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PDP Submits Saraki’s Name To INEC As Its Senatorial Candidate For Kwara Central

                                 Senate President Bukola Saraki

•APC panel dismisses appeals, upholds automatic tickets

 

John Alechenu, Olusola Fabiyi

The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has sent the name of the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, to the Independent National Electoral Commission as a senatorial candidate.

The name of Saraki was among the list of candidates submitted to the commission in Abuja on Thursday night.

Saraki, who represents Kwara Central District in the Senate, was among the 13 presidential aspirants of the party.

He came third at the party’s national convention which was held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The PDP had held the senatorial primaries before that of the presidential primary.

While Saraki paid for the PDP nomination and expression of interest forms,  it was however not clear if he paid for that of the Senate as well.

Investigations by one of our correspondents in Abuja showed that Saraki’s name was used to replace the name of one Ope, whose name was initially filed as the PDP candidate for the senatorial district.

It had initially been speculated that the former governor of Kwara State was among the suspected presidential aspirants in the party who had another plan since they knew they could lose the PDP presidential nomination.

It was learnt that Saraki is being positioned to return as the President of the Senate in 2019 by the PDP, if former Vice President Atiku Abubakar wins the presidential election.

The source said, “Bukola Saraki’s name is there (in the list). He’s returning to the Senate on the platform of the PDP.”

Investigations by one of our correspondents in Abuja showed that Saraki’s name was used to replace the name of one Ope, whose name was initially filed as the PDP candidate for the senatorial district.

It had initially been speculated that the former governor of Kwara State was among the suspected presidential aspirants in the party who had another plan since they knew they could lose the PDP presidential nomination.

It was learnt that Saraki is being positioned to return as the President of the Senate in 2019 by the PDP, if former Vice President Atiku Abubakar wins the presidential election.

The source said, “Bukola Saraki’s name is there (in the list). He’s returning to the Senate on the platform of the PDP.”

Meanwhile, the tension among the All Progressives Congress aspirants heightened on Thursday as members who aspired for governorship and National Assembly seats inundated the party’s Director of Organization, Altai Abu-Bakr Kari, with calls in a bid to know their fate.

Kari, who led some party officials in an APC branded coaster bus held tightly to a bunch of files on one hand and struggled to answer calls to his mobile phone with the other.

It was gathered that aspirants for national assembly seats were especially eager to find out the outcome of their petitions to the Prof. Osariemen Osumbor-led APC Governorship and National Assembly Appeals Committee.

This was against the backdrop of the party’s last minute effort to beat the 12:00 midnight deadline set by INEC for the submission of the list of all party candidates for the 2019 elections.

A summary of the panel report document obtained by one of our correspondents in Abuja, on Thursday, indicated that all petitions against the Senate and House of Representatives primaries were rejected.

In Delta State for example, eight petitions were upheld by the committee which agreed with the petitioners who argued that they won the primaries but that their names were surreptitiously replaced.

Seven petitions were rejected for lacking merit.

In the South-West zone, six petitions were received and treated by the panel from Ekiti State. The petitioners faulted the conduct of the National Assembly primary held in the state but their petitions were thrown out.  A similar fate befell three petitions filed against the conduct of the House of Representatives primary in Osun State.

In Ondo State, the panel upheld three petitions for Senate, referred one to the National Working Committee; rejected two and upheld the five petitions for the House of Representatives.

The five argued successfully with documentary evidence that they won the primary but their names were substituted.

Of the two petitions received from Lagos, one was rejected for the Senate, while the one for the House of Representatives was upheld.

The panel also rejected two senatorial petitions from Ogun State and recommended that the third petitioner be adopted as the candidate, saying stakeholders of the party in the areas agreed to adopt him as a sole candidate.

The Osunbor-led APC panel equally upheld the disqualifications of some of the party’s aspirants by the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC and its decision to grant automatic tickets to serving governors and some lawmakers.

Some of the prominent members disqualified are a former Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, and the Political Adviser to the Kaduna State governor,  Mallam Uba Sani.

From the panel’s report and recommendations, it became obvious that pressure mounted by some state governors, especially the Kaduna State Governor, El-Rufai, as well as the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, did nothing to influence the committee.

In the North-West, the panel upheld the automatic ticket given to Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central), after rejecting petitions filed by Senator Mohammed Saleh, Usman Ibrahim and Samsuddeen Giwa challenging the decision of the APC NWC to disqualify them from contesting the primary.

It also threw out a petition by Dr Abba Ibrahim who cited irregularities in the party’s decision to grant Sani an automatic ticket.

For Kaduna North, the APC panel threw out the petition filed by Senator Aliyu Lawal who also complained about alleged irregularities in the conduct of the primary in the area.

A petition filed by Ahmed Munir, who contested the Lere Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, asking the panel to declare him as candidate was upheld.

Munir had petitioned the panel alleging that the aspirant who won the contest was indicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for an unspecified offence in 2008.

The panel found merit in his petition and declared the petitioner as the party’s candidate.

A petition filed by Ahmed Shuiabu Adda’u who contested the party’s ticket for the Makarfi/Kudan Federal Constituency challenging his alleged wrongful disqualification, was thrown out for lacking merit.

Another aspirant, Rufai Chanchangi, who contested the Kaduna South Federal Constituency, petitioned the panel, citing irregularities but his petition was equally rejected.

For the Sokoto State governorship, petitions filed by two aspirants, Senator Abubakar Gada and Faruk Yabo, citing the refusal of the APC election committee to follow guidelines for the conduct of the exercise were also rejected.

The Osumbor-led panel also held that the petition filed by a Kebbi State governorship aspirant, Alhaji Ibrahim Mera, challenging his exclusion from the contest was “not competent.”

Similar petitions by senatorial aspirants for Kebbi Central and Kebbi South, Aminu Shamaki and Sule Sami respectively, were also dismissed.

The panel also dismissed a petition filed by Abdullahi Sura who contested the Sum/Bagudo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.

It, however, referred a petition by Abdullahi Faruk , the member representing Birnin Kebbi/ Kalgo/ Bunza Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, whose petition was a “Plea for fulfilment of promise of automatic ticket for loyalty to the party,” to the APC NWC.

In Jigawa State, the panel dismissed petitions filed by Hashiru Yusuf and Allhaji Hashimu against the conduct of the governorship primary on the grounds that the petitions had been overtaken by INEC’s guidelines for the conduct of fresh primaries.

Former IGP, Suleiman Abba, who petitioned the panel to protest the removal of his name from the ballot in the contest for the party’s ticket for Jigawa South Senatorial district also failed to gain the panel’s sympathy.

The case of Abdullahi Gumel, a sitting senator who lost the primary was referred to the NWC for further action after he petitioned the panel, citing irregularities in the conduct of the primary which he lost.

In Kano, the case of the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Suleiman Kawu-Sumaila, was also referred to the NWC for further action.

Similar cases referred to the NWC included those involving Suleiman Halilu, Laila Buhari and Senator Isa Zarewa who contested the Kano Central Senatorial ticket.

Petitions against the conduct of the governorship primary in Katsina State were also referred to the NWC. The two petitioners were Alhaji Garba Sani and Abubakar Isa.

The panel also dismissed petitions by a senatorial aspirant for Bayelsa Central, Barry Indutimi.

It also dismissed appeals by Mr John Odey, Chief Edem Duke and Chief Eyo Nyong, who demanded a fresh governorship primary in Cross River State.

The panel also held that the petition filed by Prof. Pat Utomi challenging the validity of the governorship primary in Delta State had been overtaken by events.

It, however, upheld an appeal by Halims Agoda who won the primary for Ethiope Federal Constituency but had his name replaced.

For Rivers State, the appeals by Senator Magnus Abe and Chief Dumo-Lulu Briggs against the conduct of the governorship primaries were rejected.

For Akwa Ibom State, appeals by Bassey Dan-Abia, Senator James Udo-Udehe and Dr Edet Efefuei against the conduct of the governorship primary were similarly thrown out.

It, however, upheld the appeal by Robinson Uwak who won the primary for Oron Federal constituency but was denied victory. Similar petitions by Iquo Inyang and Mrs. Glory Ekpo who contested and won the primaries held for Ikono/Ini and Etinam Federal Constituencies were also upheld.

The party’s primaries held across the country were marred by allegations of irregularities and disqualification of aspirants.

Several of these issues led to a series of meetings between the party leadership, some aggrieved governors and President Muhammadu Buhari.

The president’s wife who felt slighted by the party for failing to support the emergence of her brother, Mahmoud Halilu, as governorship candidate in her native Adamawa State, took to her twitter handle to register her displeasure.

She tweeted, “It is disheartening to note that some aspirants used their hard earned money to purchase nomination forms, got screened, cleared and campaigned vigorously yet found their names omitted on election day, these forms were bought at exorbitant prices.”

However, aspirants whose petitions were not treated voiced their opposition to the panel’s handling of their petitions.

One of such aspirants, Mr Adaze Wilson Imafidon, who was seeking the party’s ticket to contest the Orhionmwon/Uhunmwonde House of Representatives Federal Constituency seat, submitted a petition to the appeals committee through his lawyers, describing the purported primary election held in the constituency as a sham.

He said any attempt to present any of the aspirants to INEC as the winner of the botched APC primary election of 6th October 2018 “would be illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.”

Party supporters from Benue State, under the aegis of Benue South APC Justice and Equality Movement, protested to the party headquarters, on Thursday, asking the NWC to caution the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, for allegedly substituting the names of elected candidates with those who did not participate at the primary.

The coordinator of the group, Mr Akor Ikwuocha, told newsmen that they were surprised that after the emergence of a winner from the party primaries and names submitted to the approximate authorities by the electoral committee, “the minister allegedly called a meeting of a few persons while overseas and announced that he was substituting names of most of the candidates because they were not his choice.

“Today, there is no single campaign billboard of President Muhammadu Buhari in the whole of Benue South Senatorial district, despite the fact that the Benue South has a cabinet member in the person of Chief Audu Ogbe.”

The protesters said the attempt to change the names of elected candidates across Benue South may put the APC at a serious disadvantage in the zone.

The protesters appealed to the NWC to caution the Minister and ensure that all those candidates that won the primary elections are allowed to go for the general election as party’s candidates.  (Punch)

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Fraud: NHIS Chief, Usman Reinstated By Buhari Suspended Indefinitely

Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, has been suspended indefinitely, nine months after he was reinstated by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Recall that Yusuf, who was suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, in July last year and indicted for an alleged N919m fraud, was controversially reinstated by Buhari on February 6, 2018.

In a letter with a reference number, ‘SH/COS/10/6/A/29’, signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, the President had informed the minister of Yusuf’s recall, adding that he (Yusuf) had been “admonished to work harmoniously with the minister.”

However, the governing board of the NHIS on Thursday announced the indefinite suspension of Yusuf and appointed Sadiq Abubakar as the acting executive secretary.

At a briefing in Abuja, Thursday, the Chairman of the NHIS board, Dr Enyantu Ifenne, accused Yusuf of insubordination, fraud, arbitrariness and other corrupt practices.

Ifenne said, “The council has met. We have been inundated with petitions. We also observed some executive infractions that we cannot ignore, especially in an administration that is committed to transparency and accountability like Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

“So, with detailed examination or review of some of these documents, the council has made some landmark decisions. The first decision is that we have resolved to constitute an administrative panel of investigation immediately to examine the issues at stake.

“This administrative panel has three months to complete its assignment and report back to council to decide on the way forward.”

She said Yusuf was suspended to allow for unencumbered, unfettered space to do a thorough investigation.

“Also, I want you to know that we consulted and got the approval of the Honourable Minister of Health because we came to this decision,” she added.

Asked if the council had such powers, Ifenne responded: “Our power is derived from the law. We base our decisions on the provisions of the law. We base our decision on the provisions of the law that allow NHIS governing council to take expedite and appropriate actions to make sure that the objectives of the scheme are achieved.”

Fielding questions on what the council would do, should the Presidency overrule its decision and reinstate Yusuf as it did earlier, Ifenne said she didn’t envisage such an action.

A document made available to journalists by the council detailed alleged offences of the suspended Executive Secretary.

Apart from several allegations of waste and corruption, he was also accused of attempting to illegally execute N30bn investment bonds; unlawful staff postings and wilful defiance of council’s directive, wilful refusal to implement council directive on the disbanding of illegal union and unauthorised staff travel in defiance of council directive. (Punch)

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Electricity Problems Can’t Be Solved By Magic – Fashola |The Republican News

’Femi Asu

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has said electricity supply in the country is improving slowly and that power problems cannot be solved by magic.

Total power generation stood at 3,729 megawatts as of 6am on Wednesday, according to latest data obtained by our correspondent from the ministry.

Fashola, who spoke on Thursday at the inauguration of the 2x100MVA, 132/33kV power transformers at the Ejigbo Transmission Substation, Lagos, commended the Transmission Company of Nigeria for the ongoing projects across the country.

“We have come to hand over this expanded transmission substation, the Ejigbo Transmission Substation, to the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company. This substation was built in 1970; the capacity was 60MVA then; except for the addition of another 60MVA, this community has grown exponentially; so they have exceeded the installed capacity here,” he stated.

The minister said President Muhammadu Buhari knew the substation required an expansion, adding that the capacity had been increased from 120MVA to 300MVA.

He stated, “Between that time and when President Buhari came three years ago, some people were there. But they will come back to you; so, when they come back, ask them if they didn’t know where to buy transformers.

“The problem of electricity is slowly being solved, one by one. Anybody will tell you he will do magic; tell him, ‘How?’ He should explain to you. We inherited 800 containers for power equipment left in the port for 10 years. President Buhari gave us approval, and we have recovered 690.”

According to Fashola, there are 90 transmission projects ongoing across the country, and some of the recovered of pieces equipment are being used for them.

“If you look at it, between 2015 and now, you ask yourself honestly: Are you spending more on diesel now or before? Are you running your generators for longer today or yesterday? So, are you seeing the power slowly staying longer? If you are truthful to yourself, you will know that it is better than yesterday. And we haven’t finished,” he said.

The Managing Director, TCN, Usman Mohammed, said the installation of the two units of 100MVA transformers at the Ejigbo Transmission Substation was funded by the World Bank through the firm’s project management unit.

He stated, “With the increase in the Ejigbo substation’s capacity, the TCN has substantially increased bulk electricity available in the substation for the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company to take to its customers. Consequently, electricity consumers in Ejigbo, Egbe, Oke-Afa, Shasha, Ikotun, Ijegun, and Idimu town will now have improved power supply from Ikeja Electric.”

“Other benefits include relieve of some overloaded feeders in Egbe, Shasha and Oke-Afa. Also, the Lagos airport will now have more load allocated to it. Improved power supply in these areas will positively impact the socio-economic development of the areas in particular and the economy at large.”  (Punch)

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Nigeria’s External Reserves Drop By $1bn In 13 Days |The Republican News

                                                           Naira and dollars

’Femi Asu

The nation’s foreign exchange reserves have dropped to a seven-month low, losing $1.02bn in the 13 days to Monday, latest data from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed on Wednesday.

The external reserves, which stood at $44.30bn on September 28, fell from $44.02bn on October 2 to $43bn on October 15.

The reserves, which rose to a high of $47.865bn on May 10, have dropped by $4.86bn in five months.

As of March 5, the reserves stood at $43.12bn, up from $42.75bn on March 2, according to the CBN data.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund said Nigeria needed to be cautious about the use of its foreign exchange reserves, saying oil prices could decline at any time.

The IMF, in its latest Regional Economic Outlook said tighter global financial conditions resulting from faster-than-envisaged monetary policy normalisation in advanced economies, or a sudden shift in investors’ sentiment could constrain financing and growth for many sub-Saharan African countries.

“Higher US interest rates and a stronger dollar also heighten risks, as observed historically in emerging and developing economies. In particular, the probability of a large reversal in foreign flows in sub-Saharan Africa is significantly higher the US interest rates go up,” the fund added.

The Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr Isaac Okorafor, explained early this month that the external reserves had been going down recently because of higher yields in the United States.

Okorafor, however, gave an assurance that at the current level of $44bn, the reserves were sufficient to take care of the nation’s import bill for 17 to 20 months, much more than the three-month standard recommendation.

According to him, some foreign investors who have gone to emerging markets to take advantage of the high yields have had to go back to the US because of better opportunities there at the moment.

“The drop in our forex reserves is basically as a result of the capital flow reversals arising from rising interest rates in the United States. You will recall that the Federal Reserve has been raising rates and has even given guidance that this would continue in the near term,” he added.   (Punch)

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Executive Order Will Lead To Abuse Of Law, Order, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Warns|RN

The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo said executive orders are an attempt to subvert the fundamental rights of the citizenry.

Raphael Ede, Enugu

 

President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, has warned the Federal Government against the use of executive orders, which, he said, could lead to excessive abuse of law and order, thus, “unacceptable in a democratic dispensation.”

Nwodo, who stated this in a statement he issued through his Media Adviser, Chief Emeka Attamah, said in exercising the orders, President Buhari must subject it to the provision of Chapter 4 of the constitution, which enshrines fundamental rights of individuals.

The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo said executive orders, in a situation where a state of emergency does not exist or has not been proclaimed, are an attempt to subvert the fundamental rights of the citizenry.

He opined that a man cannot be subjected to any disability except as provided by the nation’s constitution and judiciary, adding that it was not proper for the president to stay in his office and decide the fate of any citizen outside the provisions of Section 6: 33 to 45 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

“Ohanaeze Ndigbo affirmed that fundamental rights cannot be derogated from without judicial pronouncements,” he said.  (The Sun)

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Executive Order 6 Imperative For Fight Against Corruption – British Envoy |RN

British-envoy-Paul-Arkwright
         British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright

Adelani Adepegba, Abuja

 

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has endorsed the Executive Order 6 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that it is important for rooting out corruption in the country.

The envoy in an interview with Channels TV on Monday noted that the order would assist in the fight against graft in the country.

He said, “I’ve heard that this is an anti-corruption measure, it’s not for me to say who should or should not be on the list. But what I would say is that it’s very important in continuing this fight against corruption and rooting out corruption where it is happening”.

Arkwright, however, refrained from commenting on the travel ban on 50 Nigerians by the Federal Government.

He stressed the need for peaceful and credible elections in 2019, adding that free, fair and credible election was important for political stability in the country.

The high commissioner said that meeting with political candidates was necessary to discuss expectations for the 2019 polls.  (Punch)

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Party Primaries: Irreversible On APC Zamfara Decision, INEC Chairman Insists |RN

“On Zamfara, nothing has changed. We had earlier issued a statement on the position of things and that still remains our position.” – Yakubu

Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, insists that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will not nominate any candidate for elective offices in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections.

The electoral body had earlier written the APC, notifying the ruling party of its inability to conduct primaries for the 2019 polls in accordance with the Commission’s approved dateline of October 7, noting that the party had denied itself the opportunity to participate in elections in the state.

However, the APC in its reply to the Commission, noted that it could not conduct primary elections in Zamfara because the party settled for a consensus candidate.

Speaking Monday at the sidelines of the ongoing three-day ‘Validation Workshop Study On The Cost Of Elections In The ECOWAS Region’, the INEC boss insisted that nothing had changed from the Commission’s earlier decision.

“On Zamfara, nothing has changed. We have said it and we had earlier issued a statement on the position of things and that still remains our position.”

He specifically appealed to Electoral Commissions in the ECOWAS region to map out ways of funding elections in such a manner as to make the process more cost-effective.

“At a bilateral level, countries within the region have also provided material and technical assistance to one another to support the conduct of credible elections,” Yakubu stated.

“The latest example is Nigeria’s support for the ongoing voter registration exercise in Guinea-Bissau. Even when an election is a sovereign national responsibility, multilateral agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU), working together with other development partners, have, in some cases, provided support through the donor basket to fund certain electoral expenditure.

“While this is most commendable, it is imperative for Electoral Commissions in the ECOWAS region to rethink the way elections are funded in such a manner as to make the electoral process more cost-effective but yet free, fair and credible.

“This is because of the contending expenditure of government on other aspects of national development.

“An expensive election that ushers in a government that lacks the resources to fulfill its campaign promises to citizens may, in the long run, erode public confidence in elections in particular, and the democratic process in general.

“​The obvious first step is to conduct a study on why elections cost so much. From such a study, we can then determine what can be done to reduce the cost.

“Mindful of the different jurisdictions within the ECOWAS region, we selected six countries for the study, consisting of two countries from each of the three official linguistic blocs: Nigeria and Liberia (Anglophone), Benin Republic and Senegal (Francophone) and Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau (Lusophone).

“The three experts that anchored the study were drawn from Nigeria (Prof. Adele Jinadu), Benin Republic (Francis Laleye) and Cape Verde (Jose Cabral Sanchez). On behalf of ECONEC, I would like to thank them for deploying their experience and expertise in undertaking the study in spite of the short period of time available and limited resources,” he stated.  (The Sun)

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