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INTERVIEW: Nigerians were fooled with Electoral Act amendment – APGA Chair, Obi-Okoye

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Chief Ifeatu Obi-Okoye, a seasoned politician with many years of experience, currently serves as the Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State. In an interview with DAILY POST’s David Eleke, Chief Obi-Okoye expresses dissatisfaction with the 2022 amended Electoral Act, asserting that it failed to address the public’s expectations. He criticizes the conduct of recent off-season elections in Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa, suggesting a regression to old practices. The chairman also provides insights into the upcoming 2025 gubernatorial election in Anambra State and addresses challenges faced by APGA in recent elections.

Regarding the electoral process, Chief Obi-Okoye emphasizes the need for substantial reforms to ensure free and fair elections. He criticizes the 2022 electoral act, highlighting its failure to guarantee transparent accreditation of voters. The chairman expresses disappointment in the lack of effective reforms and points to the recent election results in Imo and Kogi as evidence of a return to past irregularities. He urges the National Assembly to address these issues through specific legislations.

Chief Obi-Okoye reflects on APGA’s performance in the last election, acknowledging a decrease in the number of seats in the House of Assembly. He attributes this decline to internal issues, including poorly conducted primaries and intra-party grievances. However, he expresses confidence in the party’s ability to perform better in the next election, citing ongoing efforts to rebuild and address internal challenges.

Addressing criticisms from former governorship candidates Obiora Okonkwo and Ifeanyi Ubah, Chief Obi-Okoye dismisses their opinions, particularly questioning Okonkwo’s political standing based on past electoral outcomes. He defends Governor Soludo’s performance, emphasizing achievements such as road construction, teacher employment, and youth empowerment.

As the Chairman of APGA in Anambra State for six months, Chief Obi-Okoye discusses the challenges faced and the strategies employed to revitalize the party. He mentions rebuilding trust, addressing intra-party grievances, and implementing discipline as key priorities. He also highlights efforts to involve grassroots supporters and support groups in party activities, emphasizing the party’s supremacy.

Looking ahead to the 2025 gubernatorial election, Chief Obi-Okoye downplays concerns about potential challengers to Governor Soludo, asserting that the governor’s focus should remain on good governance. He believes that the governor’s achievements, including infrastructure development, will resonate with voters during the campaign period.

In summary, Chief Ifeatu Obi-Okoye’s interview covers his perspectives on electoral reforms, APGA’s performance, internal challenges, and the party’s strategies for the future, including the upcoming gubernatorial election in Anambra State.

Interview

INTERVIEW: Fighting against my friends during civil war a sad experience – Babangida

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His Excellency, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), a former military head of state, spoke in an interview with Search FM, a Campus Radio, covering various aspects of his life, military service, and the civil war. The interview was monitored by Priscilla Dennis, a correspondent from DAILY POST.

Reflecting on his upbringing in Niger State (formerly the Niger province), General Babangida noted that he was born in Minna in 1941 and completed his primary and secondary education in Minna and Bida, respectively. He then pursued military training at the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna, Military Academy in India, and other military institutions.

When asked about his decision to enlist in the military, General Babangida explained that a deliberate government policy aimed to increase Northern representation in the military, leading to invitations extended to the younger generation from secondary schools.

Recalling his experience during the Nigerian civil war, General Babangida expressed the discomfort of facing friends and schoolmates on opposing sides. He emphasized the purpose of the war was to unite the country, not to divide it.

If not for his military career, General Babangida disclosed that he aspired to be a civil engineer. Regarding his leadership style, he emphasized the importance of studying and understanding human behavior, combining compassion with sometimes necessary ruthlessness to achieve goals.

In retirement, General Babangida mentioned his enjoyment of watching children grow. Reflecting on his achievements, he prioritized serving the country to the best of his ability, fostering good relations with the people, and gaining extensive knowledge of the country through travel.

Addressing young people, he advised them to understand that they are future leaders and encouraged them to study and know the country. In a lighthearted moment, he commented on a biopic about his life, acknowledging its attempt to provide food for thought but noting areas that could be improved for accuracy.

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INTERVIEW: Why foreign countries see Nigeria as a breeding ground – UUTH CMD, Bassey

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In this interview, Professor Ememabasi Bassey, a former Commissioner for Health in Akwa Ibom State and Chief Medical Director of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, discusses the causes and effects of brain drain, among other issues. Below are some excerpts:

The recent federal government initiative to recruit medical practitioners – will it effectively address the challenges of brain drain?

I express gratitude to the federal government for initiating recruitment into hospitals. However, recruitment alone is insufficient because, while we are bringing in new professionals, the problem lies in retention. Numerous health professionals, including resident doctors and consultants, are leaving the country regularly. The economic factor plays a significant role. The highest-earning medical doctor in Nigeria’s public service makes around $1000, whereas a junior medical professional in the UK earns about $3000 before tax. This economic disparity makes Nigeria a target for other countries to poach our skilled healthcare professionals.

What are the reasons behind this brain drain phenomenon?

Economic factors are paramount, with the meager salaries in Nigeria being a significant deterrent. The highest-earning doctors in the country cannot match the earnings of their counterparts in the UK or the United States. Lack of job satisfaction, inadequate working environments, and insecurity in some regions further contribute to the exodus of healthcare professionals.

How does brain drain impact your hospital?

The brain drain has affected our hospital, albeit not as severely as some teaching hospitals. Many resident doctors, nurses, and consultants have left. The departure of experienced professionals creates challenges in maintaining the quality of healthcare services.

What challenges do you face as the Chief Medical Director of UUTH?

Our challenges include power supply issues, inadequate infrastructure, financial constraints, and the attitude of staff towards patients. Power supply has been a persistent issue, and though we’ve made efforts to address it, challenges persist. Improving infrastructure has been a success, with the completion of abandoned projects and initiation of new ones. However, financial constraints persist, affecting our ability to procure essential supplies and equipment. Staff attitude towards patients is another challenge, and efforts are underway to improve organizational culture through regular training sessions.

How can the government address these issues, especially brain drain?

Addressing brain drain requires comprehensive policies and a conducive working environment. It involves improving pay structures for healthcare professionals, creating opportunities for career development, and enhancing working conditions. Additionally, discussions at the highest levels should focus on reversing brain drain and encouraging skilled professionals to return to Nigeria.

What are your thoughts on the proposed bill compelling medical professionals to serve for an extended period before leaving the country?

While acknowledging both positive and negative aspects, the bill may infringe on fundamental human rights. However, it could be applicable to individuals on scholarships or student loans. Subsidized medical education in government universities should foster patriotism, discouraging professionals from leaving hastily.

What inspired you to become a medical doctor?

Growing up with a mother who was a nurse and having family friends who were medical doctors, the path to becoming a medical doctor seemed inevitable. Despite excelling in arts, the passion for medicine prevailed, and it became the only career choice.

On the issue of health professionals engaging in private practice at the expense of government facilities:

Engaging in private practice at the expense of government facilities goes against ethical standards. While recognizing the financial challenges faced by civil servants, especially in the health sector, prioritizing private practice over public service is discouraged.

Concerning the frequent strikes by resident doctors:

Strikes, not exclusive to medical doctors, have become a pervasive issue in the Nigerian labor sector. Strikes should be a last resort, but unfortunately, they have become a common first-line action, posing challenges to effective healthcare delivery.

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Politicians approach court for power, not justice – Adebayo, ex-presidential candidate

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In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s final ruling on the 2023 presidential election, Prince Adewole Adebayo, a contestant representing the Social Democratic Party (SDP), expressed his disappointment with the behavior of politicians towards elections in an interview with DAILY POST. Adebayo discussed several issues, including the observation that politicians often pursue power, not justice, when they resort to legal action after an election. He emphasized the need for urgent electoral reforms to ensure that elected candidates do not assume office until all court cases against them are resolved. He also touched on the appointment of judges to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, and the role of technicalities in legal proceedings.

Regarding the lengthy duration of presidential election petitions, Adebayo acknowledged that the process could be improved, but he also noted that it had already seen a departure from past practices. He advocated for the conclusion of all legal proceedings before elected candidates assume office to avoid public skepticism about the judgments.

To achieve a more efficient electoral system, Adebayo outlined three key steps, with the majority of the responsibility falling on politicians. First, he emphasized the importance of legal reform, acknowledging that lawmakers themselves, who are politicians, play a pivotal role in the process. Second, he praised the judiciary for its efficiency in election-related cases but stressed that the key to success lies in politicians’ behavior. Lastly, he highlighted that election petitions should not be viewed as a competition for power, but rather as a quest for justice, which is the primary purpose of the court.

Adebayo addressed the perception that the Supreme Court prioritizes technicalities over the substance of election matters, stating that election cases inherently involve technicalities due to the unique nature of elections. He pointed out that the specific claims brought before the court determine its focus, and it can only provide relief within the bounds of the law. He argued that politicians seeking technical remedies should not be surprised if the court’s response is technical in nature.

Regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling on the 25% threshold for the Federal Capital Territory, Adebayo believed that the court made a clear and logical decision, referring to the INEC’s previous stance on the matter.

When asked about allegations made by retired Justice Musa Muhammed Datijo regarding issues within the judiciary, Adebayo explained that such concerns were not surprising to those familiar with Datijo’s outspoken nature. He noted that problems arise when judges are required to handle administrative matters outside the courtroom, such as approving contracts for court repairs.

Adebayo also addressed the issue of judicial appointments and the depletion of justices in the Supreme Court, emphasizing that the president plays a significant role in appointing justices based on recommendations from the National Judicial Council (NJC). He suggested that the appointment process should consider candidates from both the bench and the bar. Starting with the Court of Appeal, the appointment process could be reformed to ensure a balanced and thorough selection of justices.

Overall, Adebayo’s interview shed light on various aspects of the Nigerian electoral system and the judiciary, emphasizing the need for political will and legal reforms to improve the electoral process and the administration of justice.

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