Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Exactly eight years ago, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, former governor of Rivers state, and Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, now governor of the state, were best of friends. By “exactly eight years ago”, I truly mean October 26, 2007. Just one day earlier, the supreme court had declared Amaechi governor of the state, saying he was the rightful candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) having won the party’s primary, rather than Celestine Omehia, whom the party fielded.
At the time, Wike, as chairman of Obio-Akpor local government and national president of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), greatly supported Amaechi’s campaign. They were buddies. So happy were they that after Omehia was booted out of office, Amaechi appointed Wike his chief of staff – a position that governors traditionally allot to their most trusted ally.
Fast-forward eight years later and both men would not just see eye-to-eye. It was Amaechi who nominated Wike for ministerial appointment under the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan. But after Amaechi fell out with Jonathan and left PDP, Wike chose to side with not his old boss but his new one. Although both men have been at daggers drawn ever since, it is only in 2015 that the real battles have been fought; and so far, it is Amaechi who is having the upper hand.
2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, 1-0
As a minister in Jonathan’s cabinet and as a Rivers state governorship aspirant under the PDP ticket, Wike staunchly opposed the candidature of APC’s Muhammadu Buhari, whose campaign was spearheaded by Amaechi. With Buhari polling a total of 15,424,921 votes ahead of Jonathan’s 12,853,162, not only did Nigeria have a new, Amaechi secured his first victory over his former ally-turned-enemy.
MINISTERIAL NOMINATION, 2-0
Life is full of ironies. Or how does one explain that the chief antagonist of a ministerial nominee is the same one who once became a minister on the recommendation of the current nominee? Amaechi nominated Wike to be minister when he was governor, but Wike has been the most vociferous opponent of Amaechi’s ministerial nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari.
To Wike, Amaechi is too corrupt to be minister. Once, he branded his predecessor the most corrupt public office holder. “If Buhari is sincere in his fight against corruption, let him probe the Amaechi’s government and he will discover that there cannot be a government official that is more corrupt than Amaechi,” he said through Opunabo Inko-Tariah, his special adviser on media and publicity, shortly before the president released the first list of nominees.
Of course, Amaechi had unkind words of his own, once describing Wike as a man who would betray his mother for money. “Nyesom Wike loves and worships money; he can betray his mother for money – nothing more, nothing less,” he had said two days before the election that Wike ‘won’.
At some point, it did seem Amaechi would not even be screened by the senate, much less emerge a minister. Time after time, his screening was postponed following allegations of corruption to the tune of N70bn by Rivers state senators. Finally, on Thursday October 22, Amaechi was screened.
Although George Sekibo, a PDP senator from Rivers, has warned that it is a thing to be screened and another to be confirmed minister, Amaechi, based on the reception he enjoyed at the screening, can count on his confirmation later this week. In any case, to have been screened alone is itself one more victory over his tormentor-in-chief. Two nil.
RIVERS GOVERNORSHIP TUSSLE, 3-0 This is not closed yet, but it is quite some drama. Wike must have thought he had pulled one victory over Amaechi, whose candidate, Dakuku Peterside, he outwit by 1,029,102 votes to 124,896. In Nigerian politics, victory at the polls is hardly the real victory; almost every election loser goes to court, and the winner never really emerges until the legal options have been exhausted. Now, after the first legal option, the election petition tribunal, it does seem Wike has a massive battle in his hands. The tribunal has nullified his victory at the polls, and ordered fresh elections within 90 days. Jubilant Amaechi knows he has secured his third straight victory over Wike. But then, like it does happen in a game of football, even a three-nil deficit advantage can quickly be overturned. In doubt? Ask the Saudi ’89 Flying Eagles, who were losing four nil to the Soviet Union as at the 61st minute, only to score four goals in 23 minutes before going on to win 5-3 on penalties. Perhaps Wike will recover in due course to show Amaechi that the servant can, at times, outshine the master. But, for now, it’s Amaechi 3 – 0 Wike.
•Admin, Senate buildings laced with charms
•No-go-area for VC, staff for past 7 months
DON’T step into the Admin Block 1 of the Lagos State University (LASU) or the Senate Building if you don’t want to die! That is the message that those who laced the place with charms sought to deliver with their frightening deed. Since then fear has pervaded the 32-year-old institution in the past six months. The Admin Block 1, which houses the office of the Vice Chancellor, Prof John Obafunwa, other principal officers and registry staff has been deserted for over six months over alleged juju scare. This is the second time under his administration that juju was reportedly placed on the Admin Block and Senate Building.
On a good day, the Admin Block 1 was the busiest office on the campus and has the highest human traffic, mainly staff, students and visitors entering and coming out. It is a one storey building located near the Badagry Expressway gate of the university.
The Senate Building, which faces both the Admin Block 1 and 2, has also been abandoned in the past six months for the same reason forcing meetings of the Senate to be held at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM).
In the last six months, the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building have been made to look like a ghost town because of desertion by the Vice Chancellor, Prof John Obafunwa, principal officers and other staff over fear of being harmed by fetishes left in the area. The trouble started on Monday, March 16, 2015, when the staff unions chased out the VC, his two deputies, the Registrar and other senior management staff out of the campus.
Less than 24 hours after the protest, the university workers asked the former Governor, Babatunde Fashola, to appoint an acting VC, adding that they have ‘sacked’ the vice chancellor. The staff unions also demanded for a Visitation Panel.
The next day after the protest, congress of the three staff unions at their different meetings banned Prof. Obafunwa from entering the campus, accusing him of maladministration and several other offences. Loyalists of the VC fought back and condemned the action of their colleagues, insisting that Obafunwa should be allowed into the university to carry out his duties.
After the ugly incident, the Admin Block 1 and the Senate were locked and since then no staff including the principal officers and even the campus security personnel had gone near the building.
The 32-year-old institution may have made history as the first tertiary institution whose VC has not set foot on campus for over six months because of the prolonged face-off with the workers who have vowed not to allow him into the university.
Fear of what happened to other workers, who some years back tried to force open the Admin and Senate blocks, also made security personnel and those loyal to the embattled VC not to open the two iron gates. Rumours about staff who were struck by strange illness when they tried to enter the buildings previously has made the place a no-go area.
For days, some staff were placed on ‘special duty’ by the unions to monitor the locked Admin and Senate blocks even as the workers gathered under a tree to continue with their celebration over the banishment of the VC and other top management from the campus.
Investigation reveals that several attempts were made by the immediate past governor to smuggle the embattled VC into the campus but the main problem was that nobody wanted to go near the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building because of fear of the juju.
Even the NANS and LASU students union that demanded for the VC’s return to the main campus were not bold enough to go near the dreaded spots. They restricted their protest around the two gates.
When our correspondent visited the campus, it was evident that the Admin Block and Senate Building has not been used for several months, as the surroundings were overgrown with weeds. It was gathered that members of staff of the university also avoid the place for fear of bad omen.
Further enquires revealed that registry staffs, whose offices were located in the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building have been temporary relocated to other offices. The VC, Prof Obafunwa, has been using his personal office at LASUCOM, while Senate meetings were held at one of the halls in LASUCOM.
Efforts by our correspondent to find out who laced the Admin Block and Senate Building with juju proved abortive as the Director, Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations (CIPPR), Mrs. Ronke Osho was said to have started her retirement leave from the services of the Lagos State government.
The chairmen of ASUU, SSANU and NASU claimed ignorance of the juju. But some union members dared the students, state government and Obafunwa’s loyalists to open the gates.
“The unions will not stop them from going to open the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building, but they know the consequences,” a staff who wishes to remain anonymous, explained. “Those who tried it some years ago know what happened. Even the VC and his loyalists know the implications of going to open the gates by force.’
It was gathered that before the gates of the Admin Block 1 and Senate Building would be opened for use, certain rituals would need to be performed in the night.
The new Pro Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Prof. Adebayo Ninalowo told Education Review that he and his members are working hard to restore peace on campus. He said they met the staff unions and students unions recently.
Obafunwa’s tenure would end on October 31 and staff unions have already started a countdown for him with two big banners placed at the two gates of the university. announcing how many days are left of his administration.
The supreme court has dismissed the suit of Nyesom Wike, Rivers state governor, who challenged the jurisdiction of the Rivers governorship election petition tribunal to hear a petition by Dakuku Peterside of All Progressives Congress (APC).
Wike had argued that the tribunal sitting in Abuja had no jurisdiction over matters that transpired in the state. His contention is that the tribunal should have sat in Rivers state and not in Abuja. The tribunal was moved to Abuja over for security concerns, as those of Akwa Ibom, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno. The appeal court had earlier ruled that the tribunal could sit in Abuja to handle Rivers election petitions.
The Rivers tribunal had last Saturday sacked Wike as governor of the state, and ordered that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) hold a fresh election within 90 days. The apex court held that the tribunal was properly constituted and had jurisdiction to hear the petition of Peterside. It ruled that the shift in location of the tribunal from Rivers to Abuja was out of necessity, and added that the president of the appeal court did not err in law by ordering the relocation of the tribunal. The court therefore dismissed Wike’s suit for lack of merit.
The seven judges of the court, who were all in agreement with the ruling, stated that the relocation of the tribunal was to protect members of the panel and as such complied with the “doctrine of necessity”.