The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, in this interview with Onwuka Nzeshi, speaks on his vision for the state
What are you doing to reconcile all those who contested for the PDP governorship ticket with you to ensure there is no rancour within the party as you go into the election in November?
We’re trying our best. Even now, the process is still ongoing. We are calling them and moving to make peace with everyone. We’re also talking to their friends and brothers to ensure that we all come back together as a party. But, you’ll agree with me that party politics in Nigeria has not been the way it is in other climes. That is why you see people crossing over to other parties with ease. We’re not there yet, but I believe that we need to consolidate on what our party has achieved in our state. We’ve gone beyond the issue of getting control of governance.
A political party has other functions, which it owes its members and these include educating members of the party and building cohesion among them. Here, we see the party as just an avenue to grab political power and that’s why it’s really difficult when you come into a contest like this, somebody is already moving to a rival party just because he lost the ticket at the primary election. You see an aggrieved person moving into not just any other party, but the main rival party that will actually give you the fight of your life.
So, to answer your question directly, we are trying our best; we’re calling them and talking to them. I’ve had discussions with a number of them and they have agreed that they are not going to any other party. They said they will sit back and work with the party to be sure that the PDP wins the governorship election in Bayelsa State. If I win the election, I’m not winning as Douye Diri, but as a member of the PDP, the party that nominated me. So, it is the PDP that is actually winning at the election.
How are you going to manage the Timi Alaibe factor, knowing that he is apparently aggrieved about the outcome of the primary and given the fact that he is a formidable force?
I just told you that I was with him for about 10 years. I also want to let you know that Alaibe and I are from the same local government, so he is my brother. That’s why I’m saying that we are not home and dry yet. We’re still talking to ourselves. We’re still approaching every contestant including him for us to see reason to come together. You know, politics is like marrying a wife or going to look for a wife to marry. Maybe it’s very easy these days, but in our own time, it could take you a whole year to woo a woman. So, we’re still in that process.
I still see him as a brother and I believe he too will see me as a brother. I don’t believe that there is any one of us, including myself, that is indispensable. But I agree with you that Alaibe is a factor. He came into the race and did very well like every other contestant. Everyone of us was in that race to win. I don’t think that anybody will like to throw away N21 million. If somebody comes in with N21 million and doesn’t win the ticket, then be rest assured that maybe the odds were not in his or her favour.
Some people believe that even if Alaibe is pacified and doesn’t defect, you also have the All Progressives Congress (APC) hurdle to scale…
I want to correct an impression. Yes, we have a fight in front of us, but I don’t see the other people as being so strong on the ground to fight the PDP. If we have a free, fair and transparent election, the APC cannot win a councillorship election in Bayelsa State. That’s the truth. It’s all these hypes about federal might, using security agencies to intimidate people or using the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to write results.
What was the level of your consultations with key stakeholders like former President Goodluck Jonathan before you started this race?
The former president was my governor and I worked under him as a commissioner. So, that tells you the relationship that I have with him. I have a very cordial relationship with the former president and he was one of the key persons I consulted. I went to him in his house and he received me and took me to his wife because she was our mother at the time he was governor. So in a nutshell, I consulted him and he gave me his blessings. I also consulted very many other leaders before I finally joined the race.
There have been insinuations that Jonathan is more comfortable with Alaibe. What’s your view on that?
You see, politics is a game of interests. Until the man voted, you will not know who he is comfortable with among the contestants. Those speculations are part of the intrigues you find in political contests. The sitting governor said he had no candidate, but I saw in a post that if the governor had only one candidate to be adopted, it would be me. So, anybody can claim that the former president was with him, but it is only at the point of voting that you would know whether the former president is with you or not.
Given your closeness to the incumbent governor, how can you convince the electorate that you are a man of your own and not a stooge drafted to cover up the outgoing regime?
My track record shows who I am; what I stand for and why I even accepted to work with the current governor. Timipre Sylva was in power for five years and I didn’t get into Bayelsa State throughout that period. It shows you that I’m a man of principle. I choose my friends and those I want to work with and I chose to work with Governor Seriake Dickson and I am satisfied, working with him. Do you ask me why? There was a bill that was introduced to the State House of Assembly. It was called the Transparency Bill, which prescribed monthly transparency briefing, where you tell the people what comes into Bayelsa State and what is expended.
Now, because of my privileged position in the engine room of government, every month, when the federal allocation comes and the internal revenue comes to the table, Governor Dickson and I sit together in a committee to allocate what came into the state to the various Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government. The committee also includes the deputy governor, commissioner for Finance and all other finance-related officials. At that point, I knew that Governor Dickson was not taking anything out from what was coming into the state.
So, when people say I will be a stooge to cover up, I don’t know what I want to cover up, having known that there has been a transparent process of resource allocation in the state. There is a lot of envy in Bayelsa politics and of course in Nigerian politics. But with what I saw and participated in, I don’t think that there is anything for me to cover up. I just believe that it is out of my humility, honesty and principles that he recognised and felt that this candidate would be someone who will serve our people well.
What would be the policy thrust of your administration if elected as governor of Bayelsa State?
When we took over in 2012, the policy thrust was on education. There was a lacuna in our educational sector and the governor declared a state of emergency on education. I think that to a large extent, he has ameliorated the situation by filling most of the gaps that we discovered when we came into office. For instance, Bayelsa State ranked below 30 in all national examinations, when we came in, but today, we are among the top 10 states in those examinations. So that dream has been achieved to a level, but I will continue with it and ensure that we go higher. If we are among the first 10, I am thinking we should be among the top five. I know that is a very tall order when you have Imo, Lagos and other states, but we will try to improve on our current position.
Next will be the economy. For those of us who are from that place and grew up in the old Rivers State before the creation of Bayelsa State, you know that our local economy is neither here nor there. The sitting governor has tried to revive agriculture and focus on our areas of comparative advantage in the sector. I want to build a local economy in which our people will be directly involved.
I will also focus on security because no government can thrive without security of lives and property of the citizenry. We are seeing bits of it at the federal level. When the level of insecurity is so high, it is difficult for social development and real economic growth to take place.
One of your compatriots, Timi Frank recently said that your emergence as candidate of the PDP will pave way for the APC to grab the governorship seat. Is it true that you’re not on ground in Bayelsa State?
I like when people underestimate me. I’m very happy with it because it is out of that underestimation that I will spring surprises. When people say that my emergence will make the other party to win, they have not taken into cognizance that this is the same man who won two consecutive elections recently. I won election into the House of Representatives and subsequently to the Senate, yet you say that man is an underdog. Good, I’m an underdog; I want to be an underdog.
Obaseki insists no attack on Oshiomhole
… Says APC national chairman should observe protocols in state
The governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has insisted that the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was never attacked in the state as being alleged.
The governor also insist that the APC National Chairman and former governor of the sate should observe protocols while visiting Edo.
The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media, Communication and Public Affairs, Crusoe Osagie, said the former governor never inform his office, Commissioner of Police or Director of the Department of State Service (DSS), while on visit to the state.
According to him, if the party chairman should do the needful while visiting the state there would be less acrimony.
The governor maintained that he has no knowledge of the alleged attack on the residence of the APC National Chairman, stating that the report of the State Commissioner of Police, DanMallam Muhammed should be more paramount than any other report.
He called on government functionaries and political office holders to be circumspect in commenting on the allegations of attack against the former governor of the State.
Oshiomhole’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Simon Ebegbulemu and the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu had on Sunday issued statements alleging attack on the APC national chairman at his residence in Benin city on Saturday.
The duo had accused the officials of the state governor of carrying out the attack against the National Chairman.
However, the Edo State Police Commissioner has come out to debunk the allegations.
Three tribes reject Lalong’s imposition of APC chairmen
The three indigenes tribes and original owners of Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State, the Afizere, Anaguta and Berom have all rejected the imposition of the APC Candidates by Governor Simon Lalong as the Management Committee Chairmen of Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi and Riyom LGCs.
The group, under name ‘Autochthonous Peoples of Jos’ which consists of the Afizere, Anaguta and Berom urged Governor Lalong to reverse the recent appointment of Management Committee Chairmen of Jos North, Jos South, Barking Ladi and Riyom local government areas of the state.
Addressing journalists in Jos, leader of the group, which comprises of the Berom, Afizere and Anaguta tribes, Hon. Mrs Theresa Kaze said the appointments were illegal and cannot be sustained under whatever guise.
Hon. Kaze, who was flanked by other members of the group, said they are prepared to die for their people and heritage just the same way Governor Lalong is prepared to die for President Buhari.
“We are equally prepared to die for our people and for our collective heritage just the same way Governor Lalong is prepared to die for President Buhari,” he said.
According to them said since Governor Lalong has said that the security situation had improved, he should direct the State Independent Electoral Commission to therefore conduct the elections in the four local government areas in the interest of peace, security and good governance.
Abiodun holds secret talks with Daniel, Isiaka
*Ogun PDP leaders visit gov, blast Amosun
Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, on Tuesday, met with a former governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, and the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the 2019 election, Prince Gboyega Isiaka.
The meeting held separately behind closed doors at the Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
Similarly, Abiodun also held a secret meeting with some leaders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led by the state Chairman, Chief Adebayo Dayo.
New Telegraph reports that it was the first time since leaving office in 2011 that Daniel would visit the governor’s office.
Meanwhile, the PDP has expressed optimism that Abiodun would perform well as the state’s helmsman.
Speaking after meeting the governor, the party chairman lauded him for accommodating opposition members “unlike the immediate past governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.”
Dayo was accompanied by Otunba Robert Adenaike, Chief Kola Sorinola and Dr Remi Bakare, who was the Director-General of Senator Buruji Kashamu’s 2019 governorship campaign under PDP.
Oshiomhole accuses Obaseki of planning to dump APC
… Says Obaseki is monitoring his movement
The crisis between the Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole took another dimension on Tuesday, as the APC Chairman accused the governor of planning to dump the party.
The party Chairman also accused the Edo State governor of monitoring his movement.
According to statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the APC National chairman, Simon Ebegbulem, the governor is being envious of Oshiomhole’s popularity in the state.
The former Edo State governor, who alleged attack on his person at his residence in Benin city on Saturday, also accused the governor of making every effort to coerce him into giving him details of his movement in Edo State, just as he accussed him of plotting something against him.
The CPS said: “The governor should stop being jealous of Oshiomhole’s popularity in Edo State. He is a man that is at home with his people haven performed creditably well as governor of Edo State.
“So each time he is around both men and women gather round him, particularly APC members and of course the youths.”
Bayelsa APC inaugurated campaign council
The Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Tuesday inaugurated its 2019 Governorship Campaign Council.
Performing the inauguration, the party’s Chairman Jothan Amos, declared that the APC was best placed to win the November 16 gubernatorial election in the state.
Speaking earlier, the candidate of the party, David Lyon, promised to change Bayelsa State for the good of all.
He said: “To defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a task that must be done. Everyone has seen the hardship in the state. We are in total darkness. We cannot continue to remain a civil service state. Together, we will change the narrative.”
Alternate Director-General, Professor Brisibe, said the APC represents the hope and yearnings of the people of the state. He expresses confidence of victory.
“We are going to Government House, Yenagoa. We will banish hunger. We will banish poverty. We will banish insecurity. We will banish darkness. We will banish dictatorship,” he declared.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, is Director-General of the Campaign while Professor Seiyefa Brisibe is Alternate Director-General. Eddy Orubo, Hon. Christopher Enai, Chief Sonme Ogilogi and Barrister Festus Daumiebi are Deputy Director-Generals. The State Secretary of APC, Hon. Alabo Martins, is the Campaign Secretary
2020 Budget: Senate works towards early passage
CHUKWU DAVID reports how the 2020 Appropriation Bill, which was laid before the joint session of the National Assembly, last week by President Muhammadu Buhari, was dissected in the Senate, with commendations and criticisms characterizing the debate
The resolution of the current National Assembly to cooperate and collaborate with the executive arm of government with the ultimate goal of delivering good governance and dividends of democracy to the people has so far been demonstrated since the inauguration of the apex Assembly on June 11.
For instance, executive communications from President Muhammadu Buhari have been treated with dispatch, with little or no encumbrances from members of the parliament.
The most recent experience was the parliamentarians’ expeditious treatment of the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), forwarded to them by President Buhari for approval, preparatory to the laying of the 2020 budget estimates.
The President forwarded the MTEF/FSP on September 25 and one week after, precisely on Thursday October 3, the Senate considered and passed the report of the Joint Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Finance and National Planning on the document.
This kind of expeditious passage is actually rare, as it was not the practice in the immediate past Assembly given its acrimonious relationship with the executive, particularly the presidency.
Considering the report of the joint committee, the Senate made 16 recommendations to the executive, bordering on projections and proposals for the 2020 budget estimates.
For instance, the Senate in its recommendations proposed N10.729 trillion as total estimated Federal Government’s expenditure.
However, on Tuesday October 8, President Buhari, presented a budget of N10.33 trillion estimates for the 2020 fiscal year to the apex Assembly. According to allocations to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the trio of ministries of Works and Housing Power and Transportation got the lion share.
With exceptional zeal to pass the 2020 budget with unusual dispatch, the Senate immediately swung into action, by commencing debate on the general principles of the bill barely 24 hours after it was laid by the President.
The Senate debated the bill on Wednesday and Thursday last week, and will conclude the debate today.
Interestingly, the debate elicited vehement criticisms from the senators across party lines. It also attracted commendations from others, mostly those of the APC extraction.
This led to a sharp division among senators over the workability or otherwise of various projections made in the budget.
Senators expressed different views during the debate on the general principles of the bill, with many of them saying that the various indices used in articulating the document were not realistic.
The most striking experience during the debate was that the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, who opened the floor and led the debate, was very critical of the budget proposal, contrary to expectations that he might just shower praises on the document.
He said that the budget, with its proposals and projections, cannot move the country out of the economic quagmire it has found itself in the last 30 years. According to him, the capital budget of N2.14 trillion was too small to carry the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about two per cent.
His words: “The injection of this amount is a mere drop in the ocean and is incapable of stimulating the economy to higher growth, wealth creation and employment generation.
“An economic growth rate of 2.93 per cent for a population of nearly 200 million is only marginally above population growth rate at 2.6 per cent, annually. The country’s dependence on crude oil exports does not present a bright scenario for Nigeria’s healthy growth.”
After this foundation laid by the majority leader, other senators who spoke, pointed out one inadequacy or the other in the document, warning that the proposals should be thoroughly scrutinised and adjusted to make it implementable and impactful on Nigerians.
Contributing, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said that based on the projections and various indices used in the document, the budget is not sustainable.
His words: “The fact is that this is not a sustainable budget, the fact also tells us that if we need a change, we must be able to look at the critical fundamentals of this budget speech and make adjustments.”
Abaribe expressed serious concern that government had proposed series of taxes in order to raise money to fund the budget. “I want to suggest a name to those who wrote this that this is nothing but a budget of taxation,” he said.
However, in a comic gesticulation, Abaribe said: “Not having any choice, I will second the budget presentation by the Senate Leader, having taken into consideration my own submission of the budget of taxation.”
Also, contributing, Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue North East), said the budget is very ambitious as it intends to address the infrastructural deficit.
He said that the economy had contracted to a level that the Senate had to critically address some critical issues in the economy, while expressing reservations over the intention of government to use taxation as a major source of revenue.
“Along with the appropriation submitted by the President, was a financial bill and that bill has five thematic areas. I am worried about the area that talks about revenue. I am worried about that because Value Added Tax (VAT) that has been moved from five to 7.5 per cent is one of the sources that we tend to raise revenue from to finance critical areas of education and the health sector.”
He explained that most small business enterprises would be unable to address the issue of 7.5 per cent VAT as “7.5 per cent VAT is on the high side and has exempted mostly food items.”
However, the Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Jibril Barau, said that sectoral allocation of N262 billion to Works and N127 billion to Housing and Power, showed that government was serious in providing the necessary infrastructure to drive and sustain the economy. He added that government is serious to actualise its long term objective of diversifying the economy.
Senator Adamu Aliero, however, explained that VAT was increased to intervene in critical projects and that 85 per cent of funds realised would be shared among the three tiers of government.
He further said that the increment in VAT will not affect the poor, advising that the Social Investment Programme (SIP) should be all inclusive because the poverty level remains high in the country.
Senator Ibrahim Gobir, lamented that funds for debt servicing debt as well as borrowings will deal devastating blow on the budget, advising that the National Assembly must do something to reverse the trend.
Senator Kabiru Gaya, in his contribution, said that oil production projection should be increased from $57 to $60, so that the balance could be channeled into agriculture and the North East Development Commission.
Many other senators, who contributed expressed pessimism over the budget’s ability to achieve the desired results, while others commended President Buhari and his team for doing a good job.
Presidency has become instrument for sectional aggrandizement – Nwodo
Chief John Nwodo, a former Minister of Information, is the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. In this interview on Channels Television, monitored by TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, he speaks on the state of the nation and other issues
Former Senate Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu was recently attacked in Germany by those identified as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and that generated lots of issues. As Igbo leader, don’t you see the incident as spill out of the dynamics of what is going on currently within the group?
I don’t think so in regard to the last part of your question. The act in itself is condemnable; it is unIgbo; t is uncivilized and the early those tendencies are stopped, the better for all of us. In Igbo culture, it is sacrilege and unheard of for a young man to attack someone old enough to be his father. Secondly, for somebody in a leadership position like Senator Ekweremadu, there is some honour and respectability that goes with it. To attack him in a foreign country; attempt to tear his cloths; that itself, is assault. In any interpretation of criminal law, it is wrong. It is justiceable, you can take somebody to court for it. Can you imagine a father taking his son to court for criminal offence of assault? This is only an indication that there is no dialogue between father and son any more.
I was intended to be in Germany with Ekweremadu, but my visa came two days after the attack. I persuaded Ekweremadu to go because all the disparate Igbo organisations in Germany were coming together in an Igbo Day and they wanted to use the opportunity to dramatise some of the Igbo culture. But the essence was to reconcile them to become one. And I said to Ekweremadu that ‘if I can’t go, you too can help me to reconcile them.’ Everybody wanted to be president of an Igbo organisation and in the end there were eight Igbo organisations, none of which were ready to bow for one another. Ekweremadu was going there not as a guest speaker, but as a father to unite them. He never expected the attack, so he didn’t take any retinue of personal security because he was going to meet his brethren and this happened to him. Supposing he had some personal security, there would have been a fracas of inestimable proportion.
But what does this portray of us to the outside world. First, we are a people, who do not respect our culture. For IPOB as an organisation of young men, who are saying we cannot exist in a federation where we have injustice in terms of the kind of indiscrimination and marginalisation that our people are facing and we want a country of our own; reenacting what we did at their age when we fought for Biafra, they were proscribed and declared as a terrorist organization, but we said this is a wrong decision and we defended them in every international fora.
For them to turn an international forum into a display of terrorism; it completely nullifies our defence and makes us look like as if we don’t really know our children. But those who did that in Germany are a minority of IPOB members. It cannot be said that all members of IPOB are terrorist because they did that. However, the encouragement to them by the rest of IPOB leadership gives a vicarious liability for such a senseless act. It is much regrettable.
One of the things that have become a problem is what to do with herdsmen, who traditionally have travail the country and have done so without conflict up until recently. In trying to address this problem, which prominently in the Middle Belt has actually become more than a security challenge and it has spread to other parts of the country. But it is assumed that it has also a taken North and South divide…
To be honest with you, I put the blame squarely on the President of Nigeria and the people of Nigeria.
Why do you say so?
The President of Nigeria has allowed a crisis to slow down on something he has every authority to address because of his biases. Secondly, the people of Nigeria have embraced democracy without embracing the culture of democracy. We don’t speak to government, we don’t hold the government accountable and so anybody who is in government is like a superior Nigerian. If it is a local government chairman, he can do whatever he likes. He doesn’t need to account to you how he spends the local government’s money. If he is a governor, he can do what he likes. If he is a president, it is a higher form of what you like.
When I was child, herdsmen were in my part of the country. They never carried weapons; they carried sticks. They never invaded people’s farms; they went to graze in fields. In fact, the Eastern Nigeria Government established a cattle ranch in Obudu, where we grew our local cows. There was no conflict of this nature. As I grew up in Enugu, I saw a lot of Hausa and Fulani, who lived in Enugu Municipal. The election for Mayor of Enugu was between a Fulani man from Kastina and an Igbo man and Zik (Nnamdi Azikiwe) campaigned for the Fulani man and he won the election in Enugu just like I did in Ibadan.
But what we now have is jihad. People come from all kind of places and they invade our country. Our boarders are porous. If you have ever been to any of the boarder lines in Kastina and Sokoto, you find out that you don’t need a passport to enter Nigeria. How can a law say the state government is in custody of land and the state Assembly in our constitution in Benue State makes a law saying you can’t establish this kind of thing you want except it is regulated in a ranch and some people say no to that?
How can the governor of Ebonyi State say you can’t move cattle in his state except by vehicular movement; you don’t do it by land because you ravage our farms and a Miyetti Allah chiefd tells him that he can’t do and nobody arrests him? He is free to do so, but if IPOB says this is not a fair country, you arrest all of them and declare them a terrorist organisation. Something is wrong; fundamentally wrong. This is political and if it is not handled well, it has the incendiary capacity to destroy the foundations of our democracy and our federation, and God forbid that it should happen.
Giving the background you have given and the position you have taken, was it therefore a political miscalculation in 2015 and 2019 for the South-East not to go in the direction of those who eventually won?
There is something that is fundamentally wrong in our politics. In politics, freedom of choice of who you support in an election is a function of how much his manifesto represents your popular views and it has nothing to do with your reception of the benefits of governance. The constitution requires every public functionary to exercise authority without fear or favour, discrimination, ill-will or affection. If it is found out that the President as he openly said in London, is acting out his words and giving government amenities according to how he was voted for, it is an impeachable offence; it is a dereliction of our constitution and his oath of office.
When I was in the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) with Shehu Shagari, he lost in the East in his first election as president, but we had a meeting of the party and one
Idris, who was Deputy Speaker from Niger State got up and said that the Igbo have gotten more positions in government than they deserved because they didn’t vote for NPN. He said that out of 10 advisers of the president, six were Igbo, which was true.
But Chuba Okadigbo and I got up and we insisted that he should withdraw the statement because it was a fundamental derogation to our constitution and he did. Chief Adisa Akinloye as national chairman of the party also insisted that he must withdraw it and he did. The issue is that at the end of an election, whoever won has no opposition any more. And you know that by his policies, Shehu Shagari turned round and won the South-East given the way he embraced them even after they had voted against him.
This is politics; you must have my interest in your manifesto. If you don’t have it, I have no business with you. In the last election, which I can speak of, the preponderance of opinion in Igbo land was that we must have restructuring and we can only support anyone who is prepared to return Nigeria to what it was at independence. It was a non-negotiable platform and as President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, I risked my personal security for not dancing along the tune of the Igbo. That was their popular wish and it was my responsibility to voice it out.
This position was arrived at after several consultative meetings with our people and their voting proved this. I didn’t force each one to do so. They wanted their destiny in their own hands and you also saw that in the Middle Belt. The West was divided dramatically into two on this and I believe that the division was because of the fact that the West had the vice presidency of Nigeria and on the ticket of the ruling party, otherwise the broad spectrum of the Yoruba wanted restructuring.
The South-South was clearly for restructuring in their voting pattern. So, I have no regret that the Igbo went the way they did. It was a function of their political desire to have Nigeria restructured and to feel like equal citizens in their own country.
The 2019 elections have come and gone and people are now looking forward to the 2023 elections. The belief is that power should come to the South and South-East should be allowed to produce the president in 2023 since South-West and South-South have already produced president in the present Fourth Republic. What are your thoughts on that?
First of all, the presidency has been made too important by the amount of power the constitution has invested on the president and the Federal Government. That is why the presidency is an instrument for sectional aggrandizement, which in turn, explains so much battle for everyone to get it. It is like sharing a national cake rather than baking a national cake. The presidency should bake the national cake but it is an instrument for sharing the national cake. So, I don’t share the concept of those who talk about power sharing.
Why don’t you believe in it?
I don’t share it because what is important for me is that we should have restructuring of Nigeria revisited.
But it has been a long life dream of many generations of south easterners…
I am coming to that. You must understand the fundamental error in this feeling that every part of the country must get a share of the national cake because the presidency is an instrument for sharing of national cake rather than baking the national cake. When we had post-independence government, the premiers were more powerful than the Prime Minister. The leader of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) refused to come to Lagos to become Prime Minister because the power of wealth creation rested in the regions. So, this craze for presidency and zoning is a negation to building a virile economy and a united country.
Having said so, for me, the question of the president coming to the South-East and giving the people a sense of belonging that they are part of Nigeria is fine. But the issue is not a matter of zoning of the presidency; the issue is finding a right material for president. Often, there is no scrutiny of these candidates and the parties have developed some kind of sovereignty that is greater than the voters by limiting the option of candidates to who the godfathers in the party want. In the end, the country does not have the opportunity to choose the best person who can breed life into national economy.
When you talk about the best person, are you talking in terms of the best person nationally or the best person in the South-East?
Nationally! Don’t forget that if you zone the presidency to the South-East, the nomination would be done by the respective parties to choose who among their members from the South-East they would want to be president. The recruitment process is not objective; its subjectivity overweighs its objectivity. We don’t really get the best candidate for that position. Secondly, I think it would be wrong to say that when it is the turn of the South-East, the zone would be imbrued with so much internal division and they would be unable to agree.
As I have said to you, it is not the South-East that would bring somebody, it is the parties that will choose and the parties are made up of people from across the country. It is going to be president of Nigeria chosen by Nigerians. So, they would be chosen by members of the party from a particular area. It is not only the Igbo who are going to bring out the president. However, even if the Igbo have to have a choice in recommending who they want, I think the Igbo have the capacity to agree on sensitive issues.
What is the position of the South-East going into this calculation? Do you believe that natural justice will tend to present the zone with an opportunity to get the presidency in 2023?
To be honest with you, my training and upbringing does not allow me to dance to this tune of zoning in terms of choosing people and that kind of thing. What I want for the South-East if you ask for my personal opinion and what I think most people in South-East want, is that we should be allowed to develop our place at our own pace. Let us have a restructured Nigeria in which every area will develop at its own pace and the questions of who becomes the president would become less attractive.
I hate this idea of donating the presidency to a particular section just to assuage their feelings and rather than bake the cake, we share the cake. Naturally, every south easterner will like the president of Nigeria to come from the South-East, but the leadership recruitment process in Nigeria has to be rejigged. The parties have become anointing stations with no democratic credentials for making the best of decisions. So, they might not present bright minds for the position.
Look at the former Deputy Governor of Central Bank, Prof. Kinsley Moghalu, who came out to run for presidency. He was easily the most educated of the presidential candidates. His experience in micro-economics management was unassailable, but it was impossible given the influence of leading political parties in our country for him to make a major showing. People were voting for their parties rather than voting for individuals. So, we have to go through a rejig of our entire political process.
Even though it will be in the benefit of the South-East to have the next president come from there and it will assuage their feelings on marginalization, a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, with a jaundiced constitution, will still remain ineffective and unsatisfactory to the people of the South-East.
In clear terms, what exactly is this restructuring?
It is very simple. It is devolution of powers. There is no reason on earth why you should have primary education administered by the Federal Government. There is no reason why you should have mineral resources in every part of Nigeria, whether it is gold in Zamfara or tin in Plateau, administered by the Federal Government without recourse to the state governments that are there. The states should have complete control of all natural resources.
We had a revenue formula by which a percentage was given to the Federal Government. We recognised it under the military regime in the Land Use Act in which states government were made owners of the land. How can you be owner of a land and you are not the owner of mineral resources in the land? It doesn’t make sense to me. So, the whole essence of restructuring is, go back to your places and have sovereignty over your mineral resources, have sovereignty over your domestic security.
All federal laws would be enforced by federal police and all local laws would be enforced by state or regional police. It is as simple as that. This will unleash tremendous energy in areas that have been neglected in our country such as agriculture, education, health and social services, which are the basis for development. Do you realise that the rate of growth of Nigeria under a restructured Nigeria after independence was faster than the rate of growth now. The tendency all over the world is micro-management. When the management is too far from the people, it makes it impossible for them to be efficient. So, we need to go back.
2023 presidency divide North, South
Onyekachi Eze reports on the festering war of attrition between political leaders of northern and southern extractions over where the next president of Nigeria will come from
Though the next presidential election is about three years and four months away, the debate on where the next president would come from has taken the centre stage. Interestingly, this has pitched the North against South, with leaders of both regions in vociferous attacks on each other.
Chief Edwin Clark, National Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), appears to be leading southern agitators, while former Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. Ango Abdullahi is one of the vocal voices from the North.
Out of 15 civilian and military leaders that ruled Nigeria since independence, 10, including the incumbent, are from the North while five are from the South.
It was to correct this imbalance that led the 1994 Constitutional Conference to adopt rotational presidency. This is supposed to be between the North and the South. But this is not yet a constitutional provision.
Rotational presidency became operational when Nigeria returned to civil democracy in 1999. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which won the presidency in 1999, adopted rotational presidency as a “gentleman agreement,” though the party abused the policy in 2015, when it failed to field a northern candidate at the expiration of President Goodluck Jonathan presidency.
Clark said this much, when he argued that one of the reasons Nigerians voted against the PDP in 2015 was because it abandoned the rotation of the presidency between North and South.
Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary of Yoruba socio-cultural group Afenifere, also noted: “We were all here in 2014-15, when politicians from the North almost brought heaven down on earth over ‘its own turn.’”
The 1994 Constitutional Conference divided the country into six geopolitical zones – South-East, South-South, South-West, North-West, North-East and North Central. Apart from the rotation between North and South, the presidency is also expected to rotate among the six geopolitical zones.
Since 1999, three geopolitical zones – South-West, North-West and South-South, have produced the president, while four of the zones – North-East, South-South, South-West and North-West have produced the vice president.
The South-East and North Central have neither produced the president or vice president of Nigeria since the return of civil rule. The North-West has produced the president twice, as well as vice president, since 1999.
Clark, who is from South-South, however is supporting the South-East to produce the next president after President Muhammadu Buhari.
His words: “Now after it (the presidency) has been zoned to the North, after eight years, it will come to the South and I am surprised … at people wanting to become president of Nigeria from a certain southern area, when the whole of the East, which is a very vital part of this country is yet produce a president.
“No matter whatever anybody says, the South-East is a very important part of this country before and after independence, you cannot push them aside. You just cannot. They must be considered in any rotational matter about the presidency for 2023. It is funny somebody just coming out, saying that rotation is abolished, that it does not exist because one competent or intelligent fellow is needed.
“Competent leaders abound everywhere among the different zones in Nigeria, so nobody should underrate any area of this country. The moment you are treating a certain area of this country as inferior people, as second class people, as people who are not equal to the others, then there is no peace, there is no country,” Clark argued.
Unlike PDP, many believe that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has not yet seen the whole country as its constituency. The party believes it is accepted only in the North and South-West. That is why it excludes the South-East and South-South in its appointments and development projects.
The party hinged its calculation for the 2023 presidency between the North and South-West, but not with South-East because the region does not vote for APC during the election.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said South East has no claim for presidency in 2023 because they did not vote for APC in 2019 presidential election.
“I don’t know what they will do now for voting against the APC. For refusing to support the APC, they cannot come to the table to demand the presidency slot.
“For people like us in the APC, if the Igbo had come and voted Buhari, they would boldly tell Mr. President and the National Chairman of the party that presidency should go the South East since the South-South; South West and North West have produced president. What argument would the South East come up with now to convince anybody that they deserve the slot for 2023 president?” Amaechi asked.
But the vice presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 election, Peter Obi, said Amaechi was not the right person to judge PDP because APC performed woefully in Rivers State, where he comes from.
“He (Amaechi) is not in any position to make such statements because even he that is in APC; he did not contribute anything to the success of that election. He did not even achieve anything in his own state. Those of us from the South-East, who are in the PDP contributed to the success of our party.
“For example, PDP in my state got 95 per cent. They (APC) didn’t even get 25 per cent in Rivers State. So, he is not competent to speak on the presidency in 2023,” Obi stated.
If electoral performance is anything to go by, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had no reason seeking second term in office on the platform of PDP in 2003. Obasanjo lost even his ward to the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999, but went ahead to win the presidency. He was, however, able to reverse this in the 2003 general election.
As it is, APC may be looking towards South-West for its presidential candidate in 2023. This is the only region in the South where the party has strong presence. Out of the six states in the region, APC is in control of five.
Elder statesman, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) said the South West region is well positioned to produce President Buhari’s successor in 2023.
He hinged his argument on the fact that since 1999, presidency goes to any region where two of the three major tribes – Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa/Fulani – formed an alliance.
“The problem in Nigeria is that the politician has created for themselves a situation where if two of them gather against the third one, they will want political power to be rotating among themselves.
“There are three major tribes – the Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa. Where two of these major tribes gang up, that is where the power is going.
“In 1999, Obasanjo wasn’t sponsored by the Yoruba, even though he was a Yoruba man; the Yoruba rejected him, and sponsored Olu Falae. But northerners and the Igbo voted for him; the Yoruba never voted for him and he still won because the Northern Hausa and the Eastern Igbo decided to support him.
“In 2003, Obasanjo came for the second term; again, he was not sponsored by the Yoruba; the Yoruba put up another candidate, but still he won.
“In 2007, Yar’Adua was not supported by the Yoruba, but the Igbo supported the North and he won.
“In 2011, Jonathan came in, he’s not a northerner, but he was supported by the North and the Igbo, and he won. Having realised that power is between two of these sects, the Yoruba and the Hausa merged in 2015 and they produced Buhari.
“In 2023, if the Igbo don’t find themselves holding onto the Yoruba as friends or the Hausa as friends and allow the Hausa and the Yoruba to hold themselves together as in 2015, then that ticket will produce the president.
“That means the Yoruba will produce the president and the North will produce the vice president because that is the reality of the number. Politics is in number.
“Since the demise of Zik, the Igbo had never had a leader and that is the fault of the Igbo race today. If tomorrow, the Igbo bring out a young vibrant Igbo leader who can now find his way either to go with the northern Hausa and form alliance or the Yoruba and form alliance, then the hope of an Igbo president in Nigeria will come up,” Clarke maintained.
But the North said it is not yet done with the presidency. Some elements in the region said it has not yet done with the number one position because the North has been shortchanged in key positions of government.
Coalition of Northern Groups (CNGs), blamed the contest over where the next president would come from on the elite, whom it said is a way to manipulate the people.
Leader of the group, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, argued that presidency does not guarantee development to the region where it is zoned to.
“This is because northerners have held power for most of Nigeria’s existence. Why are we the most backward then? The South-East has just held power just nominally during the First Republic, but why then are they the most developed?
“So, all this noise about where the president comes from is just an elitist way of manipulating our thinking. Don’t we have governors from our localities? What are they doing for us? We even have local government chairmen. Are they working for us?” he asked.
The group however wants a renegotiation of the current political alliance between the North and South-West, which it claimed was becoming unhealthy for the North.
Instead, it called for realignment between the North, South-East and South-South, which he described as the region’s “traditional political friends.”
CNGs said: “What needs to be done by the North is not to insist that power must remain in the region which in any case, does not even serve the interest of the larger population of northerners.
“What is important at this point is for the northern political leadership to renegotiate its current alliance with the South-West which has never been North’s political ally.
“The alliance is already turning out to be unhealthy. We are already calling on the northern elders and leaders to review the region’s position by realigning with our traditional political friends which are the South-East and South-South.
“What is happening to us in the North now, are we happy that we have a Northerner as a president? We are not getting anything. So, the North will be better off with a Southern president who would provide services to everybody.
“It is the elite who have not allowed us to think Nigeria by making us think in terms of ethnicity and religion so that they can control us.”
Senatorial election: Ajimobi’s appeal against Balogun fixed for Thursday
Following former Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s appeal against the judgment of the National Assembly Election Petition that declared Dr. Kola Balogun as the winner of the Oyo South senatorial election on September 10, 2019, the Appeal Court sitting in Ibadan will on Thursday determine the matter.
Ajimobi contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while Balogun vied on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The APC had gone to the tribunal to challenge the victory of Balogun in eight out of the nine local government areas in the senatorial district. Balogun had polled 105,720 votes to defeat Ajimobi who garnered 92,218 votes, but the APC was not satisfied.
The three-man panel of the tribunal, chaired by Justice Anthony Akpovi, with Justice Sambo Daka and Justice Chinyere Ani as members, had unanimously upheld Balogun’s victory.
The lead judgment, read by Akpovi, said that most of the witnesses called by the petitioner to tender the results of polling units were ward collation agents and not the proper persons to tender the results.
The tribunal Chairman said that the testimonies of the ward collation agents could not be accorded any probative value because they were not the makers of the documents tendered.
Election petitions: Govs scale tribunals’ hurdle
Tribunals affirm Ganduje, Wike, Umahi, Okowa, Sanwo-Olu, Tambuwal, others’ elections
Governors, opponents head to Appeal Court
FELIX NWANERI reports on the judgements of the various governorship election petition tribunals in the states where gubernatorial elections held during the 2019 general election, which have mainly seen the affirmation of those declared winners by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
t has been torrent of judgements from the various Governorship Elections Petition Tribunal entertaining suits, challenging some of the outcomes of the March 9 gubernatorial election held in 29 out of the country’s 36 states.
The states are Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi, Delta, Enugu, Taraba, Abia, Imo, Oyo, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Sokoto, Rivers, Lagos, Ogun, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Jigawa, Zamfara, Borno, Katsina, Yobe, Nasarawa, Kano, Kwara and Gombe.
The governorship elections did not hold in seven states – Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Anambra, Osun and Ekiti as a result of the interregnum by the courts.
While the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), won in Lagos, Ogun, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Jigawa, Zamfara, Borno, Katsina, Yobe, Nasarawa, Kano, Kwara and Gombe states; the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) The states won in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi, Delta, Enugu, Taraba, Abia, Imo, Oyo, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Sokoto and Rivers states.
As expected after elections, the victors celebrated their victory and were inaugurated, while the losers cried foul and headed to the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in their respective states to seek justice.
But, after interesting legal battles at the various tribunals, the judgements so far have only affirmed the results as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as none of the results of the governorship elections has been upturned by the court of first instance.
However, it is not yet over as the petitioners still have two more legs to go. Already, a majority of them have vowed to challenge the respective judgements of the various tribunals at the Court of Appeal.
Unlike before, the cases would have ended at the Court or Appeal, but for the amendment to the Constitution and Electoral Act, which paved the way for the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter on petitions over governorship elections.
According to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), governorship election cases traverse a journey of three steps. They start at the tribunals, from where they move to Court of Appeal and terminate at the Supreme Court.
Kaduna: Ashiru fails to prove claims against el-Rufai
It was victory for Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasri el-Rufai as the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Kaduna affirmed him as the duly elected governor of the state.
INEC had declared el-Rufai, who contested the election on the platform of the APC as the winner of the March 9 election, but the his main challenger and the candidate of the PDP, Isa Ashiru, headed to the tribunal on the ground that the poll was characterised by irregularities.
But, delivering judgement on Ashiru’s petition, chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Ibrahim Bako, said the petitioner was unable to prove his allegations of massive rigging and other electoral irregularities.
Consequently, the tribunal struck out the petition for lack of substantial evidence.
The petitioner, had in his final written address on August 19, asked the tribunal to cancel 515,951 votes, which he alleged were unlawfully added to the total votes cast during the election.
He called 135 witnesses out of the 685 he mentioned in the petition to prove alleged massive rigging, ballot stuffing and other irregularities during the election.
But, Justice Bako said the signatures of most of the 135 witnesses the petitioners presented in their written statements as deposed before the tribunal did not match with the specimens taken when they testified in court.
He also said that some of the names of the witnesses did not match with the names on the voters’ cards, which they presented before the tribunal.
While el-Rufai welcomed the affirmation of his re-election and called on all residents of the state to join hands in progressive endeavours for peace and development of the state, Kaduna State chairman of the PDP, Hassan Hyat, said the party executive would meet with the counsel and take a decision on the next line of action.
According to him, the tribunal’s decision was the first stage of the petition as the party will soon come out with a position.
Ogun: Akinlade’s petition against Abiodun ‘destined’ to fail
In Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun also had his election affirmed by the Governorship Election Petition sitting in Abeokuta.
The tribunal, which dismissed the suit by the governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Adekunle Akinlade, said the petition was destined to fail.
“The petition is destined to fail, it failed and is hereby dismissed,” the chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Yusuf Halilu, stated.
Akinlade had prayed the tribunal to disqualify Abiodun on grounds of submitting false academic qualification, but Justice Halilu held that the suit was stuck out because the case had been laid to rest by the Court of Appeal.
Adding that petitioner would not be allowed to resurrect or open same matter at the tribunal since the appellate court had deemed it “statue barred,” the judge also noted that the petitioner filed the application outside the window of time allowed.
Kano: Ganduje triumphs as Yusuf’s petition fails
It was relief for Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, who fought the
political battle of his life to return to power as the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Kano dismissed the petition that challenged his victory.
Ganduje, who contested the poll on the platform of the APC was declared winner by INEC after a supplementary poll on March 23, but Abba Yusuf of the PDP and his party filed a petition against the governor, his party and the electoral commission (INEC) to challenge the poll’s outcome.
Whereas Yusuf prayed the tribunal to set aside the election on the ground that it was fraught with irregularities, Ganduje insisted that the petitioners failed to prove that the election was rigged.
In its judgement, the tribunal, headed by Justice Halima Shamaki, not only upheld Ganduje’s election, but dismissed Yusuf’s petition. The three judges on the tribunal unanimously adopted the judgement.
Justice Shamaki said INEC was right both in declaring the March 9 election as inconclusive and in declaring Ganduje the winner of the re-run election.
According to her, declaring an election as inconclusive, where there are lawful reasons, is constitutional.
She further held that the petitioners’ claim that electoral rules and guidelines were not complied with in an election they claimed to have won the majority of lawful votes is a paradox. “It’s like trying to mix oil and water,” the judge said.
She added that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations of corrupt practices and non-compliance by the respondents beyond reasonable doubt.
Her words: “The carbonised copies of documentary evidence tendered by the petitioners were mostly unstamped, some are unsigned, others contained re-written data, hence amounted to documentary hearsay and therefore inadmissible.
“We shall not go into details in the petition. He who asserts must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Respondents are not bound to prove. In civil cases, the burden to prove lies on the plaintiff. Where the plaintiff fails to prove his case, the case must fail. As such, the petition is hereby dismissed.”
The state chapter chairman of the PDP, Rabi’u Suleiman-Bichi, in his reaction to the judgement, said they will study it and decide on the next line of action.
Ganduje, on his part, described the judgement as another round of victory. “When the election was held, we won, but the opposition PDP decided to challenge our victory at the election tribunal. It is clear to all now that our victory is genuine as confirmed by the tribunal.”
Rivers: Wike trounces AAC, ADP candidates
For Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, it was double victory at the tribunal, following the dismissal of the petition filed by the governorship candidates of African Action Congress (AAC) and Action Democratic Party (ADP), Biokpomabo Awara and Victor Fingesi, respectively.
Both candidates sought the nullification of the poll that produced Wike of the PDP as governor of the oil-rich state.
In separate judgements on the matter, the tribunal said Wike was duly elected and that INEC was right in announcing him winner of the poll. The tribunal added that both petitioners failed to prove their claim that the election was marred by violence and irregularities.
Justice K. B. Olawoyin, who delivered judgement on AAC’s petition, declared that Wike won in 19 of the 21 local government areas where elections held, while the petitioner won in two local government areas.
He further held that Awara failed to provide evidence on his claim violence, adding that what was suspended was the collation of results for six local government areas and not the entire election as the petitioner claimed.
According to the judge, as at the time of the suspension of collation, INEC had concluded collation of results in 17 local government areas. He stated that by participating in the collation process, the petitioner had waived his right to complain.
He also ruled that the results tendered by the petitioner, while giving evidence were inadmissible and, therefore, expunged from the records.
The petition by the ADP candidate – Fingesi – was also dismissed as the chairman of the tribunal, Justice K.A. Orjiako, in a unanimous judgement, described the petition as an adventure to discover the non-existent.
According to judge, Fingesi lacked the locus standi to file the petition. He held that inconsistent facts contained in the petition filed by the ADP governorship candidate made it incompetent.
The tribunal said the petitioner wrote that he was challenging the election of the first petitioner. It said an election petition must challenge the person returned as winner and not the petitioner.
“We hold firmly that the petitioner has failed woefully in proving his allegations. The petition lacks merit and is hereby dismissed,” the judge said.
While counsel to the ADP candidate, Dolapo-Tella Attoni, said he will consult his client on the next line of action as there many grounds of appeal against the judgement, Awara’s counsel, Henry Bello, emphatically said his client will appeal the judgement.
But, Wike, in his reaction, said all PDP candidates in the state during the 2019 general election had virtually no opponents. “It is so painful that someone could say that no election held in Rivers State. There was nobody who ran the election against us,” he said.
Imo: Ihedioha scales APC, AA, APGA’s hurdle
It was a hat trick for Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State as the state’s Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Abuja affirmed his election.
The trio of Hope Uzodinma (APC), Uche Nwosu (Action Alliance – AA) and Ifeanyi Araraume (All Progressives Grand Alliance – APGA) had asked the tribunal to nullify the election of Ihedioha (PDP) on the ground that he was unlawfully declared as the governor of Imo state by INEC.
According to the petitioners, the March 9, governorship election, through which Ihedioha emerged was marred by irregularities. But, the tribunal held that the three petitions lacked merit.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mallami Umar-Dogondagi, in his judgement, dismissed the petition by Nwosu of AA for incompetence.
In a unanimous decision, the three-member panel also struck out the petition by the APC and APGA candidates, Uzodinma and Araraume, respectively
The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them by the law.
Benue: Jime’s petition against Ortom dismissed
Another governor, who had his election upheld, is Samuel Ortom of Benue State. The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Makurdi, ruled that he was duly elected governor of the state.
The three-member tribunal headed by Justice Henry Olusiyi, dismissed the petition by the candidate of the APC, Emmanuel Jime and his party for lack of merit and declared Ortom of the PDP as winner of the poll.
Jime had claimed that the election was marred with irregularities, over-voting and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act and prayed the court to declare him winner on the ground that he scored majority of lawful votes cast with a margin of 2,224 votes or nullify Ortom’s election and order the conduct of a fresh election in the state.
The APC governorship candidate challenged the results declared in Buruku, Gboko, Guma, Gwer East, Gwer West, Konshisha, Kwande, Logo, Ukum, Ushongo and Vandeikya localgovernment areas of the state.
During the hearing, the petitioner called 59 witnesses, who testified that they witnessed irregularities, over voting and other electoral malpractices perpetrated by the PDP and INEC.
Jime, on his part, tendered over 1,100 electoral documents, including forms EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D, EC8E, voters register and card reader reports. He also tendered 2019 manual and guidelines for electoral officials in 384 Polling Units across 11 local government areas in contention.
However, Ortom, INEC and PDP asked the tribunal to strike out the petition in its entirety for lacking in merit.
But, Justice Olusiyi faulted the testimonies of the petitioner’s witnesses. According to him, none of them substantiated their claims of over voting and other irregularities alleged.
The judge further said that the petitioner failed to link the documents tendered in evidence to the petition. According to him, the petitioner dumped the documents on the tribunal.
He also said that until the National Assembly amends the constitution, the voters’ register remains the only document that can ascertain the number of registered voters and not the smart card readers.
Bauchi: Mohammed floors Abubakar a second time
It was another victory for Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, who unseated Mohammed Abubakar as governor of the north eastern state in the general elections as the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal upheld his election.
Mohammed was the candidate of the PDP in the election, while Abubakar, the then incumbent governor of the state, was the standard bearer of the APC.
Abubakar and his party had filed a petition against Mohammed, PDP and INEC to challenge the governor’s victory in the March 23 supplementary election in the state.
The petitioners alleged widespread irregularities in 336 polling units in Tafawa Balewa, Bogoro and Bauchi local government areas of the state. Consequently, they urged the tribunal to nullify the election held in polling units in the councils and declare Abubakar as winner of the election, having scored the highest valid votes, or in the alternative, order the conduct of a fresh election in the affected areas. However, Mohammed and his party urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that it lacked merit The tribunal answered the governor’s prayer as it dismissed the petition on the ground that Mohammed was duly elected with majority votes. Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Salihu Shuaibu, who read the unanimous judgement of the three-man panel, said INEC was right both in declaring the March 9 election as inconclusive and in declaring Mohammed the winner of the re-run election that was held thereafter. He added that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act by the respondents.
“We shall not go into details in the petition; he who asserts must prove beyond all reasonable doubts,” he said. Delta: Ogboru fails to stop Okowa For Chief Great Ogboru, who made several attempts to govern oil-rich Delta State, what he could not get through the ballot in the March 9 governorship election also failed at the tribunal.
The businessman turned politician, who who was the candidate of the APC in the election, had approached the Delta State Governorship Petition Tribunal that sat in Asaba, possibly to turn the table against Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the PDP. But his hope was dashed as the tribunal affirmed the re-election of Governor Okowa. Chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Suleiman Belgore, described the petition filed by Ogboru and his party as “opportunistic and gold digging.”
The judge also held that the petitioner failed to prove that Okowa was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast during the election and consequently dismissed the petition in its entirety. Akwa Ibom: Emmanuel dusts Ekere After a grueling poll in which he brushed opposition’s threat to return to power, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State also scaled another hurdle at the tribunal.
The governor was elected for a second term in office on the platform of the PDP, after defeating his APC rival, Nsima Ekere of APC and others. But, the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), who alleged irregularities during the election, approached the tribunal to nullify the process. His petition was however dismissed by the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal that sat in Uyo. In a unanimous decision, the tribunal said the petition lacked merit. Emmanuel, who commended the judgement and dedicated his victory to God and the people the state, called on the opposition in Akwa Ibom to join him in developing the state.
According to him, the time has come for the people to come together and move the state forward as the ‘Completion Agenda’ was an Akwa Ibom Agenda. Taraba: Danladi’s petition against Ishaku hit the rocks Taraba State governor, Darius Ishaku, who won the March 9 election on the platform of the PDP, equally triumphed at the tribunal as the petition against his victory by his APC counterpart, Sani Danladi, was dismissed.
The Governorship Election Tribunal, headed by Justice M.O. Adewara, which affirmed Ishaku’s election, held that the petitioner failed to prove his claim that the election was marred with irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act. Justice Adewara, who read the lead judgement, held that Danladi was not qualified to contest the 2019 election.
He also noted that the affirmation of the judgement by the Supreme Court implied that the APC had no valid candidate in the election. Katsina: Lado’s bid to upturn Masari’s victory fails In a split decision of two to one, the Katsina State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Abuja, held that the candidate of the PDP, Senator Yakubu Lado, failed to prove his allegation of substantial non-compliance to the Electoral Act in the conduct of the poll that saw the re-election of Governor Aminu Masari.
However, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Alli Jos, in a dissenting judgement, allowed the petition and ordered a fresh election in the state. His dissenting judgement was read by another member of the panel. Lado, who contested the election on the platform of the PDP, had asked the tribunal to overturn the declaration of Governor Masari of the APC.
He predicated his petition on the grounds that Masari falsified his age and academic qualifications in the affidavit submitted alongside his INEC nomination form. But, the tribunal in its final analysis held that evidence of witnesses and some others is of no probative value since they confirmed that they gave their statements in Hausa language, whereas the Hausa versions were not before the tribunal. Abia: Otti fails to prove claims against Ikpeazu’s victory The gale of affirmation of election of governors continued in Abia State, where the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Umuahia dismissed the petition, which challenged the election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr Alex Otti, had approached the tribunal to nullify the declaration of PDP’s Ikpeazu as winner of the March 9 election. Otti, who came third in the poll, alleged that Ikpeazu did not win majority of lawful votes cast during the election. He therefore prayed the tribunal to declare the election invalid by reasons of criminal practices, nonsubstantial compliance with the electoral guidelines, and over voting in 788 polling units. But, the tribunal’s chairman, Justice Lekan Ogumonye, who read the unanimous judgement of the threeman panel, dismissed Otti’s petition over his inability to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubts.
The tribunal held that the 65 polling units agents, who appeared as witnesses for the petitioners, could not give sufficient evidences to prove allegations of over voting in 788 polling units. It further held that if even there were some infractions in said polling units, they were not substantial to invalidate the entire election. Nasarawa: Sule triumphs over Ombugadu Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Sule, equally had his election affirmed by the tribunal as the petition filed by the candidate of the PDP, David Ombugadu, was dismissed due to lack of merit. Ombugadu, a former member of the House of Representatives, had challenged the outcome of the election on account of alleged unlawful declaration of Sule as winner of the poll. The PDP candidate also claimed that the poll did not comply with provisions of the Electoral Act 2010.
He further claimed intimidation of voters and unlawful cancellation of votes during the election. Delivering judgement on his petition, Justice Abba Mohammed, who chaired the tribunal, held that the petitioner failed to prove his allegations.
The judge also held that Ombugadu failed to prove how collation of results was disrupted. “The burden of prove lay with the petitioner and he has failed to prove the allegations. The petitioner has failed to produce two sets of results –original and fake – to prove that the outcome was falsified in favour of APC candidate. “Hence he failed to prove that, we therefore, uphold the result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).”
Justice Mohammed averred. Sokoto: Aliyu fails to stop Tambuwal Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, also had his election upheld by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal for the state that sat in Abuja.
The three man tribunal dismissed the petition of the APC and its governorship candidate, Ahmed Aliyu, for lacking in merit. Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Abbas Bawale, in his judgement, said the petitioners failed to establish their claims of the poll’s non-compliance with the Electoral Act and over voting. Bawale also said the evidences of the petitioners’ witnesses amounted to hearsay, and as a result, could not prove any of the allegations.
had asked the tribunal to upturn the declaration of Tambuwal, who contested the election on the platform of the PDP on the ground that the exercise was marred by irregularities. The Sokoto State governorship election which held on March 9 was declared inconclusive following cancellation of 75,403 votes which were higher than the 3,413 margin between the leading candidates.
However, Tambuwal won the March 23 supplementary, with a slim margin of 342 votes. Cross River: Ayade knocks out Owan-Enoh It was also victory for Governor Ben Ayade as the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Cross River State upheld his election. PDP’s Ayade had his victory at the poll challenged by the candidate of the APC, Senator John Owan-Enoh on the ground that he was wrongfully excluded from participating in the election. In his ruling on the petition, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Josiah Majebi, said that the first and second grounds of the petition were irreconcilable and mutually exclusive. He said that in the first place, the petitioner failed to seek redress within the legally specified 14 days allowed for complaints.
The tribunal strongly disagreed with the petitioner that he was wrongfully excluded by the second respondent, INEC, stressing that much of the grievances expressed in the petition were pre-election matters, which the tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain. “Any disputes within a given political party which stands election before actual election such as nomination or withdrawal or exclusion are pre-election issues. Our mandates don’t cover them. Therefore, such are ineffective grounds. We therefore strike them and such others out for incompetence,” the judge held. He also held that there were multiplicity of litigations by interested parties of the APC regarding the governorship election, which according to him, complicated the petition.
The judge said after carefully consideration of the applications, written addresses and counter responses by the respondents, the tribunal came to the conclusion that many views of the petitioner did not only lacked merit, but amounted to gross abuse of court processes. He maintained that the petition is academic, hypothetical and frivolous, adding that “the petitioner’s allegation that he was excluded from the election yet he scored valid votes of 131,161 takes his petition contradictory.” Plateau: Useni vows to fight on after losing to Lalong Plateau state was not left out in the affirmation of election of sitting governors as the state’s Governorship Election Petition Tribunal upheld Governor Simon Lalong’s victory in the gubernatorial poll. Lalong, who was the candidate of the APC in the election, had his victory challenged by Senator Jeremiah Useni of the PDP.
The latter had prayed the tribunal to declare him winner of the election on the grounds of disparity in the names supplied by Governor Lalong in Form CF001 and irregularities during the conduct of the poll. However, Justice Halima Salami, who led the tribunal, held that the petitioner did not adequately prove his case. She further held that Useni failed to prove his allegation of electoral irregularities bothering on falsifications of results and over-voting. While Lalong, through his counsel, Pius Akuboh (SAN), commended the tribunal for the verdict, Useni, through his counsel, Edward Pwajok (SAN), said he will appeal against the judgement.
”There are many bus stops in judiciary and we will challenge the verdict in a higher court. The tribunal has done its work, but it is long journey. Thank God there are higher levels as the judgement itself has already formulated many grounds for appeal,” he said.
Kwara: Abdulrazaq floors Atunwa again It was another victory for the APC governorship candidate in Kwara State in the March 9 election, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq over his PDP counterpart, Razak Atunwa. Abdulrazaq emerged tops in the election by a landslide, but Atunwa prayed the tribunal to sack the governor on the ground of certificate forgery.
The PDP candidate particularly challenged the authenticity of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) result presented by Governor Abdulrazaq as well as his competence to contest the poll. But, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Bassey Effiong, in his judgement, said all documents and certificates presented by the respondent during the election were not forged. According to the judge, Governor Abdulrazaq did not violate the provisions of Sections 177 of the Constitution based on the certificates he presented to contest the election.
He held that the word “Rahaman” was valid and that the assertion that the name written on the certificates did not start with “Abdul” is not a strong argument.
He maintained the petitioner was not able to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt as enshrined in Sections 35(5)(6) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). Reacting to the judgement, the governor described it as triumph of truth over falsehood and a sweet victory for Kwarans. His words: “This judgement affirms the truism that never will falsehood triumph over truth nor evil over good till the end of time no matter the efforts or public grandstanding of the purveyors of such falsehood.” Lagos: Sanwo-Olu’s victory affirmed as Awamaridi fails to prove claims Another governor, who had his election upheld by the tribunal, is Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.
The Lagos State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, headed by Justice T. T Asua, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its candidate, Ifagbemi Awamaridi, The tribunal held that its earlier decision to dismiss the petition, which was later appealed by the petitioners’, was still valid because the petition was not filed according to the laws governing the electoral laws. The tribunal further described the petition as a “futile and wasteful exercise.” It also ruled that the petitioners could not prove their allegations of mental incompetence against Sanwo- Olu as well as their allegations of election malpractices against the governor and his party – APC.
Oyo: Adelabu fails to nullify Makinde’s election The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Ibadan, Oyo State, also upheld the election of Seyi Makinde. Makinde contested the election on the platform of the PDP, but his APC counterpart, Adebayo Adelabu, who felt dissatisfied with the outcome of the poll, approached the tribunal, seeking the nullification of the election. But, in a unanimous judgement by Justice Sirajo Muhammed, the threemember tribunal said the petitioner failed to prove allegations of corrupt practices, over-voting, improper accreditation, inaccurate ballot counting and non-compliance with the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended).
Niger: Nasko’s bid to stop Bello flops Niger State was also not left out in the affirmation trend as the state’s Governorship Election Petition Tribunal upheld Governor Sani Bello’s election. Bello was the standard bearer of the APC in the election, but his PDP counterpart Umar Nasko, alleged forgery and falsification of documents against the governor.
However, Nasko’s petition hit the rocks as the tribunal ruled the he failed produce necessary authority to authenticate the documents being alleged to be false. On the allegation that the election was marred with intimidation, violence, vote-buying among other acts of irregularities, the tribunal held that the petition was bereft of pieces of evidence hence Nasko’s failure to prove his case. Chairman of the tribunal, Justice John Igboji said: “We have come to the inevitable conclusion that the petitioner failed to establish his case as there is no shred of cogent evidence in proof of the allegation as required by relevant laws.
“In the circumstance we accordingly hold that the petitioner is not entitled to any relief sought, his petition being bereft of any merit and the petition is hereby dismissed for lack of merit.” Ebonyi: Easy victory for Umahi over Agha The story was the same in Ebonyi State, where the Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Abakaliki, the capital, upheld the election of Governor David Umahi of the PDP. Umahi’s victory at the poll was challenged by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), Chief Ajah Agha, on the ground of unlawful exclusion of his name from the ballot paper.
Delivering judgement on the matter, Justice A.B Abdukarim, who headed the three-man tribunal, dismissed the petition for lacking in merit. “PDM did not submit the name of its candidate to INEC when it was supposed to do so. Your party sent the name three days after closure of submission according to finding. “Also your party did not organise primaries as to produce a candidate according to INECs guideline, therefore, your petition lacks merit,” he stated.
Adamawa: Another triumph for Fintiri over Bindow It was also victory for Governor Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal. Fintiri of the PDP had unseated Jibrila Bindow of the APC, but the latter filed a petition at the tribunal, seeking nullification of the governorship election. But, Justice Adediran Adebara, who read the judgement of the tribunal, dismissed the petition on two grounds, thereby affirming the victory of Governor Fintiri. The judge held that the petitioner failed to provide substantial evidence to prove allegations of overvoting and non-compliance to the electoral law in the conduct of the election.
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