Friday, 24 November 2017

NEWS AND STORIES

Zimbabwe’s former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa flew home on Wednesday to take power after the resignation of Robert Mugabe put an end to 37 years of authoritarian rule.

Mnangagwa flew into Harare’s Manyame airbase from South Africa and met key members of the ruling ZANU-PF there before heading to the nerve-centre of power, State House, for a briefing, his aide Larry Mavhima told AFP.

He will be sworn in as president at an inauguration ceremony on Friday, officials said. 

Mugabe’s iron grip ended on Tuesday in a shock announcement to parliament where MPs had convened to impeach the 93-year-old who dominated every aspect of Zimbabwean public life for decades.

He was last seen in public on Friday and gave a televised address on Sunday but neither he, nor his wife Grace, have been seen since, with their whereabouts unknown.

On the streets, the news that his long and often brutal leadership was over sparked wild celebrations which lasted late into the night, with crowds dancing and cheering ecstatically amid a cacophony of car horns.

Mnangagwa, 75, was sacked by the president on November 6 in a move that pushed infuriated army chiefs to intervene, triggering a series of events which led to Mugabe’s ouster.

Excited crowds
Ahead of his arrival, hundreds of people gathered outside ZANU-PF headquarters in Harare in the hope he would address them, some holding placards welcoming him home, while others wore shirts emblazoned with his likeness.

A former key Mugabe ally, Mnangagwa had fled the country after his dismissal, saying he would not return without guarantees of his safety.

His sacking was the result of an increasingly bitter succession battle with first lady Grace, who had been pushing to take over from her ageing husband.

In a highly symbolic scene shortly after his resignation, a man took down a portrait of Mugabe from a wall inside the building where MPs had assembled for the extraordinary session to impeach the defiant president.

Another person replaced it with an image of the ousted vice president. 

Mnangagwa is a political veteran long-time party loyalist who has served in a host of different cabinet positions since independence in 1980 and who has close ties with the military.

But critics describe him as a ruthless hardliner behind years of state-sponsored violence, warning he could prove just as authoritarian as his mentor.

And Rinaldo Depagne of the International Crisis Group said Mugabe’s departure “does not necessarily mean more democracy”.

Meeting Zuma
At Harare’s Manyame airbase, senior military commanders and a gaggle of journalists were waiting for him as his business jet touched down at around 1400 GMT, AFP correspondents at the scene said.

Before leaving South Africa where he had been staying, Pretoria published a photograph of Mnangagwa shaking hands with President Jacob Zuma following a meeting earlier in the day, with both men grinning broadly.

Mugabe’s resignation capped a chaotic week in which the military seized control and tens of thousands of Zimbabweans took to the streets in an unprecedented show of dissent against Mugabe.

“We want our new president to make sure power hungry gangs don’t infiltrate,” said Talent Chamunorwa, 37, a brick seller.

“We hope to be able to access our money from the bank come December and the US dollar must come back.”

He was referring to Zimbabwe’s chronic shortage of cash and a mistrusted “bond note” scheme intended to be pegged to the greenback but trading at a lower rate in reality.

Outstayed his welcome
Mugabe had ruled Zimbabwe almost unopposed since independence and until his exit, he was also the world’s oldest serving head of state.

But efforts to position his 52-year-old wife Grace as his successor were his undoing.

Although Mugabe’s fate remains unknown, ZANU-PF has said he deserved to be treated with respect after leading the country for nearly four decades.

“He deserves to rest and I believe every Zimbabwean agrees with this,” said ruling party spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo.

“But I think he had overstayed the hospitality of the people of Zimbabwe.”

Last week’s military takeover had all the hallmarks of a coup, but the generals stopped short of forcing Mugabe out.

As the crisis grew, the ZANU-PF party, an instrument of Mugabe’s brutal reign, removed him as party leader and began parliamentary proceedings to have him impeached.

‘Extraordinary opportunity’
The international community hailed his exit as a chance to reshape Zimbabwe’s future, with British Prime Minister Theresa May saying it offered “an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression” that characterised Mugabe’s rule.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it offered Zimbabwe “an extraordinary opportunity to set itself on a new path”.

And Beijing, which became a major political and economic partner of Harare as it was shunned by the west, said it respected Mugabe’s decision, describing him as a “good friend of the Chinese people”.

Most Zimbabweans had only known life under Mugabe, whose time in power was defined by violent suppression, economic collapse and international isolation.

Published in Headliners

“African leaders do not resign, that’s cowardice and the fact that UK Prime Minister-David Cameron has just resigned confirms everything I have said about him—he is weak and a coward.” President (now Ex) Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe in 2016.

The recent confusion about what is happening in Zimbabwe, with President Robert Mugabe refusing to resign, (now he has finally resigned, 21 November 2017) even when pressured and being pampered has again brought to the fore the obstinacy that exists in Africa when it comes to resigning or relinquishing power voluntarily.

In Mugabe’s case, as a friend from Kenya wrote to me, the Zimbabwean Defence Forces are merely exercising “soft power” – getting others to want the outcomes you want – and co-opting people rather than coercing them. This can be contrasted with “hard power”, which is the use of force and coercion. In other words, the Zimbabweans are being very civilised about removing Mr Mugabe, even after 37 years of holding absolute power.

In our modern history, after most African countries became independent from their several colonial masters, very few African leaders relinquished power voluntarily. In most cases, they are forcibly removed, and in some cases, their ends were not pretty. Did they need to go through the shame, or put their family and even people through such terrible and uncertain times? In some cases, the whole country is plunged into civil strife, instability, poverty, and misery.

African and Nigeria’s top political leaders and their cohorts in the civil service don’t resign as a way of assuming political or civic responsibility for problems in their portfolios. They very rarely account publicly for their responsibilities, or own up when problems arise. Instead, the usual trend is to sit tight and wait to be forcibly pushed out or, if they are lucky, die in office.

Equally rare are resignations of senior people associated with, or in government. Even public pressure fails to force them to resign. In other words, they do not take public culpability for their actions or in most cases, inactions.

Have you ever wondered why public officers (appointed or elected), officials, civil servants, and politicians never offer to resign or step aside while investigations go on when they are accused of wrongdoing and corruption issues?

I did a bit of research and thinking, and these are the reasons that popped out:

  • Primarily, the Indiscipline, Impunity, and Disregard for the laws of the land, because they are not strictly, even if partially, implemented and enforced, allows a lot of impunity from everybody, most especially, people in government. This kind of thing hardly happens in private sector.
  • Secondly, some of our warped cultural and moral values also give backing to the fact that people in high places deem it as a loss of face for them to resign. Resignation or stepping aside when accused of wrongdoing is tantamount to admission of guilt. And it seems alien to our culture to admit guilt when millions of people are looking up to you as a “Big Man”. Resign? No, Sir, Africans don’t resign, they are either forced out or die in office.
  • Third, Cover-up: If I resign when accused of wrongdoing, then I am exposing myself, exposing my arse, because if I do that, then I will not be able to conceal or destroy evidence. I will not be able to have a measure of control over the impending investigation. No, I must be there when they are conducting their so-called farcical investigations!
  • Fourthly, my enemies have won if I resign. God forbid bad thing! I will be back down at the bottom of the ladder and all those I climbed over to get to the top will ridicule me and get back at me. All arrows shot at me by my enemies shall not prosper. It will not be in their eyes that I will go down.
  • Number five; why resign when I know I won’t be found guilty anyway? I will weather the storm. Isn’t it Nigerians? They will shout and cry and splash the news of my alleged wrongdoing all over the newspapers, and let me just keep a low profile, go to the church and mosque, do some praying and offer tithes, and God will deliver me from the hands of mine enemies, and in a few months, the brouhaha will die down.
  • Sixth, Association: Am I the only one doing it? Others are doing it too and not resigning, and getting away with it, so what is mine to leap into the water and drown? Naah! If I go down, others involved will have to go down too.
  • Seventh, the word RESIGN or as we say it in the UK, GO ON GARDEN LEAVE does not exist in the Nigerian lexis. It is alien. Virtually unknown and unheard of. It never crosses the mind that that is the right thing to do, both under the law and morally.
  • Eighth, it is Disrespectful to be asked to resign or leave your position in government. For many “Big Men” in public or political office, we take it as a personal insult of the highest order to be asked to proceed on temporary leave or to resign. That means you don’t respect them or their office.
  • Ninth, according to ex-President Robert Mugabe above, it is Cowardice for an African leader or in high position of public trust to resign. What the heck!!! The man is a warrior of many ages past, coming from a long line of fighters and celebrated heroes. He must die at the warfront as a valiant soldier. He/she could even have descended from one of the Fathers of the Nation, an icon in his own right. No, you don’t disgrace such people even if they are wallowing in culpability and shame. There must be a way out, and that way is to stay put.
  • Tenth, according to Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri, the Editor of GhanaCelebrities.com, African politicians are always on “a desperate run to remain at post because politics is the source of his daily bread and fused with their power drunkenness, ego and greed”. The same could be said of the civil servants and other elected or appointed public officials too.
  • And eleventh, unbelievably, there are always sycophants and hangers-on, who have benefitted from the official’s illegal and ill-gotten largesse, who will be spurring him on to stay and fight, because if their man resigns, then “chop don comot for dem mouth too”. Simple as that. Yet, if the man falls, they don’t go to prison or disgrace with him, they find another source of easy income. That’s life anyway.

It is indeed difficult for the African public official to resign from an office or position or to relinquish power when he’s a leader. In a way, I have some pity and understanding for them; they are products of the society that begets them, so it is difficult to depart from the norm and genetic trait.. Now you know the reason our political emancipation, socio-economic and human developments have always been in jeopardy.

The good news however, is that this phenomenon, a typical African trait, is changing. Leaders and public officials are finding it increasingly difficult to hide, and to sweep thing under the carpet. The people are becoming more aware of issues of governance, development, and service delivery, and the misdemeanours, corruption, and other malfeasances (conduct by a public official that cannot be legally justified or that conflicts with the law) of political leaders, public officials and civil servants are increasingly being exposed. It is not business as usual.

They must be made accountable and responsible for their actions, or inactions. They must be made to know the “seats of power or authority” that they occupy is not divine; not their birth right and is only temporary. Power is transient; it does not belong to any one person. And power, when you have it, must not be abused and is to be used justly and fairly for the benefit of the weak.

Let’s keep applying pressure, all kinds of pressure, on our leaders and public servants. Let them know and feel the power of the people, by whose grace they got into power, instead of them alluding to God for letting them get into power.

Let the Truth be told always!!!!!!

 

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Published in Parliament

Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo says there is no better man for the Presidency than President Muhammadu Buhari.Okorocha said this while addressing leaders of the ‘Democratic Youths Congress for Buhari 2019,” who were on a courtesy visit to him at the Government House, Owerri on Tuesday.

He urged every Nigeria to support President Buhari for second term, adding that all but two Governors in the country, regardless of party affiliation, were in support of a second term for the President.

“President Buhari is the best for the country at the moment and that there could not have been a better option now.‘’I am a believer of Buhari and I made it clear years ago that if President Buhari is running for president, I will not run.

“Now God has chosen him to be the president of Nigeria and some of us are witnesses that Buhari was and is still the best for Nigeria at this material time,” he said.

Okorocha also said that Nigeria’s quick exit from economic recession was a testament to Buhari’s tenacity, adding that he had shelved his ambition in preference to support Buhari.

While appealing to others to extend the same level of support, he noted Buhari’s second term would bring about enhanced unity and peace of Nigeria.

“Supporting Buhari for a second tenure will bring about the new Nigeria we are talking about. This will put Nigeria first and the unity we are looking for will be guaranteed under this administration.

“Our nation is going through a challenging moment and we will require a man of his calibre to see us through this period.

“People should not use the Anambra election result to judge the support for Buhari as it does not reflect the support.

“Even the government and people of Anambra support President Buhari, what happened was that an internal disagreement among the leaders in APC in Anambra cost us the election.”

Earlier, the National Chairman of the group, Mr Kassim Kassim, said the group came to appeal to Okorocha to shelve his ambition of running for the office of the president of the country.

He noted that although Okorocha was well qualified to run, his support was needed to enable Buhari to complete his “good works for the nation.”

“With your track records, we would have gladly chosen you to run for 2019, but we have all endorsed Buhari and accepted that you lead us all the way in the support.

“We are begging and pleading that you lead all the governors of APC to support Buhari for what he has done and what he stands for in Nigeria.“With you on our side, victory is assured” Kassim said.

Published in Business and Economy

Robert Mugabe resigned as president of Zimbabwe Tuesday, swept from power as his 37-year reign of brutality and autocratic control crumbled within days of a military takeover.

The bombshell news was delivered by the parliament speaker to a special joint session of the assembly which had convened to impeach Mugabe, 93, who has dominated every aspect of Zimbabwean public life since independence in 1980.

It was greeted on the streets of the capital Harare with car horns and wild cheering.

“I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 of the constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation… with immediate effect,” said speaker Jacob Mudenda, reading the letter.

“My decision to resign is voluntary on my part. It arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and my desire to ensure a smooth, peaceful and non-violent transfer of power that underpins national security, peace and stability.”

It capped an unprecedented week in which the military seized control, tens of thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans took to the streets to demand that the president go and Mugabe wrestled to remain in power.

– ‘Things are finally going to change’ –
“We are just so happy that things are finally going to change,” Togo Ndhlalambi, 32, a hairdresser, told AFP.

Mugabe had ruled Zimbabwe almost unopposed since the country won independence from Britain but his efforts to position his wife Grace as his successor triggered fury in the military that had underpinned his regime.

His grip on power was shattered last week when the armoured military vehicles took to the streets, blockaded parliament and soldiers placed the president under house arrest in an operation that had all the hallmarks of a coup. 

But instead his generals stressed they were simply “arresting” criminals around Mugabe — a reference to supporters of Grace — and even allowed the one-time liberation hero to appear at a public function and deliver a TV speech stressing that he retained control.

Open dissent 
It is expected that he will eventually be replaced by former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had been Grace Mugabe’s chief rival to succeed her husband and whose dismissal earlier this month triggered the army takeover.

Grace has not been seen since the start of the crisis.

However, under Zimbabwe’s constitution, second Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko stands to be elevated as head of state.

Veterans of the independence war — who were also formerly key Mugabe allies — had compounded mounting pressure on the former leader, demanding that he leave office immediately and helping to rally the weekend’s vast protests.

On Saturday, in scenes of public euphoria not seen since independence, huge crowds marched and sang their way through Harare and other cities in peaceful celebrations to mark his fading power.

The demonstrations drew citizens of all ages and races, jubilant that Mugabe’s fate had been sealed.

In central Harare, a group of young men tore down a green metal street sign bearing Robert Mugabe’s name and smashed it repeatedly on the road.

Such open dissent would have would have been routinely crushed by security forces before this week’s shock events.

The majority of Zimbabweans had only known life under Mugabe’s rule, which was defined by violent suppression, economic collapse and international isolation.

Published in Headliners

Zimbabwe’s parliament opened a session on Tuesday to begin the process of impeaching President Robert Mugabe, which could lead to him being stripped of office, an AFP correspondent saw.

Parliament speaker Jacob Mubenda gave permission for a joint session of the House of Assembly and the Senate to debate a motion that would trigger impeachment proceedings against Mugabe.

“This motion is unprecedented in the history of post-independence Zimbabwe,” Mubenda declared.

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum have called on Mugabe to quit after the military seized power and tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets to demand the 93-year-old’s resignation.

They accuse him of allowing his ambitious wife Grace to plunder the country and to usurp his power.

She emerged as the front-runner to replace the veteran leader when Mugabe fired his vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

That prompted the current crisis as the army, alarmed by Grace’s rise, deployed armoured vehicles on the streets and took power.

There were tense protests outside parliament as hundreds of demonstrators — from rival political parties — shouted for Mugabe to go.

Published in Business and Economy
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 07:05

Witness: how ex-PDP chair’s son was killed

Fresh facts emerged last night that the jealous wife, Maryam Sanda, who stabbed her late husband, Bilyamin Bello, the son of a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mohammed Haliru Bello, was earlier prevented four times from carrying out the act.

It was also alleged that bloodstains in the couple’s flat had been mopped up and murder weapon cleared by unknown persons before homicide detectives stormed the place on Sunday.

The deceased also at the last minutes went to an ATM and withdrew cash to pay for the balance of the repair of his wife’s crashed car.

But Maryam was said to have demanded for a divorce with the threat of cutting off her husband’s manhood.

These facts were contained in the testimony of a witness, Habib Gajam (aka Gidado), which was published in the Lifestyle Section of  inside are wa.com.ng

Gajam, who is a family friend, gave the graphic details of what transpired and how the embattled wife had tried to cover up the act.

Gajam said: “Today, I witnessed the most wicked and shameful display of arrogance in Bilyaminu’s death case.

“At about 9 to 10p.m. last night  (Saturday),  tension started to build between Bilyaminu  and his wife, Maryam,  at his residence.

“Maryam demanded a divorce with the threat of cutting off his manhood. Ibrahim Aliero, Bilyaminu’s friend (in whose instance the drama started) intervened four times to stop Maryam from stabbing her husband.

“Ibrahim called Auta (Maryam’s uncle) and Abba (Bilyaminu’s cousin), who had left the house moments before the drama started, to come and intervene.

“After a short calm, Maryam broke a bottle of groundnut and attempted to stab Bilyaminu, again, but this time he held both her hands and struggled to take the bottle from her, injuring himself in the process. Unrelenting and wild, she bit his finger.

“Uncle Auta had arrived this time to calm the situation. They both committed to Uncle Auta to let go of the grievances (at least for the night).

“After the situation had become calm, Bilyaminu and his friend went to the Pharmacy to get his hand treated from the bite he sustained from Maryam.

“They later went to the ATM and made a withdrawal to pay up the balance of a spare part for Maryam’s crashed car. By 11pm, Bilyaminu and Ibrahim had gone back to a calm home. Abba (Bilyaminu’s cousin) joined them in the living room.

“They stayed till almost midnight and decided to call it a night.

In the emotional piece, Gajam related the parting words of Bilyamin to his cousin and others.

He also captured attempts by the detained wife to change the story at the police station in order to cover up her crime.

The witness said: “When Bilyaminu was seeing them off, he told Ibrahim that ‘I don’t want to go back until she’s asleep’. They called it a day. Abba and Ibrahim left.

“At around 2pm Sunday afternoon, family members were summoned to Maitama Hospital, where Bilyaminu was lying in a pool of his blood with multiple stabs on his chest, shoulder, a deep cut on his inner thigh and many bite wounds on his stomach.

“Maryam had confessed to stabbing him to the hospital authorities. Maitama Police Station was the next point of call.

“At Maitama Station, where Maryam was asked to write her statement, story changed. She claimed they got involved in a fight and Bilyaminu sustained injuries from a broken Shisha pot and that she never stabbed or hit him.

“She was later taken to the FCT Command in Garki II for further investigation. The police commissioner instructed that the crime scene should be visited.”

Gajam explained: “To the amazement of Abba (Bilyaminu’s cousin) and Ibrahim (his friend), who are key witnesses in the investigation, bloodstains had been mopped up, murder weapon disappeared, but flower vases and shisha pot were broken to corroborate Maryam’s earlier statement at the station.

“In the midst of this tragedy and confusion, Maryam had the audacity and courage to change her story. More disgusting is her lack of remorse and respect for the victim’s family.

“Someone, who divorced his first wife to be with you doesn’t deserve this. #JusticeForBilyaminu shall be served by the Almighty Allah on the day of resurrection.

“May Allah grant Bilyaminu Jannah and bless the life of his eight months old daughter, Sa’adatu.”

Published in Headliners

The Federal Government has floated the much awaited US$3 billion dual series bond to fund approved budgetary expenditures.

A statement from the Federal Ministry of Finance yesterday quoted Minister  Kemi Adeosun as saying that “the government would utilise the proceeds of the Notes in funding the approved budgetary expenditures and for refinancing of domestic debt, as may be applicable.”

According to Mrs. Adeosun, the Notes represent Nigeria’s fourth Eurobond issuance, following issuances in 2011, 2013 (two series) and earlier in 2017.

She noted: “Nigeria is implementing an ambitious economic reform agenda designed to deliver long-term sustainable growth and reduce reliance on oil and gas revenues while reducing waste and improving the efficiency of government expenditure.

“Our economy is beginning to recover, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) having returned to growth in 2017, but we must maintain the momentum behind our investments in order to further drive growth. That is why we are, and will continue to focus investment on the enabling infrastructure we need to broaden economic productivity.

“Successfully extending out debt profile in the international market to 30 years is a key element of that strategy as it establishes a basis for the longer term financing required for transformational infrastructure investment.

“As we have always stated we are progressively replacing debt with revenue, which is reflected in the 2018 Budget proposal. We are establishing the building blocks for inclusive growth and beginning to see the results of the hard decisions that have been made to reset our economy appropriately.”

The aggregate principal amount of the dual series bond is being offered notes under the Federal Government’s US$4.5 billion Global Medium Term Note programme (increased from US$1.5 billion).

The Notes comprise a US$1.5 billion 10-year series and a US$1.5 billion 30-year series.

The Ministry of Finance said “the 10-year series will bear interest at a rate of 6.5%, while the 30-year series will bear interest at a rate of 7.625%, which will be repayable with a bullet repayment of the principal on maturity.

The statement said “the offering, which attracted significant interests from leading global institutional investors, is expected to be closed on or about 28 November, 2017, subject to the satisfaction of various customary closing conditions.”

When issued, the Notes will be admitted to the official list of the UK Listing Authority and available to trade on the London Stock Exchange’s regulated market.

Nigeria may apply for the Notes to be eligible for trading and listed on the Nigerian FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange and the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

The pricing was determined following a roadshow led by Mrs. Adeosun; the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma; Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele; Debt Management Office (DMO) Director-General Ms. Patience Oniha, and the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze.

Commenting on the Notes’ pricing, the DMO Director-General Patience Oniha said: “With the successful pricing of our 4th Eurobond, Nigeria has become one of the few African issuers whose securities have attracted strong investor interest amongst institutional investors across the globe.

“This time, Nigeria issued a new 10-year bond at a yield of 6.500% and a 30-year benchmark, priced at a yield of 7.625%, which despite the longer tenure remains cheaper than our 15-year issuance earlier this year.

“The 30-year is a landmark as the tenor represents the first by a sub-Saharan country other than South Africa and importantly establishes the basis for long term infrastructure funding, which is a priority for this government.”

Oniha expressed satisfaction with international investors’ recognition of Nigeria’s huge potential.

“Perhaps even more important is that with this dual tranche issuance the objective of reducing the cost of government borrowing has been achieved,” she added.

 

Published in Headliners

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party will launch the parliamentary process on Tuesday for impeaching President Robert Mugabe, a government lawmaker told AFP.

The decision on Monday came after Mugabe missed a deadline to resign given to him by his party over the weekend.

Once a simple majority of parliamentarians vote for impeachment, an investigative committee is formed by lawmakers, who report back to both houses of parliament. Each house must then vote by a two-thirds majority for him to be stripped of office.

“We are expecting the motion to be over (Tuesday),” said ZANU-PF lawmaker Paul Mangwana, referring to the initial procedure to commence impeachment proceedings.

He added that ZANU-PF had approached the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to seek their cooperation to pass the necessary parliamentary votes.

In a televised address late Sunday, the 93-year-old veteran leader defied expectations he would quit, pitching the country into a second week of political crisis.

The speech provoked anger and disbelief among many Zimbabweans, fuelling concerns that Mugabe could face a violent backlash.

Zimbabwe’s crisis erupted on November 13 after a factional squabble over the presidential succession erupted into the open prompting the army to seize power.

Published in Business and Economy
Monday, 20 November 2017 17:01

Alex Ekwueme dies in London hospital

Second Republic vice president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, is dead.
 
The elder statesman’s death was disclosed in a statement issued by the Ekwueme family of Oko, in Anambra State.
 
The statement was reportedly released in the early hours of Monday.
 
The statement, signed by the former vice president’s brother, and the traditional ruler of Oko in Anambra State, Igwe Laz Ekwueme, explained that he passed on around 10:00 pm on Sunday, in a London hospital.
 
The statement read, “Ekwueme family regrets to announce the peaceful passing away of their patriarch, the former Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, GCON.
 
“The sad event occurred at the London Clinic at 10:00 pm on Sunday, 19th November, 2017.”
 
It would be recalled that Ekwueme was hospitalised in Memfys Neurosurgery Hospital, Enugu, for about two weeks before he was flown abroad for medical treatment on November 12.
 
The elder statesman was rushed to the hospital after collapsing at his residence in the Independence Layout area of Enugu on October 28.
 
It was learnt that the elder statesman was in a coma at the time he was admitted to the hospital.
 
Ekwueme, who celebrated his 85th birthday on October 10, reportedly suffered from a chest infection, according to his family members.
Published in Headliners

While acknowledging its human frailties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) insisted at the weekend that the party's 16 years of mistake remained far less than the calamity of the last two and half years of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in multiple dimensions.

A group, known as the National Volunteers for Lamido, which made the assertion in a statement issued in Abuja, noted that whatever the PDP did, it left the scene over two years ago and that exit provided Nigerians the opportunity to gauge the standard of performance. "From the economy, foreign relations where an APC government has decided to make caricature of the country, its leadership and people, security, wage theft, misapplication of resources and the lack of vision at all levels. This is total disaster."

In the statement, signed by its National Coordinator, Umar Danjani Hadeja, tgroup also accused the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu of deliberately choosing to feed the public with falsehood and obvious inaccuracies, deliberate misinformation, and even mischief bordering on denial and selective amnesia.

It was reacting to Garba's attempted response to a recent interview granted by a former governor of Jigawa state, Alhaji Sule Lamido to the Sun Newspaper, which was published on Saturday, November 11, 2017 wherein he fielded questions on his presidential ambition and the state of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as well as some snippets on reasoned insights on President Muhammadu Buhari's leadership style, the All Progressives Congress (APC) government and the future of Nigeria and the place of her youth.

The group particularly lampooned the Presidential Spokesperson for relishing in quackery whenever he ventures into the laborious attempts at rebuttals or rejoinders, more often, with scant regard for the truth. "Clearly, Garba's attempted response to the said Sule Lamido interview is yet another classic example of the PR disaster and liability that he now represents for the Buhari administration. Surely, we would care less for this misfortune of an appointee of Mr. President who is fishing and scavenging desperately for "stuff" that would make him look useful in a job he clearly does not know how to do. His brazen and intellectually lazy import-substitution mission for issues never raised in the interview in the effort to tar Alhaji Sule Lamido with a dirty brush is at best, mischievous, unprofessional and a damning verdict on Garba's."
While describing the attempt by Garba Shehu "to tar Alhaji Sule Lamido with a dirty brush" as mischievous, unprofessional and a damning verdict on the presidential spokesman, the group also expressed concern over the feeble and failed attempt to address or "attack" the facts of the matter raised in the Sule Lamido interview.

It took a swipe at the presidential spokesman for falsely accusing Alhaji Sule Lamido of impugning the integrity of the nation's judicial system and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), when, in actual fact, "the government is itself destroying," these two institutions.

"Where, for instance, did Garba see any reference to these institutions in the said interview? Did he at all, read the interview or in the classic case of playing the 'Boss', lazily rely on some subordinates who supposedly drew his attention to a publication he never sighted? And as if this was not shameful enough, he brazenly proceeded to blindly issue a 'rejoinder' to a publication he apparently knew nothing about. This is a further injury to the image, integrity and ethics of the journalism profession," it said.
According to the group, Garba has thrown up the poverty of the government's effort to water down any serious effort to address our national ills. " His usual habit of ignoring facts was manifest in his attempt to defend his party rather than the government's confused approach to implementing the agenda it promised."

The group however noted that Alhaji Lamido would not be deterred, distracted or cowed by the shenanigans of the ilk of Garba, stressing that as a statesman and nationalist whose sole driving impetus is improvement in the material condition of the ordinary Nigerian citizen, as well as carving a place of high repute for Nigeria in the comity of nations, "Alhaji Sule Lamido is forging ahead with steely determination and singleness of purpose."

"Lamido will continue to speak truth to power and call out the APC government in all its numerous failings. No amount of name-calling, falsehood, character assassination or intimidation will do the trick. Not from Garba Shehu, not from anyone else. The APC government must shape up or ship out, or else expect the Sule Lamidos of this Country and they are in the majority now, to continue to call it out," the group insisted.

Still comparing the PDP government with the current administration, the group further drew attention to what is called confusion and lies, cross messaging and open confrontation among various officials of government even while brazenly engaged in corrupt practices of various kinds as widely reported in the media. "This is worse than a calamity for a developing nation like ours. Garba should encourage the government he serves to investigate those cases instead of chasing shadows and silhouettes. If you check the markets, prices have skyrocketed. There is unemployment, poverty and hunger, which bad effects have shot over the roofs, while some officials including Garba are smiling, as they hide their loots from this government. These stories have become daily doses of media reportage. Time shall tell."

Maintaining that the antecedents of everyone given opportunity of service speaks for him or her, the group contended that Alhaji Sule Lamido comes across as a deliverer of promise, challenging anyone in doubt to visit Jigawa State to understand the difference between the Lamido years and the present reality. "Every visible productive project of stature dotting the entire landscape was initiated and completed by him."
"The essential Alhaji Sule Lamido is a quintessential leader who is and still loved by the people; among whom he lives to date. He speaks his mind, no matter who is involved. In the process, he has encountered and also survived the vicissitudes of politics while serving his fatherland. This has, over the years, shaped his vision with courage of conviction and strength of character. You may confirm by the kind and nature of people around him and his associates.

"Unlike Alhaji Sule Lamido, Garba is inconsequential inconsistent, foul mouthed and practicing quackery as Public Affairs management. Therefore, our final word and free consultancy for Garba is this: "Attend a refresher course on how not to be a Public Affairs assistant. We understand one such course is scheduled for some time in the year 2019, otherwise, you will remain an albatross on President Buhari's neck. Nigerians are watching"

Published in Politics
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