Sheriff backs off
He lacks integrity, says Makarfi
The political solution being canvassed by former President Goodluck Jonathan for the settlement of the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may not work after all.
Barely two days after the two factions agreed not to cease fire, the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction has threatened legal action against anyone, including media houses, who refers to the Senator Ahmed Makarfi- led National Committee as a faction of the PDP.
The two factions had signed the agreement last Thursday at a meeting midwifed by the Governor Seriake Dickson-led National Reconciliation Committee. Sheriff’s appointed Acting Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, who was at the meeting, said in a statement yesterday that the National Caretaker Committee is an illegal body, and therefore, according to the Court of Appeal judgement, it is not supposed to be in existence.
“Makarfi should behave himself; he should not interfere in our business, because we are not interested in his private business.
“Any further careless statement from him will force us to reconsider our earlier peace agreement. We have already employed staff that are running the bureaucracy efficiently. “If Makarfi so desires, he should keep the old staff, just as he is doing now.
We have had enough and enough of this,” he said.
According to him, Sheriff as PDP National Chairman has the right to employ staff. “We are preparing to complete state congresses where necessary and working hard planning our national convention. We will not be distracted from our set objective to return the party to the grassroots by inconsequential issues.
“We must prevent anybody with the agenda of killing the party, especially those who were brought to the party by those who have already decamped to other parties.
“We are giving seven days to these old staff, who still have the property of our party in their possession to return them immediately, or we will be left with no other option than to hand them over to the police,” Ojougboh added. But Makarfi has described Sheriff and his cotravellers as people with integrity deficit.
The caretaker committee said in a statement yesterday that Sheriff and members of his faction are not men of honour with whom one can reach any agreement.
“But we tagged along to avoid being accused of unnecessary intransigence. Since the leopard cannot change its spots, it is now very clear that no agreement or political solution can be reached with these bunch of people with huge integrity deficit,” the statement added.
According to the statement, which was signed by spokesman of the caretaker committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the appointment of Ojougboh as PDP Acting Deputy National Chairman was the worst case of impunity in the party. “His threat against our hard working staff should, therefore, be ignored and treated with utmost contempt.
“We went out of our way few days ago to reach accommodation with them even when some of our top leaders had serious misgivings about any type of talk with them given their unreliability.
“We are happy that we have shown our goodwill and they too have demonstrated their bad faith,” the statement said. Using analogy of a state governor, the caretaker committee noted that if a governor loses at the election petitions tribunal and at the Court of Appeal, he does not cease to be a governor when his appeal is pending before the Supreme Court.
“And would the civil servants then refuse to serve him? “The position of the law is that he would remain the governor and all government employees will be expected to continue to service his government until otherwise determined by the Supreme Court,” it added.
The caretaker committee said it had tried to reach Dickson to report “this infraction and deliberate violation of the truce agreement by the Sheriff group, but we were not able to get through to him.”
Jonathan had, before now, proposed political solution to the crisis for quick return of peace to the party. New Telegraph gathered that some founding leaders of the party and other stakeholders want the Supreme Court to decide the matter once and for all.
Last week, the apex court commenced hearing of the appeal filed before it by Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee, and has fixed May 4 for hearing of appeals by both parties.
Those who believe that the matter should be settled in the court against Jonathan’s political solution, argue that what was at stake was the future of democracy and party politics in Nigeria. To do otherwise, according to them, is to allow Sheriff reap where he did not sow.
They were also of the view that the supremacy of the National Convention as the highest decision making body of the party, is being put to question.
A former national leader of the party told New Telegraph that it was no big deal settling with Sheriff, but what is at stake is the soul of the PDP. “It is written in our party constitution that the National Convention is the highest organ of the party.
That convention in May 2016 in Port Harcourt instituted the Ahmed Markarfi-led caretaker committee, which Sheriff is now challenging.
“However, the situation that brought him in to serve out the term of the North-East left by Adamu Mu’azu, he was not ratified by the convention.
“He actually prepared to contest at the convention. He was in Port Harcourt to contest until the convention took another decision.
“So, what we want is for the Supreme Court to say that the National Convention is or is not the highest decision making body of the party,” the former National Working Committee (NWC) member of the PDP added. Another leader of the party from the North noted that “it is not about PDP alone, it is about party politics.”
His words: “ If we have a political settlement as Jonathan and Dickson are advocating, will it be wrong if one person wakes up tomorrow and claims ownership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) or any other political party?
“There is need for a pronouncement at the Supreme Court level, which will be cited as an authority in future, while dealing with party politics. A minority can never lord over the majority in a democracy. “Sheriff and his men are minorities. Or is there any convention where his own NWC was elected?
The answer is no. We cannot for the sake of peace sell our party.” But while leaders of the party are bent on the Supreme Court, it was also learnt that members of the PDP Governors’ Forum are divided, especially on the recommendations of Dickson’s committee.
Ojougboh, last week, claimed that they were made to understand that seven governors were in of political solution to the leadership crisis.
The PDP has 11 governors after it lost Ondo State to the APC. Though Ojougboh did not disclose the governors who are disposed to political solution, New Telegraph gathered that four governors who are not favourably disposed to Jonathan’s political solution are Nyesome Wike (Rivers), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom).
The Dickson committee had recommended the inclusion of seven governors as members of the convention committee that would organise the PDP unity convention on June 30.
Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Abdullahi Jalo, said the party has a constitution, “and you can only be legitimate if you have been voted for.” According to Jalo, the composition of the PDP executive committee as enshrined in Section 40 of the party’s constitution sets out how one can be executive member.
Jalo stated that Sheriff is not interested in the peace process, noting that despite the pending suit at the Supreme Court, he wants to sack the PDP establishment staff.
Twenty-four govs endorse Buhari’s re-election
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, has said that the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari liberated the country from an impending economic doom. This came just as Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, yesterday endorsed Buhari for President in 2019, stating that all the 24 APC governors will give him full and unalloyed support to ensure his re-election. Speaking while receiving some defectors into the APC in Lokoja yesterday, Chief Oyegun said: “Today, Nigeria under Buhari no longer depends on oil to survive.
Today, Nigeria under Buhari has taken the lead in agricultural production.
Today, Nigeria under Buhari is operating on a stable economic progression. So let those who are saying the Buhari-led government has failed go back to their holes and keep quiet while we continue in delivering dividends of democracy to Nigerians.”
Chief Oyegun, who led some of the national officers of the party, including the National Secretary, Mala Buni, itemized Buhari’s success in fighting Boko Haram, also commended Governor Bello for his efforts in attracting more members into the party. According to him, the large turnout of people at the rally is an indication that the APC is sure of victory come 2019 elections.
“With what I have seen here today, Kogi State APC will continue to be victorious in 2019 and future elections. I will go back to Abuja and tell them that Kogi APC is very much in charge and ready to maintain its position as the most acceptable party.
“Kogi State will be among the first states that will endorse President Muhammadu Buhari after he has declared for reelection next year. Kogi people, I want to congratulate you for having an energetic governor in Yahaya Bello. This is a governor that is a good organiser at any time the party needs him. He is always restless, energetic and full of ideas. I can feel a new energy in Kogi State,” he said.
The ancient city of Lokoja, the state capital came back to life at the gathering described as “Mother of all Rallies” to usher in thousands of defectors from the opposition of Peoples Democratic party (PDP), to its fold.
The ceremony which attracted several party supporters across the 21 local government areas of the state was held at the main bowl of the Confluence Stadium Lokoja.
Governor Bello said APC is the only viable and strongest party in Kogi State, as PDP is no more on the state’s political map. The governor stressed that all the PDP members that matter have all decamped to the APC, because they have seen the light and realized that APC has a better programme for the people of the state and Nigeria in general.
Meanwhile, the crisis rocking the APC in Kogi has assumed a new dimension as Governor Bello on yesterday announced the constitution of a new state executive to pilot the affairs of the party in the state.
This follows the dissolution of the state executive last Thursday by the North Central Zonal Exco which allegedly found the Hady Ametuo-led executive culpable of the anti-party activities accusations leveled by the governor.
However, in a statement issued on Saturday announcing the constitution of a new state executive council, the Director General Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo, stated that Ahovi Salam Ibrahim is the State Acting Chairman while Abdulrahman Ibrahim, the Acting Deputy Chairman and Mr. Bola Oshe is the State Acting Treasurer.
2019: Unease over spread of PVCs
There are palpable reservations in some parts of the country over the distribution of the number of registered voters in the on-going continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise being carried out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Figures released by INEC show that 73,944,312 people have so far registered across the country, with the North-West, North-East and North-Central having 18,505, 984, 9,929,015 and 10,586,965 respectively, an indication that about 39 million have registered for the elections in the North.
Conversely, in the South- West, South-South and South-East, the figures of registered voters are 14,626,800, 11,101,093 and 8,293,093 respectively, totalling about 35 million.
Lagos State alone has over six million registered voters. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, is, however, optimistic that the number of registered voters would hit 80 million mark before Nigerians go to the polls in February next year to elect their leaders.
Prof. Yakubu said INEC disclosed that out of a total of 68, 833, 476 persons that registered before the 2015 election only 56, 431, 255 collected their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC).
Also, only a total of 31, 756, 490 registered voters were at the polling stations across the country to cast their votes during the last presidential election. However, the latest figures coupled with the appearance of photographs of some under-age persons who allegedly participated in last weekend’s local government election in Kano State and the constraints being experienced by many prospective electorates to get their PVCs in the South have made many people to allege that the PVC collection is skewed in favour of the North.
The Commission is further accused of conniving with politicians from a particular section of the country to deny eligible voters, registration, as well as sending few and non-functional registration machines to attend to intending voters who besiege registration centres on a daily basis.
The General Overseer of City of Refuge Ministries, Bishop Oscar Ossai, did not mince words when he accused INEC of robbing eligible voters in the southern part of the country of their fundamental right to register and be able to vote in the forthcoming 2019 general elections. Bishop Ossai said: “What we are seeing is that this same government is frustrating people who want to register.
For instance, between Epe and Lekki Phase One, in fact the whole of Lekki, in Lagos, Marwar Primary School is the only registration centre. And if you go there, they say they only register 30 people in a day. So this and other instances show that they want to prevent us from registering in the Southern part of the country.
“I went there to register, there was a large crowd but you could not even see the register, because of the large crowd. So what they do is to make everybody to take a number and come back three days later for their turn. Knowing that we have suddenly woken up and we are willing to let our votes count so they are trying to frustrate us by making our people not to register,” he added. Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in the South-West, Chief Eddy Olafeso, said if the picture of under-age voters in the Kano election and allegation of favouritism of the North is true, then it means that “INEC has been overtly biased and the whole incident makes a huge joke of President Buhari’s victory in 2015 and portends great danger for the nation in 2019.”
Olafeso, who acknowledged that INEC has commenced investigation into the pictures and allegation, said “it is not only very ridiculous to see under-age people having PVCs and voting, that singular act is a great embarrassment to our democracy.” Deputy National Chairman of the National Rescue Movement (NRM), one of the recently registered parties, Mr. Niyi Dada, not only decried the allegation, but also called on the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KNSIEC) to cancel the results of penultimate Saturday’s local government elections because the exercise was fraught with irregularities, including alleged under-age voting.
“NRM believes that a faction of the All Progressives Congress-led government that participated in the election could not have garnered over 2.6 million votes to clinch all the election in the 44 local governments which is a touchstone for future elections,” he said. The main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), recently told the visiting United Nations (UN) delegations that the party does not have confidence in INEC to conduct free and fair elections in 2019.
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, told the delegation led by Mr. Serge G. Kubwimana that the 2019 general election would make or mar the country. “We have had our fears since APC came on board, if an election is not in their favour there is a rerun….
There is a great fear whether INEC will be able to conduct free and fair elections. Free and fair elections will guarantee the unity of this country, and we are afraid if INEC will conduct free and fair election,” Secondus stated. And last week, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, also alleged plans by the Commission to rig the Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Delta State governorship elections in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The governor also alleged that the mass registration of new political parties was a deliberate plan by INEC to manipulate elections in the three states. But Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, expressed surprise that people were coming up with such insinuations. “Nobody is tele-guiding INEC on how to register voters. People are free to go to registration centres close to them where they are sure to vote in 2019 and register.
“Since April 2017 when the Commission rolled out the continuous voter registration exercise, we have registered over four million people.
Of course, we appreciate the fact that probably because of the confidence people have in INEC, many more people have turned up to register, and that has created hiccups… but then, we are addressing the challenges as much as we can,” Oyekanmi stated.
He denied the allegation that the Commission was registering more people from one region than others, adding: “This should be a continuous exercise, there is no closing, except, of course, we will close, 60 days to the 2019 general elections because the law says we should produce the voters’ register and distribute to all the registered political parties. After the conclusion of 2019 elections, we will still continue to register more voters.”
Again, INEC assured that it would not engage in any election rigging, telling Governor Wike that if he is entertaining any fear that he would be rigged out, “such fears should not be located in the INEC’s conduct of elections.” INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu also disclosed that about eight million PVCs were yet to be collected by their respective owners but said the Commission was making arrangements with the states to ensure they were collected. Some state governors have, however, made presentation of PVCs as condition for payment of workers’ salary.
Also, former Education Minister and Leader of the Red Cap Movement, Dr. Oby Ezekwesile has taken to her twitter handle and media interviews, calling Nigerians of voting age to ensure they obtain their PVCs in order to vote out the current government in 2019. However, a PDP chieftain in Lagos, who pleaded anonymity, said there has been tremendous awareness ahead of the 2019 elections and many Nigerians are clamouring to change the change.
“Many religious leaders like Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Tunde Bakare and Bishop David Oyedepo have been calling on Nigerians to obtain their PVC ahead of the elections. “There has been massive registration of voters in many parts of the country in recent times. We have been motivating our people and hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have joined the clarion call in order to ensure that they go beyond being arm chair critics to being active participants. They know their vote is their power,” he said.
Afenifere Spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said: “With the great consciousness of 2019 gaining ground now, it is incumbent on all churches and other religious institutions, community leaders and Non-Governmental Organisations to enlighten the people to register en-mass for the next elections. “Already, we are aware of the desperation to register under-age people in some parts of the country, but all eligible ones should register first while deliberate efforts must be taken by INEC and law enforcement agencies to stop ineligible voters.”
Last week, two staff of a local government in Enugu State died in an accident while going home to pick their PVCs, which the council said was a condition for payment of last month salary. Despite assurances of free and fair polls, some politicians still doubt the sincerity of INEC to conduct free and credible elections in 2019. Olafeso said PDP has continued to sensitise the people not only to register but to collect their PVC and come out to vote on election day.
“It is part of the strategic plan of the National Working Committee that powers are devolved to state local government and ward executives. In line with this, they are also mandated to mobilise people to register as party members and also at INEC to collect their PVCs.
“The PVC is the electorate’s power to effect change, not only in 2019, but to also contribute to national electoral process and governance. Leadership of the party at all levels must pay special attention to the on-going registration and mobilise people for it.
“The South-West is of strategic importance not only to our party but also because of the central role it plays in elections. It is a fact of history that it determines the direction of the elections and who wins. So the current figures from INEC are challenging and it means that we must continue to mobilise our people not only to collect their PVC but also come out and vote in the elections,” he said.
On her part, the Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State, Mrs. Kate Offor, called for the creation of more registration centres in the South-East geopolitical zone of the country for easy registration and collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) by the people.
Mrs. Offor while reacting to the low registration and collection of PVCs in the zone, told Sunday Telegraph in Enugu, at the weekend, that there were few centres in the zone, and even then, they were located far in between. The APC spokesperson said a situation where some people had to travel to such centres constitute a great disincentive to the people to do so.
Reconciliation: Tinubu in Sokoto, meets Tambuwal, Wamakko
Akande: APC will forever be Tinubu’s baby
National Leader and Head of the Presidential Reconciliation Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was yesterday in Sokoto where he met with the state Governor Aminu Tambuwal and his predecessor, Senator Aliyu Wamakko. Tinubu, accompanied by APC chieftain Alhaji idi Farouk, held a two-hour closed door meeting with his hosts at both the Government House and at Senator Wamakko’s residence in Gawun Nama Area of the state capital.
The meeting was later expanded to include Deputy Governor Ahmed Aliyu and National Vice Chairman of APC (North West), Malam Inuwa Abdulkadir. Speaking briefly to reporters after the meeting, Tinubu said he was in Sokoto for a family meeting.
“Family members meet regularly to talk to each other and I’m here for that purpose. “This is a family meeting for today, tomorrow, for the good of Nigeria and the APC,” he said.
After the meeting, a prominent cleric in the state, Malam Bashir Gidan Kanawa, prayed for peace and stability of the country. He called on Nigerians to continue to pray fervently for the leadership of the country.
Meanwhile, former Interim National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bisi Akande, yesterday, said those decamping from APC were not part of its initial making, even as he called on the National Leader of the party, Chief Bola Tinubu to continue his service to the party as his own child. Referring Tinubu as the father of APC, Akande said the responsibility to save the child comes suddenly upon the father, saying APC cannot be allowed to wither away due to omissions and commissions.
“Times like this call for sacrifice and service. Of note is the saying that a real man, a hero is known by where he stands in the time of adversity.
To avoid the journey to the undertakers, we are all agreed that prevention is often a wise counsel. More so, for the APC,” he said. Akande, who noted that nobody watches the child he birthed to die, said Tinubu was a major participant in the emergence of APC and will never be happy to see the party being destroyed.
“Let APC be, no matter who may be lucky, using it to gain power, make money, get famous; be such lucky ones born by Yoruba, Ibo or Hausa-Fulani. For as long as APC remains relevant, so long shall Bola Tinubu’s contributions to nation-building be magnified in Nigerian History,” echoed.
In a statement made available to Sunday Telegraph, titled: ‘Let Our Party Not die,’ he said APC is a party born out of necessity at a time Nigeria needed a life boat, giving reasons Tinubu must serve the party irrespective of who is in power.
Praising the ruling APC, he said, the party is a new lease of life and for the purpose it was birthed, it succeeded in unseating an incumbent government; and for a higher purpose, it is working hard to succeed at good governance.
He furthered: “Bola Tinubu, myself and President Muhammadu Buhari stand together in this effort to save APC from itself. Serving the nation has complex colours, which constantly dazzle distant onlookers.
The job at hand is not about Buhari.”
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