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Electoral reforms: Kogi, Bayelsa guber polls offer lifeline

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Electoral reforms: Kogi, Bayelsa guber polls offer lifeline

Renewed calls for electoral reforms

 

 

Nigeria’s history of electoral reforms, which dates back to the different political transition processes since her independence, has remained a recurring decimal in the polity till date. Felix Nwaneri reports on the opportunity offered by the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states to correct some of the noticeable flaws in the 2019 general election

 

T

he current Fourth Republic, which commenced in 1999 after long years of military rule, has had its own fair share of electoral reforms, which has characterised Nigeria’s polity over time. Prominent among efforts in this regard was the 2017 Electoral Reform Committee set up by then President Umaru Yar’Adua.

 

 

Headed by a former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mohammed Uwais, the committee was the Yar’Adua administration’s response to the outcome of the 2007 general elections, which in the views of most stakeholders, including international election observers, fell short of international standards.

 

 

 

 

Yar Adua had in his inaugural speech admitted flaws in the process that brought him to power and he charged the 22-member committee to make proposals for electoral reforms. As expected, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) made a submission to the ERC and contributed to its work by providing relevant documentation and clarifications as required.

 

 

The committee delivered on its mandate and submitted its report within a year. It formally submitted its report on December 11, 2008. Unfortunately, Yar’adua was unable to implement the report as he died before he served out his tenure. The succeeding administration led by his then vice, Goodluck Jonathan, promised to implement the report, but it never did until it was voted out in the 2015 general elections.

 

 

The report consisted of six volumes, volume one dealt with the main report, while volume two and three dealt with memoranda received by the committee that comprised 22 parts and analysis of the presentations made at the public hearings held by the committee.

 

 

Volume four, which was in 13 parts contained the verbatim report of the public hearings, while volume five and six contained reports of retreats held with foreign experts and the appendices to the main report.

 

 

Justice Uwais had reasoned then that the implementation of the recommendations “will significantly restore credibility to the Nigerian electoral process and usher in an era of free, fair and credible elections that will conform to international best practices.”

 

 

Among the recommendations of the report include the appointment of chairman of INEC and the rest of the board by the National Judicial Council (NJC); that only the Senate should have the power to remove the INEC chairman or anyone on the board based on the NJC’s recommendation and funding of INEC directly through the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation.

 

 

Others were setting up of a Constituency Delimitation Commission, Political Parties Registration and Regulatory commissions; holding of presidential and governorship elections at least six months before the expiration of the term of the current holders of the offices; independent candidates and that no elected person should assume office until the case against him or her in the tribunal or court is determined.

 

 

Of particular interest was the recommendation for the setting up of an Electoral Offences Commission to ensure prosecution of offenders. And drawing on the ERC’s recommendations, the executive prepared a white paper that formed the basis for drafting the Constitutional Amendment Bill.

Although some of the recommendations were not passed during the constitution amendment process, there was no doubt that those adopted helped in the appreciable success recorded during the 2015 elections by the Prof, Attahiru Jega-led INEC.

 

 

Jega, a former Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, and former national president of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), was appointed by Jonathan in 2010 and it is    to his credit that the country’s electoral process witnessed remarkable improvement while he held sway.

 

 

 

Through several innovations including the introduction of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and card readers for accreditation of voters, the electoral umpire under Jega, restored hope on the country’s electoral process. This was justified by commendations the commission received after the 2015 general elections from local and foreign election observers.

 

 

Observer teams from the African Union (AU), European Union (EU) and the Commonwealth gave INEC a pass mark for its impartial handling of the polls. The AU team led by former Ghanaian President John Kuffour, for instance, described the election as peaceful and transparent.

 

 

However, despite the thumbs up for the 2015 polls, it was another journey to electoral reform eight years after the Uwais committee submitted its report, when President Muhammadu Buhari, who defeated Jonathan in the 2015 elections, set up a 25-man Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee in October 2016.

 

 

Headed by a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, the committee’s terms of reference, according to the then Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who inaugurated the committee on behalf of the President Malami, centred on looking into possible amendments to the Constitution and Electoral Act and coming out with a more robust and generally acceptable electoral system.

 

 

Malami, who advised the committee to consult far and wide and in particular with the National Assembly and judiciary in order to make recommendations that would stand the test of time, added: “The committee is also advised to take a holistic look of the recommendation of Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee.”

 

He recalled that the President had in his inauguration speech (first term in office – May 29, 2015) stated his desire to deepen the country’s democracy and entrench the culture of an enduring electoral system. “It is important to evaluate our democratic journey thus far with a view to fashioning out a more enduring system that will serve present and future generations,” he said.

 

 

He further noted that recent judicial decisions have shown that there is urgent need to scale up confidence in the electoral system, pointing out that even the then Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mohammed Mahmoud, had decried the widespread distortion of binding judicial precedent with conflicting judgements.

 

 

 

But justified as the reasons for the constitution of the committee then, most stakeholders questioned its essence, when the report of the Uwais-led Electoral Reform Committee is yet to be implemented.

 

 

 

Besides the Uwais committee report, there is also the report of the 2014 National Conference convoked by the Jonathan administration, which made far reaching recommendations on how to reform the country’s electoral process but yet to be implemented as well. Interestingly, Senator Nnamani chaired the conference’s sub-committee on electoral reform, but Buhari, on coming to power, described the conference as a misplacement of priority.

 

 

 

The position of most stakeholders then was that the Buhari administration should have dusted the Uwais committee report, which they described as comprehensive, for implementation and avoid the duplication of effort and waste of resources, which the Nnamani committee would amount to.

 

 

 

But giving justification for the committee, Malami said the Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee differ from the Uwais-led Electoral Reform Committee. His words: “Fundamentally, there are two key differences. The first difference is that in the other committee their assignment concluded with a recommendation and no further steps were taken in terms of actualising it. The whole essence of this committee is that of consolidation.

 

 

 

“From 2008 when the Uwais committee was put in place, a lot of other issues have come up within the electoral landscape in Nigeria. Those new innovations and events that came on board were not taken into consideration by the Uwais committee that is why we call this committee a consolidation committee. Consolidation committee in terms of looking at the recommendations made by the Uwais committee over time, looking at the new innovations that came into the electoral-space and then look at them jointly to see how the process can be taken forward for action and implementation.

 

 

 

“The essence now is taking the process forward by way of seeking the blessings of the Federal Executive Council and National Assembly, and eventually passing it into law. By so doing, the process would be moved from the point of recommendation to the point of implementation through legislative process.”

 

 

He decried a situation where the lives of electoral officials are at risk during polls and where politicians make the environment for elections a war theatre.

 

 

 

Nnamani, on his part said he was confident that President Buhari would enhance democratic structures in Nigeria. His words: “The issue of inconclusive elections in the country affects national election, which leads to loss of lives and the best way to handle it is to stop inconclusive election. The best way to stop it in advance is to support the government in implementing what will make Nigeria have non-violence elections.”

 

The report of the Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee submitted to Malami in May 2017, recommended among others, the unbundling of INEC. It also proposed the establishment of new agencies that would handle some of the commission’s tasks, participation of independent candidates, Diaspora voting and the use of technology for elections.

 

 

But unlike other previous reports on electoral reform, the committee did not recommend the establishment of the electoral offences tribunal. Rather, it recommended the expansion of courts by building more courtrooms and appointing more judges under the existing court system.

 

 

Two new agencies, proposed by the Nnamani committee to take up some of INEC’s mandates, are the Political Parties and Electoral Offences Commission (PPEOC) and the Constituency Delineation Centre (CDC). While the PPEOC will be concerned with the registration and regulation of political parties as well as prosecution of electoral offenders in regular courts, the CDC will carry out the delineation of constituencies.

 

 

Interestingly, the committee did not end its job with the report; it submitted it alongside four proposed bills, two of which sought the establishment of the new agencies. The two other bills sought amendments to relevant parts of the Constitution and the Electoral Act. The four bills were expected to be transmited to the National Assembly as Executive Bills.

 

 

While those, who expressed pessimism over the Nnamani committee appears to have been proven right as nothing positive has come out of its report, most stakeholders believe that the appreciable success recorded by the Jega-led INEC has not be sustained given the reports of foreign observers who monitored the 2019 general elections.

 

 

Among the observers are European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) and the joint Nigeria International Election Observation Mission of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).

 

The EU EOM, which spoke through its Chief Observer, Maria Arena, during the presentation of its final report on the 2019 elections, said it observed that the leading parties were at fault in not preventing acts of violence and intimidation by their supporters.

 

 

Arena, particularly noted that violence, violation of ballot secrecy, and harassment of voters and journalists characterised the polls. She added that INEC worked in porous security and politically-charged environment, making the electoral officials exposed to physical attacks and intimidation.

The report read in part: “The EU observed 94 collation centres. In almost all, the results forms and smart card readers were not packed in tamper-evident envelopes as required.

 

 

“Numerical discrepancies and anomalies on polling unit results forms were identified and were mostly corrected by collation officers on the spot, but without a clear system of record-keeping. Leading parties were at fault in not reining in acts of violence and intimidation by their supporters, and abuse of incumbency at federal and state levels.

 

 

“Inconsistent numbers during collation, lack of clear checks and explanations, and insufficient public information undermined the integrity of the elections. Citizens did not have sufficient means to scrutinise results. INEC did not provide centralised information on the declared results for the different locations and has not posted complete results data on its website.

 

 

“Similarly, there is a lack of disaggregated results by local government, ward or polling unit, which would allow for thorough checking of results. The elections became increasingly marred by violence and intimidation. This harmed the integrity of the electoral process and may deter future participation.

 

 

 

“Around 150 people died in election-related violence during the campaign period and over the election days. INEC reported attacks on its offices, and also fatalities, abductions and sexual assault against its officials.”

 

 

The mission also identified the suspension of the former Chief Justice Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari days to the election ”as seen to lack due process and reportedly undermined judicial independence.”

 

 

Against these backdrops, the EU Mission called for fundamental reforms to the Nigeria’s electoral process in order to address systemic failure noticed during the 2019 elections.

 

 

“Such reforms need political leadership that is dedicated to the rights of Nigerian citizens, and an inclusive process of national dialogue involving state institutions, parties, civil society and the media. This needs to be urgently undertaken to allow time for debate, legislative changes and implementation well in advance of the next elections,” EU EOM Chief Observer said.

 

 

She added that out of the 30 recommendations by the mission, priorities were given to seven. They include strengthening of INEC’s procedures for collation of results to improve integrity and confidence in electoral outcomes; establishment of a requirement in law for full results transparency, with data made easily accessible to the public and strengthening of lNEC’s organisational and operational capacity, as well as its internal communication.

 

 

For the joint Nigeria International Election Observation Mission of National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), the 2019 general elections “fell significantly” short of the standards set in 2015.

 

The final report of both groups was based on findings and recommendations of three pre-election assessment missions in July 2018, September 2018, and December 2018 as well as preliminary statements released following the February 23, 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections and the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial and state House of Assembly elections.

 

 

“The 2019 general elections fell significantly short of standards set in 2015. Citizens’ confidence in elections was shaken. Election stakeholders should take concrete steps to address the concerns of citizens with regards to the polls in order to rekindle their faith in the power and possibility of credible elections,” IRI President, Dr. Daniel Twining, said.

 

 

NDI President, Amb. Derek Mitchell, on his part, said: “The 2019 elections highlighted for many Nigerians the need for a national conversation about the country’s democratization since the 1999 transition to civilian rule. We hope this report may both spur and contribute to enriching that national conversation.”

 

 

The NDI/IRI report also provided recommendations to enhance the credibility of elections in Nigeria. It called for improvement in areas of political parties conduct, civic engagement, election security and legal frameworks around election disputes.

 

 

While President Buhari accepted the EU EOM report and promised to implement its recommendations during the next elections, a battle of wits ensued between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

 

 

The presidency, in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, said: “The administration of President Buhari will work with all Nigerian citizens, state institutions, parties, civil society, the media and other experts to make sure that the improvements recommended by the EU are implemented, and that these areas of concern are addressed.

 

 

 

But government’s position on the report and its promise to implement the recommendations, notwithstanding, the PDP, which absolved itself off the indictment on issues of violence, said it has been vindicated that the election was outrightly rigged.

 

 

The party, through a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Nigerians are still in shock over the revelations by EU of how about 2.8 million votes were deliberately ‘cancelled without sufficient accountability’ and how several returning officers gave no reason for the cancellations.”

 

 

 

While the bicker between the APC and PDP is expected, INEC has promised to ensure the implementation recommendations by the EU Mission. Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who made the pledge, said the EU EOM recommendations will help the commission to improve on its activities in subsequent elections.

 

According to him, the implementation of the recommendations would begin with the forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa states governorship elections. He however said that it would work with other relevant institutions on aspects of the recommendations that required consequential action beyond the mandate of the commission.

 

 

The Director-General of the Electoral Institute, Saád Idris, who reiterated the commission’s pledge, while speaking at a recent policy dialogue series tagged “Dynamics of Delegation: Reforms in the Recruitment, Training and Deployment of Ad-hoc Election Personnel” in Abuja, said the chairman of INEC has been engaging with stakeholders since the 2019 general elections to know what went wrong to improve on subsequent elections.

 

 

His words: “The effort of the commission is clear, it has owned up to some things that it did not do right, so beginning from the Kogi and Bayelsa elections, you will see improvement.’’

 

 

He added that plans to correct the electoral process had started, adding that “we are not going to wait for general elections before correcting all the wrongs.’’

 

 

As Nigerians anxiously wait to see how the electoral commission intend to go about the implementation of the various suggestions, which many believe will help ensure credibility of the electoral process, it is certain that the umpire will have the support of the legislature given the assurance by the leaders of two chambers of the National Assembly – Ahmed Lawan (Senate) and Femi Gbajabiamila (House of Representatives).

 

 

“I am sure that this time around, we will start considering those issues that we feel require urgent legislative intervention,” Lawan said, while  Gbajabiamila, on his part, assured that “parliament will hit the ground running in terms of electoral reforms as the process of elections is before, during and after the elections.”

 

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Politics

Bello’s second term’ll be a disaster for Kogi people – Audu

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Bello’s second term’ll be a disaster for Kogi people – Audu

Alhaji Mohammed Audu is the son of a former governor of Kogi State, late Prince Abubakar Audu and a governorship aspirant in the forthcoming election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC)). In this interview, he speaks on his bid to resuscitate his father’s political structure and his chances in the poll. Johnchuks Onuanyim reports

 

 

How has the campaign for the Kogi State governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) been?

The campaign has been very interesting. I have been witnessing campaigns in Kogi State since 1998 and I have been around during all those campaigns. The atmosphere has not been as depressing as it is now because Kogites have been left in a very hopeless state. Their economy is in shambles and the people have no money to sustain themselves. So, they are not even energetic. The only source of energy is when we appear for campaigns; they get some kind of relief. What they keep telling us is please take us out of this situation.

So, the campaigns have been very interesting because at the point of campaigns, we are very sure of victory. The people already knew who they don’t want and who they want and the reasons are very obvious. I don’t know if anybody anywhere can manipulate any election and think he is going to go away with it in Kogi. If you manipulate Kogi election, you will have blood on your hands because of the people who have died of untold hardship.

Do you mean manipulation of the APC governorship primary or the main election, and what are factors that will determine the outcome of the main election?

When I talk about manipulation, I am sure that you know that everything Governor Yahaya Bello does, he manipulates. He would want to manipulate the primary election; he would want to manipulate the general election. That is what I mean and no one will get away with manipulation of the process. However, I am happy that the party is giving considerations to the various modes of primaries. We know that once the party fulfills its promise to carry out a transparent, free and fair process of selecting a candidate, I can assure you that the outcome of the November election will be very swift and decisive.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) knows that they don’t stand a chance and I can promise you that by 12 midday on election day, the PDP would have already known its fate and APC would also have known its fate as well. Anything to the contrary will be a dream. If the people are not happy with the process, we would have given the opposition the advantage. That is all they are praying for; to use APC against APC because that is the only way they stand a chance at victory. Otherwise, if the APC is together, it will be unbeatable.

Would you consider decamping to another party if Governor Bello wins the APC primary?

What I have told you is that if a peoples’ oriented process is allowed, all of us will support it without questions. But, what we know and we are telling you from Kogi State is that a peoples’ oriented process, a free and fair process will definitely not produce Bello. These are no rumours. Go every local government area in the state and ask their opinion. If you think that Yahaya Bello stands a chance, go to Kogi and ask the people what they want. It is not about paid job of appearing on television and saying different kind of things.

Ask the civil servants, ask the pensioners, ask family men, ask children in school whether any system is working in Kogi State. If we have another four years of this, there will be no state because everybody would have died of conditions that are very bad because they are suffering. I can assure you that no right thinking Kogi man wishes in his wildest dream to have Bello return as governor, no matter the circumstance. If you see Bello come back, he would have forced himself on the people.

There is more than one person vying for the APC governorship ticket in your family. Is that not a sign of division right from home?

I don’t agree with you. When you go into a family and everybody is a lawyer, why don’t you say it is a sign of division? I can tell you something. We all have our different ways of going about our aspirations. My brother is a younger person, who feels that he can use the energy of a young man to orchestrate a mass movement and ensure that Bello is removed. I have my own experience and I want to ensure that Bello is removed. There is another one of us who wants to ensure that Bello is removed. The uniting factor here is that we all want to remove Bello. I dont think you should look at it as disunity. We are not fighting or quarrelling, but agreed on one thing, which is that Bello must go.

You spoke about a transparent process of primary and the party has opted for the indirect mode. Do you think that the process will be transparent?

First, I must tell you that I am a loyal party man and whatever my party adopts, I will support. Now, in this particular instance, not only do I support my party, I am indifferent with any process that you bring, whether direct or indirect. The bottom line is that the sentiments that I have expressed tells you that head or tail, we will win and they will lose. Whichever way you turn the coin, we win. But there is a snag and I have said this over and over again.

My heart is with our party men in Zamfara State. After having sleepless nights campaigning, spending a lot of resources, doing so much for the victory of the party, one party will be locking around the corner, waiting for you to make mistake and capitalise on it and at the end of the day, you lose everything that you have worked for. This is what I am particularly worried about. We might go through the indirect primary, defeat Bello, but the case between the two executives may be such that if it favours one, it might nullify everything that we have done.

The fact is that we are not willing to take the risk of finding out who is right and who is wrong. This is the issue we have with using a particular set of executive to conduct the primary. The best thing to do to deepen internal democracy in Nigeria is to follow what President Muhammadu Buhari has done. He said that in other to avoid any controversy of his nomination, allow a direct primary process, where every card carrying member of the party will come forward to decide, who their candidate should be. It went without rancour and sentiments and he emerged.

Kogi is a state with different tribes, different religious calling and different beliefs. But all of them are united in one course and that is the course for good governance. They are happy to be given an opportunity. It will be an internal party referendum, which means that if you carry out that process successfully, whoever wins is as good as winning the main election because the followership of the APC far outweighs the followership of other parties put together. So, it will be an election before an election and I think it is a fantastic opportunity for the ruling party to show its strength.

Are you confident that the leadership of the party at the national level will be able to conduct a primary that will be acceptable to all the aspirants?

I do believe so because there is no election process that goes without rancour. A general election in 36 states has just taken place and it is only in a few places that you have complaints of manipulations. I believe that the leadership of our party will be able to do a good job and conduct a free and fair primary.

There are reports that delegates for the primary are being intimidated, while some are being arrested or kidnapped. Have you heard any such complaints from your supporters?

I will simply tell you something. I told you earlier that if Bello returns, he would have forced himself on the people and those are the traits.

There are rumours that a private army is being raised ahead of the polls…

I have heard that, but for me, it is not a far because I have been involved in this process before. This is not the first time I am hearing this. In any case, Kogi people have realised something; if you fear, you die. If you make the mistake of saying that you are afraid of the men in uniform, who are fake; you will still die because in the last four years, a lot of people have died. They people would rather die exercising their franchise than to wait for another four years and suffer before they die.

So, I dont think that anybody in any uniform will be able to scare anybody. I can tell you that our supporters are resolute. We will not allow any puppet master or puppet to come and scare people with dane or toy guns. As far as democracy is concerned, the power of the thumb is stronger and bigger than even the power of a fighter jet and this is what we are going to exhibit on August 29.

Politics is a game of number and Kogi East, where you come from has the number to swing votes. Assuming the ticket goes to Bello, are we likely going to see the 1992 scenario that brought your late father to power?

You are talking of the scenario between my father and Architect Olorunfemi. While you think it was tribal sentiments, it was not, but party and manifesto. Our people in the opposing party at that time, which was the Social Democratic Party (SDP), felt that the process of selecting their candidate was faulty and that their internal democracy model was bad and that led to a revolt. My father did not benefit from any kind of tribal patronage. The same scenario is about to replay itself. It is not tribal, but saying that if you do not have a proper selection process, the people tend to revolt. That is all that is at stake notwithstanding tribe. I can tell you that if Yahaya Bello had done very well as governor of Kogi State, APC would not have had two aspirants because it would be unnecessary as nobody changes a winning team. In this case, he has performed very poorly.

We heard that money is already exchanging hands to seek favour. Are you aware of that as well as the claim that some aspirants are sponsoring others to seek better mileage?

I just picked my form on Thursday last week, so I could not have sponsored somebody who will pick his form before me. So, I don’t know about sponsorship of anybody. Secondly, I think the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) is populated by men of integrity and I have not heard about money exchanging hands. What people are saying about their dissatisfaction with the mode of primary is not the fault of the NWC.

It is the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, which comprises governors and everybody else that asked states to adopt mode of primaries that their stakeholders opt for and this is what most of the states have done. But, in the case of Kogi State, it is factionalised and that is our argument. So, I don’t think this has to do with money exchanging hands or not. It was something that some people felt was done in error and I believe they are trying to correct it now.

Outside Governor Bello, what are your chances against other aspirants, especially people like Admiral Usman Jibrin (rtd).

I think Jibrin just joined politics three months ago and he is learning on the job. But as far as I am concerned, I wouldn’t go that far to worry about him when there is a governor with state resources at his disposal. Admiral Jibrin showed himself maybe in preparation for 2023. I have a great deal of respect for all the aspirants, but for this time, it is a game of popularity and structure. In the whole state, I am the only one with a grassroots movement; I am the only one with a full party structure that has been sidelined. I am the only one with a political structure called the Audu Political Family. If you know any person that has a political structure like that, please indicate.

Do you still think that the Audu family is united?

Have you heard that they are supporting anybody? Have they made any statement? But later, they will be making a statement.

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Revelations as Reps probe dearth of Eastern, Southern ports

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Revelations as Reps probe dearth of Eastern, Southern ports

The House of Representatives is currently investigating the failure of the Federal Government to maximize potentials of five eastern and southern ports. PHILIP NYAM reports the proceedings

 

About a week ago, the House of Representatives commenced investigations into the reasons responsible for the inability of the five Eastern and Southern ports of Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onne and Onitsha inland complexes to optimally utilise their facilities. The probe was consequent upon a resolution of House on July 18, 2019, wherein it constituted an ad hoc committee led by chairman of the committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub (APC, Adamawa). Following the submissions made by some of the stakeholders who appeared before the committee, it consequently summoned the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engr. Mele Kolo Kyari; the Director-General of the Department of the State Service (DSS), Mallam Yusuf Bichi; the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele; the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col HameedAli (rtd) and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas.

The submissions:

While testifying before the committee, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari attributed the non performance of these ports to the activities of sea pirates, kidnappers and armed robbers. He said these crimes coupled with multiple taxes imposed even by states and local governments were chasing away potential operators at the ports. “Piracy, kidnapping, armed robbery are responsible for the non utilisation of the ports”, he stated.

According to Zakari, “lack of synergy and cooperation among the government agencies operating at the ports is also affecting the smooth running of these ports. NIMASA (Nigerian Maritime Administration Safety Agency), NPA (Nigerian Port Authority), the Navy and freight forwarders are not working together.” He added that “There is no cooperation and we are one government and I don’t see why there should be conflict among these agencies. We need legislative support and backing of the National Assembly.”

Collaborating with the submission of the ministry, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas agreed insecurity was a major factor militating against the ports but added that the Navy was working round the clock to apprehend all criminal activities. Represented by the Director of Training, Rear Admiral Abraham Adaji, the Chief of Naval Staff also lamented that the channels of the Eastern ports were arrow and unmarked and this affects the operations. “Our channels are very narrow and largely unmarked. The surface of the underwater is very small,” he stated.

He said the problem poor infrastructure and evacuation of good was also responsible for the optimal performance of the ports, adding that the roads linking the ports were in deplorable shape.

Similarly, the Managing Director of NPA, Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman also agreed that insecurity and poor infrastructure was being responsible for the problem. Represented by Prof. Idris Abubakar, the NPA boss said she has drawn the attention of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to deplorable state of the roads linking the ports.

Similarly, NIMASA noted that the issue of insecurity was seriously weighing in on the operations of the concerned ports. Represented by the Capt. Sunday Umoren, the Director-General of NIMASA, Hon. Dakuku Peterside also noted that there was absolute need for all the agencies to work together in the interest of the nation.

Speaker’s charge:

While declaring the public hearing open, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said both the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports complex in Lagos were “overwhelmed and attained breaking points.” He charged the ad hoc committee to “redeliver” a policy framework and make substantive proposals for legislative and executive action to drive the increased utilisation at these ports for the socio-economic benefit of the Nigerians people.

Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Deputy House Leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason lamented that the Nigerian maritime sector regrettably remains one of the great untapped economic reserves stressing that “operating and maintaining efficient and functional ports in the country will help to develop the economic potential of the communities where these ports are located, and even farther afield.”

He explained that “This ad hoc committee has been constituted with a very specific mandate to investigate the reasons why these ports are not being used to maximum effect especially at this time when the Apapa and Tin Can Ports are so overwhelmed and are verily at their breaking points. Following from that, it is the responsibility of this Committee to deliver a policy framework and make substantive proposals for legislative and executive action to drive the increased utilisation at these ports for the socio-economic benefit of the Nigerian people.

According to him, “The Nigerian maritime sector regrettably remains one of our great untapped economic reserves. Operating and maintaining efficient and functional ports in the country will help to develop the economic potential of the communities where these ports are located, and even farther afield. Also, as importantly, getting these ports working at capacity says to the world; to potential investors and trading partners that we are open and ready for business.

Gbajabiamila allayed fears of stakeholders that the exercise was not a witch hunt but was geared towards finding a lasting solution to the problems militating against the full operations of the ports.

“There is no punitive agenda behind the appointment and mandate of this Committee. That is not to say that if in the course of this committee’s activities, malfeasance or corruption is identified, we would ignore it or overlook it. To do that will be an unconscionable betrayal of the trust of the Nigerian people. Nonetheless, our priority is to get these ports working at their absolute best, creating jobs, facilitating trade, attracting investment and contributing to the steady growth of our country’s GDP.”

The speaker therefore invited all “the Nigerian people and stakeholders in the industry to assist the Committee in the execution of this urgent national assignment. It is from the collation and analysis of your various ideas and contributions, perspectives and expertise that the Committee will be able to make the right recommendations, and guide this House of Representatives in our efforts to support the full utilisation of these very important national assets and the actualisation of the very high ambitions we hold for our national economy.”

The opening:

In his welcome address, chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon Yusuf Buba Yakub, said the committee is out to query and determine why some of the ports have been operating below expected capacity. He said the committee was also interested in unraveling why the port situation has remained unpleasant in spite of the many efforts of government over the years at making the Nigerian ports virile. Such efforts he noted to be by way of building more port complexes, granting more concessions, including encouraging active involvement of the private sector in some aspects of operations in the maritime sector.

“This exercise is organised to query and to determine why some of our port complexes have continued to operate below their setting-up capacities. It also seeks to question why, in spite of the many efforts of government over the years, which have come by way of building more port complexes, concessioning and the complete involvement of the private sector in some aspects of operations in our nation’s maritime sub-sector, the congestion in the Lagos port complexes in Apapa and Tin can Island still persists.

“What this means is that about five inland port complexes in Warri, Calabar, Onitsha, Port Harcourt and Onne have all failed to provide alternative or even consummate services to aid decongestion of two Lagos Ports Complexes,” he regretted.

The chairman noted that it is utmost belief of the committee that if the House would succeed, all stakeholders needed to make inputs and proffer solutions “to what has not only become a dangerous reality of everyday life in the commercial capital city of Lagos, but has also become a national embarrassment for international visitors and users of Lagos port complexes.”

He queried, “or how else does one describe a situation that has defied the efforts of a state like Lagos and has the capacity to lock down the commercial city completely, while encouraging the activities of criminal elements and touts and compelling, ultimately, the attention of the nation’s president, who had responded by setting up a presidential task team”

With the expected appearance of the management team of the NNPC, CBN, DSS, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Customs Service this week, perhaps a solution to the intractable traffic grid lock in Apapa and Tin can Island may be in the offing.

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Bayelsa: Intrigues as PDP aspirants battle for Dickson’s seat

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Bayelsa: Intrigues as PDP aspirants battle for Dickson’s seat

Pauline Onyibe reports on the intriguing battle within the Bayelsa State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over who flies the party’s flag in the forthcoming November 16 governorship election in the state

 

 

It is another election year in Bayelsa State after the 2015 governorship poll that was a keen contest between the incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson and a former governor of the state, Chief Timipre Sylva.

The poll, held on December 5, 2015 was the second test of might between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), after the March/April 2015 general elections. The first was the November governorship poll in Kogi State.

While the 2015 election is now history, it will amount to political gamble for any of the parties to rely on the variables that shaped it going into the forthcoming governorship contest given that politics remains dynamic.

For instance, the APC seized the opportunity of the 2019 general elections to make inroad into Bayelsa State that was hitherto under PDP’s grip. The ruling party at the centre was able to win a senatorial seat, two House of Representatives seats and four seats in the state House of Assembly.

Again, the fact that whichever way the pendulum swings in the forthcoming November 16 poll in the state will further strengthen the confidence of the two leading parties ahead of the 2023 general elections, will see both sides deploying all they could to either consolidate on what they have or extend frontiers.

Governor Dickson, who recently reasoned along this line, while speaking at a forum in Yenagoa, acknowledged that the battle for his successor is going to be a defining moment for the state.

His words: “The last governorship election is still fresh in the memories of Bayelsans. It was more than an election, it was a war. The 2019 governorship may not be any different. The stakes are high as some persons are desperate to capture the state regardless of how unpopular they are among the people.

“In their desperate bid to launch a deadly come back, they have begun to gradually disrupt security architecture in the state. This they have done by using their privileged positions against the people. In 2019, they are expected to be more daring, but as always, Bayelsans know them and in line with true Ijaw spirit, the people are ready to repel every attempt to circumvent their will.”

Though there may be justification for governor’s fears of reoccurrence of violence given the build-up to the poll, the question many political analysts and observers in the state have asked, is: Has the PDP presumed to be an Ijaw party done well in the state to deserve to be re-elected?

While the question can be answered by the people of the state, the belief in some quarters is that it is has been a mixed grill for Bayelsans in the second term of the Dickson’s restoration government. This, analysts say, if not properly handled may hamper the chances of PDP returning to the Creek Haven as Bayelsa government house is known.

At the moment, some notable political gladiators in the state, especially those of PDP extraction, have already picked expression of interest forms at the cost of about N26 million, despite the seeming division in the party.

The PDP in Bayelsa State has two camps; that of former President Goodluck Jonathan and that of Governor Dickson. While the former president seems to be supporting some aspirants, the governor has his own people. Though the party’s spokesman in the state, John Macbere, at a time said there is no truth in that, the fragmentation seems to be playing out now as the Dickson’s camp through the office of the Special Adviser to the governor on Political Affairs, Fyneman Wilson, recently mentioned some names being supported by the Restoration Government.

They are Kemela Okara, the current Secretary to the State Government, who is from Bayelsa Central and a son of Ekpetiama kingdom, where Arch. Reuben Okoya and Keniebi Okoko (also aspirants) are from. Another personality is the Chief of Staff, Government House, Talford Ongolo, who is from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in Bayelsa Central.

Outside the governor’s camp are the likes of Douye Diri, the senator representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District and a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe who has already obtained the form to contest the PDP governorship primary election.

Wilson’s dropping of the names was on the heels of the fasting and prayers organised by the Restoration Government to choose the next governor of the state. But, some people are tempted to think that Dickson is technically trying to dislodge some those who have already obtained forms for the PDP primary election as he had repeatedly said that people cannot be outside watching, while others are busy making the party attractive only for them to come and pick tickets to become governor.

Dickson even at the last day of the fasting and prayers said the people of the state will not elect an ungodly person as their next governor. According to him, the state will never again experience governance by cult elements as well as crude and brutal human beings, whose aim is bloodletting, killings and violence.

He also restated his call to the people of the state to resist cultists who could use the temptation of political offices to lure the youth to dangerous practices.

His words: “Let me remind us of some of the very powerful pronouncements that our men of God and fathers of our faith have led us to declare for the past seven years and still counting. One of the most important is that only a man after God’s heart, not a man who is not destined by God, who wants to take it by violence, no such person shall ascend the position of governor. Not one who does not subscribe, understand, submit to the authority and divine mandate of God over our lives shall ascend the seat of governor.”

Governor Dickson said that the essence of the three-day programme was to seek God’s guidance and control of the transition process to reveal his successor. He added that the governorship seat of the state had been handed over to God, which will make it impossible for cultist or anyone involved in occultic practices to occupy the position.

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Kogi guber: Uzodinma committee screen 16 APC aspirants

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Kogi guber: Uzodinma committee screen 16 APC aspirants

No fewer than 16 All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirants in Kogi State, were on Thursday screened by the Senator Hope Uzodinma-led screening committee ahead of the August 29 primary election in the state.
Among those screened so far include the state Governor, Akhaji Yahaya Bello, Alhaji Sani Lulu, Dr. Saidu Mohammed, General Patrick Akpa, Prince Mustapha Audu, Vice Admiral Jibril Usman, Mr. Tunde Irukera, Prince Yahaya Audu and Mr. Yakubu Mohammed.
Others are: Mallam Bashir Gegu, Hajia Hadiza Ibrahim, Hon. Blessing Ekele, Prince Mohammed Abubakar Audu,  Hon. Hassan Baiwa and Engr. Abubakar Mohammed.
Addressing the aspirants before the commencement of the screening at the state Secretariat if the party in the state capital, Lokoja, Chief Hope Uzodinma, assured of a level playing ground for all the contestants.
He said the committee was in the state to interact with the aspirants, especially as regards their qualification to lead the state in the next political dispensation.
He assured that they would carry out a thorough job, so as to avoid a repeat of what happened in Taraba State in the last governorship poll, where the candidate of the APC had issues.
Uzodinma therefore enjoined the aspirants to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship, so as to ensure the retention of the state by the APC in the coming governorship election.

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Ministers take charge, unveil agenda

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Ministers take charge, unveil agenda

The 43 new ministers, who were sworn-in by President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, have taken charge of their respective ministries, with some of them expressing optimism on delivering on their mandates.

Among the new ministers, who reported at their duty posts immediately after they were sworn-in include Godswill Akpabio (Niger Delta), Zainab Ahmed (Finance), Lai Mohammed (Information and Culture), Ogbonnaya Onu (Science and Technology), Suleiman Adamu (Water Resources), Sunday Dare (Youth and Sports Development) and Sabo Nanono (Agriculture).

Others are Adamu Adamu (Education), Emeka Nwajiuba (Minister of State for Eductaion), Timipre Sylva (Minister of State for Petroleum), Paulen Tallen (Women Affairs), Muhammed Abubakar (Environment), Hadi Sirika (Aviation), Clement Agba (Budget and National Planning) and Niyi Adebayo (Industry, Trade and Investment).

Education: Excitement as Adamu, Nwajiuba resume

At the Ministry of Education, it was excitement, following the reappointment of Mallam Adamu. Members of staff, who were clustered around television sets, jumped and screamed with joy when President Muhammadu Buhari mentioned Adamu’s portfolio.

Adamu resumed after his inauguration with the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajuiba at about 2:45pm. The duo were received by the excited staff led by the Permanent Secretary, Sonny Echono and some directors in the ministry.

Adamu who applauded Echono and directors of the ministry for their support during his first stint in office, noted that he and the former Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, had worked hard to put together the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP 2016-2019) to the point of implementation before their tenure ended on May 2019.

Adamu noted that Nwajiuba who until his appointment as minister was Chairman, Board of the Tertiary Education Trustfund (TETFund), had abandoned his doctorate programme to serve in the cabinet of President Buhari as minister.

Nwajiuba, who also spoke, said he was at home at the ministry. “I am comfortable that I do not have to go to another ministry, but here with my elder brother at the Ministry of Education, so that I can be tutored and well directed.”

Industry, Trade and Investment: Adebayo, Katagum tasks staff on commitment

At the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the minister, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and his Minister of State counterpart, Mariam Katagum, pledged to work as partners in order to realize President Buhari administration’s Next Level agenda.

Adebayo, who particularly tasked staff of the ministry to be committed to their duties, said: “We are in the ministry to achieve result and we will work out work plan to move the ministry forward in terms of economic growth and job creation.”

Earlier, Katagum commended President Buhari for finding them worthy for the appointment and promised to work vigorously to achieve her mandate.

Budget and National Planning: Agba sets target for 2020 budget

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba, who also assumed duty, yesterday, said getting 2020 fiscal budget ready before the National Assembly next month (September) is his top priority.

To realise his dream, he called for the cooperation of the ministry’s staff, pleading that they all join forces with him in realising the target.

He said: “Meetings are already scheduled. It is quite understandable reading the mood of Mr. President. He had made it very clear to us. There is a whole lot of work to be done and he needs the budget to be before the National Assembly in September.

“That means for this ministry, in particular, we do have a lot of work to do. And I can say that we have a lot of capable hands to do the work. The only way we can succeed is for us to work together. I believe in the power of team. For me, the word ‘team’ means together everybody achieves much.”

Women Affairs: Tallen promises better days ahead for women

Newly-appointed Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Paulen Tallen, has assured of moving the ministry to the next level, saying that President Buhari has reasons for sending her to the ministry.

Tallen, who gave the assurance at the ministry’s headquarters, noted that President Buhari is aware of complains by women of not being carried along by his administration. She, however, stated that the President has better plans for women and all citizens.

“This is a holistic ministry as the woman takes care of the home, children and husband. I’m giving you all a charge that things will be done different henceforth, but we must set out targets and work towards achieving them. We must make history and make indelible marks on the sands of history.

“You have severally bombarded Mr. President about the role women played in his political career. He is not unmindful of that and I want to assure you that he has a very good reason of sending me to this ministry,” she said.

Petroleum Resources: Sylva promises to move ministry forward

Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, who also resumed work yesterday, pledged to work with experts at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), departments and agencies under the Ministry to move the sector forward

Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan and other heads of parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, received the minister on his assumption of office.

Other heads of agencies present to receive the minister, who was accompanied by his wife, were Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Training Development Fund (PTDF), Dr. Bello Aliyu Gusau and Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), Alhaji Ahmed Bobboi.

Niger Delta Affairs: Akpabio assures on laudable programmes 

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, assured the readiness and determination of the ministry under his leadership to bring to fruition, the dreams of President Buhari for the people of the Niger Delta.

Akpabio who stated this during a meeting with the management of the ministry, shortly after his inauguration, specifically thanked the President for deeming he and Barr. Festus Keyamo fit to be part of the Next Level agenda of his administration.

“Let me, on behalf of my brother Mr. Keyamo and the people of Niger Delta region, thank Mr. President for the confidence reposed in us to deliver on his laudable programmes for the people of the region. Mr. President by this appointment has handed over the destiny of our people into our hands and by the special grace of God we will not fail.

“We have a very big task before us. The task is not insurmountable and we will surely deliver. We will put in our best to make you and Nigerians proud,” he stressed.

Finance: Ahmed says expansion of portfolio double task

The fusion of Budget and National planning as part of the Ministry Finance has doubled the task of ministry, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning stated yesterday on assumption of duty.

She said the expansion of the portfolio to include budget and national planning was attestation of a good work by entire members of the ministry, who toiled hard to save the nation from slip into fiscal crisis.

“The President has just doubled our assignment. We got this assignment because of the quality of work that we have produced. Ministry of finance has one of the best cerebral civil servants that we have today.

“That we have been re-matched with the ministry of budget and national planning, is also a very weighty responsibility that has been given to us. As you know our nation is facing a near fiscal crisis, and it is up to us to make sure that it is arrested and ensure that we don’t slip into a crisis.”

“We have been growing in eight consecutive quarters, but it is a growth that is still fragile. Our revenues have grown, but they are still 55 per cent from what we have budgeted. We still have to pay salaries and other statutory obligations. We have to pay debts and we also need to operate on a day-to-day basis, and we need to do capital projects for the sustained growth of our economy,” she said.

Information and Culture: Mohammed calls for cooperation among staff

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has charged staff of the ministry to cooperate and work together to achieve greater things.

Mohammed gave the charge during his maiden meeting with staff of the ministry on assumption shortly after his inauguration by President Buhari.

His words: “First of all, we need to give thanks and gratitude to Almighty Allah that made it possible for me to be re-appointed and also posted back to this ministry.

“My charge to all of us is to collaborate, redouble our efforts and work together so that we can justify the confidence that the President has reposed in us. We need to cooperate and work hard.

“Our goal is to leave a lasting legacy at the ministry. At the retreat, the President reiterated the need for ministers to work amicably with their permanent secretaries and chief executive officers of all the parastatals,” he said.

Science and Technology: Onu directs workers to begin 2020 budget preparation

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, has directed workers in the ministry to begin the 2020 budget preparation, to attain January- December budgetary cycle.

Onu, who gave the directive at a meeting with the permanent secretary, Ddirectors and heads of parastatals and agencies under the ministry, also charged the workers to align with the vision of the Federal Government to return budget to normal cycle.

Onu who occupied the same position in the immediate past administration said the President expected them to put into proper use, any money allocated to the ministry. “We must work together as a team to achieve our mandate,’’ he said

The minister pledged to operate open door policy and urged the workers to work with the newly inaugurated Minister of State, Mohammed Abdullahi.

Also speaking, Abdullahi called for the support from the workers to advance the development of science and technology in the country. He said he was assigned to work with Onu to achieve the transformation agenda of the government.

Water Resources: Adamu pledges to reposition ministry’s roadmap

Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, has pledged to re-position the ministry’s roadmap, geared towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) six for quality water and sanitation in the country.

Adamu gave the pledge when addressing member of staff as he resumed office at the ministry. He said repositioning was critical as the roadmap was expected to give direction to water quality in the country.

“I want to assure you that I will put the Federal Ministry of Water Resources back on the roadmap. We are going to reposition the ministry on the roadmap through our collective efforts.

”I am result oriented and I just want to see results, so I will urge you all to put more efforts in your duties. I also want to assure you that every department in the ministry will be given a fair hearing. I will maintain an open door policy,” he said.

Environment: Abubakar assures good working relations

Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abubakar, yesterday, assured Nigerians and staff of the ministry of good working relations and effective protection of the nation’s environment.

Abubakar gave the assurance while addressing staff of the ministry as he assumed duty. He said that environment generally was a sensitive area because it was all about people and their behaviours, adding that it must be protected to prevent spreading of diseases.

“Most people don’t know the importance of environment, I want to let them know that everything about environment is about people and when the environment is not healthy, nothing else is healthy.

“I know much about the ministry even before the name was changed; I already have good relationship with the ministry. So, we should all know and believe that everything about environment is life and that particular life must be protected,’’ he said.

He also welcomed Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, who was also appointed as a Minister of State for the ministry. He said that the Ikeazor had been a committed person, adding that cordial working relationship would help the ministry achieve it mandates and objectives.

Ikeazor, while appreciating the minister and the staff, she said that she would put all her best to achieve the goals of the ministry. She said that she would ensure that all the agencies and departments of the ministry would bring out the best for the betterment of the ministry and the country at large.

Aviation: Sirika promises to tackle emerging challenges

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has promised to work with aviation unions to advance the sector and position it to meet emerging challenges. .

The minister commended the unions and staff for welcoming him warmly into office, declaring their support and solidarity as “amazing.”

“I promise that there will be good understanding between you and me to drive the activities 0f our industry towards enhancing national development. I will do everything possible to make the ministry grow up.

“This task, I think, is for you as well; not for me alone. It is for all of us. We will continue to hold stakeholders meetings with the unions, staff and the management. We will make what you are doing better. The roadmap is there; we will make things better including your welfare,” Sirika said.

Agriculture: Nanono warns against indiscipline

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, has warned that he will not tolerate indiscipline and lackadaisical attitude to work as a minister.

While directing all staff to be on their toes working, he said: “I have worked in the public and private sectors and I know how people work in the two sectors.”

He that he would hit the ground running in the discharge of his duties to ensure that agriculture took its pride of place because it was critical to internal security.

He noted that agriculture was one of the most critical sectors in the country and that given the necessary attention; it would help solve many of the nation’s challenges.

“For a number of reasons, people tend to downplay agriculture because they do not know its importance to national development,’’ he said.

Interior: Aregbesola says knowledge of ministry is newspaper based

The newly-inaugurated Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has said that his knowledge of the ministry does not transcend newspapers materials.

The former governor of Osun State was quoted as confiding this in top officials of the ministry shortly after his swearing-in by President Buhari.

Accordingly, Aregbesola was said to have directed the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Georgina Ekeoma, to oversee affairs, pending his assumption of office on Monday, August 26.

“My relationship with the ministry is distant. What I know about the ministry is what I read in the newspapers. I will come to take over on Monday. I give the Permanent Secretary the grace to run the ministry till then. We will be ready by Monday to take on the huge assignment. I promise you a realistic, reasonable and commendable leadership,” Aregbesola said.

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APC to ministers: Consolidate on progress made so far

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APC to ministers: Consolidate on progress made so far

The National Leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has charged the newly appointed ministers to consolidate on the progress made so far by the Federal Government.

The 43 ministers appointed by President Muhammad Buhari were yesterday inaugurated and assigned portfolios at the Aso Villa.

The party, which commended the Buhari on the appointment of the ministers said it notes with utmost satisfaction the painstaking efforts the President made in picking them, their speedy screening and confirmation by the Senate, in addition to the rigorous induction of the new appointees towards acquainting them to the onerous task of assisting government to fulfill his promises of repositioning the economy, ensuring security of lives and property and fighting corruption.

In a statement issued by APC’S National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party said: “While the APC-led administration has recorded remarkable milestones in these three areas, we align with the position of the President that there is more work to be done.

“There are challenges to build on the foundations that have been laid in the last four years. To state a few, the APC-led government has an urgent task to lift Nigerians out of poverty, secure lives and property, grow our economy, build infrastructure, bring back discipline to our private and public conducts and mobilize Nigerians through personal examples towards evolving a Nigeria we all can be proud of.”

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Why APC should control Bauchi Assembly, by Sabo

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Why APC should control Bauchi Assembly, by Sabo

Comrade Mohammed Sabo is a former Senior Special Assistant to the immediate past governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar. In this interview, the ex-House of Representatives candidate in the 2019 election, speaks on the state of the nation, the Bauchi State House of Assembly crisis and the defeat of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. ALI GARBA reports

 

 

What is your take on the appointment of two ministers from Bauchi State by President Muhammadu Buhari?
The move is well commended and the people of Bauchi State appreciate the President for that. The truth is that President Buhari has been so magnanimous to Bauchi State and the North-East as well and this is taking into cognisance the key appointments he has given to the North-East and Bauchi State as well. From North-East, we have two service chiefs, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), TetFund Secretary, Chairman Niger-Delta Holding Company and others.
President Buhari has given our illustrious sons and daughters, who have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers opportunities to serve the country. They include Mallam Adamu Adamu, a chartered accountant and an accomplished journalist as well as Hajiya Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, a proven administrator, who has distinguished herself in both her local and international career. Their pedigree is why we have so many expectations from them to unite the state and uphold the good virtues they have internalised all along. We expect them to work assiduously with President Buhari in taking the country to the next level.

But some people in Bauchi are complaining that the two ministers are from the same zone and local government area?
That is to tell you that the country is growing. We are moving democratically and heading towards development because the fact of the matter is that they are from Bauchi and nobody will dispute that both did not merited their nomination. Bauchi State belongs to all of us. I am from Bauchi South Senatorial district and if we are to take the statistics of appointments given to Bauchi South and Bauchi Emirate, then the other two senatorial districts would have protested.
We should take into consideration that INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu is from Bauchi South from Bauchi Emirate; TetFund Secretary, Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro is from Bauchi South in Bogoro Local Government Area; Customs boss, Hamid Ali is from Dass from Bauchi South; Chairman Social Investment Programme, Manir is from Bauchi Local Government in Bauchi South; Chairman, National Commission for Colleges of Education, Prof. Ali is from Alkaleri Local Government Area in Bauchi Emirate. For long it has been like that. If you also look at our political history, we have produced four governors from 1999 to date. Ahmed Adamu Mu’azu, Bauchi South and Bauchi Emirate; Isa Yuguda, Bauchi South and Bauchi Emirate; Mohammed Abubakar is from Bauchi Local Government Area in Bauchi South and so also Senator Bala Mohammed from Alkaleri Local Government Area in Bauchi Emirate of Bauchi South.
But this people were very magnanimous and they did not complain, You should know that our people also look for the appointment but God in his own way gave appointment to this people and that is why we have to rally round to support them to ensure that they support the President to take the country to the next level by using their office to further unite us as one people, one state and working in the best interest of our state. So there is nothing wrong in that. We have applauded the President. We should go beyond looking at people from their own local government, region or senatorial district, but we should look at the people best on their merit and what they can offer for the best of our people and the best of the nation.

Adamu Adamu served for four years during the first term of President Buhari as Minister of Education. What are your expectations from him in his second tenure as minister?
I have said it in many fora that Adamu Adamu as a human being may have made mistakes, but you can see unity in the state as our three senators supported Mallam Adamu and Ambassador Katagum. Our members of House of Representatives also supported them and we were unanimous; even our leader, former Governor Abubaka, supported them to ensure that they scale through. So, what we are expecting from Adamu Adamu is that he should take the fatherly role now and he should unite Bauchi State irrespective of political affiliation or regional inclination. Bauchi State is one and we should unanimously work towards development of Bauchi State. I know he is a humble person and God fearing; he has not disappointed the President, so he will not disappoint the people of Bauchi State in his second coming.

What is your take on the Bauchi State House of Assembly leadership crisis?
We have submitted our memorandum to the committee and the position of the party and stakeholders are very clear, but one thing you see in politics is a spirit of give and take. Sometimes you would take a very hard decision, but after consultation and some alignment, you begin to take a compromise position and I think the overall interest of all of us is Bauchi State. Now that critical stakeholders, traditional and religious leaders have involved themselves in this issue, we believe they would be able to resolve it. We are happy that they would come down to the table and do the needful.
We are saying that the deputy speaker belongs to All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is the minority, should allow us to produce the deputy speaker because the speaker is from APC, irrespective of whether he is totally APC. He won election under the APC, so we have to give him that benefit of doubt. We are very critical to the supremacy of the party and the deputy speaker should be from APC family because PDP succeeded in having eight members of the state Assembly out of 31 members of the Assembly. We have the majority – 22 members; so nobody on earth, if we are to play politics, would deprive APC from having the speaker and the deputy speaker and I think we are working towards that amicably to see that the issue is resolve and then we work in the best interest of the state.

Don’t you see that affecting governance in the state as the governor is a member of the PDP?
The constitution of Nigeria is very clear. There are three arms of government; executive, legislative and judiciary. So, everybody should be allowed to play within the ambit of the law. If this is allowed, then the state belongs to all of us. The executive is a different arm; they should find a way for working harmoniously for the development of the state.

What is your take on the recent call for revolution over the state of the nation?
That is unacceptable at a time when the President is working to unite the country; when the President working to combat insecurity; when the President is working to curtail kidnapping and banditry. Whoever is talking of revolution is a mediocre. If you are bringing radical changes, then you have to contest election. Nobody can doubt that our democracy has been deepened, APC lost Zamfara to the PDP in court; that has never happened in the history of democratic experienced in this country.
The President is working round the clock to ensure that he carries all and sundry along for the unity and progress of the country. Therefore, the call for revolution is deceptive one to cause unnecessary tension. If you look at even the reactions of majority of Nigerians, they are totally against Omoyele Sowore’s action. So, we are not in support of what he has done, knowing fully that he is a partisan person, a presidential candidate. He should have channeled his grievances through the legitimate way as Atiku Abubakar is pursuing his case through the legitimate way. If you are causing chaos to the country nobody would supported that at this critical time.

APC lost Bauchi State to the PDP during the last governorship election. Is there any plan or move by your party to unseat the governor?
We are in court. We are pursuing our legitimate case in court and we are hopeful. I said it and let me re-echo it again that by the grace of Almighty God, APC is going to be victorious in court and when this happens, it means that the flag bearer of the party, who is our leader, Mohammed Abubakar will come back as a governor. As an individual, he must have made some mistakes, but his return will allow him to correct the mistakes.
Secondly, that would even give the opportunity of APC to further consolidate on the good things that the APC government started. While we are in court, we ensure that our people work with the government. I call him a transition governor because he is subject to the verdict of the court. By the time we are done, then will now look at the way forward for the state.

What are your expectations from the Bala Mohammed administration though you are from the other side of the divide?
I think I am not in a better position to answer your question. First, his victory is been challenged in court, so you should wait until when the case is over. But now, we will pray that there should be peace; let there be peaceful co-existence, let there be separation of power, let us work in unity because that is our concern. One area our former governor was outstanding was the issue of security of lives and property of the good people of Bauchi State. Let this government emulate same and work with the diverse interest groups for the unity and progress of Bauchi State.

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Kogi: Only an enemy will back re-election of Bello – Guber aspirant

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Kogi: Only an enemy will back re-election of Bello – Guber aspirant

Johnchuks Onuanyim, Abuja

 

An aspirant of the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State, Hon. Hassan Abdullahi has said only an enemy of the state would root for the re-election of the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.

Abdullahi, who represents Bassa and Dekina federal constituency in the House of Representatives, made the above submission at the APC National Headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.

The aspirant, who fielded questions from journalists, said it would be insulting for anybody to insinuate that he was on the race on the sponsorship of Bello.

The former Deputy Speaker of Kogi State asserted that among all the aspirants for the APC governorship ticket he was the only one who had contested election.

According to him, providence bestowed leadership on the present governor, noting that he never contested election.

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Oyo: Makinde, Ajimobi’s bicker over govt vehicles

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Oyo: Makinde, Ajimobi’s bicker over govt vehicles

The battle of wits between Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and his predecessor, Abiola Ajimobi, witnessed a fresh twist recently over the claim by the incumbent that officials of the immediate past government made away with government vehicles while leaving office. Sola Adeyemo reports

 

I

mmediately Engr Seyi Makinde was inaugurated as governor of Oyo State on May 29, a confounding news hit the airwaves that he and his aides could not get official vehicles to work with as vehicles used by his predecessor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and his aides had been taken away.

 

 

While many people considered that act as a seeming rape of Oyo people’s collective patrimony, Ajimobi and his aides, however, saw Makinde’s expose as “mere storm in a tea cup.” In their claims, other past government officials like them did a similar thing without anybody batting an eyelid.

 

 

Ajimobi specifically said his predecessor, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, also went with his official vehicles and he (Ajimobi) never complained or made any public issue out of it. He, therefore, wondered why much ado about nothing.

 

 

The lid was blown off the controversial issue, when the Chief of Staff to Governor Makinde, Chief Olabisi Ilaka, told journalists that Ajimobi, his wife (Florence) and most of their aides made away with their official vehicles leaving him, the governor and even the Head of Service, Mrs. Ololade Agboola, with no option than to use their personal vehicles to carry on with official assignments.

 

 

Interestingly, most of the vehicles carted away were bought brand new about three months to the exit of the Ajimobi administration, so they could not have been said to be so unserviceable to qualify them for auctioning.

 

 

But, Ajimobi’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which dismissed the allegation, asked Makinde to name anyone who stole or went away with government’s vehicles. The denial stunned many people, who believed that the PDP government was only out on a mission to unduly dent the image of the past administration.

 

 

Amidst the allegation, counter-allegation and denials, the state government surprisingly on July, 12, announced recovery of 13 vehicles among the horde taken away by Ajimobi’s aides. Barely two weeks after, five more vehicles were recovered from some mechanic workshops, where they were abandoned. One of the vehicles was even abandoned close to the Government House without its key.

 

 

The discovery introduced another dimension to the issue as many observers were forced to expect further denial from the APC apologists. Instead of denial, they accused those they described as commissioned loyalists of the incumbent government of waylaying their vehicles on the streets and harassing them. Some of them had to give up by abandoning the vehicles at different locations.

 

 

New Telegraph‘s investigation revealed that a senior official of the immediate past administration went away with a brand new car bought in February 2019 at N35 million, barely three months to the expiration of the government’s tenure. Report had it that the senior official only paid N270,000 to purchase and personalise the vehicle.

 

 

The debacle was trailed by series of debates and analysis, one of which was at an Ibadan-based private radio station Fresh FM, where Alhaji Bola Akinyemi (Director General of Olabisi Ilaka Campaign Organisation), confirmed that the ex-Governor Ajimobi went away with three vehicles, while his wife, Florence, went away with seven.

 

 

A loyalist of Ajimobi and past Chairman of the Omi Apata Local Council Development Area, Adeniyi Oyekunle, eventually owned up, but expressed dis gust at the dust being raised over the issue.

 

 

 

 

 

His words: “Every official that went away with an official vehicle did it legally because they got it through the approval of Governor Ajimobi. All the officials who went away with their official vehicles wrote to the governor, asking whether they should go with their official vehicles as part of their severance allowance and it was granted. The papers are there as record of evidence. It is part of the perks of office and such is done everywhere.

 

“Executive officers of companies are allowed to go away with the official vehicles they use in office. There is no big deal about it. It is one of the ways of appreciating any official, who has served an organisation meritoriously. I don’t know why Governor Makinde is making a fuss out of ordinary vehicles instead of facing the business of governance.

 

 

But, carpeting Oyekunle’s justification of Ajimobi’s action, Akinyemi said: “It is a shame that a public official, who was taken care of for a whole eight years with public funds, would still feel insatiable as to think that property of the government that provided for all his needs for eight years should be carted away. It is simply a thieving idea. These are property bought with peoples’ money. What else would any such public official say he still needs? If anybody is saying that it is the tradition, this PDP government of Engr. Seyi Makinde does not believe in that and will not tolerate it,” he said.

 

 

Recalling that he was part of late Governor Lam Adesina’s government, Akinyemi said every vehicle used by all government officials then were submitted to the traffic poll and accounted for then. To him, it was outlandish and a misnomer to now justify the situation, where government officials would go away with government property.

 

 

Dismissing Oyekunle’s defence, Akinyemi added that company officials could be allowed to go with their official vehicles, “but the vehicles we are talking of here were not bought by any company or organisation, but with the people’s money. Why not allow the people to continue to enjoy their property? Why must some few individuals go away with the property of the masses simply because they held some political offices for few years?”

 

 

Corroborating Akinyemi, the newly-inaugurated Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Kehinde Ayoola, said he returned his official car as the then Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly during Adesina’s administration. “I even have the receipt of the transaction with me till date”, he boasted, wondering why any government official would not see it as preposterous leaving office with property that belongs to the people.

 

 

Also condemning the stand of Ajimobi’s aides, Makinde’s Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, described the justification as “shameless and unconscionable.”

 

 

Adisa stressed that “the incumbent government in Oyo State issued an ultimatum to officials of the immediate past administration, who illegally carted away government vehicles and other properties, to return such or risk being reported to the security agencies.”

 

 

He added: “The decision was informed by the monumental impunity the new administration in the state has uncovered so far. Even on Inauguration Day, it was so bad that the inauguration committee had to scamper here and there to source vehicles for the new governor and his deputy.

 

 

“As we speak, Governor Makinde and his deputy are compelled to rely on their personal vehicles for use as convoy cars in the discharge of their duties. The same is true of other government officials appointed so far. And that is despite the records which show that huge sums were expended on the purchase of new cars in the last year of the immediate past administration. Indeed, a number of such cars were purchased about three months to the end of that government.

 

 

“This government will not permit anyone to mix up facts in an attempt to defend a strange tradition of ‘vultures in governance’ which is diametrically opposed to the Service Agenda of the Makinde administration.

 

 

 

“There is a clear difference when a vehicle is boarded and the appropriate amount paid. The records at the disposal of government clearly demarcate the illegally taken cars from the boarded vehicles. We also make bold to state that the officials charged with recovery of the said cars and the security operatives have so far been very civil in their procedures and no fewer than 19 cars have been recovered.

 

“Television cameras were on the toe of the officials who recovered the last set of five vehicles and those who took the cars away are well documented. There is no government instrument or law of the State House of Assembly that permits vehicles to be taken away ‘free of charge’ or in the exercise of ‘discretionary powers’ as shown in a memo elements of the past government secretly leaked in a bid to blackmail the incumbent government.

 

 

“Because the government in place in Oyo is all about probity, openness, and accountability, it will not condone attempts to seize public property or distribute them like a Father Christmas in the twilight of his trade.

 

 

“It is disheartening that some persons who have had the opportunity of serving our dear state, a state of Omoluabi, would openly     defend any absurdity or propensity to loot government property in a manner that debases the true Omoluabi culture that defines us here.”

 

 

Confirming that the state government was indeed poised to recover the ‘stolen’ vehicles, a Protocol Officer, Alhaji Adebisi Olopoeniyan, openly admitted that he led some men to track down the recovered vehicles.

 

 

He said: “These people were in government from May 29, 2011 till May 29, 2019 and yet they were not satisfied with all the booties in their care and perks they derived so far from holding positions of authority. I can’t deny that government vehicles carted away by them are being recovered daily. Let them keep quiet or we will be forced to expose the atrocities further.

 

 

“It is true I led people to recover the vehicles, where they were hidden. We got information that if we didn’t arrive where the vehicles were parked, they could be moved away. We know the police may not act on it before they (vehicles) are relocated, because of official demands and other consideration, so I led people there; got their keys and I asked the drivers to take them to government house.

 

 

“It would have been an offence if on recovery of such vehicles as claimed, I asked the drivers I took there to drive them to my house. But this is a case of ensuring that government vehicles stolen by some people are retrieved and taken to Agodi Government House.

 

 

“If the government house was possible to cart away, these people would have done so. The level of their alleged theft of government property was mind-boggling. They ought to have approached the police to invite me for the said robbery.

 

 

“We have gotten more information and lead on more vehicles. We will go after them because those vehicles were bought with tax payers’ money. Some of us feel that denying the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government access to those vehicles will stifle performance of our government, reason we moved against them. We are still going to recover the other vehicles from them.”

 

 

Meanwhile, even the Sallah day’s claim by Ajimobi that the vehicles were properly given away by his government was  condemned by Makinde, who said that his predecessor misrepresented facts. He vowed not to let off on the issue until all the vehicles are recovered to the government’s transport pool.

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Oshiomhole vs Obaseki: Is the storm over?

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Oshiomhole vs Obaseki: Is the storm over?

Edo crisis: The dust settles

 

Respite appears to be on the way for the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the two generals battling for the soul of the party in the state appear to be sheathing their swords. In this report, WALE ELEGBEDE asks whether the conciliatory move between Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki was real or another phantom political antic

 

 

Unlike other human endeavors where the principles of input and output determine results, the business of politics does not operate on the give and take schedule.

 

 

In politics, the best of all impossibilities could overnight become a possibility and vice versa. It’s a game where rules are adopted at the convenience of the players.

 

 

Thus, the currency of exchange in politics is interest and the warehouses for transactions are basically the constituted hierarchies and political parties. They could make or mar any ambition and they usually look to entrench their influence at every power contest and polls.

 

Perhaps, the pursuit for this interest is responsible for the crisis that emanated in the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) when the simmering cold war between the state governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole became a talking point across the country.

 

 

Curiously, with both the traditional and online media already screaming about the titanic battle for the soul of the Edo APC, the two gladiators in the fray kept keeping a straight face on the crisis, stating repeatedly that there is no animosity between them.

 

 

With the proxy war pitching the state House of Assembly and Governor Obaseki against the leadership of the National Assembly, it was quite easy for the Oshiomhole camp to externalized the crisis as one that is about due process.

 

 

But the Speaker of the embattled Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye, wouldn’t take the saint role adopted by the former governor in the crisis, stating that the wrangling between the state’s legislature is a smokescreen by Oshiomhole and his loyalists to deprive Obaseki a second term.

 

 

Okiye, who spoke with New Telegraph, raised the alarm that the said planned takeover of the Assembly by the Senate, which was roundly condemned by Nigerians, is capable of destabilizing the Big Heart state, urging the federal lawmakers to act as agents of peace and not merchants of crisis.

 

 

He said: “The truth is that the Edo State Assembly and my office are not the real targets of this crisis. The plot is actually aimed at Obaseki and the endpoint is to stop him from getting a return ticket as governor next year.

 

 

“Comrade Oshiomhole is actually after Obaseki; the state Assembly was only a smokescreen to his plans. The idea now is to take over the house, destabilize the state and possibly impeach the governor. The Edo Peoples Movement that originated this crisis has boasted that it will ensure that the governor does not come back for the second tenure.”

 

 

Okiye added that the threat of takeover from the National Assembly was part of the grand plot of Oshiomhole, saying, “I have said it before on several occasions that we know who is beating the drum for them in the National Assembly. They have found themselves in the position of a stooge to make it look like they cannot think outside the box; it’s unfortunate.”

 

 

While the leadership tussles in the 7th session of the state Assembly was tendered as the basis for the current crisis, insiders within the state argued that the cold war between the duo can primarily be traced to Oshiomhole loyalists who are said to have been protesting against alleged unfair treatment by the current governor after the departure of Oshiomhole from Government House, Benin. This line of argument was also enhanced by dismissal of eight commissioners believed to be loyalists of the former governor.

 

 

The Edo Assembly crisis started at the commencement of the seventh Assembly in June when the inauguration of the principal officers of the state legislature became a cause of crisis between the godfather and his godson.

 

 

Obaseki was said to have wanted Frank Okiye representing Esan North East I, as speaker while Oshiomhole was disposed to Vicotor Edoro, representing Esan Central constituency. Incidentally, the APC-led Assembly produced 12 members for Oshiomhole and 12 for Obaseki.

 

 

The 12 members-elect loyal to Oshiomhole, who claimed that they were shortchanged by their colleagues, took the fight to the National Assembly, leading to both chambers directing the governor to issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration else the assembly would be taken over by National Assembly.

 

 

The Senate took its decision on the plenary before heading for recess giving Governor Obaseki one week to issue a fresh proclamation for the constitution of the Edo State House of Assembly or it would take over its legislative functions.

 

 

The Senate took the decision when it received the report of its ad hoc committee led by Sen. Abdullahi Sabi (APC Niger) which had, in the past two weeks, investigated the crisis in the assembly.

 

 

The committee had initially recommended three weeks for the take-over, but the recommendation was later amended to a week.

 

 

However, Senator Rochas Okorocha (Imo West) faulted the decision of the Senate to take over the House of Assembly, adding that the Red Chamber is overreaching itself on the Edo Assembly issue.

 

 

The immediate past governor of Imo State said: “The National Assembly seems to be overreaching its boundary in this matter. We appear to be in a hurry to take over the Edo State House of Assembly.

 

 

“We should see this as a family affair in APC and we must not ridicule ourselves in public, rather we should look into the matter instead of this position the Senate     is taking.

 

 

“I have been a governor before and I think what is happening in Edo is simply a failure of leadership which can be addressed,’’ he said.

 

 

President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan, while defending the position, said: “The decision is in conformity with the decision of the House of Representatives two weeks ago.

 

 

“If the National Assembly can reach out to the president on any matter, I don’t see any reason the same cannot be done in any state when democracy is threatened.”

 

 

But not in sync with the National Assembly, a group under the auspices of the Edo Youth Vanguard, sounded a stern warning to the lawmakers to either be impartial in its intervention in the contrived impasse in the state House of Assembly or incur the wrath of the youth.

 

 

In a statement signed by the its president, Nosakhare Oseghale, the youth group said; “We have just decided to maintain the peace and order in the state as encouraged and entrenched by Governor Obaseki but we are privy to the shenanigans of selfish and mindless Abuja political merchants and we shall not allow them to dictate to us who the leaders of our House of Assembly should be. Since when did the national party start interfering in the composition of the leadership of a state House of Assembly if not that there is a particular interest that needs to be served?”

 

 

Also baring his mind, former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said anyone who opposes Obaseki in the state is undermining the people of the state.

 

 

“What is happening is a mystery to me and for funny reasons, we have been unable to get the story behind the story. All I know is that we have a government and the voice of the people says Obaseki deserves all the support that he can get,’’ he said.

 

 

“If anyone wants to remove him and destabilise the state, it is wrong. The governor is delivering good governance to the people. They should wait until the party primary. I call on everyone to continue to support the governor.”

 

 

To test the veracity of the threat of the National Assembly to take over the state Assembly, the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Yekini Idiaye and Hon Henry Okhuarobo (Ikpoba-Okha constituency), approached the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on the matter.

 

 

Ruling on the suit, Justice Adamu Turaki Mohammed restrained the National Assembly, the Police and the Directorate of Security Services (DSS) from interfering or sealing up the Assembly.

 

 

Ruling on a motion ex parte with Suit No: FHC/PH/CS/159/2019, Justice Mohammed also ordered the Clerk of the National Assembly, President of the Senate and Speaker of House of Representatives from interfering or taking over the legislative functions of the Assembly.

 

 

The court also restrained the Governor of Edo state, Mr. Godwin Obaseki from issuing any fresh proclamation for the state Assembly pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

 

 

The court granted four Order of Interim Injunctions and adjourned the case to August 16 for further hearing.

 

 

The order, signed by the Court Registrar, MS Hassan, also restrained the Inspector-General of Police and the State Security Service or their agents or officers from sealing up the Assembly or obstructing the plaintiffs in whatever manner in the performance of their constitutional duties as members of the Edo State House of Assembly.

 

 

Speaking on the lapse of the on the one-week ultimatum and the ruling of the court restraining it from taking over the Assembly, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, said the development didn’t warrant any urgent need to reconvene in order to review the developments.

 

 

But the crisis took a turn last week during the Sallah celebration when the governor paid a surprise visit to the Iyamho residence of the APC national chairman, a development that many analysts never saw coming.

 

 

Governor Obaseki, who had appeared in company with his wife, Betsy Obaseki at the ISO venue of the reception in honour of 80th birthday of the former APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, had hurriedly left his wife to attend the meeting with Oshiomhole.

 

 

Arising from the meeting from the visit which dragged late into the night of Monday, the APC chairman said the media was responsible for creating factions between them for their own gains.

 

 

Oshiomhole, who spoke after the meeting said the rift between himself and his successor, Obaseki was the creation of people with personal interest just as he described Obaseki as his brother.

Speaking to journalists after the closed-door meeting, Oshiomhole said the meeting was not unusual as he was in constant touch with Governor Obaseki.

 

 

“From time to time, we have always been meeting. It is not an unusual visit, the meeting afforded me the opportunity to meet with my brother and with people I have worked with.”

 

He said it was unfortunate that the media liked creating factions for their own gains.

 

 

Obaseki also noted that the visit to his predecessor was not unusual, saying that he decided to celebrate Sallah with his former boss.

 

 

He said the visit was to celebrate Edo leaders just as the former APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, was celebrated by the state earlier in the day.

 

 

“There is nothing unusual about this meeting; today is Sallah and we have just finished celebrating with the former APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in Benin City, and we decided to come here to celebrate Sallah with my predecessor,” the governor said.

 

 

He added that people who think there was a rift between him and his predecessor should stop thinking so.

 

 

While some said that the parley is a sign that the two leaders are ready to work together in the interest of the state, others said that the meeting was only a façade meant only for both parties to simmer for a while.

 

 

Will the yet to be inaugurated lawmakers take their oath of office after the parley? What happened to the House leadership, will it be reconstituted or status quo maintained? Is the 2020 second term ticket of Obaseki now confirmed or not? Answers to these questions are in the belly of time.

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