The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, last week claimed that the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, won the February 25 presidential election.
The deposed Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the same week proffered solutions to the country’s economic challenges.
These and three other stories we tracked dominated public discourse last week.
1. Babachir Lawal claims Peter Obi won presidential election
On October 17, the ex-SGF claimed that Obi got the majority votes in the last presidential election in the country.
Lawal, who stated this in a statement he personally signed, noted that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, finished in second position.
He added that President Bola Tinubu ended in third position in the exercise.
The statement read: “I have resisted the temptation to engage in the contemporary political discourse since the May 2023 election faux pas.
“Right from the start of the campaigns, Bola knew he was not going to win the election in a free and fair contest so he decided to go by all means.
“Available factual data as aggregated from several independent sources indicate that Obi got the majority votes while Atiku came second. Bola came a distant third in the number of votes scored.”
Why it matters
Although the ex-SGF is entitled to his opinion on the election or other issues of national interest, his remark, however, portrayed him as a man with a personal axe to grind with the president and his party.
The reason may not be far-fetched with the dust raised by the APC adoption of a same-faith ticket for the election yet to settle months after Nigerians cast their ballot to elect the country’s new leader.
Lawal’s criticism of the president, the man he touted as the most qualified Nigerian for the country’s top job in the past, again shows that in politics, there are no permanent friends or foes but permanent interests.
2. Sanusi’s panacea for Nigeria’s economy
On October 20, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria suggested a remedy to the country’s economic problem.
Sanusi, who spoke at the Distinguished Lecture Series of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in Lagos, said over-dependence on oil alone would not make Nigeria rich.
He said: “Nigeria will never get rich from producing oil. At best, it represents working capital that can enable the launch of other industries. Nigeria produces just 2.3 barrels per person per year compared to Saudi Arabia’s 91.4, Kuwait’s 221.6, and Gabon’s 31.7.
“The long-term solution is to reduce dependence on PMS. In the short term, the most effective measure to offset the removal of fuel subsidies is cash transfers.”
Why it matters
Sanusi may have reopened the debate on the diversification of the economy to shift the focus away from the black gold which has been the mainstay of the Nigerian economy for more than 50 years.
The onus, therefore, is on the government to come up with policies that will bring up the non-oil sector of the economy which until recently played second fiddle to the oil sector as the major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and source of foreign exchange to the government.
3.Peter Obi on #ENDSARS protest
The Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, said on October 21 Nigeria has not learnt from the 2020 #ENDSARS protests.
Obi, who stated this on his verified X platform, formerly Twitter, urged the government at all levels to probe the continuous detention of those arrested by security agents three years ago.
He wrote: “Today, we mark the third anniversary of the #EndSARS protests that swept through the nation. It is an occasion to remember our brothers and sisters who fell victim during the protests that swept through the nation in 2020.
“On this note, I wish to call on the necessary authorities, whether state or Federal Government, to investigate the issue of these continued detentions and take necessary actions towards correcting the implied injustices and ensure that no one continues to be denied freedom unlawfully.”
Why it matters
Obi’s remark has reopened the wounds inflicted on the citizens by the #ENDSARS crises.
In fact, more trouble is likely to brew with the civic space getting more polarized each day over attempts by governments at all levels to sweep the matter, particularly the wrongdoings of security agents deployed to prevent the breakdown of law and order, under the carpet.
4. Jega recommends stripping of president’s power on the appointment of INEC chairman
The former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, on October 21 recommended the removal of the president’s power on the appointment of the commission’s chairman and national commissioners.
Jega, who spoke at a two-day retreat organised for senators by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, also demanded amendments to the Electoral Act, 2022, among other measures to improve the country’s electoral process.
He said: “There is the need to review the process of appointments into INEC, specifically to divest/minimize the involvement of the President in the appointment of Chairman and National Commissioners of INEC, among others.
“There is a need to place stringent conditions for candidate withdrawal and replacement to prevent abuse. Empower INEC to also screen and if necessary disqualify candidates whose credentials show that they are unqualified or in respect of whom it has evidence of forgery and other forms of criminality.”
Why it matters
Jega may have hit the nail on the head on the rejig of the electoral body for future elections.
A complete reset of INEC, including the divestment of the president’s power on the appointment of its chairman and national commissioners will not only free the commission from the damaging perception on the influence of the party in power in its activities but reposition it to produce elections that are generally acceptable to Nigerians and the international community.
5. Gov Radda’s push for purchase of guns for civilians
The Katsina State Governor, Dikko Radda, on October 21 urged the Federal Government to allow citizens to buy weapons, including AK-47 rifles and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) for self-defence against bandits.
Radda, who made the call during a media chat in Abuja, asked the federal government to reform its laws for people to buy arms for protection.
He said: “If the bandits wreaking havoc across the country could have access to the market to purchase weapons, individuals should be allowed to own theirs.
“We governors are so-called chief security officers of our states, but we don’t have the authority to command the military, police, or civil defence. They receive orders from above.”
Why it matters
By pushing for the residents to defend themselves against terrorists, and other criminals, Governor Radda believes in community or state police as the ultimate solution to the nation’s security challenges.
It also speaks to the growing lack of trust in the ability of the Federal Government and its security agents to protect the people of the state and other Nigerians as a whole from armed gangs.
The attacks on soft targets, kidnapping for ransom and other violent crimes are hallmarks of a failed state with the Tinubu administration like the one before it yet to come up with strategies to neutralize the threats posed by the criminals.
By Hamed Shobiye
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