The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Reverend Matthew Kukah, has called on Nigerian politicians to place service above personal benefits.
He says politicians have continued to undermine the interest of the ordinary Nigerian who gave them the opportunity to serve through the ballot.
The clergyman spoke to Channels TV on Sunday, after a church service to celebrate Fathers’ Day in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria.
“We still have not moved away from the culture of people who mistake public service for opportunities for self-enrichment.
“The reason why people asked to be elected is not to make money for themselves, they asked to be elected so that they can serve us and serve our country,” he said.
Bishop Kukah also said he doubts if the current crop of politicians would give Nigeria the required leadership to take it to the next level.
“You have so many people going to church and going to mosque and yet criminality, violence, corruption are all on the increase in our society.
“This is evidence of some of the things that are eroding our Christian values,” he said.
“When I hear politicians say we cannot develop in an environment of violence or in an environment that is volatile, politicians don’t understand that it is their irresponsible behaviour that is creating the tension and the anxiety,” he added.
A former Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan, has urged Nigerian politicians not to jeopardise the future of Africa because of selfish political interests.
According to him, the future of the African continent is in the hands of Nigeria and the success or failure of the February elections will mean same for the African continent.
Mr Annan spoke at a forum held in Abuja organised by civil society groups on peaceful conduct of the February general elections.
Having expressed dissatisfaction over the way democracy is run in most African countries, Mr Annan, who was the guest speaker at occasion, urged Nigerian politicians to do their best to ensure that the elections were free, fair and credible.
According to him, the elections provides an opportunity to confirm Nigeria’s progress in the eyes of the international communities.
Other guest at the forum identified corruption and conducts of politicians as responsible for past elections violence.
The group called on the international communities to sanctions anyone who compromises the peace of the country during and after the polls for selfish political interests.
This is the first time, since 1998 that the former UN Secretary General is meeting with Civil society groups to amplify the voices on the need for politicians to ensure that elections are peacefully conducted in February.
There have been several calls on Nigerian politicians to focus their campaigns on issues needing solutions and avoid statements that could trigger violence, the kind experience after the 2011 elections that led to the loss of lives and destruction of property in the northern part of the nation.
Nigerian politicians have been asked to shun quarrels and bitterness in politics but rather engage in robust debates on ideas as well as support structures and institutions that will help to strengthen the democratic process to meet the aspirations of the Nigerians.
President Goodluck Jonathan gave the admonition at the official opening of the Kukah Centre for faith, leadership and public policy in Abuja.
He thanked Nigerians for showing resilience in the democratic process, but stressed that politicians should see the coming elections as an opportunity to renew their commitment to deepening the democratic process.
“The developed world did not stumble into greatness by chance, rather they got there through carefully developed policies tested over time,” he said.
The official opening of the Kukah Centre attracted President Jonathan and these other Nigerian leaders because of the vision of the founder and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah .
The centre is instituted to build a better Nigeria by promoting dialogue, participatory democracy and good governance, issues the President said politicians must imbibe to make Nigeria’s democratic process to work.
The chairman of the occasion and former military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, was happy to note that the Kukah Centre would not operate legally. He renewed his call on Nigerians to be their brothers keeper, especially as the war against insurgency raged.
The founder of the Centre spoke passionately about Nigeria and what motivated him for the vision, which include; to make the centre a platform for ideas and not ethnic and religious sentiments.
Goodwill messages poured in from far and near all extolling Bishop Kukah’s effort to make Nigeria a better place.
Interfaith dialogue is the core of the Centre. Guests departed from the Centre after the opening, but they are confident that the Kukah Centre will in the long run be a major contributor to how best to govern Nigeria.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in Imo State, has declared its support for the reelection bid of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 general elections.
This was revealed at a sensitisation rally organised by the leadership of the party at the Dan Anyiam stadium in Owerri the Imo state capital south east Nigeria. They said it could be recalled that in 2011, the present Governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha, was elected under the platform of APGA before he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), hence they are “not losing sleep until they reclaim the governorship seat in the state come 2015”.
The rally witnessed the presence of the leadership of the party from the national level as well as the State level.
The Imo state chairman of APGA, Peter Ezeobi said the party is re-strategising and gathering strength like never before ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Chieftains of the party took turns to address the crowd despite the heavy downpour.
Some chieftains of the party in Imo state noted that the success of the sensitisation rally proved that APGA remained the only recognised party in the south east, adding that the party was poised to reclaim the governorship in 2015.
The event did not end without receiving defecting members of other political parties.
Less than a week after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rolled out timetable for its primary election, the Imo state chapter of the party has started rounds of consultation and reconciliation with some political stalwarts in the state to enable it build a formidable team that will withstand any challenge from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
To this end, the leadership of the party in the state has initiated moves to woo former governorship candidate and a chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Martins Agbaso to join the party.
The team, led by the Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, Hope Uzodinma, voted on the platform of the PDP and the state chairman, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie, told journalists that their move is part of the efforts to bring back all founding fathers of the PDP, who left the party due to some grievances and to also call on Mr Agbaso to join the PDP in order to build a formidable structure that will wrestle power from the APC in the state, come 2015.
Mr Agbaso expressed delight by the call and said that he will get back to them in a couple of days to decide if he will join the party.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke, on Wednesday said over half of the delegates at the on-going National Conference are too rigid in their stance on how the nation should run, to effect the change the Conference was set up for.
While on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Clarke, who commended President Goodluck Jonathan for the Conference, “one of the best things that have happened to Nigeria,” expressed doubt in the delegates’ ability to put the nation’s interest above other things.
Clarke stated that “the problem is, you are asking Nigeria to sit down and you are bringing in old people who have a fixed idea of what Nigeria is or has been.” He further stated that at least half of the delegates at the meeting “have fixed ideas of what Nigeria should be”.
The lawyer said the elderly delegates who have been in the political circle do not possess the flexibility needed for such a consultation as they cannot change overnight. Hence, “the problem we are going to have in this National Assembly is that such people with fixation of ideas of how the country can be run can never be changed.”
Mr Clarke insisted that delegates including Edwin Clarke, Jerry Gana, and Ayo Adebanjo have fixed minds and cannot be changed. “These are the people who should not be there,” he said.
He labelled them “old horses who have been recycled for the past 40 years,” and further expressed doubts on the outcome of the Conference in light of the fact that the delegates are yet to agree on a voting pattern in the first two weeks.
Presidential System Makes President, Governors ‘Demi-gods’
While speaking on the programme, Mr Clarke stressed that one of the major issues which must be addressed at the Conference is the current Presidential system of government which he described as too expensive for the nation, adding that the system cannot work.
“Powers are being vested on our president which no other president in the world has” he said, maintaining that section 5 of the constitution confers so much power on the President and governors that “they have become demi-gods”.
He however warned that an attempt to change system of governance will be resisted by many people at the Conference, especially the politicians “who are enjoying the system will never allow it”. This, he argued, is another reason why those at the Conference should not be there.
He advocated that “fresh minds that have no fixation about any philosophy that have no fixation about any idea but are amenable to reasoning and the love of the country” should be brought in for the discussions.
He also said that the experience and expertise of elderly people is needed for the Conference but the set of people who are delegates are fixated.
Mr Clark further accused former president Olusegun Obasanjo for starting the system which now costs the nation 245 million naira to maintain one senator, in a year.
“No matter what anybody says, the problem we have on this Presidential system was caused by Obasanjo. He is the bane of the problem we have on this Presidential system,” Clarke said, adding that “he might have had good intentions.”
Although he thanked He noted that the Conference will not achieve anything since the recommendations have to go through the Nigerian parliament before going to a referendum. He maintained that the lawmakers would vote down any change which will deprive them of all benefits, including convoys, escorts etc.
“Any change that will be inimical to the interest of the present members of the Houses, they will not accept it.”
Mr Clarke decried the recruitment exercise by the Nigeria Immigration Service which led to the death of several applicants. He lambasted the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, for hijacking the exercise from the board in charge, which he created.
“Recruitment is the domestic work of the board of immigration, why should the minister take it over? In taking it over, he bungled it. Lives have been lost but what has been done?” he asked.
Speaking on the presidential system, Clarke said “the president cannot sack Moro” because “Moro has the support of a very strong member who has recommended his name.” Moreover, “we are going into an election period; Mr President will not want anything from any constituency.”
He further claimed the President failed to sack the Minister as he ought to have done because of the influence Moro’s godfather may have on the forthcoming elections.
Clarke suggested the President should have set up a judicial commission as a means of sacking the Minister, without claiming direct responsibility for the decision, in order to appease Moro’s supporters.
A Former Spokesman for the House of Representatives, Eseme Eyiboh, on Wednesday said that those defecting from one party to another, particularly from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress are only doing so for selfish interests, as the move is not based on any ideological conviction.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Eyiboh complained that the main issues, including internal democracy and party management, had been abandoned for other matters.
He said that neglecting key issues of the management of political parties and internal democracy of the parties would lead to a “poor leadership recruitment process where you have wrong people in right places.”
He averred that the trend of defection was good for both the ruling and opposition parties but insisted that the trend was based on selfish interests and not the welfare of the people or on any ideological conviction.
“It is not all about the issue of the people. It’s about your heart being where your mouth is” he said, stressing that “none of these persons is doing it either out of ideological conviction or because of the mandate of that people,” he stressed.
On the possibility of the opposition party, APC, being a better party than the ruling PDP, Eyiboh said “APC, as a matter of fact is not a solution because APC is unable to provide an alternative to what they believe is wrong with the PDP controlled government.”
He further stated that the “APC shot itself in the foot by allowing PDP to reinvent itself” through the new party chairman, “a businessman who stoops low to conquer.”
Speaking on controversy and issues surrounding the defection of 11 senators to the APC, which the PDP opposed, although it had benefitted from similar defections in the past, Eyiboh said “the scenario is different in the sense that some members of the APC went to court (to stop their seats from being declared vacant) and PDP also went to court saying they should not defect from PDP.”
“We can’t deny the fact that there are other subsisting issues before the court of law and because it is so, it becomes unnecessary for you to begin to talk about it because the matter will be sub judice. In previous cases, there has never been such circumstance,” he said.
On the Senators’ insistence that their letter of defection be acknowledged and read on the floor of the House, Eyiboh said the Senate President was not under obligation to do it by their prompting.
He continued by saying, “it is a communication, it will definitely be done but he has to look at all the exigencies. In this case, he has to look at the matter before the court and other matters bordering on the roles of the Senate.
He further argued that “we must have a clear difference between politics and governance.”
The Director of Press in the Adamawa State House, Ahmad Sajoh, on Wednesday told Channels Television that the outcry against the National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur as well as the call for his removal originated from a poorly conducted party election in the northern state.
Speaking as a guest on the station’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Sajoh said acts of impunity by the leadership of the PDP at the national level led to the on-going crisis which has threatened to engulf the nation.
“Beyond what we are seeing in Rivers, I can see dangers in the whole country” as issues of National Development seem to have taken the back burner while issues of ethnicity, personalities and religions have dominated discourses in the public domain.
He noted that “politicians are becoming too self-centered. They are thinking of their self too much, much more than they are thinking of the nation or the people.”
“If the situation in Adamawa was managed properly, maybe the National Chairman (of the PDP) would not have gotten to where he is because that is the genesis of the entire crisis.”
“The whole agitations against him, the level of impunity that people are talking about today came from Adamawa,” he said.
He continued by saying that: “There was an election of the party leadership in Adamawa. That election was conducted by a panel sent by the National Secretariat. No Adamawa indigene was involved, no Adamawa person was involved.
“The panel called for nominations, screened the candidates, declared them fit to contest, conducted the elections and those that won the elections. They (panel) wrote a report (I have a copy of the report) to the National Secretariat that the election in Adamawa state was free, fair and in accordance with the constitution of the PDP. An appeal panel came and said Adamawa people have appeared to understand the meaning of working together so they passed the process.
“Shortly after that, a letter came from the National Secretariat dissolving the EXCO on the grounds that something violated the PDP constitution in the constitution of the EXCO.
“At that point, if after there was this strict argument based on the law and the documents available and if superior argument had won and the national leadership accepted that they were wrong in doing this or right in doing this and an amicable settlement was done, then this crisis would not have escalated to other states being affected, other people affected and now it’s trying to engulf the entire country,” Sajoh said.
He berated the attitude of Nigerian politicians for being unrelenting in their quest for position, adding that “most of us in politics in Nigeria are too self-centered. It’s about self and now we have also extended that same thing to the larger society by insisting that all discussions should be about individuals, about where they come from.”
According to him, the same scenario is playing out in Rivers State where the issue revolves around persons including Governor Chibuike Amaechi who had defected to the opposition party, the First Lady of the nation, Dame Patience Jonathan and others.
He described the situation in the oil-rich state ominous for the entire nation and that dishonesty on the part of the Police Commissioner, Joseph Mbu on the use of rubber bullets is a recipe for more troubles for the nation. “When people do things and don’t own up to them, it is a recipe for serious crisis in the country,” he said.
He cited the crisis which has torn apart the Central African Republic, adding that the crisis of leadership in Nigeria could create more repercussions than expected if left to degenerate.
Sajoh however expressed confidence in the power of dialogue adding that “political differences could be discussed no matter what they are without resorting to the use of violence.”
The All Progressives Grand Alliance governorship candidate, Willie Obiano advanced his campaign by visiting 5 major markets in Onitsha, Anambra state, beginning with the Ajasa market.
Obiano, who was accompanied by his running mate, Nkem Okeke, the National Chairman of the party, Victor Umeh and the state governor, Peter Obi, reminded the people that the forthcoming election is critical as it will determine as well as redefine the political base of the Igbos.
His visit to his childhood home at Ajasa community was greeted by traders to whom he pledged total commitment and promised to deliver the dividends of democracy if voted into power.
At the Ose Okwodu market, traders received the campaign train with a rousing welcome after-which Umeh, and the state governor, Mr. Peter Obi, charged up the arena with speeches urging the people to identify with APGA and be assured of continued development.
Obiano and his entourage moved to Bright Street where the leadership of the market endorsed him on the basis that Governor Obi supported street trading in the Main Market and ensured it was not scraped.
A crowd also gathered at the White House, the administrative block of the Onitsha Main Market, to catch a glimpse of the APGA campaign train.
At the Marine market, the traders were promised a security patrol vehicle which will be delivered to them immediately.
The APGA candidate danced his way into Bida/Okwey Street where a five-kilometer road which cost one billion Niara (about 6.3 million dollars) was flagged off.
The Timber market as well as the Bridge market were also visited. Traders received the campaign train with joy and promises of better days ahead were made to them.
Onitsha South stadium was the terminal point of the day’s campaign and the governorship candidate made promises of free education, free adult medical treatment and free prenatal treatment.
“I will establish an enabling environment for business to thrive if you support and vote for me,” Obiano promised.
Women Protesters have stormed the head office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) in Abuja, demanding that the Commission should investigate the activities of some politicians in the country.
During the protest to the anti-graft agency, the women who came under the Widows Organisation International, alleged that politicians are using ill-gotten wealth to cause violence in the country.
Spokesperson for the group, Ms Patience Offoegbu said the group is concerned as the nation moves towards the 2015 general election.
A member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, Senator Ayo Arise on Wednesday said that the reason why politicans would usually cause a stir in the polity is because the field is the most lucrative business in the country.
“The most lucrative job in this country today is politics” and not scientific invention or business venture, he said.
Recently, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, admonished politicians in the country to ensure that they do not heat up the polity.
Speaking in response to this on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Arise agreed that there is a need for caution on the part of the politicians.
“We all have to be cautious. We have just this one country and we need to sustain growth and development and even the growth of the political system and the democratic structures we are just nurturing”
He stated that the reason why politicians engage in actions or talk that heat up the political atmosphere is as a result of the “perpetual struggle for office.”
The problem which has become a source of concern for stakeholders as well as the electoral body will not be solved “as long as it remains the best way towards acquiring massive wealth.
Mr Arise maintained that the only way to stem the tide would be “to open up vistas through which people can actually achieve success and be very relevant in society”
He cited an example of two persons who were recognized through the unprecedented award of Grand Commander for doing very well in business”
He advised government to reward excellence on other sectors so people would feel fulfilled.
The judiciary also has a role to play as “we should ensure that we put the laws that we need to work for our people”.
“Public service is not synonymous with wealth acquisition”.
Spokesman of the Pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin has linked the proliferation of political parties in Nigeria to the abundance of funds looted by founders of the parties.
Odumakin, a former spokesman of the presidential candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Gen Muhammadu Buhari, said this during an interview on Channels Television’s morning flagship programme, Sunrise Daily on Tuesday.
“The people who can afford to form new parties are the ones who have looted resources and funds to play around with,” he said.
The politician said the rise of new parties spells doom for politics as it is known in Nigeria adding that “I think we are seeing the end of politics in Nigeria.”
The aftermath of the successful registration of the All Progressive’s Congress (APC) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has caused an upsurge of many other groups who have signed up for registration by the electoral body.
This is happening because “the day the elephant dies, you see all manner of knives.” Mr Odumakin said “everybody wants to grab this thing” because there is distrust amongst politicians, which has resulted in “all manner of parties”.
However, this new era has resulted in fewer choices for the masses because all the parties look and speak the same way. “I have learned to watch what men are doing rather than what they are saying”
Although there are new parties, there is a dearth of fresh blood as members of the new parties are the “same set of people dividing themselves into new formations”.
He described “most of the so called new parties” as “old wine in new bottles,” adding that in Nigeria “the more things change, the more they remain the same”
Although the APC has been touted as the party to unseat the ruling PDP, Mr Odumakin regards the party’s promises as ‘empty platitudes’ with “no ideology defining all these things”.
After a read through the 31-page manifesto the APC produced “you will see some wish list but if you look at it there is no ideological thread tying all these things together”.
The former CPC member stated that the 1999 constitution, which has accommodated corruption and the likes, is the country’s greatest problem. In his opinion, a total change and not an amendment is the only solution.
He accused Nigerians of reproducing bad leaders as he asked “why have Nigerians continued to continually produce worst set of leaders than the previous ones?”