Nomadic herdsmen are largely found among the nomadic tribes of central, East, North and West Africa, particularly in countries like Central African Republic, Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, Gambia, South Sudan, Mali and Nigeria. Nomadic herders are struggling due to political and environmental changes. Their livelihoods are being threatened by changes in weather patterns as well as modern land use policies and urbanization. Most African countries don’t support their itinerant herding and nomadic lifestyle.
What this means is that the average nomadic herder lives in an environment he considers hostile and indifferent to his needs, where he must struggle to fend for himself and survive. This struggle for survival has become a way of life for herders who are ready to defend or redeem their endangered livelihood with their blood.
While, most Fulani in today’s Nigeria are largely a settled urban community, their foot soldiers are the pastoralist herdsmen that they have armed with sophisticated weapons to wreck bloodshed and pillage throughout the vast expanse of ancestral savannah homeland in the Middle Belt.
It is this scenario that has been captured by the proponents of the expansionist Fulani leaders to wreck havoc in Nigeria today and raised the status of the herder into that of a terrorist.
The herders militia are emboldened by the implicit support from the incumbent Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Saad Abubakar who is seen as the shining light for the establishment of the new Fulani empire. With the Sultan of Sokoto as the chief herdsman in Nigeria, who can touch any of his soldiers? He holds the position of Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Meyetti Allah Kautal Hore which has been issuing threats across the length and breadth of the middle belt. He is assisted by the fiery Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Mohammed and the Lamido of Adamawa. ( See April 2018 edition of Powersteering Magazine).
After Sultan Mohammed Bello, the most ambitious and may be ferocious Sultan is the incumbent, Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III who came into power after the mysterious death of his brother in an air crash just outside Nnamdi Azikiwe airport, Abuja in October,2006. Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar seemed to be the leader that the Fulani worldwide were waiting for, like a messiah, to grant them their so called God given land: Nigeria. He was trained and groomed to the rank of a Brigadier General in order to take over the leadership of the struggle.
Since he came into power about twelve years ago, the template changed. The usual quarrel between farmers and herdsmen which naturally occur and are also resolved most times amicably took a change for the worse. Fulani herdsmen who we all knew were only armed with long sticks and machete and atimes a dane gun are now armed with sophisticated weapons such as AK 47.
It was his leadership of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, the umbrella body of the Fulani worldwide that has provided the shade for the marauders to operate with impunity across the length and breadth of Nigeria. With that position, he has become the voice that the entire Fulani in Nigeria and across the whole of West Africa hear and act upon. Sultan Saad Abubakar has never been economical in his defence of his kith and kin especially when the indigenes carry out a reprisal attack in return to the Fulani invasion of their lands. He cried out that no one should take the Fulani for a weak group when some Fulani were killed in the Numan area of Adamawa State in December 2017
The retired army general who seem to speak from both sides of his mouth tried so many times to absolve his kinsmen of being responsible for the killings even when the leadership of his organization, the Miyetti Allah, were busy beating their chest and claiming responsibility for the dastardly acts on the pages of newspapers and live on national televisions. Such men despite their public utterances and pronouncements and inspite of calls by state Governors for their arrests were untouchable because the Sultan provided the shield for them. In May, 2018, Sa’ad Abubakar had sternly warned Governor Samuel Ortom and Femi Fani-Kayode for linking the killings in the middle Belt to his great-grand father’s, Usman Dan Fodiyo, Jihad.
For instance, on Monday, October 23rd 2017, the Daily Trust Newspaper on its page 10 reported that the National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Association, Alhaji Abdullahi Badejo and his Secretary, Engineer Salleh Alhassan had called on all Fulani herdsmen to converge and occupy Benue State. Neither of the two were invited or interrogated by the security agencies because they were serving their masters’ voice.
The Fulani are also encouraged by the fact that four Nigerian Leaders, Shehu Aliyu Shagari, Murtala Ramat Mohammed (through his mother), Umaru Yar’Adua and the incumbent President of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari have been of Fulani ethnic extraction.
Today, Mohammadu Buhari is the most reviled figure because of the horrendous acts of his kinsmen and his deafening silence.
A social media blogger, Josephine Akioyamen who is very bitter about the President’s inaction, says Buhari has shown up for what he truly is: a ferocious Fulani fundamentalist who is ready to destroy Nigeria so long it advances the greater Fulani cause (which sees Nigeria as Allah’s gift to the Fulani race).
Akioyamen further says his utterances, his disposition and his actions have emboldened Fulani herdsmen militia to go with genocidal zeal into the displacement of Nigerian citizens from the heartland of the Middle Belt spanning Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Kogi and Plateau to secure lebensraum for the settlement of the fulde or Peul displaced from other parts of the Sahelian West Africa in Nigeria.
It is no surprising to discerning Nigerians that his election led to the quickening of war against the peoples of the middle belt by the Fulani. It is also no surprise that the federal Government of Nigeria under Buhari engaged in an ever shifting explanation for the war.
The foretaste of the Buhari plan was the genocidal attacks that occurred in Agatu Benue State from February 18 to 26th 2016 when his administration was barely 9 months old. In that attack, 7 communities were leveled in Agatu, 500 persons were hacked to death, and more than 3,000 were wounded. The residents were driven into internally displaced peoples camps. Their lands were occupied by Fulani herdsmen and their cattle.
This was the assessment of the then Commissioner of Police in Benue who witnessed the occupation. He was promptly redeployed from Benue and replaced by a more pliable Police Commissioner in the person of Bashir Makama who in his turn superindented the massacre of 97 innocent Benue people in Guma and Logo Local Government areas on the first of January 2018.
What did Buhari do? He had his Inspector General of Police downplay the magnitude of the attack. Without any investigation, the then IGP, Solomon Arase claimed only 3 persons died from the attack (as if that number justified the attack). Arase failed to arrest Alhaji Bello Abdullahi Bodejo, National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore who admitted to him right at the Peoples House (Government House) Makurdi that his men killed the Agatu people in revenge for the death of 10,000 of their cattle. Alhaji Bodejo and his gang of killers continued to enjoy the protection of the security agencies even when they openly issue threats and carried out such threats. (See April 2018 edition of Powersteering Magazine).
The new Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim took the downplay to an inordinate height by openly defending the marauders. When the President directed him to relocate to Benue State to handle the situation, he again openly disobeyed the President. His Spokesman even called the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom a drowning man because of his cries over the incessant attacks.
On June 3rd 2017 at a world conference held in Abuja, the nation’s capital, Alhaji Bodejo openly announced that following the passage of the anti-open grazing law in Benue, the Fulani under the aegis of Miyetti Allah kautal Hore would occupy Benue. On the 1st of January 2018, they carried out their threat with the gruesome murder of 97innocent Benue indigenes. They again came out to say more blood will flow in Benue. Nothing happened to them. No one ordered their arrest. But when the media aide to former President Babangida released a statement asking President Buhari not to contest the 2019 elections, he was declared wanted by the Police. You can imagine the contrast.
The Federal government instead went into the defence mode on behalf of the marauders. It claimed it was “communal clashes” then shifted gear into the attackers being ‘aliens’ that made incursion into Nigeria, then it began to advocate for the creation of grazing reserves and routes for the herdsmen and their cattle.
The government went further to initiate a grazing reserve and routes agency bill at the national assembly in order to seize lands from the states for the purpose of providing grazing land for the alien aggressors. This is yet to see the light of the day as opposition to such a move has been on the rise.
His Agriculture Minister, a Benue son, Chief Audu Ogbe began campaigning for the importation of Brazilian grass into Nigeria to feed the cattle of the occupiers and killers of his people. When this failed, Audu started drumming for cattle Colonies within each state for the alien aggressors. Nigerians especially the people in the middle belt saw through this guise and overwhelmingly rejected the idea.
The Middle belters have not forgotten how those colonies (Zango) were used to enslave southern Kaduna indigenes. The simple strategy is to create a colony, then the settlement would appoint their headship(Sarkin Zango or Ardo)then later the Ardo usurps the rulership of the entire areas thus displacing the original traditional ruler as Othman Dan Fodio did to the Hausa King of Gobir (present day Sokoto).
The Fulani invasion of the middle belt and particularly of the Benue trough has gone beyond the issue of survival for the herdsmen since there are areas still available to them than Benue and the other states.
What the people of the middle belt face today is a tragedy that can best be described as genocide. Fulani militias in their thousands have been rampaging across the primeval savannah, killing, pillaging and burning down entire villages. For instance, over 20 villages in Awe local Government area of Nasarawa State occupied mainly by the Tiv are now deserted settlements. This is evidenced by the empty and abandoned villages along the Lafia-Makurdi road particularly after kadarko such as Gidan Ayua. Not only do they maim and kill, they destroy farmsteads and repopulate them with their own people.
The Vice Chairman of Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation, BECO, Chief Iliya Choji Kim also recently cried out that the herdsmen have driven and are currently occupying over 50 villages belonging to the Berom people.
The herdsmen militancy has also exploited the existing fault lines of religion and ethnicity in Nigeria. It is evolving into a complex identity conflict that is sowing seeds of destabilization throughout the middle belt which runs through central Nigeria. In Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and Nasarawa States, herdsmen attacks have been focused rather selectively on non moslem communities in a fashion that suggests a religious character to the attacks. This is further exacerbated by the recent killing of two catholic priests and 17 other worshippers at Mbalom in Gwer Local Government area of Benue State and the most recent sacking of the Catholic junior seminary in Jalingo, Adamawa state. In other places like Zamfara, Niger and Kebbi states, the attacks have been targeted on non Fulani villages. So, in most of the attacks, it would seem victims are targeted on religious or ethnic grounds.
The military capability of the militant herdsmen has become increasingly sophisticated. They use modern weaponry as well as mercenary fighters. Some of the attacks now include military style operations and often take a ‘scorched earth’ approach that levels entire communities and sustain offensives that last months.
The middle belt experienced 18 incidents involving herdsmen and farmers communities between 1997 and 2010 during which about 80 people were killed but by 2014, they have killed 1,229 people in about 371 incidents. The Global Terrorism Index which declared the herdsmen militia as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world reports that the attacks by the group amounts to 11 people per attack which are carried out against private citizens.
African Innovation Foundation (AIF)’s top 10 nominees announced for the prestigious US$185 000 Innovation Prize for Africa 2018 awards
The top 10 nominees reflect Pan African flavour of Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) with representation from north, west, east, central and southern Africa, including Madagascar
IPA 2018 keenly contested with 3 000+ applicants from over 52 countries; This year’s innovations address critical challenges in ICT, agri-business, public health and the environment/ energy sectors; The top 10 nominees reflect Pan African flavour of IPA with representation from north, west, east, central and southern Africa, including Madagascar.
The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) today announced its top 10 nominees for its prestigious Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2018 awards. This year’s Call for Applications with its theme “African innovation: Investing in Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems” attracted more than 3 000 applications from 52 African countries. Building on the AIF mandate, submissions this year demonstrate significant breakthroughs in ICT, agri-business, public health and the environment/ energy sectors to improve the lives and economic prospects of Africans.
Says Walter Fust, AIF Chairman: “Now in its seventh year running, we have witnessed multi-million-dollar businesses emerging from the IPA initiative, with health, environment/energy and agricultural innovations leaving imprints across the African continent and beyond. Our theme this year prompts the need for increased collaboration between government, business, industry, innovation enablers and the community to further realise African prosperity and economic freedom.”
The IPA initiative has grown from strengthen to strength mobilizing, rewarding and honoring top African innovators whilst also building strategic partnerships with innovation enablers to strengthen innovation ecosystems in Africa. To date, AIF has supported 55 IPA winners/nominees with US$ 1 million+ and mobilized 9 400+ innovators from all 55 African countries. AIF endorsement and exposure generated through IPA have seen past winners securing over US$135 million worth of investments to grow and scale their businesses. IPA past winners and nominee company valuations amount to US$200 million+.
Managing Director of AIF, Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl who has steered the IPA program since its establishment in 2011, said: “We are proud of the impressive innovations that made it to the top 10 this year. They are evident examples of African ingenuity and each innovation is solving a real challenge in a key sector. Africa, and indeed the rest of the world, must keep an eye out – these innovations are ready to propel our continent’s global competitiveness in the market! Furthermore, these top 10 nominees are a great reminder that if given access to capital, Africans are capable of solving African challenges whilst also contributing to the rest of the world.”
Meet the top 10 IPA nominees whose innovations are in the sectors of agri-business, public health and well-being, ICT, energy, environment and water as follows:
Biodegradable seed tray for rice farming (Madagascar) – Juslain Nomenjanahary Raharinaivo: Rice is a staple food in many African countries, constituting a major part of the diet. With an ongoing demand for increased rice production, some African countries are not self-sufficient. In Madagascar, seeds are therefore sowed in innovative pots made of paper, called BG or biodegradable germinators. Growers transplant seedlings into easy-to-transplant clumps with very high tilling capacity which also increases rice yields and allow possibilities to expand the area under cultivation.
Buried Diffuser (Tunisia) – Mr. Wassim Chahbani: Irrigated systems play a major role in sustaining livelihoods in Africa and the world over. Water in agricultural use is critical for crop yields, and reducing consumption is necessary to increase the amount of available water for other uses. The Buried Diffuser saves irrigation water, energy, and use of fertilizers, reducing zero water waste through evaporation. Water is injected directly to the roots, radically reducing water consumption levels used for irrigation.
Efficient detection of TB and Hepatitis C (Morocco) – Professor Abdeladim Moumen and Dr. Hassan Ait Benhassou: Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis (TB) are critical health burdens in Africa. Besides lack of available treatment, access to accurate and cost-effective diagnostic tests remain a challenge across the continent. This innovation comprises two molecular tests for the rapid, accurate and effective detection and load quantification of both diseases. The technology allows specific detection of the hepatitis C or TB genome in blood or sputum samples; tests are clinically validated, simple, accurate and low cost.
eNose sensor for tea processing (Uganda) – Abraham Natukunda: This innovation applies an “eNose” and analytics platform to supplement current tea processing procedures using low power sensor devices to determine optimum levels of tea fermentation. An analytics platform receives and analyses the sensor data, providing real-time monitoring of key reactive elements and compounds during the tea-processing period, ensuring efficient traceability, prediction, and motion. This innovation will lead to improved control results in better tea quality, boosting marketability and increased revenue for tea processors from each bushel of tea harvested.
Incas Vaginal Discharge Kit (Ghana) – Dr. Laud Anthony Basing: Incas Vagkit is a 3-in-1 urine-based test kit that examines vaginal infections. Linked to a mobile application, it offers a convenient and fast solution for women experiencing vaginal infections. The Vagkit simply requires a urine sample and can be used at home; results are available within 10 minutes. This innovation drastically reduces testing time for vaginal infections in Africa, leading to the efficient and quick detection and management of vaginitis.
“iThrone” portable toilet (Egypt) – Dr. Diana Yousef: “We shrink it” is a revolutionary approach to removing un-piped sewage. This technology innovation is a disruptive yet low-cost composite polymer membrane that essentially “shrink-wraps crap” aggressively evaporating or “flushing” away the full water content of daily sewage output without need for added heat, energy or flush water. This innovation responds to the problem of poor sanitation and health conditions, as well as pollution caused by sewerage. iThrone cuts off a significant amount of methane emissions that are generated by unmanaged/uncollected sewage.
Mobile Shiriki Network (Rwanda) – Henri Nyakarundi: The Shiriki Hub is a Smart Solar Kiosk, powered by strong solar panels and equipped with large capacity batteries, Internet of things (IoT) sensors, and a custom designed router, offering device charging, virtual top-ups, and low-cost connectivity. Designed as a business-in-a-box and distributed on a micro-franchise basis, this is an ideal solution for digital connectivity to rural populations and temporal settlements such as refugee camps.
Natural solutions for skeletal regeneration and repair (South Africa) – Prof. Keolebogile Shirley Motaung: A multi-method approach using natural products for skeletal regeneration and repair. La-Africa Soother (LAS) is a topical paste ointment for sportspeople as a natural anti-inflammatory cream to treat pain and inflammation. The second product which is Plant-Based Morphogenetic Factor Implant (PBMF) induces bone and cartilage formation. Treatment of fractures has been a continuous challenge for orthopaedic surgeons. The latter product differs from knee replacement, autografts and allografts, offering quick results with no waiting period and no harvesting of tissue, with relief and safety for patients.
Reducing pollution in an eco-friendly way using GKSORB! (Benin) – Dr Fohla Mouftaou: Water hyacinth is an environmental threat in many African countries, invading lakes, rivers, and agricultural fields. The threat affects agriculture, the fishing industry, health and livelihoods. GKSORB is 100% organic and biodegradable fiber with the potential to absorb up to 17 times its weight. Made from water hyacinth, it can be used as a separator for hydrocarbons or as a cleaning agent for surfaces contaminated by various pollutants such as hydrocarbons, acids and paints.
Waxy II Technology (Tanzania) – Christian Mwijage: His company recycles and transforms post-consumer waste plastic into durable and environmentally friendly plastic lumber using a chemical-free and energy conserving technology called “Waxy ӀӀ technology” for building, construction and furniture production. Every year, more than nine million tonnes of plastic garbage ends up in the ocean causing a major threat to marine life and people. Plastic timber is an affordable alternative to wood timber and reduces the need for building material manufactured from wood, preserving forests, cutting down on deforestation and mitigating the effects of climate change.
President of Ghana and Co-Chair of the Group of Eminent Advocates for the SDGs launches Africa-wide award promoting innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals
By Abdullahi Mohammed
Five winners will be awarded the grand prize and have their work showcased at an international level, helping them to expand their work
The President of Ghana and Co-Chair of the Group of Eminent Advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has launched a pan-African award for a new generation of early stage social innovators in Africa who are solving pressing problems in the SDG focus areas.
The award, titled Africa Innovates for the SDGs will put a spotlight on SDG innovators and raise awareness around their work. Open to innovators from all countries in Africa, Africa Innovates for the SDGs will recognize and award exceptional early-stage African innovation that solves key challenges linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. Five winners will be awarded the grand prize and have their work showcased at an international level, helping them to expand their work.
“On our continent today, great African minds have been solving problems in their communities and this Award offers yet another platform to unearth, give recognition and the opportunity to take their innovations to scale for the benefit of the continent and to enhance prospects for achieving the SDGs. I call on the youth on the continent, the private sector, civil society organisations, community groups and all social innovators on the continent to actively participate in this timely initiative,” said President Akufo-Addo.
President Akufo-Addo in his role as Co-Chair of the Group of Eminent Adovocates for the SDGs has a mandate to support the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) in his efforts to generate momentum and commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030 by working to promote the universal sustainable development agenda, raise awareness of the integrated nature of the SDGs, and foster the engagement of new stakeholders in the implementation of these Goals. The SDGs Advisory Unit of the Office of the President of Ghana is the unit supporting the President in this role.
Africa Innovates for the SDGs will accept applications for the award until September 7, 2018. To be eligible to win, applicants must be citizens of any African country or residents of any African country for a minimum of three consecutive years and must be 18 years of age or older. The award is seeking unique, new and innovative solutions that are clearly contributing to one or more of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The solutions must have already been tested or have proven impact and must have the potential to create meaningful impact on society, especially on a large number of people.
To apply for the competition, or to learn more, visit www.AfricaInnovates4sdgs.com. The award is being implemented by the non-profit organization, Reach for Change, which has successfully run innovation competitions, accelerators and incubators in countries across Africa since 2012, promoting African innovation and entrepreneurship.
Oshiomhole To Saraki: Resign Honourably Or Be Impeached Democratically
By Abdullahi Mohammed
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), H.E. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole addressed a press conference on Friday at the Party’s National Secretariat calling on the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki to immediately resign honorably or be impeached according to law and democratic norms.
The APC National Chairman spoke extempore.
We decided to call for this press conference basically to respond to issues raised by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki during his press conference. It is important that we respond to some of the issues he canvassed, so that the public is not misled into turning villains into heros and twisting the facts that are not hidden to the Nigerian public. It is important that we help the Nigerian public by refreshing their memories.
The Senate President raised the issues of the fact that he has always acted not on the basis of his own personal interest, but that he has always acted on the basis of national interest. The truth is that it is doubtful if the Senate President has ever acted either in the National interest or in the interest of his own political party before his defection recently. Without going back to ancient history, it is important to look at how Senator Bukola Saraki became the President of the Senate. He decided, clearly, against the party position to enter into a deal with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and got a faction of the PDP, taking advantage of the fact that majority of the APC senators were holding a meeting at the International Conference Centre to resolve the issue of leadership of the senate and other principal officers that are expected to be produced by the ruling party with majority senators. Because he has put his personal interest over and above the interest of the party, he went into alliance with the PDP and conceded the position of Deputy Senate President to the opposition in other to obtain their support for him to become the Senate President. So, for the first time in our democratic history in Nigeria, we had a situation whereby, whereas the APC had majority of Senators, it went on to elect a PDP person as Deputy Senate President. This action alone portray Senator Saraki for who he is and that his personal interest come before any other interest, including national interest and that of his political party.
Having gone into this unholy alliance with the opposition and mortgaging the rights of the ruling party, he appointed opposition senators to head sensitive and strategic committees whose activities can affect either for good or for bad, the working of government and the relationship between the government and the legislature. Senator Saraki did that in other to continue to protect himself against the wishes of his party as Senate President. That showed that the only thing that was constant in his mind was to cling on to the position of Senate President even if it is at the expense of his own party and the country.
Even the media has consistently drawn attention to how Senator Saraki is managing the Senate to the extent that questions have been raised as to whose interest the Senate was serving.
You do not have to be a partisan politician to appreciate that in an election year, every democratic government around the world would do everything possible to ensure that it is seen to be working for the people of the country. Like any other political party in government, Nigerians expected the APC government under President Muhammadu Buhari to do everything possible this year to make up for lost time in terms of budget implementation and addressing critical infrastructures without which sustainable development is impossible. The Senate under Senator Saraki chose to delay the budget up to the end of the first half of the year and to coincide with the period of the rainy season such that those aspects of infrastructure such as roads cannot be constructed during the rainy season. These were not errors under his leadership, but clearly designed to frustrate the capacity of the government to address critical infrastructural deficit without which the ordinary man cannot feel the impact of government.
Again on receipt of the budget, the President cried out that it was a clear distortion from the well thought proposal that he submitted to the National Assembly. He appreciated that while they can make alteration to the budget, he did not expect that it will be completely rewritten as to make far more provisions for recurrent expenditure with very little for capital projects. He said this budget will be difficult to implement.
So, when I said he has never put the interest of Nigeria first, I support this statement with reference to the deliberate delay of the budget and deliberate manipulation of the provisions in the budget in a way that will compromise the capacity of the government to address critical infrastructures.
It is no longer a secret that as Senate President, he tried to conspire with others to create a semblance of division within the ruling party having failed to truncate the National Convention, when they assembled a handful of people who were neither delegates nor contestants for any office at the National Convention. There is nothing for me to add to the illegality of this action and the false foundation that Senator Saraki tried to leave than to adopt the well thought out presentation of Femi Falana SAN.
Those things did not portray him as someone who is concerned about sustaining democracy because sustaining democracy also implies absolute commitment to the rule of law. If the rule of law is compromised and Nigeria is reduced to a banana republic where it will be survival of the fittest, he is probably not the strongest man in town to cling on to that office. So, each time he takes an action that constitute a breach of the constitution, he is, by his own action undermining the foundation and weakening the fabrics of our democracy.
However, upon his illegal defection, which he had to do hurriedly because the number of Senators he was playing on their fears that they will not be able to return to the Senate.
At a point, he had on his list, about 36 Senators who were about to defect. But consequent upon our election, we took pre-emptive steps to reassure some of those senators. The first meeting we held after our election was with Senator Saraki to try and listen to what I called negotiable and verifiable grievances and this I did in company of the Vice President and he acknowledged that those steps were taken when he was leaving. But however, his real grievances are not negotiable which is about ambition, value and his fundamental values and the values of the APC. When he defected, he went to Ilorin to tell the people part of the truth that he was leaving for two reasons. He alleged that President Buhari gave out over 200 juicy appointments without allocating some to him and he choose to speak for the Speaker of the House of Representatives that he was also not given. My question is, giving Saraki, the Senate President juicy position, does that coincide with the Nigerian project? Or the interest of the people of Kwara State of his Senatorial zone? At no time did he refer to the interest of the people of his constituency or the people of Nigeria.
The second reason he gave was that he was being persecuted. That is alleged persecution of his person and not his people. He never pretended that any of these actions had anything, to do with the people of Nigeria, but his person. I think the governor of Kwara State was more explicit in corroborating his claim when he said that he as governor and Saraki as Senate President were being linked to armed robbery cases. Again, that has nothing to do with the Nigerian project or the Kwara people. What is the truth? Who linked Senator Saraki to armed robbery? Was it the federal government t or arrested armed robbers? It is the armed robbers that alleged that the weapons with which they carried out the operation were procured for them by the Senate President. This is contained in the police report which is no longer a secret. He has not denied knowledge of these people. So If armed robbers linked the name of the Senate President, is the APC or the government to blame? A crime that led to the killing of about 35 persons cannot be dismissed with a wave of hand and in any jurisdiction, when your name is linked to such heinous crime, people don’t clap for you. It is the duty of the security agents to investigate and establish whether they are valid or invalid. So, if he was linked to armed robbery, that cannot be an offense of the government or the APC. The best defense I have heard is that the robbers said that he did not ask them to use the weapon for armed robbery.
In support of my thesis that Saraki has never acted in the national interest, my final submission is on the way he adjourned the Senate. The senate calendar is not secret to the presiding officer and the calendar that was known was that the senate was going to adjourn on a Thursday. But by Monday night, Saraki used his guest house, wrote out names of Senators with provision for them to sign for senators to decamp from the APC to the PDP, but some of the senators refused to sign. That is what frustrated his calculations to turn the APC to a minority party in the senate. Is it a coincidence that as he was reading the names of defectors in the senate, his counterpart in the House was also doing same? So there was coordination for defection day. But happily, the pre-emptive measures we have taken to address genuine grievances frustrated their number such that from 36, he could not get more than 14 senators to decamp including one that subsequently overcame the manipulation.
Between Tuesday and Thursday, the Senate was expected to discuss the supplementary budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). INEC requirements are not things that you buy from the shelf. You have to order them from the manufacturers and so, time is of the essence. But the senate under Saraki adjourned without considering the matters before it including the budget for INEC. So, if Saraki adjourned the Senate ahead of schedule to resume towards the end of nominations, can that act be said to coincide with national interest? If you decide to frustrate INEC by denying it the funds that it requires, can you be said to be a defender of democracy? If INEC don’t get their funds and therefore are unable to conduct t credible election, will that not lead to further consequences for our democracy?
So, I submit that Saraki’s actions were calculated to undermine democracy. Those who fought for democracy did not do it so that it can be at the mercies of a Senate President whose interest is clearly at variance with national interest. There was a request for virement which was also not considered.
A substantial part of the 2018 budget meant for capital project was supposed to be sourced through loans and under the constitution, you cannot borrow from foreign countries without the express endorsement of the National Assembly. Without those loans, the budget cannot be implemented. While this was pending, Senator Saraki put his personal interest above his office and choose to adjourn the Senate , leaving this huge national issues unattended to. So, for an officer that behaves like that, how can he argue that anything he did was not about himself? Everything he did has never been informed by national interest. There are also allegations of lack of transparency and we have seen Nigerians trying to demystify what they earn. We have an arm that is completely unaccountable because of the way he has presided.
Therefore, his attempt to use the incident at the National Assembly on Tuesday to portray himself as the conscience of the nation is to insult our collective intelligence as a people.
There is the futile attempt he has made to suggest that the Tuesday’s incidence was an attempt to carry out an illegal impeachment. How can a presiding office arrive at such a conclusion that there was a plan to carry out an illegal impeachment? Until an action takes place, you cannot determine the outcome, if impeachment itself is unlawful, then you can understand where he is coming from. It is lawful to impeach anyone, including the President the Senate and his deputy if the number required to do so is present. So, he cannot pre-empt that. From their own statement, they claimed to be aware that the Senate President was going to be illegally impeached and so mobilized thugs to the Senate. They told the world that they have adjourned till 25th September. But meanwhile, about 15 PDP Senators were in the Senate and imported thugs that molested two of our members they saw in the senate. If APC Senators were not in the Senate and it was PDP Senators that were there, what is the basis of the false claim that there was an attempt to carry out an illegal impeachment? In any case, Saraki is not going to be the first Senate President to be impeached and I doubt if he is going to be the last. But definitely, he will be impeached according to law and democratic norms. The only way he can avoid impeachment is for him to do what is honourable.
We saw Senator Godswill Akpabio who was the PDP leader in the Senate. Once he made up his mind to leave the PDP, he wrote to inform the PDP even before his defection that he was resigning. So, Senator Saraki has demonstrated neither character nor being a man of honour. I told him when we held a meeting that he came to join the APC as a Senator and it is on our platform that you became Senate President. Once you made up your mind to leave, the honourable thing to do is to resign as Senate President. If he does not resign, he will be impeached according to law and not by thuggery or by mob or anything that undemocratic. He cannot sustain a minority rule in the Senate and that is what is haunting him in the Senate.
When I say that the Senate President will be impeached, let me emphasise that he will be impeached properly according to law. The constitution is clear how a presiding officer can be impeached and because several impeachments has taken place, we are not about to witness what has not taken place before. We have enough precedent to fall back on. I have looked at the constitution which does not say that an impeachment is illegal. It is done, you cannot arrive at the conclusion that it is unlawful. How can we be accused of planning an illegal impeachment when it has not commenced. If he thinks that by saying that he will pre-empt the APC from having him impeached, he is deceiving himself. I think that the time of Saraki is over. The way he has manipulated the politics of Kwara state, he fails to understand that the Nigerian project is far more complicated than being at the mercy of his own dynasty. He will not only be impeached, we will work hard to have him defeated as a Senator in his own Senatorial zone come 2019 by the people of Kwara state who are fed up with SarakiI. Go and check the results of the elections that made him a Senator and you will find out that the President got more votes from Kwara Central than Saraki got for himself. So, he can’t claim that the vote the APC got from his Senatorial zone was because of him. That is why his leaving is of no political consequences as far as electoral issues are concerned. We tried to talk to him, not out of fear, but out of conviction that as a presiding officer, there are rules of engagement.
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