“Talk is cheap, voting is free; take it to the polls.”
—Nanette L. Avery
By Daniel Kanu
When the former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, indicated interest to run for the office of the president of Nigeria in the 2023 elections, he, indeed, set the ball rolling on the realisation of the quest for president of Igbo extraction.
Anyim took this bold step when some other political gladiators from the Southeast with similar ambition are still dragging their feet.
As this declaration gathers momentum, Anyim at different fora had said: “It is no longer rumour that I am running for the president in 2023, it is rather real and the desire to restore Nigeria to its past glories and bring peace, brotherly love to the people are my driving force”.
After he left office in 2015 as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim had quietly retired to his second office, his farm, while also keeping his law firm alive.
The only time he was in the news before now was when he went to the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on his own volition aware that his name has been mentioned by someone who was being investigated by the anti-graft agency.
As a Nigerian politician and one who has been in exalted office, observers say there is nothing wrong even by an invitation from the anti-graft body, but the outcome of the invitation should be the concern.
So far, he has walked tall, standing in integrity and competence.
Going by his antecedents, Anyim does not only unapologetically believe in one Nigeria, but also that the country can only remain united and in peace on the basis of justice, fair play and equity.
It is not surprising that since he made the official declaration of interest he has continued to receive tremendous boost and massive support from the North, South, West and East, his base.
In the North, for instance, where he is deepening his campaign, a coalition of over 30 Northern civil society organisations and youth groups under the umbrella of Arewa Concerned Civil Society Organisations of Nigeria (ACCSON) endorsed his presidential objective.
The groups recently addressed a world press conference at the Arewa House, Kaduna where they adopted Anyim as their presidential candidate for the 2023 elections.
The inauguration was conducted by Alhaji Yaro Makama Rigachikun, first chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State, who said that Anyim remains a candidate to beat.
Still in the North, another powerful political movement, Nigerians Ask for Anyim, NA4A, also endorsed him as the best person for the job come 2023.
The group said he was the most preferred to realise the long-awaited dream of the Igbo presidency.
Senator Anyim has mapped out strategies for different regions, as well as pledging to pursue them rigorously and pragmatically.
Erudite scholar, Prof Babs Sheriff Folarin who shares the sentiment that the Southeast needs to be supported to produce the next Nigerian president said that he does not envy anyone that would want to succeed President Buhari because the individual must have the capacity and will power to deliver, not just a rabble rouser or the inexperienced.
He told Sunday Sun that Senator Anyim possesses finer credentials and requisite know-how required for the office.
Folarin said: “Among one of the eminently qualified persons of Igbo origin to lead Nigeria is Senator Pius Anyim. He’s been Senate President, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and by extension a statesman who understands Nigeria.
“What more can you ask for? What better qualifications do you wish for in the president of Nigeria? He’s well educated and he has the requisite practical experience. And we should give the Southeast a chance to make them feel like Nigerians”.
Senator Anyim seems to be coming out bold and with full confidence.
Perhaps he is working on the benefit of insight, hindsight, and foresight. He said 2023 would not be the first time that destiny will beckon on him for a rescue mission for Nigeria.
Anyim so far is giving a good account of himself. He is going about his campaign with persuasion and many are buying into it.
He knows that anybody coming out today to win the presidency of Nigeria must be somebody of his generation, 1999, a former governor, senator, minister, ambassador etc. And he fits in properly.
But will he perform if he becomes Nigeria’s president with numerous unseen forces? The answer is in the womb of time.
Senator Pius Anyim Pius was born on February 19, 1961 and hails from Ivo, Ebonyi State. He attended Ishiagu High School, the Federal School of Arts and Science, Aba and Imo State University, Uturu (1983-1987) where he studied law.
He took office in the Senate on May 1999 and was appointed President of the Senate in August 2000.
Ortom pardons 50 prisoners
From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Fifty prisoners who were on death row have been granted pardon by the Benue State State Governor, Samuel Ortom in line with prerogative of mercy.
The lucky prisoners included 34 who were on death row and awaiting execution as well as 15 others whose death sentence were commuted to life imprisonment even as another convict had his 21-year jail term reduced to 15 years.
State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mike Gusa who disclosed this while speaking with newsmen in Makurdi on Friday said some of them are indigenes of Benue state while other some are Nigerians who committed criminal activities; were arrested, tried and convicted in Benue.
He said the decision to pardon the convicts was reached following the recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy and the Federal Government’s policy on the decongestion of correctional centers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some of them (convicts) appealed their sentences, but their appeals have failed, but His Excellency in his compassionate way has decided to invoke the provisions of the Constitution to give these citizens of Nigeria; these citizens of Benue reprieve and granted them amnesty, so that they will be released and granted a second chance.
Gusa said the gesture was one of the humanitarian steps that the Governor has taken as one who is committed to the rule of law, due process and passion for humanity and in compliance with Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution.
“He signed a warrant to grant amnesty to some of the convicts who have been awaiting execution, because they have been sentenced to death and were transferred to Jos Correctional center.
“Out of this number, 34 convicts who were sentenced to death and awaiting execution are now released. We also have 15 convicts who were actually sentenced to death, but now have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.
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“And we have another convict who has his term reduced from 21 years to 15 years imprisonment.
“So, in total 50 convicts are affected by this act of magnanimity and act of compassion by His Excellency, the executive governor of Benue state.
“The Governor’s approval is based on the recommendations that was made by the management of the correctional centers in Jos, Owerri and Sokoto, where you have these inmates.
“They made recommendations on the conduct of these convicts, while they served their jail terms and awaited execution. They testified to the effect that they (convicts) have changed from their bad ways and have become good citizens
“And it’s based on these recommendations that the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy sat and considered individual cases and made recommendations to His Excellency who then gave the approval.
“This (amnesty granted the convicts) is also in consonance with the federal government’s policy on decongesting the Correctional centers as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is the desire of the federal government that correctional centers should be decongested and it’s in consonance with this, that the Governor decided to exercise his powers under the Constitution to give a new lease of life to this convicts,” Gusa stated.
NSITF vows to prosecute uncooperative employers
From Adannna Nnamani, Abuja
The Managing Director of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Dr. Mike Akabogu has assured to prosecute recalcitrant employers who have refused to comply with the Employee Compensation Act.
According to a statement by Ijeoma Okoronkwo, NSITF Spokesperson,
Akabogu stated this at the 2022 Management Performance Review Conference of the Fund held at the Nigeria Airforce Centre, Abuja.
The NSITF boss said the fund’s focus for the year, is to include aggressive enforcement on Non-Treasury Funded MDA’s, States and LGA’s and as high net worth private sector employers, using both the special enforcement and inspection team as well as partnering the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and Corporate Affairs Commission for data harmonization
The MD further noted that the Fund paid the sum of N857, 754, 394.51 as claims in 2021. He charged the staff of the agency to work harder towards the consolidation of its strategic reforms.
Akabogu who took charge of the Office barely a year ago, said the agency was being reformed to raise the bar of performance, hence the need for continuous cross-level engagement of the workforce to engender synergy needed for the achievement of target goals.
He said, “ In our quest for the optimum realization of the mandate of the Employee Compensation Act, we must continue raising the bar, by implementing landmark decisions for our strategic reform. Hence, we deem it necessary to continually engage our workforce so that the activities of various departments and units will be streamlined for easy realization of our core targets and objectives. That’s why we are here today.
“We are here for stock-taking, to measure our performance in the previous year. How did we fare? What are the obstacles, the challenges? The feedback is necessary for the re-engineering of our strategic reforms and setting the tone for the year 2022 and beyond.
“Our new approach is horizontal, hence the decision to invite the branch managers across the country, who are frontline leaders in the organization, to give first-hand accounts of service to the fund. It was the regional managers who did so hitherto.
“The new format will enable senior managers to appreciate the challenges on the ground and the way forward as well as work in sync with the fund’s dynamic model for the consolidation of gains made for efficiency and greater productivity
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“Others include prosecution of recalcitrant employers, prompt payment of claims and compensation, increase the productivity of every department and staff welfare.
In a performance review by the General Manager, Claims and Compensation , Barr. Nkiru Ogunnaike, the fund revealed that in 2021, it processed and paid 18,128 claims , amounting to a total sum of N857, 754, 394.51, with Lagos and Abuja regions accounting for 7,688 and 4,223 of the claims.
She specifically noted a pathetic case of an employee of Bougeus Construction Company who sustained injury in the course of work, leading to total deafness in his two ears and requiring Cochlear Implant Surgery to enable him to hear again.
“The Board of the NSITF sat and exhaustively deliberated on this case of 100% disability and graciously approved the sum of N14m for the surgery . He has also been added to the monthly payroll of the NSITF/Employee Compensation Scheme Unit, pending successful operation and recovery, and if not, until he attains the age of 55.
In his presentation, the General Manager Health, Safety and Environment, Dr. Kelly Nwagha said the agency is centred on occupational health and safety which is the convention the world over, noting that key to its operation is prevention which again, is anchored on proactiveness.
He stated the department has taken occupational safety awareness campaigns to the doorstep of the employers and employees to ensure accident prevention in workplaces.
He said, “ in the year under review, the department has undertaken a total of 867 accident/ incident cases involving prompt medical intervention, identification of accurate root causes, proffering of correct remedial actions and collation of factual statistics.
“ We have also carried out 690 Occupational Safety and Health awareness and enlightenment programmes, imparting an improved knowledge base on participants (Employers & Employees) with sensitization topics tailored towards identified organizational needs. Participants were assessed before and after sensitization.
“ We have equally taken 1426 occupational safety and health audits and investigations in the year under review.”