The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has slammed the governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Serieka Dickson on the allegation that the Federal Government has refused to license the state airport for operation.
Oshiomhole, who spoke Thursday in Abuja, said the airport constructed by the Bayelsa State governor has entered into Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive airport in the whole world and that it is a fraud.
The APC National Chairman, who said that the Bayelsa State governor would account for his wrong deeds to Bayelsa people, said beyond the high cost of the airport, it was substandardly built as it is often flooded after it rains.
The Bayelsa governor, at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship campaign grand finale on Wednesday had accused the ruling APC of playing politics with the licensing of the airport.
Governor Dickson believes President Muhammadu Buhari deliberately refused to grant him license so as not to use the facility as a campaign issue.
But responding on Thursday in Abuja, National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, said the facility is of low quality that even the governor can not use it.
Bayelsa decides: INEC gives Lyon Certificate of Return
Pauline Onyibe, Yenagoa
The newly elected governor of Bayelsa State David Lyon and his Deputy Biobarakuma Eremieyun Degi on Thursday recieved their Certificates of Return following their victory in last Saturday’s election
Receiving the certificate, the governor elect in his remarks thanked Bayelsans for deciding to cast their votes for his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) which he said made the state to record the most peaceful election in the history of Bayelsa State.
He assured the people of the state that Bayelsa’s money was not his money nor Deputy Governor’s money but assured that the money will be used judiciously to make sure that the state is developed.
“Today we are signing a contract with Bayelans. You should understand David Lyon and APC are signing a contract and that contact is to develop Bayelsa State. The contract is to bring peace so that investment will come on board in the state.
“I assure you that David Lyon, his team and APC will not disappoint Bayelans. Let me also say this, in an election, we have alot of contestants and today by the will of God, I have emerged the winner.
“That does not mean that other contestants did not win. All of us won the election and there are no losers. This is the time for us to come together, ” he said.
He also thanked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies maintaining that they did a very good job.
Speaking earlier, the INEC Commissioner supervising Edo, Bayelsa and Rivers states, May Agbamuche Mbu in her remarks said: “Today we are here to celebrate the end of a process which started seven months ago.
“I’m proud to report that the electionl conducted on November 16, 2019 in Bayelsa was largely peaceful free, fair and credible.
“The Commission is hopeful that this commendable gesture will continue to be part of the electoral process in Bayelsa State.”
Why North’ll not relinquish power in 2023 – Idahosa
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, Chief Charles Idahosa, in this interview, speaks on recent political developments in the country as well as the crisis rocking the state’s chapter of the party. Felix Nwaneri reports
What do you make of the recent sack of 35 aides of Vice- President Yemi Osinbajo, which some Nigerians saw as part of the plot believe there are attempts to whittle down his powers?
Nigerians like blowing things out of proportion. The President employs the aides of the Vice-President. If for any reason the President wants to downsize, why should anybody read any meaning to it? The number of staff of the Vice-President was more than that of the President and therefore they felt there is a need to reduce it. I don’t think anybody should read any meaning to it. I don’t see anything Osinbajo has done that will bring confrontation between him and anyone.
I think what is confusing Nigerians is what happened during Olusegun Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar’s presidency. Obasanjo started sacking Atiku’s staff and that culminated in the open confrontation, which led to Atiku going to court and even contesting for the presidency under another the platform of another political party, while still in office as vice-president. Buhari is not as complicated as people think he is.
As far as I am concerned, I don’t think there is any problem. I am not close to the presidency, but as an observer from a distance, if the President says the number of staff of the Vice-President is too much and decided to reduce it, I don’t see anything wrong in that. People are just trying to make a mountain of a molehill. Don’t forget that the opposition will always take advantage of everything to fight back, but I don’t see any issue here. It is just politics.
Some people are alleging that President Buhari is scheming to get a Third term in office. Do you think that is realistic?
Buhari is not that kind of person. I have also read it and I believe that it is the handiwork of fifth columnists. The President is a democrat and will not do anything to subvert the constitution.
How about the plot by the North to retain power beyond 2023?
We have not gotten to 2023 yet, but I see a situation where the North will not let go of power. They will still go for the presidency in 2023 after President Buhari’s tenure. If that happens, I am going to support a northern president.
Do you mean you will support a northerner as president after Buhari would have completed eight years?
Yes, I will support a northern president because there is something funny about southerners. We think we know more than northerners, but they are more politically sophisticated than us. I think the leaders who by 1998 agreed to a clean slate after so many years of military coup and after the MKO Abiola debacle agreed that the South and North will rule for eight years and it will continue like that on a rotational basis. We were all very happy with that arrangement. I believe that anybody saying that the northerners have dominated us is talking bunkum. The northern heads of state got to power by coups. For all the coups that failed, those involved were tied to the stakes and shot and they were 90 per cent northerners.
Southerners were scared of coups. I remembered the case of Obasanjo. He was so scared to be Head of State after Murtala Muhammed was assassinated. If Theophilus Danjuma wanted to be Head of State that year, it would have been so easy for him. I remembered Danjuma was quoted to have told Obasanjo: ‘How can you be alive as second-in-command and you said you don’t want to be Head of State? Let me take over and we tell Nigerians that we eliminated you.’ That was when Obasanjo panicked and accepted to become Head of State.
By 1999, most of the people who were in power came in through military coup and that cannot be used to judge a democratic government. In order to appease southerners, especially the South- West over what happened to Abiola, they brought Obasanjo out of prison, cleaned him up, gave him money and he became president of Nigeria. Obasanjo became president with northern votes because he lost his polling unit, his ward, local government, his state and his zone.
Alliance for Democracy (AD) took all the states in the South-West, but when Obasanjo became president, he consolidated by plotting against the North. After doing his eight years, he wanted a Third term but it failed. He then decided to pick a sick northerner in the person of late Umaru Yar’Adua, knowing full well that he cannot last eight years as president. He also picked a weak politician in the person of Goodluck Jonathan as vice-president, leaving people like Peter Odili and Donald Duke who were very effective. Obasanjo’s plan was that if Yar’Adua dies, Jonathan will take over as president, so that he can continue his third term agenda through him. He, however, forgot to put into consideration that Jonathan had people like Chief Edwin Clark and other Ijaw leaders.
So, immediately Jonathan succeeded Yar’Adua as president, they took control of him and Obasanjo got stranded. He became so angry and started fighting Jonathan and brought Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari also pushed him aside and he also became angry and endorsed Atiku, thinking that whoever he supports will win the election. For the first time, Buhari won election without his support. What I am trying to say in essence is that northerners did not complete their tenure between 2007 and 2015 and it was a deliberate act by Obasanjo.
We must ensure that North completes the six years that Jonathan ruled after Yar’Adua died, so that the equation would be balanced. That is why I will support a northern candidate if the North decides to contest in 2023. I will not support a southern candidate because we must respect our northern brothers. That is my position as regards the 2023 presidential election.
What about the agitation for Igbo presidency in 2023?
Forget the Igbos! They have shot themselves in the leg. It is a very funny demand. Why will anyone want to give Igbos presidency when there is no APC in the zone at all? The only party that could have given Igbos presidency is the APC. Buhari told them but they decided to vote for PDP. Now, from all indications, they will rather support Atiku for presidency again because the position of vice-president will still go the South-East.
I see Atiku running again because the 2019 presidential election is the nearest he has come. I don’t think the Igbos deserve presidency because if they do, they ought to have planned properly. The late Emeka Ojukwu gave them APGA, but they threw it away. So, under which party will they get presidency?
The political battle between the National Chairman of your party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki is assuming a frightening dimension. What do you think really went wrong between the two friends?
I have said a lot on this matter and I don’t want to be sounding like a broken record. But I want to assure you that nobody can stop Obaseki from doing his two terms. I am behind him morning, night and day. Uhunmwonde people are behind him. Oshiomhole said Obaseki is not carrying people along, I don’t know what he meant by that. I just discovered that this whole thing will not end now.
If two friends are quarreling and you cannot settle the quarrel, there must be something behind it that nobody can talk about and that is envy and jealousy. What is happening is that Oshiomhole is envious and jealous of Obaseki’s achievements and there is no way he is going to come out boldly to say that is why they are quarrelling. Oshiomhole was governor for eight years, nobody challenged him, the ones that tried it, he messed them up thoroughly. He brought Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia and messed him up; he brought Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and messed him up.
In the state expanded caucus of the party, he messed him up thoroughly, I was there and in anger I just walked away, not to talk of Lucky Igbinedion or Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, who were the ones that brought him to power with their resources. Obaseki has not opened his mouth to insult anybody or Oshimhole. How can Oshiomhole in an interview say that Obaseki brought people with computer to be collecting revenue? Does he prefer a situation where some bunch of illiterates will use sticks, iron and break people’s head in the name of revenue collection?
Oshiomhole said in one interview that there are four million people in Edo and he is just one and that when he leaves government, he will not intrude, but today what is he doing? He said the governor should take care of politicians, how many are we? We are less than 20 per cent of the total population of the state; the people outside are happy. Today you don’t see pensioners sleeping on the streets with mattresses; they don’t block roads anymore, is that not enough to make him happy.
As the national chairman of the APC, he has 36 states to supervise; why is he more interested in Edo? Why does he want to continuously be the governor of Edo State, when he has completed his tenure? When Oshiomhole came, 30 per cent was a pass mark; there was nothing, so he became an instant hero. Edo South produced somebody who scored 20 per cent and Oshiomhole managed to score 45 per cent, Obaseki within three years has scored 85 per cent with a year to go, so jealousy and envy entered.
Are you not worried that your party may lose the forthcoming governorship election as PDP is scheming to benefit from the crisis?
The state is still safe under APC, so we will still win. One thing you must understand is that the politicians that are making noise now are not up to 20 per cent. Will you tell me that Obaseki is not popular? Look at Edo State Traffic Management Agency, now under Obaseki and then under Oshiomhole; peoples’ cars were vandalised, screens were smashed and thugs were all over the place in the name of many mushroom associations extorting money from the ordinary people, but now we don’t have that kind of thing because Obaseki said he doesn’t want it.
Edo people’ll stop reactionary forces against my govt – Obaseki
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, in this interview, speaks on three years of his administration and recent political developments in the state. Felix Nwaneri reports
How has it been in the last three years you have been in the saddle as governor of Edo State?
For me, coming to power and seeing the rot in the system, it was clear that any pretense that we can continue with the way things were was going to be for a short period before everything comes down like a pack of cards. When I realised that I had about 40,000 Edo boys and girls in Libya, waiting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, I know we had a human crisis. First, they were not trained, they were not properly educated, so they have lost hope and they never understood that they were being sold into slavery.
So, I said if we allow this to continue, we would not even have a state to govern. More importantly was the social effect of this on the society. If you go to some communities, you won’t find young persons; everybody has moved to the fringe of Benin, so that from there, they can take off and travel. Even when you look at the data, women are not being trafficked the way it used to be; there are more boys migrating regularly now than women, who were then being trafficked and lured into prostitution.
However, the key to all these problems is knowledge and education. If people knew and felt that that they have option, they will not opt for dangerous migration to Europe. This was what triggered the huge investment we are making for the future. What does it take to train our children? With technology today, we can determine whether a teacher is class or not and if a teacher is not in class, will the child learn? Also, if a teacher is not trained and doesn’t know what to teach, will the child learn? So, with the benefit of technology and good governance, we can solve most of our problems.
How far have you gone in solving some these problems?
As a nation, we have enough money because many African countries don’t have a fraction of what we have. It is about how we as a people, decide on our priorities and what most of us should realise is that the priorities of the common man are not too complex. However, the priorities of the political class tend to be in conflict with those of the masses. That is why governments at the various levels cannot fund education and healthcare, among others.
How ready are you for the 2020 governorship election in the state, which according to many, is responsible for recent political developments in the state?
Politics is supposed to be bottom up and not the other way round. 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. 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.
How did you receive the suspension of your predecessor and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, by the leadership of the party in Edo State?
It is disheartening that some people are trying to create opposition within the party. Given what we have suffered as a party, losing some states as a result of internal wrangling, it is unfortunate that a group of people, especially those who are supposed to wield the party together are the ones creating division.
What would you say are the gains of the 2019 Alaghodaro Summit?
It was a platform for us to communicate with the people; everybody came together to talk about the state and the issues. Beyond that, it is a platform that we intend to deploy for constant communication and collaboration with the rest of the society because government cannot exist on its own and gone are days, when government would say this is what it wants. The old paradigm of government saying this is what it wants and have it same way is no longer working.
In any case, how much do you have as your budget? If you look at our financing structure, next to crude oil is remittances from abroad. Report had it last year that about $25 billion came into Nigeria through remittances from Diaspora Nigerians. Given the size of Edo Diaspora, we will easily account for 10 per cent of that amount. So, about $2.5 billion would have come into Edo State. The question against this backdrop is: How much is our total budget as a state? At best, it is about $500 million a year.
So, here is a government that is spending $500 million annually, but in that same economy, private individuals are bringing in about five times – $2.5 billion – what the government is offering. There is no doubt that any responsible government should create a platform through which it will continue to communicate with the segment of the society. So, the summit helps us to throw more light and communicate what we are doing as a government to the people.
Our plan as a government was, first, to work before we begin to talk. A typical model our Nigeria’s politics is that people come in as a government and keep talking, commissioning projects, so that people will say that they are working. But, for us, we said, let’s evidence what we are doing. So, there was no politics in the first three years, but after that, we can begin to talk politics.
What should Edo people expect if you win election a second term?
I hope you intended to say when I win a second term because I am going to win the election given my achievements? That aside; to answer your question directly; you and I know very well that Nigeria is in search of models that can work. If Edo works the way it should; if we are able to drive our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to exceed what we receive from the federation account, we will be able to have a sustainable economy, which would be an example for other states. You may find 10 or more states that will say ‘if Edo can do it, we can equally do it.’
As it is, we have laid a solid foundation for the growth of Edo State because we have made significant investment in education and infrastructure, among others. It will interest you to know that we are building an industrial park that is bigger than what you have in Agbara, Ogun State and which has its source of power supply already in place. We are also working with the Chinese on building a river port, which will be the closest port to the belly of the country that has about 70 million people. So, second term for me, is for consolidation of what we have achieved so far.
By my second term, the children now in our restructured primary school system would be going to Junior Secondary School (JSS), which we will start its restructuring soon in order to meet with the objectives of those who designed our 6-3-4-4 Education System that has never been implemented in real terms. My aspiration is that by the time a child goes through his or her first nine years in school in Edo State, he or she would have be ready for life.
Even if that child doesn’t have the opportunity to continue with his or education, he or she would have been prepared for life. A child must leave school with a skill, so that he or she doesn’t end up on the street as a tout as the case was before now. In doing this, we will be building human capital because human beings make things happen.
Bode George’s day of honour in Lagos
Former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, was recently awarded the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Lagos Station Personality of the Year 2019. WALE ELEGBEDE writes on the significance of democratic leadership award to the PDP chieftain
It was an auspicious gathering at the Ikoyi office of the former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George on Tuesday, November 12 when the former Military Governor of Ondo State became the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Channel 10, Lagos, Personality of the Year award.
Ordinarily, the recognition could have been one of the many plaques lying on the shelf of the PDP chieftain, but he told the August visitor that the award came at a time of burdensome perplexity and frustration, adding that the gesture lifted his soul to do more for the country’s budding democracy.
Interestingly, the recognition came less than one week to Chief George’s 74th birthday which holds on November 21.
Leading the line of the NTA crew that bestowed the award on Chief George was Mrs Funmi Adeniran, who eulogized the core attributes of the awardee saying that he has braved all odds of partition to preach the gospel of a united, peaceful and progressive nation.
Adeniran, who waxed lyrical on the attributes that made George tick, said as the coordinator of the popular Yoruba programme on the station, ‘Loyin Ladun’, they took a catbird seat to monitor the activities and utterances of the PDP chieftain before zeroing on him as the recipient of the award which is now in its 9th year.
Going down memory lane when Chief George was Governor of Ondo State about 30 years ago, she disclosed that as a new intake at NTA Channel 11 Akure, she witnessed how the PDP chieftain transformed Ondo State from a more or less rural town to a more condusive urban area due to his landmark projects and innovations.
She said Bode George was being honored because of his immense contributions to the development of the nation both in time past and present playing the role of a good leader and role model to both old and young in the society.
Earlier in an address at the gathering, Prince Uthman Shodipe, the Special Adviser to Chief George, commended the station for not using political affiliation in its choice of recognition for deserving Nigerians.
He said, “Regardless of party affiliation, the NTA deemed it fit to say that Bode George deserves the honor for his contribution to nation-building and for standing by to be the voice of the voiceless to rectify the wrongs on the ground.”
Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George is a distinct man of many parts. For those who know him, the allure of his humanity and forthrightness of his personality, are just too irresistible to be ignored.
Although he is a professionally trained military man, the candor of simplicity that he exudes to both low and high is always a talking point at every discourse. His senses of loyalty, rich intellect, heart of gold and above all, incurable optimism in a united and progressive Nigeria has always made him one of the few respected who builds bridges as against walls.
From being a trained engineer to a military general of repute and rising through the ranks to be a prominent politician in the Fourth Republic, Chief George detests incompetence, tribalism and religious bias in any situation.
Speaking on the import of the award, George who received the award alongside his wife, Chief Mrs Roli, said he is privileged and greatly honored to be deemed fit for the award over his humble contribution to the growth and the enhancement of participatory democracy in Nigeria.
“I am indeed grateful that the NTA, a very significant and respectable information platform in this nation has singled me out for this honor. This is quite rewarding and ennobling. You are galvanizing me to do more. You are strengthening my resolve to grapple with all inequities and fight for what is just and right.
“I must, however, acknowledge that this award has come at a time of burdensome perplexity and frustration. But we remain steadfast and strong, sworn to strengthen our democracy.
“It can be quite worrisome when our efforts are being frustrated. But we remain determined, sure-footed, resolved that what is right is right.
“We will never be disillusioned in our moral and patriotic duty to uphold honor, integrity, truth, decency, and all the natural dictates of civility to ensure that the ingredients of constitutional democracy remain firm, strong, unshaken in our nation.
“We insist on the return to the nobility of the First Principles: Decency must prevail over abnormality. Truth must triumph over falsehood. Greed, self-obsession, reckless fixity on personal obsession over the greater good must all be discarded. We must turn a new leaf of redeeming the values of excellence, sacrifice and selflessness,” he said.
Notable among dignitaries that witnessed the award ceremony was the former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope; former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Chief (Mrs) Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele; PDP BoT member, Dr Remi Akintoye; Chairman of the Lagos PDP, Dr Adegbola Dominic; among others.
Lagos Assembly cautions Customs against harassment of Badagry business owners
Activities of the officers and men of the Nigerian Customs Service have been condemned by the Lagos State House of Assembly over unwholesome treatment towards coconut traders and other business owners in the State.
The service was condemned by the Lawmakers sequel to a motion moved by Hon. David Setonji who sought his colleague support to condemn the incessant harassment of coconut trader and seizure of locally sourced coconut product by the Officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
With the continuous harassment of the Lagos State coconut and Traders Association and seizures of their products by the Officers and other security agencies operating within Badagry and its environs, the prime mover, expressed his displeasure over the incessant harassment that has affected the economic activity of the Communities.
Hon. Setonji narrated an incident that occurred on 27th October, 2019, when two (2) trucks and a pick-up vehicle loaded with 1,450 bags of locally sourced coconut were seized by the officer of the Border Drill Operations, Zone “A”, Ikeja of the service at Agbara Customs Point, after crossing the popular Agbalaka Central Coconut market, beside the Nigeria Customs Marine Base, Badagry.
The Badagry Constituency 11 representative added that this case of harassment in recent time is not limited to coconut traders but has also extended to other businesses including automobile as well as Communities; while efforts made by the Association to secure the release of the trucks with goods prove abortive.
“There are more than Ninety-Six (96) Communities within Badagry whose sole means of livelihood in coconut, coconut products and fishing business; unless the activities and excess of these operatives are urgently checked, a lot of small and medium scale businesses would collapse with their consequences on the economy of the State.” He said.
In his contribution, Hon. Bisi Yusuff, stated that it is unfortunate that such incidents still happen in the Country, urging the government to encourage the public to embark on local production and not terrorize them while conducting their businesses.
Hon. Abiodun Tobun, noted that most coastal areas are involved in Coconut cultivation and distribution, while advising the Customs to engage themselves on how to improve on the activities and generate more revenues for the Government rather than manhandling the citizens.
In the same vein, Hon. Okanlawon Sanni, explain that the Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA) was established to stimulate and regulate economic activities in order to bring growth to the business.
He also opined that the current activities of the Customs in Badagry does not encourage diversification and is contrary to the objectives of which the LASCODA was founded on.
Conclusively, Hon. S.O.B Agunbiade stated that there is need to confirm if the seized goods were actually auctioned and the motives behind it, when it is not the duty of the Customs to confiscate indigenous local goods.
In his ruling, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, observed that the actions of the Custom Officers do not conform to the context of the Nigeria Laws.
He therefore instructed that a letter be written to the National Assembly to direct a letter to Mr. Governor to call on the State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry to organise a Stakeholders’ Meeting with the Custom Service and the business owners affected.
Bayelsa poll: We’ve no report against Jonathan – PDP NWC
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said there was no report of any anti-party activities against former President Goodluck Jonathan concerning the conduct of last Saturday’s governorship election in Bayelsa State before it.
PDP lost the poll to the All Progressives Congress (APC). But hours after the APC candidate was declared winner, the former president hosted members of APC National Campaign Council for Bayelsa State.
Bayelsa State Governor, Sierake Dickson, at a press conference on Tuesday also said: “It is strategic for APC leaders to use Jonathan to legitimise the illegitimacy that happened on Saturday.”
He accused Jonathan of congratulating “the APC candidate without congratulating the candidate of his party.”
But PDP NWC, after its marathon meeting on Wednesday said the issue concerning the former president was not discussed at the meeting.
The National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan who spoke to journalists at the end of the meeting, said the party follow procedures in handling its activities.
“If we do not have a report or an issue before us, we cannot delve into. As we speak now, we do not have matter concerning President Jonathan before the party,” Ologbondiyan stated.
He also said the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus was not under pressure to resign.
“The National Chairman is not under any pressure except the fact that we believe that democracy is gradually being killed by this government and we believe that as the main opposition party we have a responsibility to salvage democracy.
“That is the main issue concerning the National Chairman, it is not correct,” he said.
Ologbondiyan denied a division in the NWC, and said the meeting was held in convivial atmosphere
Kogi post-election killing: We abhor violence, criminalities – APC
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned the post-election violence in Kogi State that led to the killing of the opposition Peoples Democratic party (PDP) Woman Leader, Salome Abuh and destruction of properties.
According to the party, in a statement from its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, it hates violence and criminalities.
Mrs. Abuh, who was a PDP Woman Leader in Kogi State, was killed a day after the Kogi State governorship election result was announced.
The party, which condoled with the family of the deceased and others affected by the post-election violence, said: “While the Kogi Police Command says the killing was as a result of a reprisal attack, we urge the Kogi people to ensure this does not escalate. We are aware that the Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has already directed law enforcement agencies to fish out the perpetrators.
“The APC abhors violence and other criminalities which sadly continue to plague our electioneering process. We urge partisans to see election as a democratic contest and not a do or die affair that we pay with our lives. We pray that the culprits are caught and the full weight of the law is brought to bear on them.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has advised partisans that are not satisfied with the results of governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states to seek redress in court and shun violence. We must all heed this call.”
Malaye petitions INEC, wants Kogi West senatorial poll cancelled
*Says election marred by violence, fraud
Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Kogi West in last Saturday’s senatorial election, Dino Melaye wants the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cancel the entire exercise.
Malaye, who was at the headquarters of the Commission yesterday to submit his petition, said the election was marred by violence and ballot boxes snatching, adding that a helicopter was even used to intimidate voters.
In the petition, which was dated November 18 and signed by his Lawyer, Tobechukwu Nweke, the PDP candidate also submitted 21 copies of video discs, which he said, captured the infractions during the election.
“The content of my petition is that I am demanding the entire cancellation of the election,” he added.
He urged INEC to painstakingly study the events captured in the video, and said it was a revelation that election was not conducted in Kogi West on November 16.
“This is not an election. We are going to take it up and fight for our right to finish.
“We urge the Commission to cancel the entire election to the Senate of Kogi West senatorial district held on Nov. 16,” Melaye demanded.
He alleged that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) as well as the requisite guidelines and regulations issued for the election.
Melaye also took exception to the claim by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu that fake police officers operated during the election in Kogi State.
Bayelsa guber: PDP as own albatross
Why PDP lost Bayelsa to APC
EMMANUEL MASHA reports on the political intrigues that led to the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has held sway in Bayelsa State since 1999 by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in last weekend’s governorship election
o Nigerians, who reside outside Bayelsa State, especially those who do not follow the state’s politics, the victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over Senator Douye Diri of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) David Lyon, in last weekend’s governorship election in the state might come as a big surprise.
Some would be wondering who Lyon is and how he was able to defeat a serving senator, who was backed by an incumbent governor. They would also wonder why voters in a state, which has traditionally voted for the PDP, suddenly pitched tent with APC.
But, to residents of Bayelsa and those who really understand the state’s politics, the fall of the PDP after 19 years of dominance was caused by the party’s leadership at the state and national levels.
Starting from the state, where Governor Seriake Dickson calls the shot, the PDP lost touch with the reality that voters have the ultimate say in who wins an election, and not the power of incumbency. The party failed to realize that the fire brigade approach to election through empty promises or inducement, which is the norm in the country has its limits.
Across Yenagoa and other major towns and communities in Bayelsa State last Saturday, some voters were handed cash to influence their votes, but some of them still went ahead to vote according to their conscience.
According to some observers, Dickson as governor personally failed to read the mood and body language of the people. Some even concluded that if Dickson didn’t realize that majority of Bayelsians were unhappy with the way things had turned out in his second term in office and had been patiently waiting to pay him back.
Also, his appointees and aides, who are nearer to the people, and who are supposed to be his eyes, equally deceived him.
To realize the role “peoples power” played in this election, one only needs to move round the streets of Yenagoa to get the reaction of residents. From tricycle operators to market women and civil servants, there was a strong resolve to vote against Dickson’s anointed candidate – Diri.
For some of the tricycle operators, who have taken over the roads of Yenogoa, it was the failure of the government to provide employment opportunities that forced them into the business. Those who operate on hire purchase terms said they have to work till 10.pm to meet their respective targets and to take something home. Their biggest worry is that there is no single street light that works on Yenagoa roads.
So, they say that they are perpetually in darkness, while conveying their passengers at night, leaving them prone to attacks by hoodlums. Interestingly, Yenogoa is the only capital in the South-South geopolitical zone that goes for months without any blink of electricity.
Like most market women, and other residents had resolved long before the election, the tricycle operators, wore their resolve to vote against PDP like a badge of honour.
When the Dickson administration noticed that the state’s wage bill accommodated ghost workers, who only got salaries at the end of every month without doing anything and blocked the leakage, many commended him. But, when the state’s economy “collapsed” because government could not create employment opportunities and stopped the “sharing” system that thousands relied on, a major economic crisis ensued.
So, Saturday’s election for some was an opportunity to revolt against an “insensitive government.” The residents made good their promise to punish the PDP by taking advantage of the ultimate misstep of the party in the build-up to the election, which was complete disregard for internal democracy.
The emergence of an unpopular candidate to fly the party’s ticket not only extended the distance between the PDP and its supporters, including those that were supposed to sustain the relationship between the grassroots, it led to the defection of some prominent party members to the APC.
To most members of the PDP in the oil-rich state, their preferred candidate was a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe, who they say, boasts of a solid support base across the state. Alaibe is widely seen as a true and worthy son of Bayelsa, who despite never having occupied an elected office is accorded the kind of respect they accorded late Diepreye Alamiseigha.
According to a reliable source, two former presidents advised Dickson before the PDP governorship primary to ensure a level playing field for all the aspirants, when efforts to make him back Alaibe failed.
Alaibe was the choice of many Bayelsans, who were waiting to reward him for building leaders. From ex-Governor Timipre Sylva (now Minister of State for Petroleum) to Douye and Lyon, they all worked for Alaibe at a point in their career. So, Bayelsaans, who came out en mass to vote, would have opted for Alaibe irrespective of his party.
According to an insider, Dickson refused to back Alaibe because he was afraid that the former NDDC boss will not to do his bidding if he becomes governor.
During the PDP primaries, Diri, the senator representing Bayelsa Central, scored 561 votes, while Alaibe, scored 365 in a contest that had 21 aspirants, including the deputy governor of the state, Gboribiogha Jonah, who scored 62 votes.
According to observers, most of the contestants were sponsored to reduce Alaibe’s vote and to prevent him from emerging victorious. However, Alaibe faulted the outcome of the exercise on the ground that the result was affected by “inherent flaws bordering on crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines.”
He also faulted the use of local council chairmen and councilors in the state as delegates in the primary.
He said in a statement: “For instance, by the provisions of Section 50(1) of the party’s constitution, the authority to formulate guidelines for all matters relating to the governorship primary is vested in NEC of the PDP. The election of ad-hoc delegates is one of such matters.
“Strangely, the panel set up to undertake this exercise simply imposed on us a list of electoral and returning officers prepared by the state officers of the party, who are avowed members of the orchestrated Restoration Team. Thus, the process was deliberately handed over to the Restoration Team. Our protest was ignored.
“We express our serious reservations about the process that led to the primary for its unconstitutionality and its outcome completely unacceptable because of its illegitimacy.”
By the time Diri spoke, he made it clear that Alaibe’s time has gone. He explained that when preparations were on for an Alaibe governorship years ago, he (Diri) was not even known. He added that he and others left Alaibe to forge his own political path and returned to the party to be appointed first as Deputy Chief of Staff and later Principal Executive Secretary by Governor Dickson.
His words: “We were in that sojourn for about 10 years, trying to see how we can make Chief Timi Alaibe governor. We are the people who even gave him that name, Principal. But that didn’t work out. So, at a point in one’s life, you have to take your destiny in your hands. I decided once again to take my destiny in my hands. I finally parted ways with Alaibe.”
Diri, however, called on Alaibe and others who contested against him, who are still not happy over the outcome of the primary election to “sheath their swords” and work with him to ensure victory for PDP.
While the PDP was in disarray after its primaries, APC capitalized on the situation. The game plan for APC to takeover of Bayelsa, spearheaded by Sylva was the political take-over of Southern Ijaw. His second journey to Government House, Yenagoa was cut short in Southern Ijaw in 2015 by Dickson. Victory did not come easy for Dickson, following the delay in the outcome of election in the area.
Sylva and his team achieved their plan early this year, when Hon. Preye Osake was elected on the platform of the APC to represent Southern-Ijaw Federal Constituency after defeating Hon. Ofongo Henry of the PDP.
Based on the voting strength of Southern Ijaw, Oseke was pressured by some to contest the governorship election before the APC primary, but he distanced himself from such, noting that he has four years to focus on representing his constituents.
Oseke added that he had no divided attention as a loyal party man and that APC leaders’ and major stakeholders in the state will decide on whoever will fly the party’s flag in the governorship election.
To seal the votes of Southern Ijaw, Sylva and his team drafted Chief David Lyon, who is from the area. This explains why APC polled 124,803 votes against PDP’s 4,898 votes out of the 165,449 registered voters in Southern Ijaw.
When results of the election was announced by INEC’s electoral officer, Prof. Faraday Oruwense, who is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, it was no longer news to Lyon’s supporters, who started celebrating shortly after the election on Saturday.
Another factor that contributed to APC’s victory was the several opportunities, which leaders of the party in Bayelsa leveraged on. Appointments into key federal agencies brought in a fresh crop of politicians that would mobilize voters and deliver their areas.
While the victors are savouring their triumph at the polls, Diri condemned the conduct of the election, alleging that results collated by his party’s agents showed that he won the election.
He also claimed that “members of the PDP were terrorized and arrested by soldiers on the orders of the General Officer Commanding the 6th Division of the Nigerian Army, General Sarham Jamil.”
Diri, who spoke in company of the National Chairman of the PDP Campaign Council and Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, and the National Vice Chairman of the party, Elder Emmanuel Ogidi, noted that what played out during the election, confirms the earlier red flag the PDP raised days to the poll about plans by the APC to use the army to rig the election.
He said that despite being posted out of the Niger Delta to the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, General Jamil still supervised the state’s election. He noted that critical stakeholders of the party were harassed and prevented from accessing the collation centre in Ogbia, which is former President Goodluck Jonathan’s local government area.
Diri added the chairman of the council, Hon. Ebiyon Turner and a serving member of the state House of Assembly representing Ogbia Constituency 11, Hon. Gibson Munalayefa, were all arrested and detained by soldiers.
He also noted that in Southern Ijaw, PDP members who were travelling to their communities for the election, including Dr. Michael Amaegberi, were apprehended by soldiers at Ogboinbiri, while their APC counterparts were allowed to go scot free.
“The collation centre in Ogbia was under siege by the Nigerian Army and as we all know that this is against the laws of our land. It is an anathema because the army has no business in determining who goes into a collation centre.
“In Nembe Local Government Area, materials for wards 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 13 never got to their destinations. Electoral laws are clear on hijacking of electoral materials and so we call on INEC to invoke the relevant laws so that the doctored results will not be accepted.
“We have very credible information that the Nigerian Army have been conniving with our opponent, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to hijack the process and manipulate the already known results,” the PDP candidate said during collation of results.
The complaints, notwithstanding, the biggest lesson over the Bayelsa governorship election is that the people wield the ultimate power and not the person they elected to serve them.
Reps move for new scanners at nation’s ports
The House of Representatives has passed a motion urging the Federal Government to install scanners at the nation’s ports. PHILIP NYAM examines the import of the resolution by the lower chamber
he House of Representatives last week passed a resolution calling on the federal government and indeed the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to immediately purchase and install scanners at the nation’s seaports.
The directive was given following the adoption of the motion of urgent national importance by Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) was unanimously adopted.
This is not the first time the issue of scanners has come up in the National Assembly. Early this year, chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (then senior special assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora), had disclosed that scanners at some of the Nigerian airports were not working optimally.
The former lawmaker who made this known before the ad-hoc committee set up by the Senate to look into circumstances that led to the arrest of Ms. Zainab Aliyu in Saudi Arabia in December 2018, over planting of a banned drug, Tramadol, in her luggage.
While testifying before the ad-hoc committee, Dabiri-Erewa alleged that some foreign airlines were running drug cartels in connivance with some Nigerians at international airports across the country. “They operate alongside local collaborators. It is not Air Peace, not Arik Air,” she said.
Similarly, the airport chief of security of the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN), Alhaji El-Yakub Lamir had also shocked the panel when he disclosed that scanners at the Aminu Kano International Airport in particular, were not configured to detect drugs. He said that there were 15 security agents involved in checking luggage’s at the point of entry and exit but that they had been reduced in number due to public complaints.
This scenario shows that the problem of absence or non-functionality of scanners at either the nation’s airports or seaports is real and deserves to be looked into. And shortly before the 2019 general elections, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed was reported to have disclosed that the federal government had paid for hi-tech scanners, which she promised that would be deployed to the seaports and airports on a build operate and transfer (BOT) basis.
According to her, “We have bought some scanners and there are hi-tech scanners that have been paid for, but we are waiting for delivery and the first deployment will be to the major ports. We will buy more and part of the single window process is that there is going to be a vendor that will provide scanners in all of the major seaports as well as major airports. They will run on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) and they will exit”
Just last Tuesday, the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Alhaji Muhammed Babandede disclosed that the federal government has deployed a border management technology, the Migration Information Data Analysis System (MIDAS) at three international airports, 14 land and two sea borders to check irregular migration, human trafficking, and other cross-border crimes.
He said the MIDAS system had been installed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.
Babandede who was speaking during the inauguration of the system at the Abuja Airport said the technology would also be installed at four other airports across the country. He said the project was a collaborative effort of the NIS, the Danish government and the International Organization for Migration.
According to him, the MIDAS software collects, processes, stores and analyses migrant information in real-time across the border network, and provides a strong statistical base for security, migration policy and planning.
He explained that the MIDAS was designed to process and record both biographic and biometric details of passengers’ movement for the purpose of identification, biometric verification, inspecting, authenticating travel document and collecting and analyzing data of migrant information in real-time across the border network.
But leading debate on the motion, Ossai submitted that scanners in most ports within the country needed immediate replacement and emphasized that the scanners would help decongest ports and hike revenue for the country.
According to Ossai, other nations across the world, have imbibed technology and are reaping from its benefits noting that “there is no place in the world today that you don’t have a scanning machine. The other day, we went to the ports and you will marvel at the level of revenue we are losing”
He argued that without scanners at the ports, people with criminal tendencies would use the opportunity to bring in banned products and even firearms into the nation without being apprehended.
Supporting the motion, Hon. Bamidele Salam (PDP, Osun) said: “I want to add to the motion we have to find a solution to this general problem facing us as a country. If these scanners are effective, it would go a long way to save manpower”.
Also, Hon. Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo), on his part, said “this is what some of us have always emphasized in the house. If you allow personnel of the customs to use their discretion that is where corruption comes in”.
Similarly, Hon. Luke Onofiok (PDP, Akwa Ibom) said “I want to suggest that we find a lasting solutions to the decongestion of our seaports through this method. I want to use this opportunity to ask the federal government to establish a seaport in Akwa- Ibom so as to help decongest these ports. Making his own contribution, the minority leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta) said “This motion is very germane. If we have functioning scanning machines, we would not have illegal ammunitions circulating round the whole country. The scanning machines would be able to check all of this”.
Before adopting the motion, the House lamented that “the infrastructural decay and frustration experienced daily in our Ports by importers and exporters, which often leads to unnecessary demurrage and incurring of other charges by port users, resulting to high cost of goods in the country thereby causing inflation”.
The House added that “the economic importance of Customs Service makes it reprehensible that this age of fast technological development, the NCS is still engaging in physical examination of persons and cargos in our seaports, airports and border stations”
The motion was unanimously adopted when Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase put it to question.
Speaking on the issue after the plenary, chairman of the House Committee on Customs and Excise, Hon. Yuguda Hassan (APC, Jigawa) on the motion, he revealed that “the issue of scanners have been on, even before this administration came in, however, the motion has been overtaken by events because the federal government has agreed to procure scanners all over the country both in borders and seaports. Actually there’s a committee put in place already to tackle the issue of scanners”.
He noted that “there are a lot of benefits in having scanners to function well in our ports because it would check the importation of illegal goods and ammunitions in the country “, he submitted.
Many analysts are of the view that the resolution from the House of the procurement of scanners is long overdue considering the security challenges being faced by the nation. They are of the view that any effort that can block any loophole that may be exploited by insurgents and other dubious characters must be put to use.
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