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Queue behind SDP, IBB tells Nigerians

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Former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, has called on Nigerians to queue behind the Chief Olu Falae-led Social Democratic Party (SDP) for the 2019 general election. Babangida made the call when the national leadership of the party, led by Falae, visited him at his hill-top mansion in Minna. According to him: “If I hadn’t been too old, I would have loved to join the Youth Vanguard of your party.

I have faith in the political party for what it is and what it stands for.” IBB said further that, “when I heard in the news that a party has come onboard, the first thing that occurred to me was that the name sounds familiar. So, I made a decision that I will wait and see how it plays out. “I was looking at how SDP will populate itself. And then, the next pleasing thing that I heard was that it has people like Olu Falae, Professor Jerry Gana, and Professor Tunde Adeniran.

“After that, I said this party is real because most of the names are names that I have known and I have worked with and for the sake of this country, so I said the party is smart to have convinced all these gentlemen to come and join them. “That is why I did not hesitate to give direction to those who came to me to seek advice on which direction to go”. Babangida added that the vision he has for the country is the same vision that is shared by those driving the SDP, adding that, “the security and wellbeing of Nigerians is very important and you have identified this in your programme. “Women and youths in the country and, indeed, Nigerians must rally round you and support you to ensure that this is realisable.

“I know it can be done. I have never said this to any political party before, but I can tell you that the party has people who have contributed a lot to this country, people whose contributions to Nigeria is legendary and what you have put ahead of you is what this country needs. “I remember when Jerry Gana was the Chairman of MAMSA. One of the primary things he was doing was to educate the ordinary person.

The level of awareness then was not as high as it is now. So, you should take advantage of the digital age now and pass a lot of information to the young men and women of this country because they form over 65 per cent of the population and if you succeed in doing that, I think it will be better for this country.

“So, I call on all the younger generation, including the Nigerian women, to rally behind SDP because it is populated by men of integrity, men who when they work, they work well, when they speak, they speak well. “You must remain firm in this your project because the country has a lot to benefit from you.

“The people are willing and ready to follow whoever is going to lead them aright and I am sure your leadership of the party is going to do that.” Babangida advised the leadership of the party to, as a matter of necessity, make its manifestos public to Nigerians, so that they can be held accountable. “You must tell Nigerians what you intend to do for them because this is very important. The people must know if we vote SDP, what do we expect, so that it becomes politics of issues, not politics of insult and name calling”, he added. Earlier, the national chairman of the party, Chief Olu Falae, told Babangida that the leadership of the SDP was in his house as part of their nationwide consultations to brief him on the activities of the party and to equally solicit for his support and wise counselling. He said he decided to come to Minna with entire leadership of the party as it first point of call as a mark of respect, because Babangida brought him into political limelight 32 years ago, when he appointed him Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and since then, he has remained in the political arena of the country. Accordingly, he said: “32 years and four months ago, I had a privilege of sitting with President Babangida for the first time in council chamber at the Dodan Barack, Lagos.

That was when he appointed me Secretary to the Federal Government and to me, that was the day he recruited me into politics. “So, Babangida recruited me to politics 32 years ago and he didn’t know it was going be permanent because I thought at the end of my tenure, I will return to my banking industry at Broad Street in Lagos, but that was not to be.

Till today, I am still in politics”. Falae told his host that SDP is child of necessity, born out of the desire to rescue the country from the present decay in every sphere of lives. “When I was approached to accept all the Progressives who have been frustrated from different political parties to come together to form a formidable team to rescue Nigeria, I readily agreed because this country must be rescued from the present state of corruption and impunity”. “When SDP takes over the government in 2019, by the grace of God, we will reduce corruption to the barest minimum. If I am preaching against corruption and I am stealing money, people will not follow my example. But if I am totally committed to fighting corruption without bias, people will surely take me seriously. Corruption can be fought if we, the leaders, genuinely embrace transparency, not what we are seeing today.”

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Killings: Nigeria is a failed state – Dickson 

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Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson said the wanton killings in the country by Fulani herdsmen is symptomatic of a failed state. 

Dickson who spoke yesterday at a National Prayer Conference in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, stated that Nigeria is seriously bleeding and divided more than ever. 

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Francis Agbo, the Bayelsa State governor said Nigerians must unite in prayers and resolve to work together to ensure fairness, justice, equity and equal citizenship.                                       

“In this country,  God’s children, human beings irrespective of the God they worship are being slaughtered mercilessly, remorselessly in many parts of the country. 

“Our nation is bleeding, we must unite in prayers and resolve to do what is right and fair. Our nation should be a nation of fairness, justice, equity, equal citizenship and united by common ideals of being the greatest black nation,” Dickson added. 

He called on the nation’s leaders to take the responsibility to stop the bloodletting, adding that this is the time Nigerians have to intensify prayers for the nation to overcome its challenges. 

The governor said:‎ “We are united by our common shared humanity and nationality, so injustice and unfairness anywhere should be a concern to anyone and everyone in our nation. 

“I join you in praying that the bloodletting, unnecessary killings in our nation under any shape or guise ends in Jesus name. 

“God should intervene so that people will feel the need to do the right thing, be fair and just to one another.”

Chairman and convener of Nigeria Prays, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), stressed the importance of prayers, which he said, could help to solve Nigeria’s problems better and faster than military generals and soldiers could do with physical weapons of war. 

Gowon assured Nigerians that God would honour the collective prayers and intercession for the nation, while also advising people to shun violence and retaliation.

Also, the National Director of Nigeria Prays,  Reverend Moses Aransiola said the organisation believes in the efficacy of prayer, and argued that it is the patriotic responsibility of all Christians to pray for their leaders. 

President,  Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Revd. Felix Provide, in a message, assured of God’s intervention to the nation’s problems. 

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N21.5bn SUKUK bond: Lawmaker lambasts Niger Governor

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The Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Barrister David Umaru, has lambasted the Niger state Governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello over the N21.5 billion SUKUK loan facility applied for, saying it will plunge the state into bankruptcy.

Barrister Umaru who is also the chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights at a press briefing on Sunday in Minna said the capacity of governor Sani Bello to put to judicious use the funds from SUKUK bonds if access is not only doubtful but nonexistent.

According to him “it is obvious that this administration is badly obsessed with accessing bond facilities in the presence of infrastructural development while it has consistently failed to account for the billions of naira accrued from statutory allocation to the State including other huge financial interventions from the government.

“Governor Bello should be aware that the well-informed people of the state including my humble self cannot be deceived by the needles lies being canvassed as benefits derivable from the huge burden-laden bonds meant to impoverish the state.

While calling on the state house of Assembly not to approve the loan, he said “this administration when compared to previous administration of former Governor Babangida Aliyu is more financially reckless.

“While the former administration had left a total sum of N44 billion as external debts and close to N30 billion as internal debts, the present administration appears ready to break such record with heavier debt burden despite huge resources that had accrued to the state in the past three years.”

He added that between 2015 and 2017, governor Bello administration had accessed over N114 billion as net FAAC. Though the State budget keeps increasing (36.3 % and 9.4% for the periods 2016-2017 and 2017-2018), the government is increasingly becoming incapable of delivering the democratic dividends as it is enmeshed in growing external and internal debts.

Accordingly, he said “the state’s external debt is put at N17.13 billion and, N31.98 billion as internal debt. We are asking governor Bello to tell us how the Bail-out funds from the federal government and the disbursements from the Paris Club refunds allegedly amounting to about N250 billion were utilized.”

Furthermore, he said the loans taken by the state which include $226 million bond from the Islamic Development Bank and $330 million from Kuwait find for Arab Development, are meant to further impoverish the state which is yet to recover from the comatose condition imposed by the huge debt bonds borrowed from the capital market by the previous administration.

He, however, called on members of the State House of Assembly to withhold approval on the loan request adding that this would save the state from further impoverishment, “history will not be kind to our House members if they do otherwise. Future generations of Nigerlites and indeed the present generation will hold our lawmakers responsible for mortgaging their future.”

He then called on the people of the state to stand up and vehemently resist and oppose the clueless misadventure of the Governor in seeking the N21.5 billion Sukuk bond.

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Naka military invasion: Benue PDP guber aspirant blasts army, threatens court action

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A Peoples Democratic Party governorship aspirant in Benue State Prof. Eugene Aliegba has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently end the on-going killings by Fulani herders\military rascality of innocent citizens in the state.

Prof. Aliegba made this call in Makurdi while reacting on the attacks by the military on the peace-loving people of Gwer West local government on the allegation of a killing of an army officer where two lives and over 300 houses were burnt down.

He described the reprisal by the military as lawless, uncivilized, brutal and a calculated attempt to provoke the law abiding citizens of Gwer West.

Professor Aliegba who was visibly angry over the military’s action said he is not comfortable with the present level of insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in Benue.

He added that as it stands now, the people of Agatu, Guma, Logo, Okpokwu, Gwer West, Kwande and Ukum Local Government areas are under siege and appealed to the federal, state governments and relevant security operatives including, Army, Police Department of State Services (DSS) and others to stop the senseless killings in Benue State.

Prof. Aliegba further called on the state government to set up internally displaced camps in Gwer West where presently inhabitants in nine out of fifteen council wards are moving helter-skelter in Naka town without shelter.

The former commissioner in Benue State, who also called for a thorough investigation into the incident that led to the loss of lives, called on Non-Governmental Organizations, public-spirited individuals and the international community to come to the aid of IDPs as well as ensure rehabilitation and resettlement of the areas devastated by the herders crisis in the state.

He advised army never to deviate from their primary responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of the country Nigeria as failure to do so will force the citizens to heed to the statement credited to General Theophilus Danjuma of self-defense.

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