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BusinessDay 08 Apr 2018

C002D5556 Sunday

C002D5556 Sunday 08 April 2018 28 2019 Watch Presidency Shekarau, the mathematical politician ZEBULON AGOMUO Since he joined the mucky waters of the Nigerian politics in 2003, Ibrahim Shekarau has not looked back. Unlike many politicians who have no second address but politics, Shekarau is a man that had traversed other sectors of the nation’s economy before going into politics. He started life as a humble classroom teacher and rose through the ranks to a director in the ministry of education. He also taught as a lecturer in one of the institutions of higher learning in his native state of Kano. So, he has played in the private sector and public sector. His long years in the education sector must have been responsible for his appointment in 2014 as the 45th minister of education by the Goodluck Jonathan administration. He held the position till the end of that administration in 2015, following the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC). As governor of Kano State between 2003 and 2011 Shekarau changed the face of education in Kano. He was said to have removed Kano State from the list of Educationally Less Developed (ELD) states through the provision of instructional materials, infrastructure and manpower to schools and scholarships for 33,000 undergraduates studying in various institutions nationwide. Before his arrival on power stool, Kano had 3,421 primary schools, 20,526 classrooms, 1, 026,300 pupils with 22,084 teachers. But he changed the narrative. Enrolment improved by 80 percent. The Shekarau administration also established additional 364 primary and 241 secondary schools. Shekarau was said to have initiated some large scale development projects in Kano State. He also hosted some world leaders like the former German Chancellor Schoeder, Prince Charles, among others. The Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero conferred on him, the title of Sardauna of Kano, now of the leading emirate councillors. His profile His birth, early life and education Shekarau was born November 5, 1955 in the Kurmawa quarters of Kano, the son of a police officer. He was educated at Gidan Makama Primary School (1961–1967), then at Kano Commercial College (1967–1973) and finally at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1973–1977) where he received a Degree in Mathematics/Education. After finishing his Degree, he went into the civil service. Later on, he started his career as a Mathematics teacher at Government Technical College, Wudil in 1978. Two years later he became Principal at Government Day Junior Secondary School, Wudil. In 1980 he was transferred to Government Secondary School, Hadejia, then to Government College Birnin Kudu in 1986, then to Government Secondary School, Gwammaja and then to Rumfa College in March 1988, all as the Ibrahim Shekarau tion (WHO) screamed foul and profusely denied it. While Kano was under his watch, he created a local religious police, the ‘Hisbah Guard’, which enforced sharia law irrespective of the residents’ religions. It was very insensitive. Eyes on the ball Former governor Shekarau is said to have determined to, once again, throw his hat into the ring this time around. It was gathered that he has since informed his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of his ambition and has also communicated his political ambition to various elders, community leaders, opinion leaders, political associates and religious leaders regardless of their ethnic and party affiliations. Reports quoted letters said to have been written by him to many of his former aides, stating: “Since after the 2015 general elections, there have been various calls by individuals and groups from many quarters, nationwide, urging my humble candidature for the contest of the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the next general elections, due in 2019.” “In response to these calls, and in view of the seeming intricacies and the boundless complexities involved in such a national school’s principal. Career Shekarau became Deputy Director of Education in charge of Bichi Zonal Education Area in 1992. One year later, he was promoted to Director Planning, Research and Statistics in Ministry of Education. Two year later, he became Director General (Permanent Secretary), Ministry of Education and Youth Development. In January 1995, Shekarau was transferred to Ministry of Water Resources, Rural and Community Development, then back to Ministry of Education in January – May 1997 before he was asked to move to General Service Directorate of the Cabinet Office, all as Permanent Secretary. By February 2000, he was on the move again to Civil Service Commission, where he stayed for only four months assignment, I have consulted across all the geo-political zones and different interest groups, who examined and appraised the issue and advised me accordingly,” he further said. According to him, “I have therefore decided to accept the clarion calls, and will in due course and in accordance with the guidelines of my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), offer my humble self for the contest of the presidency during the forth-coming 2019 general elections.” A vocal politician, not amused by APC style Recently, SaharaReporters quoted Shekarau as saying that the APC was confused and had been lying to Nigerians about bringing change to their living conditions. He was said to have described the “change” mantra of the party as a ruse. “When Nigerians asked: ‘When are we going to see the change we voted for?’ They were told to wait until after swearing-in ceremony. After the swearing-in, they heard silence without change and they asked, when will this change come? The answer was until they resume office and they subsequently resumed office and nothing happened,” said Shekarau. He added that when the masses asked before the civil service commission under Ado Gwaram Government sent him to the State College of Arts, Science and Remedial Studies (CASRS) as Chief lecturer (Mathematics) at the Department of Physical Sciences, in May 2000. Shekarau remained in this post for 17 months before he voluntarily retired from the services of Kano State Civil Service on 2 October 2001. Sometime after quitting his post as Chief Lecturer, he decided to work as a secretary to businessman Aminu Dantata. He was employed under Dantata until he became a contender in Kano State’s 2003 gubernatorial elections. Presidential bid Governor Ibrahim Shekarau was one of the candidates for the presidential election of 2011. He contested on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). Major controversies Although brilliant and well exposed, Shekarau could not draw a line between religion and politics. He tended to mix up everything, hence the controversy that greeted some of his moves and pronouncements. As governor, he opposed polio vaccination campaigns on the allegation that they were attempts to make Moslem women infertile. This position fetched him a barrage of criticism and the World Health Organisaagain when to expect the change promised, they were told to wait until the appointment of the Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF). “After three months, the SGF was appointed and the people asked again: ‘Where is the change?’ The answer was they should wait for the change after the appointment of Chief of Staff. The masses got worried and said, please when will this change come? The answer was, until ministers are appointed. After six months, they appointed ministers,” Shekarau said mockingly. Following the appointment of ministers, said Shekarau, the APC promised that change would come when the budget was prepared and told the masses to wait for the budget. And when they got the budget, he added, Nigerians were told they would have the change after the National Assembly must have gone through the budget. “Suddenly, the National Assembly approved and the people asked again: ‘Can see and feel the change?’ Their (APC) reply was until the President signed the budget. After he signed, there was no change, we asked. They said, the President’s ear is paining him and we should wait until he was healed,” said the former governor. The masses, he said, were prepared to wait and rejoiced that the President could hear well and had returned. Again, the APC did not deliver the change, shifting delivery to when fuel subsidy was removed. “They suddenly tripled oil price and they kept quiet and we talked. They said we should be patient that change will come. While Nigerians were waiting, they now came again that the President was sick. They said we should wait, we waited and he came back from the first trip. They said we should pray and when he returned, they celebrated and we all secretly prayed for him, that Allah should heal him. When he returned they said we should give him time to fully recover,” stated Shekarau. He alleged that the APC started playing games, saying doctors said the President should return to London, where he stayed for 103 days before returning. “We said when will the change come? They said until they drive away rats from his office. We are hoping, they will come and apologise and say the change will come when I (Buhari) return in 2019,” Shekarau stated.

Sunday 08 April 2018 Vice Presidency C002D5556 29 2019 Watch Ekweremadu and politics of ‘Nwa Chinemere’ ZEBULON AGOMUO Since his foray into politics, Ike Ekweremadu has remained a level-headed politician, doing his things in a cool way. As much as possible, he steers clear of controversy. Those close to him say he patterns his life after the admonition in a quote by the late Chinua Achebe that “those whose palm-kernels were cracked by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble.” Indeed, Ekweremadu’s gods must have granted him certain positive aspects of his life. An observer who claims to know him so well says that the politician’s steady rise in politics could only have been a combination of “destiny, doggedness and divine enablement”. Anglican Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Emmanuel Chukwuma, captured Ekweremadu’s brand of politics, this way: “Ekweremadu is not a threat to anybody. I want to say to Mr. President (Buhari), there is no need to fear him. Ekweremadu will neither say you are PDP nor that you are APC. He does not discriminate against any religion. He is not tribalistic. He is a perfect gentleman who has a heart to serve”. On mission to serve his people Since 2003 when Ekweremadu was first elected into the Senate he has remained a rallying point to many politicians in his state, particularly, his senatorial zone- Enugu West. He has also excited his constituents with tangible people-oriented projects. Recently, the senator provided a water drilling ridge with a capacity to drill down to 600 meters. It was procured to ensure provision of portable water in all communities in the zone since portable water has become a persistent challenge in all the five local government areas that make up the senatorial zone. With the collaboration of the state government, the deputy Senate president is doing everything possible to change the face of his constituency with various infrastructure development ranging from dualisation of existing roads to construction of new ones and provision of portable water. Ekweremadu’s contribution is being praised because “despite the fact that Enugu West had produced some military governors and even as the immediate past governor of the state hails from the zone, the zone is still lagging behind when compared with other two senatorial zones in the state.” Recently, while explaining why he joined politics, Ekweramadu said it was to address the age-long marginalisation and neglect of his people. He recalled that the first water project that he attracted as a senator was sited at Nze in Udi North as a way of remedying some of the difficulties faced by people in the area, adding that he has addressed most of the challenges in the area without being prompted by the people. “I joined politics to address the issue of marginalisation by influencing government policies which would help in providing the needs of the people. I can see and feel marginalisation in Udi North and my vision is to change the fortunes of the people of the area for good, that’s why most of our projects in the areas of water, roads, and electricity are sited in places where the people cannot help themselves,” he said. No noise yet about VP ambition Although the deputy Senate president has yet to make his vice presidential ambition Ike Ekweremadu public as it is still wrapped in the cooler so to speak, his foot soldiers are already trumpeting it, a move observers have described as deliberate and “testing the waters”. “Mind you, the Deputy Senate President does not believe in noise making. He is always for action. For him, action speaks louder than words. Don’t also forget that it is not expedient for him to begin to trumpet about his vice presidential ambition now. The natural thing is that he will be working underground until the person he would be deputising declares and then publicly announces him as a running mate. That is how it is done. But the question as to whether he possesses the competences does not arise,” Chuma Onuoha, an Abuja-based analyst, said. The man Ekweremadu Ike Ekweremadu is a politician and lawyer from Enugu State who has served in the Senate since May 2003. He is a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and is currently deputy Senate president for the third consecutive time. Ekweremadu was born in 1962 at Amachara Mpu in Aninri Local Government Area of Enugu State, and is of Igbo origin. He holds both Bachelors and master’s degree in Law from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987. He also holds Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Law from the University of Abuja, Nigeria. Political appointments In 2002, Ekweremadu was appointed Secretary to the Enugu State Government, before then he was Chairman of Aninri Local Government Area in 1997 and won the Best Local Government Chairman Award in Enugu State at the time. He was appointed the Chief of Staff of the Enugu State Government House. Senatorial career On April 12, 2003 he was elected to the Senate. In September 2003, as Vice Chairman of the Senate committee on Information, Ekweremadu said that the Senate would make a serious investigation into allegations of bribery leveled by Federal Capital The deputy Senate president has been described as “very competent” and a lawmaker par excellence. Nominating Ekweremadu for re-election as the Deputy President of the 6th Senate in June 2011, Senator Zainab Kure (Niger South), described him as “a legislative wiz kid”. He has had a robust political outing that would rub off on any position he aspires to in 2019. Elected Senator for four consecutive times since 2003, Ekweremadu who had served as Local Government Chairman, Chief of Staff at Enugu Government House and Secretary to Enugu State Government, also emerged as Deputy President of the Senate for a record third time in 2015. June 2018 will mark his 11th anniversary as a Territory (FCT) minister Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. Relations between Nasir el-Rufai and the Senate continued to be hostile, and el-Rufai was eventually charged with corruption in 2008. In 2005, Ike Ekweremadu was beaten in the race for President of the Senate of Nigeria by Senator Kenechukwu (Ken) Nnamani. In July 2006, as spokesperson for the Southern Senators’ Forum, Ekweremadu denied charges that they had made an agreement to return power to the North in the 2007 elections. In September 2006, President Olusegun Obasanjo asked the Senate to review a report by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that laid charges of fraud against Vice- President Atiku Abubakar. Ike Ekweremadu promised to establish a committee of inquiry the report of which would be submitted to the Senate, although he noted that impeachment would be difficult since it would require a 2/3 majority. Ekweremadu was returned in the 29 April 2007 National Assembly election, and retained his position as deputy senate president. He was given the job of handing out committee chairmanship positions allocated to the southeast zone, making decisions that were unpopular with leaders such as Senator Chris Anyanwu, who failed to get the positions they wanted. In July 2007, Ekweremadu presiding officer of the National Assembly, making him the longest serving presiding officer in the history of the national parliament. Controversies Like many other high-flying politicians in the country, Ekweremadu has had his fair share of acrimonies from political foes. He has been accused of many things and in the life of the current administration, he has been arraigned with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on what his loyalists describe as “trumped up” charges of conspiracy and forgery of Senate Standing Rule. The other day, Ekweremadu, was accused of “false declaration of assets” and was said to be dragged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) by the office of the attorney-general of the federation (AGF). Ekweremadu was accused of having assets in the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America which he allegedly did not disclose in his declarations to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). Finesse on global assignment Those who believe that Ekweremadu has all it takes to function as the vice president of Nigeria point to his robust tenure as the Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Parliament). They note that he brought the hitherto little known parliament to the consciousness of the peoples of the sub-region. “He traversed the lengths and breadth of the sub-region, meeting heads of states, national and regional parliaments, building partnerships and vigorously canvassing the enhancement of the powers of the Community Parliament. Today, ECOWAS Parliament has transformed from a mere talk shop to a semblance of a parliament because Ekweremadu passed through it,” an observer said. was instrumental to defusing objections to the controversial nomination of the late Ojo Maduekwe to a ministerial position. When David Edevbie, President Umaru Yar’Adua’s principal private secretary, was indicted in September 2009 in a British court for corruption and money laundering, Ekweremadu refused to take a position, stating that he did not know the facts. In September 2009, Ekweremadu was named co-chairman of a committee to conduct the primary elections for the PDP governorship candidate for Anambra State. Senatorial election, Enugu West 2011 Ekweremadu was re-elected as Senator for Enugu West in the April 2011 elections, receiving 112,806 votes. The closest runner-up was the candidate of the Peoples for Democratic Change (PDC) party, Jackson Ezeoffor, who got 7,522 votes. ECOWAS In September 2009, he was appointed to lead the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ad hoc committee to work for the return of constitutional order in the Niger Republic. He was elected First Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament and emerged the Speaker of the regional parliament in August 2011.

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