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Nobody can Islamise Nigeria, says Osinbajo


Nobody can Islamise Nigeria, says Osinbajo

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo



Eric Dumo

The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said that it was impossible for anyone to Islamise Nigeria, as claimed by Christian interests.

Osinbajo, who was speaking in Lagos on Friday during the Greater Nigeria Pastors Conference convened by Apostle Wale Adefarasin and Rev. Abayomi Kasali, explained that the recent uproar over the country’s subscription to Sukuk Bonds was not justified.

The Federal Government’s N100bn Sukuk (Islamic bond), which it plans to use for road construction, became a target of criticism by some Christian leaders in the country, who believed the government was committing the country to an Islamic financial hold.



Osinbajo said, “Part of the problem is the failure of Christian leadership to take its rightful place. We focus our minds on something we call the Islamic agenda. We look for it everywhere as if we are looking for demons.

“But where is the Christian agenda. Are we not entitled to one? We are too divided as Christians to have an agenda. The key to the unity and progress of Nigeria is in the church.”

According to him, there were no plans to Islamise Nigeria through the Sukuk bond or the country’s membership of the Islamic Development Bank.

He said that apart from Nigeria, many nations of the world including the United States of America and the United Kingdom had also embraced the system as a result of its progressive nature.

He said, “The Sukuk is an Islamic concept, which enables people to have access to credit. It is essentially like a bond. The US, UK, China, South Africa have all used the Sukuk. Once there is money in the market, let us not get sentimental. The most important thing is for us to use those monies well.

“Some people say there are some hidden things in this arrangement and that one day somebody is going to take us over. Where? How will that happen? These are straightforward financial systems used all over the world. I don’t think it presents any real problem. It is a very progressive financial system.

“Nigeria became a member of the Islamic Development Bank in 2005 and the first person to sit as director of the bank was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The second person to sit as a director is the current Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, and both of them are Christians. So, when people talk about Islamic agenda, sometimes I am lost.

“The person who brought us into the bank is not a Fulani or Northerner, the person was a Christian, so why are we complaining? Nigeria is the fourth largest shareholder in the Islamic Bank. This wasn’t Buhari’s making. We must have facts before saying things. But above all, we must ask ourselves if being a member of the bank profits us or not.

“For me, I have no problem with this. We can use what we get there to develop our society. This is the most important for me.”

Osinbajo also spoke on the case of a former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, who was discovered to have been reinstated in the Federal Civil Service, after he had earlier fled the country in 2013 after corruption charges were brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The vice president said the country’s system made it possible for criminals to go undetected.

He said, “If you look at our present federal structure, it is designed in such a way that you may be able to hide somewhere for a day or two before you are found. Otherwise, how do you explain a situation where a fugitive suddenly appears and finds his way back into the system? How did he get there?

“What Buhari did immediately he heard about the matter was to query how it happened and ordered his disengagement, which is the right thing to do. As for what will happen, we may have to wait and see.”

Osinbajo accused the country’s elite of working against the progress of the country.

While calling on citizens to support the current administration in its fight against corruption, the vice president said that Nigeria was at the threshold of history and would soon fulfil its full potential.

He said, “We must deal with corruption decisively. It is created by leadership elite that includes not just politicians but also religious leaders and people in the private sector. We must also deal with tribalism, religion and other parochial tendencies. It is difficult to find national leaders today. Many Nigerians speak from a tribal perspective.

“There is no nation on the face of the earth that would survive under the weight of corruption that our country had gone through. Nigeria’s elite, regardless of political, religious or ethnic differences, think alike. They are driven largely by the same motive.

“They are selfish, unprepared to make the sacrifices either in service or self-restraint that leaders of successive societies make. High-level corruption knows no religion, ethnicity or other considerations.

“Corrupt elements in our society are united; they fight for each other and are prepared to go down together. They are actually one tribe, indivisible despite their diversity.

“We have to address the issue of corruption pointedly. The system is corrupt. Corruption is generally the rule in our society. This is a time to build. We can become Africa’s most productive nation in the very near future.”


Source : The Punch 

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Visiting my daughter in Aso Villa is like going to jail –Soyode, father of Vice-President’s wife

Visiting my daughter in Aso Villa is like going to jail –Soyode, father of Vice-President’s wife

Adeola Balogun and Tunde Ajaja

The father of the wife of the Vice-President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, Elder Olutayo Soyode, says in spite of his daughter’s position and the exalted office of her husband, he dreads going to Aso Rock for a visit. He said going to the villa was like going to jail, given the way his movement would be monitored and he would need to sign various forms before he could go out, for security reasons.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, the 74-year-old said he loved to be free and he wasn’t the type to sit in one place and be watching television under heavy security.

Soyode, who was a close associate and son-in-law to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, explained that it was the will of God that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo rose from being a university lecturer to become the Vice-President, and that all her daughter wanted to be was a confectioner despite being a qualified lawyer.

He recalled that by the time his late wife, (Dolapo’s mother) was delivered of Dolapo in the United Kingdom where they met, he was believing God to have a male child, as it was customary in his family to have a male as their first child. However, he said if she had been a male, he might not be as close to her as they are today.

When asked how often he visits the villa to see his daughter’s family, he said, “I don’t go there often. Going there is like going to jail, as far as I’m concerned. It’s like locking me up. The way you see me, do I look like someone that can be kept in one place and before I could go out, I have to sign papers and there would be plenty phone calls? I would just run mad, because I’m not used to such.

“I’m a free man. That place (Aso Rock), is a very good place but I’m not the type to live there, so I don’t go there often. Anytime I go, I do give them time, like telling them I was coming for two days. I don’t even live with them. Let us say we are in Abuja now, you possibly can’t visit me for this interview. They won’t allow you to come in, and if you have to, you would have to sign different papers.

“If I go there, I would be there alone, watching television. I can’t do that. I would rather stay where they can visit me and anybody can see me.”

In the interview, Soyode also spoke about his relationship with the late Chief MKO Abiola, the trick he deployed to get late Chief Awolowo to allow him marry his daughter, and what had changed about him as the father of the wife of the Vice-President, among other issues.

Read the full interview bellow:

In this interview with ADEOLA BALOGUN and TUNDE AJAJA, the father of the wife of Nigeria’s Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, Elder Olutayo Soyode, speaks on life as a son-in-law to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, her daughter, what he knew about late Chief MKO Abiola’s travails among other issues

How does it feel to be the father of the wife of the Vice President?

I don’t have any special feeling because I have been in politics for a long time. Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was my father-in-law, who is the President Nigeria never had, as far as I’m concerned. I was by his side and I worked with him full time. I have been in the limelight for a long time and so all these are just icing on the cake.

How did you meet your wife, Chief Awolowo’s daughter?

I met her in London where we were both studying and we fell in love. It was basically about students meeting each other in the UK during studies. I felt that before Chief Awolowo would say his daughter must not marry me, I needed to adopt what we used to call two-in-one, meaning marriage and pregnancy, so that by the time he would know, his daughter would have been pregnant and stopping us from getting married would be difficult. You know in that atmosphere, people tend to be more reckless. So, I did the two-in-one and both of us had to tell our parents what happened. When I told my father, he screamed, saying I had put him in trouble. When she told her mother, I didn’t know how she too screamed, but I remember one afternoon, at about 2:30pm, a call came in from Lagos. When I picked it, the person said, ‘is that Tayo Soyode?’ I said yes. The person said ‘this is Obafemi Awolowo.’ I started trembling and knelt down, till the phone almost fell in my hand. I had to put the phone down. I couldn’t pick his call again. Later, my dad called and instructed me to pick his call. About one hour later, Chief Awolowo called back and I picked. He said he had met my father and my people in Lagos.

Let me quote him. He said, ‘what I have done is that, you’re going to do certain arrangements. I have made sure that your marriage is going to hold on March 27, 1967.’ He made that call around January. He said he had booked the flight for us to come home because we had to do engagement and other things. Immediately, I dropped the call, I told my father and he told me he would give me money because he wouldn’t like the whole family to be disgraced. I made a lot of money that period; Chief Awolowo would send me money, I would tell my father and he would still send me money, and my dad would always say even if he had to sell his house he would, so he could send me money too. I didn’t return the money (laughs).

You must have expected Chief Awolowo to scold you when he first called, but he called you to give you a date. Would you know what appealed to him?

People say things that they don’t know about Awolowo. He was very humane; he could understand the situation then. After he made some findings, he found out that this man too had a perfect family and he was not just an upstart. He was educated like the daughter, so no problem. The man just adjusted. If he had not adjusted to me, papa would not ask me to come and be in politics with him. He had a son, he had people around him. Why me? He decided to do so and I found it comfortable working with Papa and his wife. He knew that I would do well and he didn’t regret it.

Looking at Chief Awolowo’s clout, how conservative was the wedding?

We came back to Lagos and we had a good wedding. My wife had 90 bridesmaids. The whole of Ibadan was closed for us. Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo was the governor (of the now defunct Western Region) at that time. It was a glorious wedding. And Wole (Awolowo’s late son) was the one who took his sister to the altar, Papa did not do that. An elderly father could tell the son to do it. Tokunbo (Awolowo’s youngest daughter) was the chief bridesmaid. My brother was the best man. I got the money for suit for the best man from the money I saved at that time. In fact, I became so rich at that time. It was about nine years into our marriage that Baba told me to resign my appointment where I was working in the maritime sector. He must have seen something in me. He told me to resign and join him politically. That was my first time in politics and I was with him till the very end. I imbibed what he taught me till today. I had been with him as far back as 1975.

Maritime has always been a lucrative sector and some people would rather not work for their father-in-law. Did you have any reservation about leaving your work to join him?

It was my father who told me to say yes immediately. He said many people would be dreaming of working with Awolowo. In fact, before I agreed, my father had said yes on my behalf. I have never regretted that decision. He made me to know everybody, including people like Chief Lateef Jakande and late Chief Bola Ige. I was among those who formed the Unity Party of Nigeria and we went to all the states. During Abiola’s electioneering, I was in charge of his campaign in the eastern states. He won the election but General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election. When Abacha came on board, we expected him to install Abiola as President, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. All the ministerial nominees in that military government were hand-written by Abiola himself. Ask anybody, the best friends of Abiola were mostly military people. All our people were made ministers.

Are you saying that Abiola wrote the names of ministers for Abacha?

Yes, he did, when the man said he would not give Abiola the presidency. Where trouble came in was when Abiola went to declare himself President. Those who told him to declare were not even part of us. We were the ones who worked for Abiola to win the primary. We even voted against our former chairman, Baba Gana Kingibe. Mama HID Awolowo told us to work for Abiola, who was never one of us. He was in another party before but many of the people who took the credit were never there. We were surprised that the Abiola we supported started drifting towards other people. When Abacha had to pick his cabinet, Abiola was given the option of listing members of the cabinet. Ebenezer Babatope was our minister of transport and Alex Ibru was the minister of Internal Affairs, who was in charge of prisons. Initially, Abiola was not locked up in a cell but was given comfortable places to live outside the prison. Abacha left Abiola to enjoy himself, but something happened that changed all these. The so-called people who misled Abiola told him to continue to claim his mandate and reject the bail conditions. Ibrahim Coomasie was the Inspector General of Police and he was given the bail paper. Abacha said people should ask Abiola if there was any bail on earth that did not have any condition. We wanted Abiola to be flown to Lagos by an Air-Force man. There was another suggestion that he should be driven to Lagos but he was afraid he might be kidnapped. We were making another arrangement when we learnt that Abiola had rejected that bail in writing insisting he must be declared President. We were weeping when we got back. That was the first time Abiola was put in a proper prison. If you noticed, within three weeks, Abiola’s health had started deteriorating. That was the end of Abiola. We lost contact with him.

People believed that if he had taken that bail offer, he would forfeit his mandate?

Well, did he have the mandate now? In such a thing, you accept anything. It is when you are free that you could claim a mandate. He was misled and it always annoys me. However, Abiola remains a hero. If he accepted the bail condition, he could have found his way out of Nigeria and maybe declare government in exile; that was our own thinking.

Some people have always said that Abacha, rather than Babangida, was behind the annulment of the 1993 election. Would you know if Abacha was truly the architect of it all?

I wouldn’t know because I wasn’t in the military, but it was IBB who was in power then. I don’t know how they took the decision among themselves, but he was the one who pronounced the annulment. He was the president then and he announced it with his own mouth. And with his own mouth, he talked about stepping aside.

Some people believe that there would be reprieve for Abiola once General Abdulsalami Abubakar got into power…

After Yasser Arafat who had come to visit Abacha left for his country, I woke up Saturday morning and I was told Abacha had died. I saw people dancing on the street that he was dead. I couldn’t believe and I wondered why people were dancing, when our own hero was in his custody and it was Abacha’s people who were guarding him. I then thought, if Abacha had died, who were the people that would be giving Abiola food? I told myself that if Abiola would survive that prison custody, it would be by the grace of God. If Abiola was in another custody, I would dance too. It didn’t take more than three weeks after when he died. It didn’t surprise me too much because he was among enemies. Abiola’s death was not natural.

Don’t you think Abdulsalami had a moral burden to free Abiola before he died?

It must have been difficult for him to do anything because if he messed up, he would have been dealt with. Al-Mustapha was totally loyal to Abacha. He was the one who called the meeting. He could have become Head of State if he wanted; he could just have killed all of them with a machine gun. He called a meeting and they didn’t know yet that Abacha was dead. That was when they installed Abubakar, who couldn’t have been his own man at that time. He’s an experienced military man too.

Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo looks so reserved, but you look so energetic. Does it mean she took after her mother?

I must be energetic because I was a seaman. The mother was very reserved and she’s like that too. I call her Dolly Baby. She is very tactical, like Papa. Don’t look at her meekness as weakness. She’s light-hearted and she has always been quiet.

Did you ever have to spank her?

I wasn’t the type to spank; but I know how I dealt with all of them. Tell me any child that does not like ice cream, biscuits and sweets or going to amusement park. The person would not go, and I was an expert in that. The mother had more money than myself but I must do something that my children must remember me for. Papa too was giving me his car once a month to take them to the amusement park.

Since your party couldn’t get to Aso Rock as Abiola and Kingibe never made it, now that you have the opportunity, what has changed about you?

You are correct. Now, I can always go there anytime I like, but it has its headache too. Maybe if I had not been a politician from time and she happened to be where she is now, I can get away with it, but people already knew me, and there is nothing I can do. A lot has changed now. In those days, I was able to talk to anybody, but now I cannot. At this level, if I have any observation, I have to make it private. And I really miss being very vocal about my views.

How often do you go to Aso Rock to visit your daughter and her family?

I don’t go there often. Going there is like going to jail, as far as I’m concerned. It’s like locking me up. The way you see me, do I look like someone that can be kept in one place? Before I could go out, I would have to sign papers and there would be plenty phone calls; I would just run mad because I wasn’t used to such. I’m a free man. I cherish my freedom and I’m not used to having security aides around me. I love to be free. That place is a very good place but I’m not the type to live there, so I don’t go there often. Anytime I go, I give them time, like telling them I was coming for two days. I don’t even live with them. Let us say we are in Abuja now, you possibly can’t visit me for this interview. They won’t allow you to come in, and if you have to, you would have to sign different papers. I would be there alone, watching television. I remember when her husband and Buhari had been elected but not sworn in. In their church, I was trying to call her but she didn’t hear, so I stretched my hand to tap her, but I just found that my feet were no longer on the floor. Those security people carried me, I had to be screaming her name, then she looked back and shouted that he’s my father. I don’t know where they would have thrown me to. I even told her I would be referring to her as Her Excellency.

What if your son-in-law offers you an appointment, would you take it?

I can’t take any appointment from government now. We (Nigerians) are not mature up to that level. There are lots of things I can offer this government from my experience, but I would rather do that privately. Else, somebody would come and make noise about it.

Since your wife died, you might have been alone. Why didn’t you remarry?

I have not even thought about it. What more do I want; my children are grown up and they are doing fine, so what am I bothering myself about? Remarrying would just be like committing suicide, and such a lady would be coming to suffer. I’m not lonely and I can never remarry.

When your daughter brought the Vice-President, who was quite older than her…

…No, she didn’t bring Vice-President, she brought her fiancé. Yes, he was 10 years older than her, and to me that was a plain answer to my prayer. I used to wonder how it would be if she married someone of her age. I look at her as too simple and I used to wonder how she could manage herself. So, when she brought a teacher, I said thank God, he would be able to guide her. So, I was very happy about it and I was never disappointed.

What was your perception of the vice president when your daughter brought him?

You see, you are looking at the attention now. But let me tell you a story. In our family, we were always having males as first child. But in the UK then, they had a system, such that three months to your wife’s delivery day, both you and the wife must be going for exercise. They used to teach us how to handle emergencies. We, men, used to frown and so we knew ourselves. In her ward, there were three of them and by the time I got there after she was delivered of her baby, I heard she had a girl and I wasn’t so happy. When I stepped out, I met the husband of one of the women and he said his wife gave birth to a set of male twins, after having two boys at home previously. I then felt better. When I left him, I saw the husband of the other one and he told me his wife just had another boy.

So, I felt let me go back and even see the baby girl. Then I saw the way people were giving flowers to their wives, and my own wife’s bed space was like Sahara Desert. At that time, I had so much money, so I went to Interflora to buy flowers. When I went back, Ayo was awake. When she saw the flowers, she was shocked, mocking me for buying flowers because she knew I wasn’t the type. That moment, Mama HID came in from Lagos and saw the flowers, she was full of gratitude and she embraced me. Till date, Dolapo never forgets my birthday, from day one. As I’m here now, she would be asking, ‘where is papa. At any opportunity, she would ask of me. I see myself as a very lucky man. If she had been a boy, my punishment would have been hard! If you look at my son who took to politics, he was always asking me about the latest in politics. But Dolly Baby would look at my face and ask how I’m feeling. So, I tell myself that I could have suffered heavily if I didn’t have her. From the beginning, God would have seen my needs. Look at what Dolly has done.

Have you ever had any premonition that she would rise to such a level?

I never saw it coming. What I thought was that she would have been a very good confectioner, because she told us clearly that she would not practise as a lawyer but she would please us. That was what she told her mother, Mama HID and myself. Her mother and Papa were so keen for her to be a lawyer. She said she would be and immediately she was called to bar, she called and said she wanted to go into cake making. I had to open a cake shop for her and she started and she was doing that very well. She never practised for one day as a lawyer. If she had continued on that confectionery line, she would have gone really far. That was her natural passion. And many people don’t know she’s a very good artist. As you are sitting, if she takes a pen, it would be your copy. She loves gardening too and it’s part of her love for arts.

How do you manage missing your late wife?

I miss her a lot. I was able to adjust a bit because of political activities I was involved in. After Papa’s demise, I’ve been very busy because we took over. Papa died in 1987 and from that moment, we were in charge of Awo’s movement. I was the National Director of the organisation, travelling all over the country, keeping everybody together. When my wife (Ayo) died, I used political activities to keep myself busy. That was what saved me.

 When working with Chief Awolowo, what was your specific role or office?

Papa gave me the National Liaison Officer, whether that one is in any constitution, I don’t know (laughs). I was going with him anywhere he went.

You were close to Awolowo, what is your reaction to the statue built in his honour by Lagos State government?

I saw it but I didn’t talk. What would I say when the two daughters were there. I saw it but I didn’t condemn it. What is important was for him to be remembered and that is why I appreciate it. I know Papa didn’t wear boots. He was always wearing nice shoes and all of us would remember that because every two years, Papa would always distribute his shoes to all his sons-in-law. He used to buy shoes a lot. If he saw a pair of shoes that he loved, he would buy three pairs. It was a must. He would put one pair in Apapa, one pair in Ibadan and one pair in Ikenne. So, shoes were always many and wherever he went, we didn’t have to carry shoes around. After two years, the house would be full and he would have to distribute them to us. So, I got many, and thankfully, we were of the same size. But even if Papa gave you shoes and you were not of the same size, you would put paper inside. Papa’s shoes? That was like a blessing.

You really don’t look 74, what is the secret?

That is the work of God. By the grace of God, I would be 75 in January. My kind of work was so physical. We didn’t sit down in the office growing big stomach, no way. Sea men could come and start beating you up, so we were always on the alert. The last thing I did was being a fisherman. When I went out, I would be on the sea for 40 days, fishing. When we came back, for eight hours, you could not step on the shore, because the ground would feel like it was moving. So, the standard was to sit for eight hours. You can’t have pot belly when you do that kind of job.

What fond memories of your growing up do you still have?

My father was a very tough and strong man. He was very popular. And my family too has its own pride. If my father could marry a Miss Caulcrick, one of the biggest families in Lagos, he must be tough too. He was in UAC, he was one of the founders of Nigeria National Shipping Guard. My father too was in that line of business which I took over. I grew up like every other person and I later went to the United Kingdom. It was natural for me to do Maritime Studies because that was what my father was doing. So, I followed in his footsteps and I don’t regret it because it gave me experience. If you are working on the sea, you meet all sorts of characters.

How did you receive the news that your-in-law was nominated as the Vice-President?

I was in Jerusalem then. People called me to congratulate me. On the third day, I got a call from my daughter, and knowing what she wanted to talk about, I went to the toilet. She asked if I had heard and I said heard what. She said they had picked Yemi as the Vice President, and she sounded positive about it. I knew that the country was lucky to pick him as the Vice-President. The man is very brilliant. When Nigeria was in turmoil and the President was sick for a long time, and he was the Acting President, it didn’t change him and it didn’t change his wife. They are just wonderful people. God used Tinubu to pick somebody from Ikenne. When did Yemi start politics? I started politics in 1976, yet they might not even know me in my local government, but look at a man that just started. That is what God can do.
Culled From The Punch

FG to treat hate speech as terrorism- Osinbajo

Hate Speech Will Be Treated as Terrorism, Osinbajo Vows

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo wednesday in Abuja described hate speech as another form of terrorism, which employs violence and intimidation to achieve certain political objectives, vowing that the federal government would henceforth treat it as an act of terrorism.

Osinbajo issued the warning while addressing the state governors at the opening of the National Economic Council (NEC) security retreat at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.

He recalled that the Terrorism Act defines hate speech as an act done with malice, which has the capacity not only to harm a country but also intimidate the population.

Reiterating that hate speech would not be condoned but taken as an act of terrorism, which he said would also be met with the punishment for terror acts, the acting president appealed to religious, business and political leaders, irrespective of their political, ethnic or religious backgrounds to condemn hate speech in strong terms, even if it emanates from their constituents.

He also recalled how hate speech led to the crisis in Nazi Germany, the extermination of Jews in Europe, monumental genocide in Rwanda and silenced influential voices, warning that if leaders failed to speak up against terrorism, it would amount to a disservice to the unity of the country.

“Please permit me a comment on hate speech. The federal government has drawn a line on hate speech. Hate speech is a specie of terrorism, as it is defined popularly as the unlawful use of violence or intimidation against individuals or groups of persons especially for political aims.

“The law on hate speech, Terrorism Act, 2011, defines hate speech among other definitions as an act deliberately done with malice and which may seriously harm or damage a country or seriously intimidate a population.

“The intimidation of a population by words or speech is an act of terrorism and this government intends to take this matter seriously. As I have said, we have drawn a line against hate speech. It will not be tolerated.

“It will be taken as an act of terrorism and all of the consequences will follow.

“I call on business, political and religious leaders, whatever your political leanings or religion or tribe or faith, to condemn in the strongest possible terms at all times hate speeches.

“Speech that promotes violence against an individual or a group, especially when such speech comes from people of your own faith, tribe or group. Your silence in such situations can only be seen as an endorsement.

“Hate speech and promotion of the same throughout history, from Nazi Germany, to the extermination of Jews, to the Rwandan genocide, succeeded in achieving their barbarous ends by the silence of influential voices from the aggressor communities.

“When leaders in communities that speak in such a manner to create dissection or intimidate the population are quiet, they do a great disservice to our unity. They do a great disservice to our nation.

“This is why I urge all political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders and all of those who truly want a united country, a country where there will be peace and security, to ensure that we do not tolerate by our silence, the hate speech that we hear every day in our communities.

“Let me remind all of us that our constitution states that the primary purpose of government is the security and welfare of our people. And as President Buhari used to say, ‘We cannot administer a country you have not secured’.

“We will not relent in our vision of a secured country in which all citizens can confidently aspire to achieve their means and ambition. And I am confident that today marks an important milestone in achieving that vision,” he said.

In his remarks at the event, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, who pledged the commitment of the judiciary to doing things differently in the country, assured the gathering that the judicial arm of government was committed to the entrenchment of peace and justice in the country.

According to him, “Whereas it is commonly believed that there are two sides to a coin, in the true sense of events in Nigeria today, there are actually three sides to a coin,” listing them as insecurity, corruption and impunity.

He said if Nigeria must move forward, these three issues must be addressed holistically, pointing out that the support of all Nigerians must be secured if this must be achieved.

“The commitment of the judiciary is to do things differently and in a good manner. Our commitment is to have a good Nigerian society where peace and justice reign.

“I want to tell you also that though we also say that there are two sides to a coin, in reality, there are three sides to a coin.

“In our condition, in terms of where we find ourselves today, it is my personal view that insecurity, corruption, and impunity are the three sides of the same coin which ought to be taken together holistically if we are to move the country forward.

“I want us to think about that and to carry this through, we need the support of Nigerians, particularly the Nigerian on the street who feels deprived in one way or the other, rightly or wrongly.

“It could be imaginary but it ought to be attended to, as where his problems are coming from may not necessarily be the source of his problem.

“But it is necessary for us to look in that direction incase he is right. If we have security and justice, then many of these agitations will equally die down,” Onnoghen stated.

Speaking on behalf of the governors, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, said even though nearly all the problems confronting Nigeria today had arisen from the states, the governors were doing their best possible to fix them.

He disagreed with the CJN that there are three sides to a coin, insisting that they are two, which he classified as security and the economy.

He said both of them are inseparable, even as he highlighted the resurgence of terrorism in the North-east, noting that if at all government fails to achieve anything, it must guarantee security.

He observed that whereas agriculture has the capacity to provide employment to 75 per cent of Nigerians, various governments had paid scant attention to agriculture, disclosing that in the last two years, only N23 billion has been invested in the sector.

“The issue of insecurity largely, 99.9 per cent, emanates from the states. Only a few issues are from the centre here in Abuja. It is the primary responsibility of government to secure the lives and property of its citizens.

“The governors are doing their best and the security chiefs can attest to that. We have been shouldering so many responsibilities of logistics in our separate states.

“If government will not achieve anything, it must achieve two things – fighting corruption and ensuring that it stems insecurity. We are still having some pockets of issues in the North-east which is worrisome.

“In the last 12 months, we were experiencing some kind of progress but all of a sudden, it resurfaced again, and also you will agree with me that the issue of security has two sides of a coin, although the CJN said it has three sides.

“Security and the economy have to work together. The issue of insecurity is being supported by our teeming unemployed youths in the streets. Government needs to deploy resources and encourage those in the centre to employ those youth on the streets and take them out of the streets so that they can have something worthwhile to engage them in.

“We have not been paying much attention to agriculture. My reason: in the last 10 years, only N400 billion was invested by either the Central Bank of Nigeria or commercial banks or the capital markets in the sector.

“But in 2010, AMCON came to rescue banks with bad debts and over N4 trillion was injected into AMCON and not much impact was made on agriculture. N23 billion has been invested in 200,000 farmers across the nation in two years. But N23 billion can do nothing for the sector that we believe can give employment to 75 per cent of Nigerians. So more investment is required in the sector,” he stated.

Present at the meeting besides the CJN and governors were the ministers, service chiefs, heads of the anti-graft agencies, Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), among others.

As We Begin the Journey to 2019

As We Begin the Journey to 2019



Pendulum
By Dele Momodu; dele.momodu@thisdaylive.com
Fellow Nigerians, unbeknown to many of our people, the battle for who becomes our next President has already started in earnest. Never mind the fact that the incumbent President is still firmly in power even if he’s spent more time outside than inside in recent times. Despite his absence, President Muhammadu Buhari continues to exert almost total control on the affairs of state through regular phone chats with the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who is deeply loyal and committed to their joint cause, and emissaries who criss-cross the two continents to transmit messages to him and relevant officials. Nonetheless, you can’t blame the gladiators for shaping up this early for the big contest that is looming. It is big because it is unlikely that the current incumbent President will run again because of the fragile state of his health. Like joke, like joke, the Buhari/Osinbajo government is in its third year. By this time next year, the general elections would just be about six months away. That’s just too close for comfort.
The Presidential race is always the biggest deal in most countries, Nigeria in particular. The reason is simple. The President of Nigeria is probably the most powerful black President in the world. This is why you find so many perpetual contestants who never get tired of seeking power. Let me just go straight to the meat of my message without wasting your precious time on any long preamble.
Some aspirants have actually started making subterranean moves, here and there, to prepare the grounds for their eventual launch. The most obvious ones include former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano. The boldest and most vocal visible aspirant is the current Governor of Ekiti State, Peter Fayose who has even announced a date for the official declaration of his bid for the Presidency. Fayose seems to have mastered the art and science of politics. He has warned that no one should underrate him. I won’t because nothing is impossible in our clime.
Anyway. Let’s move on. The main cause of the early moves is the general belief in political circles that President Buhari is not likely to contest in 2019. His poor health has virtually eliminated him from the race no matter how much and how well he recovers from his present ailment. I think so too. Baba himself had declared in one of his rare interviews that he’s never been this sick in his life. Only the cruellest human being would advise President Buhari to continue to subject himself to the rigours of the Presidential office when he returns. To add the vagaries of rough and tumble of a Presidential race to his recuperation would be inhuman indeed. God has been very kind to him and there is nothing more to prove or to achieve. Others must carry on the fight as his able Vice President, now Acting President has been doing.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had shown interest in becoming Nigeria’s President since 1993 when he contested the Presidential primaries of the then Social Democratic Party alongside Chief Moshood Abiola and Baba Ghana Kingibe. He was persuaded to withdraw from the contest and throw his weight behind Chief Abiola on the basis of his relative youth amongst other things. Age, it was said, was on his side, and he had many years to seek the Presidency. Since then, he has never stopped dreaming and aspiring. Unfortunately, he has always just fallen short! He had made his next move in 2003, after he served as Vice President to President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999. The “abortive coup” (as it was described), to force Obasanjo out and bring Atiku in, by the all-powerful Governors of the time failed spectacularly. The cold war between Atiku and his boss exploded into full view and became a smouldering inferno. Atiku instantly became a marked man. He himself would be forced out of the party he helped to found and had to join others to form another party. But before too long Atiku was compelled by circumstances to scamper back to PDP. Not many felt that was a smart move. He was viewed as being too desperate and unprincipled. This flip-flop has been his major albatross. And he was not yet done! Atiku again jumped ship from the floundering PDP when some five Governors defected and joined the fulcrum of APC. There are already indications that he may be compelled to abandon ship again but where to, we don’t know. Some say that he is grooming PDM for this purpose and has already caused a crisis in his former movement.
There is no doubt that Atiku would make a good leader. He is a seasoned politician who is known to have the ability to unite Nigerians because of his extensive networks across the nation. He also has the penchant for recruiting the best brains to work with. If he becomes the President, he would be bringing in his wealth of experience in public service and private business that is almost second to none. But there are major setbacks against him. One is how to find the detergent to cleanse or unglue himself from the sticky mud his former boss President Obasanjo had generously splashed on him. He’s largely portrayed as a very corrupt and corruptible leader who may lead Nigerians into temptation and perdition with his acolytes. Whether this is a fair assessment or wicked blackmail is his business to deal with but it won’t be so easy to wish or wash away.
Atiku will find it difficult to clinch the APC ticket. There are obvious signs that he has already positioned some of his close associates in PDP, in case of emergency but he may be scammed at the end of the day if he takes the risk of pulling out of his present party. He needs to worry about his age. He has already crossed 70 and it is doubtful if most Nigerians want to be saddled with another old man who may collapse under the brutal weight of presidential stress and pressure. He would require more of a clean bill of health to persuade young Nigerians that he’s not carrying some health liabilities like others in the past. In summary, we have a reasonable bridge-builder and veteran administrator who may be too old and too late in seeking political office.
Next is the former Governor of Kano State, Senator Mohammed Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a man with very vast political and administrative pedigree. He has gone through the whole gamut of governance at both executive and legislative levels. His performance as Governor of the massive state of Kano is an eloquent testimony to the fact that he may be the one to ignite the infrastructural revolution in Nigeria. He cuts the image of a frugal Aminu Kano with his simple mien. His grassroots non-governmental movement known as Kwankwasiyya Pillars of the Nation is well mobilised and may give him an edge over most aspirants. He also has in his favour the fact that Kano State has the highest number of registered voters and may be able to count on garnering a significant number of these. He is also expected to draw strength from his former colleagues in the Governors’ Forum across the nation but no one is sure how relevant they still are. Kwankwaso is 60 years old and falls the under the age of 65 that many want as the upper limit for contestants. On the negative side, he is not likely to have the formidable war chest of an Atiku Abubakar though this did not stop him from beating Atiku to third place in their last APC Primaries.
Say what you will, the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, must be factored into the equation by all means. The reason is that he seems to enjoy a special rapport with his ailing boss who may prefer to hand over fully to someone he knows well than risk certainty for uncertainty. Osinbajo has been a very loyal and dependable ally, the sort that are not common in this clime. This is no surprise because his vocation as a lawyer, his service as a teacher and his calling as a Pastor makes him imbued with integrity and dignity. Osinbajo has also succeeded in bringing Nigerians together and calming frayed nerves. His handling of the economy, security and national awareness is quite commendable and many Nigeria’s applaud his brilliance and performance in steering the affairs of state to its present comfortable position. His only worry would come from ethnic jingoists who do not care about merit but prefer only members of their tribe no matter how useless or incompetent they may be.
Osinbajo is likely to be vehemently opposed by such powerful forces who think only about themselves, although it seems to me that the people of the North are not with them on this occasion. There is no question that Osinbajo has restored hope and promise to Nigeria and should ordinarily be allowed to stabilise the polity and lead us out of the doldrums. The fact that he lacks his own political platforms may be a great disadvantage because he would need to lean on his political godfather and kingmaker, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who seems tired of fixing others into positions of power without being the ultimate King of Kings himself. However, Asiwaju is canny and wise and would prefer to be in the hallowed corridors of power with his protégé in charge than be outside it particularly given that he is himself ageing and would be over a couple of years over 65 by the time of the next elections.
There has always been speculation that the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, is interested in being President. He is eminently qualified to do so. The way he has managed the Senate and worked assiduously on churning out unprecedented number of very efficacious bills is a pointer to his effectiveness as a modern and cosmopolitan leader who understands what the people want and how to give it to them. His biggest migraine apart from allegations of corruption and mismanagement of Societe Generale Bank which has seemingly not gone away, is that he comes from Kwara State. The State is geographically Northern but culturally Southern. His father was Olusola. He is Bukola. His wife is Toyin. His sister is Gbemisola. His Brother is Olaolu. His son is Olaseni. No one could be more Yoruba than Saraki. However, surprisingly, despite this great Yoruba credentials, the Yorubas do not also apparently view him as a Yoruba man but as a Northerner. I do not know how he plans to overcome that challenge of being neither cat nor rat.
The Governor of Sokoto State, Waziri Aminu Tambuwal, attempted very briefly to run the Presidential race in 2015 but seemed to have chickened out and pulled back to settle for the gubernatorial race, where he eventually emerged successful. It is being mentioned in informed circles that he may still want to try his luck. As a former Speaker of the House of representatives and now Governor, he comes with some intimidating arsenal as e is still clearly well loved by his old constituency, the Federal legislators. It is not certain if he would abandon his almost guaranteed second term as Governor for a not so certain Presidential bid. His antecedents in this regard would persuade me not to expect too much of a change in Tambuwal’s circumstances this time around.
The same goes for one of my favourite leaders, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, one of the most cerebral, experienced and visionary leaders in Nigeria today. He is silently revolutionising Kaduna State although people see more of the controversial stuff coming out of that State because of its highly volatile religious mix of Muslims and Christians. Though he is yet to declare his interest openly, he is someone to watch…


Culled from ThisDay 

Buhari anxious to return, gives full backing to Osinbajo

Buhari weighs return options, backs Osinbajo


Yusuf Alli 

• Presidency: Buhari, Osinbajo met for an hour

• Why Acting President engaged NASS leadership again

President Muhammadu Buhari is keen on returning home from London as early as possible to quell speculations about him, highly placed sources said last night.

He is already weighing two options on his return from the United Kingdom where he is recuperating.

One is: be back in two weeks time while the other is to apply for his accumulated annual leave to enable him complete his medicals before returning to his desk.

But he has given Acting President Yemi Osinbajo full backing in respect of all the steps taken to keep the government on course.

Osinbajo on Thursday engaged the leadership of the National Assembly in a fresh round of talks to mend the fence with the legislative arm.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that Buhari and some of his associates were worried by speculations about his medical trip and are now disposed to clearing the air on his well being.

This development, sources said, largely accounted for the recent visit to the President in London by Osinbajo and some kitchen cabinet members or loyalists.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami(SAN), the Director-General of the Department of State Security Service(DSS), Mallam Lawan Daura, and the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu are among those who have visited the President, The Nation was told last night.

One of the sources said that apart from checking on the health of the President, one of the issues which cropped up was his return.

It was gathered that Buhari’s mindset was quick recovery and commitment to his pledges to the nation.

The source said: “There are two options being considered. One of it is the likely return of the President within the next two weeks to put all speculations on his health to rest, and for him to decide some outstanding issues.

“The alternative is to apply for his accumulated annual leave to complete his medicals and the last leg of his recuperation before coming back to his desk.

“In spite of the fact that the President’s notice to the National Assembly is still subsisting, his return might douse tension in the country including intra-cabinet intrigues.”

Responding to a question, the source said: “I think none of the options has been agreed on.”

Sources also confirmed that Buhari and Osinbajo actually met for an hour on Tuesday.

“They had a robust audience and the President told Osinbajo, “any decision you take, you have my backing. Make sure you keep the country united.” The President has full confidence in his deputy,” one of the sources said.

“And the Acting President has been loyal and sustaining the vision of the President.”

On the latest meeting between the Acting President and principal officers of the National Assembly, a source said: “Osinbajo is trying to bridge the communication gap between the Executive and the Legislature. This was why he met with the leaders of the National Assembly.

“I can assure you that a truce is likely. The only outstanding matter is the fate of the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu which only the President will decide.

“At the Thursday session, issues bordering on the budget, compliance with resolutions and summons and others were mutually discussed.”
Source: The Nation

​Osinbajo arrives Abuja after Buhari meeting, to chair FEC meeting

Osinbajo arrives Abuja after Buhari meeting, to chair FEC meeting

Nigeria ’ s vice- president has returned from a whistlestop trip to meet ailing President Muhammadu Buhari in London and will chair Wednesday ’ s weekly cabinet meeting , his spokesman said .

Acting President Yemi “ Osinbajo now back in Abuja from London & will be presiding over FEC (federal executive committee) this morning , ” tweeted Laolu Akande.

He also pledged to share “ more information ” about Osinbajo’ s encounter with Buhari , describing it as “ a very good meeting ”.

Osinbajo, who has been acting president since Buhari left for medical treatment on May 7 , flew to London on Tuesday .

No details were given about the meeting but it is believed to be the first face – to – face encounter between Nigeria ’ s two most senior politicians in more than two months.

Buhari , 74 , has not been seen in that time and has now spent nearly four months of this year out of the country, prompting growing calls for clarity about his fitness to govern .

His condition has not been disclosed but aides have previously played down rumours that he was terminally ill with cancer or even dead .

His wife Aisha, who flew to London earlier this month , on Monday posted a cryptic message on her Facebook page in response to a Nigerian senator’ s description of Buhari as “ the absent Lion King ” .

“ God has answered the prayers of the weaker Animals . The Hyena ’ s and the Jackals will soon be sent out of the kingdom, ” she wrote .

AFP

Osinbajo dares Senate, says Magu will remain EFCC chairman as long as Buhari, himself are in office

Osinbajo declares support for Magu

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo

By Saxone Akhaine, Kaduna 

The acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime C omission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu (first left) and Governor Nasir El-Rufai(right) at the commissioning of the EFCC Kaduna Zonal Office on Thursday.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has said that as long as he remains in office, the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Alhaji Ibrahim Magu will continue to remain as the Commission’s boss.

The statement came 48 hours after the Senate asked the acting president to remove the EFCC boss.

Represented by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, at the commissioning of the Kaduna zonal office of the EFCC, Professor Osinbajo said he had the same confidence and conviction President Muhammadu Buhari had about Magu’s capability to function effectively in the office of the EFCC.

Osinbajo said: “Shortly before the President left the country, I asked him about Ibrahim Magu and the President said he believes in what he is doing. He has his support. I want to also affirm here that Magu has my support. As far as I remain the acting President, Magu remains”.

EFCC boss, Magu in an address urged the Federal Government to immediately embark on the building of a prison in Sambisa forest for those arrested and convicted of corruption.

However, he explained that for the prison to become a reality, the judiciary arm of government should cooperate with the Commission.

He said that illegal monies are likely to be abandoned by corrupt persons at the nation’s airport and other places in near future as it happened at Kaduna airport some few months ago. Magu warned that if concerted efforts were not made to rid the country of corruption, the monster will infest the citizens and adversely affect the nation’s economy.

Said he: “We want to call for the establishment of a prison in Sambisa forest in order to keep away corrupt people from our midst. In this case, the judiciary has direct influence to help in the fight against corruption. But concerted efforts are being made by some big Nigerians to neutralise the fight against corruption”.

“We must change the narrative by fighting back those that do not want the fight to succeed. I remain committed to the fight against corruption, and I commend the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai for encouraging EFCC to establish a zonal office in Kaduna. We must, therefore, join hands together to kill corruption before corruption will kill us”.

Meanwhile Speaking in his capacity as the Kaduna state governor, El-Rufai disclosed that the anti-graft agency had helped his government to recover over N500m from immediate past government officials who had milked the treasury.

He said the state government is ready to provide land for the EFCC training school in the state as well as for the building of their staff quarters.

Earlier, a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee, Professor Femi Odekunle pointed out that the presidential committee is behind Magu for his commitment in the fight against corruption.

Odekunle said, “We are not going to be cajoled by any technicalities. We will support the commission because most of our leaders are corrupt”
Source: The Guardian