PDP opposes call for Okupe’s sack

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Lagos State chapter, on Tuesday opposed calls for President Goodluck Jonathan to sack his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe.

The Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe.

In a statement signed by the PDP’s Lagos State Publicity Secretary, Gani Taofik, the party stated that it supported the appointment and service of Mr Okupe.

The ACN had urged the President to take cognisance of the fact that Mr Okupe was allegedly being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for failing to execute a contract for both the Benue and Imo State governments.

The PDP said it was convinced that the appointment Mr Okupe into the presidency at this time was the needed panacea to confront the unpatriotic and destructive criticism of President Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda for the nation.

“This solidarity is in reaction to the syndicated call for the resignation of the recently appointed SSA, Dr Doyin Okupe.

“We know that the call is coordinated by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the National Publicity Secretary of ACN.

“We wonder why the President’s critics have suddenly become restless if not that they have been ambushed by the appointment of Okupe, who surely will seal up all their sources of information in the presidency and even match them, intellect for intellect on all national issues,” the PDP stated.

The Party described “the continued frequent unsubstantiated criticisms and condemnation of President Jonathan’s policies by the ACN as a national embarrassment” to the country.

ACN drums support for Akume, he remains Senate Minority Leader

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has passed a vote of confidence on its senate minority leader, Senator George Akume describing the phantom plot to replace him as the minority leader as the handwork of some reactionary and anti-democratic forces in the senate.

In a statement issued on Sunday by its national publicity secretary Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party expressed satisfaction in the manner senator George Akume has so far, discharged his onerous responsibly as the senate minority leader and reminded all busy bodies that the choice of the minority senate leader is the sole and exclusive preserve of the leadership of the Action Congress of Nigeria and no amount of horse trading, intrigue or blackmail can change this.

The party absolves its member in the upper chamber of the national assembly from this phantom plot and puts the blame squarely on the doorstep of the leadership of the senate who would rather prefer a more pliable and easily “compromisable minority leader” to our principled and disciplined senator George Akume.

ACN blamed the purported removal on the strength Akume has garnered in Benue state, which has threatened the popularity of the PDP “the plot to remove Senator George Akume according to the party can be located first and foremost in the battle for the soul of Benue state and even more importantly in the paralysis and fear that have gripped the People’s Democratic Party following the growing popularity and acceptance of the Action Congress of Nigeria all over the country”.

The party recalled that only last week a thoroughly confused People’s Democratic Party described the Action Congress of Nigeria as a tribal party. Can a party with a governor from the South South geo-political zone, senators from Benue, Edo and Anambra States, House of Representative members from Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Adamawa, Benue, Kogi and Imo states among others be described by right thinking people as a tribal party?

The party accused the ruling PDP of trying to sour its relationship with the people by giving the party a tribal coloration “Is the plot to remove Senator George Akume as the party’s senate minority leader not part of the desperate plot of the ruling People’s Democratic Party’s to give the impression to Nigerians that we are a tribal party, especially when we remove Senator George Akume and replace him with a senator from the South West”, the party queried.


ACN charges FG to fish out killers of Akwa Ibom spokesman’s mother and brother

The Action Congress of Nigeria has condemned the killing of the mother and brother of the party’s Akwa Ibom state chapter spokespman, Mr. Francis Effanga. The condemnation was contained in a statement released by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed in Lagos.

The statement read “ACN condemns the gruesome murder of Mrs. Erasmus Effanga and Mr. Basil Effanga mother and brother respectively of its Spokesman in Akwa Ibom State Mr. Francis Effanga whose lifeless and decomposing bodies were found in a room in their residence in Mbinkpa Atan village Akwa Ibom State on Sunday the 5th of August 2012”.

The statement described the killing as  “further proof of the culture of violence and the systemic decimation of its members in Akwa Ibom state and called on the Presidency to rise above partisan politics and direct the relevant security agencies to apprehend the killers of Mrs. Erasmus Effanga and Mr. Basil Effanga”.

The statement further stated that the party’s spokesperson was targeted because of his staunch oppositional stand during the governoship election in the state “It will be recalled that in the run-up to the 2011 general elections Akwa Ibom held unenviable record of being the goriest killing field in the entire country, and the ACN’s spokesman in the state Mr. Francis Effanga was a thorn in the flesh of the PDP rampaging machinery of oppression and destruction of lives and properties, a role which earned him unjustified persecution, arrest and detention”.

The party also called on the Presidency to direct the relevant security agencies to apprehend the killers of the deceased.

“This latest gruesome murder of Mrs. Erasmus Effanga and Mr. Basil Effanga has once again confirmed that the reign of politics of intolerance, assassinations and kidnappings of the PDP in Akwa Ibom state which has so far claimed over 100 lives is far from over and President Goodluck Jonathan should forthwith direct the relevant security agencies to investigate and fish out the culprits because according to the party, strong determination in the fight against impunities is absolutely crucial to deter further crimes, uphold the rule of law and protect public trust in the justice system”.

Bodies of the deceased were found in their home in Mbinkpa Atan Village in the state on Sunday, August 5, 2012.



Subsidy scam: ACN insists Tukur must resign as PDP Chairman

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has said the highly predictable and jejune response of the PDP has done nothing to convince Nigerians on why its Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, should not step down now that the unprecedented fuel subsidy scam starring the PDP has come to trial.

The National Chairman of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) Bamanga Tukur

In a statement issued in Lagos on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said not even PDP’s resort to rationalization – an age-old defence mechanism used by die-hard thieves when they are caught with their hands in the cookie jar – has changed the reasons for the call.

”We called on the PDP Chairman to accept moral responsibility and step down from his high office because his party is right at the centre of the biggest corruption scandal in the history of our dear country, and also because his son is among the suspects. Our call has nothing to do with Alhaji Tukur being on trial or not, and we made that clear in our earlier statement.

”Because the PDP is the ruling party, in a country where unprecedented corruption has left the people badly impoverished, any linkage between a huge scandal like the fuel subsidy scam and the party immediately raises a red flag over the commitment of its government at the centre to effectively tackle this cankerworm.

”It is therefore imperative for Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, whom we agree has made a name for himself within and outside the country, to uphold that name and keep his integrity intact by vacating the leadership of the PDP today. He should not just step down, he should do so with a rousing speech that will be a reference point for all time, and convince millions of our youth that Nigeria still has men of integrity,” it said.

ACN said dragging the name of its leader and top member into the fray, which is nothing short of rationalization, is diversionary and amounts to throwing enough mud at the wall with the hope that some of it will stick.

It however reminds the PDP that since ACN is known for taking on issues instead of personalities, it will ignore the mud thrown at it, which is nothing but a sign of the desperation of a sinking behemoth that the PDP has become.

”Unfortunately, PDP’s response – which was panicky because the call for Alhaji Tukur to resign stung the party like a millions bees – did nothing to address the issues we raised: That while indeed Alhaji Bamaga Tukur is not on trial over the fuel subsidy scam, his position as the chairman of the PDP has been diminished by the allegation against his son and the involvement of the party he leads in the scandal.

”The PDP would not have needed to struggle to make its case had its Chairman not been in charge of the ruling party in Africa’s most populous nation, a party that has presided over the unprecedented looting of our commonwealth since 1999, a party that has pushed Nigeria to the edge of the precipice through its ineptness, a party that has made Nigeria more a candidate to be a failed state today than when it took power in 1999. These are the issues that led to our call, and the PDP’s response skirted them all,” the party said.

On the PDP’s contention that the ACN should have given credit to the PDP and its federal government for bringing the fuel scandal suspects to trial, the party (ACN) said ”it is not the business of a responsible opposition like ours to hail a ruling party for doing what it is supposed to do anyway – adhere strictly to the rule of law and show respect for the Constitution.

”In any case, the credit for the ongoing trial of the fuel scam suspects goes to Nigerians and the House of Representatives, who left the government in no doubt that they will not allow things to be swept under the carpet this time.”

ACN said if the PDP still believes that the call on its Chairman to resign over the fuel subsidy scam is ”outlandish and sheepish”, as it claims, let it (PDP) carry out an opinion poll, to be conducted by an acclaimed organisation and monitored by local and international observers, on this issue, provided it agrees to abide by its result.

ACN charges FG to emulate House of Reps

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has asked the presidency to emulate the House of Representatives in displaying the urgency, courage and sense of purpose with which the legislative chamber has handled the case of alleged bribery involving one of its members.

A statement by the party’s national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated that the decision of the House to suspend Farouk Lawan as the chairman, ad hoc Committee on fuel subsidy management, while also standing by the report of the committee, sends a strong signal that the House will not condone corruption under any guise, and that it practices what it preaches.

According to the statement, “though it has not been conclusively proven that Honourable Lawan indeed took the bribe as alleged, the House went ahead to suspend him, unlike the presidency which has been shielding all those indicted in the monumental fraud uncovered by the committee – a tale of two nations in one”

Noting that corruption has reached unprecedented levels in Nigeria especially under the present political dispensation, the opposition party warned the presidency not to pay lip service to the fight against corruption.

ACN urged the president to end its ambivalence on the implementation of the report of the ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy management, even as the probe of the alleged bribery scandal involving the former chairman of the committee continues.

ACN condemns PDP for berating Buhari

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has described the statements made by former Head of states and presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the 2011 general elections, Muhammadu Buhari on Monday as being in order.

In a press statement issued on Tuesday in Osogbo, the Osun state capital, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, said that considering the massive rigging of the 2011 general elections, irrespective of the so-called endorsement by some visceral foreign election monitors, Buhari’s statement was apt.

The ACN also said it “denounced the crude, vitriolic and impudent verbal attack on a former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, by the presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for no other reason than his timely warning against election rigging in 2015.”

The party said the statement for which Buhari is now being mercilessly savaged was nothing but a warning against those who may be planning to rig the 2015 general elections, hence should not have rankled anyone who believes in free, fair and transparent polls.

The former head of state had warned that the rigging and violence associated with the 2011 general elections will be repected in 2015 if President Goodluck Jonathan continue his style of governance which does not “listen to advice”.

The ACN  said the viciousness of the seemingly coordinated attacks by the presidency and the PDP raise a lot of concern regarding their plans for the 2015 elections.

“We hold no brief for anyone. But it is true that if elections are rigged, as they have been so shamelessly and brazenly done by the PDP since 1999, naturally people will react, and in doing so it is impossible for anyone to predict how far things can go. This is what, in our opinion, Gen. Buhari warned against. If the presidency and the PDP have no intention to rig in 2015, why are they so worried about the consequences of such action?” ACN said.

“The 2011 elections also left Nigeria divided along ethnic and religious lines, more than at any other time in the history of Nigeria, hence no one should tell us about the polls being the best since Nigeria returned to civil rule, just because some self-acclaimed monitors said so!” ACN said.

The party also expressed serious concern at the growing propensity of the presidency, in particular, to use intemperate language in its response to any statement it perceives to be critical of its principal.

“We have said it before and we will like to repeat it: any statement emanating from the presidency must be presidential through the use of civilised and elevating language… This is because such statements are read all over the world, and provide a window into the minds of those overseeing the affairs of state.

“The voice of the presidential spokesman is the voice of his principal, the President. That is why his statements must be sober and guarded, in addition to reflecting deep introspection. The insults heaped on Gen. Buhari, a former Head of State – for merely exercising his right to freedom of speech is totally unacceptable and run against the tenets of decorum and mature political discourse,” it said.

I neither asked for nor received any bribe- Jonathan

The Presidency has expressed shock over the alleged gift received by President Goodluck Jonathan by a foreign contractor and has termed as laughable the call for the impeachment of the President. This view was expressed in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati.

“It is with surprise and some amusement, the patently laughable attempt by political opponents of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and their collaborators to brew up a storm in a cup over the alleged “gift” of a church to the President”.

The statement also called on Nigerians to discard the allegations as they are spurious as well as political “It should be clear to all knowledgeable and discerning Nigerians that these allegations are nothing other than another mischievous attempt to denigrate President Jonathan, cast unjustifiable aspersions on his personal integrity and distract him from the serious business of governance.

“For the benefit of the unwary who might be taken in by the antics of an unscrupulous opposition that has little or no regard for the truth in the pursuit of their self-serving agenda, the Presidency wishes to state emphatically that President Jonathan never solicited or received a church as “bribe” from any contractor”.

The presidency said the contractor as a matter of corporate social responsibility (CSR) renovated the house of worship “Yes, a contractor who has worked and continues to work in Bayelsa state and other parts of Nigeria thought it fit, in fulfillment of its corporate social responsibility, to facilitate the renovation of the small church in the President’s home town of Otuoke”.

The presidency also claimed the act was not new in the history of the country and it takes a lot of desperation to translate this act of social responsibility for which there are innumerable precedents in our country into a crime for which the usual suspects are now calling for the “impeachment” of President Jonathan.

The statement further said “It is indeed ironic that the groups and individuals now castigating the President because a company freely chose to fulfill its corporate social responsibility by helping to renovate a communal place of worship, are also amongst those who constantly berate companies doing business in the Niger Delta for not doing enough to support the development of their host communities”.

The statement went ahead to state a precedent where a gift was donated to community without anybody raising dust over the incident. He also said reminded the ACN that the church is not a property of the president and neither does it belong to his family “Examples of such corporate assistance to communities, cities and states abound across Nigeria. The President’s accusers are certainly not unaware of the fact that the famous Millennium Park in Abuja was donated to the city by a construction company, but we do not recall that anyone was ever accused of receiving the park or other similar communal projects as a bribe”.

“For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, the renovated church in Otuoke does not belong to President Jonathan or his family. The Church belongs to the Anglican Communion and the entire Otuoke Community. It has existed for generations and is not a new church “donated” to President Jonathan by his “contractor friend” as is being mischievously alleged”.

President Jonathan has not committed any crime or violation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers by being present at the dedication of the very humble community church building and publicly acknowledging the assistance of a corporate entity in its renovation, the statement also said.

The presidency however called on the opposition to constructively criticize rather than creating phantom tigers in the neighborhood “Those peddling allegations to the contrary know very well that their charges are baseless and unsustainable.  If they must oppose for the sake of opposition, let them desist from peddling patent falsehoods and make a greater effort to be a responsible opposition by offering intelligent and constructive criticism”.

Presidency accuses ACN of “getting it all wrong” on the Bayelsa gas explosion

The Presidency, on Monday, accused the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) of getting it all wrong over the gas explosion that took place in the Koluama area of Bayelsa state and its response towards the residents and an arrangement for possible compensation.

A statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Dr Reuben Abati, issued in Abuja, said the allegation made by the national publicity secretary of the ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to the effect that President Goodluck Jonathan’s lack of proper response to the disaster had deepened the pains of the residents, was far from the truth.

According to the presidential spokesman, “having visited the Koluama community in Bayelsa State in company with the president, I can confidently assert that nothing could be further from the truth than the statement by the ACN publicity secretary.”

He pointed out that the gas explosion incident at the Chevron platform in Koluama occurred at the height of the fuel subsidy crisis, adding that the Federal Government gave priority attention to the matter by setting the necessary machinery in motion to manage the disaster.

Abati, in the statement, said the president promptly dispatched the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madu-ekwe, to the scene for an on-the-spot assessment, to determine its extent and what needed to be done to relieve the people of the community and ensure that the threat to their lives and livelihood was contained.

The presidential spokesman added that the president personally visited Koluama community on February 27 to, among other things, empathise with the community and confirm the requirements for addressing the damage done.

On his entourage during the visit, according to the statement, were the Ministers of Petroleum Resources, Environment and the Niger Delta, the Directors-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), as well as top officials of the Bayelsa State government.

According to the statement, “after the president’s visit, the Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta Matters, Mr Kingsley Kuku, visited the island on March 6, on the direct orders of President Jonathan to commence skills acquisition pro-gramme for youths and women in the affected communities. The president further directed the Ministry of Environment to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in collaboration with Chevron.”

Abati, therefore, noted that “it is not true that the Federal Government is treating Chevron with kid gloves,” adding that President Jonathan had been involved with the Koluama communities since his days as the deputy governor and governor of Bayelsa State.

“It is also not true that all the president did was to praise the people for their peaceful reaction to the disaster that has befallen them,” as claimed by Alhaji Mohammed. Alhaji Mohammed should resist the temptation to weep more than the bereaved.

“I would like to remind him that accidents involving oil spills and fires and other environmental disasters arising from the oil industry are complicated and are not matters that you rush over.

“In these matters, inordinate haste could amount to waste,” the statement read.

He reminded the ACN that it took about 85 days to stop the release of crude oil after the April 2010 British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, saying that “even till today, British Petroleum and the US government are still not done working out the details of compensation to be paid to the victims.