The full statement titled “TINUBU FOCUSING ON THE ISSUES OF TODAY: TOMORROW IS THE MASTER OF ITSELF,” is as follows:
“We have monitored, with rising incredulity, the rash of news stories claiming Asiwaju Tinubu is manipulating the APC nomination process for the National Assembly leadership. The stories claim this supposed manipulation is the first salvo in Asiwaju’s effort to position himself for a presidential run during the 2023 election cycle. Not only are these reports utterly false, based as they are in the febrile imaginations of those persons by whom they are being peddled, they are injurious to President Buhari’s historic quest to reform Nigeria. It is for this latter reason that we find cause to speak out where otherwise we would have continued to watch on in silent amusement.
“Nigeria has barely emerged from President Buhari and the APC’s resounding victory in the last election. The President, with the support of an APC majority in both chambers of our National Assembly, is now preparing to lead the nation forward for the next four years. Instead of covering the President’s exciting Next Level agenda and what it promises in terms of economic and social growth & development, these people want to skip ahead to the next election as if they can cast aside the next four years.
“However, the Nigerian people do not elect politicians to office simply to watch on as they manoeuvre and jostle for position at the next election. The people elect those who they believe will be the best public servants, committed to the national wellbeing. This is why they reelected in President Buhari while rejecting the horde of political jobbers that constitute the PDP.
“The peddlers of these rumours have arrogated to themselves the preternatural ability to read Asiwaju’s mind more than he himself can know it. They also seem to have acquired the unique gift of bending time so that 2023 appears before we even reach the midway point of 2019. If these people would only enlist their uncanny talents in the service of the nation instead of in the service of political intrigue and gossip mongering our country would be much the better.
“This attempt to caricature Asiwaju as if his words and actions are all aimed at grabbing power will fail because this portrait distorts the plain truth. While the headlines are sensational they are also senseless because they are not grounded in fact. Asiwaju has not run for elected office since 2003. He last held office in 2007. He has never vied to become chairman of the APC nor has he tried to insinuate himself into any major government office.
“If you were asked to name another political figure who has exercised such forbearance, you would be hard pressed to identify another person with a comparable record when it comes to restraint in seeking office. Where others, upon leaving one office, tend to set their eyes immediately upon another, Asiwaju, uniquely in Nigerian politics, has foregone his personal ambitions as his political ideas and policies have flourished in the hands of his allies and mentees.
“This track record does not evince a man obsessed with power and office. While the intrigue-mongers seek to depict Asiwaju as a man hungering for position, his deeds speak of something else. These peddlers of tales do not know the measure of the man nor can they understand what motivates him. Thus, they project their own petty ambitions and designs on to him. The rumours reveal more about the mongers than they say about Asiwaju. They merely reveal what these people would do if they were Asiwaju. But they are not him and thankfully he is not motivated by the same selfish designs that fuel such people. Perhaps because these people have nothing to contribute regarding statecraft or providing actual solutions to actual problems, their minds remain forever mired in political machinations.
“What afflicts them does not affect Asiwaju. Since he last held public office, Asiwaju has, with unprecedented success, dedicated himself toward building a political party that would furnish a progressive alternative to the regressive policies of the PDP. Joining forces with President Buhari and others who shared his progressive ideology, he helped form the APC. Since the inception of the APC, Asiwaju’s focus has been to assist President Buhari develop, refine and implement a progressive agenda that would give every Nigerian a fair chance to prosper and provide for his loved ones.
“As he enters his second term, President Buhari has stated that he will give the economy special priority. His goal is to defeat poverty and joblessness while spurring the type of growth and development that will make Nigeria’s a durable and flourishing economy. These goals are laudable and necessary to move Nigeria forward. However, the obstacles before us are vast and complex.
“Asiwaju’s mind, heart and efforts are focused on supporting the President in achieving their shared vision of a flourishing economy and a prosperous people. He is committed to doing what he can to help President Buhari surmount the challenges in order to achieve the economic reform the nation sorely needs. Given that the imperatives of today are sufficiently daunting in and of themselves, Asiwaju is neither inclined, nor sufficiently naïve, to take his eye off the present in the futile attempt to peer through the thick fog that is the future.
“It is against this backdrop that Asiwaju’s support of the party position regarding the National Assembly leadership must be interpreted. There is no surprise in him supporting the party and the president’s position regarding the National Assembly positions. Nor is it wrong that he do so. As a loyal party member and progressive leader, he would have committed a terrible wrong by navigating against the president and party in these matters.
“That Asiwaju has actively and publicly supported the party and president should not result in such public backbiting. We all know how important these positions are to the fulfillment of the president’s agenda. One need only look to the last four years to see how painfully this lesson has been learned. With the Senate leadership usurped by regressive elitists that chamber constituted a brake on progress and good governance. The Senate leadership, and to a lesser degree the House leadership, stymied APC legislative initiatives while attempting to hoist noxious, reactionary and self-interested legislation on the nation.
“Just look at the way Saraki, Dogara and their ilk highjacked the budget process these past four years.National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them. Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefitted the average person. After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly.
“If we are truly committed to optimal governance, then we also must be equally committed to ensuring that the National Assembly leadership be competent and experienced as well as imbued with a progressive mindset and a desire to work in close cooperation with executive. This is all Asiwaju has hoped to achieve. There are no ulterior motives. Everything he has done is in concert with and in furtherance of the wishes of President Buhari and the party.
“Thus, those who cast aspersions at Asiwaju, in reality are bucking against the stated position of the President. This is a democracy and people have the right to oppose whomever they wish to oppose. However, if these mongers oppose the president let them be of sufficient courage to plainly say so. They should not disparage Asiwaju as an indirect way to contend against the President.
“What everyone who cares about Nigeria should now do is rally around the president to give him all possible support in driving to reality his economic policies and objectives. This is how we progress as a nation.
“In the end, the rumor-mongers should court greater discipline and wisdom. As Asiwaju recently said there is no action a person can take that constitutes a political guarantee as to what may come four years from now.Moreover, that having allies in the national assembly leadership positions will greatly enhance someone’s presidential ambitions is a spurious claim.
“In 2015, Senator Saraki finagled his way into the senate presidency. He planted himself at the apex of legislative power. But his actions as Senate president showed a man devoid of compassion for the average Nigerian. All he cared for was power and position. Soon he will be deprived of both. House Speaker Dogara has fared only slightly better. Occupying these positions is not a guarantee of future success. It is only a guarantee of present duty.
“Politics requires jockeying and maneuvering for influenceto get the right people in the right positions. To be beneficial, politics must be tied to the greater purpose of governance such as with President Buhari’s goal to reform the national economy for the good of all Nigerians. In supporting the party and the president, Asiwaju has shown his commitment to achieving the President’s goals. Nothing more should be read into it.
“Elections are over. Now is the time for governance to take primacy. Those who have taken to intrigue about 2023 reveal themselves to be lacking in essential concern for the people and the substantive issues that confront us. Our challenges are steep and multiple. Resolving them will occupy all of our time and energy. We do not have the luxury to embark on fantasies about the future. Let the future stay where it is for now. In due time, it shall come and shall decide the shape it is to take regardless of the plans we mortals hold for it.
“As for Asiwaju, he lives in the here and now. His words and deeds are geared toward perfecting progressive governance and resolving the substantive issues of today. Nothing more, nothing less. Those so enamoured with gossiping about him would do themselves and the nation well if they would follow his more productive example”.
Protesters Boo ‘Buhari’ in London
Over a dozen people gathered at the Abuja House in London to boo a Nigerian official they believed to be President Muhammadu Buhari.
The protesters gathered in front of the building to boo the official who was driven in a black painted car with a Nigerian diplomatic plate number (FGN1).
The videos of the protest were published Thursday night by a Twitter user, Revolutionary Tunde, using the Twitter handle @IsaacOgunmoyele.
Many of the protesters carried placards calling for freedom for the detained publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore. Others condemned the treatment of the leader of the Shiite movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
“Buhari, Stop Poisoning Sheikh Zakzaky,” one of the placards read.
“Omoyele Sowore is not a criminal,” another placard read.
Mr Buhari is currently in London for what the presidency described as a private visit.
He has spent over a week in the UK during which he has continued to perform the functions of the Nigerian president including signing a bill into law.
It is not clear if the president was in the vehicle or inside the building while the protest and the boos went on. The Nigerian embassy in the UK is yet to issue a statement on the matter.
The protesters shouted ‘ole, ole, ole…’ meaning ‘thief, thief, thief….’ while mentioning the name of the Nigerian president.
They also condemned the disrespect for the courts by the Nigerian government.
The two prominent names whose release the protesters called for are being detained by the State Security Service in Abuja.
Mr Sowore is being held despite meeting his bail conditions set by a judge. He was arrested for calling for a revolution against bad governance. The state charged him with treasonable felony and money laundering, charges he denied.
Mr El-Zakzaky has been detained since December 2015 when soldiers massacred over 300 Shiite members. The soldiers accused them of blocking a road being used by the chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai.
Mr El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, were first held for over a year without trial and despite a court order that they should be released and compensated.
He was later charged for the death of a soldier during the December 2015 incident.
Just In: Bayelsa Guber Election: Court Annuls APC’s Participation
The Federal High Court, Yenagoa, on Thursday declared that the All Progressives Congress (APC) does not have a governorship candidate in the forthcoming election in Bayelsa State.
This development is coming two days to the election.
The court was presided over by Justice Jane Inyang.
The court declaration, on Thursday, was part of its judgement in a case filed by Heineken Lokpobiri, one of the APC governorship aspirants.
Mr Lokpobiri, a former minister of state for agriculture, had approached the court, asking it to declare him, and not David Lyon, the authentic candidate of the APC.
“The court pronounced that the governorship primary conducted by the APC in Bayelsa state was not done in compliance with the guidelines and the constitution of the party, and, therefore, the party has no candidate,” Mr Lokpobiri’s lawyer, Fitzgerald Olorogun, told reporters immediately after the court ruling.
A shocked Mr Olorogun said the court declaration was not part of their prayers. “It’s strange,” he said.
Asked what was the next option for his client, Mr Olorogun said “We’ll do the needful. But for now, the pronouncement of the court is that APC has no candidate.”
There was heavy police presence within and outside the court premises. The main highway way leading to the court was barricaded by the police. Visitors, including journalists, were frisked before they were allowed to enter the court building.
Mr Lokpobiri, before now, has been urging the people of Bayelsa to vote for the APC in the November 16 election, despite his court case against Mr Lyon and the party.
“I’m a very strong member of APC and I came today to formally tell our chairman and to speak to Nigerians, in particular, the electorate in Bayelsa that all of them should vote for APC regardless of what happens in the court case in which judgment is slated for Nov. 14, 2019,” the former minister said in Abuja after a courtesy visit on the national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
“I told my supporters even before I came here that no matter what happened, I will remain in APC having served as a minister under this administration.
“There is no way the outcome of the governorship primaries will make me leave APC. We are working and campaigning at different levels.
“I always advise that anybody that is grieved, the only place to go is the court.
Senate’s Hate Speech Bill: Atiku Abubakar Speaks
A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has cautioned Nigerian senators against moves to pass a bill criminalising purported hate speech.
The bill being sponsored by Sabi Abdullahi of the All Progressives Congress is targeted at punishing anyone found guilty of spreading “misinformation.”
The bill also prescribed death penalty for anyone found guilty of spreading a falsehood that led to the death of another person.
But civic groups have been critical about the bill because of its narrow and unclear definition of what constitutes hate speech.
The advocates argued that the Senate’s interpretation of ‘hate speech’ would be at odds with the Nigerian Constitution if the bill becomes law as designed. The Constitution protects the rights to unhindered speech, expression and association.
Mr Abubakar aligned with those who believe the constitutional safeguards for free speech should be strengthened rather than undermined by lawmakers and other politicians in power.
The former vice-president and main opposition candidate at the 2019 presidential election said the freedom of speech and other key elements of civil liberties which Nigerians enjoyed between 1999 and 2015 should not be taken away by the current administration.
“It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests,” Mr Abubakar said in an emailed statement signed by his spokesperson, Paul Ibe.
Efforts to regulate the media has been keenly considered and publicly pushed by politicians since Muhammadu Buhari assumed power in 2015.
Mr Buhari has a history of brutal repression from his military era in the 1980s, a label from which he remained unflinching.
The president has repeatedly told the country that his government will continue to ignore rights in favour of national security.
Some of his appointees, especially information minister Lai Mohammed, have insisted Nigerians’ free speech will be curbed.
Mr Mohammed said social media has become a tool of irresponsibility amongst elements determined to foment chaos in the country. He has equally overseen imposition of heavy fines on broadcast stations over alleged hate speech on their platforms.
There were efforts to push a variation of the current hate speech bill through the parliament in 2015, but it failed amidst nationwide uproar.
The reintroduced version contained essentially the same fundamentals and Nigerians have vowed to resist it as they did four years ago.
Read Mr Abubakar’s full statement below:
Atiku Abubakar wishes to sound a note of caution to those now toying with the idea of an Anti Hate Speech Bill, with punishment for supposed Hate Speech to be death by hanging. The contemplation of such laws is in itself not just hate speech, but an abuse of the legislative process that will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech.
Atiku urges those behind this Bill to awake to the fact that Nigeria’s democracy has survived its longest incarnation, because those who governed this great nation between 1999 and 2015 never toyed with this most fundamental of freedoms. It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests.
Freedom of Speech was not just bestowed to Nigerians by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is also a divine right given to all men by their Creator. History is littered with the very negative unintended consequences that result when this God given right is obstructed by those who seek to intimidate the people rather than accommodate them.
We should be reminded that history does not repeat itself. Rather, men repeat history. And often, to disastrous consequences.
Nigeria presently has too many pressing concerns. We are now the world headquarters for extreme poverty as well as the global epicentre of out-of-school children. Our economy is smaller than it was in 2015, while our population is one of the world’s fastest growing. We have retrogressed in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, from the position we held four years ago, and our Human Development Indexes are abysmally low.
It therefore begs the question: should we not rather make laws to tackle these pressing domestic challenges, instead of this Bill, which many citizens consider obnoxious?
Again, Atiku cautions that we must prioritise our challenges ahead of the whims and caprices of those who do not like to hear the inconvenient truth. Stop this folly and focus on issues that matter to Nigerians.