The leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is far from over, as the factions of the acting National Chairman, Chief Uche Secondus, and Mr Ali Gulak, an ex- aide to former President Jonathan, continue to lay claim to the party’s leadership.
Mr Gulak and his supporters including Dr. Doyin Okupe, also an ex- aide to the former President stormed the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja on Wednesday where he told a news conference that he was assuming office as the National Chairman of the party.
Mr Gulak claimed that he had a court judgement in his favour.
Meanwhile, the National Legal Adviser of the party, Victor Kwon, who is a member of the Secondus faction, said there was no court judgement ordering Gulak to assume office.
However, the PDP has vowed to reclaim the power it lost to the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the 2015 elections.
The party claimed that it remained the only true national political party well equipped to hold the national character.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, has described the successful convention held by Nigeria’s two major political parties as a good development for the nation and its democracy.
Speaking on Channels Television, he said that President Jonathan’s smooth sail to winning the People’s Democratic Party’s presidential ticket has been earned through his popularity.
He noted that facing some initial challenge from party members was not unusual and the party was able to manage it properly by allowing the challengers express their rights to contest.
Okupe explained that the President’s outstanding performance eventually prevailed and led to the other aspirants withdrawing their ambition in the interest of the party and the country.
Dr Okupe also reacted to the emergence of former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in a successful presidential primary that has been adjudged to be highly transparent.
While he admitted that the APC primary election was indeed transparent and worth celebrating, he noted that “this is something that the PDP has been doing for the past 16 years. So for them its a new thing and we welcome them.
“At least now they know how to conduct primaries, they now don’t impose candidates. We are very happy, we are now getting to the same page.”
Okupe also admitted that the reaction of the other APC presidential aspirants to their loss in the election was commendable.
He said that the act of conceding defeat and very quickly congratulating the winner, was good for the country and its democracy. “We are beginning to understand the normal democratic culture,” he said.
He, however, gave the credit for the development to the President.
“President Goodluck Jonathan has set the pace by saying that people’s votes must count and we are beginning to see it over the months and years that people’s votes are counting. So these are the examples that other parties are following.”
He expressed confidence that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) remains the party to beat in the country, adding that “those who have left would come back”.
The President, on Tuesday, fired back at a faction of northern elders, who, on Monday gave him up until October to produce the abducted Chibok schoolgirls or forget about 2015 Presidency.
The President’s Special Assistance on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, in a statement, described the northern elders’ ultimatum as preposterous and one meant to cause what he called “hate mentality and mischief.”
He said that the President does not need an ultimatum to do his job and that he was doing a lot to rescue the Chibok girls.
He pointed out seven areas where the President has demonstrated great concern on the Chibok issue to include, improving on the military’s professional and personnel capabilities, taking advantage of the offer made by the international community, and securing the nation’s borders among others.
According to Dr. Okupe, “The issue of insurgency, especially those ideologically based on Islamic extremism, is a global phenomenon and requires tact, military capability, serious de-radicalisation techniques and community based counter insurgency programmes to ensure success.”
The faction of the Northern Elders Forum led by Maitama Sule, on Monday, gave President Goodluck Jonathan an ultimatum till the end of October 2014 to produce the over 200 abducted Chibok girls in Borno State and also bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency, saying that failure to do so amounts to him being deemed unfit to seek re-election in 2015.
The Northern Elders noted that the warning became imperative because they were of the firm belief that the lingering terrorist attacks and other related security challenges in the country pose a major threat to the 2015 elections and the survival of Nigeria as a nation.
Efforts by President Goodluck Jonathan to meet with the parents of the Chibok girls have hit the walls.
This followed the refusal by the Nigerian ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaigners to allow 12 parents of the girls, who were in Abuja, to meet with the President.
The leadership of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaigners have, however, denied the allegation. While they said that they would want more parents to be involved in the meeting, the Federal Government believe the campaigners are more interested in more showmanship than the plight of the children.
The Presidency said that Malala nearly missed her flight while pleading with the leadership of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign to allow those parents to meet with the President since they were already in Abuja.
Briefing State House correspondents on the development, the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr Doyin Okupe, said that the President has, however, directed that a fresh letter be written to the Chibok parents to enable them to meet next week.
While the arguments rage in what looks like a power tussle between the campaigners and the Federal Government, the parents of the girls in captivity have gone back to Borno frustrated.
The ongoing strike by the Nigeria Medical Association will soon be over as talks are ongoing between the Federal Government and the association to put an end to this action that has led to untold sufferings of patients across the nation.
This was revealed on Friday at the Government House, Asaba, by the Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, during an interview session with newsmen.
Dr Uduaghan revealed that a meeting of some elders of the medical profession and Government representatives held in Abuja on Thursday night.
He gave assurance that some of the pressing issues were addressed and resolved at the meeting and by the end of the week, the strike would be called off.
Present at the meeting were the Delta State Governor; the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; Dr Doyin Okupe, the Health Minister, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu; Minister for Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr Anyim Pius Anyim and members of the medical association.
Governor Uduaghan, while admitting that there were indeed challenges in the health sector, urged medical professionals to be weary of strike which does more harm than good, because every life lost during the period of strike cannot be brought back.
The Federal Government has also corroborated the claim by saying that the nationwide doctors’ strike may be called off next Monday, following the Thursday meeting between the leadership of the NMA and representatives of Government.
The Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, disclosed that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the end of the 10-hour meeting between the two parties.
A Security Consultant, Captain Umar Aliyu (Rtd), on Monday, said that Nigeria was not getting any wiser and not learning anything in the fight against insurgency, four years down the line.
Captain Aliyu, who was part of a conversation about the State of the Nation on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, feels that the effort of the authorities in the fight against Boko Haram does seem to be going anywhere.
“I will like to put it this way. If you draw a learning curve on activities as it concerns insurgency since 2011, you will see that we are not learning. A learning curve is simply the graphical representation of a theory which believes that the more you do something (the more) you get better at it. Time and effort should bring about experience.
“But if you look at it, taking it from 2011, four years we are not wiser and don’t seem to get anywhere with the insurgency problem”, Captain Aliyu said.
Reacting to a statement made by the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, who appealed to Nigeria to join the fight against insurgency, Captain Aliyu agreed that the call was spot on, but feels that there had been a litany of responses from politicians, as everyone could predict what government officials would do or say after a bomb blast.
“One becomes forced to believe that there is conspiracy of silence as words are not being matched with deeds.”
He refused to believe that no one knew who the terrorists were and what they want as they had being there long enough and had stated clearly what they want; “We know who they are (Boko Haram) and we know what they want. What we lack is the will to bell the cat and until we do, nothing will work.”
He emphasized that Nigeria loses ground and the terrorists gain ground every single time they score one single disaster in any village.
On the fact that the sect want an Islamic state, Captain Aliyu maintained that this would not be possible as there was nowhere in the present electronic age that one could have an absolutely Islamic state and he was of the opinion that they were renegades who were being sponsored by people who gain political capital from what they were doing.
The retired Nigerian Army officer further said that whatever the religious convictions are, there are bound to be limitation as the world is not flat as far as religion is concerned.
On the belief that the Nigerian military was over stretched to fight insurgency after four years of trying, Rtd Captain Aliyu feels that there were enough men in the armed forces to match the terrorists and Government should be held responsible if the military had indeed become overstretched.
“If our military is overstretched, it is because the leadership don’t listen. In today’s world, we have different types of army which includes the expeditionary, conventional, the national guards and they have their different areas of competence. You don’t have one military that you want to deploy to do every and anything. Even if you have a 100 million men the security force, they will be overstretched.”
He further stated that the military was actually meant to perform a particular role constitutionally and they should be used for it.
He advised the Government to start thinking of ‘outsourcing’ if men are required to handle security situation, citing private military security companies like what is obtained in places such as Afghanistan.
The essence of the private military security companies, according to Rtd Captain Aliyu, is to help support the fighting forces against insurgency and they can be accessed in Nigeria as there are a generation of ex- soldiers out who could be great assets in the fight against terrorism.
He added that the weapons used by the Nigerian security forces were no where near parity to the ones used by the insurgents.
He blamed the Government for not taking advantage of the window of opportunity opened after Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 girls in Chibok. He opined that this was the greatest undoing of the sect that made them to offer to negotiate as they never expected the kind of global and strong condemnation it elicited.
“What I’m trying to say is that in four years we have (had) windows of opportunity that opened momentarily and close. We don’t seem to be learning from them. We don’t seem to cease the moment because our reasoning is beclouded by political, social-economical or cultural issues”, Aliyu said.
He gave example of the recent prisoner exchange with the Talibans by the American Government and highlighted that the move didn’t reduce the Americans as they knew everything about the released Talibans and would monitor their movement with the Interpol all over the world in possession of their data.
He said that Nigeria was not getting anywhere because it is trying to do so many things at once instead of one thing at a time, “We can come together and narrow things down and bit by bit we are going to get things done.”
He was also of the opinion that the closing down of the FCT, Abuja for the World Economic Forum for five days was a reaction of the government to insurgency and not necessarily a response to insurgency.
On how to separate politics or religion from security, Rtd Captain Aliyu said that if he was the security chief, he would do his duty without any religious or political affiliation, but if the powers that be come up to mount a campaign of colony against him, he would walk away.
Senior Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe on Monday morning lambasted leaders and members of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
Following several events, including the call for the President’s impeachment, based on allegations leveled against him in a letter written by former president Olusegun Obasanjo and the defection of 5 governors and 37 lawmakers to the APC, Mr Okupe described all attempts at discrediting the present administration as coming from ‘desperate failures’ who want the Presidency to go to the North.
“Every time they (APC) need a national figure as a leader or anytime they want to play national politics, they don’t have it among themselves. They went to look for Ribadu, Atiku, now (it’s) Tambuwal or (somebody) Obasanjo,” he said, referring to a meeting the APC leaders had with Obasanjo on Saturday.
He tagged the party as ‘unserious’ for admitting members who they (APC) had accused of corruption. “Before, Kwankwaso is a thief. Now if he joins APC, he’s a saint,” he said.
“Right now they are mute on manifesto, mute on programme. All they are doing is collecting all collectibles, irrespective of those who were formerly regarded as criminals, e.g Kwankwaso.
On the defection of five former PDP governors to the opposition party, he said it is “good riddance” for PDP and accused them of not being democrats.
“These are people who are irrevocably committed to a particular ideology. They want the Presidency to go to the north by all means. These are not democrats.”
Following the defection of 37 lawmakers, analysts have noted the possibility of the APC being the majority in the National Assembly but according to Okupe, it is a ‘dream’ the APC would never realize.
“Majority in the NASS is a dream they have. They are not likely to gain a majority in any of the Houses.”
He backed-up his assertion with confirmation that the PDP has strong ties with other parties. “PDP has working alliance and working arrangement with Labour Party, APGA, Accord Party and they are not small numbers.”
Although he claimed not to have ever condemned the APC for looking for members in the PDP, he defined a political party worth considering as one which has “within itself the human resources that is required to develop and instill sense of confidence in voters”.
“Check out APC, they have no story to tell. It is quite embarrassing, I am shocked. A new party formed with so much fanfare. They have no story to tell. What you would have expected would have been that this party that knows that it is in opposition, if it must defeat an incumbent, ought to be moving all over the place talking about manifesto, talking about what they would do differently from what is being done.”
“They (defected governors) are outgoing (as they have served two tenures already). These are governors that are not popular in their states.
He made an example of the Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako. “Nyako is of no consequence in Adamawa. We had to beg the whole of Adamawa, Jubril Aminu, Atiku Abubakar, Bamanga Tukur (everybody that was anybody in Adamawa), to help shore up support for Nyako to win the second term.”
He added that it was not the party’s fault but Nyako’s ‘person.’ “It’s not his fault. He’s never been a politician. It was General Obasanjo (Rtd) who went and called him from his farm. He didn’t take part in any primary. He didn’t win any election. He didn’t campaign to anybody. They finished the primaries in Adamawa.”
Obasanjo just called him and said you are the governor.”
As for the defected PDP lawmakers, they have lost their seats already. It’s a matter of time, he said.
He continued by saying they are no longer legislators insisting that “if it was during Obasanjo’s time, they would have put policemen at the gate. They would not allow them to enter and it would be right.”
“The law says that you in the National Assembly cannot cross-carpet, leave your party to another party, unless there is division in your party.
We have a court judgment that says there’s no division in PDP and the court says it does not recognise the new PDP.”
People flagrantly disobey the law and shamelessly declare themselves as members of another party, he said.
Buhari And Bola Tinubu: Still Thinking In The Past
While speaking on the programme, Okupe faulted the APC’s attempts at gaining numbers by poaching on PDP territory and blamed the leaders for not being up to date on the new era of politics.
“Politics has changed since the era of digital communication and the emancipation of a lot of our young people,” he said, noting that “the leadership of the APC, (Buhari and Bola Tinubu), are still thinking in the past.”
Okupe attributed the APC gain in south-west Nigeria to internal wrangling in the PDP. “PDP messed itself up,” he said.
On the fear of Nigerians in diaspora regarding the 2015 elections, which many say would be grappled with desperation, Okupe said: “I am not going to judge what will happen in Nigeria by the perception of foreigners.”
What Nigerians need to do is to appeal to these desperate people (particularly the APC), not to employ desperate measures. He advised members of the APC to talk to Nigerians and then head to the polls for the outcome.
He pegged the impeachment plan which has been supported by the APC as an “attempt by desperate failures.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe has commended the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, for ending their 5 month old strike.
Okupe, in an interview with Channels Television in Abuja, saluted the patriotism of the university lecturers and their commitment to the development of education in the country.
“It’s very heartwarming news to hear that the long strike has been finally put aside. This is a great relief to government and to the students, parents and stakeholders generally.
“I want to assure that the agreement that has been signed or the agreement that has been reached will be fully discharged by this administration. I have said it before that this administration does not have any credibility issue whatsoever, and the President and his government will honour their word.”
He urged the lecturers to ensure that the fund provided by the government is used for the provision of infrastructure in the nation’s ivory towers. He said: “the monies provided have been painstakingly sought for and they should be applied to good use for the educational advancement of our institutions.”
Dr. Okupe had been a major feature in the saga between the union of Nigerian university lecturers and the Federal Government while the industrial action lasted.
He appeared on Channels Television a number of times to communicate the government’s stance at different points in the protracted negotiation.
The Nigerian government says the issue between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over an alleged non-remittance of $49.8 billion dollars will be resolved.
A spokesman for the government, Mr. Doyin Okupe, said that the truth about the issue would be made known to Nigerians within the next 48 hours.
Mr. Okupe said that the government held a meeting with the NNPC, PPR, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), CBN and all major stakeholders involved with the petroleum industry on Monday.
He said that the issue of $49.8 missing funds was brought to the table at the meeting that started at about 12 noon and ended at about 6:30pm.
“There is a lot of work that is being done and the figures delayed the meeting because the NNPC, FIRS amongst other members that made payment to NNPC as regards to the amount of crude oil sales that the country undertakes made their presentation,” Okupe said in a telephone interview on Channels Televisions’ programme, Sunrise Daily.
“Currently a lot of reconciliation between NNPC, CBN and stakeholders is going on”.
“Before now the NNPC and CBN meet regularly and the letter from the CBN governor is supposed to be an over riding matter.
“I assure you that nothing would be swept under the carpet,” he said, promising that the government would ensure that the issue was properly handled.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has suspended its over five months old strike.
ASUU Chairman, University of Lagos Chapter, Dr. Karo Ogbinaka told Channels Television that the union decided to suspend the strike after a marathon meeting held in Minna, Niger State capital on Monday.
In attendance at the meeting, which ran till late in the evening, were all the ASUU branch chairmen and secretaries, the national executive members of the body, coordinators and past leaders, including 56 members from 52 universities.
Dr. Ogbinaka said that, in line with procedures, the different chapters of ASUU would hold congress meetings on Wednesday to inform members and managements of the institutions of the latest development.
“We expect the students to resume and expect their members to go back to class immediately after the congress meeting and we expect the government to keep to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),” Dr. Ogninaka stated.
He said that the union and the government would hold meetings in 2014 to look at gray areas that may arise and come to a common ground.
The Federal Government and ASUU had reached a compromise during a negotiation brokered by the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar on Wednesday, December 11, which led to the signing of the MoU.
Speaking to journalists after the agreement with the government on Wednesday, the National President of ASUU, Dr. Nasir Isa Fagge, said that the union would consult with its National Executive Council and would intimate Nigerians of its decision on the strike within one week, expressing optimism that the outcome of the consultation would be positive.
It was gathered that the MoU addressed all the resolutions that the leadership of the ASUU and the Federal Government agreed to in their 13-hour meeting with President Jonathan on November 4, as well as their widely criticised fresh demands.
ASUU’s demands include the upward review of the retirement age for professors from 65 to 70; adequate funding to revitalise the university system; progressive increase of budgetary allocations to the education sector by 26%; transfer of Federal Government property to universities; setting up of research and development units by the companies; and renegotiation of the signed agreement.
The fresh demands include a non-victimisation clause, provision and deposit of N200 billion infrastructure revitalisation funds in an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) details of disbursement of the funds and payment of salary arrears which has accrued to the teachers during the strike.
The Wednesday agreement between the two which is reportedly due for renegotiation in 2014 was reached barely 24 hours after the Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe presented a proof of payment of N200 billion into an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Nigeria’s university lecturers have been on strike since July 1, 2013 to demand full implementation of the 2009 agreement it reached with the Federal Government on conditions of service for university lecturers, and funding of infrastructural development in Nigerian universities.
Earlier video of a telephone conversation with the Chairman of ASUU Chapter of the University of Lagos.
The Presidency has produced evidence of payment of 200 billion Naira for universities infrastructure revitalisation.
At a media briefing in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the President On Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, presented a letter from the Central Bank of Nigeria, confirming that a sum of 200 billion Naira, agreed with the Academic Staff Union Of Universities at a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on November 4, 2013, has been fully paid into a Revitalization of Universities Infrastructure account.
In the letter, signed by the Deputy Governor of the CBN, Mr Tunde Lemo and addressed to the Accountant General of the Federation, the apex bank confirmed that the total sum was paid in three tranches of 129.3 billion Naira, 20.7 billion Naira and 50 billion Naira, into the account as directed.
The presidential aide added that “the Federal Government does not intend to victimize anyone who participates in a legitimate strike action in view of the fact that Nigeria is a signatory to the International Labour Organisation convention which guarantees workers’ rights to strikes convened in line with due processes.”
The impasse between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities reached a crescendo in the past week with ASUU expressing lack of confidence in the government in keeping the agreements it reached with the Presidency on its issues and had requested for evidences of the Government’s financial commitment to the ASUU course.
In a statement by the ASUU President, Dr Nasir Issa-Fagge, while appearing on Channels Television on Tuesday, December 3, the union stated that once the bank account opening was done and the committee that would disburse the funds start working, “our members will have no reason not to suspend the strike” insisting that the “most important part of this thing at this point is that let there be documentation”.
He said the union insisted on documentation to ensure that it would not embark on another industrial action, as a result of the government not meeting the requirement, particularly the promises by the President.
“Why won’t government make available this money so that we know the money is there and the universities commence drawing from this money to address the problem of decay in infrastructure, teaching and research facilities? When that is done, our members will suspend the strike,” he promised.
The Presidency is expected to maintain its earlier stance that “from the government’s perspective, everything that needs to be done has been done and whether the strike would be called off or not now lies in the hands of the leadership of ASUU”.