- Atiku, Shekarau, Lamido, Makarfi, Dankwambo on the cards
- South-East APC leaders endorse Buhari for re-election
Preparatory to the 2019 general elections, the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is banking on seven people to challenge the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential contest.
The PDP’s plan is in place whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari is going to seek re-election in the poll scheduled to hold on February 16, 2019. New Telegraph was reliably informed by high ranking sources within the main opposition party, that the PDP is banking on the candidacy of five of its members and two others expected to come from the APC.
The two APC stalwarts expected to join the PDP are a former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and a serving Northern governor. “The PDP is working on one of the APC governors as its presidential candidate.
The governor has a broad-based support and acceptable to many of the PDP governors and stakeholders. “I can tell you that some powerful forces in the opposition party are rooting for the APC governor as the possible presidential candidate of the PDP in 2019 election,” a stalwart of the PDP told New Telegraph.
The PDP members, who are expected to run for the presidency, are a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; a former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido; a former Governor of Kaduna State and immediate past chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi; former Kano State governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau and the Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo.
An official of the PDP said that the party was banking on the candidacy of the seven people, irrespective of whether Buhari runs or not. It was gathered that Atiku currently ranks highest in the party’s consideration, with Dankwambo, Makarfi, Shekarau and Lamido following.
That is based on the fact that Kwankwaso and the governor have not formally defected. “For now, these are the seven candidates we are working with. We may eventually prune them down to only two when the time comes. But that would not happen by fiat. It would just be for the candidates to come out in the open, make themselves visible to the people. We will look at their acceptability and know which direction we would go,” he said.
On Kwankwaso and the governor, the official said: “Do you think that many people are in APC with their full hearts? Some are just staying there for now.” It was further learnt that while many in the party consider Atiku as the most formidable, many also think that considering his age and the likely opposition to his candidacy by some major power brokers in the country, chief of who is former President Olusegun Obasanjo, there is need for caution. “Atiku, for now, is our strongest card.
But you know what former President Goodluck Jonathan said about him, that he needed to sort himself out with Obasanjo. That is the only problem he has. Except he decides to damn Obasanjo, it might be hard to give him the ticket,” the source told New Telegraph. But Atiku is said to be at peace with the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP led by the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus. Previously, it was thought that Secondus and his crew might not want to dine with Atiku, particularly after the Jonathan counseling.
But sources close to Atiku insisted that he has a close relationship with former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, who is a major influence on the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike. Wike is, by extension, a major influence on Secondus. “We are not worried by the NWC for now. We have a good working relationship with them. They would not work against us,” said a source in Atiku’s camp. Further, it was gathered that much as Atiku may not seek or get Obasanjo’s seal to run for the presidency, there is an understanding Atiku and Obasanjo would maintain respectable distance. “We believe that if Obasanjo would not support us, he should leave us.
He should not criticize us. We will not mention him in our campaign,” said a source close to the Atiku’s camp. New Telegraph also gathered that Lamido, being an Obasanjo man, would have directly benefitted from Atiku’s misfortune with Obasanjo.
But there is a strong feeling that his case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) might hamper his chances with the party. A top PDP official said that the thinking within the party is that the APCled Federal Government would continue to harass Lamido with the case, as far as he appears a strong candidate. The source said that Lamido’s chances would have been high if not for the case. But Lamido is not deterred by the case himself.
He is currently consulting widely in pursuance of his ambition. It is also only Atiku, Shekarau and Lamido that have clearly indicated their interest openly. Lamido is currently touring some states in the country.
He is expected in Enugu today (Monday), where he would confer with the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, on the presidential race. Lamido is also moving further to other states to secure the support base he needs. Dankwambo was recently mentioned by fiery Enugu- based Catholic priest, Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka, as a man who can replace Buhari.
It was gathered that Dankwambo, Kwankwaso and the Northern governor may come in handy if the PDP succumbs to the idea of fielding a younger candidate in the event that Buhari eventually runs. Also, there are fears that Buhari might not run, but may allow either of the Governors of Kaduna and Borno states, Nasir el Rufai and Kashim Shettima, to run on the APC platform.
It was gathered that if that happened, the PDP would go for a younger candidate in Dankwambo, Kwankwaso or the governor, who are not up to 60 years. Both Atiku and Lamido would be in their 70s by 2019.
At present, Makarfi’s candidacy remains hazy, except within the ranks of the PDP. Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, confirmed that party stakeholders from the North have started profiling interested presidential aspirants from the region. New Telegraph further gathered that it is in preparation of the imminent showdown expected between the APC and PDP that a third force is being prepared by powerful stakeholders.
For now, the third force,made up of the likes of Olisa Agbakoba, Donald Duke, Oby Ezekwesili, and Prof. Pat Utomi, among others, maintains that it is not a political party. But there are indications that members of the group with their backers, which include prominent names in the PDP, APC and even neutrals, might find a platform to contest in 2019, if it becomes clear that the two major political parties might not meet Nigerians’ aspirations.
Utomi told New Telegraph that the concern of the group now is just to mobilize Nigerians on the need to vote and choose the right candidate in 2019. According to him, there might be further developments going into 2019, depending on the way things turn out. “We are only interested in enlightening Nigerians to vote. That is our primary concern for now. But for sure, when the time comes, we may really look further on things,” he said.
Police storm Kuku’s house in search of kidnappers
Men of the Nigerian Police Force stormed the resident of former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon. Kingsley Kuku and made away with some undisclosed items.
Led by Sunday Alli, a Supretendent of Police in the IGP Tactical Squad for Armed robbery, gun running and Kidnapping, the men stormed the Arogbo in Ese-Odo Local Government area of Ondo State and shot sporadically into the air to scare away residents.
Kuku had left Nigeria for the United States of America (USA) for what he called medical reasons shortly after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost the 2015 elections.
Since then, he has not returned to the country to answer some of the charges prefer against him by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC)
Sources said armed policemen, numbering over 20 stormed the residence of former Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and started shooting sporadically into the air to scare away everybody in the house and neighbourhood.
According to a source in the neighbourhood, who pleaded that his name should not be mentioned in press, said the policeman ” forcefully broke into every room and everywhere in the house claiming to be in search of kidnappers.
“After combing all the rooms in the house in a commando style, they left without anything incriminating nor any kidnapper in the house,”
Another source, a woman in the neighbourhood who also spoke on condition of anonymity said “this is actually a worrisome and a condemnable act exhibited by the Police.
“How can the Police who are supposed to protect the citizens be the source of panic in a peaceful community by storming a private residence without a search warrant, and shoot sporadically to scare away unharmed citizens, claiming to be in search of kidnappers? This shouldn’t be happening in a democratic state.”
Africans richest woman, Alakija narrates how 3 siblings defrauded her
A business tycoon and one of the richest women in Africa, Mrs Folorunso Alakija has narrated to an Ikeja High Court how Vincent Ayewah, a staff of her Rose of Sharon Foundation and his two siblings defrauded her of N3million.
Vincent, who works as a clerk and admin officer for the foundation was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his siblings Florence Ayewah and Emmanuel Ayewah and four others; Onuwa David, Okoronkwo Chikadibia, Ehizibolo George and Chinyere Awanah.
The EFCC alleged that Vincent conned Alakija’s foundation of the funds by forging cheques while conniving with his siblings and cohorts to pose to banks as beneficiaries of the foundation.
While being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr M.D Aliyu, Alakija said, “On November 13, 2012, my treasurer Gladys Efiozor called me to say that she received a call from Stanbic IBTC concerning a forgery of a cheque.
“I told her to send me an email of the forged cheque and when I saw it I told her that the signature was not mine, there are three signatories to that account and the forged signature did not match those of the other signatories.
“Florence (Vincent’s sister) was the one caught with the cheque, tge bank called EFCC to investigate and Florence was handed over to the EFCC.
“It was discovered that the bag she was carrying had 12 different Identity cards of beneficiaries of the foundation with her pictures on the identity cards.
“The bag also contained cash collected from other banks from the foundation’s account.”
Alakija further said that she confronted Vincent and seized his mobile phone after he had received a suspicious call and that he had also deleted an incriminating text message from his phone.
“He admitted to the fraud and begged for mercy, he had done other infractions in the past and had begged for mercy anytime he was caught.
“Vincent enjoyed a new lifestyle with proceeds from the scam, buying a new car which he parked far away from the premises of the office to avoid detection.
“A blank cheque and a survey plan of a property was in his car.
“He had committed infractions before, begged for mercy and I forgave him, I thought that with warnings, he will change,” the billionaire said.
During cross-examination by the Defence Counsel, Mr Obiora Umeh, she said: “There are widows and orphans that need to be empowered, I have one project manager at a time that Vincent Ayewah was reporting to.
“When he needs to write the cheques he had to handle the cheque book, I knew he was issuing the cheques because it was part of his duty.
“The auditors must have gone through the list of beneficiaries and approve it, I can’t remember now if they were going through the cheque books because our systems have since changed.
“The issue at hand is that the first defendant (Vincent) had taken blank cheques and written the names of the beneficiaries on them.
“Vincent’s siblings had gone to pose in banks to pretend that they were the original beneficiaries.
“Even if it wasn’t a blank cheque he had torn out and he had followed the normal sequence of things, they will still go and pose as beneficiaries,” she said.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi adjourned the case until October 25 for a continuation of trial.
School feeding: Vendors steal 200 crates of eggs, yam, rice in Niger
A desk officer has been caught with 200 crates of eggs stolen from the store of food meant for pupils in the homegrown feeding of primary school pupils in Niger state.
While responding to questions on Thursday at a post Exco briefing, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Barrister Amina Musa disclosed that the person involved has been reported to the State Security Service (SSS) for further action.
Speaking on the implementation of the programme in the state, she said over 560,499 pupils benefited from the programme in the state while 4,929 food vendors have been engaged.
According to her “my ministry has organised stakeholders meeting to ensure elimination of challenges and I have also warned vendors to desist from stealing food and other condiments.
“We also gathered that some tubers of yam and rice were stolen thereby reducing the ration for schools. Luckily, we eventually discovered and recovered the items.”
She added that N392,300,000 was allocated to the state by the presidency for a period of ten days.
Barrister Musa also disclosed that the free feeding programme has led to increases in school enrolment of pupils in the state.
She said that the programme has also boosted the economic empowerment of farmers and women in the state due to the patronage of local food items while several women were engaged as cooks.
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