The Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) South, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, is one person who exudes certainty that his party won the 2019 presidential election. In this interview with BIYI ADEGOROYE, he speaks about the basis for this, the recent inauguration of the National Assembly and 20 years of uninterrupted civil rule
How do you describe the outcome of the last elections in the country?
We were robbed of victory. They robbed the PDP of victory.
But you were able to win about six additional states?
The ultimate is the presidency, where we were robbed. It was a daylight robbery and we are going to recover it by the grace of God through the judiciary, the last hope of the common man.
How sure are you in this regard?
When the trial begins proper, Nigerians will hear monumental revelations that will convince everybody that they are daylight robbers. We have assembled all our facts which we are going to present to the election tribunal and the international community; we have evidence that are beyond reasonable doubt.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) is now saying it has no information in the server and it has forgotten that they said it before the elections that election results will be transmitted into the server. Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said so and documents and other materials evidence where he collated the results will be presented to the court. We are shocked and we found it incredible after the election that they said there were no such information in the INEC server.
We have assembled our evidence, ward by ward, local government by local government and there are 774 local governments in Nigeria, and we have the facts on how they manipulated the results. For example, how do you explain a situation in Kano whereby a particular party scored eighty something thousand in the presidential election and the same party scored over one million votes in the governorship election two weeks after? How do you explain that, especially when you remember that it is the party they vote for and not an individual?
From our own calculations, Atiku Abubakar won that election by 1.6million votes, as against what they declared, but the fact is that nobody can hide behind one finger. Already they are jittery; you may not know but he who knows it feels it- that they will likely lose at the court and they are going to lose by the grace of God. I don’t want to pre-empt what will happen in the courts in order not to sound sub-judice, but our evidence will surprise the whole world.
The judiciary in Kenya has set precedence for Africa that the ruling party lost the election; Uhuru Kenyatta lost in the courts. Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari is going to lose in the court too. The worse scenario that will happen is to call for repeat of the election, and we are not praying for that, rather we are praying that victory would be given to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
What do you think accounted for the resurgence of the PDP in the last elections, from nine states to over 15 now?
You as Nigerian should know that the PDP is more organised than the APC. From the wards to the national level, the PDP is more organised than the APC. Daily you hear about the leadership problem of the Chairman of the APC, how many times have you heard about anything like that in the PDP or about its Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus?
Since the last election, how many APC leaders have been suspended? Remember they suspended former governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha; they have suspended his counterpart in Ogun State, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun and even Governor Rotimi Akeredolu. The APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole has a running battle with Yahaya Bello, the former governor of Zamfara, Abdulazeez Yari and even his Deputy National Chairman, Shuaibu. Is the leadership of the PDP having any problem with its governors? That means we are more organised.
Another point that propelled us to this level is that our campaign was issue-based. We convinced Nigerians that we are better alternatives, that we have the candidate who could deliver on his promises. We have done it before and Nigerians bought into that because they realised that APC never fulfilled its campaign promises.
For example, in 2014, Buhari promised that he would reduce the price of petrol which affects the common man from N87 par litre, has he done it? Instead the price has gone to N145. He also promised to bring the exchange rate to N1 to $1; has he done it? What is the exchange rate today? Remember that President Goodluck Jonathan left it at N190, but today it is in the neighourhood of N350 to a dollar. This is the worse in the history of Nigeria. We have never had it so bad. If he could not bring down the exchange rate why did he maintain where he met it?
Today, we cannot sleep in our houses with our eyes closed. We were talking about insecurity in the North-East, it has gradually moved into the North-Central and now in the southern parts of the country. Kidnapping now a common crime in the South-West, along Ibadan-Ife Road, along Owo-Akure –Lagos-Ibadan roads. Crime is skyrocketing every day. Tell me, why will people not vote for PDP?
Look at the economy, putting food on the table of many Nigerians is now a problem. That is why the vote-buying phenomenon came up, because it is very new in the nation’s electoral history. It came because of poverty and degradation when Nigerians can no longer feed themselves.
Look at how they are deceiving us with the security situation in the North-East. Initially they said it was Boko Haram, now they have changed the narrative to banditry. From banditry to herdsmen, from herdsmen to dismissed solders form Libya and all. What do they want us to believe? They said they have decimated insurgents, and population of Internally Displaced Persons is increasing every day. If the population of IDP is increasing can you actually say that you have decimated Boko Haram? Why haven’t the IDPs go back to their villages? You guess is as god as mine.
Our girls that were kidnapped, have they secured their release? So these are things that made people to vote for PDP and we were able to recover more states and we will regain more. From our projections, we are going to have 17 or 18 states. By the grace of God we are going to take over Kano and Osun states. We already have 16 and if we add those two, that will give us 18, but most importantly we are going to control the whole of Nigeria by getting the presidency. So the performance of PDP should not surprise anybody. We worked hard for it and we deserved it and believe in the efficacy of prayer for better days to come back for the PDP.
How do you assess the growth of the economy and what accounts for the level on insecurity in the country?
I will start with the economy. One of the cardinal programmes of President Buhari is the anti-corruption war, but Transparency International has adjudged this government as the most corrupt of all governments we have had in Nigeria; that Buhari’s administration is the most corrupt and that most of the corrupt people are within his government.
That as a matter of fact he has no control over the government; he has no control over the economy. So will expect a battered economy when the president does not know what is going on in the country. His wife has come out to tell the whole world that her husband did not know what is going on in the government. It is a fact because the cabal has taken over the government from him. That is why the economy is in a bad shape.
And when you talk about insecurity, many factors contributed to the level of insecurity in Nigeria today. The first one is poverty, unemployment is there. Look at the number of people that are turned out of Nigerian universities every year. How many of them have been gainfully employed? Where are the jobs; the industries and what have you? What people from the polytechnics, the colleges of education and other tertiary institutions? Devil engages unemployed people. The cumulative consequences of unemployment are what we are having today.
You see now that Nigerians have started exporting criminality from the shores of Nigeria to other countries. Look at the recent event where Nigerians are going abroad to kidnap people like they did in Ghana? In Dubai in the United Arab Emirate some weeks ago, Nigerians were arrested for armed robbery. Within the last two weeks they have been arrested over kidnapping on Canadians in Ghana! Before you know it the whole thing will be spread over the whole West Africa Sub-region, we have forgotten our population, because for every three African, one of them must be a Nigerian and whatever happens to Nigeria will easily spread all over Africa because we are the most populous nation on the continent and that is why the international community should be interested in what is happening in Nigeria because if care is not taken the it will have multiplier effects on the whole Africa. The whole security problem is caused by poverty, unemployment and deprivation. Those of us in Abuja now always rejoice when we sleep and wake up alive, and you can imagine how people in other parts of the country feel about their security.
Besides the need for a buoyant economy, do you support introduction of state police?
I’m neither here nor there, because Nigerians are noted for abusing power; for excessive display of power. Even look at the situation where even the federal police are being used to intimidate and persecute the opposition. Look at how the anti-graft agencies are being used to chase opposition people all about? You remember sometime ago, that Adams Oshiomhole said ‘cross over to the APC and you sins will be forgiven, that no matter the offence, if you come to APC, your crimes will be forgiven.’ That is why many politicians are rushing to the APC- people that are supposed to be prosecuted in the courts of law; whenever they cross to APC their sins are forgiven. They are using the EFCC to embarrass, to persecute all the opposition leaders now. So if we introduce state police it is the same thing the governors will do at the state level.
Look at the running battle Governor Nyesom Wike has been having with the police in Rivers State. Where did the police in that state get their powers from? So if each state has its own police and the governors have absolute control over them, what will the state governors do with it?
They will use it to terrorise the opposition, and that is why nobody should contemplate that idea of state police now when we cannot even contain the excesses of the Nigeria police. I’m not fully in support of state police.
Beyelsa and Kogi states’ governorship elections are holding this year, to be followed next year by Ondo State. How prepared is your party for these elections?
You must have observed that our presidential primaries in Port Harcourt last year was adjudged the best in Africa. It was so orderly and transparent. There were about 13 presiden tial aspirants and people thought that after the primaries there would be an implosion in the PDP, but did we lose any of them? No, because it was transparently done; it was in conformity with the best practices all over the world.
The PDP is a strong and transparent party and of course that is a legacy the current leadership of the party wants to be remembered for. No practice of godfatherism, no bribery, kickback any longer. I can assure you that those states will not be an exemption, because we are going to conduct it in such a way that it will be so clear to everyone that whoever wins will win clearly and those who lose will lose clearly.
You will remember that the last primaries in Ondo State is still generating ripples up till today, it is still a problem for them up till today. That is why Governor Rotimi Akeredolu is not in the good books of the cabal in Lagos. But in our own case, we have learnt lesson from mistakes of the past and even apart from that, if you are in the opposition, you should try to do things in a better way so that people can see you as a better alternative. That is the philosophy we have, that Nigerians will see us a better alternative, that we are more prepared and that we know what we are doing. We are prepared for governance. APC was not prepared for governance that is the problem they have. They assembled themselves to hijack power without preparing for governance; that is the problem they have.
They did not plan for it, but from the onset, we are well prepared and that was why our founding fathers sat down and prepared how to provide an alternative government to the military. They asked themselves ‘what do we do in order to remain in the hearts of all Nigerian? That was the philosophy that underlined formation and operations of the PDP. But the APC, they just assembled themselves to hijack power without planning to rule. That is why the president doesn’t know what is happening within his party today. So will continue to receive more followers form the other parties and will not lose anyone.
The electorate is yet to forget the fact that the misgovernment of the PDP brought us where we are now, how do you react to this?
You see, I agree that at the end of the 16 years of the PDP, like it is often said, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, people just took things for granted because we did not have a virile opposition. We did things outside our constitution. For example, one of the major things that cost us that defeat was that it was agreed that at the time President Jonathan wanted to run for second term that power should shift to the North. That was the arrangement but because we had stayed too long in power, we jettisoned that fundamental part of our party guideline. But that is what we are trying to correct all of the now and you remember that the Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus has formerly and publicly apologised to all Nigerians to forgive us for the mistakes we made; that given the chance again, we will do better.
How do see the observance of June 12 as Democracy Day?
They have not done enough on June 12; the government has not done enough. If they truly believe in the spirit of June 12 they should have declared Chief MKO Abiola a post-humours president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They should have asked Prof. Humphrey to declare that results formerly and declare Abiola post-humously the president of Nigeria. What they have done is a Greek gift, Nwosu is alive and they should have called him to do so or called INEC to gather the result and do it. It is then that Nigerians will see that they really mean to actualise June 12.
Bayelsa poll: We’ve no report against Jonathan – PDP NWC
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said there was no report of any anti-party activities against former President Goodluck Jonathan concerning the conduct of last Saturday’s governorship election in Bayelsa State before it.
PDP lost the poll to the All Progressives Congress (APC). But hours after the APC candidate was declared winner, the former president hosted members of APC National Campaign Council for Bayelsa State.
Bayelsa State Governor, Sierake Dickson, at a press conference on Tuesday also said: “It is strategic for APC leaders to use Jonathan to legitimise the illegitimacy that happened on Saturday.”
He accused Jonathan of congratulating “the APC candidate without congratulating the candidate of his party.”
But PDP NWC, after its marathon meeting on Wednesday said the issue concerning the former president was not discussed at the meeting.
The National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan who spoke to journalists at the end of the meeting, said the party follow procedures in handling its activities.
“If we do not have a report or an issue before us, we cannot delve into. As we speak now, we do not have matter concerning President Jonathan before the party,” Ologbondiyan stated.
He also said the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus was not under pressure to resign.
“The National Chairman is not under any pressure except the fact that we believe that democracy is gradually being killed by this government and we believe that as the main opposition party we have a responsibility to salvage democracy.
“That is the main issue concerning the National Chairman, it is not correct,” he said.
Ologbondiyan denied a division in the NWC, and said the meeting was held in convivial atmosphere
Kogi post-election killing: We abhor violence, criminalities – APC
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned the post-election violence in Kogi State that led to the killing of the opposition Peoples Democratic party (PDP) Woman Leader, Salome Abuh and destruction of properties.
According to the party, in a statement from its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, it hates violence and criminalities.
Mrs. Abuh, who was a PDP Woman Leader in Kogi State, was killed a day after the Kogi State governorship election result was announced.
The party, which condoled with the family of the deceased and others affected by the post-election violence, said: “While the Kogi Police Command says the killing was as a result of a reprisal attack, we urge the Kogi people to ensure this does not escalate. We are aware that the Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has already directed law enforcement agencies to fish out the perpetrators.
“The APC abhors violence and other criminalities which sadly continue to plague our electioneering process. We urge partisans to see election as a democratic contest and not a do or die affair that we pay with our lives. We pray that the culprits are caught and the full weight of the law is brought to bear on them.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has advised partisans that are not satisfied with the results of governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states to seek redress in court and shun violence. We must all heed this call.”
Malaye petitions INEC, wants Kogi West senatorial poll cancelled
*Says election marred by violence, fraud
Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Kogi West in last Saturday’s senatorial election, Dino Melaye wants the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cancel the entire exercise.
Malaye, who was at the headquarters of the Commission yesterday to submit his petition, said the election was marred by violence and ballot boxes snatching, adding that a helicopter was even used to intimidate voters.
In the petition, which was dated November 18 and signed by his Lawyer, Tobechukwu Nweke, the PDP candidate also submitted 21 copies of video discs, which he said, captured the infractions during the election.
“The content of my petition is that I am demanding the entire cancellation of the election,” he added.
He urged INEC to painstakingly study the events captured in the video, and said it was a revelation that election was not conducted in Kogi West on November 16.
“This is not an election. We are going to take it up and fight for our right to finish.
“We urge the Commission to cancel the entire election to the Senate of Kogi West senatorial district held on Nov. 16,” Melaye demanded.
He alleged that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) as well as the requisite guidelines and regulations issued for the election.
Melaye also took exception to the claim by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu that fake police officers operated during the election in Kogi State.
Bayelsa guber: PDP as own albatross
Why PDP lost Bayelsa to APC
EMMANUEL MASHA reports on the political intrigues that led to the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has held sway in Bayelsa State since 1999 by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in last weekend’s governorship election
o Nigerians, who reside outside Bayelsa State, especially those who do not follow the state’s politics, the victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over Senator Douye Diri of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) David Lyon, in last weekend’s governorship election in the state might come as a big surprise.
Some would be wondering who Lyon is and how he was able to defeat a serving senator, who was backed by an incumbent governor. They would also wonder why voters in a state, which has traditionally voted for the PDP, suddenly pitched tent with APC.
But, to residents of Bayelsa and those who really understand the state’s politics, the fall of the PDP after 19 years of dominance was caused by the party’s leadership at the state and national levels.
Starting from the state, where Governor Seriake Dickson calls the shot, the PDP lost touch with the reality that voters have the ultimate say in who wins an election, and not the power of incumbency. The party failed to realize that the fire brigade approach to election through empty promises or inducement, which is the norm in the country has its limits.
Across Yenagoa and other major towns and communities in Bayelsa State last Saturday, some voters were handed cash to influence their votes, but some of them still went ahead to vote according to their conscience.
According to some observers, Dickson as governor personally failed to read the mood and body language of the people. Some even concluded that if Dickson didn’t realize that majority of Bayelsians were unhappy with the way things had turned out in his second term in office and had been patiently waiting to pay him back.
Also, his appointees and aides, who are nearer to the people, and who are supposed to be his eyes, equally deceived him.
To realize the role “peoples power” played in this election, one only needs to move round the streets of Yenagoa to get the reaction of residents. From tricycle operators to market women and civil servants, there was a strong resolve to vote against Dickson’s anointed candidate – Diri.
For some of the tricycle operators, who have taken over the roads of Yenogoa, it was the failure of the government to provide employment opportunities that forced them into the business. Those who operate on hire purchase terms said they have to work till 10.pm to meet their respective targets and to take something home. Their biggest worry is that there is no single street light that works on Yenagoa roads.
So, they say that they are perpetually in darkness, while conveying their passengers at night, leaving them prone to attacks by hoodlums. Interestingly, Yenogoa is the only capital in the South-South geopolitical zone that goes for months without any blink of electricity.
Like most market women, and other residents had resolved long before the election, the tricycle operators, wore their resolve to vote against PDP like a badge of honour.
When the Dickson administration noticed that the state’s wage bill accommodated ghost workers, who only got salaries at the end of every month without doing anything and blocked the leakage, many commended him. But, when the state’s economy “collapsed” because government could not create employment opportunities and stopped the “sharing” system that thousands relied on, a major economic crisis ensued.
So, Saturday’s election for some was an opportunity to revolt against an “insensitive government.” The residents made good their promise to punish the PDP by taking advantage of the ultimate misstep of the party in the build-up to the election, which was complete disregard for internal democracy.
The emergence of an unpopular candidate to fly the party’s ticket not only extended the distance between the PDP and its supporters, including those that were supposed to sustain the relationship between the grassroots, it led to the defection of some prominent party members to the APC.
To most members of the PDP in the oil-rich state, their preferred candidate was a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe, who they say, boasts of a solid support base across the state. Alaibe is widely seen as a true and worthy son of Bayelsa, who despite never having occupied an elected office is accorded the kind of respect they accorded late Diepreye Alamiseigha.
According to a reliable source, two former presidents advised Dickson before the PDP governorship primary to ensure a level playing field for all the aspirants, when efforts to make him back Alaibe failed.
Alaibe was the choice of many Bayelsans, who were waiting to reward him for building leaders. From ex-Governor Timipre Sylva (now Minister of State for Petroleum) to Douye and Lyon, they all worked for Alaibe at a point in their career. So, Bayelsaans, who came out en mass to vote, would have opted for Alaibe irrespective of his party.
According to an insider, Dickson refused to back Alaibe because he was afraid that the former NDDC boss will not to do his bidding if he becomes governor.
During the PDP primaries, Diri, the senator representing Bayelsa Central, scored 561 votes, while Alaibe, scored 365 in a contest that had 21 aspirants, including the deputy governor of the state, Gboribiogha Jonah, who scored 62 votes.
According to observers, most of the contestants were sponsored to reduce Alaibe’s vote and to prevent him from emerging victorious. However, Alaibe faulted the outcome of the exercise on the ground that the result was affected by “inherent flaws bordering on crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines.”
He also faulted the use of local council chairmen and councilors in the state as delegates in the primary.
He said in a statement: “For instance, by the provisions of Section 50(1) of the party’s constitution, the authority to formulate guidelines for all matters relating to the governorship primary is vested in NEC of the PDP. The election of ad-hoc delegates is one of such matters.
“Strangely, the panel set up to undertake this exercise simply imposed on us a list of electoral and returning officers prepared by the state officers of the party, who are avowed members of the orchestrated Restoration Team. Thus, the process was deliberately handed over to the Restoration Team. Our protest was ignored.
“We express our serious reservations about the process that led to the primary for its unconstitutionality and its outcome completely unacceptable because of its illegitimacy.”
By the time Diri spoke, he made it clear that Alaibe’s time has gone. He explained that when preparations were on for an Alaibe governorship years ago, he (Diri) was not even known. He added that he and others left Alaibe to forge his own political path and returned to the party to be appointed first as Deputy Chief of Staff and later Principal Executive Secretary by Governor Dickson.
His words: “We were in that sojourn for about 10 years, trying to see how we can make Chief Timi Alaibe governor. We are the people who even gave him that name, Principal. But that didn’t work out. So, at a point in one’s life, you have to take your destiny in your hands. I decided once again to take my destiny in my hands. I finally parted ways with Alaibe.”
Diri, however, called on Alaibe and others who contested against him, who are still not happy over the outcome of the primary election to “sheath their swords” and work with him to ensure victory for PDP.
While the PDP was in disarray after its primaries, APC capitalized on the situation. The game plan for APC to takeover of Bayelsa, spearheaded by Sylva was the political take-over of Southern Ijaw. His second journey to Government House, Yenagoa was cut short in Southern Ijaw in 2015 by Dickson. Victory did not come easy for Dickson, following the delay in the outcome of election in the area.
Sylva and his team achieved their plan early this year, when Hon. Preye Osake was elected on the platform of the APC to represent Southern-Ijaw Federal Constituency after defeating Hon. Ofongo Henry of the PDP.
Based on the voting strength of Southern Ijaw, Oseke was pressured by some to contest the governorship election before the APC primary, but he distanced himself from such, noting that he has four years to focus on representing his constituents.
Oseke added that he had no divided attention as a loyal party man and that APC leaders’ and major stakeholders in the state will decide on whoever will fly the party’s flag in the governorship election.
To seal the votes of Southern Ijaw, Sylva and his team drafted Chief David Lyon, who is from the area. This explains why APC polled 124,803 votes against PDP’s 4,898 votes out of the 165,449 registered voters in Southern Ijaw.
When results of the election was announced by INEC’s electoral officer, Prof. Faraday Oruwense, who is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, it was no longer news to Lyon’s supporters, who started celebrating shortly after the election on Saturday.
Another factor that contributed to APC’s victory was the several opportunities, which leaders of the party in Bayelsa leveraged on. Appointments into key federal agencies brought in a fresh crop of politicians that would mobilize voters and deliver their areas.
While the victors are savouring their triumph at the polls, Diri condemned the conduct of the election, alleging that results collated by his party’s agents showed that he won the election.
He also claimed that “members of the PDP were terrorized and arrested by soldiers on the orders of the General Officer Commanding the 6th Division of the Nigerian Army, General Sarham Jamil.”
Diri, who spoke in company of the National Chairman of the PDP Campaign Council and Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, and the National Vice Chairman of the party, Elder Emmanuel Ogidi, noted that what played out during the election, confirms the earlier red flag the PDP raised days to the poll about plans by the APC to use the army to rig the election.
He said that despite being posted out of the Niger Delta to the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, General Jamil still supervised the state’s election. He noted that critical stakeholders of the party were harassed and prevented from accessing the collation centre in Ogbia, which is former President Goodluck Jonathan’s local government area.
Diri added the chairman of the council, Hon. Ebiyon Turner and a serving member of the state House of Assembly representing Ogbia Constituency 11, Hon. Gibson Munalayefa, were all arrested and detained by soldiers.
He also noted that in Southern Ijaw, PDP members who were travelling to their communities for the election, including Dr. Michael Amaegberi, were apprehended by soldiers at Ogboinbiri, while their APC counterparts were allowed to go scot free.
“The collation centre in Ogbia was under siege by the Nigerian Army and as we all know that this is against the laws of our land. It is an anathema because the army has no business in determining who goes into a collation centre.
“In Nembe Local Government Area, materials for wards 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 13 never got to their destinations. Electoral laws are clear on hijacking of electoral materials and so we call on INEC to invoke the relevant laws so that the doctored results will not be accepted.
“We have very credible information that the Nigerian Army have been conniving with our opponent, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to hijack the process and manipulate the already known results,” the PDP candidate said during collation of results.
The complaints, notwithstanding, the biggest lesson over the Bayelsa governorship election is that the people wield the ultimate power and not the person they elected to serve them.
Reps move for new scanners at nation’s ports
The House of Representatives has passed a motion urging the Federal Government to install scanners at the nation’s ports. PHILIP NYAM examines the import of the resolution by the lower chamber
he House of Representatives last week passed a resolution calling on the federal government and indeed the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to immediately purchase and install scanners at the nation’s seaports.
The directive was given following the adoption of the motion of urgent national importance by Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) was unanimously adopted.
This is not the first time the issue of scanners has come up in the National Assembly. Early this year, chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (then senior special assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora), had disclosed that scanners at some of the Nigerian airports were not working optimally.
The former lawmaker who made this known before the ad-hoc committee set up by the Senate to look into circumstances that led to the arrest of Ms. Zainab Aliyu in Saudi Arabia in December 2018, over planting of a banned drug, Tramadol, in her luggage.
While testifying before the ad-hoc committee, Dabiri-Erewa alleged that some foreign airlines were running drug cartels in connivance with some Nigerians at international airports across the country. “They operate alongside local collaborators. It is not Air Peace, not Arik Air,” she said.
Similarly, the airport chief of security of the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN), Alhaji El-Yakub Lamir had also shocked the panel when he disclosed that scanners at the Aminu Kano International Airport in particular, were not configured to detect drugs. He said that there were 15 security agents involved in checking luggage’s at the point of entry and exit but that they had been reduced in number due to public complaints.
This scenario shows that the problem of absence or non-functionality of scanners at either the nation’s airports or seaports is real and deserves to be looked into. And shortly before the 2019 general elections, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed was reported to have disclosed that the federal government had paid for hi-tech scanners, which she promised that would be deployed to the seaports and airports on a build operate and transfer (BOT) basis.
According to her, “We have bought some scanners and there are hi-tech scanners that have been paid for, but we are waiting for delivery and the first deployment will be to the major ports. We will buy more and part of the single window process is that there is going to be a vendor that will provide scanners in all of the major seaports as well as major airports. They will run on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) and they will exit”
Just last Tuesday, the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Alhaji Muhammed Babandede disclosed that the federal government has deployed a border management technology, the Migration Information Data Analysis System (MIDAS) at three international airports, 14 land and two sea borders to check irregular migration, human trafficking, and other cross-border crimes.
He said the MIDAS system had been installed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.
Babandede who was speaking during the inauguration of the system at the Abuja Airport said the technology would also be installed at four other airports across the country. He said the project was a collaborative effort of the NIS, the Danish government and the International Organization for Migration.
According to him, the MIDAS software collects, processes, stores and analyses migrant information in real-time across the border network, and provides a strong statistical base for security, migration policy and planning.
He explained that the MIDAS was designed to process and record both biographic and biometric details of passengers’ movement for the purpose of identification, biometric verification, inspecting, authenticating travel document and collecting and analyzing data of migrant information in real-time across the border network.
But leading debate on the motion, Ossai submitted that scanners in most ports within the country needed immediate replacement and emphasized that the scanners would help decongest ports and hike revenue for the country.
According to Ossai, other nations across the world, have imbibed technology and are reaping from its benefits noting that “there is no place in the world today that you don’t have a scanning machine. The other day, we went to the ports and you will marvel at the level of revenue we are losing”
He argued that without scanners at the ports, people with criminal tendencies would use the opportunity to bring in banned products and even firearms into the nation without being apprehended.
Supporting the motion, Hon. Bamidele Salam (PDP, Osun) said: “I want to add to the motion we have to find a solution to this general problem facing us as a country. If these scanners are effective, it would go a long way to save manpower”.
Also, Hon. Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo), on his part, said “this is what some of us have always emphasized in the house. If you allow personnel of the customs to use their discretion that is where corruption comes in”.
Similarly, Hon. Luke Onofiok (PDP, Akwa Ibom) said “I want to suggest that we find a lasting solutions to the decongestion of our seaports through this method. I want to use this opportunity to ask the federal government to establish a seaport in Akwa- Ibom so as to help decongest these ports. Making his own contribution, the minority leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta) said “This motion is very germane. If we have functioning scanning machines, we would not have illegal ammunitions circulating round the whole country. The scanning machines would be able to check all of this”.
Before adopting the motion, the House lamented that “the infrastructural decay and frustration experienced daily in our Ports by importers and exporters, which often leads to unnecessary demurrage and incurring of other charges by port users, resulting to high cost of goods in the country thereby causing inflation”.
The House added that “the economic importance of Customs Service makes it reprehensible that this age of fast technological development, the NCS is still engaging in physical examination of persons and cargos in our seaports, airports and border stations”
The motion was unanimously adopted when Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase put it to question.
Speaking on the issue after the plenary, chairman of the House Committee on Customs and Excise, Hon. Yuguda Hassan (APC, Jigawa) on the motion, he revealed that “the issue of scanners have been on, even before this administration came in, however, the motion has been overtaken by events because the federal government has agreed to procure scanners all over the country both in borders and seaports. Actually there’s a committee put in place already to tackle the issue of scanners”.
He noted that “there are a lot of benefits in having scanners to function well in our ports because it would check the importation of illegal goods and ammunitions in the country “, he submitted.
Many analysts are of the view that the resolution from the House of the procurement of scanners is long overdue considering the security challenges being faced by the nation. They are of the view that any effort that can block any loophole that may be exploited by insurgents and other dubious characters must be put to use.
Those eyeing Oyo governorship should wait till 2023 –Makinde
yo State governor, Seyi Makinde, told his political opponents to wait till 2023 to face him at the polls.
The governor, who was speaking while flagging off the reconstruction of the 65-kilometre Moniya-Ijaye-Iseyin Road, said that the people of Oyo State rejected the main opposition party in the state because they did nothing to develop the state.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted Makinde as saying that even though the previous administration awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of the road, the job was not done while the money released was shared for the purpose of elections.
“We have told them to meet us in 2023,” Governor Makinde said, adding: “Though they got money, they did nothing. They spent the money on elections but did you vote for them? If they come to ask for your votes, will you vote for them?”
The governor further stated that he was determined to execute the road contract as a way of fulfilling his campaign promise.
He said: “I appreciate you for giving us the opportunity to serve you. During our campaign from here (Moniya) to Oke-Ogun, I promised that I will reconstruct the road if I become the Governor and, today, I am happy that it is the same project we are flagging off.
He restated the resolve of his administration to construct infrastructure that will target the State’s economy, adding that when completed, the road, which is quite close to ongoing Dry Port project at Olorisaoko, will aid the movement of agricultural produces and mineral resources from Oke-Ogun area to the Dry Port for onward exporting.
The 65 kilometre road is being executed by KOPEK Construction Company, at the cost of N9.9 billion.
The governor, who described the road as an important one that can uplift the economy of the State, said his government was embarking on the total reconstruction of the road as opposed to the planned rehabilitation by the immediate past administration.
He berated how the road had been abandoned for years, culminating in loss of lives and properties as well as the destruction of farm produces due to the deplorable condition of the road.
The governor further said: “On this project, we are not talking about patching but total reconstruction of the road. I know you are all aware that there is a Dry Port project ongoing here in Olorisaoko. So, when they are conveying agricultural produces and solid minerals all the way from Oke-Ogun, this is the point where we will be exporting them.
“You can recall that I also promised that the money we will spend on infrastructure will be targeted on expanding our economy and this road is a major road that can boost the economy of Oyo State. When we got into office, we discovered that the money that was awarded to carry out the road project was shared among those who held offices in the past administration. They spent the money on campaign and the last election and, upon that, you did not vote for them.
“This road was abandoned for eight years. Countless number of people have died on the road. Time has been wasted. In 2015, during the electioneering campaign, we had accident on this same road too but we thank God that no life was lost. It was because of that incidence that made me promise that if I eventually get the people’s mandate to serve the state, we won’t spend beyond 45 minutes to reach Iseyin from Moniya in the morning, afternoon and night. We will also mobilise security operatives to be patrolling the road.”
Governor Makinde added that State Government has given the contractor, KOPEK Construction Company, a mandate to deliver a quality road project that will be adopted throughout the State, noting that the company had been given the mandate to deliver a road with an asphaltic thickness of 50mm as against the 40mm thickness being targeted by the previous contractor.
Bayelsa guber: Dickson tenders evidence of electoral fraud, violence
…blames Army for colluding with APC to rig poll
…dismisses purported feud with Jonathan
ayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, yesterday, tendered video evidence in support of his claims of killings and election violence that characterised the conduct of last Saturday’s governorship election in Nembe Local Government Area and some other parts of the state.
Addressing a press conference in Yenagoa, Governor Dickson described the election as a charade and a carefully orchestrated plan to forcefully take-over Bayelsa State towards entrenching a one-party system.
He condemned in its entirety, what he termed as brazen connivance of security agents, particularly officers and men of the Nigerian Army with the All Progressives Congress (APC) thugs to hijack electoral materials in most local government areas of the state.
According to the governor, soldiers were deployed to Ogbia Local Government Area and other parts of the state and led by a certain lieutenant colonel from the 6th Division of the Nigerian Army to cart away electoral materials, thereby undermining the process in favour of the APC.
The governor, therefore, called on the APC-led Federal Government to take drastic action in safeguarding the country’s democratic principles and protecting the fundamental rights of Nigerians in every election.
Dickson, who was speaking for the first time after the conduct of the election, noted with dismay, the involvement of the Army in the killings of some members of the PDP, ballot snatching and hijacking of election materials by APC members and declaration of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) even in areas, where election did not hold.
The governor, who urged Bayelsans to be calm, said the reprehensible acts against democracy would be addressed through democratic procedures.
His words: “This was not the first time that we are having elections. People were killed, some ripped open and thrown into the river and up till now, no arrest has been made. We all know that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and a notorious militant, Sam Kodjo, all plotted and carried out this heinous act, which actually was an assassination attempt because I was billed to visit Nembe that day for the PDP campaign.
“As democrats, we believe in using democratic procedures in challenging what happened. In Ogbia, there was no collation done. In most of the areas, at the conclusion of voting, the soldiers came and rounded up everybody and forcibly took them to Ogbia town and asked all PDP leaders to leave to enable them replace pre-written results. So, the results announced for Ogbia, like those for Southern Ijaw and Nembe were not real.
“What has happened in Bayelsa is one of the most brazen acts of distortion and rape of our democracy. What took place was not a democratic election. It was a military coup. It was the height of conspiracy by the Federal Government and security agencies to subvert the democratic rights of our people for the sole purpose of foisting the APC on the people.
“It has never been like this before. In 2015, it wasn’t as bad as this. In this case, not only was the Army directed to take over our place, but to collude with the APC thugs to unleash terror on our people.”
Dickson also described as balderdash, the notion being bandied about by APC mischief-makers that it was disagreement between him and former President Goodluck Jonathan that led to their pyrrhic victory, emphasizing that Jonathan remained a leader of the entire country whose image and reputation are too weighty to be dragged in the mud by the opposition party.
He explained that as a leader of the country, the former president was at liberty to receive members of the APC, who paid him a visit, but warned on the dangers posed by the satanic insinuations being weaved around the visit by the party to “sell their diabolic plot to turn Nigeria into a one party-state and a vicious attempt to legitimize illegitimate and indefensible electoral outcome.”
He stressed that no politician had stood by Jonathan more than himself and that in the build-up to the election, he visited the former president about 16 times to discuss with him on the way forward for the PDP.
He said: “President Jonathan remains a leader of our country. He is at liberty to receive members of any political party, but in the context of all that is going on, I know that the insinuations are not misplaced. APC came to Bayelsa to take his state and people by force. With the comments they are making about him; the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, coming to Bayelsa to praise Jonathan. What they were doing is laying the foundation to perpetrate fraud and violence
“No politician has stood by Jonathan more than me. They simply used his name and image to legitimize illegitimacy. I can see the strategic content. They used Jonathan to expand the notion of disagreement and after the rigging, went to him like Pontius Pilate to wash off their hands and put it at his doorsteps to say he sanctioned it. But, let’s accord him the right to meet with other dignitaries”
Group urges PDP, Dickson to concede defeat
group, Niger Delta Youth Coalition for Peace and Progress (NDYCPP) has urged the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in last Saturday’s governorship election in Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri and Governor Henry Seriake Dickson to emulate ex-President Goodluck Jonathan by conceding defeat.
Bayelsa State chapter chairman of the group, Henry Nabena, who gave the advice in Yenagoa, applauded the peaceful conduct of the electorate, who voted during the poll, while maintaining that Dickson should learn to be a statesman.
He also commended the security agencies for effective security cover during the election, which, according to him, went against the prediction that the polls would be marred by violence.
His words: “We commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for their performance in this election; they should sustain this record and improve on it. We equally applaud the Nigeria media for their balanced and factual reports of events during the elections even at the risks of their lives and under a very difficult terrain.
“We call on INEC to ignore the cry of Dickson and the PDP for the cancellations of results from Nembe, Ogbia and Southern Ijaw LGAs as the elections conducted in those areas were remarkably very peaceful and credible. Bayelsa people and the electorate have spoken through their votes and that is the voice of liberation and freedom from shackles of manipulation and we are very happy that both local and foreign observers have endorsed the process.
“We are proud that Bayelsa people have proved bookmakers wrong. Our people have debunked the perception that we are violent. That stereotype is false. The result of the election is a reflection of the wishes of the people and INEC should be commended for making votes count.”
…Gov inaugurates 41-member transition committee
he Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson also yesterday inaugurated a 41-member Transition Committee in readiness for a smooth take-over of the incoming administration.
The committee, which has the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Barr. Kemela Okara as chairman; Hon. Talford Ongolo (Deputy Chairman) and Mr. Luka Obiri (Secretary) is the first of its kind in the political history of the state.
Other members of the committee were all serving commissioners, five permanent secretaries and political appointees were inaugurated at the Governor’s Conference Room, Government House, Yenagoa.
A statement by Dickson’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, said the constitution of the Transition Committee was in line with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Dickson said the governorship election purportedly won by the APC is a charade, noting that irrespective of the outcome of the several initiatives being taken by the PDP, there was still need for a proper handover process to be initiated.
He said: “knowing that what transpired is not an election, we have to set up a transition committee. The first time in democratic rule and I thank God for the grace and enablement for making this possible for eight years and with a lot of achievements.”
He said the purpose of the committee is to articulate, record and document all the policies, programmes, projects and achievements of the Restoration Administration in all sectors in almost eight.
“the purpose is to articulate and record all that we have achieved and done in all sectors as a state and that’s why all commissioners are part of this committee to enable you present a scorecard of all our policies and programmes both completed and ongoing projects,” he said.
The governor further said that it is the outcome of this work that would be handed over in various forms to the incoming government.
Noting that achievements of his government would be a testimony and Bayelsans are assured of continually enjoying the dividends of democracy, he thanked members of the committee for their diligence, sacrifice and manner they served his administration.
In his address, the chairman of the committee, Okara, stated that the purpose of the transition committee, is to prepare ground for smooth take-over of the incoming administration.
He described the task as a major one because it cuts across all sectors, but assured that before the end of the year, the committee will complete its assigned task.
He added that they would produce a very thorough and standard report that other states will emulate.
Kogi: Thugs burn PDP Women Leader to death in post post-election violence
Jubilation over the declaration of Governor Yahaya Bello as Kogi State governor-elect for second term, on Monday turned bloody at Achadamu community in Ofu Local Government Area, as blood thirsty thugs set ablaze a 60-year-old woman, Mrs Acheju Abuh in her home.
The thugs it was learnt were celebrating the victory of Yahaya Bello at last Saturday’s election in the state, when they moved to the late Mrs Abuh home, locked her inside the house and set it on fire.
The victim, Mrs Acheju Abuh, was the Women Leader of Wada Aro Campaign Council, Ochadamu Ward.
Reacting to the banal act, the spokesman, Wada/Aro Campaign Council, Faruk Adejoh-Audu said: “The jubilant thugs were Chanting GYB 4+4, the thugs, shooting sporadically, arrived Hon (Mrs) Abuh’s house at about 2pm this afternoon (on Monday) and surrounded the house, bolting every exit and escape from outside.
“They then poured petrol on the building and set it ablaze as other terrorized villagers watched from hiding. She reportedly attempted to escape through a window but was prevented by the metal burglary proof and gun shots with bullets raining in her direction.
“The blood-thirsty thugs waited, shooting and watching with relish while Mrs Abuh cried from inside the inferno until her voice died out.
“They reportedly left only when the entire house and Mrs Abuh had been burnt to ashes. There are fears that the killing spree may escalate.
“We are calling on all men of good conscience to immediately help the people of Kogi State appeal to the Inspector General of Police to rein in Bello’s thugs and protect our people whose only crime was that they voted for their choice, a vote that was never allowed to count.”
Meanwhile, the Kogi State Police Command confirmed the incident through its Public Relations Office, DSP William Aya.
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