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Will Keyamo Help or Hurt Tinubu’s Campaign? 

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By Niran Adedokun

I watched Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo’s two recent television interviews with absolute bewilderment. And if the situation in Nigeria was not so grim currently, one would laugh at the Minister’s posturing during these conversations.

For starters, his appointment as a spokesperson for the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu/Kashim Shettima Campaign Council is confounding.

Keyamo is the junior Minister for Labour and Employment, which is an all-time important portfolio anywhere in the world.

It is more so in Nigeria, which is currently ravaged by all forms of unemployment, serial industrial actions and brain drain challenges. Unless the Minister is as redundant as he makes the Office of the Vice President look in recent arguments, how does he plan to hold these two roles together without dropping the ball?

Spokesman-ship for a presidential campaign is a critical role requiring round-the-clock intellectual and emotional vigour.

Without this, the holder of the office will succumb to cheap sentiments and become a cry-baby running after trifles. He or she will ultimately lose the plot and the grand opportunity to persuade. So, how does a minister of the federal republic, who should attend cabinet meetings and lead policies for national re-emergence, play these two roles effectively?

Even if we would not have this predictable role conflict, there is the question of how ethical it is for a minister, appointed to serve all Nigerians regardless of what they represent, to take this new role. It is untidy that successive governments in Nigeria mix public office with partisanship. This abuses the sensitivities of millions of Nigerians who don’t belong to political parties but fund public offices.

Beyond Keyamo’s qualifications, however, is his disposition and the responses that he gave to two key questions.

From the outset of these interviews, Keyamo came about with the usual arrogance of office that you find in the average Nigerian leader. If as untoward as it is, Nigerians have come to terms with arrogant political officeholders, the spokesperson for a political campaign impairs his message when he fails the humility test.

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The politics of elections is such that a majority of the voters have already made up their minds about whom they will vote for. So, a spokesperson’s principal job is to convince undecided voters. Now, it is preposterous to imagine that you can come to these people with the superiority that Mr Keyamo displayed in the said interviews. If you do, you will be de-marketing rather than selling your candidate.

Even if things were all rosy for Nigerians, citizens would evaluate the government in power during elections. They also react to social issues of the day. People will appraise you and ask questions that may irritate you. In this unavoidable reality, a spokesperson must remain calm and collected, and explain what the extant government is doing and what the candidate plans to do, meekly.

He must persuade citizens that government see things from their perspectives and cannot afford to dismiss every point raised as mere “opposition” rhetoric. Only a minority of Nigerians have party affiliations, so spokespersons must speak to Nigerians like someone concerned about their future, rather than trivializing every question by attaching political sentiments that profile a critical person as a disgruntled political opponent. This is regardless of what your party may have achieved. You owe the people this as their servant and someone seeking their votes.

But then, can we say that Nigerians are happy currently? Are things the best they could be? Has this regime lived up to the expectations it raised in people during its campaign?

This leads us to Keyamo’s reactions to two of the issues raised in the interviews. The first is the embarrassing industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASSU). After throwing in details of how far the government has gone to negotiate with the union, Keyamo did two things: He tried to reduce the ASUU struggle to a selfish fight for survival and then appealed to parents to “beg” the lecturers.

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There are too many things wrong with his take here. To give the faintest hint that a government, elected to solve problems, is helpless, steals hope from the people. It also detracts from that government’s legitimacy. It is, therefore, irresponsible to invite parents (who are victims of Nigeria’s plaque of misgovernance), to solve a problem that is a referendum on the capacity of the government to deliver a worthwhile future to Nigerians.

This call on parents also validates the widely held view that the government has reduced public universities to the exclusive territory of the poor. Or would the rich, who can send their children to private universities or fly them to prestigious foreign universities, join the colony of “begging parents” that the minister is convening?

In inviting Nigerians to see university lecturers as a selfish, insatiable lot, he said that the government spends N412bn (according to him more than half of the overhead on education) and that ASUU is now making demands that will cost N1.2tn, without considering government’s many other responsibilities. This is laughable considering that this same government (buckling under the burden of too many demands from ASUU) approved nine new federal universities just a few months back. So, how does it want to fund these new institutions?

Keyamo was not also entirely upfront about the reasons for the ASUU strike. More than just issues of subsistence, as he painted, the union is talking about the standard of Nigerian universities. ASUU complains that the university system cannot compete globally and that this is not because of a lack of human capital but the country’s failure to plan! This position is hard to contradict. Would Keyamo proudly send his child to Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, where he graduated 30 years ago? Solicitors

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concerning insecurity, the tendency of government functionaries to insult Nigerians’ intelligence by manipulating facts is exhausting. When they claim they have solved the problem of Boko Haram, you marvel, because it doesn’t look like that. What has happened is that, while the fire got too hot in the North-East, these guys moved to other parts of the country. The government itself has attributed three recent events (the Kuje Prison break; the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo and the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna bound train) to the Islamic State’s West Africa Province, a Boko Haram offshoot. This situation without the national security apparatus foreseeing it. Yet, Nigerians should be grateful for this?

Keyamo claimed that the regime had solved the farmer herders’ crisis. This is also debatable. While reports of incidents have decreased considerably, some of the violence in Zamfara, Kaduna and Benue states resulted from disagreements between farmers and herders. But even if the government has resolved these, the level of insecurity Nigeria has witnessed in the past couple of weeks is unprecedented, and any attempt to suggest otherwise would amount to lying to and insulting the intelligence of those you get paid to serve. A report published by The PUNCH in June showed that 3,478 people had been killed in violent attacks while 2,256 others were abducted across the country between December 2021 to June 15, 2022.  Regardless, government people want to argue that Nigerians are safer than at some other time. How is that even relevant in the circumstance? 

POLITICS

2023: APC Suspends Jigawa Lawmaker over Alleged Anti Party Activity

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The All Progressives Congress (APC), in Jigawa state has suspended the member of the state House of Assembly representing the Kanya Babba constituency, Hon Usman Haladu Isah, for allegedly sabotaging the party.

This was contained in a press statement jointly signed by the party chairman of Babura Local Government, Isa Ubale, and the party chairman of Kanya Babba Constituency and made available to newsmen.

The statement said the member was accused of undermining the party ahead of the 2023 general election and disrespecting the party’s elders.

The embattled lawmaker also lost his ticket to Ibrahim Hashim Kanya in the APC primary election for the coming 2023 general election.

Ubale said the suspension was unanimously agreed by all the party leaders in the constituency.

The suspension took effect from the 24th of September 2022, pending the conclusion of the investigation for further action.

The statement added that a copy of the suspension document had been sent to the stakeholders of the party in the state.

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POLITICS

Plateau: Kwande Reconciles Warring PDP Groups, Party Ready for Elections

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From Jude Dangwam, Jos

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has resolved to work for all candidates of the party beginning from the Presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar to the Governorship candidate Caleb Mutfwang, Senatorial candidates, House of Representatives candidates and the State House of Assembly flag bearers of the party in the forthcoming 2023 general elections in the country.

The resolution was reached at a healing meeting called by the former Ambassador to Switzerland Amb. Yahaya Kwande held at his residence with all factions, party leadership and the Governorship candidate arriving at a common ground to work together for the success of the party as official campaign leading to the 2023 elations will kick-started in few days.

The former Secretary to the Plateau State Government, Prof. Shedrach Best while briefing newsmen after the five hours closed door meeting at the residence of the elder statesman Monday in Jos the state capital disclosed that all issues have been resolved and the party is ready to go into electioneering campaigns.

In his words, “There has been a lot of concern on the unity of the party in Plateau state, and there has been discordant statements in regards to the support of the Presidential candidate of the PDP Atiku Abubakar.

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“This meeting addressed all those issues of the need to unite the party, the need to get the people work together because there has been groups that are working across purposes but today by virtue of the Convener who happens to be an elder stateman Yahaya Kwande, he was able to bring together all shade of opinions under one roof.”

He added, “We have been able to discuss the unity of the party so that we get ready for the take off of campaigns, and we are going into this campaign as one house, we are going as one Plateau, one PDP. We have agreed that every persons that bear the flag of the PDP beginning from the Presidential flag bearer Atiku Abubakar, through the Governorship flag bearer Caleb Mutfwang to Senate candidates, House of Representatives candidates and House of Assembly candidates, this party will support them and deliver them.”

Best explained the essence of the meeting, “This is a healing meeting at the residence of this elder statesman who we consider a father figure, we wanted a rallying point and this is the rallying point, we wanted a meeting point and this is the meeting point, If you look at the meeting, the State Working Committee (SWC) is represented, the Jang group and the Huseni group are equally represented, all people from both sides were here.”

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While responding on the Governor Wike’s position on the party and the possible support for the victory of the party in the coming elections he stated, “The Plateau PDP has been around since 1999, and Wike’s support is a recent phenomenon, I believe that this party is good to go. PDP is strong enough because the backbone of the party is the people, and Plateau people are essentially and fundamentally PDP.

“If we get Wike’s support fine, but if we don’t, I believe this party is sustainable; remember that in 2019 when we held elections, Atiku Abubakar won in Plateau state and there was no support from Wike, we are capable of replicating that,” he assured party faithful and Plateau citizens.

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Adjustment of the Time-Table of Activities Earmarked to Commence Campaigns by the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council.

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By Jude Opara, Abuja

The crisis that trailed the list of members of the Campaign Council may have forced the All Progressives Congress (APC) to postpone indefinitely its earlier planned Peace Walk and Prayers to flag off it campaigning programme.

In a statement made available to newsmen late on Monday, Chairman of the APC National Campaign Council and governor of Plateau state, Simon Lalong said the event would now hold an a later date.

He said the postponement was done to include many other stakeholders who would want to be part of the campaign team.

Lalong wrote; “Recall that we had earlier earmarked a peace walk and prayers for Wednesday, September 28, 2022, to  officially kick-off our campaigns for the 2023 Presidential Elections. We had also announced that the members of the Campaign Council report at the Campaign Headquarters on that day to collect their letters of appointments.

 

“However, due to the expansion of the list to accommodate more stakeholders and interests within the APC family, we have decided to adjust the time-table of these activities in order to ensure everyone is on board before activities officially commence. Consequently, the activities earlier announced for the 28th of September will no longer hold.

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“As the ruling and most attractive party in Nigeria, we understand the sacrifices and understanding of our teeming members who are more than willing to volunteer themselves for this great task ahead. It also shows the enormous love that the party members have for our candidates. 

“A new date and time-table of events will be announced soon”.

Many party stakeholders have been complaining that they were ignored in the composition of the Campaign Council, insisting it was lopsided.  

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