The former Secretary to the Government of Plateau State, Rufus Bature has emerged as the Chairman of All Progressives Congress in the state in the just concluded congress elections while Fidelis Longban has emerged as the secretary of the party.
Governor Simon Lalong commended party members for what he described as the level of maturity and conduct they demonstrated in the cause of electing the state executive members which came through a consensus arrangement.
The governor also urged the new party executives to work in synergy with other party officials at the local government, ward and unit levels.
He emphasised the need for them to carry along all members and be fair, honest and transparent in all their dealings.
Responding on behalf of the newly elected state executive, chairman-elect, Rufus Bature who is also a one-time member of the state assembly, said he appreciated the members and leaders of the party for counting them worthy to direct their affairs in the state.
Nigeria’s dominant parties – the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) each held their state congresses across the country on Saturday.
The move is part of preparations for the 2023 general election, which is less than two years from now.
Channels Television gathered that while the exercise was successful in some states, some parallel congresses took place in some other states such as Lagos State.
A faction loyal to ex-Governor Akinwunmi Ambode held a parallel state congress that took place at the Baptist Academy, Obanikoro and produced Beatrice Omotayo Tugbobo as the first female APC chairman in the state.
After emerging as the consensus candidate, the 65-year-old Beatrice said it was high time for women who are marginalized after elections have been won to take to the front seat.
This is even as former Commissioner for Rural Development in Lagos State, Pastor Cornelius Ojelabi was elected as the new chairman of APC in the state.
He was elected by card-carrying members of the party at Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan on Saturday.
The congress was led by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and was supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission and also the Electoral Committee members appointed by the party’s National Caretaker Committee in Abuja.
Ogun APC Battle
The battle for the soul of the APC took a dimension on Saturday with the conduct of parallel congresses of two factions – one loyal to the incumbent Governor Dapo Abiodun and another to the immediate past governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
In Abeokuta, shooting was recorded at the venue of a parallel APC congress in the Ogun State capital.
The incident occurred on Saturday during the exercise organized by a group led by Senator Amosun, the lawmaker representing Ogun Central district at the palace ground of the Alake of Ake in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Although the cause of the violence has yet to be ascertained, party faithful at the venue is said to have scampered to safety.
On the other hand, Yemi Sanusi, the immediate past caretaker chairman emerged as the substantive chairman of ruling the party at a state congress held at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, while Tunde Oladunjoye emerged as the publicity secretary, while Aderibigbe Tella was elected secretary.
The candidates emerged through the consensus option with delegates affirmed their election through the voice votes.
In the southeast, it wasn’t as smooth in Abia State as different congresses were held at Umuahia Township Stadium and the other at Ekene Dili Chukwu Motor Park.
The congress at Oguta witnessed a large turnout of APC members and the congress committee led by Rt Hon Babatunde Kolawole from Ondo State while the stadium congress had all the state actors including the Minister of State for Mines and Steels Development, Uche Ogah and the spokesman for the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu.
APC faithful in their hundreds gathered at the Ndubuisi Kanu Square Owerri, the Imo State capital elect new state officials that will steer the affairs of the party through a consensus arrangement, MacDonald Ebere emerged as the state chairman of the party.
While congratulating the new state executives, the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma charged them to ensure that they reconcile all aggrieved members.
“I want to urge you not to betray the confidence reposed on you by our dear people. Go out there, carry out political evangelism, preach the good message, tell the story the way it is and our party will grow from strength to strength,” he said.
The state elections follow the conclusion of the ward and local government congresses, as well as the appeal process.
The exercise led to the emergence and change of guard of state officials that will pilot the affairs of the parties in the states for four years.
But the PDP also conducted the exercise in seven states – Oyo, Kwara, Lagos, Adamawa, Borno, Kebbi, and Ebonyi.
Some of the states where Saturday’s congress is taking place have legal issues, where the state structure has been dissolved, where there is an internal crisis among members, or where there are cases of expiration of existing structures.
Adamawa State Governor, Umaru Fintiri, and Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar were among PDP party leaders who voted in the election at the Ribadu Square in Yola, the state capital.
According to the party’s leadership, the conduct of the elections is necessary to ensure a proper constitution of the party’s structure in the states ahead of the PDP national convention.
The national convention has been scheduled to hold from October 30.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has held local government congress elections across the country.
The exercise scheduled for Saturday was to elect the leadership of the party at the local government level, and those who eventually become delegates to regional and national congresses and convention.
APC held this second layer of the congresses after it ratified the Ward Congress Appeal Reports across the country.
APC’s Caretaker Committee Chairman and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni said the court orders from Delta and Akwa Ibom will not stop the process as it does not affect the conduct of the exercise.
He asked party members to abide by the rules governing the election, promising that the party will address all anomalies emanating from the process.
In Lagos State, the congress held in the 20 local government areas.
At the congress held in the Oshodi area of Lagos, officials were chosen by consensus across 11 wards.
Reacting to the exercise, the Chairman of the Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Area, Kehinde Oloyede said the process was peaceful.
He said despite fear that violence would disrupt the election, the exercise was peaceful with delegates exercising their franchise.
“Oshodi is known for violence in the past but it has been peaceful,” he said.
“We went to the general elections, no incident of violence. On getting to this excos, we make sure that we harmonise the list. All the caucuses were fully represented. At a stage, some unscrupulous elements from the state level tried to tinker with the list but the majority will always have their way.”
‘A civilised manner’
In neighbouring Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun joined other APC members to elect delegates for the party at the local government level.
He participated in the exercise at the grounds of St Saviour Anglican Primary School in Ikenne Local Government Area of the state.
Governor Abiodun commended party members for displaying maturity in Ikene and other areas where the exercise held.
“Our party faithful have conducted themselves in a very civilised manner in a very fair process,” the governor said. “The candidates of choice have come out, we queued behind them. The electoral officers have asked if these are the people we want to vote for, we answered in the affirmative. It was largely a consensus arrangement.”
The process went smoothly in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital where voters queued up behind their preferred candidate within the premises of the African Church Grammar School.
Some other top members of the party that participated included former Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Senator Tunji Sharafa and the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Lekan Adegbite.
A former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, has alleged irregularities in the recently conducted South-West Congress of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State, describing the exercise as a scam.
The PDP held its zonal congress on April 12 where the candidate backed by the camp of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja emerged as the party’s new South-West Zonal Chairman.
Arapaja polled 343 votes to defeat Dr Eddy Olafeso, a loyalist to ex-Governor Fayose who scored 330.
But reacting to the exercise during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, Fayose said he conceded and accepted the outcome not because the process was transparent, but because the PDP must not lose its quest to take over power from the ruling All Progressives Congress in the South-West.
While the PDP is currently holding the grip of Oyo State with Governor Seyi Makinde at the helm of affairs, other states like Ekiti, Ondo, Lagos, Ondo and Osun are being controlled by the APC.
“I have conceded, I conceded not because they won. I conceded because the PDP is a bigger picture. I want to say that conceding does not amount to defeat, it is sheer exhibiting leadership,” he said.
“Take a look at the result and the characters behind the result before I will tell you the issue. I am on one side alone; I have on the side of Governor Makinde, two former governors – Segun Oni and Olagunsoye Oyinlola. They have on their side seven deputy governors and two speakers and serving senators.
“The results in quotes, Arapaja scored 343. My candidate Eddy Olafeso scored 330, a difference of 13 votes. I’m glad because that is a show of strength. Whether the result is right or wrong, the world can see in the one-man army that has faced them all and without rigging, they lost.”
When asked if the election was rigged, Fayose replied in the affirmative saying: “Very clearly.”
The ex-Ekiti governor said he approached the court to obtain an order to prevent the PDP from conducting the congress in Oyo State over the fear of violence.
He alleged that the violence came from Oyo to Osun with 200 buses bearing the number plates of Oyo, adding that they blocked the venue of the exercise.
Fayose added, “They came with cutlasses and guns all night, it was in the public knowledge.”
Speaking further, he accused the collation officer, Senator Chris Anyanwu from Imo State of discrepancies while counting the votes cast.
Despite his reservations for the zonal congress, Fayose insisted that he wouldn’t be a party to those who will say the PDP will not move forward.
“For me, as to that election, it was a scam but I must agree as a leader of the PDP. I have been working for this party. I am one of the voices that cannot be forgotten in the PDP.
“And I will not sit down here and say because of 13 votes, because of manipulation the party must not move forward,” he added.
The PDP has commenced its South-South Congress in Port Harcourt despite a restraining order of the Calabar High Court.
Addressing reporters on Tuesday in Rivers State, the Chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa said the party is getting ready to take over power at the national level in 2023.
He, however, didn’t make any mention of the court order.
A High court sitting in Calabar has granted an interim injunction restraining the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from going ahead with its South-South zonal Congress slated for Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
The restraining order was consequent upon a suit instituted against the party by four aggrieved members – Kingsley Ntuisong, Raphael Stephen Ntui, Ogar Solomon Aloho and Odama Thomas Odama.
The four applicants said they were suing for themselves and also on behalf of some members who emerged as PDP chapter chairmen in Ogoja, Calabar South, Akampa, Yakurr, Odukpani, Akpabuyo, Boki and Obubra local government areas of the state in the party’s Congress held on March 21, 2020.
Joined in the suit is the PDP national organizing secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu ( rtd).
Granting the interim injunction, the court forbade the “1st Defendant ( PDP), her agents, privies or servants or howsoever called from holding its South-South zonal Congress on the 9th of March, 2021 or any other date pending the determination of the Applicants’ Motion on Notice for Interlocutory injunction.”
The court further granted the applicants leave to serve the suit on the respondents by substituted means.
Meanwhile, the case has been adjourned to March 21 for a motion on notice.
Donald Trump became the first US president in history to be impeached twice when the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to charge him with inciting last week’s mob attack on Congress.
The Senate will not hold a trial before January 20, when Democrat Joe Biden assumes the presidency, meaning the real estate tycoon will escape the risk of being forced to leave early. He will, however, depart in disgrace — and likely due to face a Senate trial later.
The only question in the House had been how many Republicans would join the Democratic majority.
In the end, 10 Republicans broke ranks, including the party’s number three in the House, Representative Liz Cheney.
Holed up in the White House, Trump had no immediate reaction but he earlier issued a brief statement insisting that he opposed violence among his supporters.
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be no violence, no lawbreaking and no vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for,” he said.
“I call on all Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You.”
Reflecting the fear of upheaval, armed National Guards deployed across the capital and central streets were blocked to traffic.
In the Capitol building itself, guards in full camouflage and carrying assault rifles assembled, some of them grabbing naps early Wednesday under the ornate statues and historical paintings.
Trump survived the first impeachment almost exactly a year ago when the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him of abusing his office to try and get dirt on Biden’s family before the election.
This time, his downfall was triggered by a speech he delivered to a crowd on the National Mall on January 6, telling them that Biden had stolen the presidential election and that they needed to march on Congress and show “strength.”
Amped up on weeks of election conspiracy theories pushed by Trump, the mob then stormed into the Capitol, fatally wounded one police officer, wrecked furniture and forced terrified lawmakers to hide, interrupting a ceremony to put the legal stamp on Biden’s victory.
One protester was shot dead, and three other people died of “medical emergencies,” bringing the toll to five.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the chamber that Trump “must go.”
“He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said.
And Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar branded Trump a “tyrant,” saying that “for us to able to survive as a functioning democracy there has to be accountability.”
But Nancy Mace, a newly-elected Republican congresswoman said that while lawmakers “need to hold the president accountable,” the speed of the impeachment “poses great questions about the constitutionality.”
The top Republican in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said that while Trump deserves censure, hurriedly impeaching will “further divide this nation.”
McConnell open to impeachment
Trump, who has been stripped of his social media megaphones by Twitter and Facebook, and finds himself increasingly ostracized in the business world, is struggling to impose his message — let alone any kind of resistance.
His refusal to accept any responsibility for the horrifying scenes on January 6 — including his insistence Tuesday that his speech was “totally appropriate” — has infuriated allies and opponents alike.
The main question now is to what extent former Republican allies in the Senate will turn on their party’s figurehead. Last year, they acquitted Trump overwhelmingly after the House impeached him for abuse of office.
Powerful Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has made clear there is no time before Trump’s January 20 exit to hold an impeachment trial, given that the Senate is in recess until January 19.
However, he said Wednesday that he was open to the possibility of voting to convict Trump in a trial, which could still be held after Biden takes over.
“I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell said.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that McConnell is signaling privately that he believes Trump did commit impeachable offenses.
This presents a potentially fatal shift in the ground under Trump’s feet, because it could lead other Republican senators to join in convicting Trump with the goal of turning the page in the turbulent relationship between the party and former reality TV host and real estate magnate.
Meanwhile, the increasingly toothless Trump’s social media woes deepened late Tuesday when video-sharing giant YouTube said it was suspending his official account for at least a week, out of concern his videos could incite violence.
He is also being cut out by the business world, threatening his financial future once he leaves the White House.
The latest blow to the Trump empire was when the mayor of his native New York City, Bill de Blasio, announced Wednesday a termination of contracts to run a golf course, two ice-skating rinks and a carousel in Central Park.
“New York City doesn’t do business with insurrectionists,” de Blasio, a Democrat, tweeted.
The US Congress on Friday dealt Donald Trump a humiliating blow, voting in his final weeks in office to override his veto of a sweeping defense bill — the first time lawmakers have done so during his presidency.
With more than 80 of the 100 senators voting to override, well more than the two-thirds required, the Republican-controlled Senate approved the $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act to fund the military for fiscal 2021.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives had voted 322 to 87 on Monday to override Trump’s veto.
US disease expert Anthony Fauci told Congress Tuesday that Donald Trump never told him or other officials to curb coronavirus testing, essentially contradicting the president who told supporters he had urged such slowdown.
“None of us have ever been told to slow down on testing,” Fauci told a House panel on US efforts to mitigate the pandemic, adding that “in fact, we will be doing more testing” instead of less.
Trump raised alarm bells Saturday when he told a Tulsa campaign rally — where most attendees were not wearing masks or following social distancing guidelines — that testing is a “double-edged sword,” and that he had told his experts to “slow the testing down.”
The ward congress of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has ended in crisis in Ekiti State, south-west Nigeria.
This comes as a group in the party led by the PDP Organising Secretary in Ekiti, Mr Ayo Oladimeji, accused the immediate past governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose, and his loyalists of hijacking the process.
The exercise ended in crisis as the group besieged the purported location where they attacked vehicles said to belong to the former governor and his allies before the intervention of security officials.
The leader of the electoral team and Deputy Governor of Taraba state, Haruna Manu, could not be reached for comments before leaving the state.
Addressing reporters, Oladimeji alleged that the former governor compromised the electoral officers from Abuja by concocting fake results at a hotel in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
He said, “Those materials, the results; they didn’t go to those places they were meant to go to and those are the issues that generated problems.
“They went to hidden places which we’ve just discovered now, they wrote all the results which they were supposed to have collated on the field according to the directive.”
The Game Master
The organising secretary said he complained to the Taraba State deputy governor that some of the materials were hijacked.
He insisted that the electoral officers did not go to the respective local governments where they were directed to conduct the congress but stayed elsewhere to write the results.
In his reaction, Fayose’s spokesman, Lere Olayinka, faulted the allegations, saying the complainants were politically naïve.
Rather, he accused the group of “jumping the gun” by proceeding with the congress hours before the arrival of the designated electoral officers from the nation’s capital.
Olayinka said, “You don’t go into a contest like this if you don’t have your brain intact; if you are not in charge, if you are not in control. In this game, Ayo Fayose is a master of the game and he just showed to them that he is a master of that game.
He stated that according to the party’s constitution, the State Working Committee has no role to play in congress.
The former governor’s spokesman accused the group of setting up a “kangaroo committee” and going from one local government to the other.
During hours of detailed and at times dramatic public testimony Wednesday, two star witnesses shed light on US President Donald Trump’s pressure on Ukraine at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against him.
American viewers finally heard firsthand from key figures in the Ukraine scandal, beginning with Washington’s top envoy to Kiev William Taylor, and deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent.
Here are five key moments in the nationally televised impeachment hearing:
A crucial surprise came when Taylor revealed a phone call between Trump and another diplomat occurred one day after the president’s controversial July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Taylor said his staffer was with Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and overheard Trump on the call “asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations” of Democratic rival Joe Biden.
The staffer asked Sondland what Trump thought about Ukraine. “Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cared more about the investigations of Biden, which (Trump lawyer Rudy) Giuliani was pressing for,” than about Ukraine itself, Taylor added.
The revelation is important because it highlights Trump’s knowledge about the effort to get Kiev to probe the Bidens and deflates a Trump defense that he “hardly” knows Sondland, as he said last week.
Republicans accused the witnesses of being out-of-touch bureaucrats too removed from Trump’s inner circle to speak authoritatively about what happened, or to know the president’s intentions.
Trump loyalist Jim Jordan, aggressively questioning Taylor, sought to paint a muddled picture of Ukrainian-related discussions, including Taylor’s communications with Sondland.
“We’ve got six people having four conversations in one sentence,” Jordan told Taylor, referring to closed-door testimony by Sondland, “and you told me this is where you got your clear understanding?”
The intelligence panel’s top Republican Devin Nunes meanwhile attempted to discredit the Democratic effort as “nothing more than an impeachment process in search of a crime.”
Biden wrongdoing? ‘None’
In his call with Zelensky, Trump urged his counterpart to “look into” possible wrongdoing by Biden, whose son Hunter was on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma when his father was vice president.
Republicans have used that talking point to suggest the Bidens were involved in corruption. No such evidence has emerged.
When the Democratic counsel asked Kent whether there were any facts to support those allegations, Kent replied, “None whatsoever,” adding that Biden acted in accordance with official US policy.
Kent did say he raised concerns with Biden’s staff that his son’s status with Burisma “could create the perception of a conflict of interest.”
Taylor spoke of an irregular channel, set up by Giuliani, that “undercut” official US policy with Ukraine while seeking to help the president politically.
Washington officially supported Ukraine receiving military aid, in particular to counter Russian aggression, but the witnesses warned that Giuliani was seeking to condition such aid with Kiev launching politically motivated investigations.
“I began to sense that the two decision-making channels — the regular and irregular — were at odds,” Taylor said.
He also said he told the administration that “withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign… would be crazy.”
Often overlooked in the impeachment drama is the security situation in Ukraine, which is facing off against Russia’s military. Kiev also accuses the Kremlin of supporting pro-Moscow rebels.
Taylor reminded lawmakers and viewers that “even as we sit here today,” Ukraine is under daily attack from Russia-backed forces.
Just last week, he added, he visited the front lines on a day that a Ukrainian soldier was killed.
Had the military aid been frozen, it would have severely weakened Zelensky in negotiations with Russia and on the battlefield, Taylor said.
The impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump in the US House of Representatives moves to public hearings on Wednesday.
Trump is threatened with removal from office over allegations that he abused his powers and broke the law by pressuring Ukraine to supply damaging information on rival Democrats and possible 2020 presidential election challenger Joe Biden.
The evidence covers a series of events from April 2019 when Zelensky was elected, and both sides sought to reboot Washington-Kiev relations. Zelensky sought aid and a meeting with the US leader; Trump sought “investigations.”
Trump gave the Ukraine leader a congratulatory phone call on April 19. Days later, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said online and in public that the US wanted Ukraine to investigate Burisma, the energy company on whose board Biden’s son Hunter served for five years until April 2019.
Giuliani also called for an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine helped the Democrats against Trump in the 2016 election.
“Explain to me why Biden shouldn’t be investigated if his son got millions from a Russian loving crooked Ukrainian oligarch while He was VP and point man for Ukraine,” Giuliani tweeted on May 10.
Giuliani’s immediate impact was in getting Trump to remove US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who had resisted Giuliani’s involvement in Ukraine policy.
Another result: Trump told Vice President Mike Pence not to attend Zelensky’s May 14 inauguration, sending Energy Secretary Rick Perry instead. According to a whistleblower complaint in August, that downgrade was meant to signal to the new government that Trump wanted the investigations.
July 10 meeting
In a July 10 meeting in the office of White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, told Ukrainian officials that a high profile meeting they sought between Zelensky and Trump was contingent on “investigations in the energy sector” and later referenced “Burisma”.
Sondland told the Ukrainians the alleged quid pro quo was authorized by Trump’s right-hand man, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
“We have an agreement with the chief of staff for a meeting if these investigations in the energy sector start,” Sondland told the Ukrainians, according to witnesses.
Bolton, who objected to the linkage, immediately cut the meeting short, but Sondland continued to make the point in a subsequent meeting, witnesses said.
On July 19 Mulvaney, who also heads the White House budget office, froze a military aid package for Ukraine worth $391 million dollars. He told budget officials it was at the order of Trump, but did not explain the reason. But in October Mulvaney told reporters it was linked to investigations, and said there was nothing wrong with the quid pro quo.
July 25 phone call
On July 25 Trump spoke again by phone with Zelensky. According to a rough summary of the call released by the White House, he made clear he wanted Ukraine to open the investigations, and hinted at the linkage with assistance and a face-to-face meeting.
“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” Trump said.
Trump made direct reference to the story that Ukraine interferred in the 2016 election helping rival Democrats.
“I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation,” Trump said. “It’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”
Trump added that “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son… A lot of people want to find out about that,” he said, proposing Kiev cooperate with US Attorney General Bill Barr.
“The United States has been very, very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine.”
After the July 25 call, Sondland pressed on Kiev the need for investigations. Text messages between Sondland and other US diplomats show he was focused on Trump’s insistence on “the deliverable” — the investigations as a quid pro quo for the military aid.
“I think potus (Trump) really wants the deliverable,” he wrote on August 9.
In August he helped arrange a prepared statement for Zelensky to deliver that would satisfy Trump.
The statement, according to a August 13 text, was to read: “We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, including those involving Burisma and the 2016 US elections, which in turn will prevent the recurrence of this problem in the future.”
Seeing that, Sondland wrote: “Perfect.”
That statement was never delivered. On September 1 Sondland told Zelensky advisor Andriy Yermak that military aid would not be released until Kiev signalled the investigations into Biden and 2016.