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2023: PDP, Yahman/Makanjuola’s Leprous Ticket Is Saraki’s Foxy Route To Power

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In spite of the recent whitewash, there is no longer a pretence to the reason and way the major opposition party in Kwara, PDP, wants to regain power and rule the state in 2023. It is to continue the bizarre bazaar political system of having Kwara as a ‘chopshop’ to feed the mouths, bellies, and ambitions of careerists in politics rather than building a liberal, inclusive, flourishing state with space and opportunities for all.

The mode and outcome of its primaries and the choice of running mate for its guber candidate were the last dots in the drawing of PDP’s true image. The others are the organization, carriage and unfiltered public statements of the party and its leaders, including their shock-jocks which betray the over-starched regalia of change and rebirth its main PR arm seek desperately to clothe them in.

For the record, out of the 34 available elective positions, PDP has presented only one woman Mrs Ibiyeye Adisa Iyabo and no identified youth (according to national stipulated age) as candidates against APC’s five, which is the highest in history, including a 26-year-old Rukayyah Shittu. The underrepresentation of youths and women are glaring and reflective of the party ideals of leadership in the 21st century.

If you thought the barbaric method of their primary elections, a 40-year-old insignia of dysfunctional politics, and the quality of candidates on offer for elective offices, are not the most revealing of the ultimate desire of this ‘me-and-my-crony’ politics, the choice of its gubernatorial running mate would pour cold water on your steely heart.

There is no logical explanation for the farcical decision of PDP to pick a man who had run alongside Rt. Hon. Razaq Atunwa in their woeful outing in the 2019 polls, again, despite his chequered history with integrity, other than the fact that he was the perfect person to work with for the man behind the throne.

Hon. Gbenga Makanjuola, the ex-deputy chief of staff to Senator Bukola Saraki, a two-term federal lawmaker, is a strong and experienced politician. But as rich as Gbenga’s profile is, he is confoundingly more renowned for alleged corrupt and sharp practices than any public good. I do not wish to be hyperbolic but 7 out of 10 Kwara youth may just not know PDP’s emeritus running mate more than another aide who was remanded in prison by a federal judge over fraud charges totalling N3.5 billion.

If it were a party more concerned with probity and accountability, in line with a post-O’to ge mood for fresh breath, it would have taken a break from fielding an EFCC customer as the Messiah of the people. There is no place in history lepers were credited with building prosperity. It is either PDP no longer brook no love for public acceptance and intermediate societal values or the interest Makanjuola comes in to cover all the time remains first.

In all honesty, one may think there could be better people to select from in the PDP. But there may be no better ticket for Bukola Saraki to achieve his desire to put Kwara back under his whims. While there is no worse guber ticket than this for the Kwara people, there is no better fawning, obsequious people who will do anything they are being told to do. This agenda now rests perfectly on one side on Alhaji Shuaibu Yaman’s legendary desperation for power and flies on on the other side on Makanjuola’s fastidiousness in getting ‘things’ done with little or no trace. I must admit I marvel at the eyes of the godfathers in picking such a formidable duo for securing the brother-sister’s cause to retain Kwara as a family venture. Yaman/Makanjuola ticket has even far more potential of doing the Lord’s work than Abdul Fatah/Kisira ever did.

The ex-governor Abdul Fatah Ahmed was known as a very brilliant banker and accomplished administrator boasting public and private experience before the office and the deputy was a distinctively honest elder. More respected analysts have said over the years that Ahmed was picked by his godfather as his successor because he was convinced he could blend governance with politics. There are decade-long stories that if Ahmed had been given the free reign to govern, he could have been a far more successful person in the office. Now, I am tempted to wonder how someone with a far lesser standing and dignified Yaman/Makanjuola ticket would succeed where Ahmed/Kisira failed for eight years as paperweight leaders of the Kwara people, if they ever won.

Although many have been pontificating about issues around Yaman’s alleged financial insolvency and unravelling details of contract default cases, I would rather be concerned about his rather embarrassing knowledge of issues of governance in the state as a guber candidate. As was laid bare by the now infamous debt gaffe during the unveiling of his running mate over the weekend, there is little to cheer for in his capability to study, analyse, and innovate policies to open the new frontier of socioeconomic development. I am very sure it will not be one-off.

Schoolboy errors such as that one are very much indicative of awareness, capability, and readiness more than billboards and posters hired hands make for one. For instance, while it was very much easy for Hon. Gbenga to say he would partner with the gubernatorial candidate to address “the issue of poverty, insecurity, political decadence, financial misappropriation, lack of respect for rule of law, transparency and dwindling state of economy bedevilling the state when elected in the 2023 generations,” it was by far the most ridiculous thing to say by someone facing arraignment for alleged complicity in financial fraud cases. It could have sounded very much honourable if he was also a former legislator with excellent legislative records.

The people with a flawed knowledge of the state, problematic personal images, and a horrible sense of our socio-cultural development cannot replace the present administration. Other than what they write for them on the pages of paper and billboards, Yaman/Makanjuola inspires no hope, panache, and excellence for no ordinary Kwaran. I have particularly found it funnier than Kiekie’s jokes that the word ‘prosperity’ is becoming their official cliche. This sounds eloquently beautiful other than the fact that the word is bigger than them. Neither Yaman/Makanjuola nor Saraki/PDP can look at themselves in the mirror and pronounce the word either as a public or private person. To create wealth and deepen prosperity, there must be a knack for solving existential problems for the people. There is no trace of such a noble dream for the state in a party that grounded education, arts and sports, health, women and youths engagement and deepened the gap between the haves and have-nots in the Kwara. If they could, they would not have left a disastrous state, in place of a better one they inherited in 2003.

As we journey towards the general elections, I ask Kwarans to be very much observant and alert in accessing and electing those who will lead the state so as to elect credible and true leaders for themselves and not placeholders for a ravenous set of oligarchs.

Abdullateef writes from Ilorin.

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Of Yaman’s Debt gaffe And PDP’s Shock-Jocks – Rafiu Ajakaye

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Believing one’s own lie — a kind of cognitive bias — is about the worst singular thing to happen to anyone. Arrowheads of Kwara’s PDP actually believe their own lies, and that explains their wobbling messaging thus far. They believe the only reason Kwarans rejected them in 2019 was simply because some opposition radio firebrands had lied to the public.

Nine in 10 PDP persons hold this view. Only a tiny but suppressed minority of them believe otherwise. For that reason, the party has lined up its talking heads to go on air to lie to the people in the hope that this will land them in government house in 2023. They have gone as far as saying they did not owe salaries at all; that colleges of education workers were not on strike because they were not being paid; that all accreditations were done as and when due; that the taps were in fact running everywhere; that they had paid N200m RAAMP counterpart to the World Bank; that they were actually up-to-date in promotion and that the stories about their paying percentaged salaries were all made up to tarnish their image, among others.

One of them said on a radio programme last Friday that the administration of His Excellency Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed did not borrow a dime in eight years. In fact, their official spokesman recently said that their administration actually signed the Freedom of Information Bill into law and that this administration, in its hatred for anything PDP, had reversed the gains. Jaw-dropping, right? Those who listened to them may have lost count of this tomfoolery and evidently self-damaging tactics. But these shock-jocks believe their own lies!

Enter Alhaji Abdullahi Yaman, a governorship also-ran now flying the banner of the PDP in the state. “We are not unaware of the problem the APC has put on us in Kwara State by the astronomical increase in the debt portfolio with over 300%. Kwara from the least indebted state is now one of the most indebted,” Yaman said in the capital city Ilorin at an event unveiling his running mate Hon. Gbenga Makanjuola on June 18.

Two major lies were told in those lines: that debt profile of Kwara has risen 300% under this administration and that the state was the least indebted in Nigeria before 2019. It’s been many hours since Yaman made those claims.

Those claims were driven by ignorance, mischief, and a group resolution to continually lie to the people whom the PDP strongly believe are mere pawns in their political chess game.

Both claims are false. One, at no time in Nigeria’s chequered history was Kwara the least indebted state. In 2019, Kwara had the 10th highest debt profile in Nigeria; conversely, by March 2022 account of the Debt Management Office, it is the 19th most indebted state. That’s a serious improvement on its 2019 ranking. Two, it is not true that debt profile of Kwara has jumped 300% between 2019 and now. The first and only time the state’s debt profile rose so high was in 2009 when former Governor Bukola Saraki took N17bn bond, among other facilities he had earlier accessed. That took the debt profile to above 300%, considering the fact that he had inherited a below N5bn domestic debt from the late Mohammed Lawal’s administration.

But here are some facts of history for the benefit of Alhaji Yaman, his campaign team, and the PDP shock-jocks who assault the people with barefaced lies on the airwaves.

Between 2003 and 2011, Kwara’s domestic debt profile rose from below N5bn to exactly N25.2bn. That is approximately 404% rise in domestic debt profile under Senator Saraki alone. Don’t forget: in one fell-swoop in 2009, the debt profile rose by over 300% when he took the N17bn bond.

Governor Ahmed, of the same tendency as Saraki and now Yaman, took the local debt profile to N67bn and foreign debt to above $47m by May 29, 2019. In other words, the domestic debt profile jumped 165% under Governor Ahmed. Between 2014 and 2016, a space of two years, the debt rose by 140%, or N15.9bn to N38.1bn.

In 2021, this administration took N27.2bn private bond to steadily bridge infrastructural gaps which the PDP administration had in 2016 pegged at above N256bn. Also in 2021, the administration and 35 other state governments across Nigeria accepted a Federal Government’s offer of N18.6bn loan refinancing facility to ease the burden of paying back loans which were taken as far back as 2015. Combined together, this has only raised the domestic debt profile by 68.3%. Where, therefore, did Alhaji Yaman get his 300% debt rise from? At any rate, projects being done with the funds taken by this administration are scattered around the state, north, south, and central.

Let’s put these borrowed monies in context — in the wake of PDP’s red-herrings and the national inflationary trends. The N17bn bond of 2009, then estimated at $113m, is the equivalence of N67.8bn in today’s monetary rate of 600 naira per dollar — far above the combined worth of the two facilities this administration has ever accessed.

There is nothing bad about borrowing to build social and physical infrastructure that improves life’s chances for the people. What is bad, and possibly atrocious, is lying about it or playing the ostrich as candidate Yaman and other PDP elements seem to be doing.

This administration will always speak to its own achievements and seek to be a better version of itself every step of the way, while the PDP is at liberty to go on thinking our people to be fools who cannot tell their yesterday from today. It is their (PDP’s) deserved Golgotha. Good luck!

  • Ajakaye is Chief Press Secretary to the Governor

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Visit To Spain: Let’s Buga For Mr President- By Femi Adesina

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I’m sure you know the song by Kizz Daniel and Tekno, which is now a rave of the moment:

Let me see you dey buga o (go low-low-low)

Let me see you (go low-low-low) buga won

And you see people huffing and puffing as they dance to it, with their shoulders raised in pride, bordering on arrogance. That sent me searching for the meaning of the word ‘buga.’ And I found it. “To flaunt one’s effort, success or achievement.” And why not? That is not arrogance. It is even celebratory, with a tinge of thanksgiving.

And having been with President Muhammadu Buhari in Madrid, Spain, since Tuesday, I decided to use the headline above, with due credit to Kizz Daniel and Tekno.

Why should we ‘buga’ for Mr President? I will tell you the story shortly. Let’s reverse a bit to Tuesday, and the meeting he held with the Progressives Governors’ Forum before we left Abuja.

President Buhari told them of what he would like to see at the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary to elect a presidential candidate early next week. No word about zoning, consensus, or imposition of candidate. He just charged them to let their plans converge, so that the party would put its best foot forward. Shortly after the meeting, we headed for the airport.

A short time into the about five hours flight, I went on social media, to see that all hell had broken loose. Trust some Nigerians. When there’s no controversy, they simply create one. They will die of boredom if they don’t have something to wail or ululate about.

What were they bellyaching on? Oh, he used the words ‘my successor,’ instead of ‘APC candidate.’ That means he wants to rig the election. Otiose.

Oh, he talked about Governors who performed well being given opportunity to get a second term, for continuity. That means he wants to impose someone from within the government to succeed him. Consensus is what he wants. Puerile.

Is consensus not one of the acceptable ways of choosing candidates, according to the Electoral Act? So the party can jolly well decide on the method it wants.

Oh, he didn’t talk about zoning. APC wants to give its ticket to the North. Really? Did you see anything like that in the speech?

I tell you. When some Nigerians don’t see what they expect in a speech or statement, they simply conjure and create their own. And the wailing starts.

We arrived Madrid in the night. Hala Madrid! Home of the conqueror of Europe in football, Real Madrid, which just beat Liverpool to the diadem a few days before. Is the city still celebrating?

Madrid is beautiful, no doubt about it. And seeing the city at night gives it an ethereal ambience. Lovely, very lovely.

Driver of the car in which I rode with a colleague told us we were going to the best hotel in the city. And why not? We were guests of the Spanish President, Pedro Sanchez. President Buhari was also to be hosted by the King of Spain, His Majesty King Felipe V1. Honors don’t come higher than that.

Our first port of call on Wednesday was United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Nigeria would be hosting the body in November, and our President is said to be the second African ever to visit the place. The Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, had very good words to say about our country.

Next was the Zarzuela Palace, to meet with His Majesty, King Filipe. The kiln of patriotism could not but be kindled in your heart as you see the tall Fulani man from Daura being welcomed by an equally tall King. Back home, some people call him all sorts of names, out of malice and evil hearts, but here was the man flying the flag of his country proudly, meeting those who matter, and making conquests.

During lunch, I sat at table with some aides of the Spanish President, diplomats and Protocol officials. We initially talked about soccer, the Real Madrid UCL victory, and Nigerians making waves in Spanish soccer. There are 19 males and 7 females currently there.

One of our hosts asked about a former Nigerian footballer, who had shone like a star in Spain. Mutiu Adepoju.

“The Headmaster!” I exclaimed. The guy concurred, saying Adepoju scored many goals with the head while playing in Spain. He couldn’t stop talking about him.

And then, the talk shifted to our President. One of our hosts said he was a man of integrity, probity and accountability. He added that they respect him very much in their country, and generally in the West.

People like this are not spendthrift with accolades. Before they say anything positive about you, they must have checked you out over and over. They must have seen that President Buhari has no loot stashed in any part of the world. He has no oil bloc, and his life remains as thrifty and frugal as it was, before he came to power.

No wonder Barack Obama gave him plaudits in the area of integrity during our visit to Washington in 2015. Justin Trudeau of Canada, Thabo Mbeki, former South African President, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and many other world leaders have spoken in the same vein. Buhari, oh Buhari. Those who know the worth of gold appreciate it.

Let me see you dey buga o (go low-low-low)

Let me see you (go low-low-low) buga won.

From the palace of the King, we went to another palace. The presidential palace, to see President Sanchez. Another tall man, who has deep respect for our President. He was very delighted to have him as a guest, and said Spain-Nigeria relations could only get better, going forward.

Bilateral agreements and Memorandum of Understanding were signed. On extradition of convicted persons, economic and trade cooperation, sports, fighting COVID-19, tourism, scientific cooperation, and others.

On Thursday, one of the high-points of the visit. President Buhari was Keynote Speaker at the Business Meeting between Spain and Nigeria. He unfolded the opportunities available in our country, and invited investors to come. They hung on his every word, and gave a standing ovation when he finished.

Let me see you dey buga o…

Come and see the meeting with Nigerians in Diaspora on Thursday afternoon. The President was in his elements. When Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, introduced Kenneth Omeruo, a Nigerian footballer playing professional soccer in Spain, the President said: “I know him. I always see him on TV, with his peculiar hairstyle.” Looool.

Omeruo thanked the President for his many supports to the Super Eagles, and presented him with an autographed football, jersey of his team, Leganes FC of Madrid, and a jersey of the Super Eagles.

An appreciative President told the footballer that as a student, he didn’t play much of football because of his lean stature, “but I felt safer with hockey, since I had a stick I could use to defend myself.”

The expedition to Spain by President Buhari was very successful on all fronts. Our President did the country proud, represented well, and brought us glory. Why shouldn’t we then flaunt him? We must ‘buga,’ and showcase our leader, no matter what those who cavil say.

Let me see you dey buga o (go low-low-low)

Let me see you go low-low-low) buga won.

Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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2023 Presidential Poll: The Saraki Option By Wahab Oba

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No election in Nigeria’s history will eventually be as phenomenal as the forthcoming 2023 presidential election. It will be phenomenal with respect to the nature of those who will eventually run and with respect to the role of social media influenced renaissance that is emerging on political activism. It will be unprecedented with respect to the fact that never in our history as a nation have we experienced this kind of economic and security challenges. Convincingly, the next leader will determine whether we go further down, or pull back and face the right road.

There are many other reasons why the 2023 election will be a great issue in the evolution of our nation and none of those reasons are clearly positive. The only positive thing perhaps about the election will be the fact that there are arrays of competent aspirants to signify the tran. Yes, there may be some presumably pretenders among the dramatic personnel, obviously, there are men of honour and integrity in the race to Aso Rock.

Hence, it is time that Nigerians pay more than the usual cosmetic attention to the kind of person who eventually leads us, going forward. We must allow ourselves to learn some bitter lessons from our decisions and how they have shaped the past eight years especially; a time when we literally allowed emotion to be the driver of our decision in choosing our president. Yes, our president because whether we like it or not, a people cannot progress beyond the vision of its leadership. While it is good to blame average Nigerians for all sort of wrong things, the reality is that once we get the leadership question wrong, we cannot get many other critical issues of nationhood right. That explains the experience of drifting that we are currently going through as a nation. We need a leader that can match the brake pedal and turn over journey on the right path.

Among those on track to get the job is Dr Bukola Saraki. It is not yet time to start comparing them, but no sincere Nigerian, desirous of a positive change for this nation, would look down on a probable Saraki presidency.

The kind of leader we need in 2023 is one who can take us through the furnace unscathed. Of course, that is no reference to a wild fire, but rather a way of looking at what it will take to make Nigeria great again. We need a leader who will not flinch as we go through a rebirth process; a leader who is not fazed by trials just as we saw in Saraki during his ordeals in the hands of political traducers in the 2015 -2019 election cycle. More than ever before, Nigeria needs a courageous leader who will not be derailed by challenges. As the President, 8th National Assembly, Saraki confronted exceeding political persecution by his party, yet unscathed, and yet remained the most successful Senate President we ever had.

Underneath his innocent mien is a man of steel. He is perhaps one of the most qualified among his peers with a natural ability to inspire and engender unity. Let us look at his natural biological evolution. He was sired by a northern father and a mother from western side of the country in a marriage that celebrates not only unity of the race, but of the faith in perfect harmony with the national etho. He was brought up seeing this mutual respect of the two factors that have divided Nigeria and saw how, when well managed as his father did at home, and in his politics, such factors would become pillars of strength instead of causes of distress. And we know this attitude to him is not a sermon to be accepted but a life to live as he has demonstrated it in the make up of his own immediate family as well as his inherited political dynasty. He is neither a bigot nor a passivist.

What of his age? It is a great factor in his favour; nay in favour of the Nigerian project. At 59 years of age, Saraki is at a vantage intersection between the young and the old generation. He actually has had huge youth followership over the years in his official engagement as he has demonstrated a commitment to working with the youth. He is lucky to belong to a generation that actively engages with technology for the 21st century and so can sit down and discuss metaverse with Generation Z but who can still dine with the older generation and share stories that were not written on slack boards.

His being from the Middle Belt is of great significance. That is a region of Nigeria that represents Nigeria’s unity and eliminates mutual suspicion among the various regions. The middle belt comprises the various regions, religions and ethnic identities but above all, it represents a melting point of all that is Nigeria. Giving the presidency to someone from the middle belt will play a pacifying role in the many years of deprivation and political neglect the region has borne as its sacrifice to the continued existence of Nigeria.

May Nigeria be great again

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