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Now That MMB is APC Interim Chairman, By Hassan Gimba



Now that MMB is APC interim chairman, by Hassan Gimba

On June 25 last year, a special NEC meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appointed Governor Mai Mala Buni as the chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee. Four days later I wrote on this page warning the opposition, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that they can only ignore him at their peril. But did they take my warning seriously?

The APC was on the brink of implosion when he took over. It had lost states and national legislative seats in the 2019 general elections and was on the brink of losing sitting governors. But the party, which had 64 senators then now has over 70. He has also made three PDP governors throw away the umbrella and embraced his broom wielding party, with the possibility of bringing in more. I here reproduce the write-up:

That the All Progressives Congress (APC) was galloping towards disintegration was obvious. That other political parties, especially the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), that would benefit from APC’s implosion were happily watching, like vultures sensing a carcass, and awaiting the apocalypse needs no elaboration.

This week I had wanted to write about “Change” and why it should not begin with me. In it, there was a passing observation regarding Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni, who now doubles as the chairman of APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Committee.

But I had to change course because this has more currency and impact on each of us Nigerians and the country as an entity. The APC is the ruling party and whatever affects it affects not only us but the continent of Africa.

The APC came into being after the merger of four legacy parties on February 6, 2013. The major parties were the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), along with a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

And true to the definition of a political party as “a group of persons organized to gain and exercise political power”, it rode on Nigerians’ desire for change having been disenchanted with happenings then and how the country was slowly but surely becoming an effluvium.

Corruption was so endemic and impunity was the order of the day. Political leaders were becoming unbearable burdens on the populace. But worse was that the Boko Haram insurgents were having a field day with our army unable to tame them.

The APC fielded President Muhammadu Buhari, a man with an unprecedented political following and an assured twelve million votes. He had the reputation of an ascetic, a man of integrity, with a well-known abhorrence for corruption.

The Nigerian situation was bordering on the hopeless, and we believed he would rekindle hope in a nation at its wit’s end.

There was a sigh of relief by most Nigerians when incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan first congratulated Buhari even before the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, announced him as the winner of the presidential election. Everybody expected a change from all the things that were drawing us back as a nation and threatening our unity and corporate existence.

That Nigeria is yet to witness the hoped-for change has befuddled many of its citizens.

But the answer may not be farfetched. President Buhari came to power through a political platform. In an ideal democracy, parties have manifestoes in which promises made are encapsulated. The values and programmes enunciated in the manifesto guide any democratic government in power in its conduct. And in our current setting, as president, which makes him the leader of his party, he can influence and achieve a lot through personal example.

However, if a party cannot stick to its core values and instead of shepherding its elected and appointed members to implement what it promised the people, then it has failed as an agent of change and development. On top of failing to monitor its members in discharging their responsibilities, worse is when senior members carve fiefdoms and spheres of influence for themselves for pecuniary gains or with an eye for the next election, or both. Though a party too may be hampered if a chief executive of government also assumes its leadership, this is a topic for another day.

This is exactly what the APC became, unfortunately, for itself and the country it rules. Its leaders sacrificed national interest on the altar of self-first. That may be one major reason President Muhammadu Buhari was not delivering as expected.

And Adams Oshiomhole could not rein in his tongue, which always uttered whatever crossed his mind. With his background as a labour unionist used to shouting for attention and relevance, he saw the position of national chairman of a ruling party as a Magna Carta for mandibular walkabouts. He abused whoever crossed his path, forgave those who ‘reasoned’ with him no matter the gravity of their crimes against the state and practised playing God with people’s fate.

By the time the rug was pulled from under his feet, a party with 27 governors when he became its chairman on June 23, 2018, was fighting tooth and nail to hold on to its remaining 19. That the party has this number is also because, as everyone saw, it employed federal might to keep some of them.

Would the APC have fared better with Governor Mala Buni as a major influencer? I think so. On July 23, 2018, in my write-up on this page entitled Buhari Campaign Team, APC and 2018, I said, “…the good thing about the APC combination of Oshiomhole as chairman and Mala Buni as national secretary is that while the chairman is assertive, even brash, the national secretary is suave, calm, subtle and diplomatic. The duo is a good combo. Many who receive, or think they are about to receive, the chairman’s stick will run to the secretary for cover. Of course, he will offer them a listening ear, but will gently push them to do what they expected of them. That way the party will be the better for it.

“This is like the story of the method of American police officers I read a long time ago. They meet an accused in pairs. The first promises hell, spewing forth thunder and brimstone. Naturally, the accused is frightened but may not give in or confess. Then the second comes in, in a very understanding, even sympathetic, manner, exuding the aura of a saviour. The accused feels obliged to give in to the ‘soft and kind-hearted’ man ‘who shouldn’t be a police officer at all’. The result matters.”

However, the duty to serve his state as the governor called on Mala Buni and he went to answer it.

It is against this backdrop that one can say with the appointment of Mala Buni to steer its course as a caretaker chairman, perhaps APC’s trajectory would swerve away from the brink, and like the phoenix, it is fated to rise again.

What people will witness is the calmness that would soon envelop the ruling party, for the new chairman is a man who, by all means, avoids friction and rancour. No two contending parties will sit with him and one of them would come out grumbling because he so much believes in fairness and that justice cannot be for one side alone. He is one person who believes in building bridges and maintaining them. And he echoed this after his swearing-in when he said “… it’s all about doing justice to every member of the party. Without justice, there won’t be peace… if you don’t manage crisis, obviously crisis will manage you.” And he did not say these words on marble to get applause. No, that is the real him.

Even before his current appointment, the trust the president and other stakeholders had in him had made him a sort of arbiter for the party, quenching fires here and there and taking part in campaigns for the enhancement of the party’s electoral successes around the country.

Those who know him well know he is cultured. So, the era of insults, roforofo fights and spewing forth unguarded statements is over. You will never hear him abuse any person in the opposition or within his party even if that person insults him. And when any good that is meant for his avowed enemy is about to escape from his grasp, he would be the first person to force it back to its rightful owner. This is the extent of his fairness. He is a thoroughbred politician, broad-minded, cosmopolitan but at ease with the locals and local settings, humble and extremely intelligent.

The opposition parties will no longer be full of glee nor will they sleep again, for by the time he would be through with his assignment, they would rue their premature celebration that the ruling party is gone. They are up against a focused, suave and sagacious dyed-in-the-wool politician. And as they will soon find out, like the mother hen, he would unite and cover his party while successfully poaching from theirs.

He has a gigantic task though. He would have to work on restoring people’s confidence and trust in the government. Distrust in government is a global issue as warned by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in September two years ago while addressing the UN General Assembly. He said that the world is “suffering from a severe case of trust deficit disorder”.

He lamented that “trust is at a breaking point: trust in national institutions; trust among states; trust in the rules-based global order. Within countries, people are losing faith in political establishments, polarization is on the rise and populism is on the march.”

This means that apart from reconciling disparate forces and conflicted individuals, and repositioning for a greater tomorrow, the party has to be at the vanguard of ensuring that the government works towards achieving what it promised the electorate; at least, most of the major ones.

Some may fear that his new national assignment could distract his governance of Yobe, but they need not worry. What is of importance is that he had already formed a good cabinet and given each member the maximum backing to deliver. His policies and emerging achievements at the state will only get a boost as he has a firm foothold in both Damaturu and Abuja.

  • To survive, the opposition parties have to get new chairmen that can match him. The current ones can’t.

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Goronyo Attack: NEGF Donate N20M, As Zulum, Yahaya Pay Sympathy Visit To Sokoto



Goronyo Attack: NEGF’ Donate N20m, As Zulum , Yahaya pay sympathy visit to Sokoto

By Madu Mohammed, Maiduguri

The Borno state Governor Babagana Zulum alongside his Gombe counterpart, Governor Inuwa Yahaya were on Saturday in Sokoto on behalf of the Northeast Governor’s Forum (NEGF) on a condolence and solidarity visit to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal over a recent attack on Goronyo market by bandits, which left about 40 dead..

Governor Zulum who is the Chairman of the NEGF, accompanied by Governor Inuwa Yahaya led the visit on behalf of the Northeast Governors Forum, and donated N20m as solidarity humanitarian support.

Governor Zulum while condoling Governor Tambuwal at the Government House, Sokoto said the Northeast Governors share the grief of families affected by the attack hence the delegation, to register their condolence and express solidarity.

Zulum prayed for the return of peace in Sokoto and all parts of Nigeria, noting his doors are always open to exchange of experiences given from challenges faced by Borno State, and steps being adopted on the way forward.

Respinding, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal expressed profound gratitude to the Northeast Governors Forum, stressing that the visit was a soothing balm to victims and affected families, and to the entire people of Sokoto State.

Tambuwal further described the coming of Governors Zulum and Yahaya as a clear manifestation of love and brotherhood between the Northeast and the Northwest in general, and between Borno, Gombe and Sokoto States.

Governor Tambuwal acknowledged the many efforts of Zulum in Borno since becoming Governor two years ago.

The two Governors were accompanied to Sokoto by Borno’s Commissioners for Agriculture, Bukar Talba, Works, Architect Yerima Saleh, Adviser on Special Duties, Bakari Ali Kotoko, and Adviser on Local Government and Emirate Affairs, Abba Kawu Shehu Garbai.

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The North East: Which Way Forward?, By Hassan Gimba



The North East: Which Way Forward?, by Hassan Gimba

Being a speech delivered by Hassan Gimba, publisher of Neptune Prime online newspaper and magazine, chairman Northeast Publishers’ Forum, as the Guest Speaker at the 6th Annual Awards and Recognition Night of the Northeast Star magazine, held on the 21st of October, 2021 at the Conference Hall of AUN, Yola, Adamawa State.

All protocols observed.

The North East came into existence on the 5th of May, 1967 when, in his bid to check the influence of Odumegwu Ojukwu in the East, General Yakubu Gowon created 12 states out of the four regions in the country.

On the 3rd of February, 1976, General Murtala Ramat Mohammed divided the monolith North Eastern state into three – Borno, Bauchi and Gongola. These three states were further divided into six by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on the 27th of August, 1991. From Borno we got Yobe, Bauchi gave birth to Gombe and from Adamawa came Taraba.

From a part of the Northern Region to an independent state, the North East, which now boasts of six states, has always been number one among its peers in almost all aspects of human endeavour – but from the rear.

For instance, in 2017, Taraba State was number 21 in Nigeria in WAEC, Borno number 25, Adamawa 28, Bauchi 31, Gombe 34 and Yobe 37. These are the kinds of results we have been getting through the years.

But we all know that education is the foundation upon which individuals, communities, nations develop. Without it, no barriers can be broken.

When you look at the health sector, we have the least number of tertiary hospitals and research institutes in the country.

We have dilapidated infrastructure and a poor road network with a lot of hinterlands unopened, so our farmers have limited access to urban markets. There is currently no functional railway network in the whole of the North East.

All these have not helped because insecurity, fuelled by the Boko Haram insurgency, has ravaged the zone.

Despite all these disadvantages, we have the potential to feed the nation. We have some of the best agrarian fields in the country, with a plateau that boasts of the best temperate climate around.

We have produced some of the best brains in the country. The Golden Voice came from here. The North East has produced great technocrats, captains of industry, politicians and statesmen that have contributed to making Nigeria a great nation.

What many cannot understand is that it is the North East that has given stability to a political North that allows such to be translated into national stability.

In 1978, a son of the North East, Malam Adamu Ciroma, despite being arguably better qualified, embraced a North Westerner to form the central government. When the opposition wanted to destabilise the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, a North Easterner, stood against that.

By joining the government of General Sani Abacha in 1993, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe yanked the carpet from under the feet of those who wanted to destabilise the nation because of the annulment of the June 12 elections.

One of the greatest North Easterners of all time is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. A true democrat if ever there was one. He, more than almost everyone, has deepened our democracy through seeking court pronouncements to restore his rights after his falling out with his then principal, President Olusegun Obasanjo, and many other democratic actions. He has pushed us towards democratisation and the acceptance of democracy.

Even though the North West and North Central are bigger than the North East, the zone has always acted as the big brother for peace to reign. Politically, we have always given in to the two other zones to produce the president.

This is not because of incapacity. No, we have always at all points produced capable people who could steer the ship of state successfully and to the satisfaction of all. We have always given in to maintaining our bond and ties. We view all as our brothers and we love being our brothers’ keepers.

We have never cried over this. While others may want to see it as marginalisation if it were them, we see it as a unifying gesture. But now is the time for them to reciprocate.

The North East should henceforth mobilise and sensitise people on the fact that it is now its turn to produce the next president.

Another sound argument is that we have capable hands that can take this nation forward. We have them: those who will be fair to all and have the nation at heart; those who will give everyone their rights; those who can turn around the fortunes of this nation and make it into the great nation that it ought to be.

But we should not mouth such an agenda as a slogan. We have to be deliberate in working for it and working towards it. We have to start by empowering ourselves. Those with the opportunity to empower people should do so; those empowered owe it as a duty to build up others.

Some of the senior North Easterners have done so – building institutions and businesses that would take many people off the streets and thus cutting down on the recruitment base of insurgents and perpetrators of violent crimes.

Our political stakeholders must, as a matter of urgency, look into our political recruitment process. Governors should not be afraid of having capable hands in the houses of assembly in their states. A situation where nitwits, instead of brilliant young chaps, are pushed to the legislature will not augur well for our present and future development.

When a governor recruits those brilliant minds, they don’t take his glory away because he remains “His Excellency” in the state and any success must be linked to his name, but he gets them to apply their God-given resources to work for the people, the state and the region. They also learn the fine points of politics, leadership and governance which will prepare them for service to the people at local, state and national levels.

READ ALSO: 2023: Let’s Look To The North East, by Hassan Gimba

By surrounding themselves with such good heads, the governors and other political office holders will provide good leadership not only now but also in the future.

This is, however, a short, medium and long-term plan.

From now till 2023, we must mobilise the North East to know that the presidency should come here. Not for any personal gain, but because taking Nigeria out of the woods has once more fallen on its shoulders.

Once more?, people ask. Yes, once more, is the answer. The North East is the hub of northern politics. Northern politics that reached out to dominate national politics started in this zone. The discussions for the formation of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) which culminated in its fruition in Zaria, started in Bauchi.

The first political party in Nigeria, the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) was founded in Bauchi and its intellectual fountain was Sa’ad Zungur. Malam Aminu Kano keyed in because he was a teacher in Bauchi then. We should also not forget Ibrahim Imam and his Borno Youth Movement.

Perhaps we do not want our brothers from the North West and North Central to think because Nigerian politics started in our zone, that’s why we want to Lord it over them. And so we always bend backwards for them.

People with vast resources, rich culture and history always make good leaders.

The North East is the richest zone in the country. The exploration of the Mambila Plateau will reveal one of the most natural resources endowed areas of the world. Apart from that, we have many other natural resources that can turn any nation into an economic superpower if harnessed.

We have had Mali and Songhai empires not to talk of the thousand-year-old Kanem Bornu empire. The Adamawa Kingdom is transnational.

When you look at it from the angle of national unity, the bulk of those who fought to keep Nigeria one were also from the Northeast.

Therefore, a North Easterner coming out of such an endowed region will be a blessing to the entire nation.

As we leave this hall, we should all disperse into the nooks and crannies of this blessed country and call all to join us in producing a leader who will salvage this country. Tell them there is a Northeasterner that can.

Thank you.

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2023: Let’s Look To The North East, By Hassan Gimba



2023: Let’s Look To The North East, by Hassan Gimba

If I were to be as sentimental as people are, I would say the North East, my zone, must produce the president in 2023.

Many people fight for their people, region, zone or state to produce the president for various reasons.

Reasons may range from the fact that a president attracts some goodies to his area. Ministers and other chief executives fall over themselves to site projects where the president comes from. Captains of industry, too, are not left behind in the jostle to provide for where the president hails from.

People from the president’s locality also have a false sense of being first-class citizens, oblivious to the fact that those from other areas may end up benefiting more from the administration. Those that would never have been heard of in their lifetime were it not for their association with the president’s roots can become overnight celebrities and points of reference.

For these and many other related mundane concerns of living in a competitive environment where resources are ever dwindling, people can go to any length for theirs to be there.

The concern is not for the nation, nor for the future or the wellbeing of the people. The primary push is self, then tribe. It is so unfortunate, but that is the reality. The religious card too is played, but that too is a complete game of its own. Whether Muslim or Christian, denomination comes in. Just because the other one is your tribe and religion, if he belongs to a denomination you consider hell-bound, then he can be denied anything, including the right to live.

Perhaps these reasons are why many seek political offices and the majority push others to political seats, hoping to reap where they have sowed.

This struggle to get “our share” from the national cake has seen brothers fighting one another, sometimes to the death. Our politics has become a do-or-die affair as buttressed by a one time president when he was seeking re-election. The smart alecs among our political elite have pitched us against ourselves, using our two major fault-lines – religion and region.

Many of us worship clerics and not God. Therefore, some can “remove” or “admit” others into religion as they have appropriated it. Their religion is just in the tongue but not in the hearts. Had we been worshippers of God, the true God, perhaps there would be more peace than we are witnessing. Our other god is the tribe. Some would not mind the country going to blazes as long as one from their tribe is not where they want him to be. That is on the one hand. There are also those who are hell-bent on excluding people from other tribes from the scheme of things, who think what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander.

Many of the political elite, as we earlier said, thrive in deceit because if the citizenry knew the truth, their unworthiness would be glaring. They have ensnared and enslaved their people with falsehood even as they think they are thinking freely. They are those who Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749–22 March 1832), the German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director, and critic talked about.

He said, “None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. Masters who rule them with lies have kept from the depth of their minds the truth. They feed them falsehoods till something wrong looks right in their eyes.”

If not, how do you situate the recent statement by Professor Daniel Saror at his 80th birthday celebration in Makurdi to the applause of Governor Samuel Ortom and those who have always been blinded by the rogue elite? Professor Saror was the 7th vice-chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, when ABU Zaria was ABU Zaria. He was also a two-term senator, first in 1999 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and in 2003 under the banner of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).

One may assume someone of his calibre – and age – will be more circumspect in his utterances, having reached a level to be regarded as an elder statesman. Unfortunately, he unashamedly said, “The insecurity we are experiencing in Benue and Nigeria today is not an accident. It is a planned programme. Boko Haram does not consist of miscreants. They are intelligent people; they are highly connected in Nigeria and other countries in the world and the mission is simple: they want to conquer and Islamise the nation. The Jihadists that you hear about in the North-West are also not miscreants. They are highly connected, highly motivated, and highly experienced in their own (sic) ideas and what they want. They want to spread the caliphate throughout Nigeria.

“The armed Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents have contacts that extend to the Middle East, Asia, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, among others. They are funded in billions of naira to execute the conquest agenda of the caliphate in the country.” Such balderdash!

This is the unfortunate reality of our country. But we can change that; by just getting a listening, considerate, fair-minded and competent leader, all these problems would fizzle out.

A just leader will ensure that each community, each Nigerian, whether or not they voted for him, regardless of whether they belong to the same area with him, whether or not they profess the same religious belief with him, gets their rightful share.

Nigeria will know peace and rapid development, the moment a citizen realises he does not have to fight or follow a shortcut to get his normal entitlements.

Above all, we need someone who can create maximum wealth out of the country’s natural endowments.

As the 2023 race gathers momentum, it becomes incumbent upon us all to scout for, and draft into the race, a man with such qualities. The consideration should not be whether the president is from the North or South, Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo, or that Nigeria now deserves a Northern or Southern president, Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo President. We do not also need a Muslim or Christian president. What Nigeria needs now is a Nigerian president – one that will put Nigeria first above lucre, region, religion and all other affiliations.

As is becoming our political culture, the president of the country is being recruited from among governors or those who were once governors. Maybe as our democracy deepens and matures, the field may expand to include those from the National Assembly, private sector, bureaucrats, etc.

If that is the case, we can safely assume that our next president may come from the current crop of governors, irrespective of whether that person has served just a term or two. There are some among the current crop of governors that have done well. While fulfilling their mandates at state levels, they are also contributing towards national peace and harmony, calming frayed nerves all over the nation, giving everyone and all parts of the country some sense of belonging and thus stabilising the government at the centre. While we have such governors in all the zones, the North East can claim to have the doyen of them all.

However, I do not want to be trapped in the sentiment of promoting a North Easterner for president in 2023 just because it is my region. Rather, I will support the North Easterner because I know he can do it, because I know he is an excellent material, because I know he is competent and can take us out of the woods, not primarily because he is a North Easterner. After all, it is fate that conspired to bring him out of there. I would still have gone for him were he from the South, East or West, Muslim or Christian.

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