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Intrigues in late Ocholi’s replacement reawaken old ethnic rivalry in Kogi

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Intrigues in late Ocholi’s replacement reawaken old ethnic rivalry in Kogi
By John Akubo,
The lackadaisical attitude of Government towards a very serious constitutional issue of national importance has been at the front burner over the political intrigues in the replacement of late minister of State Barrister James Ocholi five months after his demise.
A constitutional lawyer based in Lokoja Kogi State Barrister Joel Usman warned that in the event the matter is taken up legally most of the decisions of Governments at the federal level since the death of Ocholi may be called to question.
According to him, “The late Ocholi died more than five months ago and since then there has been no replacement meaning that in the past five months the Federal executive council has been sitting without a.minister from Kogi State which to my mind contravene section 147 sub section 3 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
“The operative word in this section is shall so the Federal executive Council to my mind cannot be said to be properly constituted where there is no minister from Kogi State in the cabinet because the Constitution provides that every State shall have a minister who should be an indigent of the State.”
He said it was not proper that after five months the federal Government was foot dragging on the need to appoint a minister from Kogi State.
“It means there is no representation from State in the Federal executive Council and that cannot be said to be in the interest of the State.
“We hope this issue can be addressed quickly as if legal action is taken it can affect some policies of Government since march.”
The delay has reawaken old rivalry between the three major tribes that constitute the State as the people from Kogi West especially the Okun speaking axis believe the death of Ocholi has created an opportunity for them to agitate for the slot as they believe they have lost out at the State level from the number one position to number four.
However even in Kogi West there seem to be a serious rivalry between the Lokoja people and the main Okun speaking people as those from Lokoja/Koto would want someone from their zone to be made a minister.
The Igalas would not want to contemplate the wish by the other tribes to take what rightfully belong to them because the man that died was their own and they are the ones bearing and feeling the pain of the lost.
Again they see the rivalry as ill motivated considering that they lost Prince Abubakar Audu that was coasting to victory at the verge of taking his trophy.
For the Kogi Central the agitation for the slot remain at the individual levels now that the power shift has favoured one of their own and yet they are having the chief Judge.
According to a political leader from Kogi West Lokoja/Koto Karfe axis Another APC stalwart from Kogi West who was Director General senator Dino Melaye campaign organization honorable Mahmood Muhammed Abubakar
Said the ministerial slot of late James Ocholi should be given to Kogi West preferably Kogi/KotonKarfe federal Constituency because they have never had the opportunity of producing minister before from the axis.
He said they also have people that have worked for the formation of the party APC and they have remained loyal.
“We have people like Suleiman Baba Ali, we have our national women leader who sponsored APC in Lokoja Local Government from the formation of the party up to Presidential election and even Governor ship election.
He said the Igalas have many positions in the present Government which he listed to include the deputy Governor and the chief of Staff who is even more powerful than the Governor.
He said they should not expect anything again at least for equity.
Another APC stalwart from Ijumu Alhaji Lamidi Saliu believes that the problem on ground concerning the replacement of Ocholi ministerial slot is a fragile situation having reawaken the old rivalry that existed among the three major tribes in Kogi State.
He referred to two major schools of thought on the matter, one that says the slot should be given to Kogi west and another that would want it to remain in Kogi East from where the deceased late minister hails from.
According to him, “I strongly align my position with the school that believe that position should come to the West Senatorial district. My reason Obasanjo regime the West dominated the ministerial slots for Kogi but after Obasanjo it went to the east in which Gabriel Aduku and Hebrew Abah became ministers in successions.
“It left there and went to the central in which the Attorney General held the position for more than four years. That is why the west is now saying that in this manner of rotation there is no rigid rule that say that it must be one region or the other but in the spirit of Federal character and fairness it should come from the West now.”
Continuing he said, “But some school of thoughts are saying it should be given back to the east to pacify the people over the death of Audu but already the deputy Governor is from the East, the chief of Staff to the Governor is from the East.”
Saliu said after a critical assessment of the present dispensation for the APC the West is still empty.
“There are some very influential sons of Okun who made the APC victorious in Kogi and after Audu the name of prominent APC leaders that readily comes to mind that contributed immensely to the growth of APC is the former Acting Governor Clarence Olafemi.
“He is a member of BOT of the ruling APC, he was a member of the presidential campaign committee and hence the man has all it takes to be made a minister and he had been left out at the State and at the Federal.”
He said at this point the Government will need a very strong person like him that will join hands as he had always been doing to ensure that the various factions of APC are united.
“We need somebody whose charismatic leadership can bring together the people of Kogi State.”
A Political leader in the East Tanko Odoma observed that,
“I don’t know what the other tribes are looking for in this matter, they have the Governor, they have the speaker, chief judge these alone are lopsided so for the central they should not border.
“Since this dispensation 17 years ago five Okuns have been ministers, six ambassadors, all political appointments, the only opportunity for the east were Humphrey Abah and Gabriel Adult whose tenures were shotlived.”
He explained that the central had minister of Justice in Muhammed Adoke for more than four years.
So he doesn’t really see any contest, adding that what they are saying is about politics.
“This is a game of politics and numbers is the only thing that matters and we have that on our side.”
However even the highest hierarchy of the igala traditional leadership would not spare the issue.
No wonder that the celebration to mark the third year anniversary of the ascension to the throne of his Royal Majesty Dr. Idakwo Micheal Ameh Oboni 11 the Atta Igala became another avenue to X-Ray the tragedy of the Igala race vis a vis its neglect in the Nigerian project.
It was like re-echoing of Senator Alex Kadiri’s satire at the burial of the late minister for State, Labour and employment Bar. Ocholi.
Kadiri who claimed to be Ocholi’s political Godfather had expressed the hope that his death will unite the race for progress and development.
“I know that the death of Ocholi shall bring peace and harmony to this land because we have been traumatized and battered.’
For the Igala nation he said its horizon had been doomed for quite sometime.
“When we had a minister for health before he settled down they said he embezzled money he lost out, we had the former Governor Prince Abubakar Audu at the verge of victory in the last Governorship election he died before he was declared.
“Here again a minister yet to settle down, traveling with his entire family they have all perished. This is the tragedy of our race.”
He lament on the tight corner the death of Ocholi has put the Igalas saying as things stood at the moment, “We are not in the scheme of things in our State, we are not in the scheme of things at the federal level and yet we claim to be the 9th largest ethnic group in the country.”
The Atta in his speech at the ceremony left no one in doubt about his grief as the chief mourner as he went down memory lane to recall another misfortune during the second republic.
He said another accomplished son of the soil in President Shehu Shagari cabinet Dr. Abubakar Usman, was also in the forefront of the exercise that brought in that government on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria(NPN) but at the end, Dr. Usman was “honoured” with the post of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
He pointed out that in the course of an official assignment to Sao Tome and Principe on a peace mission, his aircraft crashed into the sea and he perished in the service of the nation. ‘We lost a rare gem in that painful incident.’
Continuing thee royal father said in yet another disastrous outing, on 22nd November, 2015, Igala land was plunged into another sorrowful moment following the sudden demise of the former two-time governor of Kogi state, Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC candidate for the 2015 gubernatorial election.
“Prince Audu was in the forefront of the campaign for politics without bitterness. He was massively voted for in the elections and while people awaited his declaration as winner of that election the news of his death, like a bolt from the blues just filtered in. It was another tragic blow to the already battered psyche of the Igala people.
“In yet another tragic turn of events, one of our outstanding legal luminaries was cut down in his prime on 5th March, 2015 in an auto crash along Kaduna –Abuja road. ”
Like Dr. Usman the Royal father pointed out that Barrister Ocholi (SAN) was a major participant in the election that ushered President Muhammed Buhari into office in 2015.”
“He was a very loyal party man who had been with President Buhari through the CPC days to the formation of the alliance party, the APC during which period he made invaluable contributions to their merger.
“On assumption of office the APC government nominated him for a ministerial appointment. During the screening exercise he distinguished himself as an erudite scholar. In spite of his outstanding performance at the screening and against all expectations, he was only honored with the ubiquitous Minister of state portfolio in the Ministry of Labour and productivity.”
Atta’s grouse was not just the tragic loss of his sons and daughters but the need to use the occasion to take a critical look at the structural and political equation in Nigeria viz a viz the Igala nation.
For an ethnic group that was declared the ninth largest in Nigeria as early as 1963 during the national head count the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari in May 2015 as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria raised its hope in terms of accountability,justice, fair play and equity in its political history.
According to him, “The man Buhari has a track record of correcting the political, economic, social and primordial ills invested in segments of society, this new change mantra is what we believe will bring our nation out of the woods.
“The current change mantra of the Federal Government should focus more attention on Kogi state in general and the East senatorial District (Igala land) in particular. Whatever changes occur in the nation without adequately addressing the structural and socio-political deficiencies suffered in Igala land since the amalgamation of the country in 1914, will be grossly inadequate and an exercise in futility,.”
He used the avenue to appeal to all Igalas to come together and talk with a united voice as he invited the two warring parties in the conflict between the people of Odeke and Echenwo in Kogi state and those of Aguleri in Anambra state to find a lasting solution to the crisis adding that the solution is within and not without.
He blamed the colonial masters ignorance of the history and geographical configurations of the race to balkanised and dispersed it in to three provinces of Idah District that was merged with Onitsha province,
Ankpa District that was merged with Munchi province and Dekina District that formed part of Nasarawa province.
“In 1918 during the reign of Attah Oguche Akpa, these three Igala districts came back together as one unit and were merged with the Northern provinces but not without some damage.
“Some of our people were ignorantly left behind in the present day Enugu, Anambra, Nasarawa, Benue, Delta and Edo states thus drastically reducing the numerical strength of the Igala nation.”
Hence he indicated that the present size of the Igala people in Kogi East is a much reduced size compared to what the overall population of the Igala people should be in Nigeria..
“This singular act by the colonial masters and its acceptance by our frontline nationalists has been the main cause of our loss of strength and voice in national matters.
“The lack of the knowledge of the history of the Igala people by our past and present national leaders is the bane of our advancement as a people.”
According to him the Igala nation was at the forefront of diplomatic collaboration as early as 1841 indicating that, Attah Amocheje had signed a treaty with the British, twenty years before Lagos signed a treaty with them in 1861.
He reiterated that the Igala nation had been a very strong kingdom controlling commercial activities and navigation on the Niger River at Idah many years before the advent of the white man.
“The Igala nation fought and conquered many territories in its hay days and was one of the most established kingdoms in Sub Saharan Africa.”
The Royal father pointed out that the advent of states creation in Nigeria, added to the woes of the Igalas.
“The first state creation exercise in 1967 by the Gowon administration took us to Kwara state where we were mockingly referred to as Kwara overseas.
“In 1976, another state creation exercise by the Murtala regime took us to Benue state where we remained till 1991 when we were once again returned to the former Kabba province now renamed Kogi state.”
He said the the tossing up and down within the country has adversely affected the growth and development as a people.
Again during the military regime of President Ibrahim Babangida, he recalled that local government areas were created in the three senatorial districts of Kogi state when in spite of the numerical strength of the Igalas no local government area was created for them by the regime even though local government areas were created two times in both the West and Central senatorial Districts.
He explained further that Dekina local government now bears the inglorious appellation of the largest local government in Nigeria in terms of population and land size.
He also recalled how Dr. Steven Achema in 1998 contributed to the victory of President Olusegun Obasanjo and was rewarded with theubiquitous position of Senior Special Assistant to the president on labour matters.
“A few months later while on an official trip from Abuja to Lokoja to attend a party congress he was involved in an accident on the Murtala bridge and he died thus once more orchestrating our woes and losses.
“In 2007, late President Musa Yar’Ádua appointed Arch. (Chief) Gabriel Yakubu Adukwu as Minister of State for Health but inspite of his brilliant contribution he was removed within a very short time in his tenure as Minister on bogus corruption allegations.
“The then Attorney-General of the Federation, Hon. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) called on the Federal Government to tender unreserved apology to this elder statesman but many years after Chief Adukwu is yet to be compensated.”
The Royal father said his race would no longer accept to be treated with disdain in spite of its numerical strength.
“Let it be known to all Nigerians that we as a people reject this second fiddle positions being foisted on us in the affairs of our national life.
“It is on record that out of the over 50 federal ministries,parastatals, departments and agencies of the federal government, no Igala indigene is considered fit to head one despite our being ninth in terms of number going by the 1963 census. This is an appalling reality considering our major contributions to the growth of this country.”
According to him, “It is very distasteful for demographers to continue to underestimate Igala population. We are put at just between two and three million which is a gross under estimation. In reality the Igala people who are found in five states are above seven million.”

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Group clears Bauchi Governor of Corruption allegation

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Group clears Bauchi Governor of
Corruption allegation

From Ali Sara, Bauchi

Corruption allegations against the Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir are false, blatant lies being orchestrated by his political enemies, the Bauchi State Coalition Against Financial Crimes and Injustice (BACAFCI) has said.

The National Chairman of BACAFCI Mallam Bibi Dogo stated this on Sunday while fielding questions from newsmen in Bauchi in reaction to the recent petition  filed by alleged stakeholders from Bauchi State.
The group had accused the Governor of corruptly enriching himself and mal administration in the State as reported in some media.
Dogo indicated that the coalition received a copy of the petition which it has studied but found no tangible evidence but blatant lies with the sole aim of bringing the government to disrepute out of envy of his track records and successes.

Dogo who brought dozens of documents in defense of Governor Bala said the anti graft group BACAFCI cleared Bala on all the allegations after they studied the petitions filed by the socalled stakeholders before the Economic Financial Crime Commission EFCC.
Dogo explained further that the allegations of loans for the Purchase of 3.5bn official vehicles for the Political office holders are unfounded as all due processes were followed in the award of the contract.
He said the contract for their purchase was approved by the State House of Assembly through House resolution via a letter sent by the government and duly signed by the clerk of the House Umar Yusuf Gital with reference number BASHA/POL/S/13/VOL.XIX/203 dated 17/July/2019.
He said  the contract was awarded to an indigene of the State after it followed the normal scrutiny where certificate of no objection was issued to the company before it was awarded the contract.
Dogo observed that from their findings, all cars were supplied and put to use by the beneficiaries in the best interest of the State.

He said the allegations that Governor Bala is a director in one of the companies which Bauchi Government patronized is not true as the Governor had resigned his position in the company on 1st May 2019 adding that he was not a Governor at that time because he had not taken the oath of office.
He said their findings were confirmed through Corporate Affairs Commission CAC form no 51180 on the particulars of Directors.

The Chairman also indicated that allegations of awarding road contracts, Building of Palaces, Workshops, assistance to pilgrims, supply of School Uniforms to out of School children, children meals by the government, are all genuine projects that everyone with sincere mind can see.
“Where anyone is in doubt he can go to the relevant government agencies to confirm and verify.
On the issue of School Uniforms and meals for out of school children he said the contract for the supply of uniforms was awarded to the indigenes of the State after due process and the uniforms was supplied.
Dogo indicated that the project was aimed at reducing the number of out of School children, while the Workshop was carried out in the best interest of the state at minimal cost. 

Even the issue of ghost workers, he pointed out that it was Governor Bala who held a public hearing with all stake holders on the issue he is working hard to bring sanity to the system to free some resources and employ more people in to the state Civil Service. 

He said the petitioners were either ignorant of how government operates or it was born outof malice.
“They just decided to paint the governor black due to the large number of physical projects he has execute that has developed the state.

Bibi Dogo said many of the allegations are not directly linked to the Governor but some Civil Servants whom the petitioners didn’t care to accused but the Governor that is making effort to rebuild the State through the provision of genuine infrastructures.

He advised them to always cross check their facts and offer only constructive criticisms not blatant lies.

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Lawan seeks Pakistan support in capacity building for Nigeria’s Defence Industry

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Lawan seeks Pakistan support in capacity building for Nigeria’s Defence Industry

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has urged Pakistan to aid Nigeria in the capacity building of her Defence Industry.

Lawan made the call on Friday while receiving in audience a delegation of the Senate of Pakistan which visited him to seek Nigeria’s support for the candidature of the Chairman of the Pakistani Senate for the Presidency of the Inter-Parliamentary Union(IPU).

The Senate President thanked Pakistan for its assistance in the area of training and supply of weapons to Nigeria Armed Forces in the fight against insurgency and other security challenges.
In his words,
“But one area that I think we need to sustain collaboration and partnership is in the area of helping Nigeria to build our Defence Industry.

“We started together in the 70s. For some reasons, we are still struggling to get stronger in the area of manufacturing or producing our needed defence weapons.

“But you have gone higher. We need to learn a lot from you in that respect.

“We have the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria located in Kaduna. They are still working hard to see how they can start producing the kind of weapons that we need in Nigeria.
“It’s going to take a while but I believe that you will graciously help us build the capacity of the people working in that place,” Lawan said.

The Senate President said the friendship between Pakistan and Nigeria which dated back to Nigeria’s Independence in 1960 had transformed into brotherhood.

“In all international fora, Pakistan and Nigeria have always been on the same side. Pakistan has been quite supportive of Nigeria in all ramifications.

“Presently, we do a lot together for our security especially the Armed Forces. You also help us with some of the weapons that we need in fighting the insurgency. We appreciate that and we hope that this kind of relationship and brotherhood will continue,” Lawan said

On the primary reason for the visit, the Senate President said the issue of the candidature of the Chairman of the Pakistani Senate, Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani for the presidency of IPU “is like one of us running for that office.”

“We will give him the support that he needs from us and if we can go beyond what we can offer as an institution to other areas including the African jurisdiction, we will do so, trying to talk to as many of our colleagues in other jurisdiction within the African region, to see if we can get them on board as well.

“But he is eminently qualified. He’s vastly experienced and Pakistan has been quite prominent and visible in the activities of IPU.

“What we require is reforming IPU to make it more robust and vibrant and also provide opportunity for supporting the various chapters across the globe. And I believe that with his experience and expertise, he will be able to do that and for us he has no problem. He has our support.”

Earlier, the Chairman of the Pakistani Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed who led the delegation said the mission was basically to seek the support of Nigeria’s Senate for the candidacy of the Chairman of the Pakistani Senate, for the presidency of IPU.

“The election is scheduled to hold in the first week of November. We feel that Nigeria’s support will be very critical and because Nigeria is a very important player in the international scenes and in particular with reference to Africa.

“It is in that spirit that we have come personally to solicit your support. And we hope that, God’s willing if we are successful, we will be voice, not just for Asia/Pacific, but the voice of Africa and democratic and civilised community of nation’s,” Sayed said.

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Works and Housing ministry gets lion share of capital expenditure at N404b in 2021 budget

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Works and Housing ministry gets lion share of capital expenditure at N404b in 2021 budget


President Muhammadu Buhari in his budget proposal to the joint session of the national Assembly Thursday has said that the works and Housing Ministry got the lion share of N404b for capital expenditure among other ministries.
The allocation he said is in line with his submission that capital expenditure in 2021 remains focused on the completion of as many ongoing projects as possible, rather than the commencement of new ones.
The president pointed out that, capital allocation to the Works and Housing sector is to facilitate the completion of several critical projects in 2021.
The works and Housing ministry was followed by that of Transportation with N256 billion in terms of heighrachy of importance.
The allocation Buhari said is line with his commitment to investing in Transportation Infrastructure.
According to him, the ministry of defence was allocated N121 billion in capital expenditure while
Power got N198 billion (inclusive of N150 billion for the Power Sector Recovery Plan).
For the ministry of Education N127 billion in capital was earmarked as another N70b was set aside for Universal Basic Education.

Commission
Other key capital expenditures of note are
Water Resources withN153 billion, Agriculture and Rural Development with N110 billion, mknistry of Health N132 billion with
Zonal Intervention Projects gettingN100 billion.
Others are ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment which got N51 billion while Niger Delta Development Commission was earmarked N64 billion.
According to President Buhari the 2021 capital budget is N1.15 trillion higher than the 2020 provision of N2.69 trillion adding that at 29 percent of aggregate expenditure, the provision moves closer to this Administration’s policy target of 30 percent.

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