2023: Politicians rekindle zoning debate
Nigeria’s political landscape is already agog with permutations for the 2023 general election as to which zone will occupy the coveted seat of president, Felix Nwaneri reports
With over three years to the next general elections, political manoeuvrings have started in several quarters across the various geopolitical zones and power blocs over the 2023 presidency even as President Muhammadu Buhari, who was re-elected for a second term during the February/March general election and was sworn-in on May 29, is barely three months in office.
Ordinarily, the scheming would not have commenced at the moment if not for the fact that President Buhari will not be taking another shot at the number one position given that he is on his last tenure. The 1999 Constitution (as amended), in paragraphs 137 (b), states that “a person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections.”
Buhari was first elected as president in 2015, when he defeated an incumbent – Goodluck Jonathan – and was re-elected in the last presidential election. Having been sworn-in as president two times, he is expected to bow out on May 29, 2023 after serving out the constitutionally allowed two terms.
Already, the President has given a hint about his retirement plan. He said he will retire to Daura – his home town – after he completes his second term in 2023. “This is my second and final term, at the end of which I will, God willing, go to Daura and settle down,” he revealed during a meeting with some traditional rulers from across the country at the presidential villa in March.
But, more than three years ahead of the poll that will see the emergence of Buhari’s successor, it is reminiscent of politics of yester-years as some political spin doctors have started flying the kite over where power should shift to and possibly, who the heir should be.
Though some zones and even names are being touted at the moment, an early move to the 2023 presidency race was noticed during the campaigns for the 2019 elections though many viewed it then as a mere ethnic card being played by some people to secure bulk votes from their region.
May be, consciously or subconsciously, it was the then Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who blew the lid of the 2023 plot, when he urged the people of South-West to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 elections to guarantee a return of power to the zone after his second term.
The former governor of Lagos State, who spoke at a special Town Hall Meeting on infrastructure organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Orientation Agency, said besides the massive investments by the Buhari administration on infrastructure across the country and in South-West in particular, the zone will benefit more politically by voting for Buhari.
“Do you know that power is rotating to the South-West after the completion of Buhari’s tenure if you vote for him in 2019? Your child cannot surrender her waist for an edifying bead and you will use the bead to decorate another child’s waist. A vote for Buhari in 2019 means a return of power to the South-West in 2023. I am sure you will vote wisely,” Fashola told his audience in Yoruba language.
While many took Fashola’s pronouncement with a pinch of salt, it became a subject of national discourse, when Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo reiterated the position at the eve of the elections.
The Vice-President, who is also from the South-West as Fashola, spoke during a house-to-house campaign in Oyo town, Oyo State. He said the success of President Buhari and the APC in the 2019 elections is the only way the zone can secure the presidency in 2023.
Noting that the 2019 presidential election matters to the Yoruba people, because the region has a larger interest in 2023, Osinbajo declared: “The 2019 general election is our own. We are not looking at the 2019, but 2023. If we get it in 2019, Yoruba will get it in 2023. If we don’t get it in 2019, we may not get it in 2023 and it may take a very long time to get it. We need to look at tomorrow and not because of today. What we are doing now is for tomorrow and not for today.”
Before Fashola and Osinbajo’s advice to their kinsmen, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, had told the people of South-East, who have been clamouring for the presidency that they will have a better chance of producing a president in 2023 if they support the second term ambition of President Buhari.
“Preach it to the other South-East states that the shortest way to Igbo presidency is to support Buhari in 2019,” Mustapha told a delegation of the Ebonyi State chapter of the APC, who visited his office then.
He also reiterated that President Buhari will hand over the baton of leadership to an Igbo by the time he is through with his second term in office in 2023, while speaking at the inauguration of the South-East chapter of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC) in Abia State.
No doubt, the 2019 polls that was characterised by ethnic sentiments pitted some political leaders in the South-West and their South-East counterparts, but the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation then said there was nothing fraudulent, dubious or contradictory about the promises made by Buhari and Osinbajo to the two zones.
Then spokesman for the organisation, Barr. Festus Keyamo (now a ministerial nominee), who made the clarification, said: “Go back and listen carefully to what they said at each occasion. Nobody is promising anybody anything definite. They are simply telling both regions very simply that they stand a chance. They may, depending on how they work.
“Some people are just rushing to town to make comments without understanding the context in which these promises were made. All of them, including Fashola, are saying one thing: Vote for Buhari for you to produce the next president in 2023. What it means is that they should work hard.
“No party will zone its presidential ticket to a region that does not like it. Did anybody use that word ‘definitely’ that we are giving you the presidency? They are simply saying, if you work hard, you stand a chance if you deliver the votes. It is conditional, that is why they are begging them. The context in which all of them are saying this is that whichever region worked hard and delivers the votes would produce the next President. That is the truth of the matter.”
Keyamo added that since the presidency will shift to the South after Buhari’s tenure, it was only wise and logical that the zones in the region should work hard to benefit from the power shift.
Like Keyamo pointed out, power is expected to shift to the South in 2023 given the zoning deal between the country’s two political divides – North and South, which took effect with the country’s return to civil rule in 1999, but the battle for the 2023 presidency may go beyond the South-West and South-East if emerging developments in the polity are anything to go by.
The belief that the 2023 presidency would be a southern affair with odds favouring the South-East, which is yet to occupy the country’s number one position since 1999, may end up as one of those political permutations that never materialised as the signs are clear that North might join the fray.
The euphoria in the North over Buhari’s re-election in February was yet to go down, when some Northern political leaders started canvassing the need for their region to hold on to power beyond 2023. The present democratic dispensation is years old and the power rotation arrangement, though not constitutional, has seen the South had the presidency for 13 years through Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (South-West, 1999-2007) and Jonathan (South-South, 2010-2015), while the North would have been in power for 11 years by the time Buhari completes his second term in 2023.
The plot, which started like a pun, when the national president of Arewa Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, said in a media interview that there was no going back for the North’s bid for the 2023 presidency, has fast gained ground among political elites from the region. His words: “We are considering supporting a northern presidency in 2023, and you better believe it because it is not just my personal opinion.
The North has not benefitted anything from Buhari’s presidency because many northern states are still impoverished and under developed. The rate of poverty in the North has become worse than it was in 2015. We cannot beat our chest and say this government has favoured the North. The first four years of Buhari was a waste and we cannot expect any magic to happen in his second tenure; it is not possible.”
Shettima had premised his position on two grounds – the need for North to have another four years to catch up with the South’s 14-year presidency and to make up for the region’s inability to benefit from the Buhari administration, which he said has so favoured the South, particularly the South-West, but some say his line of thought might have been spurred by North’s voting strength in the last elections.
Second Republic lawmaker, Junaid Mohammed, who also expressed similar thought, advised southern politicians jostling to take over from Buhari to have a rethink as the North could still vie for the presidency in 2023. Mohammed had in the interview said: “This idea of zoning and rotation has been a tragedy for Nigeria because it can deprive Nigeria of getting a better leader. That being the case, whosoever wants to claim it, let him go.
“Look at what the Afenifere said that next time it would be a Yoruba person. Their understanding of rotation is between the North and the South-West, or North-West and the South-West.
That cannot be.
The contradiction, which they invented about zoning and rotation, has collapsed and now they are looking for lies to tell to deceive us. “Otherwise, how can you say that we now have a president who is from the North-West and his vice, who is from South-West, and that next time it will be the turn of the South-West to produce the president of this country? What are we talking about? I don’t want to hear about this equity and justice, that is sheer nonsense. “We keep on making this mistake of agitation of ‘it is our turn’ over and over again. After all, somebody says the classical definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.”
On the clamour by the Igbo that 2023 should be their turn to produce the president, Mohammed suggested that the region had lost the chance and should forget it. “The people, who abused this equity and justice, are the people from the South-East because whatever we are talking about, in a democracy you cannot circumvent voting figures.
You can say it is time for my people. We will not vote for you and let’s see what happens. I said it in one of my statements, look at the way the people of the South-East voted during the last election; they have a humongous collection of votes and they all voted for Atiku Abubakar, and they expect somebody to come from his own area to vote for them.”
“Democracy is a question of give and take; you vote for me and I vote for you, that was what Michael Okpara used to say. You don’t vote for me and maybe you think that by abusing me on the pages of newspapers that I will vote for you. I will not,’” he said.
While many analysts and even political leaders, especially those from the South have dismissed Shettima and Mohammed’s submissions on the ground that the duo do not speak for the North, discerning political minds are of the view that only political neophytes would wish away such proposition given the peculiarity of politics.
This is even as more and more opinion leaders in the region seem to be buying into the “North must retain power” plot. Just recently, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, in an apparent support to the plot, said it is not sacrosanct that Buhari’s successor must emerge from the South as every part of Nigeria can produce a competent president. “Being a cosmopolitan man, I know Igbos not less than 10, who can successfully run this country; I know Yorubas that can do, I know Ijaws that can do, I know Hausas that can do, I know even Kilba.
Hey myself, my friend, I can be president of this country. I consider myself quite competent to do so from a small tribe of 300,000 people.
There are so many such tribes that can produce good, competent leaders all over Nigeria,” he said. While pundits view the postulations by some the Northern political leaders as subtle political moves aimed at discarding the zoning arrangement, which undoubtedly favours the South in 2023, Mohammed, in a twist recently, said he will throw his weight behind the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, if he decides to contest the presidency in 2023.
The Second Republic lawmaker said he will rather have Tinubu to succeed Buhari than anyone from the South-East. “If Tinubu wants to be the president of Nigeria and he asks for my advice, I will say go ahead because I will rather have Tinubu as president than have some of the people in the South- East who are ambitious and want to blackmail Nigeria into ceding power to them. “I know that no matter what happens, even if Tinubu were to be drunk, he will be a better President than Goodluck Jonathan. I also know that he is better than Governor Kayode Fayemi, who is also nursing presidential ambition,” he said.
No doubt, Mohammed is entitled to his views as well as has the right to support whoever he wishes, however the power shift debate assumed a fresh twist recently, when the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai made a case for the abandonment of zoning arrangement, not only for the Office of President, but for other political offices as currently obtainable in the country. According to him, the arrangement needed to be de-emphasised and ultimately abandoned in favour of competence as Nigeria cannot afford to continue on zoning of political offices on the basis of regions.
In a prologue titled, “Defeating a Determined Incumbent – The Nigerian Experience,” which he contributed to a book: “Power of Possibilities and Politics of Change in Nigeria,” written by the Director-General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukman, el-Rufai, described zoning of political offices as a barrier to political equality. “Even with our success in the 2015 elections, there is room for improvement.
Barriers to political equality, such as our seemingly entrenched though informal rule for zoning candidacies according to regions of origin, need to be de-emphasised and ultimately abandoned in favour of an emphasis on qualification, competence and character,” he wrote.
Many would have ignored the Kaduna State governor, however, his political standing as well as closeness to President Buhari and other powers that be up North, explains the flaks that have trailed his call from both the South and North.
For instance, a kinsman and known critic of the governor, Senator Shehu Sani, who said it would be unfair to deny the South-West the presidency in 2023, urged President Buhari to caution politicians of northern extraction against contesting the next presidential poll. Noting that it would be unfair for the North to hold on to power beyond 2023, he said: “It will be a serious threat to the future and peace of the country if the Northern Region continues to dominate the leadership of the nation because of its numerical strength.
“The President should caution those from the North eyeing that position. Power needs to rotate to other regions. The South-West worked tirelessly to remove the PDP from office and helped to bring Nigeria to where it is today and deserves support from the North come 2023. If federal character is applied on appointments and other areas, it should also be applicable in the political space.”
A former governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, who also cautioned against calls for an end to rotational presidency, however, differed slightly from Sani’s position. He maintained that nobody should canvass an end to power shift until the South-East and the North-East zones had produced president.
His words: “Calling for an end to the zoning arrangement now will not bring peace to Nigeria. We have to complete the zoning system. That was the agreement at the earlier constitutional conference. All the major ethnic groups must produce the President before we would all agree that zoning has ended. “Canvassing the abolition of rotational presidency at this point is not in the interest of the country.
It will not bring about unity. Anybody that is saying that the zoning arrangement for the presidency of Nigeria should be abolished now is trying to cause civil and constitutional crisis which is not good for the society.
“We should manage the crises at hand carefully in this country without causing further havoc. Currently, the unity of the country is under threat with the insecurity of lives and property across Nigeria.
So, Governor el- Rufai should know that the South-East and North-East must produce president before his call for the abolition of rotational presidency could be considered and adopted. “Once the two zones have produced the President of Nigeria, then the position could be free for all. We have started the current zoning arrangement and we can’t change the rules in the middle of the game.”
Xenophobia: Obasanjo blasts South Africa
…asks Nigeria, others to petition AU
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has asked countries affected by xenophobic attacks to drag South Africa before the African Union (AU) and seek appropriate redress.
Obasanjo, who stated this in his reply to a letter by the President Emeritus of Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Mangosuthu Buthelezi, accused South African authorities of complicity in the ongoing xenophobia in the country.
The IFP, founded in 1975, is one of the political parties in South Africa led by Buthelezi until this year.
The former president specifically berated the South African police of standing aloof to watch miscreants and criminals commit crimes against fellow human beings.
He argued that even if citizens of other countries commit any crime, South Africa ought to have treated them like they would treat their citizens.
The former Nigerian leader urged affected African nations to consider other measures against South Africa if the situation is allowed to continue unabated.
“If South Africa fails to initiate appropriate and satisfactory steps to deal with the issues to pacify affected victims and work for reconciliation with the countries concerned to put an end to xenophobia, the concerned countries of the victims should come together to table appropriate motions at the AU level first and consider other measures if the situation is allowed to continue,” he said.
Obasanjo recalled his liberation role in different parts of Africa, including getting rid of apartheid in South Africa.
He said it was unfortunate that the Southern African country allowed attacks against fellow citizens and practically did nothing to stop it.
In what appears to be his first reaction on the xenophobic attacks, Obasanjo submitted that it was a great disservice to the continent and the black race, for any African country to encourage or allow or not seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans.
Responding to Buthelezi’s letter dated September 11, which was made available to reporters in Abeokuta yesterday through his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, the ex-president stated that Africans living in any other part of Africa must be treated as brothers and friends.
He said there was need for “fence-mending, reconciliation and wound-binding” between South Africa and the countries whose citizens have been victims of xenophobia.
Apparently commenting on the response of Nigerian authorities, Obasanjo pointed out that repatriation of Nigerians from South Africa is obviously not a permanent solution but merely palliative.
He also said xenophobia will not give jobs to South Africans as being touted but would rather make investment in the country difficult.
He, however, advised Nigeria and South Africa to stand together to champion African cause and jointly shepherd development, unity, cooperation and progress.
Obasanjo also urged African nations to learn from the ongoing xenophobic attacks and ensure programmes that will provide livelihoods for their teeming youth population to discourage them from embarking on hazardous journeys.
His letter partly read: “The xenophobia or afrophobia going on in South Africa is an unfortunate issue for South Africa and for the whole of Africa. It is unfortunate in many respects.
“There are only two countries in Africa that have ‘Africa’ as part of their names: Central Africa Republic and Republic of South Africa.
“For any of these two countries and, I dare say, for any African country to encourage or allow or not seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans in their country, it is a great disservice not only to the country where xenophobia takes place and the countries of the victims concerned, but also a great disservice to the whole of Africa and black race.
“We, in Nigeria, if I may speak particularly for Nigeria, did all that we did for liberation in different parts of Africa, particularly in Southern Africa, including getting rid of apartheid in South Africa because we believed it was our obligatory duty to do so as Africans.
“We, as black people, believed and still believe that we would be second-class citizens in the world if we allowed any black people anywhere in the world, not to talk of Africa, to be treated as second-class citizens because of the colour of their skin without fighting against it.
“It is because of our belief in human dignity generally and especially afro dignity. We were motivated and goaded by principle and not by possession, position or praises. We were not doing it to get any reward or material benefit as such.
“We were doing it because we were convinced that it was our duty, our responsibility and our obligation to humanity and to the black race. That is why we, in Nigeria, in spite of our distance from the frontline of the struggle against colonialism in Southern Africa and apartheid in South Africa, we became, in terms of our participation, contribution, commitment and sacrifice, members of the frontline States.
“Whether that is recognised and appreciated or not, we really don’t mind as we believe we have done our duty as we ought to have done, and if occasion occurs in future where we need to open our doors, out of our humanity and Africanity, for people in similar situation of need as happened to people in Southern Africa and South Africa, we will do it again as we did in the past.
“However, we believe that Africans living in any other part of Africa must be treated as brothers and friends. If they commit any crime, they should be treated like citizens of that country will be treated when they commit crime which will mean applying judicial process.
“Moreover, the South African police and other law enforcement agencies must uphold the letter and spirit of the Constitution of South Africa, which stipulate that, ‘The South African Police Service has a responsibility to prevent, combat and investigate crime, maintain public order, protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, uphold and enforce the law, create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa, prevent anything that may threaten the safety or security of any community, investigate any crimes that threaten the safety or security of any community, ensure criminals are brought to justice and participate in efforts to address the causes of crime.’
“Where the Police would stand aloof watching miscreants and criminals committing crimes against fellow human beings is condemnable and not acceptable in any civilised society. This was experienced in South Africa in recent times and it shows either incompetence or collusion on the part of the Police.
“The best way to fight crime is to achieve close to full employment in a society and not through xenophobia. Anybody who can deny xenophobia in South Africa of today can deny that my mother is a woman. It should not be a game of denial but rather a game of accepting reality and working at it, together with the rest of Africa where necessary.
“Countries in Africa are not just transit for drugs from sources in Latin America and Asia to consuming populations in North America and Europe, but these countries in Southern Africa and West Africa are also falling victims as consumers and producers.
“It requires collaboration of producing regions and countries working with transit regions and countries and consuming regions and countries to deal effectively with the menace of drugs as established by West Africa Commission on Drugs (WACD).
“As it is being touted that xenophobia will give South Africans jobs, I dare say, it is fallacy. Xenophobia will make investment in South Africa a little bit more difficult which will lead to lack of job creation and loss of existing jobs.
“It should also be realised that most migrants did not migrate out of their country to other countries with total emptiness. Some have education, skills, experience, expertise, entrepreneurship and sheer guts which they can bring to bear on the economy of the country they have migrated to.
“What has helped most developed countries in the world is openness and receiving migrants with open hands and open minds. In any case, all of us in the world are migrants, no matter where we live, depending only on how far back you want to go.”
I’m not an underdog in Bayelsa guber race –Diri
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, in this interview with Onwuka Nzeshi, speaks on his vision for the state
What are you doing to reconcile all those who contested for the PDP governorship ticket with you to ensure there is no rancour within the party as you go into the election in November?
We’re trying our best. Even now, the process is still ongoing. We are calling them and moving to make peace with everyone. We’re also talking to their friends and brothers to ensure that we all come back together as a party. But, you’ll agree with me that party politics in Nigeria has not been the way it is in other climes. That is why you see people crossing over to other parties with ease. We’re not there yet, but I believe that we need to consolidate on what our party has achieved in our state. We’ve gone beyond the issue of getting control of governance.
A political party has other functions, which it owes its members and these include educating members of the party and building cohesion among them. Here, we see the party as just an avenue to grab political power and that’s why it’s really difficult when you come into a contest like this, somebody is already moving to a rival party just because he lost the ticket at the primary election. You see an aggrieved person moving into not just any other party, but the main rival party that will actually give you the fight of your life.
So, to answer your question directly, we are trying our best; we’re calling them and talking to them. I’ve had discussions with a number of them and they have agreed that they are not going to any other party. They said they will sit back and work with the party to be sure that the PDP wins the governorship election in Bayelsa State. If I win the election, I’m not winning as Douye Diri, but as a member of the PDP, the party that nominated me. So, it is the PDP that is actually winning at the election.
How are you going to manage the Timi Alaibe factor, knowing that he is apparently aggrieved about the outcome of the primary and given the fact that he is a formidable force?
I just told you that I was with him for about 10 years. I also want to let you know that Alaibe and I are from the same local government, so he is my brother. That’s why I’m saying that we are not home and dry yet. We’re still talking to ourselves. We’re still approaching every contestant including him for us to see reason to come together. You know, politics is like marrying a wife or going to look for a wife to marry. Maybe it’s very easy these days, but in our own time, it could take you a whole year to woo a woman. So, we’re still in that process.
I still see him as a brother and I believe he too will see me as a brother. I don’t believe that there is any one of us, including myself, that is indispensable. But I agree with you that Alaibe is a factor. He came into the race and did very well like every other contestant. Everyone of us was in that race to win. I don’t think that anybody will like to throw away N21 million. If somebody comes in with N21 million and doesn’t win the ticket, then be rest assured that maybe the odds were not in his or her favour.
Some people believe that even if Alaibe is pacified and doesn’t defect, you also have the All Progressives Congress (APC) hurdle to scale…
I want to correct an impression. Yes, we have a fight in front of us, but I don’t see the other people as being so strong on the ground to fight the PDP. If we have a free, fair and transparent election, the APC cannot win a councillorship election in Bayelsa State. That’s the truth. It’s all these hypes about federal might, using security agencies to intimidate people or using the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to write results.
What was the level of your consultations with key stakeholders like former President Goodluck Jonathan before you started this race?
The former president was my governor and I worked under him as a commissioner. So, that tells you the relationship that I have with him. I have a very cordial relationship with the former president and he was one of the key persons I consulted. I went to him in his house and he received me and took me to his wife because she was our mother at the time he was governor. So in a nutshell, I consulted him and he gave me his blessings. I also consulted very many other leaders before I finally joined the race.
There have been insinuations that Jonathan is more comfortable with Alaibe. What’s your view on that?
You see, politics is a game of interests. Until the man voted, you will not know who he is comfortable with among the contestants. Those speculations are part of the intrigues you find in political contests. The sitting governor said he had no candidate, but I saw in a post that if the governor had only one candidate to be adopted, it would be me. So, anybody can claim that the former president was with him, but it is only at the point of voting that you would know whether the former president is with you or not.
Given your closeness to the incumbent governor, how can you convince the electorate that you are a man of your own and not a stooge drafted to cover up the outgoing regime?
My track record shows who I am; what I stand for and why I even accepted to work with the current governor. Timipre Sylva was in power for five years and I didn’t get into Bayelsa State throughout that period. It shows you that I’m a man of principle. I choose my friends and those I want to work with and I chose to work with Governor Seriake Dickson and I am satisfied, working with him. Do you ask me why? There was a bill that was introduced to the State House of Assembly. It was called the Transparency Bill, which prescribed monthly transparency briefing, where you tell the people what comes into Bayelsa State and what is expended.
Now, because of my privileged position in the engine room of government, every month, when the federal allocation comes and the internal revenue comes to the table, Governor Dickson and I sit together in a committee to allocate what came into the state to the various Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government. The committee also includes the deputy governor, commissioner for Finance and all other finance-related officials. At that point, I knew that Governor Dickson was not taking anything out from what was coming into the state.
So, when people say I will be a stooge to cover up, I don’t know what I want to cover up, having known that there has been a transparent process of resource allocation in the state. There is a lot of envy in Bayelsa politics and of course in Nigerian politics. But with what I saw and participated in, I don’t think that there is anything for me to cover up. I just believe that it is out of my humility, honesty and principles that he recognised and felt that this candidate would be someone who will serve our people well.
What would be the policy thrust of your administration if elected as governor of Bayelsa State?
When we took over in 2012, the policy thrust was on education. There was a lacuna in our educational sector and the governor declared a state of emergency on education. I think that to a large extent, he has ameliorated the situation by filling most of the gaps that we discovered when we came into office. For instance, Bayelsa State ranked below 30 in all national examinations, when we came in, but today, we are among the top 10 states in those examinations. So that dream has been achieved to a level, but I will continue with it and ensure that we go higher. If we are among the first 10, I am thinking we should be among the top five. I know that is a very tall order when you have Imo, Lagos and other states, but we will try to improve on our current position.
Next will be the economy. For those of us who are from that place and grew up in the old Rivers State before the creation of Bayelsa State, you know that our local economy is neither here nor there. The sitting governor has tried to revive agriculture and focus on our areas of comparative advantage in the sector. I want to build a local economy in which our people will be directly involved.
I will also focus on security because no government can thrive without security of lives and property of the citizenry. We are seeing bits of it at the federal level. When the level of insecurity is so high, it is difficult for social development and real economic growth to take place.
One of your compatriots, Timi Frank recently said that your emergence as candidate of the PDP will pave way for the APC to grab the governorship seat. Is it true that you’re not on ground in Bayelsa State?
I like when people underestimate me. I’m very happy with it because it is out of that underestimation that I will spring surprises. When people say that my emergence will make the other party to win, they have not taken into cognizance that this is the same man who won two consecutive elections recently. I won election into the House of Representatives and subsequently to the Senate, yet you say that man is an underdog. Good, I’m an underdog; I want to be an underdog.
Lagos: Sanwo-Olu gives account of stewardship after 100 days
Muritala Ayinla reports that Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, seized the opportunity of an event organised to mark his first 100 days in office to reassure Lagosians of his plan to re-activate governance in the state through his six-pillar agenda known as T.H.E.M.E.S
When Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu came up with the mantra of “Igbega Ipinle Eko” during the build up to the 2019 general election, he did so with the pledge to run an all-inclusive government that will leave nobody behind regardless of what had transpired in the past.
So, he assumed office with unblemished mindset of carrying everyone along irrespective of tribe, religion and ethnic differences. For the 15th governor of the Centre of Excellence “as long as you are ready to join hands with him in taking Lagos to a greater height, you are warmly welcome.”
That has been Sanwo-Olu’s anthem and body language in Alausa, the Lagos seat of power, since he assumed office on May 29, 2019. He appears to be ready for work and he relates well with anyone who shares his vision to take Lagos to the next level. That some individuals benefitted from the immediate past administration will certainly not deter him from working with them as what seems to concern him more is keying into to his T.H.E.M.E.S’s agenda.
But, prior to his assumption of office, many had doubted his capacity to move Lagos forward given the metropolitan nature of the state. They had argued that Sanwo-Olu might likely be elitist in his governance style all in a bid to woo more investors into the state. They added that he might likely focus more on already developed areas.
But his last 100 days has proven that he is ready to put Lagos firmly back on the track of rapid development as well as to address the numerous challenges confronting the state. His words and actions have shown that he is determined to actualize a cleaner Lagos and revive the Lagos Water Corporation, among other abandoned projects.
Speaking while rendering account of his stewardship in the last 100 days in office at a colourful event held at the at De Blue Roof of Lagos Television in Agidingbi, Ikeja, Sanwo-Olu said he is committed to taking Lagos to a greater height despite inheriting so many challenges, ranging from dilapidated roads to poor state of health and education facilities.
The event was also an avenue for him to brief Lagosians on efforts being made to fix the bad portions of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, pot holes across the metropolis and other security and health interventions.
At the colourful event were dignitaries, who included the First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; the Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, who was represented by his wife, Oluremi; Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Sherifat Folasade Jaji; Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa; Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu I; APC Vice Chairman (Lagos East Senatorial District), Ashipa Kaoli Olusanya and the Chief Judge of the state, Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba, among other dignitaries.
Other personalities were former military administrators; traders led by the president of Market Men and Women Association, Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, members of the business community, politicians religious leaders as well as other categories of residents.
Addressing the gathering, Sanwo-Olu disclosed that plans had been concluded to employ 15,000 teachers to boost the standard of education in the state. He stressed that the employment was decided to ensure adequate and efficient learning and teaching in schools. He assured people with disabilities that have teaching skills will also be employed.
He added that the growing number of pupils in schools in the state made it imperative for employment of more teachers to ensure Lagos pupils have the best of education and provide the state with the right human resources in the future.
His words: “We have discovered that the number of pupils in our schools has increased. And it is important that we also increase the number of teachers that will impact the learning on the pupils. Aside that, we will also be providing increasing the number of equipment we have in our schools to ensure that the manpower and equipment are commensurate.
“Also, we will be introducing new curriculum in our schools to ensure the knowledge that will be impacted on them meet 21st century demands. I can assure you that all these will be done very soon.”
Harping on development in the transportation sector, the governor said that new policies that will regulate the operations of commercial motorcycles also known as Okada in the state are underway.
According to him, “it has become imperative for us as a government to map out new policies that would guide how okada riders operate in Lagos State. This would further stem the tide of accidents and indiscriminate use of okada on Lagos roads. When these are eventually put in place, we expect strict compliance from all concerned in our quest to achieving a greater Lagos for all, in line with our ‘THEMES’ policy trust.”
Speaking further on his achievements, Governor Sanwo-Olu said: “After taking oath of office, our resolve towards achieving a greater Lagos was made known through our six policy areas. We remain committed to a Lagos, where there would be Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; a Lagos of 21st Century economy; entertainment and tourism as well as security and governance and I urge all to contribute their quota to make this a reality.”
“Within 24 hours in office, I signed my First Executive Order on Sanitation and Traffic Management, LASTMA now operates two daily shifts to ease the free flow of traffic in the State. I have also visited the Apapa corridor four times in the last 100 days. As a government, we are not one for excuses.”
To address power challenge in the state, Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the state government and an Egyptian electricity firm, Elsewedy, are working on producing over 20,000 prepaid meters for households in the state. He added that discussions are on with the discos and a power firm on how to increase power supply through embedded power.
Sanwo-Olu said that his government would be leveraging on private sector partnership and funding to execute programmes and projects, stating that partnership with the private sector is critical as it controls about 80 per cent of Lagos Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
As part of strategies to sustain the achievements recorded in waste management, the governor said over 20 million units of waste bags had been produced for distribution, so that residents can bag and sort their waste appropriately. He promised that 40 million units of waste bags would be produced in the coming weeks.
To address transportation challenges in some parts of the state, the governor promised that the Oshodi-Abule Egba BRT lane would be completed before the end of the year.
He said that the Lekki-Ikoyi toll plaza would soon be cashless to reduce the gridlock generated by the tolling. “The Lekki-Ikoyi Toll Bridge would become cashless in the next couple of weeks to ease traffic on that corridor and have less human contact as possible.
Sanwo-Olu also enumerated other giant strides such as the commissioning of the Dr. Abayomi Finnih Recreational Park in Oregun, commissioning of 120 patrol vehicles and 35 patrol motorcycles and prompt payment of pensions to retirees by the Lagos State Pension Commission.
Other accomplishments, according to the governor are rehabilitation of roads across the state, including the Lagos-Badagry Expressway; commencement of work on the abandoned Pen Cinema Bridge and Isawo Road in Ikorodu and launch of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) W-Initiative in collaboration with Access Bank to empower women entrepreneurs and business start-ups.
To boost provision of internet facilities in the state, the governor revealed plans to establish a Lagos Metropolitan Fibre Optics Station, just as he hopes to work assiduously to make Lagos State School feeding programme a reality.
Earlier in his welcome address, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, stated that in just 100 days, Lagosians can attest to the fact that the combination of Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and his deputy remains a formidable one hence their ability to lead the people to the Lagos of their dream is clearly not in doubt.
He said: “In the last 100 days, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has commissioned various projects for the well-being of Lagosians such as the Maternal and Child Care Centre in Eti-Osa and the launch of the Lagos Blue Bus programme just mention a few.
With the inauguration of the state executive council and the efforts made so far by the governor to make Lagos work again, Lagosians are watching if Governor Sanwo-Olu would be able to live up to expectations of the estimated 22 million residents of the state.
Court order forces Rivers APC to cancel congresses
A court order has forced the Rivers State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to cancel the ward, local government and state congresses slated for September 17, 21 and 28 respectively.
The State Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Chirs Finebone, said the congresses were put on hold as a result of the court order that restrained the party from holding the exercise.
Last Thursday a Rivers State High Court had ordered the party to refrain from conducting its ward, local and state congresses, pending the hearing and determination of a suit marked PHC/3098/19 filed by Ibrahim Umah and 22 others.
The interim injunction also ordered the state chapter of the APC (defendant in the suit) and the claimants (Ibrahim Umah and 22 others) to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the matter before the court.
Finebone explained that the congresses would not hold because the APC would not defy the court order.
Akinlade, APM to challenge Abiodun’s election at Appeal Court
The Allied People’s Movement (APM) in Ogun State, on Monday, moved to appeal the judgement of the governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which affirmed the election of Governor Dapo Abiodun.
The party said, already, its team of lawyers have applied for the Certified True Copy of the tribunal judgement delivered on Saturday to enable them to review it and take the next step in the judicial process.
The APM governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, who confirmed the move of the party, told reporters in Abeokuta that the nation’s constitution allows aggrieved persons to seek redress in court.
Addressing scores of APM members at the party secretariat in Leme area of Abeokuta, Akinlade said he was determined to get justice in accordance with the laws of the land.
He explained that when he decided to run for governorship, his decision was not for self-aggrandisement but for the collective interest and development of the state.
Akinlade urged his party members not to consider the tribunal judgement as a setback but should remain resolute and unwavering in the pursuit of justice.
He said: “The constitution is very clear that where you disagree with any position, you seek redress in the court of law. There are still grounds open to us.
“The crafters of our constitution know that the tribunal is still the first step. We thank our forebears who crafted the constitution to enable one seek redress where one disagrees with one judgement. And that’s what we hope to do.
“We know very clearly that in our petition, no where in the petition did we talk about the academic qualification of the second respondent. It was purely on the fact that he lied to provide false information. If the judgement is based on the academic qualification, then we believe something needs to be done when our lawyers review it.”
Election tribunals’ blues
- Election tribunals: Mixed fortunes for politicians, parties
Felix Nwaneri reports that it has been a season of judgements as the various election petitions tribunals wind down their activities with verdicts on the various cases before them
t has been a torrent of judgements from the various election petition tribunals that have in the last 180 days, heard suits, challenging some outcomes of the 2019 general election.
While the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sat in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the Governorship Election Petition Tribunals and the State and National Assembly Election Petition Tribunals, sat in the states.
The judgements from these tribunals have either affirmed or upturned some of the results of the respective electoral positions that were contested for during the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections and the March 9 governorship and states Assembly polls. In some cases, the tribunals ordered for rerun elections.
Presidency: Buhari trounces Atiku
The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja last Wednesday held that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has no case in the petition he jointly filed alongside his party to challenge the February 23 election that produced President Muhammadu Buhari.
The five-man panel headed by Justice Mohammed Garba, in a unanimous judgement that lasted for almost nine hours, also held that Buhari is not only qualified, but eminently qualified to contest the said election based on his academic qualification.
The tribunal had hinged its judgement on the ground that the petitioners failed to prove all their allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
Buhari was declared the winner of the election after scoring 15,191,847 votes as against Atiku’s 11,262,978 votes.
The tribunal distilled five issues as raised by the petitioners in their final written addresses. The petitioners prayed the tribunal to decide whether Buhari was qualified to contest the election.
They also asked the panel to decide whether the alleged false information by the president on his educational qualification amounted to perjury.
They further prayed the tribunal to decide whether the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not transmit the results of the election electronically via its central server.
The petitioners further asked the court to decide whether the respondents did not benefit from widespread rigging, over-voting, violence intimidation perpetrated by their agents and security forces deployed to oversee the conduct of the election.
Lastly, the petitioners had urged the tribunal to hold that the president did not secure majority lawful votes.
Other members of the tribunal, Justices Abdul Aboki, Joseph Ikegh, Peter Ige and Samuel Oseji equally agreed with the lead judgement.
For President Buhari, the ruling was victory for Nigerians, who elected him for a second term in office.
“Good conscience fears no evil report,” Buhari said in a statement by presidential spokesman Femi Adesina.
The President also said he was not disturbed during the entire period of the tribunal proceedings because he knew Nigerians gave him their mandate.
Apparently heeding to the call by some Nigerians for him to be magnanimous in victory, Buhari extended a hand of fellowship to the opposition as according to him, “the country needs to move forward as one cohesive body, putting behind us all bickering and potential distractions over an election in which Nigerians spoke clearly and resoundingly.”
However, the PDP and its candidate, Atiku, have resolved to challenge the judgement at the Supreme Court.
Kaduna guber: el-Rufai affirmed as governor
It was victory for Kaduna State governmor, Mallam Nasri el-Rufai as the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Kaduna affirmed him as the duly elected governor of the state.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared el-Rufai, who contested the election own the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner in the March 9 election, but the his main challenger and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Isa Ashiru, headed to the tribunal on the ground that the poll was characterised by irregularities.
But, delivering his judgement on Ashiru’s petition, chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Ibrahim Bako, said the petitioner was unable to prove his allegations of massive rigging and other electoral irregularities. Consequently, the tribunal struck out the petition for lack of substantial evidence.
The petitioner, had in his final written address on August 19, asked the tribunal to cancel 515,951 votes, which he alleged were unlawfully added to the total votes cast during the election.
He called 135 witnesses out of the 685 he mentioned in the petition to prove alleged massive rigging, ballot stuffing and other irregularities during the election.
But in his ruling, the chairman of the tribunal said the signatures of most of the 135 witnesses the petitioners presented in their written statements, as deposed before the tribunal did not match with the specimens taken while they testified in court.
He also said that some of the names of the witnesses did not match with the names on the voters’ card which they presented before the tribunal.
While el-Rufai welcomed the affirmation of his re-election and called on all residents of the state to join hands in progressive endeavours for peace and development of the state, Kaduna State chairman of the PDP, Hassan Hyat, said the party executive would meet with the counsel and take a decision on the next line of action.
According to him, the tribunal’s decision was the first stage of the petition as the party will soon come out with a position.
Ogun: Abiodun floors Akinlade
In Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun, also had his election affirmed by the Governorship Election Petition sitting in Abeokuta.
The tribunal, which dismissed the suit by the governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Adekunle Akinlade, said the petition was destined to fail.
“The petition is destined to fail, it failed and is hereby dismissed,” the chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Yusuf Halilu, stated.
Akinlade had prayed the tribunal to disqualify Abiodun on grounds of submitting false academic qualification, but Justice Halilu held that the suit was stuck out because the case had been laid to rest by the Court of Appeal.
Adding that petitioner would not be allowed to resurrect or open same matter at the tribunal since the appellate court had deemed it “statue barred,” the judge also noted that the petitioner filed the application = outside the window of time allowed.
Anambra South: Ifeanyi Ubah floors Uba brothers
It was another moment of triumph for business mogul, Ifeanyi Ubah, who defeated two brothers – Senator Andy Uba (APC) and Chief Chris Uba (PDP) – on the platform of Young Peoples Party (YPP) in the February 23 senatorial election for Anambra South senatorial seat.
INEC had declared Ubah winner of the election after he polled 87,081 votes ahead of Chris Uba and Andy Uba, who polled 52,462 and 13,245votes, respectively.
But, the Uba brothers alleged that the election was characterised by violence.
However, the tribunal, which sat in Awka, Anambra State capital, dismissed the consolidated petitions of the Uba brothers on the basis that it was lacking in merit.
Senator Ubah described the judgement as an attestation of both “the perfect will of God and the irrefutable choice of the good people of Anambra South at the February 23 polls.”
Anambra Central: Ekwunife defeats Umeh
In Anambra Central, it was victory for Senator Uche Ekwunife of the PDP. She defeated Chief Victor Umeh of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Umeh had challenged the declaration of Ekwunife as winner of the election, stating that she was not properly nominated by her party.
But the tribunal ruled that the case was a pre-election matter and did not fall within its jurisdiction.
The tribunal also ruled that Umeh had no locus standi to question the candidacy of Ekwunife at the tribunal. According to it, the APGA candidate should have approached the Federal High Court on the matter.
Umeh, who unseated Ekwunife through the court after the 2015 elections, in his reaction asked his supporters to remain calm. “Thank you very much for your faith and indomitable spirit! We shall prayerfully approach the Court Of Appeal after reviewing the judegment! It was like this on 9th October 2015. Today is another 9th! Let us not despair,” he said.
Anambra North: Oduah beats Emeka
Another senator from Anamba State that had her election affirmed is Senator Stella Oduah, who represents Anambra North Senatorial District.
The former Minister of Aviation who was the candidate of the PDP, had her election challenged Dr Chinedu Emeka of APGA.
Emeka, a former governor of the state, claimed that Oduah was not qualified to contest the election because she did not possess the required academic qualifications.
He also claimed that Oduah was a member of APGA at the time the election was held. But, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Esther Haruna, affirmed that Oduah was validly elected.
Akwa Ibom North West: Ekpenyong defeats Akpabio
It was victory for a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Chris Ekpenyong, who defeated ex-Governor Godswill Akpabio for the Akwa Ibom North West senatorial seat at the February 23 National Assembly elections.
The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Uyo, which upheld Ekpenyong’s victory, ruled that he was duly elected by majority votes cast during the poll.
The three-man panel in a judgement by its chairman, Justice W. O. Akanbi, through a majority decision dismissed the petition filed by Senator Akpabio who contested the election on the platform of the APC and was recently appointed Minister of Niger Delta.
Describing the petition as “lacking merit,” the panel noted that the petitioner failed to prove that he won the said election as well as failed to present convincing evidence of noncompliance to Electoral Act as raised in his petition.
One of the three judges, however, ruled contrary to his two colleagues in the panel and it is likely that Senator Akpabio will appeal the judgement.
Abia North: Tribunal orders supplementary poll
The case of Abia North Senatorial District won by a former governor of the state, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, was different as the National Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Umuahia and headed by Justice Cornelius Akintayo ordered for supplementary election in some polling units across the district.
Kalu, who contested the election on the platform of the APC had polled 30,203 votes against his closest rival, Mao Ohaubunwa of the PDP, who garnered 20,801 votes.
But, Kalu, who is the Chief
Whip of the Senate, in his reaction, urged his constituents and the people of Abian state in general not to lose hope, stressing that his mandate would be reclaimed at the Court of Appeal.
The former governor noted that his victory in the 2019 general election was borne out of his popularity among the people, adding that justice would only be delayed but not denied.
He said: “Following the decision of the National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, I will appeal the decision of the tribunal at the Court of Appeal. “The PDP candidate, Ohaubunwa, is not popular among the people and as such, my victory in the National Assembly polls was a landslide. Any day, any time, the APC will defeat the PDP in Abia North Senatorial District. At the appropriate time, my mandate will be restored.”
Edo North: Tribunal upholds Alimikhena’s victory
Senator Francis Alemikhena (APC) representing Edo North senatorial district had his election upheld by the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal. PDP’s Abubakar Momoh had approached the tribunal to declare him winner of the senatorial ballot on the grounds that Alimikhena was not qualified to contest the election, and, having contested, did not score majority of lawful votes.
But, the tribunal in its ruling held that the petitioner did not prove his petition beyond reasonable doubt and therefore dismissed it for lack of merit.
Lagos West: Adeola trounces Rhodes-Vivour
Another senator that had his election affirmed is Senator Solomon Adeola, who represents Lagos West Senatorial District.
The three-member tribunal led by Justice Kunaza Hamidu, held that the petition filed by Mr. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the PDP, challenging the election of Adeola of the APC failed to establish any prima facie case against him. Rhodes-Vivour had dragged Adeola and INEC before the tribunal, challenging the result of the Lagos West Senatorial District election over alleged irregularities.
The PDP candidate in his petition claimed that Adeola was not entitled to be returned as the duly elected candidate as the election was marred by irregularities, malpractices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act. He also claimed that INEC wrongly declared Adeola winner of the poll with 328,817 votes, while he scored 243,516 votes, noting that INEC ought to have declared him winner of the election instead of Adeola. But, the tribunal declared that the election was held in accordance with the Electoral Act and other relevant laws.
Benue North West: Orker Jev defeats Akume
It was loss for ex-Governor George Akume, who was recently appointed Minister of Special Duties as the petition he filed against Senator Emmanuel Orker Jev, who defeated him in the February 23 election to take over the Benue North West Senatorial District seat, was dismissed by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi. Chairman of the tribunal, Justice R.O. Odugu held that Akume, who contested the election on the platform of the APC failed to prove his claim that the election was marred by irregularities and was in noncompliance with the Electoral Act.
On Akume’s claim that Jev, who was the candidate of the PDP was not duly elected by lawful votes cast during the election, the tribunal held that the APC candidate failed to provide evidence to prove that noncompliance affected the result of the election.
Benue South: Moro’s election upheld
In Benue South, the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal also dismissed the petition by a former deputy governor of the state, Chief Steven Lawani and upheld the election of Senator Abba Moro. Lawani, who was the candidate of the APC, had prayed the tribunal to nullify the election of Morro, who contested the poll on the platform of the PDP on the ground that the election was characterized by gross irregularities.
The former deputy governor called 13 witnesses to testify that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act, while Senator Moro did not call any witness. Delivering judgement on the matter, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice A. A. Adeleye said the petition was filed outside the pre-trial session. He also noted that the petitioners failed to proof that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.
Benue North East: Victory for Suswam
In Benue North East, it was disappointment for Mimi Orubibi of the APC as his petition against the election of Senator Gabriel Suswam (an ex-governor of the state) was dismissed.
Suswam of the PDP had polled 148,645 votes to defeat Orubibi, who had 81,603 votes and Senator Barnabas Gemade of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who came a distant third with 32,534 votes.
Orubibi’s petition was based on claims that the election was marred by over voting, falsification of results and violence. She also alleged that vote inflation occurred during the transmission of results by INEC. But, the tribunal headed by Justice R. Odugu, in its judgement, said the petitioner did not prove the falsification of results to enable it resolve the issue in her favour.
“Over voting cannot be proven by card reader alone, but the use of voter register. How the result will swing in favour of the petitioners is still a mirage to the tribunal as margin of lead is enormous.
“The petition is not worth wasting judicial effort on. It is helpless and hopeless and is hereby, dismissed for lacking merit,” the judge maintained.
Enugu West: Ekweremadu triumphs
It was also victory for the immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu at the tribunal as his election was affirmed. In a unanimous judgement delivered, the tribunal dismissed the petition brought by Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu of the APC against Ekweremadu, who contested the poll on the platform of the APC as lacking in merit.
INEC had declared Ekweremadu winner of the election with 86,088 vote against 15,187 scored by Ibekaku-Nwagwu. Justice Haruna Kereng, who headed the tribunal, said the petitioner failed to prove her claims of substantial non-compliance to the Electoral Act, thuggery, falsification of figures beyond reasonable doubt. He noted that the few witnesses brought by the petitioner failed to demonstrate to the tribunal how the election figures were falsified.
According to the judge, the petitioner was only able to present 16 witnesses from the 824 polling units, 81 wards and five local government areas in the senatorial district.
Abia Central: Orji defeats Nwogu
It was victory for Senator Theodore Orji as the National and State House of Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Umuahia affirmed his election as the senator representing Abia Central Senatorial District. In a unanimous judgement, the Chairman of the threemember panel, Justice Adeyinka Adebirigbe, dismissed the petition brought before it by the candidate of the APC, Senator Nkechi Nwogu, on the ground that the petitioner failed to prove her allegations of electoral irregularities. Nwogu had alleged irregularities in 215 polling units in the district and urged the tribunal to order for a rerun.
However, the tribunal held that the petitioner only called one polling unit agent as witness out of the 215 polling units which, it said, was not enough to prove her case.
Delta North: Nwaoboshi floors Uboh
For Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, who has faced a running battle for Delta North Senatorial District seat, it was victory for him at the tribunal.
The APC candidate during the election, Doris Uboh, had challenged Nwaoboshi’s election on the ground that the poll was characterised by irregularities, but the tribunal headed by Justice E. I. Ngene, dismissed the petition on the ground that it lacked merit.
Oyo South: Ajimobi loses to Balogun
Former Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajiomobi, was again defeated by Kola Balogun as the latter’s election as senator for Oyo South Senatorial District in the February 23 National Assembly election was upheld by the tribunal. Ajimobi, who contested the election on the platform of the APC, had challenged the declaration of Balogun of PDP by INEC as the winner of the election.
Balogun had polled 105,720 votes to defeat Ajimobi who garnered 92,218 votes. Ruling on the petition by the former governor, the three-man panel chaired by Justice Anthony Akpovi, with Justice Sambo Daka and Justice Chinyere Ani as members, unanimously upheld Balogun’s victory. The lead judgment, read by Akpovi, said that most of the witnesses called by the petitioner to tender the results of polling units were ward collation agents and not the proper persons to tender the results.
He also said that the testimonies of the ward collation agents could not be accorded any probative value because they were not the makers of the documents tendered.
He added that the petitioner also based his testimonies on the card reader result without calling the maker to testify, while no witness was also called in regarding voters’ accreditation register.
Imo West: Relief for Okorocha
It was respite for the embattled immediate past governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha as the election petition tribunal dismissed petitions filed by the candidates of the PDP, Jones Onyeriri and that of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Osita Izunaso, challenging his victory in the February 23 National Assembly election for Imo West Senatorial District. Onyeriri and Izunaso had claimed that the election was marred by irregularities, intimidation and violence.
But, the tribunal however held that the petitioners were unable to prove the allegations.
Ekiti South: Adeyeye loses to Olujimi
It was turn in events for Senate spokesperson, Senator Dayo Adeyeye as the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ado Ekiti nullified his election and declared former Minority Leader and the Senate and candidate of the PDP, Biodun Olujimi, winner of the poll.
INEC had declared Adeyeye, who was the candidate of the APC in the election, winner of the poll, but Olujimi challenged his victory on the ground that she scored the highest number of lawful votes cast during the election. She also claimed that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and prayed the tribunal to annul votes in areas, where the election was marred by irregularities.
In its judgement, the threemember tribunal headed by D.D. Adeck, nullified elections in some polling units. A final computation of results showed that Olujimi polled 54,894 votes against Adeyeye’s 52,243.
Delta South: Uduaghan defeats Manager
Another lawmaker, who had his election nullified, is James Manager, the senator representing Delta South Senatorial district in the National Assembly.
This followed a petition filed by the immediate-past governor of the state and candidate of the APC, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who claimed that the election was marred by massive rigging and other irregularities. Uduaghan had his prayer for the cancellation of the poll answered by the tribunal as it ordered for a fresh one within 90 days.
Kogi West: Melaye loses to Adeyemi
It was also nullification of victory for the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye as the National Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Lokoja, ordered a fresh election for the district. Melaye, who was the candidate of PDP was declared winner of the February 23 election, but Senator Smart Adeyemi of the APC cited irregularities, over voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act as his reasons for challenging the election outcome. In a unanimous, the tribunal headed by Justice Anthony Chijioke, upheld Adeyemi’s grounds and ordered for a fresh election in the senatorial district. Melaye in his reaction to the judgement, said he will appeal the ruling.
According to him, the judgement was full of strange information alien to the case.
Iwuanyanwu to Imo elites: Ihedioha needs your support, the damage was enormous
Elder statesman and member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu has called on political leaders in Imo State to unite with the new governor of the state, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, to recover the state from the brink.
This is also as he added that the emergence of Ihedioha was an act of God designed to save Imo from total collapse. And urged genuine stakeholders in the Imo project to throw their weights behind the governor.
Iwuanyanwu made the call weekend in Owerri during the flag off of free training programme for 5000 youths in Mobile Banking and Information Communication Technology (ICT) by the state Ministry of Technology Development in conjunction with the Iwuanyanwu Foundation.
He stressed that the people of the state must rally round Governor Ihedioha to recover the state if they want businesses to prosper and youths meaningfully empowered.
Iwuanyanwu, who commended Governor Ihedioha for starting his administration with quality appointments, also praised him for creating the Ministry of Technology Development, saying the new ministry was an indication of how ambitious the government was in youth development and empowerment.
According to him, the Ministry of Technology Development has the capability to turn around the fortunes of the state and its youths because, as he put it, technology is still an untapped sector.
Ogun: Don’t appeal tribunal judgement, Kaka tells Akinlade
Kunle Olayeni, Abeokuta
A former deputy governor of Ogun State, Senator Adegbenga Kaka, on Sunday, asked the Allied People’s Movement (APM) not to appeal the judgement of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal affirming Governor Dapo Abiodun’s election.
He declared that “any further unpatriotic pursuit” was capable of holding the state down on growth and development.
Kaka, who formerly represented Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, gave the admonition in a statement issued and made available to reporters in Abeokuta.
In a six-hour judgement delivered on Saturday, the tribunal dismissed the petition of the APM governorship candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, challenging Abiodun’s victory in the March 9 gubernatorial election.
The three-man tribunal, led by Justice Yusuf Halilu, held that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of over-voting and falsification of information against the governor and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Reacting to the court verdict, Kaka stated that the tribunal members did a thorough job of systematic demolition of the APM’s petition which, he described, as “lazy, frivolous, malicious, pedestrian and spurious.”
He noted that the petition had been a waste of precious judicial time, held down the state unnecessarily for four months and heated up the polity by causing distractions.
He urged the petitioners to team up with the Abiodun-led administration and not venture to approach the Appeal Court.
Bayelsa polls: Group endorses Lyon/Degi APC ticket
Pauline Onyibe, Yenagoa
Ahead of the Bayelsa State governorship election, a group, known as the Progressives Youths Mandate of Nigeria, Bayelsa State Chapter, has endorsed the All Progressives Congress (APC) flag-bearers David Lyon and Senator Biobarakumo Degi Eremieyo for the November 16 poll.
In a statement issued on Sunday in Yenagoa, and signed by their Deputy Coordinator, Owoupele Owous and Secretary, Ohiafi Miracle Victory Tarila, the group said the endorsement became necessary, having looked at the track record of philanthropy of the flag-bearers and their performances in private and public sectors for creating jobs opportunities for the teeming youths across the state.
The group said that the duo stand out as credible candidates and urged all Bayelsans to vote for them.
They also based the endorsement on its firm conviction that David Lyon had the requisite character, experience, exposure and wisdom to pilot the affairs of the State to greater height.
The group noted that their membership cuts across the 105 wards in the eight local government areas in the state, adding that they would mobilize, campaign, educate and sensitize the electorate for the APC candidates to win the governorship election.
The Progressives Youths Mandate also commended the leader of the party in the state, former governor and current Minister of Petroleum (State), Timipre Sylva for his magnanimity and dedication to the overall interest of the party in the state.
Bayelsa polls :YIAGA Africa to deploy 500 observers
Pauline Onyibe, Yenagoa
Ahead of the Bayelsa State governorship election coming up on November 16, a non-governmental organisation, YIAGA Africa said it will deploy 500 polling unit observers to help in monitoring the conduct of the poll
Already, it said, 21 long-term observers for the pre-election activates were already on ground in the state.
The NGO also said it will randomly select some wards out of the 1804 wards in the state adding that it was going to use a method known as Parallel Voter Tabulation (PVT) which they believe will give them a reliable result.
Speaking to the media at the weekend in Yenagoa during a workshop organised for some select journalists, YIAGA Africa, advised them to ensure accurate and timely information on the electoral process in the governorship election.
Cynthia Mbamalu, the Project Director of the organisation, said the NGO was ready to partner and engage the media in the promotion of peaceful and credible elections in the state.
She noted that YIAGA Africa would deploy accredited observers to all the polling units in all the local government areas of the state to provide accurate and timely information on the electoral process.
“Without the media, the people will not be informed and the masses cannot hold public office holder accountable. We will ensure that the media will be informed whenever we observe any abnormalities among the political party and INEC,” she said.
The Chairperson of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) in Bayelsa, Marie Olodi Osuma in her speech stated that most of the observers were not always free to share information with them.
The NAWOJ Chairperson appealed to them to always be open with journalists by informing them on what they have observed during and after the process of voting.
Metro and Crime10 hours ago
17 persons die, as bus collides with trailer
Metro and Crime9 hours ago
Unknown gunmen kill traditional ruler in Plateau
Metro and Crime15 hours ago
Apapa gridlock: Truckers, stakeholders hail Osinbajo, Taskforce as sanity returns
Metro and Crime15 hours ago
My wife brings her lover into our bedroom for sex, man tells court
Politics12 hours ago
Akinlade, APM to challenge Abiodun’s election at Appeal Court
Metro and Crime9 hours ago
Four in police net over alleged murder of woman, daughter in Edo
BREAKING NEWS21 hours ago
Oil prices surge after attack on Saudi facilities
News8 hours ago
Gunmen abduct Bayelsa PDP guber aspirant’s brother, three others from Rivers hospital