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Insight into Buhari’s twin dinner with lawmakers

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Insight into Buhari’s twin dinner with lawmakers

 

Now I understand the grievance of some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Since the intrigues about the choice of those who will take over the leadership of the Ninth National Assembly began shortly after the 2019 general elections, there have been deliberate attempts to get President Muhammad Bukhara deeply involved.

 

The Ninth Assembly opens in June this year and stakeholders in the ruling party are not ready to take anything for granted and allow a repeat of the 2015 experience when the lawmakers had a field day and elected presiding officers of their choice.

 

Both the current President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara emerged as leaders of the two chambers in the parliament against the wishes of their political party, (the APC). They later defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Saraki was returned unopposed as Senate President facilitated by the solid backing of a 49-member strong PDP caucus with unalloyed support from APC Senators from Zamfara, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kogi and Kwara states, knocking out Ahmed Lawan who was the preferred candidate of the party. Interestingly too, with the ‘give and take deal’ orchestrated by PDP and Saracen backed elements in the APC, Senator Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP was also returned as Deputy President of the Senate, the first time a bipartisan leadership was enthroned in Nigeria’s Red Chamber.

 

The drama inside the Senate at the time also robbed off negatively for the official candidate of the APC in the Green Chamber as Femi Gbajabiamila lost to Dogara who was elected speaker. No one was left in doubt that the ruling party structure and hierarchy, as well as its national leader, former Lagos State governor Ahmed Bola Tinubu, was solidly behind the candidature of Gbajabiamila. APC’s official candidate for the Deputy Speakership, Tahir Monguno had also lost to Lasun Yusuf of the PDP. The battle for the four presiding officers’ positions in the National Assembly therefore witnessed the APC losing to all the candidates backed by the opposition PDP.

 

Sadly, the outcome of the election in both chambers established a frosty relationship that exists to date between the leadership of the executive and the legislature. What many Nigerians seem to forget easily is the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari as President-elect innocently laid the foundation for what played out in the parliament in 2015. I was among several other people who commended the President for his unique democratic posture of promising never to meddle into the NASS leadership contest.

 

In a statement by Garb Shah then Director of Media & Publicity of APC Presidential Campaign few days before the President’s inauguration, Bukhara emphatically promised that he was willing to work with any leader of the Senate and Reps, irrespective of what part of the country he or she originated from. He explained that those who wanted him to interfere in the internal affairs of the parliament were still thinking in the past, forgetting that Change had truly come to Nigeria.

 

Hear him out, “I am prepared to work with any leaders that the House or Senate selects,” General Bukhara said. “It doesn’t matter who the person is or where he or she is from. There is due process for the selection of leaders of the National Assembly and I will not interfere in that process. Nigeria has indeed entered a new dispensation,” he said. “My administration does not intend to repeat the same mistakes made by previous governments.”

 

Following the emergence of Saraki, Dogara and the other two principal officers, President Buhari did not fail to acknowledge that a constitutional process occurred in the election, he, however, wished the process had followed the initiative by the APC.

 

For the APC and its National chairman, Adams Oshiomhole both the President’s posture at the time and the failure of the party to handle the intrigues of leadership selection in the National Assembly contributed significantly in thwarting the progress which the government would have made in delivering dividends of democracy to Nigerians in the last four years. The minister of Information Lai Mohammed at some point raised the concern that NASS under the current leadership, unfortunately, treated the executive with contempt.

 

In his view, the 2016, 2017 and 2018 budgets for instance, were deliberately delayed by the lawmakers to frustrate the government. The same thing he said was with appointments, nominations and confirmations for key organisations that could move the government forward like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

 

What is certain at the moment is that the APC is not leaving anything to chance in ensuring that all its candidates emerge victorious during the election for the leadership of the ninth National Assembly. The party’s chairman has since embarked on vigorous lobbying of both returning and newly elected members in the green and red chambers to achieve this feat. One other major strategy adopted by comrade Oshiomhole and members of his National Working Committee (NWC) is to get the strong buy-in of President Bukhara and the presidency particularly, in form of an endorsement of the party’s preferred candidates.

Securing the President’s blessing is necessary given the fact that the APC under Oshiomhole plans to even expand the battle frontiers into what can be best described as the winner takes all. Going forward, the game plan is to ensure that all strategic committees in the two chambers are headed entirely by members of the ruling party. As far as the party chairman is concerned, APC cannot afford to do business with the ’devil’ to survive at the parliament.

 

Oshiomhole and members of the NWC of the APC in the last few weeks have led the lawmakers, (Senate and House), both old and new to President Bukhara at the presidential villa with the view to sealing the deal about the choice of Senator Ahmed Lawan for Senate presidency and Femi Gbajabiamila for the House Speakership. A few members of the party are however not taking likely this supposedly clandestine lobbying of the President by Oshiomhole and his group for these two candidates. One of the aggrieved members is former Senate Leader Ali Ndume who also wants to run for the office of the Senate president. House spokesman Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa), Ahmed Wase (APC, Plateau), Umar Bago (APC, Niger) and Dr. John Idyer (APC, Benue) are also challenging Gbajabiamila for the Speakership.

 

Since the dinner with the Senators and members of the House of Representatives, President Buhari has yet to openly endorse anyone. No member of the APC at the moment can categorically claim to know what position the President has so far taken. The President at both meetings with the lawmakers, however, urged them to embrace unity and stand by the position of the party. While covering events at both the dinner with the senators and the House members, it was not difficult to see signs of unhappiness on the faces of the lawmakers as they emerged from the inner rooms. As far as they are concerned, presenting any candidate before the President while coercing the opinions remained an unfruitful exercise.

The general expectation is that as the APC strives never to make the mistakes of 2015, it must be seen to have worked out an equitable zoning arrangement based on clear, identifiable and acceptable criteria understood by all players to cater for all the geopolitical zones. It is interesting to hear that the party has zoned the Senate presidency to the North East which produced the highest number of votes in the 2019 general elections. I am among those who still do not understand why the position of the Speakership is being zoned to the South West and not the North Central which also polled significant votes, in fact, third after North West and North East during the presidential election. It makes no sense for the South West holding the position of Vice President and at the same time, producing the next speaker in the National Assembly.

 

 

You may pardon my position on this matter, but it is one of those numerous and contentious issues of disagreement among the lawmakers which, if not properly handled by both the presidency and the APC, could throw up another 2015 experience during the selection process. Another sensitive issue is that of religion which most people have always pretended to avoid. As it stands today, one particular religion in both chambers may end up dominating as against the spirit of fair and equitable distribution of power which the country has witnessed in the past. Despite these intrigues however, the most important thing we desire is an independent National Assembly that works to make laws for the welfare of all Nigerians and the development of all parts of the country.

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JUST IN: Court of Appeal begins hearing Ganduje/Abba’s case

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JUST IN: Court of Appeal begins hearing Ganduje/Abba’s case

Muhammad Kabir, Kano

The Court of Appeal sitting in Kaduna on Monday commenced hearing of the suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for Kano State, Abba Kabir Yusuf challenging the electoral victory of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.

In an earlier judgement, the Kano Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, headed by Justice Halima Shamaki, had on October 2 upheld the electoral victory of Ganduje.

But the PDP and its governorship candidate, Abba Kabiru Yusuf, not comfortable with the judgment appealed the ruling.

Barrister Ma’aruf Yakasai is representing one of the defendants, Abdullahi Ganduje, Barrister Bashir Yusuf Tudun Wuzirci is representing one of the petitioners, Abba Kabir Yusuf and Abdulkarim Maude Minjibir is standing for INEC, another defendant in the suit.

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Kogi decides: Yahaya Bello sweeps 12 LGAs

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Kogi decides: Yahaya Bello sweeps 12 LGAs

Based on results from the 21 local governments of Kogi State so far declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has won in 12 local governments while Engr. Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has so far won in nine local governments.

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Revenue shortfall: Govs at a crossroads

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Revenue shortfall: Govs at a crossroads

Onyekachi Eze reports on the challenges being faced by state governors as a result of the dwindling revenue in the face of increasing wage bill and infrastructure need

 

I

t is really not the best of time for Nigerian governors. In the face of dwindling revenue, the state chief executives are grappling with increasing wage bills. This is also affecting socio-economic development in most of the states.

 

Of recent, some policies of the Federal Government and its agencies have taken huge tolls on the finances of state governments. A mention of this could suffice.

 

 

On June this year, commercial banks across the country began the implementation of the Nigeria Financial Intelligent Unit (NFIU) directive, barring state governors from tampering with funds meant for local government councils.

 

 

Three months later (September), deductions for the repayment of N614 billion bailout fund granted to the states by the Federal Government began. Also, organized labour has given directive for the implementation of N30,000 minimum wage to workers by state governors by December 31 this year.

 

All these were happening at a time Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) accruing to the states is less than 40 per cent.

 

 

The N614 billion bailout fund was given to the governors in 2015 by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to pay salary and pension arrears of workers. The repayment process generated a lot of concern when the Federal Government announced plans to begin the deductions from the monthly allocations to states from the federation account.

 

 

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the governors did not object to the deduction, but the repayment plan during last month’s National Economic Council (NEC) meeting. The meeting was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

 

The minister said the governors unanimously opposed the two repayment plans proposed by the Federal Government.

 

 

She said: “The budget support facility was initially for a 20-year repayment period. And when we made the first deduction in September, the states had complained that the amount deducted, which was N252 million, was too harsh.

 

 

“So, since then, the Central Bank of Nigeria has revised the condition to make the repayment period longer. And so the new repayment period is 30 years. This means that the states will be paying N162 million monthly. But again today, the states still were not satisfied with the condition.”

 

The deduction is expected to remove a huge chunk of money from monthly allocations to the states from the federation account, and so means a big revenue loss to the states.

 

NFIU, an arm of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on May 6, issued what it called “Guidelines to Reduce Vulnerabilities Created by Cash Withdrawals from Local Government Funds throughout Nigeria.”

 

This guideline, which came into effect on June 1, directed that state and local government joint accounts should be operated solely as transit accounts from which funds will be distributed directly to the accounts of the local governments.

In other words, state governors have been removed from the management of the allocations accruing to the local government councils from the federation account. Attempts by the governors to reverse this directive failed.

In a letter sent to President Muhammadu Buhari on May 15, shortly after the directive was issued, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), the umbrella body of the 36 state governors in the country, accused the NFIU of mischief and deliberately seeking to cause disaffection in the polity.

 

The letter, which was signed by the then chairman of the forum, Abdul’aziz Yari (then governor of Zamfara State0, described the guideline as illegal and total disregard for the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

Yari argued that Section 7 (6) (a) and (b) of the constitution confers on the national and state Houses of Assembly the powers to make provisions for statutory allocation of public revenue to the local councils.

 

His words: “Similarly, Section 162 (6) of the Constitution expressly provides for the creation of the State Joint Local Government Account (SJLGA) into which shall be paid all allocations to the local government councils of the state from the federation account and from the government of the state.

 

“Section 162 (7) of the Constitution goes on to canter on the National Assembly the power to prescribe the terms and manners in which funds from the SJLGA may be disbursed, and in sub-section (8), the Constitution empowers the state House of Assembly to prescribe the manner in which the amount standing to the credit of the local councils in the state shall be distributed.”

 

He further argued that local governments are creation of the constitution and not a financial institution nor a reporting entity, which could be brought under the NFIU in the manner contemplated by the guidelines.

“We appeal to Mr. President to direct that the said guidelines be disregarded in view of its unconstitutionality and total disregard for due process.”

 

The President, however, refused to act, and on June 1, commercial banks in the country compiled with the directive, and the governors lost the battle and also a major source of revenue.

 

They equally fought against the N30,000 increase in workers’ salaries and lost. During the negotiations, the state chief executives said payment of N30,000 minimum wage was impracticable unless labour would agree to a downsizing of the workforce “or Federal Government accedes to the review of the national revenue allocation formula.”

 

Yari who led the NGF during the negotiations, argued: “We still said that we want to pay, but the issue is the ability to pay. If we say no, just pay, I don’t know how this formula will work and I don’t know how we can get solution to the issue.

“Today it is N18,000. In 2015 when the President assumed office, 27 states were not able to pay, not that they chose not to pay. Now you say N30,000, how many of us can pay? We will be bankrupt.”

 

The governors proposed a N4,500 increment, which amounted to N22,500, but said the tripartite committee on the minimum wage set up by the presidency on the review of the minimum wage did not include their submission on the claim that it came late.

At the moment, the battle has shifted to the implementation. Although the governors agreed there would be “consequential adjustment,” which “will be determined on what happened on the state-by-state basis because there are different number of workers at state level and there are different issues at the state level,” organised labour has already set the template for negotiations by its members.

 

Despite the financial challenges facing the states, IGR is still a big problem. Before last month’s NEC meeting, commissioners of Finance from the 36 states of the country converged on Abuja, for a peer-learning workshop, which was the fifth in the series. The purpose was how to generate more revenue for the states in order to meet increasing demands.

 

World Bank Country Director in Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri and a representative of the Department for International Development (DFID), a United Kingdom government department responsible for administering overseas aid in Nigeria, Chris Okeke, were among experts invited to tutor the commissioners on revenue generation.

 

Minister of Finance, Ahmed, who addressed the commissioners before they went into a technical session, said Nigeria needs fiscal sufficiency and buoyancy, which must come through domestic revenues, to be sustainable.

 

Her words: “We currently have a pervasive revenue generation problem that must change to successfully finance our development plans. Our current revenue to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of eight per cent is sub-optimal and a comparison of oil revenue to oil GDP and non-oil revenue to non-oil GDP performance reveals the significant area that requires immediate and dire intervention as the non-oil sector.”

 

On his part, the incumbent chairman of the NGF, Governor Kayode Fayemi, called for expansion of the revenue base, so that governors can provide to citizens, quality health care, education and world class infrastructure.

 

“We must work towards closing the wide revenue gap in order to position the country to meet the growing development needs. This responsibility lies in the capacity of our revenue authorities to improve tax administration capacity and governance especially in the non-oil sectors of the economy,” the Ekiti State governor said.

 

The general believe is that the country’s IGR is hampered by over reliance on oil revenue. This explains the consequent effect on the economy whenever there is a fall in the price of oil in the international market.

 

Both the World Bank and DFID agreed that low revenue mobilisation in Nigeria is as a result of over reliance on oil revenues and the absence of a social contract between the government and citizens.

 

World Bank’s Country Director, Chaudhuri, said he had always argued that the best measure of development of a country is not per capita GDP, but the quality of the services that the sub-national government could provide.

He advised the Nigerian government to invest in the people – the youth, children, health care, education and social protection – as well invest in infrastructure which requires revenue.

He, however, noted that right now “Nigeria does not have enough of it, most of the investments will come at the state level.”

 

For Okeke of DFID, the low level of domestic revenue mobilisation of the states is inadequate to support growth and development of key sectors of the economy, including health and education.

 

He sees the current fiscal crisis as good opportunity for both the federal and state governments to take difficult decisions to reform the oil sector, reduce dependency on oil revenue, diversifying the economy, tackle corruption and vested interests, and improve IGR.

He said: “We must resist the temptation to focus on raising IGR without understanding that taxation is a core component of the social contract. For people to willingly pay tax, they have to be convinced that the government will provide them with quality services.

 

“Global evidence on domestic revenue mobilisation shows that government can optimise IGR by focusing on equitable, diversified and sustainable sources, securing better links between taxes and public services, encouraging civil society support, educating citizens on tax, strengthening taxpayer’s rights and improving the capacity of revenue agencies.”

 

 

No doubt, this is food for thought for the governors in their quest to improve the revenue base of their respective states. They should also guard against leakages in revenue, which is a common trend at both federal and state levels.

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Humiliation of Ndigbo, now a state policy – Ukoh

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Humiliation of Ndigbo, now a state policy – Ukoh

The founder of Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), Evang. Elliot Ukoh, in this interview with KENNETH OFOMA, bares his mind on so many national issues in Nigeria including the need to restructure Nigeria, among others

 

The 20th anniversary of your group was quite interesting, what actually has been the driving force of IYM?

 

 

IYM was founded and established by God for a particular purpose and He has been directing the affairs of the group since 1999. What started as a youth organisation designed to promote Igbo language and good behaviour amongst Igbo youths gradually began to accommodate questions on the precarious Igbo condition in Nigeria. Slowly, IYM began to enlarge the discussion from the importance of education and other issues to the need for Nigeria to ensure justice for Ndigbo.

 

 

IYM is not only fearlessly defending the rights of Ndigbo, but has metamorphosed to the authentic and trusted voice of the oppressed and voiceless Ndigbo. Because the Igbo elite can meander their way to survive in Nigeria, they do not care about the plight of the downtrodden. So, IYM initially wasn’t created to inspire the younger generation of Ndigbo, to wake them up from slumber, to make them understand that if they do nothing about their condition in Nigeria, they will only be shifting that job and responsibility to their progeny. But that is exactly what IYM became with time.

 

How far has the group been able to go in this set goal of sensitizing Igbo youths?

 

 

Nobody seemed to care about the younger generation of Ndigbo. So I took up the gauntlet. My target was purely the younger generation; to prepare them for the task ahead. I travelled across the country, preaching to Igbo youths to organise themselves and fight for their rights. I told them that nobody would fight for them if they don’t fight for their rights. I showed them glaring instances of clear oppression and subjugation of Ndigbo in Nigeria. I moved from school to school, compiled details of brazen suppression of our rights and denial of our dues as part of Nigeria. It was only a matter of time before they woke up from their slumber. I was fortunate, respected elders honoured my invitation to speak to the youth at every of my seminars. We had questions and answer sessions. It was those questions and answers sessions that opened my eyes to the depth of the frustration of the Igbo younger generation and I became alarmed.

 

 

Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu, who generously and kindly attended dozens of IYM seminars, confided in me that he wasn’t shocked at the bitterness in the hearts of the youth. He told me that he knew the younger generation will be very angry at the treatment they are receiving from Nigeria. He said the rest of Nigeria do not care about the frustration of Igbo youths because Nigeria is still busy celebrating the defeat of Biafra but that the younger generation will not accept the suppression of Ndigbo much longer. He knew that something was bound to happen. He posited that the envy and fear of Ndigbo was largely responsible for the conspiracy to hold Ndigbo down perpetually.

 

 

So, by the late 1980s, I had known that the younger generation will reject and resist the position of servitude designed for Ndigbo by the victors of the civil war. I happened to know this not because I am a very smart person. I found out simply because I organised seminars for Igbo youths and during question and answer sessions, young Igbo men would lament that they are tired of Nigeria and wished for a separate state, where they would be treated like human beings. Students will say the same thing traders at Aba and Lagos as well as civil servants would say and these people do not know each other.

 

Why do you think the lamentations of Igbo youths are not heeded to by successive Nigerian governments?

 

 

The Nigerian state was clearly deceived by the “desperate hustling” of  the Igbo elite club, who are desperate for anything that they are willing to execute a contract through subletting, even crawling from office to office licking boots for crumbs. Nigeria’s leadership erroneously concluded that Ndigbo have finally accepted the humiliating position designed for them as their proper place in Nigeria. Accordingly, the humiliation of Ndigbo became state policy but they forgot that Igbo elite represent only one per cent of Ndigbo. They also forgot that Igbo are republican in nature; that every Igbo reacts according to how the shoe pinches him and the Igbo are never controlled by the announcement from somebody somewhere.

 

 

They also did not realise that the elite accepted the continuous humiliation in Nigeria because of two reasons. One, they are educated and therefore can always find a way to survive in Nigeria known globally as a very corrupt playground for Asian and Middle East scammers, masquerading as business men and who boast all over the world, how Nigerian officials are the easiest to compromise their positions to the detriment of their own citizens. Secondly, the trauma of the civil war created two different classes of Ndigbo – those who are willing to accept the continuous humiliation of Ndigbo and those who are willing to do anything to restore their lost dignity. This fact, sadly, remains lost on the Nigerian state, which regrettably believes that force and intimidation will subdue the angry Igbo younger generation to accept the continuous humiliation Ndigbo have been facing since 1970.

 

 

 

 

Could that be why the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are agitating for Biafra and is that the way out for Ndigbo?

 

 

I have repeatedly screamed the way out for decades. I have been screaming long before Ralph Uwazurike established MASSOB. If I had joined my friends and classmates to hustle for political accommodation in Nigeria, I would not have known the shocking discovery I found out during the seminars organized for Igbo youths by IYM. If those friends parading as themselves successful politicians had found time to organise seminars for Igbo youths like I did in the 1980s and 1990s, they too would have discovered the degree of anger burning in the hearts of the younger generation. They also would have known that even their sycophants are not happy with Nigeria. They would have known that the only people happy with Nigeria are those benefiting from the misery in the land. They would have known that these agitations were inevitable. It was bound to happen. Nigeria was bound to come to this.

 

 

 

 

In all these, what is the way out?

 

 

I would only be repeating myself. 25 years ago, Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu asked Bob Onyema to bring me to Villaska lodge, Ikoyi for a meeting. At that time, I was leading a coalition of Ndigbo Youth groups in Lagos. What came out from that very important gathering of very important leaders was actually packaged for the General Sani Abacha constitutional conference of 1994/1995. What some people at that time called Afenifere agenda simply because the Senator Abraham Adesanya-led National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) amplified it at that time. I am yet to see any superior argument till date.

 

 

Nigerians have no better choice. Nigeria is not working. There are reports of past conferences, many sections are bitter and angry with the current structure, some even want to opt out of Nigeria. The system that worked from the mid 1950s to mid 1960s gave everyone a sense of belonging. Those lying to themselves that they can hold Nigeria together under this unitary structure are the problem. Why they choose to deceive themselves beats me. Nigeria cannot grow under this military constitution. If the political structure is not reconstructed to true federalism by devolving powers to the federating units, Nigeria will collapse. Going back to the 1963 Republican Constitution is the way out.

Former minister, Prof Chinedu Nebo said recently that Igbo political leaders are responsible for the woes of Ndigbo. Do you agree with him?

 

 

Prof. Nebo is a highly respected intellectual and leader of men. It depends on what context he spoke. Everybody knows the Igbo political leadership has not done well. Just look at the zone. No seaport, no airport, no rail services, no motorable road. That’s not all; there is no clear political direction. Add this to the popular narrative all over the country that a certain influential politician from the South-West drafted President Muhammadu Buhari for the top job six years ago due to what they termed, the unbridled arrogance of Igbo politicians who encircled then President Goodluck Jonathan at the time, fending off everybody else, so the story goes. This politician from the South-West was very bitter with the Igbo politicians who surrounded Jonathan at the time.

 

 

He lamented how he abandoned his own presidential candidate, Nuhu Ribadu, and entered into a deal to return Jonathan in 2011, only to be dealt a bad card. He is said to be willing to forgive Jonathan, but remains unforgiving to the Igbo politicians who he believed misled Jonathan. Out of anger and frustration, he entered into alliance with Buhari, to get back at Ndigbo. Now if this narrative is true, it then throws up the question: What did Ndigbo benefit from Jonathan for which we are presently suffering so much isolation over the conduct of Igbo political class over which some people do not wish to forgive Ndigbo?

 

 

It could only mean, that those Igbo politicians who shepherded Jonathan and allegedly blocked this angry South-West leader from receiving any patronage whatsoever from Jonathan hijacked Jonathan for their personal benefit as there is nothing to show for Igbo unalloyed support for Jonathan. Absolutely nothing! It is even said that Igbo sons and daughters in that government mindlessly helped themselves with funds meant for infrastructural development in Igbo land. Pathetic! In that case, Prof. Nebo is absolutely correct. He must know what he is talking about as he was an insider as minister in Jonathan’s government.

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Kogi: Wada rejects result, heads for court

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Kogi: Wada rejects result, heads for court

 

T

he Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in Saturday’s governorship election in Kogi State, Engr. Musa Wada, yesterday, rejected results so far announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

 

 

Wada, at a press conference in Lokoja, described the election as not only a scam, but a replica of war orchestrated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and security agents deployed to the state.

 

 

He decried a situation, where armed policemen led APC thugs to snatch ballot boxes and materials at areas where the APC was losing.

 

 

He, however, noted that he and his party have rejected the results and outcome of the election in its entirety.

 

His words: “As far as my party and I are concerned, this election is not only a scam, but more like a war because there was connivance between the ruling party and security agents to perpetuate widespread malpractices through intimidation of voters, snatching of ballot boxes, thereby subverting the will of the people.

 

“If this kind of election continues, I think there should be no need for election as just allowing people to come out to vote is a mere formality. What they did at the collation centres is not the true reflection of the electorate’s choice.”

 

Wada accused the Commissioner of Police in the state doing government’s bidding throughout the exercise.

 

 

“A situation where the Commissioner of Police in Kogi State had to go to a collation centre at Dekina and stayed there from 11p.m. of Saturday till morning of Sunday, going in and out, with mission unknown, I think he was there to carry out the APC’s directive,” he said.

 

 

Raising alarm on the result from Okene Local Government Area, where Governor Yahaya Bello hails from, the PDP candidate said the council has never produced the kind of figure it recorded during the poll.

 

 

His words: “Look at a place like Okene, with less than 50,000 accredited voters turning out 120,000 accredited voters. Never in the history of Okene has the place turned out 40,000 or 50,000 votes. There are lots cases they will answer at the tribunal and we are getting set to ensure that justice is done. Elections have been controversial since the coming of the APC in the country. They have taken us back to the dark days of 1999.”

 

 

 

Wada insisted that the entire results from the 21 local government areas of the state were not the true reflection of the people’s choice, adding that the results were written by the APC and accepted by INEC.

According to him, true results from polling units across the state shows that he is the winner of the election.

 

 

“I, Engr. Musa Wada, won the November 16 gubernatorial election in Kogi State and I have all it takes to prove my case when the time comes.

 

 

“If they take away the fake results from Okene, Adavi and Okehi, of course the APC will not have come close to the votes I genuinely polled. They rigged the election with the votes of the Central Senatorial district,” he claimed.

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Bayelsa, Kogi polls: Illegal arms over stretched policemen – PSC

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Bayelsa, Kogi polls: Illegal arms over stretched policemen – PSC

..calls for arms mop up  

 

  • Police confirm 3 dead in Kogi

 

T

he Police Service Commission (PSC), yesterday, said Saturday’s gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states were characterised by proliferation of illegal weapons, complaints of sporadic shooting as well as snatching of ballot boxes.

 

 

These developments in addition to inadequate logistics, according to the PSC, militated against the capacity of policemen deployed on election duties to provide adequate security protection during the exercise.

 

 

This is as the Kogi State Police Command, also yesterday, confirmed three persons dead during the governorship election in the state.

 

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Akeem Busari, who confirmed the deaths to newsmen, said that the command is still compiling its report on the poll to ascertain the actual number of casualties.

 

 

Busari also said 10 persons were arrested across the state during the election. He said it was gathered that three persons died in Lokoja, the state capital, when armed thugs invaded St. Luke Primary School, Adanakolo, during the election.

 

 

The PSC, which decried that illegal arms overstretched policemen, made public, its observation at the end of a monitoring exercise by two separate teams it deployed in the two states for the polls.

 

 

New Telegraph recalls that the 45 officials of the PSC – 25 to Kogi and 20 to Bayelsa – were saddled with the task of “benchmarking” the conduct of police officers against the approved rules of engagement for the elections.

 

 

The commission, in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr. Ikechukwu Ani, however, commended the conduct of the police personnel on election duties, saying an interim report by its officials indicated that they were “professional.”

 

 

The statement read in part: “The PSC has expressed satisfaction with the role so far played by the Nigeria Police and other security agencies in the Bayelsa and Kogi states gubernatorial elections. The interim report of the Commission indicates that the Police were very professional despite numerous challenges in the two states.

 

 

“The strong monitoring team of the Commission to the two states observed the over proliferation of illegal weapons, inadequate logistics and challenging terrains as militating factors.

 

 

“The Commission monitored the conduct of Police officers on election duties in Bayelsa and Kogi states on Saturday, November 16 and observed that the Police were professional in their conduct during the elections, while the activities of illegal armed men overstretched the capacity of these officers to protect the voters and the electoral materials.

 

 

“The Commission calls on the leadership of the security agencies to immediately take steps to mop up these arms to safe guard the nation’s democracy.

 

 

“The Commission team observed that the Police did its best to contain the situation but noted that in several instances they were overwhelmed.”

 

 

The PSC further observed that whereas policemen arrived at voting centres on time, complaints of sporadic shootings as well as ballot box snatching were rife.

 

 

It said: “The Commission covered the three senatorial districts in Kogi State and two in Bayelsa State – Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa East. It received about 31 distress calls to its advertised dedicated telephone numbers.

 

 

“Most of the complaints were on snatching of ballot boxes and indiscriminate shootings. There were also complaints on other election malpractices such as vote-buying and multiple thump printing.”

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Violence: SERAP seeks ICC probe of APC, PDP officials

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ocio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate whether persistent crimes of corruption, violence, and killings during elections in Nigeria and the repeated failure of authorities to address the crimes amount to violence against humanity within the jurisdiction of the court.

 

 

SERAP, in a petition dated November 16, which it forwarded to ICC’s Prosecutor, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, said it is pushing for those suspected to be responsible for these crimes, mostly security officials, officials of the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other actors, who contributed to the corruption, violence and killings during the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states to be tried by the ICC.

 

In the petition signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The events in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC. If the results of the preliminary investigation suggest that further investigation is warranted, the ICC should work with Nigerian anti-corruption agencies on the matter. Election-related corruption and violence are not just minor infractions, they suggest serious crimes against Nigerians, in particular, crimes against humanity.

 

“In the ICC case on Kenyan election violence, the culture of impunity was considered one reason why violence had been ‘normalised’ as a means of political struggle. We therefore urge you to investigate allegations of corruption, violence and killings in Bayelsa and Kogi elections, if the ICC is to contribute to preventing escalations in future elections, including the general election scheduled to hold in 2023.”

 

SERAP also noted that incidents of bribery and corruption, intimidation and violence witnessed in Bayelsa and Kogi states also strike at the integrity of the democratic process and seriously undermine President Muhammadu Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to fight corruption and end impunity of perpetrators.

 

“The desire for power at all costs by politicians undermines Nigerians’ rights to open, transparent and accountable government that respects human rights and observe the rule of law. Election-related corruption and violence make public officials susceptible to corrupt incentives.

 

“Corruption and violence in elections contribute to decline in the quality of the politicians occupying public offices, which in turn lead to bad governance.

 

“The Nigerian authorities over the years have been unwilling and or unable to prosecute suspected perpetrators of election-related corruption, violence and killings, which in turn has promoted the sense of impunity and emboldened those politicians and their accomplices who continue to commit these crimes against the Nigerian people during election periods,” SERAP noted.

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Kogi: INEC official turns down N50,000 bribe

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Kogi: INEC official turns down N50,000 bribe

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Presiding Officer and official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has returned N50,000 alleged bribe for him to compromise results in Igalamela-Odolu Local Government Area of Kogi State during Saturday’s governorship election in the state.

 

This was disclosed yesterday by the Returning Officer for the area, Evans Ashigwuike Pope, an associate professor, while announcing results from the council at INEC headquarters in Lokoja.

 

Ashigwuike said a Supervising Presiding Officer (SPO) told him that a Presiding Officer (PO) handed over the N50,000 offered by a politician as bribe to compromise the election.

 

“The SPO reported to me that the PO reported to him that he was given money to influence the result. He collected the money and the money is N50,000.

 

“Then he handed over the money to the SPO, then to the PO and finally to me. I have the exhibit here,” Ashigwuike disclosed before displaying the envelope that allegedly contained the money to the audience at the collation room.

 

When asked of the source of the money, the Returning Officer said the Presiding Officer has a report and it was indicated that the money was from an unknown person.

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Kogi: 30 missing ad-hoc staff return – INEC

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Kogi: 30 missing ad-hoc staff return – INEC

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he Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that all its 30 ad-hoc staff in Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi are safe and back in their respective homes after the Saturday’s governorship election.

 

Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, stated this in a statement he issued yesterday in Abuja.

Oyekanmi said the INEC Chairman had personally spoken with some of the ad-hoc staff, who confirmed their safety.

 

He further said that they were all hale and hearty, adding that none of them was either injured or killed.

 

The statement read in part: “We can now confirm that all the 30 ad-hoc staff engaged for the 2019 Kogi governorship election and posted to polling units 002, 006 and 013 at Olamaboro III and polling units 006, 012, 015, 016, 022 at Imani 1, all in Olamaboro council area, have been accounted for.

 

“They are safe, sound and are back in their respective homes. The chairman of the commission has personally spoken with some of them and they confirmed that they were hale and hearty.

“These election-day duty staff could not be accounted for initially, following the violent attacks by some armed thugs at their respective duty posts after the close of polls.

 

“The commission has established that none of them was either injured or killed. They were able to successfully conclude the result collation process before the commotion started.”

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Elections fall below standard – YIAGA AFRICA

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IAGA AFRICA, an election monitoring nongovernmental group, said the conduct of last Saturday’s governorship election in Kogi State fell below standard.

 

The group, which said its report was based on two months of reports from its citizen observers, said it exposes serious shortcomings in the pre-election period, the election day environment and, to a lesser extent, in the conduct of the polls themselves.

It said, in a statement, that the elections, which took place after the 2019 general election, did not meet the expectations of many Nigerians, describing them as “missed opportunity to enhance public confidence in the country’s electoral institutions.

“These issues seriously compromise the credibility of the Kogi gubernatorial and senatorial polls.”

 

The group disclosed that it deployed a total of 548 observers for the Kogi elections with 500 polling unit observers deployed to 250 sampled polling units.

According to the group, last Saturday’s elections were significant especially in the conduct and processes of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but noted some drawbacks in election logistics management, quality of election personnel, integrity and transparency of the results collation.

 

It added that political parties failed to contest the elections according to democratic rules, but “instead vied for elected office based on buying votes rather than speaking to issues, manipulating the courts for political advantage, and compromising the political environment to prevent political competition

 

“The challenges in Kogi 2019 governorship elections squally lies on the role and failures of security agencies, the police in particular, political parties, the major candidates and their state and non-state accomplices.

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