By Eric Elezuo
If there is one thing the 2019 General Elections revealed, apart from the shambolic organisation and execution, it is the fact that godfathers of whatever kind, can be uprooted and disgraced.
As a result, age long godfathers of Nigeria political landscape, such as Bukola Saraki, Rochas Okorocha, Ibikunle Amosun, Rabiu Kwankwaso among many others met their waterloo in the just concluded elections when the people decided that their monopoly of political events in the country is over.
However, one name is has remained the shinning light of political godfatherism. He has in the last 20 years held sway as the political be all and end all of Africa’s commercial capital, Lagos. He is the Jagaban of Borgu, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
It is known that Tinubu, has singlehandedly picked almost every political office holder in Lagos State since 1999. His invincibility in the state became more pronounced when in September, 2018, he pulled the carpet off the incumbent governor of Lagos, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, ruling that he will go serve another term of office. Ambode, even with his power of incumbency and and all the state’s machinery within his disposal and use, could raise a finger in challenge of the deprivation. He succumbed like a puppet on a string; a man without origin. Today, another governor has been elected, and Ambode is on his way out.
Such is the power that Tinubu wields in Lagos State.
While the likes of Saraki, Kwankwaso, Amosun and Okorocha were depending on their hitherto waning popularity, Tinubu used every means possible, including the ones not found in the books, to retain his headship of Lagos politics. Many political analysts have pointed to his direction as the cause of the intimidation unleashed on non-Lagosians, especially of Igbo origin, thuggery during election, snatching and burning of ballot boxes and papers among others.
Tinubu is also known to be a big and generous spender, a quality that has put him in the good books of almost all Lagosians of diverse profession. It is no wonder that many see him as a demi-god, converting instantly his words to action.
But Tinubu has a history before reaching the height he found himself today:
Many has seen Asiwaju as a political godfather today, and justifiably so, but not many knew he had for years been a political godson, even a godservant. In the run-up to the 1999 elections, he was a protégé of Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo. He paid his dues. He won the AD primaries for the Lagos State gubernatorial elections in competition with Funsho Williams and Wahab Dosunmu, a former Minister of Works and Housing. In April 1999, he stood for the position of Executive Governor of Lagos State on the AD ticket and was elected, and there extended his larger than life existence.
Following the victory by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the April 2007 elections, Bola Tinubu was active in negotiations to bring together the fragmented opposition parties into a “mega-party” capable of challenging the PDP in 2011. In July 2009, he called for implementation of electoral reforms spelled out in the Uwais report to ensure that the 2011 elections would be as free and fair as the elections of 1993 had been. In December 2009 Tinubu supported Fashola’s candidature for a second term in office which was adjudged by the public as good.
In 2015, Tinubu and Fashola threw their full weight behind Akinwunmi Ambode, the then gubernatorial candidate of the APC who is today the performing Executive Governor of Lagos.
Tinubu is married to Oluremi Tinubu, the current Senator representing Lagos central. His mother, Abibatu Mogaji died on June 15, 2014 at the age of 96.
In giving back to the society, Asiwaju Tinubu has established industries, and employed thousands of Nigerians. His investments cut across the media, aviation, finance and many more.
His Bourdillon Ikoyi home is home to many individuals who throng there on a daily basis for one directive or assistance or another.
Asides giving employment to thousands of Nigerians, Asiwaju has uncountable unrepentant political godsons including the current governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who made the confession recently during his speech at the Bola Tinubu ninth colloquium to mark Tinubu’s 65th birthday, and former Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Comrade Ayodele Adewale, who had said that ‘wherever Asiwaju is, there will I be’.
Tinubu’s acceptance by his people is showcased wherever he goes, and it has once again been demonstrated in the election of another of his handpicked croonies, Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the next governor.
Who knows if Tinubu, in his unilateral wisdom, will find him wanting by 2023 as he, against all odds did concerning Ambode. The world is waiting to see who his latest victim will be.
And who knows if the people of Lagos would one day rise to reclaim their state as the people of Kwara did.
Time, like they always say, will surely tell.
Buhari Reads New Riot Act to Ministers, Heads of Agencies, Others on Foreign Travel
In a bid to curb leakages and ensure efficiency in the management of resources of government, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved for immediate implementation, additional cost saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly, in the area of official travels.
According to a statement issued by the Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation Wednesday, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are now required to submit their Yearly Travel Plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation.
They are further required to make their presentation using the existing template and also secure approvals on specific travels as contained in the plan, from the appropriate quarters.
On the nature and frequency of travels, the statement said, all public funded travels (local and foreign) must be strictly for official purposes backed with documentary evidence.
”In this regard, all foreign travels must be for highly essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to the interest of the country. Except with the express approval of Mr. President, Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments, Chief Executive Officers and Directors are restricted to not more than two (2) foreign travels in a quarter.”
When a Minister is at the head of an official delegation, according to the statement, the size of such delegation shall not exceed four including the relevant Director, Schedule Officer and one Aide of the Minister.
”Every other delegation below ministerial level shall be restricted to a maximum of three.”
For Class of Air Travels, President Buhari approved that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants to the President, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments and Chief Executive Officers of Parastatals who are entitled would continue to fly Business Class while other categories of Public Officers are to travel on Economy Class.
Also, travel days will no longer attract payment of Estacode Allowances as duration of official trips shall be limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding, the statement added.
”The Auditor-General of the Federation has been directed to treat all expenditures that contravene these guidelines as ineligible.”
Police Uncover Another Torture Centre with 300 Inmates in Buhari’s Hometown, Daura
The Police in Katsina State on Monday arrested the owner of a rehabilitation centre in Daura where over 300 inmates were being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. Some of the teachers were also said to have sexually molested the inmates at the centre owned by Mallam Bello Maialmajri.
The 78-year-old cleric was arrested alongside two other men, whose names were not disclosed.
Last month, the police in Kaduna State rescued over 300 boys from an Islamic school, where they were allegedly chained, sexually abused and tortured.
The Katsina State Commissioner of Police, Sanusi Buba, who led the operation at about 1pm, expressed shock at the new discovery.
The centre is located at Nasarawa Quarters, in the Sabongari area of Daura.
Daura is President Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown.
After inspecting the rehabilitation centre, Buba ordered the Daura Divisional Police Officer, ASP M.O.Wakili, cordon off the centre.
The CP said, “We learnt that the inmates here are over 300. The inmates revolted yesterday (Sunday) because of the inhuman treatment they were being subjected to.
“Some of the inmates escaped while the ones you are seeing, about 60, stayed back.
“The inmates are from various parts of Nigeria, including Katsina, as well as from Niger Republic. I will meet with the Emir of Daura and Governor Aminu Masari on the issue. We will do the profiling of the remaining inmates to determine where they are from and we will thereafter appeal to their parents and their guardians to come and collect them.”
He added, “As you heard from the inmates, apart from being subjected to inhuman treatment, some of their so-called teachers practised homosexual acts with them. Although the teachers escaped when my men came here after the inmates revolted, we shall get all of them and they would face the full wrath of the law.
“From what I have seen here, the old man, who is the owner of this place and who is over 78 years old, does not have the capacity and facilities to run this place again.”
One of the inmates, Abubakar Saminu,16, from Yobe State said his parents brought him to the centre because he was always stealing.
He said,”My parents brought me here because they believed I would be cured of my stealing problem. But they would beat us, starve us and subject us to inhuman treatment here.”
It was learnt that Maialmajri had already handed the running of the centre to his son, Umar, who reportedly escaped when police arrived.
The Emir of Daura, Dr . Umar Farouq, who spoke in Hausa, said, “We in Daura will not support any act of lawlessness. We want the law to take its course.”
Charges Against Sowore, Mockery of Justice System – SERAP
Anti-corruption advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has urged the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), to enter a nolle prosequi to terminate the charges filed against the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, and Olawale Bakare, alias Mandate.
In an open letter on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, SERAP said the charges which centre on insulting President Muhammadu Buhari would only make a mockery of the Nigerian criminal justice system.
SERAP advised Malami to activate his power of nolle prosequi under Section 174 of the constitution to terminate the charges against Sowore and Mandate “and several other similar trumped-up cases going on in several states.”
SERAP said, “Sowore’s case and several similar cases instigated/brought by state governors make a hideous mockery of Nigeria’s criminal justice system, rule of law, freedom of expression and media freedom.
“These cases are persecution and not prosecution. As a guardian of the public interest, you (Malami) have a role to end this travesty now, and to maintain the sanctity and integrity of Nigeria’s justice system.
“These cases set a dangerous precedent for the misuse and subversion of the justice system, which may lead to the politicisation of judiciary. This will be bad for everyone – ordinary citizens, journalists and even the politicians in power, as they may themselves become targets of these repressive and abusive tactics when they are out of power/in opposition.”
SERAP said while the Federal Government had the responsibility to prevent and prosecute criminal offences, it ought to do so lawfully, and in full compliance with human rights and the rule of law.
Also, a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Solomon Okedara, described Section 24(1) of the Cybercrime Act under which Sowore was charged with insulting the President as “repressive, oppressive and largely unconstitutional.”
Okedara said, “In fact, I am of the opinion that proceeding with such a charge particularly when the person allegedly insulted is the President will rather paint the image of the President and the country in bad light before the comity of nations.
“This is aside the fact that Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act does not meet the requirement of permissible restriction to freedom of expression. Having worked on the Cybercrime Act and indeed Section 24 both as a practitioner and researcher, it is clear that Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act is indeed an insult to our hard-earned democracy and same does not deserve a place in our laws.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow himself to be embarrassed Malami against Sowore.
Adeniran, who described the charges against Sowore as trumped-up and face-saving, argued that it was obvious that government had no grounds to continue to hold Sowore.
The CACOL chairman said this in a Facebook post on Sunday.
He said, “FG has no good reason to hold Sowore anymore; the trumped-up charges are (a) face-saving strategy with no substance!
“President Buhari, please don’t allow Malami to embarrass you any further. Order Sowore’s immediate release and damn it!”