Weekly political notes

President Muhammadu Buhari. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ELUKPO.

Medical Tests Show I Need More Time To Rest, Says Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday said that results of medical tests showed he needed more time to rest, a development which has necessitated his stay in the United Kingdom (UK) longer than originally planned.

Buhari who said, “there is no cause for worry” in a statement, expressed gratitude to Nigerians for their show of love and concern.The presidency’s failure to say when Buhari would return to the country has continued to fuel rumour and agitation with some Nigerians demanding a regular bulletin on the president’s health status.

According to the statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the president thanked millions of Nigerians who have been sending good wishes and praying for his health and wellbeing in mosques and churches throughout the country.

President Buhari’s narrative is not unexpected or surprising, considering that in his previous request for the vacation to be extended, he was not specific. So this development is just like another request to extend his vacation. It is hoped that this vacation will not be endless or controversial. While Nigerians pray for Buhari’s quick recovery, it is necessary for Nigerians to also know the nature of his sickness and its progress report. This will douse the tension and fuss being generated already. Besides, Buhari is the president of Nigeria and is being taken care of with the taxpayers’ money.

Keeping secret Buhari’s health condition is not in his best interest and that of Nigerians that voted him into office. After all, he is just like every other mortal that is liable to sickness. He is not the first Nigerian president to fall sick in office and may not be the last. But there is need for him and his handlers to save Nigerians the ugly experiences of the past. It could be said that Buhari by his action so far has not breached any law, but morality demands that he could do better to save the country from further embarrassment.

I Didn’t Endorse Sheriff — Goodluck Jonathan
CONTRARY to reports in some sections of the media, former President Goodluck Jonathan has said he did not endorse Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The clarification came in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by media assistant to Jonathan, Ikechukwu Eze, following what he said was the misrepresentation of his remarks made after a meeting with the former Borno State governor at his Abuja residence.

Jonathan said he was only interested in how to unify the party, which has suffered leadership crisis and factionalism. Sheriff had gone to see the former president as part of his ongoing consultation with party leaders, on his intention to convene a national convention of the crisis-ridden opposition party, following his reinstatement by the Court of Appeal.

This denial may not have been necessary, since the meeting between ex-president, Jonathan and Sheriff was behind closed-door. But the timing of the meeting was suspicious, which gave the impression that Jonathan may have endorsed Sheriff.

If Jonathan had no intention to not endorsed Sheriff, why meeting him after the Appeal Court judgment that affirmed him as the PDP chairman? Is Jonathan saying that if the Supreme Court upholds Appeal Court judgment on Sheriff leadership, he will hold another closed-door meeting? Why didn’t Jonathan meet Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi-led exco at the same time to avoid misinterpretation? Why the belated intervention in the PDP crisis by Jonathan, whereas it was under his watch that the party became crisis-ridden?

Jonathan should be mindful of the fact that his timely intervention could go a long way in determining the survival of the PDP. He kept quiet for so long when so much was expected of him in rebuilding the PDP. He needs to act fast and ensure that the party survives the crisis rocking it now.

Whistle-Blowing: Blackmailers On The Increase — Uduaghan
Former governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, on Tuesday, lamented that the Federal Government’s recent policy to reward whistleblowers with five per cent of any loot recovered had increased the number of those he referred to as blackmailers in the country.

The former governor contended that the “blackmailers” now take advantage of the initiative to write fictitious petitions, without supporting evidence against perceived opponents of the government of the day.

He spoke during the 2017 annual lecture/press week of the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) at the Labour House, Asaba, the state capital.

He said the social media had helped to hold Nigerian leaders accountable, but many had abused the platform, using it as a tool of blackmail. It is not out of place for some whistle-blowers to engage in blackmail. It is also possible for some blackmailers to blackmail or intimidate genuine whistle-blowers. But one clear thing is that whoever blows whistle on anybody must provide evidence to substantiate such. With this, it will always be easy to differentiate between whistle-blowers and blackmailers.

Meanwhile, why the worry, Uduaghan, when those for whom whistles have been blown have not complained of being blackmailed? The rule is that to avoid being blackmailed or whistle blown on your account, you have to avoid foul play in your financial dealings at all times. This may be difficult, especially for the top civil servants and the political class, considering that foul play is the name of the game before now.

Wait a minute!!! Whistle-blowers watch your back. Whistle could be blown on you before or after you have blown it on another person head. Be mindful that this is Nigeria, where anything could happen.

Reps Kick As Presidency Budgets N60m For Grass Cutting In N’East
Members of the House of Representatives expressed shock on Tuesday, that the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative budgeted N60m to cut grasses this year in communities ravaged by Boko Haram insurgents.

The information is coming when the controversies surrounding a similar contract worth over N200m, awarded by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF) Mr. Babachir Lawal, is yet to be settled. The N60m in the 2017 budget of PCNI is to cover contracts to cut “shrubs, grasses and trees” along the Maiduguri-Mama Road alone.

Lawmakers picked out the figure when the PCNI appeared before the House Committee on Internally Displaced Persons to defend its N45bn budget on humanitarian assistance, rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced villagers.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Sani Zoro, and other members expressed shock over the allocation.
“You can’t travel this same way (awarding contracts on grasses) again; it is not acceptable. Why can’t you assign this duty to the military to do it for you? They can use their personnel to clear the grasses and you can drop this idea of awarding contracts with N60m,” Zoro said.

Government’s penchant for outrageous contract sum for grass-cutting in the Northeast is worrisome and suspicious. It is a mark of hypocrisy at a time government said it is fighting graft. Won’t this trend tempt Nigerians, especially Buhari’s allies to set up companies for clearing grass; seeing that grass-cutting is the most lucrative contract one can win in this government?

Hope SGF, Babachir Lawal, has no hand in the proposed budget this time around, considering that the dust raised by the previous grass-cutting contract allegedly executed by his company has not settled? It is time the Buhari government began to explain to Nigerians the nature of grasses in the zone that will gulp N60m to clear. Has forest suddenly sprung up in the Northeast zone to cost N60m for clearing it?

Obviously, this development has again raised question on the credibility and sincerity of Buhari’s government. Why all these bogus allocation to some frivolous projects in 2017 budget, despite the controversy that trailed last year’s budget over padding. It seems nothing has changed or may change in the Buhari government of change. What a pathetic and disappointing situation.



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