After backing his opponents thrice to block him from becoming President, former President Olusegun Obasanjo made a U-turn yesterday. He threw weight behind the presidential ambition of his erstwhile deputy Atiku Abubakar. Group Political Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU writes on the new-found love between the political foes and the implications of the alliance for 2019.
The cold war between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his former deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, may be over. Or so it seems.
For 12 years, the Owu-born chief, as Obasanjo is fondly called, stood against the presidential ambition of the Waziri Adamawa. After leaving bowing out of power in 2007, stopping Atiku from taking the driver’s seat became his major priority. But, following a sudden, inexplicable rapport at Obasanjo’s Abeokuta, Ogun State residence yesterday, the General and civil war hero ate his words.
Obasanjo, who described the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate as the “president-to-be,” congratulated him in advance. Having encouraged the formation of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), which cannot fly, the former president, who is bent on stopping President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s election, saw hope and an alternative in Atiku. The presidential candidate of the ADC, the party believed to enjoy his backing, Obadiah Mailafia, got no consideration.
Yesterday, there was no reason for Obasanjo to write a lengthy letter to anybody again. Reality has also dawned on him that he lacked the structure to either intimidate effectively the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Buhari. Therefore, he looked for a new ally in an unusual quarter. But, will the realignment last?
Obasanjo explained the change of heart, although his reasons, according to observers, may not be convincing. The former leader suddenly recalled the succession plan he dropped in 2007, saying that it was actually designed to herald an Atiku presidency. Although he had branded the former number two citizen as a disloyal deputy then, he said the Adamawa-born politician has now “re-discovered and repositioned” himself.
In Obasanjo’s view, Atiku has shown remorse; he has asked for forgiveness and mended fences. Therefore, in his reckoning, he is more competent to govern than President Buhari. The proofs, as highlighted by Obasanjo, are that Atiku understands the economy; he is a Wazobia man. He believes in appointment based on merit, not blood relationship and friendship. Also, he is more accessible.
Being a former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) deputy governor, ADC presidential candidate Dr. Mailafia, cannot be a novice in the field of economy.
The journey to the Hill Top, Abeokuta was carefully planned. Atiku was accompanied by eminent clerics, who like Obasanjo, are experts in theology, and some notable politicians. They include: Living Faith Ministries (Winners Chapel) Presiding Bishop David Oyedepo; Sokoto Catholic Diocese Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah; Kaduna-based Islamic cleric Sheik Gumi Abubakar; former governors Brig.-Gen. Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun); Otunba Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Liyel Imoke (Cross River); Otunba Oyewole Fasawe; Senator Ben Murray-Bruce and PDP National Chairman Prince Uche Secondus.
The politicians on the delegation are PDP chieftains or sympathisers. What could not be ascertained was the political leaning of the eminent Muslim and Christian leaders, and their motivation for accompanying the PDP flag bearer? Did they go there as true peacemakers between two politicians, or friends-turned foes? Is there any personal or political motive behind it?
Are the clerics spiritual consultants to PDP and Atiku? Are they silent patrons of the PDP or the Atiku Campaign organisation? How will they convince their congregation that they are “apolitical?” Is the pulpit now another altar for partisanship? What is the implication of lack of neutrality? Will they start asking their congregation to emulate the politics of Atiku? Or the politics of Obasanjo?
The visit, and previous ones made by politicians gazing at 2019, may have inflated the ego, influence and relevance of the former military and civilian president. Although essentially designed for ego massaging, they may have also robed the Ekerin Egba and Balogun Owu as a co-member of the cult of political principals and principalities, who despite their inability to effect power shift on their own, have managed to remain somehow relevant on account of old glory.
General Obasanjo is able to study the national mood. He is capitalising on the expectations of Nigerians that may not have been met. He is playing down the achievements of the Buhari administration and amplifying its shortcomings. The onus is on the government to step up its efforts and meet public expectation.
But, is Obasanjo so critical to Atiku’s ambition? Does it mean that the eminent politician cannot make it without him? What is the electoral worth of the combative Owu chief? Is Atiku’s structure not more formidable than any machinery offered by Obasanjo? Is Obasanjo a better politician than Atiku?
Obasanjo, the self-acclaimed gerontocratic monitor, may be trying to undo the damage he had done to his erstwhile deputy. The old soldier recanted in a hard way. It may be a disservice to strong principles. To analysts, it was doubtful, if Obasanjo was motivated by national interest, which he often professed. He was driven by an uncanny, morbid hate for President Buhari, who has refused to operate from his armpit.
The party card Obasanjo tore four years ago starred him in the face. Is Obasanjo, who claimed that he has retired from active politics, returning to the party he repudiated? Will his new party, ADC, now wind up and team up with the PDP, or Atiku, for the 2019 battle? What is actually responsible for the retracing of steps? What is the worth of an endorsement informed, not by national interest, but personal interest?
In an open letter early this year, the former president had written off the ruling APC and the opposition PDP as parties that can never get Nigerians to the Promised Land. He called for the formation of a “Third Force”, which he promised to midwife. He went further to rally like-minds to form the Coalition for Nigeria (CN)
It is up to Nigerians, especially, those who bought into the “Third Force” and CN ideas, to decide the fate of the platforms with unfolding developments.
During the military rule, Obasanjo was at loggerheads with Gen. Buhari, self-styled military President Ibrahim Babangida and the late Gen. Sani Abacha. Although he imposed his successor, the late Umaru Yar’Adua in 2007, he later disowned him two years later, saying that the Katsina-born politician lacked capacity. Yar’Adua’s successor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, whose re-election he supported in 2011, was brought down by a stroke of his pen.
In his self-imposed duty of looking for national solutions, he aligned with Buhari in 2015. Next year, his plan is to campaign to oust Buhari and install Atiku. What is the assurance that Obasanjo, “the all is wrong and I alone is right statesman,” will not disown Atiku again? How many presidents have lived up to the expectation of a leader who is not nationally acknowledged as a mentor and role model?
In 2003, Obasanjo and Atiku parted ways. Since his hand was heavy on the governors, they resolved to deny him a second term. The symbol of the ‘coup’ was Atiku, who the governors wanted as the PDP candidate. More vociferous were James Ibori (Delta State), Alams Alamieyeseigha (Bayelsa) and Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia) in the campaign against Obasanjo. They all paid dearly for the effrontery.
Yet, Atiku was undecided. Desperate for a second term, Obasanjo had to prostrate for his deputy, who later gave his nod at the PDP presidential primary to the consternation of the aggrieved governors. It became Atiku’s undoing.
Hell was let loose. Atiku became a spare tyre that a vice president was in Aso Villa. He was shoved aside. An inter-ministerial panel in the image of the power-loaded president was set up to try him. Atiku was found guilty. It was evident that he was unwanted as a successor. Atiku fought back. He became an anti-third term crusader. Sources said when the third term project was truncated, Obasanjo’s anger against Atiku grew beyond proportion. He swore that Atiku will be president over his dead body.
Obasanjo had outlined his grievances against his deputy, ahead of 2007. He described Atiku as a disloyal deputy, unworthy of the crown. Asked to react to Atiku’s presidential ambition, he said: ‘I dey laugh o.’ It was loaded with meaning. During the 2011 PDP presidential primary, he joined forces with Dr. Jonathan to abort Atiku’s bid. At a lecture in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, he also doubted Atiku’s competence, saying that he was unfit for leadership. Few months ago, Obasanjo said God will never forgive him, if he ever supported Atiku. The former vice president dismissed the tirade, urging Obasanjo to reconcile with his creator.
In his book: “My watch,” Obasanjo explained his grievances against Atiku and why he will not support his presidential ambition. He may need to write a new book to capture his change of mind, in view of how his words on mortal have created credibility crisis for Atiku.
He stated: “I settled for Atiku Abubakar. Some of the reasons were he worked hard for the project, he never indicated interest in the job to me, he had worked closely with Shehu Yar’Adua and Shehu never passed any adverse comment on him, he had been elected as a governor which already put him on the pedestal to move up politically, but he had been short- changed in the election that would have put M.K.O.Abiola in power, and he seemed to have some national outreach.
“What I did not know, which came out glaringly later, was his parental background which was somewhat shadowy, his propensity to corruption, his tendency to disloyalty, his inability to say and stick to the truth all the time, a propensity for poor judgment, his belief and reliance on marabouts , his lack of transparency, his trust in money to buy his way out on all issues and his readiness to sacrifice morality, integrity, propriety truth and national interest for self and selfish interest.
“May be some of these traits and poor attributes are not easy to see until you work with the person concerned. And those who should tell would keep quite so that they would not be accused of running others down. For instance until later, when a distinguished chief from Bauchi pointed out to me the value of pedigree, queried Atiku’s pedigree and blamed me for making a wrong choice, I did not pay attention to Atiku’s parental background.
“Furthermore until all efforts to help Atiku change had failed – and having stumbled upon a report of inquiry carried out on him – I asked one of my predecessors why he did not inform me of how bad the report was and he said that he thought I knew. He said: “This was a man I wanted to dismiss and jail, but for the intervention of Shagaya and Shehu Yar’Adua.
“I took him at face value. However if his appointment was an error, I fully accepted responsibility for the genuine mistake. And knowing all that I discovered about him, what would have been an unpardonable mistake and sin against God would have been to foist him on Nigeria.”
There are questions begging for answers: what has Obasanjo seen now that he did not see before? What is the justification for the summersault? Will his new alignment herald defeat for President Buhari? Will his endorsement sway the votes? Will it make Atiku win?
Time will tell.
Sourced From: The Nation Nigeria
UFC: Usman gets N584m after beating Masvidal
Kamaru Usman has raked in a mammoth £1.1million, about N584.2 million after his impressive knockout victory over Jorge Masvidal on Saturday night, Sportivation.com.ng reports.
The Nigerian Nightmare has been handsomely rewarded for his stunning performance and he was the best-paid fighter on the card which was witnessed by 15, 000 fans in Florida.
According to Daily Mail, Usman earned £538,000 to show up, £459,000 pay-per-view bonus, a £43,000 sponsorship bonus and a well deserved £35,000 Performance of the Night bonus.
Jorge Masvidal also earned £358,000 to show, £186,000 in pay-per-view money and a £28,000 sponsorship bonus.
This is the biggest payday of Usman’s career so far and the Welterweight champion also benefited from the fact that Masvidal is also a top draw for the fans.
Kamaru Usman is a Nigerian-American professional mixed martial artist, former freestyle wrestler and graduated folkstyle wrestler.
Sourced From: Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics
Burna Boy’s ‘Twice as tall’ nominated for 2021 BRIT awards
By Alao Abiodun
‘Twice as tall‘, the album of Grammys winner Burna Boy has been nominated for the 2021 BRIT awards.
The Nation had reported the 29-year- old singer became the first Nigerian to win an individual Grammy for best album in the ‘World Music category’.
Organisers of the 2021 BRIT Awards, which is sometimes referred to as the British version of the Grammys, unveiled the nominees on Wednesday.
Burna Boy was nominated for the ‘International Male Solo Artist’ category alongside The Weekend, Bruce Springsteen, Childish Gambino and Tame Impala.
He was nominated for the same category last year for ‘African Giant’ his 2019 album but lost to Tyler The Creator, American singer-songwriter.
The awards will take place on 11 May 2021.
Usually held in February, the ceremony was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic
It will be hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall.
Sourced From: Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics
Harvest of tributes as former COAS Eduok is interred
By Bassey Anthony, Uyo
It was a harvest of tributes for the late Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Nsikak Eduok, as his remains were interred in his hometown in Ibesikpo Asutan, Akwa Ibom State yesterday.
Chief of Air Staff, Oladayo Amao, who spoke at the Ibom Hall grounds Uyo, during the funeral service conducted by United Evangelical Church, Founded as Qua Iboe Church, described late AM Eduok as a man of valour, integrity and a great achiever with unprecedented strive for success.
Based on these sterling attributes, the Force has decided to immortalize him by naming Ultrafit Gymnasium Centre at the Nigerian Air Force Base, Yola, after him.
In his condolence message to the family of the late Air Force officer, the former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, described late Eduok as an officer who had distinguished himself while serving the country, adding that Akwa Ibom state and Nigerian has lost a rare gem.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo described late Eduok as one who played a significant role during the Nigerian civil war, noting that he worked tirelessly to build an efficient and effective Air Force.
Earlier, Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, noted that the country, the Nigeria Airforce, the Church and the people of Akwa Ibom State have lost a rare gem, stressing that he was filled with a big sense of loss and grief.
Dignitaries present at the funeral service included, former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State, John Ebiye, former governor of the state, and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang, immediate past Chief of Naval Staff, Ibokette Ibas, former minister and chieftain of the All-Progressives Congress (APC), Senator John Akpanudoedehe, among others.
Sourced From: Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics
Making the best of reforms beyond PIB
The debates on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) rage on the hallowed chambers of legislators, the highbrow offices of operators and stakeholders and on the streets. In this analysis, Najim Animashaun, a seasoned oil and gas expert and Partner, Gulf of Guinea Consulting, underlines the imperatives of reforms in the oil and gas sector and the need for government to undertake more urgent reforms in the sector
The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that is before the National Assembly is the first time in Nigerian history that the complete overhaul of the legal regime of the sector has, since 1963, occurred in a democratic dispensation, and, more importantly, not coincided, at least within two years, of a new constitution or restructuring of the Nigerian state occurring.
These two connections would be coincidental or even accidental, if five of the most consequential structural or constitutional changes to Nigeria’s political-geography had not happened within two years of major petroleum industry legislative changes.
Successive governments since Frederick Lugard amalgamated Northern and Southern Nigeria have designed legislation to exert control over and extract revenue from the petroleum industry. That would not be a concern, were that fixation accompanied by an enterprising mind-set rather than narrower imperial or statist ‘rentier’ goals. Why consult the governed when designing governing systems when you can have a monopoly on resources to fund government, essentially without imposing or effectively enforcing tax on the populace? Why create an energy sector, when tax and other resource revenues enter government coffers? The default mind-set is thus to secure the resource for revenue for the government. And the constitution is there to support that endeavour. This mind-set is consistent with creating an extractive industry but is anathema to creating a diversified energy sector. That constitution making and petroleum legislation have gone hand in hand at critical junctures of our history thus bears further scrutiny.
For present purposes, constitutions should chart a path for the future. But when combined with petroleum legislation, including the current PIB, they tend to focus on solving past problems than meeting future challenges. Or as the Columbia Center for Sustainable Investment (CCSI) described the PIB as “a small step when Nigeria needs a leap”.
“The PIB, ultimately, fails to account for climate change, acknowledge the Paris Agreement, and address the need for diversification to adequately prepare Nigeria for the energy transition that is already underway, ‘’ CCSI notes in its blog. They continue “rather than locking more capital into projects and infrastructure that will soon be obsolete, Nigeria should be promoting the stewardship of assets that propel the energy transition forward, not those that will be left behind”.
In short, the PIB does well to play catch up, while being woefully unprepared for what’s coming next. NNPC is not only way behind its peer National Oil Companies in planning energy transitions, but the PIB’s proposed new NNPC limited is not equipped for the monumental changes facing the energy sector. Equinor, for example, Norway’s National Oil Company (NOC), is an investor in Oxford PV, an innovator in solar panel production using Perskovite cells. Equinoris also creating the world’s first fully decarbonised industrial cluster at an old chemical plant in Saltend, England.
Where Equinor is investing in cutting-edge solar and Carbon Capture and Storage technology, the PIB obsesses over applying 10 per cent of revenue from acreage rents to subsidise petroleum exploration in frontier basins for reserves that may not be worth much after 2030, elevating sectional political agendas over compelling commercial and climate change priorities.
Policy blindspots to changing global trends can be traced to the 1914 Ordinance. That law restricted participation in Nigeria’s oil industry to British companies, while also claiming ownership of the resource for the British crown. While excluding European competitors was good for Britain, was it any good for newly amalgamated Nigeria, or even in the Lugard administration’s enlightened self-interest, especially as the colonial office refused to fund exploration at the time? Imperial policy and post amalgamation public revenue demands drove the 1914 and subsequent petroleum legislation that Nigerians in the 1940s dubbed ‘obnoxious ordinances’.
Only upon enacting the 1963 Mineral Oils Amendment Act were these ‘obnoxious ordinances’ repealed, making room for Italy’s Eni to become Nigeria’s first non-British oil concessionaire. This amendment also came on the heels of the 1963 Republican Constitution that made subtle but consequential changes, beyond declaring Nigeria a republic, strengthening executive powers. Changes that enhanced state control over petroleum and gave the Prime Minister operational control over the security services. But changes that also triggered military intervention and the descent to civil war.
By 1965 Nigeria began asserting its desire to participate in the sector without defining whether this would-be private sector or government led. The Tafawa Balewa government negotiated a 35 per cent option to participate in Eni’s concession in 1963. In 1965, the deal with Shell over the Port Harcourt refinery included a term vaguely granting options for “Nigerians” to participate.
Shell’s reluctance to pay royalties and fees to the Federal Government during the civil war influenced government policy, paving the way for Nigeria to assert resource sovereignty and vest vast discretionary powers in the Minister of Petroleum under the Petroleum Act 1969. Abolishing regional governments and creating 12 states, in 1967, made Nigeria a federal republic thereby increasing the centralisation of power and centralisation of revenues from oil to the Federal Government. By 1971 oil revenue began exceeding non-oil revenue. This would continue for 45 years until 2016. Greasing political power with revenues from resources is a powerful multiplier of executive authority.
A literal demonstration of the allure the power of petroleum legislation backing constitutional authority is the fact that all present and past presidents in this Fourth Republic, with the exception of Goodluck Jonathan, for all or some of their tenure, made themselves minister of petroleum; dispensing altogether with any pretence of governing through ministers. Something no military or civilian leader before them ever did. To its credit the PIB devotes substantial energy to curbing these discretionary powers.
Until 1971, the minister’s wide discretionary powers under the 1969 Act were restricted to policy and regulation. It was not until the Nigerian National Oil Company (NNOC) was formed as part of the requirements for Nigeria to join OPEC, that the fusion of policy, regulation and commercial operations became possible. This vastly increased the operational scope and exercise of ministerial discretion. Thereafter commercial petroleum operations fueled ever deeper patronage networks that have come to define Nigeria’s petroleum and political landscape.
Battles over operational and commercial decisions between the management of NNOC and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines nearly caused Nigeria to default on her obligations in 1973. Without adequate capitalisation and no operational autonomy NNOC was unable to function commercially. The Murtala-Obasanjo regime, rather than set NNOC commercially free, decided to abolish the ministry altogether and yolk NNOC’s successor NNPC with policy and regulatory responsibility, while repeating the earlier mistake of not capitalising NNPC. The net effect is that NNPC was no more autonomous than NNOC but now had to set national policy and regulate the oil companies. Essentially, Government threw the baby out with the bath water in the NNPC Act 1977, which act also accompanied another monumental wholesale constitutional change – the 1979 Presidential Constitution and the creation of additional states. Three years after the NNPC Act was decreed, the “N2.8-billion oil money is still missing” scandal Fela sang about in 1985 occurred – an NNOC-type scandal all over again.
Meaningful reform came during Ibrahim Babangida’s administration, which arguably made more consequential commercially oriented reforms and promoted more private sector led indigenous participation in the petroleum sector than any administration since Tafawa Balewa amended the Mineral Oils Act.
Babangida, notwithstanding, failings in other spheres, also created new states and promulgated a new constitution of 1989 (from which the 1999 constitution is cloned). In the petroleum sector, he incentivised Deep Water exploration, restructured NNPC along commercial lines – creating and incorporating strategic business units such as Nigerian Petroleum Development Company and Corporate Service Units such as NNPC headquarters, which survive to this day. He appointed the first independent chairman of NNPC. He even announced plans to commercialise NNPC through the Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation (now the Bureau of Public Enterprises).
He also separated policy functions from regulatory functions reestablishing the Department of Petroleum Resources as regulator in 1988. Babangida’s reforms decoupled from 25 years of increasingly statist- driven policy re-making the petroleum landscape without enacting a new framework law . The PIB is the policy progeny of these reforms, but cannot shake off the limiting statist impulses.
After 20 years of struggling to pass a PIB, we have reached a fork in the road, with a bleak future for petroleum and no accompanying structural political change on the horizon. Petroleum can no longer paper over the cracks in the constitutional structure. It behooved this government to have more ambition than to bet on a petroleum future when our petroleum past, at the best of times, has produced suboptimal returns. In light of the apparent decoupling of structural or constitutional change from petroleum policy reform, Nigeria may be missing that rarest of opportunities to forge a new energy future untethered to hydrocarbons, essentially bypassing the industrial revolution in the way Nigeria did with telecoms.
The PIB would have been a forward-looking piece of Legislation in 1992 when the Earth Summit in Rio de Jenario, Brazil brought Climate change into international political consciousness. It would even have positioned the industry for greater domestic utilisation and diversification had it been passed in 2000. But, today, it is a day late and dollar short. Though, perhaps, this is better than no dollar at all.
Animashaun is a Partner at Gulf of Guinea Consulting, Abuja.
Sourced From: Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics
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