Cheke Emmanuel, Lafia
The senatorial candidate of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) in Nasarawa State, Alhaji Abdullah Agwai was on Thursday granted bail by a Lafia magistrate court III amidst tight security.
The court was beefed up with armed security in the early hours of Thursday to deal with any security breach following threat of invasion of the premises by hoodlums.
He was granted bail in the sum of N1million and one surety who must be a resident within the jurisdiction of the court and must deposit four passport photographs.
Agwai was arraigned by the police for alleged defamation following a formal complaint by the immediate past governor of the state aand now Senator representing Nasarawa South senatorial district at the National Assembly, Tanko Al-makura.
Lagos Assembly to pass 2020 budget early January
Barring any last minute change of plan, the 2020 budget of Lagos State will be passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly and possibly sign into law by the state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu not later than January 2, 2020.
The Chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Information, Strategy and Security, Hon. Tunde Buraimoh, disclosed this during an interaction with journalists in Alausa, Lagos.
It would be recall that Governor Sanwo-Olu, on November 8, presented the 2020 proposed N1.68 trillion budget to members of the House for consideration and subsequent approval. The budget, which is christened, “Awakening to a Greater Lagos” is higher than the previous year by 37 per cent.
Speaking on the budget, Hon. Buraimoh said the state Assembly is working hard to ensure that the Year 2020 proposed budget of N1.68 trillion is signed into law not later than January, 2, 2020 so that executive can have ample time and opportunity to execute all the proposals that are contained in the budget.
Buraimoh, who represents Kosofe Constituency I, also disclosed that the House of Assembly has resolved to give the budget proposal speedy consideration and passage in consistence with the realisation of the laudable programmes and plans of the present administration.
His words: “The Lagos State House of Assembly because of its cognisance of responsibility to make the lots of the people good and that the good of the people to get better and the greatest happiness to go to the greatest number of people is cautious of the fact that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well and in good time. And there is no point taking any day not to talk of any week or any month out of the 52 weeks or 12 months that makes a year.
“So, the Lagos State House of Assembly is trying as much as possible to get the executive ready to action and to hit the Year 2020 running by making sure that the 2020 budget estimates and proposals are made into law on or before, but not later than the first working day of January, 2020, so that the executive can have ample time and opportunity to execute all the proposals that are contained in the budget.”
Hon. Buraimoh further said the Lagos State House of Assembly is working round the clock to ensure that people of Lagos State enjoy dividends of democracy and good governance from the Sanwo-Olu-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
NBC, CDHR task govt, media, others to curb fake news
The Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Moddibo Kawu, has called on all stakeholders – government, business and consumers of news to work together to solve fake news and sophisticated disinformation campaign.
Speaking in Lagos during the 2019 International Human Rights Day organised by the Lagos State chapter of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Kawu said the news industry must provide high quality journalism in order to build public trust and correct fake news and disinformation without legitimising them.
Kawu, who was represented by NBC Zonal Director in Lagos, Dr. Chubuike Ogwunike, while speaking on “The Role of the Media in Promoting Human Rights and Curbing Fake News in a Democratic Setting,” advised the government to promote news literacy and strong professional journalism in the society and implored the technology companies to invest in tools that identify fake news, reduce financial incentives for those who profit from disinformation and improve online accountability.
He said freedom of speech is key to development, dignity and fulfillment of every person and nation and it is necessary for good governance, economic and social progress and accountability.
He, however, said that the right to freedom of expression was not an absolute right and that the Federal Government might, under exceptional circumstances, restricts the rights under international human rights law.
In his address, Lagos State chairman of CDHR, Comrade Alex Omotehinse, said that the group attached so much importance to the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day because of the gross violation of inalienable rights.
He charged the media to continue to promote human rights and curb fake news in a democratic setting, noting that the media and media practitioners should not be clampdown in the country with any law or policies.
He said: “The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the African Charter on Human and People’s rights respectively guarantee the freedom of speech and expression and thus all attempt by any institution or individual to infringe on that rights as enshrine will not only lead to peoples revolt but anarchy.
“The recent clampdown of media practitioners with fictitious, frivolous and obnoxious charges is a serious threat to our hard earns democracy, rule of law, civility and corporate existence that must be urgently resist not only by the freedom fighters alone but the Nigeria masses in general irrespective of their tribes, ethnic or religious believe.”
Omotehinse, who urged the National Assembly to promote rights of the citizens while the executive should enforce those rights, called on government to de-congest the Nigerian Correctional Centres.
Ondo 2020: Youth group makes case for Odimayo
A socio-political group, Ondo Youth Alliance has ratified its support for a businessman and philanthropist, Okunjimi Odimayo, as its preferred choice for the 2020 governorship election in Ondo State.
The group made its position known in a statement, which was jointly signed by its Coordinator, Tunde Akinwalere and Secretary, Bosede Alonge, respectively in Akure, the state capital.
The group said it took the decision to support Odimayo based on his wealth of experience, youthfulness and the need to continue advancing the state to a height that will bring more economic development and social projects to the populace.
The statement read: “Odimayo, from Irele local government in Ondo Southern Senatorial District has extensive knowledge and experience in corporate financial and management reporting in the Nigerian private sector.
“We took the decision to support his aspiration with the belief that his career has recorded many success stories of turnarounds and profitable growths needed to transform the Sunshine State.
“Aside from blazing the trail in the private sector he has also served in the public sector and has a good understanding of what is needed to manage a public office.
“His wealth of knowledge was deployed into the development of Ondo state when he served on the Commercial/Industrial Sub-group of the Transitional Committee that prepared the Socio-Economic Blueprint of the new Akeredolu Administration in 2016.”
Edo APC rally: Oshiomhole arrives Benin amidst tight security
*Urges party members to remain calm
National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has appealed to members of the party in Edo State to remain calm following the mayhem unleashed on the people of the state Thursday by armed thugs loyal to the state government.
Oshiomhole made the appeal while addressing party members who escorted him to his house in the Edo State capital. The party chair and other members of the NWC of the party are in Benin to receive over 30,000 members of leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by its gubernatorial flag bearer, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu into the APC.
But political thugs at the early hours of Thursday took over the Benin Airport shooting sporadically. Bonfires were observed at strategic places in Benin City, while roads leading to the residence of the party chairman were blocked with heavy duty vehicles.
It took the party Chair and other members of the NWC over one hour to get to his residence after soldiers came to disperse the armed thugs.
Oshiomhole, who reacted while addressing party members, said: “I know you are hurt with what we are passing through here but I want to plead with you don’t be provoked. Any reasonable party leader will be happy to welcome people from another party into his party.
“Particularly when those coming were people who fought us in the last election. And when you look at the margin then it was like 50,000. So we are in Benin to welcome them but you could see how their thugs are unleashing mayhem on people.
“But I want to tell you, APC is our house and we will not destroy it neither are we going to allow any body destroy it. We don’t want any one to be killed so please don’t fight back. Those who know me know that I am not a coward, I am not afraid of a fight. But I will not and I urge you to remain calm.
“We are getting conflicting reports now, the IG ordered the Commissioner of Police to give us protection for our rally. But we are being told now that the same authority said it has been cancelled. But I am going to make calls and find out what the problem is, if the police is saying they cannot protect a political rally.
“I will find out and let you people know. But even if they said we cannot hold it, please don’t fight anybody. I will meet them and find out when it will hold. But the rally will still hold some day. We have the right of association. This is not the first time we are seeing situations like this, but I can assure you it will not last forever.
“No condition is permanent. We must do everything to keep APC in Edo State no matter what the devil thinks. APC Is our house so we must resist any temptation to fight back. We must remember that our President Muhammad Buhari is a peaceful man. We must remain peaceful and go home and tell everyone, we remain strong. No body can shake our spirit. We will receive our brothers into the party to fortify our party.”
Mega rally: More tension as APC youths set bonfires in in Edo
*Govt orders closure of schools, cites disturbing security report
Thousands of Youths loyal to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State Thursday protested against Friday’s planned mega rally to receive former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and other defectors into the ruling party.
This is as the state government also Thursday ordered the closure of all schools over what it described as “disturbing security report concerning the use of school premises for a political rally.”
The protesting APC youths, who said they were drawn from 192 wards in the state, insisted they do not want any violence in the state.
They marched from Ring road to the Benin Airport.
The youths had set bonfires on different parts of the dual carriage Airport Road thereby causing hours of traffic gridlock, even as motorists made detours through other routes to the city centre.
Spokesman for the protesters, Mr. Imafidon Utete, said they were on the streets to protest against plans to disrupt public peace under the guise of receiving PDP members.
Shettima: North’ll look beyond APC, PDP in 2023 if…
Alhaji Yerima Shettima is the National President of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF). In this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, he speaks on recent developments in the polity, especially North’s quest for the 2023 presidency, calls for restructuring and electoral reforms, among other issues
The Acting Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) recently said that the North is going to support northerner for the presidency in 2023. What is your take on that and do you see Northern youths also going in that direction?
Did he say anything different thing from what I said before? Was I not the one who started it? Do you think I would just come out and say something I am not sure of? It is not possible, and that is why I will advise all political parties to zone their presidential tickets to the North. Any political party that makes the mistake of presenting a southerner as presidential candidate in 2023 is wasting its time.
Why informed your conviction?
The North will massively go one way, so I will advise the various political parties to present a northern candidate. My argument is based on the fact that rotation of the presidency was jettisoned in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan. So, if President Muhammadu Buhari eventually completes his second term in 2023, the North would only have had nine years, while the South would have had 15 years. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had eight years of uninterrupted administration; Umaru Yar’Adua had only one year, the second year he was sick and Jonathan acted for one year before becoming the substantive president as a result of the Doctrine of Necessity and after Yar’Adua’s demise in 2010, Jonathan became president. So, out of the four years of Yar’Adua’s first term, he had only one year, while Jonathan had three years of the administration.
When some of us came out in 2011 to say it is important for the country to allow a northern candidate to emerge through the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), so that the North can complete the Yar’Adua administration and northern administration by extension, some people raised eyebrows, saying ‘it is not constitutional, there is nothing like agreement, it is the right of every Nigerian to contest’ and that was how the issue of rotational presidency was jettisoned.
I also think that it is fair to allow the North to retain power beyond 2023 given the challenge the region is facing in terms of insecurity and lack of infrastructure. No doubt, one of our own is heading the country today, but we are the most backward, most marginalised in this administration. Everything is being cornered by the South-West in terms of road network, rail project and anything you can talk of.
But prior to the present Fourth Republic, the North has been at the helm of affairs for many years compared to other geo-political zones…
Despite that look at what is happening to us; we have suffered enough. If we are talking of justice, we never got justice from Nigerians. I gave you an analysis of the South occupying the presidency for 15 years and even if with Buhari’s two terms, we would only have had nine years. Can we compare nine to 15 years? Even if we are given the 2023 ticket freely without anybody opposing us, you will realise that we will only have 13 years. We have not even catch-up with the South’s 15 years. But however, let us just have one shot more so that we can be able to look at somebody else because we do not see anything meaningful coming out of this administration or anything in the best interest of the North for now.
So, we are saying that by the time we have one more shot between 2023 and 2027, we would have been able to put things on ground because we are not going to assume that four years is enough for us to solve all our problems. At least, there would be template that successive governments that come from any part of the country can also build on.
What is the assurance that if the North produces the president in 2023, the person coming on board will address the region’s problems, considering the fact that many northerners have been at the helms of affairs for almost 38 years since Nigeria gained independence 59 years ago?
What is the guarantee that if we leave it and somebody from the South becomes the president, he would do projects for us?
Does that not show that where a president comes from is not an issue?
We will ensure that the candidate we are going to produce from the northern part of Nigeria is somebody who has the capacity, age and energy. Those are some of the criteria we are going to consider and at the same time, we must be able to assess his antecedents on his relationship with other parts of the country. Does he have a say and does he see himself as a Nigerian or just a northerner? We want a pan-Nigeria person from the northerner part of the country, who sees the country as his constituency and at the same time knows where he comes from.
Who are the likely presidential candidates the North is looking at for the 2023 presidential election?
I won’t give names because it is too early to talk about that. In the Northern part of the country today, when I make a statement, you hardly see anybody opposing it because I don’t talk just because I want to talk. I talk from facts because I am an insider. I am a member of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and by extension, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF). I have my platform too. So, anything I come up with, be rest assured that there is was a wide consultation before I pronounced it. I don’t just sit down in my comfort zone and talk because I want publicity.
We have two major parties in Nigeria today, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). What do you foresee if the two parties zone their presidential tickets to the South in 2023?
There are other political parties, so we will look for an alternative platform without considering the size of the party.
Do you think it is possible for you to get an alternative to the two major parties?
Why was it possible for APC to do what it did in less than two years?
But APC was a big party when it confronted PDP, which was the ruling party in 2015…
It was a merger of Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and other political parties. So, it is possible again; we can still do that magic. In less than one year, you will see things taking shape. We are working mindful of the fact that timing is also one of the factors we have and we are working around the clock. In less than one year, you will get to hear that this is a different dimension; a lot of things will come to play. By the way, what makes you think that people will go for APC or PDP? Think beyond that. We are thinking of an alternative beyond APC and PDP and we will get there.
The next general election is about three years away, but the conduct and outcome of the last month’s governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states caused some apprehension over what may happen in 2023. What are thoughts on that?
Was there any election in Kogi? It was an act of shame as state instruments were used against the will of the people and leaders forced on them. That was what happened in Kogi at the expense of peoples; lives. An election that was supposed to be calm and cool with the over 30,000 policemen deployed as claimed by the Nigerian Police Force to protect lives and property, but look at what has happened. Lives have been wasted. There was a broad-day light robbery; everything was done in the open. Was that what you called election? For me, the last election we had was in 2015. In every other election after that, we were just going backward. We have not done anything meaningful under the present leadership of the Independent National Electoral Committee (INEC). This is the worst experience we ever had.
With what happened in Kogi and Bayelsa, do you have any fear about the 2023 elections?
I am worried over what happened in the Kogi and Bayelsa elections and without carrying out electoral reforms before the next general election, I foresee a situation where the whole country go up in flames. I am worried and I am afraid. The only thing left for this government to do that will be meaningful beyond any other thing to save the future of this country is to pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
Why do you think that elections are gradually turning into war in Nigeria?
It is because people are becoming more desperate. Holding of political office in this country pays more than running any other business and to that extent, people believe the moment they secure a political office, they will make money than they ever imagined within a short period of time. No matter how stupid the office looks, they make money. That has made people to become more desperate. So, we must begin to act in the right way by looking at the electoral law. For me, I am looking beyond amending the electoral law; I am also looking at a situation where we ensure that we reduce the power at the centre. If power at the centre is reduced, people will begin to yearn for political positions in their regions and communities. If you know you don’t have the pedigree or capacity within the community and you want to contest to represent your people, ordinarily you would be knocked out because everything would be put on ground to measure your capacity and people will see it.
So, the moment you are not supposed to be among their first 11, they will drop you and they will bring people who are competent. If they knew from time that your family is into fraudulent act, those records would be used to disqualify you. So, at that level, we will begin to have good leaders and no matter where you come from, nobody cares; whether you are rich or poor. The son of a nobody can be president, governor or minister and on that basis, we will begin to have a Nigeria that is peaceful, coordinated and development will be there for everybody. Without that, there will be problem.
We should also decentralise power, but you cannot decentralise power without restructuring. Restructuring is one of the issues that have been in the front burner. We need to look at this issue of system of governance; what kind of system of government we need and how to run it? It is only when we sit down and discuss that we can arrive at a conclusion.
Talking about restructuring, the South and Middle Belt parts of the country have been clamouring for restructuring, but the North seems not to be in support…
Whoever told you that the North is not in support of restructuring is a bloody liar. The opinion of few northern people who don’t understand the meaning of restructuring does not mean that the entire North is against restructuring. The Northern Elders Forum is not opposed to restructuring and that was why it entered into an alliance with leaders from other parts of the country to form a pan-Nigeria movement – the Nigeria Elders Forum that brought together the likes of Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief John Nwodo, among others.
So, if you see somebody saying that the North is against restructuring, probably the person doesn’t have an idea of what he is talking about. We are prepared to discuss; we are prepared to reshape the country , so that we can move forward.
So, you are hopeful that Nigeria would be restructured one day…
Definitely, it will. It is a matter of time.
Do you think restructuring is achievable under the incumbent administration?
It is not possible under this administration. They will not do it.
Why do you say so?
Because the characters we have in the administration do not believe in restructuring.
There is a rumoured of third term agenda for President, which many still believe despite the President saying he is not interested in a third term…
I also heard about the speculation, but I am one of those who see things beyond just hearing. Though President Buhari has come out openly to say he is not interested in a third term, we have realised that sometimes he might not want to do something, but the forces around him wouldn’t let him be. To that extent, we cannot fold our hands and assume that because he has said it, it is over; it is not yet over. As they are saying they will not, we will not also sleep because nothing is impossible. We have seen that so many things the government promised not to do are what it has done.
For instance, when they came to power, they promised that fuel price would go back to N45 per litre, but instead of that there was over 100 per cent increment in the price of fuel. They also said there won’t be an office of the First Lady, but wife of the president has suddenly become first lady. We have seen a case where they said fuel subsidy was a scam, but in fact, this government is even paying more than what the previous government paid.
Are you saying that the APC cannot be trusted on the third term issue?
They cannot be trusted under; it is not just about Buhari because Buhari is an individual.
But the President has said that he is not running for a third term…
It is not enough for Nigerians to go and sleep. We hope he doesn’t, but if he does, it is going to be as good as dead on arrival because tension is high. Nigerians have suffered enough, so anything you bring that goes against their mindset would be resisted.
The Federal Government few months ago closed the nation’s borders, but some Nigerians believe that the decision has brought hardship to the people, while government is of the view that the decision is in the interest of the country. How would you react to that?
I don’t understand and my thinking maybe because I am a layman or because I am not in government. There is saying that he who drives on the road knows exactly where the potholes are than somebody who is just a passenger. I don’t know how somebody can justify this issue of border closure at the expense of Nigerians, who are suffering. You said the reason for closing the borders is for us to focus on what we have in-house. What are those things we have inside and has closure of the borders really given Nigerians the opportunity to consume our own products.
You said we are producing enough rice locally, but today, a bag of local rice is sold for over N22, 000. How does that help the common man? If you are buying a bag or rice for almost N22, 000 and getting what you want from the rice, it is a different thing. But we have a situation, where the rice has stones and even tasteless at that expensive amount of money. Does that help us in any way? I don’t think so. We should have more locally produced rice at a cheaper price. If the rice is being sold at cheaper price, people will buy it and they will know that they are either faced with eating the rice with the stones or take time to select the stones from the rice and eat it tasteless because they want to be patriotic Nigerians.
Let the government be courageous enough to tell people what they have benefitted from the boarder closure. The only benefit I am aware of is the money the country is making on a daily basis coming from the angle of Nigerian Customs, but is that enough to hold the entire country of over 180 million people to ransom. Because of what you are making, you deprive families’ their means of survival. And this money you claim to be getting for government, does it anyway impact on the country? If it had impacted, we wouldn’t have heard just few days ago that the government is going for another loan; writing the National Assembly for approval of about $30 billion loan with over $287 billion that is already on ground.
So, where is this money that they are talking about that we are making? Where is the money that has been recovered from looters? Where is the money that we have saved in the Single Treasury Account? Where is our foreign reserve? Why are we still going about borrowing? In fact, the World Bank has warned Nigeria to be careful of taking any loan again and we are still in it.
Some Nigerians have attributed high cost of governance as major problems of the country and they are therefore calling on government to cut cost. Wheredo you stand on that?
What is wrong in reducing it? Are they not the people that are supposed to do it? Are they doing it? Just few days ago, we heard of this issue of arrears that governors are collecting. The smallest one announced was the one of Zamfara State, where a former governor was collecting N10 million per month. I commend Zamfara State governor and members of the state House of Assembly for kicking it out and I hope other governors who are not in tune with this godfatherism issue would also kick it out, so that we can begin to save from that angle.
Don’t you think it is time we reduced the number of public officers too?
We should do that, especially if we can place the National Assembly on part time basis; they will only collect allowances, it will be better. In fact, it will reduce people thinking that the only business they can do is to go into politics because you see people spending over a billion naira just to become a senator, while someone is spending about N10 billion to be a governor. What do you expect if somebody invests up to N10 billion in an election? How do you expect him to be accountable to his people? Certainly, he will plan to make 10 times of the money he invested to get into office. So, if he invests N10 billion; he is expected to get back N100 billion.
Bayelsa guber: The long walk to change
The 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State has come and gone, but PAULINE ONYIBE reports that it is one that will linger in the memories of many, given the intrigues that altered the political equation in the oil-rich state
Unlike what happened in 2015 Bayelsa State during the general elections, when women stood their ground in places like Southern Ijaw that another party will not succeed, but the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the same women and this time, the youth and in fact, almost all Bayelsans, agreed that they didn’t want the PDP again in the November 16 governorship poll.
Even in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s local government area, a supposed leader of the PDP in Nigeria, the outcome was not different as the All Progressives Congress (APC) also won.
The PDP governorship in the 2015 election, Seriake Dickson defeated his APC counterpart, Timipre Sylva, by polling 134,998 votes against the latter’s 86,852 votes.
Of course, it wasn’t an easy win for Dickson then, but the electorate helped him pull through, though then President Jonathan, who was instrumental to his rise to power, played a major role.
The PDP had been in power in Bayelsa State for about 20 years since the advent of democratic rule in 1999 and the people of the state were not ready to give another party a chance in the recent November 16 election.
However, the PDP ran in to trouble waters, when it failed to manage its primaries that led to the emergence of its candidate for the poll. As a result of what many described as assurance from Governor Dickson to the numerous aspirants, who showed interest in the party’s ticket, PDP raked in about N420 million from purchase of nomination forms.
Each of the nomination forms cost a whopping N21 million naira and 21 aspirants picked the forms. They were Oliver Tariela, Kaniebi Okoko, Great Joshua Maciver, Franklin Osaisai, Ndutimi Alaibe, Benson Agadaga, Fredrick Agbedi, Reuben Okoya, Douye Diri, Talford Ongolo, Kemela Okara, Gboribiogha John Jonah, Benson Konbowei, Godknows Igali, Johnson Kiyaramo, Paulker Emmanuel, Anthony George-Ikoli, Robinson Etolor, Nimibofa Ayawei, David Alagoa and Igiri Ziperedein.
But, their displeasure with the way the PDP primary was conducted made some of the aspirants like Tmi Alaibe who felt cheated to head to the court to challenge the outcome.
The former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) came second in the primary with 561 votes. His argument was that the then eight newly inaugurated local government chairmen and the 105 councilors, who voted during the primary, were not legible to vote.
Though he didn’t leave the party, it was so glaring that most of his supporters left and those who stayed were not there in spirit and in truth.
Also a gale of defection hit the party when the governor made the party members to understand that there was restoration caucus which eventually produced the candidate. Those, who left felt there was no need staying back since there was division in the party.
One of the persons, who left PDP that also contributed to the defeat of the party, was Gabriel Jonah, who has been one of the forces keeping PDP in Nembe local government. Jonah led thousands of his ‘Otita Force’ members to the APC.
Also, Senator Nimi Barigha Amange, also dumped the PDP for the APC. Abenego Don Evarada and Helen Bob all former aides to the governor also dumped the party for the APC. A former member of the state House of Assembly, Parkinson Markmanuel, Glad Stone Amabibi, Abadani Dick, Omonibeke Kemelayefa and Robert Enogha among other prominent PDP members left, but the governor still assured the remaining members that such won’t stop PDP from winning the governorship election.
Jonah left because of the ill-fated treatment he felt was done to his elder brother, who is also the deputy governor of the state.
Nembe people also felt that the governor should have supported his deputy to take over from him instead of another person and he felt slighted which has made him to somehow abandon the restoration since after the primaries.
The deputy governor has not been seen in the public performing any government function since that time. This, perhaps, explained why the people of Nembe warned PDP not to come anywhere close to their area and the crisis when the party went to the local government during the campaigns.
There were also issues over the choice of PDP’s deputy governorship candidate. The argument was that since the governor who claimed to be the leader of PDP in Bayelsa State has made his choice of the governorship candidate, Senator Douye Diri, some stakeholders felt that the deputy governor should have come from Ogbia – former President Jonathan’s local government area.
Other stakeholders felt that the governor shouldn’t have also picked the deputy governorship candidate after choosing the governorship candidate. They complained that the governor exhibited highhandedness and felt belittled. Even some of the aspirants, who contested the primary, disappeared with just two or three of them supporting Senator Diri.
All the governors’ effort it was learnt was to make way for him to get to the senate after his tenure as the governor of the state.
Amidst the discomfort within the party, Jonathan didn’t say a word because it was learnt that he tried talking to Governor Dickson on the need to allow Alaibe fly the party’s flag but did not succeed.
Even when the governor was told by other stakeholders that Senator Diri was not “a marketable candidate,” he reportedly didn’t listen to anybody as a result the former president kept quite hence APC won in his local government.
The, perhaps, explained why most political analysts and observers in the state and even beyond, were quick to insist that the PDP lost the election because of the peoples’ protest votes in favour of APC.
To these analysts and observers, it was the desire of most Bayelsans to vote out PDP because of what they termed the highhandedness of the PDP administration.
The electorate, including those staying in areas prone to flooding, defied the rain on election day and came out en mass to exercise their franchise. At Opolo, women were seen chanting APC with their brooms.
In the market and the streets of Yenagoa, it was the decision of many to try another party and they made good their decision by voting massively for APC.
After APC’s victory, it was wild jubilation across the state as residents celebrated the coming of the APC.
Lyon won in six out of the state’s eight local government areas, while senator Diri won in two local government areas.
Lyon polled 352,552 votes to defeat Diri, who polled 143,172 votes. The six local government areas won by the APC are Brass; Nembe; Ogbia,
Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor and Yenagoa, while the PDP won in the Sagbama and Kolokuma/Opokuma local government areas.
In Sagbama local government area, the APC polled 7, 831 votes while the PDP scored 60,339 votes. In Nembe, APC got 83,041 votes, while the PDP polled 874 votes.
In Kolouma/Opokuma, the APC scored 8,934 votes, while the PDP scored 15,360 votes. In Brass, APC got 23,831 votes, while the PDP polled 10,410 votes.
APC scored 24,607 votes in Yenagoa, while the PDP got 19,184 votes. In Ogbia, APC got 58,016 votes, while PDP polled 13,763 votes.
In Southern Ijaw Local Government, the APC candidate polled 124,803 votes, while his PDP rival got 4,898 votes. Lyon also defeated Diri in Ekeremor by polling 21,489 to the PDP’s candidate’s 18,344 votes.
No doubt, Bayelsans desired change and they got it. However, the change did not come that easy as lots of political intrigues and political horse-trading defined it.
Contracts: Reps concur with Senate on 30 percent mobilisation fee
By Philip Nyam, Abuja
The House of Representatives on Wednesday joined the Senate in increasing mobilisation fee of local contractors from 15 to 30 percent in what it believes will reduce the bureaucratic issues that delay the execution of projects by amending the procurement act.
Recall that the Senate had last week passed the bill and transmitted to the House for concurrence.
An executive bill, it is titled: “a bill for an act to amend the National Council on Public Procurement and the Bureau of Public Procurement act, No. 14, 2017 to review the mobilization fees paid to contractors, institute e-procurement and provide time frame for the procurement process etc and for related matters”
Presenting the bill for concurrence, the acting leader of the House, Hon. Peter Akpatason said the current mobilisation fee for local contractors was inadequate and that it caused abandonment of contracts in the country.
He said when passed into law, the bill will reduce the timeline for processing contracts award to two weeks, while it approved four days for issuance of certificates.
The lawmakers, however, did not fix any percentage as mobilisation fee for foreign contractors.
Gemade begins moves to succeed Ortom in 2023
From: Cephas Iorhemen, Makurdi
Barely three years to the end of the eight-year tenure of Governor Samuel Ortom, former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Barnabas Gemade has kicked off moves to launch himself into the 2023 gubernatorial race to take over power from the incumbent governor.
Senator Gemade, who represents Benue North East in the red chamber of the National Assembly from 2011 to 2019, disclosed this in an interview in his Gboko residence.
The former Minister of Works in President Ibrahim Babangida’s administration, said there is mounting pressure on him from the zone and and state at large to contest the election, he is still consulting with relevant stakeholders and was expecting a positive answer from God to have a smooth sailing into government house.
He particularly pointed that his track record of achievements while in the senate and other public offices have placed him in a vantage position above other intending aspirants in the zone to clinch the seat in the coming governorship election.
“My scorecard is so large and convincing enough for Benue people to want me to be their governor as you can see the pressure now even as 2023 is still far from here. For example, in my two tenures at the red chambers, I delivered over 360 projects in my constituency apart from over 10,000 items I distributed and lots more,” he said.
Edo 2020: Obaseki’s game-changer
Felix Nwaneri reports that despite mounting opposition to Governor Godwin Obaseki’s second term bid, the Edo State helmsman could leverage on his achievements so far to scale the hurdle
igeria is said to have failed to attract investment because the local dynamics are too shoddy and loosely defined, which it makes it difficult for serious investment to place a bet on the country or its subnational entities – the states.
But one state that has somewhat scaled this hurdle and is now a darling to international development institutions and investors is Edo State under the leadership of Governor Godwin Obaseki, an investment banker, who cut his teeth in deepening reforms in Nigeria’s investment sector.
There is no doubt that in the last three years that Obaseki has been at helms of affairs in the Edo, which prides itself as the “Heartbeat of the Nation,” he has brought his expertise to bear on the development of the state, helping to facilitate the siting and mobilisation of funding for the Edo-Azura Power project, which has the World Bank Group, Siemens and Julius Berger, among others, on board.
This was to ensure that the state has a proven record of attracting and keeping investors to build the right infrastructure that can drive industrialisation. Though Edo-Azura supplies power to the National Grid, its presence has spurred the incursion of more power companies into the state and also guarantees other large industries in the state a source for relatively stable power.
Interestingly, the Obaseki administration has also been able to replicate its giant stride in other sectors, especially education, sports, urban renewal and civil service reforms, among others.
As it is, the world is paying attention to the education reforms in Edo State. In a recently published commentary on its website, the World Economic Forum (WEF) applauded the Edo State Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo-BEST) initiative for improving learning outcomes among pupils in primary schools across the state and described Governor Obaseki, as a trailblazer who is “quickly and dramatically lifting the quality of government schools and up skilling teachers in his low-income state.”
According to the WEF, “education experts around the world and across Africa in particular are paying close attention to EdoBEST that has become a beacon of light to other education ministries because it is improving learning for marginalised children and up skilling both novice and experienced teachers at scale, within existing state budgets and without western aid.”
The Forum further said that the changes are happening within the existing system and being spearheaded by existing teachers and school leaders, and hailed the reforms as “a Nigerian solution to a Nigerian problem.”
The World Bank and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) have also highlighted EdoBEST as a crucial programme that can be a template for transforming education in educationally disadvantaged societies. Last September, the World Bank Group organised a side-event at the UNGA summit in New York to discuss Edo-BEST.
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) also recently bestowed Governor Obaseki with the Best Performing Governor Award in recognition of his education reforms, success of the Edo-BEST programme and his prioritisation of teachers’ welfare in the state.
Receiving the award, Obaseki said: “If you are not able to add your sums and pronounce your alphabets, you cannot write and you cannot think logically. So, what we have done in Edo State is to prioritise basic and technical education.”
He argued that basic education from the perspective of encouraging teachers, deploying technology to determine and tell when a teacher is in class, among others, form the basis of the Edo-BEST programme.
“I can tell from my office today when a teacher is in class. If a teacher is not in class then the teacher hasn’t signed into the database. Once a teacher is signed in, the lesson note for that day will be loaded into the teacher’s tablet. And we’ve trained teachers to understand how to use the tablets and the technology to teach the children.
“So, this is also to motivate them and corporal punishment has been abolished in our schools. The outcome is that children are learning. A child in Edo state today after one term has now learnt more than three terms of work in the old system,” he said.
In the area of urban renewal, the Obaseki-led government has it as one of its key development thrusts, and since the start of the administration, there has been massive construction of roads, reclaiming of gully erosion sites, construction of parks and restoring sanity to public places across the state.
The unprecedented urban renewal projects have earned the governor the sobriquet: “Wake and See Governor,” said to be a product of the governor’s unique leadership style that abhors unnecessary fanfare.
The road construction projects span across different parts of the state and are being spearheaded by the Ministry of Infrastructure, State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR) and SEEFOR Plus, the state government-funded scheme modeled after the World Bank funded project.
A major aspect of the governor’s infrastructure drive is the renovation of public schools across the state, expected to complement investment in human capital development.
Schools, including conventional and technical institutions of learning, are being remodeled to reflect the governor’s commitment to build infrastructure in the quest to revive the state’s industrial sector.
The target, according to the state government, is to have institutions that would serve as grooming grounds for best-in-town technical experts, who will receive training and certification that would be recognized in any part of the world.
On sports, Obaseki is leaving no stone unturned to return Edo State to its glorious days and this informs the ongoing renovation, expansion and equipping of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium with state-of-the-art facilities to spur sports development and develop local talents in the state.
The governor said of the project: “We take sports seriously in this state, because 72 per cent of our population is under 30 years of age, and that is why we are building 20 mini-stadia across the state.”
The Edo Innovation Hub is another initiative that has been acclaimed by many. A cluster for technology innovators and inventors, the hub was set up to strengthen the state’s nascent technology innovation scene. The hub was commissioned on June 14, 2018 by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Tagged Edo Innovates, the hub provides a range of beginner, intermediate and advanced training in business and technology innovation, providing youths the opportunity to learn a wide array of employability
and entrepreneurial skills.
Specifically, some of the offerings at the hub include digital skills, business support services, start-up incubation and business acceleration, mentorship, co-working spaces, and entrepreneurship training.
More than 1,000 youths have been trained at the facility since inception, with not less than a quarter of them being females. Besides this, the hub has recently proven to be a resource center for the state’s government plans to build an internationally competitive locally-trained labour force in partnership with reputable organisations, working to mitigate the menace of human trafficking and illegal migration.
This has attracted investment from the World Bank-assisted State Employment and Expenditure for Results project (SEEFOR) Project, United Kingdom (UK) the Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE), a number of Chinese companies, among others, at the hub.
On civil service reforms, Governor Obaseki has reiterated that he will not sack any worker in the state because he believes in the power of the human intellect and would never work to render any worker a liability.
With this thinking, the governor has made the civil service in Edo State a fulcrum of his reform agenda by ensure that workers are catered for while in service and in retirement.
This informed the decision to re-train civil servants for efficiency and through a partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the state government is retooling the state’s workforce for effective service delivery.
And in line with its efforts to ensure that no civil servant is redundant, the state government conducts regular training for civil servants with a focus to make them better at their jobs.
The government has also undertaken to redesign offices and build a Training School that would provide institutional support for the plan to ensure that workers are brought up to speed with current developments in their areas of expertise.
The state government has also built Judges’ Quarters to ensure that the welfare of members of the top brass of the judiciary is well catered for. New Court complexes are being constructed, with the governor determined to convert Edo into the judiciary hub of the Niger Delta. Stenography equipment and other modern equipment have been procured and court clerks trained to deploy them to ensure an efficient, fast and seamless judicial process.
The pension reforms in the state have also helped in clearing the backlog of pension arrears accumulated for almost 20 years before the current administration. The workers in the state have been migrated to the contributory pension scheme. The success of the scheme at the state level has inspired the extension of the scheme to the local government level.
The state government, also realising that one of the biggest tasks before it, is the challenge of human trafficking and illegal migration, has faced it head-on.
This explained why the governor didn’t mince words when he came into office as to the fact that the state had a problem with illegal migration, which deprived it of its human capital.
To tackle this problem, Obaseki set to work by employing a mix approach of engagement and dialogue across to get the necessary stakeholders on board. With this, the state was able to set up the Edo Taskforce Against Human Trafficking (ETAHT), empowered by the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Law.
The law was a landmark feat to give legal backing to the fight against human trafficking in the state. With such commitment, the governor has appealed to countries that suffer migrant crisis to invest in opportunities of building institutions and infrastructure that will complement the state government’s efforts in engaging and empowering youths in the state.
While it is acknowledged that there is more to electoral victories in emerging democracies such as Nigeria, there is no doubt that Obaseki will leverage on the giant strides of his administration in his quest to return to office as governor of Edo State for a second term.
The governor, who beat his chest on this, told New Telegraph in a recent interview that “if I have the people with me, there is nothing to be afraid of because election is not a war that requires deployment of the military for possible take-over of a territory.
He added: “If God had wanted things to continue the way they were in Edo State, He would not have brought a total stranger like me; He would have selected one of the subsisting faces in politics. I am a different person, so I have to do things differently. But, if some reactionary forces feel that we must go back to where we were before now, they have the people of Edo State to battle with.”
BREAKING NEWS19 hours ago
Electricity workers suspend strike
Politics10 hours ago
Mega rally: More tension as APC youths set bonfires in in Edo
Politics4 hours ago
Edo APC rally: Oshiomhole arrives Benin amidst tight security
News22 hours ago
Minimum Wage: No room for excuses or delay, NLC warns govs
Politics23 hours ago
Shettima: North’ll look beyond APC, PDP in 2023 if…
News22 hours ago
NSA: Unthinkable things occurred in Kogi, Bayelsa polls
News22 hours ago
Nationwide blackout as power grid collapses
Politics23 hours ago
Bayelsa guber: The long walk to change