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USAfrica: On achievements, Obiano outperforming his predecessors.

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Peter-Obi-n-Willie-Obiano-in-exchange_via-usafricaonline.com
By Chuks Iloegbunam
Special to USAfrica multimedia networks (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com @USAfricaLive
In the run-up to the 2017 governorship election in Anambra State of Nigeria, Governor Willie Obiano is countless strides ahead of the most determined of his opponents. Many reasons account for this.
Foremost is that he firmly has the advantage of incumbency on his side. But this needs spelling out. The incumbency factor at play here is not merely the occupation of the seat of power; it is that the Anambra State Governor has more than delivered. He has surpassed the records of his predecessors.
Since empiricism is in ascent, readers are called to take notice of the following facts. Governor Chris Ngige was in office for about three years, when the courts gave him the matching orders. Governor Peter Obi was through with the third year of his first term when he published a magazine entitled
Three Years of Solid Accomplishments. Whoever reads the publication and also reviews Dr. Ngige’s achievements, will come to an inevitable conclusion – if they compared them to the astounding performance of Governor Willie Obiano.
Such a reviewer would acknowledge that, in terms of achievements, Governor Obiano stands head and shoulders above his predecessors. But, there is need for clarity here. Many politicians and soldiers have governed Anambra State since its creation 25 years ago. Some lasted a few months and got redeployed, or sacked by military putsch. But political stability of sorts became apparent from the inception of the Fourth Republic. Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju served a single, four-year term. Dr. Ngige’s tenure lasted three years. Peter Obi spent eight years, minus the three months that the distinguished Dame Virgy Etiaba ably governed, following Mr. Obi’s unjust and ultimately reversed impeachment by legislative hirelings intoxicated by intrigue.
Obiano is close to completing his third year. The trio of Ngige, Obi and Obiano has imbued Anambra with a legacy of performance to be proud of. It was Ngige who first demonstrated to Ndi Anambra that human beings drove on tarred roads instead of through ponds and potholes. Peter Obi continued the road construction legacy, topping it with the Odo Bridge in Awgbu, which, in 2010, was the longest bridge in Anambra State.
Well, Governor Obiano since upped the ante. In less than two years his government constructed the new, longest bridge in the state, the Anambra River Bridge, with a span of 280 metres. Besides, Governor Obiano has changed Awka’s skyline with three magnificent flyovers on the Onitsha-Enugu expressway that splits the state capital in two. Apart from the aesthetic value of the flyovers, they have removed the tedium of travelling through Awka. Obiano has transformed Awka from a provincial enclave to a state capital worth the name.
In a dozen years, therefore, Anambra State has gone through the positive, comparative and superlative stages of good, better, best. Governor Obiano’s administration is the superlative bit. This calls for people to remember the saying that, You can’t change a winning team. Americans have a different way of putting it: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It elicits joy that, in less than three years, Governor Obiano has amply demonstrated that he empathizes with the people fate dealt him the card to govern.
He is paying salaries and pensions promptly. And these are salaries and pensions that he raised across the board by 15 percentage points! From having the lowest paid civil servants and political appointees, Anambra State under Obiano now boasts a pay structure that compares favourably with the best in Nigeria, notwithstanding that 5000 employees were introduced into the state’s workforce on the eve of his inauguration, and not minding the financial adversity occasioned by the current recession. Governor Obiano has opened up the state’s agricultural sector to a spectacular explosion.
Those who previously pooh-poohed the idea of Anambra Rice have lost their power of speech and insolent dismissiveness, seeing that Anambra Rice is a reality. Governor Obiano has caused Anambra State to be the safest in the country.
If not in promotion of intrigue, why should anyone suddenly take on the absurd assignment of patching up plumbing that is not leaking? An answer should come from those blabbing that the Anambra North Senatorial district does not deserve the state’s governorship for two terms. Peter Obi served two terms.
Peter Obi was instrumental to Chief Willie Obiano’s emergence as Governor. Who builds to demolish? Are they not rationalising his humanity who hope or pray that Peter Obi will pull the rug from under Obiano’s feet?
Other questions begging for answers. Where lies the integrity of Anambra politicians currently switching political parties as a ploy for wearing the governorship mantle? To see professional loud speakers changing parties with the frequency a fop sheds apparels speaks to a new low in political partisanship. Even if it is assumed that Nigerian politics is ideologically ambivalent, should it also mean that it is bereft of principles?
How could people who claim affinity with equity question the wisdom of APGA, the political party that decided on slotting the governorship to Anambra North Senatorial zone? Where is the fairness in claiming that Anambra people should be denied excellent leadership because it issues from a place hitherto consigned to perpetual followership?
Waiting for convincing answers may amount to waiting for Godot! Meanwhile, commonsense dictates that the good people of Anambra North should bond together and thwart those intent on introducing the monkey’s hand in the people’s dish. They should join in ensuring that bashers of Anambra heads are not handed the bludgeon of political office that could be handy for pounding the state’s collective head into a bloody pulp.
 Iloegbunam, author of Ironside, contributing editor of USAfrica multimedia networks (Houston), since 1995, and USAfricaonline.com, serves as  Governor Obiano’s Director of media relations.

VIDEO #CNN special #CHIBOK Girls n #BokoHaram Live intvw wt the Founder of USAfrica multimedia and public POLICY networks Chido Nwangwu. CNN anchors John Berman n Michaela Pereira.

 

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AFRICA

Kenya’s President returns home after meeting with Trump on trade, security

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has returned to Nairobi from his meeting with President Donald Trump on Monday at the White House, where the two leaders talked trade, security and some issues facing the two continents.

Kenya is emerging from a period of election turmoil. He’s the second African leader to meet with Trump at the White House, following a visit by Nigeria’s president earlier this year.

Trump has been criticized for paying too little attention to the continent and faced demands for an apology earlier this year after his private comments about “shithole countries” in Africa and other regions were leaked to journalists.

U.S. first lady Melania Trump, who helped welcome Kenyatta and his wife to the White House, is planning a solo trip to Africa this fall.

Trump and Kenyatta, during remarks to reporters in the Oval Office and Cabinet room, said they would be discussing a series of topics, including cooperation on terrorism and building trade and investment ties. USAfrica/VOA

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EDITORS PICK

Saraki: Flagrant persecution by Buhari’s government forced me to quit APC

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By Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON
President of the Senate of Nigeria

Special to USAfrica [Houston] and USAfricaonline.com

I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

This is not a decision that I have made lightly. If anything at all, I have tarried for so long and did all that was humanly possible, even in the face of great provocation, ridicule and flagrant persecution, to give opportunity for peace, reconciliation and harmonious existence.

Perhaps, more significantly, I am mindful of the fact that I carry on my shoulder a great responsibility for thousands of my supporters, political associates and friends, who have trusted in my leadership and have attached their political fortunes to mine. However, it is after an extensive consultation with all the important stakeholders that we have come to this difficult but inevitable decision to pitch our political tent elsewhere; where we could enjoy greater sense of belonging and where the interests of the greatest number of our Nigerians would be best served.

While I take full responsibility for this decision, I will like to emphasise that it is a decision that has been inescapably imposed on me by certain elements and forces within the APC who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist.

They have done everything to ensure that the basic rules of party administration, which should promote harmonious relations among the various elements within the party were blatantly disregarded. All governance principles which were required for a healthy functioning of the party and the government were deliberately violated or undermined. And all entreaties for justice, equity and fairness as basic precondition for peace and unity, not only within the party, but also the country at large, were simply ignored, or employed as additional pretext for further exclusion.

The experience of my people and associates in the past three years is that they have suffered alienation and have been treated as outsiders in their own party. Thus, many have become disaffected and disenchanted. At the same time, opportunities to seek redress and correct these anomalies were deliberately blocked as a government-within-a-government had formed an impregnable wall and left in the cold, everyone else who was not recognized as “one of us”. This is why my people, like all self-respecting people would do, decided to seek accommodation elsewhere.

I have had the privilege to lead the Nigerian legislature in the past three years as the President of the Senate and the Chairman of the National Assembly. The framers of our constitution envisage a degree of benign tension among the three arms of government if the principle of checks and balances must continue to serve as the building block of our democracy. In my role as the head of the legislature, and a leader of the party, I have ensured that this necessary tension did not escalate at any time in such a way that it could encumber Executive function or correspondingly, undermine the independence of the legislature. Over the years, I have made great efforts in the overall interest of the country, and in spite of my personal predicament, to manage situations that would otherwise have resulted in unsavoury consequences for the government and the administration. My colleagues in the Senate will bear testimony to this.

However, what we have seen is a situation whereby every dissent from the legislature was framed as an affront on the executive or as part of an agenda to undermine the government itself. The populist notion of anti-corruption became a ready weapon for silencing any form of dissent and for framing even principled objection as “corruption fighting back”. Persistent onslaught against the legislature and open incitement of the people against their own representatives became a default argument in defence of any short-coming of the government in a manner that betrays all too easily, a certain contempt for the Constitution itself or even the democracy that it is meant to serve.

Unfortunately, the self-serving gulf that has been created between the leadership of the two critical arms of government based on distrust and mutual suspicion has made any form of constructive engagement impossible. Therefore, anything short of a slavish surrender in a way that reduces the legislature to a mere rubber stamp would not have been sufficient in procuring the kind of rapprochement that was desired in the interest of all. But I have no doubt in my mind, that to surrender this way is to be complicit in the subversion of the institution that remains the very bastion of our democracy. I am a democrat. And I believe that anyone who lays even the most basic claim to being a democrat will not accept peace on those terms; which seeks to compromise the very basis of our existence as the parliament of the people.

The recent weeks have witnessed a rather unusual attempts to engage with some of these most critical issues at stake. Unfortunately, the discord has been allowed to fester unaddressed for too long, with dire consequences for the ultimate objective of delivering the common good and achieving peace and unity in our country. Any hope of reconciliation at this point was therefore very slim indeed. Most of the horses had bolted from the stable

The emergence of a new national party executives a few weeks ago held out some hopes, however slender. The new party chairman has swung into action and did his best alongside some of the Governors of APC and His Excellency, the Vice President. I thank them for all their great efforts to save the day and achieve reconciliation. Even though I thought these efforts were coming late in the day, but seeing the genuine commitment of these gentlemen, I began to think that perhaps it was still possible to reconsider the situation.

However, as I have realized all along, there are some others in the party leadership hierarchy, who did not think dialogue was the way forward and therefore chose to play the fifth columnists. These individuals went to work and ensured that they scuttled the great efforts and the good intentions of these aforementioned leaders of the party. Perhaps, had these divisive forces not thrown the cogs in the wheel at the last minutes, and in a manner that made it impossible to sustain any trust in the process, the story today would have been different.

For me, I leave all that behind me. Today, I start as I return to the party where I began my political journey, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

When we left the PDP to join the then nascent coalition of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014, we left in a quest for justice, equity and inclusion; the fundamental principles on which the PDP was originally built but which it had deviated from. We were attracted to the APC by its promise of change. We fought hard along with others and defeated the PDP.

In retrospect, it is now evident that the PDP has learnt more from its defeat than the APC has learnt from its victory. The PDP that we return to is now a party that has learnt its lessons the hard way and have realized that no member of the party should be taken for granted; a party that has realized that inclusion, justice and equity are basic precondition for peace; a party that has realized that never again can the people of Nigeria be taken for granted.

I am excited by the new efforts, which seeks to build the reborn PDP on the core principles of promoting democratic values; internal democracy; accountability; inclusion and national competitiveness; genuine commitment to restructuring and devolution of powers; and an abiding belief in zoning of political and elective offices as an inevitable strategy for managing our rich diversity as a people of one great indivisible nation called Nigeria.

What we have all agreed is that a deep commitment to these ideals were not only a demonstration of our patriotism but also a matter of enlightened self-interest, believing that our very survival as political elites of this country will depend on our ability to earn the trust of our people and in making them believe that, more than anything else, we are committed to serving the people.

What the experience of the last three years have taught us is that the most important task that we face as a country is how to reunite our people. Never before had so many people in so many parts of our country felt so alienated from their Nigerianness. Therefore, we understand that the greatest task before us is to reunite the county and give everyone a sense of belonging regardless of region or religion.

Every Nigerian must have an instinctive confidence that he or she will be treated with justice and equity in any part of the country regardless of the language they speak or how they worship God. This is the great task that trumps all. Unless we are able to achieve this, all other claim to progress no matter how defined, would remain unsustainable.

This is the task that I am committing myself to and I believe that it is in this PDP, that I will have the opportunity to play my part. It is my hope that the APC will respect the choice that I have made as my democratic right, and understand that even though we will now occupy a different political space, we do not necessarily become enemies unto one another.

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AFRICA

Nigeria’s 2019 Elections: U.S groups warn about security threats

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Widespread violence in Nigeria could affect next year’s presidential election, two US pro-democracy groups said on Friday, July 20, 2018.

Voters in Africa’s most populous nation go to the polls in February next year, with President Muhammadu Buhari looking to secure a second, four-year term of office.

The 75-year-old former military ruler in 2015 became the first opposition candidate to defeat a sitting president at the ballot box in the country’s history.

But despite pledging to defeat Boko Haram, whose insurgency has left at least 20,000 dead in the last nine years, violence persists and has erupted elsewhere.

The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which have been on a joint visit to Nigeria, said fears of unrest were commonplace.

“Nigeria faces security challenges from a number of non-state actors that, if unchecked, could disrupt the electoral process,” the NDI and IRI said in a pre-election assessment.

As well as Boko Haram attacks, renewed violence in the long-running resources conflict between cattle herders and farmers in central states has killed 1,000 people this year.

Trading in illegal weapons, the apparent inability of the security forces to stop the violence and the framing of it in political or religious terms were fuelling unrest, they added.

“If not addressed, these security threats could erode confidence in government,” they said.

The high numbers of displaced in the northeast and central states could pose “specific challenges for the conduct of elections in the impacted areas”, they added.

Similar fears about violence and its potential effects on planning, holding and participating in an election in areas wracked by conflict were seen before the last vote.

The vote was pushed back six weeks to allow the military more time to secure areas controlled by Boko Haram, whose leader Abubakar Shekau had threatened to disrupt the election.

Voting eventually took place, with polling stations set up near camps for the displaced, although turn-out was down.

The NDI-IRI praised Nigeria for introducing measures to tackle voter fraud, including biometric identity cards and electronic readers, as well as increased civil society scrutiny.

Efforts to get younger people involved in politics, through new legislation to lower the age of political candidates, were welcomed.

But more needed to be done to increase the number of women involved in politics while “the over-personalisation of politics and of the role of money in elections” were a concern.

The July 14 poll to elect a new governor in the southwestern state of Ekiti, for example, was dogged by claims of vote-buying by the two main parties as well as harsh rhetoric.

“Vote-buying is an electoral offence; it also undermines the legitimacy of elections and weakens representative democracy,” the NDI-IRI said. AFP

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