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Electoral Act: National Assembly members should bury their heads in shame over section 84(12) , says Sule Lamido

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By John Akubo

Former Governor of Jigawa State Sule Lamido in this interview with JOHN AKUBO spoke on the recent electoral act that was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, blaming lawmakers and their selfish interests for bringing in section 84(12), which Buhari asked them to delete. He also spoke on the issue of zoning, which he said was a creation of PDP in 1999 to heal the wounds of June12, 1993 election.

Buhari asked the National Assembly to delete completely section 84(12), which he said is in conflict with the Constitution, barely a week after he signed the Electoral Act 2022 into law. What’s your reaction to the drama?
Historically, since our days in the National Assembly, way back in 1979, there has been this contest between the National Assembly members and governors, even though members get elected through the influence of their governors, by the time they converge at the National Assembly they begin to find power in their associations and groups as an institution and begin to see how they can best promote their interests rather than making the right laws to govern Nigeria in the most effective way. They begin to bring in their interests and begin to use their positions in the National Assembly to address issues, which don’t assure them of their security.

This is not the first Assembly to do that; tussle for power, influence between legislators and the executive seems to be an old one.
But then there should be something called maturity, character; there should be a moral benchmark because there are some things you don’t do because they are too obvious, you know people see through you.

In any case no matter what you do as a legislator, no matter what you put down as a law, by the time the Assembly runs out or expires you will go back to your state, your constituency and to your governor. All the noise you made to preserve yourself, when you return home they don’t matter. It is in the character of the National Assembly or legislature to attempt to use the authority of their office to promote their interest; that is normal but what we are saying is, it should be done with some degree of caution.

So, coming to what they did, you see, you cannot imagine somebody like Lawan, who has been there for so many years, since the beginning of this democracy in1999, from the House of Representatives up to the Senate, for 23 years to be superintending over something done against the Nigerian Constitution. The Constitution and what they call the civil service code for officers is very clear, how you retire, how you live and all that. Whatever they make of the law for their own interests, by the time the law is passed and signed by the President, that thing they put will not retain them in office. At the end of the day they are going back to their constituencies to meet the governors whom they have been fighting.

So, for me it is better to do the right thing. By so doing, you preserve the authority of the institution for the purposes of making good laws for Nigeria. That is very important. Because it is not the law they passed that brought them to that house; there were others who had been there before the present lawmakers. No matter what they do while they hold, sway in terms of putting a law to protect their interest, most of them wouldn’t come back. Anybody who dares to confront a governor by engaging in power contest simply because they are in the National Assembly, by the time they are through with their tenure they are going back.

I think the President is right. It is Buhari who is telling them their law is defective, in contrast with the Nigerian Constitution. I just can’t believe that, it is laughable and very embarrassing. Most of them are old civil servants, professors and lawyers. This is because they have been blinded by their ambition and they begin to address issues which are even illegal and against the Constitution. I see what they have done as a huge embarrassment to their individual personalities and to the institution of lawmaking because you can see their desperation to cling to power.

Don’t you think it is undemocratic for about 2000 appointees of a governor to participate in a primary or convention, when they’re likely to vote for the governor’s interest?
What I am saying is, you don’t make a law with something personal in mind or having any person in mind. Don’t make a law because you are APC and therefore you must support Buhari; neither should you make a law to attain your personal interest. Laws should be made as a process of doing good for the country and for good governance. Laws should be able to serve the Nigerian people; it should serve Nigeria’s interest, our collectivity not individuals’. So you don’t make a law with something in mind.

Now that Buhari has assented to the amended Electoral Act, what is the hope for a reformed electoral system; is this going to give Nigeria the desired democracy?
Nobody gives you democracy; you give it to yourself. Nigerians must stand up and fight for their rights so that by the time those who are trying to venture into using their position see that it cannot be tolerated, they will shape up. It’s not about Buhari giving to Nigerians any credible election. It is not for him to give, it is for Nigerians to stand up and say, we will stand for our democracy and enforce our rights. So, it is about time people begin to stand up and fight, not relying on anybody or one big man to work for them. Nobody will give them democracy on a platter of gold. They must fight for it; make sacrifices.
Recently when Sokoto Governor visited to consult with you on his Presidential ambition, you were reported to have said you are leaving the space for the younger generation, how true is that?

No, I said we have been forced to leave the space; we have been forced, because the vogue now is for the Nigerian press to say it is now time for the younger generation. So we have been effectively shut out.

What will you then say of older persons seeking to be elected in 2023 like Atiku and Tinubu?
What I am saying is this, you see they have rights under our Constitution, and nobody should put any age limit at which you can aspire or not aspire for any office in Nigeria. It is the Nigerian people who are now harassing us the older generation, trying to drive us to our graves even though we have the wisdom; we have the expertise and experience. We have what Nigeria can tap from, but they said they don’t want it. There are a number of things we can offer but you don’t want them. So I am not desperate, I am only volunteering to offer myself for service, to serve you. If you say you don’t want it, so be it. I am not desperate.

When it comes to the issue of zoning, the PDP seems not to be saying the same thing as the APC. Does the Federal Character principle apply to zoning of political office?
You see, let’s be honest with ourselves and learn to be responsible. To attain a particular interest, you don’t need to go into extreme interpretations. Federal character is about employment, to be able to satisfy the Nigerian chemistry

Political parties have their procedure by which they elect their own leaders and their own members. The issue of zoning has a very clear history, it seems they have forgotten. Zoning was deployed and used in 1999 to address a huge political injury caused by June 12 and June 12 was not the making of the Nigerian civilians. In 1992 all Civilians were on one side and the military on another so the Military government created the problem not the Nigerian civilians.

Fair enough, we agreed to do zoning to heal the wound at that time and those who felt aggrieved we pacified them on our own volition as civilian people from our political parties. What of today? The scenario is different; the agitation today is caused by lack of good governance. If Buhari had succeeded in healing the country politically and economically, nobody will talk about zoning. So the scenarios and the situations are different.

Zoning ab initio was a phenomenon, PDP’s philosophy of addressing a very serious national injury, that was what we did. Today the injury is caused by the APC government. The distrust, hatred, poverty and what have you, are caused by APC government. Why should the failure of APC be foisted on Nigerians. It is for APC. The PDP sat down as a family, because we believe in each other, we trust each other, sat down and put forth a very strong political platform.

For the PDP what is the focus regarding 2023?
The beginning is for us to remember we were in power for 16 years, we know the history of Nigeria, we know our sacrifices and the efforts we made. But a party called APC, which was a contraption of various political formations, which was not organic, which had no political history and no particular philosophy beyond grabbing power came on board.

PDP in 1999 had a vision for Nigeria coming out from a very difficult history. APC came on board to grab power to blackmail that vision of PDP.

Before you talk of 2023 and beyond, first of all you have to remember, that PDP has got history, which is a Nigerian History. PDP was a political party for Nigerians. That is what we want first, a strong platform, a very strong one.

When the platform is very strong then you can put on it any political weight it will carry it. But when the platform is very weak and unorganized, divided, it will crumble under any political weight. So when the party is properly put together like the PDP, it will work for Nigeria not for any particular zone or region. That is when we can come and deliberate on how to put a candidate, the best person who will serve the Nigerian interest in office, it doesn’t matter where he or she comes from. It could be anybody, it could be a Southerner, a Northerner, a Christian or a Muslim or even those who worship Sango. Because by the time he is elected, and the process owns him, he is there for Nigeria.

What is your word for Nigeria as the race for 2023 begins?
My appeal is, let us for the first time, reflect to see where we are coming from? Where are we now? Where are we headed? Look at the rest of the world and their levels of attainment in terms of human development and then see how we can put Nigeria first and subdue our interests. Nigeria has done so much for us, it has been there for us let us for once be there for Nigeria whether APC or PDP. Let the country lead first. When the country is leading we unite around it but when you leave the country behind you, you are running alone and it will be really tiring. Look at our debt profile as a country and look at the individual Nigerians, you can see poverty in the people. So there is frustration and tension.

Culled from the Guardian

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Politics

More troube for Abure as aggrieved LP candidates demand prosecution

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***Insist he forged their purported withdrawal letters to substitute them

There seem to be no respite yet for the embattled Labour Party (LP) national chairman as two governorship candidates and a House of Representatives candidate of the party in the 2023 General election have called for his prosecution having allegedly established forgery allegation against him
The aggrieved candidates; LP governorship candidates for Ebonyi State and Plateau States, Eze Oko Splendour and chief Yohana Yilpwan Margif respectively and the House of Representatives Candidate for Edo Orhionmwon/ Uhunmwode Federal constituency Imasuen Paul Murphy said they have established the forgery allegations through Police investigation for which Abure was detained.

Each of the candidates at a joint press conference in Abuja on Wednesday narrated their ordeals stating how they were fraududlently substituted with their forged Signatures, documents, Withdrawal Letters submitted to INEC.
They highlighted others other illegal acts of Abure to include their Unlawful Substitution of LP Candidates submitted to INEC, Fake & Forged Sworn Affidavits of FCT High Court Receipts, Seals and Oaths.
They also accused Abure of collecting N30m as bribe from each of their alleged substitutes.

Comrade Splendour said he won the LP primary for Ebonyi state but what should have been a straight forward democratic process was marred by criminality, deceit, and manipulations orchestrated by the party’s national chairman.

“Despite numerous attempts by Abure to evade accountability, the diligent efforts of law enforcement officials led to his eventual apprehension.
“However, the investigation was not without its Significant challenges as the former Chairman consistently attempted to obstruct justice and evade arrest through corrupt and deceitful means after months of rigorous information gathering, cross examinations and forensic analysis, the police investigation conclusively determined that Mr. “Abure criminally forged my signature to perpetrate his illegal scheme.

“Throughout the investigation process, I cooperated fully with law enforcement authorities, providing them with all necessary evidence

to substantiate my claims of forgery and electoral malpractice.
“Despite
the complexities and obstacles encountered along the way, the FCID remained steadfast in their pursuit of justice, ultimately recommending the prosecution of Abure for his criminal actions.
“The case file has since been forwarded to Federal Ministry of Justice for charges to be instituted but up until now, there has been no movement on the matter.
“This has begun to agitate my mind as the perception is that the former Chairman can get away with brazen and unbridled criminality which has further emboidened him to become
even more reckless, believing that he is a “sacred cow”.

“Having received the case file and recommendations from the FCID, I am hereby appealing most passionately to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to ensure justice is served. The events described herein underscore the critical importance of upholding the rule of law and ensuring accountability within our democratic institutions.
“Those who seek to subvert the electoral process and undermine the integrity of our democracy must be held accountable for their actions.
“The prosecution of Abure is not only a matter of justice but also reaffirmation of our commitment to the principles of transparency,
fairness and accountability in governance.
“As the Chief law officer of the federation, a renowned staunch
advocate for the rule of law and a firm believer in the principles of
democracy, you have a sacred duty to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour.

“The police recommendation for criminal charges against the Chairman and others, must be treated with the urgency and diligence it deserves.
“We must send a strong message that our democracy cannot flourish where internal party processes are corrupted and electoral integrity is recklessly subverted.
“I kindly implore you to use your highly esteemed office to ensure that charges are filed against Mr. Abure and others without further delay.

Chief Margif said, ”

“I passed through the primaries successfully, the primary was witnessed by INEC, I scaled through as the flag bearer, I was given certificate of return by Julius Abure to run the race but after one month while I was doing campaign there was a planned arrest by police, I was taken to police custody only to hear that there is another primary going on the 5th of August purporting that I have withdrawn from the race.

“The letter of withdrawal was forged which they submitted 5th August 2022, Knowing very well I was in detention on 5th How can I sign withdrawal letter while in detention.
According to Murphy, “I did not at any time wrote a withdrawal letter nor deposed to any affidavit to that effect, this further made my lawyer to equally write a letter to the Federal High Court Abuja to confirm the authenticity of the affidavit
“Again the Court replied that the affidavit was never deposed to in that court, which means that they forged my signature, Court affidavit, court revenue receipt and some other documents, which prompted my petition to IGP to investigate this criminal act by the national chairman, Secretary and some other LP officials that may be involved in this criminal

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Edo PDP chieftain tackles Bauchi Governor over claim of rancor free PDP primary

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Gov Bala Muhammed
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A prominent chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from Edo North, Joseph Ado, has called out the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Governor Bala Mohammed over claim that the PDP Congress held two weeks ago in Edo was rancour free

Ado who reacted through a statement issued on Tuesday said he finds it disheartening that Gov Bala Mohammed would make such a statement, considering that the Congress was previously condemned by the Senator Seriake Dickson panel of enquiry as flawed and one-sided.

“It is perplexing to Mr. Ado how Governor Bala Mohammed can overlook such glaring evidence and assert that there was no rancour during the Congress.

“In Mr. Ado’s view, a true leader ought to stand by the truth and not be partisan, even when trying to show solidarity with fellow governors. He firmly believes that the paramount concern should be the unity of the party. By disregarding the valid concerns raised by nine out of ten aspirants who participated in the Congress and vehemently condemned its flawed nature, Gov Bala Mohammed is failing in his role as a leader within the party.

Furthermore, Mr. Ado also expresses his doubts regarding Governor Bala Mohammed’s potential Presidential ambition. He expressed the believe that by supporting such a flawed Congress, Gov Mohammed has demonstrated his inability to gather the necessary support for his Presidential ambitions.
Ado firmly asserts that relying on the backing of Governor Godwin Obaseki will prove to be futile.
As a dedicated member of the PDP and a stakeholder in the Edo North region, Mr. Ado called on Governor Mohammed and other party leaders to prioritize the party’s unity above personal ambitions and affiliations.
“The PDP must foster an atmosphere that is fair, transparent, and inclusive in order to strengthen its position ahead of upcoming political challenges.

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Don’t allow growing anger, discontent to reach volatile point, Lamido tells Tinubu

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Sule Lamido
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A former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido has tasked the All Progressives Congress( APC) led administration of President Bola Tinubu not to allow the growing anger and discontent to reach point of violence

He asked the President to take preventive measures against the general discontent in the country arising from poverty, high cost of living and the insecurity currently bedevilling the nation to avert an impending disaster.

Thousands of citizens in Minna, the Niger State capital, had taken to the streets in protest against what they described as severe hunger and escalating cost of living in the country.

There were similar protests in Kano, Plateau and Kogi States.

Lamido who was a foreign Affairs minister under former President Olusegun Obasanjo on his verified Facebook wall wrote using two analogies by two famous persons to capture the near disaster awaiting to happen if Nigerian government does not take an immediate preemptive measure

“The first of the two famous people is Fidel Castro. He narrated a story of a rich man on a holiday in his luxurious yatch. While indulging in the upper deck of yacht with all the comfort money can buy, his workers were groaning in the heat of the engine room. 

“The commotion coming from the engine room arising from the unbearable heat started shaking the yacht violently! It was a signal to the rich man and his friends in the upper deck to either respond to the commotion from the engine room or risk the yatch overturn.

“The other famous man is our very own Bishop Kukah. During the the era of our blessed PDP, there were cries of hardship arising from the increase of the pump price of fuel and the then serious insecurity from Boko Haram culminating in the abduction of Chibok girls in Yobe State. 

“There was general outcry all over the country from the then opposition APC, organizing protests  against the PDP government. I vividly recall when Buhari, Tinubu, Bisi and other big wigs of the APC poured out and filled the streets of Abuja chanting and condemning our government for allegedly failing to secure Nigeria and unleashing hardship on the citizens!

“That was when my good friend Bishop Kukah presented his paper allertig of the impending danger should the  government fail to take urgent action! 

“He gave as an analogy of the American coal mining in the 18th century by taking a canary in a cage into the mining pit. The canary according Bishop Kukah has a very weak respiratory system and can easily suffocate in low oxygen area. 

“Deep in the mining pit when the oxygen is getting exhausted, the canary will begin to shiver and the miner gets the message and quickly scrambles out of the pit. That was the miner’s ‘early warning system’!

“In Nigeria today, the hardship is so unbearable that tell tails of ‘early warnings’ are manifesting all over the country. In Lagos and Minna women are demonstrating over the high cost of living. 

‘Women in Plateau State are demonstrating on the cost of their favorite local brew called ‘burkutu’ now selling for 3 Naira a cup which they drink to drown their hardship and sorrow thereby getting temporary relief. Above all there is hunger everywhere and people are starving!
According to him, the two analogies quoted above and and the manifestation of the seeming tension arising from these local protests and demonstrations and the likely spread of these nation wide is enough to make the government take urgent action!

“It must not be allowed to reach a combustion point.”

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