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U.S. calls for credible poll, as Fayose accuses APC of plot to rig



The United States has reiterated the need for a credible, free and fair electioneering process in the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti State, stating that it will closely monitor events before, during and after the poll.

Speaking during a courtesy visit to the state governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, the Political/ Economic Chief,United States Consulate, Lagos, Mr Osman Tat, said that the conduct of the poll should set a higher standard for elections in Nigeria. He said: “We are here for the monitoring of events leading to the conduct of the governorship election in the state.

We are here to see the governor, to assess the situation of things and to dialogue with him on preparations for the election. America is interested in the election. “We are to monitor purposely to ensure free, fair, transparent election.

We are to ensure that there is no violence or intimidation of voters during the election; to ensure that the election is credible. Ekiti is controlled by the opposition party and that is why the US is interested in the election,” Tat said.

In his remarks, Fayose thanked the United States government for taking interest in the Ekiti election, just as he alleged plans by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to use federal might to rig the election.

His words: “They are planning to do this because they know that in a transparent and credible election, the APC cannot win in Ekiti State. We are popular and our party, the Peoples Democratic Party, is popular because of our performance in government and my brand of politics.

“Ekiti people will resist rigging. They will resist the Federal Government or the Independent National Electoral Commission rubbishing their votes. The people’s might is greater and potent than the federal might.”

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Osun Guber: Zoning arrangement not constitutional – Osun APC chieftain



A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in the state of Osun, Hon. Akindiya Amos who is from Olaoluwa Local Government Area of Osun West Senatorial District and a serving commissioner in the Osun State House of Assembly Service Commission has condemned in outright terms the agitation by few selected individuals from his senatorial district insisting that Osun Wedt Senatorial district must produce the next governor of the state.

Hon. Akindiya made this assertion while fielding questions from newsmen on the preparation of the APC ahead of the September 22nd gubernatorial election coming up this year, ”When I hear people say it is time for the west to produce the next governor and no other zones should contest for the exalted seat with them, I dare say it is politically wrong to assume such status.

“It is not inside Nigeria or APC constitution that it should be zoned to a particular area, my firm opinion is that the race should be thrown open to whoever wishes to contest, irrespective of senatorial district, the most credible and competent candidate should emerge through a free and fair primary”, he said.

He went further to explain that since the beginning of politics in this era, there has never been a time when the leaders have sat down to decide that they will zone governorship to a particular zone. The late Senator Isiaka Adeleke came in as governor from the west, though he spent little time but people from other zones contested with him, When it came to the era of Baba Akande, nobody stopped the west or east from contesting with him.

Also speaking about who may likely succeed Aregbesola among the 27 APC aspirants who had shown interest at the meeting with the state leadership during the week, Akindiya opined that whoever will take over from Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola must continue with the good works, ability to consolidate and leverage on the many opportunities in infrastructural amenities to boost the economic situation of the state, drive our IGR and industrialize our agricultural sector.

The strength of our campaign today is continuity, continuity in good governance, continuity of welfarist policies, continuity in urbanization of our towns, continuity in good education and health programmes, and our template is Lagos state, Lagos is good today because when Tinubu started, there was continuity through Fashola and now through Governor Ambode, he narrated.

In his reaction to the insinuation that PDP may likely oust his party in the election, “They are liars and are only joking; the projects we have done are physical and cannot be hidden, our people are grateful to Aregbesola and are ready to partner with APC through the ballot for another 4years.

“Even people that are indigenes of Osogbo can attest to the simple fact that the city has undergone a complete transformation. Ask around, people in towns and villages of Osun are ready to vote for APC. Our programmes are channeled towards development and are basically for the betterment of lives for our citizens.

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Obasanjo’s coalition group selfish –Ikierite



Chief Ambrose Alfred Ikierite, a former ally of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State is the chairman of the African Democratic Party (ADP) in the state. The former PDP chieftain in this interview with PAULINE ONYIBE explains why he dumped the PDP for the ADP, among other issues. Excerpts...


You were a special adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan and a commissioner in Bayelsa State . Why did you leave the PDP?

I left PDP to join the ADP out of personal reasons. I was a very committed and loyal member of the party. While as commissioner for budget, I did my best to promote the ideals of the restoration government. During the gubernatorial elections and all other elections, I was so committed and as a leader of PDP in my ward, we ensured that PDP won all the elections. And that was exactly what happened including the governorship election that came last. But unfortunately politics being what it is, immediately after the elections, I was blackmailed by some persons who saw my growing profile in politics as a threat to them. I was seriously blackmailed before the governor.

When I got to know about the blackmail, I did everything possible to get in touch with the geovernor to explain myself but it was to no avail. One of the blackmail was that I receive some chunk of money from the APC during election to deliver APC in my ward but God knows that never happened and nobody from APC gave me one dime.

The second one was that I and other stakeholders from Brass have perfected plans to recall the serving senator, distinguished Senator Ben Murray Bruce. And a petition was written against me and may be some others that I wasn’t privy to know.

So, I made some efforts to see the governor and clear myself but unfortunately for whatever reasons, the governor refused to give me audience. It got to a stage even in my own ward, I was being ridiculed. I was not being recognised.

I saw it as a deliberate attempt to undermine my personality and possibly an orchestrated plan to make me politically irrelevant. As a politician who has not attained the age of retirement, if I want to retire I will retire voluntarily not for someone to force me into retirement. And I felt that may be my contributions in PDP are no longer required. And for a party that I have led for so many years in my ward successfully to treat me the way they were treating me, I decided to stay at home. I decided not to make any political statement.

While staying at home, some group of politicians approached me and sold the idea of ADP, that they have been fishing for a competent hand to lead the party. And at that point, I had no option than to accept.

What is your party manifesto?

The party manifesto is very rich and one of things that endeared me to the party was actually to look at the party manifesto and constitution. It was after going through the manifesto and constitution, I finally joined the party. It is a manifesto that is geared towards economic empowerment.

You will agree with me that Nigeria as a nation is endowed with so many economic benefits and it has been a problem for us to harness all the nature to project Nigeria to the level that it supposed to attain.

It is unfortunate that the present administration has not done well for us to get to that level. The Goodluck Jonathan administration tried to the extent that we became the largest economy in Africa, but today, all that is history. For a nation like Nigeria to grow, it has to tap into the available resources that Nigeria has been endowed with and our manifesto is so keen about that. The manifesto has gone ahead to even propose for a regional economic unit.

The six regions of this nation have been identified as the economic development potential. And that had been done with the retaliation of the fact that each region of this country is endowed naturally and if those endowments are harnessed properly, we believe that each region will prosper economically. At the same time, within the regions we believe that there are some value chains that will be c reated having realised the econ o m i c potential of the regions.

One of the manifesto is geared towards intentionally creating an enabling environment for each to develop itself economically. In line with the constitution of the party, the manifesto has also considered that human capital development is germane for the growth of any economy and therefore education is one key flag that ADP administration will drive if it comes into governance.

What is ADP’s agenda towards resource control, restructuring and devolution of power?

Structurally, so many things are wrong in this country. The party believes in restructuring of this country. We believe in devolution of power, guided devolution of power. And we believe in a guided resource control. Before we started operating the American system of government, you know that Nigeria was a regionalised country and each region was allowed to develop at its pace. Each region was allowed to develop the natural resources that they were endowed with.

Then you can see a lot of competition and vibrancy in the economy. But at independence, and with the adoption of presidential system of government, a lot of centralisation in the activities of the nation, which based on experience, we have found that it is not auguring well with the existence of this country.

So, every well -meaning Nigerian, and every well -meaning party today is advocating for restructuring, devolution of power and resource control. My party, the Action Democratic Party, is one of those of parties that is advocating for those things.

Do you intend to field candidates in the local government election?

I am not aware that the local government elections are by the corner. I don’t know. But as a party if that happens, we will be glad because that is the grassroot and for every meaningful government that believes in giving the dividends of democracy, anything that has to do with the grassroot must be taken seriously.

The local government poll is an election where the grassroots will be given an op-portunity to elect people that will represent them. And as a party, we will be very interested to participate. But you know how local government elections are being run in this country.

The membership of the state independent electoral commission is appointed by the governor who for all intents and purposes should belong to political parties and all those members that will be appointed to that commission, you will agree with me are going to be members of their party.

At the end of the day, they will all do the bidding of their political party. But having said that any time the state independent electoral commission comes up with a time table, we will test the waters by contesting election for Bayelsans to know that ADP has come to stay in Bayelsa State.

2020 is around the corner and you are not fully on ground. How do you intend to get a candidate for the governorship polls?

That is where Bayelsans will be surprised, ADP will shock Bayelsa. If you say we are not on ground, you may not be completely right. We are new but we are working behind the scene seriously. We have had series of meetings with prominent politicians in Bayelsa State cutting across the major political parties of APC and PDP.

We know many of them that have been discussing with us. In the next couple of weeks, the party will come with a good statement where Bayelsans will know where we are heading to. Already we have numerous candidates that have indicated interest in contesting the governorship under our platform.

I’m sure you know what is happening at the national level where alliances and coalitions are being formed, where a critical member of those spearheading the alliances are working and we don’t want to run faster than our legs.

That is why we have been quiet for a while. But as soon as those alliances are perfected in the next couple of weeks, we will come up with serious statement and then you will see the number of candidates that will flock in to be able to test their strength in the governorship race in 2020 but for the other elections, like national and state assemblies, we already have candidates penciled down. If you say we are not on ground, no problem, but it is elections that will determine whether we are on ground or not. Many people would be shocked.

Do you have enough resources to wrestle power from PDP?

That is where Bayelsans will be surprised. You will be surprised because the thinking of the people is changing. The orientation is changing. It is going to be an election based on the candidates, not the party. PDP has the money and the incumbency factor is there.

But we believe that there is going to be a change in the narrative of the politics of Bayelsa in the next general elections. I would not want to talk too much because it is not yet time for us to start campaigning.

When we start campaigning, we know what and what to tell our people. We know that Bayelsans are waiting for the credible alternative to come up and that is the ADP. When we come up with our credible candidate, the masses will talk.

Why did former President Olusegun Obasanjo dump your party for the ADC?

Point of correction, Obasanjo did not join any political party and if you had listened to him carefully, he said he will never be a card-carrying member of any political party. When he came up with the Coalition for Nigerian Movement, he categorically stated that it is a movement and considering the fact that APC has failed Nigerians, especially now that Buhari has shown his ineptitude, nepotism, cluelessness and shallowness, they will never support his candidature.

His effort was to create a platform where some meaningful Nigerians will come together and chat a way that will enable us to change the leadership of this country. Obasanjo said he will opt out if the movement adopts a political party, that was the statement he made. My party was one of those they were discussing with.

We had to table our manifesto and constitution which they said was beautiful. And some issues were brought up for consideration which were not favourable to us. There are others like the National Intervention Movement which is called the third force. There is also the CNN which is Coalition for New Nigeria.

There are other movements that are currently trying to make their way into the political space in Nigeria. All those movements were actually discussing with us but it was surprising that the CNM on its own had to adopt the African Democratic Congress (ADC). And from our investigations, they saw the ADC as a porous party, a party that does not have any structure. I’m sure you are aware they don’t even have an office in Bayelsa State and they don’t have an office anywhere. They are a party on paper.

I don’t think that they have contested any election that they won. Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola who is the leader of the CNM was looking for a platform where they will just go in and take over everything. They were so selfish, they never wanted a platform that is existing and solid, where they will start negotiating. So what they did was to say, ‘instead of negotiating with these people, wasting our time, let us go and take up a dead party so that we can take over everything’.

That was what they did, then NIM and CNM also withdrew from the arrangement. They had a meeting where the National Intervention Movement and four political parties wanted to form a coalition. My party, the ADP, is one of them. In addition to these parties, 35 others agreed to join the alliance.

The details of that arrangement are being worked out. I hope and believe that ADP will be the platform because of all the other political parties that I have mentioned, ADP is the newest. We are just about a year old. We have not tainted ourselves. We are a new party with a good manifesto, a good constitution. Though we are new, there is no political discourse that is going on Nigeria that ADP is not part of.

What is your view on Buhari’s war against corruption?

Buhari has failed in his electioneering promises, we are only waiting for what he is coming to tell Nigerians again. Those promises he made are the ones Nigerians will judge him with. You said you are going make one naira to be one dollar. Were you able to do it, no.

This time around, it is not going to be on semantics. He is not coming to contest election, he has been there for three years. So, he is going to be judged based on his electioneering promises, based on what the economy was before he took over.

You took over government because you believe Goodluck Jonathan was not doing well, you wanted Nigerians to vote for you so that you will correct all the ills of the past administration, but since you came, you have been making excuses. Nigerians are tired of excuses.

Some people have argued that there is nobody on ground to wrestle power from Buhari?

It is good that Nigerians allowed him to become the president. If they didn’t allow him, the statement would have been if it was Buhari. But Nigerians have seen his shallowness and his cluelessness. I tell you, at the end of the day, whoever emerges as our presidential candidate will beat him. We believe that at the end of day, a better Nigerian will win the election and change the tide of things in this country.

Some people are of the opinion that anybody above 60 should not be allowed to lead NIgeria. Do you agree?

That is the position of my party. The Chairman, Board of Trustees of my party, who is Chief Alani Bankole, based on what the party believes in, made a statement that whoever will become the president should not be above 60. That is my position.

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Rivers: Obuah rallies PDP for council polls



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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