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The people rejected Okorocha, family before elections –Imo PDP spokesman

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The people rejected Okorocha, family before elections –Imo PDP spokesman

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Spokesman in Imo State, Chief Damian Oparah is a journalist by training and a well known voice in the state. In this interview with STEVE UZOECHI in Owerri, he tells the story of events that led up to the victory of the PDP in Imo state in the last general election

 

After three years in office, what would you consider your achievements?

 

 

Well, in 2016 we had problems with the formation of the of the PDP state executives. We couldn’t hold our Congress when others were holding theirs. We held ours about two months later, precisely, on the 8th of August, 2016 and like you know, today marks my three years as the spokesman of this party.

 

 

In 2016 when we came on board, it was a big fight between the Makarfi and Sheriff factions of the PDP. And in Imo State, we had just lost a painful election the previous year. In that election, PDP had no reason to lose. We won the three senatorial seats and eight federal seats out of 10 and lost the governorship due to internal crisis and bad image of the party. By that time, the image of the party was thoroughly battered and at its lowest ebb. The morale of our members was also low and members were leaving the party in droves.

 

 

When we came on board, the first thing we did was to diligently clean up the party’s image working from inside out. We took charge of our image-making machinery and took steps to set up functional structures across the state to enhance the dissemination of the party’s image-building publications. And we were intentional about these.

 

 

With that we were able to clean up the mess that was left behind after the 2015 governorship election.

 

 

We didn’t stop there. The case of Makarfi and Sheriff created a very big gulf in the party between the Senator Hope Uzodinma faction and the Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha faction. While we were trying to build the image of the party, they were heating up the system. It was a challenge. Instead of putting the opposing APC governor in check, we were busy trying to manage the crises being created by the in-fighting in the party.

 

 

It was a double barrel problem for me. At a point I had to battle with the very recalcitrant group from the Sheriff faction who were bent on destroying the party on one hand and on the other hand contend with the incumbent APC governor who had vowed to run PDP out of town. It was in the heat of these crises that we discovered the then APC governor was paying the other PDP faction to destroy our party.

 

 

If anybody was in doubt, it was erased when we assumed work at the party’s secretariat. In the drawer of the then secretary of the party, Chief George Egu, we saw over 1000 APC membership cards. It was a shocking revelation to all of us because we didn’t know that the sabotage ran that deep.

 

 

I can tell you without mincing words that the victory of the PDP in Imo today was achieved the day the Sheriff faction of the PDP in Imo State was uprooted.

What led to the poor image of the party in 2015?

 

 

Internal sabotage. Having lost the 2015 election which we were supposed to have won, the image of the party took a nose-dive. We clearly won the 2015 election and from one angle, we were sabotaged and having lost the election or having been out of power for four years, the morale of became low and some people even wrote the party off. I remember this present governor was the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives then and to some extent, we enjoyed some influence associated with the status of our candidate. Yet we couldn’t make it in 2015. Our party became the subject ridicule and the butt of every rude joke.

 

 

So, we became more occupied in building a new image for the party and we got it right to such an extent where the party became the darling of the state.

 

 

The ruling APC realised they were speedily loosing grip in Imo State and then deployed the Ali Modu Sheriff group in the state to unleash the most sadistic assault on our party.

 

 

They  were well funded and given the impetus to criticize us as not being the authentic PDP. They even seized and took over our Secretariat and properties with brute force, happily creating image problems for the PDP at every opportunity. But we never missed an opportunity to place the records straight for Imo people. As such Imo people knew the whole truth and lined up firmly behind us in solidarity.

 

 

They repeatedly petitioned the Police alleging we were illegally parading as the authentic PDP and as always, we went back to the police to correct the false impression. There was no prank in the book they did not employ to undermine the PDP in Imo state.

 

 

These continued until we conducted our Congress in Port Harcourt and Sheriff was eased out of the party and Makarfi took over and the legal battle began. Their intention for going to court was obviously to discredit the PDP and portray the PDP as a party in crisis. In all and at all times, we never left the Imo public at the mercy of their vile speculations. And we always assured the people that we had the capacity to unseat then Governor Rochas Okorocha and reclaim the state.

 

 

Whatever happened then, we were always a step ahead of them. One of such masterstrokes we posted was when Uche Secondus came here to campaign to become the National Chairman of the party. Our state chairman, Barr. Charles Ezekwem told everyone that Imo PDP would adopt Secondus and Secondus was accompanied to Imo by the present governor of Imo state, Emeka Ihedioha, who we perceived as one of our own backing Secondus.

Immediately we published it that Imo PDP has endorsed Secondus as the National Chairman, all hell was let loose as I was hit by a barrage of calls coming from the other faction mainly questioning why the party took such position.

 

 

When Secondus won, it became a smooth sail for all of us. The Sherrif faction led by Nnamdi Anyaehie as State Chairman was promptly dissolved thereby paving the way for us to take full charge of our party.

 

 

There was nothing Sheriff’s men in Imo didn’t do to damage the image of the party but we were equal to the task. We matched them by creating radio programmes, addressing press conferences as the issues arise and disseminating well crafted press releases.

 

 

So, we were able to convince the people to key into the vision of the rebranded PDP. We were able to appeal to their conscience and were able to market the party and consequently, we were able to bring this government into place.

 

 

So, having rebranded the party, we were able to get the party to be number one in the lists of political parties in the state to the extent that despite the presence of such political heavyweights like Senator Hope Uzodinma, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, the incumbent governor’s in-law that were on ground or Ikedi Ohakim the former governor in other parties, we were able to win the election. This is not minding the fact that we did not control the security agents; have truckloads of money like Okorocha boasted nor had the clout to influence INEC. Rochas Okorocha boasted with all those but Imo people wanted PDP and eventually had their way.

 

 

Now, to what do you owe this success?

 

 

To me, it has been all about the PDP and the cleaning of its image and the resultant victory of the party at the polls. Recall that it was bad image that made us lose in 2011 under Ikedi Ohakim when they said he flogged a priest. It was a lie but the people believed it and it destroyed our image because that scandal was poorly managed. It was the same poor image that made us lose again to Rochas Okorocha in 2015 when Ihedioha was on the verge of winning.

 

 

Are you already resting on your oars?

 

 

Having come this far with proper image management of the party, the party is no longer seen as housing fraudsters but one that can now win election on the strength of its character and the credibility of its members

 

 

However, our structure is still intact. Then we had engaged 305 members for our social media team with each reporting to the activities of the party in every ward. The members actually grew from 10 to 305. I nurtured them and ensured that they were participating in workshops and seminars. In the seminars, we warned them sternly not to post lies.

 

 

What we are planning to do is very simple. We know a lot of people are angling for appointment but the most important thing is that the government activities should be properly reported in the media and that is what we are doing.

 

 

Your party Secretariat looks deserted. seems you havent been holding party meetings

 

 

Not at all, we have been holding meetings such as the state working committee meetings and state executive council meetings. What is happening is that when we have state functions, it is done in government house and the party joins them there.

 

 

Are you not worried that the crowd of politicians flocking around government may scandalize your government?

Let me tell you one thing, the governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and his deputy, Hon. Gerald Irona are thorough-bred politicians. Let’s start with Irona. He was a two term councillor for Oguta. He was also  the  executive chairman of Oguta Local Government Area and House of Assembly member representing Oguta State Constituency. He also went to the House of Representatives before becoming the Deputy Governor. So, he has seen it all. The story is the same for the governor. They know when to butter political bread and know those that are fair weather or food-is-ready politicians. They equally know those that brought them victory. So, from the appointments that have made, you can see that it is just a few outsiders. The rest have been with us and know the vision of the governor. Importantly, these men will not compromise competence and credibility for anything.

 

 

In the three years that you have worked as the Publicity Secretary of the party, what have been the challenge so far?

 

 

Some of the challenges I encountered as the Publicity Secretary of the party was the behavior of some members of the party which we were able to sort out. Another was finance to some extent and many others bordered on the dangers of engaging a ruthless government in power as was the case in the last administration.

 

 

In fact, when I was elected into this position, I was several reminded that the outgone governor would send people after me if we published what he was not comfortable with. But I replied by saying that I am a former police officer and that no such threats would move me. We quickly organised ourselves and dished out things that even the then governor and his handlers found difficult to disprove. The reason was that we told them the truth and our people in the new media were instructed not to post any picture that did not portray the true reality on ground. That was why Okorocha’s media team could not refute anything we published about their government.

 

 

The opposition is confident that the governorship election will be cancelled at the tribunal. What do you say?

 

 

When they say Uche Nwosu, Hope Uzodinma or Araraume is coming to take over, they should know that election is over and nothing will cancel it. Let’s look at Uche Nwosu, he was sitting on billions of Naira of Imo allocations and yet could not win the election. You had the money, you had the security, you had the INEC and could not win because the masses said you are unfit to rule. Is it now that they are no longer in power that he would return to government house? Even if there is such a situation where a rerun is called, the Imo people that rejected him are not all dead, they would still reject him again. Imo people rejected Rochas even before the election. That was what gave us victory. Again, having balkanized the APC, with Hope Uzodinmagoing to APC, Ifeanyi Araraume to APGA and himself going to AA, it became so easy for the people to choose and elect us. With the massive outcry from Imo people that our stolen properties and assets be recovered, how can Rochas Okorocha and family face the people again? Look at the revelations of Zigreat company that got all the contracts in that administration. How can they return? Is Uche Nwosu coming back to continue from where his father in-law left local government funds; is he coming back to continue to mess with our roads that they destroyed in the name of constructing them? They left Imo State in penury. They even demolished  all village markets and took over the shops in the name of remodeling them.

 

 

So, the ‘Uche Nwosu is coming back’ slang that some people still use is simply to get extract some of our money they stole from them. I can assure you that Uche Nwosu will never come back to government house either by election or any other means.

 

 

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Niger Tribunal strikes out PDP’s certificate forgery claim against Bello  

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Niger Tribunal strikes out PDP’s certificate forgery claim against Bello  

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Niger State has struck out the allegation of certificate forgery by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate Umar Nasko against Governor Abubakar Bello, saying the petition constitutes an abuse of court process because it had been heard and decided by a Federal High Court.

Consequently, the Tribunal upheld the Preliminary Objection of the second respondent (APC) against the petition of Umar Nasko and the PDP on the allegation of certificate forgery made against Governor Abubakar Bello, saying for the same reason.

The Tribunal also upheld the preliminary objection of the respondents on the documents tendered by the petitioners which include the University of Maiduguri certificate on the ground, that it was not certified by the Registrar of the university, the NYSC Discharge Certificate on the ground that it was not certified by NYSC, the Declaration of Age deposed to at the High Court Minna on the ground that it was not certified by the Registrar of the Court.

The Tribunal held that documents can only be certified by a person who has in his possession the original copy.

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Reps’ll prioritise passage of PIB – Gbajabiamila

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Reps’ll prioritise passage of PIB – Gbajabiamila

S

peaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has assured that the current assembly will break barriers hindering passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to facilitate the reform of the oil sector.

Gbajabiamila gave the assurance yesterday in his welcome address at the resumed plenary of the House after a 53-day recess.

 

He said: “I fully expect that in this session, the House of Representatives will consider important legislation such as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). I believe that we in this 9th Assembly are ideally suited to surmount the obstacles that have mitigated against passage of this essential reform legislation which is important if we are to properly address the structural, operational and policy challenges and inefficiencies in the Nigerian petroleum industry and position the industry to best serve the interests of all the Nigerian people.

 

“In addition to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), we will see the reintroduction of the bill prohibiting estimated billing in the power industry, intended to put a permanent end to the wastefulness and unfairness created by an unreliable and arbitrary system that imposes unforeseen costs on individuals.”

 

Speaking further on bills, the speaker noted that “before we adjourned the House on 25th July, 2019, a significant amount of work had already started. We had begun legislative action through the consideration of 13 bills including Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill 2019, Physically Challenged (Empowerment) Bill 2019 and Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill 2019.

 

 

“We had also at that time received and debated 57 motions on a range of issues including the non-remittance of contribution into the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) by the federal, state, local governments and some public and private organisations and businesses alike, the Education Bank Bill, designed to ensure that no child in this 21st Century is unable to get a quality tertiary education in Nigeria due to a lack of means and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Bill, which will serve to broaden the Local Content Act and ensure the original intent of the Act is made real in the lives of our people.

 

 

“As part of efforts by the House to gain firsthand knowledge of what is happening in those parts of our country where banditry, insurgency and communal clashes have laid waste to towns and villages, displacing thousands of our fellow citizens, I recently led delegations of the House to Borno, Zamfara and Katsina states.

 

 

“On these occasions, we met with community leaders and government officials, we visited the internally displaced persons, and we heard their stories and considered their perspectives. The stories we heard were as much about faith in the promise of tomorrow and hope that with a little help, these people who have lost so much can rebuild their world again.

 

“It falls to us to make sure that the stories of these our fellow citizens are not forgotten and that the hopes expressed in those stories guide the actions we choose to take and policies we choose to pursue, as we act to achieve the restoration of lasting peace and sustainable development in those communities and across the nation.

 

“I am also pleased to note that the standing and ad hoc committees of the House of Representatives constituted before the recess have hit the ground running.  We will shortly receive and consider the committee’s report on the floor of the House and take whatever action is required to ensure that these vital national assets are put to more effective use.

 

“Over the course of the recess, we convened two National Roundtable Discussions on reform of the budget process and on recovered assets. These roundtable sessions were intended to take a critical look at issues relating to the development, enactment, funding, implementation and evaluation of the national budget.

 

“It also allowed us to begin to prepare the ground for the 2020 Appropriations Bill which we expect will shortly be presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.”

 

On the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa, the speaker commended a member of the country’s parliament, Julius Malema, for being one of the few that spoke openly against the dastard act.

 

His words: “I invite the House to at this time join me in commending the actions of Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and a respected voice in the politics of that nation, who openly and without equivocation, condemned the attacks and directed his organisation to provide aid and protection to our citizens facing harm. He has since then, never relented in calling out the failures of the government that allowed the attacks to occur and to continue.

 

 

“In a similar fashion, Sir Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace Airlines provided his organisation’s services without charge, to repatriate those Nigerians who were willing to return home to escape the carnage that had been visited upon them. He acted without consideration of cost, of tribe or personal interest. He acted in the best traditions of patriotism and love of country. Our country owes these men a debt of gratitude.

 

“The leadership of the House had cause to convene to address the most unfortunate events of xenophobic attacks against Nigerian citizens in the Republic of South Africa.

 

 

“The scale of these attacks, the cost in lives and property and the appearance of involvement by state actors in the worst of the attacks were some of the issues we deliberated on, after which the entire leadership of the House, in an unusual occurrence, released a joint statement articulating in clear terms the feelings of the Nigerian people on the unfortunate events and demanding action from the South African government.

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Furore over security vote

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Furore over security vote

Again, the desirability or otherwise of security votes given to state governors, dominated discussions at the quarterly policy dialogue of Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN), a research and training unit of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), ONYEKACHI EZE reports

 

 

I

f there is anyone who is supposed to defend the security votes given to state governors, it is the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Tukur Buratai, but the Army chief is not doing that. Instead, he is questioning the legality and constitutionality of the fund.

 

At the quarterly policy dialogue on accountability for security votes organised last week in Abuja by the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN), a research and training unit of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) in Abuja, General Buratai alleged that governors are misapplying security votes.

 

He also claimed that the governors use the votes for purposes other than what they were meant for, which is, tackling insecurity and improving police work in the country. In other words, Buratai believed that the fund has become a conduit pipe for governors to siphon funds meant for the development of their states.

 

“We should also take note that the security vote is not a defence vote. It is not meant for the armed forces, according to Robert Clark. For a long time, this security votes has been operated unconstitutionally,” Buratai said.

 

 

Security vote is a monthly allowance given to state governors, which is aimed at “funding security services within such states,” and which is not subject to legislative oversight or independent audit because of its sensitive nature.

 

 

In 2018, the Transparency International (TI), in its report, disclosed that 29 out of 36 state governors in Nigeria spent an average of $580 million (about N208.8 billion) yearly on security votes.

 

And according to Wikipedia, Benue State spends the highest annual security vote of N37. 1 billion, while Nasarawa State has the least budget of N1.2 billion.

 

 

Of recent, some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have become beneficiaries of security votes. Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said monies were appropriated to a total of 162 MDAs in the 2019 budget, with some of them receiving as high as N4.2 billion and others, as low as N3,600.

 

 

This, according to him, is a clear indication that no principle was followed in budgeting for security votes, adding that it suggests that something was wrong with the parameters for determining agencies entitled to security votes.

 

 

The utilisation of security votes has been a subject of controversy. Immediate former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, attracted attention in 2011, when he announced that he would forfeit N4 billion out of the N6.5 billion received by his processor in office, Ikedi Ohakim, as security vote, to fund education. Whether he continued with this or not cannot be ascertained.

 

 

Buratai, quoting Clarke (SAN), maintained that security vote in not constitutional and should be subjected to an audit.

 

 

His words: “There are several criticisms on the security votes, that they are subject to embezzlement, corruption, and misappropriation, and that the governors take advantage of the immunity in the constitution that they are not checked until they leave office. But if this is made constitutional, with proper guidelines, I think these issues would be laid to rest.”

 

 

He added that security vote is not meant to tackle insecurity. According to him, “we have funding for the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces. What is the fund (security vote) meant for? We also have the police fund, and they are budgeted for. Other security services like Department for State Services, Civil Defence and the rest. So if they have budgets to run their affairs, why security votes again?”

 

 

Chairman ICPC, Prof. Owasanoye, noted that despite the huge amount appropriated for security vote annually, insecurity has continued to rise, a situation his counterpart in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, blamed on state governors.

 

 

Magu, at an induction of returning and new governors before their May 29 inauguration, accused some of the governors of covertly promoting insecurity as justification to inflate security votes.

“We have also seen evidence of theft of public resources by some state governors – cashing in on the insecurity in their states. Insecurity has also offered the required oxygen for corruption to thrive as evident in the $2.1 billion arms procurement scandal involving top military commanders both serving and retired,” he said.

 

But the governors said they spent part of the security vote to maintain security in their states.

 

 

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), an umbrella body of the 36 state governors in the country, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who also spoke at ACAN quarterly policy dialogue, demanded devolution of powers to the federating units for governors to have control of the security architecture in their respective states.

 

 

He said: “In crisis situation, resorting to bureaucratic process or procedure may worsen the situation. It requires prompt actions or measures to get it resolved. On such an occasion, the governor as the chief security officer may have to take an urgent action. This is why the sustenance of security vote is inevitable.

 

 

“Many state governors do in fact use their security vote to provide funding to federal security agencies, whether the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Army, the Department of State Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, operating in their states.

 

 

“When somebody is kidnapped, people don’t bother about how he is released. No police agree that they pay ransoms; no soldier admits that they pay ransom. Yet, all the money must be accounted for.

 

“The foundations of the secrecy in the allocation and abuse of security vote increased over time as a result of the long reign and dominance of the military in Nigeria’s political life.”

 

 

Last year, the governors said they have in the last decade collectively spent about N2 trillion on the Nigeria Police Force alone.

 

 

The NGF disclosed in its monthly publication, The Executive Summary, that the support included Hilux vehicles, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), helicopters, gun boats, horses, communication equipment, uniforms and handcuffs, among others.

 

 

It added that these are beside contributions made by Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe states referred to as flash-points in the war against insurgency in the country.

“For example, in 2015, Lagos State under Governor Akinwunmi Ambode spent over N4.765 billion to sustain the police.

 

 

“In July 2017 the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, approached the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at their meeting in Aso Rock Villa, cap-in-hand, seeking the sum of N3 trillion assistance from states,” NGF said in the publication.

 

 

The forum added that Kano, Kaduna, Kwara, Cross Rivers, Ebonyi and Abia states have at various times, donated generously to the police force towards ensuring the safety and security of their peoples and their property.

It added that most states have resorted to supporting vigilante groups, while some have established various types of security outfits to fill the vacuum created by the absence of the federal police in their states.

 

 

The report added that even Benue State, which last year, had its House of Assembly sealed and overtaken by the Nigeria Police Force, had spent a substantial part of its security vote in ameliorating the problems of the same police force that was to later humiliate the state.

 

 

Against these backdrops, the governors who are in the forefront for the establishment of state police, may this way, justify how the money voted for security vote is expended.

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Bayelsa PDP guber: How the battle was won and lost

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Bayelsa PDP guber: How the battle was won and lost

The governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State has come and gone. But in this report, PAULINE ONYIBE writes on how the battle was won and lost

 

E

xpectedly, the battle for the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State wasn’t a tea party.

 

The race brought with itself all sides and shades of politicking as no fewer than 21 aspirants threw their hats into the ring for the plum ticket of the ruling party in the state.

 

Interestingly, this is the first time in the history of Bayelsa State that about 21 aspirants will show interest in becoming a number one citizen in the state on the platform of a political party.

 

With the high number of aspirants on the cards, the process was a hard nut to crack because it became a big challenge to the two apex leaders of the party in the state- former President Goodluck Jonathan and Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson.

 

One of the perceptions that made the road to the PDP governorship primary tortuous was the belief in some quarters that Governor Dickson allegedly sponsored most of the aspirants to destabilise those perceived to have come from the former president, including the real anointed aspirants from the Restoration caucus.

 

It was alleged that the governor sponsored about 16 aspirants out of the 21 to pick the forms where it was rumoured that he gave about N50 million to each aspirant to purchase the party’s nomination form and other logistics, all in a bid to destabilise the whole system for his own candidate to emerge.

 

And at the end of the day, he had his way as Senator Douye Diri, representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District in the Red Chambers emerged the PDP flag bearer for the November 16 governorship poll.

 

 

The outcome of the election was a surprise to many political observers in the state as they wondered why a serving senator who just won the election in February should turn around to want to become a governor after spending about four months in the Senate.

 

It was also learned that the political permutation is that Douye Diri takes over from the Ofuruma Pepe who will wangle his way to the Senate with Lawrence Ewhurejakpo becoming the deputy governor of the state.

 

 

Of course that plan being a perfect one had already been almost actualized but for some hurdles to be crossed as other parts of the state are kicking and with the main opposition party in the state, All Progressives Congress (APC) waxing stronger with the emergence of David Lyon, whom those that have had close brush with him are testifying that he is a philanthropist as the APC governorship candidate for the forthcoming governorship poll.

 

 

Although the comparison shows that Senator Diri is an eloquent speaker while Lyon is said to be a bit shy and not an outspoken type but some Bayelsans are kicking against the candidature of Diri as they said they tagged him stingy and don’t want him to lead them.

 

 

It was gathered that within the PDP circle, some people are not comfortable with the outcome of the governorship primaries as one of the major contenders at the party, Timi Alaibe who took the second position pulling total votes of 365 has challenged the outcome of the primary at the court of law.

 

 

He argued that the newly sworn-in local government chairmen and the councilors totaling about 450 were not supposed to take part in the primary as they were not up to 90 days in their new offices before the primary according to the PDP constitution.

 

 

The primary was indirect as delegates had a field day using the opportunity to gather enough money for themselves as it was learnt that some aspirants allegedly paid as much as N1m to each delegate.

 

 

Of course, before the main day, delegates enjoyed the most of the luxury life as they were camped in the best hotels in Yenagoa, the state capital for more than two weeks before the main primary including married women that were not allowed to have access to their homes and their husbands.

Although it was a very free and fair process even though all the lobbying and the backyard activities had all taken place before the main event, some pocket of violence was recorded at the accreditation centre held at Ijaw House, but the number of accredited delegates was transparent

 

 

The total number of accredited delegates in the eight local government areas were as follows; Southern Ijaw (200), Yenagoa (180), Sagbama (177), Ogbia (166), Nembe (160), Ekeremor (153), Kolokuma/Opokuma (143) and Brass (130), bringing the total number of delegates to 1,309.

 

 

At the end of the election, Senator Douye Diri, the choice candidate of the governor got 561, Ndutimi Alaibe got 365, while Keniebi Okoko had (142) and the deputy governor of the state, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah and immediate past Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Konbowei Benson got 61 and 24 votes respectively.

 

 

Also Reuben Okoya, who was talked into stepping down in 2015 to be given the party ticket in 2019 even when he was a house hold name in Bayelsa then got 19.

 

 

Fred Agbedi, a serving member of the House of Representatives, representing Bayelsa West got 18 votes and Nimibofa Ayawei, who briefly stepped aside to join the race but has immediately been reinstated got seven votes. Great Joshua MacIver, Dr. Franklin Erepamo Osaisai and Chief Benson Agadaga had seven, four and three votes respectively while Senator Emmanuel Paulker, who just finished from the Red Chambers got two votes.

 

 

 

The likes of the Chief of Staff of Government House, Talford Ongolo, who also been called back to continue with his job and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Kemela Okara, who has also gone back to his duty post and few others had already supported the aspiration of Senator Diri, who emerged the PDP flag bearer for the election.

 

 

Showing the spirit of sportsmanship, Reuben Okoya while congratulating Senator Diri said “On behalf of my humble self and Reuben Okoya Campaign Team, I wish to congratulate Senator Douye Diri on his victory at the governorship primary election of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was concluded this morning, Wednesday September 4, 2019.

 

 

Also, Keniebi Okoko who said he spent over N1bn in the governorship aspiration, congratulated Douye Diri for his victory.

Okoko who paid a solidarity visit to Douye Diri described the process of selection as transparent, peaceful and fair. He, therefore, assured the PDP candidate of his support and solidarity to work for the party and the candidate to ensure victory in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in the State.

 

 

Also, Okara in his solidarity message to the PDP flag bearer stated that: “I want to first congratulate Senator Douye Diri for his victory at our party primaries in the early hours of today September 4, 2019.”

Senator Douye Diri while responding to all the solidarity messages noted that the solidarity shown him by his co-aspirant was a clear display of leadership and sportsmanship.

 

 

But Timi Alaibe who came second in the race wasn’t satisfied with the outcome of the election, noted that “As we are all aware, the election to determine the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the November 16 governorship race in Bayelsa State has been conducted. Even with all the inarguable inherent flaws bordering on crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines, a winner has been declared.

“The delegates whether coercively or voluntarily have spoken even if their voices do not represent the voice of the people. My decision to seek election as Governor of Bayelsa State was based both on the collective opinion of respected stakeholders of our beloved state and a personal conviction that I have what it takes to make the difference in the economic development of our state. Having travelled the same route more than once, I took time to pray, plan my strategies and carry out wider consultations more than I had ever done in the past.

 

 

“We all know that the basis of our party is the Constitution in addition to the rules and regulations that we set for ourselves from inception in 1998, and the fact our party has become reformed. Consequently, for anything to be legitimate, it must derive authority from our Constitution.

 

 

“This issue of election of local council chairmen and councilors that were allowed to participate in the primary despite a court order was another setback. You would recall that we protested to the appropriate organs of the party. As it turned out, the national leadership of the party would seem not to have been persuaded by the strength of our argument for obedience to the supreme law of our great party. Even the powers that be in state unsuccessfully challenged the superiority of our position in court.

 

 

“We have raised our objections regarding the unilateral inclusion of certain names on the list contrary to the party’s constitution and guidelines for the conduct of a peaceful primary. The names have been inserted to put certain aspirants, especially those of the Restoration Group, at advantage. I see this as a deliberate calculation to create confusion and frustration in their futile desire to destabilize my aspiration to lead Bayelsa State.”

 

 

The Timi Alaibe Campaign Organisation in a statement released a few days ago, disclosed that the organisation will make its position known regarding the next move by Alaibe who had already expressed his displeasure against the PDP governorship primary election in the state.

 

 

For PDP, the dust is still thick over its choice of candidate. But whether this will sway the advantage to APC which is also having its own fair share of internal wrangling, its another kettle of fish.

 

 

According to political analysts, the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa represents a repeat of battle of familiar foes with new players as faces of the duel.  Will the PDP retain the state? Can the APC pull the rug off its long term rival? Is this the time for the fringe parties to spring a surprise? Only time will tell?

 

 

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Bayelsa PDP guber: How the battle was won and lost

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Bayelsa PDP guber: How the battle was won and lost

The governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State has come and gone. But in this report, PAULINE ONYIBE writes on how the battle was won and lost

 

 

E

xpectedly, the battle for the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State wasn’t a tea party.

 

 

The race brought with itself all sides and shades of politicking as no fewer than 21 aspirants threw their hats into the ring for the plum ticket of the ruling party in the state.

 

 

Interestingly, this is the first time in the history of Bayelsa State that about 21 aspirants will show interest in becoming a number one citizen in the state on the platform of a political party.

 

 

With the high number of aspirants on the cards, the process was a hard nut to crack because it became a big challenge to the two apex leaders of the party in the state- former President Goodluck Jonathan and Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson.

 

 

One of the perceptions that made the road to the PDP governorship primary tortuous was the belief in some quarters that Governor Dickson allegedly sponsored most of the aspirants to destabilise those perceived to have come from the former president, including the real anointed aspirants from the Restoration caucus.

 

 

It was alleged that the governor sponsored about 16 aspirants out of the 21 to pick the forms where it was rumoured that he gave about N50 million to each aspirant to purchase the party’s nomination form and other logistics, all in a bid to destabilise the whole system for his own candidate to emerge.

 

 

And at the end of the day, he had his way as Senator Douye Diri, representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District in the Red Chambers emerged the PDP flag bearer for the November 16 governorship poll.

The outcome of the election was a surprise to many political observers in the state as they wondered why a serving senator who just won the election in February should turn around to want to become a governor after spending about four months in the Senate.

 

 

It was also learned that the political permutation is that Douye Diri takes over from the Ofuruma Pepe who will wangle his way to the Senate with Lawrence Ewhurejakpo becoming the deputy governor of the state.

 

 

Of course that plan being a perfect one had already been almost actualized but for some hurdles to be crossed as other parts of the state are kicking and with the main opposition party in the state, All Progressives Congress (APC) waxing stronger with the emergence of David Lyon, whom those that have had close brush with him are testifying that he is a philanthropist as the APC governorship candidate for the forthcoming governorship poll.

Although the comparison shows that Senator Diri is an eloquent speaker while Lyon is said to be a bit shy and not an outspoken type but some Bayelsans are kicking against the candidature of Diri as they said they tagged him stingy and don’t want him to lead them.

 

 

It was gathered that within the PDP circle, some people are not comfortable with the outcome of the governorship primaries as one of the major contenders at the party, Timi Alaibe who took the second position pulling total votes of 365 has challenged the outcome of the primary at the court of law.

 

 

He argued that the newly sworn-in local government chairmen and the councilors totaling about 450 were not supposed to take part in the primary as they were not up to 90 days in their new offices before the primary according to the PDP constitution.

 

 

 

The primary was indirect as delegates had a field day using the opportunity to gather enough money for themselves as it was learnt that some aspirants allegedly paid as much as N1m to each delegate.

 

 

Of course, before the main day, delegates enjoyed the most of the luxury life as they were camped in the best hotels in Yenagoa, the state capital for more than two weeks before the main primary including married women that were not allowed to have access to their homes and their husbands.

 

Although it was a very free and fair process even though all the lobbying and the backyard activities had all taken place before the main event, some pocket of violence was recorded at the accreditation centre held at Ijaw House, but the number of accredited delegates was transparent

 

The total number of accredited delegates in the eight local government areas were as follows; Southern Ijaw (200), Yenagoa (180), Sagbama (177), Ogbia (166), Nembe (160), Ekeremor (153), Kolokuma/Opokuma (143) and Brass (130), bringing the total number of delegates to 1,309.

 

 

At the end of the election, Senator Douye Diri, the choice candidate of the governor got 561, Ndutimi Alaibe got 365, while Keniebi Okoko had (142) and the deputy governor of the state, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah and immediate past Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Konbowei Benson got 61 and 24 votes respectively.

 

Also Reuben Okoya, who was talked into stepping down in 2015 to be given the party ticket in 2019 even when he was a house hold name in Bayelsa then got 19.

 

 

Fred Agbedi, a serving member of the House of Representatives, representing Bayelsa West got 18 votes and Nimibofa Ayawei, who briefly stepped aside to join the race but has immediately been reinstated got seven votes. Great Joshua MacIver, Dr. Franklin Erepamo Osaisai and Chief Benson Agadaga had seven, four and three votes respectively while Senator Emmanuel Paulker, who just finished from the Red Chambers got two votes.

 

 

The likes of the Chief of Staff of Government House, Talford Ongolo, who also been called back to continue with his job and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Kemela Okara, who has also gone back to his duty post and few others had already supported the aspiration of Senator Diri, who emerged the PDP flag bearer for the election.

 

 

Showing the spirit of sportsmanship, Reuben Okoya while congratulating Senator Diri said “On behalf of my humble self and Reuben Okoya Campaign Team, I wish to congratulate Senator Douye Diri on his victory at the governorship primary election of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was concluded this morning, Wednesday September 4, 2019.

Also, Keniebi Okoko who said he spent over N1bn in the governorship aspiration, congratulated Douye Diri for his victory.

 

 

Okoko who paid a solidarity visit to Douye Diri described the process of selection as transparent, peaceful and fair. He, therefore, assured the PDP candidate of his support and solidarity to work for the party and the candidate to ensure victory in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in the State.

 

 

Also, Okara in his solidarity message to the PDP flag bearer stated that: “I want to first congratulate Senator Douye Diri for his victory at our party primaries in the early hours of today September 4, 2019.”

Senator Douye Diri while responding to all the solidarity messages noted that the solidarity shown him by his co-aspirant was a clear display of leadership and sportsmanship.

 

 

But Timi Alaibe who came second in the race wasn’t satisfied with the outcome of the election, noted that “As we are all aware, the election to determine the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the November 16 governorship race in Bayelsa State has been conducted. Even with all the inarguable inherent flaws bordering on crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines, a winner has been declared.

 

 

“The delegates whether coercively or voluntarily have spoken even if their voices do not represent the voice of the people. My decision to seek election as Governor of Bayelsa State was based both on the collective opinion of respected stakeholders of our beloved state and a personal conviction that I have what it takes to make the difference in the economic development of our state. Having travelled the same route more than once, I took time to pray, plan my strategies and carry out wider consultations more than I had ever done in the past.

 

 

“We all know that the basis of our party is the Constitution in addition to the rules and regulations that we set for ourselves from inception in 1998, and the fact our party has become reformed. Consequently, for anything to be legitimate, it must derive authority from our Constitution.

 

 

“This issue of election of local council chairmen and councilors that were allowed to participate in the primary despite a court order was another setback. You would recall that we protested to the appropriate organs of the party. As it turned out, the national leadership of the party would seem not to have been persuaded by the strength of our argument for obedience to the supreme law of our great party. Even the powers that be in state unsuccessfully challenged the superiority of our position in court.

 

 

“We have raised our objections regarding the unilateral inclusion of certain names on the list contrary to the party’s constitution and guidelines for the conduct of a peaceful primary. The names have been inserted to put certain aspirants, especially those of the Restoration Group, at advantage. I see this as a deliberate calculation to create confusion and frustration in their futile desire to destabilize my aspiration to lead Bayelsa State.”

The Timi Alaibe Campaign Organisation in a statement released a few days ago, disclosed that the organisation will make its position known regarding the next move by Alaibe who had already expressed his displeasure against the PDP governorship primary election in the state.

 

 

For PDP, the dust is still thick over its choice of candidate. But whether this will sway the advantage to APC which is also having its own fair share of internal wrangling, its another kettle of fish.

 

 

According to political analysts, the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa represents a repeat of battle of familiar foes with new players as faces of the duel.  Will the PDP retain the state? Can the APC pull the rug off its long term rival? Is this the time for the fringe parties to spring a surprise? Only time will tell?

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Kogi, Bayelsa guber: We’ll reconcile aggrieved members – PDP 

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Kogi, Bayelsa guber: We’ll reconcile aggrieved members – PDP 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has formally reacted to the post-primary election crisis that has dogged it since September 3, stating that it has activated its reconciliation machinery.

 

The party had experienced some defections and threats of defections to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) after the governorship primaries in Kogi and Bayelsa States earlier this month.

 

Among PDP members who left the party include former Speaker of Kogi State, Clarence Olufemi, who was director general of Abubakar Ibrahim campaign organization during the course of the primary.

 

Also one of the governorship aspirants, Senator Dino Melaye, who was appointed Director General of PDP governorship candidate for Kogi State, Egnr. Musa Wada, rejected the appointment and wished the party well.

 

And in Bayelsa State, former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe, has gone to court, seeking the nullification of the PDP governorship primary in the state.

 

A source within the party disclosed that some aggrieved aspirants and their supporters were threatening to dump the party.

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Akinlade, APM to challenge Abiodun’s election at Appeal Court

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Akinlade, APM to challenge Abiodun’s election at Appeal Court

The Allied People’s Movement (APM) in Ogun State, on Monday, moved to appeal the judgement of the governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which affirmed the election of Governor Dapo Abiodun.

 

The party said, already, its team of lawyers have applied for the Certified True Copy of the tribunal judgement delivered on Saturday to enable them to review it and take the next step in the judicial process.

The APM governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, who confirmed the move of the party, told reporters in Abeokuta that the nation’s constitution allows aggrieved persons to seek redress in court.

Addressing scores of APM members at the party secretariat in Leme area of Abeokuta, Akinlade said he was determined to get justice in accordance with the laws of the land.

He explained that when he decided to run for governorship, his decision was not for self-aggrandisement but for the collective interest and development of the state.

Akinlade urged his party members not to consider the tribunal judgement as a setback but should remain resolute and unwavering in the pursuit of justice.

He said: “The constitution is very clear that where you disagree with any position, you seek redress in the court of law. There are still grounds open to us.

“The crafters of our constitution know that the tribunal is still the first step. We thank our forebears who crafted the constitution to enable one seek redress where one disagrees with one judgement. And that’s what we hope to do.

“We know very clearly that in our petition, no where in the petition did we talk about the academic qualification of the second respondent. It was purely on the fact that he lied to provide false information. If the judgement is based on the academic qualification, then we believe something needs to be done when our lawyers review it.”

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Tribunal: Anxiety in Niger as Bello, Nasko know fate Wednesday

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Tribunal: Anxiety in Niger as Bello, Nasko know fate Wednesday

There is heightened anxiety in Minna, as Niger State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal will on Wednesday rule on the petition challenging the re-election of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State.

All major junctions and offices in the state capital are manned by Policemen, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and other security agencies.

The tribunal had concluded its sitting in July and fixed September 18 (Wednesday) to pass its verdict on the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Alhaji Umar Nasko following the adoption of final written addresses by parties in the matter.

When our Correspondent spoke to the Umar Nasko campaign’s Director of Communications Usman Baba Yahaya, he said: “We are calling on the judges to do the right thing, as the fate of Nigerlites now hang on them.”

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AGF to judges: Be credible in your judgements

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AGF to judges: Be credible in your judgements

116,623 cases pending before Federal High Court

Body of SAN makes case for specialised courts

NBA: Judiciary independence under threat

 

 

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), yesterday, told judges to be credible in all their judgements and rulings.

This, he said, will ensure that the sacred integrity reposed in the courts remain unshaken at all times in order to foster and promote public confidence in all judgements and rulings that emanate from the court.

Malami, who made the call in Abuja during the special court session held by the Federal High Court to mark the commencement of the 2019/20 legal year, however appreciated the court over the speed at which it handled pre-election matters in the wake, during and after the general election.

“This court has set the records straight, which helped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to effectively field the right candidates for the elections and the efficient conduct of election processes,” he said.

Malami urged lawyers to cooperate with the Federal High Court in ensuring that the dignity, integrity and credibility of the court are not put to ridicule.

He said: “We must collectively shun fraudulent practices and to render sound and unbiased advice to our clients based on laid down laws and not on sentiment. We should also not be seen encouraging our clients to ridicule this court into doing the impossible. As ministers in the temple of justice, we must together foster the desired growth for a better society because this court, on its own, can only do little as permitted by law.”

The Acting Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho, while declaring the new legal year open, revealed that 116,623 cases are pending before the courts across the country.

According to him, “16,144 cases were filed in this quarter alone in which 12,692 have been disposed of. It is obvious that the judges were overburdened with work in the last legal year.

“We therefore need to engage more judicial officers to help out. However, it does appear that there was no provision for appointment of judges in the current budget. I will make effort to discuss with the relevant stakeholders to see to the visibility of facilitating the recruitment of more judicial officers in the course of the year.”

Also speaking, the body of SAN, represented by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, called for specialization of courts.

The group said: “The challenge, which we wish respectfully, to place before my Lord, the Chief Judge is to break this court into specialized divisions. What I mean is that the era of general jurisdiction in one judge, has shown that a judge in each day, has over 25 cases to deal with. Their claims or causes include political matters under Electoral Act, criminal matters under National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and sundry crimes.

“In the same cause list, you have suits on aviation, fundamental enforcement, bankruptcy and insolvency, terrorism, mines and minerals including pollution, natural gas, including arbitration matters, arms and ammunition, cybercrimes treasonable felony and allied offences and interpretation of the constitution causes. The learned trial judge moves from law to the other within hours with rulings and judgements to be delivered thereon.

“My Lord, specialized divisions of the federal court will lead to specialization, increase productivity and reduce the much talked about delay in the administration of justice arising from unnecessary work load. The calls and argument for “Special Corruption Court” will pale into insignificance and spent.

“We are in 20th Century, where information technology has become a tool for efficient management of cases, resources and time in the administration of justice. It is not an impediment to elevation even up to the Supreme Court.

“All you need is to invest in training, retraining and continuous education in the specialised fields. The judges will suffer less stress and pressure. We believe the greatness of the court lies in creativity and innovation and so, respectfully, recommend this idea for the consideration of all stakeholders.”

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), on its part, stressed that the independence of the judiciary is under threat by the executive arm.

The President of the Bar, Paul Usoro (SAN) noted that it is not for nothing that the Federal High Court is described and looked upon in terms that suggest its ranking as primus inter pares in the hierarchy of High Courts in the Nigerian Federation.

According to him, “The gamut of its jurisdiction, both exclusive and concurrent, stands it out. But more than that, it is the primary High Court in the federation that has jurisdiction over the entire federation, with its divisions dotted all over the country.

“Your Lordships therefore have the unique advantage of being periodically transferred from one division of the court to another and in that process, Your Lordships get to work in, know and understand all the different component units of the Nigerian Federation and also appreciate the different quirks and idiosyncrasies of the people that make up this great country.

“Your Lordships are therefore in a prime position to pronounce, as Your Lordships always do, through this Honourable Court’s decisions, that, though tribes and tongues may differ, we remain one great country and are strong in spite of and indeed because of both our diversity and unity.

“It is in that context that I specially congratulate Your Lordships for stepping forward at critical moments to reaffirm and cement the bonds of our Nigerian unity through the various pronouncements and decisions of Your Lordships’ courts.

“The opening of the legal year traditionally affords the Bar and the Bench the opportunity for introspection and to ruminate on national issues particularly those that affect the justice sector. Topping the list of such issues at all times is the need to promote and protect the rule of law in all its ramifications. That need is perhaps more pronounced today given the siege under which the justice sector is currently operating, evident in the open and sometimes veiled incursions by the executive arm and its agencies. In particular, the independence of the judiciary is under severe threat.

“To be exact, the independence of mind and thoughts by Your Lordships in the determination of matters before the courts is under severe siege. The executive arm of government and its agencies are increasingly and unceasingly critical of the judiciary and its decisions, particularly in matters that the government and its agencies may be interested in. It is not unusual these days to hear high officials of government talk down the judiciary and ridiculously and rather ill-advisedly dump all the ills of society on the judiciary.

“Decisions by Your Lordships are sometimes brazenly denigrated and attributed to ulterior and ill motives – and these on social and traditional media platforms. Veiled and sometimes open and, in all cases, audacious attempts are made to teleguide and programme the decisions of courts. These are very dangerous practices that destroy the independence of the judiciary and by extension the rule of law and indeed the fabric of our society.

“The society needs and can only survive if we have independent-minded judges, who are empowered to dispense justice to all manner of men, including government departments, without fear or favour. We can only survive as a nation if the independence and vibrancy of the judiciary, particularly, the non-interference with the thoughts and decision-making processes of Your Lordships, are guaranteed and protected.”

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Xenophobia: Obasanjo blasts South Africa

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Xenophobia: Obasanjo blasts South Africa

…asks Nigeria, others to petition AU

 

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has asked countries affected by xenophobic attacks to drag South Africa before the African Union (AU) and seek appropriate redress.

Obasanjo, who stated this in his reply to a letter by the President Emeritus of Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Mangosuthu Buthelezi, accused South African authorities of complicity in the ongoing xenophobia in the country.

The IFP, founded in 1975, is one of the political parties in South Africa led by Buthelezi until this year.

The former president specifically berated the South African police of standing aloof to watch miscreants and criminals commit crimes against fellow human beings.

He argued that even if citizens of other countries commit any crime, South Africa ought to have treated them like they would treat their citizens.

The former Nigerian leader urged affected African nations to consider other measures against South Africa if the situation is allowed to continue unabated.

“If South Africa fails to initiate appropriate and satisfactory steps to deal with the issues to pacify affected victims and work for reconciliation with the countries concerned to put an end to xenophobia, the concerned countries of the victims should come together to table appropriate motions at the AU level first and consider other measures if the situation is allowed to continue,” he said.

Obasanjo recalled his liberation role in different parts of Africa, including getting rid of apartheid in South Africa.

He said it was unfortunate that the Southern African country allowed attacks against fellow citizens and practically did nothing to stop it.

In what appears to be his first reaction on the xenophobic attacks, Obasanjo submitted that it was a great disservice to the continent and the black race, for any African country to encourage or allow or not seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans.

Responding to Buthelezi’s letter dated September 11, which was made available to reporters in Abeokuta yesterday through his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, the ex-president stated that Africans living in any other part of Africa must be treated as brothers and friends.

He said there was need for “fence-mending, reconciliation and wound-binding” between South Africa and the countries whose citizens have been victims of xenophobia.

Apparently commenting on the response of Nigerian authorities, Obasanjo pointed out that repatriation of Nigerians from South Africa is obviously not a permanent solution but merely palliative.

He also said xenophobia will not give jobs to South Africans as being touted but would rather make investment in the country difficult.

He, however, advised Nigeria and South Africa to stand together to champion African cause and jointly shepherd development, unity, cooperation and progress.

Obasanjo also urged African nations to learn from the ongoing xenophobic attacks and ensure programmes that will provide livelihoods for their teeming youth population to discourage them from embarking on hazardous journeys.

His letter partly read: “The xenophobia or afrophobia going on in South Africa is an unfortunate issue for South Africa and for the whole of Africa. It is unfortunate in many respects.

“There are only two countries in Africa that have ‘Africa’ as part of their names: Central Africa Republic and Republic of South Africa.

“For any of these two countries and, I dare say, for any African country to encourage or allow or not seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans in their country, it is a great disservice not only to the country where xenophobia takes place and the countries of the victims concerned, but also a great disservice to the whole of Africa and black race.

“We, in Nigeria, if I may speak particularly for Nigeria, did all that we did for liberation in different parts of Africa, particularly in Southern Africa, including getting rid of apartheid in South Africa because we believed it was our obligatory duty to do so as Africans.

“We, as black people, believed and still believe that we would be second-class citizens in the world if we allowed any black people anywhere in the world, not to talk of Africa, to be treated as second-class citizens because of the colour of their skin without fighting against it.

“It is because of our belief in human dignity generally and especially afro dignity. We were motivated and goaded by principle and not by possession, position or praises. We were not doing it to get any reward or material benefit as such.

“We were doing it because we were convinced that it was our duty, our responsibility and our obligation to humanity and to the black race. That is why we, in Nigeria, in spite of our distance from the frontline of the struggle against colonialism in Southern Africa and apartheid in South Africa, we became, in terms of our participation, contribution, commitment and sacrifice, members of the frontline States.

“Whether that is recognised and appreciated or not, we really don’t mind as we believe we have done our duty as we ought to have done, and if occasion occurs in future where we need to open our doors, out of our humanity and Africanity, for people in similar situation of need as happened to people in Southern Africa and South Africa, we will do it again as we did in the past. 

“However, we believe that Africans living in any other part of Africa must be treated as brothers and friends. If they commit any crime, they should be treated like citizens of that country will be treated when they commit crime which will mean applying judicial process.

“Moreover, the South African police and other law enforcement agencies must uphold the letter and spirit of the Constitution of South Africa, which stipulate that, ‘The South African Police Service has a responsibility to prevent, combat and investigate crime, maintain public order, protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, uphold and enforce the law, create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa, prevent anything that may threaten the safety or security of any community, investigate any crimes that threaten the safety or security of any community, ensure criminals are brought to justice and participate in efforts to address the causes of crime.’

“Where the Police would stand aloof watching miscreants and criminals committing crimes against fellow human beings is condemnable and not acceptable in any civilised society. This was experienced in South Africa in recent times and it shows either incompetence or collusion on the part of the Police.

“The best way to fight crime is to achieve close to full employment in a society and not through xenophobia. Anybody who can deny xenophobia in South Africa of today can deny that my mother is a woman. It should not be a game of denial but rather a game of accepting reality and working at it, together with the rest of Africa where necessary. 

“Countries in Africa are not just transit for drugs from sources in Latin America and Asia to consuming populations in North America and Europe, but these countries in Southern Africa and West Africa are also falling victims as consumers and producers.

“It requires collaboration of producing regions and countries working with transit regions and countries and consuming regions and countries to deal effectively with the menace of drugs as established by West Africa Commission on Drugs (WACD). 

“As it is being touted that xenophobia will give South Africans jobs, I dare say, it is fallacy. Xenophobia will make investment in South Africa a little bit more difficult which will lead to lack of job creation and loss of existing jobs.

“It should also be realised that most migrants did not migrate out of their country to other countries with total emptiness. Some have education, skills, experience, expertise, entrepreneurship and sheer guts which they can bring to bear on the economy of the country they have migrated to.

“What has helped most developed countries in the world is openness and receiving migrants with open hands and open minds. In any case, all of us in the world are migrants, no matter where we live, depending only on how far back you want to go.”

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