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Marafa Backs INEC, Says APC Has No Candidate In Zamfara |The Republican News

                                          Senator Kabiru Marafa

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

 

The lawmaker representing Zamfara-Central Senatorial District, Senator Kabiru Marafa, has expressed his support for the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission that his party, the All Progressives Congress, does not have candidates for the 2019 general election in Zamfara State.

Marafa, who is a governorship aspirant on the platform of the APC, stated that no primary was held and there was no consensus arrangement reached among the party’s aspirants in the state.

Fielding questions from journalists in Abuja on Thursday, Marafa said, “I read the letter from INEC where they quoted sections of the law that influenced their position. I also read the response made by the APC National Chairman (Adams Oshiomhole). I want to believe the chairman has been misled by the APC’s electoral committee that went to Zamfara. But as a stakeholder who was present and witnessed the whole process that happened, there was no election in Zamfara on Saturday, October 7, 2018.

“Also, there was no consensus from anybody or by anybody. So, the election committee reported in the contrary. I think that was absolutely wrong. I always stand by the side of the truth. I want to say the truth even if it is against me.”

Marafa, whose running battle with Governor Abdulaziz Yari led to the polarisation of the APC in Zamfara, stated that he was still a member of the ruling party but that if the party did anything wrong, he would not hesitate to point it out.

He said, “I’m an APC member to the core, and I’m still with the APC, notwithstanding that the chances are becoming bleak, maybe for me as a politician. But I believe in the party. If the party does anything wrong, I should have the courage to say this thing is wrong. If the party has any way within the law to fill in any candidate, I will be happy, but not when the issues are based on a wrong foundation. So, let us address the issues the way they are.

“We are going into elections and the desire of every party is to win and win without any litigation, divert attention and waste resources. I would not want to see one happening to me. So, by and large, the only thing I saw wrong in the letter is the assertion that there was a consensus.  There was no consensus. We are governorship aspirants but some people stepped down.

“For the remaining five aspirants, there was no consensus till the end of the exercise. The truth of the matter is that the APC electoral committee tried to achieve a consensus among the aspirants for the governorship and senatorial aspirants, but the two factions of the party could not agree.

“If you force any consensus or you claim there was one, there is going to be a revolt that there was no consensus, and anybody and some have the right to go to court. But if under the law, the APC has the right to field candidates, they can go ahead to do it without recourse to either election or consensus. Let us get one thing clear and correct. That there was no election, no consensus.”  (Punch)

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Cole, Abe Emerge Winners In Rivers As Explosions Rock APC Parallel Primaries |RN

                   Senator Magnus Abe

Chukwudi Akasike and Sampson Itode, Port Harcourt

TWO candidates, Mr Tonye Cole and Senator Magnus Abe, emerged winners of the parallel governorship primaries conducted by both factions of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State.

Cole came out victorious in the indirect governorship primary held in Port Harcourt on Sunday when he polled 3,329 votes while his closest rival,  Dr Dawari George, got 491 votes.

Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs came a distant third with 38 votes while Abe got one vote.

Eighteen votes were declared void by the Jafar Isah-led Rivers Governorship Primary Committee.

It was, however, a different story at the primary held by the APC faction loyal to Abe as the senator was declared the winner of the Sunday’s direct governorship primaries conducted in the three senatorial districts of Rivers State by the APC.

The returning officer, Dr Chigbo Sam Eligwe, made the announcement in a press conference at its Secretariat in Port Harcourt on Sunday.

Abe who won with 144,929 votes followed by Dumo Lulu-Briggs who got 3,344, Dawari George getting 1,606 and Tonye Dele Cole 882 votes.

Meanwhile, there was tension in Rivers as the APC in the state held two parallel governorship primaries in different parts of the state.

While the Rotimi Amaechi-led APC conducted an indirect primary on the Igboukwu field in D-Line, Port Harcourt, the Magnus Abe faction adopted the direct governorship primary across different local government areas of the state.

Earlier before the exercise in Port Harcourt by the Amaechi-led APC, there were explosions near the secretariat of the party at about 12.30pm.

The last explosion scared supporters of the Amaechi-led APC as most of them rushed out to have a glimpse of what happened less than 50 metres away from the party secretariat.

However, the exercise went on peacefully as of the time of filing this report.

Before the primaries, a governorship aspirant on the platform of the APC in the state, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, accused the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, of trying to impose his preferred aspirant, Tonye Cole, on the party.

Lulu-Briggs also claimed that certain persons had been handpicked from various wards as delegates to the primary in breach of the party’s constitution and guidelines.

He explained that names were being added and deleted from the delegates’ list.

Lulu-Briggs, however, called for the postponement of the governorship primary in the state, saying this was necessary in order to enhance transparency.

“When the NWC reached the decision that indirect primaries be adopted for the governorship primary in Rivers, as a loyal party man, I accepted the decision in good faith despite the fact that there are pending litigations in various courts, which might vitiate and truncate the process.

“I thus ramped up my campaign, but soon discovered that our party structures from the state executive committee, local government and ward excos across the state have been directed by Rotimi Amaechi, leader of our party in the state, not to allow me access to our party faithful and delegates, but to only support the aspiration of his preferred aspirant, Tonye Cole.

“It is clear from the foregoing that the minimum standards to guarantee a free and fair primary today (Sunday) are nonexistent and any primary held today will be a mere sham and a perfidious travesty.

“To this end, I, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, most graciously appeal to the National Chairman of our great party and  the NWC to, as a matter of utmost urgency, postpone the governorship primary for Rivers State so as to correct the anomalies herein complained of because the current arrangement falls short of the minimum standards stipulated by the Electoral Act and our party constitution.”

Reacting, the state APC Publicity Secretary, Mr Chris Finebone, dismissed Lulu-Briggs’ claim, saying, “It is not correct.”

However, a source close to Amaechi urged governorship aspirants to leave the minister alone and face the primaries.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, maintained that the leadership of the party would meet with all stakeholders after the governorship primary in the state.

In another development, a faction of the APC in Rivers State, led by a governorship aspirant and lawmaker representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District, Senator Magnus Abe, conducted its governorship primaries across the three senatorial districts of the state.

The polling officer in Omuanwa, Ward 7, Ikwerre LGA, Eleonu Ndidi, said voting was peaceful.

He said “We started accreditation started by 7.30am, voting started 8.00am and the entire process ended by 12.30pm. The entire election was peaceful and the turnout was impressive. We are packaging all votes, which will be taken to the local government collation centre.”

Also, voting was peaceful in Ward 3, Elele, Ikwerre LGA, where Chidi Wihioka, a lawmaker representing Ikwerre/Emohua Federal Constituency exercised his franchise.

Wihioka maintained that delegates were currently non-existent in Rivers State as the State High Court had annulled the earlier state congresses held by a faction of the party.

He insisted that National Executive Council of the party had approved direct primary for the APC in Rivers.

But vote counting was ongoing in Port Harcourt at about 7 pm, even as two of the governorship aspirants, Abe and Lulu-Briggs, were absent from the place, where an indirect pattern of voting was adopted.

The leader of the party in the state, Amaechi; Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside; and a former acting MD of NDDC, Ibim Semenitari, were at the voting centre in Port Harcourt.  (Punch)

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Wike Has Become Sole Administrator, APC Mocks PDP |The Republican News

               Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike

John Alechenu, Abuja

The All Progressives Congress has alleged that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has become the sole administrator of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.

It said it was now obvious that the governor had become the party’s defacto National Chairman, spokesperson and sole administrator, who determines what happens in the PDP.

The APC said this in a statement signed by the acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, in Abuja on Sunday.

He alleged that since Nigerians rejected the PDP which ruled the nation for 16 years, it had become obvious that there was nothing democratic about PDP’s policies and practices.

“As events has shown, it is a misnomer to call the party, Peoples Democratic Party as there is nothing democratic about its policies and practices.

“The PDP to all intents and purposes has become the theatre of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike. Since assuming office after the disputed 2015 Rivers Governorship election, Wike has assumed the role of de facto PDP National Chairman, sole administrator, spokesman, organising secretary and BoT Chairman.

“Recall Governor Wike’s imposition of an erstwhile PDP National Chairman without a formal convention and the leaked telephone conversation of Governor Wike (allegedly) threatening to kill INEC officials he had paid to rig the rivers rerun election in favour of the PDP.” Nabena said.

The APC also alleged that the governor recently threatened to teach the PDP presidential aspirants, including the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the APC spokesman said. (Punch)

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APC Won’t Present Opportunists Like Saraki, Dogara – Oshiomhole |RN

John Alechenu, Abuja

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, has vowed that the party will not field people he described as opportunists who seek to use the party’s platform to pursue their selfish interests.

He said the party had learnt from its past mistakes and was prepared to make amends by ensuring that “bread and butter politicians” were not given the party’s tickets to contest the forthcoming general elections.

Oshiomhole said this while addressing members of the APC Governorship and National Assembly screening committees in Abuja, on Monday.

Although Oshiomhole didn’t mention the names of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who dumped the party for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, events he mentioned relate to the actions taken by them.

The APC national chairman said, “We do not want to field opportunists who are simply seeking a political vehicle for some selfish purposes.

“What has happened in recent past is enough for us to begin to look at the character of those who are seeking office in the APC platform.

“If before now we have taken for granted the powers of the National Assembly, how those powers can be used for national goals and how it can also be misused to undermine national progress.

“The current situation we are facing here, where two principal officers have chosen to put their personal interest over and above the national interest.

“Refusing to consider budget meant for physical infrastructure. Budget meant to re-order the way our budget is executed, to move money away from consumption, which recurrent expenditure represents, to capital projects, which will benefit our people.”

He also said it was sad that the National Assembly was delaying the passage of the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission for the 2019 elections.

Oshiomhole explained that the party would henceforth ensure that only persons with the intellectual capacity to articulate issues on the basis at which laws and bills were considered as well as those with the capacity to carry out oversight functions to ensure that Nigerians get value for money would be those considered worthy of the party’s tickets.

This is even as he said the party would not abandon the 57 senators who remained faithful to the party during the trying times.

He said, “For us as a party, we have chosen to learn from the positive lessons from this development so that we do not repeat those mistakes by selecting people who as far as human capacity is we can assess and predict that if elected, they will remain faithful not only to our party but more importantly to the Nigerian nation.

“As we speak, I am proud that we have 57 senators who have refused to be induced or misled or otherwise manipulated into moving to other parties or reward for juicy positions.

“It will be ungodly for us as a party not to reward those who believe in the party and the government of the day led by President Muhammadu Buhari.”

The former Edo State governor equally expressed regret that the party’s National Working Committee was still grappling with the “fraudulent” state congresses conducted by the previous party executive.

He said, “In many of the states, we had challenges arising from the way congresses were conducted. Many of them were quite fraudulent; that has been the challenge we have been trying to resolve since we came.

“Screening of aspirants is not a formality. That is why we tried to search for men and women of integrity who cannot be compromised.”

Some aspirants seeking the party’s ticket to contest for the Senate and House of Representatives seats have expressed apprehension over the comments made by the chairman.

One of those who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution said, “This goes to confirm some of our fears.

“My colleagues and I were discussing the news that the party leadership has a list of preferred candidates and this whole screening thing is meant to give legitimacy to their scheme. We are watching and waiting.”   (Punch)

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2019 Election: PDP Panel Grills Saraki, Atiku, Makarfi, Others On Thurday |RN

                                     Saraki, Atiku and Tambuwal

Olusola Fabiyi, Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party Board of Trustees panel set up to discuss the possibility of having a consensus presidential candidate among the aspirants will meet with them  (the aspirants) and also screen them on Thursday, The PUNCH has learnt.

The 12-man panel, which is headed by Senator Walid Jibrin, is expected to first meet in the morning of Thursday before inviting the aspirants for the screening.

Authoritative sources within the board told our correspondent in Abuja on Monday that all the 13 presidential aspirants had been contacted for the screening.

The aspirants are a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal;  Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo;  a former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso;  and a former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa.

Others said to have been invited are President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki;  a former President of the Senate, David Mark;  a former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations, Tanimu Turaki  (SAN); a former Governor of Plateau State, Jona Jang;  and a former Governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi.

Others expected at the meeting are a former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido; Dr Datti Baba-Ahmed and Usifo Stanley.

It was gathered that the aspirants would be persuaded to have meetings among themselves and see if they could agree on a consensus candidate.

Jubril, who will chair the meeting, confirmed to our correspondent that the board would meet with the aspirants.

“We will meet them on Thursday in Abuja, but I will not tell you the location.

“We are talking with the aspirants and I have hope that they will all work together for the progress of our party which will make us win the presidential election in 2019,” he said.

It was gathered that the aspirants had, however, made up their mind not to drop their ambition.

A member of the BoT said that the aspirants “do not want to hear anything about consensus or stepping down for anybody at all.”

But another board member said that the aspirants could still strike a deal among themselves before the October 5 and 6 dates for the presidential convention.

Investigations by our correspondent showed that the PDP is looking for a presidential candidate that will be able to deflate the support base of President Muhammadu Buhari in the northern part of the country.

A member of the National Working Committee of the party, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the party would prefer a candidate that would break Buhari’s popularity in the north.

He said, “We are praying to have a candidate that will be loved by the entire country; a nationalist, who will see the entire country as his base.

“We also want a candidate that is loved by the north, where we have zoned the ticket to. We need someone that can break the support base of President Buhari.  That is just it.”

‘Killings, kidnappings caused by injustice’

Meanwhile, Lamido, on Monday alleged that heinous crimes such as killings and kidnapping were increasing due to injustice in the country.

Lamido spoke with journalists after he met with the forum of Southern and Middle belt leaders in Abuja at the residence of an Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark.

He said, “The culture of governance is deteriorating because of the absence of justice, which should be the anchor of governance but it is not in Nigeria anymore.

“That is why you are seeing all these kidnappings, Boko Haram attacks, killings in Taraba, Adamawa, Zamfara, Sokoto and all over Nigeria.

“This country is not being run according to law and order; there is nothing like justice in Nigeria. Therefore, Nigerians feel that this country is not good anymore.

“This government is trying to bury the contributions of our founding fathers; integrity and honesty are not new in our vocabulary.

“Before Buhari there was integrity; there was Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Aminu Kano and Nnamdi Azikiwe. These are people of honour and integrity. He (Buhari) has never for once paid tributes to our founding fathers.”

He regretted that President Buhari had breached the constitution by openly declaring that he would favour those that voted for him more than an area where he had fewer votes in 2015.

Lamido said, “More than anything, we are going through a period of injustice. In other climes, he (the President) will be impeached because he said he would work in favour of where he got 95 per cent votes and do less where he got five per cent”

“What is happening now is because this country is sick; we are looking for justice. We want a Nigeria where everybody will feel a sense of belonging, not nepotism anymore.”

The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, spoke on behalf of the forum.

He said, “Our people are deeply upset by the state of affairs in the country. Our country is at a crossroads where leadership is critical; so we have invited you here to tell us what you have for Nigeria.

“We seek restructuring of Nigeria to address the problems confronting us. We seek answers to how your policies will address all these.”

Mark seeks Abdulsalam’s blessing

Also, a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar (retd.) on Monday received Mark, who asked for his support for his presidential ambition.

Abdulsalam said Mark remained one of the capable hands needed to lead the nation out of the woods.

He said Mark had over the years demonstrated unwavering commitment to his fatherland.

He said, “Both as a military officer and politician, Senator Mark has proved to be a reliable and competent administrator.

“The nation would benefit from his wealth of experience if given the mandate to be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Abdulsalam said he was pleased to note that the PDP was putting its house in order and playing the role of an opposition party, hoping that the 2019 elections would be free, fair and credible.

He counseled political parties, aspirants and supporters to play the game according to the rules, adding that only the wishes of the people would endure.

Earlier, Mark told his host that he was prepared for the contest believing that his track records of meritorious services to the nation had put him in a better stead to lead the nation.

The meeting later went into a closed door that lasted for about two hours.  (Punch)

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Presidential Poll: These Are Kingmakers Who Will Determine PDP Candidate

Obasanjo, Wike, Danjuma

OLUSOLA FABIYI looks at the power play within the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party and writes on those who will play significant roles in determining the party’s presidential candidate

The National Publicity of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said Nigerians would determine the presidential candidate of the party in the February election. He may be partly correct because delegates who will vote at the party’s special national convention where the candidate will be elected are citizens of the county.

However, while the delegates will queue with ballot papers in their hands and the list of aspirants printed on them, they may not be there to exercise their personal conviction on who to vote. This is because each delegate is believed to have at least a godfather, whose bidding will be reflected on his choice of the party’s presidential candidate.

For the PDP and members of its coalition groups, the 2019 presidential election is too critical to be left in the hands of not too informed delegates.

A former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, expressed the seriousness he and his co-defectors associated with the election at the inauguration of the coalition’s national secretariat in Abuja on Thursday.

At the event, he warned his group to know that its key members would be dealt with by the ruling All Progressives Congress if President Muhammadu Buhari returns to power in 2019.

Oyinlola, a retired general, asked his co-travellers in the plot to know that what they are involved in is like coup plotting.

“Coup is not illegal when it succeeds, but when it fails, plotters are hounded up in jail and later killed.  So, be ready and know the implications of what you are involved in,” he told his audience in a clear language.

Sometimes ago, when the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, led a delegation to visit former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the latter’s residence in Abeokuta, their host also sounded the same warning to his visitors.

To buttress his point, he was also said to have asked one of his personal aides to bring his already-packed bag,  which he said contains his drugs, few clothes and other essentials, ready to be arrested by the Federal Government over their decision to install a new President for the country in 2019.

“You know I’m used to it. I have been arrested before, I was tried for a coup that never existed and I was jailed. Therefore, I’m used to it. It is you who are not used to it. I’m telling you this to let you know that they will come for us if we fail in this task,” he reportedly told his astonished audience.

Such is the seriousness in the camp of the opposition as the nation prepares for the 2019 general elections. They believe that politics is a serious business that will be too expensive to be left in the hands of one person. Though many notable politicians have come out to signify their readiness to fly the party’s presidential ticket in the February election, their fate may have to be determined by just a clique in and outside the former ruling party.

Among those who have signified their intention to run are a former governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau; Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo;  a former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi;  a former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, a former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations, Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu (SAN ) and a former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido.

Others considered to be with the potent war chest to fight for the ticket,  but who have yet to openly declare their ambition are a former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso;  Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal;  and the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki.

While they are expected to traverse the length and breadth of the country to seek votes from the delegates, the deciders of their fate may nevertheless be a few, within and outside the party.

OLUSEGUN OBASANJO

He’s been described by many adjectives.  Some are complimentary while others could be full of disdain for the former military head of state and a two-term president. But instead of sitting by and get burdened with the comments of those who have resentment for him, Obasanjo has remained hardened in his unwavering conviction that President Buhari’s performance since he assumed office more three years ago, remain everything but unsatisfactory.

He has said that allowing Buhari to remain in office after four years will mean a reinforcement of failure.  Like a soldier that he is, when Obasanjo is convinced about a cause, he puts in everything in him into it. That is why even though he has torn his membership card of the party that brought him into office, Obasanjo has returned to the political battlefield to strategise with other like-minds just to achieve their aim of getting a replacement for his junior in the army. With his involvement in the formation of the coalition that involves 39 other political parties and associations, it is evident that Obasanjo will be one of those who will determine the standard bearer of the PDP,  which is the dominant political party in the coalition.

T.Y. DANJUMA

Like Obasanjo, Theophilus Danjuma is a retired general. He played a prominent role in the conspiracy that brought Buhari into power. He was said to be one of the major financiers of the APC campaign. The unabated killings in the country, particularly in his native state of Taraba, is believed to have created a wedge between Danjuma and the Buhari government.

Recently, the former army chief openly expressed his frustration about the killings of his kinsmen when he alleged that there was collusion among the security agencies and the killer Fulani herdsmen. He told the people in an unambiguous language, to embrace self-defence.

Danjuma, who is believed to be stupendously rich, hardly talks but when he does, the contents are so heavy that he cannot be ignored.  That was why even the Presidency and the army authority were forced to react to his allegations on the killings.  While the Presidency waved the allegation aside and denied it, the army was forced to set up a probe panel to investigate it.

Danjuma seems not to care about the ranting of the military and the Presidency over that, as he is said to have joined the “brave patriots” to search for an alternative and acceptable candidate that will slug it out with Buhari next year.

CHIEF OLU FALAE

He is not a member of the PDP. In fact, he is the national chairman of the Social Democratic Party.  Naturally, he ought to be concerned about how his party would win the presidential election. That, however, is not the case. Falae, who was a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, played a prominent role in the formation of the coalition that was put together with the sole aim of removing Buhari next year.

He has asked all the political parties involved in the coalition to bury their individual ambition and join hands and present a single candidate for the battle. Going by his presentation at the inauguration of the coalition at its national secretariat last week Thursday in Abuja, and since the PDP remains the largest political party among the partners, Falae is expected to be carried along and also contribute on who would fly the PDP flag for the coalition.

NYESOM WIKE

“Wike the wicked,” as he’s called by his admirers because of his frankness while speaking on national issues and politics in his home state, Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers State, will also be a major player in the PDP presidential candidate selection. Apart from being a governor of an oil-rich state, Wike is also one of the major financiers of the party. He played a major role in the installation and the sacking of the erstwhile Acting National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff.  Wike was also at the forefront of the election of the current National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus and the majority of members of the party’s National Working Committee.

The former minister of state for education is also believed to have a close rapport with the majority of the present and former leaders of the party.  With his deep purse and involvement in the bid to rescue the party from the Ali-Modu group who had all defected to the APC, no discussion can hold on who will be the presidential candidate of the PDP and the name of Wike will not be mentioned.  Some people are nevertheless speculating that he is nursing an ambition of becoming the running mate of one of the aspirants.

IBRAHIM BABANGIDA

A former head of a junta in Nigeria, Ibrahim Babangida, does not in any way, qualify as a Democrat going by his past actions and records. Unfortunately, the self-styled “evil genius” is among those being consulted as the PDP begins its tortuous journey to get a credible presidential candidate. His palatial home in Minna, Niger State has since become a Mecca of the sort for politicians from the PDP, seeking relevance in the new dispensation.  He is said to be in touch with some powerful people in the country to pick a candidate for the PDP, whose presidential ticket had eluded Babangida himself in the past.

UCHE SECONDUS

They call him “total chairman” because of his alleged unalloyed loyalty to the party and his friends, Uche Secondus, the national chairman of the party will be saddled with the responsibility of taking a decision with others, in deciding the party’s presidential candidate.  Since he assumed office in December 2017, Secondus has carried on with his job meticulously. His style of leadership, which has been described as unique because of the silent way he carries out his job, has yielded many fruits. His ability to convince Obasanjo to back the PDP’s search for a presidential candidate has been described as unparallel diplomacy.  Such diplomatic moves that also made a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Bode George to reconcile with Obasanjo and bring them together, is expected to manifest in the party’s continued search for a presidential candidate.

Secondus will, however, be expected to carry members of his NWC along in this task. But going by the strategic post he occupies, the national chairman will not be asked to second the motion for the selection of the PDP candidate, he will be duly involved.

SERIAKE DICKSON

The Governor of Bayelsa State is not seeking a re-election and this puts him in a good stead to navigate with other party leaders to search for a formidable candidate for the party.  Besides, Dickson is also presiding over a rich state whose resources will be useful for the presidential campaigns.

EMMANUEL UDOM

The Governor of Akwa Ibom State is another PDP leader with a deep purse. Though he is said to be having a silent running battle with his predecessor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, the governor is said to be a serious party man. While some of his fellow governors from the PDP who are hardly seen at the party events, Emmanuel has been one of the formidable forces behind the position of the party today as a formidable alternative to the APC. The selection team will definitely not asked him to excuse them when the final decision on the PDP presidential candidate is going to be taken.

IFEANYI OKOWA

A former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori may be involved by proxy. His state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, may represent his interest as the former governor has yet to begin to dabble into national politics since he returned from London where he served his jail term having been convicted for corruption. He, nevertheless, still determines the political direction of the oil-rich state and what happens at the party at the centre.

ALIYU GUSAU

One of the prominent members of the military known in their circle as the “master spy,” Gusau, a former National Security Adviser, has remained a close ally of both Obasanjo and Babangida since he left service.  He is said to be among the informal group searching for an alternative to Buhari.

OTHERS

There are others who are expected to also be involved in the search.  These include the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminent Abubakar Sa’adu and the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido.  Though said to be the father to all, some analysts believe that there is no way Tambuwal would defect to the PDP and nurse a presidential ambition without consulting the Sultan. For Emir Sanusi, the defection to the PDP by Kwankwaso has put him on the spot.  This is so as Kwankwaso was the governor of Kano State who installed him as the Emir despite the stiff opposition to his emergence by the then ruling party.

The Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose, may fall to the category, but the defeat suffered by the PDP in the state governorship election may have deflated his ego.  That notwithstanding, Fayose is still expected to be involved in the exercise.  (Punch)

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Defection: Your Intervention Too Late, R-APC Tells Buhari |RN

Niyi Odebode, John Alechenu, Olusola Fabiyi and Femi Makinde

The Reformed-All Progressives Congress on Sunday said it was too late for President Muhammadu Buhari to start dangling juicy carrots before its members in order to stop their defection from the ruling APC.

The R-APC, which stated this in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kassim Afegbua, took a swipe at the President and the APC.

The APC faction stated that the Buhari government was not a promise keeper because it had not fulfilled what it promised Nigerians during the electioneering in 2014 and 2015.

In the last one week, Buhari and the APC had intensified efforts to prevent the defection of the R-APC members.

Sunday PUNCH had exclusively reported that the APC had in a last-ditch effort to stop the defection of the R-APC senators and members of the House of Representatives, offered the lawmakers automatic tickets to contest the 2019 elections.

According to the report, R-APC lawmakers will defect on Thursday, if the APC does not put the promise of the automatic tickets they are being offered in writing.

Also last Thursday, Buhari met with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the Presidential Villa, where he was reported to have pleaded with Saraki not to leave the APC.

The ruling party was reported to promise Saraki that he would retain the Senate presidency in 2019.

The R-APC, in its statement, said despite the initial arrogance of the APC leaders they had been pleading with its leaders not to defect.

It stated, “We, members of the R-APC, find it very amusing that those who boasted that they won’t lose sleep over our altruistic action, have been hopping from door to door pleading with our members not to leave by dangling juicy carrots and promising them heaven and earth.

“Such level of double standard is the reason why the R-APC was birthed in the first place because the leadership is not one that keeps promises and it’s the reason why no one should take the APC seriously.”

The APC faction said that it was surprising that the President had been holding meetings with Saraki, “reportedly promising mouth-watering offers; the same leader who was ridiculed, scandalised, demonised, criminalised and called all sorts of names by agents of the Presidency just to give the Senate President a bad name in order to hang him.”

It added, “As soon as the Supreme Court gave a resounding verdict on the trumped up and frivolous charges against the Senate President, Mr President suddenly felt a need to praise the judiciary for standing on its own. Power as they truly say must be a crazy aphrodisiac.”

The R-APC noted that never had the number three citizen of Nigeria been so dehumanised, criminalised and disgraced while  those who just started reconciliation  “kept conspiratorial silence, waiting for the sledgehammer to fall on the Senate President.”

It said that the government tried all tricks, mounted all manner of pressures, raised all dubious allegations, just to nail the Senate President.

The R-APC stated, “They were short of calling him a promoter of armed robbery. They linked his name to the Offa Robbery and improvised all bile to rubbish the institution of the legislature.

“They stripped him naked in the marketplace and now desperately trying to bath him with ornaments in the inner fortress of Aso Rock.”

The group alleged that the Code of Conduct tribunal displayed magisterial arrogance in prosecuting the Senate President, but the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment gave Saraki a clean bill of health.

The R-APC stated, “All the political conspirators in the APC swoop into dubious reconciliation assignment, hopping from door to door at the thick of the night to strike deals of reconciliation. Those who said they won’t lose sleep over the R-APC have become sleepless in the last two weeks.

“Does anyone need to be reminded that caveat emptor should be the operative word? Those who pleaded in the past, short of kneeling before their subordinates, ended up in the political belly of their benefactors when the re-election was concluded. It is an albatross that some people are still carrying till date.”

APC govt, not a promise keeper – R-APC

Berating the Buhari administration, it stated,  “This government is never a promise keeper and some of the promises contained in the manifestos of the APC have been jettisoned.

“The President, who has held himself in the inner sanctuary of the Presidential Villa is all of a sudden, opening his doors to one meeting or the other all in the name of re-election.

“Just to make the point that it is too late in the day; the train has left the station. Leopards cannot change their spots no matter how much one tries to tame them.”

The R-APC urged its members to remain steadfast and resolute in defending their rights and taking the appropriate action in defence of democracy.

It stated, “This democracy must survive on ethical grounds and not on lawlessness and exclusion. It must provide a level playing field for all participants. Those who prevented some persons from visiting their states in the name of politics have suddenly realised that they need the services and support of those persons.

“They are now pleading; ready to submit to all demands. Who does not know that won’t work because examples have shown that political agreements are often observed in the breach.”

The group told its   members nationwide that it was still maintaining its stand against the APC “and no amount of carrots, intimidation and harassment can dissuade us in our shared commitment to rescue this democracy.”

However, there were indications that the APC on Sunday met with the leaders of the R-APC, including Alhaji Buba Galadima.

A top member of the APC, who confided in one of our correspondents in Abuja, said the APC delegates led by the National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, met Galadima at the residence of a former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, very early on Sunday.

The aggrieved members of the APC had after the national convention of the party formed a faction they called R-APC. They had alleged marginalisation and injustice by the APC against them.

But Oshiomhole had in an interview with journalists said there was no faction in the APC.

He had said, “There is no breakup in our party.  If one Galadima is not happy, that is fine. He has a right not to be happy.

“If he chooses to call himself whatever he wants to call himself,  that is not the issue. I will not lose my sleep over that. We know those who are in the system.”

An R-APC source, who confirmed the meeting,   stated, “Yes, it is true they met. They (Oshiomhole and Buba Galadima) met in Kwankwaso’s house.”

The source added. “The man that said he was not going to lose sleep over us went to meet our chairman at 2am.

‘You said you were not going to lose sleep over us, it is 2am, are you not supposed to be sleeping? That is what Buba (Galadima) told him.”

Attempts to get a reaction from  Galadima were unsuccessful. Calls to his mobile telephone number were neither picked nor returned.

A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being expected as of the time of filing this report at 7.30 pm.

Also, efforts to get a response from Oshiomhole were unsuccessful.

His Media Aide, Mr Simon Ebegbulem said, “I will get back to you after I must have reached him.”

He had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report at 7.49 pm.

When contacted, the spokesperson for Kwankwaso, Binta Spikin, said she was not aware of the meeting.

Asked if the meeting took place in her principal’s house and if he was in attendance, Spikin said, “I don’t know.”

APC justifies meetings with R-APC

But the APC, in a statement by its spokesman,  Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, justified the meetings being held by  Buhari and Oshiomhole with the aggrieved party members.

He said the meetings which were being held to persuade aggrieved party members showed that the APC was a responsible party.

Abdullahi said, “What President Muhammadu Buhari and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of our party are doing, persuading every aggrieved member not to leave the party, is what responsible and sensible party leaders would do.

“Party politics is a game of number. And that game is an addition. If the PDP had the same presence of mind in 2015, perhaps the calamity that befell them would have been averted.

“After three years in the wilderness, the Peoples Democratic Party is understandably excited with the possibility of hiding its irredeemably bad image under the heap of a new coalition.

“Like the vulture, the PDP sees every altercation as a potential opportunity for a feast.”

I will make my intention is known soon – Saraki

The APC stated this just as Saraki said he would make known his next political move very soon.

Saraki, who has been rumoured to be planning to defect from the APC ahead of the 2019 general elections,  said this in an interview with journalists in Ede, Osun State.

The Senate President was the guest lecturer at the fourth convocation and conferment of honorary doctorates on some prominent persons by the Adeleke University, Ede.

Saraki said, “ Like I said last week, I will tell Nigerians where and what my intentions are. I would do that very soon.”

The Senate President, who is a friend of the Adeleke family, also congratulated Senator Ademola Adeleke, on his emergence as the governorship candidate of the PDP.

He said he was happy about the performance of Adeleke, who replaced his late brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, as the senator representing the Osun West Senatorial District at the Senate in July 2017.

He said, “I congratulate him apart from being a member of the PDP, don’t forget. He ( Adeleke) is a colleague of mine in the Senate. I am happy to see that he’s done very well. It means that he is popular and well accepted. It is good to see that our member of the Senate is well accepted. I wish him all the best in the election ahead.”

But the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who was also at the convocation, warned Nigerian leaders and political actors against making utterances and taking steps capable of destabilising the country.

Oshiomhole, Buhari jittery,  says PDP

On its part, the PDP said  Oshiomhole had become jittery over the mega-coalition between it and 38 other political interests. This, it said, had led the APC chairman to resort to hauling of misdirected insults and abuses at the PDP.

The PDP said Oshiomhole’s resort to insults betrayed the confusion of what it described as a depressed politician seeking to cover his personal vacuity and inner fears of the inevitable defeat awaiting Buhari and his APC in 2019.

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, that the former ruling party held nothing but pity for Oshiomhole,

He said the APC chairman was licking his own vomit by going around cap in hand and begging the same compatriots whom he had earlier called names like ‘inconsequential,’ ‘hungry birds’ and ‘tired feet,’ not to leave his sinking party.

He stated,  “Unfortunately for Oshiomhole and his presidential sponsor, events of the weeks ahead will clear all doubts that the APC is dead and that Oshiomhole is just an undertaker, whose job is to cremate the derelict contraption by oppressors, who are falsely hailing themselves as messiahs.

“What Oshiomhole and President Buhari, in their fantasy trip, fail to understand is that those they seek to draw into the cave are already aware of the story of the sick lion and that all animals that went visiting never returned. They know that the tiger does not offer his back for a ride without a price.

“Very soon, Oshiomhole and President Buhari would find themselves alone in the cursed ‘Black Pearl’ that the APC has irredeemably become.

“While we understand Oshiomhole’s frustration over his inability to stop the coalition, the fact remains that he and President Buhari are fighting a losing battle in trying to destroy it.”

He said that Nigerians had already reached a consensus to coalesce and vote out President Buhari come 2019 and replace him with a more competent, pan-Nigerian President.

He added that no amount of intimidation, threats, violence or even enticement of any kind could change this iron-cast resolve.

Nigerians don’t need your voter education, PDP tells Buhari

In another development, the PDP told the President not to waste his energy on any cosmetic campaign for collection of Permanent Voter Cards. It alleged that the failure of his administration had provided enough stimuli for Nigerians to fully participate in the 2019 elections.

Ologbondiyan said in a statement in Abuja on Sunday that Buhari declared his interest to run again some months back without engaging in voter education.

He wondered what had made the President to suddenly realise the importance of PVCs.

Ologbondiyan said, “This is a leader who declared interest to contest, months ago, without talking about PVCs or engaging in any form of voter education, only for him to suddenly wake up to the reality of the mass wave of PVC collection by Nigerians, which signposts the inevitable electoral humiliation that awaits him and his party in 2019.

“The sad issue is that President Buhari has refused to come to terms with the fact that Nigerians have since moved ahead of him. He does not need to urge them to get their PVCs.”

A member of the R-APC, Mr Timi Frank, said attempts to woo members and leaders of the R-APC with promises of oil wells and automatic tickets were destined to fail.

He said the plan by members of the R-APC to move out of the APC in their numbers was just a few days away from actualisation.

Frank said this in a statement he signed in Abuja, on Sunday.

He expressed surprise that “The leadership of the APC and the Presidency can resort to begging and making promises of juicy positions, automatic tickets, including oil wells to some of our leaders.”

No political party can hold our democracy to ransom – Oshiomhole

But the APC has also dismissed the PDP’s threat to boycott the 2019 elections, saying no political party could hold Nigeria’s democracy to ransom.

Oshiomhole said this while receiving the report of the Governor Abdulaziz Yari-led panel on the Osun State Governorship primaries, late on Saturday.

The APC national chairman said his party had refused to be intimidated by the opposition PDP because it was obvious that the party was throwing tantrums because its rigging machinery had been dismantled.

He also said the PDP was being haunted by its past and that no one should take the party’s threats seriously because its “do or die” approach to elections had since lost its appeal.

According to him, Nigerians have demonstrated their acceptance of democracy by the sheer number of people that turn up during political activities and for elections.

Oshiomhole said, “Let me tell them (PDP), nobody can threaten democracy, Nigerians have accepted it, they bought into it, they have shown their belief in it by the sheer number of people that voted in the last time and the campaigns you have seen.

“This has shown that beyond political parties, Nigerians are committed to the sustenance of democracy.

“This democracy is not at the mercy of any particular political party. We will not be intimidated and we are committed to one man, one vote, we will sustain it. That is the way to go.”

He likened the threat issued by the PDP to that of “a rabbit jumping out of a hole in the afternoon because a hunter has come to put fire to smoke it out.” (Punch)

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