions, especially considering the way the National Association of Nigerian Students and the National Youth Council have been in crisis.
He, however, said that his support of more youth representation was based on fairness and the fact that they have a greater stake in the discussions. He also admitted that the youths have performed below the standards of the older generation in their youth, but this would not change the fact that Nigerians between age 25 and 45 were not well represented at the National Conference.
He added that there were still very intelligent youths who could add value but only needed a platform to come together.
Mr. Okeke did not see any need for controversies on the voting requirement at the conference. The Constitutional Law Analyst said that he had sat down to do the mathematics of comparing the 75% requirement to the two-thirds requirement and he really did not find much difference as it amounted to just a difference of 41 votes.
He noted that even getting the lesser two-thirds would still be a challenge. “Getting 328 people to agree on an issue is still going to be a challenge.
“If I were to advise, I would simply say they should revert to the modalities for the conference. I think what the President had in mind was a conference that would come up with a recommendation that would be based on consensus.”
He believed that with time, the delegates would begin to understand one another and realize that “it is not a winner takes all (situation) or (that of) one group trying to outdo the other.”
Okeke, in this interview, also reacted to the threat by one of the delegates, and also the Lamido of Adamawa, who said “If you push us to wall, we can easily walk out of this country.”
“For me, I’m a bit disappointed that a traditional ruler would take this kind of position. I would have expected that he would be a bit more circumspect in the things he said”, Okeke said.
A Legal Practitioner, Benson Enikhuomehin, on Thursday claimed to have foreseen the series of unresolved arguments slowing down the take-off of Nigeria’s National Conference, two weeks into its inauguration in Abuja.
Enikhuomehin was on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, where he discussed developments at the National Conference. He blamed the crisis on the presence of people who should not have been called up to the conference, but who were there.
He said that this class of delegates were “major players in the crisis that had bedevilled the country” till the moment and they have been given a platform to continue the evil they had perpetrated since the independence of Nigeria in 1960 “or even earlier than that.”
He asked, “Are they saying that when they run a relay race, they don’t have a reason to hand over the baton to somebody else to do it?”
Enikhuomehin, while acknowledging that there were indeed quality personalities at the conference whose composition was based on selection, noted that there was need for Nigeria to take a cue from the constitution of similar conferences in other climes.
He made particular reference to the American Convention of 1776, where the makeup of the delegates included patriots and notable Americans like George Washington, in comparison to the 1787 Philadelphia convention that had a makeup of the younger generation.
Enikhuomehin, while regretting the absence of young people who were willing to work hard and engage in research to enrich debates at the National Conference, noted that “James Maddison, who was a notable person in that particular convention of 1787, was barley 36. He came in with bundle of books articulated and gave views.”
He further said, “The strength of a man is barely between the age of 25 to 50” and these were the calibre of people he had expected to be more at the Conference, while the older ones should have been at the background to assist with their wisdom.
Knowing that this was a composition that may not be reversed, he noted that the National Conference was the last chance for the old delegates, who have been part of Nigeria’s governance, to “save themselves”, as he claimed that this provides them the opportunity to correct the wrong they had done to the country.
With a number of adjournments already called at the conference barely 2 weeks to its commencement, Enikhuomehin, said that this was further proof that the conference had too many people who were there just for personal interests. He expressed his disgust at seeing one of the delegates who became aggressive and was willing to fight at the conference.
On the possibility of calling back persons who have been identified to have worked against the smooth running of the conference, Enikhuomehin advised that the delegates be given more time to sort out their issues but also advised that some the delegates need to be sent back to the people they represent to seek wisdom and content.
He disagreed with the 75% requirement for the approval of decisions at the conference, explaining that if the country, based on its constitution had always made important decisions based on the two-thirds majority requirement, then the National Conference should not go higher, rather it should consider going lower. He referred to the requirement as a distortion.
The lawyer feared that the requirement of a 75% majority may hinder the success of adopting many good ideas, and this might make the conference end in a deadlock. He asked, “What if we don’t get that 75%?”
He noted that such requirement should only have been introduced for germane decisions like the impeachment of a sitting President.
He also responded to several calls for a review of Nigeria’s system of government. He said that the major issue in Nigeria was not the system but the people in charge, adding that if corruption still existed in the country, the change from federalism would not solve the country’s problems.
In conclusion, he said that 3 months was still enough time for the delegates to do something reasonable. However, “We lose nothing if we add one more month to it.”
The Nigerian Police acknowledges that they have some challenges in curtailing the incessant attacks by Fulani herdsmen on communities in Northern Nigeria.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, was on Sunrise Daily on Channels Television on Friday, where he spoke about the several issues contributing to the spate of violence in Nigeria.
First among these is Climate Change. He said: “In Africa, there are studies that suggested that in the past 5 decades for example, over 800 lakes and water bodies have dried up.
“There are also obvious signs that parts of the North (Nigeria) and parts of Africa where traditionally, grazing thrives are also drying up, and that’s one of the challenges.”
Mba also mentioned the crisis in Mali, Chad, Central African Republic, and the collapse of the government in Libya, as having created additional problems in Africa and contributed to the growth of violence in Nigeria with leftovers of weapons getting into the wrong hands.
He noted that the normal herdsmen, who usually move around with sticks, now have access to firearms, adding that Nigerians also needed to be aware that not all men with firearms causing havoc in their communities are actually Nigerians.
Nevertheless, he revealed that the Police was working on improving capacity to curtail the activities of the perpetrators of violence. He mentioned the ongoing upgrade of surveillance facilities including the building of helipads in the affected regions as being among the major measures being taken to further protect lives and property across the country.
He, however, added that creating a long term solution was much more important, and this lies in creating policies that would keep grazers away from farmlands.
On the human capacity of the Police to truly handle the situation, Mba said that the Nigeria Police Force would be more efficient with better trained, better equipped and well-motivated men, rather than just having a large number of men without the necessary mind-set, skills and equipment to protect Nigerians.
The capacity of the Police to manage the forthcoming 2015 general elections also came to the fore, as there had been fears about the ability of Policemen to help prevent violence during the polls.
Mba gave assurances that the Nigerian Police was indeed very ready to ensure peace during the elections. He expressed confidence that they were not going to do it alone but with the support of other legitimate law enforcement agencies like the Customs, the Nigerian Immigration Service, Civil Defence Corps, and the military who they expect would work with them from a distance.
Ahead of the 2015 governorship election in Cross River State, the State Governor, Liyel Imoke, has inaugurated the Northern Senatorial District Caucus of the People’s Democratic Party, to satisfy the constitutional requirement of the party which is to serve the people’s interest.
Speaking shortly after the inauguration at the Ogoja Council Secretariat, Cross River State, the Governor urged the group to build ties with leaders of other senatorial districts rather than use the forum for selecting his successor.
Speaking to the crowd about the 2015 election and the issue of finding a successor, Imoke averred that, he was not aware of who would succeed him as Governor, since the process is the outcome of the ballots.
Imoke, however, opined that for his successor to emerge from the Northern part of the state through a transparent process, acceptable by the electorates, caucus from the Northern Senatorial zone must engage in continuous interactions with the Southern and Central senatorial districts towards the selection.
Chairman of the party, Ntufam John Okon, also solicited for unity of purpose among the people of the North and warned against political acrimony as he handed over the constitution of the party to the Caucus Chairman, Linus Okom.
The premises of the Ogoja Council hall was filled to capacity with party loyalist from the Northern Senatorial district of the state, as well as those from the national level, who gathered to witness another democratic process of what they expect would make history in the state in 2015.
The trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, was on Monday stalled as the presiding judge had to rise to attend a judges’ seminar.
Ikuforiji, had been standing trial before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly laundering over 339million Naira, charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC alleged that Ikuforiji and one of his aides, one Oyebode Atoyebi, accepted various cash sums on behalf of the State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.
The suit, which was fixed for continuation of trial, could not go on as earlier scheduled, due to a judges’ seminar organised by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
When the case was called, the Prosecutor, Godwin Obla, and the Defence Counsel, Wole Olanipekun, consented to an adjournment.
The defence counsel, however, urged the prosecutor to produce his remaining witnesses in court on the next date, to ensure speedy trial.
Justice Ibrahim Buba then adjourned the case till Tuesday, March 18, for continuation of trial before leaving for his seminar.
The EFCC had re-arraigned the accused persons on June 24, 2013, on an amended 54 count charge.
The offences are said to contravene the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act 2011.
Both men had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail in the sum of 1 billion Naira each, with two sureties, each in the sum of N500 million.