IT WAS a milestone that would have been missed. This was the verdict of John Odigie-Oyegun, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who disclosed on Wednesday, December 17, that he had to ignore several attempts by some stakeholders to adopt a consensus presidential candidate for the party. Oyegun, who disclosed this while receiving the interim report of the presidential convention committee from Kayode Fayemi, its chairman, said he decided that all aspirants should go ahead and slug it out in a competitive transparent primaries election.
“So many efforts were made to get me to call the aspirants together and arm twist them into stepping down for each other and I resisted it and said, no, we are going to organise a transparent convention so that whoever looses will have no excuse in the world,” he said.
Oyegun said he opted for election for the party presidential candidate to showcase one of the best presidential primaries in the history of the country. Besides, he said that since the party is a proponent of change it was important that the party should demonstrate that by the way it conducted its primaries. He described the organisation of the convention as very outstanding.
“The success of the convention has propelled the party. We are proponent of change and it was necessary that one of our major activities should convey to the world what we mean by change,” he said.
Commending the committee, Oyegun said: “I entrusted that mission to you and your team, you have organised what will go into history in this nation, in our political space and beyond as clearly the freest and fairest presidential primary that has ever been witnessed in this nation.” He promised to review every aspect of the convention.
Mark Warns Police Against Heating the Polity
DAVID Mark, president of the Senate, has warned James Idachaba, divisional police officer, DPO, attached to the National Assembly, against creating enmity between members of the Senate and House of Representatives. Mark gave the warning on Wednesday, December 17, against the backdrop of Idachaba’s allegation that the Senate president’s security details were responsible for the November 20, throwing of teargas at Aminu Tambuwal, speaker of the House of Representatives and his supporters.
In a statement by Kola Ologbondiyan, special adviser to the Senate president on media and publicity, Mark noted the news item in which Idachaba alleged that his security details were responsible for throwing tear-gas at Tambuwal and other members of the House of Representatives. He said: “We wish to state without equivocation that the security details attached to the president of the Senate, David Mark, did not and could not have attacked the person of Speaker Tambuwal with teargas. We find the reports credited to Idachaba as absolute falsehood, dubious, vexatious, horrible and embarrassing.”
The statement added: “The events of November 20, 2014, are very fresh and any attempt to rewrite or misrepresent them will not stand. Idachaba James, who claimed not to have been present at the scene of the incident but only relied on hearsay must not be allowed to embark on a name calling exercise. It is also imperative to state that any attempt to create a needless feud between the two chambers of the National Assembly is mischievous and wicked. For the avoidance of doubt, we hereby declare that the security aides of the President of the Senate did not attack Speaker Tambuwal with teargas.”
On November 20, police officers allegedly invaded the National Assembly complex, and in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from gaining access into the complex, shot teargas at Tambuwal and other members of the House. Consequently, a Senate adhoc committee led, by Ahmed Makarfi, was set up to investigate the circumstances that led to the invasion as well as those behind it. During the investigation, Idachaba, a police superintendent, allegedly told the committee that it was not police officers from the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, who fired the teargas but security details attached to the Senate president.
Idachaba’s testimony on the issue was equally debunked by other heads of security and paramilitary agencies attached to the National Assembly, who vehemently disagreed with him, saying that they were not aware of any of Mark’s security detail throwing teargas at Tambuwal. The DPO was quoted to have said that he actually saw Mark’s security detail, whose name he did not mention, through a video recording, perpetrating the act. He was also said to have told the committee that the instructions to close the gates on that day were based on a directive he received from the FCT command.
Wilson Inalegu, FCT Police commissioner, would appear before the committee on Tuesday, December 23, to explain who gave the directive to shut the National Assembly.
Obanikoro Sues PDP Lagos State
THE fallout of the governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, has taken another dimension. In a suit filed by Musiliu Obanikoro, former minister of State for Defence, at a federal high court in Abuja, Obanikoro accused Olabode George, a chieftain of the PDP in Lagos State, and Jimi Agbaje, purported winner of the party’s governorship ticket of manipulating the election to favour Agbaje.
Obanikoro, in an affidavit in his suit contesting the election, alleged that George and Agbaje deliberately disrupted proceedings at the election venue, using thugs and state security officers to achieve their aim. The former minister is seeking, among others, the nullification of the election on the grounds that it violated the party’s electoral guidelines, including the production of result in excess of accredited voters.
In the affidavit Obanikoro said: “Sometime at 11am, Chief Bode George and Jimi Agbaje, a co-contestant, arrived at the venue with armed thugs, who kept a menacing vigil at the gate. “Sometime at 1pm, George, a chieftain of the first defendant, returned to the venue of the election with armed mobile policemen and armed officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, where his wife is the chairman, making the atmosphere charged.
“The thugs earlier brought by George and Agbaje, at this point, began to disrupt the venue by throwing bottles, stones and firing gun shots in the direction of the delegates loyal to me and preventing other delegates loyal to me from entering the venue. The gun shots attracted another detachment of policemen, who engaged the thugs in a gun and tear gas battle, during which many of the delegates loyal to me ran to avoid being caught in the crossfire.”
This, he said caused many of the delegates to flee in the ensuing violence and that those who fled did not return to participate in the election because it took the police several hours to restore normalcy.
Obanikoro claimed that the police recovered five guns and rounds of ammunitions and live cartridges from some of the thugs brought by George and Agbaje. He said it was thereafter that the delegates loyal to and brought by George and Agbaje started arriving the venue of the election and that the accreditation which ought to have started since 8am started at about 6.30 pm.
“At this late hour, having noticed that many of my delegates had run for their dear lives, many non-party members, miscreants and unaccredited persons were allowed by the state Electoral Panel to be used to replace the delegates loyal to me,” he charged. Besides, he alleged that the remaining delegates loyal to him were openly threatened with physical injury not to vote for him. “Even the voting papers given to my delegates were later snatched from them and the name of my opponent, Agbaje forcefully written on their papers in the presence of the electoral officers manning the election,” he alleged. Obanikoro insisted that if not for the manipulation by George and Agbaje, he would have won the election
After listening to Chris Uche, counsel to the complainant, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, who refused to grant ex-parte for interim injunctions, adjourned the matter to December 23. He also directed the two defendants to appear in court on the next adjourned date. Defendants in the case are the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
LG Autonomy Causes Protests in Edo State
WORKERS under the aegis of National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, in Edo State, on Wednesday, December 17, angrily kicked against the rejection of local government autonomy by the state House of Assembly. The Bill, ‘Further Alter the Provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’ was tabled before the House Committee on Rules, Business and Government headed by Philip Shaibu, majority leader, for deliberation on 58 contentious issues on Wednesday. In the end, eight of the issues, including local government autonomy, were rejected through a voice vote.
The Assembly’s decision, led by Uyi Igbe, speaker of the House, sparked a protest among the local government workers who were also at the Government House awaiting the outcome of the sitting. The protesters marched through Reservation Road at the General Residential Area, chanting solidarity songs. In his address to journalists, Edward Young, state president of the NULGE, accused the lawmakers of betraying the workers by “placing their interest against the interested of their people.” Young, therefore, urged the workers to use their votes to express their displeasure against the Assembly members during the 2015 general elections.
Young said: “People who don’t want progress for our state, people who don’t want quality leadership in local government have no business in legislature. So, I urge the good people of Edo State to join NULGE, civil societies, market women, youths and students and all progressive organisation to say, ‘No,’ to them in February. Come February, we will speak and they will hear. They have said their own in one corner and ran away. In February, they will meet us at the polling booth. Exercise your right; let them know that power belongs to the people.”
Similarly, Austin Osakue, a civil society leader in the state, described the decision of the lawmakers as an act against the wishes of the people, even when 13 state Houses of Assembly, including Lagos, Abia and Kogi, had adopted the bill. Osakwe also threatened to mobilise voters in the state to vote against the legislators whom he described as their “real enemies.”
FG Not Owing Civil Servants
THE federal government has denied owing civil servants arrears of salaries, stating that the delay in payment of some staff was due to technical hitches which will be resolved before the end of December
THE ministry of finance has debunked claimed that it owed workers arrears of salary. The claim was made in a press release issued by the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria. The government described as a “full of falsehood and distortions about the current status of the payment of federal civil servants.”
According to a statement issued by Paul Nwabuikwu, special adviser to the coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, the group is fast earning a reputation as a tool of political groups ready to deploy scurrilous falsehood against the policies and programmes of the federal government. “It clearly does not represent the interest of the vast majority of hard working and professional civil servants,” it said.
Contrary to the group’s statement, Nwabuikwu said: “it is absolutely untrue that government has not been able to pay thousands of civil servants their October and November salaries. As can be confirmed, the overwhelming majority of civil servants are getting their salaries regularly.”
“The true situation, as stated by the minister during the Presentation of the 2015 Budget proposal yesterday is that there was a delay in paying the salaries of some civil servants in some ministries due to a technical glitch which affected the IPPIS system through which payments are made,” he said.
According to him, delays were also caused by some ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, using money set aside for salaries to pay allowances without consultation with the Budget Office. As the minister has promised, the issues are being resolved and all civil servants will be paid their salaries before the end of December.
— Dec. 29, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT