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QuickRead: Obi’s harassment in Britain. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter



Reports emerged last week that the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, was recently arrested and detained by British Immigration officers at Heathrow Airport, London, over a case of mistaken identity.

This and four other stories we tracked dominated public discourse last week.

1.Obi’s harassment in Britain

On April 12, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Paul University, Awka, Anambra State, Prof. Chinyere Okunna, told journalists that Obi was detained and interrogated for several hours after the British Airways plane he flew in London on April 7.

She said: “I actually had no idea he (Obi) had travelled out of the country until the ovation over his presence in a London Church went viral on the Internet.
“He arrived at Heathrow Airport and joined the usual queue to pass through Immigration, and that was when his ordeal began.
“He was stopped and questioned for a long time and subsequently handed a detention note and told to wait for further interrogation and investigation.”

Why it matters

The former Anambra governor’s ordeal in the British capital is the highlight of his many battles since the conclusion of the presidential election with the controversial leaked telephone conversation between him and the founder of Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo, still a trending topic among Nigerians.

Obi’s decision to remain silent on the matter has not surprised only his supporters who see him as the new face of Nigeria’s political establishment and hold him in high esteem but the larger society over his knack for sounding off on Twitter and other social media platforms.

This, therefore, reinforces the call for a thorough investigation of the matter and its report made public because of the weighty nature of the allegation.

2. Senate indicts ex-AGF Ahmed Idris on N74bn payment

The Senate on April 13 upheld the indictment of the former Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, on the payment of N74 billion in social benefits without a breakdown in the 2016 budget.

This followed the adoption of the Auditor-General’s annual report for 2016 presented to the lawmakers by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Matthew Urhoghide.

The report read: “The total cost for social benefits amounted to N262.3 billion whereas the budget amount for the period was N188 billion as contained in the budget report, resulting in the extra-budgetary expenditure of N74 billion.
“In addition, it was observed that there was no breakdown of the total social benefits cost of N262 billion to disclose the different individual amounts for gratuity, pension and death benefits that make up social benefits.”

Why it matters

The Senate’s indictment of the ex-AGF who is also standing trial for fraud again speaks to the culture of impunity among public office holders in Nigeria.

The ongoing exposure, trial and prosecution of individuals who should be role models for the rest of the citizens bode well for our society where corruption has been accepted as a way of life as it will deter public officials from abusing their positions.

The recent calls for consideration of the death penalty for corruption may not be unconnected with growing revelations about the humongous corruption among public officials in the land.

3. Wike, Melaye clash over Kogi election

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant in Kogi State, Dino Melaye, on April 11 hit back at the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, for dismissing his bid to succeed Governor Yahaya Bello.

Wike had in a press briefing held in Port Harcourt on same day, dismissed the former Kogi West senator’s chances in the PDP governorship primary in the North-Central state.

However, in a message posted to his verified Facebook page, Melaye reminded the governor that Kogi was not Rivers State where he had the authority to choose his successor.

He insisted that such an authority instead belongs to God.

READ ALSO:QuickRead: INEC’s shift of guber and state assembly elections. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter

The ex-lawmaker wrote: “On recovering from his inebriation, Wike should be reminded that Kogi is not Rivers, and the people of Kogi State would not worship any foreign god.
“Above all, Wike should also understand that power belongs to God, and he gives it to whoever he wants, even the basest of men.
“Today, Wike can take a swipe at me, and mark me down as unqualified to govern my state, but has he forgotten that he believed my gubernatorial aspiration in 2019?”

Why it matters

The altercation between the two former allies is a spillover of the impasse that destroyed the PDP’s chances of regaining power at the centre in the February 25 election.

The development suggests that the party would approach the November 11 election as a fractured unit with the governorship primary slated for this week expected to split the pair into opposite camps and further extends to the election proper.

This, therefore, means the PDP’s chances of reclaiming the confluence state from the All Progressives Congress (APC) may be up in smoke even before the electorates cast their vote in seven months’ time.

4. APC chieftain’s position on Senate President

The National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress North-West, Malam Salihu Lukman, on April 10 advised the party against choosing a Muslim lawmaker as the Senate President in the 10th National Assembly.

Lukman, who gave the advice in a statement titled: “Cash-and-Carry Contest for Leadership of 10th National Assembly,” issued in Abuja, declared that any Muslim vying for the nation’s number three position has no respect for both the APC and the country’s constitutions.

The statement read: “It is therefore very compelling that the Senate President should come from either the South-South or South-East. I want to specifically note that two respected Senators-elect from North-West have made public declarations of their aspirations for the position of Senate President. These are His Excellency Abdulaziz Yari and Sen. Barau Jibrin.
“Now that power has shifted to the Southern part of the country, as a region, we equally have the responsibility to regulate the conduct of all our Senators-elect from the North-West, including the two Senators-elect Abdulaziz Yari and Barau Jibrin to withdraw their aspiration for the Senate President.”

Why it matters

Lukman’s demand illustrates the position of ethnicity and religion in our country’s leadership recruitment process.

It speaks to the imbalance of the country’s unity where primordial considerations have continued to dictate who holds what in the Nigeria state.

The reliance on this archaic approach largely explains why Nigeria still lags behind its peers in Africa and beyond in term of development more than six decades after independence.

5.Ortom’s push for Benue volunteer guards on insecurity

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on April 9 urged the Federal government to take control of the state’s Community Volunteer Guards and arm its members to tackle the state’s security challenges.
The governor, who made the call during a visit to the victims of the herdsmen attack in the Mgban community of Guma local government area of the state, said: “In less than a week, armed herders had killed almost 100 people in Benue, and if it continues, we will be absolutely annihilated; this is not acceptable.
“Though the President has charged security agencies to stand up to their responsibilities, they have been doing so much that I know and I know the challenges they have.
“That’s why here in Benue we brought the idea of Benue State Community Volunteer Guards, BSCVGs. If the Federal Government will also accept to arm them or take them over, train and arm them, I think it will do a lot of good to check the activities of the invaders.”

Why it matters

The governor’s insistence on community security arrangement speaks to the growing lack of trust in the ability of the Federal Government to protect the people of the state and other Nigerians across the country from armed gangs.

This on its own is a reinforcement of the call for the total restructuring of the country that will ultimately pave the way for state policing as the real solution to the security challenges.

By Hamed Shobiye

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