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High expectations as Nigerians await beginning of campaigns by political parties

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High expectations as Nigerians await beginning of campaigns by political parties

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Expectations are high that candidates would take a departure from the past by putting in the front burner of their campaigns issues agitating the minds of the people

Omoniyi Salaudeen

Save for a few pockets of cases waiting to be resolved, the process of nomination of candidates for the various elective positions by registered political parties has finally come to a close.

The stage is, therefore, set for electrifying campaign that would usher in a new government that would steer the affairs of the country for the next four years effective May 29, 2019.

Unlike the previous politics of mudslinging, expectations are high that presidential candidates would take a departure from the past by putting in the front burner of their campaigns some fundamental issues agitating the minds of the people.

By the timeline provided by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), presidential campaign is expected to kick off on November 18.

READ ALSO: Before the campaign

Ahead of the exercise, some prominent opinion leaders who spoke with Sunday Sun expressed optimism that electioneering process for the 2019 general elections would be issue-based, especially considering the enormity of challenges currently confronting the country.

Though opinions differ on what should be the main focus of campaign by presidential candidates, one point of view on which all are agreed is the need for a review of the present structure of the country in a way and manner that would give the federating units a true sense of belonging.

A renowned Yoruba leader of thought, Prof Stephen Adebanji Akintoye, in an interview with Sunday Sun, said that the time has come for a revival of the country.

His words: “We do need a restructuring of the country to address some of the challenges confronting us as a nation. This concentration of powers at the centre is weird. It is surprising that any group of right thinking beings could ever think of a thing like that. We have to restructure.

“But beyond the issue of restructuring, we need a total revival of the present system.

Restructuring is just a baseline.”

The spokesperson of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumankin, also speaking in the same vein, said: “Most of the germane issues are centred on restructuring. Restructuring will put Nigeria back on the path of productivity. The present government has run the country aground. There cannot be a fresh start without taking back the country to the path of productivity. Every section of the country must bring something to the table to become productive once again.

“What should be in the front burner is how to put back the country on the path of federalism. Nigeria is now the headquarters of poor people.

How can you deal with the problem of poverty when you are not productive? We need an autochthonous Constitution. We need a leadership who can bring all Nigerians together to agree on a template that will move the country forward.”

He also identified security, economy and community policing as some of the issues that need urgent solution.

“Also, the question of insecurity is a major concern. People are being killed here and there. You can see in the past one week, the Shi’ites have been battling security operatives. Kidnapping is still going on.

We need to address the structure of the country. Security cannot be provided with the kind of police we have at the moment. The economy is equally down. Most of these problems are offshoot of economic crisis,” he added.

Similarly, the National Chairman of the UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie, in his contribution stressed that restructuring should form the basis of social contract between the people and the leader.

He said: “Every section of this country irrespective of tribe or religion is talking about restructuring. It is my belief that if Nigeria is restructured in a manner that reduces concentration of powers at the centre and devolve powers to the state and local government in a way that allow federating units to develop at their own pace, it will make people to be more creative in the leadership that they are recruiting. Such leadership will also be more creative in exploring whatever they have in their domains. Each state is endowed with one resource or the other. That is going to be in the front burner.”

He, however, noted that some candidates were using the concept as political rhetoric, saying that everything would be done to stop such individuals.

“Some of us will not allow them to use it to deceive the people. If your party does not have it in its manifesto, which is a social contract between the candidate and the people, you can’t use it to campaign. We will expose those who are merely using rhetoric to deceive the people. For example, Atiku Abubakar is a frontrunner in the campaign for restructuring, but his party has no word on it. For the APC that has restructuring, Buhari has not shown any interest in it. El-Rufai committee has done something very attractive in terms of extensive coverage. All that is needed is for the national executive committee of the party to adopt it as a document. That way, we will know there is a social contract in it. So, definitely, restructuring will be central to the campaign for the coming election. And, of course, anti-corruption will also continue to feature because it is the bane of our society,” he posited.

On the other hand, Dr Junaid Mohammed, a Kano-born politician and social critic, expressed deep disagreement, describing campaign for restructuring as sheer nonsense.

His words: “That is sheer nonsense. First and foremost, no political party has come out to tell us the true definition of restructuring. Whoever tells you miracles happen in politics is lying. There can only be a remedy to a national problem, if people will sit down and come out with a solution that is identifiable and definable. And I haven’t seen that for now in the debate. If they think that giving additional state to the Southeast will stop all our problems, they are deceiving themselves. If we think that the problems will disappear by going back to the parliamentary system of 1963, we are just deceiving ourselves. I was alive and very much politically conscious, nothing in that constitution will solve any of the current problems. Nigerians like quick fix. We have been doing that nothing has disappeared. Why don’t we sit down and plan better. If you don’t have job, how to you address the issue of poverty? How do you improve quality of education and healthcare delivery if you don’t invest?”

In his opinion, the issues of national security and economy are the most serious problems that need to be tackled.

“As far as I am concerned, there are a number of issues which are directly linked with some of the problems we have in the country today. Firstly, I am flabbergasted that none of the candidates is addressing the issue of security that is confronting us today. The issue of security has been a slogan for doing nothing.

Everybody is merely paying a lip service to it. Today, it is not only the issue of Boko Haram that is threatening the peace of the country. Niger Delta crisis is still there and there are also problems here and there in the Middle Belt. There are problems in Zamfara, Sokoto and part of Katsina. The other thing is the issue of economy. When this government came in, it ran the economy into recession. We haven’t completely come out of that recession. The rate of growth of the national economy is far below the growth of the population. This means one unit of growth has to be shared among several people, which is why we have high level of poverty in the country. Unless we have people who are economically literate, who are sincere and can work as a team, it will be impossible for us to get out of the problem we are in right now,” he stated.

Constitutional lawyer and human right activist, Dr Tunji Abayomi, on his part, dismissed the issue of restructuring as a misplaced priority and a clear lack of understanding of Nigeria’s problems.

Putting it in a different perspective, he said: “For me, the principal issues that should be in the front burner are unemployment, economy, corruption and abuse of office by leaders.

These are problems that impede the progress of Nigeria. First of all, before you talk of restructuring, a nation must have a structure. I am talking of agreed structure by the people. I have said it again and again that it is not a government that gives a nation a Constitution, it is a Constitution that gives a nation a government. And it is not the content of the Constitution that validates; it is the procedure of making the Constitution. Nigeria has no constitution. What Nigeria has is a document forged by the military. So, to have a restructure, the people of Nigeria must agree on the nature of government in a free dialogue.

All this debate about restructuring is mere talk in my view. It is lack of understanding of the fundamental. The structure of a nation is its constitution. The constitution of a nation must come from the will of the people freely given through their representatives. This issue of restructuring is not defined. Every valid constitution provides a means of amendment. So, what do they really mean by restructuring? To restructure what? People just use the word without any definition”.

As the nation inches towards the kick off of campaigns following the guidelines provided by the INEC, these and many more are some of the issues Nigerians would want answers and solutions to ahead of the general elections.

READ ALSO: 2019: UN visits INEC, pledges support to Nigeria

The post High expectations as Nigerians await beginning of campaigns by political parties appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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NATIONAL NEWS

CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

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CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.

“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?

“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.

“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.

“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”

Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.

“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.

“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike

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Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.

Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.

The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.

Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.

Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).

The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”

On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.

The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.

“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.

The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”

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