Education, job creation and security top priority list Governor Rochas Okororcha of Imo state announced yesterday to the cheering of enthusiastic crowd of Imo citizens shortly after being administered the oath of office with his deputy Chief Sir Jude Agbaso at Dan Anyiam stadium Owerri.
Immediate past Governor Ikedi Ohakim, his deputy Ada Okwuonu as well as Speaker of the State House of Assembly were however, conspicuously absent at the occasion graced by former governor Achike Udenwa, governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, Chief Victor Umeh, national chairman of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate of the party for the 2007 election Chief Martin Agbaso and other distinguished personalities.
Okorocha who arrived at the venue with his wife and six children took his oath of office at exactly 12 noon after the deputy governor Chief Agbaso was administered the oath by the Chief Judge, Justice Benjamin Njemanze.
Okorocha who burst into songs of praise after his swearing in declared the day a day of freedom, a day of emancipation and a day of restoration for Imo people saying democracy has really started in the state and never again shall an Iroko decides who governs Imo people but the people themselves.
“The May 5 supplementary election remains a great day in history. I see before me a great thing to happen. I know you expect much from me. You believe in me and you trust me. I will perform and I will not disappoint you. Your peace is my peace; your pain is my pain. Where you are, there I will be.
“Just few days ago the outgoing governor Ikedi Ohakim issued staff of office to over 160 traditional rulers. Appointment letters for his 10,000 thousand jobs were released to the beneficiaries within a week. Just few days ago he signed N18, 000 minimum wage for workers. Imo allocation stands at N2.2billion. Imo is not worthy to borrow from any bank because of over borrowing. Even on that I will perform. I will not give any excuse. I will deliver”, he said.
Reeling out his priority areas, Okorocha declared free education and warned that any parents or guardian who refused to send his child or ward to school will face the law. He said he was prompted to declare free education out of his belief that the best that can be given to a child is education as a child without education is a futureless child.
He said Imo has a lot of security challenges and noted that peace has returned to the state since his election because there is a new spirit among the people to move forward. In this regard, he promised to tackle security to the fullest.
“I don’t believe in crime fighting but crime prevention. The criminals are all in our communities and my administration will create a black book for them. No criminal shall go unpunished as far as this administration is concerned”, he said.
On the issue of job he said his government will do a lot to keep everybody busy. He said that he would rescue the few remaining industries in comatose position in the state. He warned civil servants in the state to be serious with their jobs noting that the era of truancy and coming late to work is gone with the old order.
He said: “Our civil servants must stand up and face the challenge. For every single worker, there is a corresponding person waiting to take over your seat if you don’t perform”.
He advised unemployed young men and women in the state looking for jobs to be close to their God henceforth because his government will go to churches to collect list of such job lookers and this will ensure that those to be employed are spiritually certified.
Governor Okorocha did not ignore the health sector as he said that his government will review the issue of health with serious concern. He said he is worried by the issue of justice and fairness and therefore will appoint a special assistant in charge of that to ensure that innocent persons are not kept in prison custody because they have no big man to bail them.
He said: “No innocent person will be kept in police or prison custody anymore. At the same time, no criminal will go unpunished no matte his connection. I therefore warn the big men who are fond of issuing orders to Divisional Police Officers to release detained criminals stop it henceforth or they will replace such criminals in prison.”
Assuring that his government will be grassroots based, Okorocha said his government will create fourth tier of government, Community Government and the seat of power, Douglas House is now in the communities.
He said he was not interested in probing his predecessor, but in auditing the accounts of the state. “This government is not interested in witch hunting anybody. What we are interested in is auditing the account of Imo state. I have no business looking backward”.
He said of the immediate past governor: “Ohakim said his name is Ikiri. But since I won the election he is my brother. I have separated my brother from Ikiri. Ikiri has gone to the bush and my brother has gone back to Isiala Mbano. From today, Ohakim is no longer Ikiri but former governor.
Education, job creation and security top priority list Governor Rochas Okororcha of Imo state announced yesterday to the cheering of enthusiastic crowd of Imo citizens shortly after being administered the oath of office with his deputy Chief Sir Jude Agbaso at Dan Anyiam stadium Owerri.
Osama bin Laden, the long-time figurehead of the al Qaeda terrorist network, has been buried at sea after being killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan.
According to U.S. officials bin Laden’s body would be handled in accordance with Muslim traditions, which include strict rules on burial taking place within 24 hours after death.
Bin Laden was a Saudi national, but officials say that the Kingdom was unwilling to have his remains repatriated.
He was killed in a U.S. raid launched early Monday in the relatively-well-heeled town of Abbottabad, near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FALLOUT: 43 killed, 4,500 displaced •As violence spreads to Zamfara, Taraba •Destroy shops, vandalise churches •PDP secretariat, cars burnt •Don’t travel to Nigeria, US warns its citizens •FG deploys 400 anti-riot policemen
THERE has been no let up in the mayhem sweeping across some states in the North, as no fewer than 43 people have been killed in the heat of the protests that greeted the result of the presidential election.
Four serving corps members, a divisional crime officer (DCO), a policewoman and 10 others have been confirmed killed in Bauchi State, while at least three people, including a nine-year-old boy, were shot dead in a protest at Mutum Biyu, headquarters of Gassol Local Government Area of Taraba State, on Sunday.
In Niger State, at least five people are lying critically ill in Bida town, as a result of injuries sustained from gunshots from members of the special task force deployed to maintain law and order in the town.
Over 4,500 people have been displaced, following the mayhem unleashed on residents of Bauchi by supporters of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). The state secretary of the Nigerian Red Cross, Adamu Abubakar, confirmed the figures.
Thousands of youths, who went on the rampage in Tsafe Local Government Area of Zamfara State, on Monday night, destroyed dozens of shops and vandalised three churches. They also barricaded the major roads and made bonfires to disrupt vehicular movement, chanting “Ba muso” (we don’t like the president).
Speaking to newsmen on Tuesday, the Bauchi State Police Commissioner, Amama John Abakasanga, who confirmed the arrest of over 200 suspects, said one of the police formations in the state was also burnt by hoodlums and supporters of the CPC, saying investigations into the mayhem had commenced.
Also, four INEC offices were burnt down in Bauchi, Dambam, Misau and Jama’are local government areas, while 500 laptops used for the voter registration exercise were looted by the irate youth, who unleashed violence on the INEC offices as confirmed by the Bauchi State REC, Iliya Audu, who conducted journalists round the burnt offices.
Audu, who said that he was taking stock to ascertain the level of destruction at the offices assured that it would not in any way disrupt the conduct of the governorship and state house of assembly elections scheduled to be held on Tuesday next week, calling on all INEC staff in the affected areas not to panic, as adequate security arrangements had been made for their lives.
Meanwhile, at least three people, including a nine-year-old boy, were shot dead by the police during a protest at Mutum-Biyu, headquarters of Gassol Local Government Council of Taraba State last Sunday.
Also in Ardo-Kola Local Government Area of Taraba State, four cars were completely burnt, following the alleged attempt by one of the political parties to tamper with the results of the presidential election last Saturday.
Those killed were youths that took to the streets in the town over the alleged manipulation of the presidential election results. A pregnant woman also lost her life during the crisis.
The secretariat of the PDP in Gassol Local Government Area was not left out as the entire building was burnt down by protesters and that prevented traffic flow for several hours while many residents deserted the streets.
Following the protest, tension escalated in the state capital, forcing economic and commercial activities, including government offices and the central market, to close down immediately, as people took to their heels to safety.
When contacted, the state police commissioner, Alhaji Aliyu Musa, said two people were killed at Mutum Biyu while 42 were arrested by the police.
However, when the Nigerian Tribune visited various motor parks in the city on Tuesday morning, many people were seen trying to flee the state. But normalcy had partially been restored in the state at the time of filing this report.
In Katsina State, the police confirmed that four people were burnt alive and 45 inmates were released from the Federal Prisons in Funtua.
Similarly, the prisons official vehicles, household property, cars and churches were destroyed in the violence that ravaged some local council areas of the state.
Although the state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, had imposed a curfew between 9.00 p.m and 7.00 a.m on Monday, several churches and homes were burnt during the night, as rampaging arsonists moved around different towns in the state.
A security source told the Nigerian Tribune that the situation could have been worse if the governor had not imposed the curfew.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mallam Ibrahim Moha-mmed, who confirmed this to newsmen in Katsina, described the perpetrators as miscreants, arsonists, criminals and murderers.
According to him, over 107 suspects had been arrested in connection with the mayhem.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that there was massive destruction of property in Malumfashi, Kankara, Daura and Jibia, while at least five churches were burnt in Daura and Funtua.
The PDP secretariat, Kankara private residence of local PDP chieftains and Governor Shema campaign office were destroyed in melee.
US warns its citizens
THE United States (US) Department of State has issued travel warnings to its citizens travelling or those who have plans to travel to Nigeria, alleging high crime rate and a state of insecurity.
It specifically told its citizens to avoid travelling to Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers; the South-Eastern states of Abia, Edo, Imo; the city of Jos in Plateau State, Bauchi and Borno states in the North-East and the Gulf of Guinea, because of the risks of kidnapping, robbery, and other attacks in these areas.
The latest directives by the US may not be unconnected with the recent bombings across the country, coupled with the ongoing crises rocking the northern part of the country after the just-concluded presidential election.
According to the US Department of State, violent crimes committed by individuals and gangs, as well as by persons wearing police and military uniforms remained a problem throughout the country.
FG deploys anti-riot policemen
Determined to restore peace to the northern part of the country, the Federal Government, on Tuesday, deployed over 400 anti-riot police officers in the crisis-ridden areas.
The police officers, before their departure to Kaduna airport, were conveyed in four different military trucks to the Air Force wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport at about 3.30 p.m.
The anti-riot police officers arrived at the presidential lounge of the airport to take a special flight to Kaduna airport, but were instructed to board their flight at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) base.
The police officers were flown out of the Lagos airport at 5.10 p.m. aboard a Hercules C-130 military plane to Kaduna, where they were expected to be dispatched to the trouble spots in the affected states of Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi and Gombe.
One of the officers, who spoke to journalists at the airports, confirmed that the officers were actually heading to Kaduna to help quell the violence in the state and other neighbouring states.
The Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, Samuel Jinadu, also confirmed the story, saying that the policemen were going there to beef up security.
17 killed in Gombe
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that 17 people lost their lives during the post-presidential poll violence in Gombe, just as 100 suspects have been arrested and are currently in police custody for interrogation.
While speaking with newsmen in Gombe, after an on-the-spot assessment tour of the affected areas, the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of operations at the Force Headquarters, who was in the North-East zone for the election, Audu Abubakar, said 100 suspects had so far been arrested in connection with the political crisis.
Abubakar described the incident as unfortunate and uncalled for, after assessing the damage inflicted on innocent people in the name of politics.
He called on politicians to always accept election results in good faith, as there must be a winner and a loser.
Speaking with newsmen, the Acting Head of Clinical Services and Training of the Federal Medical Centre, Gombe, Dr Ali Shaliza said, 71 patients of post-election violence were brought in to the hospital within the last three days.
He added that 11 persons were also brought in dead, while two others died in the hospital, adding that many patients were admitted while others were treated and discharged.
Also speaking, the official of Red Cross, Umar Buba Ahmed, said 300 casualties were attended to at by the Red Cross society, noting that over 500 displaced persons were camped at the army barracks and other security operatives barracks within the town.
Also in Gusau, Zamfara State capital, a church situated at Ahmadu Bello Way was attacked by unidentified hoodlums.
Addressing newsmen on the violence at Tsafe, the Zamfara State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Jinjiri Abubakar, said 47 suspects were arrested by his men in connection with the crisis, adding, however, that no arrest was made with regard to the church that was attacked in the state capital.
Meanwhile, as Kafanchan and Zonkwa in Kaduna State erupted into a serious sectarian crisis, the state governor, Mr Patrick Yakowa, has expressed worry over the spillover and reiterated that the 24-hour curfew imposed on the state remained till further notice.
In a telephone interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa, monitored by the Nigerian Tribune on Tuesday, the Emir of Jema’a, Alhaji Isa Muha-mmadu, said there were security agents in the area, but they were overwhelmed and could not do much to restore order.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Religious matters, Reverend John Joseph Hayab, however, told the BBC that the state government was not informed that security agents were overwhelmed in the Southern part of the state.
When contacted on the matter, the Kaduna state Commissioner for Information, Saidu Adamu, said the “governor just addressed the press on the issue.”
The situation in Kaduna was becoming normal, as soldiers took control all over the state capital and environs.
According to the Nigerian Tribune findings, victims in Niger State were among scores of youths that attempted to invade the palace of the Etsu Nupe and chairman of the Niger state Council of Traditional rulers Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that the youth first attempted to invade the palace on Monday evening, but were repelled by men of the Special Task Force only for them to regroup on Tuesday morning.
The state police spokesman, Richard Oguche, confirmed the story but denied that there was any casualty, adding that the situation in the town had returned to normal.
Corps members relocate to army barracks
Meanwhile, not less than 200 corps members deployed to Chanchaga Local Government Area of Niger State have relocated to the army barracks in Minna, for safety.
Similarly not less than 150 families had also turned the areas outside the gates into the barracks to their temporary residences for safety.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that the corps members decided to seek refuge at the barracks, following failed attempt to burn over 70 of them at the Nigerian Christian Corpers Fellowship (NCCF) family house in the Tunga area of the state capital.
The protesters had reportedly locked the corps members up in the building and set them ablaze, before one of them was able to force the door open for them to escape.
The protesters were said to have accused the corps members of assisting to rig the presidential election, which made President Goodluck Jonathan to score more than 25 per cent of votes cast in the state.
Also, corps members serving in Ringim Local Government of Jigawa State have called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Hafiz Ringim, to come to their aid and save their lives as post election riot spread to the area.
Meanwhile, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has warned that if the political violence in the northern part of the country continues in the next 24 hours, it willd rise against it.
MASSOB, in a communiqué made available to newsmen after its emergency meeting held at its headquarters in Okwe, Onuimo Local Government Area of Imo State, on Tuesday, said “MASSOB will not fold its hands and watch the killings of Ndi-Igbo in Northern part of Nigeria.”
FG places party leaders under close surveillance
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has placed top political leaders, especially leaders of parties that contested the presidential election, under close watch, following indications that some of them were encouraging the outbreak of violence in some northern states.
Government sources confirmed that the decision was as a result of the revelations coming from a meeting of top leaders of a political party, who met in Abuja, on Monday, where one of them described the news coming from the North as encouraging.
It was gathered that anyone indicted by the security agencies might not be arrested for immediate prosecution, but would be properly investigated and documented.
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has collected his Certificate of Return, following his declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
as the winner of last Saturday’s presidential election.
It was given to him during a short ceremony on Tuesday at the Commission’s Airport Road Collation Centre in Abuja by the Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, who also presented a Certificate of Return to Vice-President Namadi Sambo for his emergence as the vice-president-elect.
In his remarks on the occasion, the president commended Professor Jega and his team for conducting a credible election that had been praised by both local and international observers, saying the success of the exercise was the beginning of good governance in the country.
According to him, “we really have to commend INEC. Professor Jega and his team have made Nigeria proud. Before now the international observers used to paint our elections in tainted colours but this year’s elections, first, that of the National Assembly and then the presidential, the information we have received and what we have read in the papers is that they have given us a pass mark.
“It has to be so because of the competence of INEC officers and the position of not compromising your independence. We thank you. All Nigerians are happy because you have placed us on higher rung of the ladder and others have seen us as people who conduct credible elections.
“This is the beginning of good governance. This is the beginning of economic development. This is the beginning of major changes in this country,” he said.
While thanking God for the grace to conduct the election, President Jonathan hoped that the next leg of the exercise would be better than the last two, saying, “we hope that, by the grace of God, the last leg of election coming on the 26th will be better than the presidential election. We thank God. It is God that made it possible. If it is man, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
He commended Nigerians for coming out en masse to participate in the exercise and for their cooperation with government and INEC, as well as for voting for him, saying that it was a clear demonstration of their patriotism.
Commenting on the riots in parts of the North over the election outcome, Jonathan said the development was regrettable, coming against the background of commendation from international observers who witnessed the election, but added that his administration would, in the next four years, focus on issues like that to prevent recurrence.
“It is regrettable that when international observers are commending us for credible elections, we witnessed some skirmishes in parts of the country. It is really regrettable. This is what happened in the late 50’s when some parts of the country witnessed things like this. But that is what the new generation leaders have to face.
“We will make sure that in the next four years, issues like this will not lead to riot. We assure Nigerians we will carry everyone along. We will run an open government where all Nigerians will play a key role, irrespective of party affiliations,” he said.
The president also addressed the issue of victims of the violence in the riots in the North and said that the government would take inventory of the lost properties, provide assistance for victims’ families and ensure that it would never happen again.
He called on religious and political leaders to condemn the riots, saying that government would work towards providing jobs for the nation’s unemployed youths, to prevent them from being used by unscrupulous politicians.
There were indications, as the results of the rescheduled National Assembly polls trickled in, last night, that the elections may have created upsets in some states.
Results from polling units in Ogun State showed a comfortable lead by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) across the state with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) trailing behind.
Results from polling units in former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s ward II showed that he lost woefully while his daughter, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, who vied in the senatorial segment of the polls in Ogun central, may have lost her seat to Gbenga Obadara of the ACN.
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Dimeji Bankole, who contested the federal constituency segment in Abeokuta, may also be on his way out for the ACN candidate, Segun Williams, with the early results.
The Senate president, Senator David Mark, contesting for re-election in Benue south, was said to be leading, as collation of results continued, with slight margin.
Reports also said ACN was leading in many Benue federal constituencies.
In Anambra Central Senatorial District, former Governor Chris Ngige was reported to be coasting home to victory while, in Kokokum-Opokuma, Yenagoa federal constituency, report had it that Labour Party was leading.
ACN candidate in Lagos Central Senatorial District, Chief (Mrs) Oluremi Zinabu; her counterpart in Lagos West, Senator Ganiyu Solomon; and the Lagos East candidate, Gbenga Ashafa, were reportedly in comfortable lead.
Reports from Abia State say the opposition parties have rejected the results of the National Assembly elections in the state.
The inference there is that the ruling PDP may have cleared the polls.
Reports from Ondo State indicated that the Labour Party, LP, was leading in two of the three senatorial districts – southern and central – where the immediate past Governor Olusegun Agagu and Senator Gbenga Ogunniya contested the polls.
It was gathered that Senator Bode Olajumoke was ahead of Prof. Ajayi Boroffice of LP in the results collated at press time in the northern senatorial district.
Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) was in early lead in the two polling booths at the State House, Abuja, according to reports.
Results of the polls from Abuja in
dicated that the PDP and CPC were making it neck on neck.
The results from the units are as follows:
Area 2 section 2 polling unit 010,
SENATE- PDP 53, CPC 83, ACN 7, LP20
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
PDP 57, CPC 90, ACN 16, LP 21.
Unit 007: PDP 58(Senate) 54(Representatives), CPC 89(Senate) 107(Representatives), ACN 12(Senate) 35(Representatives) LP 23(Senate) 10(Representatives).
Unit 006 Area 2 Section: CPC 99(Senate) 100(Representatives), PDP 107(Senate) 98(Representatives), ACN 20(Senate) 44(Representatives), LP 41(Senate) 34(Representatives).
Unit 005: PDP 59(Senate) 55(Representatives), CPC 82(Senate) 102(Representatives),LP 24(Senate), ACN 18 (Senate) 28(Representatives).
Unit 011: PDP 55(Senate) 52(Representatives), CPC 94(Senate) 103(Representatives, ACN 18(Senate) 25(Representatives) LP 13(Senate) 11(Representatives).
Area 2 section 1: CPC 99(Senate) 100(Representatives), PDP 107(Senate) 98(
Representatives), ACN20(Senate) 44(Representatives), LP 41(Senate) 34(Representatives).
Unit 008 Area 2, Section 1: CPC 208(Senate) 227(Representatives), PDP76(Senate) 74(Representatives), ACN 7(Senate) 14(Representatives), LP 16(Senate) 15(Representatives).
Unit 001A Federal Secretariat: PDP 57(Representatives) 58(Senate), CPC 61(Representatives) 50(Senate), ACN 15(Representatives) 8(Senate), LP 5(Representatives) 7(Senate).
001c Fed Secretariat: PDP 68(Senate) 79(Representatives), CPC58(Senate) 77(Representatives), ACN1(Senate) 11(Representatives), LP 9(Senate) 4(Representatives).
Unit 016, Area 8
PDP Senate 111, Representatives, 104; CPC, Senate 127, Representatives 140. Others scored less than 25, invalid 14, Registered voters 417, Accredited 187.
Karu Market Pu001
House of Representatives CPC 166, PDP 168; ACN-16, LP-14.
Senate: CPC -131, PDP 181, CAN-7, APGA 7.
PU 32/06/04/022 Mississippi, Maitama
Senate: ACN 21, ANPP8, CPC 185, PDP 106
House of Representatives: ACN19, ANPP9, CPC184, PDP106.
PU 37/02/10: House of Representatives: PDP111, CPC 273, ACN-89, APGA-20, LP-34.
Kubwa PU: Senate: PDP 118, CPC 84, CAN 24, LP 14. Reps: PDP 105, CPC 87, ACN39, APGA 52.
The breakdown of the National Assembly polls in Ogun showed that at the African Church Grammar School, Ita Iyalode, Abeokuta, where Obasanjo and his daughter, Iyabo, voted in the senatorial election, the ACN polled 167 votes while the PDP polled 64 and PPN, 5 votes. At the Agbeloba polling unit, directly opposite the head office of Obasanjo Holdings: ACN 191, PDP 36 and PPN 10 while at the African Church Primary School where Senator Ibikunle Amosun of the ACN voted, his party scored 259 votes as against PDP’s 40 and PPN’s 9 votes respectively.
At Ita Elega also in Abeokuta North, the ACN polled 305 as against PDP’s 110 and PPN’s 97 while, at Obafemi Owode Local Government Primary School in Adigbe, the ACN polled 482, the PDP polled 143 and PPN 123.
In Abeokuta South where both the Senatorial and House of Representatives took place, early result showed that the ACN was leading for the two seats. In Ago-Oba ward 13 where Chief Osoba voted, the ACN had 159 for the House of Rep and 182 for Senate while PDP had 38 for Rep and 40 for Senate; the PPN had five for Rep and nine for Senate.
Also at the African Church Primary School Idi-Aba in ward 9, for the House of Representatives, ACN had 152 votes, PDP 83, PPN 12 and CPC 3 while in the Senate polls, ACN scored 177 as against PDP’s 57 and PPN’s 19.
At the Isote Ward in Sagamu where Governor Olugbenga Daniel voted, the ACN was also victorious with 121 votes as against PPN’s 118, PDP’s 90 and Labor Party’s 27.
In ward 3 of Ifo Local Government Area where only the senatorial election took place, ACN polled 335 votes in the Senate election as against 75 by PDP and 75 for PPN while in the House of Representative, ACN polled 326 as against PDP’s 58 and PPN’s 65.
Written by Taiwo Adisa
Rivers State governor, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, in this interview with Politics Editors, insists that the PDP will win the presidential election and that the party will not yield much ground to the opposition in the states. He speaks on issues of insecurity and challenges in the state. Group Politics Editor, Taiwo Adisa, presents the excerpts.
DURING one of your campaign stops, you told voters in Okrika that it was payback time for you and that you were once beaten by a mob for supporting an Okrika man as governor. How did this happen?
I left university in 1987 and by 1988, I started working with Dr. Peter Odili and Chief Rufus Ada-Geroge and Chief Rufus Ada-George was our aspirant for governorship. He was running against Seargent Awuse.Chief Rufus George was from Okrika and people felt that it was wrong for any Ikwere man like me to support an Okrika man, but I dared them and I supported an Okrika man and that was how Chief Rufus Ada-George won.
One day, we went to elect officers of the party at the local government level and I contested for the secretaryship. So, when I arrived for the election, I was beaten and admitted to hospital. But the following week, the election was on, I came around, I ran the election and I won. They were surprised that I came for the election after they beat me up. I believe that this is a payback time; if I supported your son to become a governor, you should support me to become the governor this time. And this time, there will be no violence. Nobody will beat them for supporting me.
So, how do you see the challenge coming from Okrika against you this time around?
You would have expected that by the time we arrived Okrika, we would not see the kind of crowd we met on ground. The fact that we saw that kind of crowd was a surprise to me and it was courageous that we hired AIT and NTA to show the campaign live.
What is your plan about reconciling with the enstraged members of the party in the state?
The only member that is affected that we have not reconciled with is the former Minister of Transport. Up till now, Okpara is still with us, he is the chairman of the reconciliation committee.
The former Minister of Transport, who is the candidate of the ACN, said recently that you wasted N995 billion in three years. What happened?
You should have asked him questions about the Eleme junction, that used to keep people lying down there for till 3am, which we built for N7 billion or the mono rail which we built for N49 billion or the secondary schools that we are building, because we are increasing the capacity to 1000 students which is N4.5 billion to build one and we are building 24 and if I win the second term, I will build another 24 which will make 48.
You should have asked him whether all these amounted to a waste. Anybody who sees the schools appreciates them; they are saying you can turn it into a university.
I just spoke to a bank now about what our university is going to look like. They are doing the infrastructural work- water roads, light and others. When they finish we will start building.
Ask him, he lives in Abuja and he doesn’t know what is going on in Port-Harcourt.
He just came in few months ago to run for governorship. The difference between us is that when he served as SSG, there was nothing called due process. Now, there is what we call Public Procurement Law which we now refer to as due process, it is an independent body. We hired an expert from a bank, and we say if you save us xyz, you get xyz. Your job is to save money for us, if you apply the due process, and you save xyz, this is your commission.
To make sure that he saves money, we give him something as inducement so that he can actually protect government money. Tell him that part of the funds we are spending now is as a result of his activities in Okrika.
The insecurity in the state started from Okrika and we spend huge amount of money trying to protect the state. So, if he did not cause us that problem we wouldn’t have been spending money looking for criminals, buy equipment for Police. Virtually all the vehicles they are using we bought. Before he became SSG, Part-Harcourt was quiet and peaceful. We have to buy vehicles for the police, Army, even the Airforce and Navy join in the patrol.
To get Part-Harcourt to where it is now is a heavy burden. They should ask him who caused it. You heard me when I said on AIT, that people can ask the former governor that I went to complain that I didn’t like the way people were treating issues. I complained. When I came back to the house, my wife was the first person who first said it. I was very frustrated and I said to my wife, “you cannot replace life. If you burn down Government House, you can rebuild it , if you burn down House of Assembly, you can rebuild, but if you kill, you cannot replace the life.”
The Ijaw Leader in Okrika, ask why he was not at the rally. Just because he was organising the Ijaws to support us, few days after, he was shot. If I did not fly him overseas, he would have died. That night, I hired an air ambulance to fly him out.
But people saw you as part of the last government as Speaker?
The former governor is my mentor; he was my boss. If Dr. Sekibo was straight on issues, we would not be talking about the last government. That was why I said can we please address issues and because he was not addressing issues, that is why you see us talking about this. I want to remind him, this is where we are coming, you were not there by 2007, you had left to Abuja.
There is the claim the ACN is a threat in this state, especially in Okrika…
So, how many people support them? We met them on our way to campaign. There were three buses. Let us take it at 50 multiplied by 3; that is 150. We met them when they were coming, they were carrying brooms, I saw them. Is it a threat? That is why I said they should have shown his (ACN’s) rally live. At any time we had a rally at that stadium, with a sitting capacity of 15,000 people, you will have over 10, 000 people standing, outside and inside. Even the presidential rally, there were worries because of the crowd but we needed to show that we could pull the crowd.
Recently, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, the ACN candidate, had an issue with the local government over payment of tenement rates for his campaign office…
I didn’t even know that local governments collect up to N50 million tenement rate and we say we don’t have money to run our government. I was not involved; I was out of the country when it happened. It requires courage to do some of the things we did.
We are building 180 megawatts of power at 195 million dollars. If you add the extension of gas pipeline, you will get 200 and something million dollars. It was only 60 million dollars that we got from the Paris Club. Now, we have paid well over 140 million dollars and they will deliver in July. We borrowed 30 million for the road and flyover. The flyover is on federal road and they have not paid us back and we have to complete the project for a period of time.
We borrowed for another flyover at Agip junction. They will only say we borrowed N30 billion. You know what makes the loan very interesting? Every month, they deduct 2.6 billion from our bank account, both the interest and the principal. So, I am not talking about that. What I am saying is that he should know that no government can be run without borrowing. If we say we borrow money to share among ourselves, that is a different thing.
You must have loans as a component of administration. Thank God he knows that; he was lying. A governor or governorship candidate should not talk without figures.
Before now, he was shouting that we had spent N1trillion. I will cross check with the Commissioner for Finance to know how much we have received, but let us even assume it is N985 billion. No matter what we receive, we make sure that we save N1billion.
He can ask First Trustees, IBTC, Skye Bank. IBTC invests the money, Skye Bank is the custodian of the money. There was a month we received N7.5 billion, salary was N5.1 billion; we still saved 1 billion for that month. The 10 health centres, the 14 primary schools and that is why I say he should go and check for himself. Inside the schools, there are 14 classrooms, 15 toilets, an office for the headmaster, a classroom for the nursery, a library because I hate a situation where you are talking and people don’t know what you are talking about.
Tell him that part of the N985 billion he is talking about, we did secondary schools hostels that will take two children per room with toilets. For 1000, it means you have 500 rooms, 500 toilets, 1000 beds.
My children stay abroad by coincidence; before I became governor. When they came on holidays, I told them that I would take them to a school better than those in the UK. They said it was a lie. But
they confirmed that it is better. The school is located on 21 hectares of land. If he says 980 billion is mismanaged, then he must show evidence of its mismanagement.
Election is just by the corner, how do you see the opposition against President Jonathan and the PDP?
I am not in a position to make an assessment about the entire country, but what I can say is that I doubt if any of the other parties can defeat the PDP. We have more governors that other parties. If we are going to lose ground, maybe in one or two states. We will do everything possible to mobilise the crowd to come and vote for PDP.
There are two kinds of people that will vote, those who will vote for the candidate willingly and those who will vote because of the governor. We have been campaigning to the people to help the government to be able to run well by voting our candidates. I pray that we will not lose ground.
What are your fears about the election?
I have always talked about complacency, especially for my own election in Rivers State. If out of 2.4 million people, if 1.3 million people do not vote and the other 1.2 million people vote for the other party, you can never tell what will happen.
What we are saying is, come out and vote. My second view on complacency is that some people still have doubts that votes will not count. On the issue of security, know that there is a difference between Governor Ameachi and candidate Ameachi.
Candidate Ameachi will run the election, Governor Ameachi will still be governor of the state until May 29. Therefore, he has the responsibility to make sure lives and property are protected. So, go out and vote and be rest assured of the protection of the security agencies.
I can only know what is going on in Rivers State and only the governors in other state know what is happening in their states. As far as Governor Ameachi is concerned, the president will have nearly 100 per cent. But I don’t know if we are going to lose ground, I don’t think it will affect the presidential election. I am not a member of the NWC, so, I wouldn’t know why they delayed in signing the code of conduct. They have not called NEC meeting for a long time because we are all focusing on our election. If they brought up the issue of code of conduct, some of us will say we must keep to the code of conduct.
Going by the state of things, do you think INEC is prepared for this election?
About INEC preparation, I am not in a position to tell you whether they are prepared or not.
Buhari… Without a strong and clean leadership, Nigeria cannot be stabilised In this second part of General Muhammadu Buhari’s interview, he touches on the very essence of his challenge against the elite in the country. Just check out this exchange: General, that is why I asked about the lessons you’ve learnt in politics. ANPP was your party that time and see how they treated you. Do you know what? The decision to withdraw the case from court was not taken by the appropriate organs of the party saddled with that responsibility. Do you know that the decision to join the so -called government of national unity or unity government was not taken by the appropriate organs of the party saddled with that responsibility? Even the people to be appointed into that government, the decision ought to have been taken by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), and, more importantly, by its National Executive Committee (NEC). None of the party’s constitutionally-recognised arms took part in taking those decisions. So, what would I be doing in such a party? It was total anarchy. That is why I had to leave. We then formed the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). But, ACN was very hopeful that it would get you on board; that, too, did not work. ACN, even before it became ACN, when it was just AC, we were talking and there was indeed, hope. Yes, AC was thinking of even giving me the party’s presidential ticket. But, here we were, after getting a political party registered, I felt that the least we could do was to get the structure of CPC to be on ground first. There was no way I could have gotten a political party registered and then I would dump it the next moment because another political party had dangled its presidential ticket before me. That was never going to be the case and I do not have any regrets about that. People seem to forget the custom of loyalty. The custom of loyalty is a two-way thing. It has to go both ways. Your party chairman explained last week that there was nothing strange in the position you took by sticking to your CPC for the presidential ticket. But, there are some other people who insist that you are just too rigid, that there are certain approaches that you could adopt in achieving the same objectives without being seen to have compromised. Why are you so rigid? Well, I will try to answer you with what happened in ACN. When I didn’t accept AC’s ticket after registering CPC and making them understand that I was a party to the registration of CPC, the least I could do was to see that the party should be on the ground. And, if you believe that loyalty is a two- way thing, then you wouldn’t blame me for that. They kept saying that they had the structures, that their party was more firmly rooted and that they would mobilise more easily. Yes, I agreed. But, we, too, in CPC, we were already building our structures gradually and we were also mobilising massively. Okay, initially, we said we could go into an alliance, a sort of working alliance for the presidential election. The arrangement was such that we would provide the presidential candidate and they would provide the vice-presidential candidate. But, that did not work. But, why? That was because we had our congresses and we came out with a presidential candidate. We offered that they could have the vice- presidential slot and then we could discuss how to fill the other offices. But, then, again, this took a long time. January 15 was beginning to get too close. And, I needed to nominate a vice-presidential candidate. But, then, again, you would wonder, since we had our own presidential primary before they had their own, if they wanted to make any sacrifice, they wouldn’t have had their own presidential candidate too.
Why, since the alliance talks were not really conclusive?
The truth was that they didn’t need to do that if they needed to make sacrifice based on the on-going talks about the possibility of an alliance. In any case, the reason is that you cannot have two presidential candidates in an alliance. That is not how it is done, it would never work. You would recall that in 2006, six parties, PAC, NAP, NCP, PRP, PSP and DPA did their primaries and conventions and adopted me. So, it is not something unique that ACN would have done to come into an alliance with us. There was nothing new in that. And, when you include ANPP, then you’ll end up with seven political parties. There was nothing unique in that had ACN adopted me if it was about good faith. We could have won that election but Nigerians know how that election went. PDP stole the election. There are fears in some quarters and it is serious. Some people say a General Muhammadu Buhari becoming President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria would spell doom for a section of the elite. There are even talks that some people would just head for exile. I’m sure you’ve heard this talk before. Well, it would appear that individuals are free to live wherever they choose to live and live comfortably. Individuals are also very free to leave the country if they so choose, especially since they would be able to afford it. Those of us who are sentenced to live in Nigeria will continue to live in this country because for us, we do not have any other country than this and we would not leave the country and go and seek comfort in another country. Well, if people would feel unsafe, they can leave the country. We would continue here. What I’m trying to say relates to a possible witch-hunt; some people may be afraid based on past deeds. If people feel unsafe to live under some leadership in Nigeria because of what they have done or because of some atrocities they have committed in the past and, therefore, would not feel safe to live under some type of leadership in the country, then may be they are using their sixth sense.
I ask that as a preamble to the issue of corruption in Nigeria. At a point, the index gave hope but at some other time, the index showed the opposite, went down again and some people say the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is not doing enough to fight corruption. How would you tackle the issue of corruption?
One of the things that CPC would do is to strengthen the institutions. We already have the police.
In CPC, we have said that security, prosperity will bring stability. We have been harping on these three things before.
If we empower the police, they will do their work very well.
There are too many boards or commissions handling this or handling that. We would look at the ones that would still be relevant to strengthen the police. We will make the military more efficient by training and re-training and also by providing equipment and machinery.
In EFCC, there are volumes of representations which they cannot cover because of inadequate manpower or lack of resources. We would do our best to strengthen the institutions by managing resources judiciously. We have financial regulations in every department and every ministry and, in every state and they have to work.
There must be a proper accounting of public funds in all the three tiers of government and what is lacking is that judicious use of public funds. This is the aim of CPC.
People say you are a good man and that you mean well. (Cuts in) Thank you very much.
The question then is: You would not be in every ministry or every government department or agency to properly monitor these things. So, how much confidence would you have in your points men because you gave an instance of politicians attempting to highjack elective tickets even in CPC?
The laws and regulations on accountability in all these places you have talked about are not lacking at all. People just choose to do what they like. People just refuse to respect the laws of the country.
What CPC would do is to ensure that there is a proper and judicious use of the country’s resources for the good of the people. The laws are there.
You look like a man too much in a hurry and when you interface your person with the slow wheel of democracy, especially recognising that CPC may not have an absolute majority in the National Assembly, how would you tackle the challenges of achieving results within this context?
Let me answer your question like this: You remember when Obama went to Ghana, he said what Africa needs are strong institutions and not strong people. In the case of Nigeria, I dare to say that we are unique.
We need strong people to create those institutions and strengthen those institutions for effectiveness.
The truth is that, without a strong and clean leadership in the country, Nigeria cannot be stabilised.
The other side of the coin is that you may not even be able to strengthen the institutions if you are not strong and firm as a leader.
Followership and leadership: Which one should come first?
Look, Nigerians cannot be taken for granted any more. As a state governor, you cannot be stealing state funds and then you expect the people to fall in line and be disciplined. It will never work. Everybody responsible for some part of the treasury would also be pocketing the money because they know what the governor is doing. If the president of the country is spending monies outside the approved budget or acts outside the approved regulations from the Office of the Accountant-General, Nigerians would rise against such a person and would not even obey such a leader and they’ll do whatever they like. That is why we have had this mess on ground since 1999. The infrastructure we met, we refused to build new ones and even the ones on ground were not being properly maintained. Don’t forget, we used to have four functional refineries in this country with more than 480,000 bpd capacity. We had more than 20 depots. I don’t know how many pumping stations. We had more than 3,500 kilometre length of pipelines. In 12 years, the PDP government could not maintain them and instead we are importing petroleum products at world market prices, something that we produce in this country!
This is the height of corruption, by killing the petroleum industry which the country depends on. Why can’t we refine our own crude and sell in our own country?
Instead, we give people contracts to import products and sell to Nigerians at world prices. You chose as your running-mate, a Christian. Would I be right to say you are gradually coming to terms with the realities of the Nigerian polity by not being too rigid and picking not just a Christian, but a pastor as your running-mate? It all started with the problem of the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who was then ill. Some people wanted to capitalise on that to create political crises and unconstitutionality and Pastor Bakare came all the way to Abuja to tell the people a piece of his mind that people needed to be careful and not plunge Nigeria into needless crises. He was determined. At the same time, I made two appearances publicly and I also sent a message across to say that the constitution was very clear on succession plan. From the National Democratic Movement (NDM), I signed a letter, counter-signed by Atiku Abubakar and we went to the National Assembly to caution them on what to do and what not to do regarding the matter – we sent copies to the Senate President and the Speaker. That was where our interests conjoined.From that time I realised I had met a patriot because our focus was purely Nigeria at that time and you could see the determination. So, when this opportunity came, I just knew that I had no better choice other than Pastor Bakare.
Finally on the issue of consensus, you turned it down because in the beginning, the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF), was presented as representing the North sans partisanship.
Look, even in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where they had their problem of zoning, that issue of consensus was tenuous. It was even said to be a northern consensus but in that same North, some leadership of the North-Central did not believe in it. I always said it and I mean it, it was mainly a PDP affair. They should go and deal with it since it is their problem