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Anthony Obi Ogbo

Consolidating the South-East—Atiku’s ‘Dan Ulasi’ Move is a Smart Choice

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“Dan Ulasi understands Nigeria’s electoral maps and could read them with his eyes closed” ―Anthony Obi Ogbo

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Campaigns for the 2023 general election officially commenced on September 28, in line with the timetable and schedule of activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This date signaled the beginning of a process of shaping the electioneering landscape ahead of the general election. In the succeeding weeks, all the major political parties unleashed their supporters on the campaign trail to wave the flags of the electioneering crusade.

 

From the major streets of the core cities, as can be seen on social media, the Nigerian election campaign is trending. For instance, the Labor Party (LP), with Peter Obi as its flagbearer, touted highly attended October 1 rallies all over the country. The All Progressive Congress (APC), even with its flagbearer, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, out on an unexplained foreign visit, showcased highly attended rallies in the core cities of the North-West and South-West zones. The presidential candidate of the New Nigerian People Party (NNPP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, upon commissioning his presidential campaign office in Kano, bragged that his party was the fastest-growing political party Nigeria had ever seen. There was massive attendance when the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) flagged off its campaign in Uyo with its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, leading the cause and urging Nigerians to vote for his party to ensure good governance.

However, what we must understand is that rally attendance or intimidating images of campaign gatherings do not determine the outcomes of elections. In my recent article, ‘The test of translating a movement into electoral victory votes,’ I outlined a pathway to victory and explained how strategic alignment can sustain a winning approach. I clarified the three most crucial winning structures: facilitating and sustaining an on-the-ground poll army, strategic coordination of electoral maps, and the ability to counter ballot mishandling and falsification of ballot figures. Strategy is key.

So, when Atiku Abubakar appointed Chief Dan Ulasi as the Technical Adviser on Contact and Mobilization for the South-East geopolitical zone, we can be sure that his party is strategically working the electoral maps. After all, the South-East is bitter with the Nigerian system over an unfavorable political arrangement that isolates it from core political leadership positions. This situation was made worse when another chance eluded them in the presidential nomination process of the PDP, a party they have passionately supported.

He has been working the electoral process since the Second Republic politics of the late 70s

The appointment of Chief Ulasi to walk this troubled cause might be a lucrative political gamble. He is a Nnewi-born ballot strategist and political technocrat; he has been working the electoral process since the Second Republic politics of the late 70s, was chairman of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in Anambra State in the aborted Third Republic, and also served as chairman of the PDP in 2003.

He understands Nigeria’s electoral maps and could read them with his eyes closed. During the 2015 contentious presidential race between former President Goodluck Jonathan and the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Ulasi also coordinated strategic structures and was the only PDP strategist to predict that his party was in trouble. His party at the time did not listen.

At the presidential level, the South East has been a PDP stronghold. Upholding that position requires strategists who understand the political landscape, and Atiku realizes that. Within his party’s framework, Chief Ulasi has strategically helped raise the South-East geopolitical ethnic group to the national political setting. In his recent media outing, he presented his insights on where the Igbos would be headed under each of the major political parties. He explained the danger of the Igbos voting for other major parties, especially the LP. “There is no way that those votes will lead us to victory. First, an election has happened in Osun and they failed woefully.” Chief Ulasi argued that voting for losing parties would isolate the Igbos once again from the central government. A situation they have been enduring since the current administration.

A lone candidate without considerable legislative support is limited in how they can help their base

The role of electoral maps is crucial in a democracy. A lone candidate without considerable legislative support is limited in how they can help their base. As I stated in my previous article, in Nigeria’s organizational structure, the executive branch does not make the laws; it carries them out. The judiciary evaluates the laws but often has the power to preside over crucial decisions. The National Assembly, which consists of a Senate with 109 members and a House of Representatives with 360 members, exerts significant power in making structural changes. In fact, should the President reject a bill, the Assembly could pass it by a two-thirds majority of both chambers and overrule the veto—in which case, the President’s consent is not required.

Under the current legislative structure, in the Senate (109 seats), the APC has 66 seats to the PDP’s 38 seats, while the other parties combined have two seats, with three vacant seats. In the House of Representatives (360 seats), the APC has 227 seats to the PDP’s 121 seats, while the other parties combined have 11 seats, with one vacant seat.

In conclusion, by transcending a quest for a new president, this election must involve strategies to mobilize for substantial control of the legislative chambers. Atiku’s invitation of Chief Ulasi to the PDP’s campaign strategy suite is specifically addressing this purpose. Without a doubt, he made a smart choice.

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Journalism and RTF Professor, Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

Netanyahu should lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current leadership crisis can be likened to the principles of General George S. Patton Jr., who famously said that one can either lead him, follow him, or “get the hell” out of his way. General Patton was a no-nonsense United States Army general who led troops in World War II, and his quote has become a cornerstone for understanding the complicated art of leading. Besides other fundamental competencies in leadership, taking responsibility is crucial as it builds trust and respect, and promotes honesty, transparency, and accountability for both successes and failures. Accepting responsibility thus demonstrates integrity, humility, and a commitment to personal growth and development.

Following a devastating attack by Hamas terrorists on October 7, Israeli officials have taken responsibility for their failures in preventing the violence that led to the current conflict. However, Netanyahu has refused to accept responsibility for the situation. The attack was a horrific display of violence, with Hamas terrorists killing innocent civilians, including women and children, and taking hostages. Since the start of this conflict, Netanyahu has struggled to define his clear goals and strategies. He has been confused about dealing with his cabinet, the public, and Israeli allies – shifting blame onto others, and prioritizing his political survival over the needs of the nation.

Last week, he publicly criticized his strongest ally, the United States, for withholding weapons needed for the war. Directing sharp criticisms at President Joe Biden, he suggested that this delay was hindering Israel’s offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where ongoing fighting has worsened the already dire humanitarian situation for Palestinians. In reality, Biden had postponed the delivery of certain heavy bombs since May due to concerns about Israel’s actions resulting in civilian casualties in Gaza. However, Netanyahu conveniently omitted the fact that he had outright rejected the U.S. request to reconsider a full-scale invasion of Rafah, where over 1 million people are seeking refuge. Defiantly, he asserted that Israel would continue its mission to eradicate Hamas, with or without U.S. support.

Netanyahu’s uncompromising stance on challenging policy issues persisted as he dissolved his war Cabinet last week to consolidate his authority over military decisions. Before this move, his main political rival, Benny Gantz, a retired general and member of parliament known for his moderate views, withdrew from the three-member war Cabinet. This means that major war strategies will now be exclusively approved by Netanyahu’s security Cabinet, a larger body dominated by hard-liners who oppose the U.S.-backed cease-fire proposal and advocate for continuing the conflict.

Israel is currently facing a political dilemma with Netanyahu at the helm. The political landscape has been turbulent, with Netanyahu facing a growing opposition. This was exemplified by the recent passing of a controversial judicial overhaul bill in the Israeli parliament, sparking civil resistance. The situation escalated when reservists, including F-16 pilots, refused to fly under Netanyahu’s leadership until the anti-democratic bill was revoked. These actions not only impact military readiness but also underscore internal threats to Israel’s democracy.

In March, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for new elections in Israel, criticizing Netanyahu as an impediment to peace. Schumer, a long-time supporter of Israel and the highest-ranking U.S. Jewish elected official expressed concerns about Netanyahu’s government and highlighted the need for change in leadership, especially during a war that began with attacks on Israel by Hamas militants.

Schumer’s sentiments are shared by many, as Netanyahu’s prolonged tenure has raised concerns about stagnation and a lack of fresh ideas. The Prime Minister’s multiple corruption charges have also tarnished his leadership, contributing to increased polarization within Israeli society. A new leader could potentially bring innovative approaches to address pressing issues and bridge divisions within the country.

There are significant policy issues at play in Israel, particularly under Netanyahu’s leadership. His policies on settlements, security, and the peace process have sparked controversy and debate. Critics argue that his stance on settlements has impeded the possibility of a two-state solution by expanding Israeli presence in the West Bank. Furthermore, his approach to security, including military actions in Gaza and Lebanon, has been criticized as heavy-handed and counterproductive to peace efforts. The peace process itself has stagnated under his leadership, with many accusing him of prioritizing Israeli interests over finding a resolution with the Palestinians. Overall, Netanyahu’s policies have created division both domestically and internationally.

Looking ahead, the question arises: what is his strategy to effectively lead Israel? Is Netanyahu prepared to develop a comprehensive plan that combines diplomatic efforts, security measures, and economic policies? Will he prioritize strengthening relationships with key allies, such as the United States, while also working to improve ties with neighboring countries in the Middle East? Is he committed to implementing initiatives to boost Israel’s economy and address social issues within the country? Would he be open to spearheading a multifaceted plan aimed at ensuring Israel’s security and prosperity in the years ahead? Ultimately, is Netanyahu prepared to lead, follow, or step aside for the greater good?

♦Publisher  and Professor, Dr. Anthony Obi Ogbo, is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

Donald Trump and Blacks – Oil and Water Don’t Mix

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“Political affiliation without genuine consideration of interests and benefits can result in a meaningless display of ignorance and recklessness —Anthony Ogbo

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Oil and water are known for their stark differences in chemical compositions and physical characteristics, making them the most opposing properties in nature. Oil, a non-polar substance, refuses to mix with water, a polar substance, due to its contrasting polarities. This results in the formation of distinct layers when the two are combined, showcasing their inability to easily blend together.

Similarly, the relationship between former President Donald Trump and Black people is just as incompatible as oil and water. However, in a surprising move last week, Trump launched a Black voter coalition group in a bid for a November comeback. The announcement was made at a community event in Detroit, with prominent Black Republicans such as Ben Carson and John James in attendance. Trump even mentioned Rep. Byron Donalds as a potential vice-presidential candidate, highlighting the support he has garnered among Black voters. Traditionally, the Black voting bloc has supported Democrats, but recent polls have shown openness to Trump.

Despite attempts to appeal to Black voters during his presidency, his actions and rhetoric consistently alienated and marginalized the Black community. From his refusal to condemn white supremacists to his implementation of policies that disproportionately harmed Black Americans, Trump’s presidency further widened the divide between himself and the Black community. His lack of empathy, understanding, and respect for the struggles faced by Black people only solidified the impossibility of any meaningful relationship between him and the Black community. Just like oil and water, their differences are too vast and irreconcilable.

The stark contrast between Black voters and Trump is not mere speculation, but rather a reflection of his actions. Trump’s lack of popularity within the Black community is rooted in his policies. For example, as president, he supported a healthcare repeal proposal that would have left 8.7 million people of color without Medicaid coverage by 2026. Additionally, he backed a proposal to defund Planned Parenthood, a vital organization for nearly 1 million people of color who rely on its health services, including physicals, cancer screenings, and contraceptive care.

On January 27, 2017, he signed an executive order, the initial version of his Muslim ban, which discriminated against Muslims and banned refugees. Later that year, on May 12, his administration announced the abandonment of the Smart on Crime initiative, a program aimed at rehabilitating drug users and reducing the costs of incarcerating inmates.

Furthermore, the Trump administration halted the implementation of the Obama-era Employer Information Report, or EEO-1 form update, which would have collected pay data confidentially broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity. This data was crucial for federal enforcement agencies to uncover wage discrimination against women of color, who experience some of the largest wage gaps across all industries.

The upcoming November election has once again highlighted the importance of the Black vote as a significant stakeholder. Historically, the Black vote has been a powerful force in American politics, capable of influencing elections and shaping policy decisions. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the necessity to engage and mobilize Black voters, especially in key battleground states. The upcoming election is no exception, with issues such as racial justice, police reform, healthcare access, and economic inequality at the forefront of many Black voters’ minds.

As a crucial stakeholder in this election, the Black community holds the power to amplify their voices and demand change from elected officials. Voter suppression tactics are on the rise, and efforts to undermine mail-in voting are increasing. This underscores the importance for Black voters to be well-informed, actively engaged, and proactive in ensuring their voices are heard at the ballot box.

It is essential also, to recognize that African Americans have the right to not only align with any political party but also to make informed decisions about policies and politics. However, how these decisions are made is critical. Blindly supporting a political party goes against the fundamental purpose of politics. Political affiliation without genuine consideration of interests and benefits can result in a meaningless display of ignorance and recklessness.

Last, it is important to acknowledge that a relationship between Trump and the Black community is like oil and water – they do not mix. This highlights the need for Black voters to carefully consider their choices and ensure they align with their values and interests.

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Journalism and RTF Professor, Dr. Anthony Obi Ogbo, is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

The HISD Nightmare – Superintendent Mike Miles Must Go

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“Initially brought in to facilitate a solution, Miles is now seen as the problem —Anthony Ogbo

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Since assuming the role of Superintendent of the Houston Independent School District in June of 2023, Mike Miles has consistently been making headlines, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Despite his responsibilities in organizing, leading, directing, policy-making, and execution, Miles has failed to pass every test required to excel in his position. Month after month, he finds himself under fire, with the latest allegations accusing him of misusing Texas public school funding. An investigation by Spectrum News revealed that Miles allegedly funneled public school funds from the state to a Colorado Charter School. This scandal comes at a time when the district is facing a projected $450 million budget shortfall, leading to proposed position cuts, including teacher layoffs and benefit reductions.

In response to the accusations, Superintendent Miles defended his actions, claiming that such financial arrangements are common between charter schools and their management organizations. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has initiated a review of the matter. Meanwhile, State Democrat Ana Hernandez has called for Miles to be removed from his position and for a thorough investigation to be conducted.

The challenges facing Miles go beyond the current scandal, as he struggles to lead the largest school district in Texas and the eighth-largest in the United States. Teachers are feeling distressed and uncertain about their roles, parents are worried about their children’s future, and students are losing interest in their education. The situation at HISD is dire, and it is clear that a change in leadership may be necessary to restore trust and stability within the district.

Just last week, displeasure among parents worsened as some pushed back against layoffs while others protested recent budget cuts. Despite the opposition, Superintendent Miles remained steadfast in his proposal to lay off employees, although he did not disclose the exact number of individuals who would be affected. The board had previously approved a comprehensive list of positions, spanning nearly 20 pages, that were at risk of layoffs, including teachers, principals, and custodians. HISD leaders emphasized that the teacher cuts were based on performance rather than budget constraints.

Miles acknowledged that he was unable to provide specific figures regarding the number of teachers or principals facing job loss, but assured that this information would be available in the coming weeks. Several teachers reportedly received notices to attend a Zoom call to discuss their future employment with the district, although the purpose of this call was not clear.

The contentious relationship between Miles and the HISD community seemingly began when he assumed his position. In July 2023, just a month after taking office, Miles disclosed during a virtual forum that the district’s central office was reducing its staffing levels by over 2,300 positions. This reduction included the elimination of 1,675 vacant positions and the layoff of 672 employees. Miles attributed this decision to the central office’s excessive growth over the past decade, despite a significant decrease in student enrollment by 27,000 students.

In August 2023, The Houston Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit against Miles and the board, accusing them of violating Texas Education Code requirements in the development of teacher evaluations. The teacher’s union alleged that Miles had created an illegal evaluation system without input from teachers and other stakeholders. The lawsuit was later dropped after the board of managers decided to use the state’s appraisal system for teachers instead of Miles’ system.

One of the key issues with Miles is his failure to thoroughly analyze the HISD operational environment before proposing his solutions. This lack of understanding often results in his recommendations being disconnected from the reality of the situation. Without a comprehensive assessment of the unique challenges and intricacies within the district, his strategies failed to effectively address the underlying issues and even led to unintended consequences. Indeed, Miles did not take the time to gain a deep understanding of the complexities of HISD before implementing his changes.

In any school district, the primary stakeholders are the teachers, students, and parents. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that other stakeholders also play a vital role in the success of schools. These include administrators, support staff, community members, and local businesses. Each of these groups brings unique perspectives and resources to the table, all of which contribute to creating a positive learning environment for students. By fostering collaboration and valuing the input of all stakeholders, school districts can enhance their ability to meet the diverse needs of students and support them in achieving academic success. This approach stands in stark contrast to the leadership perspectives held by Miles, which do not prioritize such inclusive and cooperative practices.

Initially brought in to facilitate a solution, Miles is now seen as the problem. He was thought to be the key to resolving the issue at hand, given his expertise and experience, making him the obvious choice to lead the team. However, as time passed, it became evident that Miles was hindering progress rather than aiding it. His stubbornness, lack of communication, and unwillingness to consider alternative perspectives were causing tension within the group and impeding any real solutions from being reached. It was increasingly clear that Miles himself was the primary obstacle standing in the way of a resolution.

HISD would need to address this issue with TEA if they are ever going to move forward and achieve their goals. Removing Miles from his position would allow for a fresh start and a more collaborative approach to problem-solving, ultimately benefiting the students, teachers, and community as a whole. It is time for HISD to move forward without Miles at the helm.

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Journalism and RTF Professor, Dr. Anthony Obi Ogbo, is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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