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Hoisting APGA’s Flag at the Senate

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By Ifeanyi Afuba –

From Octavia to Obama, the audacity of hope lives on. Also known as Augustus Caesar, Octavia dreamt of an indelible entry in history and moved on to achieve immortalisation of his name by inserting August into the then ten months calendar of the year. He was imitated by Julius Caesar whose introduction of July into the moon list brought it to the present twelve. Barack Obama, enduring and daring, rode on the tide of time to rewrite conventions of the American presidency. The elasticity of the human spirit remains an eternal wonder of creation. A despot may seal off voices but he cannot steal the visions singing in our hearts. Nelson Mandela, the African hero of the twentieth century, taught us that strong convictions are the secret of surviving deprivation. And we begin to get a sense of how the APGA and one of its star brands, Victor Umeh finally achieved a breakthrough in the knotty senatorial turf.
In the most clinical fashion of a long distance champion, Victor Chukwunonyelum Umeh breasted the Senate tape on Saturday, January 13, 2008, bringing to an end a cocktail of contrived confusion that stood in the way of implementing the Court of Appeal judgment of December 7, 2015. As The Nation editorial of Thursday, January 11 put it, the rerun is ‘despite the shenanigans of some political actors’, climaxing in the effrontery to purport a high court judgment superior to that of the Court of Appeal. Thus, the successful conduct of the election has immense significance for Nigeria’s democracy, and especially for the party APGA and the senator – elect, the development is a soothing balm on a political journey often marked by subversion and reversals.


Eminent historian, Ali Mazrui, had once described the Jews as the most brutalised but not the most humiliated race. A critical study of the APGA story will reveal that it is the most brutalised but not the most humiliated political party of the fourth republic. Its very registration as a political party was a tug of war. Acutely aware of the political tendencies represented by the association and their implications in the electoral contest, the ruling establishment employed every trick in the book to frustrate the realisation of this aspiration. It had taken a Supreme Court judgment in 2002 to force the withheld official recognition. Piqued by the development, the hawks in the ruling ranks mounted a prolonged persecution of the APGA; sometimes directly and sometimes through proxies.
Posterity will credit the collective of APGA faithful for steadfastness in the face of many aggressions. But if individuals are to be recognised for standing up to the assaults, the honour goes first to Victor Umeh and then Peter Obi. In the ten year period from 2004 to 2014, no single individual impacted on the fortunes of the All Progressives Grand Alliance as Chief Victor Umeh. Skeptics might tend to view Umeh’s influence on the APGA narrative as a given in the context of his vantage leadership position. But this would be simplistic. Umeh’s role in the APGA saga derives largely from a personality factor and acute sense of mission.
The story of Anambra’s journey of transformation is in part, the story of APGA’s travails and triumphs. APGA launched the movement that ushered in Anambra’s process of recovery from neglect and misrule in 2006. Though sensitization and mobilization was underway by 2002, events took a critical turn in 2004, when the party was subverted from within, from the highest rung of its leadership. This came in the sudden declaration that APGA as a party was no longer interested in the prosecution of its 2003 Anambra governorship petition then going on at the tribunal. It was a volte face that left terrible trauma on the party faithful. The severity of the internal conspiracy compelled a more deliberate search for a new leadership that could be ‘predicted’ and trusted. And it was in this very delicate circumstance that Chief Victor Umeh, hitherto national treasurer of the party, came to the fore as acting national chairman in 2004.
Ignoring the issues of his indictment, the suspended national chairman, Chekwas Okorie, pronounced that he could not be removed because his name was written in the party’s constitution. The disengagement generated a total of eleven suits, nearly all instituted by the sanctioned politician. A fuming Okorie proceeded to systematically lose and or abandon the cases and his desperation grew with each painful loss. Yet, the Maurice Iwu – led INEC demonstrating disdain for decorum, conferred recognition on a king without a kingdom and would have gone on with the perversion had Victor Umeh not initiated contempt charges against the offenders. With reality dawning, Okorie returned the APGA certificate in his possession but sought revenge with his bid to register a new party United Peoples Grand Alliance (UPGA). The spoiler game was clear enough. The phonetic and syntactic similarities between APGA and UPGA were sure to have devastating consequences for APGA in a society still contending with low literacy levels. An alert APGA leadership swung into action, detailing grounds which ought to render Okorie’s application defective. The INEC under Attahiru Jega, a man widely respected for his pedigree, considered and sustained the objections for their merit. Okorie had to settle for the unobtrusive name of United Progressive Party in the end.
There were more rivers and deserts to cross. About a year to the end of his tenure in 2014, then Governor Peter Obi was seized by his own pet idea of playing adventures with APGA. Members of APGA were at a loss as Obi tried to install a new national chairman in place of the man reckoned as an achiever and whose tenure had not ended. Umeh stood his ground and snatched victory from the lion’s jaw.
Consequently, he was able to influence the nomination of Willie Obiano as the APGA governorship candidate in the 2013/2014 election; signing off in style at the state level, driving the re – election of Governor Obiano for second term.
We see then why the outcome of the January 13, 2018 senatorial poll is so significant for APGA. If Umeh the veteran of APGA battles cannot make it to the Senate, what hope lies for others? With the prospect of free and fair elections brightening under Buhari’s presidency, the quest to launch APGA to the centre – stage of Nigeria’s government and politics has become feasible with the congruent leadership of Umeh and Governor Willie Obiano. Both as Governor and Chairman, Board of Trustees of APGA, Obiano has added huge value to the party that Umeh nurtured to reckoning in very difficult conditions.
With APGA’s flag flying at the Senate, notice is served to those ever in a hurry to define our political colouration as a two party system not to beat the gun. In 2019 the PDP will for the first time contest national elections without being in control in Abuja. That level playing ground guarantees that the PDP can no longer appropriate APGA’s victories as happened in the governorship cases of Ugochukwu Agballa, Enugu State, in 2003; Martin Agbaso, Imo State, 2007; and Alex Otti, Abia State 2015. APGA has not just elected its first senator from Anambra State; it has elected a senator who will not defect to another party!

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Emir Sanusi: Path to Africa’s development

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Africa’s development agenda must focus on the socio-cultural and commercial interests of Africans and the upliftment of Africa’s trade and economic ecosystem, said Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano and a former Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, during his address at the 2018 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group in Busan, Korea.
“Africa’s economic transformation will be best achieved through fast-tracking regional cooperation and the execution of hard-nosed structural reforms that focus on the development of the continent’s human capital and material resources,” said Emir Sanusi II.
The Emir shared insight about revamping African regional integration, trade and economic relations with Executive Directors and Governors of the Bank, comprising Finance, Budget and Economic Planning Ministers from member nations.

An economist and financial risk expert, the monarch traced Africa’s post-colonial economic woes to the continent’s fiscal indiscipline and endemic disregard for its competitive advantages. For these reasons, he asserted, Africa’s development was stunted and its global trade ties lopsided in favour of offshore trading partners.
“Nine out of every 10 countries in Africa have huge trade deficits with China, but Asia developed mostly on domestic investments and resources,” he noted, underscoring the need for African Governments to invest in and promote creativity and indigenous enterprise.

The Emir advocated a series of structural reforms, including strategic investments in key sectors including agriculture, infrastructure, education, and small and medium enterprises. He called for deliberate industrial diversification noting that China has begun to move its mega-sized manufacturing capabilities out of low-cost industries.
African Governments also need to eradicate constitutional provisions and structures that increase the cost of governance at national and sub-national levels, manage demographic growth, and revamp and harmonize moribund and ineffective customs and excise duties that promote cross-border smuggling and revenue losses to governments, he said.
Africa’s debt burden continues to inhibit capital investment in industrialization, he observed, lamenting the misallocation of resources: “We need to begin to ask ourselves, ‘what do we do with the available funds in our coffers?’”
“Perceptions matter. So there is an urgent need for improved transparency, as this is clearly linked to good governance,” he said. “We need to accept that we have a perception problem that we must address. We need to tackle corruption, block leakages and create opportunities for new jobs.”
“Private sector capital is crucial for sustained economic growth but so is government’s intervention in guaranteeing business externalities like power, water and waste management, roads, housing and the legal and regulatory environment for innovation, commerce and industry.”
On trade, the Emir called for a regional and pan-African approach to trade negotiations, a tactical model which should be led by the Bank.
“The African Development Bank has the intellectual resources and clearly is better positioned to negotiate with China on behalf of Africa as a bloc of nations,” he said. “Europe approached global trade as a bloc so why can’t African nations do the same? This is clearly another area in urgent need of the Bank’s intervention.”
President Adesina recalled the Emir’s progressive posture during his time in public service.
“As Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was pro-development. He channeled significant investments into agriculture, infrastructure and SMEs.”

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Ndigbo ask for Better Nigeria with Ekwueme Square Declaration

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By James Eze (eziokwubundu@gmail.com)

The Igbo ethnic nationality of Nigeria rose from their Summit on the Restructuring of Nigeria in Awka the capital of Anambra State on Monday with a Ten-point wish list seeking for a balanced federation that would meet their needs and the needs of other ethnic groups in Nigeria.
The Igbo position on restructuring which has been re-christened as ‘The Ekwueme Square Declaration;’ is a tightly knitted ten-point demand for a better Nigeria which opens with a demand for a Constitutional Conference backed by a law from the National Assembly that would provide a unanimously accepted platform where the diverse people of Nigeria would hammer out a new constitution that would be known as “The People’s Constitution.”
Delivering the Declaration at the hugely successful ceremony, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Chukwuma Soludo who is the Chairman of the Organizing Committee stated that the second item on the Igbo demand seeks a slight amendment to the current system of government as it recommends the retention of the presidential system only at the federal level, leaving the regions or states to choose the type of government that is best for them. But perhaps the most audacious demand under this point is that the tenure of the office of the President should be a single term of six years with five Vice-Presidents representing each of the geopolitical zones except the zone that produced the President. The demand prescribes the same tenure for Governors and Deputy Governors which would be rotated among the senatorial districts.
The third demand asks for six geopolitical zones forming the federating units or six regions of the country. There will therefore be six regional governments, each comprising the current states within each zone and any other state that may be created within the zone from time to time. Each Region will have its own Constitution, for the good governance, peace and development of the region. Such Regional Constitutions have to clearly delineate levels of authority between the regional government and the component states (that is, defining powers that are exclusive to the Region and powers that are residual to the states). The Regional Constitutions will not be inconsistent with the Constitution of the federation, and will be invalidated to the extent of its inconsistency with the federal constitution. It seeks a review of the current revenue sharing formula based on local governments to a new structure based on regions. Consequent upon this, the Ekwueme Declaration therefore demands for an additional state for the South East Zone in line with the 2014 National Conference which states that in the spirit of reconciliation, equity, fair play and justice, a new state should be created in the South East.
The forth demand is for equality of all the regions or states that become the federating units while the fifth insists on the scrapping of the concept of State of Origin from the constitution to be replaced by the State of Residence. Expounding this concept The Ekwueme Square Declaration recommends that ‘any child born of Nigerian parents anywhere in Nigeria should acquire the indigeneship (residency) rights of the area at birth. It also recommended that any Nigerian citizen who has resided in any part of Nigeria and paid taxes there for a period of ten years can acquire the indigeneship (residency) rights of the area, except the right to their traditional stool.
The sixth demand makes a solid case for a two or three-tier police structure with defined responsibilities that would be controlled by the federal and state or regional governments respectively while the seventh seeks the abrogation of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution which vests control of resources in the federal government. It recommends a truly federal system that gives control of resources to the federal units, vesting ownership rights, control and exploitation of resources in the states. It also argues that the federating units should keep 50% of rents, royalties and profit taxes on minerals from their lands while paying 20% to the regional government and 30% to the federal government.
Demand number eight makes a strong case for the replacement of the Federal Character Commission with Merit and Equal Opportunities Commission to ensure that merit is entrenched in the conduct of national and regional affairs, prescribing that 60% should be reserved for merit and 40% for affirmative action.
The ninth item demands that elections into the office of the President and federal legislature should be conducted by the electoral body of the Federal Government while elections into regional/state offices should be conducted by electoral bodies set up by the regional/state Constitutions or laws.
And finally, the tenth declaration seeks the latitude for federating units to have their own judicial systems with courts of first instance, appellate courts and Supreme courts to adjudicate on matters that are in the concurrent and residual lists as well as matters exclusively preserved for the federating units.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano had recounted that for 58 years, Ndigbo had worked tirelessly with other Nigerians to lay a foundation for a better federation and a more perfect union.
“We have made the most sacrifices and more often than not, we have also paid the supreme price for the unity of this country. But we have made these sacrifices in the belief that in the contemporary history of mankind, the road to nationhood is often paved with the blood of patriots. Indeed, Ndigbo have paid the price for Nigeria’s greatness. We paid in blood. We paid in FULL!” he declared.

Then, rallying Ndigbo to rise to the occasion, Governor Obiano observed that “the future summons us to a brighter dawn! And we must walk in the shadows of our fathers. Yes, our fathers played a major role in Nigeria’s long road to independence. And today, we have gathered to dream a balanced federation into existence for Nigeria and Nigerians.”

Noting that every nation on earth is work in progress, Governor Obiano observed that “citizens of both advanced and developing countries continue to ask their countries hard questions that will lead them to a better federation, a better nation and a better society. And Nigeria cannot be an exception to this rule. So, we must ask Nigeria hard questions too!”

Governor Obiano further observed that following in the footsteps of their forebears who invested their youthful hopes and intellectual power in Nigeria, the younger generation of Ndigbo have ‘invested our wealth, our enterprise and our emotion in remaking Nigeria. Indeed, no other ethnic group has as much emotional investment in the Nigerian project as Ndigbo. And now, we have been called upon to re-imagine Nigeria. We welcome this challenge with both hands.”

Articulating the wishes and aspirations of Ndigbo, Obiano declared that “as governor of Anambra State, I was born and raised in Nigeria and I have lived in Nigeria for the better part of my life. I have lived the Nigerian Dream and experienced the horrors of Nigeria’s many Heartbreaks. I know what my people want from Nigeria and the question we must ask of Nigeria. We must ask what every forward looking people want from any socio-political arrangement… life, liberty and a chance to raise happy families. We must ask for a just, fair and equitable federation where every citizen is guaranteed the freedom to be the best they can be and to aspire to the highest position in the land regardless of their tribe, culture or religion. And this is what Nigeria in its present structure, has not given to us!”

Also speaking, the 91-year old leader of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, Chief Edwin Clark observed that Ndigbo had been treated very unkindly by the federal government and wondered why Igbo youths who bore no arms and hurt nobody had to be branded as terrorists.

Chief Clark also blamed the federal government for not giving Ndigbo an additional state as recommended in the 2014 Constitutional Conference and insisted that such denials and deprivations were behind the spate of separatist agitations from the region.

The event also featured moving speeches from the leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of the Middle Belt, Dan Sulaiman, Chairman of the occasion Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and former Nigerian Ambassador to Spain, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu among many others.

 

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Zimbabwe applies to re-join Commonwealth, 15 years after leaving

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Lagos, Nigeria – Zimbabwe has applied to re-join the Commonwealth after the country withdrew its membership 15 years ago under former President Robert Mugabe.
Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, said Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa submitted a application on May 15 for the country to return to the 53-member group of mostly British former colonies.
“Zimbabwe’s eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion, given our shared rich history,” Scotland said in a statement.

To rejoin, Zimbabwe must go through an assessment followed by consultations with other members states, the statement said.
Zimbabwe was first suspended from the Commonwealth in 2002 on the grounds that Mugabe, who had ruled the country since independence in 1980, rigged his re-election in 2002 and persecuted his opponents.

The former dictator withdrew Zimbabwe’s membership out of the group after the country’s suspension was renewed in 2003.
Mugabe was ousted last November following a military takeover and impending impeachment ending his 37-year rule over the country.
The Commonwealth secretariat will send observers to monitor the country’s elections in July, following an invitation from the Zimbabwean government, the statement said.

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Ohanaeze Ndigbo seeks 6-year single term for president, governors

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Ohanaeze Ndigbo, a socio-cultural umbrella of Ndigbo, has called for the adoption of a six-year rotational single tenure for the president and governors of 36 states in the country.
It also demanded creation of one additional state in the South-East geo-political zone, scrapping of local government system and resource control for states where natural resources were exploited.

These were some highlights of the resolutions tagged, “Ekwueme Square Declaration 2018’’, which members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo reached during their one-day summit in Awka on Monday.
Charles Soludo, the Chairman, Planning and Strategy Committee and Organising Committee, read out the resolutions.
Mr Soludo further said Ohanaeze want the federal government to adopt the report of the 2014 National Conference.
He said the resolution already ratified by all the component arms of Ohanaeze, equally demand that the current Constitution of Nigeria, which he stated was the product of the military, be redrafted.
Mr Soludo added that Ohanaeze recommended that a constituent assembly for the drafting of a new constitution be constituted and thereafter a referendum be held, adding, “Whatever recommendations of the group would be sent to National Assembly.”
He said the group also demanded for the scrapping of state of origin and its replacement with residential rights whereby a Nigerian would have full right in any place he or she resides for 10 years.
On the six years single tenure, the group noted that six vice presidents from each of the six geo-political zones should be elected, while the governorship seat would be rotated among the senatorial districts.
On his part, John Nwodo, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said the summit was organised to enable Ndigbo articulate major challenges affecting the country.

Mr Nwodo claimed that the present constitution of the country was skewed against Igbo people and should be redrafted to give Igbo people fair treatment.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, challenged the Ohanaeze leadership to convince those yet to support the restructuring of the country to back the idea.

Mr Ekweremadu assured that he would table any bill on the restructuring of the country whenever the Ohanaeze present it at the National Assembly.
A former Foreign Affairs Minister, Ike Nwachukwu, who also spoke called on the people of Middle Belt to support the call for restructuring of Nigeria, claiming that they stand to gain more.
Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the Chairman of the summit, called on Igbo people especially the leaders to exhibit honesty in their affairs, to help move the people forward.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra in his address thanked the organisers for choosing his state for the summit organised for the Igbo people to articulate what they want as Nigerians.
Earlier in a sermon, Ben Osisioma of the Anglican Communion, called on Ndigbo to rely on God for solution to their challenges in Nigeria.
The summit was attended by prominent Igbo leaders from Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Rivers and Delta.
(NAN)

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Flutterwave Chief Executive Joins World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders Community

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Flutterwave, Nigeria Chief Executive Iyinoluwa Aboyeji has been nominated amongst one hundred that are joining the World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leaders community this year.

He is the co-founder of a digital payments platform designed to make it easier to do business across the continent. Previously, he was one of the founders of Andela – a company training African developers and hiring them out to global tech companies – which received investment from Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.

The one hundred of the world’s brightest under 40 invited to Shape an inclusive and sustainable future according to WEB. “One hundred of the world’s most promising artists, business leaders, public servants, technologists and social entrepreneurs have been asked to join the World Economic Forum’s community of Young Global Leaders. They are joining a community and five-year programme that will challenge them to think beyond their scope of expertise and be more impactful leaders. They were nominated because of their ground-breaking work, creative approaches to problems and ability to build bridges across cultures and between business, government and civil society.

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