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Anyone calling for revolution is looking for trouble – Momoh



Anyone calling for revolution is looking for trouble – Momoh

Prince Tony Momoh, a former Minister of Information and chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), not only believes that no responsible government will entertain calls for revolution, but insists that nobody can cause uprising in Nigeria. In this interview, he speaks on the #RevolutionNow protest and arrest of its convener, Omoyele Sowore. Felix Nwaneri reports



What is your take on the clampdown of the #RevolutionNow protesters by security agencies and the arrest of the convener, Omoyele Sowore by the Department of the State Services (DSS)?

The fact is, if anybody calls for a revolution, we will look at the content of that call. What comes to mind is the lecture, which was delivered during the colonial days in 1948 at Tom Jones Hall in Lagos Island. The title of that lecture was ‘A call to Revolution.’ It was delivered by Osita Agwuna. The lecture called for civil obedience and was written in a way as to provoke radical actions to end colonialism. Another key figure at the lecture was Raji Abdallah from Kano. As Editor of SPEAR Magazine, I published a document by Abdallah on that event in Lagos and I said that the conclusion will be given by Agwuna.

Agwuna was in the war front during the civil war. The civil war ended in January 1970. A month after the war ended, I was in the Eastern Region to see Agwuna and he gave me details of that Call to Revolution.  Nnamdi Azikiwe was to be the chairman of the lecture, but because he knew the implication, he refused to chair it. However, Anthony Enahoro, a young, vibrant editor who had just come out of prison accepted the offer to chair the occasion and he was sent back to prison.

Everybody who had a copy of the lecture was sent to jail. Most of the people who went to jail were members of the Zikist movement. They already knew the implication of what they were going to do, so they were practicing how to cope with jail conditions six months before the lecture.  Why I am I saying this?  Words are pregnant. When you say revolution, it’s not a child’s play, especially when Omoyele Sowore, who is coordinating it and calling for revolution is being quoted as saying what happened in Egypt and Tunisia would be a child’s play compared to what will happen in Nigeria.

But there have been arguments of freedom of speech and that of association as provided for in the constitution, which some people say give Sowore and members of his group the right to express their feelings over the state of the nation…

There is nothing wrong with freedom of association; it is guaranteed. Freedom of expression and assembly are also guaranteed, but when you say ‘revolution,’ you are not joking anymore. And any government that is sensible should stand up and confront those who want a revolution. There is a roadmap in Nigeria and that is the constitution of the Federal Republic.

We just had an election. The man in power now, President Muhammadu Buhari scored more than 15 million votes. The person who was second had more than 11 million votes. My young brother (Sowore), who is calling for revolution believe in democracy, contested the election and scored about 13,000 votes. But, now he is calling for a revolution.

Some have said that despite using the word ‘revolution,’ the protesters didn’t really mean a forceful overthrow of government, but just to ventilate their anger against what they feel is bad governance. How would you react to that?

The content of their appeal doesn’t look dangerous to me. These are legitimate causes, but how can you be calling for a revolution and say a democratically elected government should be toppled? Anybody saying that is looking for trouble and should be confronted. Nobody can cause a revolution in Nigeria. Nobody can lead us into another civil war. We knew the toll the civil war took on this country. Those who want to pursue democracy should know the language of democracy. Revolution is not the language of democracy, it is a language of war.

So, if Nigerians are not happy with the current government, how can they register their displeasure?

President Buhari met a lot of things that he needs to attend to. He has laid the foundation for what Nigeria will be in the next few years. The fact is we are not even disputing whether someone did well or not. Let us even agree that Buhari didn’t do well. lf you believe President Buhari has not performed well, there is a procedure for removing him from office. You contest election and defeat him. You cannot say he should be removed forcefully through protests.

So, people should really know the language of democracy and I repeat, revolution is not the language of democracy. And anybody who thinks the word ‘revolution’ is the language of democracy should find out what happened to Osita Agwuna and his colleagues when they organised a lecture titled ‘A Call to Revolution.’ All members of the Zikist movement were sentenced to jail between six months and three years.

Some have alleged political undertone to the protest. They claim that the protesters might have been sponsored by those who want to destabilize the APC-led Federal Government. Do you also share that view?

There is nothing that is done without being sponsored. There are lots of people who don’t want Nigeria to get anywhere, so they can sponsor uprising in the country. Do you think revolution is a child’s play? If you want people to go and march, do you think it is going to be free? Won’t they be mobilised? So, the security agencies have a duty to ensure that Nigeria is protected both internally and externally. We have insurgency, armed robbery, kidnapping and other challenges. We cannot afford to add this kind of thing that will put the whole nation on edge.

Sowore is still in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) and a lot of Nigerians are calling for his release. What advice would you give to the Federal Government on that?

The fact is that we are talking of the rule of law. The DSS should do what the law says. The constitution says if you hold someone like that, within 48 hours, you should take him to court. They shouldn’t hold him without trial. They should send him to court and have the matter heard legally if that is what they want.

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Election tribunals’ blues



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.


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Iwuanyanwu to Imo elites: Ihedioha needs your support, the damage was enormous  



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.

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Ogun: Don’t appeal tribunal judgement, Kaka tells Akinlade




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.

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Bayelsa polls: Group endorses Lyon/Degi APC ticket




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.

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Bayelsa polls :YIAGA Africa to deploy 500 observers




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.

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Bayelsa polls :YIAGA Africa to deploy 500 observers




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.

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Bayelsa polls :YIAGA Africa to deploy 500 observers




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.

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Gladiators seeking PDP’s ticket ahead Ondo 2020



Gladiators seeking PDP’s ticket ahead Ondo 2020

As attention is about to shift to Ondo State’s governorship election holding next year, BIYI ADEGOROYE and ADEWALE JIMOH, examine the pedigree of top party leaders and their quest for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket in the state





head of governorship election coming up in Ondo State next year, intense consultations and maneuvering are gradually taking the political space of the Sunshine State. The heat currently emanating from the political kitchen of the state is traceable to the two heavyweight political parties in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).



Coming about three years after the party lost the state to the APC in an election characterised by internal wrangling, litigation and even riots in the PDP, which saw its candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, a lawyer, lock horns with another lawyer and business mogul, Jimoh Ibrahim, pundits believe that the party must learn from history in order to succeed this time.



But the PDP will be buoyed by the party’s success in the last general elections in the state where it produced two senators, Nicholas Tofowomo and Ayo Aknyelure for the South Senatorial and central zones respectively and having won four seats in the House of Representatives.  The party’s standing in the South-West received greater fillip with its victory in the Oyo State governorship election which produced Engineer Seyi Makinde, whose triumph has been described as the beginning of PDP’s rebirth in the region.



Already, in preparation for the stand-alone election in the jostle to wrest power from the incumbent, about 16 aspirants have indicated their interests to pick the party’s ticket and become its standard-bearer at the 2020 poll with a handful from the northern senatorial zone of the state, a great number of them are from the South while a couple are from the central.



Of great importance are the factors which may have strong bearing on the election of the candidate of the party in the election, and they include zoning or rotations, pedigree and track records, party loyalty and ability to deliver. Party loyalty and internal unity, a source said, are key, because the two factors sank the party’s chances in the 2016 governorship election.



Eddy Olafeso



Prominent among the 16 aspirants is the National Vice Chairman of the party in the South-West, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, an indigene of Okitipupa, and a product of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife) where he bagged first in the 70s and master’s degree in English and International Relations respectively. 



Olorogun Olafeso holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in International Relations from the Atlantic International University, Hawaii, United States of America in 2008 and has been a recurrent name in societal mobilisation and re-engineering, politics and entrepreneurship in the last three decades.  His corporate performance in the private sector saw him join DHL International in 1985 where he left to co-found RedStar Express in the 1990s.



He returned from the United States in 2002 where he lived for 15 years to expand the base of his knowledge and business to participate in active politics and was appointed to chair the Board of Owena Motels Ltd and later in that same year to Head the Corporate Affair Division of the Ajaokuta Steel Company between 2003-2004. Olafeso, who has truly lived Napoleon Bonaparte’s ageless assertion that, ‘’a leader is a dealer in hope,” understudied the late Dr Olusegun Agagu, erudite scholar and former Governor of Ondo State, and his mobilisation skills and loyalty to the party earned him the position of the Secretary of the state chapter of the PDP early 2007 and later appointed Hon. Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Mobilisation same year.



As a member of the PDP National Executive Committee,  (NEC) he has to his credit the resurgence of the party in the South-West in recent elections, and its self-discovery which soared the party’s success in the region in both presidential and governorship elections.



Along with other party leaders, he played a major role that enabled the party to defeat the APC in the presidential election in the state scoring 275,901 to APC’s 241,769, electing two senators and four members of the House of Representatives including Hons. Kolade Akinjo, Ilaje Federal Constituency,   Ikengboju Gboluga, Okitipupa/Irele, Adebayo Omolafe, Akure North and South. He is naturally gifted with the power of oration and crisp ideas, his well articulated performance as the mouthpiece of one of the most successful administrations in the state is well documented.



Eyitayo Jegede



Akure-born Eyitayo Jegede, a former Commissioner for Justice under Governor Olusegun Mimiko, was the 2016 PDP governorship candidate in the state, who came second after losing to the incumbent Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of the APC at the polls. Jegede, a lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Coor-dinator of Ababakar Atiku Presidential Campaign in the state in the last election, indicated his interest to vie for the PDP governorship ticket following his meeting with party leaders in the state. At one of the meetings held with stalwarts of the party, Jegede hinged is decision to seek the ticket on the revelation by God who he said directed him to contest the 2020 governorship election.



His words: “I am here to thank you for the support you gave me during the 2016 governorship election. I see myself as somebody who is ready to serve. I contested the last gubernatorial election and we knew the result, the following day we went to church to thank God for how far He had helped us.



“Now, I consulted God Almighty again, I asked if I should go forward on this project, He answered me that I should go ahead. I am asking you whether to go ahead or not? This is not the time for the campaign. We will surely come back when the time comes. I seek your support for our great party, the PDP and appreciate you for all your efforts both during the 2016 governorship election and the last general elections.”



Sola Ebiseni



Another strong contender for the PDP governorship ticket is Sola Ebiseni, a three time commissioner in Ondo State, is a lawyer. Just like Jegede, Ebi     seni, who hails from Ilaje Local Government Area in Southern Senatorial District of the state, in 2016 contested the party’s ticket in the then Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of the PDP after his fallout with Olusegun Mimiko over the former governor’s support for Jegede.



Ebiseni, who served as Commissioner for Environment in Mimiko’s cabinet, while declaring his intention to contest the party’s ticket told PDP leaders and supporters at Igbotako, the headquarters of the Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State emphasised that “having the ticket of the party and winning the governorship election goes beyond social media agitations, some of which may even be annoying and offensive.



“It is the constitutional right of every person or part of the state to aspire to the office of the governor. To get it, we must work hard, engage other local governments, tribes, and groups in a friendly manner with mutually beneficial assurance and put forward our best candidate, in whom other people have confidence, based on robust relationship. This game is not an Olympic event which essence is participation. It is a political World Cup, where only the champion can win both the qualifiers and the ultimate trophy for any nation.”



Meanwhile, it has been reliably learnt that Ebiseni is also frantically seeking the endorsement of the Pan-Yoruba Socio-cultural group, Afenifere as regards the PDP’s ticket.






Another PDP aspirant gunning for the party’s ticket is the former Chairman of Ilaje Local Government, Banji Okunomo. Okunomo, who is the immediate past Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, stated that is desire to govern the state is not due to over-ambition but a genuine will.



Okunomo, while addressing some youths recently, said he wished to offer himself by participating in the contest to be the next governor of the sunshine state. ”It is my earliest desire to put my energy and whatever talents it has pleased God to give me at the service of the state. My ambition, borne out of a genuine desire to serve is subject to the approval of eminent citizens like you. It is not a desperate ambition. If God decides otherwise I will cooperate fully with whoever is elected to ensure our party PDP, as well as our state, succeeds.



“I want to be able to mobilise the human resources, the qualitative manpower that abounds in the state to make for even development of the entire state. No discrimination of whatever kind.



“We must put infrastructure and industrialize at the fastest pace to create employment for the various manpower that we have in the state, and of course, we must encourage agriculture. There is quite a lot to do. I have my programme and I think by the grace of God, you will embrace my programme when I eventually come out with it.”



Also, within the PDP fold in the state, the name Otunba Bamidele Akingboye is as constant as the Northern Star when it comes to the contest for the party’s governorship ticket. Born on April 2, 1965, Akingboye, who is the Chairman and CEO of Beshore Maritime Service Limited, will be making his third attempt to secure the party’s ticket after two previous failed attempts.



Akingboye, who has declared his intention to fight for the party’s flag, emphasized that he is the oldest when it comes to contesting the PDP’s ticket, stressing that he has what it takes to lead the party into the election.



According to the Okitipupa-born politician, his background as a businessman gives him an edge over others, stating that he has what it takes to govern the state.”Among the lots for the ticket in the PDP, I am the oldest in contesting. I have what it takes. The only thing I am agitating for is a free and fair election and I will beat all of them fair and square.”



Meanwhile, the party has dismissed the insinuation of zoning of the party’s ticket to a particular senatorial district area of the state; an action some party stalwarts believe may spell trouble ahead of the primaries. Attention has now shifted to party leaders like Chief Bode Olajumoke, Chief Clement Akinboyede, the state party chairman and its two senators.



As the party becomes upbeat about victory, without discountenancing the capability of the incumbent APC, Mr. Ayo Fadaka, Publicity Secretary in the South-West, said they will leave nothing to chance. “As at the last count, we have about 16 aspirants jostling round the state to contest for the PDP ticket. Of course, I won’t deny the fact that amongst them we have very high profile politicians, strong party men and even between them are those that cannot be considered as such.



“I know that at the end of the day, when the party shall get to a congress to elect its candidates, the strong candidate shall emerge, that will go into that elections and win the election for PDP. There is no reason why we should be afraid that we will not win the next election in Ondo State,” he said.




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Almajiri system fueling insecurity, says Gov Lalong



Almajiri system fueling insecurity, says Gov Lalong

Simon Lalong is Governor of Plateau State and Chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum. In this interview with journalists to mark his 100 days in his second term in office, he speaks about the menace of armed banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping now ravaging the region and efforts to tackle the challenges. MUSA PAM was there



It is over 100 days you were sworn in for your second term in office, you are yet to form your cabinet, why the delay? How are functioning without a cabinet?



Well, let me say that indeed it’s over a hundred days into our second tenure and we are almost concluding on the constitution of the cabinet. People say there is a lot of delay but to me, we had an arrangement to prepare well for the next four years. In doing this, we had to come up with a development plan. Now when people ask:  Why the delay?  My response is that it’s not about rushing and putting a cabinet in place. It is about a focus on what we want to do in the next four years. Now when I came in for my second tenure, I had to engage Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to develop a development Plan for the people of Plateau State. They have done that. I was waiting for them to come up with their report to enable me from their recommendations formulate policy in terms of economic empowerment for the state. Based on this, appoint my commissioners and what ministries, we will have.



I have already started. Immediately I got the preliminary report, I set the ball rolling and I quickly appointed the Secretary to the State Government and the Chief of Staff who are the engine room. So technically like I said during the swearing in of the Secretary to the State Government and Chief of Staff, I have list of my cabinet. I am only waiting for Mr. Speaker who travelled out the country to come back. As soon as he is back, I will submit it to him, you know the Assembly is a powerful place, you don’t submit to any one, you submit it to Mr. Speaker. So very soon, you will hear the announcement and screening of Commissioners.



The last time you nominated commissioners, concerns were raised by some people that portfolios were not attached to the names of nominees you presented to the House of Assembly. What should we expect this time around?



I was a Speaker for about 8 years. If you look at the laws, it didn’t say that you must attach portfolios before you submit to the House of Assembly. Sometimes we look at it also on performance. As a former speaker, I know some instances where we screened Commissioners with the Governor having almost made up his mind on where to deploy them, but after the screening, he changed his mind because based on the interaction with the law makers, the Governor came and said, this nominee should be in this or that place different from where he had thought of. So when nominees for Commissioner appear before the house, let everyone be judged by his performance. In my administration, anybody can be assigned anywhere except of course certain professional ministries like the Attorney General of the State which has exceptions.


You are now the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum and quite a lot is happening in the North, How are you tackling insecurity in the region?



That is another big challenge. When I was elected as the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, I said wow! I have a headache here in Plateau State and another one is being added. However, I said by the grace of God, I would do best by applying the wisdom that He gave us to deal with the challenge here in Plateau State. We would extend to the other parts of the North. And if you recall, from the very day I was appointed the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, I set up a Committee on Security chaired by Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari. Since then, he has also had to contend with insecurity in his State. However, that committee is working very well, I have also prepared that we will soon have a meeting of the Northern Governors Forum which will be my first meeting and formally receive the report of the committee and decide the way forward. Right now we have the challenges of banditry, cattle rustling, and kidnapping which are very prevalent in the North. So we shall be receiving the report of the committee and also preparing for a Northern Security Summit. Aside from that I have always been in touch with the IGP. He is doing well because part of the recommendations we made so far, they are implementing it. I attended the meeting of the North West Security Council and it was very wonderful. In some cases you need dialogue to succeed, because it is not always responding with confrontation. I will ensure that the success of such engagement is extended to the North Central. The IG has gone to the South West where he did the same thing. We are preparing to have our own in the North Central just like the North East is already established even as it is being taken care of by the Federal Government. One of the areas too that is a problem and needs to be tackled is the Almajiri System. We have set up a committee that will bring about how to address the Almajiri System. In a society where you have a large population doing nothing but roaming the streets, that is another cause of insecurity not only in the North but in the nation at large. So we have also set up a committee to look at it, and once we conclude on the issue of the Almajiri which also goes with the issue of employment, we shall have some respite.



During your first tenure, your heart was on Five (5) Point Agenda; Security, good governance, physical infrastructural Development and sustainable economic rebirth. Why are you pruning them from 5 to 3? 



You should understand that the first tenure was also part of taking over from another administration. Why we created five was partly to look at what we inherited and then examine some of the challenges that were on ground. Therefore, the five – point Policy Thrust was to help us carry out a holistic approach of what we promised the people. During campaign, you promise the people many things and by the time you get into the office, you see a different picture which you were not privy to. In that scenario, we had to come up with the five – Pillar Thrust to help us settle down for governance.



Now after staying in office for 4 years and we are coming back for tenure, we realized that we have taken care of some of the challenges we inherited.  Having taken care of such things, you now have to remain focused for the remaining four years as you cannot do everything, but at least you must do about 60% to 70%. I always don’t want to say I am perfect but I must strive to do my best to hit within the level of B, or A. If I get B, fine but if I get A that is excellent. Now we have reduced the five – Pillar thrust to 3 namely: Peace, security and good governance; physical infrastructural development; and sustainable economic rebirth.



Plateau State is being referred to as a Civil Service State. But since your administration has paid attention to economic growth and internally generated revenue between 2015 and 2018 recorded 100% increase. What are the strategies?


We have put in a lot of strategies. First, I told you that we engaged the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to prepare a development plan which they have done. After that, we are also planning an Economic Summit which I think would be the first of its kind in Plateau State.



Secondly in terms of Revenue, I have also engaged a consultant, the woman who did the magic for Kaduna State, Mrs. Ofueko Omoigui Okauru. She was one time chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). She is already in Plateau State to prepare and put in facilities for the improvement of our Revenue and that will take another 4 years, so we are not joking, when we say we are determined to take away Plateau from being a Civil Service State and that is why when we mention economic rebirth, we are talking about infrastructure and enabling environment. When you create this kind of environment for people, the private sector will invest. If you continue to say we are a civil service state and you go and sit down in your office and wait for 4:00 clock and then you leave after eating lunch that does not make the state productive. We are thinking out of the Box. As a civil servant you must be able to get something doing outside the office. That is why we are emphasizing on skill acquisition and a lot of other empowerment programmes.



Is the mindset of people is changing in that regard?



I must say I am very happy because without the cooperation of the people, we would not achieve what we are doing. So, I thank them for the level of co- operation particularly in ensuring that there is peace in the State but I am emphasizing that we should do more just as I am also doing my best.



In the recent past, Plateau State has witnessed crisis and violence, how do you intend to change Plateau people’s perception to the original Plateau as the Home of Peace and Tourism?



Yes, we have done a lot in terms of and addressing the causes of the problem and sustaining the peace. Sustaining peace goes along with dealing with poverty. You see, stomach insecurity leads to physical insecurity and we have a lot of youths out there who are not working. So we have a special package, you can see that I am the only State that created the Peace Building Agency. So we are developing that to sustain the peace and conflict management in the State.



As part of the scheme, we are talking we are also talking about industrialization. Plateau must become an industrial State by creating the enabling environment where people will come and invest in the State. I have always said that each time you sit down and you claim to be driving people away from your state, you lose. If Lagos was like that, Lagos will not be the way it is today. We should not drive people away from our state. We need investors to come to the State, why are we calling investors to come, if we then turn around to create unviable environment? It is the responsibility of Government to sit down and fish out criminals within us whether they are indigenes or not. We are doing very well with the security apparatus and we are also empowering and also expanding our Operation Rainbow in case we wake up one day and the Federal Government says we are withdrawing Operation Safe Haven.



We are also addressing volatile areas. You can see that we have already established a Mobile Police Squadron in Shendam, we have established Air Force Search and Rescue Unit at Kerang, Mangu LGA, and I am already preparing to complete setting up another Mobile Police Squadron in Gashish, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area.



Recently you were in Japan and you talked about accessing $300bn from Afri-Japan to finance some projects especially in the Rural Areas, can you expatiate on this?



Well, we went to Japan to attend the TICAD 7 Summit which is an investment summit for Africa, spear headed by Japan. It was my first time. I realized that the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari attended the summit in Kenya in 2016. We are talking about the fact that Japan is putting $50 billion for investments in Africa especially in rural development and so Plateau will also want     to go in and see what we can get out of the 50 billion dollars. During the course of our attendance, we were able to interact with a lot of investors both African and Japanese Investors. I realize that instead of sitting here and talking through emails inviting people to come and invest, it is batter to go and meet them to discuss properly. Some people say you can sit down in one place and talk to investors. It is far different than when you meet them. Recently I had cause to address the Zumunta Association which is the body of Sons and daughters of Northern origin in the Americas, and they were asking questions that clearly showed that they are not in touch with the things we have been able to achieve in the last four years and the kind of opportunities that exist in the state. In fact when I heard some of their questions, I said look, it’s like you are out of this world because all these things you are talking about, we’ve gone pass them. They said but they don’t get such information as what they read on social media and the internet is different. This is the kind of problem we have and so when you go there and you explain to them direct, you give them complete facts and they look at it and they see, when I went there, I had cause to address some Japanese investors and I told them that is now the best in terms of SMEs in Nigeria, they said Ah!, how comes that Plateau is best on SMEs, technology, and skills acquisition. My young people are doing excellently well, every year we go to Abuja we are taking home all the prices, the best person in 2018 was from Plateau and second best in 2019 is still from Plateau. We will continue to produce the kinds of Jerry Mallo just like the Japanese. Why I have this passion for skills acquisition is to create a skilled generation that can solve problems. That is why I am reviving the Technical Schools in Kuru. I am going to expand and equip that school just as I am also putting the same in all the zones, there is going to be one in Shendam and the other one in Pankshin which will create opportunities not only for the Youth but even the Civil Servants because you can go there and do 2 or 3 or 6 months course, sometime, if your go there and do 6 months course in tailoring, that is an advantage to you, you come back and establish a tailoring shop, when you get out of work after 4pm, you are in your tailoring workshop.



What deliberate steps are you taking in this tenure to project the proper image of Plateau?



That is exactly why I have appointed one of you Dr. Macham Makut as my Director of Press. He is from the media and is already doing his best. I have given him matching order and I told him, we have done a lot of things here but many people don’t hear about it because it is not being exposed outside. From what we have done, try to expose it to people outside. That is why I appointed a Diaspora liaison officer for Plateau State in the UK and in the USA.



How far have you gone to ensure that the state of emergency declared on the tourism sector transforms the sector to generate revenue for the State?



You know tourism thrives in peaceful environment and we have all the potentials. Plateau State is endowed with a lot of potentials – the very beautiful weather, the scenic beauty, rich culture and friendly people. All these things attract people to Plateau State but what was driving people away was insecurity. That is why we are emphasizing and concentrating on creating an environment of peace and tranquility, people will start coming without any prompting. That is why we have done so much to bring peace back. A policy document has been done from the Ministry of Tourism and I accepted it. So right now we are moving towards developing some of those facilities in order to realize the objectives of the declaration of the state of emergency on tourism sector in Plateau State.



  You saw me pay a visit to the wild life Park established by our late Governor, J. D. Gomwalk of blessed memory and because of wild life in Jos, people where coming for holidays here. A friend of mine came from Lagos to spend Christmas here before I became the Governor. After Christmas they decided to visit the zoo with his children who had heard the story about the popular zoo in Plateau State. The children said they must see Peter (a Baboon) and give him bananas. During the visit, Peter took banana from all except the youngest child. That was trouble for them, because they had booked their flight to leave that day.  The little boy started crying and said he was not going to leave. They had to change their schedule to return with the boy the following day. When the boy came back the following day, Peter was jumping at him and he collected the Banana and that was when they were able to leave for Lagos. When he went back, my friend told me that because of the experience of his family, there was no need to go to the UK because Jos is our UK in Nigeria. So that is the spirit and that was the picture of Plateau State. It is possible return to that status. That’s what we are doing, we are doing our best to see that tomorrow, when we leave people will not be going to the UK for holidays, people will come from the UK for holiday in Jos.



Could you explain to us the issue of livestock management in Plateau State, because there seems to be a lot of misinformation about it?



You remember I am a member of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) which is headed by the Vice President. I am representing North Central, I cannot go and start doing something that is not in favour of Plateau State or Benue or Nasarawa or Kogi or any part of Central Zone. Now part of the document was not brought by President Buhari. It was initiated during President Goodluck Jonathan. So it is that same document that was represented to the NEC (National Economic Council) because we were looking for solution to farmers-herdsmen crisis. A budget of N100 billion was approved for that same scheme. So when I came on board, I saw open grazing, I said the choice was either open grazing or ranching. I said, no we cannot go for open grazing because when you are talking of open grazing you will also be concerned with the problem of cattle routes and the tendency for clashes with farmers.



So, on my own, I came back and set up a 12 man committee headed by Prof. Ochapa Onazi, traditional rulers were involved, religious leaders were involved, CAN and JNI, the Civil Society were involved as well as  Representatives of Youths. They were the ones who developed the scheme, they went to Abuja, they came back and the recommendation was that Plateau should adopt ranching. When we finished the ranching we went to the local governments for sensitization apart from all the various stakeholders in Plateau State. At the end, the conclusion was for us to go with ranching. Now the first issue was to go and get the land. Because Federal Government is going to sponsor the pilot scheme, it does not mean that Federal Government is the one carrying it out. Now a budget for Pilot Scheme was announced for those states that wanted to do the entire livestock business according to their own peculiarities as a voluntary initiative. No coercion. So we also said any local government that wants to establish in her local government should provide land, some local governments agreed and provided land and that was when political manipulation started. Some said we are grabbing land, we are doing this, we have done that, at the end of the day, we suspended land from the local government but we have a grazing reserve in Wase, we have a grazing reserve in Kanam and from the archive they brought out to us, the number of grazing reserves that we have in Plateau, are eight (8). Out of the 8 grazing reserves we have in Plateau, six (6) were taken over.


If I embark on recovering them it will create another problem because past leaders especially military shared all the land within themselves and the ones that are left are just Wase and Kanam. If we leave it today, another regime will come and we will not see it again and I said nobody should go to these areas. They are grazing reserves owned by Plateau State Government. If this is the case, we would make sure we use those grazing reserves not for real grazing reserves now but for investors to come and invest in ranching and diary. While doing that, we started hearing the issue of RUGA, and people said Plateau is doing RUGA. I said, no, we are not doing RUGA on the Plateau.


Here we stand on livestock production through ranching. I have continuously explained to people and said, look! Don’t put religion or ethnic sentiments into investment. Don’t! Because it will scare away investors who want to bring in their money. My plea to people is if you have a concept, listen to it and understand it. As for RUGA, whatever it is, those who want it in their states let them do it but for us, we are talking of livestock production which is not restricted to cows. It includes sheep, piggery, poultry and everything. If there are incentives or palliatives or subsidies for this item from Federal Government, I have keyed into it and we are waiting for the subsidies, which will help our people, to empower our people. People should not take it to the mosque and start preaching or take it to the church and start preaching against it. It is business.



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Ubah: No absolute separation of powers in govt



The National Assembly and State Elections Petitions Tribunal in Anambra State recently confirmed the election of Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, as the senator representing Anambra South. In this interview with OKEY MADUFORO, Ubah speaks on this and other happenings in the state


How do you feel about the outcome of the petition at the tribunal?


What more can I say, than to thank God for this second victory. This goes to prove that I actually won the election against the petitions of my opponents in that election. That has also gone to prove that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man. The tribunal panel was dispassionate in its ruling and we are happy about the outcome.



I campaigned vigorously and there is no electoral ward, community and local government area I did not visit and the Anambra South electorate affirmed that I am the candidate they want in the said election.



The people of Anambra South know my pedigree and even before I ventured into politics, I had always interfaced with them and my foundation has gone a long way in impacting positively on the lives of our people.



So when I joined politics, I found myself in a familiar terrain with my brothers and sisters of Anambra South senatorial zone and at the end I emerged the winner of that election.



When my opponents, Senator Andy Uba and his brother, Chris went to court to challenge my mandate I saw it as a mere academic exercise because it will come to nothing.



You will recall that before the judgment the petitions were consolidated on the demands of the petitioners but one of the petitioners wanted his matter to be transferred to another panel against the consolidation.



I petitioned the President of the Appeal Court, who is in charge of the tribunals and prayed him not to allow the deconsolidation of the petition without following the due legal processes and that attempt failed.



When we now went into the petitions proper, there were startling revelations that even most of their witnesses could not confirm the affidavits which they all deposed to in the respective petitions andeven their prosecution witness could not convince the panel on the allegations of over voting and mutilation of result sheets so the tribunal delivered judgment in my favour.



Everybody at the tribunal who listened to the judgment can confirm that the judgment was clear and devoid of any ambiguity.



What if the duo of Chris and Andy Uba decide to challenge the judgment at the Appeal Court?



This is democracy and every Nigerian has the right to go on an appeal and we shall also be there to take it as it comes. However, going by the judgment, the appeal would amount to wasting tax payers’ money and wasting the time of the Court of Appeal judges by going to challenge a judgment that is spotless and firm.



I wish to advise my two brothers to forget about the idea, because the Appeal Court judges are learned and well experienced panelists that have integrity and cannot rule otherwise.



All the same we are ready to take it from there and that is if they want to go on an appeal.



You were made the Deputy Senate Committee Chairman on Upstream Petroleum. What are the challenges?



This is a committee affair and I am just the vice chairman of the committee. This is part of our oversight functions as legislators and we shall discharge our duties within the ambits of the law. Coming from the petroleum sector I can appreciate the problems being faced by our country and I shall bring my wealth of experience to bear in carrying out my oversight functions and I shall work together with my committee members in order to make the difference in the National Assembly.



We shall look at the oil and gas sector and fashion out ways of tackling its challenges for the good of Nigerians. We shall also consider the problems with other sectors that are related to the oil and gas sector and I wish to assure you that we will not fail Nigerians.



In the past the National Assembly had always been at war with the executive arm of government. What do we expect this time?



We are principally and essentially lawmakers, our duty is to make good laws for Nigeria. We are also there to act as a check on the executive but not to go to war with them. There is no place in the world that you have an absolute separation of powers. We are all part of the government of the federation and the duties of both the executive and the legislature is to provide good governance for Nigerians and that is what Nigerians expect from us.



There should be a kind of synergy between the two arms of government and the executive and legislative friction is not to deepen the problems of Nigerians but to find lasting solution to them.



It is important to note that the senators are from different political parties but once we are inaugurated, the issue of party loyalty does not come into play but the people and the entire Nigerian masses. Anytime we begin to look at our mandates as political party mandates; then we have lost focus on why we are in the National Assembly.



If you want to attract projects for your constituency or senatorial zone you cannot do it alone. You must rely on your colleagues to support the motions or second you and this is irrespective of which ever political party you belong to.

You also need the co-operations of the relevant ministries to achieve this and those ministries belong to the executive arm of government.



You have no choice but to deliver to your people whatever campaign promise that you made when you were canvassing for their votes and supports.



After you were declared winner, it was alleged that you had meetings with Chief Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress National Leader. How true?



Yes some people said I wanted to join the APC, some said that I have abandoned my party the YPP. I went to Lagos to assist our Igbo brothers and sisters contesting election in Lagos State. They are all our people and it is not easy for somebody from the South-East to go to Lagos and contest election. So they need to be encouraged and I am happy that we got favourable results and my trip was not in vain after all.


Is it in the spirit of your “Afa Igbo Efuna” campaign which you initiated?


The name of the Igbo people cannot be forgotten and I must work hard to actualise this. There is no part of the world that you will not see an Igbo man. In fact where ever you go and you do not see an Igbo man; there; just go back to where you are coming from. It is only the Igbo man that will go to a very dry area and in the next five or six years business will start booming and development will come to that area. When you go round Lagos you will discover that almost all the big markets were developed by Igbo people.

We sand fill the swamps and build markets on top of it and people will start visiting those places.


If you go to Abuja you will witness the same thing even in every part of Northern Nigeria.


So my campaign is that Nigerians should recognize the contributions of the Igbo man in the socio political and economic development of Nigeria. You cannot wish this away and remove the Igbo man from the Nigerian polity. My campaign is for the Igbo man to be counted in Nigeria and beyond. So far I have been mentoring Igbo youths in the area of entrepreneurship and grooming them about life and its challenges in the outside world.


I have taken a great number of them outside the country to interface with their contemporaries in those countries, and it has given them the much needed exposure.



After the tenure of Governor Willie Obiano, Anambra people are looking at Anambra South senatorial zone to produce the next governor. Are you going to contest?


I am a Senator of the Federal Republic and I have the mandate of Anambra South Senatorial zone to give them quality representation. At the moment, that is what is occupying my mind.


On the issue of zoning I support the concept so that we shall have equity. Today Anambra North is in the government house and before then Anambra Central had been there. So it is only fair and just that the south produces the next governor of our state. But we should be aware of the fact that power is not given but is taken. So Anambra South should not go to sleep because we feel it is our turn. We have to work hard to actualize this and we need to come together to fashion out a way of actualizing this ambition. All political parties should buy into this concept so that development will go round.



On your question if I am going to contest for the post of governor, the people of Anambra State will decide and it is not up to me to say. My achievements in the Senate will also count. If I do not do well as a Senator, what locus standing do I have to aspire for the governorship seat of Anambra state? Let the people make a statement on that and let the other zones give us the support.



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