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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…

TTP.ng- 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.

TTP.ng – 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.

TTP.ng- 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.

TTP.ng- 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.

TTP.ng- 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.

TTP.ng- 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.

TTP.ng- 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.

 

TTP.ng-As 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.

TTP.ng- 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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Political

APC’s Caretaker Committee More Committed To Achieving Total Party Unity and Reconciliation.- Yekini Nabena, Deputy National Publicity Secretary, All Progressives Congress

Caretaker Committee much more interested in achieving true reconciliation- Nabena

On extension of Tenure :Says Caretaker Committee needs time to achieve true reconciliation…

Says President Muhammadu Buhari’s has done well…

APC will restructure Nigeria…

In this interview, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC bares his mind on a number of issues confronting the party and the country.

In a voice laden with passion he speaks on a number of topics ranging from the tenure of the party’s caretaker committee, the challenges before it as well as the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari, restructuring , security and a number of sundry issues.

Enjoy!

ttp.ng- There are insinuations that the Caretaker Committee led by its Chairman, Governor Mai Buni might be considering getting an extension of its six months tenure, how true are these insinuations

YN- You see, a time frame was given and we as the caretaker committee are working towards such a timeframe. Now you know that the party just finished prosecuting two elections, namely in Edo and Ondo. When you deduct from these elections the months that we have to carry out our mandate of thorough reconciliation, you will notice that we have just two months, November and December and then still go on to hold the mini convention in December. Now are these months enough to round up the reconciliations all over the Federation , within the zones, the states as well as the grassroots within the party?

Note that we did not achieve the complete reconciliation that we sought for in Edo, this perhaps must have been the reason for our failure in that election. Second, when you look at the crisis in Edo State and the date that the election took place, you could see that because of the timing we could not attempt total reconciliation, compare this with how we were able to achieve true reconciliation in Ondo APC, where we sat with all the stakeholders, those who contested with Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu
and fell out with him before , during and after the primaries, the caretaker committee was able to totally reconcile all aggrieved members before that election which held on October 10th thus the success in that election.

So if we are to adequately prepare for 2023, we must ensure that we unite the party in order to make it formidable enough to participate in the 2023 polls and not go into such an election with crisis. We are taking it one step at a time with the aim that the reconciliation process yields results.

ttp.ng- Don’t you think that such a move will create room for such a crisis in the party per se, this is because there were people who did not feel too comfortable with the dissolution of the NWC and may further feel that such an extension is meant to hurt their interests.

YN- You see let us look at this here, we are human beings and we are wired differently and thus crisis will always emanate because of our differences. Now, even if there is peace, there is still a situation that some people will just want to foster trouble and create crisis themselves. However, if we can achieve 90 percent of unity amongst party members before the 2023, then we would be okay, look at Ondo, let’s see it as part of the bigger picture, the results that Akeredolu used to win were as a result of the total reconciliation that we were able to achieve before that election, this is the same thing we intend to achieve before the 2023 elections, matter of fact before Anambra and Ekiti elections. Even at that let us look at it in another way, let’s assume we conduct congresses today and a convention, do you think that there would not be crisis, people would still bring about a crisis, so we want to get things right in order to ensure that we attain cohesion amongst party members.

ttp.ng – Why was the party not able to achieve total reconciliation in Edo State.

YN- Good I will tell you. Close to Edo election , we already had a crisis which you remember consumed the chairman of the party. These people took their grievances to the election owing much to their selfishness within the party itself in Edo State. Now, owing to the short time that the party had before going into the election, it was very difficult to reconcile all parties, even the governors were polarized and thus reconciliation was difficult.

ttp.ng-Many have actually spelt doom for the party in the coming days; it lost the elections in Edo State and prior to that election had lost states like Bauchi, Adamawa, Zamfara, Benue, Oyo and Bayelsa. Do you see the APC bouncing back to winning ways anytime soon and in 2023

YN- Just like I said we all know the problems that we had in all the states you just mentioned. First of all, let me correct you, we lost Bayelsa to the courts. Look at a state like Adamawa, we lost because of infighting between party members. Same goes for Bauchi and Zamfara. This is why the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni is passionate about achieving genuine reconciliation, not a reconciliation of one person but a firm reconciliation that will resonate even to the grassroots where all interests will be carried along.

ttp.ng- Is this possible

YN- Why not, we are talking about attaining a win-win situation in this scenario. Let me give you an example. Look at what happened in Imo State, a situation where a particular person wanted to be a Senator and have his son in law as governor and still nominate all the members of the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly was the reason for part of the problems that we had. Whereas the party had other leaders and stakeholders in the party, such a situation you will agree was bound to create a crisis and these are the things, the culture that we inherited and we as the caretaker committee want to ensure that we chart a new culture where we give and take. Nobody will be allowed to have it all, there must be that spirit of democratic consensus amongst our members.

ttp.ng- There seems to be a schism in the party, groups and allegiances between groups have pitted party members against each other? Now this was one aspect that the caretaker committee was supposed to solve or address, now as a member of this committee what steps have been taken to ensure true reconciliation between these groups

YN- I must tell you that the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni is working at top notch speed in trying to meet all known party groups in order to be able to accommodate all interests. The magic is that we have a chairman that has a listening ear and I believe that we will get there. As I speak to you now he is meeting with all the party chairmen from the states. This is to ensure that that cohesion that we need as a party is attained. Now that is not all, he intends to meet with all groups and listen to their complaints while trying to harmonize these interests.

ttp.ng- Can you enumerate the steps taken so far to achieve this true reconciliation

YN- Well a lot has been done even though we as a party for strategic reasons are trying to downplay it. Now recall that a number of Senators and Representatives left with former Senate President Bukola Saraki and the former Speaker Yakubu Dogara, a number of these people are back. I am sure you are aware that Yakubu Dogara is back. These are some of the effects of the stewardship of the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee.

ttp.ng- There have been confusing calls to zone the presidential ticket of the party to the South and some have stated that there is no such thing as zoning in the constitution of the All Progressives Congress as a party, how do you see the party wading through such polarizing views as 2023 draws nigh.

YN- You see we have six zones that make up the country, now when the time comes, we will bring together stakeholders within the party to sit down and agree on where the presidency should be zoned to. This is why we are emphasizing on the issue of reconciliation and unity because if we fail to achieve this then the issue of zoning could be another avenue for a crisis. But if we have that unity then we can sit down and agree as party men and women that this is where the presidency should be zoned to, when this is done then we can move with the candidate that will emerge, whether he is from the North or the South. It is not for one man or one region to say.

ttp.ng-Many have stated that the party has failed in fulfilling its promises to the Nigerian people? What’s your take on this

YN: I disagree, not because of my position as Publicity Secretary but because I am a Nigerian. You see the former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was from my state, Bayelsa State and I ask let him point to one major turnkey infrastructure that was attracted to the region or let me narrow it to Bayelsa. Even the road to his home wasn’t tarred but it is this APC led government that is putting up infrastructure all over the country and even in the former president’s home town.

Let’s look at it, there was the problem of fuel scarcity repeatedly, but today we do not experience such as we can drive in whether in normal periods or during festivities and buy the product. Look at the railways, is it Lagos Ibadan, Abuja – Kaduna, Itakpe – Warri, these are realities. Look at our response to the Corona Virus pandemic, we have the lowest death rates in Nigeria compared to a number of other nations, some are even more developed than us.

We must understand that the foundations have been wrong and people elected this administration twice to correct such wrongs. What about roads , look at the Second Niger Bridge, it was in paper for years but today it is nearing completion. The Onitsha Seaport was lying comatose while the PDP paid lip service to such economic potentials but today we are seeing containers move from Onne to Onitsha, so how can people say that the APC has failed?

ttp.ng- Restructuring of the Nigerian Nation seems to be getting more and more supporters all over the Federation. Recently Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed ChristianChurch of God has joined the fray, this has gotten us to ask What happened to the El Rufai Committee on Restructuring

YN: Let me ask this question, did the clamor for restructuring begin today? Even at that, this government has put in place a structure that will enhance or ensure such restructuring, but these processes take time. The opposition party was in power for 16 years and the clamors for restructuring were loud and clear, nothing came out of such calls, confab after confab yielded little, matter of fact nothing came out of such calls.

You see when you have a pot and ingredients inside the pot and yet you could not prepare the meal but now you want to force an administration that has spent less than six years to do all that you failed to do in 16 years , I mean that’s not fair. The APC led government much believes in restructuring but we must do so in a manner that will satisfy the interests of all Nigerians, we cannot grant to this country a restructuring that will not meet the needs of the nation, thus we must take things gradually in order to give to the nation a proper form of restructuring.

ttp.ng- Perhaps the need to restructure now has become much more glaring than what it was a couple of years. Must this administration because the past administrations could not achieve such then relax and deny us the much needed restructuring

YN:I am only just trying to draw an analysis that if an administration with its own level of experiences then could not bequeath in 16 years the much needed restructuring with all the options that did lie before it, we are also trying to deploy our own options to ensure that we achieve such within eight years or before sixteen years.

ttp.ng- Are you saying that we may have to wait for eight years before restructuring?

YN: I have not said so, I am only saying that we may need to be patient in order to get the best of our restructuring demands.

ttp.ng- What happened to the report of the El Rufai Committee

YN:There are still working on it…

ttp.ng- Two, three years…

YN: Sixteen years…

Laughter….

ttp.ng- But we believe that two theee years is enough to meet the restructuring demands of Nigerians.

YN: You see this administration does not believe in paper work, we want to do something substantive, we want to effect real change and not something that is not likely to survive the test of time and the scrutinies of the future. Restructuring is not just paper work, we must give serious thought to implementation and the workability of certain propositions, without this all we would be doing would be a child’s play.

ttp.ng – But a lot of Nigerians were optimistic about the Committee turning out for the hearing and submitted a number of memorandum at the various sittings, are you saying that the wisdom of these Nigerians amounts to nothing

YN: When the Goodluck administration organized its confab and spent billions of Naira bringing Nigerians all over the country to come to Abuja for the confab. Do you know what such an amount of money would have done for Nigerians and even at that the resolutions of such a confab ended up just on paper, so you see the Buhari administration is careful and does not seek to waste funds or time on a process that may not yield us the maximum results as a nation. We surely want to restructure but we must do so in a manner that will yield results for the good of this country and her citizens.

ttp.ng- So why is the government yet to begin such a process

YN: But you all know what the world is presently facing at this point in time, the government is dealing with the Coronavirus and a number of other challenges but restructure we surely will.

ttp.ng- Recently, the presidency has come under fire for failing to rein in insecurity in several parts of the country, this is despite its earlier successes in pushing Boko Haram and ensuring that the enemy’s actions have been restricted to hit and run tactics? There have been calls on President Buhari to fire his service chiefs as well as to engage the likes of Chad in the battle against Boko Haram. Are these calls

YN : At this point, I think the president knows better. The president is the leader of the party and this people work directly under his supervision. He knows what he is doing and he has a plan…

ttp.ng- Cuts in, But you are the mouthpiece, the image maker of his party.

YN: Yes, the President is the leader of the party and government business and these people work under him and he knows what they are doing and he has his agenda…

ttp.ng – But we have issues of Boko Haram, Banditry and kidnapping in Borno, Kastina,Zamfara, Kogi, Niger, Kano

YN: Let me come in here, I think it is wrong based on the facts available to Nigerians to say that this administration is not doing well in terms of security…

ttp.ng – It is not my opinion, it is the opinion of the people

YN: But you are speaking for these people. Even in security this administration has done immensely well. What are the parameters used? There was a time this country had some parts of it controlled by terrorists, today that is not the situation. Not too long ago bombs went off in this country like firecrackers but today that is not the situation, so I do not agree that the president has failed in security, no I beg to disagree.

ttp.ng- Many party faithfuls did not seem to agree with the party’s rush to congratulate Governor Godwin Obaseki who defeated the APC’s candidate in the last elections held in Edo State, there are also insinuations that such a move was taken to spite a particular party leader in Edo State?

YN: You see we are Democrats and in democracy you win some and you lose some. Again, you must understand that we as the ruling party should not be behaving like the opposition. We congratulated the PDP because it was necessary that we did such, an election was held and a winner emerged, we did what was right.

ttp.ng – But The candidate of the party in that election was yet to accept the outcome of the results at that time and it looked too quick that you had just finished the election which was believed to have been marred by several infractions of the electoral law. So why did the party rush to congratulate the PDP’s candidate.

YN: Like I said, you win some, you lose some, we lost that election and took it in good faith. We learnt from that election’s mistakes and put our house in order and went into the Ondo elections were we won resoundingly.

ttp.ng- The candidate of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu is still in court with a number of pre election cases now will the party support him.

YN-:Yes of course, the party will support him because he is our candidate, that is the beauty of running for an election on our platform, whatever support he needs we will definitely give him. Is he not a member of the party? So why we will not support him in his court cases against the sitting governor?

ttp.ng- On this note, we say thank you, it was nice speaking to you.

YN: Thank you too

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News

2021: Anambra APC Will Not Leave Anything To Chance- Basil Ejidike, Anambra APC Chairman

The State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Anambra State , Chief Basil Ejidike has stated that come 2021, Anambra State APC will do all that it takes to capture power as it intends to leave nothing to chance.

Basil Ejidike, Chairman APC Anambra State

Ejidike stated this in an exclusive interview with ttp.ng where he laid out his views on the present state of the party which he heads as it’s Chairman, the issue of zoning of the guber ticket and the recent subterfuge attempts to remove him from.office.

In the interview, Ejidike highlighted some of the acheivements of his stewardship so far, including programmes undertaken by the state executive committee and the state working committee to favourably position the party come 2021.

He also spoke on the issue of igbo Presidency as well as President Buhari’s performance so far and why he believes that the president’s efforts, particularly in the SouthEast would yield great results in the attempts by the state chapter to dislodge the ruling party from office.

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News

Caretaker Committee More Interested in Reconciliation Than Tenure Elongation.-Yekini Nabena

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Yekini Nabena has stated that the Caretaker Committee led by Mai Mala Buni is more interested in reconciling the party than in tenure elongation

Nabena stated this in an exclusive interview with ttp.ng where he pointed out that the Caretaker Committee was more interested in ensuring total reconciliation within the party while it had also been spearheading campaigns in both Edo and Ondo States. Nabena pointed that with the level of crisis that was met by the Caretaker Committee there could be no doubting that there was not enough time for the committee to meet the mandate of total reconciliation.

When asked if an extension would not fuel further crisis for the party, Nabena stated that what the Caretaker Committee was primarily concerned with was to ensure party unity in order for the party to make great impact in 2023. He said that even if the convention and congresses were held today, there would still be issues that would prop up and spell doom for the party this it was important for the Caretaker Committee to push for genuine reconciliation that would ensure a win-win situation from the grassroots to the national levels.

Nabena also spoke on President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance so far describing the Change and Next level agendas of the APC led administrations as unprecedented, citing the infrastructural renewal and drive witnessed presently, the agricultural revolution, the war on terrorism as well as the war against corruption.

Culled From ttp.ng

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