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2023: Where are the Masquerades?

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By Dakuku Peterside

There are masquerades in every culture and the life of every individual. The masquerades wear masks for different reasons – from prevarication, illusion, fantasy, fright, horror to protection.

No matter the reason, masquerades thrive by covering up who they are and taking up a persona unique to the image they want to portray.
This image becomes the identity of the masquerade. And the persona behind the masquerade dies for the masquerade’s persona to live. In most cultures, it is a taboo to unmask a masquerade. Even at the threat of losing its life, a masquerade will fight to hide the identity of the person behind the mask.

In the past, masquerades were a rarity and often appeared on special occasions and festivities. Nowadays, both literally and metaphorically, we are all masquerades. We wear masks these days as a necessity.

Facial masks existed before COVID-19, but the coronavirus, at best, only heightened its usage. The face mask, during this pandemic era, has become a symbol of self-preservation against a deadly viral infection. Asides literal masks, we also wear ‘symbolic masks’ to protect ourselves from emotional and psychological elements that we confront daily – financial secrets, relationship secrets, and the privacy of life and family.

Since the drumbeats of the 2023 election started, we have seen big “political masquerades“ coming out to declare their interests in the struggle for power and relevance. Across party lines, powerful politicians, likened to big masquerades, and their cohorts, are showcasing introductory and essential aspects of their election dances and using both old and novel gimmicks to make their interest in the presidency of Nigeria known. Some have visited the incumbent president to formally inform him of their ambitions; some are still consulting with stakeholders; some are waiting for the call of God and their people to declare their intentions publicly; while others have gone ahead to make their presidential ambitions public via the mass media.

So far, there are no surprises yet. Those who have declared or those rumoured to be on the verge of announcing their intentions to rule Nigeria are the same old political warhorses who, to a great extent, are known by Nigerians. We expect more of them to make their declarations in the coming days and weeks. This is part of the political process, and any Nigerian is free to aspire to become president and compete for the post through any political platform of his or her choice. In Nigeria, at least for now, only masquerades wearing the masks of the All Progressives Congress (APC) or the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are considered to have realistic chances of winning the presidential election. But these are early days, and a third force political platform may challenge this status quo.

It is about 12 months to the general elections for Nigerians to choose the leader of the most populous black nation on earth, at a time of significant political, social, and economic turbulence. Nigeria faces, on all sides, existential threats that will require a highly skilled, competent and charismatic leader to galvanise all the human and natural resources at our disposal to tackle the vast socio-economic challenges confronting us. Among these “masquerades“ declaring their interest, one will emerge as the leader. This underscores the importance of galvanising Nigerians with outstanding leadership and empathic qualities to step up to the arena to be counted. One must be in the race to win.

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Nigerians often complain about the same old leaders taking political offices and doing nothing innovative to develop the country, but forget that it all starts with the calibre and quality of politicians coming out for the presidency. It is from that group that the president will emerge. Therefore, I implore all Nigerians to use this opportunity to encourage proven leaders with the proper knowledge and skills to come on board to compete for the presidency. Nigeria, now more than ever before, needs quality leadership at the highest level.

It is a positive for democracy that so many citizens are stepping forward to lead the nation, indicating increasing political participation. However, nothing yet distinguishes one aspirant from another in terms of either ideology or public policy postulation. For now, we are stuck at the level of personality cults, geopolitical interests, and the ethnic entitlement syndrome. Even where aspirants are from different party platforms, their utterances do not yet reflect the broad agenda of those parties. More disturbingly, there is nothing that indicates depth on national issues from any aspirant.

So far, not less than six “political masquerades“ have declared their interest from the two main political parties – APC (Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, David Umahi, and Orji Uzor Kalu) and PDP (Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Anyim Pius Anyim, and Dele Momodu). There are other candidates with near unassailable profiles in the fringe parties. It is time Nigerians started examining all of them through the prism of our complexities. Let us look at ‘the stuff they are made of’, those who gave them the masquerade and are in their company. We want to know what they are offering and what vision they are selling to Nigerians? How will they solve the multiplicity of Nigerian problems? We should not focus on inanities like what their religion is, what geopolitical zone they represent and what financial muscle they have.

Let the presidential “masquerades” come forth and canvas ideas and proffer solutions. Twelve months is enough time to know which of these political masquerades we want to take seriously or ignore. For the political masquerades that have declared their intentions, let us now hear their ideas. However, I acknowledge by trend analysis, that it is not the candidate with the most brilliant take on issues who will win, as the factors that determine who wins elections in Nigeria do not have much to do with sound policy ideas.

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Unlike the previous election period, Nigeria is in a precarious situation; inexperience, vacuity, incompetence, the lack of proven service record, and absence of ideas to drive positive change among candidates will not be overlooked nor tolerated by Nigerians. Between June and August this year, the parties will present masquerades dressed in party attires. Our options will be limited to the masquerades presented to the electorate by the parties. To a certain degree, the party will shield the person behind the masquerade from Nigerians. We may be denied the opportunity of knowing what the one behind the masquerade said, as distinct from what the masquerade said.

The party-political machineries will take over immediately after the primaries, and all forms of spin doctors and election pundits will be engaged to convince the electorate of the rightfulness of the candidates. These powerful party campaign machineries will set out to use unfounded marketing tools, lies, half-truths, innuendoes, and propaganda to convince or confuse the electorate to vote for their candidate, even though they may have apparent shortcomings that make them unfit for the presidency. That is why when a president is elected, there are lots of things the electorate assumes s/he said or stood for or championed that turns out completely different from what the president does. Maybe it is still too early in the day, but I strongly feel that now is the time to engage with the masquerades and try to figure out the men behind the masks.

Our current crisis correlates with the electoral decisions and leadership choices we collectively made in the past. All elections have serious consequences. These underscore the importance of the careful consideration of the masquerades to eliminate the wrong candidates from the presidential race and have people with clarity of vision, proven leadership skills and good knowledge of the Nigerian context vis-a-vis the complexity of our religious, social, and ethnic makeup.

The only actual path forward is in using the 2023 election to usher in good leadership with demonstrable capacity to implement a pan-Nigeria agenda. Nigeria is in dire need of positive change. But who will drive this change? More of the same masquerades — Nigeria’s political elite. Unpleasant and scary as today’s Nigeria has become, our present reality should force us to question our prior assumptions about leadership selection. We should not allow primordial sentiments to becloud our judgement in seeking out and choosing a competent and visionary leader as president.

We have a choice now facing all Nigerians: We can make use of the next 12 months to put our acts together and engage in positive politicking to seek out good leaders for the 2023 general elections, or we can decide to play politics as usual without seriously considering post-election governance. Elections are a means to an end and not an end in themselves. If we do not elect good leaders, we will bear the brunt of the consequences – debilitating poverty, insecurity, unemployment, and constant internal crises and calls for secession. We are at the beginning of electing the president of Nigeria. We must get it right at this stage to have a realistic chance of electing a president who will make a difference. There is no doubt that the flawed election process in Nigeria is probably the cause of failed governance and leadership in Nigeria. I argue that we must reassess that process and start on time to get it right, if we must make meaningful progress in getting the right president.

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The president derives his power from the people who elect him to lead them in a democracy. So, the president rises and falls with the people. A government by the people, as represented by a voted president, contextually assumes responsibility for the success or failure of the people. Democracy affords the people an opportunity to hold the president accountable through periodic elections. 2023 is another opportunity for the people to get it right.

Nigerians must carefully choose a leader with incredible qualities to take our country to a new frontier. What are these qualities we require of the next president? The aspirant must have a clear vision of where he wants to take Nigeria to in terms of development and how he will achieve this given our current resource realities. The aspirant must have proven skills and competencies in management and leadership. He must have empathy for the plight of many Nigerians and must have a burning desire to work to ameliorate their sufferings. On the basis of association or ideology, the aspirant must be above board – not an ethnic or religious chauvinist, supporter of secessionist activities, or terrorism.

Furthermore, the aspirant must love Nigeria and have a proven record of links built across the country. He must understand the economy, especially productivity. He must have the strength, ability, knowledge, and intellectual capacity to carry the burden of Nigeria, manage our diversity and deliver the dividends of good governance to all Nigeria, not just a section of Nigeria or the elites. Ultimately, the aspirant must demonstrate a clear understanding of how to tackle insecurity, poverty, unemployment, and a shambolic education system.

After all is said, 2022 offers all Nigerians the opportunity to chose the kind of country we want by the quality of the president we vote for in the 2023 general elections. As political masquerades have started declaring their intentions to contest for the presidency of Nigeria, now is the time to engage them to find out the person behind the masquerade.

Dakuku Peterside is a policy and leadership expert.

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Opara, Fidelity Bank Director, Takes Over as CIBN President

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From Dooyum Naadzenga, Lagos

Executive Director of Fidelity Bank Plc,  Dr Ken Opara was at the weekend  sworn in as the 22nd President and Chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

In a colourful ceremony at Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, Dr Ken Opara was given the mandate to steer the ship of the highly revered Institute in the next coming years.

He takes over from Dr Bayo Olugbemi, who in a speech at the ceremony, described Opara as a big asset to the institute.

The ceremony was attended by who-is-who in the banking industry, top business executives as well as political leaders. The swearing in ceremony was performed by Justice (Dr) Adeseyi Olateru- Olagbeji.

A career banker, Opara has over 20 years industry experience and has worked in several banks before coming to Fidelity Bank.

Opara, who was the erstwhile 1st Vice-President of the institute, was elected unopposed at the institute’s 2022 Annual General Meeting held at the Bankers’ House, Adeola Hopewell, Victoria Island, Lagos on Saturday, April 9th, 2022.

In his acceptance speech, Dr Opara thanked the outgoing President/Chairman of the Council, Dr. Bayo Olugbemi, FCIB, for his commitment to lifting the banner of the institute as well as the banking and finance industry to enviable heights. He also expressed his gratitude to other stakeholders for their support for the 59yr old institute.

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“I thank all our esteemed members, for the confidence reposed in me and my colleagues whom you have elected to superintend the affairs of our Institute for the next two years. The outpouring of your support is indeed overwhelming and humbling for which we are very grateful.

It is therefore with immense respect and a deep sense of responsibility and accountability that I wholeheartedly accept your mandate to serve as the 22nd President/Chairman of Council of our Highly revered Institute.

I am mindful of the fact that you have high expectations from me and my colleagues who have just been elected. Let me reassure you that we shall collectively do our best to deliver on your mandate as an aggregator, innovator and implementer to enhance the Institute’s value propositions. My detailed agenda in this regard will be unfolded in my Inaugural Speech on May 21, 2022, at the Presidential Investiture ceremony”, said Dr Opara.

Also elected at the AGM are Prof. Pius Oladeji Olanrewaju, FCIB as the 1st Vice President; Mr. Oladele Alabi, FCIB as the 2nd Vice President and Mrs. Mojisola Bakare-Asieru, FCIB as the National Treasurer. Those elected in the Governing Council are Dr. Victor Ndubuisi Aguwah, FCIB; Mr. Olayinka Alade Odutola, FCIB; Ms. Mary Oluwakemi Aina, ACIB and Mr. Segun Oshadare, FCIB to serve the tenure (2022-2024).

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Dr. Kenneth Opara holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Finance and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka as well as a Ph.D. in Credit Management from the International University of Panama.

He has over 29 years’ core-banking experience spanning diverse areas including Credit, Treasury, Retail, Consumer and Commercial Banking, International Operations and Corporate Banking.  Prior to his appointment as Executive Director in charge of the Lagos & Southwest Directorate of Fidelity Bank, he served as General Manager/Regional Bank Head, Ikeja; Divisional Head, Managed SMEs, Multilateral Agencies & Trade Missions; Divisional Head, SMEs, Electronic & Consumer Banking amongst a number of roles.

With a vision to be a global reference point for skills and conduct in the banking and finance industry, the CIBN is the umbrella professional body for bankers in Nigeria. The Institute has members including the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, all deposit money banks, development banks, mortgage banks, microfinance banks, discount houses amongst others.

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2023: APC Adjusts Convention Timetable, Keeps Mum on Zoning

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* Osinbanjo Woes Delegates with Accommodation, Feeding

By Jude Opara, Abuja

Barely two weeks to its National Convention, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday announced a slight adjustment of the timetable for the exercise.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Felix Morka, told newsmen after a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) that the exercise, which was earlier billed for  May 29-  June1,  would now  take place between May 29 and 30.

“We have a very quick announcement to make this evening regarding the timetable for our primaries, just today, Wednesday, the National Working Committee of the All  Progressives Congress has met and approved a revised timetable schedule of activities for House of Assembly, National Assembly, governorship primaries and appeals that arise from that.

“Our governorship and House of Representatives primary election will now take place on Thursday the 26th of May 2022.

“The Senate and House of Assembly primaries will now take place on Friday to the 27th of May 2022.

“The election appeals for governorship and the House of Representatives will now take place on Friday, the 27th of May 2022. While the appeals for the Senate and House of Assembly primaries will take place on Saturday the 28th of May 2022.

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“While the special convention and presidential primary will now take place between Sunday to the 29th and Monday 30th of May 2022”.

When asked if the mode of election was decided, Morka said; “That will be contained in the guidelines that we’re just about to issue”.

The National Publicity Secretary further responded to the burning issue of zoning by saying that he was not aware of any decision made on that.

Osinbanjo Woes Delegates with Accommodation, Feeding

The camp of Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo is wooing delegates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) with accommodation and decent feeding, even as delegates’ Bank account numbers were collected by the campaign team.

The team of the Vice President was in Minna to solicit  support from delegates ahead of the Congress of the ruling party at Government House Minna.

Delegates had converged at Government House Minna as early as 10.00AM yesterday for the arrival of Professor Yemi Osinbanjo, who was expected in the State to address  about 300 delegates.

 Osinbanjo however, arrived Government House Minna around  4.10pm along with his host, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State.

Shortly before his arrival, the Political Adviser to the President,  Babafemi Ojudu had announced to the already seated newsmen to vacate the hall as the meeting was strictly a family affair between the aspirants and the delegates.

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“I’m appealing to you all to kindly leave now before any one is manhandled by the security team, am a journalist too I would not wish that to happen,” Ojudu  said.

In an apparent move to soften the ground for his Principal,  Ojudu assured all delegates present that the Vice President campaign team had made enough arrangements for comfortable accommodation and feeding of all delegates to the Presidential primary scheduled for  May 30 at the Eagle Square.

“We have made adequate arrangements for your accommodation, feeding and  general welfare of all delegates, infact the hotel reservation we made is to ensure that each delegate is entitled to a room to himself, we don’t want a man to share a room with a woman who is not his wife

“There will be a desk officer that will attend to your needs In case you need anything, buses will be provided to convey you to the venue.

“We want you as delegates to carry out this assignment and also enjoy yourselves,” Ojudu added.

The political Adviser to the President further disclosed that, Vice President Osinbanjo if voted into power by February 2023 will review the reward system of the Party to reward all those that contribute to the success of the Party.

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“Every President has about 20,000 jobs he can offer, our thinking is that since we have just a little over 7000 delegates, they should be compensated for their sacrifice and commitment,” he said.

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Emefiele: INEC Considering Moving Its Materials from CBN—Yakubu

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.Says Commission Mindful of  Integrity Breach 

.APC Chairmanship Aspirants Bicker over Non-refund of N20m Nomination Fee 

.Mull Taking their matter to Buhari as Adamu Shuns their Written Appeal

By Jude Opara, Abuja and Dan Amasingha, Minna 

As Nigerians continue to express concern over the surprise involvement into partisan politics by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday disclosed that it was considering moving its sensitive and non sensitive electoral materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) which is under the custody of the the now politically exposed Godwin Emefiele, the  governor in order to ensure their safety and integrity.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed on Thursday during the Second Quarter of the Consultative meeting with media executives at the National headquarters of the Commission in Abuja.


The national electoral body usually secures its materials in the CBN offices across the country, a development that has made some stakeholders to question the safety and security of the materials with Emefiele joining the race for the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)

The INEC boss who was answering a question concerning the security of the items, however, assured that the Commission has never had any cause to worry about the security of the materials in the custody of the apex bank.

Nevertheless, he said if need be, following the apex bank’s incursion into politics, INEC would consider alternative means of safe keeping the materials in order to ensure the confidence of all political stakeholders.

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On the efforts being made to ensure the conduct of a free and credible election in 2023, the INEC Chairman explained that the Commission was living nothing to chance including the periodic training and retraining of its staff and constant engagements with stakeholders including the media, security agencies and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

“Based on the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, the Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election over two months ago. Since then, the official notice for the election has been published as required by law. Similarly, all the 18 political parties in Nigeria have forwarded the schedules for the conduct of their primaries to the Commission and some have commenced the process of choosing their candidates by conducting Ward and Local Government congresses. 

“Beyond the conduct of primaries by political parties, the Commission is required to make Regulations and Guidelines for the implementation of the provisions of the Electoral Act. I am glad to report that the Commission will finalize the document next week to guide the conduct of future elections, including the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections as well as the 2023 General Election”.

He equally gave insight into what is being done to conduct credible elections in Ekiti state next month and Osun in July, saying, “With regard to the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections, the Commission is processing applications by media organizations for accreditation. I wish to reassure you that all applications will be carefully considered and expeditiously treated. The Commission will also work with the security agencies to ensure the safety and security of journalists and their unimpeded access to all voting and collation locations during elections.

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“The Commission has finished the configuration of the BVAS for the Ekiti State Governorship election. To further ensure optimal performance of the BVAS on Election Day, the Commission will undertake a mock voter accreditation exercise in Ekiti State ahead of the main election on 18th June 2022, the details of which will be announced shortly”.


The President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo reassured the Commission of the readiness of the media to continue to partner with it in ensuring that adequate information on its activities was disseminated.

Isiguzo also cautioned the media practitioners to always be factual in their reportage.

APC Chairmanship Aspirants Bicker over Non-refund of N20m Nomination Fee

 
Meanwhile a crisis of confidence is brewing in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of its  presidential primary as it is yet to refund the N20million nomination fee it collected from aspirants who vied for the position of the national chairmanship of the party on March 26, against Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who emerged by consensus arrangement. It could be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari who doubles as the leader of the party had goaded all other aspirants to queue behind his preferred aspirant, Senator Adamu.

It elicited grumble from the other aspirants and party chieftains and by way of damage control, the president stipulated that the party would refund all other aspirants, the N20million they paid for the forms. Some of the aspirants who coughed out N20million to contest for  the  position are worried that the party has moved on without looking at their direction anymore, especially as Buhari further directed the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), headed by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state to ensure the refund 

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DAILY ASSET investigation  revealed that the situation is causing a palpable tension in the party as some of the former chairmanship aspirants who were prevailed to step down for consensus candidate, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu are getting agitated.  
Their abandonment is contrary to a directive given by President  Buhari sequel to the brokering of a consensus chairmanship arrangement. 


Among those who were in the national chairmanship race with the current national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, were former Nasarawa state, Governor Tanko Almakura, Mr Salihu Mustapha from Kwara State, Senator Sani Musa and Mohammed Etsu both from Niger state, Mr Abdul Aziz Yari  from Kebbi state and Mr George Akume from Benue state.


Each of the aspirants had paid the non-refundable fee of N20million before President Buhari persuaded them to step down for Senator Adamu as a his preferred choice.
Having waited without any refund, DAILY ASSET made representations in writing to the new leadership of the party and got no response.
“We have written to the chairman reminding him of the presidential directive, but nothing has been heard from him, ” Mohammed Etsu said.
Etsu disclosed that Adamu has neither replied the letters sent to him nor communicated with any of them verbally.

Asked what step they will take he said: “We might be forced to take the case back to President Muhammadu Buhari since he gave the directive.”

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