The governorship candidate of Labour Party in Kwara State, Issa Aremu and a chieftain of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Rufai Alkali jointly thinks that Nigerians need not doubt the credibility behind the appointment of Amina Zakari as chair of its collation centre committee.
Aremu in an interview on Channels Television program, Politics Today said the independence and objectivity of Zakari should be doubted because she is a senior member of the commission and had served as acting Chairperson.
“I have no doubt in terms of the appointments that have been made, they have all served INEC before. Mrs Zakari used to be acting Chairperson of INEC so, I don’t think we can doubt her level of independence and objectivity.
“My only reservation is that such appointment should have been made much earlier,” he said.
The SDP chieftain, Alkali, in his opinion said if the appointment was made earlier, it would not have generated controversy. He also noted that the most important thing is the electorates and not the appointment of Zakari.
“During election time, everybody is tested. Our institutions are tested, our laws are tested, individuals are tested. Every decision and action by any agency or individual is always seen in different light. I agree with Mr Aremu that if this decision was made earlier, it will not provoke this kind of apprehension.
“I also agree with him totally that what matters is the voters that will decide about the election,” Alkali said.
Speaking concerning Zakari’s relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari, Aremu said the most important thing is Zakari’s pedigree and not who she is related to.
“At the end of the day, all of us will be related one way or the other. What is important is her pedigree in terms of objectivity and independence. She once acted as chairperson of INEC approved by the president. To that extent, I think we should be able to have trust.
“I think we should focus on issues because it is the ordinary man and woman who are qualified to vote that will determine this process and they will only vote based on issues that we will put on the table. We should have an eye on the ball, not on the net,” he said.
Meanwhile, INEC in response has said that the controversy surrounding the appointment of Amina Zakari as chair of its collation centre committee is a needless one.
Speaking on Zakari’s new role while featuring as a guest on Channel Television’s Sunrise Daily, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi said the position has nothing to do with announcing the votes at the end of collation.
Osaze-Uzzi, the director of voter education and publicity at INEC, said the text of the INEC chairman did talk about the role of the committee, stressing that it is “basically an administrative committee.”
Candidates of four political parties contesting in the 2016 Edo State governorship election on Sunday took part in a debate organised by Channels Television in collaboration with Enough is Enough Nigeria.
The candidates, Mr Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osaro Onaiwu of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Amos Areologbe of the Labour Party (LP) and Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), took turns to answer questions from a group of panelists.
The four candidates answered questions bordering on security, economic growth and how to tackle unemployment among others.
Asked how he would transform the economy of the state, considering the reduced allocation coming from the Federation Account, the candidate of the APC said that he would uphold the blueprint that was already on ground and being implemented by the current government of the APC.
“The foundation has been laid already by the current government of Adams Oshiomhole and that foundation is what I will build on,” he stated.
The APC candidate also explained that if elected he would further ensure diversification of the economy, exploring other sectors, including agriculture and mining of mineral resources, which he believed would also create jobs.
Mr Obaseki, who had been in the banking and investment banking sectors, said he would empower the Agriculture research institutes in the state to further deepen the state’s involvement in agriculture.
On claims that he was imposed on the people of Edo State, he stated that talks that he would be controlled by the current governor was unfair, as he had been part of the Edo revolution since 2009.
“I have been part of the Edo project to renew Edo State which had been run down by the previous administration.
“Over the last seven and half years, the evidence is clear from what we have done – how we have rebuilt Edo State, how we have rebuilt infrastructure, rebuilt the educational system in the state and restored order, accountability and transparency on how government is run.
“To talk about a remote control in an administration where I and my colleagues designed a blueprint for Governor Oshiomhole is not being fair. I am not going to be remote controlled,” he stressed.
There is about 70 per cent unemployment level in the state and Mr Obaseki said that he would create more jobs for the unemployed through agriculture and other sectors which he would explore.
Security was another issue that the candidates were asked to speak on and Mr Obaseki said that “Edo State is one of Nigeria’s most secured states”.
He said that the current administration and the police had explored the use of technology in tracking kidnappers in order to check kidnapping in the state, which was on the increase some years back.
On his part, the candidate of the PDP, Mr Ize-Iyamu, said that his policies would focus on diversification of the state’s economy to increase output in agricultural produce, mining of solid minerals and building necessary infrastructures that would draw more foreign-direct investments.
“We need to diversify the economy of the state. There is too much dependence on allocation and it became even worse in the past seven to eight years.
“Agriculture is not funded by the present state government. Edo State was very good in tree crops.
“We have two research institutes here because of our experience in agriculture,” he stated.
He also claimed that there was corruption in the management of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue.
“If we ensure that government money does not go to private coffers, a lot more money can come. We must consider solid minerals, industries and even housing. Lagos State generates a lot of its wealth from its land.
“All we need to do is to invest in our land, create infrastructure and sell that land like a premium,” the PDP candidate further said.
He claimed that the present government had excelled in wealth consumption and not wealth creation.
On security, he said that he would improve the security of the state by ensuring that the security vote for the state was adequately utilised.
Mr Ize-Iyamu accused the present government of using a very small amount from the security vote for security of the state, insisting that the funds were being embezzled.
“Security votes should not just be money for the governors to play with, it should be used for security reasons,” he insisted.
On his part, the candidate of APGA said he would add to his policies a “model that is working in Anambra State”, another state ruled by his party.
He dismissed claims that his party was a party of the Igbo ethnic group, saying that “they [his supporters] know that the model that I am bringing to the state is working in Anambra State”.
On his economic plan and the avenues he would explore to increase the state’s revenue, he said that if elected, his administration would look at getting more investors into the different sectors of the state’s economy, with focus on agriculture.
“The APGA model which is ongoing in Anambra State is working.
“We are exporting Ugwu (pumpkin) leaf and other vegetables in Anambra State. The State is producing rice as we speak. It is not about propaganda. The template is already in Anambra and it is working.
“Agro-economy is number one,” he emphasised.
Mr Areolegbe of the Labour Party said that he would reduce dependency on crude oil and shift attention to the creation of industries.
“We have what it takes in Edo State to generate revenue for ourselves.
“We will encourage inventors and innovators to create jobs for the unemployed,” he said.
The Labour Party candidate also promised to revive the dead companies in Edo State.
He also reeled out the party’s policy in the agriculture sector, saying that the party would make the sector attractive for young persons to go into.
The Delta State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba on Wednesday adjourned judgement of the petitions filed by the governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Labour Party (LP) O’terga Emerho and Great Ogboru respectively, to a date that would be communicated before August 28.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Nasir Gummi, announced that the tribunal would communicate to counsels, the date for the judgement shortly after submissions from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents’ counsels against the suit filed by the petitioners to invalidate and nullify the result of the April 11 governorship elections in the state.
At the sitting, Alex Iziyon (SAN), the lead counsel to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petitions which he said varied with the petitioners’ evidences before the tribunal.
Counsels to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also aligned with the claims of the 1st respondent.
In replying their addresses, the lead counsel to the petitioners, Thompson Okpoko (SAN) and Dele Adesina asked the tribunal to look at the petition before it, based on facts of their submissions, asking the tribunal to nullify and call for a fresh election.
Governor Okowa was declared winner of the April 11 election by the INEC.
The candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP) have maintained their stands not to participate in the election process in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State.
According to the participants who spoke in Calabar, the State’s capital, the candidates demanded for the conduct of the rescheduled bi-election to cover all polling units in the constituency and not just some wards.
They maintained that this was a consensus reached between the two parties following series of meetings and petitions forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
They further stressed that if INEC goes ahead to hold the elections in some wards on Saturday, April 25, the will of majority of the people to vote in leaders of their choice, would be denied in the state constituency.
Reacting on the issue, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sylvester Ezeani, insisted that the re-run elections will hold in both Yakurr and Biase Local Government Areas as the commission is already set for the conduct of the re-election.
He maintained that he has no powers to cancel any elections and urged grieving parties to lay their complains before the law.
The political machinery of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar under the umbrella body, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku (AAA) and People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) in six states in the south-west Nigeria has declared their unwavering support for President Goodluck Jonathan in the forthcoming presidential election.
Addressing reporters on Tuesday at a media briefing in Akure, the capital of Ondo State, in south-west Nigeria, the leader of the group, Bode Ajewole, said their support was based on the readiness of President Jonathan to implement the recommendations of the 2014 national conference, as being demanded by the south-west region.
Supporters of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, the AAA/PDM collectives, in the six states in south-west Nigeria – Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo – converging at the Multipurpose Auditorium of the Ondo State Cultural Centre, Akure for a media briefing to declare support for President Jonathan’s re-election.
Decision To Join PDP
Ajewole further directed all the members in the six states and the Yar’adua political family in the APC, SDP, PDM, LP and AP to support and vote for the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the incumbent president, Dr Jonathan, in the March 28 presidential election.
The leader of the collectives said the members still remained in their various parties, but hinted that the decision to join the PDP or not would be coming after the elections.
The Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, welcomed the members of the group, saying their support was a very good thing for the Jonathan campaign team.
Governor mimiko, who is also the coordinator of the Jonathan/Sambo Presidential Campaign Group in the south-west region, gave the assurance that the region would deliver the highest votes for the president in the election.
He expressed delight in the decision of the collectives to support Jonathan, owing to the fact that they were made up of genuine grassroots politicians that could deliver.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State has called on the people of the state that the party is open and prepared to receive truly progressive new members into their fold.
Addressing journalists at a press conference in Akure the state capital, the State Chairman of the party, Isaac Kekemeke, assured such new members that they would have fair and equal opportunities with all other members of the party.
He emphasised that the people of the state have tested both the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and the Labour Party which he says are now one party, but they are yet to experience the APC which according to him is better.
The APC had said that it would reap from Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s defection from the Labour Party to the Peoples Democratic Party as they believe the defection would have caused some disunity.
The party has therefore concluded plans to embark on continuous membership registration exercise in all the Local Government councils of the state.
Mr Kekemeke informed that all wards and Local Government Executives have been directed to open the membership register of the party for registration of new members in all the 203 wards in the state.
The Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) Issa Aremu, has expressed delight in the modalities of the National Conference, adding that it has gone through “desired quality control.”
According to him, “the discourse on the national conference seems to have gone through a lot of quality control processes”.
Speaking on Sunrise Daily, Mr Aremu expressed satisfaction of the Congress on the outcome of the deliberations made concerning the Conference. “We are quite excited about Labour participation because we are for inclusiveness,” he said, adding that the list is “a complete departure from what the expectations used to be.”
He stated that a Conference based on ethnic nationalities would have been extremely exclusive “but now you have the list that reflects all the strata of Nigerian society.”
“Our critical support for this conference is based on the fact that it has gone through desired quality control.”
He agreed with the decision that the recommendations of the Conference be checked by the National Assembly. “I think it is clear that the Federal Government has agreed that we have a constituted authority in place, the National Assembly.”
Mr Aremu commended the decision to highlight the indivisibility of Nigeria as a no go area during the Conference and said “that has been the fear of the sceptics
“The fact that the unity of the country is assumed and is given is significant for us as a nation.”
“The government has demonstrated sensitivity to all the controversies, the fear of the people and they have taken a position that (I think) is far more all-inclusive for everybody.”
He however complained of the proportion allotted to the NLC, adding that, “If you ask me, I thought in terms of proportional representation, we should have more slots” based on the argument that the combined power of the TUC and NLC is approximately 8 million.
37 elder statesmen, two representatives each from the PDP, APC, APGA, LP, AGPA, former political office holders: one from each geo- political zone (6), former governors: one from each geo- political zone (6), representatives from the Senators Forum, House of Reps Forum, Association of Former Speakers and others lead to a total of about 60 politicians as delegates.
Aremu described the total number of 492 delegates as “unelected parliament” as the total number of lawmakers in the National Assembly is 459.
The Publicity Secretary of the APC in Ondo state, Rotimi Fashakin, has discredited criticisms against the party’s ‘Block Budget Directive’ by the Labour Party (LP), labelling the LP as an appendage to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“When a party, like Labour Party, talks we know it’s like a toad,” he said, adding that “you know when you have frog and toad, when frog makes a noise, the toad makes a supporting sound.”
Speaking on Sunrise Daily, Mr Fashakin attributed the criticisms to politics, adding that “you would see a lot of politicking as usual on something you expect the entire nation to rally around and support.”
He further accused the LP of selling its mandate to the ruling party.
“In 2011, we had people like Dele Momodu that wanted to test their presidential popularity. Dele Momodu wanted to use the platform of that party to contest for Presidency. Labour Party refused him because they were reserving the position for President Jonathan,” he said.
He also warned that the crisis in Rivers State is capable of inciting military take-over and likened the Police Commissioner, Joseph Mbu to Bishop Eyitene, “who was the police commissioner in the old Anambra state.”
“He and Joesph Mbu were just like Siamese with the same kind of behaviour,” Fashakin said.
He continued by saying that when President Shehu Shagari was at the helm of national affairs, Sunday Adewusi was an Inspector General who gave a shoot on sight order.
“If it were modern times like this, he should be standing trial at the ICC for prosecution.”
“Bishop Eyitene wrecked so much havoc and was a pain in the neck for the then governor, Jim Nwobodo who was in NPP.” “He disobeyed 12 court orders and eventually, the military took over power in that republic.”
Fashakin argued that “when APC came with that, it was a good democratic solution to the terrible things that the President and his party are doing in Rivers State.”
The National Chairman of the Labour Party, Mr Dan Iwuanyanwu, says the directive from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to its members in the National Assembly, to block the 2014 budget as a means of forcing President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene in the crisis in Rivers State, is “very wrong”.
He stated that Nigeria’s democracy was still trying to build and that “APC as a political party should not hold Nigerians to ransom”.
Mr Iwuanyanwu explained that his party did not agree with such directive, citing factors that would be affected by such directive to include Education, payment of workers salaries and security.
He pointed out that the Nigerian government had just entered an agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and that the government would not be able to keep up with their payment, security and salaries of public workers he added as other factors that will affect these directive.
Speaking on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr. Iwuanyanwu said that “there is no relationship between Rivers State, National Assembly and the budget” insisting that Nigeria’s economy will suffer if these directives are not resolved.
“Most Nigerians don’t trust APC because of the contradictions there-in” he said but stated that there were still some politicians with good characters. “There are still good people you can find in the APC”.
But on River crisis, he said that such crisis was becoming a peculiar with APC governed states. “Its is the same crisis that is happening in Ekiti State”.
He emphasized the need for the Rivers State crisis to be resolved, in order to avoid the military take over. The Labour Party leader stated that the Service Chiefs had already been appointed, all they needed was the screening and confirmation, he added.
“If you anger the military, what you are telling them to do is to consider if they are part and parcel of this democracy,” he stressed.
Several individuals from the traditional institution in Anambra state as well as, political parties, youth organisations and some governorship candidates have rejected the call for the cancellation of the governorship election which was tagged ‘inconclusive’ by INEC.
Although the electoral umpire has said it would conduct a supplementary election in a bid to cover up lapses encountered in the first election, some groups as well as the PDP have called for the outright cancelation of the election.
They cited cases of financial inducement during the election and the non-conduct of the election in some wards in Idemili North as well as the issues of voters not finding their names in the register and as such were unable to cast their votes.
A former governor of Anambra state, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who monitored the election highlighted both the good and the ugly side of the election and maintained that it would be senseless to cancel it.
From the traditional institution, the traditional rulers of Nteje (Rowland Odigbo) and Awka (Gibson Nwosu) stressed that the election was peaceful and saw no reason for the call for cancellation.
They said that those insisting on cancellation should seek redress in the appropriate quarters without disturbing the peace of the state.
Representatives of the Ohaneze and the Association of Town Union, Innocent Onwubuya, Chris Eluemuno and Chinelo Okechukwu condemned the idea in its entirety.
Members of the Coalition of accredited civil society group and state chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, said that there won’t be total cancellation of the election.
Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, a civil society group led by Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi expressed surprise at the sudden lack of boldness by INEC under the law to conduct the election.
He reminded INEC that it has no power to cancel the elections as only the Tribunal has such powers. He also warned that Anambra people will never participate in any fresh poll.
Officers of the Nigeria Police dispersed a group of angry women who staged a fresh protest in Awka on Wednesday as a means of airing their grievances on the Anambra Governorship Election conducted by INEC.
Although a group of women had initially protested the election and called for a cancellation, another set of women staged a demonstration march in Awka, the state capital, making the same demand.
The women, who carried placards with various inscriptions, marched through a 2 kilometer road and headed for the INEC office but were prevented from entering the premises by security men who were stationed nearby.
They said that they had been disenfranchised in the process.
One of the protesters who called themselves ‘Anambra Women’ described the election as a ‘scam’ and the ‘destruction of the Igbo land.’
The police officer had to deploytear gas in a bid to disperse the crowd when the confrontation turned physical.
The electoral umpire, INEC, has admitted that there were several lapses in the election process and has announced that there would be supplementary governorship elections in areas where votes were cancelled.
The Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, Clement Nwankwo, has said that the controversy trailing the Anambra governorship election does not reflect preparedness on the part of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), especially in light of the 2015 general elections.
Mr Nwankwo, who was part of the 50 civil society groups deployed to different parts of the state, to monitor the election process, expressed displeasure at the election process and stated that the problems encountered in Anambra reveals that INEC needs to go back to the drawing board.
“INEC has again displayed a huge inability to deal with the challenges that we had observed from several elections that have been held in this country since 2011,” he said, while speaking on Sunrise Daily.
He said that “with what happened in Anambra, we really cannot say we are ready for elections in 2015. Indeed, we need to go back to the drawing board.”
Contrary to reports that there was huge turn-out of voters, Mr Nwankwo said majority of the polling units had low voter turn-out.
“In most of the polling units there were less than 20percent turn-out,and in Ogbaru local government which had the highest registered voters of 139,000 only about 32,000 actually voted.”
He also said it is INECs responsibility to tackle issues of logistics but materials were not available on time including in Awka, where the office is situated.
Nwankwo who complained that there were inadequately trained election officers, also disclosed that, “officials were not deployed on time in several polling units across the state.”
Another major problem, was that of voters not finding their names in the register, especially in Idemili local government. “A lot of voters whose names started with letters U, N and O could not find their names on the register.”
Political parties also contributed to the problems as “political parties were openly sharing money in polling units.”
According to him, “there were no preparations to deal with the fact that election offences can be committed at polling units.”
“There must be a system where an election offender can be apprehended at the poling unit. The security officers should have been trained and facilities provided to that effect.”