The recent Supreme Court judgment which has invariably distorted the political situation in Zamafara State and done incalculable damage to the fortunes of the State Chapter of the APC understandably came as a shock to many observers of the Nigeria political scene. While many saw it coming way back, many never believed such a situation could manifest, and even many more never envisaged or contemplated such an improbable political macabre dance of the absurd.
The circumstances leading to this dramatic turn of events is not only in the public domain but has become well understood by political watchers. Two contending groups within the Zamfara State Chapter of the APC had major disagreements on the outcome of primary elections conducted to select candidates who will fly the flag of the Party for various positions in the just concluded elections.This situation ended up in court and could not be resolved before the expiration of the time stipulated by INEC for submission
of the list of candidates. It was finally laid to rest last week by the Supreme Court when it unanimously and resoundingly held that the APC had no candidates in the just concluded elections, having not conducted valid primary elections as required by law.
Coming exactly twenty years since the return to civil and democratic rule in our country Nigeria the Supreme Court judgment is probably a very unfortunate development indeed and a fitting testimony to the low quality of democracy practiced in Nigeria after twenty unbroken years. But even more than that, this situation calls for sober reflection on the part of political parties and all lovers of democracy and the democratisation process.
While the scale and magnitude of the casualties in the Zamfara imbroglio may be unprecedented, the circumstances giving rise to this unfortunate development are not particularly new.
Since the general election that ushered in democratically elected leaders at various levels in 1999 the conduct of various political parties, particularly pertaining to party primaries, has left a lot to be desired. The Supreme Court, at some point or other, has had to intervene and wield the big stick just like it did in the Zamafara matter, and hand down punitive decisions that ordinarily should serve as a deterrent, but that desired deterrence hardly ever gets to fruition. The Omehia/Amaechi matter in Rivers, the
Hembe/Mato matter, the Boko/Nungwa are just a few of such instances.
In a relatively recent decision of the apex court – APGA vs. Anyanwu, their Lordship of the august seem to have been slow to any form of intervention in what is referred to as the domestic affairs of a political party. This is how Kekere-Ekun, JSC captured it: “membership of a political party is the domestic affair of the party concerned, and the courts will not be involved in deciding who the members of a political party are… In Lado vs. CPC (2012) 12 WRN 1, this court observed that with the introduction of section 34 of the Electoral Act, the absolute powers of political parties had been curtailed slightly but emphasised the fact that the provision did not in any way alter or modify the principle that the question as to who is a candidate of a political party for any election is a political question within the domestic jurisdiction of political parties and consequently not justiciable”
It is a different ball game entirely when in exercising this right conferred on political parties they are in palpable violation of their constitution, guidelines and regulations.
however, indicate that where it is established that a political party has violated its constitution and guidelines, then the matter ceases to be within its domestic realm, and can be inquired into by the courts. See Aghedo vs. Adenomo (2019) WRN 1 at 54 where Kekere-Ekun, JSC had this to say: “the law is settled that a political party has a duty to obey its own constitution and guidelines See Hope Uzodinma v. Senator O. Izunaso (No 2) 2012 2 WRN 1; (2011) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1275) 30. Therefore, in respect of its own constitution and guidelines, the court will not allow a political party to act arbitrarily or whimsically… Put differently, a political party is not allowed or permitted to operate above or outside its own laws – its constitution and guidelines, and indeed the constitution and the electoral act”. Clearly, the point that is being made by the apex court is that a political party is at liberty to make whatever law it chooses or pleases, but once that law is made, it has to be obeyed hook line and sinker.
And this is precisely what happened in Uzodinma vs. Izunaso (2012) 2 WRN 1 where the apex court per Rhodes-Vivour, JSC had this to say: “where the Political Party nominates a candidate for an election contrary to its own constitution and guidelines, a dissatisfied candidate has every right to approach the court for redress. In such a situation the courts have jurisdiction to examine and interpret relevant legislations to see
if the political party complied fully with legislation on the issue of nomination. The courts will never allow a political party to act arbitrarily or as it likes”.
Although the subject matter of Uzodinma vs. Izunaso (supra) had to do with nomination of candidates for an electoral contest, it nevertheless gives us an insight into the attitude of the court to situations of breach of the law, guidelines and constitution of political parties under the guise of domestic matters.
It is our hope and expectation, therefore, that the Zamfara case and several other cases referred to here and the seemingly changing attitude of the Supreme Court as the policy court of the land, will combine with the gradual consolidation of our democratic process and form the basis for which political parties will not only operate on the basis of internal democratic principles but will equally serve as a constant reminder for them to respect their constitutions and guidelines.
Still on Maintaining Balance in Choice of Running Mates
By Golu Timothy
Last week, melting point focused on the likely choices of running mates of the different political parties after the conduct of their respective national conventions. While the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, quickly and calculatively settled for Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Labour and other parties are said to have quietly submitted dummy names to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, subject to final decisions by the respective flag bearers in conjunction with the leadership of the parties.
Timelines have been allotted for such and all other political activities by INEC and last Friday 17th was the dateline for the submission of the names of the running mates. The Electoral Act also provided windows for replacement of names earlier submitted and therefore all the parties have opportunities for proper consultations.That’s why the APC and LP could submit dummies to INEC and get them comfortably replaced before the dateline for replacements . But for the PDP, it’s a decision taken and sealed, ready for campaigns.
Within the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC which has produced former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu as its presidential candidate, growing indications that former Speaker of the 8th House of representatives, Bauchi born Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara is the preferred choice of vice president, is fast gaining momentum. Everyone knows the electoral value and political reach and spread of Dogara having served as one of the best few Speakers the nation has produced. The nation has been agog in debate as to whether Tinubu should pick a Christian or muslim running mate and each religious divide is putting pressure to get the slot.
It is very imperative to give objective consideration for the choice of a VP from a wider perspective and not from a politically inclined position. If Atiku who is a muslim northerner can pick Okowa a Christian southerner, then it is only proper for Tinubu, a southern muslim to pick a Dogara or any other northern Christian to balance the religious equation. Tinubu, a muslim, from Lagos South West Nigeria, is expected to pair with Dogara, a Christian from Bauchi, North east Nigeria. On the PDP side, Atiku, a muslim from Adamawa in North East Nigeria has already paired with Okowa, a Christian from Delta, South South region of Nigeria. The need for a balanced ticket is not out of place considering the sharp dividing lines of region, religion and ethnicity in the country. That some northern muslims are making strong case for a muslim-muslim ticket is enough for Christians to make a case for balance. Why can’t the Apc and labour tow the line of the PDP? In the submission of their dummies, Tinubu is said to have submitted the name of a fellow muslim from Katsina, Kabir Masari while LP’s Peter Obi has submitted a fellow Christian, Doyin Okupe as running mate. This to me, should be corrected in the final consideration before submission. Its not whether a muslim muslim or Christian Christian ticket can bring victory or not. The most important consideration here is the future of peace, trust, confidence and mutual respect for each other as the nation peruse the next 4 or 8 years as the case may be. As governance takes off with such sentimental affiliations, people will begin to read and define every government policy and action, not on any merit but base on who is saying them and the leadership promoting them.
If all things being equal ,the polity is not supposed to be divided along ethnic and religious lines, but realities on ground have made it very important for such considerations to hold sway. While some people believe that competence and not where you come from should be the guiding principle, the nature of power dynamics and allocations in politics must have boundaries expressed in such sentiments. We cannot assume otherwise , but must work with the realities in our hands, and the realities are that we are a secular nation dominated by two major religious groups which requires mutual consideration and respect for mutual coexistence. Since we have separate states and constituencies across the nation, one cannot wish away such considerations which are aimed at acquiring power.
Some people keep making reference to the Abiola/ Kingibe era in which both the presidential candidate and running mate were muslim. Such can not be easily applied now in view of the glaring suspicions and differences that exist. One can imagine if Obasanjo who is a Christian had picked a fellow Christian in 1999 or that the late Yar’Adua as a muslim, could have picked another muslim as his vice instead of a Christian. Political crisis and conflicts of monumental proportions could have been created, but for the way the balancing was done, there was peace and stability in governance all through. Why then must we change from the status quo since we have enjoyed doing so in the past and even right now. Buhari could have picked Tinubu as was speculated in 2015 but everyone opposed it then for peace to reign, why now?
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Those who are opposed to such balancing now are not fair to the system. They are self serving and greedy political players who wants to use religion to get what they could not get by merit and who don’t believe in mutual respect or coexistence. If the country can share power between the north and south, why can’t it look at the composition of the two zones in order to also balance the power equation? The choice of Dogara , a Christian to deputise for Tinubu, a muslim is one of the best options of balancing for the nation. It shows he has respect for Christians who in turn will feel a strong sense of belonging in the government.
As it is now, the nation is warming up for the most critical elections in the political history of the people, especially as the country confronts a transition from the outgoing Buhari administration to a new one. Nigerians of all shades and opinions, most especially those at the leadership levels should not divide this country by promoting unpopular and divisive tendencies of Muslim -muslim or Christian- Christian tickets for whatever reasons. While we appreciate PDP’s Atiku for setting the pace, we urge Tinubu, Obi, Kwankwaso and other presidential candidates to, in the same spirit of mutual respect and understanding, balance themselves for the sake of God and a peaceful country. We must look at the nation beyond our personal prisms and calculations. We must know that diaris God oh.
The Evolving Peter Obi Phenomenon
By Femi Mimiko
As a political scientist, I am conversant enough with how a momentum similar to the one that is building up behind Peter Obi today propelled hitherto unknown political qualities into high office… The fundamental condition for this type of seismic movement is mass anger and public trust deficit, which are aplenty in Nigeria today… So, let no one underestimate the unfolding Obi phenomenon.
It’s certainly not the case that the piece, “The Peter Obi Tsunami…”, by Farooq Kperogi is a mere stuff for entertainment, as it has been suggested. Far from it! Indeed, the writer has done very well to interrogate the context within which Obi emerged, the forces driving the Obi ‘tsunami’, the limitations thereto, and the upset the candidate may cause in 2023. I associate very well with this broad outline. We should recall that a few days ago, I actually gave vent to my hunch recently that Obi may come off in the 2023 election as a very strong first runner-up, if he does not win.I guess it’s a similar conclusion Farooq has reached in his piece.
I also fancy the writer’s sensitivity to the fact that Obi tends to embellish his presentations, I add, almost to the point of dancing on the sharp edges separating truth and untruths. Yet, it is absolutely correct that the Labour Party candidate looks far ahead of both Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu in the promise of a better governed Nigeria, which he represents. My four major concerns with, and about his candidature are these: first, Peter Obi doesn’t seem to appreciate that Nigeria of today needs much more than a relatively more efficient, less wasteful, and less corrupt government.
The primacy of a structural recasting of the country cannot be overemphasised! Obi doesn’t seem to share this concern; or if he does, hasn’t demonstrated any evidence that he knows how to go about addressing it. If extant governance structures are not recast, in the direction of a more functional federal system that would deepen the possibilities for autochthonous development, no matter how much efficiency an Obi brings to governance, the fundamentals of Nigeria’s crises would still be firmly in place.
…while Obi is quite adept as highlighting the challenges of bad governance that Nigeria epitomises, he is not really quite profound in terms of the practicalities of addressing the same. Recounting the difficulties of the country in such an eloquent manner as Obi does it, is good to the ears. The task, however, is what, in precise terms, you need to deliver a qualitative alternative. Obi can still do much better on this.
Secondly, Obi doesn’t come across as tough enough to confront all of the evil forces, and human and institutional principalities that have held Nigeria down for so long. He doesn’t come with a touch of ‘rascality’ that is needful for sorting out this ‘congregation of evil’ that is Nigeria’s rapacious and unconscionable political class. Thirdly, while Obi is quite adept as highlighting the challenges of bad governance that Nigeria epitomises, he is not really quite profound in terms of the practicalities of addressing the same. Recounting the difficulties of the country in such an eloquent manner as Obi does it, is good to the ears. The task, however, is what, in precise terms, you need to deliver a qualitative alternative. Obi can still do much better on this.
Fourthly, I have this uncomfortable feeling that an Obi presidency could mean greater tension over Lagos, vis-a-vis the thinly veiled ownership claims – or in the least, a sense of entitlement – of his own ethnic nation, on the former federal capital. It would require all the dexterity of an Obi presidency in ensuring this lingering tension does not snowball into a major inter-ethnic inferno. If and when Obi and his handlers are able to persuasively address these issues, so many stakeholders, who are genuinely concerned about the direction in which Nigeria seems again to be headed, may not hesitate to move into his corner.
Talks about a political structure, or shortage thereof, which the anti-Obi forces are drumming up, are valid, but not insurmountable. As a political scientist, I am conversant enough with how a momentum similar to the one that is building up behind Peter Obi today propelled hitherto unknown political qualities into high office. A recent example was Tunisia in 1999, where such a momentum swept Kais Saied, a professor, into the presidential palace. The fundamental condition for this type of seismic movement is mass anger and public trust deficit, which are aplenty in Nigeria today. The Nigerian state is in the throes of what elsewhere I characterised as a ‘creeping failure,’ the evidence of which is out there for any patriotic mind to track. So, let no one underestimate the unfolding Obi phenomenon. Putting him away with a wave of the hand isn’t in any way scientific.
Femi Mimiko is a professor of Political Science at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and a member of the National Institute (MNI).
E-mail: email@example.com; Twitter: @FemiMimiko
Zamfara: A Look at Matawalle’s Enviable Strides in Three Years
By Jamil M. Jamil Gusau
The administration of Bello Matawallen Maradun Barden Kasar Hausa and Shatiman Daular Usmaniya is three years old as at 29th May 2022 and as rightly expected by many people and as the tradition, people have been expecting the usual heavy celebration such as commissioning of development projects as part of the fulfillment of the development agenda of the government.
As citizen of Zamfara, I am part of those with similar expectations, but I did not allow such outrageous expectations to take away my conscience, especially about the true situation of the state in terms of the re-emerging security challenges confronting it and its people.Basically, however, I am among those that have always demonstrated their concern and extend goodwill to the government of Bello Matawalle especially, considering the good take-off the Governor had, since inception in 2019.
But we should not also ignore the challenges faced by the administration at its infancy stage, from litigations to political crises and masterminded insecurity by opponents of the administration.
Before the beginning of this fiscal year, 2022, we are all living witnesses to the genuine aspiration of transforming the state as demonstrated by Governor Bello Matawalle in education, healthcare sector, security management, infrastructure as well as human capital development.
We cannot under-estimate the impact of the lingering political crises deliberately caused by the opposition to distract the much needed attention of the government. Evidently before the beginning of the year 2022, the Governor started on an excellent note by off-setting the outstanding matching grants to the UBEC National Headquarters, Abuja which assisted the state in accessing additional funds that were used in renovating over one thousand blocks of classrooms and an additional funding for the training and retraining of teachers and also okayed the reinstatement of the abandoned (500) school teachers earlier recruited by his predecessor.
He also ordered for the reinstatement of the aggrieved 1,400 civil servants also recruited by his predecessor but were neglected with an order for the payment of all their outstanding entitlements. He also championed the payment of the annual leave grant, which was not paid throughout the eight year term of his predecessor.
The government of Bello Matawalle ordered the state Ministry for Health to also recruit additional 200 health personnel into the state civil service and within the year, also approved the recruitment of another set of 500 health workers into the service of the state. He has embarked on the renovation and upgrading of the abandoned Talatar Mafara General Hospital and also awarded the renovation of General Hospitals Gummi and Tsafe. This is beside ongoing total reconstruction of Farida General Hospital and King Fahad General Hospital all in Gusau.
Though the completion of Shinkafi referral hospital is at its peak, the administration of Matawalle saw to the renovation and upgrading of General Hospital Birnin Magaji and that of Kagara in Talatar Mafara.
His celebrated 142 primary health care centers constructed across the political wards in the state are the first unique projects in the entire Northern Nigeria since the return to democracy in 1999. The volume of the road network provided by the administration of Bello Matawalle is significant enough to speak about the foresight of the administration toward infrastructural development.
In Gusau alone, there are over fifteen of these township roads including the most yearned for Kantin Daji road which had hitherto assumed the position of dead trap before the Matawalle magic touched it in 2019. In education for instance, the administration of Bello Matawalle undertook the renovation, rehabilitation, and the supply of furniture at Government Science Secondary School, Shinkafi at the cost of N911,790,250.
In his persistent effort to settle the backlog of WAEC, NECO and other examination bodies which were not paid by the past administration, Governor Matawalle released the sum of N170,000,000 to both WAEC and NECO to facilitate the writing of the 2021 school leaving examinations by our students in the year under review.
The current administration has also released the sum of N186,699,600 as full payment for 67 medical and para-medical students currently in their second year of studies in Sudan. There is also the payment of N24,500,000 for 23 students in India and N56,463,440 92 for students studying in Cyprus, in addition to 19 students studying online in China institutions. The government again released N41,200,000 as part of payment of the backlog of debt inherited and owed Al-Hikmat University, Ilorin and the Crescent University, Abeokuta, respectively.
Based on the realization of the pivotal role of early childhood education as the foundation of all learning endeavors, Governor Bello Matawalle has been able to maintain a modest effort of giving full support to the Universal Basic Education in the State. Accordingly, the administration released N1.5 billion naira counterpart funds to UBE, which made it possible for the board to draw matching grants and execute various projects under the fiscal year. Some projects executed include 966 classrooms across the 14 Local Government Areas, 54 classrooms of a story building, 1 Administrative Block and Library, and 11 well furnished blocks of ICT centers.
Others carried out by the Matawalle government include the construction of offices for Education Secretaries and 1 Block of 200 Capacity Students’ Hostel, Perimeter Wall Fence in 31 Schools, and 95 Cells of 32 Blocks of VIP Latrine. Similarly, 520 classrooms were renovated, and 33,246 seats provided. Moreover, 1,372 Teachers’ Tables and Chairs were supplied.
Judges, Emirs and District Heads are also beneficiaries of the gesture of Governor Bello Matawalle. They were given brand-new vehicles to help in reviving their statuses as the royal fathers and learned jurists whose contributions to the development of the state are acknowledged with esteemed regard.
One cannot ignore the significance of the ongoing Cargo Airport to the development of the state. Though criticism have trailed the entire exercise, it is evident that there is no better time Zamfara needed the airport more than now, considering the immense economic opportunities Matawalle has been canvassing through foreign direct investment.
Within the past three years, the administration of Bello Matawalle has made the Ministry of Commerce and Investment more active than ever before. Within the past one year, the present Commissioner for Commerce, Yazeed Danfulani has succeeded in the transformation of the ministry through tour of various countries to canvass for investment opportunities in areas where Zamfara State has comparative opportunities.
On the area of security management, the government invested hugely in the provision of operational vehicles and payment of monthly allowances to security operatives on special duties. He did not stop there but championed the establishment of Nigeria/Niger inter-regional security network where he succeeded in bringing on board, the Governors of the neighboring Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi and Jigawa states to fashion out ways of strengthening transborder security management.
The administration has also renovated and upgraded its liaison offices at Abuja and Kaduna and also constructed a well befitting Presidential lodge in Gusau, the state capital. In 2021 alone, the administration of Bello Matawalle completed 12 township roads in Gusau, the state capital while eight others are at various levels of completion.
The construction of the Deputy Governor’s office is ongoing, construction of Gusau International Airport, which was awarded at the inception of this government is also ongoing. The most prominent among the projects completed by the administration of Governor Bello Matawalle in three years are summarized below:Supply of 200 Toyota Hilux to Security Agencies, Supply of Prado Jeeps to Sole Adminstrators, supply of Toyota Camry 2019 model to Vice Chairmen and Councilors as well as supply of 200 Tri cycle ambulance to 147 wards across the State.
Other projects included construction of 147 PHCs across all the political wards, construction of three WCWC to each of the senatorial districts, construction of (47) kilometers Danmarke-Kadaddab and Kanoma link road construction of Gusau township roads which include Stadium junction-Kasuwar Danjuma-Tashar Magami road, Zawiyya-Kanwuri road, Kasuwar Danjuma Dan Mai Kyau ginnerry road, Gusau Hotel- Tashar Magami road, Kantin Daji road, Kanwuri-Kantin Sauki road among others.
Other projects include construction of RUGA, construction of (17) kilometer Maradun, Magami to Faru road ongoing, construction of (42) kilometer Tsafe to Yankuzo road ongoing, construction of Mada to Lilo road as well as construction of Janyau ta Gabas road.
The administration of Matawalle also constructed (14) units of local government lodges, constructed Yar Dantsi Bridge and facilitate the release of cash assistance of N50,000 each to thousands of mini-traders. The administration has also renovated Zamfara State House of Assembly as well as constructed Garba Nadama Multi-purpose Hall amongst others.
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