NEWS AND STORIES
Some residents of Zaria, Kaduna State, and neighbours of the leader of the Shi’ite sect, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, yesterday launched a campaign to get the group banned.
Citing alleged hardship caused them by members of the sect over the last 20 years, the Zaria residents said they have had enough.
Their spokesperson, Alhaji Idris Mohammed Baba, told reporters in Kaduna that Shi’ite members routinely hold people in Zaria and Sabon Gari local government areas of the state hostage and tend to run a parallel government in the country.
They claimed that last May, the sect declared 24 youths persona non grata for challenging their activities in Gyellesu community where Zakzaky resides.
According to him, “My experience with Shiite followers is disastrous and terrible. At a point Shi’ite boys threatened to kill me. We are happy over the military action against Shi’ites movement in Zaria because we have fresh air now blowing in our areas.”
He added, “As a community, we wrote letters to the government about the activities of Shi’ites but no single action was taken. We no longer report Shi’ites to police because they will never honour police or security invitation.
“These Shi’ites are an authority unto themselves; they don’t respect the authorities, the security agencies and so on.
“We are Muslims but we discovered that Shi’ites activities are contrary to Islam. They carry dangerous weapons and openly molest innocent people in our areas. Human rights groups should also look into our pains by the sect members.”
Also speaking, another resident, Alhaji Saidu Garba, said the activities of the sect have crippled the once booming economy of the area.
He said: “After El-Zakzaky was released from detention in 1999,he came and settled in Gyallesu. Since then there is no peace in our area. We thank Allah for touching the heart of government and the military for liberating us from Shi’ites untold hardship.”
The Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Monday Igbuya on Sunday hailed Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, saying “the governor is on course and determined to turn the state around”
“God places people in authority and when you challenge any man in authority, you challenge God. Notwithstanding the economic challenges, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa deserves commendation” he said.
He also described the April 11 House of Assembly Election in Sapele Constituency as the toughest in his political career.
Igbuya who spoke at the thanksgiving service of Rhema Place Ministries in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government said it was regrettable that that some politicians were pre-occupied with the politics of destruction.
The Delta Speaker who spoke seriously about the last House of Assembly election accused some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Sapele Local Government of engaging in acts inimical to the growth of the party in the state.
“Some members of our political family worked against my interest and the interest of our great party during the April 11, 2015 House of Assembly Election but i won the election. I also won at the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal” he said.
He appealed to Nigerians not to see politicians as idol worshippers.
“Power belongs to God and when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice. Not all politicians are idol worshippers. If God says you cannot occupy a position, there is no way you can achieve that”.
Using his life as a testimony and recounting how he challenged God before the election, Igbuya said God made his victory possible.
‘I am not the most intelligent person in Sapele. God made me a member of the Delta State House of Assembly. He also made me Speaker of the Honourable House”.
He urged Nigerians to be dedicated and always seek the face of God in whatever they are doing.
He also urged the people of the state to support Governor Okowa.
“Governor Ifeanyi Okowa will be governor for eight years. Pray for him always so that God can use him to make Delta State more prosperous” he added.
EBIRERI HENRY OVIE
LAGOS — The crisis emerging from the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the All Progressives Congress, APC’s candidate in the Kogi State governorship election last night took a new dimension as Mr James Faleke, late Audu’s running mate in the election formally asked the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to declare him winner of the election and name him governor-elect.
There was high turnout of voters as accreditation for the Kogi gubernatorial elections began across the state on Saturday morning.
On a drive from Lokoja to Odu Ogbogaya, the home town of Governor Idris Wada who is also the PDP candidate, it was observed that people were all ready for accreditation to start as early as 7.30 am.
Meanwhile, there was high turnout of voters of voters at Odu Ogbogaya ward 001 where Governor Wada is being expected for accreditation.
The governor was yet to show up as at 11 am when this report was complied.
However, it was observed that there were minor hitches with the accreditation as the card readers kept rejecting some fingers.
Also, the security presence is very low and electoral officials are finding it difficult to control voters who are on three long queues.
Sea of cameramen and journalists are waiting for Wada to show up for accreditation at his Odu Ogboyaga ward 001 polling unit.
The governor’s expansive mansion is just about 500 metres to the polling unit.
On Monday October 26, 2015, the Delta State Governorship election tribunal sitting in Asaba with Justice Nasiru Gummi as Chairman, delivered its much anticipated verdict in the case of our Party and Candidate, Olorogun O'tega Emerhor's challenge to the declaration of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa as Governor of Delta State in the April 11 2015 governorship election in the state.
Those who have been following the fireworks of the legal proceedings of the tribunal and indeed all progressive Deltans and Nigerians were shocked at the unexpected verdict and wondered out quite loudly how the PANEL managed the trick of pulling Okowa/PDP from the jaws of a loss and to award them victory in the circumstances of the case!
Although we as a Party had given our initial reaction where we generally condemned the verdict as a grave injustice and an assault on the rule of law, we had refrained from going into the specifics of the case until we are fully acquainted with the facts of the untoward ruling. Having now obtained the certified true copy of and thoroughly reviewed the unfortunate ruling of the tribunal, we can now react as follows:
1) We condemn in the strongest of terms, the unfortunate judgment of the Justice Gummi panel and denounce it as a grave travesty of justice and a major set back to the rule of law and the ongoing regime of the dismantling of impunity in our electoral process!
2) Justice Gummi delivered a judgment that can only be described as cunning, patronising and insulting to discerning legal minds! The judgment fed on deception, pretenses and subterfuge! Generally, the panel pretended to uphold the core case of the petitioners but went ahead to somersault against them. This they did by wittingly and pretentiously accepting and ruling as follows;
a) That INEC has powers to make guidelines for the elections including the designation of Card Readers for mandatory use in the elections.
b) That the non use of card readers and/or non compliance with INEC guidelines is sufficient ground to prove non compliance with the Electoral Act which is a firm ground for cancellation of an election as is the plea of the petitioners!
3) In spite of the above rulings which ORDINARILY appear FAVORABLE to the PETITIONERS, the PANEL went ahead to play DEFENCE on behalf of the RESPONDENTS! The three (3) respondents, Okowa, PDP and INEC in their pleading and witnesses statements before the panel, had admitted an argued that "INEC guidelines were mere instructions and the use of card readers was ultra vires to the Electoral Act, that the card readers failed during election operation and that they resorted to manual accreditation and lawfully so as that is what is recognised by the Electoral Act."
The star witness of the 1st respondent and secretary to the state government, Hon Agas was on record to have stated this position in his disposition and verbal testimony where he further confirm the fact that the respondents resorted to manual accreditation upon the failure of the card readers!
How come then did the panel held that " no evidence was adduced to show that manual accreditation took place"? In law, do you require further evidence to substantiate an admitted fact? To further HELP the respondents, the panel went on to dismiss Hon Agas crucial admission and evidence as hearsay! Wonderful!
Panel helping respondents to expunge evidence of non compliance with INEC guidelines/ electoral law! HOW ON EARTH THE PANEL ARRIVE AT THE CONCLUSION THAT NO MANUAL ACCREDITATION TOOK PLACE IN DELTA STATE ELECTIONS? CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? This must be the N3 billion Question!
4) Going further to HELP the respondents, the panel went on to DISCREDIT the certified card readers accreditation report admitted as exhibit from INEC when it ruled that " THERE IS UNCERTAINTY AS TO WHETHER THE ADMITTED CARD READERS ACCREDITATION REPORT CAPTURES ALL OF THE ACCREDITED VOTERS"! How did the tribunal arrived at this ruling? The respondents NEVER at anytime pleaded nor canvassed this position.
The panel claims that petitioners' subpoenaed INEC ICT witness Mrs Abimbola oladunjoye agreed under cross examination that " it could be PROBABLE for accredited voters for upload to the server in abuja to still be outstanding as at May 29, (six clear weeks after the April 11 elections) when the server was shut down".
The same witness was, however, categorical in her recorded testimony that the state offices where constantly supervised by INEC head office to ensure that all data were uploaded, that in the case of Delta, there is no shred of evidence or communication to indicate that any such data upload was outstanding as the time the server was shut!
Yet, it was more appealing to the panel to latch on the word "PROBABLE" and rule that the certified true copy of card readers accreditation report as at August 13th that showed accreditation figure of 715,392 as against only Okowa scoring 724, 680 was POSSIBLY INCOMPLETE and may, therefore, not be relied upon to cancel Okowa's election! AMERICA WONDER!
5) Not stopping there, the panel dug deeper and went for the jugular of the petitioners' case. The petitioners had through its star witness Barr Ore Ohimor, testified and placed before the tribunal an analysis of over voting being a comparison of card readers accreditation per polling units and form EC8A results from the same units.
This analysis which was admitted as an exhibit showed over voting in 1,847 polling units or 61% of the 3, 329 polling units across the 25 local government areas of the state as captured in the accreditation report! Over voting in 61% of polling units? And what did the panel do? In order to HELP the RESPONDENTS further, the panel dramatically decided to ruled to EXPUNGE Barr Ohimor's analysis from the tribunal proceedings! And why? That the fatal analysis was only front loaded with the reply of the petitioners to the respondents and ought to have been front loaded with the original petition! WHOW! TECHNICALITY UPON TECHNICALITY!
6) Ultimately, the panel had to contradict itself to provide the FINAL HELP to the respondents! The respondents have argued for the dismissal of the petitioners' case on the point of law that only one of the petitioners signed the petition. The petitioners relied on the appeal court case of IBRAHIM V SHERIFF ( 2002) which was the subsisting legal position that allow any one signatory to sign unbehalf of all petitioners. The respondents, however, resorted to a recent case of BALOGUN V AKPATASON ( August 2015 ) decided after the petitioners' case has been instituted!
The PANEL, knowing they where about to take a risky plunge first tried to wet the grounds! Now hear the panel " ......although if we HAD an OPTION as to which to adopt between Balogun v Akpatason and Ibrahim v Sheriff, we would certainly have PREFERRED Ibrahim v Sheriff because we FEEL it ACCORDS with what is FAIR and JUST in the circumstances of the petition...." So what did the panel rule? Your guess is as good as mine! They rule for the respondents against their FEELING of what ACCORDS with what is FAIR and JUST!
As you can see from the foregoing, the petitioners lost the case to the PANEL and NOT Okowa and PDP! Which is why they should be mindful of their celebration which shall be very short live! APC Delta state roundly REJECTS this evil judgement which was clearly PROCURE by means other than legal! This is a daylight robbery with too many finger prints left behind. Our legal teams already have our instructions and we will surely meet Okowa and PDP and test this robbery at the appeal court! APC SHALL LAUGH LAST!
In the meantime, we will like to use this opportunity to appeal to our APC party faithfuls, supporters and well wishers to be calm and be of high spirit! The end of PDP 16 plus years of misrule in Delta is insight! Please be reminded that as we are about to turn the corner, it may appears to get tougher; that it truly gets darkest before dawn!
Also please be comforted and assured that at the Supreme Court, it shall be the same court that will decide the fates of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Delta State! At that point, it will be: ONE COURT, SAME FACTS, SAME JUDGEMENT! No Shaking! VICTORY IS NEAR!
GOD BLESS APC!
GOD BLESS DELTA STATE!
GOD BLESS NIGERIA!
(PROPHET JONES ODE ERUE)
APC Delta State Chapter.
The Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Ovwigho Igbuya on Monday congratulated Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa for his victory at the Tribunal. He also praised the judiciary for remaining the protector of the oppressed.
In a statement issued in Asaba by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Henry Ebireri, the speaker described the April 11 governorship election as the fairest and freest in the history of the state.
“Your victory at the Tribunal shows that the people of Delta State clearly authorized your candidature. “It also shows that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man’’ he said.
He commended Okowa for running a transparent and accountable government and also placing the state on the world map for good, growth and development.
Igbuya who also praised the governor for the pragmatic steps taken to address the problems in the various sectors, the development of democratic culture and stable polity, the creation of jobs for the people and the elevation of politics beyond the mundane levels of wrangling, greed and selfishness, said the governor in the last six months focused on administering the State, with the fear of God and for the good of the people.
““Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is a caring governor. He believes in merit and places top priority on the welfare of the people. He has relentlessly pursued a vigorous policy for provision of social facilities and infrastructure” he said.
Emphasizing that God threw up Governor Okowa to develop the state, the speaker urged the governor to keep up the good works.
He enjoined Chief Great Ogboru and Olorogun O’tega Emerhor to support Governor Okowa in transforming the state.
“There is no victor, no vanquished” he said
The speaker, who further thanked the people for the confidence reposed on Okowa, said the governor would continue to deliver dividends of democracy to them.
“With your continued support, understanding and cooperation, Okowa will firmly expand on the gains recorded so far” the statement said.
The Tribunal dismissed the petitions of the Labour Party (LP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidates in the 2015 governorship election, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru and Olorogun O’tegha Emerhor.
Delta Speaker praises Amori
The Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Ovwigho Igbuya on Saturday praised the judges of the National and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba for upholding the election of Senator representing Delta Central senatorial district, Chief Ighoyota Amori.
He also praised the distinguished member of the Nigerian senate for his extraordinary leadership, accessibility to his constituency and support for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
“Chief Ighoyota Amori is a senator that is focused on his job” he said.
In a statement issued in Asaba by his chief press secretary, Mr. Henry Ebireri, the speaker said the victory of Amori at the tribunal was a great happiness for the entire people of the senatorial district.
“Amori’s victory is both historic and spectacular. It is the triumph of democracy and a clear sign of the trust and confidence that the people of Delta Central have in him”.
Labeling his victory as a great milestone in the development of the Urhobo nation, Igbuya applauded the judges for keeping Delta Central firmly on the road to development,
He commended the people of Delta Central who gave Chief Amori the mandate to articulate, defend and espouse their interests in the senate.
“Chief Ighoyota Amori is a blessing to the Urhobo nation, a reliable and dependable representative and a politician who is leading creditably with the interests of the masses as priority” the statement said.
Igbuya who also congratulated his colleagues urged National Assembly members from Delta State to continue to collaborate with the state government to enhance even and speedy development of the state.
South – South Journalists pledge support to Delta Speaker
Media practitioners of oil and gas producing areas of Nigeria have pledged to cooperate with the Delta State House of Assembly Speaker, Rt. Hon Ovwigho Igbuya.
They also praised Hon. Igbuya for bringing about a more dynamic way of administering the affairs of the Delta State House of Assembly.
The professionals who paid courtesy call on Mister Speaker in Asaba lauded him for his good work in the state, particularly the positive impact on the communities in the oil and gas producing areas.
The media professionals who also acknowledged the Speaker’s leadership qualities, his strategic roles in the development of the state and his immense contributions to the development of the oil and gas producing areas, especially the timely passage of the DESOPADEC Amendment Bill and other steps so far taken said they would continue to pray for the success of the Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration.
“It goes to show that the House under your dynamic leadership is determined to bring smiles to oil and gas producing areas of Delta State”
The journalists while describing Hon. Igbuya as a personification of selfless service to Delta State congratulated him for his victory at the Tribunal.
They commended the Peoples Democratic Party government for its support and immense contribution to the development of the region, urging Deltans at home and abroad to join hands with the Speaker to strengthen the pillar of good governance.
During the visit, leader of the team, Prince Pere Botu briefed the speaker on the Programmes and the progress being made in the state. Discussions were also focused on the group’s work in other states.
EBIRERI HENRY OVIE
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY TO THE SPEAKER
DELTA STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
STATEMENT TO THE SENATE BY SENATOR UDOMA UDO UDOMA ON THE OCCASION OF HIS
MINISTERIAL SCREENING ON 13TH OCT., 2015
I am delighted to be appearing today before this distinguished Senate. I recall with very fond memories my two terms in the Senate as the PDP representative for Akwa Ibom South. I feel privileged to have had that experience as the Senate is made up of eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various walks of life, and who are expected to play an important role in stabilising the polity. Being in the Senate is a unique experience and I, indeed, consider my time in the Senate as truly the highpoint of my career, which is why I bear the title with pride. When I left this distinguished Senate in 2007 my intention was to concentrate on my professional and corporate interests. And I have to say, with all modesty, that things have gone well for me and I am now the chairman of two of Nigeria’s iconic institutions; UAC of Nigeria Plc. and Union Bank of Nigeria Plc., as well as having been able to play a part in helping my law firm to become one of the largest commercial law firms in the country. I was therefore quite surprised to have been invited by President Buhari to serve as a Minister in his Cabinet since I have not been very active in partisan politics in recent years. However, after careful consideration, I have decided to accept the nomination for three reasons: Firstly, I am inspired by the personal example of President Muhammadu Buhari. I am impressed by his integrity, his abhorrence of corruption and his determination to run a transparent and accountable administration. His commitment to get Nigerians back to work thereby reducing unemployment; his resolve to tackle the current high level of insecurity, particularly the menace of boko haram; his identification with the common man and his desire to reduce the poverty and suffering of the masses; and above all, his commitment to re-orientate the Nigerian value system: these all resonate with me. And if he believes I can help him to fix our country, I am flattered by his confidence in me and have therefore decided to answer his call. And I intend, if my nomination is confirmed by this Distinguished Senate, to give my very best in the discharge of what will be a very onerous responsibility, particularly because of the times we are in. The second reason I have decided to answer the call of Mr President is that I sincerely believe, with all humility, that I have something to offer. I have had extensive private sector experience in motivating and managing large numbers of people, in setting objectives and meeting them, in cost management and driving costs out of operations, and most importantly, in turning around moribund institutions. I also understand the way public institutions work, having been the pioneer chairman of the Corporate Affairs Commission, and more recently, the chairman of the Securities & Exchange Commission, and I fully appreciate the very difficult challenges involved in implementing the public sector reforms which will be required to bring about the change Nigerians want. I have chaired a Presidential Committee that examined the incentives required to stimulate private sector growth in the economy. I have also chaired a Federal Government Task Force that extensively examined the reforms needed in the oil industry, and supervised the production of a draft Petroleum Industry Bill for consideration by Government. And whilst a member of this Distinguished Senate, I served, for some time, as chairman of the Appropriation Committee, and subsequently as Senate Chief Whip. I will, therefore, not be going into Government to begin to learn about the issues, and the problems. In short, I feel ready and prepared to hit the ground running in tackling the challenges inherent in trying to bring about change in the public sector, and to bring about change in Nigeria. Finally, these are very difficult economic times for Nigeria. With the dramatic fall in the prices of crude oil, public sector finances are under pressure. Many States have difficulty in just paying salaries. The Naira is being buffeted; the values in the Nigerian Stock Exchange have been seriously eroded and we have experienced significant destruction of wealth as the economy continues to slow down. These are very difficult times. Times in which all Nigerians of goodwill must come together to work with Mr President to salvage the situation. The elections are over. We must now all work together for the betterment of our country. As President Buhari said in 1983, ‘This generation of Nigerians, and indeed future generations, have no country other than Nigeria. We shall remain here, and salvage it together’. Distinguished Senate President, distinguished Deputy Senate President, distinguished Leaders of the Senate, distinguished Senators; it is for the reasons I have just indicated that I appear before you this morning to seek your confirmation to serve as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have for me.
Thank you for your attention.
Senator Udoma Udo Udoma
Tuesday, 13th October, 2015
By Nwaorgu Faustinus
Support for the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Oyegun mounted on Friday as prominent leaders of the party lauded his leadership qualities, describing him as “the most distinguished party chairman in the country”.
They said that the national chairman created the framework that brought about the victory of many APC candidates in the general election.
“Oyegun supervised the turnaround of the party by increasing its finances, building the operations and implementing the best ground game effort.
In a statement issued in Abuja by the Chairman of APC United Front, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa, the leaders dismissed the view of those calling for the resignation of John Odigie- Oyegun.
“His contributions to the development of the APC, Edo State and the country are impossible to estimate. He kicked out the long –ruling PDP. He provided Nigerians with a visionary, dedicated and people-oriented leadership that is currently putting in place measures to liberate the nation from PDP’s rule of poverty and oppression” the statement said.
The leaders praised the national chairman for his strategic roles in the recruitment, retaining of members, campaign fund raising, internal party governance, influence in candidate selections and in the development and promulgation of party policy,
The leaders who also thanked Nigerians at home and abroad for the confidence reposed on Oyegun, praised him for the pragmatic steps taken to address the problems in the party.
“Oyegun is an honest and highly effective leader. He has built a reputation anchored on integrity over the years. He is a fountain of quality advice, inspiration, encouragement and hope. He deserves the biggest thanks for being a team player and ensuring the growth of the party” the leaders added
Three out of the four principal officers of the Senate assumed office on Thursday after the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, read their nomination letters from their respective zonal caucuses in the red chamber.
Saraki at the resumed sitting of the federal lawmakers, read out the letters addressed to him by the APC senate caucuses from the North-East, North-West and South-South.
He said the North-East Senate caucus had endorsed and nominated Senator Ali Ndume as the Majority Leader, while the North-West caucus adopted Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah as the Deputy Majority Leader.
He added that the South-South caucus members according to their own letter, adopted Senator France Alimikhena as the deputy whip.
Saraki was, however, silent on the Chief Whip because members of the South-West caucus which should produce a representative, did not write any letter.
He subsequently asked the Sergeant – at – Arms to lead the three principal officers to their respective seats and assume office immediately.
Our correspondent learnt that the South-West senators refused to write any letter because they claimed that the party’s decision as contained in its letter, was sufficient.
Attempts by the senator representing Zamfara Central Senatorial District, Kabiru Marafa, to make the Senate President read the letter from the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, containing lists of the principal officers, was again frustrated by Saraki
Marafa had cited Senate Standing Order 28 (1) and Constitution point of order Section 65, (1E), to drive home his arguments.
He said, “According to the provision, there should be a majority leader of the Senate who should be a senator nominated from the party with the highest number of senators.
“This point of order was raised yesterday (Wednesday) and another colleague raised another point of order distinguishing between the word, from and by, which was used there. That is why I am joining it with order 65 (1d) of the constitution.
“It says subject to the provisions of section 66 of the constitution. A person shall be qualified for election as a member of the Senate if he or she is a member of a political party and sponsored by the political party.
“Mr. President, there is a communication from the APC which is the party with the majority representatives in the Senate. However, for reasons best known to you Mr. President, you declined to read it yesterday (Wednesday ) on the floor of the Senate when your attention was drawn to the communication from the party.
“The constitution provision just cited, clearly put the party ahead of any other caucus from anywhere. Therefore, if the communication from the party, can so be regarded, I suggest that you, Mr. President cannot read any communication from any caucus because there is no caucus that is bigger than the political party.”
Marafa was immediately opposed by Senator Danjuma Goje ( Gombe Central ), who urged the Senate President to disregard his submissions because the same issue raised by him had been ruled upon.
He said, “Senator Marafa raised the same order yesterday (Wednesday) and the Senate President ruled that the issue had been discussed and should not be opened again. I don’t know why the issue is being reopened. This is contrary to the rules of the Senate.
“We are the highest law making institution in the country, if we cannot observe our rules, we don’t have any right to be making laws for the country. Therefore I will like Mr. President to stand by the ruling of yesterday (Wednesday)that the issue had been settled.
“Secondly, the issue of leadership within the chamber is our own responsibility as senators. We have been sponsored by political parties to come to the Senate. Nobody or law says the chairman of the party should appoint the Senate President.
“The law clearly states that we, the senators, should appoint our own leaders within the chambers. This is the first time this type of thing will be happening in the Senate since the return of democracy in 1999. Caucuses have been nominating their leaders and I have been participating.”
Saraki, as expected, ruled Marafa out of order, stressing that he had concluded on the issue during Wednesday’s sitting.
He said, “Let me refer to order 53 (6) which states that it will be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific question upon which the Senate has come to a conclusion. This matter had already been raised and ruled upon… I will have to rule senator Marafa out of order.”
Ndume, who addressed his colleagues, explained that his job schedule included among others, leading the business of the Senate; managing legislative schedule; and liaising with committee chairmen.
He said, “I will not deceive myself. Every senator is more than qualified to lead the Senate. God normally chooses who He wants. Leading the Senate means that the success recorded is not going to be my own but for all of us.”
Ndume, after the Senate had concluded its legislative business of the day, announced an adjournment to July 21 to allow the ad-hoc committees on review of Senate finance and that of legislative agenda, had time to do their work.
KADUNA—A group of politicians and elite from the northern ethnic minority weekend appealed to the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its senators-elect to concede the Senate Presidency slot to the region as represented by the joint ticket of Lawan and Akume .
The group which met in Kaduna urged the party to take cognisance of the contributions of the minorities in the three geo-political zones of the north to the electoral successes recorded at the national and state elections and reward “us by conceding the Senate Presidency slot to Senators Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan and George Akume”
The group said it is “incumbent on the new administration, the party in power and all senators-elect to support Ahmad Lawan from the Bade minority ethnic group of the north –east state of Yobe to become the Senate President and George Akume of the Tiv minority tribe of the north-central state of Benue to be the Deputy Senate President.
According to them, the Lawan/Akume minority ticket for the Senate Presidency race should be considered along the line of the APC Presidential ticket of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, which represents the majority tribes of Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba respectively, noting the religious sensitivity of the tickets as well.
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu and the Board of Trustees Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih, on Wednesday bowed to pressure from key members of the party to resign.
Mu’azu, in a letter he tendered during the PDP National Working Committee meeting in Abuja however cited “health grounds ” as the reason for his resignation.
But Anenih, in a one-page letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, hinged his action on the current state of affairs in the party.
Mu’azu, a former governor of Bauchi State, had only last week dismissed calls for his resignation and warned that the PDP would be buried if he succumbed to the pressure.
“The only reason Mu’azu doesn’t want to resign is because if he does, those who want the PDP buried will succeed,” he had added.
Upon receipt of Muazu’s letter, the Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, took over as the acting national chairman of the party, pending a replacement from the North-East, where the party chairmanship is zoned to.
The National Secretary of the party, Adewale Oladipo, who read a statement on the development to journalists at the Wadata Plaza national headquarters of the party, stated that the status of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, would be made known on Thursday (today) by the NWC.
Oladipo said, “The PDP at its NWC’s meeting on May 20, 2015 received and accepted the voluntary resignation of the National Chairman of our great party, Adamu Mu’azu.
“Consequently, in line with the provisions of section 45 (2) of the PDP constitution, the Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, acts in place of the national chairman pending a replacement from the North-East.
“On the correct position of the status of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Anenih, the NWC will make its position public on Thursday, May 21, 2015.”
He also announced the setting up of a seven-man disciplinary committee headed by Chief Michael Addul .
The members are Chief Mike Ogiadohme, Senator Teslim Folarin, Dr. Akilu Indabawa, Dr. Hassan Kafayas, Nonye Nwangwu and Tony Okeke as Secretary.
The committee, according to Oladipo, will be inaugurated on Tuesday next week.
The NWC called for calm and the understanding of all members and other critical stakeholders, including the media, “at this time of a reengineering process in our great party while directing any member with genuine grievance to channel such through the appropriate organs.”
Before Oladipo read his statement, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, had earlier confirmed the resignation of Mu’azu. He commended him for his service to the party and love for the nation.
Metuh said, “I can confirm that we have received the resignation of Alhaji Mu’azu. I can confirm that the chairman who had health challenges, stayed on for the campaigns; he stayed on for the elections and after consultations with his family decided to resign.
“I wish him well. The deputy national chairman has taken charge of the affairs of the party in line with the party’s constitution. The constitution does not recognise a vacuum.”
The PUNCH however learnt from a PDP governor that Mu’azu would have been kicked out of office at 12 noon on Wednesday if he had not resigned.
One of the governors, who was part of those that wanted him out , described Mu’azu as being smart with his resignation.
“He is a smart guy. That’s very good of him. The plan to remove him by 12pm today (Wednesday) was already concluded. There was a document that would have been submitted and it would have seen him out today(Wednesday). I commend him. He is very smart.”
The PUNCH had also learnt in Abuja that Anenih was under pressure to resign.
A few hours after Oladipo spoke, Anenih said in his letter titled “Notice of my decision to step down as Chairman, BOT of the PDP,” that his decision would enable the President to effectively assume the chairmanship of the BoT.
The letter reads, “Your Excellency will recall that in a conversation I had with you a few weeks ago, I had offered to step down from the office of the chairman of our party’s BOT and proposed to hand over to you as its new chairman in a ceremony that would have taken place on May 23, 2015.
“I had also repeated this position at our subsequent meetings.
“As a follow up to the above proposal and in view of the current state of affairs in our party, I have decided to formally put my offer in writing to enable you effectively assume the chairmanship of BOT or approve a process that will enable any other member of the board who is considered competent, to assume the position.
“I am happy to inform you that I remain a loyal foundation member of our great party and will continue to pray for the prosperity of Nigeria, our party, and for you and your family.”
Barely 10 minutes after Anenih’s letter became public, the party’s NWC announced that it had accepted his resignation.
Oladipo, in a statement noted Anenih’s “outstanding contributions” to the party over the years especially in his capacity as the BOT chairman.
He added, “As one of the founding fathers of the PDP, the NWC appreciates Chief Anenih’s guiding role in the party in the last 16 years and wishes him well in his future endeavours.
“Consequent upon his resignation, the Secretary of the BOT, Senator Walid Jibrin, holds forth pending the election of a new BoT chairman.”
Mu’azu has saved his integrity
Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, commended Mu’azu for resigning and prayed that the future would be kind to him.
Fayose was at the forefront of the calls for the removal of Mu’azu for leading the PDP to defeat during the general elections.
The governor, who spoke with some journalists in Abuja, said without taking such a step, the former chairman would have destroyed his integrity in the long run.
Fayose said, “I will commend him for bowing to people’s reasoning and for not going ahead to destroy his own integrity in the long run.
“He ought to have done this before now, notwithstanding I still commend him. I pray that the future will still be kind to him and all of us will join hand to make the PDP the good rallying point as opposition party for Nigeria.”
Apart from Fayose, Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu and a former National Vice-Chairman of the PDP , Bode George, had called for the resignation of Mu’azu.
Like the Ekiti State governor, George, who is a member of the party’s BoT, described the decision of Mu’azu to resign as honourable.
He said, “By conceding defeat, President Jonathan saved the nation a lot of bloodshed. The national chairman too has followed suit.
“This has shown that the PDP has people who don’t want to perpetuate themselves in power. We thank him for what he has done for the party.”
Another member of the BoT, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said the resignation of Mu’azu would begin the process of reorganisation of the party, adding that the country’s elitist cabal had been unfair to President Jonathan, whom he alleged was called several names.
Babatope said, “He (Mu’azu) has tried his best and it is good of him to resign. His resignation is going to begin the process of reorganisation of the party. We will present a formidable opposition to the APC. We will return in 2019.”
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Musiliu Obanikoro, said the resignation of Mu’azu was a sacrifice that should be commended.
“The PDP is creating a political culture which is alien to this country and Nigerians in good time will appreciate and acknowledge this. Another giant stride has just been achieved by our great party,” the minister said.
Another leader of the party in Lagos State, Gloria Adebajo-Fraser, said Mu’azu’s resignation should be followed by the resignation of all the members of the NWC and the BoT.
“The President will now have to appoint a trusted hand as acting chairman in the next 24 hours so as not to have a vacuum. It must not be business as usual if the party must be salvaged,” she added.
Secondus, Dickson meet Jonathan
Shortly after taking over as the acting PDP National Chairman, Secondus met behind closed-doors with Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, at about 5.15pm.
He walked into the President’s office alongside Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, acknowledging greetings from those congratulating him on his new position.
Secondus was believed to have visited Jonathan in order to brief him on the development and seek his support.
He was still inside the President’s office at the time of filing this report.
After the meeting, Dickson, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, hailed Muazu and Anenih’s resignations and urged support for Secondus.
He commended both men for putting the interest of the party and that of the nation above their personal interests and aspirations.
While wishing Mu’azu quick recovery, the governor said he looked forward to his return from abroad in sound health to support in the on-going effort to rebuild the PDP.
He thanked Anenih for his years of service to the party.
PDP orders Osun chapter to investigate Fani-Kayode
Meanwhile, the PDP has directed its Osun State chapter to investigate whether the spokesman for the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, was a member of the party in the state or a usurper.
The NWC said, “You are directed to investigate the membership status of Chief Fani-Kayode, if he is a registered and financial member, proper disciplinary action should be meted out to him through the Ward for engaging in acts contrary to Section 58 (1) of the party’s constitution and if not a member, you are to reprimand him as a usurper.”
But in a swift reaction, Fani-Kayode demanded the resignation of other NWC members.
He insisted that Mu’azu and other NWC members had no right to remain in office “after selling out the party and engaging in hideous and absurd form of leadership.”
•Finance minister’s attempt to demonise state govts unsuccessful
Even as she continues to put up a bold face trumpeting the purported successes and ‘solid economic legacies’ being bequeathed the nation by the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan administration, which she is serving as finance minister and almighty Coordinator of the Economy, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s claims are mocked by the glaring failures of the economy under her stewardship. One of the symptoms of the country’s current chronic economic crisis is the inability of various levels of government to pay their workers’ salaries, from periods ranging between three and six months.
Some of the state governments caught in this quandary are Oyo, Osun, Cross River, Rivers, Abia, Plateau and Bauchi. The affected workers in the states have reportedly adopted several demeaning and dehumanising survival strategies, including going to work only once or twice daily, begging for money from friends and relatives, doing menial jobs to survive, skipping lunch breaks or consumption of barely nourishing diets such as garri and groundnuts. These practices no doubt have severe negative implications for the psyche, health, self-esteem, motivation, productivity and fulfilment of workers and their families, and can only further deepen the economic crisis.
In her response to this crisis of unpaid salaries, Okonjo-Iweala turns out to be not too artful a dodger after all. She creates the impression that the Federal Government has been able to pay salaries of its workers as a result of the astute management of its resources in the face of drastic revenue shortfalls caused by the steep decline in international oil prices. On the other hand, she magisterially insinuates, the states have simply failed to do the rational thing of prioritising salaries, given the dire revenue situation.
The economic Czar cannot, however, conceal the reality that the Federal Government has indeed borrowed about N473 billion to pay salaries and that it raised its borrowing level from N570 billion to N882 billion to fund the 2015 budget. Even then, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) has claimed that thousands of Federal Government workers are being owed salaries and various allowances in the range of N50 billion.
As far as Okonjo-Iweala is concerned, the salary crunch is the inevitable result of the sharp dip in oil prices in late 2014, which accounted for about 50 per cent reduction in federally collected revenue, in addition to low revenue realised from non–oil sources. She conveniently ignored the fact that for at least two years before the over 50 percent drop in oil prices, a barrel of the country’s crude oil had sold for over $100. And even during this period of sustained high revenue performance, the country consistently lost over 20 percent of its revenue to massive oil theft and oil production shut-ins, as well as humungous corruption associated with the management of the Federation Account and other consequences of the ineptness and inefficiency of the Federal Government.
The incoming administration clearly has its work cut out on this matter. For one, the funds must be found to urgently pay the backlog of salaries in the interest of justice and equity. Again, the huge drain of scarce resources through the alarming level of corruption at all levels and the unsustainable emoluments and allowances of elective office holders must be decisively tackled. This requires that the president-elect in particular, General Muhammadu Buhari, draw on his tremendous goodwill and moral authority as well as that of his party to push through changes that may be painful but necessary.
Above all, the radical re-structuring of the current unitary system masquerading as federal, in which most of the component states of the polity are economically unviable and dependent on oil revenue handouts from the centre, must be the central focus of the promised change agenda.
CULLED FROM THE NATION
There were strong indications last night that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Alhaji Ahmad Lawan, can now bank on the support of three geopolitical zones in his bid to preside over the affairs of the Eighth Senate.
It was also learnt yesterday that ex-Governor Bukola Saraki has emerged as the main rival to Lawan.
Ex-Governor George Akume is also very much in the race.
But the President of the Senate, Chief David Mark, and the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) Senators mostly from the South-East, South-South and North-Central may break the tie between the two leading candidates -Lawan and Saraki -both of whom are now directing their campaign at Southeast and the Southsouth caucuses.
Investigation revealed that Lawan has been endorsed by 12 Senators from the South-West, 20 from the North-East and about 18 from the North-West.
It was gathered that the support for Lawan is being driven by political heavyweights in Yobe State, especially ex-Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Governor Ibrahim Gaidam.
Apart from reaching out to North-East leaders, Bukar and Gaidam have started intense lobbying of North-West and South-West leaders within and beyond the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A reliable source said: “Our leaders in the North-East have rallied round Sen. Ahmad Lawan for the Senate Presidency. As a matter of fact, we prefer to lead the Senate than the House of Representatives because of enhanced political leverage.
“So far, we have secured the backing of a sizable number of Senators from the North-East, North-West and South-West for Ahmad Lawan.
“In fact, North-East leaders are already opening up talks with heavyweights like all the governors and political leaders in the North-East, North-West and South-West.
“We are hopeful that Lawan may emerge the President of the eighth Senate.”
On his part, Sen. Bukar Abba Ibrahim said Lawan is eminently qualified for the office.
Ibrahim, who heads the Senate Housing Committee, said Lawan’s endorsement was made on behalf of the people and government of Yobe State.
He added: “Lawan possesses the required qualities, character and the frame of mind to make a qualitative Senate President. He is energetic, hardworking and possessing progressive values.
Gaidam, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Press Affairs and Information, Abdullahi Bego, urged “all senators-elect to consider Senator Lawan’s experience, his goodwill, capacity and reach and, therefore, support him to be the next President of the Senate.”
It was also gathered that the President of the Senate, Chief David Mark and the PDP Senators mostly from the South-East, South-South and North-Central may break the tie between the two leading candidates (Lawan and Saraki).
A highly-placed source in the PDP Caucus said: “I do not think we will be bound by the zoning arrangement of APC. Instead, we will vote on our Inauguration day according to our conscience, what is good for democracy and the directive of our party.
“We are certainly weighing options. You see, some of those aspiring for positions in the Senate and in the House of Representatives defected from our party to APC.
“Their defection eventually led to the defeat of PDP. To some of us, it is pay-back time. We may not allow these people to have their cake and eat it.
“A negligible few among us however feel that if a defector from PDP to APC becomes the Senate President, we will be recovering our mandate gradually ahead of 2019.
“So, either way, all these aspirants in the National Assembly need us and we will play a “strategic role.”
Another source added: “Lawan is more or less a favourite of the President of the Senate, Chief David Mark.
“So, you can see that even Lawan’s candidacy might gain some weight in the PDP Caucus in the Senate if Mark endorses his anointed “favourite” whom he saddled with Public Accounts Committee. Mark will prefer to serve under Lawan in the Senate than Saraki.
“There is no hiding place for Mark. He will be interested in his successor having built some legacies including the preservation of the maturity and unity of the Senate.”
In spite of the support base for Lawan, ex-Governor Bukola Saraki is still reaching out to political leaders and Emirs in the North on why the North-Central should retain the Senate Presidency slot.
To pacify the North-East, it was learnt that Saraki’s camp is considering the option of producing the Speaker of the House of Representatives from the zone.
A Senator-elect said: “I think the race is a straightforward one between Lawan and Saraki. The two candidates have dominated lobbying sessions in the last one and a half weeks.
“Most leaders from the North seem to prefer Lawan because of 2019 factor. Realising that the North-East cannot be shoved aside, the Saraki camp is pushing for the concession of House Speakership to the zone. This is why Representative Yakubu Dogara’s name is coming up.
“Saraki is trying to use his Senate heritage (since his father was a former Senate Leader), political connections in the North, and leverage as a former Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF).
“Therefore, Saraki is no push over. Saraki has only two obstacles. These are his rich Yoruba heritage, which will not make the core north to accept his presidency as really a slot for the North-Central.
“This same factor denied the late Senate Leader, Dr. Olusola Saraki the presidential ticket in 1978. It was the same reason the late Chief S.B. Awoniyi could not be either the National Chairman of PDP or a presidential candidate. This is the dilemma facing Yoruba in the North.
“And if Saraki says he is a pure Fulani, most Senators will remind him that the President-elect is also a Fulani too. In the spirit of Federal Character, a Fulani cannot be president and be the President of the Senate.
“Some governors are however flaunting the cosmopolitan credentials of Saraki to seek the Senate Presidency for him.”