Poor turnout of lawmakers has stalled the screening of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, at Thursday’s plenary session.
The Senate made this known after it cancelled the screening of Magu which was initial scheduled for Thursday.
The EFCC boss and other member nominees of the commission had earlier turned up at the beginning of plenary for the screening, but had to leave when it appeared that the screening exercise was not going to hold.
Briefing journalists after plenary, Senate deputy majority leader, Bala Ibn Na’allah, confirmed that the senate could not attend to the screening, because of the poor attendance of lawmakers.
However Na’allah stated that Magu has officially been informed of the decision of the senate to reschedule the screening for next Thursday.
...arrests 244 suspects
The initiative of Dangote Group in sanitizing activities of its drivers engaged in illegal haulage has continued to yield results as its National Patrol Unit has over a period of time, arrested 244 suspects for various offences inimical to operations of the company.
Còordinator of the unit, CP Magaji Abdullahi (Rtd), gave the indication at a press briefing on Tuesday, at Dangote Cement Factory in Obajana, Kogi state.
He said out of the number, 109 have been convicted and jailed while others are being remanded in prison custody for tarnishing image of the company, among them a kingpin, Samaila YAKUBU believed to be leader of the syndicate that specialized in stealing DANGOTE Group trucks in connivance with drivers.
Samaila, notorious for terrorising company trucks along South east and South south axis was former staff of Dangote Cement Transport Operations Ibese before he was dismissed, and impersonating as Recovery Officer of Dangote Group thereafter.
Abduĺahi said the unit recovered 5 stolen trucks following directives by president/CEO of DANGOTE Group, Aliko Dangote to curtail rampant cases of theft of company products, properties and trucks.
The unit also observed incessant reports of missing tyres and spareparts by drivers and took necessary measures including census of such items while the trucks were being dispatched and checking the items of all the fleet on the return trip.
Abdullah called attention of the public and those who buy used tyres to the type of truck tyres of DANGOTE Group, which he said showcases DO and DI inscriptions followed by some figures and should not be patronized.
The coordinator called on security agents to support DANGOTE Group's effort by arresting those who break laws of the company such as reckless drivers, drivers who diverted from approved routes and those unauthorised persons who drove Dangote trucks.
The unit was established in August, 2016 to monitor DANGOTE drivers, reduce incidence of accidents by the fleet and protect road users.
In The Spotlight
It was a promise made, and indeed a promise kept, as the Super Falcons of Nigeria, last Saturday, retained their crown as Africa Women Cup of Nation (AWCON) champions, defeating host nation Cameroon 1-0, before a capacity 40,000-crowd at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé. An 84th-minute goal by Desire Okparanozie was all the Falcons needed to send millions of Cameroonians early to bed, and for Nigeria to retain the trophy they won two years ago in Namibia, when they beat the same Indomitable Lionesses 2-0. Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala also won the golden boot as the highest goal scorer of the tournament. With this victory, the Falcons have now won eight of the ten titles since the beginning of the tournament.The victorious Falcons deserve all the encomiums they are getting as they have brought back the spirit of national pride amongst Nigerians who are always united in sports; and returned smiles to the faces of millions of exasperated citizens yearning for socio-economic succor. This is a time to be proudly identified as a Nigerian in and outside the country. With this Christmas gift to the nation, hope beckons of a brighter future for Nigerian football.
Ordinarily, participation at any sporting event is pride but winning is the ultimate. Therefore, the new dawn exemplified by the Falcons should not be frittered away. Their latest unprecedented triumph is a testimony of the potential of the country for greatness, if resources are well harnessed. Theirs was a typical example of the tested Nigerian resilience to excel against odds. They also vindicate the fact that a good preparation can always produce a good result. The girls should be closely monitored with a view to preserving them for more glory at the global level in women football, notably the FIFA women football world cup, where the Falcons are yet to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
The Falcons were eliminated at the first round during the 2015 FIFA women world cup in Canada, after losing to little-fancied Australia and finishing bottom of group D behind Sweden, Australia and eventual champions, the United States. Aside the contemporary systemic rot in football management in the country, and government’s lack of focus, the core part of the Falcons team including Oshoala and Okparanozie who were part of the 2015 World Cup team are invaluable assets that should be nurtured for the next FIFA women world cup.
Before Saturday’s final, the Nigerian girls had vowed to avenge the home defeat the Super Eagles suffered in the hands of the Cameroonians in Lagos 16 years ago, when Nigeria co-hosted the AFCON with Ghana in 2000. An elated Coach of the Super Falcons, Florence Omagbemi, who won the AWCON title, as a player and now, as a coach, said she gave kudos to the girls for making the nation proud. “I am indeed proud of the team for fulfilling their promise of defending their title, which they did. But I must also commend the Cameroonians for giving us a good fight. I am excited because I have become the second African to win the AWCON titles both as a player and now as a coach. Former Super Falcons Striker, Uche Eucharia, who led the senior female national team to South Africa 2010, was the first person. It is indeed an honor to be part of this great team,” she stated.
The soul-lifting performance of the Falcons was, however, in spite of the pervasive instability in the country’s football management, marked by inept and corrupt leadership. Winning the trophy on eight occasions confers on the Falcons the most successful in AWCON history - a no mean feat. In essence, the exemplary conduct and commitment, resilience and unity of purpose displayed throughout the tournament by both the players and officials in the country’s colors have lifted Nigeria’s image again. The lesson is clear: no less is expected of anyone, no matter the status, who is desirous of representing this country. This applies particularly to leadership positions. Coach Florence Omagbemi has served her country well and deserves respect. Her team has shown the way for the men’s national team, the Super Eagles, in the search for the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
The Super Eagles are currently topping Group B featuring Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia with six points after two matches and must maintain their guard throughout the 2018 world cup qualifiers. Although the Falcons were the defending champions, there were virtually outplayed by the Cameroonians in the first half but they never lost concentration and held their ground until their breakthrough came at the 84th minute. The Eagles are highly favored to beat Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia to the ticket but if they drop their guard even as the competition is still on, they may end up with disappointment. The qualifiers are not a sprint. It is a marathon and only those who concentrate and endure to the end would win the race. Even as they are soaring, they must remain focused until the final group match is played.
Football means a lot to Nigerians and they are thirsty for more honors as well as the national pride that comes with it. Nigerians and the global football community have had enough embarrassment from the Super Eagles not qualifying for African Cup of Nations. The Falcons will be returning to the Presidential Villa in Abuja, where President Buhari is waiting to receive the cup. The federal government will do well to honor the Falcons and reigning African women football champions as worthy sports ambassadors of Nigeria and the pride of the Giant of Africa.
In The Spotlight
The recent Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states threw up a number of issues about the politics of succession in Nigeria. In Edo state, you would think it was the then incumbent Governor Adams Oshiomhole seeking re-election. He campaigned more than the candidate. He danced, waved the broom, his party’s symbol, far more enthusiastically than the man who wanted the office. He even did more to put down the opposition and any likely threat to Godwin Obaseki’s ambition. His pretty wife was always in tow during the campaigns, and did she dance? Oh yes, she did too. Godwin Obaseki’s emergence as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in that election caused much disaffection within the party. He was said to be Oshiomhole’s anointed candidate with the allegation that everything was being done to ensure his victory at the polls. Oshiomhole had his way. Obaseki is now Governor of Edo State.
The incumbent Governor in Ondo State also did as much if not more to manage the politics of succession in the just concluded Governorship election in that state. He anointed the candidate of his party, followed him everywhere, and “fought” for him, even in the courts and on the streets of Akure. The election was more about Dr Olusegun Mimiko and what he wanted. The situation was not helped by the fact that Mimiko’s choice, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN hails from the same Senatorial district with him, but by far the biggest problem was the division within the PDP, which produced two candidates on the same platform for the same election, with the courts having to decide mid-way and at the late hour, with a superior court overruling the lower court. This confusion created a scenario whereby Jimoh Ibrahim emerged for a while as the party’s candidate, only to be dismissed through a court order two days to the election.
This did not bother the businessman-lawyer-politician, though. Giving the impression that he was not so desperate to be Governor, he declared that his mission was to make it impossible for Mimiko to achieve his goal of installing an anointed successor. On the eve of the election, he urged his supporters and the people of the state to vote for the candidate of the APC. Under normal circumstances this would be considered an anti-party activity but the PDP is right now in such a confused state as a political party - its ranks are filled with disloyal, one-leg-in-one-leg-out members. For this reason, in Ondo state, the PDP defeated itself from within even before the election. Mimiko can also be held responsible for his chosen candidate’s defeat. He overplayed his hands in the febrile politics of succession in the state.
There is perhaps nothing new about incumbents, at state, local and national levels, showing interest in who succeeds them. Being politicians, they could plead that they are duty bound to support their party’s candidate, but where the problem lies is the desperation that attends the choice of such candidates, beginning with the party primary. In the United States, which is an example that can be readily cited, President Barrack Obama openly supported the candidacy of the Democratic Party standard bearer, Hillary Clinton, but he did so only after she had won the nomination. If Bernie Sanders had been the party’s choice, he would still have received President Obama’s support out of loyalty to the party. In other words, it would be difficult to speak of an incumbent American President or Governor anointing a successor and imposing that successor on the party and the electorate.
This unacceptable abbreviation of democratic choice and of democracy itself occurs routinely in Nigeria. Once upon a time in this country, an incumbent President boasted that he did not know who his successor would be, which was fine, but what was not fine was his simultaneous declaration that he was very certain about those who would not be allowed to succeed him. The same President eventually chose his own successor. In Ekiti state, following the election in Ondo state, Governor Ayo Fayose has been quoted saying what has happened to Mimiko cannot happen to him in 2018: he is so sure he would determine his own succession fortunes. And if he could be so confident, where does that leave the democratic process? Truth is: the average Nigerian politician’s faith in democracy is dishonest. He believes the people can be bought. The people themselves are very good at complaining but they seem more committed to election-day monetary inducement than their own rights. Whatever gains may have been recorded in terms of electoral integrity and civic power is sadly being eroded by poverty.
When incumbent executive political office holders insist on anointing their own successors in Nigeria, they can hide under three justifications. The first is that they have a legacy to protect, and that they have an idea who the right person is to protect that legacy. But this is absolutely wrong. It is not the duty of the incumbent to protect his or her own legacy, except through literature. If the legacy is strong enough, it should endure within the system. The end-and-start-again profile of Nigeria’s succession politics owes in part to the weakness of institutions. Our civil bureaucracy is one of the worst in the world. It is driven not by memory or best practices but eye service. Legacies also do not seem to endure because of the endurance of the politics of hate. When a new Governor assumes office, his first priority is to make his predecessor look bad. That is standard Nigerian practice. But the incumbent trying to prevent this possibility by anointing a successor has not helped either. In Lagos, Anambra, Cross River, Akwa Ibom Adamawa, Zamfara and Kano, we have seen how anointed successors eventually turned against their Godfathers. The best answer to the legacy issue is for every incumbent to perform so well while in office that certain things would be so obvious that they cannot be erased.
The second justification is that as the leader of the ruling party in the state, or in the country, the incumbent must protect his political relevance by having a say over what happens when he leaves office. The interpretation is that the Nigerian politician is very egoistic. Give him Executive powers and he begins to appropriate the kind of divine powers with which kings used to oppress the people. He is surrounded by sycophants who disorient him daily, with long lists of enemies from whom he needs to protect himself, in and out of office. He gets lured into a trap, he is overtaken by paranoia, and he makes mistakes thinking he can exercise proprietorial rights over the democratic process. Many have been disappointed. There is no point mentioning names from 1999 to date.
The third justification is that everything must be done to prevent the opposition from seizing power. Opposition politics in Nigeria is hoisted on a platform of enmity, including the fear of probes, even if no former Governor or President has been successfully probed or jailed by any successor since 1999. When our politicians are in the same party, they relate as friends, when they are in opposite parties, they relate as enemies, particularly if the parties involved are influential and capable of winning. Most of the people in the APC today who are branding the PDP as evil made their name as politicians inside the PDP. Jumping from one party to the other and switching colour and emotions like the chameleon means absolutely nothing to the Nigerian politician; their morality is majorly that of a professional prostitute. It is never about what the people want. And so, preventing the opposition is an empty excuse because the same Godfather who is imposing an anointed candidate today could join another party tomorrow, and the anointed could also head in another direction or adopt another Godfather. This is a perfect illustration of how devoid of character and principles Nigerian politics is.
What is left then? What is left is the more compelling argument that the reason Nigerian political incumbents are so desperate to anoint successors is because they are afraid of their own shadows. They want to cover their misdeeds, so they struggle to rule by proxy. They want to remain relevant, and continue to have access to state resources, patronage and privileges. They want to play God. They have secrets they want to hide. The politics of succession in Nigerian politics thus constructed has never worked. Its architects and promoters have been disappointed in many cases more than once. The landscape is littered with tales of treachery. Some Godfathers were so badly treated by their anointed successors they could no longer visit their states for four years at least. There are some ex-Governors who thought they got the best man to succeed them whose only reward has been abuse and neglect.
The lesson not learnt is that being a Godfather has at most, short-term benefits. Incumbents often underrate one thing: that the successor will also acquire his own ego. New influencers are bound to surround the new incumbent and they will advise him to assert his independence and not to be anybody’s “boy-boy”. Even when the anointed successor swears to an oath, as often happens, it doesn’t take long before one of these Pastors goes to him, offers to cancel the oath and anoint him as the new Spiritual Leader of the state! Have you ever heard of any politician who died because he swore to an oath with a Godfather?
The way we recruit Governors these days is bad. The lesson for every incumbent is to get things right. Nigerian democracy is still at the level of the visual and the personal. It is trapped at the level of needs. The people appreciate and remember what they see and what touches them directly. That is why on election day, or the night before, when they are given the “Naira sandwich”, their political mind immediately focuses on how at that particular moment a particular party or candidate has met their needs. The challenge of Nigerian democracy remains how to free the people from this base level, and confront them with more significant and indelible achievements that they can see, feel and touch, and which the politics of succession or hate can neither destroy nor traduce. If anyone understood this very well, Awolowo did, Ahmadu Bello did, Michael Opara did, Sam Mbakwe did, Obasanjo did, Jakande did, Onabanjo did, Ajasin did…we’d talk about more contemporary examples some other day.
By Reuben Abati