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Kenya: One country, two presidents

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The East African nation of Kenya is in turmoil. The two gladiators in the impasse, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his old foe, Raila Odinga, are running neck and neck for the soul of the country. WALE ELEGBEDE reports on the leadership face-off

Just like any other country, Kenya, has had its fair share of leadership disputes. But this time, the magnitude of the crisis facing the East African nation is huge and the country appears to be in the most difficult political situation since its independence. The only air blowing across the country is uncertainty, there are animosities between the different nationalities and the country is highly divided.
Regarded as one of Africa’s most important economies, Kenya in the past few years has experienced steady growth, drawing rising foreign investment. But, despite efforts to implement programmes that can foster cohesion and reconciliation, Kenya’s politics remain fractured along ethnic lines.
The journey to the current test of democracy in Kenya started on August 8, 2017, when the old foes, 56-year-old incumbent President, Uhuru Kenyatta, and 73-year-old former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, went to the poll. Both men have been engaged in a political battle that dates back to the early days of Kenya’s independence.
After the highly contested election, the Kenya Election Commission declared Kenyatta the winner of the poll by a margin of 1.4million votes. But a-not-too satisfied Odinga approached the judiciary and Kenya’s Supreme Court, after about one month, annulled the result and ordered a new one within 60 days.
Chief Justice David Maraga said the election had not been “conducted in accordance with the constitution” and declared it “invalid, null and void”. He said the verdict was backed by four of the six Supreme Court judges.
Reacting to the ruling, Odinga said the ruling marked “a historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa”.
He said: “It is now clear that the entire [electoral commission] is rotten. It is clear that the real election results were never shared with Kenyans. Someone must take responsibility.”
But in a televised address, President Kenyatta said, that it was “important to respect the rule of law even if you disagree with the Supreme Court ruling”.
However, the Chairman of the electoral body, Wafula Chebukati, noted that there would be “changes to personnel” ahead of the new election.
Interestingly, after the election, international election monitors had said that the election was fair and that there was no major fraud on polling day, urging Odinga to concede and congratulate Kenyatta.
With the coast cleared for the poll, the election commission fixed the re-run election for October 26, 2017.
With preparation fixing up for the re-run, Odinga and his National Super Alliance (NASA), announced its withdrawal from presidential rerun, saying the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) have failed to make necessary reforms.
Odinga said: “After deliberating on our position in respect of the upcoming election … we believe that all will be best served by [the party] vacating its presidential candidature in the election scheduled for 26 October 2017.
“We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel … All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one.”
With Odinga out of the picture, it was a smooth but controversial ride for the incumbent who was declared the winner of the re-run poll, thereby sealing his second term.
The election commission said Kenyatta won 98 per cent of the vote with turnout at just under 39 per cent – less than half that recorded in August’s vote,
With about 50 people reported to have died in violence since Kenyatta was declared winner of August’s election, the President sues for peace, saying that, “your neighbour will remain your neighbour despite the political outcomes”.
Upon his declaration, Kenyatta on November 28, 2017, was constitutionally sworn in for a second and final five-year term, a month after winning a bitterly disputed election rerun marked by delays, apathy, boycott and violence.
But on January 30, Odinga brought a fresh twist to the power game in Kenya when he took an unofficial oath to be “sworn in” as the nation’s people’s president in the capital Nairobi amid a government ban.
Expectedly, the opposition leader changed his titles on his verified social media pages barely an hour after taking his oath.
His Twitter bio reads: “This is the official account of His Excellency Raila Amolo Odinga, President of the Republic of Kenya.” On facebook: “Welcome to the official page of His Excellency Raila Amolo Odinga, President of the Republic of Kenya.”
Cheered on by thousands of supporters who had gathered in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, Odinga said in a speech after taking his oath that, “Today is a historic day for the people of Kenya. The people have gathered here in the hundreds of thousands to say enough is enough with the electoral rigging.
“Today’s step is one step towards the doing away with electoral autocracy and to establishing proper democracy in our country.”
The symbolic “swearing in” ceremony took place three months after he boycotted a presidential election re-run.
Odinga’s deputy, Kalonzo Musyoka, was missing at the function but the former prime minister told his supporters that he would be sworn in later, for reasons that would be explained on a later date.
Several news outlets including Televisions and Radios have been taken off air from broadcasting the live coverage and those who did are already closed down by the government.
With Kenya divided down the middle between two men who have loyal support among their ranks but don’t recognized each other’s legitimacy, the political clash between the duo would only plunge Africa’s seventh biggest population into the abyss, if not urgently resolved.
Perhaps, the symbolic swearing could be a way of persuading President Kenyatta to come to the negotiation table with the opposition party, it is however expected that the two great leaders must put the country before their personal ambition and agree on an amicable way forward for the East African country.

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Politics

Rivers: Obuah rallies PDP for council polls

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EMMANUEL MASHA reports on the forthcoming local government election in Rivers State and efforts by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to seize the opportunity to consolidate its grip of the oil-rich state

 

Voters in Rivers State will on June 16, go to the polls to elect candidates of their choice, who will be in charge of governance at the local government level. It is one election that some don’t want to hold, especially those in the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC). But 62 other opposition parties in the state under the aegis of Inter- Party Advisory Council (IPAC) have made it clear that they will participate.

The state’s electoral body, Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RISIEC) has given the green light for the conduct of the election. RSIEC chairman, Justice Chukwuneye Uriri, who recently addressed representatives of political parties during a stakeholders meeting at the commission’s secretariat had noted that for long there has not been council elections despite the fact that the law abhors vacuum. He, therefore, declared that there was need for a democratically elected council administration in the state even as he reaffirmed the commitment of the commission to perform its obligations to reflect the aspirations of the electorate.

His words: “Given the 90-day mandatory notice as stipulated by the electoral laws, the next election ordinarily comes up in June this year. It is therefore imperative that we fix a date for the election in accordance with the said rules.

“By the powers conferred on me, as enshrined in the Rivers State Independent Electoral Law No 2 of 2018, I therefore declare Saturday, the 16th day of June 2018 as local government election day in Rivers State. It is accordingly so fixed.

I reaffirm the commitment of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission to perform its obligations, to reflect the aspirations of the electorate.” There is no doubt that it is exactly three years since Governor Nyesom Wike took charge of the state after the triumph of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2015 general elections and in a normal political setting, that is a long time to conduct council election.

But, for the past three years, attempts to achieve this have continuously been resisted by the APC, which appears to be comfortable with the caretaker committee arrangement adopted by the Wike administration.

The caretaker arrangement itself is however a child of necessity as few weeks before the immediate past Chibuike Amaechi administration left office, it conducted council election after which chairmen and councillors were hurriedly sworn in.

The main flaw about that election is that the PDP and many other parties refused to participate in it on the ground that its outcome had been predetermined by the then APC-led government in the state. Observers claimed that the election was nothing other than a political landmine laid by the Amaechi administration for the then incoming Wike government.

But, the law took its course in September 2015, when a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt presided by Justice Lambo Akanbi, invalidated the May 23, 2015 council election won by the APC chairmanship and councillorship candidates.

In his judgement on Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/84/2015 filed in April 2015 by the PDP claiming that RSIEC did not comply with the 90-day mandatory notice stipulated by the electoral laws, Justice Akanbi declared that the May 23 polls were null and void. He further ruled that the conduct of the election by the Amaechi administration was lawless, provocative and disregard for the rule of law.

The judgement paved the, way for Governor Wike to dissolve the boards of RSIEC and the Rivers State Judicial Service Commission following the recommendation of the State House of Assembly. But, like the PDP did in 2015, the APC has declared that it will boycott the June 16 council polls.

The chairman of Rivers APC, Davies Ikanya, who announced the party’s decision to boycott the elections, described as shocking RSIEC’s decision to hold the polls in June, arguing that the issue is a subject of litigation before the Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Ikeanya, who would be handing over to Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, a former chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area, by the time his tenure elapses at the end of June, maintained that it was subjudice for the commission to fix a date for the election, even at a time when the courts had not decided on the cases filed by the main opposition party in the state.

He said: “We have been in a protracted legal battle over previous election that the RSIEC conducted, which Wike sacked elected officials and the case has not been vacated. It is wrong for a respected citizen to announce that their tenure has elapsed,” he said.

“Would RSIEC turn itself to Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court? Why can’t they wait for the court to determine the matter before fixing a date for council election? We are also saying that RSIEC, as presently constituted, cannot conduct election.”

IPAC chairman in the state, Sam Ihunwo, who condemned APC’s position, lauded RSIEC for its plan to conduct the election. He described the decision as a bold move to entrench democracy at the grassroots. He added that it was rather unfortunate and an illconsidered decision for the APC to withdraw from the exercise.

Ihunwo insisted that there was no truth in the claim by the state APC that local government election held in the state on May 23, 2015. “As you can see, 62 political parties are present to express their happiness with the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission for putting the machinery in place to conduct free, fair and genuine local government election on June 16, 2018,” he said. He argued that the judgement of the High Court of Rivers State on the matter put paid to whatever hope the APC had on the validity of the said May 23, 2015 local government election.

The APC’s planned boycott, notwithstanding, the state chairman of the PDP, Bro. Felix Obuah, during the re-registration of old and new members of the party, promised a level-playing field in the council election. He has been urging party members to be peaceful and play by the rules of the game throughout the process that would lead to the election.

While addressing party leaders recently, he advised that “even the persons who will be defecting today and wish to join our party must be registered. Do not restrict anyone from becoming a member. We need everybody and we do not want anyone to stop them from registering, due to personal interests.” Already, Obuah, a grassroots politician, who is also the chairman of Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA) has been rallying party faithful for the election and remains optimistic that the exercise will be free and fair.

Wike, who made a similar pledge, said imposition of candidates would not be allowed in the PDP. The governor, while addressing an expanded state stakeholders meeting of the party, said: “We will use the local government elections to test the waters. Let people come out and vote, so that we know that we are doing well.”

The Rivers governor also charged party members to ensure that those who would emerge as chairmen and councillors would defend their constituencies during elections. No doubt, while Governor Wike continues to deliver sound governance, and projects, Obuah has stepped up his game in instilling discipline within the party, while preparing the grounds for a triumphant council poll and a successful outing in the 2019 general elections.

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…Stop blackmailing Fayose, PDP warns

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Reacting to the claim by All Progressives Congress (APC) that Governor Ayodele Fayose ordered the demolition of its governorship candidates campaign billboard, Ekiti State Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Jackson Adebayo, accused the APC chairman in the state, Chief Jide Awe and members of his party of attempting to blackmail Fayose.

Adebayo said: “We don’t habour hoodlums in our party, it is APC that harbours hoodlums and you can see it from their recent congresses. “PDP is a party of peace, our rally in Oye that day was peaceful and the governor and our members were not responsible for the destruction of the billboard.

“APC should search its ranks for those who destroyed the billboard if ever it was destroyed because I am hearing it for the first time. Governor Fayose knows nothing about it and our members know nothing about it.”

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Fasanmi canvasses support for Fayemi

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Kayode Fayemi

Former Deputy Leader of pan Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Senator Ayo Fasanmi, has called on members of Afforenifere and electorate in Ekiti State to support the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, during the July 14 election in Ekiti State.

Speaking to journalists in Osogbo, Fasanmi, an indigene of Iye Ekiti, implored the people of Ekiti State to give their support to Fayemi for APC to seize power from PDP and return the state to the progressives’ fold, which he said it rightly belonged.

The former Afenifere deputy leader also commended all APC governorship aspirants in the state, especially the party’s Deputy National Chairman (South), Engr. Segun Oni, for their maturity, selflessness and the belief in the doctrine of party supremacy which he said was not common among popular politicians.

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