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Opinion

Secondus, PDP and Nigeria’s political development

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By Emeka Alex Duru

The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, may have secured a breather with the sudden re-arrangement of the party’s elective national convention from December to October.

But for that face-saving move by the governors of the party and the Board of Trustees, he was almost being swept aside in the manner of his predecessors. Even then, his travails are not over, yet. The odds are clearly stacked against him. His remaining days in the office will be rough, henceforth. He will at best, remain a lame-duck.

The concern is not particularly on whether the allegation that Secondus lacks the capacity to reposition the party holds water. But in the PDP tradition, he has more or less, been declared guilty as charged. And in the typical Nigerian political culture, his seat, has been subtly declared vacant, even when he is still in office. Nocturnal meetings are already taking place even among his friends on who gets what from his anticipated fall.

That is the way of our politicians – friends in the morning and enemies at noon. Theirs, is akin to the ways of the vulture, a cursed species of birds that derives pleasure in feeding on the vulnerable, including its own. In the game of power, Nigerian politicians do not take prisoners; they go for a kill.

Secondus understands the rule as much as his traducers. He has been a beneficiary of the sordid game and knows the language; no permanent friend or enemy but an eye on fixed interest. At all time, Nigerian politicians have their eyes on the ball, not for public good but primarily for what they stand to gain.

In the curious book by V., “The Mafia Manager”, they fit into the characters driven by one aim: “profit and not averse to using any means to ensure and increase that profit”. None is altruistic in the true sense of the word.

That is, perhaps, how the current crisis in PDP, Nigeria’s leading opposition political party, can be properly understood. But that is not a story that can be exhausted in one setting. Just as the party, at its height, had appropriated the claim of the largest political party in Africa, the dimensions of its story have been those of an octopus.

One thing that cannot, however, be contested by even its committed members (assuming there are still some) and its supporters, is that the party has become a bungled dream, in a way.

Even when it had been thought that managers of the party would learn from the avoidable mistakes that pushed it out of power six years ago, nothing seems to have been learnt. In the process, the slide continues.

The piteous situation in PDP is usually what you get in a system that is nourished on intrigues – a verdict of history! From the skewed emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo as its presidential candidate in its1998 Jos convention against the established principles of the party, PDP has not had any transparent primary at all levels.

The party has also not had any democratically elected National Chairman since the former Vice President, late Dr. Alex Ekwueme and Second Republic Plateau State governor, late Solomon Lar, occupied the office in interim capacity.

None of the party’s Chairmen had also served out his term on a good note. What has rather been the norm is a culture of imposition and absence of internal democracy – a far cry from the original agenda of the party.

The charade that passed for a special convention in 2012 at the Eagle Square, Abuja, in which the then President Goodluck Jonathan supervised enthronement of Bamanga Tukur as National  Chairman and allocation of offices to other cronies in most undemocratic manner, was all that it took for the party to embark on its present implosion.

The immediate outcome of that flawed convention was the exit of key members of the party. PDP has not recovered from that misguided outing.

Here, for instance, was a party, which at its formation on July 29, 1998, the facilitators had imbued with great vision of putting the Nigerian nation on a new phase of political engineering.

The long-term objective was to create a frame work that would ensure a just and equitable distribution of power, resources, wealth and opportunities to conform with the principles of power shift and power sharing, rotation of key political offices and equitable devolution of powers to zones, states and local governments so as to create socio-political conditions conducive to national unity and to defend the sanctity of electoral democracy.

To add up, the PDP had in its fold, a generous spread of the nation’s first-rate politicians. It also appropriated to itself the tag of the largest party in black Africa. In a way, its claim of greatness paid off handsomely, initially, as it garnered many electoral victories, though, often questionable in some cases.

At a time, consumed by intoxication of power, its officials had pranced about, boasting that PDP would rule the country’s political space for 60 uninterrupted years. How then did the party get it wrong? How did it crash from its Olympian height to its current piteous state? And how can it be pulled from its unceasing drift?

These are the questions that many chieftains of the party do not seem bothered to ask themselves or may have chosen to ignore. This is why PDP has remained a toddler at 23; a scarecrow of sort and indeed, an object of ridicule, even among casual political observers.

It is the failure to address these questions that has seen the organisation, even in its fallen state, still being callously raped by its officials and members who only see in it a platform for attending to personal needs and attaining political offices.

For a party that says it wants to claw back to power in 2023, the expectation is that of a radical departure from an ugly past that has not earned it enduring rewards. But that seems far-fetched.

Of course, with the uncertain trends in the party, it may be convenient to watch from the sideline and say; ‘it is their thing; it is their business’. That may be correct, to some extent. After all, it is not everybody that is a politician. More so, not all the politicians belong to its fold.

The danger, however, is that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which seems poised to reap from the fall of the PDP, does not offer hopes for Nigerians. Between the PDP and APC, the difference is that between six and half a dozen. APC lacks focus and sense of direction, hence more than six years after coming to power, it is still confused on what to do.

All it will do, henceforth is to sustain its culture of recklessness and continue riding roughshod on Nigerians in the absence of a viable alternative.

Whatever any person may make of the current situation in PDP, it points to a sorry tale in the country’s political development.

 

*DURU is the Editor, TheNiche Newspapers, Lagos (08054103327, nwaukpala@yahoo.com)

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Aviation

WHY NIGERIA NEEDS THIS NEW KIND OF NATIONAL CARRIER – An introduction

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By Daniel Young

The concept of a flag carrier or national airline, gained currency in 1944 at the Chicago Convention, following an agreement by representatives from 54 countries present at that event.

From the agreements reached at the convention, and by the generally acceptable definition of national carrier as espoused by the house, two key factors stood out in bold relief: “substantially owned and effectively controlled by citizens and nationals of the country.” For many years this definition held sway until new interpretations of “substantially owned and control” began to emerge on the horizon and those phrases have now acquired new meanings and interpretations; countries and various aviation communities of interest have now begun to interpret this rule to match their various economic realities.

I shall attempt as time permits, to clear our doubts on Nigeria Air’ business ownership model and how it is an amalgam of both the Chicago agreement on national airline ownership rule and the new global airline ownership trends across continents. I must reiterate
at once that, the action of the Nigerian government in accepting a paltry 5% ownership, is a very legitimate one and it is in tandem with global best practice which I shall attempt to justify using case studies and parallels. I must emphatically state here that, there is nothing wrong with the choice of an Ethiopian Airline as partners- as there are easily discernible reasons to justify them as worthy partners in this venture. Their record as the most successful Africa national airline is a fact that cannot be challenged.

Friends, I have studied deeply the 14 misconceptions and fallacies about Nigerian Air by AON and others, which I have addressed in this document …but first, I would like to ask for your patience and understanding. Know this: the most powerful forces in the universe they say, are silent forces and becomes beneficent when rightly directed and destructive when wrongly employed. To ignore the silent forces being carefully marshalled by the most rabid critics of the Nigeria Air project is to deny their effectiveness in helping build a strong determination in those tasked with the delivery of the project to do –the right thing.

‘Substantially owned’ in all its varieties means: ownership of more than 50% interest and that means that Nigeria has passed the ownership test by Chicago agreement standard because, Nigeria and Nigerians own 51% of Nigeria Air -citizens and the government of Nigeria.

AIRLINE OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL-.

Europe has been in the forefront of this battle against ownership and control imposed on airlines by the Chicago convention and believes that where nations are able to ensure that all complimentary national safeguards have been be adhered to and, such relationships portend great benefits, the bars should be lowered to accommodate honorable interests.

Significant reduction of government interest in airline ownership as in the case of
Nigeria air is such a good example of where the world is going now because:

The reduction of government interests in the airline would allow for increased access by airline to capital because the airlines would be playing in a highly competitive and expansive market where constant capital injection would be required to gain substantial market shares.

WHY Ethiopian?

1. 70 years of highly successful operation in air transport
2. Instant Connectivity with Africa and the rest of the world: South, East, West, North and Central Africa.
3. Leadership in aviation technology
4. MRO
5. Over 240 flights per day across Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia and north America
6. Aircrafts of various types in their numbers
7. 10 years and counting, as the most profitable airline in Africa.

This is an impeccable pedigree in Africa where airlines die with the first 5 years. We must learn to also fix attention on peoples strength. The glass that is always half empty to some people, is always half full to others

To be continued…

(This is part of a contribution by Dr Young, an aviation trainer and Public Affairs commentator, to an ongoing discourse on Nigeria’s national carrier)

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Opinion

At the Peter Obi Event in New York

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*By Sonala Olumhense*

As a Nigerian with considerable interest in public affairs, the Grand Ballroom of New York City’s Hilton Midtown Hotel, the venue of “Afro-Economics & Government Policy: A Conversation with Governor Peter Obi,” was my destination last Sunday.

The engagement followed others in the United States, some of which had been mismanaged by local organisers who chose to charge a gate fee. Not New York, which was free to every registered attendee, thanks to the Columbia University’s Africa Business Club and Black Law Students Association.

The Hilton Grand Ballroom is a cavernous facility capable of accommodating 3,000 persons. For a city with nearly 700 hotels pre-COVID, Hilton bills the facility as the city’s largest ballroom. At the height of the event, it was about two-thirds full.

On arrival, I was exactly half an hour ahead of schedule. I was therefore even more impressed to find over 100 other Nigerians ahead of me at the door, some of them from faraway states.

On the evidence of the New York event, I report that Labour Party presidential candidate Obi is not a myth or a hoax, contrary to what some snake-oil merchants suggest.

He is no product merely of social media, or merely an Igbo man seeking an Igbo presidency. The Nigerians I saw, heard, and interacted with were from various parts of Nigeria.

Who is Obi? He may be a Nigerian who wants the leadership of Nigeria to alter her story, history and trajectory, but he is the candidate of time and chance.

That makes him a formidable candidate, and on the evidence of last Sunday, I now fully understand those videos of widespread excitement each time he is identified in public, which offend the Nigeria political establishment (structure, if you like).

I have previously written in this column that Peter Obi, the metaphor, is the rephrasing of the question for the APC and PDP conglomerate.

Most Nigerians admit: Nigeria is a pathetic failure. Obi’s advocacy is a commonsense proposal to re-engineer the country beginning from its leadership recruitment.

The background here is no mystery: Nigeria is at its lowest ebb of morale and coherence since her independence in October 1960. Since then, she has suffered relentlessly at the hands of ruthless politicians and a mostly-rotten military machine which dresses up some of its most brutal, greedy and pretentious in civilian attire and dumps them on the nation.

The danger is that Nigeria is now rotting at a precipitous pace, the nation hurtling towards disintegration with nothing working for most people except those who wield power, their cronies and their families. What this means is what the rest of the world can see: a nation of tremendous potential that is running out of time.

It is the popular outrage against this mess that is fueling Mr Obi and his message: to reset Nigeria.

At The Conversation, he took questions from a panel of two, and then from a pile that had been written by the audience at the beginning of the programme. Throughout, it is significant that not once did he read from a prepared text. He did not have an army of aides whispering clarifications of questions or explaining elementary concepts. He avoided no questions.

Was I satisfied with every answer he provided? No. There were a couple in which I felt he was under-prepared.But was I satisfied with him? Absolutely. It was the first time since 1983 when, as a young journalist, I joined a panel to interview the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, that I encountered a Nigerian politician at a very high level who spoke with confidence, control, and conviction. He was on the floor for a couple of hours, pausing only to drink water. He did not go to the bathroom or pause for a doctor to monitor his vitals.

You could tell not simply that Obi is literate, but that he is educated and that should you seek his certificates, he will give them. You could tell that he is not intimidated by books or facts, and that should he see a library, he would walk in not as a tourist but as a reader.

You could tell not simply that he is educated, but that he wants to extend that privilege to Nigerians in their own country. He explained his philosophy, including why it is outrageous that in a country in which there is supposedly a government, the ASUU strike has been permitted to keep students at home for over half of 2022.

He addressed the correlation between education and poverty, advocating the first as the antidote to the second. He pointed out how, by merely implementing the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, such nations as India and China lowered their poverty rates.

Who should be the next Nigerian leader? He warned that the forthcoming election “will be about character we can trust, competence, capacity, commitment to do the right thing,” dismissing the absurdity about the presidency being conceivably someone’s “turn.” The election, he affirmed, is a political contest and “not a chieftaincy title,” and “will not be about connection.”

On corruption, Mr Obi drew attention to the importance of leadership by example. “Corruption kills entrepreneurship, professionalism, and hard work,” he said, stressing that it must be fought through the personal example of the leader, his family and those around them.

He called on Nigerians not to vote based on sentiments of religion or ethnicity because the same challenges confront Nigerians everywhere. “Don’t vote for me because I am from the South-East,” he said. “If you go to the North, it is not safer than the South. It will not be about religion (either); Muslims don’t buy bread cheaper than the Christians.”

Members of the PDP and APC have often dismissed Obi’s popularity on the grounds that his party lacks a structure. Responding, Mr Obi said, “The structure they talk about is the structure of criminality and that is what I’m coming to dismantle.”

Predictably, the crowd roared because everyone knows how APC and the PDP have rigged their way into those offices over the years with arrogance, using money, the security agencies, thugs, and even the electoral commission.

*What is Obi, then? If you think of him merely as a contestant for public office, you miss the point. Obi is a conversation, a confession, and an opportunity to rethink. He is the epochal conversation Nigeria has not had with itself since the rails fell off following the civil war in 1970. He is a confession that this conversation—demanded far more by the #EndSARS generation than the Grand Ballroom demographic—is not optional.*

I recommend this template,as a non-campaign engagement at home or abroad to hear and be heard. Office-seekers who are comfortable with ideas, or whose power is not in buying support with money or aides who love unearned riches more than they do their families, should try it.

*Let us talk about what constitutes hope for Nigeria. Let us hear your ideas. That is what Peter Obi is doing. And he is not renting his crowds.*

(Sonala Olumhense is a Veteran Journalist, syndicated Colunmist and Author)
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Opinion

2023: I Stand With the Youths,The Old Ones Should Fade Away – Abdulsalami Abubakar

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Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar has expressed reservations about the continued domination of political activities by the older people, saying it is time to create space for the younger generation.

“I think the right thing for the country is that old ones should fade away gracefully and allow young people to take over,”

“What we can do as former leaders is to mentor and tutor them in whatever way we can in order for them to lead the country.

“As a matter of fact, this is the time Nigerians should begin to support young, vibrant, and visionary leaders that would steer the country on the path of glory”

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