CHANGE IS HERE

CHANGE IS HERE

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

N7.65BN PRESIDENTIAL JET ARRIVES

click to expand image
By Oyetunji Abioye


punch logoOne of the three presidential jets ordered by the Federal Government last year has arrived the country. 
Sources close to Aso Rock told our correspondent that the jet, a Falcon 7X, arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja from France a week ago. 
The aircraft which was manufactured by Dassault Aviation of France cost the government $51m (about N7.65bn.) 
The Federal Executive Council had on August 12, 2010 approved $102m for the purchase of two Falcon 7x and $53.3m for one Gulfstream G550 aircraft to beef up the Presidential Air Fleet. 
Our source added that the second Falcon 7X would arrive the country during the second quarter of the year. 
Confirming the arrival of the first jet, a top official of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, who pleaded anonymity as the matter has to do with the Presidency, said the aircraft arrived last week. 
He said the presidential crew flying the aircraft had been on a two-week training in France. 
Some officials of the regulatory agency, who will keep safety regulatory oversight on the ultra-modern jet had also gone on training in France, the source added. 
“The jet came in last week. In fact, before they brought it into the country, some officials of NCAA, including a regional manager, had gone to inspect the plane. The second Falcon 7X will arrive later,” he added. 
In what is probably its first mission, the jet was said to have conveyed the the wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, to Sokoto on Tuesday. 
Sources in Sokoto confirmed that the jet, marked Nigerian Air Force 5N-FGU, was sighted at the Sa’ad Abubakar III Airport, Sokoto. 
The two Falcon 7X aircraft are to be supplied by Messrs Dassault Aviation of France, while the Gulfstream G550 will come from Messrs Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation of the United States. 
The Federal Government had expected the first Falcon 7X aircraft to arrive in Nigeria by the end of December and the second in the second quarter of 2011. 
The Gulfstream G550 is also expected in the country by the second quarter of 2011. 
The sum of N21bn was provided in the 2010 budget for the purchase of the three aircraft. 
The former Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, had told journalists in Abuja last year that the Federal Executive Council approved the purchase of the aircraft. 
FEC had at the end of its November 25, 2009 meeting announced that the government had commenced a phased replacement of aircraft in the PAF. 
The government explained that the decision to drop some of the eight aircraft in the PAF followed the discovery that they had become too expensive to maintain due to old age.

TV Debate: Media Group Sends President Jonathan Advance Questions

 As further evidence that next month’s elections are unlikely to be free and fair, SaharaReporters has obtained a document which shows that the media group which is organizing today’s debate did prepare advance questions for President Goodluck Jonathan at least a week ago.
  It is the equivalent of one student receiving the exam test papers in his own home while the others sweat in libraries and study rooms.
Although the event is supposed to treat all the debate participants equally, the questions prepared by the media group for President Jonathan demonstrate that the group is biased in his favour.  This was one of the reasons given last week by three of the leading contenders who pulled out of today’s debate, but the charge was denied by the so-called “media group.
The targeting and phraseology employed in the questions also show a tendency not to challenge President Jonathan, but to help him formulate favourable responses. On the PDP’s zoning quagmire, for instance, he is merely asked such a penalty-spot question as whether he does not carry a moral burden.   On the question of transformation, he is lobbed another “Help Yourself” question: “What are you really saying to Nigerians?”
On the vexed question of infrastructure, the media group says, “The complex of infrastructure in Nigeria is allegedly notoriously inefficient, inadequate, underdeveloped, derelict and neglected,” but again points to the penalty spot, “Its (sic) all the noise about power not just a hype?”
In addition to the questions submitted by the media group, the document also shows government functionaries feverishly trying to help Jonathan pass the test, with both questions and suggested answers carefully laid out for him.  An e-mail dated 25 March from Kassey Garba, the Chief Economic Adviser to the President to Professor Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah, the Minister for Agriculture, covers Questions 23 & 24, supposedly for that Ministry.  Since the questions from the media group are numbered 1-16, this suggests that Questions 17-22 were expected from other government bodies. 
The emergence of this document will provide further worry to many Nigerians and the international community that although Jonathan has repeatedly said he wishes to see elections that are free and fair, he is desperately trying to employ short cuts to ensure his victory.  On December 25, SaharaReporters reported the presence of a rigging manual that had been prepared by the Jonathan Campaign. 
The television debate advisory by the media group is particularly worrying because the group is supposed to be a professional one and has asked to be seen as such. 
“This is a terrible tragedy,” said a political analyst in Abuja this afternoon. 
“This is a sad day for both the media and this government.   It is the old story of power being desperately sought by every desperate measure.  This is a terrible tragedy.”

Full text of the document:
Questions submitted by the media group
1.    Your emergence as PDP presidential candidate was mired in controversy as a result of the conflicting interpretations of your party’s zoning and rotation principles: do you not carry a moral burden?



2.    When you talk of “transformation” what are you really saying to Nigerians?




3.    The Nigerian economy seems to be in the grip of an unending crisis, characterized by a poor growth rate, low capacity utilization, unimpressive direct foreign investments, bank failures and now a rapidly weakening naira. Is the situation redeemable?



4.    The complex of infrastructure in Nigeria is allegedly notoriously inefficient, inadequate, underdeveloped, derelict and neglected. Its all the noise about power not just hype?




5.    What is your programme for taking the Nigerian Railways, roads, marine and air transportation into the 21st century?



6.    Employment is one area of crisis. 80% of Nigerian school leavers/graduates do not get jobs for years after graduation. What will your government do to cure this dangerous scourge?




7.    With Boko Haram in Bauchi and Borno States, endless killings in Jos, bombings everywhere, kidnappings in the South-East and armed robbers operating with impunity everywhere. Could it not be said that your Government has lost grip of the management of security in the country?



8.    Has your Government abandoned the fight against corruption in Nigeria? All the former Governors indicted since 2007 are sitting in the Senate, seeking re-election and playing active roles in the current electoral dispensation!




9.    Is the lackadaisical way the reform agenda in the petroleum sector has been handled not symptomatic of your approach to governance? Why has the Petroleum Industry Bill been so shabbily treated?



10.    Please, give us an insight into how you intend to tackle the rot in the education and health sectors.




11.    Are you satisfied with the outputs and growth rate in the agricultural sector? If not, give us an insight into your programme for the sector?



12.    Your foreign policy seems to be defined by the contradiction between declaration and action on the election crisis in the Ivory Coast. Do you really have a coherent Foreign Policy?




13.    Is your corruption fight not compromised by the alleged involvement of your wife in money-laundering and what is seen as your own indictment by the Code of Conduct Bureau?

14.    Your wife is already exciting women about getting 35% of public offices under your Government, if you are elected. Are you really serious about fulfilling this promise?




15.    With hindsight, do you approve of your handling of the bombing incident at the Eagle square on 1st October 2010?



16.    Are you confident that your strategy for peace and development in the Niger delta is working?



Agriculture


•    Question 23: 
It has been argued that government subsidies on agriculture and other products have not achieved the desired goals, what is your view on this?
Why is Nigeria spending so much on food importation despite the abundance of resources?
Subsidy is not getting to the farmers

Answer:


•    This is because we have not embarked on developing the full value chain for our agricultural products and not paid enough attention to reducing post-harvest losses. Once this is done, food importation will reduce.
•    As a developing country, subsidy is still very important if we are to achieve the desired growth. Even developed countries have one form of subsidy or the other.
•    Government will continue to subsidize agriculture but with better management approach to its administration. The Fertilizer voucher scheme which we have piloted in partnership with private sector since 2009 appears to be working well. We shall use it to reach the desired target population that needs the subsidy.
-Between 2007 and 2009 a total of 1.23 million metric tons of fertilizer were procured and distributed at a total subsidy cost of N29.16 billion. In 2010 alone, 900,000metric tons were procured for distribution at a cost of N89.31billion with total subsidy of N22.30 billion.)
♣    There have been a lot of investments in irrigation, (HMIC) in addition to fertilizer supplies, GMP support for farmers, 


Question 24: 
What will be your government’s programme for agricultural transformation in the country?
Answer:
Agriculture is an important sector of Nigeria economy; employ over 75 % of the population; contribute 41% to GDP and accounted for 30% of the growth in the non- oil output
Creating of enabling policy environment and provision of essential infrastructure that will boost the productivity and output of smallholders and large scale producers. Areas of focus of my government will include;
•    provision of  improved seed and other farm inputs at subsidized rate 
o    ( 25 % subsidy level on fertilizer) with emphasis on expanding the new fertilizer voucher scheme subsidy model; one-stop shop agro- input centres,
•    agricultural financing / Credit facilities  to boost agric value chains 
o    ( N200billion Commercial Agric Credit scheme, N100billion Textile and cotton  fund, Revitalization of Bank of Agriculture)
•    Increase irrigation facilities and dams across the country  to support dual season production 
o    cover 200,000 ha of irrigated farm land from the present 40,000ha.

•    attracting private investment into agriculture through Public-private partnership in all the agriculture value chain process,
•    Facilitate agriculture value chain process to reduce post harvest waste and market for producers ( establishment of agricultural value chain infrastructures:- two  fish processing estate, five  integrated livestock processing centre; eighteen agro-industrial estates; nine farmers’ markets
•    Development of strategic food reserve to ensure national food security, stabilize food prices and guarantee producers’ farm income. ( increase reserve from current 300,000 metric tons to 1.3million . In addition to current 14 silos that are operational , 20 more are at various stages of completion across the country.
•    In my transformation plan, opening up the rural roads is a top priority so that agricultural products can be moved to the consuming areas.





From: Abdul and Kassey Garba
Subject: Q & A
To: profsheikh@yahoo.com

Sheikh Abdullah
Date: Friday, March 25, 2011, 3:20 AM


Utomi quits presidential race

The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Mega Party, Prof. Pat Utomi, on Wednesday withdrew from the race over the inability of position parties to adopt a single contestant. 
click to expand imageUtomi, who confirmed his decision to THE PUNCH on the telephone, said, “Yes, I’ve withdrawn. I withdrew today.” 

His decision came as a shock to Nigerians, especially as he had on Tuesday participated in the debate organised by the Nigeria Election Debate Group in Abuja alongside three other candidates.

BUHARI LEADS IN MOCK ONLINE POLLS

Print print Email email Share Share


Lead Image  The presidential elections may still be more than a week away, but some Nigerians have already started voting for their candidates.
There are now several platforms online that allow Nigerians with access to the Internet to vote for their favourite presidential aspirant and share their preference on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
The retired military general, Mohammadu Buhari is in the lead on two online voting sites: Nigerians Decide and Online Voting for the Nigerian 2011 Elections.
On Nigerians Decide, Mr Buhari is winning with a wide margin of 60 percent (1,378 votes) and 68 percent of the votes, respectively. He is followed by President Jonathan with 24 percent (546) and Nuhu Ribadu at 13 percent (300). Pat Utomi and Ibrahim Shekarau both have 1 percent of the votes with the remaining candidates at less than 1 percent.
Over 3,500 people have cast their vote at nigeriansdecide.110mb.com for the 18 different presidential aspirants.
On Nigerian 2011 Elections, the results are the same, but in different percentages. This website however, only included six contenders: Mr Jonathan, Mr Ribadu, Mr Buhari, Mr Shekarau, Dele Momodu and Mr Utomi. In its mission statement on its home page, the Nigerian 2011 elections said it was created “for Nigerians in Diaspora or Nigerians online as a whole, who will not have the opportunity to vote” in the real elections.
Option A4 of Online
Voting Websites like takeastand.com.ng want to take online voting to the next level. The self-described “Option A4 of online voting”, requires voters to make their ‘vote’ public on a social network site. According to the designers on their website, Oo Nwoye, Namzo Ojeh and Ope Obembe, “Take a stand was built to fight apathy, double speak, and non commitment by our friends and colleagues on the forthcoming Nigerian elections.” Option A4 is a reference to the 1992 elections that had voters line up behind the candidate of their choice. The website claims that the 1992 were probably the freest and fairest elections ever held in Nigeria.


Unlike other online voting websites though, they do not show results in terms of which candidate is in the lead, but people can see where their friends stand on Facebook and Twitter. Take a Stand only allows you to vote for 4 candidates: Mr Buhari, Mr Jonathan, Mr Ribadu and Mr Shekarau. According to the web designers, the reason there are only four aspirants is “exactly the same reason the 20 premier league clubs do not go to the Champions League.” In order the make the voting as accurate as possible, Take a Stand and Nigerian 2011 elections only allow voters to vote once. Nigerians Decide allows web visitors to vote once every 24 hours.


WHAT IDEA IS GENERAL BUHARI?


  Sahara Reporters
General Muhammadu Buhari‘s arrest on August 25, 1985 terminated his reign as
Nigeria’s seventh political leader. He was flown to Benin City, and placed in solitary
 confinement. No reason was given for his incarceration. A trial was not
countenanced, nor questions asked. His, remains the only regime in
Nigerian history, whose successor did not and could not justify its
ouster on grounds of incompetence, corruption or unpatriotic disposition.
Rather, his unwavering will and indefatigable commitment to stirring
national spirit along directions that were viewed as revolutionary by certain
domestic and external interest groups.
In a matter of weeks, his regime had demonstrated its ability and willingness
 to compel a paradigm shift in the attitude and mentality of Nigerians. The people
were prepared for a novel era in which the ship of state would be driven toward
bounds never contemplated.
Events that marked his era as Head of State and those that followed his ouster
left not a few people convinced that the conspiracy that ousted General Buhari
extinguished the flame he had inspired in the hearts of men and stifled the voice
of a
generation. General Buhari did not just tell Nigerians that they can be a great
 people.
In more than mere words and within a time frame of twenty months, he
convincingly demonstrated how Nigeria can be a proud and great nation. Yet,
in the
twentieth month of his reign, he was deposed, arrested and jailed. How did it
happen?
 Why did we let it happen?
His twenty months reign as Nigeria’s seventh political leader and the phenomenon
 of
General Buhari’s almost four year detention in house number 29, Aiguobasinmi
Avenue,
 GRA Benin-City, were contradictory realities.
Dismissed from the Army, why was the deposed military Head of State detained
without
trial for over three years? The plan was to erase him from the collective
consciousness
of a nation, to rub away twenty months experience of General Buhari's rule,
from the
hearts and soul of Nigeria...to erase a legend from the memory of a people...
To put a genie
 into a bottle, cock it and throw it into the deep Atlantic. Ask any sincere and
courageous
man who lived the age to speak his mind. The answer can almost be predicted.
Something
 in the heart died on the 27th day of August, 1985. That day, the lie that has
continued
to keep Nigeria down was born and daylight was swallowed by darkness. A
 burning
light was extinguished by a gale from hell, marking the triumph of evil over
 good.
It was
the day a serpentine creature slithered into the groove that held the Eagle's
nest and
swallowed a fledgling bird. Memories of the bird’s devotion to a people’s
desire to
be great, remains as perennial as
grassland that laps living water.
The serpentine creature took over the nest, and nested millions of its
kind...gobbling up much of everything. Dreams became nightmare… vanity,
national
order. Conscience were bought and sold, and oaths sworn for a lie to be lived fully.
At the threshold of atrophy, with the ship of state adrift in uncharted waters,
surfaces a
 bottle, with the message that our Eagle is alive. From wilderness, he swoops,
back to lead.
 The Eagle is back, stronger, spoiling for the final confrontation. Is the party of
serpentine creatures drawing to a close? Will they slither out the way they came?
Can a
divided nation unify,energize itself and find the strength to violently smash an
almost two
 decade old reign of serpents? Will the Falcon hear the Falconer's cry for it to soar,
 high
through the eye of the storm and higher still?
What kind of idea is General Buhari? Is it one which ninety nine out of every
hundred
times is doomed to failure, but the one time it scores its mark, changes the destiny
 of
 a people forever? If it attains its mark, what must General Buhari do to the
enemies?
These questions cannot be left hanging in the air.

12-year old astrophysics prodigy

For 12-year old astrophysics prodigy, the sky’s the limit

By Zachary Roth
In some ways, Jacob Barnett is just like any other 12-year-old kid. He plays Guitar Hero, shoots hoops with his friends, and has a platonic girlfriend.
But in other ways, he's a little different. Jake, who has an IQ of 170, began solving 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzles at the age of 3, not long after he'd been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism. A few years later, he taught himself calculus, algebra, and geometry in two weeks. By 8, he had left high school, and is currently taking college-level advanced astrophysics classes—while tutoring his older classmates. And he's being recruited for a paid researcher job by Indiana University.
Now, he's at work on a theory that challenges the Big Bang—the prevailing explanation among scientists for how the universe came about. It's not clear how developed it is, but experts say he's asking the right questions.
"The theory that he's working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics," Scott Tremaine of Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Studies—where Einstein (pictured) himself worked—wrote in an email to Jake's family. "Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize."
Here you can watch Jake question some of the key elements of Albert Einstein's theories on quantum physics:
It's not clear where Jake got his gifts from. "Whenever I try talking about math with anyone in my family," hetold the Indianapolis Star, "they just stare blankly."
But his parents encouraged his interests from the start. Once, they took him to the planetarium at Butler University. "We were in the crowd, just sitting, listening to this guy ask the crowd if anyone knew why the moons going around Mars were potato-shaped and not round," Jake's mother, Kristine Barnett, told the Star. "Jacob raised his hand and said, 'Excuse me, but what are the sizes of the moons around Mars?' "
After the lecturer answered, said Kristine, "Jacob looked at him and said the gravity of the planet ... is so large that (the moon's) gravity would not be able to pull it into a round shape."
"That entire building ... everyone was just looking at him, like, 'Who is this 3-year-old?'"

Monday, March 28, 2011

BUHARI SNUBS OBASANJO


Ex-President’s move to replace Bakare with Okonjo-Iweala meets brick wall
•Ladoja: Ogun voters will reject Obasanjo
A SECRET move by former President Olusegun Obasan
jo to the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), to begin a ‘political romance’ has met a brick wall.
He made the move shortly after Buhari picked fiery Lagos cleric, Pastor Tunde Bakare, as his running mate for the April 9 election.
It was gathered that the former President began the process of reaching out to Buhari “because of the general feeling in the land that the race is between Jonathan (President Goodluck) and Buhari”.
A source said Obasanjo is no longer feeling comfortable with the way everybody is attacking him over his manipulation of democratic processes in various state chapters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The source declared that the former President sent a two-man delegation to Buhari in his Kaduna residence to persuade him to drop Bakare, his kinsman from Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, for the Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
He said: “Also at the meeting were Bakare and former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Malam Nasir el-Rufai. After receiving them, they told Buhari that they were sent by Obasanjo with a message to drop Bakare for the woman.
“They quoted Obasanjo to have said that Okonjo-Iweala would be better as a Vice-President than that abusive Pastor for some reasons. Okonjo-Iweala has experience in government as Finance Minister and later External Affairs Minister, she is from the South-East, a woman who will appeal to the female gender, a Christian and a strong one for that matter and the Managing Director of the World Bank who will use her international connection to fix the country’s economy in no time.”
The source said Buhari listened to them “and when they finished, he told them that he was surprised that Obasanjo could send emissaries to him when they don’t belong to the same political party and they are sworn partisan enemies, having contested against Obasanjo in 2003 and the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007.”

Buhari was said to have asked the delegation in whose interest Obasanjo sent them to him: “In Jonathan or my own interest? Did he send you to me based on the knowledge that Jonathan may lose the election? If I become the President, does he think I will be his stooge or work with him? Did he tell Jonathan before sending you to me?”
The former head of state between 1983 and 1985 reportedly asked the delegation follow-up questions to which they could not answer.
“Greet OBJ for me,” he reportedly told them and left the living room. The delegation immediately left his residence.
Meanwhile, notwithstanding recent overtures made to him by four members of the Presidential Campaign Committee for the 2011 Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation to support Jonathan’s aspiration on April 9, former Governor Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State yesterday vowed never to return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ladoja had, late last year, following the intractable crisis in his former party which was tilted in favour of his estranged former deputy, now Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, left the PDP for a relatively unknown Accord Party (AP), which is today, one of the leading political parties in the state.
Former Chairman of PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, recently led Chiefs Ojo Maduekwe,  Jerry Gana and Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun to the Bodija, Ibadan residence of Ladoja where they persuaded him to work for the aspiration of the President and was said to have responded in the affirmative.
Ladoja, who foreclosed his possible return to PDP, while answering questions from the League of Veteran Journalists at the Press Centre, Iyaganku, stated that PDP, as presently constituted, has derailed from its founding fathers’ dreams.
According to him, there is no way the PDP will win in Ogun State because of Obasanjo’s imposition of candidates, adding that the people of the South-West have already rejected the PDP.
The former governor decried former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s larger than life attitude on the party in his home state and the South-West as a whole, stressing that, after the April elections, PDP would have finally been 
a party of the past. He said that Jonathan’s political fortune in the South-West would be affected by the hatred the electorate have for Obasanjo.
Ladoja said the people were already tired of the party that has brought to them untold hardship, assuring that the PDP would be rejected during the forthcoming polls by the people of the zone, whom he described as “wiser and knowledgeable”.


SOURCE:
Nigerian Compass

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A REVOLUTION IN THE MAKING--BUHARI/BAKARE

 
A moving song and video. A revolution in the making. A patriotic call for transformation. Fellow Nigerians, please heed the call. Make good use of the voting power in your hands and redirect the course of our collective history. VOTE the most credible and reliable candidate on the ballot. VOTE BUHARI for PRESIDENT.

A COMPREHENSIVE INTERVIEW WITH TUNDE BAKARE

PDP’s plot to rig election –Tunde Bakare
By Shola Oshunkeye and Olusola Balogun
Sunday, March 27, 2011


Senior Pastor of Lagos-based Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, shocked not a few of his supporters when he accepted to be the running mate to General Muhammadu Buhari, presidential standard bearer of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), in next month’s election. In this interview, the charismatic pastor explains why he accepted the offer and also slammed those averse to the involvement of clerics in partisan politics.

The lawyer and pastor was equally unsparing in his criticism of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for wasting 12 years of Nigeria’s nationhood through clueless governance.

He also straightened the records on the controversy that trailed the rejection of $50,000 offered the leadership of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), of which he was the convener, by the Presidency. Excerpts:

How is the new experience of being a pastor and now interacting with politicians?
God has been faithful. CPC is a party with a difference; it is a party with integrity and I dare say, it is completely different from all other parties by all standards. I believe the party has an agenda to turn around the country. You can be rest assured I am not swimming in the midst of sharks.
They may be of a different faith from mine, but I found in the upper echelon of the CPC men of high moral integrity and principle.

Why did you choose CPC and not ACN or even PDP?
With great respect, I won’t touch PDP with a 12-foot pole. The only time I ever stood for anything that benefited PDP was on the issue of constitutionality when they were trying to violate the Constitution. Outside that, I have never had any interaction with the party.
I still believe PDP is a big ostrich that buried its head in the sand. The party is totally disconnected from the people and the felt needs of the people.

As for ACN, the party has some of the values of CPC, but to answer your question directly, I am in CPC because the presidential candidate chose me as his running mate.

Before you were picked as running mate to General Buhari, you were the convener of the Save
Nigeria Group, and so when you were picked it was alleged that you floated the SNG to position yourself for that opportunity. Was that so?
If that is correct, time will tell. If I want to position myself, I won’t go through the round. I am a qualified Nigerian; I can vote and be voted for. With a dint of modesty, I know all the political players, so why would I go roundabout to position myself? Was I chosen because of SNG? No!

You held back some information on the response of General Buhari to some issues you tabled before him. Would you want to give them now?

I held back those I felt should not be given out.
We would have loved to know what he told you, because there is this impression that deputies are spare tyres whose opinions don’t count.
Nigerians don’t bother to study their constitution. According to the constitution, the Vice President of Nigeria is the chairman of the National Economic Council. Beyond that, he is also the vice chairman of several committees. If we had bothered to check, we would have seen that we have been unfair to the constitution because we don’t bother to know what it says.

The position of the vice president is a constitutional issue and section 142 of the constitution says there shall be for the federation a vice president. It is a constitutional office. Section 142, again, calls the vice president an associate of the president, not an aide or an underdog. It reads: “A candidate for an election for the office of the President shall not be deemed to be validly nominated unless he nominates another candidate as his associate from the same political party who is to occupy the position of the Vice President, and he shall be deemed to be duly elected into that office if the person who nominated him as an associate is duly elected.” It is a joint ticket of President and an associate, not an underdog and not a spare tyre. Section 145, which gave us trouble the other time, said that if the president is going on vacation or he is unable to discharge his duties, he must transmit a letter to the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives so that there is no vacuum.

Again, section 146 says that the Vice President shall hold the office of the President in the case of impeachment, death, or permanent incapacity. So, why would you go and pick someone who cannot steer the ship and who is clueless? Going by the Nigerian political history of recent time, the president and the governors have been choosing useless tyres because they don’t like anyone that could outshine them or anyone that has the same capacity as themselves. The position of a vice president is a responsible office and I thank God for General Muhammadu Buhari for his secured nature, he is not feeling intimidated in picking me. It is not only for the office of the vice president but also for all party offices. He picked competent people who can steer the ship of the nation.

But Obasanjo behaved at some points in his presidency as if Atiku Abubakar was insignificant and that caused a row.

Yes, it is the President who should choose his vice presidential candidate or his running mate, but two cannot work together unless they agree. Most of our leaders are intimidated and some of them ask those working with them to sign a letter of resignation in advance. How can you work in such an environment of total insecurity?

If someone had told you to do that won’t you do it?
Nobody would tell me to do that. General Buhari is not a man like that. He is self-confident and a secured leader. He is not intimidated by anybody.

General Buhari is a strong character and you are also a strong character, are you sure you won’t rock the boat?
It is not possible, because there are clear delineation of duties and authority. Was Jesus Christ a weak character? Is God a weak character? Is the Holy Spirit a weak character? Do they work together? Is there any discord? There should be no bone of contention among principled people who have clear goals and objectives; it is when you are derailing that you create problems. There is no basis for competition between us. He is clearly the boss.

You have the vice presidents called spare tyre because the vice presidents are clueless and do nothing but carry brief cases around.
You are not a politician and he is a politician and you know that the ways of politicians are queer. How would you handle it when politicians start behaving like politicians?
You know General Buhari’s antecedent. You might say he is a democrat, but you can’t say he is on the same level with those politicians who specialise in politricks. He is not a ‘politrician’, he is a retired general and he has behaved himself in a democratic setting, that was why he went to court instead of calling people to the streets in 2007. He spent 50 months in the court to prove to Nigerians that the 2007 elections were massively rigged.

He is not a regular politician that says one thing and means another. I’ve sat in meetings with him, he is a very precise person and keeps to the agenda of the meeting. He doesn’t waste time and doesn’t play to the gallery, and calls a spade a spade, which is why working with him is like hand in gloves.
My loyalty is to God and the people of this country, but I owe a lot of loyalty to the man that asked me to come and run with him. Nobody can use me against him. He has my 100 percent loyalty as long as everything we do is ethical, legal and morally correct.
Politicians don’t do everything 100 percent ethical.

I think I found a man in General Buhari that believes in ethical uprightness and principles.
How do you react to the gale of criticisms that trailed your emergence as a running mate to General Buhari even from your Christian brothers?

Opinions are like noses, everyone has it but they all look different from person to person. When you look into the Bible, you will see that what is killing the church today is biblical illiteracy.
Someone told me you want to be unequally yoked with unbelievers? I said yes, like Joseph and Pharaoh; like Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar. It shows your immaturity and ignorance. Another said how can a pastor become a politician and I said the same way God took David from the sheepfold and asked him to become the king of Israel. He was a priest, prophet and a king. He wrote most of the things we read in the book of Psalms today.

The Melchizedek priesthood that Jesus is noted for is not a priest after the order of Aaron, his priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek and Melchizedek was a king and a priest.
In Revelation chapter one, the Bible says Jesus died to make us kings and priests for our God and we shall reign on the earth. The Christians want to be cut off from the world, yet they want to influence the same world.

In Romans chapter 13, government officials were twice referred to as ministers of God. Who says you have to be a minister to be on the pulpit? How come Jesus chose professionals as apostles?
At what point did you begin to fall in love with General Buhari. You were once one of his hardest critics? The adverts of what you said of him before are coming out in the papers.
Those ones are the handiwork of mischief-makers; I won’t deny what I said. If I say a thing I will stand by it. I don’t change the goalposts in the middle of a game, like the mess that is going on over the NN24 debate where they are trying to white-wash what they said before and change it because it is going to cost them something.

I have never abused General Buhari. I don’t use gutter language; I remember I was preaching during a church service and I said opportunity should be given to young people who have integrity to steer the ship of this nation. I still stand by what I said that greater opportunity be given to the youths of Nigeria, but what Nigeria needs today is not generational shift but generational integration.

I spent quality time as the convener of SNG alongside leaders of the group to engage the political class and when we met with them we listed six things that are irreducible. There must be internal democracy in their parties; we want transparency, we want to see the restructuring of the country along the path of true federalism as a cornerstone of the parties, we want to see the policies and programmes you have for Nigerians.

We want to see your position on the secularity of Nigeria.
The only person I found, who was willing to ensure that these were done, was General Muhammadu Buhari and that was as far back as October 10, 2010. I announced the findings at the summit of the Newswatch magazine and I said the most credible candidate I found was General Buhari and I said I didn’t know anyone else with his credentials in terms of integrity, consistency and character. Many of those you celebrate are not electable in the real sense of it.

There were fears that a character like General Buhari might drag Nigeria into becoming an Islamic nation, irrespective of the fact that his deputy is a pastor.
How can that be? The fears are unfounded. Give me an example of a nation in recent history that its leader unilaterally declared his country an Islamic Republic. It is not possible. In the Bible, only one person tried to do it. Nebuchadnezzar tried it, but three Hebrew boys said no and nobody performed the worship of that God thereafter. How do you force people against their will?
General Buhari’s personal driver of 10 years standing is a Christian. Some of his security details are Christians. He threw out a challenge that any Nigerian that he discriminated against because of his religion should come forward. While he was head of state, what he pulled down were mosques because they were not built in the correct places.

Interestingly, all these things they hang on his head were clarified by Rev. Father Matthew Kukah some years back, who said it was not so; but Nigerian propagandists won’t stop.
How easy can the issue of true federalism be accomplished under Buhari, because being a northerner whose region has benefited from the present system, he might be reluctant?

How has that region benefited from the long years of politicians from the North ruling Nigeria? The northern part of Nigeria today has the greatest number of poor people in Nigeria – the almajiris.

You can say the elite in the North have used the power for themselves at the detriment of the people of Nigeria. I saw the almajiris and I tell you these are youths that should be in schools, but the elite didn’t see any reason for that. They have great potential, but their leaders refused to develop it for selfish reasons. It is a shame.

Are you assuring Nigerians that the government of General Buhari would put the issue of true federalism on the front burner?
The manifesto of the CPC is very clear on it. It is the first item after the preamble. It says, “we will initiate action to amend our constitution with a view to devolving powers and responsibilities to states and local governments in order to entrench federalism and federal spirit.” It is in black and white and CPC is the only party that has the deep conviction to write it out. We have time outline of how many days we would be in government before we put into motion the constitution amendment.

In our government, nobody will get bloated pay. The idea of members of the legislature doing the work of the executive will die in our government because there won’t be anything called constituency project, whereby a legislator would be executing projects. That is the job of the executive and this is one way that corruption is encouraged in Nigeria. That is an abuse of power.
But, would that work with the calibre of people planning to come into the National Assembly?
Let’s wait and see. One of the things we plan to do is to ensure that the Freedom of Information Bill is allowed to work at full strength. We will constantly bring everything into the open. Nigerians will always know what the issues are because they are the force and power of the country. Sovereignty is in the hands of the people and they will always be alerted of what is happening in the country.

The late President Umaru Yar’Adua once cried out about a cartel that is not allowing the power sector to function. How would you tackle that problem?
We should not underestimate the power of the Executive President of Nigeria. He is probably the most powerful president in the whole world.
The truth is, God forbid that your best friends are smugglers. Compromise would always lead to captivity. If part of your system and the people in core leadership with you are corrupt, then you are in trouble. They could be the ones engineering the problem. If those at the top have the conviction of steel that Nigeria requires, there are better ways of handling issues like electricity and power generation. We can do it. That cartel must be disbanded and dismantled.

How do you upstage those profiting from the thriving generator business? These people sponsor candidates into political offices.
It is not wrong to have a generator; but the truth is we wouldn’t be hindered by those promoting things that are impoverishing our people. The events in Cairo, Tunisia, and now in Libya have shown that all leaders in Africa must know that their people need jobs and there must be check on corruption.
You speak of internal democracy, but there were lots of crises after the CPC primaries.
We should praise the CPC for its ability to control the crises. If we have a crisis in just four states out of 36, then we should be applauded. It is because of the internal democracy we have that made some aspirants to go to court and win. If we were like some parties, where godfathers just impose candidates, that won’t happen. It is healthy for our democracy.

CPC believes that credible people should lead at all levels of government. Our candidates should not be those people would look at and ask how did this one get here? This is a political party and we must open our door to everybody. But, like the parable of the kingdom, the Bible says it is like the fisherman that throws his net into the sea and he gathers both the good and the bad fish; he then drags the net ashore and separates the good fish and throws the bad ones into the river. We must put in place a system and strategy that would weed out bad characters from the party.
Could you explain the true picture of what happened over the $50,000 offered the SNG by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan? Were you just playing to the gallery?

Who was playing to the gallery? It was the President’s men that were playing to the gallery. We didn’t book appointment to see him and he sent for us because he said those that were his friends were suddenly turning against him. Orubebe met us before to prepare us for the meeting. I had a written presentation and we did just that and told him why we won’t support his candidature. We asked him his response to some of the issues we raised and he said he would get back to us. He is yet to get back up to this moment as I speak.

When we finished the meeting, Orubebe came with an envelope containing $50,000 and I asked what it was for, and he said it was from the president for our transportation. I said we brought a car and we’ve bought our air tickets. Thank you for the offer, but we don’t want it. There are issues we are standing upon and how can we collect money from you? Orubebe pleaded that it would be rude of us to reject the President’s money, and I said why should it appear rude when we didn’t ask for the money? All the time we’ve been coming he never offered us money, so why now that we had taken a stand against the culture of impunity going on in the country that he would invite and offer us money? We returned the money to Orubebe, but to our greatest surprise, we had not left the Villa before Saharareporters flashed that Jonathan had bribed SNG leaders with $50,000.

Saharareporters got the information from one of the moles in the Presidency, which was why we came out to clarify issues that we never took it and that the money was with them. I then called those involved to ensure the $50,000 got to the President so that he won’t have the impression that we collected the money.

You mean someone in the Presidency leaked the information?
Yes, we have not left the Villa when I received a text message asking me to confirm whether it was true that SNG leaders got $50,000 bribe from the President.

Could it be they were trying to set you up?
Perhaps, whatever it is, but that is their problem, we rejected the money.
President Jonathan was absent at the recent NN24 Presidential debate…
(cuts in) It is because of the culture of impunity they have enthroned. He doesn’t think he had to render account and make himself accountable to Nigerians. In my personal opinion, it is the arrogance of incumbency, and beyond that, he just told Nigerians that he was not accountable to them.

But the Jonathan/Sambo campaign organization explained that he was absent because certain minimum standards were not met by the organizers, and that if the standards were met by another organisation, he would attend.
Yes, by another organization they have control over. He is afraid that he didn’t know the questions he would be asked. How can he give account of over $32 billion foreign reserve that has gone down to insignificant level, yet we can’t see what the government has done with it? He cannot face anybody because he doesn’t have an answer to what is going on.

I will beg my boss to allow me to face him or even Namadi Sambo in a debate. What has he done since he was made president? What has he contributed other than promises upon promises, yet the foreign reserve is going down?

Are you challenging them to a debate?
Let them come to an open debate, not a debate organized by them and their cronies.
They said the Taiwo Alimi group is recognized.
Recognized by whom? He accepted to come to the NN24 debate that was why we in CPC, despite the fact that General Buhari was very tired, we asked him to go so that it won’t look as if we were running away from debate.

Do you feel insulted that the President of Nigeria refused to come to the open and debate with his co-contestants?
I said it at the vice presidential debate, I said they are taking us for a ride, and if they are not ready to be accountable they should get out of office.

The Senate President said the new Electoral Act has taken away the power of the tribunals to upturn the result of elections. Is this not a recipe for chaos?
Sometimes you keep quiet not because you have nothing to say. I will ask some questions to counter it. Why are the tribunals being set up? Can the Electoral Act violate the constitution? These men who are not lawyers should not dabble into areas they know nothing about.

Are you bothered by the increasing spate of violence across the country in the days leading to election?
It is worrisome. Akwa Ibom is boiling, but I thank God it is not a CPC rally that triggered it. It is a clear evidence of “we are loosing power, so let us create chaos so that the election won’t hold”. We are likely to see more of it and I think they might want to use the power of incumbency to release the military and prevent Nigerians from voting. Whether they like it or not, Nigerians will say no to this incompetence. The Nigeria of 2003 and 2007 is not the Nigeria of 2011, the stakes are high and the citizens are enlightened now. The citizenry can’t be intimidated again. Even the military is feeling this incompetence that is going on. We will have this election whether they want it or not.

In 2007, General Buhari said there would be a mass action if the election is rigged. Nothing like that happened, he went to court and the rest is history; what will happen if a similar manipulation is done in April, and he has said he won’t go to court?
Look at what happened within the judiciary. I hope those allegations are not true. But if they are, who would waste his time going to the courts? Hitherto, the judiciary was the last hope of the common man, and if that hope is cut off, you are perpetuating hopelessness, and the end product is anarchy.

Do you foresee anarchy?
I am not foreseeing anarchy because, when we get to the bridge, we will cross it. CPC is not calling for violence; we are not going to court because the election will be determined at the polls. We thank God for the Modified Open Secret Ballot system that INEC is using. Accreditation and voting would be done at the same time, so you can’t leave one polling booth and go to another. Results would be declared at the polling centre and the polling agents would follow them to the collation centre where he would meet other polling agents.
An attempt to rig would stir up unprecedented crisis the consequences of which are not foreseeable.

Like what we are seeing in North Africa?
Exactly. We are playing with it because I saw multitude of people in Nigeria who are not only registered to vote but also positioned to resist any attempt to rig the election. God forbid the revolt of the poor.
But some government officials believe the North African scenario can’t happen here because Nigerians are docile.
So it was with Egyptians all these years, so it was with the people of Tunisia and the people of Libya.

What happens if the result of the election doesn’t go the way the CPC wants?
If the election is credible, it will be acceptable. If they are not credible, they won’t be acceptable, not just by the party but Nigerians.

What is the alternative of not going to court?
It is in the hand of the people who voted.

Are you going to instigate the people?
You don’t have to instigate them; they are already wired up. They don’t need any instigation.
In case the ticket doesn’t work, are you going to remain in politics or you’ll go back to the church?
To be honest with you, I look into all that is happening here, we’ve won already because Nigeria will never be the same again. We’ve won already. Look at the calibre of people coming out to work for Nigeria. This is why opposition should not tear themselves apart. You will not see me talk evil of Nuhu Ribadu, John Oyegun or Fola Adeola; these are quality men that want to bring change to Nigeria. Somewhere along the line, we will need to work together.

The greatest enemy of Nigeria is PDP, they have wasted 12 years for us as a nation, but we believe God will restore those years again.

Is the 12 years wasted?
Absolutely. Look at the resources at their disposal and look at the output, and you will agree with me that the 12 years of PDP are wasted years for Nigeria.

Do you feel scandalized that since January a lot of money has been coming in and no one is talking about it?
That is why they are scared of the debate, because we will ask them some of such questions ourselves. We will bring out those issues. General Buhari was so calm on the day of the NN24 debate because he had said he won’t debate against anyone in the opposition. He has a question for Jonathan. What has been happening to the money they spent on electricity generation all these 12 years, because nothing has changed in that sector?

When you came up as running mate, some people asked what are you bringing to the ticket?
I’ve heard the questions too. They say I have no political base and I don’t have influence politically. But they are very wrong. They are ignorant of what we have done over the years. They, who claimed to have the political structures, when Nigeria was going down the precipice, why couldn’t they call out their people? What do you think influenced the people that came out in Lagos, Abuja and other places that people turned out? Do they think I gave money to the people as they do? Never have I given money to mobilize people in my life.

You’ve never rented a crowd?
Never have, and never will. For more than 15 years I have been crisscrossing this country and establishing bases everywhere and training the youths. So, when the time came that we are to move, we knew where to press the button. Today, there is no part of the country that I am not received.

The crowd that often welcome General Buhari, are they real?
What do you think? Are they ghosts or you think we rented them? I saw them and I can tell you that we in CPC only paid for three things – radio advertisement on BBC Hausa to tell them where the event will take place, the venue to be used and the public address system we use.
We in CPC have never stolen money and we are not planning to go and steal, there is no point trying to buy the people. We are changing the equation.

Is it that you are not buying because you have no money to buy?
Give us some credit. Is the aircraft free of charge? Are the billboards free of charge? Are the posters free of charge? People of goodwill, who believe in what we are doing, are donating to us and we manage the money well to get maximum result from minimum input when we don’t have stolen wealth, and we don’t receive from everybody.

Is it true that the emirs refused to see General Buhari in Nasarawa?
It is not that they refused; it was the governor that threatened them with deposition. I was not there, but the fact is they didn’t receive us, but we still held our campaign and the crowd came out en masse.