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.”
FG declares its readiness to deploy 5G network after precautionary measures
FG declares its readiness to deploy 5G network after precautionary measures
By Aminci Audu
The minister of communications and Digital Economy Isah Ali Pantami has declared that Nigeria is ready for 5th Generation Network (5G) as long as the major challenges are taken care of.
Pantami spoke yesterday, at a one day investigative hearing on the present status of 5G network organised by the joint Senate committee on communication, sScience and Technology, ICT and Cybercrime and Primary Healthcare and Communicable Diseases.
The minister in his presentation allayed the fear among Nigerians over the planned deployment of the network saying the Federal Government has taken all necessary precautions by investigating through research and trial on all issues raised.
He said “The position is that we are almost at the final stage. So now, Nigeria is ready for 5G as long as we address the major challenges.”
“We have not gotten there, wether we will deploy 5G but we are on track conducting research, investigations, engaging stakeholders and definitely if all issues are addressed, the executive will support the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.”
He noted that so far no negative impacts has been established from the research and trial carried both locally and at the international level.
On the speculation that the 5G network escalated the COVID-19 he said there is no link between 5G and COVID-19.
“And there is no relationship between 5G and any desease. The only issue being raised usually is about radiation. But people don’t realise that the radiation of 4G is more harmful than that of 5G.
“The radiation of microwave oven at home is more harmful than that of the 5G. The radiation of even the smart phone itself is even more harmful that that of 5G
SELF backs Sylva over choice of Saipem on Bonny NLNG Train 7 contract
SELF backs Sylva over choice of Saipem on Bonny NLNG Train 7 contract
The South-south Emerging Leaders Forum (SELF) has faulted allegations of wrong doing leveled against the Minister of State for Petroleum Chief Timipre Sylva over the choice of Saipem, an Italian firm to handle the Bonny NLNG Train 7 contract.
SELF in a statement argued that the deal also endorsed by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Local Content Board Engr. Simbi Wabote was in the best interest of the country.
SELF position was in response to an online publication which accused the duo of bribe taking running into millions of naira in the deal.
SELF warned the publisher of the medium , Mr Jackson Ude, to desist from blackmailing leaders of the South-south extraction in a bid to score political goals.
Urging the Publisher of the online medium to show proof his allegation, SELF noted: “We strongly condemn the allegation leveled by Pointblanknews.com and its sponsors, this is highly condemnable and viewed as a sponsored plot to instigate hate against the Minister and derail his concentrations.
“This is ridiculous and belittling of Jackson Ude, the face behind this blackmail for being petty to the ground level for publishing tissues of lies about the persons of Timipre Sylva and Simbi Wabote.
“Nigerians should not believe this and throw it into the dust bin. It’s incumbent on all well-meaning Nigerians to support the positive drive of Minister and collaborate with him, towards the actualization of the onerous task at stake.
“Although Jackson Ude and his medium Pointblanknews.com are criminally known for thriving in the business of blackmail, especially against the officeholders from the Niger Delta region. But this forum will henceforth resist this criminality by deploying all known instrumental of law to fight the faces behind these tissues of lies.
“This Forum is using this medium to warn the likes of Jackson Ude to stay away from Nigeria and the South-south most especially if they are not ready to turn a new leaf because the business of blackmail has long become outdated and unpopular.”
Great relief as Kidnapped Punch reporter, Nnodim regains freedom
Great relief as Kidnapped Punch reporter, Nnodim regains freedom
It was a great relief for journalists, family members, friends and well wishers when the news filtered in that the Punch Newspapers reporter, Victor Okechukwu Nnodim who was kidnapped from his residence in Kubwa, Bwari Area Council on Thursday has regained freedom.
He was released almost 48hours hours after his abduction alongside two other neighbours who were also abducted.
It was gathered early hours of Sunday that he has been released and in high spirits.
The media world was jolted by the news of his abduction, as many turned prayer warriors supplicating for his freedom without any harm
His abductors, NationaUpdate learnt later communicated with his elder sister who resides in Lagos demanding for N10 million.
At the time of this report it could not be ascertained if ransom was paid before he regained freedom, but colleagues made efforts to contributed money towards his release, when it became obvious that the kidnappers were bent on collecting ransom.
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