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p16 for page planning Nothing wrong in Buhari’s foreign trips – Amb Onipede Princess Jolaade Onipede is a former Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of…

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Nothing wrong in Buhari’s foreign trips – Amb Onipede

Princess Jolaade Onipede is a former Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Congo during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan. In this interview, the former Regent of Ilasa Ekiti, speaks on President Muhammadu Buhari’s foreign policy, why she dumped the PDP for the APC and other sundry issues. Excerpts:

From Doyin Adebusuyi, Ado Ekiti

Your Excellency, you shocked your supporters recently when you dumped the PDP for the APC. What informed your decision?

I’m sure I have not shocked anybody. I have surprised them and the reason is not far-fetched. Nigeria is changing and any reasonable Nigerian would want to join the changing team, to change the nation to a better Nigeria that we all yearn for. And when I am doing that, I have to make sure that Ekiti joins the team of changing Nigeria, and there is no way Ekiti can participate if people like us do not join hands with the federal government.

How many of your supporters moved with you to the APC?

I cannot tell you the number because in the 16 local governments of the state. I have my admirers, supporters and followers.

Some of your people said your community did not feel your presence when you were an envoy, and that your leaving the PDP would not have any negative impact.

That is their personal opinion. It was when I was in the PDP that the Yam Industry in Ilasa was brought here and so many things came on board. Maybe the person saying such is naïve. The Bible says my people perish for lack of knowledge. My people are not against me because I have been trying to influence things to Ilasa even when I was not the regent.

Many people, including your governor, Ayo Fayose, have been criticising President Muhammadu Buhari, especially on his anti-corruption crusade. What is your view?

Everybody is entitled to his opinion. I believe President Buhari is trying his best to fight corruption and any right thinking Nigerian would support the idea. It may be true to some people that he is being selective, but if you have nothing to hide, you don’t really need to be afraid. If your hands are clean, you don’t need to have contrary view on a particular policy. I believe those who are complaining have a bad past and are afraid of the future. I think what they need to do is to have a rethink and positive thought that will change Nigeria to a better country. It’s not a sin to criticise but give a constructive criticism, not a destructive one.

What is the future of the APC in Ekiti State?

I see APC heading the next government in Ekiti State. It is the caliber of people in a party that makes the party. It is not the name and you can see that in Ekiti, the people that matter, people that know what they want to do are in the APC.

Do you see defections to the APC as a positive development when those that are supposed to play the role of the opposition are leaving their platform to join the ruling party?

It’s a good development. There is no way Nigeria will turn to a one-party nation. INEC is there and they are reviewing and studying the situation. You will see that new parties will emerge. In fact, they are already emerging. But a bigger party that is emerging now is the APC which can still derail in future if they are not careful and manage their success well. We succeeded in the PDP but we mismanaged the success. So, APC should learn from that and manage the success they have so that they don’t lose elections in future.

As a former envoy, how would you rate President Buhari’s foreign policy since assumption of office?

He has been trying to make sure we have cordial bilateral relationship with other countries. If we are able to build that and sustain it, many positive things would happen in Nigeria. Since Buhari came in, their mindset about Nigeria is changing positively and that helps a lot. Even though people are criticising him over the frequency of his travels, he should continue. If he doesn’t leave home, how does he meet foreign leaders? More so, people from other climes are also coming to meet him here in Nigeria and when they come, he has to reciprocate because diplomacy is reciprocal. He cannot do it alone, he has to align with other countries to make sure that Nigeria moves forward.

Some people are of the view that these frequent foreign trips have not yielded any positive results but are rather depleting our foreign reserves…

When you plant maize, you give it at least twelve weeks to germinate before you can say you want to harvest it. The main problem of our people is that we don’t have patience; we are too much in a hurry. For everything, there is a season and there is timing. Even in the Bible, God says there is time for everything. So, we should give the president time for us to be able to reap the fruits of these visits.

Going by the probing of some key officials of the last administration, President Buhari is said to be indirectly probing former President Goodluck Jonathan. Are you not bothered that the former president has not spoken?

The former president is a gentleman, quite exposed and disciplined. And as a leader, anything you say is a policy. He has to weigh what he wants to say. His silence is not a mistake and I know that at the appropriate time, he will say something.

Rerun: Rivers gov’t cautions INEC against rigging

From Victor Edozie, Port Harcourt

The Rivers State government has cautioned officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) against subverting the will of the people during the March 19 rerun elections in some parts of the state.

Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr. Austin Tam-George, who spoke in Port Harcourt yesterday, urged INEC to act within the law, and respect the free choices made by the Rivers people in the recent rerun elections and release all the outstanding results.

Dr Tam-George particularly warned Mrs. Amina Zakari, an official of INEC, and Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister for Transportation, “to cease and desist from subverting the electoral outcomes in Tai-Eleme federal constituency, Ikwerre local government and other constituencies in Rivers State, whose results are still being withheld by INEC in collusion with the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.”

The information commissioner berated “the sickening desperation of the APC in wanting to impose its candidates on Rivers people, even when those candidates have been resoundingly defeated at the polls.”

As a result of widespread violence, INEC had cancelled elections in eight local government areas of Rivers State, while other results are being withheld.

Ayade: Buhari is a detrabilised leader

From Eyo Charles, Calabar

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has lavishly praised President Muhammadu Buhari for giving key appointments to three citizens of the state.

He said irrespective of political party affiliation, President Buhari was displaying maturity in leadership and as a father of the nation.

Ayade spoke in his office yesterday, when he received the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, who paid him a courtesy call, and to appeal for a land to build a Federal Civil Service Complex for the South-South in the state.

Ayade said: “President Muhammadu Buhari deserves the commendation of every Cross Riverian as one of the simplest and truest Nigerian president who loves this country and committed to the wellbeing and oneness of Nigeria.

“This a president who appointed three prominent Cross Riverians, including the Chief of Naval Staff, Minister of Niger Delta and the Head of Service of the Federation from a state like ours, which did not vote for him. He is one of the finest leaders of the world who means well for his people.

“Again, Cross River State was also the very first state to be visited by President Buhari, who made a firm commitment to return to commission our superhighway and the deep seaport projects.”

How Kogi Assembly crisis can be resolved -Usman Naibi

By Abbas Jimoh

The Kogi State coordinator of the Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) in the 2015 presidential election, Alhaji Idris Maiyanga Usman-Naibi, has said that only the strong resolve by Governor Yahaya Bello can end the lingering crisis in the state house of assembly.

He said yesterday in Abuja that the governor, having become the father of all, must rally the elders and other stakeholders to resolve the crisis, despite the seeming difficulty of achieving that.

The All Progressive Congress (APC) chieftain in the state, and former gubernatorial aspirant under the defunct Action Congress (AC) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), said the resolution of the crisis that has led to the police sealing-up the assembly complex was in the interest of the masses and the state.

“The advice I will give the Kogi State governor, as the father of all in the state, is to calm all nerves, whatever the grievances. He should be able to get to the root of it. All the members of the state assembly should come together and work for the interest of the masses, which is the most important thing. The governor should bring every member of the legislature to one banner, so that peace will reign,” Naibi said.

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