The Issue

BusinessThe Issue

I resigned from Governor Obaseki’s Administration On Administrative and Governance Grounds- Taiwo Akerele, Former Chief of Staff to Governor Godwin Obaseki.

Says the economy must work under President Muhammadu Buhari…

Says Unemployment Data is worrisome...


resigned on administrative and governance grounds- Taiwo Akerele.


Before his emergence as Chief of Staff to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Taiwo Akerele had earlier had a few stints with the World Bank, the European Union and the Lagos Business School. His love for service to his people would see him join the Economic Development Team of former Governor Adams Oshiomole, where he brought in his experience to bear on the economic policies of the Comrade Governor.

Akerele, speaks on a number of issues, including his resignation as Chief of Staff earlier this year.

On the economy , he says he is worried and wants the sitting President and the ruling party to do more.

Happy reading… Before your emergence as Chief of Statf to Governor Godwin Obaseki, you had played huge roles in a number of assignments both in the private and public sectors, could you give us a rundown on such engagements?

TA: Well thank you, as you know, I was the immediate past chief of staff Edo State and I had prior to my appointment as CoS,had previously worked at the Lagos Business School, Center for Applied economics and United Bank for Africa, Strategy and Business Transformation Unit; I have also in the time past consulted for the World Bank and the European Union on public finance management, public works, budget reforms, audit reforms and State Integrated Financial Management Information System (SIFMIS). Presently, I am a Senior Fellow at the Nigerian- Canadian think-tank, Policy House International, the group anchoring the Borrow Right Africa program and the Incentive Based Initiative for Nigeria North East Region.

Recently , I was also among the few delegates from West Africa at the Civil Society Policy Forum in the just concluded annual meetings of the World Bank and the IMF in Washington DC with virtual sessions held with the President of the World Bank Group and the Managing Director of the IMF on key issues around global child immunization, gender equality, climate change, crisis of basic education and credit/aide effectiveness for developing countries. – You were a key pillar in the election of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, for which he made you his Chief of Staff. However , you were to fall out with him and before long tendered your resignation, what issues led to your resignation and is it true that you were forced to resign?

TA: I resigned in April 2020 on administrative and governance grounds and I was never forced to resign, I did so on a matter of principle. I still maintain a healthy personal relationship with his Excellency the Governor of Edo state Godwin Obaseki and I even congratulated him on his election victory, even though I campaigned for Osage Ize Iyamu. I am still a member of the APC in Edo state even though I have spent quite a lot of time promoting our initiatives and programs across the globe. Edo APC went through a lot and I hope the leaders will spend time to start reconciliation and genuine dialogue amongst its members. We know all that transpired but again as I have always said it is time we move on. There is no doubt that as we need economic reforms in this country we also need serious political and electoral reforms genuinely. Can you kindly let us know some of the issues that led to you resigning?

TA: Like i said it is time to move on, Governor Obaseki has won a second term and I am happy for him, it is time for him to face the issue of governance squarely, there is little or nothing much I can say to that. As a member of the APC, how would you rate your party’s performance at the national level, particularly on the economic front?

TA: I think President Muhammadu Buhari, the the party leadership and state governors elected on the party’s platform must demonstrate seriousness and rise up to the occasion of managing the country’s economy in the right manner . For instance, former President Goodluck Jonathan handed over an economy that was growing at 5% per annum even with all the challenges at the time, but today the Nigerian economy has twice slipped into a recession, posting an annual growth rate of 1.4%. This for me is not cheering for us as a party and as a government.

The unemployment data especially for youths is very worrisome and it seems the laudable policies of the government are not reaching deep and far into the targeted populace. This must be tackled immediately. The growing resentment among the population should be arrested with positive monetary and fiscal policies aimed at stimulating the economy. The President in his wisdom set up an economic management team; do they have the capacity to manage the economy well? What is their impact after almost two years in the saddle? Are they all in all in terms of ideas? Are they receptive to other schools of thoughts? Time shall tell. They should know that whatever are their achievements, it is we as the APC members’ professionals, technocrats and appointees that will bear the brunt at the local level so they must communicate effectively at the right time. We the young elements in APC are not going to sit down and watch things degenerate to a level where we cannot go home anymore. This is very important. As a youth, what were your thoughts as regards the #EndSARS Protests?

TA: I see the recent #ENDSARS protest across Nigeria as a subtle message to the Nigerian government to wake up. Our party must inject new blood and new ideas into the running of the economy, this is not a time for blame game, but for everybody to wake up and discharge their duties to the best of their abilities. We must be receptive to new ideas and initiatives otherwise we won’t be able to face the electorates in 2023 to vote for APC again for the 3rd time. If the President succeeds, APC has succeeded, if APC succeeds it means the country and the citizens will be better for it, therefore I prefer to support the Nigerian President to succeed so that I will also be proud to be a Nigerian anywhere and wherever I find myself. There are many who say that a number of State Governments are incapacitated owing to the kind of federalism that we practice, what’s your take on such clamours ?

TA: The Governors should not leave the responsibility of managing Nigeria to the President and the Federal Government alone, the constitution is very clear on the powers and responsibility of every tiers, arms and branches of government from Federal to states and the local governments, The residual list is very clear on what the states should do while the exclusive list is clear on the Federal role. The Governors are expending too much energy on what they can get from Abuja and spend less than 20% of their time in harnessing the energy and the resources back in their various states to accelerate the economic development of the various regions. This is not acceptable. Are you saying that the governors are wrong for clamoring for a better form of federalism?

TA: No, I have not said so, I am only stating that what have they sought to do with the little resources available to them. Until, these state governors learn to make the most of their resources we will continue to grope in circles. a member of Incentive Based Initiative, what are your thoughts on UNICEF’s recent announcement that there are over 10.5 million Nigerian children that are out of school, and that 1 out of every 5 children out of school world-wide is a Nigerian kid. Is this not enough to declare a state of emergency in the primary education sector of this country?

TA: On our own at Incentive Based Initiative we have challenged UNICEF via a letter written to the Country Representative to substantiate this data with more facts and empirical evidence, we are challenging the Nigerian Governors Forum to establish a basis for computation of out of school data in the 36 states. As a country we cannot allow the international organizations to churn out basic data on a very important sector such as basic education and we accept it hook line and sinker, it does not show we have our own baseline mechanism for computations. We have therefore scheduled a stakeholder session to look at these issues in December to know where we stand as a country what are the next steps precisely and timelines. The finance minister recently announced that the nation’s debt stock was to clamber to 38.68 trillion Naira by December 2021, as an economist and policy expert, shouldn’t we be worried about such a scenario?

TA: On the issue of debt and debt sustainability, Borrow Right Africa Program is championing one single objective “Borrow well and account for it”. There is nothing wrong in borrowing as a country but you have to borrow and channel to a venture that can pay back. Looking at the data from Debt Management Office (DMO) as at June 2020, Nigeria is currently owing close to N$31.Trillion (about USD$85.9bn) the breakdown shows that total external debt stood at N11.36 trillion ($31.47) accounting for 36.65percent of the total debt stock, while domestic debt stood at N19.65trillion ($54.42billion). The debts are either from multilateral or bilateral institutions, out of this amount 52% is to Multilateral agencies such as the world bank, IMF and others while about 35% is to commercial e.g bonds such as Eurobonds and Diaspora bonds then the last category which is 12.54% is Bilateral (countries) such as France, China, Japan, India and Germany. 61% of the total multilateral debt is owed to the World Bank group while the balance 39% is from others such as African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and others.

The key questions are this? What are we borrowing for? Are they for projects we could actually fund ourselves? Or for projects that are sustainable and in the end pay back themselves such as infrastructure, toll roads, industries, commercial agriculture, renewable energy and trains. For us in Borrow Right Africa, we believe that Nigeria and other Africa countries should restructure their lending architecture more in favor of the private sector; the country should now guarantee loans to the private sector to invest in viable venture than the country itself borrowing. When you review the details of why we borrow in Africa you will realize we have a lot of work to do. Meanwhile our 2020 budget has showed that we could be servicing our debt with close to 25% of our expected revenue.
Meanwhile, I must commend Ethiopia and Morocco for realizing the need to promote private sector initiatives in their engagement with international lenders and partners of development, Nigeria should leverage on its negotiating capacity to tow the same path.

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PoliticalThe Issue

Anambra 2021: APC Is The Party To Beat- Basil Ejidike, Anambra APC Chairman

Wants party stakeholders to unite…

On zoning:  The  party will make its decision known…

Says with President Muhammadu Buhari’s achievements in the state, APC will become more accepted…

Winning Anambra Guber is key to Igbo Presidency – Ejidike

Chief Basil Ejidike is a household name in Anambra Politics. With his emergence as the Acting Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, he has sought to redirect the party and has at all opportunities to be heard, announced that the APC in Anambra will sweep its way to Government House, Awka.


Ejidike, in this interview talks tough and is much a reader’s delight.


 You have been boasting on several mediums that the All Progressives Congress, Anambra State Chapter will take over Anambra State Government House come 2021 even though that the realities on ground do not look favourably to such a call owing to the number of National Assembly and State House of Assembly seats, what then is fuelling your confidence?


B.E: Of course if you are in Anambra, you will realise that a lot has happened since 2017, in the last guber election you ought to know that the APC came second. Now after the general elections we realised that we did not perform that well in the election and thus we set up a committee to fully reassess our capabilities as a party. You see, we have a saying that ” One does not realise from where the rain started beating him, obviously he will not know where it stopped beating him. So immediately after the election what we did was to set up a Committee for self evaluation and the Committee spent almost three months where we sought to understand the party’s area of strength as well as it’s weakness. Now the committee has long submitted their report and we are now studying and implementing the report. You see, it is not that the Anambra APC does not have the required followership in Anambra, or that we cannot win elections, no , our first and biggest challenge is the issue of unity amongst the stakeholders while the second is the issue of an appropriate reward system for the party’s teeming members. Now, so far, so good we have been able to straighten some aspects out and that is why we were able to invite and host the Vice President of the Federation, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo in an event that served much as a morale booster for our party members. So far we have been doing a lot and the situation is not the same as it was before as a numerous number of people have decided to identify with us, now , if we were not a platform to beat a number of these big wigs would not want to associate with us. There is also the irrepressible performance of President Muhammadu Buhari in the SouthEast, particularly in the area of critical infrastructure , we have the Second Niger Bridge, roads undertaken and other aspects that have sought to reduce the infrastructural deficit in the region, these achievements have also helped us. Recently, I was with a major businessman in Anambra and he said if not for anything that the delivery of the Second Niger Bridge to us was a reason why he would for now associate with the APC, so when you put all these together, you will agree that our party is the party to beat in Anambra State. You played host to the Vice President last year July, where you made your appeals to him as regards the party in Anambra, as at today have these appeals been addressed?


BE: Yes and no. Yes in the sense that it is still an ongoing process, I mean the appeals have a time frame and no that the major pillars that ought to have helped push towards such goals have not helped at all but we are still planning another one as we do not intend to relent until such goals are met, but if you ask me I do not think we have fully realized the benefits of the coming of the Vice President. The Anambra APC seems to have an array of gubernatorial aspirants and there is this clamour that power should be zoned to Anambra South come 2021, do you share such sentiments?


BE: Well, I have been confronted with this issue severally and my attitude towards such is that it is not an issue for me to decide but for the party to decide and that when the time comes the party will come out with a position. Since your coming on board in January, 2019, the APC has received a boost as a party because people make reference to your sterling leadership, can you please give us insight into what programs you have as a chairman that you intend to deploy to reposition the party for the forthcoming 2021 guber elections?


BE: Following my emergence, I realized that all was not too well with the party, thus we set up a committee to help us chart a roadmap and last year we did come up with an agenda and this year we are also doing the same thing and so far, so good, we have been keeping faith with the road map, we have been meeting with key stakeholders in the party, party members at all levels. We have opted to be transparent in all our dealings, for example look at what we did when we sought for a replacement to Chief George Moghalu, the former National Auditor of the party, we engaged a process that was open that at the end of it both the winner and all other contestants openly embraced each other, this would not have been possible if we as a State Executive Committee had not allowed for a free and fair process.


In line with my vision to make the party at the state level to be financially buoyant, we constituted a nine man Committee to help draw out strategies that will help us have access to more funding in order to meet a number of our responsibilities as a party.


Asides such, we also hosted all pro Buhari and pro APC groups in Anambra, this was necessary to build the required synergies between the party and those who support either the president as an individual or are special interest groups within the party’s fold.


Lastly, we have also held a series of interactions with the media, thus is to ensure that the party and its programmes get the much required boost in the media.


We are also going to embark on a working tour, where we would cover the 21 local government areas as well as the 326 wards, this is to rejig the party and strengthen the party at the ward levels. We intend to find out what we have on ground, identify with stakeholders in these wards and chart strategies to move the party forward in these areas. When we are done with this we will then look at the process of registering new party members, issuing party cards and other foundation activities. Once these things are put in place then we can begin to build upon them in order to make progress.


Again, even at the secretariat , we have also effected a number of renovations and numerous changes in our headquarters, we now have a party that is functional in and out and ready to meet the yearning needs of its members and the general public. Now despite these laudable achievements of yours, there was recently an attempt to remove you as Chairman of the party, what fueled those attempts and are you in the clear now?


BE: Well, this is politics and I have always had the attitude that if you do not want to be bothered by anybody then you leave the position and go into your house. Now, the moment you are occupying a position, you must get ready to accept such moves. For me, it is not surprising and it is politics, my own reaction is to continue to give leadership to the party with a message that we all as APC members should sheathe our swords and think more of what should unite us so that we can take over Anambra State come 2021, which should be our main focus. That is my message. A number of people will say that the APC administration under President Muhammadu Buhari has done quite well, particularly in terms of infrastructure, particularly in the SouthEast, however there is still a disconnect between the party and the people of Anambra State. Now, why has Anambra not shown some semblance in the sense that in 2017 and 2019 elections the party failed to make much headway in both elections, this is despite the good works of President Muhammadu Buhari in the State.


BE: One thing that is permanent is change but of course you know that people like to resist any form of change, even though it is inevitable that change must come. So the issue of APC in Anambra State is getting better because when you compare the results of the 2015 elections in Anambra State and in 2019, it is obvious that there is a remarkable difference comparing both events, we must not also forget that the running mate to the PDP candidate, Peter Obi, a former governor was also from the state. So I may agree that the required acceptability of the party has not been much as one would have expected that with all the APC administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had done that the APC in Anambra would have been the most acceptable platform by the people. However, I believe that such acceptability will come but it will be gradual. Look at our 2017 results,’we came second with almost a hundred thousand votes, that’s quite a big achievement and speaks of the gradual acceptability, now I am hoping that with the continuous achievements of the Buhari administration in the state, such as the reconstruction of the Enugu- Awka- Onitsha Express way, the Nnewi – Oba Federal Highway, the Second Niger Bridge, the completion of Zik’s Mausoleum, the siting of Zone 13 Police Command and a number of other major achievements of his administration will also help further spur such acceptance by the people while we as a party do our own homework here, so that by 2021 we will as the APC do much better than we have ever done. The SouthEast has recently been clamoring that come 2023, it is the turn of the zone to produce the President, what are your thoughts on this matter and is the Anambra APC likely to key in to that vision?

BE : For me it is even overdue, but the fact remain is that power is never given, you must work for it, that is why we are appealing to our people that the outcome of the next guber election in 2021 will either strengthen our case for Igbo Presidency or weaken it. I know for sure that our people are wiser now and then there is this general feeling that such an ambition will come to the SouthEast but then it is left for our people as NdiIgbo to play our own part, we must be able to reach out to all other sections of the country as history has always shown us that no section alone can make its own President, so we must reach out. Also, we must work very, very hard to make Anambra an APC State come 2021, the moment we achieve that we are a step closer to achieving that goal.

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