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MUIZ BANIRE: 60 Per Cent of Nigerians Don’t Know Why They Vote

Culled out of thisdayliveimages (1)
Dr. Muiz Banire, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, is a man of many addresses. A law teacher, legal practitioner, politician and convener, United Action for Change, a political advocacy and leadership capacity building organisation. The erstwhile National Legal Adviser of the ruling All Progressives Congress is often viewed in certain quarters as controversial on account of his principled positions on issues. But in all, he is not bothered. Thus, in this interview with Olawale Olaleye and Olaseni Durojaiye , he holds nothing back as he dissects issues of political currency and sundry others. Excerpts:
You were hitherto the national legal adviser of the APC but your people from Lagos rose stoutly against you, till you were eventually pushed out. What was your experience like?

Nobody pushed me out. They couldn’t have pushed me out. I decided to leave, because I believed it was much more honourable to leave office, when the ovation was loudest. I am not sure of the statistics but to a large extent, I want to believe I was the longest serving national legal adviser of the party, because cumulatively, I spent seven and a half years in that office. To that extent, I feel it was honourable to leave, when I left.
Second, contrary to the impression that many people had, there was no benefit for me holding the position. Rather, I sacrificed not only financially, I also sacrificed my services and took a lot of risks on behalf of the party, so, why would one want to continue particularly, when some characters appeared not to appreciate my services. So, having contributed substantially to the development of the party, I can say with all sense of fairness and without any fear of contradiction that I was one of the people that midwifed the registration of the party to the glory of God.
And I had the honour of not only being the interim national legal adviser of the party but the first substantive national legal adviser of the party. By the time you consider all of these, you would want to tell yourself give others the chance to add value to the party.
In respect of my contributions while in office, the truth of the matter is that, in my view, my greatest contribution was the introduction of internal democracy into the party and ensuring substantial compliance. It was very tough and challenging. I have had to make enemies in the process but at the end of the day, today, it is gradually being entrenched in the party.
We must quickly acknowledge that all is still not well within the party but at least, we have moved from where we were before and hopefully, we will continue to move forward until we get to a situation, where it is satisfactory.
To the glory of God, that was my greatest achievement and the fact that I discharged my duties without fear or favour to anybody. That much all of them could say and I was happy that at no time did I get myself corrupted by anybody or institution. I took decisions professionally regardless of whose ox is gored and I believe that honestly speaking, I did well during my tenure.

Did you ever think that your own people would have moved against you?

Candidly, I would never have thought so, because I believed that whatever the differences we had, we should always do things rightly at all times. Then, also, there seems to be a lot of misconceptions regarding a whole lot of people, largely borne out of ignorance, such that disagreement to them means fight or conflict. Unknown to them, what is good for any institution is to disagree on issues particularly, on principles and that does not necessarily translate into having any personal grudges with anybody.
Except you have divergent views, you may not be able to grow a party in a healthy manner and bring the best out of the system. To this much, a lot of them didn’t appreciate. Sooner or later along the line, we had a lot of people who were not only sycophantic but because of their nature in terms of poverty, they were unable to think straight.
So, I believe that a lot of the time, their actions were not borne out of their own conviction, most of the time it was either out of poverty or ignorance and when people start educating them correctly, they start to appreciate the true position, because most of the time my fights was for them and not for me. It had nothing to do with me. If I had taken contrary positions, it would have been much more beneficial to me, but I believe that is not the ultimate thing in life.
The ultimate is when you are in such positions of value, protect the values. So, it was their battle that I was fighting, unfortunately, out of ignorance and poverty, they couldn’t appreciate it at the time. But, like I continually say, I bear no personal grudges with them. I have enjoyed it, because they have made me more popular locally, nationally and internationally. So, I am indebted to them in that regard.

Let’s flip that question. Do you think Asiwaju could have imagined that you of all people would have stood up to him?
Well, I must say that right from inception he appreciated my nature and tendency, even all the times – that we shared intimacy; that I had always stood up to him and tell him the truth and to that extent, he used to appreciate me until around 2014, that I started noticing that something was wrong – like there was a disconnect somewhere.
Before, even those who served in the cabinet with him will testify to this. We shot down so many of his policies; we shot down many of his ideas and he took them gladly without any form of bitterness or rancour against anybody and I continued with that tradition until around 2014, when I raised some issues about the candidature of the current governor of Lagos State, when I asked him to look at certain dynamics. Possibly Asiwaju was hijacked by other people, who poisoned his mind or convinced him to see it as an act of confrontation.
But again, the duty that I owe him as a follower is not that of sycophancy; it is the ability to tell the person your own opinion objectively about any situation, so, I have no regrets about that. I am sure that throughout the time, and I still want to believe so that he knew I meant no harm. But I will always take a position that I believe is proper, irrespective of whose ox is gored. That was exactly what has happened and I still believe that if similar circumstances presented themselves again, I will still take the same position and I think he shouldn’t be surprised about that.
Unfortunately, the only area I feel a bit pained was that we needed not get to the level of personal enmity. Disagreements are bound to happen and I have always considered them as healthy and he used to encourage it too but I don’t know what has happened in recent time that has made him to be intolerant to our suggestions or disagreements on some issues. The only point of divergence is about this issue of internal democracy, nothing else.
I have always insisted on that and gladly enough, he has come to that realization. Again, all the people in the race are your children, give them equal opportunity and whoever emerges from the process would still acknowledge his leadership that much I know and all those that fall by the roadside are the ones that require your protection against the tyranny of the person that emerge. That’s all. That’s the way I view it.
It is curious to know that you were the first person to stand more or less against the current Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode. You stood against him in many respects. Why was this so? Was it that the two of you had certain connections not known to the public or could it be a case of animosity towards him? However, it would seem that some of what you feared would happen are beginning to unfold, what exactly did you see that made you uncomfortable with his choice?

In the first instance, I regard what we are experiencing in the state right now as a divine intervention in the interest of the state as a whole and that of politicians as well. Like you rightly said, I saw this right from inception but I was the lone voice that shouted several times but the party people never saw it. Rather, most of them castigated and harassed me and kept intimidating me, even victimised me. But of course, I was unrelenting, undaunted and resolute.
Now, God has suddenly opened their eyes to the reality and all of them have now taken the gauntlet and shouting ‘we’re fed up with the governor; we don’t want him again’. In the first instance, he has never been part of the political movement of this state or part of the governance system; he was at best an Accountant General.
He never dealt with the issues of policies, development and programmes with us. We dealt with such. It would have been best if somebody within that circle, who must have known where we left issues; people that we had dealt with; those to be sustained, those to be improved on and those to be jettisoned.
But somebody, who spent the larger part of his life at the council level and suddenly emerged at the state level as Accountant General now governing a state as complex as Lagos? Certainly, it would be challenging to him. I saw the picture and knew we were endangering ourselves generally and I drew the attention of everybody including Asiwaju to it then.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that we were not only coerced into working for him, which we all did. In fact, I used to boast that I was among the top five people that worked for him to get to where he is today, but what did we get in return? Of course, we are living witnesses to my own story.
Regardless, the reality is that once you get to that position, even the people that are highly cerebral will still be receptive to ideas and suggestions from others. But what about someone, who shuts his doors at other people and believes he’s the only one who can do things the way and manner he considers right? The result is what we are seeing today. Today, everybody has now seen including the general populace (not only the politicians) that we are all endangered except something is done. I thank God that I am vindicated at the end of the day.

But what do you think informs his now resentful disposition?

Could it be lack of exposure especially, that you said he spent a major part of his life at the local government?
Well, exposure might be part of the reasons. It is not even about going to school alone. Like we used to joke, some people passed through the university but the university did not pass through them. Beyond that, the fact that you have a degree doesn’t mean you will make a good manager to start with.
Second, experience and exposure matter. You can never discount experience particularly in governance. My experience has shown me that if you bring any one from outside of the system to come and govern any state, he will still be struggling the first two years and by the third year, he will just be laying foundation and the next election is already around the corner.
Beyond that, again, the nature of the person also counts. As a leader, you must be receptive to everybody’s idea and you must be accessible. Once a leader is not accessible, he has already failed. People must be able to reach you; they must be able to interact with you; they must also be able to criticise you; you must be receptive to criticisms.
A leader that is not receptive has failed. Unfortunately, I think it is just his nature. He is just not receptive to others and there appears to be some measure of arrogance in him that will not allow him to share other people’s opinion. You can’t be right on all issues.
The fact that they call you ‘Your Excellency,’ does not mean you are excellent; it is just a glorification. He probably got the title of ‘His Excellency’ wrong to think he could do no wrong. It can’t be. The state does not belong to one person; we are all stakeholders in the state. Any policy that is introduced will affect us all in one way or the other, so when we voice out our opinion, why must you then persecute us, more so some of us are Lagosians of the first order?
A lot of people had done several analyses of him but I really don’t know what the problem is with him. Again, like I said earlier, you can never discount the issue of experience and exposure, which he lacks when it comes to the issue of governance.

As an insider, at what time did Asiwaju realise it was time to pull the plug on the governor’s second term bid?

I honestly don’t know. What I know is that in the last four or five months, there has been a subtle evaluation of the administration, and I could tell from his body language and that of people around him that they were beginning to realise that they were in trouble.
By that time, they had begun to realise that if the governor was presented for a second term, the success of the party at the poll was endangered. Again, information reaching me shows that there have been some polls, which showed that there was a looming problem if the party went ahead to field the current governor in the polls.

Since the drama surrounding the second term bid of Governor Ambode began, a lot of people have been speculating what the shortcomings are. Can we have you address the specifics?

There are a lot of issues and I do point them out but people were like why say it and I am like why won’t I say what I know. Take the issue of Environment, for instance. I personally know the state of the environment when I left as commissioner. Again, take the issue of climate change.
As of that time we were among the first 10 in the entire world. Our activities on climate change earned us a seat on the Board of World Health Organisation during that period. There was hardly anywhere in the world where the issue of climate change was to be discussed without involving Lagos State, because we escalated the issue and took it so seriously so much that we became a force to be reckoned with. Where is the issue of climate change today? It is as good as dead.
Look at the issue of waste management. We had succeeded largely in empowering people by way of private sector participation in waste management. We were getting it right and improving. Suddenly, somewhere somebody came with one funny policy and one funny company, maybe from space, emerged to manage our waste. So, Nigerians can no longer manage our wastes and we had to go and get a foreign company to come and help us manage wastes.
When the company came in, I granted an interview wherein I said from what I have seen of them, definitely, the company had no experience in waste management. The moment I started seeing wheeler bins on the roads – nowhere in the world do they put wheeler bins on the road except at construction sites and where they are normally put them are hidden areas or designated dump sites.
What you find on the roads and streets are litter bins, smaller ones like drums. So, immediately I saw that, I said definitely this company does not have experience in waste management. Yet, Lagos State went ahead to give guarantee in billions for such an inexperienced company?
Then they started putting up wheeler bins on the road thereby legalising dumping of refuse on the road and turning the spots to dumpsites. So, people were populating the spots with refuse and they couldn’t cope. Eventually, see where we are today. Half of the state is in state of epidemic as we talk. You need to go to the hinterland – Mushin, Ajegunle and others – in fact, as far as I am concerned, those ones live on refuse dump.
Look at how flood now ravages the state. We had conquered flood largely. We took the issue of flood control very seriously. We used to prepare for the rainy season as if you were preparing for marriages or any social event. Apart from the fact that we had a programme to clean all the drains every quarter, few months to every rainy season we’d mobilised all resources and cleaned all the channels.
We will mobilise all the local government councils, they take over the tertiary drainage and we take over the secondary canals. We would clear all the drainages immediately. What they do today is that they will give out works. I saw one of them, the contractor claimed to have done three kilometres whereas he only did the first 300 metres, so, they will only peep and say, ‘see that one and they’d say yes the job is done’. That is the kind of scenarios that you see today.
When I was in the environment ministry, it dared not happen. Some of my members of staff are still alive. We would go from one end to the other; we were on the road all weekends and our phones were open to all residents to tell us anywhere there was problem. We don’t sleep, we were alive to our responsibilities and challenges, but all these are no more in place.

During the Fashola administration you dared not engage in construction works and endanger the populace; you dared not litter the place with stone or iron rods, not all what you have today. Doing so not only constitutes danger to residents, it is also an abuse of the environment. In fact, the aesthetics of the state is largely gone.
Talk about transportation. I saw the buses that they just imported and I started laughing. How could anyone have thought of such buses in this age and time in a city like Lagos? In fact, Lagos is more than a mega city; we are in excess of 20 million. A mega city is a city within a population of 10 million.
Right from the period of Jakande, we had known that what we need in Lagos are Mass Transit buses. How could we bring in those types of buses at this age? We are going back. The buses will only compound the traffic situation.
Again, we have enough bus stops that are not being used in Lagos, yet, they are building more and more bus stops all over Lagos, when people will not use it. The funds being wasted in that area if I were in his shoes I would have expended it on motivating LASTMA officials, get them more logistics to manage the traffic in the state.
In London, they make use of high capacity buses – mass transit buses – yet how many layby do you see around London, because they are supposed to be moving? At each bus stop, they can spend more than a minute. Why would somebody want to build houses for miscreants and shops for ogogoro sellers and petty traders? Just be patient, you would see that in another three to four months, that is what it would turn to. You are creating another social menace, because that is where all of them will turn to as their new market.
These are part of the dangers of not looking at things holistically. You must always look at things holistically. Look at the BRT initiative. I introduced BRT to Lagos State and we had our plans. They have distorted it now. I feel ashamed when I see the construction going on along Agege Motor road; I feel ashamed at how they have messed up the whole road and how they have technically shown the physically challenged the red card.
They are building some funny looking pedestrian bridges all over the road. In the first place, how does the physically challenged get to the middle of the road to join the BRT buses? What you have on that road is what is called design error. The BRT should have been on the outer lane. They didn’t know how I introduced or why I introduced the one on Ikorodu Road, because they never asked. Instead of them to ask how we arrived at that conclusion, they didn’t ask; they just went there and started replicating what we did on Ikorodu Road, without factoring several other considerations.
They thought the solution was to put pedestrian bridges in place. Even the pedestrian bridges are so ugly. Some engineers have even queried the stability and integrity of those pedestrian bridges. From my perspective, the beauty of that place has been disfigured completely.
Somebody was talking about Airport Road and I said to them that it was during my administration that we designed the Airport Road. I gave him the design.
The construction ought to have taken place during Fashola’s tenure, but for the fact that the federal government at the time said after the construction was completed, they would be the ones that would collect revenue from the adverts on the road, then we said how can that be? How can I be playing for IICC and be collecting salary from Rangers Football Club? It doesn’t add up. That was the basis upon which we could not go ahead.
Then Fashola said now that I am the minster, I am ready to construct the road with federal government funds, he said no. He said he would do it with Lagos State funds, the money that could have been diverted to several inner roads that are in terrible state now. He made us miss that money. Fashola came around and said he has appropriated money for that road in the federal budget and it will be done, and you take another place, the next thing was blackmail.
What are the interventions in schools? I go to the General Hospital in Ikeja and I see patients on the floor in state. With N30billion internally generated revenue? This is part of the problem caused by somebody, who has not been part of the system and suddenly assumed leadership of the state. If it had been any of these two people that are being paraded now, Obafemi Hamzat and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, apart from the fact that they have been part of the system since 2003, they know everything about what we have been doing. They are best suited for the job. They know who and who did what; they can always call people up to ask questions: what happened during so so and so project? What did we conclude on?
Why didn’t we go ahead with that project? In my own very strong view, that is what is called continuity. Somebody that has been part of the system takes over from one person and who takes over from that person is also from within the system. That is what is called continuity. When I was raising these issues, everybody was abusing, denigrating me and saying all manners of things. Am I not being vindicated today?

Do you think it is too late to get him a re-election ticket?

No, it’s not too late, and that is one of the misconceptions that get me angry since this drama started. He took nomination form, Hamzat took the same form and Jide Sanwoolu also did the same thing. So, what has Asiwaju got to do with it? Asiwaju has even said everybody should go for primary, so let him go for primary now. Let him go for primary election – he has everything to his advantage. You are the incumbent governor and I want to believe you have more people to donate money to you.

Some people say he doesn’t have the political structure.

That is news to me. Are they saying he is not a politician? Is that what they are saying? I need to be educated, because if you want to occupy that position you must be a politician and to the extent that you are politician, you must be part and parcel of them. So, what you will be saying is that if he doesn’t have a structure, then, he is a foreigner to that system and that simply means you don’t belong there. But if you had the opportunity to be there, you better honourably leave the place.

But is it unfair to subject an incumbent to primary election? No incumbent had been subjected a primary election before, including Asiwaju himself, why him?

I have told you how we arrived at the present situation. I told you that initially it was not fashionable to even have primary. But when I became the national legal adviser of the party as the custodian of the rules, I started enforcing it. Today, it is established.
Something starts some day and somewhere. You cannot say because something has not worked before, it will never work. Since it is now working, let him subject himself to it. Why must it be automatic? It cannot even be automatic anyway, because there is a process in the constitution of the party and you must follow that process otherwise, every other thing becomes illegal. It is as simple as that.

With the whole drama that has played out in the past couple of days and how he has been humiliated, what do you think will be the implications if he was eventually handed the second term ticket?

Nobody is humiliating him except he is humiliating himself. To the best of my knowledge, what has happened is that some other people have come out to contest for the party ticket with him. They have been doing their ground work, contacting people and mobilising support. Let him go about too, contacting people and mobilising supports.
The people now are the constituency of all aspirants. So, go to the people, marshal your arguments, convince them and note please, there is no reversal, because nothing has happened. The screening exercise will soon take place let him go for screening, then primary. It is after then that we will know who the party structure wants.

There are insinuations in certain circles that it could be suicidal for Asiwaju to give him the ticket, because given the governor’s nature, he might fight back. Would that be reasonable enough to stop him?

Well, in the first place, I have told you that this thing has nothing to do with Asiwaju, because when I read about those nonsenses in the newspapers, I get angry. Will Asiwaju be the only one that will vote at the primaries? It is the entire party structure that is saying this is the way they want to go, it has nothing to do with Asiwaju and honestly speaking, the man needs to be shielded from the process. Let everybody go to the field.
Besides, it is not Asiwaju that will conduct the primaries; it is the national secretariat of the party that is going to conduct the primaries, so his handlers should desist from involving Asiwaju in the matter. Let them face the two other aspirants and tell them how they are incompetent to compete with him.

Recently, you were nominated as the Chairman of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria but again, opposition to it came from your own people. How do you normally feel having to go through this time and time again?

It is expected and normal. There is no way you will stand for proprietary and not have challenges. It is not shocking to me at all and that is why I always say whoever wants to stand for proprietary must be prepared to face the consequences, ranging from harassment, intimidation and victimisation and so on and so forth.
So, I expected all of that which was due to some misconception and that misconception is gradually going away, because everybody seems to be seeing the light now, that what I have been saying seems to be the right thing to do and that is enough source of happiness for me.
Those who know me know that of course, I am not a jobless person. I am a man of many addresses and I’ve been given an opportunity to add value to the society as a whole. So, if there is an assignment that His Excellency, the President feels I can perform and some people feel otherwise, well, for me as a Godly person, I always leave such things to God.
This is because it could be good instrument for preventing me from any hazard or taking me away from harm’s way, because not everything that ordinarily appears to be good is actually good for you. It is only God that knows which one is good or bad. So, at times, God will use some people as instrument to guard you against dangers. So, if they are the instrument, then, I thank God for that.
It will also go into history of Lagos that certain senators rose against one of their own, when there was an opportunity for him to midwife a particular agency. It would be written against their names that they became champions of that cause too. I laugh everyday and tell them to continue to protest against me. I am enjoying it, and like the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi always said, stand up for what is right even if you are the only one standing.

Why are you so controversial? Is it that you enjoy controversy?

I have never at any point in time liked to be controversial, but in our own clime now, proprietary is an aberration, so, when you don’t toe the majority line, then you are a controversial person. Again, like my late mentor, Professor Jelili Omotola used to say, the fewer the greater share of honour. So, it is even better to be in the minority always. Even heaven will not be open to majority, it is fewer people that will make heaven and in that process, minority will always enjoy it. They made the whole thing look controversial.
By my nature I am not a conformist. I am not wired to be one, either by way of legal training or by being a teacher. In being a teacher, we have our own analytical mind. We are not pro-establishment. We query establishment. Anybody that is educated should know that somebody with such background can never be a conformist.
We are trained to probe issues. Why should this be? Why must it continue in this way? Is there no better way of doing it? Are there no alternatives to it? These are the issues that keep ruminating in our minds all the time. So, when that happens, some people will say why must you query establishment as if establishment is God?
Establishment can never be God. God would not have invested us with brain if he didn’t mean that we should keep thinking. It is this thought process that provokes some of our positions on those issues that make people think we are being controversial or that we are being confrontational. It is not that I enjoy being controversial or that I am a controversial person, it is simply that there are some minimum standards that even if we were hungry, we will still refuse to toe the majority line particularly if we knew that they are wrong.
Of course, the majority is not always right. Like BRF likes to say, democracy does not translate into good governance and I agree with him. I share that thought with him.

There are speculations that some people particularly, in the camp of Asiwaju are not happy that things are not as chummy as it used to be between he both of you, considering that you used to be in the very core of the camp. Are there plans in the works to reconcile the two of you?

There is no quarrel between us. We are not fighting. Again, there is a misconception that there is a quarrel between us, at best, I will say we are disagreeing; and it is worthy of note that he also trained us along that part. Recall his days with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and others.
It takes courage to do all of that. He was courageous and I believe he is still courageous. How then can his disciples be jelly? There is a Yoruba song that says ‘You can’t begrudge a child for taking after his father’. I have been patterned after him and he isn’t annoyed with me.

But the disagreement
appears to be creating a gulf between the two of you?

It is the sycophants and scavengers that seized the opportunity and are still seizing the opportunity to create a gap between us in order to create an opportunity for them to feed. We all know them. As far as I am concerned, I have no quarrel with Asiwaju at all.
But on issues and principles, we are bound to continually disagree. Somehow too, we are getting old, will I be somewhere now and I will be referred to as a leader of tomorrow? Which tomorrow? You cannot possibly be saying at this age I cannot think again.

Are you making any personal efforts to close that gap or are there mutual friends, who are making efforts to do so?

I am not making any personal efforts, because I do not see it as anything inimical. It is a very healthy one. I believe on certain issues that this is the route to go about it and if he does not believe, so it is quite unfortunate. Look at the issue of internal democracy; he is now a higher apostle of it. So, where is the disagreement? Again, that was the fundamental area, where we had disagreed. Outside that area, there is none.
A few leaders of the party at the national level had attempted to see whatever they can do and they have seen that really on both sides there was no quarrel. They realised that the disagreement are healthy, fundamental and progressive. If I see Asiwaju, I greet him. At times, I joke with him. I don’t disrespect him, I am well brought up. I can make my point without abusing anybody and like I told you, I think we are over-ripe to have same positions on issues.

Is it as easy as you waking up in the morning, put a call to him and say, ‘Asiwaju I am coming over to see you’?

Oh yes. I had done it before. I was returning from court and I branched over at his place and we spent quality time to gist. For everything that is going on, I do not hold any personal grudges against him or anybody at all.

What is your projection of the next election given what is currently happening within your party?

Well, with what is happening in the party right now, if the primary were to hold today, the aspirant with the upper hand is Sanwoolu.

In the event that your party is not fielding the incumbent, what are your party’s chances especially, against a candidate like Jimi Agbaje of the PDP?

Honestly, I am not worried at all. If it were to be otherwise in our party then I would be worried. With any of those two other guys, I am not worried. Take Jide for example, within the last one week, he has been able to integrate the opposing forces. He is beginning to neutralise the dichotomy, which I think is a welcome development.
That is why it is better to have people with capacity and experience in human management. Not somebody that will say you are quarrelling with my friend I will kill you. Why would anybody cry more than the bereaved?

There is the perception that your party has lost the goodwill that brought it into office, are you concerned about that given that the election is around the corner?

In my view, we have not lost the goodwill. What is happening is that our communication strategy is not good enough. The good news for us again is that the larger part of the people that we are dealing with is not at the level, where we can say the communication strategy is inimical.
Take for instance the northern parts of the country, where we have the largest number of people – most of the electorate over there don’t even know what you people are talking about. They don’t know about the dollar much less pound sterling, so it is only among the elite that we have the challenge.
But recent polls have shown that they feel the economic pangs more in the North?
One thing about we Muslims is that rightly or wrongly, we tend to have absolute faith in God so much so that even when we are hungry, we tend to believe that is a form of atonement from God for a sin that we must have committed. So, we don’t react to everything. We have a way of rationalising things that happen to us. Majority of those people take the same position and that is why we are different.
Now, let me tell you, I have been doing this lecture series and a whole lot of leadership workshops here and there through United Action for Change, for which I am the convener. Conservatively, between 60 and 70 per cent of people voting in Nigeria don’t even know why they are voting, much more being able to tell why they are voting for a particular candidate.
It is a major challenge. In my lectures and workshops, I have been struggling to let the electorate see a link between their votes and their lives. I have been struggling to link their votes to their lives. But they have refused to realise that their single votes is what will fetch them good infrastructure, good schools for their children, quality healthcare system and more but for now there is still a major disconnect.
The media and particularly the elite owe the masses and the downtrodden of our society the duty of educating them on the value of their votes. As far as many of them are concerned, it is as good as a product, that’s why when you want to buy it, they quickly dispose of it and collect the money on offer and life goes on.

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HOW AMBODE SHUT HIMSELF ON THE FOOT?

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In recent days event has been unfolding in the Lagos arm of APC. It is sad that things turned this way because Ambode was a very loyal politician to the kingmaker. He won the 2015 election despite stiff opposition from other candidates in the party at the party primary election. All members forgot the primary election and worked hard to win the governorship election which they achieved.

Fast forward into Ambode’s reign, the saying that absolute power corrupt absolutely came to play. Ambode started fighting his perceived kingmaker’s enemies by canceling and crashing all project that were started by Fashola and Dr Muiz Banire. Many times this two people have stated that they have no grudges against the kingmaker and he remain their Leader. I gathered that if you had a project and you mistakenly have the latter of the two names on it the proposal either good or bad is made for the trash bin in Alausa.

The governor embarked on crashing or reawarding all projects initiated by the two gentle men; Fashola and Banire. Starting with the Kick Against Indiscipline(KAI) , re-awarded the BRT operator contract, Garden beautification and the two biggest nail on his sore was the PSP removal and Land Use Charge policy. Those two were projects that affected the people and the greassroot politicians directly. This saw an outburst of people against the government which led to demonstration.

The PSP had a lot of grassroot politicians and ordinary people as operator who have employed not less than 5 people each. Ambode brought in a faceless Visionscape who had no experience of removing gabbage on the street of lagos, in few weeks the whole Lagos was filled with refuse and the drainage was a mess. Flood came threaten Lagos residence especially on the Island where must influential Lagosians live in Lagos.

Then came the Land use charge policy that saw many Lagosians receive a memo from the government of paying over 200% increase in the normal payment they had always paid all in the name of raising Internal Generated Revenue(IGR) to complete and implement many landmark projects. By the side, the wife of Ambode alledgely sack the cleric in charge of the chapel of Christ the light , the government official chapel for christians because the cleric did not anoint her first on a Sunday. The Cleric was sent packing in 24 hours without notice.

Ambode in the bid to punish the enemies of his godfather indirectly gave a low jab to him. Today as we speak it is still uncertain if he will be considered for the Lagos governorship ticket of APC but in politics 24 hours is too long a time. Anything can happen. Nothing is impossible in politics.

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HOME UNLABELLED EXCLUSIVE: HOW GOV, AMBODE, AREGBESOLA, VP OSIBAJO, AFIKUYOMI, OTHERS CORNERED MULTIMILLION NAIRA CHOICE PROPERTY IN LAGOS

 

 


Exclusive: How Gov, Ambode, Aregbesola, VP Osibajo, Afikuyomi, Others Cornered Multimillion Naira Choice Property In Lagos
2 HRS AGO 2 MINUTEREAD

Funmilola Tejuosho
Fresh facts have started emerging on what has been tagged illegal acquisition of a property by one of the lawmakers in Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adefunmilayo Tejuoso. In fact, many tales were given to be the real cause of the invasion of her residence, 3 Sasegbon Street, GRA Ikeja, Lagos, by security operatives on the orders of Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.

To some, she has done everything wrong by not vacating the building for other Deputy Speakers that came after her. Some others believed she has settled the issue by buying the property from the government at N150m.

However, according to the new findings, the issue that is still generating mixed feelings amongst many in the state with appellation, Centre of Excellence, is not only limited to the female lawmaker, who claimed to have bought the property from the state government through her company, Debam Mega Solutions Limited, when she was the Deputy Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly through the monetization policy of the government.

We further gathered that no Deputy Speaker of Lagos Assembly has ever made use of the property as official quarters, two Deputy Speakers had emerged before Tejuoso became the Deputy Speaker of the House, and none of them stayed in the property.

It was one Mrs. Dawodu, a retired Permanent Secretary that was the last occupant of the premises, before Tejuoso packed him.

 

Tokunbo Afikuyomi

Aside Tejuoso, findings revealed that the likes of Governors, Ambode, Rauf Aregbesola, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi are also beneficiaries of the monetization policy which saw them acquiring properties the way Funmi Tejuoso did.

We gathered exclusively that, aside Funmi Tejuoso, the governor of Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode also benefitted from such privilege when he bought his house on Glover Street, Ikoyi Lagos, a prominent part of the aquatics state.

Many who are privy to this information are wondering why Governor Ambode who intends to recover government assets sold at an undervalued price cannot start with his own property

 

Gov. Ambode

Aside the governor, there are so many other top government officials who also benefitted from the monetization policy. Now, the question is: why are others being shielded from the same treatment the female lawmaker is getting at the moment.

Other top politicians who have benefited from the policy include Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi who bought his property at 7 Oduduwa Street.

Other government officials present and past who are also beneficiaries include – Justice Atilade; Justice Akande; Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN); Dele Alake; Justice Phillips; current Commissioner for Housing, Hon. Gbolahan Lawal; APC Lagos State Chairman, Henry Olawale Ajomale, amongst others.

It, however, remain to be seen if Governor Ambode will have the political will to also go after the listed beneficiaries.

 

Meanwhile, many have continued to allude the illegal action of the governor as a pure vendetta on the lawmaker due her perceived closeness to National legal adviser of APC, Dr Muiz Banire.

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THE COURTS AND INTERNAL DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA. By Dr Muiz Banire

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In Nigeria, the biggest and most constant headache that confronts the legal adviser of any political party in Nigeria is the non-observance of internal democracy by the party hierarchy. In the Nigerian political landscape, until recently, internal democracy is a mere tag that only existed in the imagination of politicians. In this vein, any electoral position within the structure of a political party is a subject of conferment without any consideration of the electability of the beneficiaries of the conferment. In other words, only those that the political kingmakers consider worthy are conferred with the “honour” of being the party’s candidates; the process of engaging a method that includes the members of the party in the decision making generally and nomination of the flag bearers of the party is considered alien by both the party oligarchy and their suitors. Without mincing words, minority will have both their way and say. The few occasions where the majority get to have their say (when purported primary elections are held), the minority still retain the ultimate power of having their way by superimposing their decisions on the outcome of such internal elections. Internal democracy is slaughtered on the altar of imposition.

By my calling as a legal practitioner, i have the hallowed responsibility of ensuring the observance of rule of law and the tenets of democracy. My duty here extends to political institutions, particularly, with regard to compliance with the applicable laws and the rules of the game. This easily brings to mind the sacred words of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON at the Call to Bar Ceremonies held on July 13, 2017. His Lordship, in his speech, admonished thus:
“As legal practitioners, you cannot close your eyes to the social, political and economic problems of our time, therefore you have a duty to help rescue our society from pervasive lawlessness, corruption and anti-social activities.”

It is, therefore, not in doubt that it is immoral for a legal practitioner to close his eyes to political parties’ lawlessness. Rescuing internal democracy from the hands of political oppressors and the jaws of imposition falls with the ministerial function of every legal practitioner.

At this juncture, it must be noted that internal democracy transcends the internal affairs of a political party. This is because the Nigerian legal framework duly recognizes it and commands compliance with it. In this regard, section 228(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered) confers on the National Assembly the power to make laws providing for:
“…guidelines and rules to ensure internal democracy, within political parties, including making laws for the conduct of party primaries, party congresses and party convention….”

It was in the exercise of this power that the National Assembly enacted section 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). It clearly set out the guidelines, rules and steps that a political party must follow in the nomination of its candidates for elections. Here, section 87(1) of the Act is instructive, clear and unambiguous. It provides thus:
“A political party seeking to nominate candidates for election under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions” [Emphasis mine]

Section 87 of the Act is so elaborate that it states the types of primaries that a political party may adopt (direct or indirect) and the procedural steps a political party must follow where it adopts either of the two types of primary election in case of each election mentioned therein. Emphasising the purpose of section 87 of the Act, in PDP v. Sylvia [2012] 13 NWLR (part 1316) 85 at 148, paras. A-B, Chukwuma-Eneh, JSC opined thus:
“The clear object the provisions of section 87 is intended to achieve besides the inculcation of internal democracy in the affairs of political parties in this country moreso in the conduct of their party primaries includes thus making them transparent and providing level playing ground for their contestants in party primaries….”

Equally important is the fact that the constitution of political parties contains the procedure for the nomination of candidates and voting at congresses and party conventions. In this respect, the constitution of the political party sets out how the party’s primary elections are to be conducted in a manner that institutionalises internal democracy. An example that easily comes to mind is Article 20 of the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress (as amended), the political party in which I am the legal adviser. A look at the provisions of the said Article 20 makes it clear that candidates of the party can only emerge through a democratic path. In case of indirect primaries, the delegates that will vote at the primary election must have been democratically elected by members of the party from the various wards contained in particular constituency at congress. Even where an aspirant is unopposed, democratic principles still have to be followed to ensure that the unopposed aspirant is not a product of imposition. Without a doubt, the party constitution has entrenched internal democracy and eschewed imposition of candidates by the “powerful” minority.

Based on the foregoing, it would be reasonable to assume that when it comes to nomination of candidates for elections, the legal adviser of a political party could go to sleep knowing that the legal framework would hold sway. However, it is common knowledge that this is rarely the case. The fact is that any legal adviser that urges compliance with the legal framework and adherence to internal democracy easily finds himself to be a lone voice. He is considered a rebel that is deserving of being ostracized from the decision-making and deliberation within the party structure.

Despite the foregoing, it gladdens my heart to say that the Supreme Court, under the leadership of the current Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Hon. chief Justice Onnoghen, has taken the courageous step of ensuring that the political oligarchy do not succeed in casting internal democracy into the refuse bin. Now, political parties are faced with the fact that the erosion of internal democracy will not go unpunished. A case worthy of consideration is the very recent and yet to be reported decision of the Supreme Court in Mato v. Hembe & 2 Ors. SC.733/2016 (delivered on 23rd day of June, 2017), amongst others.

Before delving into the recent landmark decisions of the Supreme Court on this issue, it is necessary to note that the Supreme Court has always made pronouncements on the importance of internal democracy and the need for political parties to obey its own constitution as well as the jurisdiction of the courts to intervene in this regard. In the case of Shinkafi v. Yari [2016] 1 SC (Part II) 1 at 31, line 13 to line 23, the Supreme Court held thus:
“… it is now trite that where a political party conducts its primary and a dissatisfied contestant at the primary election complains about its conduct of the primaries, the Courts have jurisdiction by virtue of the provision of Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to examine if the conduct of the primary was in accordance with the party’s Constitution and Guidelines. The reason is that in the conduct of its primaries, the Courts will never allow a political party to act arbitrarily or as it likes. A political party must obey its Constitution.”

The Supreme Court made a similar stance in Tarzoor v. Ioraer [2016] 3 NWLR (part 1500) 463 at 529, para. G. In the leading judgment of Rhodes-Vivour, JSC in PDP v. Sylvia (supra) at 125, paras. D-E, the Supreme Court held thus:
“…where the political party conducts its primary and a dissatisfied contestant at the primary complains about the conduct of the primaries the courts have jurisdiction by virtue of the provisions of section 87 (9) of the Electoral Act to examine if the conduct of the primary elections was conducted in accordance with the parties constitution and Guidelines. This is so because in the conduct of its primaries the courts will never allow a political party to act arbitrarily or as it likes. A political party must obey its own constitution.”

Also, pertinent is the hallowed warning of Supreme Court in the case of C.P.C. v. Ombugadu [2013] 18 NWLR (part 1385) 66 at 129 to 130, paras. F-E where Ngwuta, JSC held thus:
“An army is greater than the numerical strength of its soldiers. In the same Vein, a political party is greater than the numerical strength of its membership just like a country, for instance, Nigeria, is greater than the totality of its citizens. It follows that in the case of a political party, such as the 1st appellant herein, the interest of an individual member or a group of members or a group of members within the party, irrespective of the place of such member or a group in the hierarchy of the party, must yield place to the interest of the party. It is the greed, borne of inordinate ambition to own, control and manipulate their own political parties by individuals and groups therein and the expected reaction by other party members that result to the internal wrangling and want of internal democracy that constitute the bane of political parties in Nigeria.
….
…It is apparent that a few powerful elements therein hijack the parties and arrogated to themselves right to sell elective and appointive positions to the party member who can afford same….
There is a popular saying that politics is a dirty game. I do not share this view. It is the players who are dirty and they inflict their filth on their members and, by implication on the society. Politicians must learn to play the game of politics in strict compliance with its rules of organised society.” [Emphasis ours]

It is now trite to give due consideration to the impactful decision of the Supreme Court in Mato v. Hembe (supra). In that case, Onnoghen, CJN held that holding a primary election in a manner contrary to the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and the constitution of the political party will render such primary election null and void. At page 37 to 40 of His Lordship’s judgment, His Lordship held thus:

“The facts deposed to in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the affidavit in support of the Originating Summons show that the said primary election was held at HAF HAVEN HOTEL, MAKURDI quite outside the headquarters of the Federal Constituency. So, apart from the irregularities catalogued in exhibits 4 and 2 reproduced above, the holding of the primary was contrary to the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the constitution of the 2nd defendant.
Section 87(4) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) provides:-
‘A Political Party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall adopt the procedure outlined below-
(c) in the case of nomination to the position of senatorial candidate, House of Representatives and Head of Assembly, a political party shall, where they intend to sponsor candidates-
(i) hold special congress in the Senatorial District, Federal Constituency and State Assembly respectively, with delegates voting for each of the aspirants in designated centres in specified dates’
As a corollary to the above provision, article 14.11 of the 2nd defendant’s Constitution provides that every member shall assemble at their respective Federal Constituency Headquarters and voting shall be by secrete ballot. A combined reading of these two provisions reveals that it is mandatory for the political parties to hold their congresses for the purpose of selecting their candidates in the headquarters of the Constituency. As was pointed out by the learned counsel for appellant in their written address, the Electoral Act and the 2nd respondent’s constitution make detailed provisions for the way and manner by which primary elections are to be conducted. This is to ensure a level playing field for all aspirants. Any contravention of the Act and the Constitution of the Party in this regard would be regarded as a ploy to negate the principle of due process of law enshrined therein.
It is trite that where a statute provides for a means of doing a thing, no other means or manner shall be permitted. Both the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the 2nd defendant make it mandatory that primaries be conducted in the headquarters of the Constituency. The failure to comply with these provisions makes the entire exercise null and void…
The truth must be told and that is, that the 1st and 2nd defendants did not respect the provisions of the Electoral Act and the constitution of the 2nd defendant in the conduct of the primaries. This court has decided in quite a number of cases that political parties must obey their own constitutions as the court will not allow them to act arbitrarily or as they like….
From all I have endeavoured to say above, it is crystal clear that the primaries which produced the 1st defendant was frought (sic) with manifold irregularities aside the fact that he was not even qualified to contest same.” [Emphasis mine]

Beyond doubt, by this singular pronouncement, His Lordship seeks to enthrone internal democracy in the affairs of political parties. In the same vein, Kekere-Ekun, JSC asserted that where political parties appear to violate the principles of internal democracy, the courts will not hesitate to whip them into line by wielding the big stick. In Mato v. Hembe (supra) at page 2-3 of His Lordship’s judgment, Kekere-Ekun, JSC held thus:

“This case, in my view is a clear example of the mischief sought to be tackled by section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended. While it is true that the courts will not interfere in the internal affairs of a political party nor its choice of candidate, Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act ensures that in making their choice of candidates for elective office political parties do not stray beyond the confines of the Electoral Act or their own electoral guidelines. The section seeks to curb the impunity with which political parties hitherto acted without regard to the democratic norms they profess to practice. As stated by my learned brother in the lead judgment, this court in a plethora of cases has asserted the fact that political parties must obey their own constitutions and guidelines and where necessary (as provided by law) the courts will intervene and wield the big stick to prevent arbitrariness. The only way our democratic dispensation can work effectively is where every aspirant for political office, who is qualified to contest an election, is given an even playing field. The failure of internal democracy within our political parties right from the grassroots level eventually leads to instability in the entire political system. The failure of internal democracy is one of the reason why the courts’ dockets are congested with pre-election disputes. In Ugwu vs. Ararume (2007) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1048) 376 @ 514 D-E, this court per Mahmud Mohammed, JSC (as he then was) admonished:
‘My lords if we want to instill sanity into our human affairs, if we want to entrench unpolluted democracy in our body polity, the naked truth must permeate through the blood, nerve and brain of each and everyone of us. Although credit may not always have its rightful place in politics, we should try to blend the two so as to attain a fair, just and egalitarian society where no one is oppressed. Let us call a spade a spade!’

I am in entire agreement with my learned brother, that in the circumstances of this case it was crystal clear that not only were there irregularities in the primary election that produced the 1st respondent, the 2nd respondent failed to follow its own guidelines in the selection of its candidate. I agree that in the eyes of the law the plaintiff/appellant was the only candidate of the 2nd defendant/2nd respondent as found by the report of the 2nd defendant’s Appeals Committee.”

At page 4 of Eko, JSC’s judgment in Mato v. Hembe, His Lordship did not mince words in calling the 1st Respondent an impostor.

Another very recent decision of the Supreme Court is between Alhaji Shuaibu Isa Lau v. Sen. Sani Abubakar Danladi regarding the Taraba North Senatorial District (delivered on June 23, 2017). The Punch Newspaper, under the caption: Harsh verdicts await unqualified candidates, S’Court tells political parties, quoted, Augie JSC thus:

“This is a hard and very bitter lesson for political parties to learn. They may have chosen candidates or eminent personalities they want to present as candidates to INEC, but they have to play by the rules.
“The chosen candidates must comply with requirements of the law; they must abide by the provisions of the Electoral Act, which creates a level playing field for all aspirants who seek to contest elections.
“So, the political parties and their candidates must obey the rules.”

I need not say more. Ordinarily, this ought to sound a death knell on the untoward practice of imposition of candidates contrary to the provisions of the applicable laws and the party’s constitution. However, it appears that party oligarchy appear to enjoy turning a deaf ear.

In the recent decision of the High Court of Lagos State (per Okuwobi, J.) in Suit No. ID/1838/GCM/2017: Hakkem Abolaji Saka v. All Progressives Congress & Anor. (delivered on July 7, 2017), the court did not hesitate to nullify the nomination of candidate without the conduct of primary election in accordance with the stipulation of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission Law and the Constitution of All Progressives Congress. Consequently, the Court, inter alia, made and order restraining the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission from recognising, relying on or using any list of chairmanship candidates submitted by All Progressives Congress for the forthcoming Local Government elections in Odi-Olowo Local Council Development Area.

Without a doubt, the foregoing is commendable as it shows that parties do not have to get to the Supreme Court before the judiciary wields the figurative big stick where a political party jettisons internal democracy in the conduct of its affairs. This is, particularly, instructive because the elements behind imposition always rely on the fact that it would take years before the matter would be decided by the Supreme Court in the course of which their imposed candidate would have enjoyed a substantial portion of the tenure of office. The good news however now is that, not only are pre-election cases on fast track now, impostors are now sanctioned by both removal and restitution of illegally gotten dues. With the proactive pronouncement of High Court of Lagos State, the erosion of internal democracy will be nipped in the bud and good things will not suffer irreparable injury before salvation comes.

Good governance is the desire of every sane society. In order for any society to have good governance, there must be good leadership. For there to be good leadership in a democratic setting, internal democracy must be effectively and effectually practised. One can only hope that political parties see the writing on the wall and behave accordingly.
In conclusion, I believe the role of Courts in contemporary times in the strengthening of internal democracy is not only commendable but proactive. It is only hoped that more of our courts will see the wisdom in this approach and political parties learn the art of respect for the rule of law.

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WHY ARE WE IN DARKNESS?

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What is the essence of power? What has power got to do with sustainable businesses? Why should the power sector be fixed? If the power sector is paralyzed, what is the effect? Why are we in darkness? These are rhetorical questions have been asking and continue to ask myself.

In Nigeria over 75 million people are yet to be connected to National grid, with Nigeria’s power capacity between 4,500MW and 7200MW but can only supply between 2,500MW and 4,000MW per time it is glaring that Nigeria has shortage of power. Recent statistics show that Nigerians spend over #700 Billion (Seven hundred Billion Naira) on fueling generators without maintenance and utility. This is sure big loss and wastage in the economy; it is expedient and purely sensible for government to quickly fix the power sector to boost the economy and foster prosperity.

It is clear that with well over 75 million people yet to be connected to the national grid and many still do not have up to 20 hours of power every week, it is clear that Nigeria needs to expand her power capacity with investment in clean and sustainable energy to cushion climate change.

Nigeria’s main sources of power are mainly Hydro and Natural gas. During dry season there is always a drop in power because of reduction in water pressure from the hydro power station. Hydro power has its limitations if we cannot control the water pressure to be constant all year round. Hydro power is really safe but sustainability is yet to be achieved in Nigeria. When the dry season is heavy, sometimes Nigeria power capacity drops to 1,900MW. As one of the fastest growing economy in Africa, we could double our growth if we invest effectively in power.

The unpatriotic and destructive attitude of greedy citizens and militants across the water coast where there are gas pipeline is sabotage on access to power. Nigeria is a gas and crude oil producing nation, gas is a very good alternative to providing power, many houses now use gas cooker to make their food, iron their clothes and recently new innovations like gas generator are becoming more acceptable in Nigerian household. The continuous vandalism of gas pipeline by militants has been a great jab on every little progress the power sector tries to make in providing clean and sustainable power. Vanguard newspaper reported that in 2015 NNPC said Nigeria lost #51.3 billion to vandals.

In the global community, connection is important, without power on our phones, laptops and gadgets, this connection will never be possible. Power is important to our business life. It is the soul of productivity in government, entertainment and agriculture.

In Mowe, ogun state a small community of about 5000 houses, Mowe is on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the main expressway that connect the north, east and south of Nigeria together. Mowe is a strategic location because it is a small town between Lagos (the commercial hub of Nigeria) and Ogun(the border state to Benin Republic) Many religious organization have their headquarters on this expressway, yet it is really sad to know that nobody in mowe has up to 20 hours power. The community has been forgotten by the government, no good road, no water, non-functional health centre and the worse is that the town is in darkness.

In Mowe, many are connected to the national grid but have less than 20 hours power and they pay between #2000 and #5000 monthly without constant power supply. Many houses have a running generator, rechargeable lamp, kerosene lamp to lighting their homes at night.

Many have been in and out of hospital because of adulterated kerosene by criminals. A resident of Mowe that want to remain anonymous said, “The inability of government to provide electricity made me almost lost my eye while refueling the kerosene lamp for my son who was preparing for exams”.

The owner of Adonai ventures also recount her loss to fueling her generator everyday with petrol. She said, “It is really annoying to spend #30,000 monthly on generator, do we have a government at all?” She asked rhetorically.

Doctor Oyin says, “Hospital bills can be reduced by 20% if there is constant, stable, and affordable power supply. We run generator 24 hours in our hospital because we deal with lives, we cannot afford to take chances on our patients. We know there are a lot of people who need to access cheap health care but the cost of running the hospital especially power is a big challenge to accessing low cost health care. It is a pity that the government health Centre that are supposed to cushion this effect are not also working. Who suffers? The lowest cadre of the society that the government was elected to serve”.

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From 2005-2008 when I was in high school I read with a kerosene lamp or rechargeable lamp which has affected my eye sight. I have seen the doctor and a correcting eye glass was recommended but I have refused to use it. The doctor said, “You have over stressed and strained your eye to read in the time past, you eat good food that is why your eye sight is still sharp, but to stop the tears and itching in your eyes you need a correcting glasses”. Lack of power has different adverse effect on our health, business, education and others. I did lost some reading days in school because of no power supply which had its own negative effect sometimes on my education.

Rape, robbery, and kidnapping on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway at night is becoming worrisome, yet the reason crime flourish is there is no street light, responsive and reliable security operative on the road at night.

What exactly should we be doing? Is there a solution? Sure there is. I am no expert at power but I will try my best as an active participant. Corruption is a huge monster on the way to sufficient power supply; a whooping #30 billion was spent between 1999 and 2007 to revamp the power sector without result. No one has been punished or sentenced by EFCC or ICPC for public fund misuse. This is still a tragedy.

enel-green-power

Privatization of the power sector is a great move in the right direction. Reduction in bureaucracy and bottleneck in getting license for a power company like ENEL will be a major move to lighting every house in Nigeria. A close monitoring of all gas pipe using technology will further make power capacity in Nigeria stable. Nigeria government must be willing to finally bring corruption to a hurt in the public sector for citizens to access power.

Exploring clean and safe energy like solar, wind, and so on will further help expand the national grid. Currently, the federal government is the only one that has the legal power to generate power, this is a big challenge, and therefore government must allow private company, state, local government and investors to generate power in states, communities and regions.

Government must create the free and fair environment for investors to profit while also protecting the citizens from greedy investors. Government must be a fair umpire between power companies and customers through legal frameworks, policy, and sanctions.

Citizens must begin to protect power infrastructure if they want constant power supply. We all have a responsibility to light up Africa. Africa is rich but we need visionary leaders to lift Africa out of the mess we find ourselves.

Why are we in darkness?

 

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Nigerians are extremely docile, It can be frustrating –Dr Muiz Banire(SAN), APC Legal Adviser

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Culled from Punchng.com

The National Legal Adviser of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Dr. Muiz Banire, in this interview with TUNDE AJAJA, speaks on the issues of lack of internal democracy in the party, the performance of the incumbent government so far and why he seems to hold a different view from the majority in the party

Your party made a mockery of internal democracy at the recently held local government primary election in Lagos State, by trying to impose candidates. Was that the decision at the national level or the electoral committee and the state chapter acted alone?

As far as I’m concerned, there was no primary election, because the election didn’t take place at all. That is my own position, from my vantage position, from my observation and from the point of law. There was no primary, so nothing happened on that day.

But the drama at the Teslim Balogun Stadium that day was as a result of your primary election that was to hold.

That must have just been an assemblage of human beings, the purpose of which I wouldn’t know, but certainly not for primaries. My own view is clear, which is nothing personal. Our constitution is very clear on the way to go about it. If you look at Article 20 of our (APC) constitution, it says a lot about the procedure for nomination of candidates at all levels, from councillorship to the President and that is what must be followed. That has been my own position from time immemorial. If you recall the run-up to the primaries for the governorship election in 2014, that was the same posture I maintained, and all over the nation up till today, I maintain the same posture. The good news is that the Supreme Court in Nigeria has consistently been telling us its position that people must comply with the party’s constitution. That is why I always counsel to avoid this pitfall, and it is not peculiar to Lagos alone. So, for me, it’s nothing personal and what the constitution requires is not optional.

We have reports that high-ranking members of your party who should know what the law requires are guilty of that attempt to impose candidates on the people. For example, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was said to have reeled out those names even before the election. Is that the kind of practice APC wants to be known for?

Let me tell you my understanding. People said to me that Asiwaju had earlier announced some 18 candidates for chairmen. Even at that, I said he must have been misquoted because there is a difference between endorsement and nomination. They are two different things. I reserve the right to endorse anybody, but when it comes to elections, then I don’t have the right of imposition. So, I told them clearly that they must have been misquoting him because he (Asiwaju) certainly has a right to preference.

He wouldn’t have been misquoted because it was the names that were mentioned that were eventually announced as the candidates.

I heard he said 18, but what happened covered the entire state. Then, you yourself must have seen that the process was hijacked.

Can we say it was hijacked, when members of the party waiting to vote simply resisted imposition?

Let me tell you, there are so many godfathers, for selfish reasons, all about bread and butter and it is not in APC alone. It’s in all political parties and that is the essence of having a constitution because the tendency of every human being is to be domineering. It’s innate in us and that is why we agree as members of the same club to say we must have rules and regulations that would bind us and regulate our affairs. And having subscribed to it, then, you are bound by it. The APC is a bigger party, unlike AD, AC, ACN, etc. It’s a conglomeration of several interests and that is why for you not to have an implosion, you must consistently be bound by the rules and regulations.

But there is currently an implosion because some of the aspirants described the Lagos APC as undemocratic and fraudulent. Are those not clear signals?

They are signals. Personally, I think I owe it as a duty as the custodian of the APC constitution to ensure it does not happen. That is why I kept on saying and warning every day that don’t do this thing, do the right and proper thing. If we all agree that all these people are our party members, why discriminate against them. Allow all of them a level-playing ground. Whoever emerges is an APC candidate; simple and straightforward. Are the governor, the President and many others not proud that they went through the primaries before the 2015 election? In fact, part of what put our party on global map today was the presidential primary election we had; that everybody saw and witnessed it. We will not give up because we know it’s not easy for people to change.

One would expect that, as the National Legal Adviser, you would have advised them against that decision, because the imposition was already a matter of discourse before the day of the primary?

Yes, you’re right. That wasn’t our consensus when I attended their meeting. The meeting we had with all the local government officials, the stakeholders and the state executive, I was there and I advised them. They were very happy, they all subscribed to everything in the constitution. In fact, I was very proud of them that day, just for them to somersault suddenly because we had some scavengers who were able to profit from the venture; because people were just selling the party ticket all over the whole place. That was the problem. So, in order for me not to be guilty of standing by, that was why I even had to write them to say I heard something, please do not allow it to happen, follow the constitution.

Those who masterminded the charade are senior party men, like the party chairman in the state, Chief Henry Ajomale and Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, who have tried to defend their action.

Well, I do not even see Afikuyomi as a senior party man; he’s just like any other party member in Lagos. He doesn’t hold any position in the party, and being the chairman of the electoral committee was only a transient thing. Several of them we appoint every day. Some mess themselves up and some will perform creditably and commendably.

In that duty, has he performed creditably?

As far as I’m concerned, he has not even done it or discharged the responsibility.

But he read the pre-selected names, which is part of his responsibility as the chairman of the electoral committee.

He announced names of people he felt that he wanted. As a person, did you witness any primary? Nomination presupposes voting, and was there any voting? Up till now, there was no voting and there must be. If any other person who succeeds me decides to introduce anarchy, so be it, but while I’m still there, I will ensure that the proper thing is done.

It seems criminal to sell forms to aspirants and still want to impose people on them. Is the party going to refund them?

It’s not even a matter of refunding them, it’s about allowing internal democracy to prevail in the party. People tend to trivialise this issue but it’s an issue that I’ve signed into. There has been several intimidation, harassment and deprivation every day, but I’m not bothered. As far as I’m concerned, all those issues won’t work for me, because my religion preaches dying for what is just and proper. For me, I suffer it every day, from the security agents to government and people all over; that I’m their stumbling block, but I’m nobody’s stumbling block. I only believe that proper things must be done.

Will the party now hold another primary?

It’s not my role to organise primary, as the National Legal Adviser. It’s for the state to do the right thing, subject to guidelines from the national.

The national chairman of your party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has not said anything on this matter, and some would think it is because of the issue he had with Tinubu that he chose to stay off Lagos matters?

For me too, it’s a possibility. I would reckon the same way, but I don’t know the reason why a pronouncement has not been made, which is allowing court action to fester. My expectation is that the Vice Chairman, South West, Chief Pius Akinyelure, the Deputy National Chairman, South, Mr. Segun Oni, and others should have intervened. Look at cries all over and the way the thing disparaged the party all over. They should have called a meeting urgently on the issue. That’s my expectation because I’m from this state and I don’t want to push anybody. In other states, ask them at the national, I would trigger the process and force the meeting on.

But should you fold your arms in your own state?

The assumption would be that I’m biased and that’s why I’m distancing myself from it a bit. But I know that the way things are going, they themselves would wake up shortly.

Now that election is fast approaching and another date has not been announced for the primary, what if the party goes ahead with those names. What will happen?

Nothing will happen if no aspirant challenges the party. Some have challenged them, my own role is to go and defend. And I’ve told them I will not lie. I’m a very senior member of the bar. I’m a bencher and a senior advocate, so you won’t expect me to go to court and say we did primary where we did not. Of course, I will submit to judgment. It has happened before, where we submitted to judgement. In such cases, I would simply tell the court that My Lord, they did not follow our constitution. So, if anybody goes to court and the matter is to be defended, we will go to court and tell the truth. I will never lie in court to protect party and I often tell our party people not to put us in a position where they would expect us in the legal department to lie, because we won’t.

Also, governors, those under your platform inclusive, find it difficult to conduct local government election. Is it that you don’t advise them?

Well, again, I have advised them on that. That is why most of the states are doing it now. One charlatan recently placed an advert in your newspaper referring to it that I had the effrontery to ask the governor why he appointed sole administrators. It’s my duty to tell anybody. Those are the people that mislead them. In fact, one must commend the governor for saying okay let’s conduct the election. Look at Osun State, it has not conducted election for almost seven years, which is unfortunate and absurd. It’s an impeachable offence. The constitution says no local government must be run by any less than democratically elected leaders. The Supreme Court has pronounced it in Imo and Ekiti states condemning it and I’m sure the apex court would be excited dealing with such issues now because they have made several pronouncements condemning that practice. No governor can substitute his own opinion of what true federalism is for the position of the law, which is clear. My expectation is that people themselves should wake up. Nigerians should wake up.

If refusal to conduct that election is an impeachable offence, and given the quietness across the board, would you say Nigerians are docile?

Extremely docile. I’ve never seen this kind of people in my life. I must confess to you, ha! I get frustrated. At times, when some people decide and say let me take their battle on, what do you find out? The people would even be the first set of people to persecute that person, they would ask him which one is his own? Is he the only one? I start wondering that me I’m okay, it’s because of you that I’m doing this. So, they are just too docile. Ha! It’s too much.

Given the prominent role the party plays in our type of democracy, why has the party not been able to call people elected on its platform to order?

Well, our democracy is still developing. My personal opinion is that it’s because of the financial status of most parties. They tend to rely heavily on these offices rather than on membership dues.

But that itself is wrong; using state funds to run parties.

That is what we are aggressively trying to correct in APC now. The moment we are able to get everybody to be paying their membership dues, the party would be able to flow on its own financially, have a life and be able to take position on issues.

Given your stand on several issues and many of such you have had to deal with over time, are you sometimes embarrassed by some actions of the big men in your party?

Yes, a lot. Honestly. I get embarrassed and that is why I’m even anxious to quickly finish the tenure. Let me tell you something, which is another point that needs to be made clearly to a lot of people. We are sacrificing for the party. We are not paid officials. I’m not being paid anything. I go to Abuja practically every week with my money, I pay for my hotel, maybe occasionally when we have NWC meeting, they used to pay N100,000 now N120,000. My ticket alone is almost N140,000, my hotel is not less than N60,000 per night, apart from the internal transportation and other things. But it’s all about sacrifice. We don’t derive any pecuniary gain from it but we are happy doing it for now, and that is why I maintain that don’t rubbish me over what I’m even doing gratuitously. We just believe that some of us must be able to add value to the system and at least set the template that will outlive us and that is my ambition every day, and that is why when people continuously fight me, particularly in Lagos here, I just laugh. All these things are not personal. I’m not fighting anybody; everybody is my friend. But when it comes to the rule of law, I apologise, I can’t compromise it. It’s as simple as that. I’m unable to compromise it. That’s all I’m living for, that’s all I’m about.

But the big men in your party do these things and get away with it?

Again, that is another thing I normally have issues with. I don’t believe there are strong men in any political party. For me, party is party. Apart from the officers of the party, all members are equal. Once I pay my dues, I’m entitled to the same powers and privileges in the party. The moment we continuously discriminate against some people, that is the source of our woes. That is my own position. That is why given what happened in Lagos, everything I do, I direct to the state chairman. I don’t recognise any other person as the person controlling the party machinery in Lagos. It’s the state chairman that bears responsibility under the constitution for whatever happens. What happens behind, under, beneath, I don’t know about it. By the time you are talking about people that are not officially responsible, you are descending into their arena which is not your business. I don’t have a problem with anyone pulling so much weight, but my problem is where there is no compliance with the rules.

Are you saying you don’t recognise the position of the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who lives in Lagos?

Officially, the only person I can interact with officially are the party officials. That is what I mean.

People see him as the godfather of APC in Lagos…

(Cuts…) Let me tell you, I do not even see Asiwaju as a godfather, because he is not the person directly involved in that charade. He once drew my attention to it, that Muiz, are you saying I don’t have a right to endorse a candidate, and I told him, sir, I concede. Asiwaju wasn’t the one that came to the field to destabilise the process. Blame the party structure in the state.

People believe he did it underground.

I can equally do anything underground but you can’t hold me for it. How do you prove that?

But some have pointed out that it seems you don’t agree with him on certain things and that you don’t let him have his way sometimes.

It’s not true, let me tell you, it’s people that are hungry that are saying so. I, personally, am telling you I have no problem with Asiwaju at all. Asiwaju is my boss any day but the responsibility on my shoulder makes me not to see him regularly like before. Those people always want to create problem. If you don’t go and poison his mind or misdirect him, there is no problem. When has he himself come to say all of you must vote for a particular person? Some people only do name-dropping for their personal reasons. Same way they said the President told them to pick Yahaya Bello as the candidate for Kogi election at that time. At times, most of these people are innocent, people are only using their name to perpetrate evil.

Are you saying  you have a cordial relationship with him?

As of this time I’m talking to you, there is no enmity between us. Let me even tell you, there is nothing I’m doing that I didn’t learn from him. Look at his antecedents. He is the greatest rebel of our time. He taught us how to be rebellious. He’s a very courageous man and he taught us courage. He taught us to hold our views and be tenacious. In fact, he enjoys me facing and disagreeing with him.

Would you then get in touch with the APC chairman in Lagos to do the right thing as regards the imposition issue?

I have written; I don’t talk to them by mouth because they would deny it. I have written to them, I mean several letters. I keep on writing our people to do the right thing, even beyond Lagos. What does it cost people to stand by the truth? Even if they would sack you tomorrow, let them sack you and you go to your house. The problem is that majority of the people that are in politics today, especially at elective level or appointed level, are people without alternative contact address. They have no other job in their lives, so, they can kill or do anything, because they are always desperate to remain in the corridor of power. That is the problem.

There have been several calls for restructuring of Nigeria, and fortunately the first item on your manifesto is that you would restructure the country. Now that people are calling for it, your party that promised it has gone silent. Is that fair?

Again, that is an issue I want to bring up at our next meeting. Personally, I subscribe to it. My only area of conflict is the perception of the restructuring itself, because from what I’ve seen, restructuring means different things to different people. Some would say fiscal, national, complete, organisational restructuring and so on.

Perhaps that is what you get when you leave people to speculate and you maintain silence at the wrong time.

We must fundamentally agree on the type of restructuring that we want to embark upon. Let it be clear to everybody. When it is clear, all of us will go to the next stage and I think that is where the party needs to trigger a process, towards aggregating opinions on what we even mean by restructuring. Let’s agree. When we do that, we can then draw the timetable.

But when you were preparing your manifesto, what kind of restructuring did you have in mind?

We had our own conception of it, but I’ve read several other versions. If it’s our own we are already implementing, but not in the manner people are saying now.

Could you tell us the ones you have done?

Most of the ones we are looking at is fiscal restructuring and that has started. We used to have inequality in appointment of ministers; some have two while some have one, but that has been eliminated now. A lot is also happening on the issue of local government autonomy and the judiciary. Look at the issue of appeal, not every appeal will now go to the Supreme Court and that has gone far at the National Assembly. But people want more than that and I have no problem with that.

But why has your party not taken a stand in response to the calls for it from everywhere?

Like I said to you, some of these issues, I might be the one to trigger the process, maybe because the party is overwhelmed; running from one election to another regularly and it doesn’t even have so much logistics to anchor some of these programmes.

If you have been overwhelmed with winning elections, does it mean the APC is only concerned with winning elections, not minding if the promises made earlier had been fulfilled?

Certainly, you know that for every election, there must be campaign and you campaign on the manifesto. So, we can’t run away from them. If we are not implementing, people would see them and they would have raised it. There are also issues with the one people are calling for now. It seems we are doing it in piecemeal at the moment, maybe what we need, which I agree to, is a holistic approach to it. I’m sure the party is not averse to it conceptually.

It would seem you are about the only one prompting some of these things. It seems your members go to sleep once they win election.

With due respect to most of our members, I think there is what I will call economic impairment affecting them. You know at times, you need stamina to talk. If you haven’t eaten, you probably won’t be able to talk.

A lot of people have doubted the integrity of your party because when late President Yar’ Adua was sick, your party, through Alhaji Lai Mohammed as the then spokesperson, was on his issue, maintaining that Nigerians deserved to know the state of health of their President. But now that President Muhammadu Buhari is equally ill, the same Alhaji Lai Mohammed said such is a confidential information. Aren’t you taking the people for a ride?

You know the dangers of precedence that I spoke about at that time, that when you talk, know what you are talking. I will escalate this issue to Alhaji Lai Mohammed and seek further explanations on why disclosures about the President’s health are not being made. They might know things that I don’t know. There are several human beings with different ailments. So, continue exploring the channels available to you, like the Freedom of Information.

Should we need to go that far if your party that promised change is sincere about being transparent and accountable?

The actions of some individual officers should not be equated with that of government. Look at what happened the last time when your reporter was sent out of the State House and the government decided to deny it. It happens sometimes like that in government that somebody overzealous somewhere would do something. But for me, we must never get frustrated by any system.

Your manifesto is a very beautiful document, but as a person, when you pick it, are you satisfied with how your party has fared?

Yes, I’m satisfied. The manifesto is not a document for four years. It is a document that is expected to endure for the next 50 years. We have just spent about two years.

So your target is 50 years?

It cannot be minimum. The things there are ideal situation and it can’t be implemented in one day. Those are aspirations and the things we want to see. For example, at times, when people talk and they get into government and they see what resources are available, they face reality. But before they get there, they feel all these things are possible.

Since that was what your party did, it would seem that it hoodwinked the people into believing in your promises.

No, we are saying given all factors being constant, these are the things we want to do. The situation we met was worse than what we even anticipated. Unfortunately again, several other inhibiting factors came in. So, it’s not a document that would just die in four or eight years. It will live for a long time, so give it the benefit of survival.

But shouldn’t we blame the politicians that throw money around?

Yes, that is why at times I wonder if our leaders are not wicked, as they consciously put our people in abject poverty so that they can’t reason. For me, we need a major movement in that regard. The press need to do a lot in that regard. They need to educate people and enlighten them. I have always been saying that there is need to continuously establish the nexus between the people’s lives and their votes. We must connect it to say if you take money for your vote, it’s your life you are selling. Let them see clearly how they would not see hospital, good road, good school and other things, by just mortgaging that votes. We owe it a duty to them, particularly the elite. If that is the minimum we can do.

People have always talked about expensive elections, but for local government election, is N555,000 not too much for the form, excluding N5,000 for the expression of interest?

Again, I, as a person, disagreed with it, because the question I even asked them was that what is the minimum wage? Are you saying that somebody on a minimum wage can’t contest? No. It can’t be. There are some of these things at times that people are not even challenging. That is the problem. That is where it lies. The aspirants should challenge it.

Your signature campaign programme was anticorruption fight. Given the next to nothing achievements recorded in that regard, how would you rate the government’s performance in that regard?

For me, I have a different view about that. I have always believed that little would be achieved with the way and manner we are currently fighting corruption. I want to see that document on the socio-economic diagnosis of corruption in Nigeria. Before you can fight corruption, you need to know what the attractions, the causes and what creates the opportunity, the sociologist must tell us. We underestimate the capacity of those people. We need to do the study. It is when we have the study, then you now start gradually to tackle it, like discouraging the attractions. I have always believed that if all of us wake up and every day at our various churches and mosques, we send curses after the corrupt people, I tell you corruption will reduce.

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How Mrs Bolanle Ambode made a mess of Leadership and sacrilege against the Church.

Culled from Punchng

Screenshot_2017-05-26-09-42-16

Ambode’s wife committed sacrilege and should apologise —African Church Bishop.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Adeyemi is the head of the African Church, Ifako Diocese, and the boss of the Presiding Chaplain of the Chapel of Christ the Light, Ikeja, Venerable Femi Taiwo, who was sacked by the Lagos State Government for allegedly disrespecting the wife of the governor, Bolanle. In this explosive interview with SAMSON FOLARIN, Adeyemi states the position of the church.

What relationship exists between The African Church and the Chapel of Christ the Light?

The chapel belongs to the Lagos State Government, but it is being managed by the entire Christian body and, specifically, the various blocs that form the Christian Association of Nigeria. In CAN, there are five blocs. The African Church belongs to the Christian Council of Nigeria, which is one of the blocs. The position of the Presiding Chaplain of the Chapel is rotated among the blocs to avoid any disharmony in the body of Christ. So, it is our turn to produce the Presiding Chaplain.

Venerable Taiwo, who is from this (Ikeja) diocese, was the chaplain for three years and after the three years he applied to become the presiding chaplain. He was interviewed and discovered to be qualified. He was subsequently employed as the Presiding Chaplain.

He started in January 2016, and was supposed to spend three years, but this incident happened. His predecessor came from the ECWA bloc of CAN and it was when his predecessor finished his tenure that he was appointed.

What is the process of appointing chaplains?

When the position becomes vacant, it will be published in the newspapers. Normally, applications will be invited from everybody, but in the end it will follow the usual order of rotation. So, when everybody applies, there will be a panel that will interview the applicants and the qualified person will be employed.

What do you know about the events that culminated in the sack of Taiwo?

It was on Monday, May 15, that Venerable Taiwo called me that there was a development in the chapel and that he was coming to see me. He came and showed me the sack letter, saying that his appointment had been terminated.

However, before now, there have been some issues in the chapel. He said the governor’s wife called him and the chaplain, who was his assistant, to see her. The two of them went there and they had a good interaction. There was no problem. That (incident) happened in the first week of May.

He said some members of the governing council then called him to know why he went to the First Lady’s office and he explained to them that he and his assistant were invited. The council then told him he shouldn’t have gone to see her and that he should have allowed them to resolve any issue. The council then asked him and his assistant to write an apology letter, which they did. The governing council said the letter was to assuage the First Lady because she felt she was being challenged and accused of fraternising with a former presiding chaplain. According to Venerable Taiwo, that was the only encounter they had before the Monday 15th sack letter came.

But are you aware that he got some queries as the government alleged? Has he ever told you he was queried at anytime for any offence?

I asked him specifically if he had been receiving queries from the officials of the chapel or the government, but he said it has never happened.

I know Taiwo. He is a very responsible minister of God; very knowledgeable, humble and disciplined. I have worshiped at that chapel a few times myself. And I made personal investigations about him. Even the members of the chapel are saddened by this development. If you know about what they have been doing since this incident happened, you will know venerable Taiwo is a man everybody respects.

Like what?

They accommodated him and furnished the place just to make him comfortable. They have also written to the government to rescind the decision. He is not a wayward person.

A lot of Nigerians are outraged about what happened. Do you think that this anger is justified?

It is highly justified. Even as a church, we are furious with the government. But we are trying to approach the issue from different angles. One is to appeal to the government, if reasoning will prevail. The governor himself and his wife can rescind the order. The head of the church, His Eminence, Primate Emmanuel Josiah, has written to the governor’s office. He has been asked to book an appointment with the First Lady. We are aware that the letter written to the First Lady is not being attended to; she is not even ready to make herself available.

Has the church received any formal complaint against the Venerable?

That is where as a church we are angry with the government. If he is a serial offender as alleged, nothing stops them from reporting him to the church, that the person you seconded to the office here has a bad attitude and we would have called him to order. We have many others that we could have sent to the chapel. But we are very sure of him that was why we sent him. The government failed to inform us and for government now to have taken such a drastic step and tell him to leave (his official apartment) within 24 hours leaves much to be desired.

You mean the 24-hour ultimatum was truly stated in the sack letter?

I was here (in my office) when he (Venerable Taiwo) called me that they asked him to pack out within 24 hours and that he was even told that the governor’s wife would not like to hear that he was still being seen around. Then we started wondering what could have happened? Somebody that has a wife and kids, and you asked him to go within 24 hours? Where do you expect him to go?

This is very ungodly! It is a sacrilege for someone who happens to be a Christian. Even when Fashola (former Lagos State Governor) was there, despite being a Muslim, he never took such a decision. Now that the governor (Ambode) is a Christian, which we all fought for, he is the one taking ungodly decisions. We have written letters to CAN and CCN, including the Methodist Church where the Venerable Taiwo’s assistant came from, that if Mrs. Ambode, is trying to cause divide and rule among the Christians, she should go ahead. We are not afraid of anything.

We understand that Mrs. Ambode is also a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, let her go and ask the RCCG Pastor, Enoch Adeboye, whether what she did was the right thing to do to a minister of God. It is ungodly and very sad.

When the church heard that the sack was about anointing oil, what was the general reaction of the church?

Anointing oil is a personal thing. Nobody has the right or power to force anybody to take anointing oil. It is even ungodly to say a worshipper should take it by force. Even Holy Communion is voluntary; there is no protocol when it comes to that. When you are in the House of God, rich or poor, old or young, you are all equal before God. If Ambode will recall, anytime she comes for service, she will be the one to sit in the front and she has the right and privilege of going to the stage first if she is interested.

What did the Venerable tell you happened at the service that day?

I have tried to confirm from Taiwo what really happened on that Sunday and he said the service held as usual. There were three of them who stood to minister the anointing oil and few of them who wished to receive the oil came forward. Ambode’s wife later joined the queue. And she even participated in the thanksgiving service.

But why was she angry that day? The church members said she left in annoyance.

From my findings, her point of annoyance was that she was not recognised. She was not duly recognised and I asked that at what point was she expecting that recognition? I was told that Venerable Taiwo mounted the pulpit to deliver the sermon, she expected him to recognise and welcome her to the service. To some extent, I agree with her because the Bible says we should give honour to whom it is due.

Was that enough for a sacking?

That did not call for a sacking. The procedure they adopted was ungodly. If she felt offended because of recognition, there is a procedure. She could have called the chapel members and the management body and let them query him and ask why he didn’t recognise the governor’s wife. And then the management body would make their recommendation to the governing council. And the council will then forward their decision to the government. That is the way it should be done. But they didn’t do it.

Whatsoever it is, our own point is that the right procedure was not followed. Government has the right to employ and the right to sack. But if you are now sacking and asking the person to leave within 24 hours, that is too much.

As a church, we are demanding apology from the governor and the government of Lagos State. We demanded that we wanted a Christian governor. We came out en masse and supported the political ambition of Ambode. We told our members to go out and vote for him. Unfortunately, people have started mocking us.

What has happened is a sacrilege and Mr. Ambode should know that. We have been appreciating his efforts in Lagos. Why will he allow himself to get involved in such a trivial issue that can spoil his public image? You are the governor and the image of Lagos State and the father of all. When any report comes to you, you should dissect that report and know what steps and action to take.

Has CAN tried to mediate in this matter?

Yes, CAN and CCN have been trying to do some underground work to ensure that the matter did not get to this level. But now that it has got to this point, we have served them letters and I am sure they know what to do.

Will the church query the Venerable over the incident?

Yes, however, it might not be in the form of query. The church will do its findings over his activities over there and we will forward out findings to the centre. But so far from our findings, we have not found any fault in him. Some of the elders and chapel leaders are also angry over the sacking. They were not informed. He has not done anything to warrant what happened.

What has been the experience of the pastors of the church with Mrs. Ambode and former first ladies in Lagos State?

While I will not want to be too personal, as a church, we are very much at home with Dame Abimbola Fashola than with Mrs. Bolanle Ambode. Mrs. Fashola is a mother, very humble, knowledgeable and mature. She has a way of dealing with men, women, young, old, men of God of different cadres and she knows how to appreciate people. Many of these attributes are somehow lacking in Mrs Ambode. Maybe this is because of her tender age; she needs to acquire more experience.

What is the state of the Venerable and his family now?

I want to thank the members of the Chapel of Christ the Light. They have been very fantastic. They accommodated him and furnished the place he is staying now. His car got burnt where he parked it. If a car is parked in a government house and that car got burnt in the middle of the night like 2am, there is foul play. Even that alone, if government is very fair, they were supposed to set up a panel to investigate it. But that did not happen.

When this incident happened, it was these members that bought him another car so that he would not feel the impact of what happened. Even as a church, we are making plans to ensure he is not stranded.

He will not be without a ministry. We are going to give him a station very soon, if he is not called back. We just don’t want to rush it.

What will the church do if the government recalls him?

If government calls him back before he resumes at his new station, then we will need to sit down with them because this is a complete embarrassment to the church. Ambode, his wife, the state government, embarrassed and insulted the African Church. We must sort things out and give them our stand.

They may decide to recall him because of the tension that has arisen over the incident only to do something worse. These politicians cannot be predicted. Any politician that does not have the fear of God cannot be trusted. The embarrassment they caused us has never happened to any other denomination. Even during the military era this can never happen.

Why do you think some government officials don’t respect pastors and priests?

They lack the fear of God. They are conscious of position and money and with this, the society cannot move forward. Also, our religious leaders have messed themselves up because of money. They are patronising the politicians and they are making them to believe that their anointing is not real.

But I believe that any politician, who has the fear of God in him, even if any minister misbehaves, you are not the one to judge him. You should ensure you do your part. If Ambode or his wife knows the tenets of Christianity, they will not deal with Venerable Taiwo like that. They will know that this is a man of God.

They should have said have written to us, saying they don’t want to embarrass the church and we as a church would have handled it. We have a lot of other ministers across the state and the country. But they didn’t do that because there is no fear of God in them. They are not ready to submit to the Will and Word of God. Ego is killing us.

If not ego, why should Mrs. Ambode feel embarrassed that she was not called first to receive the anointing? But when ego takes the better part of any individual, that person will misbehave and if you tell him or her the truth, he or she will not agree.

CREDIT: THE PUNCH

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