C002D5556 Sunday 15 April 2018 4 BDSUNDAY Cover Buhari’s declaration: What hope for... Continued from page his party NEC on Monday, Buhari said, “People have been asking me to declare for re-election and some have been asking me when I am going to declare. I want to give the NEC the honour to be the first to hear it. I have decided to contest the 2019 elections.” While the president’s declaration has put an end to months of speculation regarding his political future, pundits are already forecasting what this means for the polity and the opposition. Although political campaigns are due to begin from November 18 for the February 16, 2019 presidential election, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) timetable, observers say the race for the presidency may have commenced in earnest with Buhari’s declaration, pushing governance to the backseat. Political commentators contend that Buhari’s emergence as standard bearer of the ruling party in the 2019 election is fait accompli. They argue that the announcement of his intention to run may have put paid to the ambitions of other prospective presidential aspirants in the APC, including Senate President Bukola Saraki, Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto State governor and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano State and senator representing Kano Central. The commentators hinge this viewpoint on the belief that what matters to political parties is winning elections and as such, they always try to put their best foot forward. They believe that in spite of the failures of the present administration and the general discontent in the country, when it comes to chances of winning elections, Buhari for now remains APC’s surest bet. To them, therefore, the 2019 presidential battle is Buhari versus the opposition. In the meantime, some key figures in the ruling APC are basking in the euphoria of Buhari’s declaration for second term, saying it signifies the final nail in the coffin of the opposition in the country. Rochas Okorocha, Imo State governor and chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, believes the president’s declaration would “reduce the noise of the opposition and take care of the idiosyncrasies of certain elements in the system”. Okorocha claimed that Buhari has done well to deserve a second tenure, expressing optimism that the president would garner more votes in 2019 than he did in 2015 because, according to him, most Nigerians, including people of the South-East, had seen that Buhari meant well for the nation and the citizenry. “The antenna of the opposition in the country will finally be lowered when the campaigns begin and the party will be showing Nigerians its achievements in the states under its control and at the federal level,” the governor said in a statement signed by Sam Onwuemeodo, his chief press secretary. Calling Buhari’s bluff But top shots in the major opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as well as other political parties claim they had always expected that Buhari would declare for a second term. For instance, Ahmed Makarfi, immediate past chairman of PDP National Caretaker Committee, said Buhari’s declaration of interest to contest in the 2019 presidential election was no news to Nigerians. As far as the PDP was concerned, he said, expectations had always been that Buhari would run. “For me, it should be news only if the announcement had been that he will not seek re-election. For the PDP, our expectations have always been that he will run; so, nothing changes in our resolve to do the needful. What the country needs is mature, issues-based clean contest,” Makarfi said. Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP national publicity secretary, while answering questions on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, claimed that the mammoth crowd that attended the PDP rallies in Jigawa and Katsina States must have pushed the president to make a sudden, desperate declaration to run for a second term. “In our political history, particularly in the modern political history since 1999 till date, President Muhammadu Buhari is the first incumbent president that will declare a second-term interest one clear year ahead of the election,” he said. He, however, said the PDP was not bothered whether or not Buhari emerges as the APC candidate at the primaries, saying the opposition party was ever ready to reclaim power from the APC. Chekwas Okorie, national chairman, United Progressives Party (UPP) and the party’s presidential candidate in the 2015 elections, believes that given the socio-economic condition of Nigerians, beating Buhari in 2019 would be a walkover. For Yunusa Tanko, national chairman, National Conscience Party (NCP), Buhari’s early expression of interest to seek re-election next year would not stop the NCP from trouncing him in 2019 as, according to him, “We are fully prepared to run against him.” What opposition should do Political analysts, however, say rather call Buhari’s bluff without putting any concrete measures on ground to confront the sitting president, the opposition parties should focus on putting their houses in order so as to be able to present a formidable force that can not only take on but also overcome the Buhari challenge in 2019. If he eventually gets his party’s ticket, Buhari, who would officially be 76 next year, is expected to slug it out with candidates of the main opposition PDP and 60 other political parties. The president’s declaration, coming as suddenly as it did, the analysts say, should put enormous pressures on the opposition parties to quickly go back to the drawing board and come up with winning strategies. They foresee difficult times ahead for the PDP and other parties in the opposition unless they expedite action on forming political understanding, alliances or even mergers ahead of 2019. They say the opposition can also exploit the discontent in the land Buhari caused by insecurity (especially the menace of armed herdsmen), the half-hearted anti-corruption fight, the poor state of the economy and massive infrastructure deficit by telling Nigerians how they would do better. There are also those who believe that Buhari’s early declaration of interest may be a blessing in disguise for the opposition as having early knowledge of the APC’s flag-bearer puts the parties in a good stead to know what they are up against and so choose their candidates wisely. To many analysts, Buhari’s defeat at the poll will depend on two major factors: presenting a credible alternative candidate and making the electoral process free, fair and credible. Lesson notes for PDP Political analysts have prescribed three strategies for the PDP to regain the confidence of Nigerians ahead of the election. They include shunning imposition and impunity, picking a credible presidential candidate and forming an alliance with other political parties to defeat the incumbent president. Currently, presidential aspirants in the PDP include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo, former Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido, his Kano, Sokoto and Kaduna counterparts Ibrahim Shekarau, Attahiru Bafarawa and Ahmed Makarfi, respectively, as well as Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose, who has insisted on contesting despite that the party has zoned the slot to the North. Among the pack, Taiye Odewale, a political analyst, believes that only Atiku can give Buhari a run for his money in the next presidential election because, unlike other contestants, the former vice president already has massive political structure across the country. Odewale also dismissed Obasanjo’s assertion that Nigerians should reject the two main political parties, insisting that as it stands, only APC and PDP have the structures to dominate the Nigerian political space. “Based on what is on ground, there is no other party. The two main parties that we have now are the ruling APC and the main opposition PDP. And now that Buhari as a sitting president has declared his intention to run for second term, that means that the possibility of any other person emerging as candidate of the party is zero because just like what Jonathan and Obasanjo did when PDP was in power, Buhari will get the ticket of his party,” Odewale said in an interview with BDSUNDAY. “Only PDP will give Buhari the required contest. And that is the reason why the party needs to sit down properly and calculate on what type of person they can push forward to give Buhari a run for his incumbency factor. “Of all the people that have signified their intention in PDP, it is only Atiku Abubakar I see as a formidable challenger because he had served as vice president for eight years at the beginning of this democracy. He is a well-known political figure across the length and breadth of this country. And he is from the other zone of the core North, the North-East. Buhari is from the North-West. So, if you pick somebody like Atiku from North-East, it will weaken Buhari’s strength in that area and also tackle him in the North-Central axis while South is all for Atiku’s taking. If they [PDP] pick any other candidate, it means they will give Buhari an easy ride,” he said. Odewale also disagreed with former President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-military President Babangida, who advocated for younger presidential candidate for the main opposition party. To him, at age 71, Atiku remains vibrant and agile in addition to having political structures across the country, stressing that despite being much younger, 56-year-old Dankwambo is unpopular outside Gombe State. “If they say PDP should field a young candidate, that should have been good if you view the age factor. But the young candidate I see PDP bringing is Dankwambo, the sitting governor of Gombe, not even Tambuwal because he is from the same North-West zone with Buhari. The North-West will not drop Buhari for any other person from that zone. “So, Dankwambo is from the same zone with Atiku. But Dankwambo outside Gombe is not known elsewhere. It will create a problem of marketing a product. Atiku is already known. Yes, he is of age but he is vibrant. He is not like a Buhari that is old and incapacitated health-wise. To me, Atiku is the best bet for the party,” he said. But some analysts have raised some important questions that may decide PDP’s fate in 2019. They are asking whether Nigerians will accept PDP’s apologies and give it a second chance; how the party will convince Nigerians that the mistakes of 1999-2015 would not be repeated; whether it would even survive the politics of presidential nomination; whether Nigerians would prefer APC with its endless excuses, and whether the citizens are ready to try a ‘Third Force’ to rescue the country from the present political and socio-economic crises. Whither SDP? Before now, the news of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) repositioning itself had raised hopes that Nigerians may at last have a choice from the two dominant political parties in the country, the ruling APC and the major opposition PDP. In an open letter to President Buhari in January, former President Obasanjo had also mooted the idea of forming a movement, a ‘Third Force’, in the political circle “that will drive Nigeria up and forward” and lead Nigerians out of the present excruciating situation. The repositioning of SDP – particularly the movement into the party by Jerry Gana, a former Minister of Information and National Orientation, Tunde Adeniran, a former Minister of Education and one-time Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, and Godsday Orubebe, a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs – had seen the polity brimming with hope that here, at last, is the “nubile beauty” to be courted by all and sundry ahead of the 2019 general elections. There were also expectations that apart from the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) and People’s Salvation Party (PSP) which teamed up with the SDP to form a formidable platform, more people would join the SDP from other political parties and platforms, with insinuations that the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), inspired by former President Obasanjo, was in talks with the party. As it is, it appears the SDP has run out of steam as no new thing seems to be happening in the party, leaving Nigerians to wonder what has gone wrong. Nigerians are also worried that 10 months to the elections, they are yet to see any formidable candidate who can defeat incumbent President Buhari despite what appears to be a consensus that Buhari must be voted out in 2019. Many are asking of the whereabouts of groups like the Nigerian Intervention Movement (NIM) and the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) being tipped as the ‘Third Force’ now that Buhari has declared.
Sunday 15 April 2018 C002D5556 BDSUNDAY 5 News Osinbajo launches Abia tele-health initiative …Foresees improved life expectancy in state UDOKA AGWU, Umuahia Yemi Osibanjo, vice president, has officially launched the Abia State telehealth initiative and commended the initiative which he said would give people access to affordable healthcare and enhance universal health coverage. While launching the programme at the International Conference Centre, Umuahia, the vice president expressed the support of the Federal Government to the programme and others geared towards improving the lives of the people. “This is a giant leap forward in terms of universal coverage for the people of Abia State. That is why I’m here today not just to witness but to fully align with the on-going determination of Governor Ikpeazu to make a positive mark in the lives of Abians,” he said. He described the project as exciting “because it is leveraging on available technology- in this case, the mobile phone to deliver affordable healthcare to the people of the state”. “Abia State stands out within and outside Nigeria as a forward-looking, people-centered state, one that is open with new ideas CCC unveils plan to assist Nigerian firms export products to China, African countries TUNDE ADENIYI, Abuja China Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has unveiled plans that would aid exportation of agricultural products produced by Nigeria to China, other African countries and the world at large. Ye Shuijin, CCC President gave the assurance in Abuja this while presenting multi-million naira worth of equipment including: Desktop and Laptop Computers, Printers, Projectors and Projector Screens to Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), in Abuja. Shuijin who commended Nigerian Government for providing enabling investment environment for Chinese firms operating in the country, explained that the Chamber’s main objective was to make their products available for Nigerians to Osinbajo experience and create jobs in Nigeria. He observed that the Chinese firms had benefited greatly from the Nigeria and China trade relationships for many years, adding that most Chinese firms in Nigeria has operated for over 10 years while some had successfully operated for over 30 years. The Chamber’s President disclosed that China was looking for opportunity to assist local Nigerian companies Ye Shuijin, CCC President and initiatives. This is a commendable initiative indeed as it will cut the time spent in search of healthcare,” Osinbajo said. Osinbajo stated that one of the most readily available forms of technology in Nigeria today is mobile phones and stated that with the telehealth support also known as dial a doctor initiative, people can now through a dedicated phone line access medi-care and support from doctors who can even communicate in local languages. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu in his speech said that telehealth was the future of healthcare in Nigeria and further explained that people could now leverage on the tele-density in Nigeria to drive trade and commerce, sales, distribution of goods and services and also healthcare delivery. “With this initiative I am confident that we are going to do something about life expectancy in Abia State in a positive way because it is my desire that by 2019 we will drive life expectancy in Abia State above the national average. We can do it. I think with your support, we to produce and process agricultural products for export to china, other African countries and the world at large. “The Nigerian government has provided an enabling environment for Chinese investors in the country to succeed through good investment environment and policies. Nigeria and China can effectively promote their export capacity through their trade policies. “It is in appreciation of the relationship that we have thought it necessary to make this visit and donations. We appreciate and understand the strategic importance of the trade relations between Nigeria and China,” he said. The companies that undertook the visit and donations include the CGC Nigeria Limited, CCECC Nigeria Limited, Power China Nigeria Ltd, China Harbour Nigeria Ltd, Huwai Tech and Power China Ltd. In his remarks, Chiedu can achieve it,” he said. The governor maintained that a lot of benefits come with the initiative including the maintenance of the confidentiality of the patient. “So today, you can sit in the comfort of your bedroom and get expert advice from a medical practitioner and prescriptions will be sent to you through sms. You can also be referred to the nearest primary health center which is visible to the doctor in the call center,” he said. Earlier, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole represented by the Chief Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Chukwu Abali stated that the initiative would broaden access to healthcare of Abians and promised to collaborate with the state. Also, the Commissioner for Health, John Ahukanna described the tele initiative as a strategy to widen access to healthcare, maintaining that it would capture adolescents and young ones and wipe out self medication. The chairman, Senate committee on healthcare and communicable diseases, MAO Ohuabunwa applauded the initiative which according to him would save lives and thanked Abia Governor for having the will to do it. Osakwe, NOTN director General noted that the bilateral trade relationship between Nigeria and China would enable Nigeria to accelerate growth and to create jobs for all Nigerians. “The cooperation between the two countries can be deepened with the many initiatives of the Chinese government and some of the institutions being set up. Osakwe called on the chamber to begin to develop a global value chain that would bring about a Chinese- Nigerian company in the next few years. “I would like us to begin to build value chain because value chains are absolutely important to Nigeria. “China as one of the world’s largest economy has global reach and in some major aspect should begin to design and construct as many value chains as possible,” he said. U.S. Consulate, FSD Academy partner to train 121 emerging entrepreneurs in Port Harcourt SEYI JOHN SALAU The United States (U.S.) Consulate General Lagos in collaboration with Field of Skills and Dreams (FSD) Academy recently concluded the second edition of the Conference for Emerging Entrepreneurs, a scheme aimed at building capacity of young entrepreneurs held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. John Bray, U.S. Consul General, in his welcome remarks said the primary goal of the U.S. Mission Nigeria is to support Nigeria’s economic development. According to him, the U.S. Department of State supports entrepreneurs all over the world through training and mentoring, while also working with governments to create enabling environments and entrepreneurial cultures. “There is growing evidence that entrepreneurs the world over are the drivers of job growth. The United States government is firmly convinced that in addition to creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities, entrepreneurship contributes to political stability and a vibrant Geniuses from unlikely ... Continued from Page 1 ing to family dislocation and disruption in social, economic and academic activities in an already impoverished and backward region perpetually in catch up race with the rest of Nigeria. But, by a stroke of luck and divine intervention, these youths were taken away, to far away Edo State, precisely to the Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) camp in Ohogua. Today, they have been able to complete their secondary school education and are ready to proceed to the university. Their scores in the recently released 2018 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination results (UTME) by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) are a testimonial that there is, indeed, something about the environment which, the educationist explains, moulds and produces character. These youths, to whom fate has given a broad smile, tell their story of travails, their journey to the IDPs camp, their brilliant performance in their examinations and their ambition. Turn to pages---, read and do have a feel of life on the other side. civil society,” Bray said. The Conference was organised with a view to equipping the entrepreneurs with the requisite skills and entrepreneurial know-how to enhance their success in the business world. The first edition was held in Lagos in March 2017. One hundred and twenty one (121) budding Nigerian entrepreneurs participated in the two-day workshop. The budding entrepreneurs selected from across Nigeria, were trained on how to transform their ideas into practical business plans, manage business risks, navigate difficult moments, ways to seek capital, and develop partnerships to help their businesses grow. U.S. Consul General was joined by Rivers State Deputy Governor, Ipalibo Harry Banigo, and Ndowa Lale, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt. While some leading business leaders including Tonye Cole, Sahara Group Co- Founder, Stella Okoli, CEO Emzor Pharmaceutical, Iyin Aboyeji, Andela Co-Founder, Zizi Cardow, award-winning designer and senior executives of prominent commercial banks mentored and trained the participating young entrepreneurs. GTBank Food and Drink Fair 2018 set for April 29 SEYI JOHN SALAU The Guarantee Trust Bank (GTBank) annual Food and Drink fair has been slated for 29 April to 1 May. The third edition of the GTBank Food and Drink Fair will bring together small businesses in Nigeria’s food sector, more than a dozen international chefs and food experts, and thousands of food lovers to create the biggest food experience in Africa. The fair is designed to celebrate Nigeria’s vibrant food culture whilst promoting enterprise in the small business sector of the food industry. The 3-day event is free for all to attend and provides small businesses with a free and vibrant platform to connect with a wider segment of their target markets as well as experts in their business fields. Segun Agbaje, MD/CEO Guaranty Trust Bank plc, while commenting on this year’s edition of the fair said GTBank had consistently played a leading role in Africa’s banking industry.