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MALLAM ABBA KYARI: A RARE GEM WITH COURAGE OF PERSONAL CONVICTION

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By Jalal Arabi

The Almighty Allah has decreed that “every soul shall taste death.” Indeed that has come to pass for Ya’ Abba and for us his loved ones and admirers world over. This is more pronounced in the encomiums showered on him and eulogies delivered at every opportunity of condolence.

Indeed, the demise of Ya’Abba has brought to fore his hidden qualities and attributes hitherto largely unknown, misunderstood and grossly underestimated.

            In the last five years, our daily retreat used to commence with paying compliments to each other and inquiring about each other’s family.

We would then share latest happenings in our dear nation. However, Ya’Abba’s main areas of interests in all the reportage were citizens’ comments on infrastructural developments and costs of living. He equally would inquire about reported or recorded security reports and breakthroughs in the agricultural sector. After that it was coffee time since we had reduced taking breakfast tea. This latter period was sober as we would discuss how the Government was faring and the need to expand the frontiers of success.

            We will then carry the discussions to lunch where he will insist that every member of the “family” is notified that lunch was ready. The congregation included, until recently, a large group comprising Ambassador Ahmed Rufai, Mallam Musa Shafi’i, Late Tijjani Yusuf, Ambassador Yahaya Lawal, Faruk Gumel, Abdulmutallab Muktar, Fola Oyeyinka, Bode Oyetunde, Amina Ado, Francis Anatogu and Mohammed Salisu Adaya. On most occasions we were joined by Mallam Ya’u Darazo and Garba Shehu. He would insist some dignitaries that would visit him during the period eat with us. Usually, lunch time provided him the opportunity to tap our brains, share his experience on sustainable development and the way forward for our country. We always looked forward to the timing and the engagements. Whoever was not available will be looked for and he would usually apologise if for any reason he delayed coming to table on time. That was vintage Ya’Abba.   

            Today, I write to pay tribute to a Boss, Mentor, Elder Brother and a teacher of innumerable qualities who stood for loyalty, principle, commitment, dedication, patriotism and courage of personal Conviction-Qualities (nouns that) he lived for till he breathed his last.

            I was fortunate to meet Ya’Abba in June, 2015 after they came into the Villa as an Administration. We were then remnants administrative staff left behind by the previous administrations and so have the rare opportunity of welcoming them in. Unassuming as he was till the end, we would meet in the Villa Mosque and on the walk way and exchanged pleasantries. Never given to sycophancy nor mediocrity, he would always mind his business and move on. You would always notice his presence on occasions ONLY if invited otherwise, he would do his beat and retire to the presence of his mentor, Mallam Mamman Daura.

            It was not until August, 2015 that destiny brought us closer, and since then it was never the same again. He was appointed Chief of Staff to the President on 29th August, 2015 and as with the standard practice, he had an overview of his Areas of Responsibility and undertook a tour of units within his purview, one of which was the State House Counsel, which I was privileged to be occupying then. Subsequently, I would be giving him a daily briefing on where we were policy-wise and level of implementation. True to his proactive nature and results-orientation, he would direct immediate follow ups and where necessary drafts for quick update to Mr. President for appropriate action. I continued on that trajectory even after God elevated me to the position of Permanent Secretary. That had never ceased and remained his trademark “prompt action, prompt result”. He detested procrastination under whatever guise.

            Luck came my way when I was able to win the confidence of Ya’Abba by appealing to his appetite of executing instruction on time and with logic. How else could one describe that rare opportunity? As earlier posited, Ya’Abba became my teacher and never for a day denied me the leverage of asking him probing questions. He would always answer your questions from position of pure knowledge, which I believe was acquired over time, more so, with compelling references readily available. He was never bothered by the loads of books and journals in and around his office that can easily qualify same as a library of intellectualism. The sloppy side of this however, is you can never at will borrow or ask him to lend you of any of these treasures except he was sure you would truly read, utilize what you gained therefrom and add value to the discourse. I came to appreciate the style otherwise the “shelves” would have been emptied. Ya’Abba was on the list of first takers of any released publication on Politics, Economics, Philosophy and Social Developments before they are publicly unveiled, – quote me.  You can now understand why his contributions at all forums were not only rich but comprehensive and factual without contradiction. Truly a rare gift of nature, but alas all that has gone, even as the records survived. 

            Ya’ Abba’s love for this nation was never in doubt. He was never shy to take on any contrary stance with in-depth analyses and explanations. He would engage the nay sayers in making them understand the purpose for which we were entrusted with people’s mandate. The nation and its less privileged first before the affluent.  

Little wonder that he became unpopular with the elites. It was not that he had any disdain for the elites (alias Private Sector) having been a beneficiary for most part of his career life but he detested exploitation, unfairness and injustice. With a quick and sharp grasp of the reality of Nigerian situation he went all out to ensure that the Buhari Administration leaves an enduring legacy. He therefore made sure that where necessary, he got aside the bureaucratic processes and procedures to achieve quick results like someone trying to beat his time and so it was. He believed that Government policies should be geared towards bettering the lives of the majority so that way he subtly challenged any slow pace of implementing an infrastructural development and socio-economic policies. Dear to his heart as legacy projects for our administration include the National Council on Food Strategy; Presidential Fertilizer Initiative; Presidential Infrastructure Fund; Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative; Completion of Second Niger Bridge; Initiation for the Funding of 18 Key Road projects across the country; Rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Road Network; Presidential Power Initiative – Siemens; 10MW Grid Solar Power Project In Kano; Planting of 26 Million Trees to address Desertification; Establishment of 16 Federal Science and Technical Schools in the States; Creation of Special Public Works Program to provide part time employment to 40,000 Nigerian Youths across eight (8) states on a pilot basis; and Federal Government’s Covid-19 palliatives; etc. 

 Once those heavy structures and projects are completed or attained to satisfactory levels, he believed Nigeria and Nigerians will be the best for it. I need not remind that it was in the quest of achieving his wish to see to the rescue of the Power-sector that he took ill and subsequently died. Ya’Abba, we were consoled that you died a Hero.

            I cannot stop thinking about how you believed in your cause. How you envisioned Nigeria of your dream. How you felt for the less-privileged. How you planned and ensured the execution of policies that touched on the lives of Nigerians, especially the less-privileged in the areas of Agriculture and Rural Development, Power and the general Economy. I need not say more as the voice of the majority so far have echoed such. I will therefore lean on the maxim “Res Ipsa Loquitur”.

            However, like every mortal, Ya’Abba was not perfect. He was rather reticent and restrained. He was also rather wary or at times suspicious of the civil servants. These two traits seemed to have tainted his orientation and outlook; and might have, in some ways, contributed to his rather unknown and unsung hope or record of achievement.

            Certainly, Nigeria will never be the same again. It has lost an illustrious son who was detribalized, patriotic, honest and realistic. You always taught me to be assertive in my principle, patriotic when it came to Nigerian project and be helpful to the needy within the confines of the Rules. In you I learnt family virtues and communal relationship and fraternity. Our families have become closer that we feel for each other and always there for one another. You have helped me in deepening my knowledge of the world and my country. You taught me the virtues of true friendship and deep appreciation of diversity. You let me into your world of friends and associates most of whom are your likes and in whom I found traces of your commonality of ideas and truthfulness. I only pray that God gives me the tenacity to maintain such a privilege.

            Ya’Abba is gone and so shall all of us go at the appointed time but until such a time I urge us all to imbibe the culture of patriotism and loyalty which were the hallmark he held on to until his demise. This I can attest to and stand for till my last breathe as we shall all depart this world at our appointed time, without exception and shall account for our deeds in the hereafter. I pray that we depart this world of vanity in similar circumstances that will qualify our deaths as martyrs, which simply means dying for a good cause in circumstances that are ordained and exalted. For all intents and purposes, we are hopeful that Ya’Abba died a martyr.

13. I condole with Mr. President, Baba Mamman and most especially, his wonderful family over the irreparable loss, believing that Allah will have mercy on his soul and on ours as well. I now truly believe that “every job is easy when you are not the one doing it”. Allah ya maka Rahama Ya’ Abba, Sai Munzo.   

Jalal A. Arabi, is the outgoing Permanent Secretary, State House, Abuja.

Perspective

Democracy Day Speech By Benue Governor, Ali

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SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY REV. FR. DR. HYACINTH IORMEM ALIA, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF BENUE STATE, DURING THE OCCASION OF DEMOCRACY DAY CELEBRATION, HELD AT THE IBB SQUARE, MAKURDI, ON WEDNESDAY JUNE 12, 2024

My great people of Benue,

2.​I am excited to join you today to mark 25 years of uninterrupted civil administration in our dear country – Nigeria.

3.

​This day affords us the privilege not just to merely mark the passage of time, but to celebrate all our past and present heroes of democracy; as well as reflect on our democratic journey in the state so far, particularly in the last one year prior to which your unanimous voices at the polls culminated into my emergence as your governor.

4.​Exactly two weeks ago, being May 29, 2024, made it exactly one year since I took the oath of office. However, I deliberately postponed my speech on that day so as to coincide with this year’s Democracy Day celebration. 

5.​I considered it more appropriate to use today’s celebrations to give you a brief but articulate account of my stewardship in the last one year; as well as point to the bright path that leads to a greater Benue which we all aspire for, as a government and as a people.

6.​Over a year ago, I stood here and made lofty but achievable promises to you. These promises, enshrined in our 7-point agenda, ranged from economic growth, to infrastructural development, security of lives and property, prompt payment of salaries and pensions/gratuities, amongst others.

7.​Upon assumption of office, we met Benue in an economic ditch. We immediately hit the ground running by engendering economic growth through agriculture. Accordingly, we procured100 trucks of fertilizer which was distributed to farmers at subsidized rates. The impact so far has been tremendous.

8.​Beyond provision of fertilizers, we also approved counterpart funding for International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD’s) Value Chain Development Programme in eight local government areas, with a view to enhancing rice and cassava production. 

9.​We further established collaborations with agricultural input suppliers to ensure the availability of improved seeds and seedlings. This was coupled with our reactivation of the swine/crop integrated project in Yandev, Gboko Local Government Area, through partnership with the French Development Agency to advance agricultural skills, as well as renovation of the infrastructure to boost enhance productivity. 

10.​Furthermore, we have struck a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) deal with Star Fertilizer Company Limited, in order to revive the state-owned fertilizer blending plant. This is in addition to our kick-starting of phased development of the Ikyogen Cattle Ranch.

11.​Meanwhile, plans are in top gear towards dredging the River Benue, as a catalyst for boosting agricultural activities and easy movement of agricultural products.

12.​Furthermore, just last week, I handed over 33 new tractors and the sum of 380 Million Naira to community interest groups across the state, to undertake climate-smart agricultural activitiesunder the Community Revolving Fund (CRF) scheme of the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL).

13.​I assure you that my administration is more than committed to improving the livelihoods of all and sundry in the state, especially through agriculture.

14.​With regards to Economy and Wealth Creation, our administration has created 1,450 ad-hoc jobs for the Nigeria Fire Extinguishers Control, with plans for permanent integration into the Federal Fire Service.

15.​We are currently setting up a multifunctional fashion hub in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President, to benefit over 250 professionals in the industry.

16.​In a similar vein, with 34 out of Nigeria’s 46 solid mineral deposits in Benue, we are on the verge of becoming a mining powerhouse. In view, we have partnered with Sound Core to clean up and develop the mining sector, projecting 3.5 billion Naira in revenue through our annual surface rent scheme.

17.​While tackling illegal mining and educating communities on the legal benefits, our administration in collaboration with the Federal Government, has formed the Mineral Resource and Environmental Management Committee, to protect resources and manage community conflicts.

18.​Meanwhile, we have revitalized government assets, including the Benue Investment and Property Company (BIPC) Kaduna Plaza, as well as the Guest Houses in Kaduna and Makurdi towns respectively. While transitioning to digital operations for better service delivery, we have also commissioned a BIPC bakery and water factory, and launched the Emperor Fertilizer and Motorcycle Hire Scheme, all domiciled in the State.

19.​My esteemed people of Benue, as you recall, when we came on board, our industries were moribund, with many on the brink of being taken over by private hands. We however, said a firm ‘no’ to the glorified wisdom of the last administration that “Government has no business in doing business”.

20.​Today, I proudly inform you that we have initiated the re-establishment and resuscitation of these industries, including Benue Breweries, Taraku Oil Mills, amongst others. This aims at creating more job opportunities for our teeming youths, as well as improving our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

21.​In the area of infrastructure and environment, in the bid to enhance movement of people, goods and services, we commenced the construction of 16 strategic roads in Makurdi and other parts of the State, particularly linking our rural communities. 98% of these roads have been completed, while others are still under construction.

22.​In total, our administration has awarded 51 road projects within just one year, including three underpass projects in Makurdi, Gboko, and Otukpo Local Government Areas, respectively.

23.​In addition, the ‘Light Up Makurdi’ project, extending from Agan Toll Gate to the Air Force Base and other parts of Makurdi, is now a reality and will be expanded to other parts of the State as we step into another year of our tenure. 

24.​We have also renovated and furnished the State Secretariat. We have reconstructed the Benue State House of Assembly Complex, and remodeled the Assembly Clinic.

25.​In the transport sector, the rejuvenation of the state-owned Benue Links Transport Company is another milestone. We have handed 100 new buses to the Company, and subsidized the cost of transportation. We have also upgraded the Company’s headquarters to meet global best standards.

26.​In health and social development, our administration was the first in Nigeria to implement the Revised Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) 2023, at the revised rate. 

27.​We also re-introduced the Bond Scheme for medical students of Benue origin studying medicine, by approving the monthly payment of N103,000 per student. This is coupled with the approval of N100,000 monthly allowances for doctor-corps members serving in the State; as well as N15,000 as monthly allowances for other corps members posted here.

28.​Meanwhile, we have overhauled the Benue State University Teaching Hospital to meet international standards. We have also employed 500 new staff on merit, to augment the workforce.

29.​Our administration has also commenced full clinical services at the Muhammadu Buhari Mother and Child Hospital, Makurdi, to reduce maternal mortality and offer free medical services to women and children under the age of five. Meanwhile, plans are underway to ensure an effective primary healthcare delivery system in the state.

30.​In the aspect of security of lives and property, one of our most prioritized missions has been to ensure that our people, who have been displaced by marauders, can return safely to their ancestral homes. We have therefore initiated the process by lobbying the Federal Government to begin the construction of resettlement homes for our people. 

31.​More so, our administration, in collaboration with security agencies and relevant stakeholders, has been working round the clock to ensure that Benue is a safe haven for all.

32.​Although this task has been challenging, the impact so far has been very encouraging. For instance, we have nipped in the bud almost all the inter-ethnic/community skirmishes that were prevalent before and after we came into office.

33.​Also, farmer/herder crisis and militia attacks have been contained through both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches. And we are determined to lose no sleep until we totally secure our dear State. 

34.​We have also signed into law, the establishment of a state security outfit known as the Benue State Civil Protection Guards: A formidable force combining our Livestock Guards and Volunteer Guards to effectively tackle insecurity in our dear state. 

35.​ My good people of Benue, make no mistakes about the misinformation making the rounds that the Anti-open Grazing Law has been repealed. As a matter of fact, the Law has been strengthened with more stringent stipulations.

36.​Let me use this opportunity to salute all security agencies and formations domiciled in the state, for their priceless sacrifices towards the protection of lives and property. To all volunteers of information, logistics and other efforts towards securing Benue, we are truly grateful.

37.​In the education sector, our administration has made great strides towards repositioning it, right from the primary to tertiary level.

38.​For instance, as part of palliatives for the removal of fuel subsidy, our administration decided to pay for the 2023/2024 examination fees of all students in government approved public secondary schools in the state sitting for the West African Examination Council (WAEC), National Examination Council (NECO), and National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) examinations, respectively.

39.​At the Benue State University, we have expanded academic programmes, established new faculties, restored scholarships for medical students, and paid outstanding salary arrears. We have upgraded the ICT facilities, preparing over 10,000 youths for the global market. The idea is to train over 60,000 youths. 

40.​As a proof of our zeal towards re-writing the narrative of the education sector in Benue, we allocated 15% of the 2024 budget to education, surpassing the 7% at the Federal level. We have also trained over 150 headteachers, and distributed over 100,000 instructional materials across public schools in the state to enhance teaching and learning.

41.​This is coupled with the establishment of the Benue State Education Quality Assurance Agency (BEQA), saddled with the responsibility of daily monitoring and evaluation of all schools across the State, with the aim of improving the standard and qualityof education, as well as reawakening teachers and staff to their responsibilities.

42. This has so far yielded huge results, notably being the recent clinching of an international debate trophy in Indonesia, by four Benue secondary school students who represented Nigeria.

43.​Benue under my watch, has also weeded out thousands of ghost workers, ghost schools, and ghost agencies out of our payroll. We have gone further to cut off all leakages and conduits of inefficient money consuming channels obtainable in the past.

44.​Let it be on record that our administration has borrowed no dime since we came on board. And we shall only do so only when it becomes extremely necessary. Prudence in governance must know us and call us by name.

45.​Meanwhile, it is no longer news that improved staff welfare, prompt payment of salaries and pensions/gratuities, as well as arrears, is now a mainstay under my watch. And so shall it continue to be.

46.​Fellow Benue citizens, I can go on and on for hours, giving you a factual account of our achievements, your achievements in the last one year. However, for want of time, I have only drawn up this summary of our journey so far.

47.​I reserve special thanks to all members of my team for their unsung sacrifices in the quest for a better Benue; and to all of you for your support and belief in us.

48.​As a government of popular consent, I am mindful of the honour and trust bestowed on me. For this, I have pushed sleep and comfort to the backseat to ensure that I live up to the expectations and terms of our social contract. 

49.​Throughout this period, I have earned nothing close to love from those whose selfish interests I step upon to bring you comfort, happiness, and succour. But too high I place your interest above theirs, hence I have no regrets for what I have lost in the cause of this journey. 

50.​As we mark Democracy Day celebrations, I hereby restate my commitment towards re-writing the socio-economic narrative of our dear state. 

51.​I am forever committed to building formidable systems and institutions premised on fairness, accountability, democratic ethos, equity and justice; systems that are bigger and stronger than individuals including my humble self.

52.​I am counting on your continued support to our administration, so that together, we can reposition Benue on the global map.

53.​My vow is to always stand with you, by you, and always for you.​

54.​Thank you, and God bless!

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OPINION

Triumphalism And Denialism As Fallout Of The 2023 Elections

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 By Magnus Onyibe

Justice Monica Dongben-Mensem, the esteemed president of the court of appeals, has expressed concern about the strain placed on the judiciary as a result of an excessive caseload, mostly attributed to the inundation of political issues into the court system.

Her Lordship disclosed that during and after the 2023 election period, politicians officially presented a noteworthy total of 1,209 appeals.

These appeals are presently receiving privileged attention, potentially eclipsing other matters of economic and social importance in the country, consequently relegating non-political legal concerns to a position of lesser priority.

In her analysis, Justice Dongben-Mensem verified that out of 1,209 petitions filed, five (5) were specifically addressing the Presidential Election Petition Court, while 147 pertained to the senatorial election. Additionally, 417 petitions were related to the House of Representatives, 557 were associated with the state Houses of Assembly, and 83 focused on gubernatorial elections.

Although the distinguished jurist identified the high number of election-related lawsuits during this period as being primarily attributed to a deficiency in internal democratic processes within the political parties, it is also important to acknowledge the existence of an additional contributing component, which is the necessity for more amendments to our country’s legislation, specifically the Electoral Act of 2022.

These revisions should aim to address the existing loopholes and ensure a more comprehensive framework, a responsibility that falls upon the legislators of the 10th National Assembly (NASS).

As the verdicts of the various election petition tribunals began to trickle in on September 6th, with the five (5) justices who sat over the Presidential Election Petition, PEPT, leading the charge, the political atmosphere in Nigeria has become fraught with multiple upheavals, with a good number of senators, members of the House of Representatives, governors, and members of state houses of assembly having their victories overturned.

As of the most recent count, the tribunals have invalidated the governorship elections in Kano and Kaduna states, as well as several senatorial and House of Representatives elections across the country, and the election of the current speaker of the Plateau state assembly has also been invalidated.

The current situation implies that there is likely to be a prolonged backlog of cases in the judicial system, as politicians whose election outcomes have been overturned will pursue further legal action in higher courts in a bid to revalidate their electoral success.

Initially, owing to number of elections over turned,supporters of the Labor Party (LP) believed that the tribunals were specifically targeting their candidates. However, they later realized that candidates from other political parties, including the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC), and even the smaller New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), were also experiencing setbacks in the electoral tribunals.

Given that the LP and PDP presidential candidates are currently pursuing legal action to challenge the victory and assumption of the APC candidate as president, it is important to note that their claims are based on allegations of a technical malfunction during the transmission of the presidential results.

This malfunction supposedly facilitated the manipulation of the outcome in favor of the declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). However, it is perplexing to observe that the results of other elections, which were not reported to have encountered any issues with the electronic transmission of results, are also being contested and invalidated.

The point being made here is that some of the results of both the Senatorial and House of Representatives elections that were passed electronically into the INEC database and displayed via IReV and which were adjudged to be unassailable by those denying President Tinubu’s victory at the February 25 polls have been decided by the various state tribunals as being tainted.

The events seen in tribunals around the country, which have led some politicians to express jubilation via triumphalism while others exhibit denialism, indicate that the principle of justice remains impartial. The emblematic representation of justice, often shown as a blindfolded woman wielding a sword in one hand and a scale in the other, serves as a powerful embodiment of the concept of justice. In the context of the 2023 elections, in my view,this symbol has been used to impartially administer justice to all candidates involved.

It is plausible to surmise that the electoral tribunals around the country are working autonomously rather than in concert, resulting in distinct rulings tailored to specific cases.

In this context, if the judiciary is really seen to be biased towards the All Progressives Congress (APC), as claimed by the opposition, it is noteworthy that the two governors who have been removed from office by the tribunals are from the APC (Kaduna state) and the NNPP (Kano state) stables.

It is noteworthy to observe that there has been no instance of a reversal of a governor’s election conducted under the platforms of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) or the Labour Party (LP).
Does that not suggest that the judiciary is working independent of the influence of the ruling party?

Following President Tinubu’s inauguration on May 29, the opposition parties have mostly been in control of the election narrative, focusing on President Bola Tinubu’s academic history at Chicago State University (CSU) in particular.
As a result of that, all eyes have been focused on the duel between the triumphant candidate of the APC, President Bola Tinubu, and the denier,who is the APC’s flag bearer and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.

Given that this conflict has now shifted across the Atlantic Ocean and is being considered within the jurisdiction of the United States court system, where significant action from the opposing sides has already played out,as the presiding judge in the US case, Nancy Maldonaldo has determined the ultimate victor between the two parties with respect to Discovery order of court on Chicago State University,CSU, our focus will solely be directed towards the presidential elections within this discourse.

To establish context, American attorney Angela Liu, the legal representative of former vice president Atiku Abubakar, lodged a formal complaint with CSU which president Tinubu’s alma mater requesting the disclosure of his alleged counterfeit certificate.

In response, Christopher McCarthy, President Tinubu’s attorney, sought to postpone the release of his client’s personal information, citing potential harm if done hastily. This legal tactic was utilized to allow sufficient time for the preparation of a comprehensive response, a common strategy frequently employed by legal professionals.

Coincidentally, similar to President Tinubu’s legal team, Atiku Abubakar’s lawyers also requested an accelerated hearing of the case in the United States court, presided over by Judge Jeffrey Gilbert. This request was made due to the potential harm that any further delay in obtaining the academic records from CSU could cause to the petitioner’s case.

It is important to note that, according to the Electoral Act 2022, introducing new evidence in Nigeria’s Supreme Court is prohibited after a certain period of time, thus making it time-barred.

On Monday, September 25th, which is the date that Judge Macdonaldo granted permission for the response to be submitted, President Tinubu’s legal team argued that the petitioner’s request would be considered a fishing expedition.

For the sake of those unfamiliar with legalese, it is important to clarify that the term “fishing” in legal discourse refers to a situation where the motive behind seeking the authority to inquire is unclear.

On the contrary, it is anticipated that upon the conferral of authority, a favorable outcome will ensue. According to law dictionary, it is typically uncommon for courts to approve such claims due to their tendency to be speculative in nature.

The ongoing legal dispute between former Nigerian vice president Atiku Abubakar and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the courts of the United States of America bears resemblance to a previous incident involving former US President Donald Trump.

While preparing for his contest for the presidency of the US, Trump made claims asserting that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Due to the absence of substantiating evidence, the individual in question was embarking on an exploratory endeavor, akin to a fishing expedition, with the intention of unearthing potentially compromising information by asserting that Mr. Obama is not of American origin.

Initially, President Obama refrained from providing his birth certificate as a means to refute Mr. Trump’s assertion. This situation subsequently led to Trump’s associates initiating efforts to obtain President Obama’s academic records through legal channels, albeit without success.

Eventually, President Obama chose to release his birth certificate voluntarily, thereby making it available for public scrutiny. Upon the release of this document, which served as confirmation of his birth within the United States, Donald Trump was ignominiously silenced.

Coincidentally, former President Trump had also taken measures to protect his personal and corporate financial records from authorities in the state of New York and the general public, both prior to and following his assumption of the presidency as the 44th president of the United States.

However, on Tuesday, September 26th, the city of New York successfully obtained official access to his financial records. Consequently, charges of fraud were brought against former President Trump and his two sons for allegedly inflating the value of their real estate asset in New York, namely the Trump Tower etc.

After employing legal measures to impede access to his financial records for nearly a decade,the regulator eventually obtained the aforementioned information. Upon review, did the regulator discover compelling evidence against President Trump that was anticipated to be very impactful or revelatory? Indeed, they did not. This assertion stems from longstanding claims that the real estate magnate, Mr. Trump, maintained connections with both organized crime and the Russian government.

During the prelude to the 2019 presidential campaign for re-election , opponents of Trump contended that he engaged in strategic politicking towards Russia due to a perceived influence the nation held over him, potentially stemming from his involvement in illicit activities on Russian soil.

The recent judgment by the New York Court reveals that Mr. Trump has been accused solely of engaging in the act of inflating the worth of his real estate holdings and nothing else. So, after all the hoopla regarding former President Trump’s finances, it turned out to be a little more than hot air as he was not found to be linked to any sinister activities as had been suspected.

This may be the case in the Atiku Abubakar/Bola Tinubu/CSU legal battle in the United States now that a superior court under judge Nancy Maldonado has ruled that president Tinubu’s CSU academic record (non-personal) must be released to the petitioner, as earlier ruled by judge Jeffery Gilbert.

In Nigeria, many have also referenced the instance involving former president Goodluck Jonathan, wherein he denied the request for the disclosure of his Doctor of Philosophy,PhD records from the educational institution from which he graduated . The university’s response to the Freedom of Information (FOI) request, in which they declined to give the information to a human rights and good governance advocacy group, has gained significant attention on various social media platforms.

While the veracity of the social media report remains unverified, the act of withholding or obstructing the disclosure of educational records to political adversaries is not an unprecedented occurrence in Nigeria.

At this juncture, it is apropos that we take a hard look at all the possible scenarios in the unfolding elections 2023 saga in order to have a good sense of the possible final outcome of the epic political battle between the ruling party and the main opposition party’s candidates for the presidency of our beloved country.

For the purposes of this discussion and conjecture, it should be noted that it is a well-established fact in Nigeria, as well as the rest of the world, that a male and a female can have the same name, particularly when the name is unisex, as in the cases of Chika, Uche in Igbo land, and Bola, Biodun in Yoruba land.

The prevalence of individuals sharing identical names is particularly widespread within the Hausa/Fulani region, where there is a significant number of perhaps up to one million Mohammed Abubakars who do not necessarily share the same lineage nor originate from the same locality or state.

The prevalence of shared names among individuals with origins from the northern region of our nation can be attributed to the historical practice of naming Hausa and Fulani individuals after their respective towns or villages of origin. Consider the late Mallam Isah Funtua, who was named after Funtua town, or Dr. Musa Kwakwanso, hailing from Kwakwanso village.

From a technical and political standpoint, it is plausible to consider the scenario where a female individual, other than President Tinubu who is male , is claimed to have gained admission into CSU. In this context, it is conceivable that both a female named Bola Tinubu and a guy named Bola Ahmed Tinubu, distinguishable by their middle names, may have been admitted into CSU around the same period.

And what if the clerk who documented Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s records at CSU made a typographical error and put female instead of male while carrying out the assignment? What if all the hullabaloo was caused by two (2) letters FE being unintentionally added to MALE to give the impression that there was a female Bola Tinubu?

The reason for raising the above posers is that these are political times wherein saying and doing things just to make political opponents furious or ticked off and fall into error are legitimate political weapons.

If the court has granted the petitioners’ full request, would this not amount to inadvertently giving aid to an opposition candidate, whom the intervenor has accused of conducting opposition research?

Is it not the reason why judges preside in the Temple of Justice with meticulous scrutiny, considering all aspects of a case, in order to ensure that justice is not only served but also perceived to be served?

William Blackstone, an English legal scholar, coined the proverb “It is better to err on the side of caution” in his influential 1760 book Commentaries on the Laws of England.

This statement provides a rationale for the legal principle in criminal law, commonly referred to as Blackstone’s ratio (or Blackstone’s formulation), which posits that “it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”.

In trying to play the role of a devil’s advocate, one is of the opinion that proving a stolen identity case, which Turaki Atiku Abubakar’s lawyers are alleging and hoping would be the golden bullet to literally shoot down President Tinubu’s ambition and dispose him of his presidency following his election victory on February 25th, would not be a simple task, if not an impossible mission, and here are the reasons why.

So far, there may not be a female Bola Tinubu who has complained about being impersonated. If she is alive,she would have to be a witness or be joined in the case. If she has passed on, she must have family members that would stand in for her.

Otherwise, on what basis could it be asserted that Bola Ahmed Tinubu posed as a female Bola Tinubu in order to gain admission to CSU, given that no evidence of her existence is available?

My intuition is that the narrative may not resonate with the judges of the Supreme Court in Nigeria (assuming new evidence is admitted) if the petitioner is unable to produce the female Bola Tinubu, a purported US citizen, whom they claim has been impersonated by the incumbent president of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Under normal circumstances (especially on moral grounds), I would agree wholeheartedly that the educational records of President Tinubu or anyone else occupying public office should be released to the public so that he can receive acclaim for academic excellence, especially since President Tinubu’s CSU transcript reveals that his performance is in the top 10 percentile.

However, I would want to protect my academic records if they were to be utilized for the purpose of doing opposition research on me. This is a commonly observed phenomenon in the realm of politics. President Tinubu and his legal team seem to consider the discovery litigation filed by the petitioner in this manner.

The reality is that it is in the character of politicians to behave in ways that confound the general public. This is because there are almost always underlying issues in political affairs, and only tackless actors in the political game fall into the pitfalls set by their opponents, who draw them into the public arena by means of blackmail and conspiracy theories.

The primary objective of shrewd politicians, however, is to convert the problems foisted upon them by their detractors (who are numerous) into promotion by doing things on their own terms.

Imagine if President Tinubu’s academic records are eventually disclosed as directed by Judge Maldonado later this week, and they turn out to contain nothing objectionable.

How would the legal and media teams of PDP candidate and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, who have been raising expectations and feeling triumphant, appear if it were determined that President Tinubu was admitted to CSU legally and did not engage in identity theft as has been alleged?

Although it would seem as if l an holding brief for President Tinubu, the purpose of this piece is to enlighten Nigerians on the subject by highlighting the fact that politicians have numerous reasons to be extremely complex and convoluted in their behavior.

The reality is that it is inherent in the essence of politics for players to engage in sophistry. Which is why I do not fault Nigerians who are perplexed by the ongoing political conflict between 2023 election winners and denialist politicians.

In reality, there are always grey areas in politics, as opposed to black and white divides. And what is taking place today between former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a classic illustration of things being in the grey zones of politics that can be perplexing to the uninitiated.

During the legal proceedings in 2019 involving Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari, who served as the Chief of Staff to President Buhari at the time, made an allegation that Atiku was of Cameroonian nationality rather than Nigerian.

Supposedly, this can be attributed to his birthplace in Jadda, a region located within Adamawa State. Notably, Jadda was situated on the Cameroonian side, which had not yet been included in Nigeria prior to the vote that made Jadda a part of Nigeria . Despite the absurdity of the incident, it did occur.

During the presidency of Alh. Shehu Shagari from 1979 to 1983, under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), there were allegations made against Shugaba Daman, a candidate representing the Great Nigerian People Party (GNPP), an opposition party to Shagari’s National Party of Nigeria, NPN in Borno State.

These allegations claimed that Daman was a foreigner from the Niger Republic. Consequently, it was determined that he did not meet the requirements to participate in the elections.

In the meantime, Alh. Daman was living a normal life in Nigeria until he confronted the NPN and was drawn into the arena of anomie, as he was deported to the Niger Republic after the NPN obtained a favorable judgment. Is that not ludicrous?

In 2003, I assumed a public office as a commissioner in Delta, my home state, through an appointment by Chief James Ibori, who served as governor from 1999 to 2007. Before the appointment was confirmed , I encountered vehement opposition from a local group that aimed to promote an alternative candidate for the commissioner position in my local government area.

However, their efforts were unsuccessful, as Governor Ibori selected me for the appointment instead of their preferred candidate.

In an attempt to obfuscate the situation, the local political interest group had disseminated a fabricated story, which can be characterized as a very deceptive falsehood, asserting that my origin was in Edo State rather than Agbor in Delta State.

The individuals provided a rationale for their assertion subsequent to discovering the existence of a family residing in the border town between Edo and Delta State (Igbanke) who possessed an identical surname to mine. The absence of any biological or social connection to the specified family in Igbanke, Edo State, was inconsequential to them. In reality, I hail from Ogbe-Umudein, the homestead of the kingmakers in Agbor Kingdom.

Following Governor Ibori’s dismissal of the false allegations and subsequent confirmation of my appointment, a period of calm ensued, and the individuals involved in the plot to undermine my political career revealed to me their collaborative efforts aimed at sabotaging my political trajectory. This exemplifies the nature of politics.

As a result of the foregoing, my advice to those splitting hairs over President Tinubu’s academic records or those ecstatic that the president’s political career is about to be derailed by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, whose status has shifted from denial to triumphalism as a result of his victory in the US court, is to wait and see what happens in Nigeria’s Supreme Court, which is the final arbiter on the matter.

While the Discovery case in the United States has kept optimism alive in Turaki Atiku Abubakar’s camp, Mr. Peter Obi’s ‘neck of the wood’ looks to have turned inactive. Will the US court’s finding that the discovery requested by the petitioner on President Tinubu’s academic records at CSU rouse the LP camp?

The petitioner, former vice president Atiku Abubakar’s legal and media team, has been ecstatic about the explosive evidence that the president’s comprehensive academic records at CSU, once disclosed, may contain.
And is there any sure guarantee possibility that when the new evidence (assuming it contains anything incriminating) is presented by the petitioner in his appeal to the Supreme Court of Nigeria, it will be admitted or permitted to matter in the case?

And because the Supreme Court is structured to consider not only the fundamental principles of law but also the existential realities of society by balancing the positive against the negative effects of its decisions, the highest court will likely have a lot to ruminate on.

Over all, the greatest beneficiaries of the hard-fought legal battles in the US and Nigeria would be the Nigerian electorate. That would be regardless of the triumphalism and denial of the 2023 elections by the ruling and main opposition parties and their presidential candidates, President Bola Tinubu and former vice president Atiku Abubakar.

The assertion above is underscored by the fact that at the conclusion of the arduous litigation, our electoral law would be stronger.

That is not discountenancing the fact that some attorneys in Nigeria and the United States have reaped and will continue to reap handsome financial rewards as a result of the rush to the courts by politicians who believe that the laws of our land, particularly with regard to the Electoral Act 2023, are too vague and therefore require the intervention of the judiciary, the third branch of government, and the interpreters of laws.

Put succinctly, as someone who considers himself an optimist that constantly looks for the positive side of bad circumstances (turning lemons into lemonade) and who finds oasis in deserts, even though some critics think that the 2023 elections have brought democracy to its nadir in our nation,I am of the opinion that anything that emerges from the intensely contested legal battles in Nigeria and the US courts between Mr. Peter Obi of the LP and Turaki Atiku Abubakar of the PDP over President Bola Tinubu’s victory in the election 2023 would undoubtedly deepen the practice of democracy in Nigeria by turning it from what appears to be a narrative of doom, gloom, and a fledgling state into lofty heights.

That is because our lawmakers in the 10th National Assembly will now see the obvious need to fine-tune the laws and rules governing elections, which need to be clarified and made watertight in order to avoid clogging the law courts with pre- and post-election litigation, which the Appeal Court President Justice Monica Dongben-Mensem has lamented as putting too much undue strain on the judges.

According to the jurist, the prominence of electoral issues is overshadowing and displacing other facets of life, such as commercial disputes and familial problems, which also need legal resolution. Moreover, the prioritization of political cases seems to be superseding other matters during the present election period.

Having been apprised of the above information, it is my fervent hope and l guess the expectation of all well-meaning Nigerians that the 10th National Assembly will tie up all the loose ends in the Electoral Act 2022 that have caused politicians to rush to the courts over election matters so that apolitical Nigerians can breathe.

Magnus Onyibe,an entrepreneur,public policy analyst, author,democracy advocate,development strategist,alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA, and a former commissioner in the Delta State government, sent this piece from Lagos, Nigeria.
To continue with this conversation and more, please visit www.magnum.ng.

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Perspective

FULL TEXT of President Bola Tinubu’s 63rd Independence Day Anniversary Speech

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Dear Compatriots,

1. It is my unique honour to address you on this day, the 63rd anniversary of our nation’s independence, both as the President of our dear country and, simply, as a fellow Nigerian.

2. On this solemn yet hopeful day, let us commend our founding fathers and mothers.

Without them, there would be no modern Nigeria.
From the fading embers of colonialism, their activism, dedication and leadership gave life to the belief in Nigeria as a sovereign and independent nation.

3. Let us, at this very moment, affirm that as Nigerians, we are all endowed with the sacred rights and individual gifts that God has bestowed on us as a nation and as human beings.

No one is greater or lesser than the other. The triumphs that Nigeria has achieved shall define us. The travails we have endured shall strengthen us. And no other nation or power on this earth shall keep us from our rightful place and destiny. This nation belongs to you, dear people. Love and cherish it as your very own.

4. Nigeria is remarkable in its formation and essential character. We are a broad and dynamic blend of ethnic groups, religions, traditions and cultures. Yet, our bonds are intangible yet strong, invisible yet universal. We are joined by a common thirst for peace and progress, by the common dream of prosperity and harmony and by the unifying ideals of tolerance and justice.

5. Forging a nation based on the fair application of these noble principles to a diverse population has been a task of significant blessing but also a serial challenge. Some people have said an independent Nigeria should never have come into existence. Some have said that our country would be torn apart. They are forever mistaken. Here, our nation stands and here we shall remain.

6. This year, we passed a significant milestone in our journey to a better Nigeria. By democratically electing a 7th consecutive civilian government, Nigeria has proven that commitment to democracy and the rule of law remains our guiding light.

7. At my inauguration, I made important promises about how I would govern this great nation. Among those promises, were pledges to reshape and modernize our economy and to secure the lives, liberty and property of the people.

8. I said that bold reforms were necessary to place our nation on the path of prosperity and growth. On that occasion, I announced the end of the fuel subsidy.

9. I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I have a heart that feels and eyes that see. I wish to explain to you why we must endure this trying moment. Those who sought to perpetuate the fuel subsidy and broken foreign exchange policies are people who would build their family mansion in the middle of a swamp. I am different. I am not a man to erect our national home on a foundation of mud. To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground.

10. Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the costs of reaching a future Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever fading past.

11. There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future.

12. My government is doing all that it can to ease the load. I will now outline the path we are taking to relieve the stress on our families and households.

13. We have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilize the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policy to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.

14. Based on our talks with labour, business and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation. For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional Twenty-Five Thousand naira per month.

15. To ensure better grassroots development, we set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas. States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.

16. Making the economy more robust by lowering transport costs will be key. In this regard, we have opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the nation. These buses will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.

17. New CNG conversions kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on deck to fast track the usually lengthy procurement process. We are also setting up training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs. This is a groundbreaking moment where, as a nation, we embrace more efficient means to power our economy. In making this change, we also make history.

18. I pledged a thorough housecleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted. Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences. Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.

19. Wise tax policy is essential to economic fairness and development. I have inaugurated a Committee on Tax Reforms to improve the efficiency of tax administration in the country and address fiscal policies that are unfair or hinder the business environment and slow our growth.

20. To boost employment and urban incomes, we are providing investment funding for enterprises with great potential. Similarly, we are increasing investment in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

21. Commencing this month, the social safety net is being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programs to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.

22. My administration shall always accord the highest priority to the safety of the people. Inter-Service collaboration and intelligence sharing have been enhanced. Our Service Chiefs have been tasked with the vital responsibility of rebuilding the capacities of our security services.

23. Here, I salute and commend our gallant security forces for keeping us safe and securing our territorial integrity. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We remember them today and their families. We shall equip our forces with the ways and means needed to perform their urgent task on behalf of the people,

24. We shall continue to make key appointments in line with the provisions of the Constitution and with fairness toward all. Women, Youth and the physically challenged shall continue to be given due regard in these appointments.

25. May I take this opportunity to congratulate the National Assembly for its role in the quick take-off of this administration through the performance of its constitutional duties of confirmation and oversight.

26. I similarly congratulate the judiciary as a pillar of democracy and fairness.

27. I also thank members of our dynamic civil society organizations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigerian democracy. We may not always agree but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters and you have my due respect.

28. Fellow compatriots, the journey ahead will not be navigated by fear or hatred. We can only achieve our better Nigeria through courage, compassion and commitment as one indivisible unit.

29. I promise that I shall remain committed and serve faithfully. I also invite all to join this enterprise to remake our beloved nation into its better self. We can do it. We must do it. We shall do it.!!!

30. I wish you all a happy 63rd Independence Anniversary.

31. Thank you for listening.32. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

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