By Tonnie Iredia
In Nigeria, several things are hard to understand by many people including even the most learned. In fact, quite often, those who eat, drink and sleep politics are mesmerized by the posture of grassroots politicians. One political analyst opined during the week that it is difficult to know what Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State wants; not because he is now the most vocal opposition politician in Nigeria, but because his political disposition is exceedingly fluid. Only last week, the governor announced that he would no longer seek any elective office this time out. Speaking in Ado Ekiti while meeting with civil servants, Fayose said his main preoccupation, henceforth, would be to advocate for a better Nigeria. For this reason, he would not be part of the 2019 senatorial race. It is obviously in line with the latest term ‘against the run of play’ for a grassroots politician intensely loved by his people for his stomach infrastructure policy to voluntarily quit politics just like that. Fayose is probably up to something we are yet to understand.
It is hoped that the governor would reconsider his decision so as not to reduce the growing large forum of former governors in our senate. Will the forum agree? It is doubtful. However, perhaps the exponent of stomach infrastructure is planning to move from the south west to the south east in search of another term as governor having recently received the award of “Honorary Governor of Biafra” by the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB). According to a statement issued and signed by IPOB’s, media and publicity secretary Emma Powerful, Governor Fayose was honoured because of the courage he depicted during Nnamdi Kanu’s trial and the circumstances that led to his bail. The statement added that “Fayose did what no south-east or south-south governor had the courage to do.” Thus, the governor’s retirement from politics when those twice his age are fighting to remain and his award by IPOB are issues that may take a while to settle especially if Fayose ends up in Ekiti without taking any security vote.
The governor and all his past colleagues need to know though that one of them Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State, has recommended that all ex-governors should be made to account for the votes. Speaking at The Platform, a programme organised by Covenant Christian Centre, in Lagos, last week, Obi said “there is nothing in our constitution called security vote insisting that it is the biggest source of waste in Nigeria. Obi stunned his audience when he claimed that during his tenure, he rejected an annual security vote of N12million which he then divided as follows: N5million to each of his state’s 1,040 primary schools, and N10million to each of the 257 secondary schools in the state. Was this what Peter Obi actually did? If so, may be that is why the former governor is seen by some people as a modest fellow. Indeed, the man himself said he “has only one wristwatch, which he has worn for 17 years, alongside two pairs of black shoes, which he traveled in most times” adding that when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) searched his house at Osborne, Ikoyi, Lagos, they found nothing. Obi, a banker of repute then explained that whoever owned the huge sum discovered at a private home in Ikoyi would have since received $7million interest at 8% per annum. Why the money was in a house remains confusing
In these days of irregular salaries in Nigeria especially in states like Kogi where the governor is engaged in the screening of workers without end, the interest calculated by Peter Obi can at least settle indebtedness to workers especially those in Nigeria’s embassy in Washington. A report in the media last week that the workers were on ‘work to rule’ to protest arrears of salaries owed them was quite an irritating damage to our international image as a nation. Why salaries are owed in a nation which spends 90% of its income on recurrent expenditure according to the Vice President quoting the Finance Minister is difficult to understand. More complicated is the explanation given by Hakeem Balogun, acting ambassador, in the Nigerian Embassy in Washington that the report making the rounds that the embassy was shut down was false insisting that the embassy has been open and fully operational. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) however gathered that some arrears from October to December were yet to be paid to the staff who then decided to make their grievances public. Why must this happen?
A former correspondent of one foreign magazine told this writer that when Sule Lamido, was foreign affairs minister, salaries of embassy workers were never delayed. When I told him to leave Lamido out of this because the man has only just gotten out of jail on bail, he explained how confused he was about the arrest of the former governor on charges of incitement. My explanation that to raise discontent among different people in the country has been an offence under the law of sedition since the colonial era made him more confused because if that law as evidenced by sections 50 and 51 of the criminal code is allowed to remain in our statute book, section 39 of our constitution which guarantees freedom of speech and expression is wasted. Unfortunately both of us neither heard what former governor Sule Lamido was alleged to have said nor did we see any uprising arising from the alleged incitement. The only thing we saw was demonstration by some people over the former governor’s arrest. So in our confused state, we agreed to wait to see who exactly the judiciary would blame at the end, no one can say, it may be the police.
The last of the 5 confusing issues concerning whether made in Senegal- Jollof Rice is the best appears to have been suspended for now. When Minister Lai Mohammed muted the idea, many of us were wondering if his own change begins in Senegal. Now that the Vice President has countered the Minister, perhaps Osinbajo can fully resolve the issue by recommending Lai’s posting as Nigeria’s ambassador to Senegal.